Good Evening/Morning. It’s 3:10 AM where I live, and I’ve slept as much as I can, it seems. That means you get to read me blathering about something before I’ve had caffeine or my mood stabilizers.
For those who are just joining us, My name is Lee, and I mostly give my posts names from lyrics of songs I just happen to be listening to at the time I start the post. This sometimes influences what I write, but just as often serves as juxtaposition, creating some kind of resonance feedback loop, which makes it more interesting for me than it probably is for you. Sorry about that. I’m only thinking of the part of the audience that exerts the most direct influence on what I write about: me. I don’t comment on my posts either, but that’s only because I don’t want to be locked away. If you folks started commenting, that would probably change things. The influence thing… not the being locked away part.
I don’t always name posts after songs I’m listening to, either because I’m not playing any music yet, or because I already have a song stuck in my head before I start. Today’s lyric, which is almost certainly misremembered (a Mondegreen; I remembered this time, Ani), is from a song called Dreams, by the slightly artsy 80s hard rock band, Bonham. I was–and remain–inordinately fond of this peculiar band who were essentially overproduced and pretentious, but who just had a scale to their music that was both accessible and yet inspirational, like the best of Winger, when he wasn’t singing about underaged lovers and such.
What I AM listening to at the moment is the album ‘Feels Good to Me’ by Bruford, the first album recorded by ex-Yes, -Genesis, and -King Crimson (and soon to be ex-UK) band member and prog/jazz fusion drummer extraordinaire, Bill Bruford, whom I once compared favourably to Ringo Starr, which upset a young prog head quite badly. Sorry, Avi. I was referring to rock stature, not technique or value; you really needed to loosen up a bit, you know? Hope you found the singer you needed.
I would have used some lyrics from this album, as there are a few, but to be honest, I don’t like the lyrics from this album. The best bits are all instrumental. And anyway, when I woke up (for the second time), I already had the Bonham tune in my head. so I should probably try connecting this post to that song.
What You Came To Read About
Over the past couple of days, I received an interesting spike in interest in my posts because I mentioned some friends who just happen to be living a lifestyle I admire but am not living myself. I’m going to be kind and not drag them any further through my posts, because it feels a bit exploitative at this point. What I will say is, I write favourably about polyamory not because of what I imagine it to be, but because I’m all too well aware of what it isn’t.
One thing it definitely isn’t is the guiding principle for how I live. I identify as polyamorous, but in my case, it’s entirely theoretical, because I have never engaged in a polyamorous relationship. I have had flings with more than one person at the same time, but again, not the same thing, even if I did have strong feelings for at least one of those partners at the time. That was also a long time ago.
For the last six-and-a-half years, I’ve been in a monogamous marriage with my wife. She and I are at the stage where we both joke about her leaving me, but she doesn’t show any serious signs of planning to leave me at this time. That I’m not taking part in a polyamorous lifestyle is probably a big factor, there. My wife is extremely intelligent and very aware of both what polyamory is and what my proclivities are, but she does not share, and will proudly proclaim that to anyone who cares to hear it.
Native New Yorkers, in my observation, tend to love to own up to their psychological underpinnings, whether they are ‘healthy’ or not. They wear their neuroses with pride, like warpaint or battle scars. I admire it, actually. I’m not sure I’d make a good New Yorker, even if I were transplanted there, but I’d certainly like to think that I have a bit of NYC in my soul.
I tell you that to help you understand why I don’t resent my wife for her neuroses, including the bit where she admits she’s too insecure to condone or take part in a polyamorous lifestyle. I love my wife very dearly, so I learn new ways to cope with her very colourful personality every day.
Nevertheless, I often feel like I’ve been doing it wrong. I am who I am, and love whom I love, and yet I maintain my monogamous marriage, more out of love than any sense of duty, though there is that, as well. I feel very strongly that I owe my wife a great deal, both in terms of monetary support (she has invested heavily in this marriage over the years) and in terms of gratitude for the stability and emotional support she has given me. My wife is a much more organized, methodical person than I am, and has instilled a lot of structure in my life. I don’t always appreciate this, but that structure has helped me get through a fair bit of chaos and strife over the last eight or nine years that she has been a part of my life.
My wife has been very good to me, and I have tried to repay her in kind, when and as I have been able. Money is too often too tight around here, and I’m not always the model of romantic demonstration, or of timely affection, either. Up until recently, I had been taking mood stabilizing medication that thoroughly dampened my libido, which had a profound effect on how affectionate and demonstrative I have been. It’s definitely affected our marriage in ways I’m none too proud of.
At this point, habits have developed over the course of my marriage, along with those developed from a lifetime of relative impoverishment, which have complicated even the simplest of loving relationship affirmations, such as the giving of flowers or Valentine and Birthday cards. I used to actually make my own cards, but I’ve had trouble focussing on completing one in the last five or six years.
