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  #101  
Old 07-21-2013, 10:41 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Default Family Holiday

C and I have been on a camping trip with my very large extended family. We went on holiday to a place where we used to go. When I was growing up, we went to the same campsite every year - we started when I was 7 or 8 and I had my last stay there the summer I was 19 when I was working in the village close to the campsite.

Then none of us went at all for about 20 years until the family children started arriving and my siblings started to remember the fun we'd had as kids and wanted their kids to experience the same thing. And so the family holiday has been resurrected - we started going back a couple of years ago.

I experienced lots of firsts on holidays there - first kiss, first trips out drinking with my friends, first time living on my own, first job. So many good, fun experiences.

And yet - it was a place I couldn't even think about for years. When I lived and worked there, I had several FWBs (although I didn't call them that back then) as well as several FwithoutBs. I spent my free time hanging out in the pub and would often be accompanied back to my home by one or other of my friends. I had no interest in having a boyfriend or going on dates - I was horrified once when I was asked out for dinner by a boy I didn't know. He was sober, sensible, didn't go to the pub, planned on going to university. His advances repelled me - I preferred to go to the pub and go home with whoever took my fancy that night. This was all light hearted and fun - the blokes all knew each other and nobody was upset or getting jealous.

My ex of 10 years was so upset by my behaviour and I loved him so much that to keep our relationship together, I suppressed all of that side of myself. I very thoroughly convinced myself that I had behaved badly. That I should have been less free with my affections. That I was dirty and slutty. Even when we split up, getting over those feelings took years and years. I had completely internalised my ex's views on sex and just took ages to get them out of myself.

Anyway - this year, the others went up before me. I had another trip away to go on first. I had several messages from my mum telling me that one of my old FWBs - the guy I shared my first kiss with - had been spending time with them and was very much looking forward to seeing me.

Seeing him again was both lovely and sad. Lovely because it's comforting to go somewhere where nothing changes. Even though over 20 years had passed since I last saw him, he spoke to me and to all of us as if he last saw us a week or two ago.

Of course, that was also the sadness in it. My old FWB has a son now who is very much like him - a bright, sociable 10 year old who is fascinated by the world and happy to meet new people. Other than that, his life seems much the same. He is still planning on doing something big that will make him lots of money and still finding it hard to actually do the thing. He spoke with such enthusiasm about his plans but spent no time on progressing them while we were there.

He has for the past couple of years given up smoking and drinking. A relief for everybody - especially the drinking. He has a major problem with it, becoming verbally aggressive and sometimes violent while drunk. There was at least one summer while I was there that I left not speaking to him after he'd been drunk and verbally aggressive - only to find him apologetic and sad the next year when I told him what had happened (events he never had any memory of). I believe that this worsened significantly in the years I wasn't visiting. His parents - who are absolutely lovely people - were struggling and spoke of their relief that this time his giving up of alcohol is lasting this time.

The thing is, I kind of wish he'd found another way to control his temper. If he lived where I live or even if he lived where he lives but was a woman, giving up drinking wouldn't be a problem. But where he lives, for men, drinking is an integral part of how they form and maintain social bonds. Giving it up means becoming socially isolated - there are not other groups in that area for men to be part of if they don't drink. In fact, they are seen as less than men if they don't drink heavily.

While there I met up with another old friend of mine who I haven't seen in over 20 years. She and I spent some time trying to convince my old FWB that he should get his son or his son's mum to show him how to set up a facebook account so that he could be in touch with people more. He really wasn't keen - computers are outside his comfort zone. But I remember how attracted he was to my old friend - she was and still is tall, slender, dark and beautiful and I remember how much he fancied her. She and her family are camping there for another week so maybe she can work her charm and convince him to reach out to the world.

I hope so or I fear for him. I worry that otherwise, he will start to drink again and either drink himself to death or end up in prison. Or he won't and he will slide slowly into a lonely, sad old age surrounded by the memories of things not done and connections lost - especially as his son grows up and needs him less.

