Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Once More, With Feelings

 I guess it's a sequel to our story
From the journey 'tween heaven and hell
With half the time thinking of what might have been
and half thinkin' just as well
I guess only time will tell

--Harry Chapin, "Sequel"

This one, for a myriad of reasons, is going to be very hard to write.

The emotional content, first and foremost. I'm feeling a lot of guilt that needs to be expunged, and that's always a difficult's like open heart surgery performed with a keyboard. The fact I still care, still love, the person this blog is about complicates things still further. She has, or at least had, a narrative of the events I'm going to oh-so-carefully detail that cast her as both a victim and a villain. I think I'm the villain now in her eyes. That's okay. The way things turned out...I was bound to be.

When last we checked in with this story, Dear Reader, I had been dumped and I was not taking it well. Kathy found a new issues with that, it was, in fact, the name of the game. Except this one turned out to be the "cowboy" I had long dreaded, the man who would stop at nothing to 'rope her off' all to himself.  He managed that in very short order.
Many, many emotions swirling. This was something I had long suspected would occur, and so I was happy for her, while being very sad for me and us. Add in the bewilderment I felt at the giddy speed things progressed for her, the anger at being dumped by phone, and the loss of a bond we had built over three years...much more on this in a bit...and I was, to put it charitably, a mess.

I had a few interactions with her new beau that didn't help me overmuch. There was a palpable sense of gloating, of braggadocio, and active minimization of what I had been to her. All to be expected, again, but it still stung. But he also said many things about her that made no sense to me at all, things I suspected were untruths but couldn't be sure. It left me questioning reality. I wanted to bring my concerns to Kathy, but I knew that would be pointless: I'd be dismissed as jealous, which, in fact, I was.

For six weeks she was love bombed Then he turned on her swiftly and brutally...because she messaged me.

We had gone ten days with no contact, which was an unfathomably long time by our standards. She messaged me to congratulate me on my new job. That's all it was, a congratulations that invited acknowledgement and nothing more.
He had been monitoring her for just this sort of thing, and he pounced. Clearly she had "unresolved issues" with me. Contacting me was a betrayal. And much, much more I won't bother writing.

They went right to hell right quick. They'd been 'Facebook official' (i.e. "x and y are in a relationship") for all of four days. I later learned this was his doing, and its revocation was my first clue that something was amiss.

The second clue requires some explanation. It was my gut.

You know I feel people's emotional pain as physical pain. It's why I don't do so well in large crowds; I find the energies overwhelming. What I haven't told you, because (a) I can't explain it and (b) it gives me a sense of shame, is that there are two people on the planet whose emotional pain will translate into physical pain for me, no matter how far apart we are. Their fear is my gut cramp; their anger is my massive headache.

As I said, I can't explain this. I can't explain why it's these two people--Darlene, whom I last saw in 1992, and Kathy--rather than, say, Eva. It's also not 100% reliable. Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes my headache or gut cramp is just a head cramp or a gut ache, and there have also been some false negatives. But I do know that if I feel a certain kind of pain, and it's severe, I should check in.

I'd had gut cramps at intervals for a week, nothing too severe, nothing to really trigger that check-in reflex. Then on a Saturday morning I woke up at 7 feeling like I might just puke up everything inside me.
I messaged her. My cramps coincided with him storming out of her house.

He had wrought a remarkable amount of damage in a very short time. She felt very stupid for falling for this guy (oh, yeah: he turned out to be a convicted felon. Domestic assault. Charming.) I told her, repeatedly, that she had nothing to feel stupid about: people like that are very, very good at what they do. In the space of a few text interactions with him, he had managed to find almost every insecurity I had and force me to question my own sanity on a number of points. Eight weeks of love-bombing, constant lies and gaslighting...had reduced her to a shadow of herself.


IN early 1993, I went through a rather spectacular breakup with a woman named Lynne. Two weeks after she had tossed some of my stuff out a second floor window, her brother was struck by a train and killed. Lynne called me. I have no idea why, in the wake of what had just happened....well, actually I do. When people are hurting, they call me and I do what I can.

I did what I could. She lived just a couple of blocks away from me then -- oddly enough, I live on the same street now that I did that semester. I spent the night. Not in her bed, that would have been entirely too awkward. No, I slept on the floor. She dangled her hand down and I held it and that, other than a couple of hugs, was the sum total of our physical contact. I left in the morning and I don't think I ever saw her again.

I've done similar things for people who needed it, once even using sex as a connecting method (there really is none better, in my experience, anyway). This is what I do, this is who I am. My work schedule suddenly was not conducive to seeing Kathy at all. But I went and saw her on Maundy Thursday into Good Friday, and did what I could to make her feel loved and, more importantly, loveable.

It seemed to work while I was there. Then she brought me home and ... it didn't work at all.


I want to talk about the bond she and I have. Had. Tense unclear at this point, as it seems she is severing it. Which, as much as it hurts, is a good thing for her. So let's go with "had" for the time being.

I usually refer to it as being welded at the fingertips. I first fell in love with her in April 2016, and when you fall in love with someone, you want to know everything about them. Compounding that, our little polycule eventually consisted of myself, Eva, and Mark, who live here...

...and Kathy, who didn't. In an effort to make Kathy feel like part of us, I essentially moved in with her online. I had the best of intentions, and for a while it felt like the road to heaven. We talked about everything, including the tiniest details of our days. It was a comfort. A very great comfort. It was also toxic as hell.

