Regarding her, I don’t feel comfortable engaging in that shared community at all. Especially when it comes to the more wild events. I think the only way that I’ll be able to feel more ok (it’ll never be 100%) would be through getting closure on what happened, and a plan for how to move forward. Currently, I don’t feel comfortable enough with her to get into that discussion. I don’t see her having the patience and empathy for that kind of discussion now, or maybe ever. Which means I’m either going to have to continue to endure being uncomfortable in that group (while it is all online) or finally just completely remove myself from it and all the contacts I’ve made since. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve removed myself from a community. When I think about it, that was the result of how things went down with another person long ago. There was never an exit plan.
I’ve been listening to the audio book “Unfuck Your Boundaries” several times. It is relatively short but there is a lot of deep stuff in there. I just had some serious insights become unlocked for me this morning. I had already recently come to understand that I have issues with my internal boundaries which make me particularly sensitive to criticism that attacks my character, and issues with indirect manipulations on myself (people trying to get me to change my behavior/emotional responses without directly asking me to do so). In the book, the author describes the physical responses we have when those boundaries are crossed, and went in to basically explain our brains are hard-wired to avoid pain, and so even when we don’t logically understand the trigger, we respond. The little man in the stomach idea.
I think I understand why I have so much trouble with criticism that gets interpreted as character attacks or, and this is perhaps the bigger trigger, is based on false assumptions about my intentions. My brain is literally trying to avoid pain. Both physical and social. And I know social pain activates the same as physical pain (I need to find articles supporting this). I remember getting physically hit by my sister, and come to think of it, one of my brothers as well directly because my words or actions were being interpreted maliciously. I have a particularly vivid memory, though I can’t recall the words too well. I remember the summer I had spent with my cousins in SC, along with my sister. She started getting angry about something (and now we understand she has severe anxiety issues as well, so I don’t blame her for her behavior, but I do understand how it effected me growing up), and I called her out on it. I think I might have said something along the lines of “stop being a bitch”, but then I might have used a different word as well. Regardless, it resulted in my getting punched in the mouth (and I had braces on at the time). I think I understand more now why my father was so strongly against any violence now. Anyhow, there were quite a few instances like that with my sister that involved me getting physically attacked. It was basically always because something I said/did was misconstrued as something else.
Things like this happened with my mother as well, although it was less likely to result in physical punishment. It did lead to literal abandonment. I remember there was this one time she got real angry at my sister and I at church one day. I never understood why. But she literally left us there and we had to walk home. We were maybe 12 or 13 at the time? Now that I think on it, I see exactly where I got my silent storm issue too. She brooded often.
And then there was school, particularly elementary. I was a pariah there. I was fat and I had a nose picking habit. This led to me being singled out and just reviled by nearly everyone. It literally led to me being physically attacked and socially isolated. As a child, that is major fucking pain. It is no wonder I can get such intense social anxiety around groups of people. The only time it isn’t there I realize, is when I’m running something. I think that script got flipped when I started guild leadership back as a teenager. It was the only time I wasn’t afraid.
So yes, all of this for me to realize the fear I experience in trying to fit in (unsuccessfully) in social groups, and how I handle nonconstructive criticism from loved ones is literally born out of those experiences I had growing up. When someone appears angry at me, especially for reasons I either don’t understand or that aren’t true, my brain flips into survival mode. It learned there was pain incoming and that is why I would feel so bad afterwards. I need to explore more on how I can get help to calm that trigger.
Update, talked with my wife a bit more about this understanding. A couple of things I need to do going forward.
1. In newer relationships that actually seem to be going somewhere, I need to bring up this boundary up as soon as possible. I need to explain I have a trigger around nonconstrucive criticism, and if it gets triggered I need space. This is *especially* important in the age of social media where we’re always available because of all the instant messengers. It is vital to have that space and not allow anyone to simply blow up on me without permission. I can dig into the source of that trigger if they want, but the important part is establishing that boundary early. It also makes it easier to run the “no” test early on. It is a form of PTSD, in the sense that I get the same emotional response as I did back as a child. I have to be able to tell someone that triggers this that I am feeling hurt and that I need to back away from this conversation, now. We can schedule out a time to come back to it later. If they continue to lay into me, then they are crossing my boundary. I need this boundary to function. It becomes more important the closer I get to someone as that is where the pain lies.
