Juggling time is a huge deal in a open relationship if the type of open relationship you have means investing in every relationship you develop. And it’s not only in your intimate relationships, it’s time spent with their parents, their brothers, sisters and depending on how close they are, cousins, uncles, aunts and the rest. It’s the emotional labour of negotiating holidays, cultural and family traditions and personality dynamics.
For myself I discard the word ‘disorder’ as a part of C-PTSD, finding it more useful to disaggregate the various traumas to more easily see where they intensify or diffuse my adult actions, reactions and preferences. And how these help or hinder me from tackling what life throws in my path. Being polyamorous or practising consensual non-monogamy whilst also dealing with the consequences of complex trauma, has a few subtleties all of its own.
After many such processing sessions and respective conclusions, I’ve come to a grand, meta conclusion. Whilst I might long for multiple connections, I function better alone. I learned some years ago that a solo style of polyamory would be the smart choice for me; that’s a bit of a conundrum when you’re already in a household of six which includes two small kids.
I’m coming to realise that whilst I may not need a map per se, I do need a story. And the story, like all good stories, must have a beginning, a middle and an end. You and I, we’ve long since passed the beginning, and we’ve had a good bit of the middle. This here, is the midpoint of the story. The mirror moment. Because my stories need substance; they need love affairs, plot twists, growth experiences and character arcs. We’ve grown together, and now I believe it is time to grow independently.
I have no one more important than my chosen family. Right now I exist for them and as a reflection of them. I fear that the death of my family, would be the death of me, even if logically I know it to be untrue. In the past I have cleaved towards friends whom I considered as important as my family, only to have them demote me–when push came to shove–in favour of blood ties, even blood ties they despised.
If only she knew how much I love you. How much it hurts that you, that we, are not acknowledged. How you are regarded as some disposable piece of detritus. How fickle and worthless she believes my love for you is.
She had no piece of paper, no recognised validity save what she and my partner felt for one another. She was a guest in my home–the home of a woman she hardly knew–but it was also her boyfriend’s home and she knew him a lot better. My lack of trust was understandable, acceptable even, but that didn’t make it easier for her to handle.
They were once my family, I was not born to them but I chose them. How foolish I have been to think that I am healed, that I am whole. There is always more to work on. More wounds to re-open. So as I saw them, I remembered how much I love him, and how much I still miss him.
I think about it. I think about it all until I am exhausted. And when my mind has no reasons, nothing left, all I have is my love, my loss and my grief. My heart breaks and out of the shattered pieces comes still more love for him.
That evening I got home, Maya was laid up with a belly bug. One of those hideous ones which repeat endlessly and which necessitate the washing of sheets, scrubbing of sick, showering of small infants who detest water. I stayed up all night looking after her and at 6am Freddie awoke wanting to play. Morten and I were exhausted. But when I looked at them still I felt, it was all worth it. And smelling of sick, I still burned for them.
He suggested we convene on a boat tethered on the Seine for a post-lunch glass of wine. Which turned into a bottle. There, he thought he could propose. But the light made our eyes squint and our heads ached from midday drinking. In the blue brightness of day, the open air boats weren’t half as romantic; the tables had cigarette burns on them and the linoleum on the floor was ripped and tatty. Then it started to rain.
She’s an exceptional woman who sees me as an asset. They are happy together. That makes me happy. And our children happy. One big, happy relationship-fluid family. My daughter now has several female role models in her life. We’ve seen a blossoming in her over the past months which warms all our hearts. It’s something kind of wonderful.
Because the price I’ve paid for being in this relationship has been the loss of my identity. Any identity I assume, is all too easily discarded. My core is nameless, faceless. Unbound by morals, and untethered to values. And after two years of untying knots to ‘who I am’, what’s left is an unmanned boat free but without direction, sailing on the tide of life.
The more extreme our childhood regarding these two phenomena, the more they will continue to resound through our lives and relationships as adults. I am not dismissing those fears and feelings as childhood experience. They are very real and not only because we still experience them as adults, but also because they are unhealed.
How could there be any benefit in having another loving adult added to the parenting mix? Or in the simple logistics that three parental figures make less work? I’m not about to refute the potential impact of my children’s loss and heartache, if my boyfriend-who-is-not-the-father (WINTF) would ever leave, but people do break up, move away and die all the time and you don’t have to be in a relationship for that to happen.
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