Finally, there is clarity? Then and now with OnceAndFuture

I have to concur with opalescent, and I think you already know this, there does not look to be anything you can do to get The Signal to trust you if she is not willing to do some serious work on herself. She seems to get something out of jerking you around emotionally and until you can figure out what and either refuse to give it to her any more or find a way to give her it without the emotional turmoil for you, then she will keep doing it. I rather expect her to hold it against you if you take the proffered time off.

I hope the best for you both.

Oh, yes. Please take any and all time you can find to decompress and find your bearings. The Signal probably could use a break as well, even if she thinks she does not.

What do you want the next 40 years of your life to look like?
Does this align with The Signal's next 40 years?
If yes, what do you need to do now to make that happen?
If no, what do you need to do now to make that happen?

What do you want today to look like?
I'm going to dispense with my usual way of writing here. I don't want any sympathy and I don't want anyone to lay any blame. Sometimes life just doesn't go the way we want it to, and this is what's happened here.

Last week I was admitted to a behavioral health clinic. I won't go into what happened before that. I spent several days there. Since then I have been living in a hotel near where I work. It probably wasn't a good idea to go back to work, but I really need to keep at least something together. The Signal and I have agreed to see each other only on weekends. I think that is the best thing for now. I am still looking for a place to live and that is occupying most of my time now.

Being in the hospital gave me a lot of time to reflect. I realize now that I should have taken leave right away when I knew that things were sliding downhill. I just didn't realize how fast things were going. It's clear to me that the life I've been living hasn't been working properly. But even after many days to think about it, I haven't come up with a solution to how to make life work. Perhaps, with rest, counseling, and solitude, some enlightenment will come.

I don't think we ever know what will happen next in our lives, but right now everything seems unsettled in my life. I don't even know where I'm going to be living past Sunday night. I've become invisible at my job--only one person even welcomed me back--and I'm ready to go. And I want to stay with The Signal. But not at the cost of our sanity. I can do nothing about her lack of trust in me. I have given up being poly and identifying as poly. I don't know if that's going to be enough for her. The worst thing is that we are each others' best friends. Now, we both feel totally alone. One of the things I learned in the past is that when bad things happen to you, people disappear. The settlement of my life will be up to me, and I understand that.

At the hospital, the counselor suggested I should write down how I was feeling. Later that day I sat with a new notebook The Signal brought for me, and I wrote nothing. Some of you, who read my blog, have said that you keep reading because I write from the heart. But I don't feel my heart is in anything now. When I can feel again I will write more.
I am sorry things are so awful. I'm sure the months and months of tension and emotional strain would drive most people to a breaking point. I hope you can be peaceful for a time to rebalance yourself.

I'm sorry, Once :( I'm glad that you received the medical attention that you needed. I hope you find the direction, peace, and healing that you so desperately need and deserve! ((Hugs))
“Maybe this weight was a gift
Like I had to see what I could lift.” -- Nada Surf, “Do It Again”

I guess the main lesson I learned over the last eight months was that as bad as things are at any given moment, they can get a whole lot worse. After I wrote my last post here I ended up being hospitalized two more times, the second time being out of work for almost a month. When I came back my employer railroaded me out, putting me on a bogus “improvement plan” that I was set up to fail (then they didn’t even bother keeping me on to the end of the plan). As I’d mentioned in the last posts I made, I moved away from home to live in another city as The Signal wanted me to be away but also to be closer to work; without work and with my migraines returning to 5-6 days a week I rarely left my apartment. I sank into a depressive haze which lasted the better part of three months, really only staying awake long enough to feed myself and apply for jobs, none of which panned out.

Over the last month I’ve slowly started to pull myself back out. A former work colleague offered me a job as a consultant and I accepted. I took a couple of classes to prepare for my new job. With the weather getting warmer I’ve started to get out more. I feel like my emotions are starting to return, for good or bed. But I am still without friends and very lonely.

