I am typically just a lurker/reader but I wanted to tell you that I will miss reading your posts. I have learned so much from you and truly enjoy your perspective and raw honesty. I have continued to come back to read even after my divorce because of your blog. If you do decide to continue to journal online please come back to post a link. Wishing you peace and happiness in all that you do.
The last thing I posted in this blog ended in ellipsis. It's been two months, and I think I'm ready to move on to a true chapter closing, with a period. After a conversation I had with Rider this morning, I decided that it would feel better for closure to tell the ending of this story.
Rider and I decided after a few weeks of weekly therapy, to separate. We're still living together and getting along pretty well as friends. I sleep on the futon with the cats, as he is the lighter sleeper.
The therapist had us complete a series of homework assignments, which really brought to light how different we had become.
There was the question of possible offspring, of course, but even beyond that, there were other chasms.
The biggest one was continuing on with poly. You all will remember that for a long time, I felt painted into a corner because I didn't want poly anymore, but I was in two relationships. It didn't feel ethical for me to end my relationship with Rider on those grounds because I had been the one to press going back to full poly in the first place, under the impression that "hey, maybe I can actually do it this time now that I met someone I like!"
But the thing that soul-searching and therapy brought out was that poly and I are just not compatible anymore, if we ever were. I remember feeling joy and delight in the early days, before Rider started having sex with Kelly, but beyond that, it was a constant gauntlet of jealousy, judging myself for feeling jealous, struggling with control issues, living in fear of Rider finding someone else to love, compensating for that fear by desperately seeking someone else to love as well, projecting, disappointment, and constant low-level grief.
And even when Rider agreed to abandon it for me, all I felt was guilt that he wasn't getting to live his ideal life, fear that it would lead to resentment, and a vague dissatisfaction that even though Rider agreed to be with only me, he didn't truly want only me. Even without actions, that mismatch of desires chafed.
I think that poly was a great fit for the person I wished I could be in 2014: chill, down for whatever, sexually liberated, super unconventional, a Social Person. But the person who I have discovered that I am, here in real-life 2018, is a little neurotic, comforted by simplicity, stability, and routine, still pretty sexually adventurous but not particularly slutty, and (though very liberal) actually not all that unconventional once you set aside the pink hair and fondness for psychedelics. Also not a very Social Person.
Rider likes to blame Dustin for changing me, but I think the real truth is that the change that came over me is merely that I've embraced who I actually am at my center instead of trying to explore every possible "who could I be?" that sounded cool and then picking one.
It's true that meeting Dustin catalyzed this, though. Meeting him and hanging out with him caused a light bulb to go on over my head that allowed me to see that, hey, I'm actually happiest when I'm doing the stuff that I actually like doing—imagine that! And suddenly all the stuff I'd been doing mostly as a living accessory to Rider seemed alien and hollow.
I also did some hard number-crunching about my financial situation and had another light-bulb moment: a large part of the debt that has been crippling me in recent years was pretty extravagant credit-card spending that I'd been doing to support a Rider-style life. LOTS of drinking out in bars. LOTS of traveling to other cities to see far-away friends. LOTS of happy hours and eating out in restaurants. And because Rider has always made only a few thousand dollars a year more than me, it always made sense to split things 50/50—but his few thousand dollars more and lack of as much student loan debt meant that that lifestyle was pretty much breaking even for him, but digging a hole for me.
My credit card debt started to accumulate in February 2014, the exact month I started dating Rider. I don't blame him for this, as obviously the individual decisions were mine, but I do recognize that the means that he likes to live within were actually slightly outside of my actual means, and my wanting to always be game for whatever he wanted to do is what led me to those poor decisions.
To exacerbate matters, as my relationship with Rider deteriorated, he kept pushing me to go on more "epic adventures" with him, and kept being hurt and upset when I told him I couldn't afford them. Nor could he afford to pay my part in them. He viewed it as an unwillingness to compromise on my part that I refused to agree to more of these, instead of seeing it for what it was: me basically reaching the end of my financial rope and having to cry "uncle."
I've spent a lot of time recently devising a draconian budget and lifestyle overhaul that will (if I'm diligent) allow me to pay off everything except one large student loan within two years. I don't think that this would be possible to do while remaining with Rider. He spoke in therapy of his own student loan debt (though smaller than mine) that he's carried for 20 years being an "elephant in the room," and yet, the deeper I've gone down the rabbit hole of frugality and fiscal awareness, the more I've realized exactly how unwisely he continues to spend money.
