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  #41  
Old 03-25-2013, 09:03 PM
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hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is offline
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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
Are you saying that mental switch that you flipped a while back seems to be working ? As gala says the "new normal " is taking place.
Perhaps so. One of the things I need to observe - when I can eat again! - is how well the new normal takes hold. I think I know where my attention needs to go, regarding which see below.

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I thought you had said that because of your long standing professional affiliations with Doc you never stressed out with being at events with him and your wife.
No, I've had no prior affiliation. I suppose I'd seen Doc, from time to time, in the circles in which we circulate. He first came to my notice just over a year ago, when I drove Vix to the airport to meet him so they could travel together here in the States.

That was the first time they traveled together, though they weren't as deeply involved as they have been since, and they were seen together by people who know all three of us.

Vix and I had made the choice to be poly about ten months before that.

Really, though, my struggles have had very little to do with Doc, who really does seem to be a decent guy, in a low-key kind of way. I've never been worried that he'd try to "steal" Vix from me.

Instead, the struggles have concerned communication and expectations between Vix and me regarding the management of our household and choices regarding the girls, especially since she has started traveling so much.

That, and the fact that I'm really not used to being the only adult in the house. The isolation is hard on me, and I end up feeling sorry for myself and isolating myself further . . . though, to be honest, it is difficult to invest in other relationships when I'm the sole housekeeper/chauffeur/homework assistant for a couple of weeks at a time.

Or so I have told myself.

I wonder if it's true?

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Originally Posted by dingedheart View Post
When you say that only a few people know she travels with doc from time to time are you saying that in a code word way....travel companions wink wink ?
I mean that they are seen traveling together by people who know all three of us.

Vix and I had a talk about this last night, as it seems a good idea for us to sort out among ourselves who in our shared community knows what about whom. I've been evasive, as noted. Vix has been more open, but only to the point of acknowledging that she and Doc travel together; she says this with a straight face - no winking! - and lets people draw their own conclusions.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Doc sometimes refers to Vix as his "girlfriend", even when she's there with her wedding ring clearly displayed.

What folks there make of it, I have no idea.

In short, there may be feral rumors running around out there. We have to figure out whether to let them be, take them in and feed them, or trap them and neuter them.

(Okay, sorry. There's a runaway metaphor ramp just ahead. I'll pull off there.)

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 03-25-2013 at 09:10 PM.
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  #42  
Old 03-26-2013, 02:49 AM
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Default Parting

I drove Vix to the airport, just now, which gave us a chance to talk. I told her some initial observations of my own reaction to her departure, but with the stated intention to observe them for a while, to see how I can mange them.

It turns out, there are a number of little things that have been bothering me, rather than One Big Thing.

She said that things have been so good between us for the past few weeks that it's harder to leave this time.

I couldn't kiss her, because of this virus that seems to have colonized me, but we had a long hug by the car before she went into the terminal.

It was the warmest parting we've had yet.

I'll report more of my observations soon. Right now, though, this virus is having its way with me and I must sleep.

P.S. On my way back from the airport, my iPod came around to this tune, which seemed appropriate in some oblique way - more for mood than for content: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdIhpkEkC4c

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 03-26-2013 at 02:53 AM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:56 AM
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Default Three New Things

First, I seem to be successful, so far, in keeping my anxiety at bay while Vix is in Europe.

I stayed home from work on Tuesday because of illness, and slept much of the day. That night, though, I had trouble getting to sleep at all. My head started spinning with all the things I need to do, things I haven't done, the things I may have forgotten I had to do, how my to-do list is months out of date, and there is a sink full of dishes, and aren't taxes due in two weeks, and . . .?

I mostly just observed the swirling, as if from a safe distance. I realized, as I lay there, that during Vix's past absences, I would blame that rising panic on her absence, on her own disorganization, on the complexities of being poly, on . . . anything not in my control.

I decided I should go a different way, to see what I could do on my own to get things in order, and to just not worry about the deeper household chaos over which I have little direct control.

The next morning, I organized and updated my to-do list, and started ticking things off as I did them. I'm still a little tired from my illness - a very fast-moving norovirus that has been going around - but I've been managing, to keep up with myself, more or less.