Soon after I stopped posting here my counselor who’d helped me quite a lot was transferred to another hospital, and his supervisor took me on. At first I thought that she was helping me as well, but recently I’ve started to realize she’s been undermining my recovery. I was despondent early on that The Signal was unwilling to talk to me, and that I’d been unable to make friends in the new city. She suggested that it would be difficult for The Signal to feel affection towards me because of my depression. She also hinted that I had mild autism and might have trouble in sustaining friendships. I think that she was being sincere in her concern, but I have started feeling very self-conscious about being around other people for fear of being awkward. I get nervous if I talk too much and I overthink things. All of that has kept me alone. I reached out to a number of old friends over the last couple of months and wasn’t able to really reestablish any friendships. It made me scared to try again with others.

In October, just before I lost my job, I started looking to adopt a cat. I’d had to leave my cat behind with The Signal—it had gotten used to being around her cats and I couldn’t bring myself to take it away. After looking at several cat rescues I met a little calico cat who immediately clung to me. She’s barely let go since. Through losing my job and being alone through the long winter, the little calico has supported me, lying next to me while I was sick with migraine, and being there when I was at my loneliest. When I go out she watches me go from the window, and when I come back she wants me to hold her. Most of the cats I’ve known have been aloof and standoffish, but the little calico goes out of her way to be affectionate. It feels like so many people have let me down, and without her affection maybe I would have started thinking that I was totally undeserving of company.

It’s been hard for me to talk about myself or write about how I’ve been feeling. It’s taken days to just write this. I had thought about writing somewhere else and maybe that would have been a good idea. When I think about polyamory now I don’t think about anything enjoyable. When I was really down I started having very negative thoughts, and I started feeling jealous about people who were in love and happy. I realized this was a destructive course of thought and that being jealous wouldn’t help me through anything. But I also came to realize that in the state I’m in it’s hard for anyone to feel any kind of love towards me.

I guess if I have any feeling about polyamory right now, it’s anger. I feel like I lost my marriage and my happiness over it, for nothing. The Signal hasn’t forgiven me and in talking to her it feels like she is a long way from forgiving me. Frankly I feel like a fool for ever thinking that I ever could have been polyamorous. When I was posting here, I was quite aware that there weren’t a lot of people here in my situation. Now I am aware why. If being poly is an orientation, and if I am in fact poly, then I guess I’ve grown to hate who I am, and what it’s done to me over the last 14 months. If it’s a behavior…well I never really was poly, and then did all of this happen for nothing? And to put it as bluntly as possible, I can’t even make any friends, I’ve convinced myself I’m undeserving of affection, and I have a hard time even talking to people any more. What makes me think I’d be capable of more than one relationship? I’ve failed terribly at one. Even though I was the one who fooled myself, I’m angry that I did. What I lost wasn’t worth what I possibly could have gained. It’s the worst decision I’ve ever made.

The little calico came up to me while I was typing this. Her little brain sensed that I was feeling down, and when she knows that she sits next to me. I think this is her signal for me to stop. I have more weight to lift and I will be back.
Wow, Once. I'm sorry so much has changed so drastically in a relatively short period of time. I'm glad you're getting the help you need...I'd just say if that therapist doesn't feel right, keep looking until you find one who can help instead of hinder you.

I am sorry you are so down :(

Please don't think you are hard to love now. You may be hard to hang out with, you may be hard to reach with expressions of love when depressed, it might be hard to build connections, but you are not hard to love. Your post is very touching. What I can say is, that I am feeling as much love and compassion as I am able to feel to a stranger across the world right now. I am sure your family or former friends still love you at a distance as much as they ever did.

You are certainly welcome on the forum no matter your take on polyamory right now.
I'm so glad you and the little calico found each other. She has clearly decided that you are her special person. It is a sweet thing when a pet and their person communicate so well how they love and need each other.

I think you have shown great courage in pushing onward despite the harrowing things you have been through.

I am sending warm thoughts out to you and your little cat.
The little cat would be very happy to hear about your good wishes--she is sleeping next to me as I type this. She's kept me company through a long week!

Last Wednesday the power went out here during a windstorm. After 36 hours I figured the power wasn't coming back any time soon, and The Signal offered to take in me and the cat. By Sunday we were still waiting for the power to come back on. I had surgery for my migraines on Monday so I stayed with The Signal to recover and work remotely with my first client...and then Tuesday and Wednesday we had a monster snowstorm and I was still unable to return to my apartment, until today. During the week I slept and worked in my stepson's old room, while the cat stayed in the room and mostly slept in my lap.

