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Old 07-21-2016, 09:33 PM
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Default Out of the woods

Hello! I've been a lurker here for some time, stopping in to read questions and responses as well as a lot of the regularly updated blogs. In reading all these posts, I've gained a lot of helpful insight and practical approaches to balancing multiple relationships while living an already busy life.

Reading all this over the years has been truly interesting. It's been a wonderful way to learn about things- far more human and easier to relate to than reading about poly in a book. I've smiled when I read about things working wonderfully and felt a pit in the stomach in reading about things not working so wonderfully. However, as a lurker, even as I learn more about the journeys you're all on, I haven't felt entirely like a member of the community so I figured it's time that I share too.

I've identified as ethically non-monogamous for 12 years and consider it a core value, even when practicing it has been difficult. In that time, what it means and the types of relationships I've had has varied widely. It has included swinger type activities, solo poly, kink, married non-monogamy, and now, married poly too. Maybe it's just semantics but for me poly is a part of the non-monogamy spectrum so I prefer to stick with that label in describing what I am because it more accurately captures everything I do. For me learning to practice this type of love has been one of the most life changing things I've experienced. For me it has led to enormous personal growth in so many areas of my life that I might not have experienced otherwise. I came into it open-minded but, for lack of a better term, somewhat hetero-normative male in my communication style and self-image. How I define hetero-normative male in this context is that I had a low emotional quotient (I joke that I had four primary feelings- happy, sad, angry, and "fine"), often had difficulty listening to and hearing my partner's expressions of emotion without reacting defensively, struggled with empathy, had fear of being seen as weak, couldn't even cry when either of my parents died, thought anxiety and difficult emotions were best dealt with by being tougher, a profound fear of being vulnerable, and in general, had pretty thick walls around my heart. Thankfully though navigating through a dynamic non-monogamous marriage coupled with healthy doses of trauma, joyful experiences, poor health, psychedelics, and loss made it apparent that if I ever wanted to feel happy and safe, I'd have to put a lot more doors in those walls around my heart. So, I went out with openness, a willingness to share my heart, to try all those things I was so afraid of and in doing so, found a warmth of spirit and love that I'd never imagined existed. Particularly eye opening was when I was able to let go of the defensiveness that I used to feel at times when partners would express their emotions to me. Now when I'm listening, even when it's not the easiest thing to hear, I can just be there, hearing what is said, grateful for the trust and intimacy, being able to feel like I'm truly sharing something with someone. In fact, if I could go back in time to tell my younger self one thing it would be to tell my 12 year old self that rather than admire and want to emulate Spock from TOS, maybe find a bit warmer role model.

Biologically speaking, I'm male though in going through this process of self discovery, I found that a lot of the gender based constructs that had defined parts of my personality had fallen away to the point where I started to feel somewhat genderless. I have no desire to identify as male in most senses of the word though I also have no desire to identify with female constructs either. In this sense, I identify as pansexual, not really too concerned with what plumbing someone has or what their gender is but rather what our connection is, how we relate, our chemistry, if I feel safe, and what we bring to each other's lives. A byproduct of this slow breakdown of gender concepts coupled with re-learning communication skills has also led to me having a lot of close, intimate friendships which is something that I value enormously.

To be continued...
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Old 07-23-2016, 11:54 PM
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Picking up from where I left off...

As all these changes happened, I found that what I wanted and needed from relationships began to change. Up until that point I'd either been solo poly or if in a committed relationship my non-monogamous activities were my partner and I relating to someone together and occasional flings with people I knew. Lemon and I have been together nearly 10 years now with the relationship being ethically open the entire time. In fact our shared vision of non-monogamy was something we bonded over. About 4 years ago we went through some major life changes after we both lost loved ones with a month of one another, I made a major career decision, and we became live in caretakers for her 90 year old grandmother. We also hiked a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in this time period which also woke me up to some of the things I felt I had been missing from my life.

