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  #21  
Old 05-06-2011, 04:22 AM
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Part IV: Ella, the End

I tried to write this part out last night. I kept going off on tangents about how I felt, what I could have done differently, etc. It was a serious navel-gazing lamefest.

I'm not sure how much I can condense it, though, or how much I can tame my reactions. Plus, this part is recent, so it's still pretty fresh. Like a car accident, it all kind of happened in slow-motion, and bits of me were pretty badly broken.

The Talk

I sent Ella an email, asking her to come to coffee with me after work so we could talk about things. I sort of went about it poorly--I think it scared her, first because I didn't give her much detail (I didn't want to end up discussing about it over email, where there was no give-and-take, no body language, etc.), and second, because it was outside of our normal once-a-week date schedule. She was on the defensive the minute I walked in the door.

I didn't get much out. I told her that I missed Ben, but didn't define my feelings beyond that. I told her that I wasn't able to support her as much as I wanted to as she came to terms with his relationship with Keri. I told her I just couldn't at that point.

She became very, very angry, and that kinda halted the discussion. Like I said, she was on the defensive already--I think I could have read the phonebook to her and she still would have lost it. I didn't get much else out, though.

We also didn't discuss what to do about it, though I expressed a commitment to working through it. I knew Ella needed a longer "cooling down" period than most people--usually a couple days. So we made our usual weekend date plans, and that was it.

The Email

Things changed, but only a little. Ben started having a couple drinks with us, and Ella didn't shoo him away as quickly. I felt more comfortable at their house, but in a way it made it worse, because I realized how much I loved being around both of them together. They're both philosophy nerds, and they think themselves in circles, and I'm more practical. It was fun to watch them spiral into esoteric clouds of reasoning, and then playfully throw them off balance with an unexpectedly down-to-earth question or comment.

I had a mad couple crush.

Ella stopped asking for support in the Ben and Keri thing, but she didn't stop talking about it (Ben never discussed it around me at all). She was making a sincere effort to come to terms with it--really trying to see understand what they saw in each other, and why Ben was interested in both of them. She wasn't having an easy time, but she was trying.

Maybe I got selfish. I couldn't understand why she was putting out the effort to be okay with Keri, but had never done the same for me--not when Ben and I were first attracted to each other two and a half years before, and not now. I started to think that maybe she respected Keri more, or related to her more (Keri also has a lot of male partners, though they tend to be less frequent, and more selective). Again, I thought, there was something wrong with me.

So I thought it would be a good idea to just ask Ella why things had played out that way. I drafted a very careful, non-accusatory email.

She responded well, and with equal care. She explained that, the way she understood it, Ben's feelings for Keri were more "friends with benefits"--they had a lot in common, and they wanted to hook up. Also, Ben had been very honest about his feelings for Keri the entire time. With me, he had apparently been squirrelly about it early on, not directly answering Ella's questions about whether he liked me or not, and had only become more avoidant since Ella and I got involved. Ella said she was afraid he had deeper feelings for me, some kind of "passion," and that he might see her as "vanilla." She explained that, in part because she wasn't attracted to Keri, she didn't feel like Keri was the type that someone would lose themselves over.

I was flattered, of course, and for a while that made me feel better.

Then I got it into my head that the problem was that I fell for people too easily, or that I hadn't had enough casual partners. If I was more emotionally detached, or if I had had many no-strings-attached sexual relationships (I've had exactly none, for the record), Ella might have been more okay with the situation. So there was a problem with me--I was too emotional, too invested, too naive. I hated myself even more for being the type that gets passed over--if I'd been more attractive, if I'd taken better care of myself, if I hadn't been such a fat, ugly loser for most of my life, this wouldn't have happened. I felt like Ella and Keri were doing things the right way, and I--with years of monogamy and lousy self-image--was just a complete failure.

--------------------------------------------

Okay. Writing this out is much more painful than I thought it would be. I'm going to break here and finish tomorrow, once I've had a chance to wallow, eat too much chocolate, and bounce back.
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  #22  
Old 05-06-2011, 07:10 AM
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MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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Dear Ivy,
I don't want to belittle the pain you're going through or the effort you took to open up to us about this. Nor give you the idea that I don't take all this seriously. (I hope that you know me - even at a distance - better than that.) This thread is the first one that I looked at this morning. But my need to get things done today, the wish to let you tell this at your own speed, and the thought that you might appreciate a small smile amidst all this, all cause me to limit my comment just now to:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
[B]It was a serious navel-gazing lamefest.
How refreshing to find someone who doesn't spell this as "naval"!
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And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin
I'd rather have a broken heart / Than have a heart of stone.
- from "Boundless Love (A Polyamory Song)" by Jimmy Hollis i Dickson
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  #23  
Old 05-06-2011, 02:53 PM
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Oh, I love naval-gazing. Nothing better than a load of hot seamen.
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:58 PM
TruckerPete TruckerPete is offline
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Oh, I love naval-gazing. Nothing better than a load of hot seamen.
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  #25  
Old 05-08-2011, 06:10 AM
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I've had a decent day or two and haven't really wanted to follow up on this. Vino and I have been spending more quality time--that is, more wine on his part, less broken-hearted weeping on mine. And...I have a shiny new mini-crush! I've been letting myself enjoy it, but I've also been distancing myself so it doesn't grow into full-on infatuation. I'm definitely not even remotely her type (trust me on that), and I don't think rejection would do wonders for my self-esteem at this point.