As the week went on though both the cat and I started getting out more. I took The Actress to school while her car was in the repair shop (I bought her a car for her birthday earlier this year, and she loves that car). Although we were stuck in the house during the snowstorm, The Signal and I talked a lot more, and we were a lot friendlier to each other. Even the little cat came out of my room to sit with us and meet her cats...there was a lot of hissing to start, but my calico eventually made a couple of friends.

Things are starting to look up a little with The Signal, I think. She was not keen on me moving back before my apartment lease was up in August. But after our week together she is starting to talk about having me move back earlier. We have a lot to work on, and I suspect that most of her interest in me moving back is financial rather than anything else. But at least during this first week back together we were able to get along, even if we didn't work on anything substantial on our relationship. That may take a lot longer. I don't want to speculate on that yet.

For the moment I'm going to be staying here in the apartment to work on my new consulting job. The job is relatively easy, but I'm getting used to not having a set schedule. I suspect that the little calico will be sleeping through the weekend--she isn't used to having other people and cats around, or a whole house to roam through! I'm jealous that she can take a three day nap.
I feel lost. I don’t know who to talk to…although to be honest I don’t have anyone to talk to anyway.

A few weeks ago I moved back to live with The Signal. We’re not even pretending we made this decision for any reasons other than money. Although I’ve started working again, I’m nowhere near working full time—this week I put in the equivalent of five hours of billable time, and I’m looking at making less than half of what I did last year. Being out of the apartment I was living in would save us close to $800 a month, and we hoped that being able to cook meals together would save more money. I’m basically living out of a makeshift office in our unused den.

It feels like I am a roommate in the house. The Signal is not particularly affectionate to me, and I am too scared to push the matter. She and The Actress pretty much have their own lives, which I’m not a part of. While I was away from the house I just stopped being a priority in her life. Once it was a point of pride for us and our relationship that we’d spoken to each other every day, at least on the phone, since we first met each other over 12 years ago. But while I was away The Signal decided first that she didn’t need to talk to me every day, then after an argument over the phone decided that she would only talk to me when she was driving home from work, and then only when she felt comfortable in doing so. When I did talk to her she never asked me in detail about what was going on in my life, and it seemed clear she didn’t care much about it. Things haven’t changed much now that I’m here. I realize I don’t have a lot to talk about, but even when I do try to she cuts me off to talk about own job, her own friends. Being without a real job or co-workers, or any friends, it feels painful to have to hear about that kind of life that I want in great detail. I doubt she notices that, or would care about it if she did.

And so I’m feeling lonelier than I did when I was by myself in the apartment. I tried to make friends in the old city, but nothing seemed to work. I started doubting that I was a person anyone would want to be friends with or even talk to—perhaps, as the counselor theorized, my autism and depression scared people away, although I tried desperately to hide those issues. The Signal suggested that people didn’t want to talk to me because I was a downer. I thought I was good at hiding those problems, but maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought. I’m not mad at anyone for not wanting to talk to me—if I’m not a priority in their life there’s nothing I can do to change that. But it hurts to be alone, to have nobody to do anything with, or have nobody to talk to. Not to talk about problems—the last year taught me that if I talk about my problems with anyone, even if I supported that person in the past through their own problems, they will disappear. But it would just be nice to have someone to talk to.

I feel angrier about polyamory to be honest. I still support the right of anyone to pursue the kind of relationship, or relationships, which serves them and those they love best. But at the same time I resent what it has done to me. Perhaps, if I was better equipped to understand social cues, I could have read between the lines of what The Signal wanted and continues to want from our relationship, and I would not have pursued this life path again. Maybe, too, I would have realized I am simply not equipped to handle the enormous emotional highs and lows that being poly seems to engender. Then I would have understood that, whatever I might have personally felt about polyamory, I wasn’t capable of leading such a lifestyle and that I shouldn’t attempt to do so. So perhaps the pain I feel that polyamory inflicted on me is actually a self-inflicted pain caused by my own hubris and lack of self-awareness. I guess the only legitimate anger I feel is that too often people who write and talk about polyamory pursue such a relentlessly optimistic attitude towards plural relationships…that they are thrilled to talk about the success stories, but the stories of those who’ve been badly hurt by everything seem to be written in water. Honestly if it weren’t for this forum I’d be under the impression that deciding to pursue polyamory was instant sunshine and roses. Self-help bookshelves are not exactly heaving with volumes on “life after polyamory.”