Though we both still had to work, it was part time night work so we suddenly also had a lot of free time in the day to figure out how to spend. Her grandmother's house is on the wealthy fringe of Phoenix in a community that is somewhat unfriendly to freewheeling sex positive leftist ecofreak goofballs like us so we felt that further opening our relationship would be a great way to expand our community and circle of friends. It was simultaneously fantastic and difficult. We supported one another in pushing the existing boundaries of our relationship but due to newbie gaffes, in retrospect, some underlying communication issues, and unresolved issues from our extremely career stressed time in Los Angeles, it was also difficult for each of us at different times. I found that although I liked having FWB relationships I often also felt that I didn't want to give up the time with Lemon so I tended to limit my dates to times when she was on dates, at work or on tour with the punk band she hawks merch for.

About 6 months into this new openness I took a seasonal and extremely nomadic job in my old career field so we went back to California for the season. The nature of the work and living situations made dating a logistical challenge so during this time, except for texting with partners, we were functionally monogamous. She also volunteered nearly full time because she likes the work and also hoped to get into it on a paid basis eventually. As the season came to an end, the bar and restaurant we worked for the previous spring asked if we'd both come back for the winter, sweetening the deal by offering us a place to live. This bar was an unusual place, very rustic, situated on 43 undeveloped acres that included a shuttered cowboy style steak house that we ended up living in. In particular, we had a huge fenced off, false front western town outdoor dining area with a covered stage tent pad, an old pantry kitchen that we made our indoor sleeping area, and the old restaurant itself. Living here was an amazing experience though it also came with some thorns.

We loved it! I only worked Fri-Sun, could walk to work, lived less than 5 minutes from several different local trail systems to run on, plus it was a place that our friends and friendly coworkers felt comfortable stopping by. During the time we lived there it was common for people to stop by to hang out, ask me to take them trail running, drink, smoke weed and occasionally psychedelics, and have all night conversations. In that time, all of our close friends also came there separately to drink all night and give confessional about what was going on in their lives while we listened and caretook. We'd have dance parties and even had the New Year's eve after party there. Plus, I love sleeping outside and most of that winter, we were able to.

Like I said though, it had some downsides, mainly it was a bar with loose rules and copious free alcohol for the small group of favored employees. A big part of the reason they wanted us working there was that we were fun at parties and they were all intrigued by our non-monogamy. So while the occasional blow out party might be fun, 3 to 4 months of heavy partying can get old particularly when there is so much alcohol involved. We never had those raging alcohol fueled fights that you often see at bars but at the same time, being so frequently intoxicated made it difficult to find appropriate time to discuss things. So we began seeing outside partners again but didn't really talk much about it.

As spring was drawing to an end, I took another job in California and so back we went, this time near a tiny town in the Western Sierra foothills. Due to the remote location and lack of suitable local partners, we were nearly functionally monogamous again except for her fooling around with a few people while she was on summer tour. However, while she was on autumn tour, I was finally able to meet and connect with a woman that I'd talking to electronically since the year before. Despite the fact that it was her suggestion and she would fool around with people on tour, she had a major jealous reaction that continued after she returned, leading to a fairly traumatic argument that was made more gut wrenching when all the cash she'd earned on tour was stolen.

For me this was the start of the current phase of relationship and requires some backstory. When we'd first gotten together one of the other things we bonded over in addition to our non-monogamous outlook was that she expressed that she wanted someone that was not very emotional and at the time I was a stressed single parent that had limited emotional energy or desire to be emotional. So even though we had sex on our first date, we didn't have our first kiss until she was ready 8 months later with her reason being that once she kissed me she'd have to admit to herself that she was in love with me.

It probably doesn't take too much imagination to realize that there are a few flaws with this sort of relationship structure, namely that it meant a lot of not talking about how we were feeling and because of that, not completely moving on and healing from things that hurt our feelings.

to be continued...
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:52 AM
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Oh wow! Living in that old restaurant sounds so cool! (aside from the over-partying). We would've totally gone for that in our 20s.

It is interesting how we can build relationships during phases of our life which are transitory and then have to scramble to find a way to continue them when we revert to what to us is our normal self. (Interesting being a euphemism for painful, like "May you live in interesting times")

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Old 07-24-2016, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leetah View Post
Oh wow! Living in that old restaurant sounds so cool! (aside from the over-partying). We would've totally gone for that in our 20s.

