I’m listening to Brene Brown’s book ‘Rising Strong’ right now. I find her work to be very helpful. I could write more about that but I’m trying to get to a point here.
I’m in a relationship. A good one. With a woman I love and respect and am very attracted to, all of which appears to be mutual. So far so good, right?
My ex wife (who I am technically still married to, and still love, but we’re not a fit anymore) still lives in one half of my house and I live in the other. She’s moving out at the end of the month, and is deeply heartbroken, as was I for most of this past year. We would have celebrated our 15th anniversary a month ago.
I am polyamorous, and was dating a second woman, who broke up with me about a week ago. I fully accept the breakup and don’t think she and I were a fit, but it still sucks. She and I had a long distance relationship where we spent a lot of time in long intimate phone conversations that made me feel connected, understood and loved. And now that’s done.
So enough stalling and context.
I feel crappy. Brene Brown has this thing where you look at the story you are telling yourself about what is happening. To do this you do a ‘shitty first draft’ where you lay it all out in it’s mess and unreasonableness. I’m going to give that a shot here.
I feel unworthy. I got back from my trip to visit my LD girlfriend (LDG) where we broke up and felt shielded, sad, hurt and numb. My GF (the awesome one I am still with) was happy and excited to see me. I was sad and shielded, hurt and numb. I got triggered while I was away. My LDG has a pot smoking habit I didn’t understand the extent of and fighting with her, and then seeing her smoke up triggered the shit out of me. I was all alone in a different country, out in the country, with no vehicle of my own at her house and no where to go where I had privacy. She was angry. I was triggered by that. She was stoned. I was triggered by that. She was confused and volatile. I was triggered by that.
I’m an amazon. I’m strong. I’m brave. I’m whole and sane and very competent. I’m a good communicator. I’m good at taking care of myself. I am all of those things. But I was triggered and scared and alone. I reached out to my friends via text and I had some phone conversations with my other GF, but it was not a fun time.
And I got home. And my GF was lovely to me, is lovely to me. And we made love, and I was hard to reach and numb. And it really hasn’t fully come back. Before I left to see my LDG, my GF and I had this amazing intimate connection, where I felt open and trusting and fully in my body. Those of you who are survivors know what a miracle this is.
I’m afraid that is gone now. I’m afraid that she sees me in my vulnerability and pain and is no longer interested. I’m afraid she’s not going to hang around and engage and reconnect with me. I’m afraid that lovely time is over. I’m afraid that the pain I need to expose to get back to that place will be too much for her. I’m afraid that I’ll get triggered again.
So here’s the other part of the story, the part I haven’t even told her. My LDG and I had sex after we broke up. It wasn’t coerced in any way, I wanted to. It was like a goodbye – like breakup sex happens right? – we were out having fun in the sunlight and ended up kissing and talking and went back to her place and had really amazing sex that was about connection and openness and being present and receiving and
And afterward we were eating and she started talking and it was making no sense. I don’t know if she had smoked up in the meanwhile or not. But she was angry with me now and accusing me of being untrustworthy, because I’d led her to believe I loved her (I did) that I was into her (I was) but then when I arrived, I hadn’t been able to switch over to connecting with her after that bliss I’d had with my other GF. I hadn’t felt attracted to her, I’d noticed the smell on her body from smoking pot that she couldn’t smell herself and which was another of my triggers, as it smells similar to my dads body from smoking cigarettes. I noticed that she had hair growing out of her nose and a bad haircut, and I didn’t like it (I didn’t tell her this). It didn’t feel like I was in love with her any more, like seeing her again in the flesh was a let down from the intimate connections we’d had when we first got together and then had spent two months staying connected via the phone and wonderful romantic writing. I felt trapped into a bunch of expectations having to do with my LDG moving her home to be closer to me. Anyhow, she was hurt. And that made sense. She was talking loudly and wasn’t making any sense to me. And I was triggered, and that was scary. Just a few minutes before, I had been emotionally open with her like I’d been with my dad back when he was my beloved daddy, and before I got raped, and then all of this gunk got thrown on me, and I got triggered.
I left the house, got into a golf cart and headed up to the pool (Her house is in a gated community that has one). The gate was locked, it was cold out, and I had to go back to her house. I came in and saw her smoking up in the living room. I turned around and went into the bedroom. I really wanted to lock the door. The door had no lock. I put a chair in front of the door. It wasn’t going to make any difference to whether she could come in, but it did give a signal that I didn’t want her to, or a warning for me if she did. I went into the ensuite and drew a bath. I messaged my friends.
After a few minutes, maybe an hour, she came into the room that shared a wall with the bathroom and knocked on the wall. She asked if she could come in. I said yes. She came in and apologized for scaring me. She realized when I pulled the chair across that I’d gotten scared. I could barely talk to her. She asked if I wanted to have the cordless phone to call my GF, and when I said yes, she brought it to me.
And things were awkward for another day and then I caught an early flight home. And when I got home, my GF was lovely. And I couldn’t open up to her again, not to the degree I had been.
And the story I am telling myself is this:
I am a terrible partner. I hurt my LDG and my ex wife. I am a wreck. and most importantly:
Bad things happen after you are fully emotionally intimate and present with someone.
And I really want that to be a lie. I really want that to be just some things that have happened, not the way it needs to be.
May that be so.