So - happy holiday. I had lots of fun. C had an amazing time. I got to spend tons of quality time with my family and to reconnect with a couple of old friends I haven't seen in over 2 decades.

But still, I came away yesterday feeling a little sad and a bit worried for an old pal.

IP
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  #102  
Old 07-25-2013, 08:07 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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I can relate a little bit to some of what you wrote. Last week I got in touch with a lover from my past - he broke my heart 26 years ago! He lives far from me, so we've been emailing, texting, and sharing photos. Been in contact just about every day for a week now. He is turning out to be a fun friend to have in my life, but he is stuck in a very unhappy marriage. And there are moments when he reveals how sad and lonely he really is, but then when I ask him to elaborate or answer a question that his comment brought up, he covers it over with a "just kidding" or "no, I meant ___" kind of response. It makes me either want to shake him or save him -- or leave him alone altogether, because it's too painful for me to see such a vibrant, creative being settling for an unsatisfying life.
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  #103  
Old 07-29-2013, 06:45 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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Such a sad story, NYC.

It's so difficult to understand what it is that keeps some people together. I think it is painful to see old friends choosing a life that doesn't satisfy them.
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  #104  
Old 08-12-2013, 08:33 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I have been holidaying with friends. We combined a trip away with a running race.

Everybody I was away with is childless. One of my friends is married (to another friend of mine) but her husband is much older than her and both me and the other friend who was with us are unmarried. Other friend has been mostly single (other than fairly casual dating relationships) for the 20 or so years I've known her.

Our conversation turned to our old age and who will look after us? We have all in slightly different ways chosen lifestyles that mean we are unlikely to have the safety net of family around us. We decided that the thing to do would be to all put ourselves in the same old folks home as each other (along with any partners and friends in similar situations that any of us have at the time).

I actually think that coming together to care for each other will have to happen before then. I have a number of friends who are unmarried and childless and who don't own houses or have pension provisions. I suspect that anybody among my group of friends who has a house, space and money from a pension will find housemates from among those who have nothing.

I've long thought that it is up to those of us who choose to live outside of the traditional safety nets to look out for each other and be each other's family and care system when its needed. Good to hear that those who I choose to have as friends think similarly.

IP
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  #105  
Old 08-12-2013, 11:17 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility View Post
Our conversation turned to our old age and who will look after us? We have all in slightly different ways chosen lifestyles that mean we are unlikely to have the safety net of family around us.
I think about this quite often - as my career often puts me in a position to see what happens to our elderly when there IS no-one to "look after" them. From the other side - I watched it unfold when my father and aunt had to step up to the plate for their (child-less, widowed) great-aunts.

MrS and I are lucky enough to have nieces/nephews who are being raised by smart, responsible, ethical parents. And we will be financially in a position to afford decent care - so hopefully will not be a huge burden on them. I think about Dude though...estranged from his (dysfunctional) family. WE are his family now - by choice. There are no legal protections for him, though. What if our families don't understand that he IS family? Unless we have put plans in place...scary.

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  #106  
Old 08-13-2013, 05:53 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I'm kind of lucky and have lots of nephews and my brother and sister are both younger than me.

Friends and loves who are estranged from families are in a difficult position. I have a couple of friends with law degrees who teach and are interested in medical law. The difficulty (in the UK, at least) is that if a person is unable to care for themselves, then the medical staff consult with the next of kin.

For unmarried people, that is likely to be the closest blood relative which can be a big problem if the family is estranged.

I'm okay - my family are people I get on with and also they are people who I know can deal sensibly with the end of life stuff if they need to. They are good at working together, supporting each other and helping with tough decisions (we've been through all of that with Dad and I have lots of confidence in them).

Serious illness in a partner with a rubbish family is one of the few things that would make me consider getting married. I'm very much opposed to marriage but it is probably the easiest way to become somebody's next of kin.
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  #107  
Old 08-23-2013, 08:40 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I'm feeling incredibly lucky tonight.

