Tag Archives: issues

Unwanted

I am setting my feelings outside myself. They are too much to hold inside right now and I don’t have the time, I just don’t have the time.

To be busy–to choose to be busy–is to choose not to be present in oneself. I know this. I understand that it is avoidance and good for no one. But so am I–good for no one, least of all myself. The emotions aren’t good. I don’t want them and I don’t know what to do with them.

Lonelyandsad is quiet, at least. If I stop moving, choose not to be busy, it will lumber over and lie on top of me with a sigh. It might be comfortable if it weren’t so heavy. If I am busy it stares from corners, never quite out of sight. It is patient. Distracting.

Toloveyou is insistent. It paws at me. Check your phone, check your phone, check your phone. I try to be gentle when I push it away. It comes barreling back, nips and pulls. It is naive, unused to change. It is not the only toloveyou I’ve had. It will learn soon enough that sweetness and earnestness and hope don’t change anything, spend more time sleeping out of sight.

Fearandtrembling is never far. It peers and pecks at everything, pulls it apart layer by layer looking for tricks and traps and danger. Whatever is delicate and innocent will end up shredded on the floor with the rest, but I don’t dare take it away.

Unwanted creatures, all. They can’t be part of me, they’re too alien and thoughtless for that, but they’re still mine to care for and control. I don’t know how.

Eggshells

We hurt each other.

Not consensually. Not for kink. Sometimes we just do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing. Maybe we have a fight. We know each other too well, emotions are high. We know better, but we feel hurt and want our partner to feel it, too. Words come out. When you know someone well enough, you know which scars never fully healed, how to rip them open again. Or maybe it’s an accident, a blithe comment that reveals a wound you didn’t know was there, or just forgot. It’s not just words. Actions, too: a flogger wraps. Embarrassing, painful. A cancelled date, an unexpected touch, something precious dropped and maybe broken.

We hurt each other.

Whatever the form, when you hurt a partner (or they hurt you), it is compounded by a sense of betrayal, if only momentarily. We trusted you. Maybe not completely, but we trusted you not to hurt us. So (at least) two things need to be addressed: the harm itself, and the aftershock. Confronting the person who hurts you can be hard. Being confronted can be hard. We have to do it if we want to repair damage, but it isn’t easy. Almost no one knows where to start.

If you’ve hurt someone:

Apologize. They may not accept it (and they don’t have to), but apologize. Mean it. If you don’t know what you’ve done to hurt them, find out as calmly as you can. “I’m sorry that you feel bad” is not an apology. It’s passive-aggressive. Apologize for the behavior, not its effect.

Remember that it’s not about you. If someone is telling you that you’ve hurt them, that isn’t an attack. Defensiveness is a refusal to address the issue. I presume you care about your partners. If you hurt them, focus on fixing the hurt rather than maintaining your ego or denying the hurt exists.

People aren’t heroes or villains. Doing something wrong does not mean you’re a horrible person. We all do it. We fuck up or lash out or just don’t know what the hell we’re doing sometimes. These are discrete behaviors. If you’ve hurt someone, it makes sense to feel bad. It’s not so helpful to decide this makes you a Bad Person who should be shunned forever for your unforgivable sin. Acting like that is asking the person you’ve hurt to take care of you, and avoids addressing the hurt.

If you’ve been hurt:

Articulate it as well as you can. A person can’t address an issue if they don’t know it exists or don’t understand it.

Do you know what you need? An apology, space, time, physical contact, reassurance, a commitment to address a certain behavior? Ask for it. If you don’t know what you need, say that. Ask for help finding a solution. Too many arguments move from “I’m sorry” to “that’s not good enough” without ever saying what would be good enough. And maybe nothing is, but if that’s the case it needs to be said.

It’s not about them. People aren’t heroes or villains. Calling someone a monster doesn’t address the hurt; it tells them you think it’s inevitable and irreparable that they’ll hurt you.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to not be able to deal with it right away. When emotions are high, productive conversation can be painful, almost impossible.

Often we hurt and are hurt at the same time. There’s triage. There are cycles. I hurt you, the way you handled it hurt me. It takes mindfulness, self-control, cooperation to keep that from building up and up and up. And we fuck up. We fail. It’s going to happen again. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

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Please note that none of this is particularly helpful when dealing with an abusive situation. Just situations where problems or arguments occur and could be more productive. Also, y’know, I’m not exactly good at all this. Could be completely wrong.

Unconditional

“I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty five days a year, I was still in elementary school at the time – fifth or sixth grade – but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “Did the search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”

“Waiting for the perfect love?”