One way it was toxic is that it took away time and attention from Eva and I. Of course this happens, and it's a good thing in moderation: you don't have to be in husband mode 24/7. There are people to share the load. BUT IT ONLY WORKS IN MODERATION, and with Kathy and I, there was none. No moderation at all. After six months, we had exchanged over 750,000 text messages. God alone knows how many there have been since. You think you get the picture, but you don't. We're talking hours a day, every day. Way, way too much.

Another very toxic effect: I became, essentially, Kathy's only emotional outlet. This, too, was not intentional. I often told her she needed to get out and make friends, not to mention procure other partners. She tried the latter for a solid year, and it didn't work out well for her. It culminated in that disaster back in March, the disaster I tried to pick up the pieces from. Friends? She didn't try.

So what did I do? Nothing. I allowed that bond to keep its hold over us both. Late in 2018, she told me she was feeling smothered and asked me to find another partner. At first, it shames me to say, I ignored her, and then I could ignore her no longer when she dumped me at the end of January.
There were several reasons I was dumped besides the smothering. Familial contempt on her end was a big one. Another was simple logistics: I live an hour away and don't drive. Another big one was the future: I had told her on numerous occasions that I would be happy to be her partner for the rest of my life and hers. And I meant it.

Eva and I had discussed various scenarios to allow this if it came to pass.  It would have made our marriage even more unconventional than it already is, but neither of us cares much for convention, as you can see. The thing to remember, though, is that this was far from a foregone conclusion. A lot had fallen just right for Kathy to come into my life in the first place; a hell of a lot more would have to happen just so if she were to be here that long-term. I thought I had made this absolutely clear to all involved.

Hopes, not obligations.

So Kathy came back, and I took her back gladly, and plans were made for the near term future, while the far future seemed, against all odds, to be coalescing. Irony of ironies.

What Kathy told me is that nobody had ever loved her the way I do. That I was the only person who ever really knew her.

I can't speak to the latter. I can say I did my damnedest to love that woman without conditions, which means I stuck with her through things that would have driven most men screaming into the night. No details here--ask her. As much as she hates me now, I think she'd still agree with me there.

Yes, I said she hates me now. That could change in an hour, hell, in ten minutes...but this time I doubt it. And why is that?

Because I'm poly.

I have a new partner now, a partner Kathy urged me repeatedly to find, to lessen that smothering effect. What I can tell you about my new partner is that she's polyamorous herself and has been for decades. She offered to bring me to and from Kathy whenever necessary; indeed, she actually took me halfway to Kathy's that Maudy Thursday evening when I missed a bus and she happened to be in the neighbourhood. (Even more polyamorous sentence: "I kissed my wife goodbye and then one partner ferried me to another.")

Except as that relationship started to show its first buds on what I think might end up being a mighty tree...Kathy....lost it.

I'll spare these details as well: they are INTENSELY personal. Suffice it to say that once again, I did what I had to do and contacted the person in her family whom, aside from Jade, I judged to have the least amount of antipathy towards me. I did this knowing it would get around to the rest of the family, and they would work their dark magic and turn Kathy against me even faster than Mr. Love Bomb managed three months ago.

I told her sister I would not contact her again. "I think that's best," she said.

But of course I did. I did contact Kathy again, and the reason I did it was that she was still extremely fragile. She's had people walk out on her before and I promised her, VOWED to her, I would never be like them. Cutting her off cold turkey would look too much like abandonment, and let's face it, I did NOT want to leave her, only tone things down so I could be her friend.

So that's what I set about doing, slowly. Nobody believed I could do it, which only lent me more resolve. A slow fade to an APPROPRIATE level of contact.
I had to. That bond was choking her. I was blinded by love and didn't see how bad it really was. Her family thinks I'm scum and that she can do so much better--they're right about the last part, anyway, and right now I feel like seven kinds of scum. We simply can't be partners anymore. That has nothing to do with anyone else in my life.

Except, for her, it does.

As of right now I'm not sure it's possible to be friends. She told me this morning that "maybe having your cake and eating it too works in your world, but it doesn't sit at all well in mine."

I was gobsmacked. She couldn't have surprised me any more had she grown three extra heads and started yodelling in Swahili. It was as if she'd never heard of polyamory at all. And calling herself "cake"? I'd already made it clear (so I thought) that we could only be friends moving forward. She's not a piece of cake. She never was.

This has been anything BUT a piece of cake.


So. What have I learned.

The biggest thing I have learned is that I must not allow a relationship to become a codependency as ours did. That mistake wounded another paramount relationship between Eva and I, which I am taking steps as of now to heal...and it ultimately poisoned itself to boot.

The second biggest thing has self-corrected. I've said before that we poly types should date within our species. I now have a visceral understanding of why that is.

(Most) monogamous people SIMPLY. DO. NOT. GET. IT. It's not about "enough", it's about a rich tapestry of loves, each thread   lending its own, irreplaceable hue to the whole. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm on my way to forgetting her. I'm not. I could never. I still love the woman and always will. But in her mind, because I'm with another, she means nothing. This strikes me as flatly crazy, but...never the twain shall meet.

I have learned that if I have to explain something more than fifty times, I should just save my breath, cut my losses, and move on, no matter how simpatico I feel with someone.

I have learned, once again I have learned, that while dreams can be made real, ideals can't be.

And I've learned that losing someone hurts. A LOT.

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life
Green Day,  "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"

Thank you, Kathy. For loving me as long as you did. For trying. For everything.

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