Rocks. Hard places. The usual.

That feeling you get when you’re stuck in a situation where you can either hurt one partner or hurt the other? I’m really tired of it. The whole Match Day thing happened, and now I’m living with Catalyst and not Ember, and we’re finally starting to heal from the damage that did. Now there’s this whole marriage thing, and I really, really wish I could just say “That’s fine, we’ll just all be unmarried” but… reasons.

And I don’t know what to do. Ember’s in town and we had a fantastic weekend, but then I had to bring this stuff up because we do have to figure this out, and right now I just feel sick. I literally feel sick to my stomach, and I’m terrified that we’re not going to figure this out, and that I’m going to lose one or both of them in the end.

So right now I’m going to let myself go cry for a bit, and then I’m going to stop because crying doesn’t fix anything (or maybe I’ll skip the crying. I hate crying). I’m going to shower, eat something, shop for Christmas presents for my family while spending time with Ember, and then we’re going to go to work. And then the two of them will go to Costco after work, and I’ll come home later, and then we’ll all talk.

Edit: We’ve been watching Scandal recently, and right now I feel like I need the equivalent of an Olivia Pope for my relationship. I want someone to fix this for me, because I have no idea how.

Hiding

Short post. It’s late and I should have been in bed 45 minutes ago.

I’m not very good at being open and honest about the poly thing, and it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve had several experiences lately where there weren’t any clear ramifications to coming out, and yet I still found myself dancing around the exact details of my relationship situation, or outright avoiding the details and explicitly only talking about one boyfriend.

I have a lot of thinking to do about how much hiding is okay in my life. How open do I need to be able to be about my personal life? Do I need to push the boundary of what I’m okay talking about (and the reactions I’m okay receiving), or do I need to change my life to match what I’m comfortable with? I’ve been making decisions under the former, but every now and then there’s a tiny part of me that worries that social pressure and my desire to fit in will break me as I am.

The real question is, how do I reassure that tiny part of me? Because I love my boys and I’m hanging on to them.

Perpetual To Dos

My phone broke yesterday (it fell, and its cracked screen cracked some more and has now stopped working); is it worth it to fix the screen and power button or should I just buy a new phone? I have to buy my tickets home (West Africa home) for New Year’s. I start a new rotation tomorrow so I have to read up on my new patients and be ready to take care of them Monday morning. There’s still no art on the walls of our apartment. Do I care enough about the five-ish pounds I’ve gained over the last year to try to lose them or do I just need to make sure I don’t gain any more? The towels smell a little off (sat in the washer for 24hrs before drying); I should rewash them.

I once read, in one of those little books that has a small piece of advice on every page, that there will still be stuff in your inbox when you die. A morbid, but also comforting thought. I may be able to cross off all the items on my to-do list for today, but there will be more tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after. This is not to mean that I should never do anything because there will be more to do, but to realize that while there are many feelings in life that are worth chasing, the feeling of being “completely done” isn’t really one of them. Accomplished is good, but done is not, because it’s a lie.

It’s easy to get caught up in the uncertainty of my life. Will Ember ever move in with us? Or live in the same city again? Where will Catalyst and I move to next year, since we need at least three people to afford the size of apartment we’d prefer in our current neighborhood? Am I going to do a fellowship or just finish residency in four years? Am I going to have children?

I lay in bed this morning, watching Catalyst fold his clothes, my mind racing with those first paragraph thoughts, and then a different kind of thought floated to the foreground: This is nice, this living with someone I love, watching them do something so boring and mundane as folding their clothes and not feeling like I’m wasting precious, borrowed time.

I still need to buy my plane tickets (maybe later tonight, more likely tomorrow), and I need to read about my patients. The art will go up some other day, or maybe in the next place we live. I kind of care about the weight, but my clothes still fit, so it’s okay. I will be rewashing the towels tonight. And I’ve bought a new phone, but it won’t arrive for 4 to 5 weeks, so Catalyst is letting me borrow his (and he’s using Dreamer’s old phone) in the meantime, because he loves me and I use my phone more than he uses his, and I use it mainly to stay in touch with him (and Ember).

It’s been a good Sunday. :)

Identity

I used to identify as a writer. As a teenager, I blogged, I participated in IFs, and I wrote fanfiction, original fiction, plays, poems, and essays. My pursuit of a medical career coincided with reaching my twenties, and writing became less of a creative outlet. My writing since then has been a tool for exploration and connection. Both my current relationships, especially in the early stages, involved lots of long chats and letter length emails (and even handwritten letters!).

Conversation is important to me. Many (most? all?) of my favorite moments with other people have involved one on one conversations. Some of these with people I love, with people I might have loved, with good friends, with acquaintances, with family, and some with people I only had that one conversation with and nothing else. Some were fast paced, almost pressured conversations, the kinds filled with lots of “Me too!” and “I know, right?!” Others were languid, lounging conversations, periodically emerging from comfortable silences filled with cuddles, disappearances into personal thoughts, or pleasant distractions in the form of good food and drink.

