It’s been about a year or so since I was told, “You’d make a great trainer” by my former coach and personal trainer.
In that time, I’ve secured a certification as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, started my own virtual coaching platform, joined forces with my former trainer as an assistant coach on his platform, and, as of this week, I’m officially a personal trainer at a local health club here in the Portland, Oregon metro area.
This is *surreal* to me.
About five years ago, I was not the man I am today.
In fact, I was about seventy pounds heavier, a heavy smoker, and every-night drinker. I was spiraling, at best, trying to manage my stressful public transit job, a relationship that was wavering around in the wind, and not quite sure what to make of myself. I’d had a shitty doctor’s visit, with the warning that I needed to shape up, or get on the pills I’d need to keep my blood pressure, cholesterol, and such all in alignment with the living.
I was a mess. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was running away from my past traumas, trying to drown out the ever-increasing anxiety about the state of my life, and the way my past kept knocking at my door. I was determined to out run all of it, and in the end, had blown out my knee in the process.
When I turned 40, I made a choice. I chose to defy the statistics, and lean into something my doctor had been telling me, off-hand, for a while.
Eat right and Exercise.
And that’s what I did.
And when that started to work, when I started to feel control over my body, my choices, my world, I started to flex the same skill in other areas of my life.
I got some help with my mental health. I faced down my fears of being on meds, of needing therapy, of having to say out loud the things that were scaring me, keeping me up at night, and all the rest. I found lovers who saw me through the fog of my anxiety and alcohol abuse, and told me that I was worth of love and affection.
Now, as I start on this next new journey in my life, I’ve peeled away the people who have been resistant to my new-found use of the word “no.” I’m starting to value myself, my time, and my energy, in a brand new way.
I’ve stepped away from my job in public transit, a job where my anxiety was crushing me, the pressures on me to perform at 100% every day were mounting, and where a deep lack of respect for my humanhood was a constant daily challenge.
I’ve taken on the challenge of helping others find their inner drive, spark, and motivation. I’ve decided that helping others achieve their goals is a big enough passion of mine, that I can dedicate my life and livelihood to it.
I get to teach, something I’ve been born to do, in a way that also incorporates showing others how to love themselves a little bit more, how to make good, small choices daily that will have long-lasting impacts on their overall wellbeing, and how to show up for themselves first. I am leading not only through knowledge and expertise, but by example, as I’m also an open book to anyone who cares to know more.
There’s so much more ahead for me in this next, new journey, and I can’t wait to share it. Day by day, I will be improving my life and the lives of those around me in fundamental ways that I don’t even know how to measure as of yet.
The Boy has given me a date of departure. He will be out of here, and out of Oregon, by June 3, 2023.
He’s been existing in the spare room in the apartment, and for a solid month or so, we’ve been mired in a strange interaction that has been full of both friendship and peace, as well as fraught emotions and pointed arguments. Back and forth, sparring over stupid details, and both of us just in a constant state of heightened emotional being. We are both exhausted by it.
He gave his notice to the job he landed here, a job which he loves, yesterday. His realization that his current income means he won’t get approval for an apartment anytime soon on his own, plus his heart strings being pulled to the Rockies, has been a thing to watch him wrestle. From my vantage point, he’s simply following another guy, and uprooting himself again for another person, without the real effort it takes to put down roots anywhere. I see this in him because, like him, I did the same thing around his age. I get it. Perhaps he’s seeking redemption like I was, a savior, someone to hold him captive long enough to settle him down, much like I was. Perhaps it’s something more. I don’t know. The part that stings the most, for me, is that I was hoping to be that man for him.
Part of me still longs for it, if I’m totally honest. I have offered him a second chance with me, but he simply refuses to entertain the idea. He’s as stubborn as ever (and as me), and is just charging forward with everything. So, we part ways in a few days, and I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from him again. I can only hope that we at least part on good terms.
His departure isn’t the only thing I’m wrestling with either.
I’ve asked my husband, a partner of mine for nearly a decade, to end our marriage. Along with the Boy and I going our separate ways, so too are myself and the man I married a few short years ago. He too is also still in this two-bedroom apartment, with the both of us swapping out nights on the terrible sofa in the living room and the comfy bed we no longer can share.
The decision to ask for a change in our marital status came as a shock to him, but was something I’d been chewing over for quite some time. Lots of things are factors in this move on my part, but most of all is the disconnect between us. His job took so much out of him, leaving very little for me and for us, and the resentment of having to carry the house, the relationship, and all the rest, simply became too much for me. I reached a breaking point, and when I realized that love could feel better than it did, that I could, in fact, be with a person who fosters an alignment between my mind, heart, and full body, and not just pieces of me now and again (something the Boy taught me), I needed a change.
