The way I love

Every body tells a story.

I don’t look for perfection in my partners. I look for the things that make them uniquely them. After the initial meeting with a person and establishing some critical areas of common ground, I don’t generally fret too much about our personal differences or fixate on “flaws”.

If I’m lucky enough to spend some real quality time with somebody in an intimate space, I take a lot of pleasure in the mapping of their body with my hands and eyes. It takes a long time for me to develop a full picture. Each encounter, I discover something new. A hair growing in an unusual place, a cute patch of freckles, a scar, a calloused toe, etc. There is a tale behind all of these things.

Sometimes I share my observations. Often, in the past, my observations have not been well received. My thoughts have a tendency to come out unfiltered and fail to adequately explain that I find these things unique and wonderful.

I once dated a man with a beautiful dark beard. One day I observed that he had a couple wild hairs growing up towards his nose and I asked him if they tickled. I think I was hoping to learn a tiny little insight. I was curious if they had always been that way or if they had changed over time. He bristled at the question and said something less than flattering about my hair. It took me by surprise and I shut up. After that I was much more cautious about sharing the unique things I liked about him.

I have also been with people that wouldn’t let me touch their feet, their stomach, or other loathed body parts. Not because of some physical pain, but because they hated these things about themselves so much that my touch was uncomfortable and emotionally painful to them. We all have a right to say no to unwanted touch and we all have a right to our autonomy, but over time this kind of refusal, along with the refusal to talk about it, began to feel like rejection. With guidence, I would have been happy to adapt, but I never knew what would set these people off. I eventually withdrew physically and our relationship deteriorated with it.

One of the things I find so refreshing about my current partner, is that he doesn’t mind my silly observations or my questions about his body. He doesn’t look for offense behind my words. He let’s me touch and explore him.

Being loved is wonderful, but being with somebody that let’s me love him, in a way that means so much to me, is the best feeling ever.

Growing Pains

Last year when I moved into my tiny apartment, before I met my partner, I commissioned my uncle to build a king size loft bed. I wanted it to be tall. I wanted to be able to walk under it and fit a bed and tall dresser under it for my son. He finished the construction this last winter. Then my mom and I set to work sanding and painting. I can’t rightfully claim credit for much of it. I spent 3 afternoons on it – not even 20 hours. I have no idea how much more time my mom spent on it, but it was a lot.

She blows me away with her motivation and all the projects she’s always doing. If she’s not painting a bed for her oldest daughter, she is quilting, refinishing an old table, reupholstering a couch, remodeling a room, or learning some other new skill from a book or website. I own SO many things she has refinished or made from scratch. My kitchen table, the small table I currently use for my computer desk, my first wedding dress, probably about 5 blankets/quilts, jewelry, art, etc. Everything she does looks like it was done by a professional. She comes from a very crafty family. Everytime I pat myself on the back for being crafty, I also realize that I only have a tiny level of skill compared to those that came before me.

(The current couch she is transforming from pepto bismol pink to beautiful earth tones)

But my thoughts are wandering again… Anyway…

Last week, my Uncle delivered the bed and put it together. I love it. It turned out so much better than I could have hoped for. It’s very solid, nice to look at, and adds so much needed space to the little room I’ve been sharing with my son.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t made with my partner in mind or any possible Romantic interests for that matter. It’s not tall enough for him underneath and a little bit short on top. I have enough room to walk under it and to sit up comfortably on top, but he bumps his head easily and often on both levels. Poor guy. I so appreciate him tolerating my new adult fort.

With the new bed arrangement, a new topic of contention between my ex and I came bubbling to the surface. He was furious to discover that I was letting my partner sleep in the same bed with me and our kid. He claimed, that while he believed it was innocent, that I was putting our child in a position to be questioned by teachers or cops.