One important test came today when I learned of a late-day meeting I have next week that will keep me from getting back home to chauffeur the girls around. Chatting with Vix online, we just dealt with it, trying out various alternatives - having this friend pick up that kid, etc. - without even a hint of blame or resentment or exasperation.

I'll count that as progress.

Second, I'll be having lunch with Nyx early next week, and I'm really looking forward to this. I know she reads this thread, from time to time, so I don't want to say too much. (Hi, Nyx!) I will say that I've come around at last to the full realization that I've missed her quite a lot, since August, and will be glad to see her.

I don't know what our relationship may become, or what it's boundaries may be, but I look forward to finding out.

Third, in an unexpected development, I've struck up an email correspondence with she-on-whom-I-had-a-crush-but-for-whom . . . okay, enough of that.

I'll call her Metis, for reasons intended to be utterly obscure.

After the first confession of my longstanding affection to her, and her firm reply that she does not reciprocate my feelings, we seem to be opening up to one another as friends. At least, I further confided in her how foolish it always makes me feel to tell people how I feel (including about how foolish I feel - deal with that!). A little later, she confided in me about her recent struggles with anxiety and depression, and off we went, trading confidence for confidence, talking about our anxieties and their roots.

It's not all gloom, mind you. There's a fair bit of joking, and some digressions about television science fiction, books, work, and other matters. She says our conversations are helping her, and I really hope that's so. I know they're helping me.

This is the odd thing, though. Before, when I thought of my response to her as "a crush", and agonized over whether and how to tell her about it, and wrestled with the self-doubt and self-pity of the past months, I somehow lost sight of the basic nature of the response itself. Although I do find her really appealing, physically as well as personally, what I mainly wanted was to be close to her as a person; I wanted for us to be open to one another, to be able to trust and confide in one another.

So, with considerable agonizing, I confessed my "crush". I was rebuffed but, as a consequence, Metis and I have started, at least, to do more or less precisely what I'd hoped we might do. We're starting to trust and to confide in one another.

. . . within boundaries, of course, but an honest and open friendship is far better and happier than the stoppered-up agony I was feeling before.

I'll need to watch myself, though, and establish a careful boundary patrol. As we've corresponded, my affection for Metis has certainly not gone away, even if it has changed form and shifted direction. If anything, my affection for her has grown and deepened.

I can imagine very much wanting to express that affection in something other than words.

So, I'll just have to be watchful, and hold my attention on cultivating the friendship for its own sake.

Maybe it's because of all these developments, maybe it's because of the fine spring weather that is returning after an unseasonable cold spell - unless it's because of the cold spell itself, which I very much enjoyed - or maybe it's the lingering effects of the virus, but I've been feeling exuberant for the last couple of days, almost giddy.

Even though I still have a lot to do, I feel at ease and able to express myself almost recklessly to the world.

. . . which may just mean I really should go get some sleep.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 03-29-2013 at 12:39 PM.
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  #44  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:36 AM
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Default Walking and Falling

I've experienced what I can only describe as a wobble in the relative equanimity of the past week and a half.

On Saturday and Sunday I was feeling just fine. The giddiness I was feeling at the end of last week carried over into the weekend . . . but I found myself worrying about it, a little. Everything seemed so clear; I felt I had achieved some new level of self-understanding, I had transcended previous tensions and contradictions and achieved a new insight, a new synthesis.

It was all terribly Hegelian, for anyone who knows what I mean by that.

I nearly got swept up in it, but I issued two cautions to myself. The first was that I had been here before, riding high on self-confidence, ready to cast off old props and soar . . . only to come back down hard.

The second was an effort to be even-handed in my skepticism: if I'm going to hold my anxiety and panic at arm's length to examine them, I should do the same to my giddy exuberance.

It seemed a lot harder to get critical distance from abounding joy than it has been to get critical distance from anxiety, though.

I'm glad I tried, because it saved me a crashing disappointment.

What got me, I think, was the state of my household, which does tend to get more and more cluttered with only me and (occasionally, reluctantly) the girls to look after it. Vix really does a lot to help hold things together, when she's here.

So, the panic snuck back, as did a sense of grievance at Vix for running off to gallivant around Europe with her boyfriend!

