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The whys of beginning

My therapist seems to be rather curious about my relationship with Moss, possibly because it has been on my mind for the last couple months, trying to resolve what has come up.  So she asks me about the beginning of things – what drew me to him, what the spark was, why I was interested in continuing it.  And I started thinking recently – what about the other folks in my life?

So, roughly in order of when I met them (as I think that’s more relevant to this particular subject), here we go.

Trydaen – I met him about eight years ago and we started dating a bit more than six years ago.  The initial draw was that he was so full of new facts and information and seemed so smart.  The spark was that he was (and is) very passionate and full of enthusiasm and had such an adorable smile.  I want to continue with him because I learn something new every day with him, without fail.  I want to continue with him because I want to see who he becomes as he gets older and I want to be a part of his life for that.  I want to continue with him because we have similar goals in the long term, and have discussed what that means for us.

Moss – I met him about four years ago – I think shortly after Minx’s death.  I’m not sure of the exact timing.  We started dating a bit more than a year ago.  The initial draw was that he seemed very confident – a bit on the cocky side, but not overly so.  The spark was the kisses and the sense that there was something going on under the surface.  We kissed a lot at parties for a long while – nothing more, as the situation was not conducive for a long while.  I want to continue with him because I enjoy finding out what is under the surface – the more I dig, the deeper it seems I can go.  I want to continue with him because I know he’s willing to put in work to be with me.  I want to continue with him because I want to keep exploring where our dynamic will go.

Ember – I met him a bit short of four years ago, but I can’t remember which of two occasions it was.  We started dating about five months ago.  The initial draw was the pretty hair and the shared interests.  The spark was, oddly enough, not getting to kiss him, because, well, relationships are complicated.  I want to continue with him because he’s a good cook.  I want to continue with him because I don’t need to worry about how things are going with us.  I want to continue with him because the cuddles and conversation before and after sex are delightful – he comes from a different place than I have, so I get to see the world from a different perspective.

Lola* – I met her about two and half, maybe three years ago, at a local play party.  I remember complimenting her on her shoulder tattoo and when she turned around and responded, I thought that she had such a pleasant voice and that she looked very sexy in the corset she was wearing.  We started dating about a year and a half ago, but have been in an odd sort of transition phase for the last couple months, so I am uncertain where we will end up.  The initial draw was the tattoo and the curiosity about the person behind it. The spark was a sexy party  – me watching her play DDR with great enthusiasm.  I think, actually, that enthusiasm was the spark.  What I am certain of is that there are reasons I want to continue having her in my life.  The first being her bright energy – she fills up any space she’s in with such light that it is hard to be gloomy there.  The second being that she is great to cuddle with – I love wrapping or draping my arms around, over, and under her.  The third being that there are a lot of places where we complement each other, where we knit well together, even if there are some places that we do not.

Diplomat – I met him about two and a half years ago for the first time (which, sadly I have very little memory of), but re-met a bit short of two years ago.  He is, oddly enough, the only person on this list that I didn’t know for more than a year before we went out on a first date.  We started dating one year and ten months ago.  What drew me to him was a mutual nerdiness about Shakespeare and the willingness to do that in public.  The spark was having touch as a mutual love language – I hadn’t realized how much I missed touch until we spent time touching.  I want to continue with him because I love seeing where he has grown and changed in the time we’ve been together and I want to see where that goes, but that’s only half of that equation.  The other half is his encouragement of my own growth.  I want to continue with him because I want to see more of that goddamned smile.  I want to continue with because there are so many places for us to travel to, to take in together.

I hope none of these come as a surprise to the named folks who do even occasionally visit my blog.  Or if they do, I hope it’s a pleasant one.

None of these are all-inclusive.  It would be the height of foolishness to even think I could capture all of a relationship and what I value with a person in a single paragraph.  There is so much more to each of these stories, more than even I have words for.

* I am including Lola because she is still a part of my life even if we are trying to figure out how that will work out for us, if it can.  And because I love her and that will continue to be the case even if things don’t work out at all between us.

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The Dark Side of ADHD

I used to say that I was forgetful.

And I definitely am, to a certain extent.

ADHD robbed me of so many of my memories as a kid. The best way to explain what’s there is to say that my memory was random. I can tell you the exact setting and feeling of my first kiss in extraordinary detail, but struggle to keep what foreign language skills and vocabulary I have learned. I can tell you about Queen Elizabeth I’s life and family context with the accuracy of a lifetime researcher, but I can’t, fo the life of me recall the first time I told someone that I loved them (in a romantic sense).

I was considered gifted from a very early age. The teachers who caught on to this encouraged my parents and I to have me in classes that reflected this. And I would do well in those classes, until I had a test. During tests I would struggle with recall and get grades that did not reflect how well I knew the material, how well I grasped it.

