Tag Archives: Z

Scenes from a Break-Up

Z and I broke up. It wasn’t pretty. The conversation followed a couple of weeks of silence and a passive-aggressive facebook post, so it was obvious where it was going to lead. Still. It wasn’t pretty.

Z: “I assumed you were lying and trying to manipulate me.”

I understand this fear. I don’t understand how it excuses her lying to and manipulating me. She feels paranoia and mistrust, she decided it was true, she decided not to say it, and she decided to treat me differently based on those feelings. She decided I was lying to her. That I wasn’t invested in a relationship with her. She closed off to the relationship in response to that fear. She didn’t tell me. It’s long standing (I’ve written about it before), and we’d discussed it more than once at length.

Z: “So if I think you’re manipulative, I shouldn’t stay in a relationship, but you don’t trust either of us. Shouldn’t you not be in a relationship?”

She may be right. My trust issues are severe. I’ve hidden things I shouldn’t, and a part of the problem that led to this most recent mess came out of that. I wasn’t being open about my mental state or the effects of illness. I’m not being open about them here, even, and you folks don’t know who I am. I hide in closets sometimes, or in my car. It’s probably not healthy.

The difference, as I see it, is how we respond to fear. I am always afraid. Anyone who is allowed to get close is close enough to cause hurt, and that thought is never far away. I try not to make decisions based on fear. If I have to–if I can’t think straight anymore and terror becomes certainty and the floor falls out–it’s not an excuse to attack. It’s not an excuse to lie. It means I’m leaving.

Z: “Every time you say you want someone else, what I hear is ‘not enough, not enough, not enough.'”

This wasn’t directed towards me. It’s not the first time she’s said it. Not enough. That may be what she hears, but that’s not what is being said. I’ve always found this line of thinking particularly childish and narcissistic. “If same-sex marriages are legitimized, my heterosexual marriage means less.” “If you’re bi, you can only half-like me.” “If you want other partners, it’s because you don’t want me.” No. No. NO. Look, I get that we’re told to believe this basically from birth, because that’s a major tenet of the theory of One True Love. In reality? “I want to be in another relationship also” doesn’t say she’s not enough. It doesn’t mention her at all. The need to make herself the subject of a sentence or topic that has nothing to do with her is kind of baffling.

Also, she was dating both of us. Does she translate her own behavior the same way? Were we each not enough for her? Or did she never consider us to be in a relationship?

Z: “You’re saying this is all my fault.”

I wasn’t, and I don’t believe that. “I’m saying your choices and your behavior are your fault. And my behavior is mine.” If she doesn’t tell me there’s a problem, she’s not giving me the option of addressing it. But that doesn’t erase anything I’ve done wrong, of course not.

Me: “You’re important  to me. I’d like to know we could still spend time together, but I don’t see how a romantic relationship could work.”

Z: “It can’t.”

I respect the hell out of her for being blunt there. I should have been, and I chickened out; softened it to uncertainty even though there was no doubt that this needed to end.  Maybe I felt I’d been harsh and unkind enough in the hours leading to this, but more likely it was plain cowardice. It is not kind to leave the burden of saying what needs said on someone else, and I did.

 

As we left it, she and the Techie are still together. In theory, so are he and I. I’m wary: if she can’t be happy with polyamory and he can’t be happy with monogamy, it seems to be a pretty clear recipe for misery unless one of them changes their mind or they split up. In the meantime, I’m in a real good spot for collateral damage. But that’s hardly new.

 

Obviously this is only a few snippets of the conversation, the comments that most upset me. Obviously this is only my interpretation and perspective. I’m upset. These are patterns I don’t find acceptable and I am known for showing little compassion and no flexibility when faced with things I don’t find acceptable. It means there’s a fundamental incompatibility. It doesn’t mean she’s a monster or a villain or a Bad Person. I’m not interested in any support/commentary that feels the need to say she is.

Cat Logic

One of my cats has a terribly annoying habit. She will sit down just out of reach and wait for me or Spouse to move and pet her. Then she will walk away a few steps, flop down, and stare at us until we get up and go pet her again. This continues until (1) we stop following her, (2) we become frustrated by her manipulation and carry her back to wherever we want to be, or (3) she suddenly stops the game to tear around the apartment for no damn reason. Cats do that sometimes.

