This piece is a submission I wrote for the Poly Role Models‘ Cautionary Poly project. It gives a little more back story about the ex in my previous post and should be published sometime at the end of the summer/beginning of Fall. Go check out their page!
My husband and I were still practically newlyweds when my life crashed through the door of my future ex’s tiny apartment that night we met. For a few months this strange soul and I tiptoed around one other until he asked for my phone number. The text message I received following that conversation changed everything and was the catalyst for the explosion that was our entire relationship. It lasted four years and I experienced NRE (new relationship energy) with him the entire duration of our time together. That love drunk blindness stuck with me despite spending hours together almost daily. He was the drug that I could not quit. The sex was too good, the conversation too profound, the emotional connection too deep. He was intelligent, validating, curious, and physically affectionate. He was also self-loathing, suffering from a mental illness he could not afford to be treated for, and defensive. He hated his very existence, but through those four years I was convinced that with all the love I held in for him in my heart, I could fix him. And holy hell did I try, harder than I should have. I exhausted emotional, physical, and financial resources, but it was never enough. The void was too deep. It was like throwing love, time, and money into a black hole and when he left, that blackness consumed me. I was so wholly unprepared for this loss that it shredded me to the core and then left me simultaneously conscious but comatose. Never in my life have I felt such a deep reaching emotional pain.
When I began to heal, I was able to look behind me and face the wreckage that entire relationship had left in its wake. My marriage was on life support, only just scraping by. My social life had withered from neglect. My hobbies and interests were nowhere to be found. For four years I had given everything to him and in turn, lost myself. This relationship was the cause of the greatest heartache I have survived thus far. However, the pain and rebuilding has taught me lessons about life, love, and myself that I won’t soon forget — for the price I paid for them was too high to merely toss aside. These scars were expensive and I intend to get my money’s worth.
Among the most important are as follows:
Love may be unconditional, but if you want to reap its rewards you can’t neglect the garden. My husband stuck with me when he probably shouldn’t have because he truly loved me. I neglected him and our relationship for the entire duration of this other encounter as well as the time it took to grieve its ending. By that point my husband did still love me, but no longer trusted me. Resentment and doubt had grown in the place of love and trust. Thankfully, it was not beyond repair. I cherish his love now more than ever, because I am the one that had to bandage the wounds and nurse it back to health.
No one egg is worth your whole basket. I neglected nearly everything for this one entity. It wasn’t healthy and now I know that I have much more to offer. My husband and child are central to my life, without a doubt. But giving them literally everything would ruin me, and in turn would ruin my bond with them. Have a life that is your own, have loves, be multifaceted.
Polyamory can be rewarding for all involved, but selfishness and blind infatuation are not a part of that equation. Since the end of that relationship, I have dated people other than my husband with greater success and respect. Keeping open communication with all of my partners and working with someone when they are feeling uncomfortable has been vital. I have a bad habit of saying “It will be okay, we will find a way to work it out.” Instead of saying that to my partners (or myself), I do my best to communicate possible solutions in that moment.
I was a bad partner. I was selfish and chose to turn a blind eye to the obvious fatal flaws. During that time, I wished with all my might that one day it would turn out okay. My honest hope was that they were growing pains and that eventually things would smooth themselves out. In a way, that is exactly what happened, but not in the way that I had expected. The anger for my ex-love has since cooled and the lessons to be learned have made themselves quite clear. Often I feel like it’s a bit twisted to feel thankful for endured pain and suffering. Sometimes though, it turns out to be the most effective teacher.