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.
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.
This is how it works.
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.
David arrived on October 5th, with the intent of attending a job interview with a shipping company here in Portland. His intent: get to Portland, back to the PNW, and to be closer to me.
The job? Well, the company had misrepresented themselves in the ad, and David passed on that interview. But, he still arrived, eager to make a go of a new life, and a new love, in a new place, ready to engage with a new chapter for himself, and for us.
One month on, and I can honestly say that Dad could not be more contented. Daily, he and I connect, giggle, kiss, and are genuinely affectionate with each other. Daily, we talk about our mental health status, the challenges we are facing, and realizing slowly that we’ve got each other to lean on now, and for as long as we want to do so.
In this last month, I’ve learned that I have so much more healing and personal growth to undertake. Because of David’s persistent affection and presence, with so many huge hugs, deep kisses, belly rubs, and all the rest, I am learning that I still don’t love myself, my body, and my mind nearly enough. I don’t appreciate all that I am capable of, nor do I count myself as worthy of many of the amazing and wonderful aspects of my life. I have to be kinder, gentler, more loving, to myself, if I really ever expect myself to be able to love as big as my heart requires.
Taking care of the Boy while he gets his feet under him has been such an undertaking, and has left me feeling like there’s so much more I could and should be doing. I want to do more of this, too. I want to be more of a caregiver, a nurturer, a source of peace, love, and comfort for more of my community. In order to be that guy, though, I have to get my own affairs in order. I have to be better with my resources, and how I use them, and how I meter them out. I have to be smarter, wiser, and kinder.
I still have so much more growth to undertake, even now, after the midpoint of my physical life has arrived. It’s amazing, really.