Things have been moving relatively quickly for my husband Charlie and his OSO Juliet. Since they came clean about their affair, we've made halting, difficult steps towards rebuilding as a poly relationship in the spirit of openness and generosity. A month ago, I gave my blessing to poly, and promised to try and make it work on my end, with the caveat that I wanted them to be kind, mindful, and generous with me, too.
At first, very little happened, but then in the space of a couple of weeks, they began holding hands, kissing, and planning to see concerts together again (concerts are how they began having sex behind my back, a year ago). I found my head was spinning, and every week after getting the update on what was happening from my husband, I fell apart. All my "calm abiding" tools weren't enough, and my heart was screaming at me to protect myself. I know the outer circumstances aren't the real problem, it's what I have invested in them - the feeling of fear, inadequacy, distrust, and bitterness are all my own creations. I've been training with thinking about what they will be doing together for months, and forcing myself to stay with the pain. But when it became real things I was dealing with, the urge to run away was stronger than I expected.
And so I reached out, wanting to explain that I was hurting, because I know that my usual state of outward composure hides my turmoil very effectively. I started talking with Charlie last Wednesday, and we talked through the weekend, him even helping me write a letter to send to Juliet and her husband. I sent the letter, and caused a firestorm.
Juliet and her husband said they had thought I was over all of the negative emotions I was describing, and feel misled by me. Charlie, despite having held me through 2am crying sessions weekly for months now, and having read the letter repeatedly in the days leading up to my sending it, also suddenly said that he had no idea I was still in pain, and this changed everything.
Did I hide it that well? I don't think I did, but they have no reason to lie. Did they really think that someone who was as openly devastated about being forced to choose this path as I was had just "converted"? If I am so good an actor, how is it that every friend we've told perceives my pain immediately?
They are confused, I am confused. They say that we cannot proceed if I'm still in pain like this, but I thought it was a given that I would be in pain for a long time to come. It takes time to build up the ability to resist spinning off with my emotional reactions - I expected that. I assume it will be years before I'm really comfortable and skilled enough to lean through the negativity and not stumble each time it rises up.
I spoke about my hurt in more explicit terms to try and solicit help on specific points, maybe for things to move a little slower. To let them know I wasn't feeling like my vulnerability in all of this was being respected enough yet. But now, emotions are running very high, and there is talk of Juliet or Charlie cutting one another out of their lives and just living with their own misery and resentment toward me... Which of course sounds like a disaster to me, and probably the end of my marriage.
I am tempted to go back into hiding. I don't want to lie to them, but I don't think it's inaccurate for me to say this was all a misunderstanding, and let's just go back to where we were the day before I sent the letter. I'll cope with it. That was my plan all along. I would value any help they can give, but I really, really don't want to rock the boat. Showing them my shadow side doesn't help anything... Does it?
And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?