I struggled with this darker mood last night and all this morning. I told Vix about it, chatting on Facebook, but simply as a factual report about the state of me, and about my efforts to address the issue.

What I've come back around to is that I need to attend carefully to what I can do, and to those things for which I ought really to be responsible. The dishes piled in the sink were not really Vix's fault, but a consequence of the fact that I went off on a spontaneous road trip with the girls on Saturday - a lot of fun, that was, and a chance to see a dear friend of ours - which got us back late, which made Sunday a slow and sleepy day in which little was accomplished, etc.

Then, my attempt to be more diligent in organizing my work life left me with a too-long to-do list, which had me up until midnight last night, knowing I had to get up at six to get the day started, get the girls off to school, and go teach . . . then, after a long day, I would have to clean up enough to have friends over to play some music.

The thing is, when I look at it more critically, it's all so utterly manageable, especially when I can get the girls to help out.

That's something else for which I can take responsibility: getting the girls more involved in helping maintain the household, as should be expected of children and teens.

Woven through all this is the fact that I had to postpone my lunch with Nyx, scheduled for yesterday, because of the encroachment of meetings with Important People at work, and that I hadn't heard from Metis since late last week.

By the way, I think I'm still pretty much in love with Metis. What's changed, though, is that it's not a secret any more. I've told her about it and, even though she doesn't reciprocate, neither has she turned away from me. Whereas I experienced my "crush" on her as an ache or a kind of pressure, now I just feel a lot of affection for her, without any pressure or tension in it.

I'll be having lunch with Nyx tomorrow, I exchanged emails with Metis today, and I manged to clear the sink and do some straightening and vacuuming, schlep the girls hither and yon, and make dinner in time for an evening of playing music. Some combination of those things, a nice online chat with Vix, and stunningly beautiful spring weather have conspired to stabilize my mood.

I have a long to-do list still to deal with, but I think I'll be able to handle it.

I'm not quite as giddy as I was late last week, and that's probably a good thing. That kind of exuberance worries me more than a little. Instead, I'm calm and basically happy.

I think my vigilance has paid off, in this sense: what might have been a crash into despair and despondency instead yielded only a wobble, and a short-lived one at that.

Thinking of it in those terms brought to mind an old Laurie Anderson piece from the 1980s, which lends its title to this post: Walking and Falling

(If you don't know about Laurie Anderson, it's hard to explain what it is she does, exactly.)
You're walking. And you don't always realize it,
but you're always falling.
With each step you fall forward slightly.
And then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you're falling.
And then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling
at the same time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02BIaMBfUc8

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-03-2013 at 03:00 AM.
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  #45  
Old 04-03-2013, 05:00 AM
ThatGirlInGray ThatGirlInGray is offline
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Perhaps the constantly falling and catching ourselves is why moving forward and making progress can be so nerve-wracking!

Have you thought about how many "extra" activities you schedule when Vix is gone? As parents of young children, MC and I have both had to generally accept that, unless we get a babysitter, we cannot BOTH have lives as the same time. If I'm gone to see TGIB, MC can't do much more than work and kids, and that is PLENTY! So while I think it's great and good that you and the girls took the road trip, I wonder if things like the "playing music" evening would have been better postponed til after Vix was back. Do you feel what you gained from the evening was worth the extra stress?

I'm glad you are content with the way you managed it, and I certainly agree with delegating some of it to the girls, but I'm a little concerned that you are trying to do too much, perhaps as a defense against Vix being gone? Carrying on as though everything is normal and fine? Perhaps I'm way off base, and I hope so, but I thought you might want to consider it.
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  #46  
Old 04-03-2013, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ThatGirlInGray View Post
Have you thought about how many "extra" activities you schedule when Vix is gone? As parents of young children, MC and I have both had to generally accept that, unless we get a babysitter, we cannot BOTH have lives as the same time. If I'm gone to see TGIB, MC can't do much more than work and kids, and that is PLENTY! So while I think it's great and good that you and the girls took the road trip, I wonder if things like the "playing music" evening would have been better postponed til after Vix was back. Do you feel what you gained from the evening was worth the extra stress?