He’s changed jobs, thankfully. He’s also verging on moving out very soon as well, having been on a voracious hunt for a new place to live, one that will accommodate visits with our dog, and give him access to his job and the nightlife he likes. The apartment hunt has been super tedious for him, but last I knew, he’d found a place that would work. His housing decision, it should be noted, was all self-driven. I never asked him to move out. He has opted to flee this apartment we’ve shared, citing access to work as his real reason, and I’ve let him run with it. I’ve also secured the apartment here as mine alone, qualifying to be on the lease as the sole occupant, which was a bedrock stability moment for me, as well. He knows where I live, and is always welcome to come for a visit. He remains a friend, though I don’t know how much our paths will cross as he dives into this new direction in his life.
I will be living the single, solo life in a very short amount of time.
I have not lived by myself, on purpose, ever. I’ve always either been seeking a partner to join me in living, or been living with a partner or roommate for all of my adult life. This shift represents something quite massive for me, and I’m both nervous and excited for it. After losing two major relationships back-to-back, I know I need some time to heal and pull myself together. I want to explore the ways that I give out so much energy to others, and how to keep healthy boundaries for myself, so as not to give away so much in the future. I need to settle into love with myself, and find that deep-core self that is a more true version of me for others to get to know, and possibly love.
I have so much to do for myself in the coming weeks and months. I am going to dive deep into my personal training, stepping away from my transit job in good time, so as to be available for coaching at any time during my day. I’m ramping up at a fancy health club nearby that signed me on as a trainer, and still running my own virtual training website, AND working with a second coach on his virtual training program as well. I’ve got my eyes on mid-July as the moment I hang up my keys and turn in my uniform, but it all depends.
I’m also taking this pivot-point in my life to do some deep financial restructuring, and getting my fiscal feet under me in a way that’s far more solid. I spent years trying to buy the happiness that I was missing in my life, and have since learned that it is impossible to do that. You cannot fill in that void with things, no matter how much you try, and in the end, it just adds to the pile of stress and worry, and that moment of joy become obscured in interest rates and credit scores. It’s far past time to reckon with this in a fundamental way.
Throwing a stick of dynamite into one’s own life is a scary fucking proposition, but I do know, in the end, I will emerge a better, stronger, purer version of myself. I didn’t know I could light my own phoenix fire, but here I am, holding the recently-lit matchstick in my fingers.
The Boy and I had yesterday together, most of the day, anyway. We started off by going to the gym, with a plan for hiking after.
At the gym, though, and I’m not sure why I let myself get to this level, my anxiety flew through the roof. I found myself rushing through my workout, really amping up with thoughts that were short-circuiting, and all the rest. At the end of the workout, I nearly stormed out of the gym, and had to catch my breath in the Jeep for a bit. My brain just couldn’t decipher out joy from the endorphin rush of the workout, and the adrenaline that was pumping through my body.
The Boy could tell I was upset, but I remained silent, and just drove us home. I asked, briefly, if he was still up for hiking, to which he said yes, and that’s what broke the ice. I admitted that I was in the middle of a panic attack, and that I just needed the trees. He needed food, but was very agreeable to getting out to the woods. In time, and with some more breathing, I was able to bring myself down out of the rafters, but in the quiet in the Jeep, I also watched as he dove into his text messages and totally checked out on the present-tense with me.
He’s got a new beau, some man from Denver that he’s fallen for, and who is captivating him.
The lump in my throat that had been there for a while, regarding my connection to the Boy and myself, grew a bit bigger.
We started off on the trail, and since the cell signal died, he shoved his phone into his front pocket, only to pull it out to snap photos of flowers and things we saw along the trail. We talked, lightly, and generally, but it was when he started shooting a video, explaining where he was, that I paused again.
I knew this was probably one of the last days I’d be carrying a candle for what he and I had shared previously, as a closely-tied intimate couple. Those days were, at last, over, in my heart. I just paused, watching him wander down the trail ahead of me, and felt my whole self say goodbye.
The hike turned into quite the challenge towards the end, with some cliff scaling and usage of ropes to steady our ascent and descent. The payoff, however, was amazing. It was a waterfall, the kind that Oregon loves to deliver, with water cascading out over a basalt ledge, forming a basin, and an alcove behind the waterfall, where he and I found ourselves, covered in mist and mud, and in awe of the flow of water from above our heads.
In that roar of water, I told him that I loved him deeply, that I would always love him, and that I am having to let go of the love of my life. I squeezed his hand as he stared out at the water, knowing that he heard me, and we had a moment of silence between each other.
The walk back, was quiet.
The drive home was also quiet.
We ended up separating for a while when we got home, exhausted and tired, and laying down in our separate places. After a hot shower, and some food, we ended up chatting a bit more, and I found myself feeling both relaxed and quiet, with a lot of emotions bubbling up, but keeping myself in control of them.