“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

There’s a certain kind of love, when the impossible happens and agape settles over eros, storge, and philos. It is unconditional.

Unconditional love is a horrible thing. I suspect those who want it are lucky and unimaginative both: it doesn’t occur to them just how bad conditions can be. Even as a kid I sneered at it: the Giving Tree was a cautionary tale, surely, about giving up oneself for someone who may not care at all.

When it happens, it’s not by choice. I don’t want it. It’s more than vulnerability. It’s illogical. It pushes aside “why do I even care?” no matter how valid the question. Why doesn’t matter. Supporting this person will be a priority. I’ll sort myself out later.

It’s automatic. Unexpected, the first time. I’d always been so good at walking away from anyone who hurt me. From anyone, really; cut-and-run was an easy solution to any argument. But there I was, wedged in the back of a closet in the middle of the night with an overheating cell phone pressed against my face. Listening to a voice I’d heard grow and change all the way from childhood say “You’re so much smarter than I am, and I can make you an idiot. That’s all you had going for you–being smart. If you’re not bringing that to the table anymore, what good are you to me? I never cared. I just wanted to see if I could make you care. If I could break you. It was easy.” There was more. I don’t remember–I spent the better part of that night in fugue–but he said there was worse, later. That he was too ashamed to repeat it, that it was inexcusable, unforgivable, and please-believe-me none of it was true.

Inexcusable. Unforgivable. He was probably right.

I couldn’t say anything. Couldn’t tell him to stop, ask why, apologize, beg, anything. The closet was a safe space: small, cramped, easy to control. I could lock out the whole world, every threat and person and object except my own clothes and shoes. I brought the phone with me. He was causing the panic, too-calm words spinning me into nothing like a spell, but I brought him with me. I was so afraid that whatever had caused this was hurting him. I couldn’t go unless he told me to, couldn’t hang up in case he needed help.

Inexcusable, but I spent weeks talking him through it. Excusing it. He was mentally ill. We talked for hours, found the process that had brought him there. I understood. We were badly cracked but not broken, both willing to patch each other with pieces of ourselves. Unforgivable, but I forgave him long before I understood.

I was in love with him. Horribly, impossibly, unconditionally. I never said it. Not even after I admitted it to myself, nor after he said the words to me. There was no point. We were dangerously incompatible. His mental illness, and mine. His religious devotion, my near-atheism. His monogamy, my unwillingness to consider it. He wanted children so badly. I never have. Impossible.

I thought it would eventually fade. I’ve been passionate, fond, and philosophically and intellectually engaged before. It’s not the same. Those relationships form connections–strong ones–but cruelty, incompatibility, boredom, even distance wears them down. They need maintenance, building up. To be clear, that’s one of the best things about them. Affirming the worth of a relationship is part of keeping it intact. When that other valve opens, it turns sand to concrete with me sunk in its center. Once it sets, all I can do is learn to walk with the weight of it.

I had hoped to be done with the unconditional. It isn’t better. It’s not just illogical but harmful. The first one broke me. Survivable, but life with a missing limb. The place he used to be still hurts. I wanted never to do that again. I went through stages of grief falling for the Techie: No, this isn’t real, just a biochemical surge fueled by intense play and incredible sex; it will pass. No, I refuse, how dare I even think of falling for him? Okay, yes, I was playing too close to the edge but if I back off maybe we can go back to just fun. Fuck, I hate myself, why can’t I be smart enough not to do this again?

I haven’t seen him. Not because I’m hurt–sure, it was a measurable quake, but I’ve been through worse with people and come through still friends. There’s just no point. He’s showed no interest in maintaining anything. Best leave it alone.

I have been spending time with his girlfriend. She’s unhappy. Doesn’t trust him (who could blame her?). I don’t mind talking her through some of it, though I tread carefully around offering advice. He’s my ex; there are so many reasons not to go there.

She said something. “He’s mopey because he thinks he doesn’t have any friends anymore. And all I can think is ‘whose fault is that?’ you know? The way he treats people doesn’t exactly earn friendship.”

She’s right, of course. But that’s not the way I think. It’s automatic: he’s unhappy, I wish I could help. If he did want friendship, I’d still be there.

Unconditional. It’s pretty well fucked up.

Frustration

Sexual frustration hits me hard. It’s distracting, makes me snappy, things you’d expect. Then there’s the paranoia: maybe I’m not having sex because my partners don’t find me desirable. Maybe I’m not desirable. It all gets disgustingly self-pitying and the worst part is that I know better, but knowing there’s not a sound rational basis for these thoughts doesn’t make them go away.