My theory is that she’s measuring our love for her in how far we’ll follow when she goes away.

Z is acting distant. Saying bitter things that suggest I only spend time with her in order to get to the Techie. Moving away from casual contact–if I touch her she suddenly needs to wash dishes or go outside to smoke. Last night she asked if she needed to leave the room so he and I could fuck, and left before we could answer. (She’s been in too much pain to join in, but still.)

She’s pushing me away, maybe him too. She’s said not to follow, that she’s insulted when it seems like we are babysitting her emotions. I respect that. But it seems a lot like cat logic. If we don’t follow, it means we don’t care. If we do, she keeps moving away. Dragging her back whether she wants it or not is not an option (for obvious reasons).

I’m handling this poorly. It’s hard for me to show compassion when I feel insulted. I spend time with her alone often, invite her to my place, suggest we go to shows. Z and I hang out, talk, cook, etc. without the Techie. The Techie and I only see each other around her. If he and I are alone together, it’s because she briefly left the room.

I do not spend my time on people I do not care about. I’ve told her this, and she’s seen it, but the idea remains that I’m just using her to be with him. It’s hard to handle because I do care. I’m not willing to just roll my eyes and walk away rather than try to resolve this. And I empathize: I’ve pushed people away and shut down because anxiety said it would hurt less than waiting for them to leave. It’s unspeakably difficult not to shut down now, because I don’t know how to handle this. I can’t help but think Z and the Techie would be more secure, happier, if I walked out the door right now and disappeared from their lives. It’s hard to believe either of them when they say that isn’t what they want.

So far I keep following. Keep talking. Will continue to invite her out and ask for her time because she’s important to me. I worry it isn’t enough, that she’s going to keep moving further, keep looking for the spot that’s just too far. I texted earlier:

this is an issue and it’s looking like a lot of that is on me. I’d like to talk it through if/when you’re up for it. Meantime if there’s anything you need, just say the word.

She hasn’t answered. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Folks, I’m really fucking bad at this. In case you hadn’t noticed.

[Update: conversation has cleared up issues. We had been using the same words to mean different things without realizing it. The Techie had separate conversations with each of us and didn’t relay what was said, we each assumed the content of those conversations had been relayed and were frustrated that the other wasn’t acting on information we didn’t have. And then it asploded. So…oops. Lesson #1: The Techie does not communicate. No assuming things. Double oops.]

Overprocessed

“You’re not saying anything.”

“I’m a sex toy that caters. I don’t figure I get much say.”

Z’s face goes slack. Anger, restraint. “Do you have any idea how insulting it is for you to say that to me?”

I do, and I regret it. “Defense mechanism.”

Too many words, too late at night. They both say they care. I deflect. There’s mention of romantic attachment. I acknowledge, question relevance. I don’t trust hierarchical relationship structures. The Techie doesn’t say anything. Z says she doesn’t know how else to practice poly. I’m trying not to shut down, failing. This can be a conversation, but not at six in the morning, not after four hours of this. I accept the term “dating,” if tentatively. There’s more to discuss.

Spouse is furious. He hates the Techie. He cries, threatens, manipulates, cries. The reaction surprises me. It’s too strong. I can’t manage empathy; I don’t understand. It hurts to comfort him while he attacks. It hurts that he sees self-defense as an attack. I’m frightened and shut down, curled into the closet messaging strangers for support. Wondering why I ever thought human interaction was worth the work.

Two days, more than twelve hours of difficult conversation. I dredged up ancient history with Spouse. I felt forced into it, but no less guilty. Still wondering whether human interaction is worth the work.

Today’s been stable. Work, meetings, listening to Nightvale radio. No difficult conversation. But stress hasn’t gone down. I’m not certain it will.

I do this to myself. Poor choices, I guess.

Ars Corporeum

Z and I went shopping the other day. First for underwear, then thrifting for dresses. It’s the only clothes shopping I enjoy: rummaging through sale bins or racks of random things.