This transition between us will be peaceful going forward. I’ve lost the fight in me to try and find a way back into his heart. He’s got his sights set on someone new, the next new thing for his own life, and I realize that, perhaps, this is what it feels like to be a Dad, for real, letting his beloved Son leave the nest they’d shared.
I will always love him, deeply and profoundly, as his impact on my life is still reverberating through everything I say, do, and feel, and I know that I am proud of him for doing what he needs to do to achieve the things he desires. Did we both fuck up along the way? Yes. Do we both care for each other still? Yes, as well.
Ray and I got married on October 22, 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and shortly after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away. Things all around us were torched and burnt, literally, in downtown Portland, but high overhead, over the entrance to the Portland Art Museum, a large neon sign with the letters “LOVE RULES” towered over us while we exchanged hand-written vows in front of a Justice of the Peace, who was also officiating over two other weddings at the same time, and location. It was all quite unique, to say the least. Ray stood high in his 9” heeled boots, and I was dressed in my best Canadian Tuxedo with my harness. The dog was there, wrapped in a Pride flag, and a few of our friends were witnesses, all masked with wide grins only noticeable by the smile lines on the sides of their faces.
What nobody knew, at that moment, was how much doubt I was filled with.
I’m a divorcee. I’d been married before, and discovered VERY quickly that marriage was not something that reflected who I was, or what I stood for.
I had made vows in a similar fashion to a man as an attempt to fix a very-broken relationship, which worked for some time, until it didn’t, and the marriage, and our relationship, failed about a year later. It was a very predictable failure, but in the time I was married, and carried myself as a married man, it was very clear to me that peoples’ perceptions of me had drastically changed. I got strange questions from everyone, gay and straight, about the roles within our relationship. I was treated differently among my friend group. I was treated very differently whenever I’d meet someone new, someone who was clearly interested in getting to know me, but who saw my marriage as a massive iron fence that kept us at a distance. Every time this would happen, I would find myself getting frustrated, feeling like there was a lingering missed connection happening in front of me. Hell, I got a “missed connection” on Craigslist while being married, when I was at my part-time evening job, and event that sent my then-husband over the jealousy edge.
It was a journey to being finally able to file for divorce and legally remove myself from Nathaniel. Bounding from state to state, where same-sex marriage was just becoming a patchwork of states who had it, and most who didn’t, meant I had to wait until the Obergefell ruling in 2015 to finally be able to submit my fee, send the pile of documents to Nathaniel’s parent’s house, and get them returned to me, and legally end that mistake.
In those years of separation, Ray taunted me a bit, calling himself “the mistress” and while it was a funny-ha-ha, it also stung every time he’d say it. I soon saw this small jab in the ribs as a measure of my worth to him. I knew that, at some point perhaps, he would want to have my hand in marriage. If I didn’t offer him this, as part of the next-step on our relationship escalator, then it would run the risk of losing him, or at the very least, build resentment and detachment between us.
Then, the political landscape changed around us in 2016. We found ourselves surrounded by right-wing Proud Boys more than once here, in our hometown of Portland, with a hatred in their eyes and looking to hurt someone.
In 2017, I turned 40, and the doctor told me that, without changes, I was about to start down the path of my predecessors, with pills to manage blood pressure, cholesterol, and all the rest. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and things between Ray and myself had definitely changed. We both were in survival mode.
We both lived in terror, tied to the news feeds and alerts telling us how the world was burning down around us. Then Pandemic hit, and suddenly the world stopped. Ray lost his job, and fell into an even deeper depression. I maintained my employment, barely, but suffered through three bouts of COVID-19 in the process. I had been able to shift my attention to my health, however, and found myself transforming away from the crisis-in-waiting that my doctor had warned me about. I took my anxiety to a new level, though, and used it as fuel for changing my physical self. It was a fine line between the person with eating disorders I’d been years prior, and this new “eating right and exercise” person I’d strived to become, but I managed it to the best of my abilities. Ray, though this, took a different path.
In 2020, I asked Ray to marry me. His health had taken a sharp downward turn, and with the external pressures of the world we were in at the time, I knew Ray wanted the security that marriage could offer him. He needed my health insurance, and as an added measure against the changing laws and politics, simply having a domestic partnership would not be enough to comfort him. I felt obliged to do what I could to shore him up, even at a huge emotional cost to myself.
I still didn’t trust in the institution of marriage, and felt that it was not something I could defend or believe in. That right among same-sex relationships was a pivotal change in our wider LGBTQIA+ community, and that fight had cost us a lot of political capital that should have been spent on protecting the rights of those at the edges of our ranks – specifically trans people and queer/questioning youth at risk, for example.
