Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > Life stories and blogs

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #61  
Old 12-23-2013, 02:07 AM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default Sticking point

Turns out I might not say "I'm sorry" that often. I say it when I feel bad that I've done / omitted something, but I think that's usually when I feel culpable. Like, I made a mistake and I could have done better, in the same situation.

I haven't said an unqualified "sorry" for what happened with Lobe.

From Grotto's perspective: he told me this would hurt him. He told me not to. He begged me.

What I did: assumed it wouldn't hurt him as bad as it did (or at least, trusted that he'd get over it?), prioritised my own feelings, went ahead and did it anyway. For all intents and purposes, cheated on him. (Even though I didn't promise to respect this boundary).

Why don't I feel sorry?

I was in a mood and a headspace plus a situation that I didn't plan (in fact, did my best to plan against)... Looking back, I don't know how much differently I could have acted. I appalling misjudged shit (which I've said I'm sorry for) but what Grotto needs to hear is a simple apology. "I'm sorry, I hurt you, I did a shitty thing."

I can't say that! It doesn't feel sincere.

He needs me to feel that. He's said it's disturbing, even, that I can't say that.

I... am back reading the same articles online that I read when it happened at the start. Am I a sociopath? Do I have no capacity for remorse? Am I such a selfish bitch that I can't feel for other people? Am I so stubborn that I can't say I'm sorry?

And yet, what I think has happened here is Grotto has been (understandably) hurt, a lot, by what happened. But what happened for him is not what happened for me... I know it's like letting myself off the hook (?) but what it boils down to for me is miscommunication, misunderstandings and really, fucking, bad timing rather than me actively doing shit to trample over Grotto's feelings.

I'm frustrated. I feel we're fighting with words.

He's sifted through his emotions, and one of the sticking points for him is my lack of apology. What he needs, he says, is to hear me say sorry. He can't heal without that.

It all sounds utterly fair enough.

And yet, I feel like what's hurt him is wanting things he can't have. Like me to be perfect. Like me to always be able to behave exactly how he tells me.

He says this experience has deeply shaken his trust in me. He can't believe that I care about his feelings at all.

When I hooked up with Lobe, Grotto felt like I "erased" him, that I stopped giving a shit about how he felt.

Yeah, that happened. Of course that happened. At some point in the night, I no longer cared how my actions would affect Grotto, I just went with it because it's what I wanted. I couldn't help myself.

"I couldn't help myself"?

Am I a terrible person?

I don't know. I try to behave with integrity. Or at least, I aspire to.

I'm tending towards being quite numb right now, fundamentally unsure of myself, afraid to be because maybe I'm no good, at the core.

Grotto turned up at 1am wanting to talk. I hung out with him for about four hours... The conversation spiralled to this point (my lack of apology) and got stuck there. I couldn't handle it; I asked him to leave.

I know he's hurting. But I feel like I can't give him what he needs.

I'm not sorry for behaving the way I did.

I'm sorry that it hurt him.

Fuck.
Reply With Quote
  #62  
Old 12-23-2013, 09:20 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,423
Default

I don't understand. What happened? You didn't start hooking up with Lobe without Grotto's consent. He's just backtracking, isn't he? It's like a case of "buyer's remorse." For whatever reason, he's become dissatisfied with something, is blaming you, and wants you to make it better. Do neither of you remember this? :
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuchka View Post
Holy hell.

Grotto loves me so much.

We just chatted online, and he told me he's okay if I see where things go with Lobe.


What he needs:
- reassurance
- for me to move back soon and
- me to take care of him.

All these I can do.

...

I asked how long he's thought this way (some time) and whether he was sure (yes) and whether he felt pressure from me (no). He said this was coming from a place of love, because he could tell there were feelings involved.

He said he wanted a continued restriction on having casual sex with his friends, but this was an exception.
I wouldn't apologize either, considering that he told you he was okay with it. The discomfort he's feeling is not your responsibility. It's up to him to own up to it and work on it from the inside. An apology from you would only be a temporary Band-Aid anyway.
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia "

An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 12-23-2013 at 09:24 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #63  
Old 12-23-2013, 09:43 AM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I don't understand. What happened?
Hey, nycindie. Sorry I wasn't clearer. Grotto isn't upset about things that have happened since he said okay to this - although he does feel that I'm not always giving him enough reassurance, despite him teling me he'd need reassurance. I'm finding it hard to work out exactly what more I can do. He can't think of more things for me to do to make him feel more reassured. He just doesn't feel reassured right now. He feels very insecure in our relationship.