He goes out almost every night, and, on weekends, often goes to multiple events within a single day. If I'd chosen to stay with him, I know I would have felt either left out or compelled to at least partially keep up—to the detriment of my own goal achievement possibilities.
The conversation I had with Rider this morning . . .
OK, so, backstory is that, at this point, he considers himself solo-poly. He is still regularly seeing Annie (several times per week, usually with one overnight). He is occasionally having sex with another girl. And he has two female "cuddle buddies" that I know he'd like more with but he's said "it's complicated" and I didn't ask for details.
The conversation was that yesterday at a poly meetup, he met a girl whose internet presence I am familiar with through OKC and various poly groups online I'd joined when we first moved here. She's a friend of a few of the people I went on early dates with, but I never met her. I think I did message her, though, as I thought she is really pretty. Rider just learned of her existence yesterday, and they've set up a date.
My knee-jerk emotional response was to feel jealous. She's pretty! She's someone I knew of first! She's super-involved in all the Poly Things and I'll never be able to compete!
And then I remembered. Oh, yeah. We're broken up. NONE OF THIS IS MY PROBLEM ANYMORE! NONE OF IT IS EVEN REALLY MY BUSINESS!
And I felt the hammer of logic smash down on that jealousy and turn it into sweet, sweet relief. I don't have to ever worry anymore about how much Rider is going to like someone else. I just get to be happy for him that he's doing the stuff he wants to do, with the people he wants to do it with, because he's my friend. My heart is safe.
At our last therapy session, Rider had been telling the therapist how great it was that the two chicks he's been sleeping with (Annie and the other one) are friends and were hanging out together with him at karaoke, and I'd waited till he'd finished and then said that even hearing about that gives me a bit of heart-racing anxiety and fills me with dread.
We made it through the rest of that session, which I was kind of surprised about, because I'd more or less decided at the previous session that it was over. I'd kind of gone into that session intending to voice that there, but something had stopped me and I hadn't been able to bring myself to say it out loud. Maybe I'd just complete this one last homework assignment.
But on the way home, Rider had started talking about the karaoke again, and I told him that the poly things still made me feel crazy-anxious, and he said, flatly, "Well then you're married to the wrong man." And the words just kind of hung there in the air, and I knew that he was right. When we got home, I asked him if we were going to spend any more money or any more of that lady's time, or if we should just call it, and he said, "No, I think we're done."
And so we were.
It's sad when your best intentions don't work out, you know? I went into the whole thing with such excitement and hope. I was living in a new city, making new friends, had this new relationship with Rider, and was trying out a new relationship shape. I was utterly certain that Rider and poly were answers to my problems, which I had identified as "picking bad partners who aren't nice to me" and "always struggling with monogamy a few years into a relationship."
So I picked super-sweet Rider, and I picked a relationship where monogamy wasn't a thing I'd have to contend with.
But I think, with hindsight, that "picking bad partners who aren't nice to me" and "always struggling with monogamy a few years into a relationship" actually have had more to do with each other than 2014 me realized. Hindsight says, "Well, duh! Why would you want to stay committed to someone who isn't nice to you? Of course you struggled and wanted out."
Monogamy wasn't the problem. The problem was that I was picking people who weren't right for me, and so I couldn't stay interested in them after the NRE wore off. Poly didn't solve that problem. Nothing will solve that problem other than having a better idea of what I want, having good boundaries, and overcoming the cowardice that used to allow me to stay in bad relationships until some new, shiny motivating lilypad to leap to appeared in my line of sight.
I actually—gasp!—really like monogamy, as it turns out. Which brings me to the second part of the story.
About a week before Rider and I broke up, Dustin and I broke up too. Dustin had been perfect and amazing for about a month, and then one day, he lost his shit again. I told him that he had a decision to make: either he gets his shit under control (by whatever means necessary) and has a future with me, or he doesn't and we'll just be friends.
I told him that if he picks option A, I'll give him one more opportunity to moderate or quit on his own, and if he fucks up again, his picking option A is also consenting to my involving his family and possibly professionals. He asked for time to think about it, and I said sure, let's break up for now, and you let me know when you've decided.
For a little while, I was totally single. I used that time to hash out my finances and devise my draconian budget; to spend time with friends; and to do plant things. I still hung out with Rider as friends, but I was no-contact with Dustin. And I missed him.
