What I Mean When I Say Toxic Non-Monogamy Culture.

This piece is in response to a short list of aspects of monogamous relationships that can be toxic.  Some of these are mirrors of the points in the list of toxic monogamy cultural norms, and some of them are very different. All of this is in my opinion, and probably has a philosophically anarchistic slant to them. They are accompanied by commentary on why the idea in question is toxic. Enjoy.

What I Mean When I Say Toxic Non-Monogamy Culture

~Jealousy is an indicator of the wrong-doing of the partner of the person feeling jealous

Jealousy is a word often used in non-monogamous discourse as a weapon. It is accusatory, as well as it is shamed. I think jealousy can be a catch-all term for bad feelings we have related to the other relationships close people to us are in, and starts within ourselves as a marker for things we need to think about regarding our personal development and that of our relationship integrity.

~A sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical disagreements over needs, insecurities or other relationships

This is a fallacy. Sometimes, people are incompatible and that just becomes more and more likely the more people are added to the equation. Unless everyone has their shit together, it’s not going to function in a way that supports everyone involved, let alone manage to squeak by without anyone getting really steamrolled.

~Relationships are for getting your needs met, so if you aren’t getting a need met in one relationship, another with whomever will do

People are not need-fulfillment pegs to shove into the holes in your heart, y’all. Trying to find people with your specific “need” (let’s face it, we’re talking about wants) in mind first is not paying homage to the dynamism of human beings.

~Love is limitless, which means that you can have as many relationships as you want

Time is limited, and so is energy. While it is prudent, always, to consider whether the amount of time you have to offer someone lines up with the amount that they would like to have with you, it is also advisable to take a look at the assumption that time spent in each other’s physical company is the be-all-end-all demonstration of care.

~Commitment assumes exclusivity of aspects of relationships

Commitment is in the agreements, not the exclusivity. It is also a bit of a fallacy, as people’s minds can change about what they want to be doing, and then weigh the value of the relationship agreement against the desired change at any time, and it serves us to foster safe renegotiation in order to promote autonomy in our relationships.

~Marriage and children limit how non-monogamous someone is, or what they have available to other people

While children become a top priority in the lives of parents, this does not negate or cancel out the importance of their relationships to them, and how they engage with the people they care about. It can mean some finagling of schedules, but that can be easily managed when everyone is understanding and accepting of children’s needs being of high importance.

~Your insecurities are your partner’s responsibility to tip-toe around and never your responsibility to work on

This is precisely in conflict with why lots of people choose non-monogamy for their lives: the challenge, the growth, and the stretching capacity of their hearts and minds. Without a careful examination of self-motives and self-governance, non-monogamous relationships will crash and burn more often than not. Ignorance of self-work is a disservice to yourself, and to the people you care about. Asking for help with self-work is great, but it is still ultimately your responsibility.

~Your value to a partner is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy they spend on you, and it is in zero-sum competition with everything else they value in life

As previously mentioned, it is also advisable to take a look at the assumption that time spent in each other’s physical company is the be-all-end-all demonstration of care. This is simply not always true, and can be a showstopper if an inherent need for time, or lack thereof, is mismatched. There are lots of different ways to show care, but they need to be negotiated and desirable for all parties involved.

~Being of value to a partner should always make up a large chunk of how you value yourself

This one has been a trip-wire for me for years, and I am happy to say that I may finally be getting out of some very self-destructive habits around how much my friends and partners experience of me shapes my reality about who I am. While constructively critical feedback from loved ones is a help to anyone’s personal growth, boundaries around how another person defines your behaviour, and how your inherent character can be separate from their perceptions of your behaviour, is so important for self-sustainability.

Relationship Anarchy Discussion: September Edition

Kale of Relationship Anarchy and I have been hosting a discussion group in Vancouver in conjunction with some Facebook group-based community (Relationship Anarchy, Relationship Anarchy Vancouver). Our fifth discussion was much smaller, and more intimate, which was nice. We were able to dig into a few specific things more deeply. Here are the general notes on what was covered.

What is RA?