And having said that, what I feel down about most now is that I see no real way forward in my life. I don’t feel like I can fix my relationship with The Signal, because she thinks I’ve irrevocably broken it and I don’t have any clue as to what I can do to even salvage the pieces. I don’t feel like I can make any other relationships or friendships of any sort because I’ve been repeatedly told that I’m bad at it, and repeated failures at even finding someone who wants to talk to me have ground me down to nothing. I’m totally at the mercy of whether my migraine medication is working on any given day to even get out of bed. My former counselor felt I’d been through so much in the past few months that she started recommending me books on PTSD or bereavement…as if to say, “You’re going to have to bury your past life.” But to be honest I don’t have a future life in mind, or which I think is attainable. It feels like the music that used to define my life has been replaced by an uncomfortable silence.
I'm sorry you have been going through so much in the past year. Coming to terms with the many health problems and possibly being on the autism spectrum -- that's big news to digest. I have family and friends on the spectrum. I don't think these things make them unloveable. I don't think it makes you unloveable either.

It's ok for Signal to say she's not up for poly. And that if you want to be with her, you both have to agree to practice monogamy together. You seem willing to do that and have been doing that. I do not see what you said you needed from her. If she wanted to be you, she would have to agree to do...what?

It is not ok for Signal to want to "police" your thoughts. Like if you even think/identify with poly, it's a betrayal of her somehow. It's also not healthy to be THAT enmeshed with someone else-- to where they have no identity separate from you. Not even inside their own heads.

If that is what she wants from you, that is asking too much. If you have slipped in to that? You have lost your own sense of self and become selfless in service to her or the marriage? That's not good for you. I think your old counselor touched on that once when he asked you how you were doing, and you replied with Signal being happy about something.

My opinion? This has never been about you being poly or identifying as poly or "poly capable" as I think you put it once. This is about Signal being a healthy person, and whether or not she is capable of being a healthy partner to you. If you being with her helps you be your healthiest self or if being with her does not bring out your healthiest self.

From the beginning you have known she is NOT healthy, she has self esteem issues, doesn't feel she deserves love. Over time you learned other things about her – she does push-pull stuff, gives mixed messages, offers things that she doesn't mean, looks for “evidence” of an affair to justify treating you poorly, circle conversations.... just lots of stuff.

I don't know if counseling has brought it up but maybe reading helps give you some perspective. I don't think “low self esteem” is the only thing with her. It might be part of it. But I wonder if she doesn't have something else like borderline or similar. There's a lot of emotional up and down with her and you feeling guilty/walking on eggshells so she doesn't blow up again. You said you fear her being mad. Why? It's just a feeling. Or does she do mean things to you when she is angry? :confused:

Having a health thing doesn't make her a bad person. But having a health thing that she's NOT attending to doesn't make her an easy or healthy partner to be with. Whether you both are trying to practice monogamy or polyamory or whatever together – it goes easier if all the participants are healthy people or at least people taking personal responsibility for themselves and doing their prescribed health management plans for their conditions.

It took you a long time to arrive at this:

I'm starting to feel like I'm now the scapegoat for the bad feelings about herself which she has always had under the surface.

Post 81 – you start to see that some of this stuff is not ALL your fault. Some of it is scapegoating/blame shifting behavior that she does. That is you learning to separate things for your own self.

Perhaps, if I was better equipped to understand social cues, I could have read between the lines of what The Signal wanted and continues to want from our relationship, and I would not have pursued this life path again.

Post #133

Why is the expectation that you figure out how to become a better mind reader? Rather than Signal learns to ask for what she needs directly rather than with a lot of mind games? Doing her fair share in co-creating a healthier marriage dynamic between you?

And having said that, what I feel down about most now is that I see no real way forward in my life. I don’t feel like I can fix my relationship with The Signal, because she thinks I’ve irrevocably broken it and I don’t have any clue as to what I can do to even salvage the pieces.

That's the thing. You cannot fuel this relationship all by yourself. It takes everyone pulling their fair share. Your 100% effort represents 50% of the fuel to run a 2 people thing. The rest has to come from her. If she's not pulling her share, this kite is just not going to fly.

