Tonight Manthing asked me if he could catch up with a woman for coffee. For anyone who’s been around this blog for a little while (or anyone who has read my ‘about me’ section) knows that our relationship doesn’t exactly conform to your norms. We are in an open, polyamourous relationship and it works for us, we’re happy with it and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. In this post, I ask that you do not judge, try to convert or otherwise criticise my relationship mechanics because you do not agree with it. That’s not the point of this post
But tonight manthing asked me if he could catch up with a woman for coffee, and I was gripped by a sense of panic. After sitting down and talking about what was bothering me, I came to two conclusions.
The first, the idea that if he finds someone he likes, that he or she would reject me as his partner, she would make me feel unwelcome in her presence, she would throw my position physically, socially or financially in my face or she would otherwise disagree with the idea of sharing time with Manthing.
The other is that, in his adventures, he would find someone that made him happy, and while I’m entirely happy in my relationship with him, that I would fail to find connections with people outside our relationship and would end up jealous and unhappy.
During our talks, I realised that these issues, and many more, came down to one thing. My ex boyfriend and our ex girlfriend. The relationship I had with them has coloured my perception of the world so drastically that I hardly noticed until I stepped back and asked myself “Why?” Why am I upset? Why does this cause me distress?
In one relationship I was undervalued. I was cheated on multiple times. I had a partner that wanted a parent and a secretary. Someone who had no motivation of their own, no drive to improve themselves as a person and, rather than fighting, he simply shrugged and gave up and was happy with “I tried”. I did love him, but by the end it felt hollow and one-sided. I felt like slapping him and screaming at him to try and keep me, rather than rotting away like a corpse in a basement. I did love him, but by the end, all that was had been tainted by the bitterness and anger that I held against him for failing to walk beside me as I moved forwards in my life.
That left me with the impression that I had no value as a person. That I was expendable, replaceable at a moments notice. It told me that I wasn’t worth the effort of stepping away from the PC, that my happiness came second to someone else’s. It taught me that I was an idiot to trust people and that I would ultimately end up getting hurt.
After Manthing and I became an item, there were many challenges we had to face as a couple. The greatest is something I’m still fighting to this day – that I have an intrinsic value as a person, and that anyone that truly loves me will show me this every single day.
After some time, Manthing and I became involved with a girl. To this day I’m still madly in love with her, and I find my heart aching when I come across the photo of her sitting on the couch in my jumper. I miss the way she smelled and the softness of her hair and her skin. I miss her laugh, the way she could light up a room just by walking in, her stunning smile and I miss knowing her intimately, physically and otherwise. A few months ago I found a video she had made for us when we were together. She sang a beautiful song. I couldn’t watch more than a few seconds before I was in tears. But, while things were wonderful while they were good – she proved that there was very little in the world that made me happier than both her and Manthing being a part of my life at the same time – the note the relationship ended on… well, I would take broken bones over that heartache any day.
While there were many unaddressed issues of her own health and her lack of management thereof, what sealed fate was the fact that she commited the cardinal sin against someone with a chronic, uncontrollable illness and told me that she couldn’t cope with it. That it was getting to her. She told me that MY illness had become HER problem. I understand that, after a time, it can be wearing to see someone you care about face battles you can’t fight. I do. But what was said to me that evening was unforgivable, and it reinforced my greatest fear – that someone I had opened my heart to and truly loved with every part of my being, that they could cut me down where I stood by using my own personal hell against me. She had proven that, with my conditions, being in a relationship outside of Manthing simply wasn’t possible because my health was too much of a burden on others and that I would have been so much better off either never having revealed my Achilles heel, or even loved to begin with.
And so I find myself tonight sitting here and trying to make sense of the thoughts rushing around in my head. I listen to the way part of me desperately yearns to make meaningful connections with people, and I hear the other part of me that says “No, it’s too dangerous. You will only find hurt and loneliness” and I don’t know which one is more right than the other. The real question begging an answer is “Can I allow Manthing the chance to find happiness (alongside me) and am I willing to risk not finding it myself?”
Life is inherently one giant risk. We risk traveling through our mother’s body to the world. We risk our lives leaving the house. We risk our ego every time we speak to people. We risk being hurt when we give them more than a “hello”. What I ultimately need to decide is whether my happiness, and manthing’s is ultimately worth that risk. Because a part of me deep down inside still believes that it may be worth it. Not every time, but sometimes. And that sometimes can make all the difference.