However, the main point is around the first time I hooked up with Lobe, which was not with Grotto's consent. (This incident.) In fact, he had explicitly told me he was not comfortable with it and that it would hurt him a lot. And I did it anyway.

I feel like the words I've used in the previous sentence should naturally flow on to me feeling guilty. I still freakin don't. I can't tell if it's a difference in how we use words... or me being a moral weasel... or what. Ech.

Thanks for your thoughts, though! It was very nice to get a response; I'm feeling pretty grim at the moment
Reply With Quote
  #64  
Old 12-23-2013, 10:01 AM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,423
Default

Sorry you're feeling grim! You are such an alive, passionate, and vivacious woman (obviously). Is it too much for him to handle at times? In your other thread you linked to, after the first time you were with Lobe, and you flew back to be with Grotto, you wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuchka View Post
My god, what a mess. But we're working through it. I'm forgiven, for a few discrete counts of idiocy. Grotto's bruised, will take a while to fully get over it, but things are much, much better. We're solid. Back on the bicycle.
He had forgiven you, made an effort to get past it, but now, six months later, is falling apart over it. When someone is upset about something that happened in the past, it means they are holding on to old hurts and not letting go. Very little will help until that person is willing to free themselves of it. You could apologize to Grotto until you are blue in the face, but he will still feel stuck and uncomfortable until he actively forgives you and is willing to wipe the slate clean. My guess is that something triggered him, or he is unhappy about something going on in his life and looking for someone or something to blame for it. I am not trying to make him out to be an ogre; I'm just saying that he has some inner work to do in order to come to terms with the incident, whether you say you are sorry or not. It seems you have been doing what he asked you to do to make up for your transgression, but he is fixated on hearing those words.
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

"Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me." ~Bryan Ferry
"Love and the self are one . . ." ~Leo Buscaglia "

An excellent blog post on hierarchy in polyamory:
solopoly.net/2014/10/31/why-im-not-a-secondary-partner-the-short-version/

Last edited by nycindie; 12-23-2013 at 10:23 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #65  
Old 12-23-2013, 10:47 AM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default

Ah, nycindie - thanks. I appreciate your perspective, and also taking the time to speak my own words back at me.

Grotto's surprised himself at how bruised he still is about this. He wanted to get over it, but he hasn't. That's part of it.

Another aspect is how things have actually grown between Lobe and I. How I've been feeling about it, and how this has impacted on the dynamics of other relationships. It's like there's another major complexity to the weather system. None of us expected how this would affect other things.

Other triggers could be how Grotto's been using substances recently. He said he's maybe been a bit too careless around some things and needs to take better care of himself. I've found him to be quite volatile of late - but it's hard to tell what's causing what.

Also, I think he expected that I would come back to this city and it would all be better. But I've found it hard to adjust. My work hasn't been too great, and I haven't been in love with the city this time around either. Grotto hates the thought of me leaving again.

Mm. I need to have more patience and gentleness towards Grotto, but I'm finding it hard. Spending time with him, in certain moods, is difficult... I feel like he's pulling me down into a hole with him. The other day, walking with him, I felt like I was a can on a string that he was dragging behind him.

I don't want to be unwell. I have to take care of my mind. I believe this is a good kind of selfish.

Grotto's talking about going to the doctor and asking about getting on anti-depressants again. He asked me to go with him, and I said I would. Mm, I'm not the greatest at supporting other people through depression. It can trigger me feeling like shit too, and then I need space. I do my best, though... ah.

Even if it was an accident, I've knocked him over, and I need to help him up as far as I can. It's not just up to him.

That said, much of the work that needs to be done - as nycindie said - are things that only Grotto can do.

I am sorry that I've made him have to spend so much energy working through this. It can't be much fun at all.

Hmm.