It is interesting how we can build relationships during phases of our life which are transitory and then have to scramble to find a way to continue them when we revert to what to us is our normal self. (Interesting being a euphemism for painful, like "May you live in interesting times")

Leetah
It was a pretty wonderful experience, probably more so because it was so ephemeral and unexpected. Plus the outdoor area was primarily lit by christmas lights so when I think of it, it always seems extra fond because the light is soft and multicolored.

I find that to be true in my life, particularly because my jobs take me to new locations every 4-8 months and when there, often away from home (frequently without cell service) for half the month or more. I love what I do and I enjoy getting to know so many new places but that's exactly the flip side of it- leaving these brief, emergent communities of friends that pop up. It also presents some unique challenges to living a poly or otherwise non-monogamous life. In fact, thinking about it that way makes me realize that's another motivation for writing here- it's slightly less transient.
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Old 07-24-2016, 04:50 AM
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Because I want to get up to the present day, I won't go into all the details but this relationship structure had to go and we began the work of building a new structure, albeit on somewhat separate pages. About 4 years ago, my life went through a perfect storm of career, death of parent, and relationship issues that slapped me in the face hard enough to wake me up to the need to change how I relate to others. I saw that my discomfort with expressing my feelings, inability to identify and express my emotional needs, and sometimes lack of empathy was not only cold but harmful to people that love me as well as harmful to me. I also had that scary moment when I saw how I was like my father- avoiding dealing with the problems by putting more time into a demanding job and in doing so, caused my health and fitness deteriorate. So I began reading about and practicing better communication, started sharing things even when the vulnerability terrified me and truly new for me, expressing my emotional needs.

She began to change too but opening up that way was not her priority in these years. She really wanted to explore non-monogamy and her increasing interest in kink. As I came to feel more secure in expressing myself, I really began to find that before I could have sex with someone, I needed to establish some emotional connection and have a dialogue with the person. In fact, it got to the point to where if I don't establish this connection, I couldn't get an erection. This change was particularly frightening to her not only because she didn't feel as safe being open in that way but also because she's long struggled with insecurity and a need for approval in her long term relationships so this openness on my part felt threatening to her and because of her anxiety over approval, she often wouldn't express what she was feeling for fear of me not liking it. Most of the time I was able to be supportive there were a few times when my stubborn need for a bit of emotional autonomy in this regard would make it a bit more difficult for me.

So that was the source of the jealousy in a nutshell.

A couple months after that my next job found us in Tucson, I went on one date, she had another jealous reaction, we were fairly preoccupied with work (she ended getting her first paid position in the field) and also really enjoying our time in a walkable city with plenty of dive bars, excellent hiking and some amazing food, particularly the mexican food, the best I've had in the US so I decided to not go on any dates until she went on tour in the summer. With a lot of encouragement she finally went on a few more overnight dates but generally just kept in touch with her FWBs in other parts of the world and a long distance sub she had. She ended up not liking the place we worked, for good reason, so she quit in June and also began to go through some of what I had years before- really wondering what she wants from life and also finally starting to ask what would make her happy? She was also struggling a little with me being gone half the month and also being fairly broke because she wasn't working, not wanting to get a job then leave in a few weeks when she went on tour. Near the beginning of the summer at an annual weekend long party thrown by close friends, I had one spontaneous indiscreet MMF encounter that she wasn't jealous of but wished I'd been a bit more discreet. Admittedly, the next day, I wished I had however just chalked it up to a good learning experience. I later found out that it caused her more feelings than she let on at the time, specifically that she was really starting to even question non-monogamy.

The summer went on- we had a lots of super open conversations about our life, our relationship and at the time, she expressed lot of support towards me, particularly me going on some dates while she was on tour and even after. Once again, it turned out that she felt differently than she said. Also, not too long before she left for tour, her ex husband and his partner decided to move to Tucson which was really exciting because we're all good friends, I'll call them Jameson and Coyote. I was also still dealing some of the issues that made her quit, the conditions where I was working were a bit grueling, and also went through several hours long lightning storms without shelter which felt like near death experiences so I was missing her far more than usual when I was away.

