Friends and lovers

fuchka

Member
Thanks PinkPig, Mags, Vicki and Evie!

Breastfeeding is going well thanks, Mags. I was actually thinking of you as I remember you having a background in lactation support. Fortunately (for me now) I had some breastfeeding challenges with Fern which I was able to overcome with help from lactation consultants, so I have some confidence in troubleshooting some common problems.

What I find myself craving is adult connections. It doesn't matter if they are other parents or not, but I don't want to talk about babies and kids. Or at least, not only about them. I feel I am still building my social network here, even though we moved to this city nearly 10 years ago now.

I have had patches of feeling a bit lonely these days. Lobe feels he has lost himself these past couple of months and his life is a blur of childcare and work. No quality Lobe time. The downtime he does have is mostly zoning out. We haven't had that much connection time. It was a bit blah during the day a couple of days ago, but we managed some chill time together after Elf and Fern went to bed. Since then it has been better.

He starts back half time at work tomorrow. He took just under two weeks 'off' for baby leave but he still was linked in to work a wee bit during this time. Last night he said that it feels like he's run a marathon... He does get jumped on by the older two first thing in the morning (often they wake him up) and it continues incessantly until he finally sleeps (often while putting them to sleep).

On the upside, I've been hanging out more in Ocean's space as it's the warmer part of the house so the best place for Gnome to nap during the day. I've enjoyed the excuse to invade his zone more. He is quite precious about his sleep but I've managed to score a couple of nights sleeping part of the night there with Gnome too :D It's been cosy.

Well anyway it's 2.30am here. Had to get up for a change and feed. Gnome is sleeping on me so soundly now It seems like they would stay asleep if I lay them down... Fingers crossed.
 

fuchka

Member
11.30pm and I'm exhausted. Was a tiring day today. Had a work thing crop up (a client of our service is also a friend so got sucked into a work thing via them). Don't resent it but used up some of my me-time on that, so not much left.

Gnome is progressing well. He seems to be transitioning towards sleeping more at night, which is nice.

A couple of nights ago (eve of winter solstice here) I camped out under the stars with Fern. It was a clear night and the stars were gorgeous.

Yesterday I had a funny exchange with Lobe. Lobe has an impressive collection of gadgets and electronics. I accidentally cut through an electric cable and it needed repairing. He had all the little bits and bobs we needed to fix it up and it was done in just a few minutes. Later on, he was trying out a new recipe. It required several specific ingredients. Luckily I have an impressive (and well organised) spice collection and it took me hardly any time to pull out everything he needed. I liked the symmetry of that.

Ocean is finally on semester break. He felt like doing some drawing in the holidays and I introduced him to a local art supplies shop to pick up some nice paper.

I often talk about the nice moments on this blog, but we have friction too. One of the hardest things for me is when Ocean is annoyed by something Lobe is doing. (It doesn't seem to happen the other way around... Or at least not in the same way). Recently Lobe has been stashing empty packing boxes in the laundry, which sometimes blocks shelves and occasionally the entrance. It is annoying but I know that Lobe deals with it eventually and he is pretty time poor (like me) and just does his best with stuff. Ocean gets more frustrated than me, but he very rarely raises anything with Lobe directly and he hasn't said anything about the boxes yet. He has told me, though, but I haven't said anything to Lobe.

In the past I've let Ocean know that I'm not comfortable being a middle person to pass messages like this on. But it's been a while since I clarified this directly. I think it's healthier for household dynamics for conversations like this to happen directly with the person involved. If you were living with a close friend and their partner, all tenants sharing the rent, bills, etc, and their partner was doing something that annoyed you, would it be weird to complain to your friend rather than their partner... ? Not sure that's a helpful analogy.

Mm. I was hoping to get more energy having a cup of tea and sitting down for a bit but I think I need to go to bed. Darn. I wanted to do some cooking! Maybe I'll get a chance tomorrow morning. Or perhaps a magical second wind will lift me.
 

fuchka

Member
I misplaced my phone in the house for a couple of weeks, and loved it! I only missed it a couple of times when I needed it to do two-factor authentication as part of admin tasks. Those times I had to figure out a work-around.

