More than a Boy

He’s more than just my Boy. I call him Son, sometimes, but he’s growing into something Else. I’m not sure what to label things, so I think I’ll just not and let them be what they Are, whatever that might be, or become.

David’s been here about two months now, and from what I can tell, things between him and myself are just getting started. We’ve got a settled pattern of behavior, which works for us both, for now. He doesn’t have a job yet, so that will most likely shift as time passes, hopefully. Still, the way we move together, and the time we spend with each other, has become more and more like time spent with another piece of me. We fuck, we laugh, we scheme, we talk. We work out together. We share common desires for ourselves and for our futures.

We are deeply in Love.

He’s still quite reserved about his feelings, though, and the last couple of days has been a bit of a deeper dive into that part of him.

He knows I’m polyamorous. He knew this entering into anything with me, knows of my partners and my connection to them, and knows that he cannot take up more space in my heart than he already does.

But I think he forgets sometimes. And I think he’s still testing the waters to see how he feels about all of this.

Apparently, loving a person who also holds love for others is a weirdly wired challenge for him, as it has been for the other young men I’ve attempted to bring into my life on this level. It’s a bit tiresome on my end of things, and I am finding myself holding back, dialing myself and my own expression of affection, connection, and emotion into a safer place, under control.

Naw, that’s phrased wrong.

What I’m doing is silently holding my feelings for myself and watching as he develops and changes to his new situation in his life. I think I’ve learned that it’s not on me to adjust myself so far out of whack with who I am to meet his needs. I don’t need to compromise how I identify or how I love, just to be enough for him. This time around, I’m keeping my cool, and keeping control of myself and my emotional state, while letting him go through what he needs to go through. I am constantly remembering that this could all fall apart at any moment.

Thing is, that’s the truth for all of my relationships. Each one of them is a daily choice to be made.

He admitted to me that he’s struggling with his sense of insecurity, which leans into the generic “jealousy” realm. Jealousy, is an over-arching word for a ton of other smaller feelings, and when I hear that word, I’m set off in search of the underlying feeling that’s more precise. In his case, he’s at a crossroads between wanting a singular man all to himself, like he has had before, or wanting the lateral flexibility to love more than one man, such as I do, and expand his understanding of committed relationships and love, overall.

Right from the start, it was he who told me that he wanted to love in a similar fashion to me. He wanted to hold space and affection for more than one person. I told him I could show him how it works for me, and I have been doing that for the last eight months. What I think might be happening is that he’s discovered there’s a boundary, and he needs to negotiate his comfort level with this. I’ve told him that I have made more space for him, at the expense of my other relationships, in order to make him more comfortable while he figures this out.

But I won’t go further than what I’ve done.

I don’t have to compromise so much that I lose parts of my heart in the process. I have worked very hard to establish and maintain the relationships that I have in my life, and they are vital to my life, and deserve attention and care. He knows this, respects this, and has recognized his own shortcomings that he, alone, will have to negotiate.

Mental Health Days

I grew up in a world where mental health concerns were the stuff of humor and ridicule. Mental health hospitals were deemed terms like “looney bin” and “psycho ward” and the like. Conversations about people with mental health issues included terms like “bat-shit crazy” and “psychotic” in ways that indicated derision and a derogatory tone. Mental health issues were a shameful thing, best dealt with quietly, in the darkness, and out of sight. Nobody admitted they were on pills to cope. Ever.

For years, I cast off any suggestion that I had depression, or needed therapy, or any help at all. I denounced all mental health meds as just “crutches for the weak” (again, ableist as fuck) and denied myself the care I clearly needed because of the stigma around not being normal.

That stopped, fully, last year, when I started down a path towards my own mental health improvement. My anxiety and depression had gotten so bad that it was affecting how I interacted with the people I love. I was sleeping maybe 4-5 hours a night, my insides were always in a knot, and my drinking had grown exponentially. I needed to come to terms with my old ways of thinking, and admit that I needed help.

Thankfully, I had (and still have) a wonderful support network around me to lean on when shit hits the fan. Dad’s not as strong as he’d like to be, but then again, the definition of “strength” is malleable. I’m learning a lot about the bullshit I carried around for years. I’m working through it. Part of that journey meant coming to terms with my needs at work. I finally applied for an intermittent medical leave, a protected right under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which will help me both keep my job, and work even harder on my mental health needs and growth.

Today, I finally took advantage of this protection for the first time.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and as I looked at my scheduled day – 12 hours at the handle of my train – and felt myself already mentally crushing under the weight of that. I made a choice. Today is a self-care day. I have been running hard for a few days straight now, and I’ve hit a wall. Mentally and physically. I lost track of myself yesterday, forgot my meds, and started to grind my own self down.

This decision runs smack against everything I’ve ever been taught about work and reliability and all of that. I still struggle with these old ways of thinking, still refer to myself as “broken” when that’s not fully accurate. Perhaps, today, as I recover and pull myself together again, I will ruminate on the way I talk about my own mental health and wellbeing.

Dad’s State of Mind

Things started getting really tricky for me back towards the end of the first year of the Pandemic We All Hate (COVID-19). I’d managed to open up my heart, and love in a way that’s true to who I am, but because of lockdowns and such, forming a stronger bond with those who were far away became next to impossible. I found myself constrained and contained, much like the rest of the world, and stuck in an inside-space, with all of the inside-thoughts that come with that.

