Sometimes things are really uncomfortable to read or to hear because I really need to read or hear them. The truth about a thing I’m not proud of makes me cringe. This happened this week. I’ve been doing some work on some insecurities and jealousies and judgements of my own and I came across Aggie’s post on Solopoly.net, titled “Entering an Existing Relationship. What’s the Problem?”. You can find that here. It’s pretty fucking brilliant and I recommend it to any non-monogamous person. Then I heard Minx’s podcast about it at PolyamoryWeekly.net, Episode 401 “Fuzzy Landmines”. You can find that here.
This first example.. yeah.. it hits really close to home.
EXAMPLE: Joe requires his wife Sarah to spend every weekend with him (and no other partner) as a symbol of his primary rank in her life. Joe and Sarah realize that admitting this to anyone, including potential partners, would highlight Joe’s insecurity, which would embarrass both Sarah and Joe.
So Sarah claims to be flexible about her time, but then avoids makings weekend dates with her boyfriend Sam. Rather than explain the true reason, Sarah always has an excuse ready when Sam asks or complains about this pattern. Or she tries to dismiss each instance as isolated and “not a big deal.” Such diversion cuts off opportunities for the three of them to explore options to collaboratively resolve the underlying issue of Joe’s insecurity and possessiveness.
Since Sam has a demanding weekday job, this time restriction significantly limits how his relationship with Sarah can develop. Eventually he breaks up with Sarah in angry, bitter frustration.
I’ve been here so many times this past year. Cleveland I have been working out some of our stuff, which mostly stems from my frustration at the limits of our relationship. We’ve talked about it now a few times, and he’s been a LOT more accessible and I’ve been pretty happy about that overall. We’ve had more time for relating.. more dates with things like trivia and trips to Ikea and watching a show. We’ve had time to do more than fuck and that’s really been pretty awesome. I hated bringing up at all with him that I’d been so unhappy with our once a week dinner and a fuck. And I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass and I wanted to be very sensitive to his situation. I don’t want to be too demanding.
So I asked for nothing. I was a little martyr, waiting for him to read my mind and want the things I wanted. Yeah. That doesn’t work. Sure it made me pretty pleased for a tiny while, but ultimately it made me resentful and miserable and sad. I couldn’t understand why he never wanted the time I was craving so much when HE was the mushy one. We’d had really good access at first. I didn’t know what had happened. Turns out he’d made an agreement I knew nothing about. He made an agreement about what time he and I would have and I wasn’t in the conversation and I wasn’t told about what they’d decided about his time with me for months. And I sure as shit wasn’t asked. For months he would just say he was busy, but he never SEEMED that busy. I didn’t want to be a pest.
But is that true?
Nope. Not really. I wanted him to read my mind and I wanted him to want time with me. I didn’t want to ask for it because I didn’t want to be vulnerable or stick my neck out. I didn’t want to risk telling him the truth. And that’s not the first or last time I chickened out that way either. I do that. I am afraid of being the big dumb dog.
This is a fear that causes a lot of bullshit.
I’m afraid of being the big dumb dog who laps after you, drooling and wanting and that you might think “oh god.. not her again.. she’s so…. needy”. I literally have had nightmares about this. I’ve been so afraid of it that at times I’ve read thoughts into friends and lovers minds. Oh, they did this thing and it’s because I’m the big dumb dog and they are trying to tell me something, or feeling smothered and thinking I’m weak, or they just don’t want me. In the past I’ve spent about half the time I’m at friends’ homes thinking I should go and that I’m overstaying my welcome and searching for signs of whether they’d like me to stay and have ice-cream or go and leave them alone. I’ve hated myself for wanting, felt pathetic and ashamed.
And you know, a tiny bit of that might be natural, because we all want to be wanted and loved and welcome, but would it really be SO bad if I was a little more crazy about you than you are about me? Why would I think that’s pathetic? Why would it worry me so? Oh you get the idea.. it starts to unravel as I see it’s really about me and my shit and there are things I can do about it.
But what about those invisible fences and fuzzy landmines? What about their effect on my life? Well. It’s kind of like Aggie says, it “generates considerable pain, insecurity and frustration for everyone involved” and it “sabotages relationships and hurts/drains everyone involved”. She emphasizes “people don’t always create invisible fences or fuzzy landmines intentionally. These strategies aren’t necessarily malicious.” And I don’t think I’ve run into much malice myself. That’s why it’s been so hard to navigate and to own MY OWN FEELINGS here sometimes.. why I’ve been part of the problem with these fuzzy landmines and invisible fences. I wasn’t owning my own feelings here either. Cleveland and his wife weren’t the only ones placing fuzzy landmines and invisible fences.
And I swear she’s talking directly to me when she says “The key to resolving this quagmire is to learn to be vulnerable, and to honor the vulnerability of others. Own and admit your insecurities, and commit to overcoming them. Also, assume goodwill Your partner(s) and metamour(s) probably want to support you in safely achieving personal growth — because the entire relationship network would benefit”. There it is. That thing about needing to be comfortable being vulnerable again. There are just so many ways to grow here and so much I can learn. I’m seeing my own fuzzy landmines and invisible fences here and it’s uncomfortable in the way that tells me it’s the truth and it’s useful.
She nears her closing saying, “Yes, this process feels difficult, risky and scary. It will challenge and change you. But in the long run, it’s still a much, much safer bet for you and your relationships than building an insecurity system comprised of invisible fences and fuzzy landmines”. It might seem less messy or easier to just let all the little things wash over unsaid, not daring to rock the boat with the truth. We might want to just suck it up and act like everything is right as rain and fine. But does that ever actually work? Does that really bring us, any of us, to where we need to be? Does it help us grow? Does it make us or our relationships ultimately better to have all of these little unsaid things and all these fuzzy bombs we tiptoe around? Doesn’t the truth pretty much usually out in the end? And even if we got away with it, never had to confront ourselves or trust each other to forgive and or help us care for our vulnerabilities, what would we really gain then?
It’s uncomfortable to see the ways I’ve been passive aggressive or a martyr. It’s really hard to put myself out there in my friendships and relationships admitting my flaws and weak spots and feelings and needs. I’m just not always comfortable with my feelings, the bad ones anyway. But, if I actually want to overcome this stuff then I have to own it. I say it all the time. I don’t always like the uncomfortable process, but I sure do like the growth.
Aggie and Minx just gave me so much to think about this week. Thank you!