She was uncomfortable. I get that: mannequins and pictures of skinny, busty white women; saleswomen who talk about bras in terms of cleavage and adding cup sizes rather than comfort or durability. She tried on a few. Some looked great, but the mirror and the shop (and maybe me) made her miserable, so we left empty handed.

I asked if she was okay, she said “yes, except for hating myself.”

My partners don’t tend to fit societal standards of beauty. They aren’t tall or model-thin. They don’t have all-over muscle definition. Those attributes do nothing for me. Honestly, it might be a bit creepy if they did: my family has enough models and could-be models to put me off the look entirely. If I have a type, it’s people shorter than me, unconventional; pierced, tattooed, or scarred.

Z doesn’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model (complete with badly Photoshopped cleavage). She’s short. Her features are delicate, almost anime-like. Her skin is scarred, covered in tattoos (we both agree: not covered enough). She’s visibly muscular, not thin.

Spouse is close to my height. He wears his hair very long, nails painted, legs shaved. He favors women’s jeans and shoes, as gender-neutral as he can present. His gestures are exaggerated. Expressions, too: his mild disappointment looks like devastation, slight amusement like unmitigated glee.

The Techie is three inches shorter than me, but people somehow get the impression that he’s tall. His hands are wide and callused, his eyes too intense behind too-long lashes. There’s white in his beard, which he worries makes him look old, though he isn’t and it doesn’t. Ink suits him, though he seems too serious on first glance to be tattooed.

The Chef is strong. Her laugh is high and clear, her smile impish, infectious. She’s six inches shorter than I am, nearly a hundred pounds heavier. She’s strong. She can lift and toss me like a doll. Her bare hands hit with the force of a truck. I love the contrasts of her: breasts spilling over steel boning, black ink on brown skin, heavy blows marked by easy peals of laughter.

She’s beautiful. They all are, not in spite of these things but because of them. We have this idea that perfect skin is untextured, uniform in color (and all too often white), “unblemished” by scars, stretchmarks, wrinkles, freckles, moles, tattoos. But skin tells stories. Scars and ink are most obvious, images of discrete moments. Skin also speaks of habits in callouses, tan lines. Learning the lives that build the bodies we inhabit is a delight. Even knowing this, though, I’m careful to cover my scar, quick to lament my freckles and moles. We’re meant to come to each other as blank canvases, afraid marks left by others or by life will render us unpalatable to anyone new.

Bodies are palimpsest, painstaking to interpret, in places raw and fragile.  Built objects, sometimes showing our regrets and hurts, reflecting what we may not mean them to, not wholly in our control. It’s easy to see that as ugly, when it fails to match what we’re shown. It can make it hard to hear “you’re beautiful” when we only know one template for the word.

Little Lower Layer

Food is affection. A room is a right. A key is a promise.

The objects in our lives have meaning, whether we want them to or not. They may mean one thing to us, something completely different to someone else. There can be conflict, misinterpretation, manipulation without an outright lie when a symbol comes into play.

It’s so easy to be hurt by them, and so hard to avoid no matter how well we understand, intellectually, that what is symbolized is not inherent to the thing. Objective truth be damned: food is affection. A room is a right. A key is a promise.

Food is affection.

I could say “food is love,” but that’s a word I use with the care and trepidation afforded hazardous materials, and hazardous materials have no place in my kitchen. I’m an excellent cook. I love the building of a meal, the time and energy, the heat and smells and sounds of it coming together. If I offer to send cookies or make dinner, it’s because I value someone. It’s an offer of time and energy and the tangible form of joy, not just a desire to nourish. Food is affection. It seemed so obvious I never thought it needed to be said. But to some, a meal at home is banal. It means the night isn’t special enough to warrant going out, or a desire not to be seen in public together, or simple pragmatism. I once made a decadent three course meal for a woman who said “I never really thought of food as something you like. I eat because I have to, but I’d rather not think about it.” To her, my hours in the kitchen were a waste of a perfectly good afternoon.

A room is a right.

Having a room of one’s own confers the right to use that room however one likes. This is inherently obvious to small children, bafflingly ignored by too many parents. In Texas, Spouse and I had a two-bedroom apartment. We shared one room, and the second was a library. It was also my room: my reading chair lived there, my photography table. It was a place I could play country music, sequester myself with friends or a lover, or just enjoy solitude and a good book.