Tour rolled around and for the first time I was able to go on dates with what felt like full support. Before this, most of her dates were aimed at getting laid with minimal interaction, so when I would go on dates, spend hours talking and maybe making out but not having sex, she would feel threatened and jealous however this time she expressed full support. However, it turned out she was having feelings she wasn't expressing.
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Old 07-24-2016, 06:10 AM
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A brief tangent about my job and how it impacts my practice of non-monogamy. I work in public land management, specifically trail maintenance and construction or sometimes, ecological restoration and other conservation related work. While I've had some brief periods of not getting paid to do it while I do other jobs, I've been in this line of work for 20 years. In that time, I've had a lot of different types of jobs and in fact, went about backwards from how most people do it. Most people start out as seasonal and hope to get a permanent job whereas I started as a permanent, climbed the ladder a bit, burned out on it so then went seasonal. My main reasons for preferring seasonal work over permanent is that it's almost always operational and field based. I grew up in rural Northern California playing and working in the woods so I imagine it's a big part of how I ended up in this line of work. Though it's a fairly small and somewhat obscure field, there are different types of postings and the ones I prefer have me camped out, working in the backcountry and Wilderness areas. I'm also an avid recreational hiker, camper, and backpacker so at times a lot of my off time is also spent outdoors. This season is a particularly enjoyable because the schedule- 8 days on 6 days off and almost all the work is something my crew and I love- clearing windfall trees (jargon for it is logging out) with crosscut saws. The other exciting parts about it are that the mule packer got another job so I have to take over packing duties and also, my soon to be 15 year old son is volunteering on the crew for the season. He loves the work and is pretty ecstatic to be spending a summer in the woods. He's volunteered with me since he was 6 but this is the first time that he gets to be on a crew full time and we're both really happy about it.

The nature of the job means that I often live and work from very small, remote communities. In fact, "remoteville" is actually Alpine, one of the more remote and smallest towns in Arizona. At 8,000 ft (2400 m), it's situated in a meadow valley right near the New Mexico border with about 200 permanent residents. It's one of the few parts of Arizona that stays reasonably cool during the summer so it has a fair number of people coming in on the weekends. After tourism, my employer is the largest economic player in the town so if you work there, everyone knows your business even if you don't have anything going on. Lemon and I are also selective about which coworkers we're out too because it's not an entirely sex positive workforce in our experience so it makes the prospect of dating tricky. In larger communities we haven't always been socially monogamous but in places like this, it often feels like the right way to approach things.

The other issue is, understandably so, many people are hesitant to get involved with someone that is definitely moving away in the near term future. In the past Lemon and I have had a romantic relationship so it hasn't always been an issue but with romance off the table right now I'm trying to figure out how I want to approach dating. It's possible for me to date people in Phoenix or Albuquerque but the 200 mile drive to either city makes it a little less practical logistically so I'm hoping to find someone local. We've been there 6 weeks and while I'm still feeling pretty good about no sex or affection I also know that I'm also starting to crave affection so I'm thinking I'll start putting a little more time into figuring out if there is anyone I can date. I have one slight crush so far but she's married and as far as I know, monogamous, so I'm happy to keep it at mild flirting and the conversations we have when we see each other because in my experience, it's pretty enjoyable to talk to your crush!

Lastly, this is where the blog gets its name!
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Old 07-24-2016, 09:42 PM
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Getting back to the story...