My phone battery is on its last legs; I might wait a while to fix that as a way to force me to continue my relatively phone-less life. I don't have the self discipline to restrict without a real restriction. I need to set up some trap for myself in order to stick to my goals.

Family life is good. Gnome is growing well. It's amazing to think that every additional gram is fuelled entirely by breastmilk (at this stage). He's extremely low-fuss so far, which is a blessing. We haven't yet managed to take a new family photo of the six of us. Perhaps this weekend I will set up a tripod and make a concerted effort.

Last year around midwinter I made a bread and butter pudding out of frozen bread-ends. This year I did the same, using bread ends from the whole year (nearly 1kg worth!). I like activities that involve mixing or remaking items from the whole family. It's one of the reasons I love looking at the laundry line (in our house, a rotary clothes line) with all our washing on it. It's a hodgepodge of all of our clothes - different colours, sizes and styles. I find it beautiful to look at. Even if there's not much sun in the day I enjoy putting the clothes out to dry, partly for that reason.

I'm fortunate to have a very happy home life in these lockdown times. Although I'm lacking in sleep, there's a lot of love and joy in the house at the moment.

Oh, we got a new dining table too. It's a square one that comfortably seats six. Our previous table was a little circular one from when we lived in a smaller flat. It only had official spots for four seats, so since Elf it's been a squash. Having room for proper meals has increased the homeliness factor considerably. I'm doing most of the cooking at the moment (by choice; it's my main regular "creative outlet" these days) and I've enjoyed serving things up a bit nicer on the Big Table (130x130 cm... So, small still, but much bigger than previous, which was approx 1m diameter). I've even got the table mats out that were wedding gifts to me and Ocean 10 years ago. They look great!
 

MeeraReed

Active member
This is a beautiful update!

Love the details about the laundry line hodgepodge & making bread pudding from a year's worth of bread ends. There's a creative nonfiction essay to be written there! Or a poem or something.
 

fuchka

Member
MeeraReed - a very belated thanks for your encouragement. I actually have tried to reply twice before. Once I took so long composing a post that the whole site upgraded while I was still typing it, and I only noticed when I tried to post - whoops. That went bye bye. Then recently I typed something else up but I must have got pulled away and that one got buried in my too-many-tabs.

The most serious lockdown in my city (curfew at night, only leave the house for an hour per day within 5km for exercise, schools and childcare closed etc) lasted 8 weeks or so and it was HARD. Ocean dropped back on his course work and Lobe took a couple of extra days off work per week so we could manage it. The joyful part was loving the people I live with. We are a happy family, really.

Restrictions are easing here getting into summer.

My cousin who was to get married in March shifted the wedding to Boxing Day. It's in another city - we've decided that we will all travel (the six of us) just before Christmas so we can be together for Christmas Day. Ocean will come to the wedding with me and the kids. I've got flights up for us to travel altogether, but not sure yet about the return journey. Lobe / Ocean might come back first.

Ocean and Lobe are working directly together more which I like. Still only when necessary but even a little bit eases things on me. I've started learning the flute; I just had my first in-person lesson (it's all been via Zoom up til now). I settled Gnome before leaving (he's nearly 6 months old now!!) and Lobe and Ocean took Fern and Elf to bed respectively. I can hear the gentle story-telling cadence of Lobe's voice upstairs; sounds like he's still putting Fern to sleep. The rest of the house is very still. I think Ocean's gone out for a walk.

In "poly news" (sort of) I had an insightful chat with Lobe about comfort levels with me having other sexual partners. I'm still officially closed (by choice) as I wanted to simplify things for my relating with Lobe (who has a strong personal preference for being mono and had to adjust a lot to accommodate my non-monogamy). Lobe says he needs an exit strategy to feel ok with me seeing other people. At the moment we have a written agreement of how we separate our shared home if any of us wanted to exit the shared living situation but we haven't figured out anything more beyond that. Lobe said he would need to have a plan of how to extract himself from the household, if he wasn't coping with any dynamics around any other relationships I may have in the future. This makes a lot of sense and I have no need to rush things at all. I've got plenty to focus on, kids especially. It's just nice to keep the conversation open because I definitely don't want to default to a polyfi thing forever. I would agree with that if I saw a reason to, though. I don't want to break up with Lobe just over that. But being open to intimacy and potentially sex with others is a "would really like to have!" for me and worth working towards. Slowly.
 

fuchka

Member
It's been a while!