But writing is another way of connecting and conversing. It’s a present left on a door stop, and I ring the bell and disappear before you open the door. It’s a vulnerable, perhaps cowardly form of communication, often used for things you can’t bear to say face to face, like confessions, but I believe there can be strength and courage in it as well. Writing feels like a more natural and honest way for me to express myself. The way I write more closely mirrors who I feel I am than the way I talk, and I miss how natural it feels to tinker with words. Yes, I still blog, but I haven’t really been crafting most of my posts. I’ve been telling, not giving a carefully guided tour.

I’ve been thinking for a while about waking up earlier, as a way to cultivate chances to write longer emails to my boyfriends. Then I started seeing people talk about NaNoWriMo this year, and feeling left out. I think writing needs to become an Important Thing again. Not in a regimented way, but in the way that I try to eat well, stay reasonably active, and sleep a bit more than the bare minimum. I’m taking the easy way out by not impulsively jumping on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon (more like sketchy high-speed train), but my goal is to spend even just a few minutes every day this month consciously, carefully writing something, anything (but most likely an email, a snippet of a story, a poem, or a blog post).

Weekend Brunch for Three <3

2013-10-19 (3)

Avocado, scrambled eggs, grapes, olives, mandarin oranges, blankets, snuggles, Top Chef, and Dr. Who.

Not Coming Out on National Coming Out Day

It’s apparently National Coming Out Day, and sadly the post that’s been brewing in my mind is about not coming out to my parents.

They’re back in the US again, and after much hesitation, I decided to visit them last weekend. It was a pleasant, short visit (I arrived very early Saturday morning, in time for breakfast, and left Sunday evening), and of course included my mother continuing to be baffled about why Ember and I aren’t at least engaged yet. 

Saturday night, my mother emailed me a New York Times article called “Great Betrayals.” She’s in the habit of emailing out NYT articles, and she sends me everything remotely interesting that has anything to do with mental health or psychiatry; by which I mean, I don’t think she sent this article because she suspects I’m hiding anything from her.

Nevertheless, the sick feeling in my stomach that is present before, during, and after my visits with my parents intensified for a few hours after reading that article. I don’t like hiding my relationship with Catalyst from them, and I don’t like the unfair perception that Ember is not doing right by me because he’s dragging his heels about getting married. 

I don’t know when to come out, and I don’t know how to do it. Most likely, I’ll do it over email, but should I do it right before or during a visit to see them? Right after? At some point when there will be months before I see them again or just a few days or weeks? I’ve graduated from medical school, I have no debt, and I’m solidly employed. While the financial assistance I get from them is amazing, I can support myself and my current lifestyle with my own salary. 

So what am I waiting for? I’m not sure. One of my brothers thinks that I need to keep biding my time, let them mellow with age for a bit longer. But the emotional stress that I go through surrounding each time I see my parents feels terrible. There are worse things in life to go through, I see them every day, but why continue to put myself through this? Is parental disapproval/rejection really going to feel that much worse? I’m not sure.

In the meantime, I’m trying to strengthen my general relationship with my parents, but admittedly doing a poor job of it. It’s hard to open yourself up to people and get to know them better when you’re hiding such a significant part of yourself. I just don’t feel motivated to call or email because if I have to leave this out, why bother saying anything? It’s hard especially with my father, because we’ve just never really had a close relationship. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before or not, but there were times when my mother would intentionally step out of the kitchen in hopes that maybe the two of us would actually talk to each other.

But I’m trying, and he’s trying too. He took me shopping to buy me some new shoes as a birthday present(they’re pretty amazing, I have to say), and got to experience how my indecision extends far beyond taking forever to order food at restaurants. He really shouldn’t be surprised that I couldn’t pick just one boyfriend. ;)

I am, at least, out to several monogamous friends, to my siblings, and to some coworkers, so I’m doing some small part to increase poly (and bi) visibility. Ember is in town for two weekends (yay! he arrived late last night), and I’m bringing both him and Catalyst to a potluck that one of my co-interns is throwing for all the first year psychiatry residents (there’s 15 of us and we range in age from 25/26 to 51). 

Tiny disclaimer

I wish I didn’t feel like I had to say this, but I don’t believe that there’s any one right or better way to do relationships. Monogamy, polyamory, swinging, hierarchies, living together, living apart, etc. I think there are some characteristics of a healthy relationship that are valid for pretty much any relationship type, romantic or platonic, but beyond that, I really believe that there’s an extensive spectrum of relationship variety with a plethora of viable options.

When I talk about certain things making more sense than others, I’m talking from my current perspective, based on the relationships I’m in, and the people I’m in relationships with. My opinion could change in a few years, and it would be different today if I was dating different people.

Growth restriction

So recently there was a post on a poly blog I read about Couple’s Supremacy, as opposed to Primacy.

