Breathing Room

I’m an introvert, by which I mean I enjoy and crave time and space by myself, especially after I’ve been around other people. Aside from that, I’m also a relatively shy and quiet person, depending on the environment.

But sometimes you have to learn to be something other than your natural self, and sometimes it’s really for the best. I’m working eight to fifteen hours a day, with one day off a week (averaged over every four week block; just finished nine days in a row which was rather tiring). This doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to relax and enjoy my own headspace, let alone give both my boyfriends the attention they need (and giving them the attention they actually deserve is out of the question). And keep the apartment clean. And get my hair cut. And call my parents (it’s been two weeks… Oops).

So my natural inclination, after a long day of taking care of people in the hospital and almost never being alone, is to come home and vegetate. The problem is that vegetating in front of my computer isn’t actually very restful and fulfilling, and after several days of that, my partners and I begin to feel disconnected from each other.

I’m trying to put into practice the lessons I learned the last time my schedule was this bad. I try to be as communicative as possible about my schedule, I try to voice my alone time needs clearly (“I’m going to do my own thing for the next hour but the rest of the night we can hang out”), and I’m learning that the better quality my alone time is, the less of it I need.

I also used to try to play catch up on my days off, and honestly that just sucks. Why should my one day off be for cleaning and running errands? That’s not a day off at all! These days I try to make more of a daily effort to help out around the apartment, like emptying or loading the dishwasher on occasion. Then on my day off, I do something mildly productive (like cooking a batch of something and a tiny bit more cleaning) and spend the rest of the day doing things I enjoy, and being present with my loves.

Another thing is that I’ve been learning to recharge around Catalyst and Ember, which will be an absolutely crucial skill when/if we all live together. I’m actually quite good at doing it when I’m just around one of them, and I’m much better at relaxing around both of them now. It used to be very draining being around the two of them at the same time; I felt like I always needed to be attentive and “on.” Now I’m okay tuning out on occasion (especially when they’re geeking out over something I’m not interested in) , and I’ve learned how to be a more coherent self around them even though their energies are very different.

Medical Residency, especially intern year, can be pretty rough and time consuming. Relationships in general also take a fair bit of time and work. Add on having two relationships, one of which is an LDR, and an introverted personality, and you have what could be a recipe for disaster, but is actually working out rather well, all things considered. Catalyst and Ember would certainly like to see much more of me (and I of them), but we’re enjoying the time we have, and I feel like I’ve got enough breathing room to make it through this intact.

Perspective

This weekend was supposed to be my last hurrah before doing my final twelve weeks of internal medicine (ie, general adult medicine, which most doctors refer to simply as “medicine” except this confuses the hell out of people) and pediatrics. It’ll be a rough twelve weeks with no full weekends (we get one day off a week) and 65-80 work hrs a week. So yes, I was looking forward to arriving back in Rainy City Saturday morning, reconnecting with Catalyst, and finishing up some errands.

The weather had other plans, so I’m stuck in the big city on the east coast in an airport, and I don’t know exactly when I’ll get to go home. I’m upset, obviously, and as my place in the stand by list keeps fluctuating randomly, I’ve been angry and disappointed and sad and defeated. Catalyst and Ember have been keeping me company as best as they can from afar, but I can’t wait to be home.

As much as this sucks though, I’m not letting myself wallow in my current misfortune. I will eventually make it home, and yes I’ve lost a weekend, but I had a pretty good week at home in west africa, and the time I spent with my loves before my vacation was really good quality time. These twelve weeks will come and go, and even during them, there will still be good times. Medicine and pediatrics are very far from my calling, but though challenging (and to me not particularly interesting), it is still rewarding to take care of people that way.

And especially with my job, how can I stay in a funk over something in essence so trivial and fleeting when I’m trying to help people through depression in the context of past trauma, devastating medical diagnoses, and destructive addictions?

So yes, I’m sad that I’m still here. I’m frustrated and I’m feeling helpless and trapped and I had to wash my underwear with shampoo last night and dry it with an iron because they won’t release my checked bags to me. But I’ve got warmth and love waiting for me, and that’s the important thing.

Another New Year :)

2013 was, overall, a positive year for me. My relationships with Ember and Catalyst are both in a better place, and the relationship between the three of us, though still budding, shows lots of promise.

I think of it as us having good synergy. You can match us up in any way (Me and Ember, Me and Catalyst, Ember and Catalyst, Me and Ember and Catalyst) and end up with a connection that is generally positive, and fun, that benefits all involved. This is not to say that we are the best combination of people ever, but just that I think there is inherent good in our bonds.

I’ve been, as usual when I’m around my family, contemplating coming out again. I struggle a lot with figuring out how to defend my choice to be in this relationship configuration, but it also frustrates me that this is something I have to defend. When I think about the things that the three of us struggle with, our most difficult problems are the result of societal norms. It is not our unusual relationships, but simply the fact that they are unusual that causes us stress. When we’re just going about life in our own weird little bubble, we’re remarkably content. There’s the occasional friction that’s not much more intense than the friction in any other close relationship, and we’re becoming pretty good at talking those things out together. The problems that cause us the most distress, center around the lack of social recognition and acceptance that comes along with polyamory.

And so that’s what I remind myself, when I start to wonder if this is all doomed, and if we’re just being naive to think that this could work. When I start to think that this is too complicated and difficult, it’s because I have forgotten that this seems so impossibly hard for the simple reason that we are not doing what society expects us to do. Yes there’s things like us living in different cities, but we know how to fix that.

In coming out, I won’t get what I really want. What I really want is for my family to embrace Catalyst and Ember. For them to be happy to see them, to be glad that I have two men who love, adore, respect and support me. Two men who constantly challenge me to be better, but are there to comfort me when I don’t succeed. I want my family to ask how they’re doing, to tell me they hope they’ll be coming along to the next family gathering. I want my family to consider them family, because that’s what they are to me.

What will really happen when I come out? I’m not sure. I know that first there will be disapproval, and lectures and pleas to reconsider. But what comes after that? Will something else come after that? But I don’t think I can keep living like this, delicately keeping such significant parts of my life separate from each other.

I don’t want to choose between my loves and my family, and I hope that 2014 is not the year I have to make that choice. I hope that no year is.