Living With Someone/Living Poly

Moving in with someone else and beginning an intimate relationship with them has brought to light just how much potential for anxiety I have just below the surface. When I lived by myself I had a tremendous amount of authorship of my daily life, down to the smallest details. I knew what areas to avoid, what triggers to stay away from, and I could do so while still having a full and ever-growing life. This gave the illusion that I had overcome all that anxiety and didn’t have to handle it anymore.

There is a theory, however, that’s always felt instinctively true to me, that your fight or flight panic switch gets calibrated at a young age. If you grow up in an atmosphere that is primarily calm and peaceful, that primal switch needs a firm grip on it to set it off. If you grow up around highstrung people, in threatening or unstable surroundings, that switch is feather light and gets tripped easily. I think the latter is likely true for me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t practice peacefulness, and find ways to keep the air around that switch very, very still. I can, and at some points in my life I have. It just means I get to work a little harder at it than others might have to.

So I’m living a life now where the details of what I may be doing in any particular hour are shaped by a large number of factors, many of which are out of my control. That’s not a bad thing by any means. It just means I don’t have access to a major coping mechanism that I once used, and I get to develop new ones. They’re coming along slowly. One of the the first ones I got fluent in was leaning on Gabe. It was such a bizarre, wild, new, fundamentally thrilling thing to have somebody else I could rely on to take care of things, or to take care of me. I’ve not had that before — not from parents, not from any other lover. It was deeply healing to experience that. But it’s occurred to me the last month or so that I’m doing it too much. We are committed to communicating with each other, a lot, and so it’s easy to go to him first off about any worries I have. But he really doesn’t need to pour that much energy into reassuring me about everything, and I don’t need to be hit so hard if worries hit while I’m away from him. So, I’m not running directly to him with anxieties, and realizing I still have quite a toolbox of skills available to handle these things myself. I’m still getting my footing, but I didn’t realize how much I already knew.

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Another recent learning is this: being with a poly partner means being, by definition, behind on the news on certain subjects. Gabe’s relationship with Kristi has… gotten larger. A few weeks ago there was a palpable new commitment or investment in it for them. It’s very hard for anybody to find language for it. They are not headed toward any particular goal, and there’s not a lot of modeling for romances that are not inevitably heading toward marriage. So they’re feeling it out as they go. Changes grow in them, and they communicate with me as well as they are able, through words and other kinds of language.

It was disconcerting at first for me to feel this particular change. I didn’t know what it was. I don’t get direct data; I discover what’s bubbling through them secondhand. Then there were my anxieties about going somewhere we hadn’t gone before. The other times he’s had someone important to him, the bond didn’t grow this deeply, I don’t think. I always had the feeling that they were many steps away from the biggest kinds of commitments, like moving in together or weaving daily life together at that level. With Kristi, our daily lives are entwined. We see each other in some form or another at least 4 times a week, usually more. So the next potential step I should prepare myself for is….? Who knows. They don’t. The most disturbing part of this big shift for me was that I suddenly felt disconnected from my capacity to enjoy them together, and get all frubbly. Something was in the way.

Now, I very much enjoy the way our daily lives weave together these days, you understand. That’s not the issue. The issue this time was more “NEW-OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-NEW-WHAT-THE-HELL’S-GOING-ON-AAAAAA-WE’RE-ALL-GONNA-DIE”. Something like that. Nice, rational, reasoned concerns. One of the benefits of my metamour being all kickass and awesome and human and a friend of mine is that I can’t even try to paint her as either evol or perfect. I get an immediate, really good look at just how rational my current fears are. And these were not. At all.

So I hung on and prayed and waited. At some point I realized, again, how much he loves me. I started noticing it again, in his touch and his eyes all day. I realized again that I’m perfectly capable of addressing any needs of mine that come up and getting them met. I realized they all were getting met, and that the danger on my radar was some sort of ancient shadow not at all related to the present. I realized how much I was anticipating, and not living in the present.

And then I got to watch Gabe make something with his own hands for Kristi. And to be able to observe that… was something sacred that still brings tears to my eyes. The stuff that pours out of them is awesome and beautiful. So then all the frubble started flooding in again, pouring through whatever was in the way.

So, I’m in a bizarre state of being raw from the recently flushed fear, and high from the incoming rush of frubbles. It’s odd, but pretty good. I really do love my life.

3 Responses to “Living With Someone/Living Poly”

  1. Kristi Says:
    July 28th, 2010 at 6:53 am

    There’s a lot I believe I need to say here.

    And there’s evwn more stuff I *want* to say here.

    Sadly, I can’t do any of it from my phone… Without killing my thumbs. It will get done, soon, though… Whether on my computer or someone else’s!!

  2. Kristi Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Okay, so here we go.

    1) I have a hard time equating my upbringing with the theory you pose here. For the fact that there are three children in my household, and our triggers are all set on completely different, though the parenting didn’t actually change much between us. My middle sister is a “flip on a dime for no obvious reasons” kind of girl, my oldest is what I would consider moderate on the trigger- takes a while under most circumstances, but there are some hairbreath triggers that occur occasionally, and myself on the bottom end… it actually takes a lot to get me to the point of anxiety- there are some triggers that I can feel wiggle and generally subside, but to be a person to forcefully flip it takes a deep and intimate knowledge of me and what makes me tick… and hitting me (literally or figuratively) at very appropriate times with it. Our parents are two different types- my mother is just like my middle sister, my father is more like me. Seeing what I have in my family, makes me wonder about a more genetic component to the anxiety buttons. Though, I always have and always will believe that everything is a little bit nature and a little bit nurture and a whole lot of just plain luck (be it bad or good)/planning (by God/yourdietyofchoice).