My feelings on hierarchies in polyamorous relationship aren’t entirely coherent or cohesive. I can barely even define what a primary relationship means to me. It’s easier and obvious for a lot of people; their primary is their live in boyfriend/girlfriend or their spouse. I refer to both Catalyst and Ember as my primaries, even though I don’t live with Ember and even though we might never all live together, but they are both incredibly important to me. I talk to them every day, and they strongly influence how I live my life and the decisions I make. They are the people I would want at my side if I were in a hospital, the people I would drop everything for to support them during an emergency, and they are the first people I want to share both good and bad news with.

I am not opposed to either of them eventually developing relationships that would feel to them the way their relationships with me do, and I don’t have any rules about it. It doesn’t make sense, to me, to make rules, to preemptively decide how a situation must play out without experiencing that situation first. 

With Ember, there’s the added complication that he’s living in the Bay Area, so if he meets someone new, it’s likely to be there, and there’s always the chance that he might fall for someone else who he’d prefer to not be in a long distance relationship with. He’s not explicitly looking for that level of connection right now, but sometimes you unexpectedly find someone you really click with, and you either make the decision to pursue it or you stunt the relationship before it grows. I’m currently at a place where I have decided to stunt any possible relationships I come across, because I don’t have the reserves in me to grow another significant relationship. Catalyst feels similarly. 

I moved to and lived in a new city without a primary connection for four years. It was hard, but I’m a bit of a loner and it takes a lot to convince me to venture out and meet new people by myself. I did end up dating a married couple about half way through my time in the midwest (which was fun and I miss them) because I admit I was starting to feel critically lonely at that point. I was only dating Ember, long distance, and he was busy and stressed out, and I was just really lonely. I would’ve just trucked on through that stage, but Ember had recently moved to a new city and was likely going to start dating soon, so I decided I might as well give it a shot too. 

So I understand how Ember feels, and why he’s venturing out and meeting people right now. I think some people would place restrictions like “No potential primary relationships” or “You can only date people who already have primaries and are only looking for secondaries” or “No single people,” but we’re not comfortable with that. He’s being upfront with people about his pre-existing relationship situation, and what he currently has to offer (between work and me+Catalyst and needing time to himself), and we’ll just have to wait and see what connections that leads to and what level of complexity that adds to our future. Ember could be living in the Bay Area for close to another year, at least, and that’s a long time to be on your own. I know.

MFM Vee vs Triad

Last night, Ember said to me, “By the way, I don’t think of us as a Vee anymore.” To which I responded, “I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about that!”

I know an MFM triad whose usage of the word triad used to confuse me. “But the guys aren’t involved with each other, how are they a triad?” Somewhere along the course of the 2+ years I’ve known them, I realized that I wasn’t confused anymore.

I guess there can come a point where defining a relationship simply by who has sex with who isn’t exactly the key anymore.

Although, I actually rather like the sound of “MFM V Triad,” because I think it succinctly gives the reader a good idea of what on earth is going on here.

Being different

It’s strange to realize how “normal” the polyamorous community actually is.

There’s a big facebook group here in Rainy City, I think now with over 500 members. It started with someone just inviting a bunch of their poly friends, then people inviting people they had high match percentages with on okcupid, and has since exploded into a large, poly centered, social network. There’s multiple events every week, and though I’ve only been to one, it makes me happy that this group exists, especially since it only barely overlaps with my pre-existing polyamory network. There’s so many more of us out there than I realized!

But the community is not as diverse as I’d like it to be. Many people practice hierarchical poly (which I kind of do just not really in those words), and have only one primary, generally someone they’re married to. I don’t very often encounter people whose longest relationship started off open, There’s often the husband/wife versus the boyfriends/girlfriends. I don’t see many people who refer to having husbands or wives, even the ones who I believe would in fact say that they have more than one primary.

There’s also the interesting continued separation between the heterosexual and homosexual populations. The polyamory community that calls what they do polyamory, seems to be mainly heterosexual and bisexual, with occasional homosexual people mixed in but not as many as I’d expect. It does seem like the term is becoming more widely used though, so I think over time the demographics might blend more, and already are.

And, of course, it’s not very racially diverse, but it’s Rainy City, and it’s a fringe social group. So that’s just expected.

I also have no idea about economic and educational level diversity. It does seem relatively spread out, but I’m not sure how much.

But back to the Primary thing. There’s lot of talk about about to do hierarchies “right” (ie, in an open, honest and kind way), and now there’s new and evolving discussion about how to do not having a primary at all (solo polyamory), but I’d love to see more discussion about having multiple “primaries”, especially in a V structure. I know other Vees exist. I’m friends with at least one, and I’ve seen others mentioned on the poly subreddit, but I don’t see a lot of more theoretical discussion about this configuration, especially when it’s one woman and two men, not one man and two women.

I guess this is one of those situations where I might just have to be the change I want to see, which is part of why I started this blog. Because I felt like there were a lot of things about my relationship structure that didn’t quite fit in with the majority of discussions I see. I’m not entirely sure what I feel is missing from the discussion. I’m not looking for answers to my questions, because I know that only Catalyst, Ember and I can solve our problems. Maybe what I’m looking for is just more connection, more affirmation.