Gnome is now 1, Elf is 3 and Fern turned 5 a few months ago.

The city I'm in has had rolling lockdowns and we're in a fairly strict one now.

I'm back at work a couple of days a week, which is enough (just) for now. But Ocean has been out of paid work for perhaps two years now and it's taking its toll. He helps out a lot in the house though so it sort of evens out.

Last December I got caught up in a big community project. A former church complex was up for sale in our neighborhood - it was a really great central spot, corner block, and the buildings were perfect for a community resource. As a govt purchase wasn't forthcoming, we organised in a large group to cooperatively purchase the site. The sale just completed last week (we paid the deposit in December). So... that's been filling my days! I was the instigator / coordinator of it.

Interestingly, Grotto was part of the initial purchasing group. He, Lobe and two other locals signed the contract for sale when we paid the deposit. I love that our friendship has healed from the breakup to the point where that was possible.
 

fuchka

Member
Another Grotto story - over new year 2020/21 I went camping w Grotto and the kids. Ocean and Lobe weren't keen to go away so it was just the five of us (myself and Grotto plus the 3 kidlings). It was to a camping festival; there weren't active COVID cases at the time - it's hard to imagine that, now!

Most people assumed that Grotto was the children's dad / we were dating.

Also last year I shared a porn login with Grotto (to Lust Cinema) and this year he repaid the favour.

Our relationship is not sexual at the moment, and might never be again, but I am glad for the friendship and intimacy.
 

MeeraReed

Active member
Another Grotto story - over new year 2020/21 I went camping w Grotto and the kids. Ocean and Lobe weren't keen to go away so it was just the five of us (myself and Grotto plus the 3 kidlings). It was to a camping festival; there weren't active COVID cases at the time - it's hard to imagine that, now!

Most people assumed that Grotto was the children's dad / we were dating.

Also last year I shared a porn login with Grotto (to Lust Cinema) and this year he repaid the favour.

Our relationship is not sexual at the moment, and might never be again, but I am glad for the friendship and intimacy.
I am glad to hear that Grotto is back in your life (although I admit I am surprised to hear it, too--seems like he had really struggled with a lot of things).

Your kids must be adorable, and getting bigger fast!
 

fuchka

Member
I am glad to hear that Grotto is back in your life (although I admit I am surprised to hear it, too--seems like he had really struggled with a lot of things).

Your kids must be adorable, and getting bigger fast!
Aha, yeah - they are super adorable.

Before having kids I tried to do some reading into the experiences of kids in polyam families. The two major downsides according to one study I read were: judgment from others, and having too much adult supervision (not enough private time for experiments).

I can't do much about the first. We're lucky to live in an accepting community. We're pretty open with others and haven't experienced any negative judgment so far.

The second - we try not to watch everything they are up to and give them plenty of space to get up to their own mischief.

Grotto - yeah, he's still working through his stuff but he's made a lot of progress. The healing he needs is separated from our friendship now, which makes a relationship possible. He decided he couldn't continue to try and make sense of it by hashing it out with me or himself. So he's trying to let it go, I think.

I talk a bit about that stuff with him, but rarely. He's got other friends and love interests now, and it's fine to chat about that stuff but it's not a big focus of our conversations. I'd say we're definitely in the "good friends" zone.

One thing that's funny is that, hanging out with my kids, he loves being an uncle but he's glad he's not a parent. Seeing the reality of life with kids has tempered his fantasy about what having a family together would have been like.