A while back you said you wanted to stay because you wanted to try everything. Well, have you tried everything? Sounds like it. You have done counseling, agreed to return to monogamy and work on self and the marriage, been devoted, and stuck to agreements from what I can tell. All healthy things to be doing.

You've even done some unhealthy things – like refuting your poly identity because her thinking about it made her feel uncomfortable. I think her discomfort is her job manage. It is not your job to manage or “pre-manage.” I think you have gotten into the habit of “pre-managing” her stuff for her in order to prevent her having a blow up aimed at your head.

I get why – it's a defensive tactic in order to help keep you safe. But is it healthy relating? No. It is not.

It seems to have taken you a long time to arrive at this:

And I want to stay with The Signal. But not at the cost of our sanity. I can do nothing about her lack of trust in me. I have given up being poly and identifying as poly. I don't know if that's going to be enough for her. The worst thing is that we are each others' best friends. Now, we both feel totally alone. One of the things I learned in the past is that when bad things happen to you, people disappear. The settlement of my life will be up to me, and I understand that.

(Post #105)

To me you sound like you are not at final acceptance, but on the road to acceptance.

Sad as it is to come to accept that you have given it your all, and that it is not enough to salvage the marriage with Signal? There IS a peace there. You HAVE tried all you can do. Without her also being willing to attend to her health issues so she becomes healthier and more able to pull together with you? This relationship kite cannot fly.

You did not cause her issues. You cannot cure her issues. Only she can do the work to become a healthy person. She doesn't want to. She even tells you so. She has told you point blank that she will not be doing work on herself. She doesn't see it as a problem. She sees it as YOUR problem.

So if she's not going to do her fair share of co-creating a healthy marriage with you? And you have tried all else? The only thing left to do is to be ok NOT trying to fly it any more. You stop trying to fly the kite that won't fly. You put it down. With regrets maybe, but you put it down.

You cannot keep going and stay with her in this marriage at the cost of your own sanity. How the next chapter of your life plays out IS up to you. You can decide that you do NOT have to be doing this any more. The realization that you can make your own choices in your life can be a healing thing for you. You cannot control everything that's in the river, but you CAN control where you paddle your own boat.

I see that you are angry at polyamory. I wonder if you aren't also angry at The Signal for not being more honest with you when you have tried so hard to be up front and consistently honest with her? I wonder if you are angry with the Signal for not appreciating your honesty or your other efforts? I wonder if you are angry with Signal for not being willing to pull her fair share in co-creating a healthy dynamic?

I think feeling anger is GOOD. It's a few steps up from your former feelings of powerlessness and guilt on the emotional guidance scale. Anger is not a place in which to stay, and you are not done climbing all the way back out. But good that you are moving upwards and making progress.

The things that used to make you happy -- living in the UK, music, hiking, board game group... are these things that you can bring back?

You missed having a cat and took the step to adopt one. That seemed positive. What about bringing back some of the other things like hiking or board game group as you figure out a longer term thing like how to move back to the UK?

That had been the plan before you met Signal, and on the trip back you seemed to "finally be home."

So if Signal has checked out and blames everything on you? If she's not telling you what you need to do to earn back her trust? And even if you did those things she's still not going to give it?

It's ok for you to give yourself permission to start thinking of a future that does not include her. Moving back to the UK could be something to think about.

I wanted to validate to you that yes. You are seen and you aren't suffering all alone in the darkness. I do see that this is a hard/dark time for you still. But I wanted to lift up that you seem to be on an upward turn. Not all the way done. Certainly more to do. But you have moved up and along in your process. That small flicker of light in the darkness does not go unnoticed.


And hang in there!

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This a very thoughtful response, GG. Once and Future, please really READ what she has written. I have been reading your other thread about how poly fails in so many mono/poly relationships. I am in no position to refute that, but I DO know that poly was one of only many factors that led to the situation you are in now. The blame is not all YOURS to take.

GG, I remember in some earlier threads that Once and Future has a teenage daughter. That may preclude plans to move overseas, at least for now. The other things you suggested may be doable.
We are listening. We do care what happens to you.

You have been and are in a difficult place in your life. Losing prospect of the future life you hoped to have has left you heartsore. It is not the end of all futures though.You cannot see a future you say, but really no one can. You just have to know that there is a future and it will be better than this Slough of Despond.