I'm glad you are content with the way you managed it, and I certainly agree with delegating some of it to the girls, but I'm a little concerned that you are trying to do too much, perhaps as a defense against Vix being gone? Carrying on as though everything is normal and fine? Perhaps I'm way off base, and I hope so, but I thought you might want to consider it.
I still don't want to go into too much detail, but playing music is not, for me, just an occasional enjoyable activity. It's an avocation that involves a number of standing commitments. Last night's gathering was a band practice, not just a random gathering of musically inclined friends.

I have a number of such commitments.

But even if it weren't that, it might be worth doing. I can't wait for Vix to be here to be fully alive and engaged in the wider world. That's self-defeating, for at least two reasons. First, I would be so bitter and angry when Vix is here I wouldn't be living then, anyway. I speak from experience on this. Second, it would be a sad, intermittent kind of life.

But, yes, I acknowledge the point. I may need to make some strategic choices to manage my time better. I mean, having a life might really cut in to the amount of time I spend moping around on the Internet, waiting for Answers or for Something to Happen. Really, there are hours of time I can reclaim from hanging out on Facebook and even on this forum, as useful as it still is to me to read and post here.

More seriously, I think there are some tasks I've always thought I should attend to that I might delegate to others. I've needed for months to do some serious yard work, for example. I haven't done it, and am increasingly paralyzed with guilt for not having done it . . . plus, spring is here, and the wisteria is already growing again, curse the foul weed.

Well, I think I'm going to hire someone to put things in order and to maintain the yard, at least through the summer. That would be a load off my mind and off my schedule, and I can focus on other things.

I've always been reluctant to delegate the care and schlepping of the girls to other people - I always thought of that as our job, something Vix and I should be able to manage between us - but I may have to come around on that one, and I may need to take more responsibility for making the arrangements myself.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-03-2013 at 12:37 PM.
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  #47  
Old 04-03-2013, 01:31 PM
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Default Foolery

I received a PM from someone with whom I have corresponded, from time to time. This individual is keeping a low profile, but a question posed to me in a recent message merits some thought and at least an initial response.

It has to do with the concern I've expressed about feeling foolish, especially in my crush on Metis. My correspondent wrote:

Quote:
I hope you don't mean foolish as in stupid or ignorant, but rather whimsical and impulsive (in the best way).
Actually, what I had in mind was a slightly harsher judgment: foolish, as in old enough to know better; foolish, as in justly an object of ridicule. This is not a matter of stupidity or ignorance, but of immaturity, lack of appropriate self-discipline, a failure to live up to a standard I have set for myself (or allowed to be set for me by others.)

This came up in my correspondence with Metis, last week. She wrote that I shouldn't feel foolish for responding to her the way I did, or even for expressing myself the way I did.

I replied that I did still feel foolish, but that maybe it's not such a bad thing, after all, to feel foolish.

(Digression: I've noted, I think, that she struggles with some of the same kinds of insecurity and anxiety I do, so we have that in common. I wonder, in fact, whether I recognized that in her long before she told me about it; maybe that's part of why I was drawn to her, that recognition of someone like myself. It's worth considering, anyway.)

I think this may be part of my exuberance late last week, that I began to let go, a little, of the high standards I imposed on myself that make me curse myself for a fool simply for having a human response to someone, and that keep me from expressing my response for another person out of fear of being seen as somehow weak or ridiculous.

In Metis' case, there was the added complication of an actual creep factor, since she is a former student. One is not supposed to fall for one's students!

I'm sure it happens all the time, in fact, but one really, quite reasonably is not supposed to do anything about it . . . or even say anything about it.

There is a real, substantive folly in stepping over that particular line. In the wrong circumstances, with the wrong words or with a misunderstanding, it can be a career-ending blunder.

But back to the main thread on this. The point is that, as much as I should forgive others for being not-me, I need to be willing to forgive myself for being a mere human.

(Sigh.)

Two further thoughts are twined through my reflections on foolishness.

One is something I picked up in one poly forum or another - I don't think it was this one - when I expressed a my abject fear of making a fool of myself. Someone replied that it's far better for me to make a fool of myself than to make a fool of someone else.

I'm still thinking about that one; there's something to it.