I do think from time to time whether we'd ever hook up again. I'm not sure. He uses a lot of recreational drugs, and he's not terrible with boundaries around that (when he quit meth he quit it absolutely, for example) but his emotions are probably too tied up in the chemical waves for me. I am not anti-drugs - I think they could have therapeutic and recreative benefits - but I think it's important to develop your own psychological "core strength" as far as possible separate from drugs. Not saying Grotto isn't trying to do that... It's just, if I'm in a platonic relationship with him, I don't have a vested interest in what's going on there.

To be really close to someone, to have my emotions caught up with theirs intimately, on a day to day basis, I need to be able to trust what's going on for them. Even if there's up and down stuff, I need to feel sure that at least they have insight into that and they own their own shit and I can interface safely.

With Grotto, I dunno. I don't pry as much but the recent thing he quit (I thought) was poppy seed tea. He'd been a long time PST user. And a few months ago he said he was quitting again, and this time it seems to have stuck. But recently I found out by "quitting opiates" he was also quitting heroin, which he'd started using. Not injecting, but still... I didn't expect that. He hadn't specifically mentioned using heroin to me, his language had changed from "tea" to "opiates" but I hadn't noticed. As a friend, I didn't need to know and I don't think he was being consciously evasive. That said, it's nice to be emotionally distant from that, to just care about him as a friend but not have my personal rhythm deeply connected to his choices.

I'm a very occasional substance user myself. I like experimenting from time to time but I don't want it as an integral part of my life. Even caffeine, I hate being addicted to anything. So I'm on decaf mostly now, I have a caffeine hit once or twice a week maybe, if I feel like it, but I prefer it as something I want, not need.

Both Ocean and Lobe have their own thing going on with substances, but it meshes in with me better.

Ocean has been dealing with depression of various kinds over the years, and he goes through patches of using weed to help him regulate. He's off it at the moment; his ideal is using it a few days max per week but he finds it hard to stick to that. It isn't a problem for me but I try to support him with sticking to his limits, the times when he is using. For example, he gives me his weed stash to keep and asks me once a week for the amount he wants for the week.

Lobe had a previous issue with drinking to process emotions. We had a few bad patches (early on in the relationship) but he's pretty much quit drinking regularly now. It was a line in the sand for me.

He does like to space out a bit for fun, and being a full-time worker (working from home), active parent (he gives the kids his full attention most of the time he's off work, unless they're asleep or otherwise engaged), and introvert, he doesn't have a lot of options for that.

He's recently gotten into making electronic music, which is exciting to me as a musician myself. (I grew up in a family of music makers, and I do miss that, living with adults who aren't into that.)

Lobe's also started having semi-regular nitrous oxide binges (once or twice a month) - I don't know if they will continue... It's a healthier alternative to binge drinking for sure. And if it's co-ordinated with me, in terms of parenting, it's not a big deal. Unlike drinking, it doesn't impact him the next day so it's pretty contained as far as binges go.

I've never tried nitrous oxide myself (apart from a bit during labour, which I felt did nothing at the time. Didn't feel anything from the morphine either, haha. I was too far gone).

Hmm. This has made me think about people's relationships to substances, and how that fits with their relationships with people.
 
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fuchka

Member
When I resumed this blog recently, I didn't expect I'd be considering major changes to my domestic relationships, but here I am. I'm considering a trial separation from Lobe, if it's possible under the same roof. Ocean, Lobe and I own a home together and previous to purchase we did discuss continuing to cohabit, if possible, if there were to be separations. If not possible, we'd need to sell up and split, or have one/two buy the other/s out.

There's enough space in the place for each adult to have their dedicated zones, and, eventually, kids too - just.

So while a theoretical discussion previously, I'm thinking of giving it a go.

The reason is: last night Lobe broke my trust. It was a small incident but it's a significant one for me. Around 4.30pm I crossed paths with him and he seemed in an altered state. I smelt alcohol and I asked him if he'd been drinking. He said yes. I said ok, what. He said wine. (I've had a box of wine in storage for a fundraiser, accessible from the detached studio where he works, so I guess he started drinking that. He's dipped into it once or twice previously. Which is fine money-wise, he pays for it into the fundraiser kitty, but not great in terms of co-parenting communication, to get stuck into it without asking.) I asked when he started, he said 2.30. I asked him if he could stop because he was already drunk. He said ok.