~ is it a jumping point off of poly?
~ solidarity is born from self-governance
~ where do allegiances lie regarding terms, and why?
~ cause for pause, and active choices instead of falling into patterns
~ vigilance in communication
~ appeals to the confusion that relationshipping at people naturally fosters
~ requires an analysis of priorities

Labels

~ there is narrative baggage around what the words mean
~ discussing the intentions people have towards each other, and accepting those things may change
~ expectation diffusing/fostering: when are they used and why do we use them?
~ the words that are normal in non-monogamous circles sometimes aren’t known to the general population, so descriptions can make conversations easier

We are super privileged to be able to talk about our non-monogamy openly.

Relationships Changing

~ we hope that things that are not continuing or changing doesn’t mean that there’s been a failure on the part of the individual experiencing loss
~ value placed on the longevity of a relationship is an old idea
~ attachment to the relationship or the person being a certain way in our lives can be oppressive

The discussion groups occur once a month on the first Tuesday at the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room.

Relationship Anarchy Discussion: August Edition

Kale of Relationship Anarchy and I have been hosting a discussion group in Vancouver in conjunction with some Facebook group-based community (Relationship AnarchyRelationship Anarchy Vancouver). Our fourth discussion was a mix of overview, light philosophizing, and delving into more complicated ideas. Here are the general notes on what was covered.

How is RA different from Polyamory?

~ sexual or romantic monogamy is possible within RA
~ poly isn’t necessarily with more rules than RA
~ poly can be pretty couple/pair-bond centric
~ RA is a deliberate abandoning of templates; poly prioritizes the romantic and the sexual still.
~ both offer an opportunity for women to have more agency
~ are people who gravitate towards rebelling progressively move the bar further out/leaning further left over time?

The “I” vs the “We” – when does it apply to RA?

~ there is disinterest in the group with identifying as “I” before “we”
~ solopoly vs RA: some parallels, but some major differences as well
~ anarchy can be very “we” focused philosophy

Narcissism and Us

~ is RA a new fancy way of executing Narc behaviours?
~ how do the power dynamics that are implied in society affect the ways we execute relationships
~ people lacking compassion to their partners can excuse behaviours by claiming RA
~ pathology and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: is it helpful or a blame-game?

How do we do RA well?

~ empowering partners to do what they want to be happy
~ ask for what you want/encourage your partners to ask for what they want
~ what are our agendas, if we have them, and how do we safely articulate them?
~ KNOW THYSELF

Love Languages and their application to RA

~ sometimes they’re different with different people
~ sometimes things people do we hate are actually their love languages
~ the book is narrow; the ways we show care is really subjective
~ it seems like there’s a rapid-fire of love language-ing in the beginning of connecting with someone
~ it can be figured out what people want in care language by what they complain about

Relationships ending vs changing

~ anarchy is about the order that evolves from chaos
~ is the glue holding the relationship together enough for them to treat each other with respect in the transition?
~ how do we treat people when we aren’t particularly happy with them?
~ wtf do we do when we’re old?! how to project into the future of your care in end-of-life
~ is it a failure if we grew/changed as we went in the connection? nope.

How to engage with others about what we want

~ immediate communication is usually better
~ labels are just words we use to talk about ourselves, so we use them
~ COMMUNICATE. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT
~ community building makes connections that are meaningful/sustains them

The discussion groups occur once a month on the first Tuesday at the Tipper Restaurant and Review Room. The September discussion may be rescheduled or skipped as a result of Kale and I both travelling.

On Bi Clarity.

“Cradling the softest, warmest part of you in my hands.”

Invoked in me are teenage feelings, almost a manic kind of emotional state where everything is just raw, unabashed, and new. Ani Difranco, particularly the older albums, has that effect on me. I listened exclusively to her for years in high school before i moved on to darker, harder things. She spoke to me with her poetry, her gender identity, her sexuality. I didn’t know what to do with my feelings at that time, they were so all-encompassing. I knew I liked women. I knew it in my heart of hearts and I didn’t know if it was okay. It was much easier to like boys. It was expected to like boys. But when I stopped trying to ignore that I also liked girls, I was stunned and pacified. And then I would turn around and notice that yes, I still liked boys. It made sitting in a room full of people I could be attracted to very overwhelming; once that perception settles in, it’s hard to turn away. That was before the binary of gender dissolved in my brain.

The opening to “hat shaped hat” is drums starting faint, and gradually increasing until your mind is swimming in them and they are all that can be heard: deafening drums. This represents for me the feeling of discovering attraction. It is faint, and builds until it is all that can be felt.

