Unexpected Possibilities

I want to find a Daddy.

I want to find a Mistress.

I just want to find single, sexy, bisexual unicorn to date my spouse and me.

I want to find a job.

Okay, only that last one was me. Up until yesterday, that’s what I was saying. I want to find a job. But, up until yesterday, I’d only applied to one with a position description similar to what I do now, and I’d not done any followup to determine if my candidacy was being considered.

Then somebody in a relationship advice forum posed a question. She said that even though she identified as polyamorous, and even though her prior marriage(s) had failed spectacularly, she still sometimes felt like she’d rather do the monogamous, marriage, white picket fence thing but without feeling trapped. She wanted to know if others struggled with similar contradictions.

Plenty of people pointed out that being married and poly was not an inherent contradiction. But, as I responded to her, I kind of came to a little epiphany. Here’s what I said to her:



I think what might be going on is that you’ve been sold a bill of goods of what “marriage” is supposed to be and your marriage didn’t look like that. You’re longing for the bliss of fitting into the pattern that society’s PR campaign has laid out for us.

We’ve been sold on the idea that marriage equals love, equals security, equals happily ever after and romantic shmoopiewibbles. Marriage means that that you’re both on a team and nothing can tear you apart. But life happens and ruts happen and stress happens and shit. just. happens.

It seems really anti-romantic to say that marriage is a financial arrangement; but the most romantic way to view marriage (in my book) is as a financial arrangement. The idea that whether or not we have government-sanctioned love, the love is real makes the marriage part irrelevant.

When I married my husband I knew that I never would have left him if we hadn’t. Our marriage did not change anything in our relationship except…financially. It made things a lot simpler when he passed away unexpectedly to deal with our mutual assets.

Well, and also…the sex stopped. But that wasn’t because we were married. That was illness.

I guess what I’m saying is that when you’re longing for the marriage, then the marriage is the destination. But when you’re focused on your relationship, then the marriage may just be part of the journey.



The epiphany happened after that. When I thought about another commonly pointed out difference I’ve noticed in ways people “do poly.” Some people seem to always be looking for someone new, or they have a very specific slot to fill in their lives that they struggle to find the right fit for. Others are just open to making connections with people that may fit into their lives in unexpected ways.

I started my career in nonprofit by accident. I was placed in a nonprofit by a temp agency when my entire career goal was “don’t end up working for my parents.”

But I loved it. I felt like my work mattered – even though i was just a receptionist. Now, I’m in a rut. Top of my department, but there is no more upward mobility. My organization fears change to the point where I cannot gain the type of experience I need to make my next move. My career is in stagnant water and the mosquitoes are everywhere.

My employment is nothing but a financial arrangement. There’s no love there anymore. It’s a marriage gone sour.

Yesterday I said I wanted to “find” a job, but I’d not put much effort into doing so. Today, I want to be more precise. Today, I’m saying I want to find a position that again lets me feel that what I do matters, and where my time and talent are appreciated. I want to feel motivated and excited by my work. I want to be the right candidate for them, yes – but I also want them to be the right fit for me.

I want to grow.

In order for that to happen, I have to take my own advice, and open myself up to unexpected possibilities.

Can you help me? (Or: Why I’ll never allow a television in my bedroom again)

It’s not surprising that he’s crept into my thoughts more during the past week. I learned how to Christmas with him in my life. Doesn’t help that google likes to remind me what happened “on this day” X years ago. Anything more than 3 years usually includes memories of the time that my label was “wife.”

This morning, as I have been for nearly all the mornings during this holiday break, I woke up way too early. The light coming from outside my bedroom window was still dark enough that I couldn’t find my phone on the bed without feeling around for it.

In the process, my hand found the handle of my vibrator. I’d fallen asleep last night before making use of it. I thought perhaps a nice, slow morning orgasm would relax me enough into another hour of sleep.

