My long poly journey and life in general

As I just passed a very significant birthday, I've been reflecting on my life, lessons learned, mistakes and joys. The years are like journals lined up on a shelf. Some are more worn than others, some are fat, some are thin, some are leather bound, some are black and white student composition books. Some I'd rather let go and burn in a fire, but I won't. They are part of who I am.

I'll go backwards. Presently I am in a marriage/relationship of 6 years to a man who did not previously identify as poly. However he did know I was poly when we started to date. He answered an ad on a dating website where I was very openly poly and in a relationship. When that relationship ended he became my only partner. As we were both getting up there in age and the biological clock was ticking, and he had no children of his own and desired one, we decided to close our relationship and focus on having a baby. It took a great deal of effort and involved an egg donor (my bio clock had run out) and IVF. One round was all it took to produce our precious miracle baby. The child is now 3 years old. She was also the only grandchild for his aging parents. My husband is himself adopted by his parents, so having her was a big deal.

I wish I could say it was all a wonderful fairy tale, but it was not. The birth of our child happened right before Covid shut everything down. All the family and friend help that was offered to us late-in-life parents was suddenly not allowed to happen after all. My husband was put on furlough right after his 2 week paternity leave ended. I was planning to take the full 12 weeks maternity leave offered by my company, but my FMLA had run out due to extended bedrest. And . . . being that I'm a healthcare worker, I was called back to work at 10 weeks postpartum to work with dying Covid patients. I was so afraid in those early days of infecting my family. I had a little strip down station in the garage, and then ran right into the shower to scrub the Covid off. Due to luck and due diligence I never contracted Covid.

So now we have a new baby, no help, sleep deprivation, a pandemic, and financial stress. This was the perfect recipe for disaster. My husband, who is a recovered alcoholic (and to his credit remains clean now for 7 years), became addicted to video games. He played them night and day. He took care of the baby when she was awake, and played games at all other times. He didn't sleep much. He would go to bed at 5AM when I was waking up for work. He spun into a bipolar mania we didn't know he had. He became addicted to shopping and his untidy nature turned into hoarding, like you see on TV shows. The garage filled. The back yard filled. The house filled. My older child came home from college. The next youngest child's high school was closed. I went from work at a Covid unit to home with craziness. Husband developed paranoid delusions when things got really bad. He has never been violent with his body or his words. He just turned into a very lost, manic, then depressed person. It was hard to get him into see anyone due to the pandemic. He finally got on some meds about 1.5 years in.

He turned into a zombie, but at least he was not manic anymore. Finally, he was able to get some therapy. Things got better. I felt very secure in our marriage again, attended Al-anon to learn boundaries and acceptance of his video game and spending addictions. He got about 60% better. Kids went back to school. Toddler went to daycare. I was able to not work the Covid unit anymore. Husband working full time again, Meds adjusted back so husband no longer a zombie. And, we paid off all our debt.

Then 2022-- we had toddler's 2nd bday and it was lovely. We had our friends and family over for a backyard party. We were cleaning up after the party and I told him I felt really blessed with healthy kids, good financial place . . . and he sat me down and said, "I have something to tell you." He said, "I am an addict and I have a problem spending money." He proceeded to tell me he spent a HUGE amt of money on some collectibles, including going into debt and cashing out an 401K of his. I was so so so devastated. He did this behind my back. That was the worst part. He was such a sad sight, so broken. He went back his therapist and his doctor, had meds adjusted again, started to put together a plan to pay off debt. Then he lost his job, because during that manic episode he also had poor work performance. So now we are back to square one again, minus the pandemic. His parents helped with daycare, he was unemployed for 5 months. The interest on the debt was high so I pulled from my savings to pay it off in one big lump sum. Luckily we have always had separate finances.

He started more intense addiction therapy, we did marriage counseling, I got spiritual/religious, he found a less stressful job with good benefits, and has as of last month paid me back all of the debt. So that's how we started 2023. I believe he is truly sorry. I believe he is sincere in trying to get help and keep stable. I love him for it. We found out that his birth family has a long hx of bipolar. So I'm being supportive. He is an amazing father. We are working on building trust again, but I don't think I'll ever 100% trust him ever again for the rest of my life. And that's a sad thing. But it is what it is.

During the darker times he did not want to hold me or touch me or be intimate. Even as he is stable he has good and bad days (we all do, but his go on for extended periods of time). I am a touch person. I need touch like I need food and water. I was starving. I adopted a wonderful dog from the pound and that was a good start. I slept with her next to me on the nights he didn't come to bed at all, or came to bed and didn't want to be touched. I started to talk to him about opening up our marriage again now that the toddler was older, I am more rested, and we are in a better place overall. He balked at this and took it personally. I guess in one sense it is personal-- I crave a lot of touch. I think I crave more than one person can give, and I love very intensely, too. I don't think it's fair to expect one person to meet all of someone's needs.

