I have written and deleted (and edited) this post 3-4 times now, as I realise I am a rambler. So here is the attempted short(er) version.
One year ago today, my partner of almost 13 years asked our best friend to be her boyfriend. Today they celebrated their one year anniversary, and life is good. Yay!
As some of you know, I was NOT a happy camper last summer/fall. I did not handle her new relationship well at all and I had to face a lot of unknown demons. I had/have a severe problem with jealousy and insecurity, the latter came as a surprise not only to me but also to my partner. Looking back now, it seems like an eternity has passed, and so much has changed. I made some good choices and bad choices along the way, but all in all I think the first year has brought a lot of experience and personal growth. The good choices were mostly related to breathing, being patient, taking time and not pushing in any direction. The bad choices were quite a few moments of pushing and rushing, and simply choices made on the wrong basis. I thought I knew myself, I thought I knew the situation, and I reacted accordingly. In hindsight, I am truly blessed for having a mature and patient partner who held my hand through it all, and who allowed me to be wrong. And most of all, who loves me and had no intentions of giving up, even if I gave her ample reason.
It was hard at times to rememeber that I wasn't the only one struggling, I wasn't the only one having a problem.
Someone somewhere said that polyamory doesn't ruin your relationship, but it can certainly point out the flaws in your existing one. One of the things that was hard to realise was how far apart my partner and I had drifted after years of building a huge house in the countryside. We thought it was our dream, but it just wore us down, we just didn't know how much until we decided to sell it late last year. Early this year we moved to a flat in the city centre, where we both wanted to live, and the energy release has been fantastic! What I think I am trying to say is that it's not necessarily a challenging relationship that is the real issue. For me, it took A LOT of energy to deal with things, to cope with my jealousy and fears. I didn't know how little energy I had, and it was hard. Really hard. After selling the house and moving, things have gotten so much easier. I have started feeling happy again, which I now realise I haven't truly felt for 7-8 years. I blamed a lot of my depression and sadness on my partner and her relationship, when in fact it was mostly caused by other things. I really understand why people struggle with letting their SO take on a new partner. I needed so much energy and space, but when that was finally available, things got easier.
Another "hurdle" was thinking that selling the house and "restarting" life at 37 was scary. What was I thinking... :-) I have definitely learned that quality of life isn't (for me) measured in the size of my house or the brand of my car, it's quite simply measured by whether or not I can answer "are you happy?" with "yes". Any other answer, any buts or ifs in there should make you consider whether what you're doing what is right for you.
I am definitely happier, healthier and in a much better place mentally. After slowly drifting apart from my partner, I have found back to my port, my love and my life. Today she told me that I was more *me* again, not the me from a year ago, but the me she knew in the beginning, the happy one...and I felt even happier hearing her say that. It underlined the One Year mark with a little "yes!" in the corner. :-)
This has been a year I would not give up for anything. Well, when I say anything I mean if I could get to where I am now in a shorter timespan, bring on the timemachine.
Her new relationship really re-focused our lives back to what we want, not what we *should* want. I never had the energy to focus on her or us. Or rather, I had to actively focus on us, and that just feels wrong now.
So much rambling, I know, I will try to be short but I think my point so far is that for anyone who ventures into this for the first time, the best advice I can give is to tidy up your surroundings first. Be certain that you have room and time to process emotions and feelings. If you're a couple who are considering opening up your relationship, this will be *very* important. If you're anything like me, you need a grand hunk of space!
Check your foundation and get a big big box of patience. I would say I am...hmmm...70% along the way to my goal, which is simply being truly okey with it *all the time*. 65% of that has come the last two-three months. After only a year, I think that's pretty good. I still have moments of "bleh", but they pass and more importantly they have stopped lingering. I doubt I will ever get rid of all my jealousy or insecurity, but that's not really my goal either. In august we all go for a 3 week vacation roadtrip in the US, and if that doesn't kill us, I reckon I'll be around 90% then. :-D
We undoubtedly have a lot of hurdles ahead. So far, my partner spends a relatively sparing amount of time with her new boo, and we realise that at some point moving in together is most likely the only way this can work long term. Neither of us are really interested in having separate lives, least of all her. In that sense, so much is still in the open, the undiscovered country and so on...a major difference now...which is so noticable it's almost scary to write this, I am not afraid...I am hopefull, I am wanting and needing, but I am not afraid anymore...we all want this to work, and it failing isn't an option. Quite simply. I can't live without my partner, she can't live without me. She can't live without her boyfriend, and he can't live without her. Therefore, anything other than success is not an option. :-) No pressure, world...no pressure...just saying.
In closing, as it's way past my bedtime, I want to thank everyone who has been such a great help along the way so far, most of all my ever so patient partner and her patient SO. And according to someone who knows me better than myself, I shouldnot forget patting my own back too in this. I am an equal part in their relationship, just not...IN their relationship.
No two situations or relationships are alike and not everyone has it in them to accept opening up their lives. For me, this journey has so far been truly positive and has given me such a fantastic personal growth. I feel stronger and happier than ever, life is literally surging through me and I just want to....live...expand and love...it's fantastic! :-D
I am actually starting to like myself, and...dare I say it, even love myself....
PS: We never "opened up" our relationship in the "let's be poly!" sense. My partner realised she was deeply and profoundly in love with our friend, and came to me with her challenge. Neither of us were seeking others at the time, neither of us have felt anything lacking. I realise this might differ a bit from others here, but if anyone finds this relevant feel free to send a pm to get in touch with either me, my partner or her boyfriend. If there's anything either of us can do to help others along the same path, we'd feel honoured to do so.