Some changes I've been trying to make at my work have finally happened - very pleased about it as it's something important to me.

Things between my SO and I are excellent at the moment.

I've been flirting a bit with one or two cute guys.

I have been able to provide help to a wonderful friend of mine.

And I have just gotten involved with an exciting and very worthwhile project.

All good and I find myself smiling lots.

This has been a long, tiring week but there have been lots of positives and tomorrow I'm having lunch with an old friend and then spending the afternoon, evening and night at a music event with my SO and a few others.

I hope this good period in my life lasts for a long time to come.
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  #108  
Old 08-28-2013, 07:26 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I have been thinking for a while (again!) about intimacy, what it means to me and how I set my life up to allow its presence in my life - thanks for triggering some of these thoughts, Cleo.

In my life I very much want the freedom to experience intimacy and love as much as is possible. In fact, it has become kind of driving force for me as the amount of loss to death has built up in my life over the past few years. Now more than ever, I see relationships with others (and myself) as the most important things in my life.

I'm 40 now. Unmarried and childless.

So I feel the need to take a different view on love and intimacy than the one my parents did.

I very much value my freedom to be with old friends, to meet new friends, to have people in my life that I can hold hands with in the pub or snuggle up to when we sit together and people that I can share my problems with, laughs with and puzzle out thoughts. These are all great.

But I find myself cautious about sexual relationships and keen just now to be monogamous.

It seems to me that sometimes sex makes intimacy difficult. I find it much easier to befriend people and be relaxed with them if I'm not thinking that sex is a possibility. It's easier for my SO's women friends to meet me if they aren't worried that I see them as sexual competition. Easier for my SO's best friend's partner to be relaxed about them seeing each other knowing that sex isn't on the table for them.

I wonder if this is a life stage thing, though. I had none of this caution when I was younger. In fact, I tended to want to have close, sexual relationships with people if I possibly could. It didn't seem to be such a big deal for me or for anybody else and I quite cheerfully went around having as much sex as I could.

I kind of wonder if the next decade will end in a big change in attitude. I have several friends and acquaintances who have undergone big changes in their 50s - and for whom life has become much lighter and easier. So I wonder if when I get to my 50s will I start wanting to have multiple romantic loves? Will be interesting to find out.

IP
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  #109  
Old 10-09-2013, 06:01 AM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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RedPepper posted this http://rhetcomppolydiss.wordpress.co...nest-monogamy/ on her blog and I love it.

Intentionality and critical thought in relationships is something I'm so much into. It's been a long time since I've lived a conventional life and I'm used to the need to consider, weigh options and think as clearly as possible about what I want from my life and how I want to go about living it. This resonated with me in many ways.

IP
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  #110  
Old 11-01-2013, 05:05 PM
InfinitePossibility InfinitePossibility is offline
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I have an afternoon to myself with not much I need to do so I thought I might write a bit here.*

Things in my life are reasonably settled right now. There has been no death or serious illness for several months which is lovely.*

I haven't written about my SO and I for a while. Things there are going very well. We are finding the balance between having time to ourselves, time for sex, joint friends, our own friends, our joint and individual interests and work stuff more easily now.*

We continue to practise monogamy - with a critical eye and an appreciation that neither of us is tied to the relationship we currently have.*

Our lives are gradually becoming more entangled and we are lucky, I think, in what we have.

I am lucky in general. I have so many good people in my life.*

I am having a night out with my SO and some friends tonight. Tomorrow I'm hoping to meet another friend for coffee before spending the night babysitting my 4 little nephews. 2 of my oldest friends are going to come and stay over with their daughter so that we can hang out (my SO is giving the baby sitting a miss).*

On Sun I will visit my SO before going to pick C up from my friends who will hopefully give me coffee and sympathy for the trauma of caring for children.*

In between social time with friends, my SO and family, I do some part time paid work, some voluntary work, I love and appreciate C's presence in my life, I run, write a bit and knit.*

I have a rich, varied and interesting life. Something to be very grateful about.*

IP
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