I told him I was not comfortable with just inviting a random stranger into a relationship. I have major trust issues now, for one thing. But I was seeking at least an emotional connection and friendship, with possibilities for more if it happened to feel right. He agreed, hesitantly. I think he had forgotten or taken it for granted that I had been mono with him for 6 years and would always be. But I've never been. And so after some more talking, I told him I need to do this, for me. It is part of who I am. And although it may look like I'm doing it out of spite because of his problems that we went through, that was not it at all. It was the right time for me. And for once I was going to put me first, and he needed to support me.
So, I contacted an old poly friend. I asked if he was available for a friendship and he said he was available for whatever level of relationship I wanted. I had not been in touch with this man for many years. I met him at the same time as I met my husband, with the same ad. I had gone out on two dates with him (nothing more than a light kiss). He was a very wonderful person. There was a connection. But at that time his life was falling apart, including his marriage, and he had children. And it was just not the right time for me to enter into his life. We kept texting here and there, intermittently. And then before I married my husband and we started fertility treatments, I told this man I was going to close off our relationship and it was probably best that we didn't stay in touch. He understood and then he focused on putting his own life back together.

So then we reconnected more recently and it was like no time had passed at all. There was an immediate, instant, organic, strong connection through text. Within a week we had arranged to meet, and there was the possibility there would be intimacy. I kept my husband in the loop on all of this. He tried to be supportive and I tried very hard not to show my NRE around him. I spent a lot of time reassuring him that I loved him, he was my husband, and thanking him for allowing to be who I needed to be. On our first date together, let's just say it was magical and our connection was real. It was like coming home, and it was like we had always known each other.

I am a long-term kinda person. I don't mess around. If I love someone I love them long-term or as long as it's healthy and maybe then some (as in husband's case). As these weeks have passed I have seen my Partner twice a week. It's going well. Husband is coming around. He's seeing that I'm happy, and that the love and happiness flows right back to him. He is also taking better care of himself, which I love. Next week we are going to all go out to eat together. Husband has been talking to his counselor about this situation and the counselor has basically encouraged me and us to do this, as long as we are all open and honest about it. He has relaxed so much. So after the dinner, I hope that Partner can sometimes come over to our home. I have a private office and that's where we would spend our private time. I think this is going to work out. Partner is an experienced, honest, wonderful and loving poly man, and I'm an experienced poly woman. And, husband kinda knew my history and what he was getting into. And I love him for supporting me.
That's a lot of writing for now! I'm going to work my way backwards and talk about the horrible toxic poly relationship I was in when I met both husband and Partner the first time, 6 years ago.
I want to thank the administrators for providing this space to journal and blog. It's very healing. Please feel free to message me if you read something interesting or something you want to talk about with me. I'm always looking to make new friends.

So, before I get into the horrible poly relationship I was in years ago-- that sadly happens more often than not-- I want to talk about Complex PTSD. Which I have. It is different from regular PTSD, which is bad enough, in that it happens over an extended period of time, usually in a person's formative years. It happens because a child (usually a child) is in a constant environment of not feeling safe. They are on edge and in danger all the time, or about to be. They are hypervigilant to any signs that things might get dangerous, and they often have a plan on how to react for their own survival. People with C-PTSD are intelligent, resilient, and resourceful. They have a very very strong desire to love fully and completely when they find who they think is a safe person. They cling on too hard sometimes. And then if that person is not safe, or even if they show any signs that they are about to not be safe, it creates a very strong visceral response in the CPTSD person. Which is not at all fair to the partner or friend.

The good thing about a CPTSD partner is if you do create that safe, loving environment, they will love you fully, be loyal to you forever, love you through thick and thin, good times and bad. The bad thing is if you break their trust, they will never trust you again, ever, and they will be so so so deeply hurt-- a primal kind of hurt-- probably beyond what is appropriate for the situation. And then they may leave.

I have a pretty good handle on my CPTSD, but it's there, will always be there. I'm good at recognizing my triggers, and I'm good at stepping back and realizing when I'm having a response. I let my partners know what's going on, what I need from them in that moment, that it's not their fault, and that as soon as I get through it I'll be okay and then we can talk about it. I also take a good mood stabilizer so my highs and lows are not as bad as they used to be. I take Paxil extended release, which is one of the only mood drugs that has been proven to be effective for PTSD. It also works great to help control hot flashes (double benefit for me!)

What do I need when I'm "having a moment of PTSD?" Reassurances of love and safety. Hugs and holding if I ask for it, space if I ask for it. A safe space to sit and recover and find my center. Removal from a chaotic environment. It may be that my partner takes over the care of the small children for the rest of the day so I can retreat and ground myself. And then I will come out of my safe space (I literally have a peaceful room in our home that is my safe space) and I need hugs and kisses and then I will get back to my default which is joyful.

NOTE: if you keep pushing me or following me when I'm retreating into that safe space, or want to continue to "talk about it" or whatever, I will revert into fight mode and may start yelling or saying things that I will regret later. Listen to me when I say "I need to go."
Now about that horrible relationship. It was a beautiful thing, too beautiful, too good to be true. And then it was awful. I can't believe I allowed myself to be in that situation for as long as I did . . . but as I said, a person with CPTSD will love you to the ends of the earth, oftentimes to their own detriment. I'm wiser now and have better boundaries and self-worth.