When Grotto's feeling hurt, he can throw some hard verbal punches. Sometimes, I feel like he's painting me into a corner. Making it so there's no way out but how he needs me to be.

He's a kind, reasonable person. I don't understand how this works. It brings out bad things in me. Makes me feel pretty useless.

"How can you be like this?" he asks me.

I dunno, love, this is how I am.

He's hurting, I'm hurting too. Fuck, I'm sick of this. I hope we can work through it, but I'm considering where my limits are.

Ok, gonna cook dinner! Kitchen therapy
Reply With Quote
  #66  
Old 12-23-2013, 05:20 PM
SNeacail's Avatar
SNeacail SNeacail is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Near Disneyland
Posts: 1,646
Default

As some one who needs to hear the apology BEFORE any explainations/ justifications, this is a HUGH deal. My husband is like you and thinks that his explanation and the intent behind is good enough. For someone who actually needs to hear the words "I'm sorry", this just comes off as a justification. Until there is a genuine apology with NO explanation/justification, those of us who need to hear it can't move past the hurt. Our brains can't shift gears beyond the hurt until we hear a genuine apology.

You claim to be sorry that you hurt Grotto, but can't bring your self to say it. To him that says, you don't really care about him and that he was hurt. Why is it hard to say, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you, that was never, my intent"? Apologizing for hurting him, is not admitting your actions were wrong. It's necessary to put out the fire before trying determine how it started in the first place. The embers are still smoldering, go put out the fire. Then tell him, your willing to try and find the real problem and work on a solution when he is ready.
Reply With Quote
  #67  
Old 12-23-2013, 10:30 PM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
As some one who needs to hear the apology BEFORE any explainations/ justifications, this is a HUGH deal. My husband is like you and thinks that his explanation and the intent behind is good enough. For someone who actually needs to hear the words "I'm sorry", this just comes off as a justification. Until there is a genuine apology with NO explanation/justification, those of us who need to hear it can't move past the hurt. Our brains can't shift gears beyond the hurt until we hear a genuine apology.
Thank you so much for sharing how it is for you. Yup, that sounds like how things are for Grotto too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
Why is it hard to say, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you, that was never, my intent"?
I have said that. I feel - and have said - I'm sorry that I've derailed your emotions over this. I gambled with your feelings and you got hurt. It's really shit. I never wanted to hurt you. I was careless. I'm sorry. We kinda went through this right back when it happened (in June).

Now he says the sorry he hasn't yet heard from me, the sorry he needs to hear, is a clear "sorry, I did the wrong thing." Taking responsibility for my actions. I'm not exactly sure what that means. The fact I don't know what that means, seems to disturb him. For him, it's a simple thing. To say "yeah, I was drunk, I wasn't thinking clearly, but I did a shitty thing. I fucked up."

I can't just parrot back some words that he says he needs to hear. There's nothing genuine about that...

I've talked about how I do actually feel. If what I actually feel isn't good enough for him, then I'm not sure what to do.

Last edited by fuchka; 12-23-2013 at 10:33 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #68  
Old 12-24-2013, 12:53 AM
SNeacail's Avatar
SNeacail SNeacail is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Near Disneyland
Posts: 1,646
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by fuchka View Post
Now he says the sorry he hasn't yet heard from me, the sorry he needs to hear, is a clear "sorry, I did the wrong thing." Taking responsibility for my actions. I'm not exactly sure what that means. The fact I don't know what that means, seems to disturb him. For him, it's a simple thing. To say "yeah, I was drunk, I wasn't thinking clearly, but I did a shitty thing. I fucked up."

I can't just parrot back some words that he says he needs to hear. There's nothing genuine about that...
Agree! You apologized for the unintentional hurt, but you certainly can't apologize just so he can be right. It took my husband and I a great deal of effort and counseling to finally figure out how to START to communicate. We are both good at making assumptions about what the other person understood and we are both usually WRONG. I would suspect that you guys have a great deal of miscommunications and misinterpretations of things said and not said. You may need some extra help in how to communicate with each other. Seriously, I wish I hadn't waited 20+ years to seek help.
Reply With Quote
  #69  
Old 12-24-2013, 12:57 AM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SNeacail View Post
You may need some extra help in how to communicate with each other.
Yup, I was thinking that too. I've found some local poly-friendly counselling options to suggest if we can't get past this by ourselves.

