As is the nature of people who have NO idea what they were doing, I promptly screwed up again. Karma's close friend D had been talking me up for a long time. He had established himself as a confidante, a person I could turn to for help and advice. He'd been a little flirty, but never too much. Then, one night, he wanted to hang out. He told me he had to talk to Karma first.
Lack of experience has made me astoundingly naïve, and I know that – I'm trying to grow out of it, but that process hurts. D had asked for Karma's permission to pursue me. NOBODY felt the need to tell me this. I didn't think he was interested - I had wondered, briefly, but decided that D, the charming, charismatic prince of darkness and womanizer, wouldn't be interested in little old me. So D picked me up, and we headed back to his place to 'hang out.' Having a clue, beforehand, would have been nice. D told me that he'd asked Karma for permission, and that Karma had given him the green light. The way he said it made it sound to me like it was what Karma wanted. D had spent quite awhile explaining to me that he likes to share, it turns him on. I wondered if Karma wasn't the same way. D is an extremely controlling, dominant person, and he is, quite frankly, prone to violence. This is precisely the type of personality that the X has. When confronted with it, I buckled. He got what he wanted. Now, I can't blame it all on fear, and don't assume I am – there was a healthy dose of lust and a bit of curiosity in there. He was new, he was charming, he was attractive. But at the point when I wanted to back out, I found I could not say no. Call it what you will. “Spineless,” “cowardly,” and “lacking balls” have been thrown around a lot. I can be a doormat, and I don't actually need the reminders of it. I'm just trying to change it.
J was livid. I had cheated, and I was still not entirely sure how it had happened. I couldn't give him any kind of explanation. I was dazed, scared, and in pain. He flipped, and started threatening to hurt himself if I didn't fix things. Now, I love him, but there is a LOT about him that I have trouble dealing with. That's one of the issues that I normally don't know how to confront, especially not with J. I told Karma, and he was furious too. I didn't know what happened. D had told me Karma was okay with it. I'd thought it was what he wanted. I had the both of them yelling at me, distrustful of me, and suspicious of me. Then D found out about my confusion and regret, and was immediately defensive. D thought I was accusing him of rape, J said I'd cheated, Karma was angry and I didn't get why. Everyone thought I was lying, playing games, being manipulative.
Trust me, I'm not smart enough to manipulate people like Karma and D. I'm just not. Even if I was, I'm not inclined to. I have made a LOT of mistakes over the last year, and I can't necessarily fix all of them, or even most of them. But I am learning as quickly as I can, and trying really hard not to duplicate mistakes.
Suddenly, J suggested a poly relationship to me. He suggested it, so I assumed he was okay with it. I don't know why. Maybe I just really wanted to believe it. Both J and Karma told me that they would rather see me with the other than with D. I tried to sort out a schedule that would give Karma and J roughly equal amounts of time with me, and would still give Karma and Mohegan time together. There were a few hitches. I get the impression that that's usually the case.
I've been trying to figure out how to smooth things out between Mohegan and myself, and I really just don't know how. Even before she found out about the affair, I felt like she immediately got hostile. I couldn't blame her for it, so I didn't really argue. In her place, I'd be pretty pissed at the other woman. I've probably projected my expectations (and definitely my paranoia) on Mohegan. I'm trying not to do that anymore.
We started trying to rebuild trust, but nearly every time I've seen her, I've perceived nothing but hostility. I say 'perceived' because I'm not necessarily being fair. It's probably mostly my paranoia and expectations. But I've felt like she had no interest in getting to know me, and like she was just waiting for me to screw up again, so she could tell Karma and I we couldn't see each other.
Now, I have a lot of issues trusting women. I don't have many female friends, because I don't tolerate cattiness well. When confronted with a woman who's being hostile, I'll do one of two things:
1.)I get hostile right back, and lash out with all the venom I see fit to use.
2.)I don't respond, either out of contempt or diplomacy.
I didn't feel like I had a right to lash out. Karma and I had cheated. There were no two ways around that, and it was kind of miraculous that she would be willing to let us try to sort this out. I also didn't feel like getting confrontational would help. That's been extremely difficult, from time to time. I've been accused of a lot, been called a lot of things, and been judged from the get-go. I've had my love for Karma questioned by god and everybody, and I keep hearing the questions “Why does he need her?” "Now that we're okay again, what is he getting from her?" and “What is she giving him?” That hurt unbelievably. But snapping didn't seem like the most helpful course of action. So in the interest of diplomacy, I chose not to say anything. This apparently comes across as being pitifully spineless, and inspires little but contempt. I pick up on her distaste, and immediately get defensive, and wall off. Why try to open up when I'm fairly certain I'm just going to be attacked? Everyone keeps telling me “just be yourself.” Why? Some inexplicable vibe is apparently so off-putting that I make her skin crawl. As far as I could see, the logical response was not to make things worse.
Yes, as Mohegan pointed out, I've got self-esteem issues. So I felt like there was no use in presenting myself as a target to her, when everything I did seemed to piss her off, and made her think I was a lying manipulative whore. She doesn't see anything in me worth the trouble Karma's gone to to keep me around. Would you try to be friends? I knew I'd just get hurt, and I'm not quite that much of a masochist. I understand she's just trying to protect her husband, and looking back, I understand a lot of my mistakes. However, I won't go out of my way to play nice with someone who doesn't seem to be giving me even a snowflake's chance in hell at earning respect. As far as I could see, she had no interest at all in getting to know me, so I did my best to not irritate her by following her around like a lost puppy, and being her best friend. I let it go. I won't try to be someone's friend when neither of us can be genuine about it. She doesn't like me, so I don't try to convince her she should. Yes, this is a very defeatist attitude. No, it was not the right way to respond. But I'm not sure what the right way is.
I really did feel like she was demanding I open up, just so I could provide her with new buttons to push, and I felt certain she had no intention of actually giving me a chance. So I refused to play that 'game.'
Because of the issues I have with my X, it is very hard for me to say 'no.' Karma and I discussed it recently, and he told me he doesn't ever actually recall me saying the word 'no' to him. That's a problem. I'm also extremely nervous about asserting myself, my needs. When my worth is questioned, I don't challenge it. I just do my best to avoid situations that upset people. The X taught me that upsetting people results in getting hurt. That's not the kind of 'training' that you overcome easily. I'm not writing all my issues off as his fault, but I'm realizing more and more how much they influence the rest of my life, particularly my relationship with Karma, and now with Mohegan.
She sees my failure to stand up for myself as pure and inexplicable cowardice. I see it as what used to be self-preservation, and is now just something I'm trying to overcome. Unfortunately, getting over it is not something that produces tangible, immediate results, so it looks like I'm doing nothing.
I decided early on that if she ever asks me to stop seeing him, I will. I will try to fix things, but I won't try to change her mind. If she asks me not to post here anymore, or to stop reading, I'm fine with that too. I've done my best to abide by her rules, because she has every right to impose them. Of course, with her and I limiting our contact lately, that's been a little hard, because Karma's the only thing really facilitating communication, and this game of telephone is bound to result in hurt feelings and mistakes. I'm hoping that by accepting her invitation to write here, we can at least get to a point where she's not poking me with a sharp stick to see who I am and what I'm about, and I'm not curling up in my shell to avoid harsh questions and quick judgment.