Six years ago I was empowered enough and brave enough to finally detach the final tendrils of a 20 year marriage. We got married young-- too young. I was 21, he was 22. He was a grad student from an Asian country. When I met him he was sweet, handsome, appeared to be progressive and pro-women's rights, and had an adorable properness about him. He was lonely. And, as he confessed later, he wanted to get laid so his friends would stop making fun of his virgin status. So when he approached me at a student picnic and complimented my dog, started petting her, said he missed his dog back home, I fell for him. And then he fell for me. He was a genuinely nice person. A lost person though. A person with issues he didn't know he had. He painted a rosy picture of his childhood, said he was close to his parents and sister, had a wonderful childhood. It turns out he had a very controlling mom, an out of touch dad, and was being sexually abused by one of the male household servants. His sister was and is an angel. She also was being sexually abused though, and the tragic part was neither sibling told the other, and neither told their parents. He tells a memory-- laughs about it protect himself I guess-- that he was misbehaving one time and his parents threatened the boogieman would get him if he didn't obey better. Then they got the household servant to dress up as the boogieman and appear in the bedroom window. They all thought this was hilarious. Except the boogieman was the household servant who was also abusing the children.

My ex husband is a gentle, spiritual person who was not cut out for high academic performance. But that was how he was valued in that society and by his parents. He struggled. He did not get into a great undergrad college, and was sent away feeling ashamed that his parents' friends' kids all went to better colleges. He got a degree in engineering and then was able to secure a spot in grad school in the U.S. Which is when I met him. I saw this guy, and I he saw me, and we both fell for each other. I am sure that our collective traumas played a part. He flunked out of grad school. He was a failure to his parents and could not go home in shame like that. So, we got married, so he could stay in the U.S. He said he would finish his degree at another college. He never did. He worked a stable, boring government job for the rest of his life. And honestly that was okay. Except it didn't pay well, and that added stress to our marriage later.

My ex was also autistic. He has been diagnosed with Asperger's and he agrees with this diagnosis, and he is relieved that he has some answers for his struggles. But this diagnosis did not come until our own child, one of them was dx with the same thing. He has never addressed the trauma of his childhood. It has stunted his emotional growth, along with the Asperger's, and he has had a very hard time handling normal family life and normal life struggles.

The first five years of our marriage were pretty good. We fought a lot, but we also loved each other very much, and we made up and then enjoyed life again. We enjoyed camping, exploring our state, and we would travel to his country every other year for an extended stay when work allowed. We were both working full time at that point, double income no kids, and were able to buy the house that I still live in today. We decided to start a family. It took about a year for us to get pregnant, but finally we did, and we had a blessed beautiful baby girl. This is where things started to go sideways and then downhill.
Long story short about the marriage-- before we had kids, we did open up the marriage for a short time. I found out I'm not lesbian, but I enjoyed the poly aspect of a relationship. But after we started trying for kids, we closed off the marriage. So, while I was pregnant with kid#1, ex began to kinda freak out. He decided to go back to the religion of his culture, where he had not been religious at all before. He joined a cult. I joined it too, to be supportive of him and be united as a family. I have no objection to raising a child in a religion. I do have an objection to raising a child in a cult. I think the strict rules and black and white thinking appealed to my ex husband, because he craves structure. I think he gets decision fatigue. So, after I gave birth I started to realize it was a cult and I wanted out, and I wanted to have our child out. He felt very upset. He had started to change into a very rule-following husband who expected me to follow some archaic role of women that was in his culture and religion. I was also stuck because I had quit my job to have the baby and raise her (and the second child who followed 3 years later). So, I had no money, no rights really, except to refuse to go to this cult and bring the children. Because I would not join, the cult shunned our family, and he lost his church friends, support, and rules. He was so angry at me and we never recovered. Our second child was born with some severe health issues, which have thankfully resolved. But during that time I could not work, I had to take care of her. At year 10 of our marriage I told him, I am going back to college. I am going to get a nursing degree. If we are not better by the time I graduate and get some savings, we will divorce. He didn't believe me. But 7 years later I graduated from nursing school, and 3 years after that we divorced. He moved out 10 days before our 20th anniversary. He then rejoined the cult since he was now single and didn't have the requirement to bring his wife/kids along into it.

So, in the last years of our marriage we were pretty much roommates. We didn't take trips together, we didn't sleep together. We didn't do much together at all except raise the kids. He didn't even try to be polite to me anymore and the kids saw it. They were happy when he moved out. And during that time I talked about opening up the marriage again. He hesitantly agreed-- he didn't honestly have a choice since I was now working and a more independent woman. But neither did I want to cheat on him behind his back. It was at the tail end of this marriage that I met the toxic poly couple. We didn't become sexual until ex moved out, it was emotional before that. But shortly after ex moved out and we got divorced, I became sexual with the male member of this male-female couple. I snuggled with the woman and that was nice but it was never sexual with her.
So this couple----

I had started on a path of personal growth about a year before the divorce. I had started to attend different meetings and workshops, and one of them was a tightly knit group of people, but their events were open to the public. There was this couple there, they were known to have been together for 7 years, she recently had moved in with him and they were very much in love and close. I didn't know much more about them at that time, except the woman was very nice. They were about 10 year older than me but very youthful. So, at one of the events we were asked to pair off with someone not your partner or friend, and stare into each other's eyes for a full minute and try to "see" the other person. I was paired off with him. We looked into each other's eyes and his eyes were so intense and glowing almost, and I couldn't look away. I was actually uncomfortable because of the way he was looking, it was very sexual, and he had his partner right there in the room. Then after the exercise he kept looking at me. At the next meeting he started to flirt with me, again with his partner right there. I thought how disrespectful of her, but she didn't seem to notice or care. In fact she became more friendly towards me.

