True. Intellectually Promiscuous has been conspicuously absent for the better part of a year. Partially, it’s because things were going well. I had a job I liked, I moved to a town I liked better, and a relationship that was going well. My health was decent and things were going pretty well.
Things started happening right before I moved to Lawrence. I had to put Chani, Dog of the Desert, to her final rest. Devastating doesn’t begin to cover it. That was January 2014. I still tear up talking about it. During the period after that, my relationship with a dear friend I’ll call Bob (really NOT his real name) started.
Bob and I went to a Superbowl party, we had fun. Afterwards, because he was my ride, he took me home. We came inside for a drink, and all of a sudden he kissed me. Really really kissed me, out of the blue. And I kissed him back. He is married, and has been telling Mrs. Bob for several years that he is NOT monogamous. He has several other girlfriends around the country, and she has found out about at least one of them already. He has not tried to hide this from her, other than to not rub her nose in things. Since I am also non-monogamous, I think I understand the set up, so we begin a lovely 14+ month relationship that is an excellent match physically and emotionally.
I also am invited into his home, become friends with Mrs. Bob and their child, and enjoy being a part of a family that is warm and functional for the first time in ever. My mistake, I suppose, was thinking that because Bob had been telling his wife for years that he was not monogamous, and that I was literally fifth of five in terms of concurrent relationships, that this polyamorous situation was accepted in the Bob household. It was never brought up there, never discussed, but near the 14 month mark, Mrs. Bob began making accusations that I was trying to “steal” her husband. I was not and never had been because on the of the starting rules from Bob was “no one gets Bob full time.” This meant that Bob was going to continue to be non-monogamous regardless of who was “alpha female” in Bob’s life. This was fine with me, because I was not actually looking to be alpha.
Then, one day I got an email at work, sent by Mrs. Bob stating only, “you are no longer welcome in my home.” I had no idea what was going on, only that something was very wrong. I had been fighting a back injury most of this time, including getting steroid injections and living with more or less intractable pain. I had been diagnosed with a herniated disc just weeks before this message. In addition, my narrow angle glaucoma had worsened to the point that intervention was required. I had just finished a series of laser treatments, wherein the eye doctor used a laser to drill holes through the irises of my eyes to allow drainage of fluid between my corneas and irises. The holes in each eye healed shut, so the holes had to be redrilled, not normal procedure. My father had slipped on the ice and fractured two vertebrae in his neck, and then my 102 (nearly 103) year old grandmother died. And now, I received this message.
Once Bob was able to tell me what happened, he told me that Mrs. Bob had summoned him to the Union, after keeping him up most of the night and interrogating him about our relationship. At the Union, she bluntly accused him of “having an affair” with me. Exhausted and frustrated, Bob said yes he was and added that he was not going to give me up, and that he was prepared to pack his stuff and move out rather than to change his ways. He told me this, and that he told Mrs. Bob again that he had been telling her for now several years that he is not monogamous and so this should not be a surprise. He told her that she might have refused to accept this part of him, but he refused to live in a way that was not true to himself.
Naturally, every piece of shit in the world hit the fan. There was screaming, crying and great gnashing of teeth, as Mrs. Bob claimed that just because Bob wanted to “fool around” outside the marriage, she had never given permission. She stated that “true poly” according to the books she’d studied about poly, required the consent of both parties, and she had never consented. That made what we’d been doing cheating, an affair, not polyamory. She claimed that I had broken her trust by being involved in this and they went into counseling.
As counseling progressed, I wasn’t given much information. Bob would tell me that he was trying to work things out so that everything would be ok for he and I as well as for he and her. Things got more and more stressful. I was banished from the warmth of the family. Mrs. Bob grudgingly allowed Bob to spend Wednesday evenings for 2 hours, Friday lunches and Sunday some time for 4 hours with me. We were not allowed to go to events or do anything else social together. We were not allowed to have other contact – Facebook chat or anything. Everything in the Bob household, as part of their agreements built in therapy, was to be fully out in the open. This was to include who he saw, what he did, what they said, so forth and so on. No deviation from the schedule for visiting was allowed, no spontaneous contact was allowed.
