Veto the Veto

Veto power doesn’t really work. I know a lot of us start out wanting to have some kinda failsafe, some kind of pilot eject button for if things get scary or hard or threaten us. A lot of us start out with a veto.  We say we’ll dip our toes in the pool of poly dating, and if things get hairy or go horribly awry, we’ll pull the rip cord and close up shop or cut off an undesirable partner.  Problem is.. we’re dealing with humans here.

I get it. I do. I get being scared. I get wanting to protect a great relationship to a person you love. I really do understand this. When I opened up with my husband of 11 years I wanted a safety valve too. I wanted to know that if we dated other people we’d be okay. I want to know now while Traveler and I date others that we’ll be okay. But you know… love is risky.

I say love is risky not to warn people against poly or something. I say love is risky because it just is. I think there are ways to protect a relationship as you add others to a point. I think we can make agreements and prioritize making sure we get time with our existing partners and nurture those relationships, no matter how crazy in love we get with a new shiny thing. I think existing partnerships can work to make sure they don’t take each other for granted, and set date nights, and keep pursuing interests and hobbies and choose to keep a space for the people that have stood by us.  I think we can take special care to nurture our connection. I think we can communicate well and often. I think we can do many many many good things as we find and fall in love with new partners.

But I don’t think cutting off new partners is a great idea.

  1. Veto sucks because you are choosing for your partner what they can have in their lives and who they can love to suit your selfish jealousy, fear and insecurity. This is a shitty thing to do to someone you love.
  2. You are saying you know better than your partner. Think about this. Do you really think your partner is a dummy? An oaf? A less-than-complete-adult who cannot decide things for themselves?  If so, why are you committed to a relationship with this person?!?!?
  3. Is it possible that your partner has feelings and thoughts and reasons that you don’t necessarily share? Is it possible THEY are having some need met or growing in some way that they are drawn to that you don’t necessarily share?  I’d think long and hard about yourself if you think you are some “better judge” for your partner than they are for themselves. I have to admit I cringe when people say they know their partner better than their partner knows themselves. Or worse… that they know what is best for their partner.  I gotta call bullshit here.  There is ZERO chance you know more about your partner than they do about themselves. You know what you have experienced with your partner and what they told you and what you’ve observed. You don’t know the innermost workings of your partner better than they know themselves. What an ego.
  4. You might break your partner’s heart.  If they love someone and you cut it off, you are hurting them.
  5. If you and your partner actually respect each other and share your thoughts and observations with each other, isn’t it better to let your partner hear your thoughts and input and decide for themselves? If you have a healthy relationship, why wouldn’t you listen to your partner’s input and respect their thoughts? Traveler doesn’t need a veto, because if he leveled with me about a partner I would listen to and respect his input as the intelligent and capable man I know him to be. We do sometimes see things that people in the rush of new love don’t see. This is truth. But that can be a reason to share your insights with your partner so that they make the best decisions possible for themselves.  Right?  Even if it’s not on your time schedule?
  6. There is a reason your partner was drawn to this person. And there is a reason they want this relationship. You cutting that off doesn’t actually answer that.  Sometimes our partners need to learn a painful lesson and sometimes our job is to support them in doing so.
  7. The person you are vetoing is a human being. They matter too. Or they should. Human beings aren’t put here to spice up your marriage or your life. They have feelings and thoughts and they matter.  If you are upset or jealous or hurt, the answer isn’t to run ramshackle over other humans. It’s to figure out what you need and want in your relationship. The answer to “I’m insecure” isn’t “dump that other bitch”.
  8. Breaking my partner’s heart and demanding control over them doesn’t actually make our connection more secure.
  9. Punishing your partner for doing something bad by calling in your veto card to punish them doesn’t make your relationship better.
  10. Did you really think it was okay to weigh in on relationships you aren’t even a member of?  Our relationship will be hurt if I hurt my partner. If they choose to honor my veto, they may resent me. At the very least they know that *I* broke their heart. If they choose not to honor the veto, now what?  I don’t have a magic wand that lets me make the people I love only want the things I want them to have.