Vino is pushing the new crush anyway. I suspect he's damn tired of hearing about Ella. I owe him many dinners, back rubs, and more, I think.

Anyway...

The Trip

Ella and I had planned a short vacation together--one night at a nice historic hotel. The drive was a couple hours, though, so I picked her up and we set off.

The first hour or so went well. We talked a lot, and there was no tension or weirdness. Then, after a few minutes of peaceful silence, she mentioned she was really worried. Keri was in town, and staying at a hotel a few minutes from their house. She was concerned that Ben might have Keri over, and that they might hook up. She was visibly quite shaken by the thought.

I had no idea what to say. One the one hand, so what if he did? She was about to spend the night with me, and, ideally, there would be lots and lots of sex. Was hooking up with me somehow less significant or less meaningful? Was I just another casual, disposable sex partner? She was extremely uncomfortable discussing deeper feelings like love or devotion, so I had no idea.

On the other hand, why would she tell me about it? She knew I had trouble hearing about Ben and Keri. I wanted to reassure her that Ben would tell her if he was planning to invite Keri over--but there had been other occasions where Ben had crossed boundaries with Keri while Ella was out with me. My reassurance would be meaningless, and, in any event, I wasn't handling the idea well, either.

We didn't really talk for the rest of the drive.

We checked in, went out to dinner, ordered drinks. Somewhere along the way, she started talking about Ben and Keri again. I didn't want to listen to it. I tried to offer a comparison. I pointed out that when she had gone home with Jason--Keri's boyfriend--Ben had been fine with it. Keri had been okay with it, too. She and Jason had been pretty intoxicated that night, and they had crossed a number of very specific boundaries together. But, the next day, Ben picked her up and fixed her breakfast, and Keri was still very friendly and understanding toward her.

My intended point was that Keri and Ben both had plenty of reason to be hurt, upset, angry, or jealous, but they dealt with it with minimal drama, and she should try to extend the same courtesy to them. My unintended subtext, I think, was that I felt like my feelings were irrelevant background noise--like I was the fat friend, supporting Ella through her personal sexual soap opera with no right to any feelings of my own.

In any event, I don't think I got my point across. The alcohol didn't help.

She didn't understand why I was bringing it up. She thought I was jealous--she asked if I was attracted to Jason or something (I wasn't). Finally, she asked what I wanted, and I told her, maybe too bluntly, the same thing I had before--that I wanted to be involved with both her and Ben, and that I felt, at this point, like I was nothing at all to Ben and just a "fat friend" to her.

She got angry, then upset. She left to go to the restroom, and disappeared. I texted her like mad and got a few responses, mostly telling me she did care about me, but that she couldn't talk to me anymore that night. It was cold and raining, and I had no idea where she'd gone, but finally she stopped returning my texts, and I stopped trying to reach her at about 3:00 am.

I drove home the next day determined to break things off.

I found out later she had called Ben at 2:00 am, and that he'd immediately gotten out of bed and driven two hours to pick her up.

The Meeting

Ella didn't talk to me for a week. I finally emailed her and told her we needed to talk about things.

We met after work, and I told her, right away, that I didn't think things were working out.

She looked hurt, and asked whether I wanted to hear her side first.

We talked, and ultimately decided we both needed to be more honest about our needs and expectations. We agreed to meet again in a week to talk more.

And, we didn't break up. Not yet.

---------------------------------------

Hrrm. Maybe it's because it's late and I got a bit of a sunburn today, but writing this is making me less upset and more cranky. Cranky can be a good thing, I think. Kind of like when a wound starts to heal, it doesn't hurt anymore, it just itches...right?

More to come, unfortunately. It's almost over though. Promise.
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  #26  
Old 05-08-2011, 05:40 PM
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I'm feeling profoundly cynical about polyamory today, especially about opening up a monogamous relationship.

So, I was attracted to, and even fell for, other people. It happens. I think the majority of "monogamous" folk (in the relationship arrangement sense, not the psychological sense) experience that from time to time. But you let it go, to avoid hurting someone you love.