I am a walking, talking, gesturing nerve-ending.

“The problem of heaven is solved.”

I told my mother once.

When I said I was bisexual out loud and it mattered, I was almost done with teenaged years. I am sure I had said it before then. I had thought about it enough to have surely spoken the words, had I not? Could I have made it that far, in the circles I spent time in, without the words passing my lips out into the world? I suppose it is possible.

When I was eighteen, I was working for a massage place: the kind that gives happy endings that no one really talks about but everyone jokes about. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, and an easy way to make money. My politics around sex work were as they are now: reduce the harm.

I was laying, sprawled out and staring at the ceiling, on the floor in the living room of the apartment we were working out of. The carpets were soft and beige, like the walls. My boss hadn’t bothered with wall hangings, or much furniture, hence why I was lounging on the carpet; there were a lot of plants around, vines and ferns in larger pots, and a few orchids on counters where the kitchen met the living room. I said to her, over the phone, “I don’t think I’m straight, Mom. I don’t think I’m gay, either,” and she spit words back at me like bullets. “That is ridiculous; I didn’t raise you that way.” I told her I had to go, and hung up. I laid there on the floor a few feet from the glass door to the balcony, looking out into the sky. I was numb. The balcony was small but I had a clear view through the bars of the railing, like a cage I had not escaped from with that phone call. I felt beige like the soft carpet under my shoulder blades and the walls around me. There were the green leaves and blue skies to break the monotony of that moment and that room. My thoughts dwelled on whether I had done the right thing in saying something to her for a moment, and passed quickly. She had never been a source of solace for me, or a protector, and to think I was going to get any positive response from her about anything that I felt was important had been a grave oversight. Silly, I thought to myself, to hope.

I didn’t speak to my mother again for months, but I did go back underground. I hadn’t even kissed a girl at that point.

I stayed in the proverbial closet, buried, for over a decade.

“There’s no escape, there’s no excuse. Just suck up and be nice.”

When I was going to hairdressing school, and maybe nineteen, one of the girls I went to school with took me home to her husband, and fed me wine until I willingly put my mouth on her clit while he took it upon himself to fuck me. I don’t consider that to be my first time. I think of it as something someone else did, some other person who was so drunk she didn’t even know what it meant.

“but for the purposes of this song, let’s just say I’m doing fine.”

The first time was when I was twenty nine and yet another woman brought me home to a man, but this time I was falling in love with her.

“You are zesty! Faboo,” she said to me in that first message through an online dating platform. She wrote me long letters over email before we even met; our dialogue just got longer and more elaborate. We met for breakfast at a small cafe that is notoriously without queues on the weekends, and I still think of her every time I go there. I didn’t know what to expect from him at all. I had asked nothing. I just assumed he was attractive because I thought she was breathtaking. Sevens go with sevens, nines go with nines, don’t they say? I walked in and she lit up with a smile, leaping out of her seat and pulling out a chair for me. They had brought me flowers. He sat with one ankle over the opposite knee, leaning back casually. His glasses made him look so intelligent. He was a stockier build with dark hair and eyes, just the right kind of goatee. She beamed at me as I looked at him and smiled. She thought I was so brave to just trust that he was safe, because I trusted she was safe, and to not even ask to see a photo of him. I trusted her with everything after that first message, if I’m being honest.

Sometimes you just know.

“I’ve got the memory, your warm skin in my hands.”

We had a really lovely meal, and talked about everything from books to politics to non-monogamy, to what it was they wanted and what I wanted. He had an event to go to, so she and I went for a walk and settled into big comfortable seats at a coffee shop. We talked incessantly for another two hours. I couldn’t get enough of watching her mouth form words, her lips shaping vowels and the corners turning up and a slight dimple when she cringed, smiled or laughed. She had tucked herself cozily into the larger-than-necessary cafe chair with her feet underneath her, thumbs were skirting the edge of her cup. I memorized it all.

When we parted ways, she drove me to the train station, and we agreed I would go to their home at the outskirts of the city for an overnight in a couple of weeks. I was dying. Fourteen days were not ever going to pass.

“This is only a possibility in a world of possibilities.”