The first city on the tour was Salt Lake and it was there that she met Sandvik. He was in one of the opening bands and out of all the guys that wanted to approach her, he was the only one that came up, asking her if she wanted a pen pal. The question was a bit ironic because one issue she'd had with me is that a few months before that, in an effort to spend less time on my phone, I'd resumed my old habit of writing letters to pen pals while on hitch (jargon for when we're out in the backcountry) away from the world at large. She'd expressed some hurt that I didn't write letters to her however understood my reasoning- she'd always insisted that if I have service while on hitch that I text her about what's going on, etc so basically, share all the same things I would have written about. She even agreed that she'd rather have the extensive texting and took my suggestion that she find a pen-pal to heart. At any rate, they had a conversation about life, art, philosophy and their favorite writers, ending the evening with a kiss outside the club. Meanwhile, I was working in the backcountry during the week then spending the weekend visiting friends throughout the state and going on several dates. She expressed support for me dating and what I was doing however I came to find out a few weeks later that she was also still having feelings of being threatened and also jealousy which in her words, made her decide that she wanted to pursue a full romantic and fluid bonded sexual relationship with Sandvik. On top of this, right about halfway through tour she had an experience (won't give details to protect her privacy) that was also quite shocking to her, causing her to seriously re-evaluate a lot of things in her life. Not traumatic, just intensely personal.

I don't know how it is for you, but if I know someone pretty well or am in a long term relationship with them, even subtle changes in the text messages they send tend to communicate volumes to me. In this case they weren't even subtle. Normally when we were apart if we had service we'd always make it a point to say goodnight to one another and also tell each other how much we missed each other. This stopped from her end and coupled with the other changes, I knew something was happening but despite asking her what she was feeling, she wouldn't really say anything committal or even informative. The other thing that happened was she delayed our planned reunion and booked a flight with a layover in Salt Lake that would give her enough time to see and have sex with him She came back and herphysical response to me was completely different but Jameson and Coyote moved in with us the day after she got back, I had a poorly timed sexual encounter with a super cute guy that she wasn't happy about (her reasons were very understandable), and I had to go back to work the day after that so we didn't really have a chance to talk but at that point we also stopped having sex with an agreement that we wouldn't have sex until we both felt comfortable with it.

My job kept me away most of the month though repeatedly interfering with our plans with major last minute changes due to incompetence and sadly in one case, the mule packer was kicked and severely injured. Sandvik had bought her a plane ticket to SLC and because of my planned hitch, we were going to use the 14 days apart to give ourselves space and time to figure out what we were feeling. The packer's injury threw a wrench in this plan though so with our forced time together but we found ways to make it work. After this hitch though I'd be laid off and though I'd have enough money to not work for a while. She agreed to get a job so I could take a short break before finding a winter job because I hadn't had a vacation in two years. She what was supposed to be a telecommute job that she was excited about. Strangely enough, the job required her to attend two weeks of training in Salt Lake City but then she was supposed to come back to Tucson, we'd even agreed that the break would be good and that once she was back we'd be able to work on our relationship . The training suffered through a lot of IT issues that added another week and then at the end of the training they announced that they'd had a major policy change. We'd later find out that the company had just been bought out and all the very employee friendly policies were being changed. They said that starting with this training cadre, everyone had to work in Salt Lake for at least 6 months because they'd had really poor results from all the previous cadres. The other strange piece of timing was that days before she arrived, Sandvik had moved into a completely new apartment, so they moved into a brand new place together.

She called me to tell me about the policy change and we had one of those really hard, sad conversations trying to figure out what to do. She was also extremely ill and two days later checked into the hospital with an organ infection. I was extremely concerned and wanted to go there immediately to be there for her however we talked about it and in the end she didn't me to come because she was concerned about how it would make Sandvik feel. I supported her making the decision she needed to make but I admit, this one really hurt. It was particularly hurtful because she'd told me on the first day that he'd said "He didn't like hospitals, was busy, and if it was ok, wasn't going to visit her after he got off work." Thankfully for her, he told his mom about her being in the hospital and in her motherly wisdom, she immediately took him down there so that Lemon would have someone with her. She also asked me to call her family and let them know she's in the hospital but not give them any details about why we weren't visiting.

Once she was out, we began talking about what we were going to do the rest of the winter. By this point, she'd made Sandvik her primary and lost all romantic feeling for me but didn't tell me this even though I asked several times how her feelings toward me had changed. My gut was screaming that what to me but I took her at her word and had decided that not only did I want to avoid making a major life decision while one of us was in extreme NRE-land, I also didn't want to decide until I was at least in the same room with her again, had a chance to see her. Honestly, even though I wanted the truth, at the time being able to live in a little bit of denial helped give me the head space to process what was happening.