Then, after 4 days of being deathly ill with fever and chills, shaking so hard it was almost a seizure, and a day in hospital fully dehydrated – no urine even with a catheter three times – Bob comes to my house with a quart of chocolate ice cream. This, he says, is to be our goodbye party according to Mrs. Bob. She gave him an ultimatum in therapy. Give me up, no more contact, or lose her, the child, everything. In return, he could also keep the other ladies and have their relationships. Suddenly, he was not ready to pack his bags and leave, but instead he was ready to sacrifice me to keep everything else. I was chosen to bear the blame for all her anger about his behavior. I was the one chosen and singled out by her to bear the label “betrayer” and “liar,” although every other one of the women had also sat in her home as friends and not told her anything.
Ice cream? Like that was somehow appropriate. Plus I was still sick as hell and freshly out of the hospital, still dehydrated and feverish. Somehow, he said, I triggered her ghosts and demons. I threatened her more than the others, and she saw me as the threat to their relationship, whereas she did not see the others in this way. I had to go. And he had to let me go because he had loved her for 20 years, he loved his son, etc. And that was the way it had to be. But, as I heard him say it, he HAD promised me decades. And someday, he said, he would be back. And in the meantime, we would be friends, but we would have to be very quiet for a while, because he would have to work on things with her and she would not tolerate me for a very long time. It was possible, he said, that one day she would forgive and at least allow me to be peripheral to their lives. And possible too that she would eventually kick him to the curb anyway and he would be free regardless. Until then, he said, I needed to be on my own and that was the way it was to be.
My world crashed around me. I was already nearly fully triggered back into my depression and anxiety and PTSD just by being excluded from the process of deciding my own fate. The year and a half of unrelenting pain in my back and the ongoing dosing with corticosteroids had caused enough insult to my brain to retrigger a good portion of the TBI. The eye lasers, twice in each eye, done “for my own good.” The complete exclusion from the decisions about my relationship with the man I had grown to love so deeply. Once again in my life I had no voice, just as I’d had no voice all those years ago when I was molested, used, raped. Some of those incidents were “because I love you,” others were “because I deserved it” or “to teach you a lesson, for your own good.” Later, when I was with the insane first boyfriend, the rapes, beatings and gang rapes were because I was “bad” or a “slut” or just because he found it amusing. Either way, I learned that I had no voice, no say, and didn’t matter in the world. I was powerless to control my fate, and voiceless in the world. This became the primary embodiment of my depression, anxiety and PTSD, although until the past month I would not have described it this way.
I went to therapy off and on for years to deal with the child hood abuse and rape, and then again to deal with the boyfriend rape and abuse. I had done a decent enough job coming to terms with it, compartmentalizing it and integrating it into my personality. It happened, it was fucked up as hell, and the people who did it would never, ever, admit to doing it. They were and are messed up people. I choose to deal with the family members out of a sense of obligation, but I do so at arm’s length. I don’t sleep at their house. I leave when I feel uncomfortable. I still supervise my kids when they are there – and my youngest is 25. I have no contact at all with the crazy ex-boyfriend, and have filed informational reports with the police every time he tries to make contact. I made a conscious decision to not let the events of the past control my actions and thoughts and emotions today. I put more effort into making that my reality – living well in spite of what occurred, and being matter of fact about what happened – than into feeling emotional about it. I became cold and detached from those events, refusing to live in fear and refusing to let those people and events control me or affect me any more. Mostly, it worked, except sometimes for the startle responses and the chronic problems sleeping.