Things at work had also taken a turn. No longer were my transit vehicles full of commuters and people just getting around the metro area for one reason or another. Suddenly, it was empty vehicles, or vehicles that became rolling shelters for those without homes, and just as suddenly, I was in a place of damage mitigation and social support for those in need. None of which, I might add, I was trained to handle. I was raw-dogging my way through things, just like everyone else was.

Two COVID infections myself, one short-term relationship with a fellow who decided he preferred a monogamous match rather than being part of a polyamorous situation, and myself left with a broken heart in a broken world, 2021 was shaping up to be one of the most challenging years of my life to date.

Amazingly, though, in that year, I met David the DJ, and Dylan, both of whom quickly became solid supporters of me and my mental health. Both of them had begun the journey of getting a handle on their own mind matters, and it was while learning from them that I began to take steps for myself. Panic attacks at work, along with a severe lack of sleep, and running into anxiety walls while working out all had me back on my heels, worried about what was going on in my head. It was, in fact, a lack of boners, that sent me to the doctors. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’d been missing sex a LOT and suddenly, the machinery that I’ve been depending on for all of my post-pubescent years just wasn’t operational. It was a real problem, for sure.

Since starting therapy, and going down my own mental health wellness path, I’ve been making some pretty decent progress. I’ve recognized where loads of my old trauma responses come from. I’ve begun the process of sifting and sorting and healing from old wounds I wasn’t even aware I was carrying. I’ve started to really make new mental connections to the concepts of love and desire and want and validity. Truly, over the last eight months, I’ve made some real growth.

But, as was the case today, there are still moments of opportunity for me. Today was a challenge of a day.

I’ve fallen in with two beautiful men as of late. One, Cody, lives in Tucson and I met him over my trip to see Above & Beyond at the Gorge Amphitheater a little over a month ago. He and I formed a strange and beautiful bond that’s persisting and thriving, in ways I was not expecting. Then, there’s another David, a young man I met online who was living in Philadelphia, who has recently moved to Salt Lake City, and who, for some reason I have as of yet to fully ascertain, has opened up his heart and world to me. Both of these wonderful connections have so much potential for Joy and Goodness and all the things that relationships can include. It’s a damn Good Thing, and I’m super-duper lucky.

Except that I don’t feel worthy of it. Not fully. Like, I don’t know if I deserve their affections and attentions. Today, as I asked myself “are you worthy” while at the gym, my mind went into chaos-mode, and a panic attack unlike I’d ever felt before, really reared up. I called out of work, knowing full well I’d be unsafe to operate a vehicle in this state of mind, and then made a bee-line, with the dog, to the forest for a respite.

I quieted myself next to the Clackamas River, while Steinbeck kept watch. I let him swim and take a deep drink of the cold mountain water, and as we drove, he leaned in on me more than once, as though to check on me, and tell me I’m worthy of his love. We passed a lone cyclist, who was riding towards the forest, who just reached high and gave us an excited wave, which I returned in kind. He also saw me as worthy, it would seem. I got home, turned back on my connectivity to the world by taking my phone out of Do Not Disturb mode, and caught a message from young David, and DJ David, and Cody, all of whom were checking in on me. All of whom, it would appear, see me as worthy.

I had a vulnerable moment in a video chat with young David, and told him of my struggles. His response has been one of love and gratitude for my allowing him to see this side of me. A text message chain with Cody brought similar results.

Today, I learned that I am worthy of the love I’ve been shown. It was coming at me from all directions, though not from my own inside-self.

I need to continue the work on building up my own sense of self-worth, and not need to rely on external topping off of such things as much. That, for me, is the state of play in my mind these days. I know there’s much more work to do.

Social Shift

We are not meant to be as connected to people as we are online.

I came to this realization the other day when, again, I dumped my account on a major social media platform. I had plenty of followers, was following plenty of people, but it was all far, far too much. I’d been seeking a way off of Instagram, much like I’d been seeking a way off Facebook a year prior, and found my way out. Instagram’s artificial intelligence, the bots tasked with filtering and flagging content as appropriate or not for the site, had determined that an image, from an account I loved and followed with joy, was hate speech. The account in question was a site dedicated to the memory of people who died from AIDS. Flagging anything on there as ”hate speech,” to my mind, was abhorrent. I had found my reason.

Now, though, a few days out, I realize the reasons I left that site are more than for one flagged post.

I have spent far too much of my adult life enjoying the ping of validation that social media sites give me. Sure, it’s fine when a person I know in real-time and real-life comments on a photo or post, or lets me know that they are thinking of me in some fashion. That’s the magic of social media, and it’s brightest moment in all of our digital lives. Where that line gets crossed, though, is when we forgo living in our actual real world, making real connections, and existing as beings on this planet, and give over too much of ourselves to the internet and all of it’s tendrils and functions.

Maybe this makes me old.

I’d like to think it’s me finding balance.

For now, it’s me, and my one Twitter account, where I’ve been more honest with who I am and how I present myself than I’ve ever been.

Which, I should add, is kind of an amazing progression from the way I came out of the closet. More on that in a future post. xx