I still do not fundamentally believe the institution of marriage as it stands, in the society that we have around us, is a good fit for me. It is a framework that limits expressions of love and passion and joy, and subscribes people to titles, roles, and expectations from external, unspoken forces, all of which do not apply to everyone in equal measure. It forces a homogeneity where spectrum and difference between individuals should be celebrated and lifted up, again, in my opinion and from my perspective. Your individual experience and mileage may vary, and if the structure of marriage suits you and your beloved, by all means, you should have that right. Thankfully, for you, you still do.
It is not a right I wish to exercise, however, I have done so, and I regret it.
As I found my feet, grounded myself in schedule and ritual, and discovered more about how my heart works and how my love flows, I found myself moving forward. Ray, on the other hand, while supportive, also remained in survival mode, taking a job at a liquor store that was something, but only barely, and not at all what he wanted. Eventually, he ended up taking a job at a winery, where, at last, he could use his training as a sommelier and graphic designer, to start the career of his dreams. For a small time, it was wonderful to see him dive in deep with the job, to start living his dream, and make some actual progress. His mood was high, but it would not last.
As I started to actually face down my mental health issues around anxiety, depression, and trauma, his job started to pile up on him, and squelched any joy he initially had for the position. Managers were coming at him from all sides, piling on more and more tasks and responsibilities, all while not compensating him appropriately at all. The stress and pressure pushed Ray back into survival mode, all while I was making huge leaps forward in my own life.
Ray was unable to be present for me during any of this growth. We became two ships passing, and when he did have any free time, it was spent in recovery mode from a grueling work week. The house became my responsibility to maintain. The day-to-day chores of dishes, laundry, cleaning, and the like, had to fit into my schedule that was already filling up with not just work of my own, but also my passions such as writing, and soon, more people and heart-piece holders who wanted more of my time. These lovers bridged some of the gaps I was feeling in my relationship to Ray, and offered me a chance to really inhabit another version of myself. For the most part, I have remained with all of them for an extended amount of time, and they’ve all seen me grow and change into a better, stronger version of myself. I still love them, individually and uniquely, and look forward to how our relationships change and grow through time. Ray, on the other hand, is still in survival mode, and now, as I’m feeling like I’ve made some real advances in my personal life, I find myself questioning my place in his world.
Three days ago, and after some extensive soul-searching and consideration, I told Ray that I wanted to not be married to him. I wanted to just be his Person, in a loving and supportive relationship, but without the title and status of married and husband. I tried to explain that I made a mistake, that I wasn’t living my Truth back in 2020, and that I regret not listening to the voice inside me who tried to warn me that I was not making a decision that I fundamentally could support or stand behind. I cried and shook for quite some time, the day before my wedding day, and had to convince myself that doing this for him was for the betterment of my life with him.
As it turned out, and as time passed, our relationship got weaker and weaker. His job was taxing him so much, and he simply stopped seeing me for me, or any of the progress and growth I was undertaking. I was simply his husband, managing the house, responsible for x, y, and z, and just…taken for granted.
It was a series of young men that I brought into my life, individuals with such hopes and dreams for themselves, with a keen eye for finding “the one,” that really made me pause and reflect on the marriage I had with Ray. While they brought their whole selves into the relationship with me, with passion and energy and drive, it would come to pass that my polyamory was not in alignment with who they were, and subsequent breakups and distance between myself and them would have to happen. Three times in the last three years, this has occurred. Each time has presented a new opportunity for me to examine myself and my relationships, and every time, that old ghost of regret that was formed on October 19, 2020, as I stood in our old bedroom and wept deeply for the wedding that was about to happen, but that I really didn’t believe in, would appear.
With the last Boy, and our subsequent relationship change, that was just like the last two Boys who’d attempted the same with me, the shoe finally dropped. I was not happy in my relationship to Ray, though I still loved him deeply and wanted to be a structural support in his life. Realizing that love, and relationships, like most things in the known universe, exist on a spectrum, surely I could make some small adjustments to align my relationship with Ray better with the values and flexibility my heart, mind, and body needed. Simply removing the title of “husband” was a start. I wanted to be free of the unwritten and invisible cage that word and experience had put around me and my heart. I wanted to be free to let my love and affection flow where it wants to go, and be more present in my connection to Ray in the process. I want do define our connection on our terms, and in our own way, and not rely on some musty document and state-approved contract to do this for us.
When I presented this to Ray three days ago, however, it did not go well.
The last three days, in fact, have been me trying to reassure him that, in fact, nothing between us has changed, that I’m still right here, being me, doing the things I’ve been doing this entire time, but that I just want the title of “husband” removed. I don’t want to be in a state-sanctioned marriage. I want to simply be his Person, the man I was on October 19, 2020, but now with much more strength and inner validation, willing to accept that marriage is not for me, and that I can love just as powerfully and with more authenticity than any unspoken societal framework of marriage could ever provide.