I haven’t had sex in over a week. More to the point, I haven’t had an orgasm since last Monday. As in, eleven days. It’s contributing to an unhealthy retreat away from people and into my own head, but I don’t seem to be able to pull out of it.

I don’t even know how to talk about this without sounding like a complete brat, because I know how lucky I am to have Spouse and the Techie, and plenty of people go for far longer than a week or two without sex and manage not to whine about it all over the Internet. If it were just a brief period without sex, I’d probably be just fine and move on. It’s the circumstances that my brain twists into paranoia and self-loathing that are making it so hard to deal with right now.

Spouse has a fairly low sex drive. (Okay, just about everyone does compared to me.) If I initiate things and he’s not exhausted, sexy times will ensue (and be awesome), but he’s typically not going to be spontaneously in the mood. Lately, his mouth has been in so much pain that he can’t enjoy kissing at all. Since kissing is probably my all-time favorite activity, it kind of makes the process of initiating sexy times unpleasant and awkward for me.

The Techie’s been busy. It’s something we’ve agreed to talk about, because it’s getting ridiculous. He works late into the night on weekdays, and a significant portion of weekends. Essentially, when he’s free and invites me to do things, it’s after 2300 and I should be sleeping. When I’m free, he’s working. We met for a while last Friday night, but the girl who lives with him got back into town that same evening and he said he had to be responsible and talk to her alone a while: there were things to process.

Since I’m not seeing anyone else right now, and masturbation is just not working (because my brain hates me. Seriously. I need a new one.), I’m feeling kind of stuck. The feeling-undesirable could probably be alleviated by dirty texting or something, but because I feel that way I can’t bring myself to hit send so they get deleted.

So, yeah. I need to get laid. This will require being all sorts of proactive.

Scheduling Conflicts

I told the Techie about two weeks ago that it was important that we see each other before my classes start up again. Partly because oh my God the sex is amazing, it needs to happen more often. Partly because I’m seeing the man, I want to actually see him once in a while. I don’t know how much time I’ll have after term starts. Partly because there are a couple of things we need to talk about–logistics of scheduling, I’d like to clarify how we want to characterize our relationship, etc. I don’t want to send a dreaded We Need To Talk text, because those words are scary and I’m not evil. So instead it was “hey, I know life is hectic, but we need to make this happen.” He agreed.

First I invited him to join Spouse and co. at a bar after work. He was still working when we left the bar at eleven, so that didn’t exactly pan out. The conversation came with the reassurance that there’d be plenty of free time shortly, since he was taking a few days off to do some home improvement that had been put off too long.

Then I offered to help build a fence. By the time I left work he had all the help he needed, and he doesn’t much like asking me to do physical labor anyway, so things got put off. No big deal, it wasn’t exactly a date.

I had a busy couple of days after that, so we didn’t talk much except a few brief text messages. I eventually asked how full his dance card was for the next couple of days. (“very”). Things came up for him. My in-laws visited unexpectedly. He got called to work the last two times we had plans. And then I sulked.

The thing is, it’s not the usual paranoia with him. He says he wants to see me, and I believe it. It’s not that I have to see a person all the time to be happy. But I have a lot of obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I try to schedule my entire life, from class and work to social activities and exact meal plans, a week or so in advance. There are white boards and planners and a spreadsheet on the fridge. The only reason I don’t share a detailed Google calendar with people I see often is that Spouse says all our friends would think that was insane (as though they don’t know I’m kind of nuts already?). If I have plans and they fall through, it doesn’t exactly ruin my night–I can talk to people or bake or read at home alone, no big deal. It’s a little more frustrating when plans for seven become plans for eight thirty become maybe nine o’clock become sorry-I-can’t-make-it, but it’s an unavoidable occupational hazard.

My classes start Wednesday. I’m taking a lot–fifteen credit hours (with plans to drop to twelve after I decide whether to drop the one that may be too difficult or the backup). I’ll be working 20 hours a week. Studying and writing for class. I’m active in the kink community–organizing and providing games to the board game munch and cleaning the dungeon each take up a solid block of time every week. Spouse and I have dinner parties, and of course I want to spend time with him alone as well. So while I think I have time for the Techie about once a week, maybe occasionally more, it will not work if we can’t plan ahead.

So we have plans for this evening. I’m having dinner with Spouse, then heading to the Techie’s place at about eight. Fingers crossed that things don’t fall through again.