I peeled off my underwear and pulled the sheet up over my shoulders to keep the chill out before I got started. As I do, I let my mind wander through the Greatest Hits – the handful of fantasy situations I imagine when I’m just trying to get straight to the orgasm without so much meandering along the way.

I lightly grazed my hand over the sheet and felt the little jolt of sensation when it traveled over my pert nipples. I smiled, thinking about recent events that involved my nipples and my lover’s warm kiss.

But then, it happened. The sound of my own voice, in my head…

Can you help me?

Instantly my mind shifted from this happy place by remembering her. The she that was me before he died.

“Can you help me?” as I lay in bed beside my loving husband with my vibrator pressed up against my clit and his hands clutching the video game controller.

The orgasm evading me as I tried to call up the feelings of being desired while he focused all his attention on smoking pot, taking Ambien, and watching documentaries.

“Can you help me?” I’d ask in my small voice, laced with yearning and unmet hunger and the wanting of the slightest bit of attention.

And he would sigh. Hold the controller with one hand while reaching over to grope my breasts with the other.

With my eyes closed, I could pretend he was actually looking at me while he did it.

The orgasm would come. I’d drop the vibrator. And, without a word, he’d pick the controller back up and carry on with his game, or the documentary, or the bong hit I’d interrupted with my request.

Can you help me?

It dawned on me, not for the first time – but for the first time in a long time, that for nearly three years, that was the entirety of my sex life. That was how we “did it.” That was as much as I could get in terms of active participation from my husband in my orgasm.

It pained him, by the way. He knew that he wasn’t giving me what I needed. He knew I wanted more, and more often. But tired. Pain. Depressed. High. Busy.

There was always some excuse to mask the complete lack of desire he had – not just for me, but for anything. The drugs and the pain killed it all.

The best he could muster was a healthy grope on one of my breasts. It was really all he could do for me.

I flashed back into my present tense. I set the vibrator down. I was never going to get there thinking of that. I went back and read some of my texts from yesterday evening from my lover. That’s not my life anymore. She is not me anymore.

But yeah, for a few minutes this morning, I felt really, really sorry for her.

Wipe the Glass (Happy Birthday, Tony.)

He’d have been 55 today. I didn’t want it to affect me, but I can’t pretend it didn’t. It’s a really strange combination of emotions – knowing that I’m happier and healthier now, knowing that I’ve found love again and pulled my life back together and survived an incredible loss.

And still feeling off on his birthday.

This would have been the birthday that I’d have broken the bank to get us a reservation at the French Laundry in Napa. It was a lifelong goal of his to eat there one day. I tried for this 50th birthday, but I missed the window of opportunity for a reservation and there wasn’t a chance in hell I could get it, so we’d decided to do it for his 55th.

Maybe one day I’ll still get a chance to eat there. At the very least, I have Thomas Keller’s cookbook somewhere in the garage (the gift my parents got him for his 50th). Now that I’m a fancypants home chef, I’ll dig that sucker out and make something.

So, I’m digging into these emotions, because I think if I can shed some light on them, I can overcome them. I mean, it’s not like I’m overcome with grief that he’s gone. Like I said, my life is better now. There is love again, and not just for the guy but for some really great people he’s brought into my life by association.

I’m gonna take a minute away from this whole thing to share some gratitude for my metamours. They’re both really wonderful, really unique people an I’m very, very grateful for them. I had a really rough night last night, fraught with nightmares and sleeplessness, and this morning wasn’t entirely pleasant, and one of my metamours came through and 1) made it feel safe for me to be honest, and 2) said exactly what I needed said to make me feel better. I’m really, really grateful for our growing friendship. The other one is her own brand of fantastic and has made me feel comfortable and welcome since day two of this relationship. I say day two because he forgot to introduce us to each other on day one.

Anyway, back to the other thing. Right. Guilt. What I’m getting at is that the reason I think I keep crying this week is that I feel guilt for moving on. Not surface guilt; like, rationally I know I have no reason to feel anything of the sort. But deep, deep, down there’s this sense that if I didn’t feel something on this day it would mean i’m a callous, unfeeling, cold-hearted bitch.

