Lost interest in primary-advice?

poly4015

New member
I admittedly haven't been poly that long Really, I am in my first real open (I tend to identify more as open than poly) relationship currently. My primary and I have been together for 4.5 years and in that time had a couple secondaries each which really haven't caused too many waves in our relationship. I mean, her and I are human, so of course there are little spurts of jealousy sometimes but really nothing too big. Mostly, the issues her and I have had have either come from within the relationship, or USUALLY, somewhere even deeper in our individual personas (where all problems arise really), never really from outside the relationship.
Something really different happened to me this summer. I attended a music festival near where I live and connected with a younger woman (10 years to be exact) who I felt an instant recognition of, a familiarity and intensity that was far too fun and mysterious not to play with a little bit.
So in the two months that followed the festival, we did connect a few times, and on several occasions, in really amazing and technicolor fasion. I realize that "perfect" is a fantasy and nothing more, and I realize more every day how much I have let the idea of "perfect" tease, torture, confuse, disorient and even disintegrate me in my intimate relationships so many times, so its not a concept I take too seriously. Still, while interacting with this one, it became VERY hard to ignore how perfectly she seemed to posess the means and ways of meeting me the way I want to be met. She was Brilliant, beautiful, musical, deep like the ocean, bright like the sun but she could dim like the moon, spunky, tough as a rock but had the most beautiful soft side I have ever seen, like EVER, and this girl was freaking HILARIOUS. Oh man we laughed so hard....needless to say, I kinda got addicted (not proud of it but I'll own it)
Despite my blooming feelings for festival girl, I also began to notice some really hurtful and immature communication and power games she seemed to insist on playing with me. I asked her, in subtle ways at first and more obvious ways later in the encounter, to chill with the games, but alas, her damage was too much to resist my instincts screaming at me to RUN. So about two months ago, I cut contact off with her completely and I can honestly say that although it became a glairingly obvious "MUST BAIL" situation, it left me feeling...absolutely devastated. I felt so...deceived, violated, betrayed, disappointed, disenchanted and frankly terrified to near panic attack levels by even the simple thought of emotional vulnerability. I immediately felt my physical and emmotional bodies close, like completely. I completely lost my libedo, which usually rages out of control, and quite frankly, I lost ALL interest in physical or emotional intimacy with anyone, including my primary, whom I still love, a ton.
Honestly the whole thing was really rough on my primary too. I think she could feel the intensity of my growing feelings for festival girl when they were there but now its been 2 months since I walked away from festival girl and I still want nothing to do with physical or emotional closeness of any kind. I feel really terrible but I don't know what I can do to change the way my body feels about all of this....anyone ever gone through anything like this? Did it resolve? What the fuck? I have had to nurse myself through MANY break ups, but I wasn't even really in a relationship with this one and yet, it has me all tied in a knot. Despite hurting a TON, its just really strange...anyone have any thoughts or advice (preferrably experience based)?
 

Tinwen

Active member
Hello Poly 4015,
I'm sorry for your difficulties, it sounds like this situation has somehow betrayed a very basic trust of yours. The emotional world is rarely logical on the first glance, so even a "small" stressor can sometimes provoke big reactions.

I didn't have a situation like yours but I've had situations where I shut down for a specific person for a few days, either after a fight or after some kind of inner experience. They did go away, often after a good honest conversation. Sometimes after emotional and/or energy work. I pretty much believe your's can go away too, but you might have to reinvent that piece of yourself that feels so shattered.

Tinwen
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
....needless to say, I kinda got addicted (not proud of it but I'll own it)

Can I ask something? If you had been addicted to something else... alcohol, drugs, whatever...

Would you expect to totally heal and recover from it in 2 mos all by yourself? Or would you imagine it would require more time and more help -- like counseling, classes, and so on?

It sounds like this festival woman did a number on your head with the mind games. High highs and low lows. And you've been hurt so badly you have thrown up walls. Including walling out your primary.

I don't think I've been hurt badly like what yours sounds like, but I remember being very hurt in a relationship breakup and not wanting to risk closeness for a year or two. I dated, but I didn't want to get too tight or too entangled. I enjoyed it being casual because I wasn't ready more more.

So I don't think you are weird or anything for wanting a time out or a break.

However I wasn't dating anyone else at the time of the break up and you are. So... don't neglect or shut out your other partner because you are hurting. Clue them in enough to what's going on with you and don't neglect them.