Eventually, he called me, and we got together and talked. He said that what he realized during our time apart was that, more than anything, he just wanted me in his life. He was picking option A, with all that entails. He wanted to take it day by day and see how it goes. So we got back together. And, coming from a place of no partners, I agreed to monogamy with him. It felt right.
We've also agreed to take it super slow from here. No racing toward big future plans, etc. When he found out that Rider and I had broken up in the interim, he tried to offer for me to come live with him for free, and (despite my focus on my budget) I told him that I really need to live in a non-partner situation (either alone or with roommates) for at least six months, maybe a year.
I need some time to get my head on straight without my living situation being tied up in my relationship outcomes. I have one last (solo) therapy session scheduled with the therapist that Rider and I had been seeing. After that, I'm going to go through my insurance to find a therapist that I can see on an ongoing basis while still not breaking my budget. The current lady is great, but we picked her because she's poly-experienced, and she doesn't take insurance. Since my situation is no longer poly, I can now go with the standard model.
Dustin knows that I am willing to be supportive of him while he makes any changes that he might need to make, but I am unwilling to do it alone. If he fucks up, I'm enlisting his family members to share the burden. I'm also going to be putting my own mental health first, through self-care, therapy, and a separate living space. He's stated that what he wants is to do what it takes to be with me, and now he has to walk the talk. I am keeping strong boundaries and coming to this whole thing from a position of power; we broke up once, and we can do it again if need be. I'd rather be alone than in the kind of bad company he provides when he's far gone.
But so far, so good. I've really been liking the whole monogamy thing. Even though I still have a complicated living situation and spend time shuttling between two apartments, things feel so much simpler. Gone is the guilt about not wanting to be sexual with Rider. Gone is the worry that I, via poly, am the source of Dustin's misery. Gone is the agonizing about my schedule and who to prioritize. Gone is the feeling of competition with Rider's other partners.
Without two relationships taking up space in my head, I have more room to focus on other stuff that matters to me: planning and learning and doing things that I want to do. I'm spending less money now that I don't feel like I have to have date nights with two people. I feel so fucking good and secure about not having metamours and knowing that the person I'm with truly wants to be with only me, to the point where even when he was being encouraged to find other partners, he didn't want them.
My schedule has gotten so much more flexible. I feel more relaxed and freer about interacting with Rider now that we're re-building a friendship based mostly around music, shared history, and loving our pets. I saw my calendar reminder pop up to get my 3-month STI testing, and I got to giggle to myself and ignore it because I'm now in a closed sexual system.
Dustin seems relaxed and happy. I'd been a little worried that he'd not trust me since I'm still living with Rider and he's pretty much just got to take my word for the fact that nothing is still going on, but he seems to trust me on it completely. He seems happy and proud to introduce me to friends I haven't met yet, instead of vaguely uncomfortable and a little ashamed. His sporadic dark moods have vanished, replaced by smiles and grandiose declarations of love.
We've been pretty damned domestic, even living apart, but the magic has stayed magic. He's started to do the laundry I leave at his house, instead of my packing it home and doing it. He's fully on board with my crazy budget restrictions, and we've been challenging ourselves on how little we can spend. I cook dinner in, and he does the dishes, and we hike or read or watch Netflix or do yoga. Sometimes we hang with Percy or with Derek and Eve. But we continue to be uncannily on the same wavelength, and he hasn't dropped the extreme romance now that he doesn't have "competition," which is something Oona predicted would happen. I'm happy she was wrong.
The sex keeps getting better. And the love . . . you know, I was wrong about something too.
When Dustin used to suggest that our love would be better if I wasn't dividing my attention between two relationships, I used to say no way—that's not how that works. My love for him was so big that I couldn't imagine it being bigger.
But there is something about being in his arms and looking into his eyes and feeling the "us"—feeling it like a closed energetic loop that doesn't have any diverting streams—that really is bigger than before. There is something warm and safe and just right-feeling about accepting that sense of mutual ownership that I tried for so long to deny and avoid in relationships because of poly ideals. Because no one can possess someone else. Because no one should want to. But there is something so intoxicating and magical about being with someone and feeling a submission to them—I am yours, you are mine, and this, we can depend upon.
And maybe it won't last forever. Maybe this relationship will go down in a ball of fiery flames because his demons prove too much to overcome.
