10 out of 10
Powerful as fuck. Pairs will with energy drinks. You’ll need them.
This week marks another turning point in my life. I went through a break up three months ago, which left me distraught for many weeks. In an effort to help myself, I got in touch with my ex and we attempted to cultivate a new relationship. We wanted to try being polyamorous, which was new for both of us. After very little negotiation, he fell into a few dates with someone (who ironically shared my birth name).
I realized that I didn’t like his new romantic connection, and it was probably because I was jealous. Around a lot of poly groups, there is a fear and scorn of jealousy. I’ve been around a lot of people who say it’s natural and you can work through it. But the louder voices in the crowd boast about how they never feel jealous and they are so secure in their love. You know what? I’m not secure in love. Ever. And I kind of doubt that will change, even with therapy. I never had good love role models. So fuck that. I was more jealous than I’ve ever been. I was curled up on my bed crying. I felt gross, like I needed a shower. I felt betrayed every time.
This is the part I’m not proud of: I tried to mitigate my hurt. I pushed it down, and as a result, I grew resentful. Of myself. Of my partner. I wanted to blame him. I wanted to be mad because we never put enough boundaries in there. But the real problem is that we weren’t secure from the moment we got back together. So all my blame and anger was useless. But the damage was already done. He was ready to fall in love with someone else, and I am over here, still NOT being poly, despite all my trying.
I couldn’t find any words to describe what I wanted until the very last night. “I want a relationship were we have sex separately, but with no emotional attachments to others.” It was the last thing I was able to communicate before we broke ties. Later, I was talking to some friends, and someone piped up “It sounds like an open relationship is what you want.”
Holy. Fuck. Guys, I wrote six fucking posts about polyamory and open relationships were a part of that research. Why had my brain failed me so thoroughly? I could have used the right words all along. I might still have my loving boyfriend. I would be free, and also secure.
Well, it’s all over now.
This morning, I woke up to offers of workshops in my inbox. My college has a week where they promote sex education and one of my classmates wants me to be a part of it. I looked at it, and I stopped myself from applying.
“What the fuck qualifies me for this? I just fucked up one of the most important relationships in my life by not being able to communicate. I’m not qualified for anything.”
I closed the laptop and went to class. Somewhere in the middle of differential calculus, I heard the “voice” of someone in my head. I’m used to these “voices” being mean. I’m used to hearing them devalue me. I usually have to tell my brain to shut up and leave me alone. But this voice was different. I don’t know this voice. It belongs to an older woman who has bushy hair and wears a red hat. I think it may be Lily Tomlin, but I’m not sure. What I AM sure of is that you’re wondering what it said.
“Honey, do you really want to let some incident with a boy drag you out of your career? Aren’t you bigger than that? What does happen when a sex and relationship educator/therapist/coach does something wrong? Does that make them less qualified for their job, or does it make them human?”
I thought of every one I know who is an educator. Someone who shares many feelings I have about polyamory, but still practices. Someone who recently broke up with their spouse and still talks about relationships and communication. If everyone goes through break ups and sometimes those break ups are their fault, does that mean they can never give advice? No, it actually makes them better equipped.
We become educators because we have been through the break ups and the heartache. But instead of just feeling and reacting, we listened and we watched. We grew up watching how others interact because it’s fascinating. We marveled at how people could be so oblivious to the signals from their partners. We couldn’t believe it when someone got upset about something so small, when there was clearly a bigger problem in the relationship. But most importantly, we cheered for the ones that got it right. We stared with wide eyes as they negotiated problems, and came back to love.
Lily Tomlin, I will not minimize the effect of my boyfriend. He was perfect for me for a long time. With the right words and actions, it could have been forever. But you’re right. I will not stop my passions and my career for a boy. I may not be able to eat right now, but I can and will talk about the things that went wrong in my relationships so that others don’t have to follow suit.