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Old 05-31-2011, 07:32 PM
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sinew sinew is offline
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Default Hiding pain

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?
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:51 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Hiding it will eat you alive. It's not worth it to try and bury it. Try to learn to deal or work with what you are feeling. Vent, talk about it, whatever works for you.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinew View Post
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.
To me it sounds like they are not willing to slow down to allow you to process and deal with things and the statement above (in bold) sounds like cruel manipulations on their part. To me this sounds like they are saying that they don't care about your pain and they will either do what they want at whatever pace they wish to take it (which the affair also said) or they will make your life a living hell.

Do NOT hide your pain. Maybe you do need to make greater efforts to clue everyone in when you are struggling with stuff. Don't wait until you get to the end of the rope, address stuff early. I am also of the opinion that it is your husbands duty to clue HIS girlfriend into the fact that your are still struggling. You shouldn't have to get on the phone or e-mail the next morning after a 2am crying session, just to make sure she is culed in to your struggles, she's not your girlfriend. He's not being honest with either of you. JMO
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:19 PM
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I can only speak for myself, but I could never be in a marriage where my husband offered only black and white solutions to the issues you are describing. If you want to make any relationship work, poly, mono, or what have you, you have to be able to talk about how you're feeling without fear of an ultimatum.

That said, I also wouldn't stay silent if I were hurting as much as you seem to be, and just hope that other people figured it out on their own. I don't say that to be harsh at all, but sometimes people see what they want to see, or they see signs that you're unhappy and assume you'll come to them when you're ready. And sometimes that works out. But in your case, it seems like you held it in to the point where it had to come out in the form of this letter, and at that point it was maybe difficult for you to express yourself calmly? (That's conjecture on my part, based on being married to a man who at first bottled up everything.)

If you need time, ask for time. If they are honestly working to make you comfortable, they'll give you what you need to get that way.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:22 PM
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There are different ways to get into poly. As a young single person, as a choice for all future relationships. As part of an established couple who both feel something is missing, and choose poly rationally and with love. And then, as a couple wherein one (or both) partners have cheated, are discovered or come clean.

The third option is, of course, the most painful, because the cheating has caused a breech of trust. So, suddenly, the cheated on partner has to deal with feeling humiliated and betrayed, and then have to force him or herself into bringing the secret lover into his/her life. Not an easy thing to do, and imo, your h and his gf should not expect you to be on board after just a few short weeks. They should be made aware this process can take years, and much work.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:45 PM
GroundedSpirit GroundedSpirit is offline
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Hi Sinew,

I wonder if I can offer anything that might help...........

I wonder if the reason this is coming so hard is that you are thinking (maybe everyone else too?) that this is just all about managing emotions.
It's much more than that !
It's about replacing certain belief systems.

Are you willing to DO that ???

Think about it this way...............

Often when we are young we hear people use words - but we hear wrong. So we pronounce them the way WE understood them. Parents and other adults find this cute, so don't correct us. So it get reinforced.
At some point we either grow up some or someone less tolerant calls/corrects us on it. They instruct us the error we've been making and explain the correct way.

It's a shock to us ! We're embarrassed sometimes. I've seen kids try to cling to their old ways for awhile. But eventually we realize we were just mistaken and have to get with the program.

Becoming aware of poly capacity is somewhat like this. We learned a different interpretation early on and it was reinforced by everyone around us for years.
All that's necessary to move with this is to accept and BELIEVE that we were practicing a myth all this time prior !

Do you believe this ? Until you do, nothing down deep will change !

You can try to 'control' emotions, reactions etc etc But it will never be enough. And it will never feel 'good'. or right.

You have to BELIEVE in what you are doing. Once you have that clarity supporting you everything will fall into place in a pretty short time.

Try it

GS

Last edited by GroundedSpirit; 06-01-2011 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit View Post
Becoming aware of poly capacity is somewhat like this. We learned a different interpretation early on and it was reinforced by everyone around us for years.
All that's necessary to move with this is to accept and BELIEVE that we were practicing a myth all this time prior !

Do you believe this ? Until you do, nothing down deep will change !

GS has it about right, here. All depends on the love paradigm you're committed to -- emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. The force of habit can still have momentum in our thoughts and feelings for a time while transitioning, but all depends on what you're taking a stand for.

Talk all of your feelings through with your husband, including any hurt about betrayal. Try to do this with an open heart. Try to be forgiving.
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:06 PM
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It depends on a lot of things mostly the type of cheating. I can't think of any couple, with mutually exclusive boundaries around sex and intimacy, that is un affected in some way for the majority, if not all of their lives. It can and does disabate, but it takes time and is forever changing in some way as far as I have witnessed. I don't think the OP should in any way believe she is wrong or bad for being, what seems to be, devistated over again. She has every right and its totally normal. It might even hapopen again and as far as I am concerned they should all have heaps of compassion for her and wait, patiently until she feels ready to move forward again.
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Old 06-05-2011, 05:57 PM
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Thank you everyone for your advice and understanding.

One thing that has become clear to me is that I don't express emotions well. My ability to put on a neutral face has definitely made the situation worse, as it seems no one else realized the depths of my hurt over what was moving forward.

I realize in retrospect I thought that I was *not* hiding pain before, because I could regularly talk calmly about what I was feeling and have the occasional quietly tearful night. To me, this was as close to wearing my heart on my sleeve as I get, but from the outside I looked like someone who was handling everything quite well - having a few bad days here and there but generally coping successfully. But my communication habits were obscuring the intensity, frequency, and depth of my pain. I was hiding it without thinking I was.

It's not enough just to talk about it, I think. I have to figure out how to externalize raw emotion in ways I have practically never done. I've been thinking a lot about how to make friends with emotion, so that my instinctive reaction of shame toward feeling something strongly doesn't cause me to clamp down. I don't have any answers yet, but it is at least useful to be conscious of the problem.

And Juliet and Charlie - they need to listen more openly, not try to hear what they want to hear, which is of course that I'm fine. They need to treat me like I'm trying to do something that's incredibly hard for me. They need to keep in mind that while everything they're doing with each other now is old news to them (they did all this and more weekly during the affair), it's the first time *I've* had to deal with it. They need to remember that even though it seems like they're doing the right thing when they ask me "so, can we do X, now?", it really just puts me on the spot. I feel I can only say yes if I want them to be happy, and no if I want to stand in the way of their happiness. I want them to approach me with more sensitivity than that, knowing that the answer will probably be "yes", because I very much want them to be happy, but that it may also be very hard on me. I look strong, but they need to remember how vulnerable I am.

I think they're willing. They offered to take a 3-week break to give me some time to decompress, starting today. I feel lighter, knowing things aren't going to continue accelerating for now, and I hope to make some progress on my ability to externalize by the time things start up again.

I don't want to become the vocally bitter mono who ruins her partner's every enjoyment of poly by reminding him that she's still hurting. But as you guys have pointed out, if that's where I'm at, it's not much use to suffer quietly until something like last week comes along and blows the lid off. I'm not sure how to find the middle ground, but it's got to be there somewhere.

One step at a time...
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Old 06-05-2011, 07:10 PM
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Good for you, it sounds like they are trying to be reasonable and doing their best to accomodate.
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