I borrowed my dad’s car and drove the couple of hours journey. The space they occupied was beautifully decorated with art he had done himself: paintings and sculptures peppered the living quarters and gave it a very grown up feeling. I felt like a teenager who had yet to get her shit together enough for this; I was in completely over my head, but I was giving it a shot anyway.

We ate snack things for dinner, which was to become a bit of a tradition. Those big green olives I love, fancy and strong cheeses, hummus, rice crackers, paté, red pepper marmalade, that sort of thing, all arranged beautifully on a platter. We drank gin and tonics (she had asked me what my favourite drink was and purchased the ingredients specially) and talked about relationships and love, their past exploits and mine. I did not share a bed with them that first night. I stayed in their guest room, a kiss stolen from me lightly (i had wanted her to, to be clear) before we went to our separate sleeping quarters. Her hand lightly traced my jaw and eyebrows as she softly put her lips to mine. My fingers instinctually went to the edges of her hairline at the back of her neck. I barely slept that night for the charge of excitement I felt.

“are you ready now. are you gonna glow in the dark.”

Communication continued as a few more weeks passed before we met again. They came into the city having rented a hotel room for the occasion; we went to a beautiful restaurant with middle eastern tapas, our eyes lit up with the excitement of what would come. She sat close to me and would touch me in subtle ways while I chatted away with him about growing up in this city and punk culture in the late 90’s. I felt her watch me as I spoke, quaking slightly under her gaze. It wasn’t unwelcome, of course: I was completely craving her attention. I could feel her eyes and it made me want to reach over and put an arm around her, or let my fingers rest on her knee, or some other slight gesture of “I know you’re right there”.

We retired to the room early. I was so nervous. I remember not knowing what to do or say, what to do with my hands besides fidget, whether to take off my clothes, when. I diverted for a few minutes by taking a shower when we got back to the room. I spent that time in the steamy heat trying to gather some gumption. All the initiative I needed to take was walking out of the bathroom in a towel.

It was enough.

I have hazy recollection now of how the sheets felt. How skin and touching, feeling weight on me, inside of me, felt. I remember dizzying orgasms and heart-stopping moments of intimacy. I remember the colours flecked in her irises.

“there was always the possibility of something becoming what it is.”

I remember the day after as a strange exercise in trying not to run into furniture, snapping out of preoccupation and pinching myself to check if I was awake. She said to me, in a slightly maternal way, that threesomes were particularly draining, and to be sure to be nice to myself for a couple of days. I was fuzzy-headed and blissed out for a week at least. My retention of conversation slowed to a crawl. I daydreamed more. I got very little in the way of work done.

He and I had an easy friendship. We seemed to emote the same, which meant we were able to talk with little inhibition. Quickly, he seemed to misunderstand how exactly to fit into my life. I thought that was strange. We were intimate friends, no? Wasn’t that enough? Wasn’t that actually really perfect, considering the potential for complication in the dynamic? Two is hard. Three is nearly never going to be equitable. I thought this was the best anyone could do.

“so wipe that smile off your face, baby, and try to be cool.”

I had other lovers at the time, one with which there was psychological damage to be repaired when I came out the other side, or escaped, even. She steadily watched me persevere through that, and the fallout. When I think of her custodial watching over the train wreck I found myself in, I think of her sitting next to me on her couch, legs crossed, back against the soft microfibre and very straight, shoulders back. One hand is below and the other is above mine, enclosing it. I think of her calm, steady eyes on me, and the love that they are filled with as she watches me in a state of anguish, tearfully not understanding what I was doing or being at the time. She didn’t speak much in those moments, she just sat with me and held my hand, sometimes my heart, as I wept or questioned, raged at the injustice or laid still with my head on her knee and her fingers on the slope of my neck. Periodically she would reach up with light fingers and brush my hair away from my eyes, or wipe a tear away with a tissue. She sat with me as I clutched my abdomen where the baby used to be that was put inside me, that I had surgically removed as if it were some kind of parasite.

“i’m cradling the hardest, heaviest part of me in my hand.”

Things between the three of us continued in a few different contexts for a few months before they started to become unsteady.

She and I were in a constant dialogue. The beauty of technology these days is that one can be in one ongoing conversation with someone that continues on for days unless their phone dies or some other impossible thing. The strings of text messages went on for ages. We talked about everything, and a lot of that time it settled on her relationship struggles.