Despite her love, she also really didn't like Salt Lake and the job was seasonal with layoffs expected to begin right after the holiday season. Our plan was to try to live together in Arizona for the winter so I took a conservation job based in Phoenix with her planning on getting something part time. So, in the time span of 5 days, I moved our stuff out of our house into storage, made thanksgiving dinner for Jameson and Coyote, and also worked two of the three jobs I had at the time before heading to California for 3 weeks of training. Our plan when I left was that she'd be back the weekend I got back and we'd spend the two weeks before I started my new job finding a place to live, moving in, and also have time together to figure this out.

As my return date grew near, I began asking for details on when she'd be coming back, how much to budget for it, etc and she was evasive, wouldn't commit. The day before I came back she told me that she'd be coming almost four weeks later than she'd agreed, after my job started, but was coming to Arizona on the day before christmas eve, leaving at 6 am on christmas morning.

The change in plans hurt but I was happy that we'd finally have a chance to be in the same city and actually talk. A friend of ours was out of town for the holidays and knowing that we needed space to talk, gave me the key to her house and said to stay there. I felt a bit unsettled but got on the plane, and because for part of the training I'd been camped within walking distance of where the shack segment and second hike portion of Dharma Bums had taken place, I re-read that part of the book. Normally I'd have been too distracted by all the emotion that had been swirling in my head but reading the book with the area so fresh in my mind was amazing. It gave a whole new life and meter to the writing as I pictured what was going on. I got off the plane feeling pretty damn positive about everything in the next week, my life, and finally being in the same room with Lemon.

The week went by pretty quickly.
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Old 08-06-2016, 10:20 PM
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After my last post, I spent the next couple days getting ready for hitch and then the past 8 days on hitch. I thought about this blog, what I had already written, what I wanted to write next. Writing all the backstory was beginning to feel tedious and because I'd started this blog more as a place to talk about the present, kind of unnecessary. In fact, writing through it all began to feel a little unpleasant.

So, the story is this- Lemon and I are currently platonic and working together, also trying to figure out if we want to stay together and if so, what our relationship will be. We've been through a lot together and are extremely close. In fact, I would go so far to say that in this time of confusion we've actually reached new levels of emotional openness and feel closer than ever even as we're not romantic with one another. We have a strong, mutual desire to be in one another's lives but right now are not sure how to balance that with other things we need and want from life, including our relationships with other partners.

So, back to now...

Our hitch went extremely well! The biggest issue we faced was persistent rain and lightning however except for constantly having wet feet, we were generally spared from the worst of it. On the last full day we finished a little ahead of schedule, thankfully, because just as we finished the hike out and returned to the trucks, a hellacious storm started dumping on us, to the point that even with the wipers on high, we could barely see to drive. We wondered about the group of day hikers that had shown up at the end of the trail with fishing gear just as we were leaving. They were typical of what we often see in easy to get to front country areas- dressed all in cotton, a single bottle of water and no rain gear or layers or even packs. The storm was a cold one, the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees when it started raining so I imagine they were soaked and pretty damn cold. At any rate, I felt for them but also hoped that maybe they learned a good lesson from it.

I'm really proud of crew, including my 14 year old son that's volunteering with us. They're a rare bunch for a trail crew- skilled but not possessing the over-sized ego that normally comes with their level of skill. Also, they work so hard without complaint. In fact, they smashed their record for most trees removed from a trail in one day, removing 185 on one particularly grueling day. Plus, nobody has injured themselves this season which is a huge plus. Well, beyond the near constant minor injuries- scratches and bruises mainly. In fact, I had a branch whip me in the face, leaving a scratch that looks like an extremely accurate and well placed whip mark. We had one interesting wildlife sighting- a small herd of pronghorn antelope sauntered by us at one of the trailheads, apparently not seeing or smelling us because they took their time crossing the meadow.

We arrived at the place we intended to set up basecamp to find a huge mess of RVs and tents so we had to go looking and I'm glad we did. We found a spot behind a gate in a beautiful aspen grove on the edge of an expansive meadow. It was so nice to walk across the meadow every night after work, just a super relaxing place to be.