So I look at the date on the calendar and I furrow my brow because I’m happy and …what does that make me?

If I were you and you were me and you asked me this question, I could be completely rational about it and tell you that you’re crazy. Of COURSE you deserve this happiness. Of COURSE you’ll feel something on his birthday. Of COURSE being happy doesn’t make you an evil cold-hearted bitch.

And I can tell myself that, too.

When chatting with my metamour this morning I came up with an analogy for how this feels. So, if you’re in a glass-enclosed shower, the glass fogs up with steam. When I pick my emotions apart and tell myself there’s nothing to feel badly about, it’s like I’ve taken my hand and wiped a large swath of clarity. I can see the world clearly through the glass. But slowly, very slowly, the steam starts to fog it up again.

I have to keep wiping at the emotional fog collecting in my brain.

There’s more to it than just Tony’s birthday, there’s other stuff going on that has nothing to do with Tony. Work stresses. Family stresses. Distances from people I care about.

Life is awesome, but just ’cause it’s awesome doesn’t mean there aren’t days when the awesome isn’t front and center.

I was trying to think of a way to commemorate Tony’s birthday this morning. It was hard. I thought about asking people to donate one item of clutter …you know that thing that “might be useful one day” to someone who might use ittoday. Tony was a hoarder and I can tell you that after he died, a great many people benefited from the mountains of clothing and kitchen supplies and furniture and canned food that he collected.

I thought about asking people to reach out to friends or loved ones who struggle with depression or anxiety and saying “hey. You matter.” Tony suffered from both of these, and chronic pain. There were days when he didn’t want to live and lost himself in video games and ice cream to get by.

I thought about asking people to embrace something bizarre or do something weird today. Tony loved the bizarre, obscure, and perverse.

I thought about suggesting people show kindness to someone in need today. Tony always did. If it were his last dollar, he’d give it to someone needier than he.

But, this morning on facebook all I asked people to do was to find a reason to celebrate. Have a treat. Blow out a candle. Find a reason to feel good.

‘Cause he’d have been 55 today on Friday the 13th. And despite all his troubles, he was a good man who loved me. There is nothing wrong with celebrating that.

wipes the glass

I Dream of Poly

I had a strange dream last night. Well, I had more than one dream, but the one I had as I was waking up this morning….it was strange.

It was the first time I’d encountered Tony in a dream since his death that wasn’t laced with fear, angst, anger, or disappointment.

I was at an awards show, like the Golden Globes or something, because they were handing out awards for TV and film. I was sitting in the audience with my current partner. I knew Tony had been nominated, and he was there somewhere.

(This is also the first dream I’ve had with Tony still being alive and my not knowing he’d passed away).

I saw someone I knew and went over to say hello during a break in the production. She’s a Fetlifer. I sat with her for a bit while another Fetlifer was on stage making a speech.

Then they announced the nominees for Best Television Writing. This was Tony’s category. I went back to sit with my partner. Tony was wandering around somewhere. He was up against strong competition, but when the winner was announced, it was him!

I was so proud and happy! I guess the awards were running late because they weren’t giving them out on stage anymore. They were having all the winners in the TV category receive their trophies and take photos in the back of the auditorium so the show could continue.. I spotted Tony in the crowd, turned toward my partner and said “I’m gonna go congratulate my husband,” and he smiled and said “Of course!” and kissed me.

I went to find Tony. There were a lot of people congratulating him, but when he spotted me he….

This is where the dream gets weird.

He was happy.

He hugged me and held me and he was excited and proud and it was all the things Tony hadn’t been in YEARS. In the dream I remember I was so happy to see him this way.

They wanted to take photos of the winners and I offered to step aside. I hadn’t done any of the writing. “No, you’re getting in the picture with me,” he said. “I may have done all the writing, but you did everything else I was responsible for. You were there for me, you took care of me, and you put up with me while I was solely focused on this script. You’re as much a part of it as I am.”