Don't dismiss your therapist's advice on how to look for a way forward, it won't hurt to try looking. You are making progress, even if it is halting and slow, give yourself credit for your efforts to keep on keeping on.

Listen for the music of your present and future rather than the music that is no longer there.


I read your post, and I thought and I thought and I thought. Went hiking and mowed the lawn and thought more. I began thinking in circles.

I don't think The Signal would be too surprised if I came to her one day and said I was moving to the UK. It is a long term goal of mine to go back to live there. Unfortunately, it's been a long term goal for over 15 years. At one point about six years ago I even had a job offer and was all but set to go. Then my immigration attorney told me unless the job offer included a work visa, I couldn't accept the job. We couldn't convince my would-be employer to apply to the UK government for a visa related to the job, and I had to decline the offer.

And, unfortunately, that's as close as I've gotten to moving. The problem is that the UK government only allows a very few classes of positions to qualify for a work visa, and I don't have any chance of successfully applying for one of them. (To give you an idea of how specialized these positions are, "programmer" is one class of exempted job, but if you read the description of the exempted list you'll find that only "software developers, shader writers, or game designers in 2D/3D visual design for the film, television, or video game sectors" actually qualify. Video game level designer? Sorry, you don't qualify.) There is another exemption: if the employer can prove nobody in the entire UK or EU is qualified--not as qualified as you, simply qualified at all--but it just doesn't happen. I know of places that petitioned the government for a work visa for positions two or three levels above mine that were turned down.

So in short I'm not sure what I can be doing to get to the UK that I haven't already done. The hope was that I was going to make myself so indispensable to my industry that an employer would have a decent chance of getting their visa application accepted. But that hit a brick wall last year when I was let go. I'm still trying to get back on my feet again, let alone start moving forward again.

So what happens in the meantime, with The Signal and me? Well long term I'm just very doubtful about our future. When The Actress graduates next year, she's planning to go to college elsewhere, so we don't need to stay here. The Signal has been talking about moving to various places on the West Coast, where for a number of reasons there aren't as many jobs in my field. But to be honest the way she talks about it is "I'm moving to the West Coast, and you can do whatever." It doesn't feel like I'm part of her plan.

A bunch of stuff happened last night, and I'm still trying to process it, so I won't say much more right now. I will say this. I am taking on board a lot of what you say. I'm starting to see that I keep being put in no-win situations. I've said that to her a number of times, but it doesn't seem to help. I'm also seeing that she's expecting me to know how she feels about important issues even if she doesn't speak out about them (or, many times, if she says the opposite). When I question her about that, she says "well you should have known what I felt" and tries to turn the blame around on me. That happened with poly last year, that's happening with a lot of other things now. I've been adamant to her that this isn't helpful, but it's not working.

I don't know what else I can say right now. I fear that she might come back to read this journal. If I was better off I would just say "if it happens, it happens." But without a job (OK, without one that pays more than an average of $400 a week) I can't afford right now to be without healthcare or a place to live. So I'm not sure what to do next.
I don't think I can post here any more. I don't feel this is a safe space for me to be in, and I can't talk freely as a result.

I'm sorry to have to leave without a happy end to my story, or even a neutral one. Further research into trying to move to the UK has done little to reinforce my belief that there is really no chance, short of me winning the lottery or inheriting enough for me to live without work for the rest of my life, to move back there. (As much as I love the UK, I am resigned to the fact that the majority of people there hate foreigners and are determined to re-elect a government that promises zero net immigration.) I'm not going to sugarcoat things: I have no friends, no real job, no hobbies I enjoy, no family I can talk to. I feel like a failure as a husband, as a father, as an employee, as a person. I don't see a future for myself and I am starting to get angry at people who think I do. If they weren't there for me when I was at my lowest, and in fact ran away from me when I reached out to them at that point, why would they be there to help me now?

I'm sorry to say there's nothing more I can add. Goodbye to everyone.
I'm worried for you OnceAndFuture. You show classic depressed suicidal thoughts and feelings. I know things are incredibly hard right now. But you are worthwhile.

Please, please call here if you are suicidal: 1-800-273-8255 (

I am sorry this does not feel safe for you to discuss things. I'm sorry we failed you there.