He, of course, saw this as a massive threat to his stability. He still is in survival mode with regards to his own life and work and finances. He also decided that this shift meant “divorce,” a term I actively did NOT use on purpose, and that his “whole life was crashing down” now. Divorce, much like Marriage, is a loaded, culturally HEAVY word, that conjures up so many feelings and images and responses in people because it’s associated with loss, pain, and an ugliness that we’ve all come to expect whenever a relationship changes. It’s been three days of reassurance, of letting him process his anger and rage, and finally coming to where we are this morning.
He recognizes the real source of his instability isn’t with my ask to change our relationship status. It’s really with his job. He is still at the winery that has been adding more and more to his plate, and not meeting his compensation needs appropriately. The “job creep” in terms of what is part of his work responsibilities is real, and he’s at a breaking point. This morning, after we got to that understanding, I told him that my needs – that my change in how we relate – has no real hard time frame, and that I’d much rather he sort out his work situation first, which at this point means finding his way out of the role he is in, and that we can revisit my needs and desires at a later point. Does this mean I’m putting him first again? Yes. Am I comfortable with this as I have a better understanding of what marriage and being a husband means to him (it’s a matter of security, not just a matter of love)? Yes.
The other fundamental thing I would love to see for him? Getting a handle on his long-term depression. It’s been a massive factor in our relationship since we first started seeing each other nearly a decade ago. I’ve offered him both a roadmap, as I’ve undertaken my own mental health journey, and the resources to start down that path for himself, through medical coverage and a means to pay for whatever support he needs. Still, that’s a ‘lead a horse to water’ situation. It’ll be his choice to make, and the consequences of his choice are also his to manage.
I told him from the start of this reconnect that I’m totally comfy with him dating, seeing others, and all of that. I meant it then, I still mean it today.
However, this information today has got me back on my heels, deciphering why I reacted to this news the way I did. Initially, it stung, and I know why. I haven’t been checking myself, keeping myself on the path I knew I’d need to traverse, since the Boy has returned into my life. Instead, I’ve let myself start to believe that this was really going to be a second attempt at what we started with, that I’d be able to let go of my reservations and fall deeply in love with him again, without fear or worry of losing him. I started to create this fantasy in my head, and living my days as though it was real.
It’s not real. Not really. He’s still after a thing that doesn’t look like the relationship I have with him, and that’s a fact. He’s said so himself.
I need to respect that, and welcome the reckoning with the way I’ve been feeling and thinking about the connection I have reformed with him. The other thing I need to do, which he reminded me of last night, was to stop racing ahead, future-planning and pressurizing, and getting out ahead of the reality that we both share. Yes, he might have a date tonight, but that doesn’t mean he’s off and gone and disappeared forever. Nor does it mean that I need to stop making more space for the kind of love I am seeking, either with him, or with a potential future partner.
The fact is, I am an emotionally polyamorous person, with deep, non-sexual connection to a few different men. I am, also, sexually monogamous, in that my body really only functions well when I can have a solid, continuous connection to another person’s body and sex, surrounded in love and warmth and safety. The Boy once provided that for me, which is what my body still actively craves, and it’s that energy and flow that I’ve started to really enjoy again, and which has led me to creating a fantasy world that contains us in that fashion.
Needless to say, it’s tricky. All of this is tricky. All of it requires me to let go of the future I think I’m headed to, and simply remain present-tense, in this space of current status, current feelings, and current pursuits. I told him that I needed to pull back from him a bit, and I don’t think he liked that.
He prefers me to be my full-on loving, open-hearted, generous self. Of course he does – it’s my best feature, and my most supportive. If I withdraw, then he has to face the challenges of his own days on his own, which, if I’m frank, might be a good test for him to undertake, and drive the choices that he’s making.
I know, at the end of this all, that I’m worthy of being loved in the way that I am seeking. I also know that it’s not impossible, or even difficult, to be in a monogamous and powerful sexual/physical relationship with me, with all the added support, love, and commitment that comes with that for me, who’s also demisexual and needs that emotional level of contact above all, and still not be threatened by the emotional connections and feelings of attachment I have to others in my life.
If it makes him feel better, I can just call them “close friends” which is more for his benefit, and not mine. I simply don’t have titles for the men I love anymore, nor do I have titles for myself in all of it either. I’m simply Thom. Everyone I’m connected to is also, just Themselves.
I think he’s still figuring out the shape of his heart, and what his heart really needs. I also still think that, in time, he will come to recognize me as a bonus to his life, and will settle on a connection with me that is mutually beneficial, but that will all remain to be seen. It’s in his hands. I’m going to be me, regardless, and love how I love, regardless. He doesn’t get a say in how my heart works.