I couldn’t believe it. It was like all the negativity, depression, and selfishness had drained away leaving behind the man I’d originally fallen in love with. The man I thought I’d been marrying. I thought this, in the dream, as I felt his large frame drape his arm around me and I smiled for the cameras.

The flashbulbs were still going off as I stirred from this dream, feeling loved and appreciated by my now dead husband.

And understanding, maybe for the first time, what it’s like to love more than one person at the same time.

Wedding Crasher

This would have been my comment on a FetLife blog but it got long, so I turned it into my own post.  The gist of it was that we all attended a wedding that was very religious (and we are not).

_____

See, I was at that wedding also. Crashing the wedding, actually. Nobody there knew me except the friends I was visiting that weekend..

There were a few moments that affected me during the experience. As we sat down in our chairs on the grassy field under the sun (it was really effing hot), I realized this would be the first wedding I was attending since my husband passed away.

Instantly, my brain started having a conversation with itself:

It’s going to be okay. You don’t know these people, you are not emotionally invested in them, and it’s going to be a religious wedding, so you’re not going to feel a connection with any of it.

The first moment that affected me was when I saw the bride walking toward the field holding her mother’s hand while the rest of the wedding party was still making their way down the aisle.

I’ve been her. I remember that feeling. So many months of planning after years of dreaming…and those were the final moments that led up to the culmination of all of it.

I squeezed my mother’s hand. I took deep breaths. I tried to hold back the urge to laugh but the smile on my face couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than unbridled joy at what was about to happen.

Oh wait, that wasn’t me. That was the bride I knew nothing about and had no connection with. I choked back the ball of emotion that came up to my throat and reminded myself that I am not emotionally invested in these people.

Then the pastor started in on his schtick. I’ve not been to a lot of religious, non-Jewish ceremonies. When he got to the part where he was talking about how the bride was born to be submissive to her husband and she came out of a rib, but not his head because she wasn’t meant to rule over him and not his foot because ..something about trampling….but from his rib, to be at his side as equals (as long as she submitted to him), my eyebrow was raised so high I think I might have earned airline mileage points.

I really liked the part where God made the groom a selfless giver and charged him with using that selfless giving spirit, but God gave her a fire, and a fire is most beautiful when it is controlled and put to use.

I dug my fingers into my thigh.

Here’s the thing. I looked at their faces. The bride and groom. They were both so happy. I’m fast forwarding to the end but that first kiss was a damned fine first kiss. And if they want to believe that they’re in a polyamorous relationship with God, that’s fine with me.

But a lot of what was coming out of the pastor’s mouth sounded a lot like what I read here on Fetlife, and all I could think was, “Well, did they negotiate this? Does she have a safe word? If he’s the selfless giving one and she’s the one with the fire then what if those roles are reversed in their dynamic?”

But I let it go. I’m not emotionally invested in these people.

And then the vows. They were not the exact same wording as the ones I took with Tony, but the gist was the same. Mine included promising to change the toilet paper roll when I used the last of it, even when there’s just one square left (that is totally usable, by the way). And his included the promise to tickle my back whenever I asked for it. There was also something about “until the polar ice caps melt and the building we’re standing in now becomes a sanctuary for penguins.”

That was our version of the ‘Til death do us part’ part.

Yeah, that part affected me again.

I looked away. We were surrounded by these big green things…trees? I think that’s what they’re called. Trees and mountains and greenery and nature everywhere. I couldn’t see any asphalt anywhere.

It was beautiful. Except for the part where we were melting and needed hydration, it was one of the most peaceful moments I’ve had in weeks. I realized that the last of my drop from last week was gone.

I kept my vows, without being completely aware of what I was signing myself up for – years of depression and drug abuse and hoarding and unemployment. Yeah, i stuck it out through sickness and poorer and in bad times.

It wasn’t God or religion or duty or witnesses that kept me around through all that. It was love.

I kept my vows. Maybe they will, too.