I turn 46 in a few days. It’s not a milestone birthday, but it is something, I suppose.
I’m under a lot of pressure to keep after my business, and keep growing it as much as possible, and the daily work is starting to really pick up in speed. If you’d asked me last year at this time, I’d have told you I was VERY unsure about the success of my coaching, and would be under so much stress and pressure from my public transit gig that I’d probably have just slugged some coffee, shot you a dirty look, and headed out the door.
This year, in this pre-birthday space in time, I’m a much different person. I have a beautiful Boy in my bed. I have a burbling and flowing business that, while it’s a bit of a hustle, brings me utter joy the more I engage with it. I have my dog, faithful and steadfast. I have simplified my life by simply saying No and meaning it when I had to.
Things are better.
Things are vastly different from where I thought I’d be
When I started this site, I was attempting to play to my darker side. The sexy, slutty, experiment-in-body-positivity side that I had never nurtured before. I’d never felt so strong, so confident in my personhood. Today, that feeling has simmered into a fine, rich stew of life lessons and emotions. Having the support of the Boy, who sees me as a magical creature, beautiful in nearly every way, and who constantly has me on my heels, questioning every bit of self-doubt that still lingers in my body, has been transformative.
I have learned that I am not meant to manage everything, and that it’s okay to be humble and ask for help and forgiveness at times. I have an inner strength that has been so dormant and yet so persistent my whole life, and through my connection to him, and to the world around me, I’m able to foster more growth and compassion than ever before. When I stop putting in so much frustrated effort towards things that aren’t in my control or purview, I’m able to fully breathe and be myself, for the first time in my whole-ass life.
I turn 46, which is too damn close to 50 for my liking, but it also represents a beautiful moment to stop, take in the view, and spot the peaks and valleys I’ve already traversed.
I really am happy with the view from this vantage point.
Every year since 2010, I’ve had a cold dead rock of emotion inside me on Independence Day.
It was the day my first husband ended my first marriage. It was under the banner of fireworks and pyrotechnics on the banks of the Charles River in Boston, the most Freedom Day place in America on the most Freedom Day of the year.
I was given my freedom, indeed, but felt the cage of all of those demons, that I’d entrusted my marriage to keep me safe from, open wide, and start chewing on me again.
I hadn’t faced down my darkened childhood. I hadn’t take steps to come to terms with my busted first relationship, that had been full of violence and toxicity. I hadn’t even really faced down my own self-destructive nature around food and exercise. Instead, I’d put all of my focus into my marriage, and into being someone’s something, rather than being my anything, at all.
And I started running. For my life.
First, it was running back to Maine, tail between my legs. Then it was actual running – ten miles every other day or so. Then it was to the bar, and drowning out my anxious self, slipping into that time and space that has no feeling and all physicality. Then, it was running on the open road in my car, clear to Denver. I barely paused there, and found myself doing the same sort of running, only this time at altitude – where the air is thin and suffocating all at once.
I finally ran to Portland, and it’s been here where I’ve come to rest. Nearly ten years with Ray meant slowing down, taking stock, and finally, for the first time, pivoting to face the things I could not, physically or emotionally run away from any longer. Hitting forty years of age was the fulcrum point, and since then, nothing’s been the same.
I got my eating and exercise in order. I made steps to embrace my need for mental health help. Now, more recently, I’ve set myself free from a job I hated because it was killing me day by day. I’ve got a massive new love in my life who’s showing that he wants to be here, and be present, even though he’s also stumbling a bit as well.
Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of my Independence Day.
I’m going to make it a simple and gentle as possible, and remain thankful for the freedom I have in my life now.
I’m a little more free of my past, my demons, my bad choices, and a lot more free to make better, stronger, healthier choices for myself going forward. I have a lot more freedom to love in a way that suits me, and not just for the appeasement of others. I am free to smile in the sunshine, or smile when the rains hit my bald head. I am more free in my spirit than I have been in my whole life.
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.
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.
Today is Imbolc, the half-way holiday between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
Around here, that means there’s daylight in the sky (barely) until 6p and that brings me joy. This winter has been a mix of joy and light, but also darkness and brooding.
The Boy has been decompressing from his move here back in October, and the slide down from that initial excitement and engagement with a new life in a new place has transitioned into a darker depression than I think neither him, nor I, were ready for. Lots of questions about the longevity of our connection have emerged, and there’s lots of worry from both of us about the path forward.
Along with all of this, I’ve been working with a new therapist and psychologist to get my meds right and my therapy on the track it needs to be on. So far, the meds are still wobbly (but working), and the therapy is about to take a deep-dive into an old place of sadness and pain that I’ve been avoiding for the better part of twenty-five years. It’s not going to be easy, and on the flip, it runs the risk of making me emotionally unavailable to him, and to other people in my life who count on me to be their support. I *know* they all know this is how it sometimes goes, but I really do loathe not being strong enough to carry all the weight.
I am Dad, after all.
Still, there are buds on the trees. The daffodils in protected corners are reaching for the heavens, even when the sky remains mostly cloudy and grey. The moments the sun is out are fortuitous and warm. There is a sparkle of optimism and hope that is alive in every peep and cheep from the hummingbirds and chickadees that surround our apartment complex. Life is continuing and moving onward, and the sun is returning. Not all is lost.