Thanks again for your insights!
Reply With Quote
  #70  
Old 12-29-2013, 01:52 AM
fuchka's Avatar
fuchka fuchka is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 338
Default This post is exactly 10,000 characters long ;)

So, ha - I got sick of the madness. Like, almost bored with it. Hated feeling bad, hated feeling triggered, hated long gloomy stretches of time when we were circling each other with fists protecting our faces but no one throwing a punch. The emotional knot was dense. Even if we managed to tease out a little piece of it, something seemed to happen to tighten it all again. Seemed to be uphill all the way, with no respite. The potential for this pallor to stretch through the holidays depressed me.

I thought to myself - what do I want to happen? Do I really want to break up with Grotto, or do I want to work this out? Do I like him? Do I want to be with him?

Yeah, fuck it, I love the guy. He's great. I may not want to live with him, but I do want to be close to him. He is hurting right now, and is not well, and has been rough with me... But I've also been un-gentle with him. I can be harsh, holding a hard line, not really willing to let people push their fingers in my clay.

For a couple of days around Christmas I had planned to head out of town to spend time with my aunty and uncle. I didn't want to leave with things so unresolved with Grotto.

So, on a whim, I asked him out for a drink. I had a small window of time before catching a train to visit family. He met me at a bar by the train station, we shared a jug of Pimm's and I recapped where I was at. What I felt sorry for. That I wanted to work shit out. That I couldn't really apologise in the words that he wanted but I couldn't tell if this was a difference in content or phrasing.

We had to tread tentatively; the ice was thin in patches. We nearly got stuck again on whether or not I "ought to have known better". I feel I know better now, but I was dumber then and therefore acted like an idiot. I'm sorry, I was an idiot. Grotto thought that I made an avoidable mistake. I'm sorry, I did the wrong thing, I should have known better - maybe?

I wasn't inclined to try to unpack it any further, and he didn't seem to be either. I told him that I thought we were are our limit of picking this apart ourselves. We've talked so much, and it's constantly round and round the same points. I said I found some counselling options and that would be my next step rather than talking through this again.

He paused, then said: "I accept your apology. I forgive you. I will try to get over this." And I fleetingly thought, but didn't say: "you said the same thing last time." Cos really? It's not a re-run. It's as if we failed to deal to it properly initially. We underestimated the gravity, how insidious the roots.

It felt good to send him a merry Christmas text on the 25th, without any animosity between us.

My aunt wanted to me to stay at her place another night, so on the 27th Grotto came out as well. (She lives about an hour train ride out of town.) We decompressed, watched "Night Shift". On the 28th we dallied getting back home. When we got back to the city, we sat on a grass verge outside the train station and talked some more. Some complex stuff, but really good to talk it through. I ended up staying over at his place.

In retrospect, some spontaneous, yet much-needed, quality time. Phew. We're good.

A few interesting unrelated points that got rustled up during the Christmas period:

1. How do I relate to people who aren't comfortable with my non-monogamy?

From my perspective, I have no shame or problem with being open about the people who are my companions through life. But some people (mostly family members) aren't comfortable with this. My aunt who I visited at Christmas is probably the most relaxed of my parents' siblings. Last Christmas (2012), Ocean, Grotto and I spent a couple of days with her. Grotto made breakfast on Christmas day, etc. I really loved that.

This year, though, my aunt brought up the fact that she obviously prefers when Ocean's there, and doesn't relate that well with Grotto. She said "you can't expect me to feel the same way about Grotto as I do about Ocean. Ocean is perfect for you! He's always going to be number one in my heart." Now, I don't and can't expect her (or anyone else) to feel any particular way about anyone. But it made me realise that my 'other significants' can be felt as an imposition, as something to tolerate rather than rejoice in.

I've had this vibe from a cousin before. She is really open-minded and has had many partners (some when cheating on another) but she can't understand my mindset of being okay with non-monogamy. She says it makes her "deeply uncomfortable". She doesn't like seeing me with lovers other than Ocean, and while she'd like to be okay with it, she can't pretend she is - cos she isn't.