The web was spinning.

“i guess that push has come to this, so i guess this must be shove.”

Before too long, she sent me a flurry of texts expressing sadness and frustration, and asking for my patience while they closed down their relationship to outside parties, so they could get their house in order. I, of course, supported their decision; they could not pursue outside relationships while their foundation was crumbling. Do what you need, love.

After a couple of months, she and I resumed spending time together as friends. We went out for New Year’s together, stayed in a hotel, had a lovely night. That time it was short lived.

Off again we went as her primary relationship imploded, leaving the wreckage of dishonesty, distrust and mismatched ideals.

“life is just a boring chore, and I’m living proof.”

I have space in my heart for a lot of people. She took up residence in there, and remains to this day. She will always be the first woman I really fell in love with, and I will always love her because of that, as well as because of who she is. There have been a few iterations of our relationship over the years: friends, lovers, barely speaking, back to friends. I can’t think of anyone I would rather have as my first.

There was a cementing for me that occurred around my sexuality with that relationship. I proved a lot of things to myself with her. It all became real. In the face of bi-erasure within my family, myself, as well as on the greater scale of society, I self-actualized as queer and as bisexual, or pansexual. I didn’t use the term “queer” for a long time because I thought that since I could hide, I didn’t get to use the word. I present as quite femme, which means that I’m not seen for that most of the time. I have privilege in that I can blend in, if I like. I don’t want to blend in, usually, and think it is actually pretty important that I try to not, because blending in is an easy out. I am grateful for the people I have particularly close to me who do see me and know that part of me.

“outside the glass the whole world is magnified, and it’s half an inch from here to the other side.”

My mother didn’t live past my 20th year, so she never knew, really.

Ani Difranco songs mentioned: Swan Dive, Hat-Shaped Hat, Pixie, Deep Dish, Angel Food, Glass House.

a letter to them.

This was written initially a long time ago, and revised recently as a personal essay for a creative writing class. The feelings portrayed here are long resolved, and I love the person who this was written to dearly. She is one of my best friends, and I am so proud to have her in my life.

~*~*~

my dearest, my love, i’ve missed you.

recently, we spent some time together, and it was really nice to see you out and having fun. being you. it has been ages since i have glimpsed you being you; maybe i never had until now. i’m so happy for you.

even as i write this, i’m trying not to. procrastination is a fine art when you do not even realize you are not doing what you set out to. i stop, check if there are updates for my laptop, or look at social media. i get up and see if the food i have in the oven is okay. i shuffle the contents of my kitchen counter around, rearranging things that are perfectly tidy. i wander through the living room to the windows. i take a photo of the beautiful colours the stormy sky is creating outside. the storm is timely because i have a cyclone in my head that would be better out there in the clouds, wrecking havoc on landscape. or on my computer screen, one letter following the next. all of these little activities are avoidance tactics. i have been burying this letter; it has been clawing its way to the surface for a while.

i’m still mad at you. and then immediately at myself. those two feelings chase each other around in my head endlessly, a cat chasing its tail.

we were together for just shy of three years. you lied to me, to everyone, to yourself, for that time, and the years preceding. for your life. i don’t blame you for hiding. i don’t have even the slightest beginning of a thought of what that must have been like. i know only what you have shared with me; that the stress, the depression, the hurt and the fear that almost killed you. because of that, i can’t blame you.

i thought i was going to marry you. i wanted to have children with you.

we talked about it, planned a future. it would all be perfect, we discussed it over the phone when we were apart, mostly. maybe it was easier to lie when you weren’t looking me in the eyes. we would talk late into the night, and i would ask you where you thought we would live, what colour would the sheets be. could we have a pet? as time passed, and things felt stranger, i would ask for more details with more urgency. i wanted you to tell me what we were fantasizing would manifest. i wanted to know whether you thought we could live with your cousin, as you did then, or if we would live separately. would we have an apartment where you and he would keep your office? what colour would the walls be? we should make sure we have laminate or hardwood if we are going to get a pet. i would get my driver’s license so we could live in the city you preferred, of course. i get it; that suburb is quite pretty with all its newly landscaped parks and clean, sterile streets. we thought we would name our first daughter odessa. that was your suggestion. i loved it. should we keep my bookshelves or build something into the living room? i hope we can find something with a yard. dogs and children alike really need green space, you thought. i agreed.