As of yesterday, he’s back. The Boy has returned, after alerting me a few days ago that his housing situation had gone sideways. Immediately, I went into action and started to chat with the Hubz about what we could do. The Boy and I have been negotiating a peaceful reconfiguration of our connection, both of us realizing that we have a bond that, try as we might, still exists and still needs some attention, so when he reached out, it wasn’t a moment to fall back into old habits and patterns and such. It’s a new chance, perhaps, to be the kind of person in his life I had intended on being all along.
The Hubz agreed, we could let him back in, with a word of caution about losing myself in that connection again. I vowed to him, and to another partner, that I would not do that. This is a reconnect on terms that make far more sense to me.
The Boy will have more autonomy, more freedom to explore his own heart and meet new people. I’ve put out there that I am still working on my own heart-shape, and that I’ve come to some realizations about the way I work as a human in relationship to others, and told him my discoveries so far. Together, though, we are finding far more common ground, and are starting to develop new spaces and ways to both keep exploring what he and I share, but also leave room for our own personal growth and development. I don’t feel the pressure to change how I love, or who I share my heart with. I also am willing to face down the insecurities that I still hold, and the ways I manage my behavior when things get tricky. It’s a constant work in progress, and I want to demonstrate to myself, and to those around me, including the Boy, that I’m capable of growth and change, even at the prime age of forty-five.
We spent the day getting him set up. A trip to Costco for groceries, that he bought. A lovely, cuddly nap. A trip to IKEA to get other pieces of furniture both for the room he’s in, but also as furniture I’ll need once that space is returned back to me as my office. As he was assembling the desk we bought, I gave him space in his room, to do what he wanted. He needed to make some phone calls, and deal with other things, and giving him space to be on his own for that felt important. Plus, I’d spent all day with him, and needed my own decompression time too. I needed to quiet my mind, sift through some thoughts, and remember who I am, and where I am in all of this. I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle and feels that all of this generated the last time we cohabitated.
It wasn’t until later, around the time that I was contemplating that I should get to bed, that I got a text, asking me to spend the night with him. I said that it would be a lovely thing, and agreed to do so, but it should be noted that I never assumed I’d be sleeping with him. It’s a boundary and behavior I want to employ going forward. I will go where I’m invited, either to the bed I share with my Hubz, or if the Boy wants company overnight. But he’s going to have to ask for it. It makes me feel wanted, when he does ask, but it also makes me feel like I’m supporting him and giving him more authority over his life, when he doesn’t ask.
His time here is limited, as he’s actively seeking to find a space for himself, and that also has added a bit of reprieve from the pressure I felt before. I am really just thankful for the opportunity to provide him shelter and quiet and peace while his life, which is seemingly full of chaos, rolls onward. I do not miss the messiness of my late twenties/early thirties. I know he’ll find his way, he’s a survivor of the highest order, but if I can make that journey a little more comfortable for him, because I truly do love him in a way I didn’t see coming, the better I feel.
Over the last week or so, the Boy and I have been in regular communication. In fact, we’ve seen each other, in person, two times in the last forty-eight hours. Both times have been deeply reaffirming for both of us, and have led us to understand that there is, in fact, a bond between us that exists, possibly outside of normal labels and nomenclature.
For now, we are exploring things without the weight of title or expectation. We are embracing the moments we share together without distraction and in full-view honesty with each other. It’s been utterly refreshing to show him the side of me that he once fell in love with. The joyful, unpressurized, full-on person that I can be, with my goofy personality and a bit askew takes on how I view the world around me, all gets to take a seat in the space he and I share, and I think it’s been really good for him to both get to know me that way, again, and for me to let go of the expectations I thought he had for me.
Things aren’t moving in any sort of way with him and I. They just…are. This energy? It’s just existing. Simply. In the present-tense.
And it’s feeling so joyous and closer to perfection that I ever thought possible.
The concept of a Break Up is just as important to explore as Falling In Love, to be honest. What does it mean to “break up” with someone? How does one reconcile the space between one and another who, in a literal previous moment, held a different place in our hearts? Does it undo all that came before, like an existential erase-and-rewind, or is it possible to integrate those memories into a better future? What choices need to be made, in that one moment, to ensure that both people are left feeling both informed and supported, even through what feels like the darkest of dark moments?
We’ve chosen to explore a world beyond those boundaries and demarcations. We’ve decided to let go of all those frameworks, foisted upon us by outside forces, and just let whatever shape this energy between us decides to form simply exist as it wants to, without restraint or guidance or containment. If it changes through time – which all relationships do, all the time – then so be it. I know he’s seeking something different than what I can provide, perhaps, but then I might also change my focus as well. We are two bodies in close-orbit with each other, but each with their own surface temperatures, textures, and storms. We can co-exist as separate entities and entities that share a bond. Recognizing this as a reality, not only in my relationship with the Boy, but with regards to all of the relationships in my whole life, is a fucking SPIN on the HEAD of everything I’ve ever been taught about Love in all of its various forms.