We moved to a one-bedroom apartment in New Orleans. I don’t have my own space here. It’s affected nerves: my need for solitude and silence is at times profound. I have shut myself in the closet here more than once, just to try to feel that there’s some small space that only I control.

The Techie and Z have a spare room. It’s where I sleep, when I stay at their place. They call it my room, sometimes. It’s a convenience: I stay there once or twice a week, no one else does. But it’s a guest room, not mine. I can’t assume it’s available or that I’m welcome. I don’t keep my things there, or use it as a haven. It is not my space, simply space I am allowed to occupy sometimes.

A key is a promise.

The first time the Techie offered me a key was over a year ago. It frightened me, the implication of trust and commitment. I declined. He mentioned a few times that he’d like me to have one before we fell apart in December. I never took it. Since I’ve been with him and Z, they’ve both offered more than once. It just makes sense, if you get here and we aren’t in, or are in the shower; in case you leave something and need to get it, in case Z locks herself out, etc. We want you to have it. No big deal.

It is a big deal. A key is a promise: this door is never closed to you. You are welcome, now and for the foreseeable future. My home is your home.

It’s a promise they can’t keep. The Techie has already shown he’s perfectly willing to excise me from his life completely rather than risk a difficult conversation. Z I credit with more integrity, but their relationship is hierarchical. An open relationship, not polyamory. Thing about open relationships is that they can close at any time, and secondary partners are unlikely to have any warning, let alone a say.

I don’t want a key. I can’t brush off the little lower layer. It clings like cobwebs in spite of their talk of convenience, in defiance of their insistence that it’s no big deal.

As of yesterday, I have a key. They’re out of town for a week, wanted someone to be able to get in if there’s an emergency. I can deal with this. It’s practical, and temporary.

But it makes me sick to look at my key ring right now. I’m afraid they’ll try to say I should keep it, when they get back; that there’s no reason I shouldn’t have a key. On the face of it, that may be true. But I can’t separate the thing from its meaning. A key is a promise, and this is not one I’m willing to believe or accept.

Omne Trium Perfectum

She’s fucking me hard. Every thrust forces my face down on his cock, further than I think I can handle. With every thrust he tightens his grip on my hair. I’m choking. My throat tries to scream but there’s no air to scream with and his cock is gagging me. She’s fucking me hard and I can’t breathe and he’s groaning softly underneath me and it’s all too much, exquisitely too much. I pull my face away from him, struggle up to my hands gasping for air. “Sorry,” I mumble, and he laughs. “You think you have something to be sorry for?” His fingers fill my mouth before I can answer, not that I could have answered anyway.

Her lips are soft. She’s gentler than I’m used to. I’m trying not to smother her, resisting the temptation to make her struggle and writhe underneath me. Gentle is new, different, but then so is she, so is all of this and I’m mesmerized. All this softness can’t do more than tease but God, she doesn’t know that and for once I don’t want to say anything. Her eyes are closed. She looks focused. If she enjoys this half as much as I do then I don’t want her to change a thing. The mattress shifts a moment before I feel his hand on my hip. Her jaw slips open a fraction. Her tongue is suddenly insistent, her whimpers muffled by my cunt. Then he’s fucking her and her mouth presses into me harder. He sinks his teeth into my side, sends a shock through me from his mouth to hers. There are sounds, maybe even words coming from my throat but I don’t much care. She moans, her fingernails digging into my thighs, and it sends me over the edge.

I’m lying on top of her. She kisses slow and soft and earnest. I’m hungry for her, impatient. My teeth find her lips, her jaw, her throat. I don’t bite, just graze and drag my teeth across her. I glance up when my mouth reaches her breast. “Biting okay?” “Yes.” I bite her, not hard, not hard enough for the guttural sound in her throat and the sudden arch of her back. His fingers slide into me before I can pause to see what he’s done to her. He fucks both of us with his fingers while we writhe into each other. Her hand finds mine, brings it to her throat. I tighten my fingers, feel her shiver under the pressure. Her face changes, turns serene, almost vulnerable. I let go of her throat, feel her first shuddering gasp before I run my fingertips across her cheekbones, lips, and chin. We’re both breathing hard. I don’t know if I want to kiss her or keep watching her face. She meets my eyes. “Tell me when you’re close.” I nod. I’m already there, holding back because I want to feel this tension a moment longer. Now I realize she’s holding back for me, I want to draw it out further. I want to see her struggle against it. It doesn’t last long; I want to see her come. I say “just about now,” and within a moment I’m screaming and shivering. Her own shivering and moans follow. I kiss her, if you can call it kissing to devour the sounds she makes like this.