After he lashed out at me through text, I began to question if I was doing something wrong. I only have one room, I only had one bed, and I’ve been VERY careful about keeping my son separate from my dating life, until very recently. I dated several people my son never met. I’ve introduced a couple as a friends and never demonstrated affection in front of him. My current partner was different early on, but I still exercised caution until I decided I was committed for the long haul. Once I determined this, I started to let the lines blur and I allowed them to develop a relationship with each other. It is possible my ex doesn’t understand how serious I am about my relationship. Or maybe he does and he feels threatened by having “his territory” encroached upon. It probably doesn’t help that I told him about our recent hiccup/split. Oops. (I told most of my friends when it happened. It’s how I establish my support system. I told my ex in case I needed some extra help with childcare and I wanted him to understand why our kid might be sad about seeing less of his friend)

I did a lot of soul searching and I reached out to my friends. I talked to my divorced friends. I talked to my friends with counseling and law enforcement background. What I came to understand is this – this is an incredibly common conflict between split parents.

I also confirmed to myself that I’m not doing anything wrong. There is no reason for anybody to question our son unless my ex starts making accusations and people living in glass houses best be careful what they throw at others. My son is still very young and he still needs the comfort that comes from us sharing a bed and cuddling up together. Neither of us are ready to end our sleeping relationship cold-turkey. My partner is transitioning in to our home. This will be his home at some point and it is unreasonable to make him sleep separately just to appease my ex’s insecurities. I’m also not okay with my ex calling the shots on how my partner and I choose to run our household.

My son now has his own bed and his own space to transition into, but I want him to do it at his own pace. I’m going to encourage him, but I’m not going to force it on him. He’s not always going to want his mom’s squishy body holding him close. Despite the head butts, elbows, and knees, I want to treasure this time before it is gone. And I also have every right to take pleasure in the budding relationship my partner and I are creating.

There is only love in this bed.

A little humor

Last week, when my partner and I broke up for about 6 hours, he gave me a little cash to help get my shift covered. (In my job, we all pay each other “terms” under the table for shift coverage. It is a weird and complicated sub culture I had to adapt to, but the attendance policy is so strict that everybody does it.) Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to get it covered and was too upset to work so opted to call off for the day. As it happened, my kid was sick anyway so it was probably for the best.

Today, I was talking to my roommate and mentioned that I need to pay him back since I didn’t end up using the cash. She promptly said, “No, that’s his reinstatement fee!”

🤣

Exhausted

I slept really well last night and this morning I felt my body truly relax for the first time in days. The stress and anxiety shed off me, at least for now, and now I’m left with the accumulated sleep deprivation from this week. I already wasn’t getting enough.

I am SO tired. I need a sleepcation, followed by a real vacation, and then another sleepcation.

That is the ultimate dream. That and sleeping under the stars on a dry night in early summer.

It’s going to take everything I’ve got to get through the next 8 hours of work.

I need coffee.

And kisses. I always need kisses.

Monsters

I’m not sure how coherent this entry will be. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings that have yet to be fully sorted out. I’m hoping that getting some of them down will help me better understand them.

She and I talked for a long time yesterday. Any lingering issues that I had with her, which at this point were miniscule anyway, have been thoroughly put to bed. Over the last couple weeks I demonized her a bit. It wasn’t excessively so and it was done out of hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and self preservation, but all the same, I need to acknowledge that I did wrong by her. I should have done a better job owning my feelings instead of letting them morph into something else. She grieved hard last weekend and I should have seen it for what it was, instead of fueling the fire between them.

I love her and not strictly in a platonic way. I never had an opportunity to fully explore these feelings and they are under-developed. Perhaps that is for the best as we transition to something altogether new. I will love her in whatever way she will have me. If that is now as part of my family/support system, that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I consider myself to be extremely blessed to have her in my corner.

As for him, I still have some things to work through and I’m more than a little frustrated that my efforts to find a therapist have been stymied so far. I want to work through these fears before they start to take a permanent root. I have another name to call today and I hope this one pans out.

Here is what I can form together right now…

I love him and I’m in this for the long haul. As I have explained to a few others, at my center I feel settled. Being with him feels right. I understand what happened and why it was necessary. What I’m experiencing now is recovery akin to the muscle pain, bruising, and flinching that comes after a car accident.