So.. what do I do if my partner is with someone I don’t want to accept or can’t accept?

I share my thoughts with my partner and let them make decisions for themselves. I can stay with them and help them pick up the pieces when they learn this lesson. Or I can choose not to be with my partner if I can’t trust their decisions or deal with the results of them living as they choose to live. I can choose for myself what I am willing to experience.  But I can’t really choose for you. Even if I have a veto and FEEL like I can choose for you, I can’t. And that’s why veto’s don’t work.

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It’s hard

I can’t stand being emotional and hurt by other’s emotions.

I hate it when the people I love are angry and distant and strange.  I hate it. I spent half of July 4th not understanding why Traveler was being grouchy and surly. He kept asking me where a wine from his basement was from and I kept saying I don’t know, maybe Quinky bought it? It looks like it’s from Oregon?  It’s from 2008, were you there then? It says it’s from Oregon. Look, the winery is in Oregon.

He snapped that he knew it was from Oregon and I’d said that 5 times, and I walked upstairs like a kicked puppy. Continue reading

Conflict

“One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not. We who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs, or seem to seek them. Who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors. We are not that way from perversity, and we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.”
Piers Anthony

I hate conflict.  But I also sometimes create it or add to it.  Sometimes my feelings bubble up and I can’t hold them back and they come spilling out in a mess.  And I spend a LOT of time apologizing for that when it happens.  I know how much it sucks, and for someone who hates conflict it is the literal worst.  It feels like I betray myself.

Otherwise, I avoid conflict with anyone I care about. Even if it has nothing to do with me.  Even if I have a legitimate beef with you… Even if I caught you lying.. if you were mean or unfair or cruel.. even if you were the one that treated me badly, my tendency is to want to take the hit if it will just end this gnashing of teeth.  The FIRST thing I think when anyone I care about is upset is, “what did I do?”  I apologize for my feelings.  I apologize for wanting.  I apologize for being a mess and for needing.  I apologize for having felt hurt.   Continue reading

Difficult to Love

I have to admit that all my reading and writing has belonged to grad school, but I’m here and I’m thinking of you.  I do a lot of thinking these days.  I can’t stop thinking about this tonight.  I talked to a friend going through a break up from a terrible man, and this kept running in my head.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/38766162″>Warsan Shire – &quot;For Women Who Are Difficult To Love&quot;</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/movingonworks”>MovingOn</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

You are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?

closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him traveling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

It doesn’t directly relate to my life right now, but I feel it. I have spent my entire life trying to be smaller and easier and simpler and less of a pain.  I can remember, one of my first memories and one of the few of my mother in early childhood, she was suddenly there and her face was evil red and she grabbed my arm and yanked me up by it.  I had been laughing at something.  I found something hysterical.  I have no memory of what it was.  Maybe it was a cartoon or a game I was playing with a doll.  I had been laughing in the sunbeam streaming in the living room window and then suddenly her red angry face was inches from mine as she yelled at me to stop it, that my laughter was too much and would I please just shut up.  And suddenly I was crying wracking silent sobs.  I felt so ashamed and I could see this was making her madder.  I knew I needed to just shut up but I was overwhelmed with tears.  She looked at me like I was a disgusting vile thing and dropped me and walked away.

Another time, playing with friends, we were playing house and I was the mama and my two friends were my kids.  They made me a drawing and brought it to me and I got so overcome in my fake mama role with the joy of their present and their love of me that I rushed to hug them and kiss them.  So charged was I with the intensity of wanting to love on my pretend children, I knocked my friend over and kissed her face over and over again until she shoved me off of her and stood up, infuriated.  “What is WRONG with you!  Jesus.  Holly.  You are too much”.  They both shot me a look and walked out of my room and out of house and away.

