Thank you all for the kindness. It's strange sometimes to be reminded that people see it this way. I'm wrapped up in the struggle, and the few friends I have that know what is going/went on are mostly also Juliet's friends, and so they take a middle ground. Therapy is like that, too. Very neutral.
I'm pretty much terrible at advocating for myself. Charlie and Juliet have been better about it in recent months. Most of last year I felt buried under their desires, but I do feel like they try to give me consideration in what they do more now. I don't feel as pressured as I once did. There is some improvement. But I'm still very aware that they are waiting on me, and that when I get sad or panicky it frustrates them. Charlie says this feels like a rejection of his core nature, which he believes very deeply to be poly-centric since the affair. He makes more conscious effort now to listen and support when I'm hurting, but he can only give so much before he begins to feel defensive about his right to be true to his nature.
And I do understand - everyone has a right to be true to their nature, and poly is his, mono is mine. There are a lot of common assumptions to being mono (like exclusivity or reciprocation) that I've had to work on letting go, and not under the ideal circumstances. I do try to respect his right to be poly, but the fact is it causes me pain largely because of how I was catapulted into it. He feels I hold on to what happened like scratching at a sore. Once he said it was like we were ballet partners, and months ago he dropped and injured me badly, but now we're trying to dance again and every time he does the slightest thing wrong I snap at him about how my injury hurts.
The fact is, I think I could be okay with a poly arrangement in time. There are still a lot of really horrible psychological triggers that make it hard for me to deal with Charlie and Juliet specifically, but these are fading, albeit slowly. What really sets me back time and again is that I still want to be primary, feel like a primary, feel like his wife. I'm not even sure how this would look in a situation like ours. Juliet is deeply important to him. While I was at work during the days of the affair, he became accustomed to spending entire days each week with her, going on trips often, venting to her about me, being her primary support much of the time. I have no chance of feeling that close to him myself, it seems. And now that he works again, his desire to have plenty of time to connect with Juliet leaves me with little idea of how I even fit into his schedule.
He says he wants a home, pets, someday kids with me. But he has all those things already with Juliet as well. I don't want to end up feeling responsible for our version of these things by myself most of the time. I guess this is one of those mono assumptions - that my partner will not be dividing his resources between our life and another wife, another home, another pet, another kid. Not long ago, Charlie proposed that we start a fund for Juliet's daughter so that we could help pay for her upcoming surgeries, and Juliet and Kilo have made Charlie (but not me) their daughter's legal guardian in their will. Kilo is keen to have Charlie in Juliet's life in a big way again, as it would ease the pressure of being man-of-the-house on him, and Juliet is understandably keen to have the full support and affection of two men in her life again. On the other hand, I find it very hard to believe Charlie will be able to meet my needs and hers both. Frankly, Juliet and I both have high demands for companionship and support. And falling back to the old anxiety, I can almost guarantee she makes it more fun for him.
So if I wanted to live poly for his sake, but be a primary for my sake, I have to ask - what do healthy primary relationships look like for others? I've read a fair bit here, and still feel unsure. A lot of you just plain sound much more independent than I am. Am I just being selfish to say I want most of his free time, not the least of it? Is it common to feel uncomfortable with the level of investment one's poly partner is making in your metamour? How do we negotiate between asking one to meet the other's needs and avoiding denying one's own?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?