But if that happens, I'll be OK. I'll spend some time alone because I won't be in a hurry to find the next thing, but I'll have a better idea of what I'm looking for when I'm ready. And I think that part of that is definitely someone I can share that feeling with again: I am yours, and you are mine, and here, with this focused love, we can make magic.
I've realized that even though it fits the standard narrative, even though it's culturally approved and mainstream, and even though I really wanted so badly for it to be otherwise, monogamy actually kinda hits my sweet spot. Even if it is a little fairy-tale dreamy. Even if it took a long time of trial and error and experimentation to figure it out. Even if poly works great for a lot of super amazing people. For me, with my particular set of issues and preferences, with my introversion and pickiness, with my hopeless romanticism and hyperfocus, an eyes-open, knowing-it's-a-choice, polysaturated-at-one kind of monogamy seems to work for me. It feels like heaven and relief.
And, with that, I can definitively close this chapter. I wish the best for all of you. If we're friends on Facebook, if I ever reactivate that account, maybe you'll see me again.
Reverie, you've been a tremendous asset to this community. Your description of monogamy is beautiful and has a place here, so if you do return you will be most welcome. I have always enjoyed reading your posts, no matter the subject.
I agree with FallenAngelina here, because I went mono with my Zen and nobody took away my polyblog membership card! I still tell my stories here. I don't have a better place to do so, and I like to talk, though.
You're cared about, and no one will take it amiss if you drop by now and again. But if you no longer wish to...well, farewell and warmest wishes! You're a bright soul, Reverie. You'll be missed.
And ya know, I think that these stories are in fact the stories of how we do relationships, and I think it is very worthwhile to have it out there, that sometimes poly is a thing you do for life, it's your very identity...and sometimes it is right for a season, and that season passes...and sometimes it isn't your right choice at all, but you learned that. You did the work. And that's completely ok (of course it is!) that poly isn't where your heart is happiest and healthiest. How many new posters come here just trying to answer that very question? It sure won't be the right thing for them all.
All the love, Reverie.
Oh, and if you and Dustin make babies, you better re-up your FB 'cause I wanna see pictures for serious tho.
I'm with everyone who says that you shouldn't feel like you need to stop blogging because you've discovered that monogamy is what works best for you. A lot of polyamory things are actually just relationship things, after all. But I totally understand how you might no longer need a polyamory processing blog if you're no longer polyamorous In any which case, I'm glad that you're moving in a healthier direction. Wishing you the best!
I will miss your updates as you've given me a lot of food for thought over the years and I've enjoyed cheering with you in your happy moments and agnosing with you in the sad and stressful moments. You are very bright soul, and will be missed. But i'm also supportive of whatever decision is best for you. Just dropping my two cents and hoping on a happy peaceful journey for your future into monogamy.
It's been a year since my last post. I had marked it on my calendar to see if I felt like doing an update post a year on, and when I saw it today, I thought "why not?!" I do occasionally miss you guys—after all, you were my REAL internet friends—and sometimes I still lurk, even.
Many things have changed for me in the past year.
Rider didn't really want to be friends with me after we moved into separate places. He also kicked me out of the band. I've become pretty estranged from my former bandmates as well, even with the longstanding friendships involved. That all still stings even with nearly a year of patina on it, but I keep busy enough that I don't dwell on it.
Oona (who remains friends with him) told me at some point that he feels like I deceived him, like I pretended things were true that were not true in order to get particular reactions from him. I mostly feel a sense of dissatisfied resignation about that. The love I felt for him was real and intense—I never faked a thing—and that it turned out not to be right for me was not for lack of trying on my part. I chronicled here in excruciating detail every painstaking bit of care I put into trying to make that thing fly, and if he wants (or needs) to believe it was all a ruse, then I have no business trying to change his mind.
On a happier note, Dustin and I are still together. I've quit drinking completely, and he's working with a professional on a moderation program that is a really good fit for him. So far, it is going well. He seems enthusiastic about it and has learned a lot. We had a pretty typical-for-this-journal year of super-high highs and a couple of very spaced out breakup-level lows while we figured this all out. I took the steps I outlined here, of first involving his family and then helping him find a professional. I also attended some Al-Anon meetings, but they ultimately didn't feel like home to me.