My best friend’s birthday party.  I excitedly watched her opening her presents and was thrilled that I had bought the most presents for her and wrapped them all individually in the years of Christmas wrapped paper and home made wrapping I’d decorated.  After a couple of presents people were looking at me funny.  What happened?  What was wrong?  Melissa got up and asked me to go talk.  “That’s so embarrassing.  Why did you do that?  Do you want people to think we are lesbians?  Damn it, Holly.  Too much.

I felt sometimes like everyone had a book about how to be that I didn’t.  I thought for a long time that my mother had left because I was so infuriating.  I thought my father was depressed so much when I was a child because I was a shitty daughter.  He told me he hadn’t been able to meet anyone because of me.  I think he meant being a single father made dating hard, but I heard “because you are defective nobody wants to be your step-mother”.

I tried to be simpler and easier and to care less about everything.  I was a disaster with the first guys I dated and I got hurt.  It happens.  I’ve learned and learned and learned and learned and it’s been HARD work.

But I know I’m still a little difficult to love.  And maybe that’s okay.  Maybe I *am* a little difficult to love, and maybe there will be people, as there have been and are people who are up to the task.  I am a lot, but sometimes people want a lot.  Maybe you are a bit much too, and maybe there are people in your life or in your future that are looking for something a bit much.

 

The Crystal Ball Broke

 

It starts out whole, crystal clear and flawless.  It begins.  It is honed and shined and unblemished.  You made it and it’s beautiful. And then it comes, the first little crack. You said that and they knew what you were doing.  A small occlusion from the jarring.  But it wasn’t that bad. The sun still glints the same way.  The ribbon of refracted light is still perfect.

crack.

crick.

crack.

broken glass

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And the light bends.  The rays just don’t fall the same.  You’re losing colors..violet.. blue.. fading in your rakishly high tales.  It’s still shiny and see through.  It’s still beautiful.  It’s still a treasure.  The weight and heft are left.  The shape is still smooth.  You can see the ribbon in there but we all think it’s okay.  It’s just the tiniest bit of damage.  And you’re sorry.  That was a one time thing, right?  We were just scared or sorry or confused or not ready.  We were thoughtless.

snap.

crack.

The little bitty cracks add up though.  Each one is like a teeny ball peen hammer.. ting… ting…

It’s a small deep crevice there in the middle.  The rainbow leaves.  But it’s still bright.  It’s still light.  It slides and tumbles in your hand. We whistle in our fake nonchalance.  It’s fine.  It’s fine.  Still so smooth.  But is that a rift?

CRACK!

snip.

tinkle.

The rift has reached the edge and you can feel the craze.  Your fingers worry it like a loose tooth.  They run over it and over it but they can’t make it smooth.  It’s there.  And you’re losing light.  It’s getting trapped in there, bouncing around off of the things you broke, the jagged edges in there.  You tell another one.  It’s easier now and though the consequences are more dire, you’re less concerned.  Do you not see it?  Or do you just care less?

CRACK….. snap… tinkle.

A sliver is shaved off and falls.  The rift has veins in several directions now, so much closer to the surface, and the ragged creviced edge has its own facets.  Do you not know how to stop it?  Do you not see it?  A whole side is gray and lifeless, unreachable.  The light that enters mostly dies.  And it feels inevitable, doesn’t it?  You say another one, another.  You can’t even smile while you do it anymore, can you?  Do you shrug?  Do you sting?  Is it like you can’t help yourself? Or are you numb?

We point our palms at the ground and our walk works to pulverize the shards.

 

The Cats Will Eat Me…

I really dislike my brain sometimes.  I woke up this morning with my brain churning a little.  I noticed it and realized what was happening.  Every now and then I start spinning about something.  I used to see Great Date do this, and it’s how I finally realized I did it too.