I am sometimes mad at my parents for not having seen this earlier. If I had been treated for my ADHD starting in middle school or high school, I could have done so much better academically. I could have gotten the grades that reflected my learning rather than my shit test-taking skills. I would probably remember more of middle school than a few scattered memories.

I have been on some form of ADHD meds for close to a year and a half now. It has been one of the most amazing time of my life – not just because of the amazing people I have met and/or started dating, but because I am starting to remember. I am starting to have better memory recall. I can remember the first time I said I love you to not one, but three different people in that time period. I a remembering more of the small moments – the details of conversations, the looks in people’s eyes, and the nuances in articles, books, and papers I read. I feel more full of life now, more full of the things that make me happy.

No, I will never be “normal”, nor do I have any desire to be. I am proudly neurodivergent. No medicine in the world can change that I have ADHD. But I am glad to have finally found something that gives me more space to be me, with all the awesome that is in my life.

It is the greatest gift for the storyteller in me. The ability to remember.

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Compersion & Envy/Jealousy

Compersion is a complicated thing for me.

Let’s start out with the simple stuff.

The definition of compersion according to Wiktionary is:

  1. The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy, such as in witnessing a toddler’s joy and feeling joy in response.
  2. The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another; contrasted with jealousy.

The one I’m mostly using for this post is the second one, although I do have to make it abundantly clear that I do not agree with this portion: “contrasted with jealousy”.  For the longest time this was the definition I used, so I thought it was something that I didn’t experience because I definitely deal with jealousy.

But as Page Turner notes in her post “Cultivating Compersion Can Be a Helpful Distraction from the Pain of Tackling Jealousy and Insecurity“, the two concepts can exist alongside each other.  In her words:

You can feel happy that your partner is happy and also feel insecure, overshadowed, displaced, envious, or any of the other things that masquerade as jealousy.

I realized what compersion was like for me watching my partners with their other partners.  Whatever else I felt about my relationship with my partner at the time, I was always happy to see them getting cuddles and kisses from the other people who they care about.

Envy is a big part of what made compersion a hard thing, until I figured out a good strategy for dealing with whatever is making me envious: looking into the situation, figuring out what I wanted (because, for me, envy is usually an expression of me feeling like there is something missing in my relationship or the situation), and asking my partner for whatever I felt I was missing.  The other part of this is having partners who I know genuinely want to work with me to help resolve these issues in whatever way it is possible for them, or, if there isn’t a possible way, will at least actually listen to me.

This is not to say that my envy has been solved.  Far from.  It comes up for me often enough.  And sometimes there isn’t an easy answer for it, other than just sitting with it, like in the few cases where me having what I am envious about isn’t possible or isn’t something long-term me would really want, but short-term me has feels about.

One example of this that comes up is being envious of my metamours for getting more time, especially casual/non-date time, with my partners because they live together.  Dissecting this, there are a couple things that can come up:

  • Not feeling like I get enough time with my partners, especially non-date hangout time.  I can ask for time.  Hearing that there isn’t any more time to be had is disappointing, but in most cases I can deal with that.
  • The privilege of being the person who is assumed to be default/most important by most of society.  Of being part of the unit that Christmas cards are addressed to, who are invited to parties, who don’t have to be hidden from anyone.  Not much of this can be addressed, other than the last bit – and that, not easily.  Monogamy as default is a bitch.
  • Wanting to live with someone.  This is not really an issue for me, mostly because I am uber picky about who I live with.  It took me years before I was willing to move in with Trydaen, and a couple more before I actually did.

The whole thing that brought this up?

Seeing a note from Eve to Moss because she was heading out of town.  Less than 10 words.  I felt envious that she was in a position that missing him isn’t the case most of the time (that it is so different that it is worth noting).  But as that felt out, what remained was joy.  Joy that she loved him, joy that she left him a note, joy that he had her in his life, and joy that they are there for each other.  Even though I am not sure if that if I had left a note that she had found, that the end result would be joy.  Didn’t matter at all.

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Fluid Bonding – Initial Decision Making

So I was reading the polyamory subreddit earlier today, like I often do, and came across someone asking this question: What were some questions about polyamory you wish you’d asked in the beginning?

Someone posted that the question they would have asked would be: “How do I navigate fluid bonding networks when I don’t have hierarchy in my relationships?”
(potentially NSFW, after the break)

Continue reading

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True therapy

I had a really amazing session with my therapist on Wednesday.

It started out with her asking how I was doing, like she always does.  For me, this is a great way to get things started out, to get the ball rolling.  This Wednesday was no different.