Then about 20 mins later he disappeared. When he came back, I asked him if he'd been drinking more. He said yes. I said ok, are you done now, can you stop? He said yes.

Then half hour later he starts to leave. He said he needed to get something. I asked him please not to drink more. He said, how about he just brings the wine back. I said no please stop, I'm not down for it tonight. (Gnome has been unwell recently and sleep has been particularly bad. I just didn't have the energy for doing night time by myself and then dealing with kids in the morning plus after-drunk Lobe.)

He leaves and doesn't come back. Later I go to check if he's still drinking (as that would affect how we need to sleep, cos we still co-sleep with Gnome). Find him huffing nos, which again is fine in general but we had a specific agreement for him to let me know if he was planning to do that. Specifically, when he orders any more, he should tell me he's ordered it and when he plans to do it. Just so I know he'll be unreliable for a set period of time (say for the night). So this broke our agreement.

I sent him a text saying he broke my trust and then blocked him on my phone, apps and email. (He immediately apologised, which is something, but I need actions not words here).

I don't really know quite the point of blocking him... I mean, we live together. But at least for the night it gave me some conceptual space from him.

I made a plan for safe sleeping and tried to identify what I actually felt about it all.

He came in early morning, at least not drunk, and went to bed.

This morning he said sorry, I didn't deserve that and he wouldn't order any nos again. I said that's not really a solution. The issue is you needing space and needing to make space in the ways you do (when pressure builds up, binge drinking or something else to enforce the downtime for your mind). All I've asked is that he negotiates this with me in advance as co-parents. So far he hasn't been willing/able to do this (he always agrees to, but rarely seems to follow through). That's what I need to change, otherwise the pattern will repeat.

He really doesn't like to ask for things or bring up his needs. He instead tries to change his behaviour so it doesn't impact other people... But in the compressed situation of living together, with kids together, during lockdown, there's no way he can get decompression time without it having flow on effects on me.

Anyway it's now 8am and we've had a short chat. I still haven't unblocked him. It feels like a symbolic way to give myself some escape into my own thoughts (although he's not generally one to flood with messages / calls).

He said he wants to be good to me and I believe that. We do love each other. I said I need some plan of action that gives me confidence that this won't happen again. Not just a promise not to order anymore nos. That's a symptom not the root cause.

I also recognise that I have flaws in this area too. Not substances but projects. If I get involved with a project (creative, social, whatever) I can also get in an altered state, with flow on impacts to Lobe (and Ocean). I need to keep working on how I make commitments to myself and others, and ensure I negotiate the free time I need for those things. As well as self care too.

Anyway, I'll see how this goes. I'm not sad, as such, just very very tired. Got my period coming on too, so that's an extra layer.

I am glad that I am not stuck in destructive loops. At least, it feels like I'm not.
 

fuchka

Member
Some good things this morning. Lobe did stop drinking last night, thankfully, so was functional today and able to chat.

Lobe didn't tell me about the nos because he thought it would take longer to arrive. That sort of makes sense, but was a poor judgement call as it did arrive sooner and surprised him.

We've negotiated a regular "time out" for him once a fortnight where he can space out and do whatever he wants. I've been keen to schedule something like this for a while and I'm stoked we have finally committed to something.

I've asked him to let me know if he's using anything esp if he's drinking so I know what to expect in an emergency and the next morning. So unless he lets me know otherwise, I will expect him to be functional the next morning.

Mistakes happen and I understand this. But I have a pretty low tolerance now. I don't really like ultimatums but this is close to one for me.

Also, re separation, he says he doesn't think under one roof would work for him. So we would need to talk that one through again. We've queued it up for future conversations. But for now, we're gonna see if this new approach works for him getting unfettered time to unwind. I'm hopeful.

I'm not sure if I'll need quite the same thing, but I'll keep a watch on my energy over the fortnight and see if there's a need for any scheduled time out on my end to balance it out. Unlike Lobe, I do manage more day-to-day downtime I think.
 
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