we agreed about so many things.

the first time we fell away from each other it was because you had a row with one of my dearest friends on her anniversary party at a cabin outside of town. she didn’t like you, but i didn’t care. you didn’t like her, and i cared a lot. i remember you driving away from the cabin in a flurry of curse words and flinging gravel. i stood on the porch and watched you drive off after hearing you and her yelling at each other. the tears streamed then, but in two weeks i was back in your bed and your arms because we loved each other and surely that was enough. you hadn’t meant to get so upset, you promised. you would never leave me again, i was too good and kind for being so patient.

the second time came from nowhere, or from my insistence that something wasn’t right, maybe. i wonder about that, if i had asked less questions, just allowed you to be as you were, if it wouldn’t have ended that time. but i asked a lot of questions, and couldn’t just let you be as you were. i was gentle, but insistently so. when can we move in together? why can’t we talk about it? why won’t you tell me why not? why? over the phone, of all things; this was when people still usually broke up in person. you didn’t know what you wanted, so surely we must part ways. surely we weren’t meant to be if you didn’t know for sure. it was weeks before we saw each other, and my tears free-flowed like rivers. as soon as you knew i had been with someone else, you said you never wanted that again. you had also tried someone on, and it had felt wrong, you said. we tried again. i let myself love you again.

i bent and morphed and chameleoned into this person that was ideal for what i thought you wanted. when we met, i left friendships behind you deemed unhealthy for me. my best friend would come into town and i would not see him because you thought he was problematic. there was this one time, the only time you met him, and he behaved as aloof and cavalier as he does a lot of the time. he jumped out of the car at a busy intersection, saying he was going to a punk club. you thought him irresponsible and unreliable. i abided. i stopped seeing him when he came to town, made excuses, flimsy ones like i couldn’t make it or that i was too busy. when you and i disagreed, it ate me up inside; whatever it took to minimize any conflict. my proverbial walking space became littered with sharp, breakable things that i gingerly tip toed my way through in an attempt to appease you. i made changes. i drank less, smoked less, tried to fit in with what you deemed to be a healthier lifestyle. i stopped seeing my friends as much as i wanted because you weren’t keen on social situations more than once a month or so. i stayed in with you whenever you wanted. i saw you whenever you wanted. i would have done anything for you, if you had asked or even shown a sign of a need i could serve. this is how i am with those i love; i will build spacecraft and slay dragons. this subservience was one-sided; this is where the self-loathing comes in. i could have seen it coming, i could have held back. that’s a lie; i could never have.

the sex stopped sometime after about a year and a half.

well, stopped is harsh. it creeped to a slow crawl of an average of about once every month or so, at best. this was if i was lucky. i would wrestle with my feelings and my desires, not knowing if it was because of me; feeling inadequate, lost, isolated within my mind. i remembered lying next to you while you slept, staring into the darkness at the curve of your nose, your slightly pointed ear, wondering if i could see into your mind if i looked long enough while you were sleeping. maybe if you were sleeping, the vault that was your consciousness wouldn’t be as impenetrable.

every time it would happen, i would feel a tidal wave of validation. maybe you still love me. maybe because you wanted to fuck me, you still love me. you would go to the washroom and i would curl into a ball on my duvet and pillows in the dark, and cry my eyes out with relief. i have always hidden in sex, used it as a mechanism for affirmation: a way to feel close and safe. i felt the gap between us grow with it missing from our time together. i felt helpless, a passenger.

you told me, hesitantly, that you liked wearing women’s clothing. you asked me to google about cross-dressing fetishes and tell you if i thought it was weird. of course you’re not weird, love, whatever you like is okay. You asked me if i would mind buying you lacy thongs to wear under your jeans. of course, i would go shopping today.

i thought this would solve the intimacy gap that seemed to be growing.

as the disconnected feeling escalated, i would ask you why we never really talked about living together, the future, what our life together would look like anymore. whenever i brought it up, i was met with rejection and dismissal. i was told i overreacted and over thought. i felt crazy. you reinforced that by telling me i was being crazy, and to check the calendar for my period, as if i had ever had a mood swing in my life. my perception was that if these things were not discussed, they would never come to pass; i engaged you hopefully, and retreated from your criticisms with my fears amassing.

