So, ha - I got sick of the madness. Like, almost bored with it. Hated feeling bad, hated feeling triggered, hated long gloomy stretches of time when we were circling each other with fists protecting our faces but no one throwing a punch. The emotional knot was dense. Even if we managed to tease out a little piece of it, something seemed to happen to tighten it all again. Seemed to be uphill all the way
, with no respite. The potential for this pallor to stretch through the holidays depressed me.
I thought to myself - what do I want to happen? Do I really want to break up with Grotto, or do I want to work this out? Do I like him? Do I want to be with him?
Yeah, fuck it, I love the guy. He's great. I may not want to live with him, but I do want to be close to him. He is hurting right now, and is not well, and has been rough with me... But I've also been un-gentle with him. I can be harsh, holding a hard line, not really willing to let people push their fingers in my clay.
For a couple of days around Christmas I had planned to head out of town to spend time with my aunty and uncle. I didn't want to leave with things so unresolved with Grotto.
So, on a whim, I asked him out for a drink. I had a small window of time before catching a train to visit family. He met me at a bar by the train station, we shared a jug of Pimm's and I recapped where I was at. What I felt sorry for. That I wanted to work shit out. That I couldn't really apologise in the words that he wanted but I couldn't tell if this was a difference in content or phrasing.
We had to tread tentatively; the ice was thin in patches. We nearly got stuck again on whether or not I "ought to have known better". I feel I know better now, but I was dumber then and therefore acted like an idiot. I'm sorry, I was an idiot.
Grotto thought that I made an avoidable mistake. I'm sorry, I did the wrong thing, I should have known better
I wasn't inclined to try to unpack it any further, and he didn't seem to be either. I told him that I thought we were are our limit of picking this apart ourselves. We've talked so much, and it's constantly round and round the same points. I said I found some counselling options and that would be my next step rather than talking through this again.
He paused, then said: "I accept your apology. I forgive you. I will try to get over this." And I fleetingly thought, but didn't say: "you said the same thing last time." Cos really? It's not a re-run. It's as if we failed to deal to it properly initially. We underestimated the gravity, how insidious the roots.
It felt good to send him a merry Christmas text on the 25th, without any animosity between us.
My aunt wanted to me to stay at her place another night, so on the 27th Grotto came out as well. (She lives about an hour train ride out of town.) We decompressed, watched "Night Shift". On the 28th we dallied getting back home. When we got back to the city, we sat on a grass verge outside the train station and talked some more. Some complex stuff, but really good to talk it through. I ended up staying over at his place.
In retrospect, some spontaneous, yet much-needed, quality time. Phew. We're good
A few interesting unrelated points that got rustled up during the Christmas period:
1. How do I relate to people who aren't comfortable with my non-monogamy?
From my perspective, I have no shame or problem with being open about the people who are my companions through life. But some people (mostly family members) aren't comfortable with this. My aunt who I visited at Christmas is probably the most relaxed of my parents' siblings. Last Christmas (2012), Ocean, Grotto and I spent a couple of days with her. Grotto made breakfast on Christmas day, etc. I really loved that.
This year, though, my aunt brought up the fact that she obviously prefers when Ocean's there, and doesn't relate that well with Grotto. She said "you can't expect me to feel the same way about Grotto as I do about Ocean. Ocean is perfect for you! He's always going to be number one in my heart." Now, I don't and can't expect her (or anyone else) to feel any particular way about anyone. But it made me realise that my 'other significants' can be felt as an imposition
, as something to tolerate
rather than rejoice in.
I've had this vibe from a cousin before. She is really open-minded and has had many partners (some when cheating on another) but she can't understand my mindset of being okay with non-monogamy. She says it makes her "deeply uncomfortable". She doesn't like seeing me with lovers other than Ocean, and while she'd like
to be okay with it, she can't pretend she is - cos she isn't.
Even my brother who visited me, and who is somewhat okay about things and talks with me now and then about Grotto, surprised me by telling me "you should know I don't like to see you being affectionate with Ocean, and then being affectionate with Grotto." (This was referencing an occasion we had gone out in a big group of friends that included Ocean and Grotto.)
