The reason I've been waffling...is because some major stuff has happened that I am unable to talk about openly in my offline life, so even though I'm not ashamed about it, it feels slightly uncomfortable to write about it publicly. Particularly when it may seem like a radical departure from what my life used to be.
A year ago, JR and I attended an event where a coworker gave a thesis presentation, along with several others. It was a fascinating, inspiring evening, one of my favorite events since I've returned to college. That evening I met my coworker's wife, and after that we became online friends.
JR and I will be celebrating our six year anniversary in April. We love each other very deeply and have always had a pretty idyllic marriage. We also don't have any family at this point, and tend to be extremely loving/community oriented. So, at some point in the past two years when I laughed and asked him: "Are we going to become swingers?" --it wasn't dramatically out of context.
Except, of course I didn't mean swingers. I meant poly. And, yeah. That's exactly what are now. From extremely monogamous to extremely poly, in the course of a few short months.
This is going to sound almost cavalier as I bust through the chronology of events, because I just don't have the stamina to write a super super gushy detailed entry. I just want to layout the basic framework so I can process some stuff I need to process, now. Just trust me when I say, nothing has happened that didn't feel right. Nothing has happened that didn't make sense for our lives.
It started with my coworkers wife. I'll call her TM. Coworker is JM. (They've been together for 10 years, married for six, and are both my age.)
Sometime during the past year, TM started a tumblr where she made it clear that she was interested in women. I tend to be much, much more gay than straight, so this perked me right up. It appeared she was in the same situation as me, married to a man but still very attracted to women. Living in conservative areas = not something you run into everyday.
We celebrated Solstice together, the four of us plus two other couples. It was pretty much a perfect evening. TM and I got closer than the relationship we'd already established online, and after Solstice I asked her out for a coffee date. Meaning, I had a crush on her but figured we'd just become close friends.
Date one, we talked endlessly. About everything. Our pasts, our presents, our goals. We talked about our sexuality. The topic of having girlfriends outside of our marriage came up, and she casually informed me that JM knew and was ok with the fact that she wanted to have a girlfriend, but that she hadn't had the right opportunity or met the right person.
It spiraled from there. After my "date" with TM, I talked at length with JR about the idea of me dating, and he was very positive and encouraging of my feelings for TM. Over the next week she and I emailed and texted, and by the following week I told her outright that I had a crush on her. We started dating. It progressed rapidly. We fell in love.
Like, for real. For really real. I love her in ways I never thought possible. It's not a question of loving JR less--I love him as much as I always have, if not more. I just love her deeply, too.
Here's where it got more complicated.
Everything was progressing beautifully between her and I. I think because we've both demonstrated that we can sustain a long term, loving relationship, we were able to recreate a similar dynamic between ourselves. Our relationship became something extremely powerful, in a very short amount of time. Basically, it followed a similar trajectory to my relationship with JR--we had a rapidfire beginning that may have been too fast for anyone looking at our situation, but never felt wrong or weird to us. Everything felt right, every step of the way.
And somewhere along the way, JR and JM started to feel a little sad and left out. They were seeing how happy TM and I were, together, and were trying to figure out if they wanted to start dating too, or how they could enhance the amount of love in their own lives. Because TM and I love and adore our husbands, and because JM, JR and I had already been friends for a couple years, it didn't seem weird to start spending time together as a group. Not in a sexual way, just as a "we're family now" kind of way.
Annnd then, of course, pandora's box got opened. After spending some time together as a group, being cuddly and emotionally intimidate, JR and TM started having feelings for each other (as I anticipated they would.) But what surprised me is that JM and I started having feelings for each other, too.
It wasn't his feelings that were surprising. TM had told me early in our relationship that JM had a crush on me, which I thought it was sweet and flattering, but really didn't reciprocate. Until..we started spending time together, and there was touching, and late night talking, and voila. Turns out he and I have incredible, undeniable chemistry.
Things were going so smoothly for awhile there that everything almost seemed simple. TM and I were married to our husbands. TM and I were dating. That was the presumed end of it, we'd just be three happy couples and carry on with our lives.
Now, there are five couples. Prepare for something that looks like a math problem: I'm with JR, JM, and TM. TM is with me, JR, and JM. JM is with me and TM. JR is with me and TM. JR is bi and would be happy having a relationship with JM, but JM is straight so they're just emotionally gay for each other.
Relationships all over the place. And one big poly family group.
It's been a lot to come to terms with.
Last week was really hard. TM and I both had some major old issues resurface regarding rejection/abandonment, and kind of broke down emotionally. Really broke down. The group got us through it, thankfully, and by the weekend, everything was beautiful again. In fact, more beautiful than beautiful. Some of the happiest moments of my life happened this past weekend, with the four of us together.
This week, the focus has been trying to re-stabilize (or just plain old stabilize) the individual relationships. TM and I finally got some alone time on Tuesday. Tonight is date night between JR and TM, and JM and I.
I'm nervous as hell. JM and I have amazing physical chemistry (no sex, we're all getting tested next week as a precaution), but what's wound up happening is that I'm in love with him, and I don't really know how to process it. Especially because TM needed me to put the brakes on my relationship with him last week, so she wasn't as triggered. Now JR, JM and TM are all telling me they love me and everything is ok and we can all move forward...but I'm stuck. I feel stuck, emotionally and physically. And seeing JR and TM developing their relationship after I had already put the brakes on my relationship with JM has been pretty upsetting for me.
They know this, of course. We all communicate extensively and well. JR is slowing things down with TM because I can't handle more than that, at the moment. But I'm just not quite sure where to go from here.
A lot of what's been triggered for me involves my birth family, and how horrible that dynamic was, so I'm trying to work through some of the heavier aspects of my abusive past so I can embrace this new group dynamic. Which is the polar opposite of anything I've ever known. I don't know how to feel and accept love from multiple people at the same time. I've never had to, before. I don't know how to demonstrate love for multiple people at the same time, either, in a balanced way. I'm trying to learn, but I'm basically fumbling around in the dark. I also know that a lot of it comes down to being totally open and vulnerable and authentic and...I just don't feel that way right now.
I feel scared. I'm still feeling the hurt of last week, even after our beautiful weekend. I'm still feeling unsteady and like I can't move without ruining everything. I'm terrified of setting off an emotional bomb without even meaning to. And I am so, so fatigued of living in a heavy emotional place and processing things and feeling so uncertain that I just want to pretend everything is fine and move forward. But the really annoying part is that they're all tuned into me, so I can't even get away with that.
I'm really not used to all of this emotion, period. I know that the only way for me to feel better is throw myself into self-care, which is why I decided to journal today...but I'm also not sure this is something I can process through with words. I think this may be one of those situations that can only be soothed by experience and time. And I have to find a way to be open to that, instead of creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Which JR seems to think I'm doing. Holding everyone at arms length, even though I'm trying to keep everything together.
I'm going to go take care of myself and think things through a bit more.