Then out of the blue he started texting me on FB. It got flirty really fast, and I was attracted to this man, but again, very bothered that he has a partner, and the last thing I wanted to do was end up with someone who cheated on their partner. That is a person with bad character. So I asked him outright-- I feel like you are crossing some boundaries and you have a partner. That's when he told me he was poly! I was like, oh okay! And how does she feel about this? He said she was fine with it. Given that she was being very friendly towards me, I accepted this and we proceeded to flirt.

Then I called her and wanted to talk to her personally about this. This is where the crazy-making started-- she took me in and said she was so glad we were getting to know each other better. Then she said, "I know what is happening with you and him. I'm not poly, but he is. And I accept that. But please go slow." I got this message that she was not happy about him and I, but she was accepting it because that's who he was. I told her, if you are not entirely happy about this, then I don't want to go any further. I want to be in a situation where I'm welcomed and wanted--- by everyone. And I don't want to cause friction in a relationship. She said, "Oh but I really like you, and if it's going to be anyone, then I want it to be you. Please stay." I should have listened to my instincts and seen the red flags, but I really was getting mixed messages. She even would invite me for lunches just her and I and we did become very close friends.

The other thing was this man talked about ethical poly, he belonged to some poly groups, he even had a shirt that said, "I put the sensual in consensual." We had some meetings, the three of us, were we openly discussed what was happening, our concerns, our goals, etc. All along the way he and I wanted to get together and be intimate at some point but she kept saying she wasn't ready yet. We got our STI testing done and finally she said a certain date was good for her. Again this was totally red flags but I was getting mixed messages. I told her again, are you sure about this? Because I can just walk away and she said, "I love you! I want you to be part of our family!" And I really desperately did want a family.

On the designated day we had our date. The "rule" was that he not ever stay overnight, this was her rule. So we were intimate and then he went home at about midnight. As a sex-starved person who had been in a sexless marriage for the past few years, it was amazing. Then the next day radio silence. I expected he would text me and tell me it was wonderful, etc. but I heard nothing from either one of them. Then at about 4PM he finally texted me back. Apparently on the night of our date, she got really really drunk, went to a mutual friend's house that well all know, cried her eyes out about our date. He turned out his phone after our date and saw a bunch of texts from this friend to come pick her up. So he had to drive there, get her and drive her home and she was up all night crying and drunk while he reassured her that he still loved her.

I felt absolutely awful. I told them both I was done. I cried all day at the position I was put into, to have feelings for both of them, cared for them both, and caused them so much pain. That evening she called me to apologize. I told her I was done with it all. She said please don't leave us! I was drunk, I didn't know what I was saying! I'm sending him right over. Then the doorbell rang and there he was looking like crap from crying, and said I love you, please don't leave us. So I let him in and he held me and said thank you.

Again, I should have walked away. But I thought I loved these people. And, I was coming out of a bad situation and was not yet wise, didn't have much self-esteem, and was a mess. The ironic part is that I met them at a workshop and group and the theme was reclaiming your power.

To be continued . . .
So continued with this couple---
They were well-established members of this "self help" type group. They met at a party, introduced by mutual friends. He was in an open marriage, she was divorced and single. She was never poly and maintained that to the end. But, he very much was. And she accepted that about him, in theory. They were together for 7 years by the time we all ended things. They had lived together for about a year when I entered the picture.

He was plain manipulative and dishonest. He also made me feel like a queen when I was with him, and we had very good sex. He fell in love with me hard. He said he didn't expect to, but he did. We didn't have a whole lot in common. They were both 15 years older than I was. The dates were mostly about going out and having sex, but he also gave me the gift of making me feel very very body positive after my marriage of not being wanted, loved, being in "mom mode" and worse, "middle aged mom mode." I realized I was still a very passionate and sexy woman. We went out shopping for clothes together and bras and a swimsuit. I did my hair better. This was a gift he left me.

After some months we agreed to be "fluid bonded." We told her about it and she was very upset, and said okay fine but not until some date she set. We agreed to that to soothe her feelings. But . . before that date arrived, one time during sex he slipped the condom off and I didn't know until after the fact. I was bothered by this, but he said we were adults and could do what we wanted, when we wanted. True on some level, but we had an agreement. I never told her about that one. Partly because I was ashamed.

