Emotional Flotsam

We’ve been going through a difficult time. I’m calling it growing pains – at nearly a year, many relationships go through a bout of it – but it could quickly devolve into a growing break if the issues are not addressed and resolved. Feeling restricted from writing here doesn’t make it any easier, as this was always my way of processing and finding resolution – and peace – with what are often roiling, uncomfortable, loud, disagreeable emotions. I don’t like being in the midst of that storm any more than the people around me enjoy being buffeted by it, and being able to write through the part where I want to stand up and scream my confusion, fury and distress has been my safety valve.

I wondered recently why I never seemed to go through what I have put my loved ones – V in particular, but everyone is affected on some level – through recently. Was it that I didn’t feel this conflict? I don’t think so. I know I wrote many times in the time before of my conflicting feelings, of issues we were having, of trying to find resolutions for what seemed at the time to be insurmountable conflicts. And in fact, Warren used to commend me for my communication skills, and told me he had never had a partner that communicated so effectively. But those skills seem to have fled me in this relationship. Is it that he was better at hearing me that V is? That may be part of it, but my intuition is that it is on my end more than his – if I could communicate to him more effectively, he would be able to hear me better.

I think not being able to process here is a large part of my failed ability to communicate. Not being able to process with my partner through writing is a large part of it.

Writing here I am forced to think through things carefully, to use logic and reason to order my thoughts into a cohesive presentation, to slow down, to stop, to think. To process. That is key for me. Getting from point A (I’m unhappy with a thing) to point B (telling you in an effective way I’m unhappy about a thing) to point C (finding a resolution to the thing) is a journey, and in the beginning of it, I’m disorganized, my thoughts flying everywhere, knowing I have to pack for this journey; but instead of calmly making a packing list I am throwing things out of drawers and closets in a panic, and making a mess.

My suitcase ends up being a pile of unfolded, wrinkled clothes inappropriate for the trip ahead.

The points of the issue(s) are minor details to the larger one of me not being able to communicate effectively. They are the trivial minutia that trip up many poly units: scheduling, time allocation, the power balance (or imbalance) within the polycule.

Okay, there’s also the larger one of getting needs met.

But whether the issue is large or small, I need to find a way to communicate more effectively – and safely – for all concerned, than I am doing presently. To that end, I may engage the counselor I saw for a time after W died. I’d like to be a person who manages herself better. I want to be a better human being for those with whom I am in relationship. I need to find ways to do that, and perhaps a counselor can assist with that.

I’ve thought about some of the issues that come up, and, dispassionately, dismembered my relationship with V – and by extension his wife – to see if maybe the problem is that the relationship itself isn’t a good fit. I don’t believe that is the case, although it has its challenges. (But are the challenges too many? Is there any way to address those challenges so that I’m not constantly gnawing at the edges of discontent? Is my discontent with the relationship – with what I don’t get out of it – or is my discontent with myself? Is there a difference?)

Is possible to be content with a life in which I don’t get all my needs, wants and desires met. Aren’t we supposed to “have it all”? (Didn’t I have it all, once? No, be honest, even then I didn’t have it “all,” there were moments of disconnect, of discontent, of wanting more. But in many respects, I was closer to that ideal, if only because my relationships were one-on-one with both men. So…it was a trade-off even then. Things that I didn’t get from that relationship I do get in this one. Things that I did get there, I don’t get here.)

“Relationships are very difficult,” a woman recently opined on Facebook.  “I don’t believe relationships are inherently ‘very difficult,’ I replied. “In fact, if a relationship is that hard, then maybe it’s just not a good relationship for those involved. Relationships – good ones – are rich, complex, fulfilling, and yes, may be challenging at times. But “very difficult”? Not in my experience. When it reaches that point, an evaluation of what I – and the others involved – am getting out of it is a necessity.”

I was, of course, talking about my own experience.

Where does my discontent lie, within or without? And how do I manage working through that question without damaging my relationships – and myself? I believe a key is to allow myself to start to process here.


  1. John

    Another home run of a piece. Your thoughts and insights have depth and a emotion that speak to me. That’s why you are the greatest.


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