I'm not entirely sure how to deal with this. I mean, people's opinions are their own opinions. I'm not there to evangelise. But I feel it makes me have to decide: how much do I value their relationship? Can I do a "don't ask, don't tell" thing with them? Do I have the time?
My love life doesn't always have to be a live topic for every interaction, of course. But I am finding it increasingly hard to make time to be close to people who don't get that aspect of me. Especially if I'm going to have kids with someone else (not Ocean)! I feel I need to focus on relationships that support my journey rather than are inimical to it.
One way I can understand it is that there are some relationships where I am more in it for them than for me. I don't need to share my life so much with them, to share the real things in my life. If they want to ask, they can ask. I will catch up with them because I want to be a support to them
. It might make things more pressured on me, because I can't 'double up'... e.g. if I'm spending time with a partner that isn't Ocean, I can't catch up with them too at that time.
The only problem with that is it feels self-fulfilling. They never see or hear about other people in my life. They are allowed to keep their fantasy world where Ocean and I are a traditional couple. Even more, they don't get an opportunity to "acclimatise".
Now I'm thinking (for the relationships I value), I could give people that option. Do you want
to meet my other partners? Do you want
to hear about things that are going on for me? Or would you rather not engage with that aspect of my life (even though it's a big part of my life)? Then it's up to them if they are open to it or not.
2. Jealousy around holiday plans!
Despite some great advice I read somewhere (maybe even on this forum) that you should talk with partners well in advance
about expectations around holiday plans, this year I didn't. I had been thinking of making a vegetarian Christmas spread for my aunty and uncle (my uncle is a strict vegetarian, and I am trying to eat vegetarian). I thought of inviting Grotto too. But before I could do that, he told me that he wanted to make turducken. And I knew he'd probably been invited to Bijou's, and maybe other places too. From time to time, he's done Sunday meat roasts with his flatmate, Bijou and others.
So I said nothing. I definitely wouldn't wanna be the vegetarian complication for a turducken meal... I love
sharing food, and I've found it difficult to figure out the social aspects of diet choice. I also enjoy the taste of well-cooked meats (I enjoy food in general!) so it's this battle in my head as to how I walk the line. I've wavered of late but recently decided a harder line is best otherwise I just end up eating meat all the time.
Anyway. Turns out Grotto ended up at a friend's place for a vegan
Christmas meal. I felt really dumb for not speaking up about my idea. And also I felt a twinge of upset, that... I dunno... the only idea he had had was a meal that I would have conflict about. On top of that was funny jealousy over his flatmate... I feel like I've invited him (the flatmate) to food at my place a few times, but he's never made it. I think it's more me having a hangup that I'm not "cool" enough for Grotto's group of friends to want to spend time with. I don't actually suggest we do things together very often
. I should put myself out there more.
And talk about Christmas better next year. Ha.
3. Christmas card etiquette
After a socially tiring visit to our home city, when we had Way Too Many people to catch up with and Not Enough Time, I suggested to Ocean that we send Christmas cards to our friends in our home city, as a better way to keep in touch with them. We made a list, checked it twice
and decided to try our hand at screen-printing cards. They looked awesome. Grotto helped for some of it.
Making the list, I noticed a few were mutual friends with Grotto, and some of them (e.g. Grotto's ma, and his brother) would be more appropriate for the three of us to send rather than just Ocean and I. I think the easiest way would have been for all of us to just sign with a personal message whichever cards we wanted to. But it did increase the work load. Ocean had a work deadline and didn't actually have time to sign cards. So I said I would do it for both of us. However, then the ones from all three of us (Grotto, Ocean and
me) looked odd. Mostly Grotto did a message from himself and then I did a message from both Ocean and me.
If there is a next time, I guess we'll just have to make sure there's enough time for everyone to sign for themselves. I was thinking of any way to make it more efficient, but I'm not sure there is. May be just another one of those times when non-monogamy is more work