Lemon's birthday was the last day of the hitch so after we got back to town and I finished the ever growing pile of admin work we went to our favorite place in town for a celebratory dinner and some drinks. We talked some about our relationship and her confusion about what she wants. She also let me know that she wanted me to drive her to Phoenix so she could fly to Salt Lake to spend the time off with Sandvik. I was supportive, definitely had lots of compersive feelings, but also felt and expressed a little annoyance that she told me the night before because driving to the city eats up a minimum of two days of time off. If I have notice I can make plans with friends rather than having to scramble to find a place to stay while down there. I also expressed a desire to find some balance in us traveling because so far this summer she's been doing all the traveling.

On the relationship front I started talking to someone new from OKC. I've met a lot of people, including Lemon, on OKC but this is the the first time I've considered what would be a LDR. She lives half a continent away, near a major midwestern city. I think I'll call her T'Pol because we have a mutual interest in Trek plus she's brilliantly logical and beautifully concise in expressing herself.

I've never considered an LDR before this, mostly because I'm already pretty occupied with everything going on in my life and haven't wanted to put the time or energy into someone that I wouldn't see very often. Now I wonder if it's just because I hadn't met the right person. We've been texting a lot- asking questions, sharing our views on life, flirting, and sharing the details of what's going on in our day. I barely had service in camp this week but I didn't care, we stayed up late texting almost every night. When I was out on the trail, working alone in a canyon with no service I found my thoughts turning to her a lot, kept looking at the pictures she'd sent me, re-reading things she's written, and even playing the voice clip she sent me. I really love the way she puts her words together, the way she thinks- my heart flutters a little bit when I see that a message from her has come in. We both love taking photos and walking so we share quite a few pictures of what we're seeing and doing.

I'm a bit surprised by how much I like someone that I haven't met in real life and am hopeful, even curious to see how it evolves. She's the most poly identified person I've had a connection with to this point in my dating life so that's been really refreshing. One of the nicest things about this that because she's poly and has a busy life as well, she's very understanding when I'm not available because of work or life.

I have more to say but I have to get started on dinner and also, it's a beautiful day so I want to do something other than sit staring at this screen. :-)
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Old 08-19-2016, 11:37 PM
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Finally back in Alpine after a long 14 days, picking up where I left off...

Lemon's flight to SLC wasn't until the evening so we made plans to have lunch and drinks with a friend of both of ours, call her Eve who was also a partner of mine between January and July of this year. In July she'd let me know that she thought it was best that we resume being platonic because she didn't want to be caught up in the chaos as Lemon and I figure out what we're doing. She handled this in the most kind, gentle, and direct way that made me realize even more why I love her. Perhaps because we had such a long, close friendship before we became sexual with one another, communication between us has always been emotionally honest and open. Both of us feel extremely comfortable being vulnerable with one another, even when it's a hard truth to share. I've never had a relationship that began with such trusting open communication and not only does it leave my heart feeling gooey with love, I've been surprised at what a turn-on this can of trust can be. Even as she was telling me that she wanted to resume being platonic I realized just how safe and cared for I felt. From my perspective it was a partial breakup and I was a bit confused that something that was normally a painful thing also felt so loving and endearing.

So we all had lunch then while I took my son to his mother's house for the weekend, Eve and Lemon had drinks at a nearby lounge. I rejoined them until it was time to run some errands and take Lemon to her flight. After that Eve and I went out to dinner then back to her place. We had a pretty long talk, a couple of drinks, and then decided to become non-platonic again. So we spent the next four days having long talks about what we want our relationship to be, having adventures, and having a great time. One of the things we talked about was about the boundaries we had previously placed on our relationship due to the unresolved status of Lemon and I's relationship. She's also one of Lemon's close friends so she's also tried to be respectful of what we're going through and as her friend, I'm very aware of what she's been going through in life, specifically processing a toxic relationship and breakup. All these boundaries and expectations had been clearly communicated before our relationship became sexual but at this point we realized that we weren't happy with them so we worked out our new boundaries. It feels so good to have a love in my life that doesn't feel like it's wrapped in spikes and full of booby traps, a love that doesn't feel anxious.