We had an agreement that we would know about each other's lovers, and that before any of us dated anyone else, we would tell the others. He broke this time and time again but I didn't know until later. I even had people warn me that he didn't follow the rules. But he looked into my eyes and promised me he would follow the rules. He used to have "off site meetings" for his work. He would have to, supposedly, go drive to other locations and have meetings and he would not have his phone on. I now realize he was seeing women on his lunch break. Know how I found out? Because one time he decided to have a lunch break with me. I was home and he came over, and I asked him if his she knew about this-- we promised to be transparent-- and he said yes. Then he made the mistake of texting ME when he meant to text HER that he was at an offsite meeting. I didn't notice this until our "meeting" was done and I checked my phone. I was so upset. I told her right away. He was in trouble with us both.

I would break up with him when I was in my right mind. Then SHE would call me and BEG for me to take him back because he was crying, and SHE loved me and wanted me to be part of their chosen family. I told her we can still be friends, she and I, but I was done with him. But then they would both push me to take him back. It was so so so crazy! And then apparently on our date nights, she would drink and he'd find her drunk or passed out when he got home, or she's say "I can smell her on you" even though he took a good shower, or he would be late getting home on her curfew by a bit. I felt like I was in high school having my parents give me rules about sex and curfew. But when it was good, it was very very good.

We went to a retreat together. We shared a cabin. They slept together on the big bed. I slept on the small bed, and we had another roommate (a mutual friend, not romantic) who slept in the other small bed. The rule was no sex in the cabin, and that was followed. But, she would get all upset if he came to cuddle me in the small bed. And there was a private area for couples to be together, and he took her twice and me once that week, to prove to her that she was primary.
We would have family meetings, and we would then apologize and work things out and then more stuff like this happened. Sometimes when we broke up the entire "self help" community, which accepted us and all forms of sexuality/identity, would support us in working things out. So I felt pressure from them, too.

Three things ended the relationship finally. One was her alcoholism, which I found out was a way worse problem than he and I thought. Two was an STI scare, And the one that broke the camel's back--the dog incident.

To be continued . . .
Trigger warning-- some heavy stuff here---

When I reflect back on my experience with this couple, I remember many great things. The love! When it was good, it was so good. I loved the cuddling we all did together, the laughing, the family dinners. But I think the man took some great pleasure in creating jealousy and controlling and manipulating the situation. For example if I called him and he was with her, he would not answer. I didn't want to intrude on their time, so we agreed on a time when we would have a group phone call every day, and those were nice conversations. And I would sometimes call him when driving and during work hours during breaks. That was nice too. Sometimes he would call me, on his own, during the times I was told was their time (from about 5PM to about 8PM). And he would act like he was sneaking around about it, and then he would abruptly hang up if she started to come into the garage or wherever he was. And I would be like, um, what was that about? So later during the family evening call I would bring this up, and both of us women didn't understand why he was doing this.

Our dates were only once a week, and I had to rearrange my schedule, make sure the kids were at their dad's, and it was hard sometimes with my irregular work schedule. One time we were going to have our date night later that evening, and he called and said he was going to be very late for the date. I had work the next morning, was going to wake up at 5, so it would be an early evening. This was how it usually was, the evening ended by about 10 at the latest. So, he said the date would have to be cancelled or he would be very late. I asked why and it was because the were going to see about adopting a dog! It was a purebred dog from a rescue, and they were picked to be interviewed for this dog, which took place in their home. I was like, "Can you see the dog tomorrow?" And apparently this was an option, but they didn't take it, because she had waited a long time for the dog and was so excited about it, and they both had to be there. I was so so so upset. I already was being made, I felt, to sit on their doormat and wait for scraps of time. So, I canceled the date. I'm about quality time. They adopted the dog and I got to hear all about them gushing over it. I love dogs and animals, but the people in my life come first.

The alcoholism. Ugh. I am not a drinker, and was not raised around drinkers, so I didn't see the signs. I could tell her circulation was not great, that she was very thin except her abdomen, which I chalked up to her age and having kids, and not eating very much at a meal. She had itchy skin all the time, which I look back and realize as a nurse this is sometimes from liver disease-- but at the time I was a peds nurse and my patients were not alcoholics. She had the shakes sometimes. I asked her about it and she said it was just something that ran in her family -- she was in her mid 50's. She would not get it checked out, she said she didn't like doctors. Both of them appreciated a good whisky or wine at dinner. I never saw overdrinking. I see now that she probably was drinking before the dinners. She had this strange incident of blackout where she told me something very sensitive, and then later she told me again. I told her she already told me that once, and she was surprised. Then a week before the retreat I think she was trying to quit cold turkey, because she called me with some hallucinations and was freaking out. I told her I was worried about her and she needed to go to urgent care. But he said, "Nah she'll be fine" and then the incident passed.