The gift in all this is that I see both of them wholly for who they are. I have a deeper understanding of how they respond to pressure and what triggers them. I hope the same is true of me. I do wish I could have discovered these things another way, but what’s done is done. Perhaps this way bonded us tighter together than it would have otherwise.

The hurts will pass, but I have two big fears right now. I acknowledge that they may not be rooted in reality. I also know full well I am, in part, projecting beliefs I carry from long ago past experiences, but I think they need to be put out there so they can be explored and understood.

I’m afraid he doesn’t know his own heart. I believe he loves me. I’m just not sure how solid that feeling is. He’s so loyal I don’t know if he would be capable of acknowledging a change in his feelings for me if it did or does happen.

I’m afraid that this experience is going to set a precedent for how we treat each other. I typically forgive easily, but I’m also good at empathizing to the point that I look past my own needs. I learned long ago how very unwise it is to rekindle a relationship once over. In doing so, I become a doormat for abuse. Because of this, I made a rule for myself to not undo a break up. I broke my rule for him. This situation does not feel the same way others have, but it is very hard to let go of the belief that I will be treated differently or that I have lost his respect by accepting him back so easily.

And to make things even more ridiculous, I fear my own fear – that I am going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy by feeding the monsters. I don’t know what to do with them. Do I tell them to shut up and ignore them or do I talk them to death? I don’t know the answer to resolving these fears.

I don’t think I can do this alone. And perhaps that is the hardest part of all this. I’m so used to fixing things myself. My independent streak recoils at the idea of asking for help or needing anybody. But I need help and I need him.

Erase and Rewind

If I try to look at the whole of yesterday, I’m still incapable of taking it all in. There are so many moving parts it’s hard to make sense of what happened.

Hours after his departure yesterday, my partner came back and begged for a redo of the day.

The reasons for the split between us were complicated, rooted to family, love, past promises, and a myriad other things that I can only begin to imagine were going through his head. I didn’t see it coming, but I understood. We talked and cried and then he was gone.

It was hard to digest and I knew it was going to hurt even more after he left, but even knowing past losses, we can never imagine just how hard it will be to go through another loss. It was excruciating. The only thing I could do was remind myself over and over that it was the right thing to do and that I’d pulled through it before and would make it through somehow again.

That evening I sent him a message to arrange the pick-up of his things and he told me to wait. About 20 minutes later, he sent me several frantic messages which ended with him coming over to tell me that he made an impulsive mistake. It was clear he was in a lot of pain.

The accounts of what exactly took place between them is a little blurry to me and I don’t like to speak for them, but this is my overall understanding of what went down. They talked over the course of the afternoon and into the evening. There were other pressing family issues happening at the same time which added chaos to the situation. They agreed that what they felt for each other was a family love and not a romantic one, that 20+ years of memories are incredibly hard to let go of, and that he belongs with me. They needed to see each other in person to understand this and to say goodbye.

I didn’t know how to process any of this. In my mind it was so final – there was no way to reverse course. I was already working through my grieving process. I was severing the connections between us. My entire body was wracked. So I accepted his apology, but it was many hours before I could begin to wrap my head around it. I hardly slept at all last night. My brain was a mess, my heart was a mess, and my body couldn’t seem to stop the process it had started. I had to swollow my pride in order to accept what was happening and in order to feel gratitude to her for letting go of her grip on him. And that brought on a whole new wave of pain. I can’t imagine what she is going through.

This morning we got some moments to talk about it. I talked to both of them. First her through text and then him face to face. I had a chance to say what was in my heart and ask the questions that were troubling me most. It’s going to take some time for me to let this go. I’m still feeling the aftershock of it. I get prickles of anxiety, nausea, and fresh tears pooling at the corners of my eyes every time I recall yesterday.

Rawness is a gift that we don’t often recognize. Today, I allowed my vulnerability to guide my thoughts and actions. I reached out to various friends to share my feelings. I even expressed gratitude to my son’s father for being apart of our son’s life.

There will be more talk. There will also be therapy for all of us. There are many wounds that we all need to heal from. There is a lot of rebuilding that needs to happen, but it feels like it is finally starting to move in the direction of that hopeful place she once invisioned for us all.