I bought expensive camping and show tickets for my favorite musical festival/gathering experience. It’s been the case that I’ve done this for the last five years of my life, and will hopefully be continuing to do so.
I have yet to regret this decision. Every time is, well, Above & Beyond.
Above & Beyond Group Therapy Weekender at the Gorge Amphitheater has been, and continues to be, a transformative experience of destination, magic, music, community, and higher-vibrations of humanity, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Each time I’ve gone to this event, my mind expands, my heart grows larger, and my appreciation for the life I’m living grows exponentially deeper.
This last weekend was no exception.
It was also the last big event weekend I would be spending with my now-ex-husband. It was also the first big event weekend I would be spending with my-now-present boyfriend. While it was a little weird to be sharing space with both elements of my life, then and now, it worked seamlessly. Ray ended up having a really good time, David and I grew so much closer and connected. The music and vibes and crowds all wove together to make it a peaceful, enjoyable transition between these parts of my life, and it took my breath away each time I thought about it.
I’m going to be enjoying the come-down from this experience for days on end, recognizing that this means my new life is starting, and that I can and will make progress and changes that lead me to an even more authentic life, boldly loving and dancing all the way along the path.
I quit my transit job as of June 1, 2023. It’s been just over twenty days since then, and I’ve been able to reflect a bit on a few things.
Most notably, my overall mental health has vastly improved. I’m calmer, sleeping better than ever, and feel a sense of peace unlike any I’ve ever felt in my life. Sure, I’m still worried about money and making ends meet, but not nearly as consumed by those pressures on to top of having to negotiate the daily grind that the transit job presented to me every damn day.
I get to wake up when I’m rested, sleep when I’m tired, set my own schedule, talk when I want to, be quiet when I don’t, and all the rest. I’m my own boss, my own leader, my own determining factor in my future. I have control over my life in a way I’ve never known before. I’m able to set boundaries and walls where I need them, and move them and adjust them on the fly. I’m not negotiating a whole pile of bullshit just to find happiness. I’m finding it, daily, in many ways.
I still have some things to sift through, especially with my finances. I need to take stock of where I am with my income, and what I have in the bank, and organize my money a bit more. I’ve been spending a bit willy-nilly as of late, and that needs to stop. Money, so far, is a finite resource, and given I only have met a few clients at the new job, and only for an intro meeting, I don’t have much coming in from that – yet. I was just handed a list of people who I can follow up with, and have, with regards to getting them to meet with me at the club. Still, until those turn into standing training clients, I’m still grasping around in the dark. I’m still leaning into my online clientele, and that’s okay, for now.
The other major change that’s occured is, of course, the return and resurgence of David’s place in my life. He wasn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to be in Denver, living his best new life or whatever, but, instead, he’s come back.
I’m still wrapping my head around this fact.
We spent last weekend driving to Salt Lake City to pick up the rest of his belongings from his sister’s place. I got to meet one of his oldest friends, Sean, and also meet his sister, brother-in-law, his nieces and nephew, and have a nice chat with his dad again.
David’s family is supremely important to him, and while he doesn’t like to admit it, he feels like he’s got to carry them in some fashion. I’m not sure what that will look like going forward, as he’s still got to get his own feet under him, but I know that he’s, more than once, talked to me about what happens when his dad, who’s 73 years old as of a few days ago, has a decline in his health. It’s coming, and David is preparing himself for it daily. I already know he’ll be leaning in on me when things turn for his dad.
Beyond all of that, we both recognize that this time around for us, we are seeking comfort and peace with each other. No more drama, secrets, or fear of asking questions that are hard, or might cause concern. I feel like he’s hiding far less from me this time around, and I’m actively facing each day with him as a new experience to enjoy, rather than putting any weight on our future. He doesn’t have much to show with regards to sticking power and being present in a long-term relationship, so I’m still a bit guarded. I think that’s okay, though, and it’s helping me keep my inner codependent self at ease. I don’t *need* David. I don’t need his validation or approval or any of that. I *want* his presence in my life, in as many ways as possible, because I do, in fact, love him. However, it’s not a desperate kind of love. It’s easier, calmer, more gentle.
It’s better this time around, in many ways.
Plus, let’s be real. The sex has been amazing. Connected love-making with David has been the cornerstone of our connection, and it continues to be. Exploring my sexuality, our shared and disparate kinks, and all the rest, has been a JOY to experience, and I can’t wait to see what we get up to.