I would say that he and I are probably on a solid path to where having offspring will make sense in the next year or two, which is a good thing because I'm staring down 38 later this year. We both still really want that, even as we realize that it will likely mean leaving the city eventually. I would describe our current and usual relationship status as disgustingly, blissfully happy with each other. He's still my "everything," and the feeling I get when I'm with him is like nothing else makes as much sense in the world. We just fit, and in the absence of the booze, everything between us is effortless.
I sometimes think back to that moment in fall of 2017 when I felt so troubled by my entire predicament that I was bordering on suicidal, and he and I took mushrooms and climbed that big, rocky hill in the desert. We watched the full moon rise while a raucous wedding happened down below, and there was just this feeling that on some level, in some dimension, we are soul-married, no matter what, no paperwork required. Even though I was actually married to someone else. Even though we had problems. Something in me just screamed "always" and "for better or worse"—and it kept doing that even when it actually was worse. Even when I saw him blind drunk, ranting and tottering, even as furious and scared as that made me. There was just an overwhelming sense of "this person is mine, and I will not abandon him when he needs me the most." Even during the times we broke up, I couldn't shake that feeling of being "his" and he "mine."
And so it remains.
He's evolving. Sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly. A lot of the things about him that used to give me pause—the somewhat ideological backwardness, the lingering rockstar cavalier attitude about women—have evaporated over time. It's like his heart has become more open and less bitter, and with it he walks more in the light.
And speaking of evolution, boy howdy, let me tell you about me!
I've decided on a career change, hell-bent on one of the helping professions. I still work full time, but I now have a semester and a half of undergrad-level classes under my belt, a new grad school picked out, and several different volunteer gigs I've been juggling. When the booze-vapors cleared out of my life, I suddenly awakened to how fulfilling a life of service is. And so now that's pretty much all I do. Nearly every moment that I'm not at work, I'm either helping others or learning how to do it better.
I've been networking, making excellent grades, and making people's lives better. And life has been rewarding me with one cool opportunity and coincidence lining up after another. Since I found my path, I am like an arrow loosed from a bow: moving a million miles an hour directly at my target, and everything seems to step out of my way on its own.
Even oft-critical Oona, who was skeptical a year ago when I said I was the best me I've ever been up to that point, now says that she's seen me grow more over the past year than during any stretch of our 20-year friendship.
I no longer feel like a robot or an alien. I've discovered what it's like to sense and understand my own feelings before they rise up out of nowhere and hit me like a freight train. I've learned how to listen to my little inner voice and let it be the main thing that guides me and the only final decision maker. I now TRUST MYSELF. Which, I don't know if it came through in this blog before, but I never really did before.
I was always doing trial and error instead of being guided by an inner light. And I was always second guessing every decision or feeling or step that I took. I don't do that much anymore. Of course, I still make mistakes, but now they are mostly small oversights that I can take as learning experiences.
I've also had some pretty intense...I guess you could call them "spiritual" experiences (though definitely still not religious). Healing super old trauma that I didn't realize was in there. Moving through stuck grief that I did know was in there but couldn't access. I think that is what actually shook my emotions loose—that and not drinking. It seems to have improved my relationships with family too. Also, though I wouldn't have thought it possible, this healing even made my sex life better!
I cannot overstate the awesomeness of this—I'd always thought I was doomed to be slightly sexually defective: struggling with staying present vs. needing fantasy; libido starting to fall off as NRE waned; not being able to get off except in a particular position. Let's just say that none of that is a problem anymore.
I guess I really cleared out the old closets and made space to let some light in.
I'm also over $10k less in debt than I was this time last year! And that is even after moving three times in the space of a year (ugh), getting divorced, paying for classes, and plunking down for an international trip I'm taking next week. So my new money skillz are paying off too. I live in an apartment with two girl roommates, so that helps with the money too.
So that's where I'm at: great relationship, making new friends, kicking ass in school, rocketing down a new career path (while still paying the bills with the old job), and healthier relationships with family and remaining friends.
My life is overall pretty sweet, and I have an inner peace, fulfillment, and contentment that gets me through my super-busy days. I think I've finally struck the balance between being motivated by the amazing future I'm aiming for, but not being stressed out that I haven't met my goals yet. It's a process! It's a journey! I am where I am...and where I am is pretty good.
Wow! Excellent to hear! I was worried for you when you last posted and have wondered over the months if you were OK. Congratulations on keeping off the booze to both of you! I know that requires making the choice over and over but you have shown you have perseverence. I hope you come back and update us again.