    That being said- some of my insecurites are triggers, and some are not. Some can lead to some pretty hefty anxiety when flipped, that is really hard to disengage from. Some of them just piss me off that I’m still so wrapped up and worried in them, and makes me wonder when it will go away, if it will, and how I can …. hurry… that process along. 😉

    I understand and can appreciate the going from having the ability to shape my every day “doings” basically on my own, to feeling like I don’t have a choice, in some matters, of doing them… it’s kind of a “the time is now… or never” kind of feeling. And many times I’d rather take the “now” rather than the “never” option… I don’t want to miss *ANYTHING!*

    I am not ebol… I don’t think. Not most of the time, at least, and definitely not towards you. 😉

    I know as surely as I breath that I am far from perfect. And if you ever have any doubts that I might be, come tell me. Because I’d love to hear your perspective of how I got to be perfect! 😉 I have a lot of splotches, dot, discolorations, scars, marks, and just plain ugly places. I even have emotions outside of “happy” and “smiley”, though I’m generally scared to show them too much. 😉

    I find it fascinating our completely different approaches to using the available and willing resource of Gabe as a tool for decreasing our anxieties- you feel you do it too much (I’m not one to comment on that- only you and he can make that decision), and I know that I don’t use it often enough. We seem to have a similar background that has brought us to this place, though. No family member, friend, or lover has really expressed a want to do that, or that they find something meaningful and nourishing in being a person that can diminish anxieties I have on things. Well, over time Nichole has, but it has been a long time coming to fruition for various reasons. As a response to that, I just figured out how to not rely on people for that. I adjusted to doing what I needed to all by myself- up to and including pushing most people in my life to a very safe distance away from me. My biggest insecurity based anxieties often come from people getting to know me on a very personal and intimate level- that frightening (for me) level of vulnerability that means that you now have the power to trigger the anxieties that I have worked long and hard to glue down the switch too. But with that now comes with a …need? wish? ill placed fear? for people to continue to see me as self-reliant and able to take care of myself- on all levels.

    I think in a way, not having a particular place to go with this romance is an anxiety in and of itself, but not one that can be easily fixed or mediated. It comes with a lot of looking into the dark and shrugging, saying “Well, I guess I’ll see the next step when I’m on top of it.” and not being able to predict anything. If anyone knows me well, they know my love of planning for the future. It is immense… and not knowing the future here makes the black hole look much more intimidating.

    And with that comes an intense need, on my part, to keep quiet about it. What if we have to go backwards and redirect? What if this has nothing to do with the actual path, it’s just a nice side scenic route for a moment? Is this important to him? Is it important to me? Is this changing or has this been here the whole time and I just missed it somehow? What is causing this change? Where does that drop me off at on this really unknown path of where we are headed? It’s the same feeling of “ZOMG SOMETHING NEW WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?”, I think, but with a totally different reactions, of which mine was/is a need to keep it closed until I’m sure of what the picture is before I show it to the world.

    I think you’re awesome. And human. And amazing. And did I mention human? No matter how much we love seeing Gabe with his other love in the heart of us, it’s only human to have fears, anxieties, and falter in that frubble as things progress. As we start wondering where we go from here? That includes in our one-on-one relationships with him, where the other one-on-one relationship is going, and our relationship as a family. I wonder often what y’all are doing, going, coming up with as a couple, and wonder if it is making me look like a relationship weenie. Because… well… I am a bit of a relationship weenie. We both come from a background that leaves us with those insecurities. Now, I think, is the time to hopefully put a few of them to rest, and work on a few more being at least put into a new, taken care of but still may pop up from time to time place. Mine may be with my closeted (spelling?!) nature during a progressive part of the relationships.

    But whatever happens, we both are amazingly lucky in that we have a man who love us, both of us, and is willing to put up with all of our crazy anxieties. And shows us, on a regular basis, how much he loves us- through words, looks, actions, and whatever else way his brain and heart may create.

    And my kite is awesome. 😀

  3. blessed_harlot Says:
    August 4th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Kristi,

    I’m certainly of the camp that most things are a mixture of nature and nurture. My earliest years weren’t my worst, but they were tumultuous, and I think I came out a sensitive child. I oversimplified the theory a great deal, in order to use it as an illustration, but I think it’s got a kernel of truth… that our whole environment interacts with our given temperament, our closest relationships and affinities, and our earliest gained skills to “set” some part of our anxiety triggers out of our hands on a fundamental level. Maybe I’m responding to the truth of that, or maybe it’s something more metaphysical, that we just can’t ever fully escape something as human as our fight-or-flight response. Maybe this would be a good post in the philosopher’s group. 🙂

    One of the most nourishing parts of y’all’s relationship for me is that this is the first time I’ve been privileged to watch both sides of his relationship with someone else, at least to some degree. It multiplies the beauty.

    I am SO glad you like the kite!

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