I know these things now because I am a nurse who works with adults. The signs were so clear! And once they hosted a dinner party and she got so so so drunk, and she started crying about me being a "pretty young thing" and she was jealous of me, etc. I was mortified and since I didn't drink, I drove myself home and was going to break up with them both. Because he didn't reach out to address this at all. He just sat there and watched the drama unfold like the narcissist he was. And the next day SHE sent him back to my door, called me, said, please let him in, take him back, I don't want to be the cause of the breakup. So I did. Stupidly. Because I love big and I try to see the best in people.
He and I held an intervention one afternoon. She came home from work and found us both waiting for her. He had found her stash and been monitoring it for a few days. She hid it in her car, and was probably drinking and driving! She even picked up my kids from school a few times! She consumed a handle of vodka in the 3 days he had been monitoring her. He found receipts for more alcohol. So we confronted her with love-- said we would support her recovery but first we needed to talk about this openly. She flat out denied she had a problem, denied the vodka was hers, etc. I was done with her. I told her I would be her friend again once she admitted she had a problem. She never did. So that was that. A few weeks later they broke up and she moved out.

The self help group had, and continued to, enable her. Even after I spoke up that she had a problem drinking, they would continue to pour her alcohol at events, and then she would break down and cry and start crying about how she had never given permission for him to date me, etc. So I left that group.

I kept seeing him for awhile longer. We were good together at times, and I think it was easier for both of us to handle with her not being a factor. He then told me that he did some routine testing and was positive for an STI. He said maybe the test was wrong, he was going to restest soon. It was for type 2 herpes. So, I got tested and I didn't have it. He then got tested again and said he didn't have it after all. ??? And he showed me the paperwork. Much much later, I found out the real story. Another member of our self-help group had slept with him. She was married at the time, and she did have type 2 herpes. Apparently she had an outbreak when they were together and didn't realize it until afterwards. She told him, and then he, in a very roundabout way, told me I had been exposed through him. I, of course, was assuming he was following our agreement to not have sex with anyone else unless I knew about it, *and* they had testing. That was the end of our relationship. And I left the self help group also, and unfriended and blocked all of them. Because they knew he was sleeping around-- with some of them-- and never told me or her.

About 6 months later she contacted me and said she was in 12 step and was at the "making amends" step, and would I come and have lunch with her so she could try to make amends with me and apologize. It was SO good to see her! But it brought up so many yucky feelings. She asked how he was, and assumed we were still seeing each other. I told her we were not, and she was very surprised by this. She had assumed he got rid of her to spend more time with me. She asked if she could see me more often and I told her no. In a nice way. I had realized how toxic they both were once I moved away from that relationship. I wished her well and never saw or spoke to her again.
About a year later someone from the old self help group, a person I never had a problem with personally-- the husband of they woman with herpes -- who had also divorced his wife after all that-- told me that the female partner of our triad had died. She was found dead on her apartment balcony, and had been dead for several days. I was able to get the autopsy report, as it is public information, and she died from the effects of long term alcohol use and heart disease. There was no alcohol in her system at time of death. So sad.

I hate alcohol. I hate how it takes hold of people and changes them, makes them sick, makes them not themselves. It ruins families and relationships. It kills people.

My husband is 7 years sober. I'm so proud of him. He's struggled with mental illness, pandemic, being a new father, job stress, and never has had a drink or drugs in all that time. His liver is bad, but it's healed enough over time that he's stable and doing great. I hope he lives for a very long time with me by his side. I wish my friend could have lived, too. She had two young adult children who I'm sure miss her very much. When she was not drunk, she was a good person.
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Partner and I have been seeing each other for 6 weeks now. It feels like much longer. I guess when you are a mature adult and know what you want, and you both find each other, you don't need to play the dating games. You just dive right in and love each other. The NRE has mostly worn off and it's a very comfortable loving place to be.

Tonight will be the first night that Partner comes to our home. Husband has had some understandable trepidation. He fears being replaced. He thinks it's going to be weird if we cuddle in front of him. So we won't for now. Husband wants me to be happy but he doesn't want to see or think about it. At the same time, he has a personal ad up to meet someone. He's going to a show tonight and will stay out late. He's sad that he can't find someone to go with (a female someone). He's struggling. But, he also started dating me when I was part of a triad. I have been very up front with him from the beginning about being poly. I never promised full monogamy. I did promise to be mono when we were having and growing our little family, and I did promise to be honest and ethical. I feel some guilt. I don't want to cause him pain or sadness. At the same time, I need to be who I am. I'm not sure there will be a situation where we would both be 100% happy.
So, the planned overnight didn't happen. That day I made the mistake of getting up early and cleaning the house. I do that every Saturday, but this day Husband was seeing things in the light that I was cleaning to make it nice for Partner. He was also hypomanic, and had been for a few days. Very mild behavior, but for anyone who's lived with a person who suffers with Bipolar, you become very attuned to these subtle changes in a person. Talking faster, mis-interpreting things, mind-reading, being irritable, certain nervous ticks happening much more frequently. Husband also has some anxiety issues from childhood around cleaning, having to do with his mother. Anyway, not a good day. And it just escalated. He was itching for an argument and I didn't want to have one. So, I calmly told him I was going to cancel Partner visiting our home, and I instead went to Partner's home for the evening. I called him later to check in, and he apologized and realized he was being hypomanic. Partner didn't take it personally-- he's been extremely understanding and patient. He is also thankful that I don't want to bring him into an emotionally charged environment. He deserves to feel safe. So does Husband. We all have to work together.