You don't have to be comfortable to be safe. Share enough mental/emotional intimacy with your primary so they aren't in the dark. Ask for what you need -- a time out, a break, less intense, whatever it is. They cannot be mind readers. Even a simple "I don't understand what is happening to me right now. I broke up with festival woman, but she did a number on my head. I need extra time to heal."

You are already uncomfortable... so being uncomfortable a bit more to clue primary in... would it make a huge difference in your comfort level?

The main part is done. You are free of the person who hurt you -- festival woman. You are already safe.

Galagirl
 

poly4015

New member
Hello Poly 4015,
I pretty much believe your's can go away too, but you might have to reinvent that piece of yourself that feels so shattered.

Tinwen

I think the peice of me that feels the most shattered is the piece that wants to find that kind of partnership, and the part of myself that feels able to identify/discern when that has been found. That part of me thought it had made a laser like discernment about this one, and thought it had made that discernment within moments of meeting her. Now i wonder what i was really seeing. Maybe i just saw her damage and was attracted to that because I seem to always fall for the unavailable ones and I think its because deep down, I know if i fall for the unavailables, I don't have to worry about them abandoning me later because an actual relationship is out of the question...I was abandoned by my biological mother and adopted when i was a baby. I am beginning to think that is what has come to define when I am "attracted" to someone and what my expectations come to be in the situation....still ive never fallen for someone like this so it feels like the parts of me who even wanted to play with that kind of energy is completely broken...
 

poly4015

New member
Can I ask something? If you had been addicted to something else... alcohol, drugs, whatever...

Would you expect to totally heal and recover from it in 2 mos all by yourself? Or would you imagine it would require more time and more help -- like counseling, classes, and so on?

Actually I was an alcoholic for 15 years or so, and I havent has a drop to drink in over 13 months. At this point, drinking doesn't even cross my mind 95% of the days, and when it does, it is a very fleeting thought so, I would say, and even feel like I am being honest when I say that in comparison to this, quiting drinking was a complete piece of cake. Now, I have many friends who have or had substance abuse problems and I have a TON of compassion for people in that situation. I know some people struggle emmensley withthose issues, but that just how it feels here.

It sounds like this festival woman did a number on your head with the mind games. High highs and low lows. And you've been hurt so badly you have thrown up walls. Including walling out your primary.

True someone did a number on my head, I'm thinking it was actually me who did a number on my head. She was just behaving how it has been programmed inside of her by her damage and trauma. Its funny though, I remember some of the red flags for me were some of the things she told me about where she is at with relationships. She said things like "because of my past sexual traumas, I feel like I have been robbed of my enjoyment of sex and my ability to open up to a relationship...and it really sucks. It makes me angry." I remember in the moment she told me that feeling really sad for her and also not knowing what to say to her because I don't know (or didn't at least) what that is like...but now I feel like I know EXACTLY how she feels. Is sexual trauma contagious and able to be passed from one to another like an sti or something? It feels like what happened here...feels like I picked up some of her trauma through physical proximity or something?
 
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GalaGirl

Well-known member
My mom used to get fleas from my Alzheimer dad. Living on their own and with him only for company? She started picking up his weird/bad habits and it wasn't til she was associating with MORE people that she realized how weird she herself was getting. She could not see it until then because she was inside the goldfish bowl and this had become "the normal." She had no other comparison until she started being with healthy people.

So if you picked up some bad thinking patterns or formed some bad habits while hanging around with festival woman? Could happen. It happens in other situations with other conditions. I think it could happen here.

Galagirl
 

poly4015

New member
So if you picked up some bad thinking patterns or formed some bad habits while hanging around with festival woman? Could happen. It happens in other situations with other conditions. I think it could happen here.
its a troubling thought but entirely possible...
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello poly4015,

It sounds like you had really strong NRE with this festival girl. Then, when you broke up with her, you had a painful emotional crash, and hit bottom. Now, all your emotional bones are broken, and it will take a long time to heal. Make sure you tell your primary what you are going through and why, so that she doesn't wonder if it's her fault. You may need a therapist to help you get through this.

I'm really sorry the festival girl let you down and shattered your heart. I hope you'll have some healing as time carries on. Hang in there ...

Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
I was abandoned by my biological mother and adopted when i was a baby. I am beginning to think that is what has come to define when I am "attracted" to someone and what my expectations come to be in the situation....