There were a couple things that could have answered that question, as there have been a number of things occupying my mind lately.  I chose the more difficult answer to the question (we got to the other one eventually, when it felt right).

It was the first time I had told anyone else in my life about this issue – it has to do with existential dread, of an obsessive nature, but is more than that.  It usually comes up a few times a year (for the last 20 years), but had come up basically every day for about a week and a half before therapy, which was a bit disturbing to me.

It felt so good to finally be in a space that was safe enough that I could share this deepest secret and not only not be judged, but also have someone I trust with all of my issues who could help me.  We talked about it for awhile, which was not easy, but I cannot put in words how much much weight it took off my mind to have someone else know this.  She gave me a plausible idea about why it had come up now, which was very reassuring.

We talked about the nature of therapy – about how wonderful it is to have a therapist who you connect with on a personal level, about how weirdness is awesome, and about how truly amazing it was to me to find someone who created such a safe space that I could share something like this.  She said that it was great for her to hear that.

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NaNoWriMo 10 – Massage

Yesterday I had a bad headache/migraine, so, almost last minute, I decided that it would be worth my time and energy to go get a massage. I am so glad that I did. I’m usually a little nervous with masculinely presenting massage therapists, but this guy really had the knack and was super appropriate. We chatted a little bit during the massage – figuring out pressure and good spots and talking about the benefits of massage and relaxation in general. He really met my mood – I had been thinking of massage as part of the very old idea of laying on of hands as a healing technique, and he very much had the healer feel to him. He beat the living crap out of my muscles (just as hard as I like it and as I find effective – I often have a problem with massage therapists who can’t maintain a constant deep pressure) and it felt so good. The greatest part was that he managed to get my neck muscles (trapezius, I think?) to soften up. That is super rare – I think only one other person has managed that before. Andy today, they’re still softer and very relaxed, which is some sort of miracle.

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NaNoWriMo 9 – Going Out

So after therapy, I decided to head out to the meet up that one of the larger local polya groups does in the city. This wasn’t exactly unprompted though… Ember had asked me the day before whether I was going, and I had been undecided, basically dependent on how I felt after therapy. After therapy I did a quick check-in with myself to see if I was good to go out (yup, had the energy to socialize) and I headed out.

I got myself parked, then got myself lost trying to find the place – sometimes Google Maps does not really help when you’re on foot, despite how much you want it to. After I got there, I shed my coat, and joined a group of my friends who were near the door, just to say hi. Ember spotted me and came over to greet me with a hug and a kiss and a whiskey to have a sip of (good stuff, but I like peaty). I went over to the bar, the bartender flirted a little with me and I flirted right back, and got myself a single of the same.

I hung out with Ember for awhile, after checking out the rest of the event upstairs. I bumped into three other friends at the bottom of the stairs on my way up, said hello and did hugs, and flirted a little bit with the second gal (she’s cute and I like her). Upstairs wasn’t fitting my mood, so I went back downstairs to put down my stuff and socialize. It is a marvel watching people being flirty and friendly with other people when that’s their element. I mean, it’s fun watching people in their element, period.

I drifted back towards Ember after a bit and we went to go say hi to his partner Seafoam, and I had a super awkward moment with her as we were waiting to talk to her when I went to look at something off the table. So, not a great thing – not sure if I’m deal with a case of genuine bad stuff or whether my anxiety brain is blowing it way out of proportion. Stood and chatted there for awhile, then Ember and Seafoam left and I kept chatting with people.

Eventually I finished my drink and went and got a rye Manhattan at the bar – the bartender asked if I’d ever tried one with Rittenhouse. I wasn’t sure, so I said no. And he made me quite a good Manhattan. I sat down at the bar for a bit and started chatting with the guy who was a couple seats down, mostly just small talk, him asking about the group, but engaging enough that I stayed there for longer than I had intended. After that I went back over and spent most of the next hour chatting with the group of friends who were by the door.

About 15 minutes before they left, in comes someone I haven’t seen for years. And she was happy and that was super infectious. So I stayed there and chatted for most of the rest of the night, listening to her stories about the good things that have been happening in her family medical dramas. The guy at the car eventually came over to join the group and we all stood and chatted for awhile before I started coughing. Something was irritating my throat, so I went over to the bar to get some water. Then other people in the same area started coughing too. The cute bartender went outside to see what was going on and found out that someone had pepper-sprayed someone else a block or so over and it had come in through the vents. So we moved our group back further into the bar and sat there and chatted until closing time.

I forget sometimes how much I like flirting with people I’m comfortable with, and after a drink or two, people I find cute. I can be an incorrigible flirt when I’m relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings. I wish I’d figured this out earlier in life – some of my early 20s might not have been quite so awkward.