2. I also need to explain the intense social anxiety I can get in group situations. I mean heart pounding I’m about to get attacked by a bear type anxiety. Again, I could dig into my childhood and how I was a social pariah and how social exile is literally interpreted as physical pain, but that isn’t as important. The point is I’m going to likely feel that at some point, and I *need* to be able to get away periodically into more quiet spaces to overcome it. This is a need for me. Non-negotiable.
I’ve been having a harder time lately believing anyone really wants to be around me. I don’t have a lot of strong evidence for it…but there are the little things that I think are needling their way into my psyche. These aren’t direct quotes but they do represent the thoughts I’m battling..
“I am not extraverted enough”. “I don’t always know the right thing to say”. “She’s not really into me”. “She’ll lose interest and move on to someone that has the social grace I lack”.”I’m too much of a nerd”.”My intensity when physically intimate is too much”.”I need too much reassurance lately”.”I don’t give enough reassurance”.”Who I am isn’t good enough”.
I’m not sure how to get through these thoughts right now. Time? Will things get better? I don’t feel safe asking for help. I don’t feel like showing that vulnerability will help.
Often times when I post here it is to unload on negative complicated emotions. This isn’t one of those times. I think I’m overloaded on happy. I shouldn’t be effected by words of affirmation like this but somehow her’s have an outsized effect. It’s kind of scary to let anyone effect me in this way.
There are so many qualities about her that I appreciate. Her sense of humor was the first thing that got to me. It was like a warm dancing flame in the middle of a cold wasteland. Quite unexpected in my life yet there she was. She brings joy.
I had always found her beautiful. There is a light in her eyes that fills me with wonder and yet can also set me at ease. It’s a fascinating mix. I normally have to make a conscious effort to maintain eye contact with most people…not with her. I feel a shiver up my spine just thinking about it. Her beauty can’t be defined by man-made measurements. It is an ethereal experience. Something that touches me in a dimension I’m not capable of understanding. It is profound sensation comparable to experiencing one of the wonders of the world for the first time…only it happens every time.
As incredible as all of her other qualities are, it is her kindness that strikes me the most. It is something I can only hope to better emulate some day. This is what makes her stand out most to me. It is this undercurrent that flows around our many interactions. If her kindness is like flowing water, then it is no wonder my walls stood no chance. After all, the simplest streams can erode the mightiest mountains and her kindness can feel like a roaring rapid at times. Who am I to think I could ever hold against that?
This is a thought chain I just had given not just the past couple of days, but really the past month and beyond. I’m starting to accept my words have an effect on people. Particularly the ones closest to me, but also the ones that don’t appear as close. I think it just occurred to me that a lot of what it has come down to is others’ seeking my validation…which is a bit mind blowing for me right now. There was a time I desperately wanted validation from others.
At some point in my life, I stopped seeking it. I couldn’t depend on people to help with it, so instead I focused on the things I could control to find my own internal validation. Video games were an easy path. When my health (mental and physical) became problematic, I turned to the gym and used the weight scale as a form of validation. When that resource ran dry, I turned to dance. Then I found myself seeking validation from a woman. That went badly. It hurt for a while. But it did lead to one of the most profound friendships I ever had. I miss her still.
Then I turned to MMA. I wanted to use gaining mastery of my body and how I moved as my next barometer. And while I made progress there, the validation I received from my instructors and other students took me a back. I was fully anticipating to always be considered less. That didn’t happen. I think this is part of why I had enjoyed that life so much. Not to fight, not to win. But to be around people that also wanted to see me excel, and I would do the same for them.
Then life changed and I moved out here. I did get into TMA but it was a small place. I was never able to earn validation there I suppose. I mean from one instructor yes, but the others never really set goals. Or listened. It was about doing things their way instead of helping me find a path that worked for me. FFA worked because when I sparred with a variety of students, I could quickly find my technique. I could prove it worked. I’m never going to learn things the way everyone else does. My brain just does not work that way.
Throughout all that, I could see now the issue. I did not really want their validation. Validation from other people tends to be…unreliable at best. It was always better to find it within myself and through my actions.