Of course, I don’t spend a great deal of my time admitting all of these things to people in public, despite my usual candor about matters pertaining to myself and my emotional landscape. For one thing, I don’t wish to embarrass my wife, who is a wonderful woman and deserves to be respected and admired for her talents, hard work, and perseverence. However, I developed the habit of talking through and sharing my emotional issues after having read a series of Richard Bach novels in the 80s, which taught me a fair bit about being open and honest in relationships. There was also a series of extremely confessional journals written and published by some guy whose name I’ve since forgotten, who definitely had a bit to learn about propriety, but even his writing has had an effect on how I write about myself.
I’m a pretty sensitive and, believe it or not, a fairly private guy, but I paradoxically sometimes favour devastating honesty, even if it leads to many emotional bruises. I try never to hurt the people I love, but I do get myself in trouble time and again, in the interest of explaining some delicate matter that has been preoccupying me.
I don’t set out to deliberately sabotage myself or my relationships, though a cursory scan of my history would produce a pretty compelling argument to the contrary, I’m sure. Point is, I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to doing what’s best for my relationships. Sometimes, in my ‘enlightened self-interest’, I stir up a hornet’s nest in an effort to make things just a little more healthy and less constricting. However, it’s been a while since I tried to explain or define the state of my marriage. At the risk of pissing my wife off, I’m going to give it another lame stab this morning, just because it’s been weighing on my mind a bit lately.
As stated before, I’m polyamorous. I’m also in a loving–if sometimes strained–monogamous marriage. Yes, there is a slight paradox there.
Basically, it goes back to an agreement my wife and I had made several months before we even became engaged. It was a late night phone call, and we had somehow gotten on the topic of our polyamorous friends and acquaintances, some of whom were notorious for their melodrama and inability to have uncomplicated relationships. This lead my future-wife to state empirically that she would never be in a polyamorous relationship.
The most I knew about polyamory at that point was that most people can’t do it well, and those that tried had a tendency to screw it up spectacularly, given enough time and rope. Nevertheless, I perceived, ever so vaguely, that there was something in polyamory that resonated with me. However, I was tired of uncertainty and of being abandoned. I hadn’t made up my mind about polyamory one way or another, but I knew I didn’t want to lose this woman, so in a split second, I agreed that polyamory wasn’t for me, either. I honestly thought the days of wine and roses were coming to a close for me anyway, and I’d never even tried polyamory, but it sounded pretty risky, so what was I losing? I had no idea that the decision would come back to haunt me later.
I had previously been through two rather messy relationship meltdowns that had been decaying for some time, and one of the three biggest factors (distance and my bipolar disorder being the other two) in the breakdown of the latter of those relationships was the fact that my internet girlfriend wanted to start seeing a polyamorous couple on the west coast. I was okay with that arrangement, actually, but what I wasn’t alright with was being abandoned in the process, which sent me into something of a tailspin.
And I guess that’s the what I’m most sensitive to. I’ve always had the need to reassure my partners that I have no intention of abandoning them. For one thing, I’m much, much better at falling in love than I am in falling out of love. This is not news to a goodly handful of people who are well aware of my tendency to hang on to love long after the relationship has ended.
And for another, I am quite capable of loving more than one person at a time. I actually find it difficult to understand how people can only love one person at a time. To me, that’s like saying they can only walk around on one foot at a time. I honestly think they’re just telling themselves that because it’s what society has trained us to accept as ‘the norm’. I know relationships are complicated enough without trying to maintain more than one at a time, but love and relationships are not always the same thing.
Perhaps ideally they ought to be, but the way we place expectations on our current partners, it often seems to me that what is missing is the support of other partners who can pick up the slack left while we devote less than our full attention to that singular relationship every hour of every day.
Now, let me be very clear, here. I’m not talking about sex, or sleeping around, or open marriages, or swinging, or whatever else you might be thinking. I’m not really wired for that. For one thing, my libido still hasn’t fully recovered from years of risperidone use, so I’m still not the most sexual of creatures, though it’s been months since I used the stuff. For another, I’m the exact opposite of the guy who has multiple sexual partners but loves only one person; I have only one sexual partner, but love multiple people ‘in that way’; differently, but equally.
I’m not in it for the thrills. I’m in it for keeps. I can accept that, sometimes, a fuck is just a fuck. What I can’t deal with is someone who only has one night of sex on their mind. I’ve had flings and one-nighters, and frankly, they leave me cold. I don’t seek these things out, and I’m happy not to have to deal with the fallout from discovering that someone doesn’t care for me, but would still like to sleep with me. If monogamy has done one thing for me, it has definitely freed me from having to risk that eventuality anymore.
I’ve already said quite a lot, and will doubtless wish I could unsay a few things later on, but I think I’ve pretty much covered most of my thoughts on the subject. I know I’m not living as my nature dictates I feel the need to. I don’t always bear the weight with grace. And I don’t seem to be able to just turn it off and be the man I’m expected to be. Societal expectation seems to be in diametric opposition to how I’m built.
However, I love my wife, and would never abandon her, despite the expectations she sometimes places on me.
I just wish it weren’t so scary–for both of us–being the person I am. What would my life be like if I were a braver man? Would it still be the disaster it had been before I figured out these things about myself? Or would it be something I almost dare not allow myself to imagine, for fear of it never coming to pass?
As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to comment if the spirit moves you to.