I haven’t decided how big I want the waves in my life to be, but I understand now that the height of the highs can only be as high as the depth of the lows.
The doctors used to put my dad on drugs to control his bipolar “disorder.” They decided his highs and lows were unacceptably too far apart. He used to confide in me that he was secretly reducing his drug dosage and that gradually he planned to wean himself off of them. He didn’t feel alive. The drugs weren’t “balancing” his emotional waves, they were flattening them. He was flat-lining. He said he’d rather feel extreme highs and extreme lows than nothing at all.
I feel similarly about polyamory. I’d rather feel the highs and lows than nothing at all. Not that I want to be on a constant roller coaster ride – I want the majority of my waves to be smooth and rolling, like the Pacific Ocean – I just want to be swept up in an occasional storm of passion, to remind me I’m still alive. Because if the waves get too calm, for too long, they might lull me into an eternal sleep.
Last week – when I wrote that little post about finding myself – was the closest I’ve ever felt to death. Staring into my father’s eyes the moment he took his last breath wasn’t as scary as the prospect of losing the person whose identity had become so tied up in my own.
After five monogamous years together, Brad had become the center of my world. It made me feel safe having someone else as my anchor, someone else to blame when things went wrong, and someone else to credit when I was overjoyed. But overtime, I felt off balance. I felt too dependent on him for my happiness, and he on me, and we resented each other for it.
Perhaps, subconsciously, this is why I wanted to try polyamory, to reclaim responsibility for my own happiness, and to have a whole network of people to turn to help me meet my sexual, spiritual and emotional needs, so I wouldn’t feel like I was going to die if Brad ever disappeared, which is how I felt last week.
What felt like four months of betrayal (me having sex with our roommate Ben) combined with financial and work-related stress, came crashing down on Brad last Monday.
He resented me having sex with Ben over the weekend, while he was out working. And when I jumped back into work-mode Monday morning (Brad’s day off) and seemed unavailable to meet his need for sexual and emotional connection, he snapped. Yelling and slamming doors, he drove off to Carrie’s house. At least this time he messaged me letting me know where he was going and that he’d be back soon.
We didn’t speak for several hours after he got back. Ben tried to break the awkward silence when he got home from work, but it only caused me to burst into tears and drive off into the woods. Realizing I had nowhere to go, I turned around and parked on the mountainside behind our house. I sat crying in the rain until Brad came out and got in the car.
He told me how he’d been needing to connect with someone, and because I seemed unwilling to be that person, he got his needs met elsewhere. He rubbed it in that it was great and amazing, everything he’d been needing that he hadn’t been able to get from me. At the peak of PMS, and a low in our relationship, I turned on him like a mad woman – “I bet she didn’t even have an orgasm!” I screamed.
“Oh yes she did,” Brad assured me.
“No, she didn’t,” I yelled back, shaking, as I got out of the car. “She was faking it! Just like I always fake it!” I slammed the door, stormed into the house and locked him out.
The rest of the night is pretty foggy. I assume Ben let him back in, and we slept in separate beds.
By Tuesday, we’d decided to be civil, though we were still undecided as to how we should proceed. Brad said the ups and downs of polyamory – and being with me in general – were too much for him. He agreed a monogamous relationship with another woman wasn’t the answer – eventually they’d have the same problems – but maybe he’d like to live alone for a while, he said.
By Wednesday, we decided to give our relationship another chance. We agreed that perhaps a week or so of monogamy – or at least a significant amount of alone time together – might help us reconnect.
Thursday, we had sex for the first time in two weeks and connected on a level we never had before.
I knew I’d hurt him deeply with my comment about faking orgasms. It was only partially true. I’d had my first and some of my best internal orgasms with Brad. It’s just that they’d been harder to achieve with him lately. I said it mostly out of anger and envy that another woman was able to connect with him in a way I’d been dying to connect with him for years, but couldn’t because of all the history and resentment.
I imagine Brad connected with Carrie the way I usually connect with Ben – in pure ecstasy – the kind that’s created when yin and yang meet naked on a beach, carrying no baggage.
With the help of some herbal remedies, Brad and I were able to meet there too. We dropped our baggage, left the busy airport, stripped out of our stifling suits of armor, and saw each other for who we really are. For a moment, I was able to look at him the same way I look at Ben – through his eyes and into his soul.
It was the kind of orgasm I’ve only recently learned is possible – the kind that seems to lasts for eternity, the kind that makes you scream and gasp for breath, the kind that makes you afraid you’re going to die if you go any farther into it, the kind that leaves you speechless and shaking afterward, the kind you’re not sure whether it was real or a dream.
Afterward I lay on his chest sobbing. “Oh, no… what’s wrong?” he said. I didn’t know if I was crying from the experience itself or the fact that I was finally able to share it with him, but I assured him whatever it was, they were tears of joy.
For that moment, he was no longer my life-partner, business partner, or co-parent – he was my lover, my god.
I don’t know where we will go from here, but like our new “non-wedding vows” say, the joy is in the not knowing:
“We sacrifice comfort and predictability. But what we gain is astonishing: This tremendous sense of being alive. No longer numb to the mysteries of love…” ~ Jeff Foster