The other is a portion of a favorite poem that always comes to mind at this time of year, "since feeling is first" by e.e. cummings:
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers.
cummings is always a good counterweight to my usual way of thinking about and judging my own motives and conduct.
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  #48  
Old 04-04-2013, 02:28 AM
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Default Much Ado about Lunch

I had lunch with Nyx today.

We met at a restaurant we'd been to several times before; she was on her lunch break, I was on my way home after a morning in the office, with an afternoon of grading and schlepping to look forward to.

(As it happened, schlepping girls here and there took priority; I've settled down to grading this evening, and am currently about halfway done with the first and most urgent grading task.)

It was the first I'd seen Nyx since the day she broke off with me, back in August. We greeted each other with a warm hug, which we held a bit too long, perhaps, for just a hello between friends.

Then, we talked.

Oh, my, but it was good to see her. I'm still trying to sort out the feelings that welled up in me, all of them good. No matter how deep I dig, I can't find any bad feeling toward her at all.

(I do know that Nyx reads this thread, but I'm not really holding anything back here. If I'd felt anything negative toward her, I would have found a way to bring it up with her today, or in recent email exchanges.)

(It occurs to me - as I extend this parenthetical digression beyond all bounds of sense - that there's an odd ethical quandary here. As I sort out my feelings on this thread, I may discover things and articulate things I have not yet expressed to Nyx directly, things that might come as a surprise to her. It feels weird, then, to be about to write what I'm about to write - I hope you'll forgive me, Nyx; I really am thinking out loud, as it were.)

(Okay, end of digression. Resuming, as if uninterrupted . . .)

All of the love and desire I felt for Nyx last year is still there, every bit of it. If anything, it's clearer and more settled than it was. I was startled by the intensity, the immediacy of it; I was also a little abashed - and I have told Nyx this part, in an email - and may have yammered a bit in reaction to it all.

There's a part of me that wished we had more time today, so that we could skip lunch and go back to her apartment . . .

But here's where I want to be intentional, deliberate about my relationship with Nyx, to work out with her - more carefully than we did before - what our relationship can be, and how its boundaries should be defined and maintained.

I want, as always, to be very careful of her, and of myself. The fact is, she has just gone through some serious upheaval in her life, as some relationships have fallen apart and others have come together. She has also embarked on a project she described as "becoming [her] own primary" - an idea that has taken hold in my own mind, and may have helped inform recent changes in my approach to things.

So, here's what it comes to. I am happier than I know how to express to have her back in my life, even just as someone I have lunch with. I don't know what our relationship might become, but I want to be sure, as much as we can be sure, that it finds a form and a level that suits us both.

We parted with open-ended plans to have brunch together on a weekend morning, and with another warm and slightly-too-long hug.
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:41 AM
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Default A Stability Engine?

I am starting to think I might actually be developing a knack for short-circuiting stress and anxiety.

Today, I had to make my way back toward home from work, riding the train to where the car is parked so I could pick up my older daughter at school and drop her off at dance class just in time to drive home and pick up my younger daughter and drop her off at her dance class . . . you get the idea.

Today, though, a wrench in the works: a half-hour delay on the train line! So, my older daughter had to walk, but I had to catch up to her with her dance shoes, which she'd left in the car. Then I was late picking up my younger daughter, and so on . . .

And why is it that, when you most need to hurry, other drivers seem to slow down and get stupid?

Or is that just confirmation bias?

Anyway, it was a stressful afternoon, on its face. I did rage at one or two especially befuddled motorists - in my quiet, Midwestern way - but I came out the other side with my mood and my outlook relatively unscathed.

I just rolled with it.

After the 2008 election, as I remember it, one or another talking head - I think it was David Brooks - described President-elect Obama as having a kind of built-in "stability engine." His point was that, unlike the previous two president, one of whom seemed desperate for the approval of his daddy, and the other of whom seemed desperate for the approval of anyone at all, Obama seemed very composed and self-contained, not desperate for anything, and not likely to be knocked off-center by the buffeting he had received as a candidate or was about to receive as president.

I remember thinking, at the time: Hunh! A stability engine! I should get me one of those!

Well, lo and behold, I may be starting to cobble one together, now.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-05-2013 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:14 AM
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Didn't Calvin build one of those?



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