It defines you.....so far. I am adopted, as well, and full know that it indeed feels like abandonment to the child and to the eventual adult. I know how deeply this trauma goes and that it's unlike any other trauma because it is pre-verbal and there's no memory of it. There is no pre-trauma life before it to look back on - it's all we know. Being adopted is it's own bizarre kind of primal wound that never fully heals. Being adopted feels to me like having gone through a war - and I was the only one who went through it. It can be powerfully isolating. However, there is so very much that you can do to feel better and in turn, attract healthier situations. This need not define your relationships forever. Adoption is a hidden mental health issue. To this day, you'd be hard pressed to find therapists who specialize in adoptee intimacy issues. Every online resource I found, if it listed "adoption" as a focus at all, was meant for couples in the adoption process. Still, there are online communities and therapists who take adoption trauma seriously and can make a world of difference. I highly encourage you to consider working on this because left untreated, adoption trauma will continue to show itself in episodes such as you describe with festival girl.

This Adult Adoptees forum is mostly closed to non-members, so you can't see all of the activity, but if you join you'll see that it's a good place and quite active - full of people who understand the strange world in which we adoptees live. I've also found a great community in Al-Anon, with which I'm sure you are familiar. Adoptees are disproportionately represented among addicts, alcoholics and codependents. I've found the Al-Anon program to be a tremendous in-person resource for working on issues associated with my adoption.
 
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poly4015

New member
it's unlike any other trauma because it is pre-verbal and there's no memory of it. There is no pre-trauma life before it to look back on - it's all we know.
YES!!! Thats the part that makes it feel impossible to work on sometimes-the emotional scarring is so deep yet so fundamental that many of the problems that arise from my adoption (feeling disconnected and without my tribe, always wanting to either cling or run like hell, etc) have always just been "normal" for me. It's been so hard in the past to know when those issues are being triggered for me until it's too late and I find myself in a toxic situation of one flavor or another. So, thank you for sharing that-I am not sure I have ever communicated with another adoptee about this. It feels good to know I am not alone in my experiences.
And I honestly haven't ever been to any Al-Anon groups yet but might have to look into it if it has helped you...
 
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Tinwen

Active member
True someone did a number on my head, I'm thinking it was actually me who did a number on my head. She was just behaving how it has been programmed inside of her by her damage and trauma. Its funny though, I remember some of the red flags for me were some of the things she told me about where she is at with relationships. She said things like "because of my past sexual traumas, I feel like I have been robbed of my enjoyment of sex and my ability to open up to a relationship...and it really sucks. It makes me angry." I remember in the moment she told me that feeling really sad for her and also not knowing what to say to her because I don't know (or didn't at least) what that is like...but now I feel like I know EXACTLY how she feels. Is sexual trauma contagious and able to be passed from one to another like an sti or something? It feels like what happened here...feels like I picked up some of her trauma through physical proximity or something?
I think sometimes people who are hurting tend to inflict the same kind of damage on others. It's a weird tendency to level the ground so to say. So maybe it's less like picking up damage and more like reliving a situation from her past (on the other side of the fence).
The other thought that comes to mind are the stories of people who've dealt with narcissistic or manipulative personalities - they report how totally charming the person seems at first, and it takes getting to know them much better and heavy damage done to uncover manipulation.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
And I honestly haven't ever been to any Al-Anon groups yet but might have to look into it if it has helped you...
A lot of recovering alcoholics eventually find their way into Al-Anon because the program/community addresses relationship dynamics specifically - and it's based on spiritual self reflection and not on the perceived wrong doings of others. I love Al-Anon because the program aligns with one of my highest priorities: taking responsibility for what I bring to my world. One thing about the adoptee experience is that it can be a perfect laboratory for developing co-dependent thinking. We come into this world knowing full well that we can be returned or traded in or just left somewhere, so we develop from day one as a child, struggling to prevent further abandonment, keeping constant vigil of the behavior and (perceived) feelings of our loved ones. Basing one's own feelings on the (perceived) feelings and moves of specific loved ones in an effort to pre-empt the loss of that love is the basis of codependent thinking and behavior. Since the world has no adoptee recovery programs (yet,) Al-Anon is a wonderful resource for those of us who are looking to change a lifetime of vigilant thinking patterns and chronic fear of loss. All you need is a problem drinker somewhere in your life in order to join the club, and most of us have no problem coming up with that person. I participate in the program to work on myself and the problem drinker in my life is very much beside the point.


it...feels like I picked up some of her trauma through physical proximity or something?
Learning more about the very real trauma of the adoption experience can be so helpful for the adult adoptee. The kind of bizarre attachment you describe with festival girl is very familiar to me and I'm not surprised by your experience at all. I encourage you not to focus on whatever her issues may be, but on what this all brings up in you. We adoptees are really good at finding people who are "off" in many ways and entwining ourselves with them because we have similar emotional damage - even more insidious because ours is hidden from our memory and because ours is generally viewed as a non-issue. Paul Sunderland gives a thoughtful, educated and illuminating talk about the adoption trauma experience and its common connection to addiction. He's full of revelations that I found tremendously helpful in understanding my life as an adult adoptee. You're also welcome to message me directly, if you'd like.