We had a very good week, Husband and I, Partner and I. Today is Saturday again. We are going to try to have Partner over again. The mood is much much better, relaxed, and we are going to have Partner over tonight. The plan is to play a board game and have dinner. Then Husband will go play his evening video games, and I will show Partner around my town, which he hasn't been to in years. Then overnight and hopefully a nice family breakfast in the morning.
Wow, we have come so far! Last night Partner came over, we all made dinner together and ate together. Then after the kiddo went to bed, we all three played a couple of games, with lots of joking and laughing. Note: The Game of Real Life is so fun and lots of laughs! I kissed Husband goodnight and he played on his phone awhile and went to bed. Partner and I went to bed in the office. The next morning I made everyone breakfast and the mood was great. Partner left midmorning. It's been a great day the rest of the day too! The mood at home has continued to be great!
That's wonderful! Glad that you had a great day!
Wow, we have come so far! Last night Partner came over, we all made dinner together and ate together. Then after the kiddo went to bed, we all three played a couple of games, with lots of joking and laughing. Note: The Game of Real Life is so fun and lots of laughs! I kissed Husband goodnight and he played on his phone awhile and went to bed. Partner and I went to bed in the office. The next morning I made everyone breakfast and the mood was great. Partner left midmorning. It's been a great day the rest of the day too! The mood at home has continued to be great!
Congratulations….proud moment for all those involved 😆😉. You can be proud you made the right call. Hubby can be proud he pushed / worked through it. AND Bf didn’t accidentally say or do anything to upset things. I’d say a pretty big hurdle has been removed.
Today was sad. After the wonderful weekend, my husband broke a boundary again. It is just the way he's wired. But it was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was not a big thing compared to all the stuff that happened in the throes of mental illness. It was a small thing, but representative of the big things. It told me that he will always be a little bit sick. I will continue getting hurt. I'm so raw and oversensitive because of the things he did in the past. I forgive him, but I'm on guard. Easily hurt. And been broken and put together so many times. I had a realization that our relationship as it was, is beyond repair. For me to have sex-- to make love-- is about trust. If the trust is not there, the sex cannot happen. We talked about it, cried about it, hugged. But both agreed that he F'd up too many times, and although he was doing everything he could to keep himself stable and better, there was no guarantee he would not F up again and hurt me. He's like a playful cat, and I am the person who keeps leaving my water glass on the counter to get knocked over. He's going to do it. Because, although he's loving and purrs, and snuggles so beautifully, he'll also knock over that water glass when your back is turned. It's just who he is. And I take it way too personally when I shouldn't.

We agreed to stay married for now. We want to stay married for many reasons, a big one being financial security. We love sharing a home together. We have a little one who needs both her parents in the home, as long as we can make that home safe and happy for her. We love each other very much. But it's pretty much turned platonic. Sigh. In the throes of the mental illness, he moved out, then moved back in, and threatened to move out a few more times. So much trust was broken. He was sick. I hate mental illness. He's much more stable now, but I'm broken. I wish I would be able to forgive and relax and feel safe. But, although I can forgive, I can't feel emotionally safe with my heart that close to him, in intimate space.

We agreed to have separate bedrooms. I asked him to sell the marriage bed. So many tears cried in that bed. He sold the bed today. We are giving kiddo the master bedroom with a new set of bunkbeds (twin over full) to have sleepovers and hangouts with friends as she grows up. My office was already turned into my private bedroom to use with Partner, and honestly I've been sleeping alone there a lot lately, too. So that will be my bedroom. Husband will take Kiddo's bedroom, which is big enough for a queen bed for sleepovers of his own.

Tonight as we were turning the master bedroom into kiddo's room, I looked on our dresser at all the framed photos of happy times. Before the mental illness came into full force. When I still trusted him. When his arms were my safe place in the world. When I was pregnant with our miracle IVF baby. It was at about 20 weeks pregnant that he really went into full manic mode. That was scary for me. He was never violent or yelling, but he just turned into a self-centered irritable stranger that made a lot of bad decisons that affected our family.

My husband was adopted. His birth mother knew for the entire pregnancy she didn't want to keep him. Although he was adopted into a wonderful loving home, his mother then had a baby of her own within 2 years. Husband said his whole life he had a pattern of self-destruction. When given something good, he finds a way to ruin it. He has a fear of success. I was just another victim of this pattern, he says. And he's so sorry. And the Bipolar runs deep in his family DNA. I wish we all knew this when I first met him. I wish HE knew it. But at least we know now.

Anyway, he wishes me the best. Happiness. I wish the same for him. I've walked beside him while he's gone to therapy, church, and gotten his meds just right. He's better than he's ever been. I wish I was not so broken and afraid. He deserves to find a partner who can give him that fresh start he needs. I sincerely love him that much.

Tonight he has a virtual first date with a poly woman he met on a dating site. She looks really nice, and they seem to have lots in common. She looks like she could be my friend in real life, too. I sincerely wish him luck with her. Even as mourn what we had that was lost, and can never be again.

Thanks to poly, we can still be friends, parents, nesting partners, and each get our fresh start with people who are better for us now that each other is. And still love each other. I hope and wish that we can each sit around the kitchen table with our partners and each other, and our beautiful, complicated, loving chosen family.