Sometimes it’s fear.  Sometimes I feel a little afraid and my mind casts about to understand my fear.  The house is not on fire.  The cats are okay.  Maybe I had a nightmare I don’t remember.  I don’t know, but my mind is an unkind place.  I cast doubts around about my worth.. my friendships.  I chew on the edge of my relationships.  I pull up reasons I should be afraid or sad or that things could be bad.  I pull up real and imagined evidence for how I suck.  I tell myself mean things.  I am the voice in the dark.

catsI’ve learned over time that this is just me petting a worry stone.  I can spin up elaborate bad things, and I know it.  I’m cherry picking the little rotten things to make problems that don’t exist.  I’m fine.  I’m more than fine.  I’m happy.  I’m here in my quiet apartment with my sweet kitties.  I live in a neighborhood I love.  I live in a city I love.  I have a family that I love that loves me.  I’m making the best choices I can and I’ll be ok. My relationship(s) are good.

And I learned to pull out the anti-venom for poisonous thoughts.

Continue reading

The Dark at 1am

So, things are pretty good… but I was freaking out a little.  I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at reconstructed breasts and what the hell all of this involves.  And it’s freaking me out a little.  In NOT-unexpected keystone-cop-style awesomeness, the VA lost the consult to finish my genetic testing.  It’s going to take about a month to get results and I have to start over.  The office that recommends where to get the test is overwhelmed and can’t recommend where I need to go.  So I spent a bunch of today looking at websites for genetic testing centers and oncology departments and trying to figure out how to gauge such things.  Then I spent a bunch of time last night and tonight looking at reconstructed breasts and procedures.  I had been laughing and amusing myself with the idea of perkier, bigger augmented breasts as a reward for all of this BRCA gene bullshit.  But that’s not really accurate is it?  I might end up with breasts that don’t have nipples.. or surgeries that remove muscle and fat from my stomach to make new breasts, or weeks of inflating tissue expanders under my “breasts” to make room for implants under my chest wall to make new breasts, AFTER mastectomy and a surgery to preserve nipples, if I’m lucky.  Is it just me or does all of that sound like a horror show?

And the pictures.  They are freaking me out a little.  I don’t like getting fillings in my TEETH because I hate being vulnerable.  What the fuck am I going to do if I have to spend months removing and making new breasts??!?  Deep breath.  I’d live.   Continue reading

The Aspiration Gap

***Okay.  This one is long, really really long.  I’m sorry.  I had a bit of a crisis and rethought everything.  Feel free to skim or skip.

_______________________________

I’m thinking about the aspiration gap. We take our hopes and wishes and expectations and compare them to reality.  The difference between what we want and hope for and what actually exists determines in great part how happy we are, and this is the aspiration gap.  There is a good article here describing this idea in more detail.  The really short version of this is that researchers measured happiness and expectation and found them to have an inverse effect, meaning that when people have reasonable or low expectations they were happier.  It seems that the happiness with what actually happens is less important than how it measures up to what we thought or hoped would happen.  If we expected $100,000 a year and got $90,000 we were less happy than when we expected $50,000 and got $60,000.

This is so damn true.

How many times were you surprised by great little things and tickled by the smallest things and saddened by the rewards that came and were actually great but not really what you’d thought would happen?  I’m just adjusting my expectations and taking stock.  I’m finding that I’m loved and supported, exactly as I want and need, and more, but maybe not how I pictured.  I had some of this wrong.  And you know, fuck judging myself for having feelings about that sometimes.  I am allowed to feel this stuff.  It’s okay to want and need.  I can fuck up.  And I can admit when I’m wrong and apologize.

So this weekend Traveler was talking about all of his plans and such and I was enjoying talking to him about all this, as I do.  And I noticed something I never noticed before.  I wasn’t in his plans.  I don’t think much about that most of the time.  We really aren’t to the “building stuff around each other” place.  But he was talking specifically about his living arrangements and his home.  And he has this like 10 year plan.  And I’m not in any of that.  So I asked.  “How does this look for you.. your future living plans and your.. maybe.. like.. hopes or whatever?  Is there.. other stuff in there?”.  Hemming and hawing ensued.  I was trying to tread lightly.   Eventually I cleared what I was asking and he said he just really hadn’t thought about it.