I also encourage you, when you are ready, to learn more about the birth mother experience. I'm guessing that you don't know your birth mother, so remember that all you know is what you've been told about her and what you feel, which is that she abandoned you. When I was 32, I searched for and found my birth mother and in the process met many other birth mothers who all went through their own devastation with the adoption experience. It was only when I gave birth to my own children a few years later that I fully understood what it might possibly have been like for my own birth mother to have lost her child. Another hidden trauma in adoption is the birth mother experience, especially if the adoption was closed. When you are ready, you might find a great deal of healing in researching actual experiences of actual women who had to give their children away.

In my view, our current social perception of adoption is similar to where we were with rape about 100 years ago: Our way of socially dealing with it is to ignore that it's even an issue. It happened, it's done, move on, be glad for your normal life. But those of us who have experienced it know that adoption is a real and pervasive primal wound that influences everything in our world. Whether we are aware of this (and most adoptees are not) is another matter, but there is no doubt that the first (or very early) experience in life of having lost one's basic connection to human kind leaves a chasm of fear that haunts the adoptee every single day thereafter.
 
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icesong

Well-known member
Thanks for posting about the adoption stuff - I too was adopted, though in-family and it's an intensely traumatic/complicated situation that quite frankly defies explanation here. Still, I've always somewhat ignored what that early (and later similar) trauma(s) did to me and in the past few years I've been taking my head out of that particular sand trap. I may check out the forum you mention.
 

poly4015

New member
A lot of recovering alcoholics eventually find their way into Al-Anon because the program/community addresses relationship dynamics specifically - and it's based on spiritual self reflection and not on the perceived wrong doings of others. I love Al-Anon because the program aligns with one of my highest priorities: taking responsibility for what I bring to my world.
Mmmhmm..This taking respknsibility is no new concept to me, and maybe it seems like I place too much blame on festival girl in my writings here (and maybe I do), but I figure even if someone does come out and blatently do something aggressively hurtful towards me in intimacy, (wasn't festival girls style, she seems to like the more subtle cat games) unless that act was literally my first clue the situation was fucked up, then I ABSOLUTELY am to share in the blame, or, as I like to think of it, there isn't anyone at fault to write tickets for, there's just a big mess to clean up, so I TRY to focus on that work instead. I found myself realizing that my intimate relationships have been taking the same routes about 10 years ago and that, by extention, even though I originally had honestly no idea what, that I MUST be doing something to attract that. Actually, me deciding to work with poly relationship models was something I hoped would help me rewrite some of the same old story in my life. I think I thought relaxing into being poly would help me get over some of my tendancies to cling or run. Looking back, I am not sure why I thought it would help in that way. As I found out with festival girl, my ability to cling AND run are both still very much alive and well, even though I have done enough work (or have enough trust/feel safe enough)with my primary, that this is apparently no longer an issue. I think that is a good word to boil it down to for me, when I feel safe with someone, everything is all good, when I don't feel safe, or as was the case with festival girl, did feel safe, then completely and suddenly lost that, it made it hard on all systems of mine that were `invested` in the situation. When I lost that feeling of safety with her, it hurt me on such an insanely deep level I just couldn't do anything but run. I can't say I have had this experience in quite the same color spectrum before, but the desire to feel that safety with someone, to be SEEN by someone, as well as the underlying feeling of not being met in that way, has always been floating around in my relationships. It's often become one of those really tricky self-fufilling prophecies.
Since the world has no adoptee recovery programs (yet,) Al-Anon is a wonderful resource for those of us who are looking to change a lifetime of vigilant thinking patterns and chronic fear of loss.
Sounds interesting enough to give it a few meetings. I actually haven't been before because I don't really agree with everything AA makes people say. I don't believe that I am powerless, EVER. I don't believe that my health requires any external (to myself) forces to be involved, but I am humble, and I want to learn more about myself so I am willing to check it out. The alcoholic thing may be tricky, as I strangely have very few heavy drinkers in my life right now. I wonder why (if spiritually centered self reflection is the outcome not a focus on the alcoholic themselves) shopping addiction, avoidance addiction, food addiction, denial addiction, negative thought addiction aren't also included as prerequisites to join the "club"? I'm not bashing them or dismissing your thoughts, Just tossing thoughts...but yes, I think I am going to check it out. I'll make up a character in my life if I have to, I fucking need help with these things...
And thank you for that link to Paul Sunderland's talk. I watched it and was deeply touched by it. He raises some really good points about how swept under the rug these issues actually are when really, these issues are probably of a more serious nature due to the depth of scarring and the hidden, insidious nature of these dysfunctional patterns.
Speaking of adoption, I did learn about my biomom, probably far more than I ever really wanted to know. It happened when I was 30, going thru a break up, I wanted to know more about myself and had never learned anything about her, at all. So, I asked my dad (adoptive father tho I feel ridiculous calling him that, because he is my dad, the only one ive ever had) if he had any information I could look thru. The next day, he brought me a folio of information 3 inches thick, hundreds of pages. Psych evals, bank statements, medical records, journal entries, on and on and on. Some the info was really random, some very pertinent. No pictures. LONG story short, it was a lot of not pretty information. Seemed like she was "talked into" giving me up for adoption after I (at 9 months old) ended up in the hospital in serious condition due to various effects of severe child neglect (tho the papers written, most of written by a social worker involved were thorough in clarifying that it was neglect, not abuse). The story before that, unfortunately, wasnt a whole lot prettier. Anyhow, I remember flipping through all 4 hundred something pages of info on biomom and being not that glad that I had. I suppose I am happy to have a story to tell about myself that makes a lot of sense when put next to some of the other emmotional tendancies I have, but it was a lot to swallow. It isn't where the story ends but I'll save more of the details for later...:)
Anyways, I know adoption isn't the topic of this forum but, I want to say thank you for allowing this topic to cultivate itself a little bit. It has been REALLY HARD to write about some of these things, but also somehow helpful to know that others out there may (or may not) know what this is like for someone like me. Feels good to be seen...
 