Today is a day of sadness and grieving. Tomorrow is a new day. And we can try to make something beautiful from what we have left.
Those are some truly significant changes. I wish you all the best for the new living arrangement, it sounds like the right step forward.
Today is Sunday again. Last week was a cooperative, sometimes sad, sometimes healing week. H an I moved furniture around to each make our own spaces within our home. It's a split floor plan, so he gets the two smaller bedrooms (used to be kid rooms) and that associated bathroom and the hallway. He sold the marriage bed, which was full of so much love and so many tears.

The thing about loving someone with mental illness is you just never know what kind of day you have, and you are always on edge for a conflict, while also having your heart open to give and receive love. So your heart gets stomped on when you expect to receive love. I also have been H's caretaker and sometimes his parent when he could not make good decisions on his own. All of this has really worn me down. He is sad but he has also been full of apologies and acknowledgement of the damage he did. He is more stable now, but I'm not sure he will ever be 100% stable since Bipolar is a chronic illness.

And, I think poly is a good thing for us. On times with my Partner we can enjoy that healthy love and friendship and intimacy while living our own separate family lives during the week. H can also seek part-time relationships that he needs and deserves, without the burden of responsibilities such as householding and child rearing. He can be an amazing lover and partner, but not such a great husband. I can continue to be his caretaker and friend, but not be so emotionally vulnerable to his mood swings.

As he has moved to his own room I am starting to relax. I didn't realize how wound up and stressed out I was. Child has a great master bedroom for all her toys, room to play. I share her bathroom. With the twin over full bunk, each parent can spend time with her in her room as needed-- for example she's been sick this weekend. She has wanted to sleep with us, so each of us has taken a turn on the lower bunk with her to nurse her through the night with her illness.

My office is now my bedroom. I have made it a very wonderful, relaxing space of meditation, healing, love, yoga, and safe peaceful sleeping. I moved my "office" to one corner of the livingroom. I don't need a lot of space-- just my laptop and a file folder. It is painted blue and the walls are covered with beautiful art, the windows point out at trees and flowers.

H and I are still cuddling and light kissing. We are still friends, still have deep love for each other. But I just can't have my heart wide open anymore for him.

Last night Partner (P) and I went out for a lovely dinner while H stayed home with sick kiddo. Then H and P set up H's new room. Then I kissed and hugged H and went to the hot tub and then bed with P. We did wonderful pillow talk . . . and other stuff too. ;-) This morning I am up early with kiddo so both men can sleep in.

And, things are looking up for H! He has been on two computer dates with local poly women. He has that sparkle in his eye from the attention. One of them wants to see him in person soon! He has been showing me pictures of them and their pets, and I'm truly happy for him. Not an ounce of jealousy or regret. I just want him to be happy, as every human being deserves.

I think as things have shaken out and fallen into a new place, we are going to be okay. We are going to be more than okay. The longer I live the more I realize that we make our own paths and our own rules. We don't need to conform to society's rules at all. As long as we have love, respect, and consent, then all is well.
It's totally up to you; this is just a suggestion. You might want to consider giving these men their own nicknames instead of calling them by their titles as in relationship to yourself. H is not a full husband to you in the conventional sense. And Partner might come to take on more of a full husbandly role, especially if you ever decide to divorce Husband. (Maybe you could choose another H name, like Honey, and another P word, like Prince, just for example.)

In threads in our Relationships section, nicknames work much better than words like husband or wife, or mere first initials. It's easier to keep everyone straight if we have actual names.
It's totally up to you; this is just a suggestion. You might want to consider giving these men their own nicknames instead of calling them by their titles as in relationship to yourself. H is not a full husband to you in the conventional sense. And Partner might come to take on more of a full husbandly role, especially if you ever decide to divorce Husband. (Maybe you could choose another H name, like Honey, and another P word, like Prince, just for example.)

In threads in our Relationships section, nicknames work much better than words like husband or wife, or mere first initials. It's easier to keep everyone straight if we have actual names.
Thank you I will do that. Makes sense!
Wow …sorry things haven’t worked out the way you planned the last time I was here the dinner and date night went well and things seem to be on track. I see you’re reshuffling living spaces to adjust to the situation and it very much looks like whats advocated in some of the detangling literature. i know hide sight is 20/20 but you think doing more detangling before jumping back into the poly pool would have made thing smoother / better ? Territorial carve outs puts everyone in a different head space. Just thinkin out loud here 😉
Wow …sorry things haven’t worked out the way you planned the last time I was here the dinner and date night went well and things seem to be on track. I see you’re reshuffling living spaces to adjust to the situation and it very much looks like whats advocated in some of the detangling literature. i know hide sight is 20/20 but you think doing more detangling before jumping back into the poly pool would have made thing smoother / better ? Territorial carve outs puts everyone in a different head space. Just thinkin out loud here 😉
Yes absolutely, would have been better to do this first. I didn't foresee how this was going to shake out and settle. We (Fox and I-- I gave my partners nicknames-- see sig) have a marriage therapy appt. today to talk about it with a poly-understanding therapist.