And so now I find myself in this place where I’m starting to realize now why I’ve given the impression to so many people that I’m disinterested. Because I don’t seek validation from other people. I don’t go to strangers or new acquaintances and go “you’re so awesome!”. I don’t trust it when given to me, why should anyone I don’t know trust it as genuine coming from me if they don’t know me?
I got interrupted there. Anyway. I also don’t ask for that validation either. I don’t text after dates and say things like “I hope you had a good time” or hope to see you again, etc. I just say something to the effect of thank you for a lovely evening. It is scary to do that sort of thing, the reaching out and offering of my interest. Vulnerable even. So if I’m to change that behavior, the only way I could do it and still feel authentic is by being specific whenever I do give out validation. That takes time and focus. I’m not sure how much of those resources I have to give.
Those resources are being prioritized for the ones I care for. That is where I need to put in more of that energy. Because for whatever reason, people need more of that from me. Which is still mind blowing as I’ve never thought anyone would really care what I think about them. Or need that. Or maybe not even from me. Just to have someone break the lie that is depression and focus like a laser about the parts of them that matter.
Try to bring a little more joy to this world…one kind word at a time.
I started this before the rough patch yesterday. Things are better now. I still think this was a good reminder of why I got into this phase of my life. It is hard for me to put myself out there, even when people say it is welcome. But I know the cost of not giving that part of myself can be too great sometimes. So in spite of my fears and doubts, I need to give out my heart. This has a ripple effect I’m sure. And it may be the only way life can get better as a whole.
Things for me have been personally good yet also a lot to emotionally take in. It is hard to believe it has just been about a month since things escalated beyond anything I could expect. If this is NRE then holy shit. I mean I experienced versions of NRE in my previous poly relationships, but nothing quite like this that I can recall. With Mel it was a lot of uncertainty before the day we actually became physical. Even then, it felt primarily sexual with a sort of light friendship on top. I never felt cared about. With Amber, again it was primarily sexual. She cared a bit more, but only so long as I fit into a specific behavioral box. I also felt unsafe around her with the choices she would make in regards to social and emotional health. I did not feel valued beyond sex and the social connections (D&D) that I had. Who I was and who I had been were irrelevant. In a way she could emotionally challenge me, but it was done from the perspective of needing to be right instead of from a place of caring and empathy.
With my current partner, we had years of friendship to build upon. Granted for a large chunk of that we did not regularly keep in contact, but still it caused a base familiarity that made our re-connection easier. We also both had our own journeys to go through. She knows how to make me feel valued. She cuts through that negative filter of mine like butter. Every time I have a conversation with her I enjoy it and it feels effortless. When she challenges me, she does it from a place of caring and intellect and it helps lead me to a place of personal and emotional growth. I can’t help but respect it. And only now when we’re just starting to enter that physical space can I remark on the intense chemistry that layers on top of everything else. My mind is blown.
I’m writing down a rough time line of how things have progressed since the 21st of Dec (and however much I remember).
Dec 21st, first kiss. Her giggles were unexpected but also adorable. This was not intended to be a date.
A day or 2 later, she “has no chill” and grills me on what it meant. We talk about it and the interest, and she emphasizes her reluctance to date.
Sometime after that we start making plans to run a local poly bar crawl.
The week of the crawl, we get together for the purposes of recon and talking with manages of the planned bars. We spent the vast majority of time at the first bar talking about relationships and what they mean to us. I asked her just a couple of questions from my long list of questions in regards to exploring poly relationships. We left pretty late. In the empty garage before we said our goodbyes, we fell into another kiss, and this one felt a lot more natural to start. I felt as if a mind fog has descended upon me. I couldn’t think clearly after that. I texted her after I got home to say it was good to see her again and that I was looking forward to the event. She responded back with saying that was one of the best dates she had been on in a very long time and that I was a really special person. I was completely surprised by that. I didn’t go out to do that recon with that in mind.