Even my brother who visited me, and who is somewhat okay about things and talks with me now and then about Grotto, surprised me by telling me "you should know I don't like to see you being affectionate with Ocean, and then being affectionate with Grotto." (This was referencing an occasion we had gone out in a big group of friends that included Ocean and Grotto.)

I'm not entirely sure how to deal with this. I mean, people's opinions are their own opinions. I'm not there to evangelise. But I feel it makes me have to decide: how much do I value their relationship? Can I do a "don't ask, don't tell" thing with them? Do I have the time?

My love life doesn't always have to be a live topic for every interaction, of course. But I am finding it increasingly hard to make time to be close to people who don't get that aspect of me. Especially if I'm going to have kids with someone else (not Ocean)! I feel I need to focus on relationships that support my journey rather than are inimical to it.

One way I can understand it is that there are some relationships where I am more in it for them than for me. I don't need to share my life so much with them, to share the real things in my life. If they want to ask, they can ask. I will catch up with them because I want to be a support to them. It might make things more pressured on me, because I can't 'double up'... e.g. if I'm spending time with a partner that isn't Ocean, I can't catch up with them too at that time.

The only problem with that is it feels self-fulfilling. They never see or hear about other people in my life. They are allowed to keep their fantasy world where Ocean and I are a traditional couple. Even more, they don't get an opportunity to "acclimatise".

Now I'm thinking (for the relationships I value), I could give people that option. Do you want to meet my other partners? Do you want to hear about things that are going on for me? Or would you rather not engage with that aspect of my life (even though it's a big part of my life)? Then it's up to them if they are open to it or not.

2. Jealousy around holiday plans!

Despite some great advice I read somewhere (maybe even on this forum) that you should talk with partners well in advance about expectations around holiday plans, this year I didn't. I had been thinking of making a vegetarian Christmas spread for my aunty and uncle (my uncle is a strict vegetarian, and I am trying to eat vegetarian). I thought of inviting Grotto too. But before I could do that, he told me that he wanted to make turducken. And I knew he'd probably been invited to Bijou's, and maybe other places too. From time to time, he's done Sunday meat roasts with his flatmate, Bijou and others.

So I said nothing. I definitely wouldn't wanna be the vegetarian complication for a turducken meal... I love sharing food, and I've found it difficult to figure out the social aspects of diet choice. I also enjoy the taste of well-cooked meats (I enjoy food in general!) so it's this battle in my head as to how I walk the line. I've wavered of late but recently decided a harder line is best otherwise I just end up eating meat all the time.

Anyway. Turns out Grotto ended up at a friend's place for a vegan Christmas meal. I felt really dumb for not speaking up about my idea. And also I felt a twinge of upset, that... I dunno... the only idea he had had was a meal that I would have conflict about. On top of that was funny jealousy over his flatmate... I feel like I've invited him (the flatmate) to food at my place a few times, but he's never made it. I think it's more me having a hangup that I'm not "cool" enough for Grotto's group of friends to want to spend time with. I don't actually suggest we do things together very often. I should put myself out there more.

And talk about Christmas better next year. Ha.

3. Christmas card etiquette

After a socially tiring visit to our home city, when we had Way Too Many people to catch up with and Not Enough Time, I suggested to Ocean that we send Christmas cards to our friends in our home city, as a better way to keep in touch with them. We made a list, checked it twice and decided to try our hand at screen-printing cards. They looked awesome. Grotto helped for some of it.

Making the list, I noticed a few were mutual friends with Grotto, and some of them (e.g. Grotto's ma, and his brother) would be more appropriate for the three of us to send rather than just Ocean and I. I think the easiest way would have been for all of us to just sign with a personal message whichever cards we wanted to. But it did increase the work load. Ocean had a work deadline and didn't actually have time to sign cards. So I said I would do it for both of us. However, then the ones from all three of us (Grotto, Ocean and me) looked odd. Mostly Grotto did a message from himself and then I did a message from both Ocean and me.

If there is a next time, I guess we'll just have to make sure there's enough time for everyone to sign for themselves. I was thinking of any way to make it more efficient, but I'm not sure there is. May be just another one of those times when non-monogamy is more work
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:26 AM.