The fact is, my whole body does react to him. Hell, even typing all of this out is sending a relaxing vibe through my body, blood to all of my extremities, and a warm fuzzy feeling in my mind. I can’t deny that part of our connection, nor do I want to. Last night, over a delightful dinner and time spent being personal with each other, we both remained vulnerable and in the moment in a way that was such a positive experience. It’s hard to put it into words. You just had to be there, I guess.
This is how I love.
This is my path.
And the more I spend time on this rocky trail, I realize that it’s the closest I’ve ever been to being my authentic, true self. It’s wild that it’s taken me till 45 years of age to get here, but sometimes time just doesn’t matter. Not in the formation of the human psyche or mind space. I am my own vessel on my own journey, and I don’t need to live in shame for how I interface with the world around me. It works for me, and that’s all that matters. Open-hearted, willing to explore those threads of connectivity, and let the energy flow where it wants…more please. Much more of this, in fact.
I woke up yesterday, still processing the way the Boy left my life, trying to piece together the timeline that my anxiety rage tried to obscure from my mind. I think I landed on something that hit deep, and struck a chord within me I haven’t plucked in a very long time.
He’d mentioned that he spent time googling and exploring the meaning of “polyamory” in his journey to understanding me, how my heart works, and whether or not it was something he could accept. Along the way, he realized that wasn’t how his heart worked, and that it would be a constant struggle with me, should we remain together. I sat with that revelation from him for a bit. It got me to thinking about definitions, about the words we use in our language to express states of being or thought, and what we’ve collectively agreed upon as working for us, broadly speaking, so we can communicate with one another without having to pause and explain nuance or differentiation.
Words like “husband” or “boyfriend” or “married” or even “love” itself, all carry a socially accepted definition. Hell, one could argue that the whole of Merriam-Webster is founded on this idea of collective definitions. But what happens when those definitions don’t fully apply? What if my understanding of the word “husband” isn’t exactly the same as yours? What kind of assumptions are you making about me, as a husband, when you hear me called that? How is your language and classification of me, using labels like husband-lover-boyfriend-Dad-etc, changing your perception of me?
For the Boy, I think he got caught up in all of that. I think, and I’m not certain so I’ll never be fully sure, that he started to see me through the filters that those words, those descriptors, layered over me. Instead of seeing me as a solid, single entity named Thom, he saw me through the funhouse of mirrors that those words became.
He never asked me to explain myself, or when I did try to add nuance or gradients or turn those words into a spectrum of meaning for him, he didn’t or couldn’t get there with me. I think the difference between what he understood those words to mean, and how they applied to me, was too much of a gap for him.
Again, I don’t know, and might never know for sure, but it’s a theory that seems to fit well with regards to the situation.
I don’t want those terms applied to me. At all. I want to be known as just me, for my name, for as long as possible.
I don’t want to be classified, boxed, organized, shelved, categorized, or labeled, and have those things be the only thing I am for any one person. It makes my skin itch to think about how constrained those words make my entire being become in the minds of others. I’m more than any one of them, an amalgamation of all of them, and also exist beyond what any google page or dictionary might have to add to the understanding of each of those words.
Going forward, I’m going to be cutting more of these strings.
I don’t want the weight of them on my body and personhood. I want to engage with people who are willing to question the words and terms they use to describe someone else, especially as they get to know that person more intimately, and understand that just because they have their own understanding of what those concepts, those categories, all kind of mean, they might not know the full spectrum of definition. I want them to be as curious about redefining these words, these weighted, heavy, long-standing words, full of both promise and problems, and take ownership of the words they use.
This year, this summer, this new season of Spring and at the midpoint of my life, I’m going to be far more selective about who I let in close to me. I have that right, and I owe it to myself to surround myself with quality people who enhance my life. I’m also going to start valuing myself, my own personhood, a bit higher. I’m considering the ways I can express myself and be closer to who I am, and how that can add to my life.
Stay Tuned. Daddy is going to explore this darkness a bit more, and see what he comes up with. 💚
I had a lovely moment with my husband in our shower, as we lathered up and cleaned our skin for the day. In the steam and water, we embraced, for the first time in a very, very long time. Our schedules, and with the introduction of the ex-boyfriend over the last few months, has meant that we’ve definitely not been able to connect on even the most basic level. A quick chat over morning coffee, sometimes, does not make for a healthy marriage, and I felt that pressure early on in my time with the Boy.
Still, my husband knew that I was going through a thing with the Boy, and that I needed space to find my pace and place with the addition to my family and our home. He was happy to see the joy on my face that the Boy brought into my life, even while he was worried about the stress I was putting myself through to support him and also maintain my connections with the other men that I love.