we laid in the dark that one night, and you told me that when i had called you after work, you weren’t just getting into your car to drive to my house, as you had said. you were at my house already, in the underground parking.

you were on the phone with a crisis line, crying and begging for help.

you wanted to die. instead of getting off the phone and acting in self destruction, i called and you told me you would be at my house in a half hour. from my underground parking garage. you said it and sat there, deciding whether or not to tell me.

we laid next to each other in the dark, parallel and staring at the ceiling as if the answers were there. our fingers were intertwined and i turned to look at you just as the words came, when you said “i think i’m a girl” and dissolved into tears i never knew you were capable of having. i think i had only ever seen them standing in your eyes, when you told me you loved me the first time, and maybe once when we had decided to keep going together the second time. third time is the charm, they say.

you told me of your prison within your own skin. i cried with you, once the words settled into my realm of understanding. i told you i would support you no matter what. i love you. i bit my tongue, tasting copper, as my entire universe, the past, present, and future, disintegrated when you said “i think i’m a girl”. every feeling i had, every worry, an illusion. none of it was real. three years of my life was built on lies. the house and the kids and the life we would have together shattered and became what it was: nothing.

you asked me to tell no one, i agreed. you said you wanted to tell your family before i could speak to anyone. i called a counsellor the next day; it was that or institutionalization.

you were the last monogamous relationship i was ever going to have.

we went back and forth through the turbulence of my ousting monogamy from my life,; you did not approve, nor would you tolerate it. i stated clearly that you no longer had a say in what i chose for myself; i was going to take some time to heal, i was going to take care of myself, and i was not going to adhere to monogamy anymore. when you said you wanted me still, despite the challenge, i thought you meant it. i thought you meant you wanted us both to be happy together. you said you would transition, and then no, and then yes. and then there was one phone call while i was in transit one morning that did me in.

this was happening to me too.

i walked swiftly through a train station that led me to work, weaving through jackets and briefcases and shoulder bags of commuters, staring at nothing but never bumping into anyone.

my heels clicked on the pavement as my lips pursed and my eyes glazed over, still not touching another person because if i did i might be a person, like the jackets around me, in that moment of dehumanized, robotic listening to words that cut me. you said you weren’t going to let me go, i stopped in my tracks. i would be your wife, you said, and we would have children, and then you would transition, you said. i realized you didn’t know. you didn’t know what i was going through, and you didn’t know what that life would be like for me. i would be a single mother in no time, and you were okay with that trajectory for me. i knew what you were struggling with was worse, but i was still struggling too and you didn’t know.

i would not be with someone who didn’t know what they were doing to me.
we didn’t speak for months.
when words did start to be exchanged, the odd text here and there or an email, a check in,

it was infrequent and timid. more months passed.

i spread wings from the ashes that were my destroyed projections and i have flown into a whirlwind life where i am myself; i am growing again. i learn every day some thing that will better help me be myself. my self-awareness has been honed into a utility with years of counselling and friends who get me and support me. i have fallen in love and out and in and out. and in. i am calm. my tendency to love unabashedly and deliberately has stayed present within me. it wasn’t destroyed by this great turning point. i’m thankful for that.

i had this idea that it is healthy to get over things. i have had so many things i have tried so hard to get past and let go, but i am starting to think it is more about understanding them. the things we have been through are the dents in our armour that makes it unique and ours. they make us who we are. i wouldn’t be the person i am right now, right this moment, if it weren’t for this, or for you, and so many other varying experiences that have shook my being, ruined me, violated me, have had me twisting and turning in the air trying so desperately to just land on my feet. i always land on my feet. if the things i have been through had not been, i wouldn’t have this specific capacity to love; i wouldn’t have my patience, my sensitivity, my strength. i like who i am. even when i’m mad at myself because i’m mad at you, i’m still happy it all happened. without it i might be different.

this is starting to sound like letting go. or carving out a little place for my hurt to rest and be quietly a part of me. a dent in my armour.

so if I’m a bit distant when we are together, i will come around eventually. or i won’t. i may need breaks. i may go radio silent at times, but i’ll come back eventually. i know you didn’t mean to hurt me. i hope it isn’t taken personally although it is personal to me. i love you.

i’m not sorry.