David and I had a lovely date yesterday, having had lunch at a food cart pod, and then visiting a really great comic book store. After returning home, we had a very lovely intimate session in his room. Deep in embrace, I admitted I was scared of losing him. He admitted he was scared of losing me too. Putting those fears out on the table, however, I think has reduced the amount of space and energy they take up in our brains, and we recommitted to putting more effort in wherever we could to make this work. We deeply, deeply love each other, and are a team when it comes to facing down the adversities we share. While I can’t totally remedy the roadblocks ahead of him, nor can he mine, we can be there for each other, in ways that extend beyond just a hug, or a fuck, or even a hand-hold.
I also know that, in the end, his life is vast and has many more curves and pathways ahead for him. While I might not always be in his life physically, I am resolute in the belief I will be in his life, somehow, until the end of my days here. Nothing can shake that from me, ever.
And, this morning, as my coffee swirls under the light of a shitty overhead apartment fixture, I feel secure in at least where my heart lies.
I’m ready to do this work ahead of me, so that I might be an even better lover to David, to my husband, and to my other partners who do lean and rely on me to be there for them, as much as they’ve been there for me.
There’s not much daylight these days. I wake up in the dark, work mostly in the dark, spend my time off work in the dark, predominantly. Generally speaking, it’s a hard job not to just want to sleep all the time every day until spring. I swear I’m built for hibernation.
Thing is, that’s not how capitalism works. Or the modern human society, for that matter. One must get up and do the things, even when the sun can’t be bothered to rise over the horizon, or hang out up in the sky for very long.
This year feels different, though, and it’s because of David. I haven’t written too much about him, either here or over on my twitter, but suffice to say, he’s keeping Daddy very, very happy. Even in the darkness. Especially in the darkness, in fact.
The Boy has challenged me to keep myself engaged with the world around me. He’s at my side, propping me up, reminding me that I’m worthy and lovely at nearly every turn. He keeps telling me and showing me how much he truly does care for me, and keeps me honest about how I perceive myself and treat myself from day to day.
I can honestly say I have never felt this complete before. I have a beautiful husband in Raymond, and a solid bond and connection with him that transcends any other relationship I have ever had. I have a beautiful Boyfriend in David, who is the spark and joy and light that is keeping this fire inside me lit, to be and become a better, stronger version of myself every single day.
I have my other members of my polyamorous gang (the other David, Rene, and Cody) who, while they are a bit more periphery in my life, still are my confidantes, my go-to guys, my leaning posts, my advice columnists, and lovers. There’s no more burning ache in my heart for more. Instead, there’s a desire to go deeper. To tend to the planted seeds, rather than expand the garden, is the objective now, and it feels like a good, massive shift in my driving force through this world. I am no longer SEEKING. I’m off the hookup apps. I’m not floating around in social spheres trying to catch the eye of someone I find attractive. I’m not engaging in conversations and flirtations with men from distant places in order to fill a gap in my heart and mind.
It might be the darkest month of the year, but there’s so much light in my heart and home; a solid glowing ember of pure, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted love that I have crafted and created for myself. While I spend a LOT of personal energy fretting and worrying over the machinations of it all, when I take a step back and really look at what I’ve built for myself and those I love, I’m actually quite proud of myself.
Living my truth, in all of its myriad of expressions, has got to be the biggest achievement of my life so far. No fiscal or personal gain has brought me more joy than the feeling of content in my heart.
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.
For a number of years now, I’ve been actively disengaged from my biological family. They’re back east, in Maine, distant and apart from me and my life way over here in Oregon.
In the last year, since starting therapy, I’ve been wrestling with the fact that my childhood, no matter how idyllic I’ve painted life on that 65-acre New England farm with rolling hills, fields, a river, and two trembling brooks, it was also full of deep, dark trauma.
I still need to plumb the depths of all of that, and come to more solid terms with it, as I heal and grow into the next half of my life. It’s because of that need in my own life, that I’ve actively and thoughtfully created my own Chosen Family here, in my actual life, where my own rubber meets the road. It’s why I keep those who share my DNA at a long-ass distance. We might share blood and bone, but we share nothing else.
I’m okay with that, after years and YEARS of feeling guilt and pressure to not be okay with being away.
This is the start of the holiday season, with it’s manufactured “come home” vibes, with all of the pressure to supply food and gifts to your family members, with the silly Hallmark holiday movies, nostalgia wrapped up in tinsel and Victorian decor, and all the rest. If this time of year brings you joy, and you have a solid, loving connection to those who raised you and brought you into this life, by all means, go hog wild, enjoy your thing, and share it wide and far. Even this old Hermit loves a bit of sparkle and joy in the deep darkness of winter.
But if you are like me, and you struggle with all of that, and hate the feelings that this time of year can generate inside you, I want to let you know that I’m here. Your Internet Dad is here, arms open wide, and willing to listen and comfort as you parse out how your feeling and how the winter holidays affect you.
I definitely challenge you to find your Chosen Family – those you keep close, that you lean on, that you think of on bright sunny lovely days, and want close on the darker, deeper, more challenging days. Even if you are close to your bio-family, it’s vital that you have some support outside of that framework. Perhaps, make it a resolution for yourself going forward. As an Old Man, I’m telling you, it matters. Deeply.