After spending 4 days together, I picked up my son, went grocery shopping and finally started the 4 hour trip back to Alpine because the next morning I had a meeting for work. I woke up the next morning to a call from Lemon telling me that she was skipping out on the upcoming hitch because she had spent the past 6 days processing relationship issues with Sandvik but not telling him anything that she needed to tell him. I was surprised at just how hurt I felt about this, eventually figuring out that it had pricked me in two dimensions, the personal and professional. Professionally speaking, I'm her supervisor and this is the second time she's skipped out on a hitch this season. I've really struggled with how to handle this because the lines between our personal and professional life are so blurred. From a practical viewpoint, missing out on the paycheck will also have a financial impact on us. In addition to the hurt, I was also pretty angry about it and, this is new for me, I let her know how angry I was. In the past I've always tried to sit on my anger, downplay it, or sometimes convince myself that I had no right to be angry but this time I let myself feel it and express it with calm words. This call came right before the meeting that I had to attend which kind of sucked. She eventually called a therapist that has worked with her family to see if she had an appointment to discuss how to deal with all this. The therapist didn't have an opening but gave her what I thought was really excellent advice- to take a break in communication so that she can process and evaluate how she feels about her actions, the choices she's made, and where, emotionally speaking, it has left her and the ones she loves.

We agreed that this was a good plan and so that's where it stands. We've exchanged a couple of brief texts but haven't really discussed anything. A few days after this, while checking our bank account to see if our paychecks deposited, I saw a string of charges along the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Coast that looks like they're taking a road trip down the coast. It makes sense, it's the year anniversary of them meeting but it also hurt a little because I haven't been able to take any vacations for some time because I haven't had the option to take off whenever I feel I need it because someone has to work to pay the bills. I also don't have a partner that I can rely on to support me if I decide not to work. While we're generally both supportive of each other's activities, I feel like there has been a real imbalance in terms of how much I've contributed in support of their relationship vs. how much she's given back in support of me. I struggled to feel compersion in this case but after a few days of sitting on it, I was able to.

This past week's hitch was fairly grueling due to a combination of weather, the particulars of the work, and nearly everyone being sick with some kind of cold like virus. It rained on us everyday and while I enjoy camping in the rain, working in it then going back to camp in it isn't quite as joyous. However, my crew is a pretty awesome bunch of people and as such, made the best of it. We timed our refuel and resupply runs into town so that we'd be able to attend trivia night at one of the local restaurants. We came in third this time with the deciding question being rank the following in descending numerical order: the number of hairs on Homer Simpson's head, the number of circles of hell in Dante's inferno, the downing street address, the number of volumes in James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking tales, and the number of pipers piping in the 12 days of Christmas. It was an all or nothing question that we could either bet 0 points or 15 points on. If you bet 15 and any one of the 5 wrong, your team loses the 15 points. Maybe next time...

Things with T'Pol seem to be going well. I didn't have service for most of the hitch so we didn't text nearly as much this week. She's also exceptionally busy at work and quite independent so this worked out well. I'm still very intrigued by her and am really enjoying getting to know her.

The other major news is that I was offered and accepted a slightly less seasonal job with the National Park Service. It's based in Moab, working at Canyonlands, Arches, and the rest of the southeast Utah parks. They recruited me because they're trying to build a new crew and want a few very experienced people at the core. I've also decided that it's also the potential jumping off point with Lemon. She's very welcome to come with me, in fact the new supervisor even said that they'd have some positions coming up that she'd be very qualified for, however I'm going with or without her. I'm really excited about it because in talking with the supervisor it's clear that he and I have a very similar philosophy about how things should run and he's a huge advocate of crew members getting the training they want to further their careers. He also said that the major portion of the job is doing exceptionally high quality dry stack masonry work which is pretty fun stuff. While I have a lot of expertise in this task, this will be very similar to attending post-grad education in it. I'll have the opportunity to work with some of the best masons in the trails world and I'm pretty stoked about that.
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