Now, as my world closed in around me in a bubble of hell – physical, mental and emotional pain beyond telling all at once and all beyond my control – I once again had no voice. The PTSD kicked in hard, I was in full blown panic mode almost all the time, and the depression turned the world into tear streaked black 24/7. At least I saw it happening, and started trying to find help. I called the employee assistance program through work to find a counselor. In my town, there were six total – 2 child psychologists, 2 addiction counselors, one counselor I had actually worked WITH (can’t use her – boundaries issues), and one guy that I could find nothing about on the internet. Nothing – no graduation date, no specialty information, no photo, nothing to indicate he had any bona fides as a counselor. Nope. The EAP had no other options closer than 30-40 minutes away. I needed help now, but I needed to balance it with the realities of time off work.
Luckily, I was able to find a therapist covered by my insurance, well recommended, and free of boundaries issues or known overly-religious focus here in town. I’ve started seeing her, thank goodness, and just talking to someone, sharing what has happened and getting some validation that although I’m nuts and have diagnoses, I’m not nuts in the crazy sense. I have been retriggered, and I did actually correctly diagnose or have enough insight to see the reason. My voice has been cut off for all the reasons I said. For a PTSD and rape survivor, having no voice may be the worst. All those feelings of powerlessness, rage, helplessness, panic, fear and more come flooding back and you can do nothing about any of it. It is nearly impossible to talk about or even write about. Even to get out of bed and take care of yourself is an uphill battle, because you’re back in the space where you WERE nothing and didn’t matter. Why bother to live when no one cared about you except as a fuck toy or a punching bag? Dying from the inside out is as good a way to go as any.
After weeks of sharing my misery with my Facebook friends and being generally miserable, not getting any meaningful answers from Bob to try and put some meaning to this mess, and attending therapy every week, it occurred to me that I have a blog. A website. I can journal this mess. I can write about it, collect the articles or sayings or pictures HERE, on iamintellectuallypromiscuous.com rather than inflict it on people who might still care about me. If people WANT to read about it they can come here. Otherwise, they can be angst-free from me. Call it a public service. I don’t know how well it will monetize, but that is not the purpose of this phase of IIP right now.
So, for today, with eyes still swollen shut from crying , I write this and hope for a change. I’ve sent a final missive to Bob, asking for private conversation – in writing or whatever – to answer those questions and tie up those loose ends. I explained the reasons why I don’t think every word between us needs to be shared with Mrs. Bob in their “new openness” and asked him to help me find the path I need to move on with my life. I pray the goddess lets him answer and even more to be supportive. I pray there are still positive feelings there.
In the meantime, I’m planning ahead. I’ve booked events ahead – even bought tickets to Toronto for the Scribes Symposium at the end of June. I bought my own pavilion for SCA camping events, although attending such events where I will see him and her terrifies me beyond the meaning of the word terror. I will have to find a way past that sooner or later. I have reached out to people, in spite of fear and grief, and let them know I am hurting and want to visit, to find safe havens. I am trying to focus on projects instead of pain, since it seems at this point it is mostly picking at scabs to keep things raw and bleeding. I am not sure of anything or anyone, least of all myself.
I have to get things out of the shared storage unit Bob and I have – with a bad back. I have a couple of people who will help, thank goodness, but then they will know the situation. I shall have to tell them the situation before hand and beg for discretion as well as their forgiveness for what they might perceive as my severe transgressions. Just going and renting the unit set off a new round of lows this weekend, as I moved things around in there and saw his beautiful artwork.
Right now, as I write this, I feel again like I am out of happily ever afters. I feel forever unlovable and unwantable, although I don’t know if that is true. I feel as though I will be shunned and shamed if I show up anywhere. I feel as though my final missive to Bob will be either ignored, or run through the Mrs. Bob filter and result only in another angry blowback letter from her. Which is what I specifically do not want, and told him I wanted to avoid. I pray he at least respects that one wish, even if he chooses not to answer. Today, I feel broken beyond repair. Even beyond the wabi-sabi concept.
2 May 2015