Focusing on my breath. That’s what they say you should do, right? When you think you might stop breathing because life hurts so bad?
Brad’s aunt and cousins are in town. They stayed late last night trying to understand why in the world Brad and I would agree to something we knew would cause each other so much pain – having sex with other people.
“Why? There’s already so much pain in the world without intentionally adding more to your plate,” they said.
It was a valid question that came at one of the toughest times to give a valid answer.
I cried harder and longer last night than I have since my dad died. I don’t know what triggered it – their questioning of us or the fact that Brad had sex with Carrie for the fourth time that morning.
Mostly, I guess it was the wine I had before bed last night. I got so “tipsy,” I started taking my clothes off in Ben’s bed in front of Brad. I was mostly joking and teasing them, but as always, secretly hoping to incite a threesome. As usual, it didn’t work. Brad left, and I followed him to bed.
Cuddled up next to him, I started sobbing – something I’ve been doing more regularly these days… but this cry felt more intense than all the others before it. It was accompanied by an intense sense of fear.
I had accidentally seen a message from Carrie pop up on our computer saying that for a split second before she turned her light on to go to bed, she’d wished Brad was there waiting in it so she could “crawl up next to him.” Brad responded that he wished she could “crawl up next to him and sleep next to him too.” (Brad keeps forgetting to figure out how to disable his Facebook messages from popping up on our screen, so I wasn’t trying to spy on him.)
That was it. That was all it took for me to fall apart. I’d actually been pretty okay with the surprise “booty call” Brad got around lunchtime yesterday. The last couple of times he’s gone to fuck her, he’s been really nice to me before and after, and it’s made it so much more bearable. I suspect part of the reason he was so mean to me the first two times he had sex with her is he still feels subconsciously (because of his programming) that he has to hate me in order to make room in his heart for someone else. Like he thinks he has to be mad at me to justify having sex with someone else.
So, as usual, it wasn’t the sex that bothered me. It’s that, for the first time, it seems like Brad is falling in love with someone, and she is clearly falling in love with him. And, to make it worse, she’s not interested in polyamory. While she hasn’t exactly led a monogamous lifestyle, I can tell she wants him – all of him – in a monogamous way. And it scares the shit out of me.
Breathing… breathing. So, I clung hard to him last night, while he attempted to sleep. Every time I thought I was done crying, involuntary, body-quaking sobs would come rolling back.
It was the first time I’d experienced jealousy as gripping, terrifying fear. I just couldn’t identify exactly what I was afraid of. Abandonment, sure. Ultimately, probably, the fear of being alone. But most clearly it seemed to be the fear of replacement and the fear of not measuring up to her, of being inadequate or less than her.
He kept assuring me he still loved me, but none of his assurances were enough. I know he loves me like family. I know he means it when he says he’d die for me. But I know he doesn’t love me sexually the way he loves her… maybe he never has. And I don’t know why – especially after just trying to convince Brad’s family that “it’s just sex” – but his aunt and cousin were right, there is something magical about sexual love, and knowing that he’s been able to get it from her in a way I suspect he’s never gotten it from me… kills me. It makes me feel like something is broken in me. Like I don’t have the magic that she has.
I know that’s silly, because I’ve experienced that magic with Ben. So I know I have it. I just don’t know that Brad and I have experienced that kind of sexual magic with each other to the degree we’re experiencing it with our new partners. And that’s a painful realization.
What if what his cousin and my sister said was true? What if Brad and I were just never really that in love? What if we’re just not soul mates? What if that’s why we wanted to be polyamorous? Because on some level we new we could connect better sexually with other people? And if we were never really “in love” with each other, why do we stay together, they both asked.
I wanted to say what they said was just a result of their monogamous conditioning… but I don’t even know what’s true anymore.
I do know that even if it’s true that we are more sexually compatible with other people, it doesn’t mean I want him to disappear from my life. I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone other than my daughter. The thought of him leaving, feels like the thought of my soul getting up and walking out of my body.
I know that sounds “codependent,” but I don’t even care. He is my family. He is my BEST friend in the world. We created LIFE together. Fuck… I’m crying again.
Ugh… I’m back to my original conclusion… Why does it matter if the sexual energy with our new partners burns brighter than perhaps it ever did between Brad and I? Sure, sexual chemistry and passion is a vitally important part of life. But so is the family bond I have with the father of my child. I pray to the universe I can stay connected to him, in one loving way or the other. I pray to god, I can always have a place in his heart and a place to rest my weary head on his chest.
Last night, I caught myself tempted to beg Brad – “Let’s start over. Let’s pretend none of this polyamory stuff ever happened. Let’s just go back to you and me.” But I knew it was too late. I did ask him hypothetically – “if I were willing to stop having sex with Ben, would you stop having sex with Carrie and go back to monogamy with me?”
He confirmed my worst fear – “No.”
Of course, he’s asked me the same question several times over the last few months – “can we be monogamous again?” – and I’ve said no. I’ve seriously considered it, because as good as the sex is with Ben, I’ve often felt it wasn’t worth losing Brad over. But ultimately I know monogamy wouldn’t solve our problems.
Now I feel like Brad has come to that point of no return with me. I think he understands now that there’s no turning back. Even though we feel like our hearts are being raked over red-hot coals, we can’t take it back. We can’t change horses midstream. We have no choice but to stay on this path now. We’ve tasted the world – we’ve tasted familial love and we’ve tasted sexual love… we want both. We’re not willing to give up either.