And even if you're deeply in love with someone else, letting it go is absolutely possible. People do it all the time, when relationships end, or when the feeling isn't returned. They let go of that feeling in order to heal themselves, or to protect themselves from heartbreak. Humans are adaptive, and can exert a tremendous amount of willpower, when they actually try.

So if people can exert that kind of willpower to protect themselves, isn't it incredibly selfish to not put out the same effort to protect someone you love?

Sure, loving someone else is a warm fluffy feeling, for the person experiencing it. For others who didn't ask for it, who have passed up similar experiences for the sake of their primary love, it's an cruel, unfair feeling.

At least in some circumstances, the joy derived from falling for someone else comes at the cost of someone else's happiness and security. If I love someone, what on earth could possibly drive me to hurt them simply to make myself happier?

I'd love to hear anyone's input on this. I'm seeing more and more of my acquaintances in poly and open relationships spout lovey-dovey, peace and happiness crap when they're the ones carrying on an outside relationship, but when their partner shows interest in someone else, it's the end of the effing universe, they collapse into depression and alcoholism, and sometimes break things off entirely.
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  #27  
Old 05-08-2011, 10:11 PM
OshunsDaughter OshunsDaughter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
If I love someone, what on earth could possibly drive me to hurt them simply to make myself happier?

I'd love to hear anyone's input on this. I'm seeing more and more of my acquaintances in poly and open relationships spout lovey-dovey, peace and happiness crap when they're the ones carrying on an outside relationship, but when their partner shows interest in someone else, it's the end of the effing universe, they collapse into depression and alcoholism, and sometimes break things off entirely.
<sigh>
I feel close to this kind of situation.

The first part; making or getting yourself happy is sometimes not 'simple'. Expressing your essential self is mandatory for your 'self' to be happy.

And here is where the sigh comes from, though I am not going to "collapse into depression and alcoholism" over this, my boyfriend asked me the 'what if I WAS interesting in someone' question. Initial reaction <barf>, see, far from alcoholism or depression...that was supposed to be funny And then I asked myself 'why such a visceral reaction to a simple question'. Firstly, that is no 'simple' question. Why...and here is why in all honesty why is struck me; I DON'T FEEL LIKE I GET TO SPEND ENOUGH TIME WITH HIM! Ha! I did it, I said it...ok, I typed it. <celebration over> I digress. Secondly, we have a long distance relationship so another relationship taking time away from 'us'...hmm, how shall I say this nicely, (oh whatever, I will just continue with the honestly) HELL TO THE NAH! And while yes, I want him to be happy and all, I also need him to know how I feel about it at this particular juncture. Additionally, I also said, it is not really possible to tell him how I would feel about it in the future but RIGHT NOW, that is how I feel.

So it is both, I feel all lovey-dovey yes. And, I have never been someone to tell a friend the 'real' part of how things work. Especially when all they see is it working. So, sister, from one woman to another; I don't feel like it is the end of the universe by a looooooong shot. I don't even feel like I need to 'worry' about it now. It's abstract, ya know?
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  #28  
Old 05-09-2011, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OshunsDaughter View Post
Additionally, I also said, it is not really possible to tell him how I would feel about it in the future but RIGHT NOW, that is how I feel...

...So, sister, from one woman to another; I don't feel like it is the end of the universe by a looooooong shot. I don't even feel like I need to 'worry' about it now. It's abstract, ya know?
Maybe it's a time thing for some people--they need to get used to the idea. I see Vino react that way, but then I also see him visibly hoping I never meet a man I'm attracted to, so he'll never have to face that, and that makes me want to drop the whole discussion entirely.

He's fine with me dating women because he does gets benefits, like hot three-way fantasies and the luxury of telling other men his wife is actively bisexual.

There are many, many people in the world who would give anything to have a marriage like mine. I feel guilty pushing for more openness, like I'm trying to destroy something beautiful.

What's my motive? I don't have anyone I'm particularly interested in at the moment. Freedom, maybe? A chance to explore my sexuality more thoroughly? To not have to suppress attraction the next time I feel it? To experience another round of giddy NRE? All of these are motivated by selfishness....
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  #29  
Old 05-09-2011, 03:06 AM
OshunsDaughter OshunsDaughter is offline
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All of these are motivated by selfishness....
Well, yes, and...so what? You are the only one that can make you happy.
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  #30  
Old 05-09-2011, 09:25 AM
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MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivy View Post
oh, i love naval-gazing. Nothing better than a load of hot seamen.

For some reason, this computer is not allowing grinning smileysWill edit later...
__________________
If I can't dance, I want no part in your Revolution.
- Emma Goldman Anarchist and Polyamorous par excellence
The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
- old Chinese proverb
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin
I'd rather have a broken heart / Than have a heart of stone.
- from "Boundless Love (A Polyamory Song)" by Jimmy Hollis i Dickson

Last edited by MrFarFromRight; 05-09-2011 at 04:34 PM.
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