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FallenAngelina

Well-known member
....the desire to feel that safety with someone, to be SEEN by someone, as well as the underlying feeling of not being met in that way, has always been floating around in my relationships. It's often become one of those really tricky self-fufilling prophecies...others out there may (or may not) know what this is like for someone like me. Feels good to be seen...

This burrows into the core of my soul, for I experience the same. I know that everyone has issues, so we are not unique in the depth of our pain, but all the same, ours is particular. To walk around feeling invisible and yearning to be part of the human family is a terror that many adoptees share. It's important that we know that no relationship can give us the enduring security and visibility that we seek until we somehow find it ourselves. I continue to have a hero's journey , with various helpful relationships along the way, but one reason Al Anon works so well for me is because the program is about everyone making his own life, no matter the circumstance. It's not a religion and nobody expects you to swallow the whole program, but it is available every day in every town and it's great for keeping me on track with me. The chronic struggle with invisibility is something I share with many people who spent their formative years in active addiction homes.
 
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poly4015

New member
To walk around feeling invisible and yearning to be part of the human family is a terror that many adoptees share. It's important that we know that no relationship can give us the enduring security and visibility that we seek until we somehow find ir ourselves.
It is so true.
The honesty of the situation is that no person or relationship is coming to save me from myself and my own basic aloneness. In this way, what grace and love and honesty life has shown me by letting so many relationships come and pass. It seems that my life is my most benevolent and patient teacher, always willing to bring me back down to earth when I need it. Wow, what a gift.
On the other hand, I live in what could be considered a very new agey type of place where phrases like "my higher purpose/alignment" and "healing my trauma wounds" get tossed around freely and I often wonder what people really mean by this. In most cases, people are talking about escaping their own pain or somehow becoming this rock of a human, never shaken, never sad or lonely or anxious. These of course are impossible to achieve. I cannot escape my own pain or my own aloneness any more than I can stop my ears or eyes from functioning the way they do when I am awake, then functiining differently when I sleep. Pain, and so called dysfunction are just parts of the expression of the human soul sometimes. In my experience the search for freedom is very much a hero's journey because to truly complete the journey (which is cyclical anyways :)) we really do have to invent our own way.
For me, this has taken the form mostly of radical honesty and radical allowance with myself. Allowing myself to feel the way I do in any given moment without having to feel like I need to shame/think it away, a SUPER tough one being an adoptee, given that shame and feeling small seem to often persist as well. This one seems lost on most people where I live. We cannot escape or "heal" our own trauma, in my experience. The real slaying of the dragon occurs in the moments where we KNOW (on a heart level) who and what we are, and that this "what we are" is present and persists independent of the other comings and goings. What we are is primary to and therefore beyond pain or bliss, happy or sad, big or small.
 
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