I straddle his face. She straddles his hips. At first she’s punching me, light blows to the scapula while we start to move. Then her hands are on my shoulders, pulling me to lean back. She bites my neck, slides one hand around my chest to pinch at a nipple. He bites down on my clit and I can’t think at all; I’m all spine and pain and too much pleasure. He bites harder, too hard. I’m shrieking in pain, twisting and pulling my body away which only makes it worse. This is too much, far too much. There’s a plea to make him stop just behind the next scream. I’m sure of it. I have no time to say it between one orgasm and the next.

We collapse. We had to, eventually. It’s been a long night, from dinner to hot tub to a long talk about the three of us, about how it’s going to work. Whether it can work at all. We don’t know, but the chemistry’s there and we do want to try. If the sex is any indicator, it’s worth trying.

Nice Shoes

This woman fascinates me.

Let’s just call her Z. We’ve been spending a lot of time together. It’s a little awkward: she’s still seeing and living with the Techie, so I find myself trying to steer around my own emotional context when he becomes the topic of conversation. The night of awful conversation and confrontation seems to have knocked down a lot of barriers to completely frank conversation, so shy and awkward as we are, we’re still communicating more than I manage with most people. It’s kind of awesome. She’s super awesome.

I’m pretty damn attracted to her.

We played a bit, before all the nonsense went down in December. She and the Techie co-topped me one night, and we played around with clothespin zippers at a party. She made it clear her interest in doing toppy things at me wasn’t sexual. So we hang out, dye each other’s hair, bake, rearrange the house, talk too late. On Valentine’s day I brought her chocolate and the world’s most awkward card and we spent the evening alphabetizing erotic magnetic poetry. The last week or two, I’ve been over there late–I spent the night last Wednesday, and was there until almost 0300 this Monday. This meant seeing the Techie, which (damn it) is actually not awkward or unpleasant at all.

She’s gotten flirtatious. I figured this was a sign of her being more comfortable around me, not actual attraction, but I enjoy it anyway. I texted about having brownies in bed, joked that if I joined a monastery but could still have this kind of unabashed hedonism in the bedroom, that’d actually be kind of okay.

Z: “Or you could come over here…(this is my less than subtle attempt at seduction)” … “I even have a nun costume!”

Me: “yes you do. You have been quite clear previously about not having sexual interest in me. So this is my confused face.”

Z: “People change, and attractions. The more I get to know you, the more intimate the non sexual relationship becomes, the physical attraction has always been there, but the sexual attraction is new.”

Me: “…processing error…” [I’m so eloquent]

Z: ” >_> I uh…I’m…dammit.
That is…
I mean…
Nice shoes, wanna fuck?”

The thing is, I do. I probably shouldn’t, but I do. Because she makes me smile. Because she’s covered in ink (I can’t resist body art). Because she’s beyond resilient and I am completely in awe of her. Because anyone who can enjoy standing in front of a refrigerator alphabetizing magnets with me for over an hour is definitely my type.

I probably shouldn’t. Because she’s having continuing issues with the Techie, and while I’m not remotely interested in monogamy, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to form a new relationship if an existing one is thoroughly problematic. Because she lives with him, and I’m a little paranoid that if we were involved he might either become awkward and distant again or overly keen. Because I’m anxious and afraid.

We revisited the conversation, decided to put it on hold until her relationship with the Techie is more stable. It’s the right idea, but still frustrating and unnerving.

So of course we’re going to a play party tomorrow. We’ll hash out what I ought to bring in case we want to scene (now that I’ve organized all the toys). The plan is that I’ll likely spend the night in their spare room again.

Apparently I am very fond of subjecting myself to massive amounts of temptation.