The actual event happened. My wife got to meet her. They didn’t get to talk a whole lot since we were mainly in host mode. I found out afterwards at the end that my wife had been very supportive of my partner at the end and it made her feel good. My friends were also bewildered to see me appearing to talk to everyone. Being in host mode definitely changed my approach. When I think on it now, anytime I’ve been in “charge” of an event, be it D&D, gaming, or other events like that one…it becomes a core project in which I’ll step outside of my usual introversion in pursuit of a higher goal. It does drain me though. I had also met her ex partner, and he had no idea I was starting to date her at the time. So he was there the entire time. I didn’t mind really, though he felt bad once he understood what was going on at the end. He and I have yet to talk directly about it so everything I know about it is via my partner. I hadn’t shown much in the way of PDA in the entire event as I wasn’t sure how she felt about that at the time. There was one moment where she had gotten my attention, and jokingly (sort of) fished for compliments from me (possibly in relation to a FB thread where people were playing a game in which they complimented people in the group at random). I started to get into it but due to all the people I quickly got cut off.
Somehow that moment got brought up later on as our online conversations increased in frequency and intensity. I took it as a bit of a silly challenge, and so I took some time on my ride home to really dig deep into that moment in the garage earlier in the week. I have the passage hidden away in an admin section on this blog, but basically I commented on her eyes, her smile, and the way she made me feel when we kissed. She was overwhelmed once I sent it to her…and that response made me happy.
Later on we talked about shows that she was into. We also talked about my D&D game that she was going to play with us, and I worked on her class and background details. She really got into it. We also talked how I should treat PDA when we were in public settings together. In general she was for it, except when she was in her local area with lots of “muggles” or other people she knew. And there was a bit of a concern at some poly events where she knew people and/or had ex’s (or “POI”s) around. She did express interest on an actual follow up date in Frederick. Our talks started to become more rife with words of affirmation, and I found myself falling into it. She did show concerns about making sure we stayed close friends no matter what happens to our romantic relationship. I did my best to reassure her that even if I were to be hurt, our friendship would survive, at least going by my experience with the vast majority of my previous relationships.
We started talking about going out saturday, but the weather made it iffy. We also made plans to go a poly/kink event in DC monday night, and a mutual friend of ours would be car pooling with us as well. I had no real plan on what to do saturday night, but I did find a possible masquerade event go to. I suggested it, and while she thought it was cool, she felt completely unprepared. That later sparked a conversation that became a bit tense in regards to how money is spent on dates. I had not been aware that I had caused her concerns with how I seemed to avoid paying for others. It wasn’t intentional on my end and more often than not I found myself in socially awkward situations. Her concern wasn’t so much about me paying more, but more a focus on the act of giving culture that she is accustomed to. I was ok with putting more effort on this, and did so when we had a follow up date later that weekend.
Due to the weather, the date got pushed back to Sunday. A scheduling conflict also arose as I hadn’t clearly communicated that our game was originally intended to run from 1-7pm. She explained she could only do 3 hours because she needed time with her children. I was able to get the game time cut off so that we could go out, and she came in a few hours late into the game. By chance a couple players dropped out just before, so I had to push back the start time anyway, so the game I run ended up being around 3 hours anyway. She was a natural at the game, especially since I had focused it on the social/roleplay aspect as mechnically the player class make up was very squishy and unbalanced. She later remarked feeling very welcome into my home and by my friends and appreciated being able to connect to my world.
Afterwards we drove up to Frederick to go see a comedy show. I made the effort to offer to cover things whenever possible. The show itself was very funny, more so because we got called out at one point. A person who had helped us find seating (after we initially had to use a side bench because the place was full) and had even got us another chair since we only had one…my partner had tried to ask for one from another table that wasn’t using it and got a rude response from an older lady that was using it for her purse…Anyway, that same person turned out to be one of the standup comedians. At some point my partner is chatting to me about something, and that caused the comedian that helped us earlier to turn on us and start messing with us in a joking way. It was a little while after that in which we started getting spontaneously more physical with each other. After the show my partner made more friends and ended up getting us invited to the bar across the street where the other comedians and bar staff frequented. We went there and hanged out and I gained some interesting insights into the life of amateur comedians. My partner and I ended up becoming even more physical. One of her concerns was that she was unsure I was physically attracted to her, as up to that point I had rarely shown any real “thirst” as many typically do with her. I let her know I would have to be broken to not find her attractive, which she found amusing and flattering. Things quickly got more intense after that. It was a little weird for me to let myself get that way in a public setting and I stopped just short of being indecent. The end result was I left her sexually frustrated in a way she just does not typically deal with. We finally left the bar, made out so more, then went to my car with the intention of calling it a night. We talked a lot more there, and she talked in length about her fears about getting into any relationships, and how burnt she had felt from her previous relationships. I admired her for opening up in that way. Things got more heated afterwards, but no actual sex. It was a well lit garage and we had never had the discussion about sex so I did not feel it appropriate to cross that boundary yet. Still, it was a close thing. This ended up just being a taste of our desires for each other. We eventually came back to our senses…sort of, and made to leave. We stopped on the main street so she could use the restroom once more at the bar. When she came back, we made out hard once more. Then finally left. For the whole ride home, we held hands. She got quiet a few times and just seemed to focus on my hand, which was a bit uncharacteristic of her.