Shit.

What?what

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I Admit I'm a Bad Poly Sometimes

Alright.  I admit it.

I just read a blog post by Ginger at Poly Nirvana, called Pout.  It’s here.

She’s talking about her “less than perfect” poly feelings as her love is dating and with this other new girl.  She was sort of sharing and admonishing herself and owning up to her stuff.  That’s always kinda rad.  I am a huge believer that what comes from the heart reaches the heart, and such honest sharing is so useful.  When we pour that stuff out people can relate to it.  It’s human.  And of course, it got me thinking.

tiny home in a clearing made of stone and wood

tiny home in a clearing made of stone and wood

It’s not a pressing matter this second, but I’ve been working on preparing for Traveler to find and date and be with others again.  As far as I know he’s not madly searching for new connections, but I know he’s open to the idea and I think he’d like it.  We talked about it a couple of times and I flipped out about it…twice, sadly.  (I despise that by the way).  Traveler has always been unflinchingly supportive of my dating and sexy exploits and whatever.  He trusts me and supports me, and it’s beautiful.  I want to give him that.  Sometimes I do give him that.  He’s so beautiful, so kind, so sweet and passionate and loving, and he has a special gift for loving that honestly I don’t think it would be right to jealously guard it.  I love him loving his wife and I used to love him loving Peaches.  And it’s a precious thing, to love someone so much that their happiness fills you with joy.  He talks about Quinky Girl sometimes and I just overflow.  He SHOULD have that and she should too.  It’s beautiful.  I love that my love for him includes that.  I love that my love for her does too.  It feels very right.  I feel the same about Cleveland and his wife.  I love my men in part because they are good men that know how to love.

But wives don’t scare me in the same way. Continue reading

Relationships Bring Up Old Ideas

Ever get to the root of something and discover you’re kinda being a ninny?  Ever realize you are responding with fear or some old feeling or thought that when you get down to it doesn’t make sense?  Yeah.  Relationships are good at that.  

mirrorI’ve been not-so-subtly giving Traveler shit from time to time since I realized he banks with THE WORST bank possible.  And that he was afraid to deposit checks with his phone.  We live in Seattle and the man works in the tech industry and loves to use his computer for finances.  This made no sense.  He was scared to do it, but once I did it in front of him and showed him how easy it actually was he tried it.  Previously he’d resisted, I think fearing that it was some complicated process.  It’s not.  You sign it, log into your bank (even his horrible bank) and take a pic of the front and back of your check.  It’s even easier than addressing a deposit envelope.  

I teach budgeting at work and part of my class is every semester downloading a small number of bank’s latest options for checking and savings and fees and such and having the class help decide what back is best for them.  Some people like to go into banks or credit unions and some like internet banking and features, so the best one varies but is usually one of 3 top banks and credit unions.  2 huge national bank chains are ALWAYS the worst.  I include them to contrast what a decent bank or credit union offers.  We put the info on the board in a big grid and every single time every single member of class says something like “Jesus.. that’s a terrible bank.  Why would anyone have an account with them?!?!?”  Good question.  Traveler has an account with them.  He’s had it since he was a lad and he avoids lots of fees by using very few features and letting them have a ton of his money at all times so he incurs less fees.  Nevermind that this bank also has the most lawsuits each year for terrible practices and has been sued and cited time and again for terrible mistreatment of customers.  Also never mind that they don’t have better credit cards Traveler would qualify for and they are pretty fucking evil and do harm in the world.  Traveler lets them hold his money.  Worse yet, he’s defensive when shown facts about this bank.  <facepalm>.  

Sometimes we’re like this.  

donkey mirror Continue reading