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.
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.
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.
I came out as Polyamorous in the early days of 2020, just before COVID-19 swept the face of the planet.
My then-boyfriend-now-husband, Ray, and I were enjoying a beautiful weekend in Palm Springs, California, attending an annual bear event. I’d snagged a copy of ”Ethical Slut,” a book that had been both recommended to me, and I’d seen referenced many times in a variety of posts online, and had gotten through most of it by the time we arrived at our resort. Over the weekend, in quiet moments of the morning, or in the afternoon during a ”disco nap” siesta, I found myself buried deep in the pages under the warm southern California sun.
Everythign I was reading really, deeply resonated with me.
It wasn’t until after I’d spent a fantastic afternoon with René, and felt a deep flush of connection to him, that I drew Ray close, and decided to get his thoughts on this new identity that seemed to align with my biology in ways I wasn’t expecting.
Was he okay with being with me, if I were polyamorous? What kinds threats or challenges did he anticipate? How do I make sure that he never felt sidelined or left out?
To which he replied, without pause, ”Thom, yes, it’s fine. It’s who you are, and something I’ve suspected about you for a while now.”
Much like coming out of the actual gay closet, it turns out perhaps that I was the last one to become aware of who I was, while the entire world around me had spotted that part of me years ago. Coming out is like that a lot.
René and I began a lovely, beautiful, long-distance relationship. Ray, for his part, was thrilled to see me grow and explore this newly-identified side of me. I had so many questions, so many things I didn’t know. I spent a great deal of time reaching out to guys I already knew who were polyamorous with question after question after question.
In the time since accepting my polyamorous identity, I’ve gotten to know and love a number of men. Some have come into my life, and remained there, part of the little circle of guys I can lean on and be vulnerable with at a moment’s notice, who give little digital hand-squeezes when requested/desired, who remind me that I am worthy, and all the rest.
Some guys have come, and gone, into and out of my life, as though I was a bit of a waypost, a stop over, an experience to be present for, and then let go. Those, in particular, have been some of the most challenging of relationships, especially the letting go part, for me and my old-school, New England-raised heart. The impermanence of relationships, to me, was a huge trigger for old trauma, as the adult child of divorced parents, and relaxing my embrace on the men who needed to move on really did take the stuffing right out of me. Twice now, I’ve had my heart decimated, through no fault of the other parties involved, but simply because of the way my mind and body react when they think they’re feeling old trauma again. It’s all weird. I’m in therapy, I promise. There’s a bit to unpack, and maybe I’ll save that for another post, at another time.
Jae, Jake, and Dylan all have had lessons to teach me as I learned the shape of my heart.Our connections have shifted, but they all remain near and dear to me.
In the therapy sessions I have had, I’ve come to a better place with regards to spotting when I’m reacting to an old trauma, or a new and present-day one. I’ve been able to discern when I’m acting co-dependent, and when I’m feeling genuine. I’m learning how to let go of my grip, and stop constantly seeking connection/validation. I’m an old dog, and these are new tricks, but I’m getting there.
And, as of today, I have a developing situation with a new connection that is shooting off some flares and sparks of potential.
Ray once said he really enjoyed watching me fall in love. It was, according to him, the best part of my polyamorous identity. I get giddy, I get silly, I tend to smile more and have a brighter outlook on my life in general. I’m a generally better person to be around when I’m also dealign with a swelling heart. While some of that is true, most of that sparkle came from the old feeling of euphoria I’d get as a boy, when the actions I took somehow soothed a moment over in the tumultuous relationship of my parents. Again, more on all of that in a different post, but suffice to say, I needed to parse that feeling of falling in love a bit, and learn some of the stages of emotional development that occur while a bonding his happening. The ”whoosh” of falling in love is intoxicating for sure, but it can lead a person to make rash choices in moments where some reflection and consideration are needed.
Which is where I am today.
Making rational and sane choices, and being much less of a fire hydrant with the Giddy Squish (an endearing term for all that treacle-sweetness that happens at the start of a shared mutual interest), and a little more sanguine about my feelings. For now, this mild reserve with my emotions still feels genuine and authentic, and has really allowed me to simmer over the ways I communicate the ways I’m feeling, and has helped me spot when I start devolving into that strange little co-dependent person that I was as a boy, who is hardwired to believe that so long as I’m needed, I’m loved.
Spotting the difference between ”need” and ”want” is a massive, massive leap forward for me.