When we separated ways, her phone was accidentally left in my car. I wasn’t aware of this until I had just made it to bed. So we didn’t really get a chance for a post processing of the evening. Since the next day we had planned to all go to that poly/kink bar gathering, I returned her phone then.
A mutual friend of ours, Jen, was also going with us. Jen and I had dated a few times in the past but never entered a romantic relationship. For me the interest completely died off after she started a relationship with another guy months ago (who eventually caused other problems, but that part is not important right now). The romantic interest was never that strong to begin with, in large part because I did not feel a strong mental connection. I consider her a platonic friend at most. So the 4 of us car pooled to the bar in DC (including my partner’s husband). Not being in a host mode and in a very busy bar, I had a harder time in this setting. Also my partner’s ex was there again, which wasn’t a problem for me but my partner worries that it is. She has noted jealousy issues with her previous partners (not this particular ex as far as I know) and her flirtatious nature and other partners when she is juggling them. I honestly like this current ex and find him very funny. I also respect that he seems to care how I feel and always seems to try to talk positively about me. He’s a big jokester but it does seem to be a bit of a front for how he feels. Not too different than my partner when I think on it. If the two of them were to get together again I would think that I should be ok, as long as it doesn’t become messy and cause some negative emotional bleed over. I’ve been in the toxic meta situation before and do not want to be in that space again.
That said, there were a couple uncomfortable situations I found myself in that night that put me in a state of unease. The first was dealing with this Mike character, who ran a periodic swing event. My partner had been at the last one and had played, which in itself was not an issue. What did get me uneasy was when my partner tried to get myself and her other ex invited to the next event. I noticed how Mike’s posture completely changed and he started drilling into calculated feeling questions. I felt uneasy about being so quickly judged based on a few words and who I knew. In addition, I knew he had a physical interest in my partner, and so I felt this was entering a potentially dangerous manipulative situation. I did not like being around this sort of person. Later on that night I somehow ended up in conversation with one of his lady friends (maybe a partner, that is not clear). That conversation started with her BJ skills and body count, then went into grilling on “[my] situation”, which I took to mean my relationship status. I explained, and she followed up with asking if I was poly saturated. I affirmed that I was, but was still very weirded out by the implication of her interest. Especially with that intro and with the Mike association. I also had to deal with another character that made my partner feel uncomfortable, so I found myself on guard for that. Further, there was a moment where my partner seemed kind of pissed off at her ex (possibly out of concern for me), and that resulted in a lot of water spillage. That situation was tense for me as well. All of that social energy plus being tired left me feeling in a anxious state. My partner could feel me closing off on the ride home. She ended up reaching for my hand, after checking that it was ok, and cuddled against my lap (which now we’re wondering if that is a thing that was bothering Jen, but that is a different issue).
That night led to another involved discussion in which my partner let me know she was concerned about how I felt and how I processed my emotions when in those settings. She was very worried about doing things that would upset me and not having a way to know. I explained to her how I usually process feeling uncomfortable by removing myself from a situation to disconnect and try to calm down. Being in social situations like that where I have limited control and escape options makes that tactic difficult. Plus it caused her to worry a lot about her actions, especially when drunk. So we came to the compromise that if I ever started to feel uncomfortable with those settings or her actions, that I should let her know as soon as possible, even if I’m not able to figure out exactly what was bothering me at the time. She would rather modify her behavior (which still leaves me a bit uncomfortable as I do not to limit her in any way) than risk letting things build up to a boiling point. I let her know I would try my best to do this. This is a thing I feel that I should work on more. While I’d rather avoid being in those types of situations normally, I understand sometimes it is necessary. At least she’s willing to help me work through those. I appreciated that, even if the initial talk was a bit tense.
