Not a competition, still feels like losing
It's been a while since I wrote. I discovered my husband Charlie's year-long affair with our closest friend, Juliet in January of last year. Charlie, Juliet, and Juliet's husband, Kilo all regretted hiding the affair from me, but insisted that a life in love and joy together was possible with poly. I'm mono, Charlie and Juliet are committed both to their spouses and each other as "also-spouses", and Kilo sees another woman the rest of us have never met.
That's the landscape. It hasn't worked that well. When I think of the past, the knowledge of everything they did behind my back makes me feel like dirt. When I look ahead, the fear of being cut out again is overwhelming. In the present, things are good... for me. Charlie hardly sees Juliet at all because of the stress it causes me. He tries to make me feel loved and secure. It feels good, and it's not hard to believe that I can trust him again, in the moments of togetherness. But he and Juliet aren't happy with such limited interactions as they have.
And then, the moment he steps out the door to see her, the moment I see him writing to her, I start spiraling down. He probably has more fun with her. She's much sexier than I am. They share more exciting activities. Being with her is more rewarding. As soon as he turns away from me, all the reasons he chose her over me in the affair fill my head.
Charlie and Juliet are working to restore their relationship in the wake of my struggle with depression over the last year. I know I'm supposed to be happy for the joy they give each other, but I find I'm sad for myself more than anything else. He scarcely has any free time as it is, and he's told me he wants to spent a full day every week with her. I tell him how lonely this makes me feel, and he says I'm disappointing him. After all he's done to try to prove himself to me over the last year, all he's sacrificed, I know it frustrates him that I still don't experience compersion.
The importance of being with her for him is seems so enormous that I feel insignificant. I fear that when I need him or want to share with him, he won't be there. When things are tough, he'll go to her, where it's easier. I've heard and read so many times that poly isn't a competition, but I can't shake the feeling of loss. I need to let go of some of my treasured time and closeness with Charlie in order to give him greater happiness. What will the result be? Will we drift apart as we did in the affair? Will I be relegated to the roles I'm good at - intellectual, organizer, familiar friend - while she takes over the things I long to be valued as - lover, spiritualist, adventurer?
"What will be, will be," I try to teach myself. I can't protect against the possibility that every one of my fears will come true. I have to acknowledge that back before all of this, when I had no doubts at all about my husband's love and my roles in his life, I was really no safer than I am now. I try to be brave, accept my losses with grace, accept the groundlessness and impermanence of being in this relationship. If he is truly happy with me, he will try to be there with me, even for the hard parts. And if he's not, he won't, and I may as well let it go.
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?