It would come to pass that, in fact, my husband was a little hurt by how little time we saw and spent with each other. He admitted this to me yesterday, and I had to sit with that fact for my entire work day. Turns out, he wasn’t deeply hurt, but just a little wary about things between us. We’ve been together for over nine years now, and our relationship has become stronger and more unique as time has passed. Others from the outside have definitely judged our connection, and some do not understand it, or can’t wrap their minds around it. Frankly, that’s how I’d like it to be. People will always make assumptions and categorize the things they do not understand or have experienced themselves, and our resilience to exist through all of that is only a testament to how strong we are as a couple.
I also had a moment to reconnect with my other local partner today. David, the DJ, has been part of my PolyFam for a few years now, and while our connection is definitely more of a light-touch, no-expectations kind of arrangement, we did miss each other while I was wrapped up in my other situation. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been able to come back together, and express love and intimacy in ways that work for us, and that support and nourish each other, as we’ve been doing all along. He loves that he can let down his guard with me and be “small,” while I enjoy offering him solace and security when the world gets hard for him. He also gives me solid advice about how my heart feels, and reminds me, often, that I have true value in the world and am worthy of love that reflects that. While I’ve been in this moment of transition in my relationships, he’s been so good at helping me keep my balance, and re-establish who I am, how I love, and what that all means.
I have also spent some time, briefly, connecting with my longer-distant partners, Cody and Rene, and just reminding them that I love them and that they matter. Cody is managing a relationship shift in his life, as well, and so it’s important to me to be there for him in as many ways as possible. Rene is overwhelmed with stress and is trying to find balance between caring for himself and keeping himself invested in his community. Much along the lines with Cody, I am distant, but am there for him in any way that I can be. Long distance is tricky, but it’s doable.
I will carry on with my life, the way I love, and build more faith in my own self and my own values as time passes. My journey with the ex-boyfriend was a bit of a stress-test for me that I really needed to go through in order to find the boundaries that I cannot cross, and how much tolerance I have for flexibility across the areas of my life. I still have miles to go and healing to do, but I feel like today was a good first solid step in that direction.
Since arriving in October, David and I have become basically inseparable. When he arrived, I had a week off from work, and spent most of that time just orienting him to life out here in Oregon. Since then, it’s been week after week of routine and work and stress over money. The usual grind, really.
Last week, though, we caught a break, and together, we spent some real quality Boyfriend time together. It was a much needed re-bonding situation.
Our first adventure was to the eastern slope of the Cascades, to a region of Oregon that I most adore. While it’s dry and warm over there for most of the year, winter in the eastern foothills of the Cascades is quite magical. Windswept rolling hills, sagebrush and juniper and pine, the air filled with a chill and crispness that is dry and light, rather than the damp and smother that you find in Portland, and west of the mountains. It’s here that I usually run to when I need to clear my head, take a break from reality, and realign myself and my life. Showing this to David meant letting him into another part of my world. He got to see me outside of my usual, out of my ruts, and being more authentically me again, which, for him, was exactly what he needed.
He had found a beautiful cabin in Terrebonne, Oregon, near Smith Rock State Park, that had a deck that overlooked at least seven of the peaks along the mountain range. Our night there included seeing the million-billion stars that are obscured by urban light where we call home. It also involved a delightful meal at a cute restaurant in town, and an evening spent being creative – me with my writing and him with his drawing – while listening to the crackle of a fire.
Blissful is a good descriptor.
The following day saw me up early, out of our lofted bed, and making us breakfast in the frosty morning. We saw a flock of birds waking up with the sun, as well as a coyote out making an early patrol of the grounds around the cabin. Once fed and awake, we took off to Smith Rock, a spot that I’ve only ever seen literally crawling with people.
A rather long stroll around the park gave us a lovely opportunity to talk more, to squeeze each other’s hands, and to be “that couple” out in nature. It’s a behavior that we have bonded over before, and simply being out in the open air with David reminds me of how simple and pure our connection really is. It lifted my spirits quite a bit, and made the remainder of the day a constant stream of feel-good-vibes.
I showed him a little of Bend, Oregon, and on to Sisters, Oregon as well, and we returned home tired and refreshed at the same time.
The remainder of the week was spent being lazy and without schedule. Morning hugs, coffee, a few trips to the gym, and making sure each other was comfy and fed were all on the would-be lists of things to do, but nothing was scheduled or scripted. It all just flowed as it wanted, and it was rather amazing.
I want more time with him. I want to get to know him even more. My husband has seen and noted the amount of joy that David has brought into my life, and the love that I share with David spills over into every other connection I have. This is a net positive for myself, and my family of lovers. It is how my life was meant to be, and honestly, I’m left so humbled and grateful for all of it.
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