Since then we keep coming back to the events of Sunday night, and how that has super charged the physical tension between us. She is out for the next week on a family road trip. We have made plans to get back together the following weekend to get some serious alone time.
We have been spending more and more time talking to each other in the mean time. It has been hard to focus on anything else. Being able to focus again on things like work has become one of my bigger challenges.
I was in a poly discussion the other week. The topic was about tact. At some point during the discussion, the idea that “Trust is the Foundation of Communication” was repeated a few times.
This idea is ringing now in regards to my wife. If she is constantly saying what she is going to do but never follows through, how do I trust her? If I can’t trust her word when it comes to actions, why should I trust her word at all?
Talked with her about it. We’ve made some progress on finding a better path.
Life got busy and I found myself lacking the time to even just complete a text dump here. I’m not sure where to start.
Poly stuff has put me in a strange place recently. I met someone 3 weeks ago who was surprisingly forward for what I’m used to dealing with. And now it has hit this strange super casual thing which I’m not comfortable with. It is difficult for me to feel for anyone over the ocassional short text every few days. Even if they’re “sweet” texts, I don’t feel right trying to reply in the same way. It isn’t authentic. I guess it would be difficult to work anyway as she has a much different life style than I do, so our interests and passions don’t align. It is mostly a chemistry thing. I’m aware most guys would love that sort of setup, but not me. I need to feel that mental connection. Whatever other relationship I get into has to bring the best out of me in someway. Or at least something positive. With Amber it at least encouraged my art exploration.
And then we pan over to this new person. We’ll use page as a name. We haven’t met in person yet she puts forwardness on a whole new level. She has some kinks that honestly could get me in trouble if things go wrong. She’s also been very frequent and intense in her communications and seems to expect the same from me. In addition, going back to my earlier thought, I’m not sure interactions with her will bring out the good parts of me. I’m worried it’ll bring out something really bad instead. And not the “hot” kind of bad. I do have a meet up planned this Saturday. My instinct is telling me to be careful. I should heed that.
Financial stuff has been challenging, but I think there is a good plan going. I ended up taking out a consolidation loan. I had decided against it earlier, but after getting fucked by the IRS and state tax, I’m down 9k and all due in a short time. So with this, I can hold them off and get my cc debts down so I stop bleeding out in interest. At the rate things were going, it would be years of making little headway. After a year of this loan (of 3) I should already be cutting ahead in terms of interest saved.
This leads into budget management. I think I already wrote on this earlier. I configured custom budgets in mint for play money for the wife, myself, and a couple fund. This was a fresh month. Wife is already capped on her budget. So this is where the real test begins. Will she stay disciplined or do I have to take cards away?
I’m still worried about her health too. I get work and school have robbed her of all time. The school is meant to be the ticket out of her job and ultimately debt situation. But she is still paying the health price now, and I am not sure if that damage can be recovered from when time opens up.
This is the thing I am feeling this morning. I suppose I am feeling some anxiety over work too with the load being as intense as it is.
Marital life has been bumpy lately…if that phrase even makes sense. She is dealing with depression. Possibly because of the anxiety medication she is on. The discussion came up to lower the dose, or maybe even get off of it all together. I guess the question that should ultimately be asked is does she think was better off before she got onto it. I think the other thing that is bothering me is that she is expecting me to provide external validations via the “you can do it” type statements, even if it requires me suspending my realism and lying. I don’t lie well at all, nor can I take enthusiasm. Moreover, I don’t think that depending on an outside source of validation is a sustainable strategy for long term positive change.
What effect is this ultimately having on me? For the most part I feel like I have a dependent rather than a partner who contributes to a net positive future. I know… actually scratch that I’m not sure anymore if her heart is really in the right place. That was the main idea that got me through tough spots with her before and was a major factor in my deciding to marry her. But after the last year where she was aligned against me despite the serious emotional crisis I was experiencing made me realize that when push comes to shove… I was on my own.
Here is the key question I suppose. And maybe I’m mean a bit grouchy right now, but ultimately this blog is for me to explore my emotions…to put them to form and see if they truly hold…
Is her depression, impulse control issues, and unwillingness to just deal with the grind of a greater weight than her love for me? If something happens to me, is she at all capable of recovering or will she be another statistic.