So much has changed since the last time I wrote earlier this year, but what hasn’t changed is that things are equally intense, confusing, shifting, painful, growthful. ML and I broke up in April and it has been freeing and devastating both at the same time. What was clear to me was that I was forgetting about me, about myself, about how to take care of myself and how to make decisions for myself, and I felt, inside, like I was failing her all the time because I also loved someone else and because I knew that that hurt her and I knew that she didn’t really want to have that kind of relationship even though she went back and forth on whether she would be willing to try or not. I blamed myself for falling in love with J even as it also felt unstoppable. ML never blamed me, she was so kind and still insists that it went both ways, that we both failed each other in different ways, and although there were things that she did or ways that she was in our relationship that made it hard to feel like I was growing, it is still hard for me not to feel like the failure was mostly mine, that I could have and should have done things differently. And while it’s not totally clear yet that we are done for good, this break that we are on has been excruciating and hollowing, and has also been good for me because it is pointing out in glaring neon flashing signals the places where I need to figure shit out and the places where I was unhealthily leaning on her for my well-being. For example: I don’t take care of myself for my own sake. I forget to cook and eat, I let my to do list grow and grow without checking things off of it, I isolate and stay in bed and do nothing. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted about depression here but I think that what happened was that in that relationship I eventually forgot to keep cultivating my own ways of coping with my mind and now that it’s just me again I’m like, oh, right, this, I need to deal with this.
I think it’s also been a difficult time mentally because of the ten-year mark of my rape and that I haven’t ever had any kind of therapy for that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify to myself any longer. I need to start doing that work. I need to be able to face the world on my own without falling apart just from mild exposure and I need to be my own care-taker. During high school I was just getting by. Early in college I was figuring out how to have friends again after having isolated myself during high school, and I was studiously repressing any complicated shit out of fear of, what, being too much maybe? And then I had my first major relationship and then pretty soon after that got together with ML and in both of those relationships I think I lost myself in some small way, or I oriented myself more towards the other person and derived my sense of self from them, or I prioritized the health of the relationship over my own health and didn’t quite grasp the connection between the two. And that’s just not working, that’s not healthy and I don’t want to continue that way. I need to ground myself in my own body, feel my own emotions from within, and care about making healthy choices for my own sake and not someone else’s. And I think that what comes up most for me in realizing this is that, all along I think I’ve internalized this sense of not being entitled to take care of myself kindly and lovingly. I feel faintly embarrassed as I type that, uncomfortable with that acknowledgement, and it sounds absolutely idiotic. But I think there’s truth in it, that I measure my value according to how useful I can be to someone else, how loved I can be by someone else. And I reject that! And I need to be careful with myself, moving forward, and make sure that whatever relationships I have, I am in touch with my own desires, capacities, priorities, goals. And the messiness of the past six months of my life (personally, medically, financially, logistically) shows that when things get complicated I’m not super in touch.
I left my job in May and have been taking time off (until the beginning of August) to do various travels. I went to Cincinnati in May for a week for a conference, and then I went to Texas for two and a half weeks to do political organizing work/research at an army base. Now I am heading to New York and Boston for two weeks and then Berlin with several friends until the end of July. I’m hoping to clear my head, spend a lot of time with friends and equally important time by myself, and come back to the bay area in August ready to move forward, whether it’s going back to my old job or finding a new one altogether. I’ve been semi-seriously considering nannying; I’ve been watching a few children this year and I just love them, I love them so much. On the other hand, the benefits of an office job are appealing too. Or something else altogether…
I got a pink triangle stick and poke from a few friends a few days before Pride (which was this past weekend). I don’t have any other tattoos. It’s right under my left collarbone, just above my heart, and under the triangle now is a yellow-purple bruise the size of a sand dollar. Who bruises from getting a stick and poke tattoo?!
What else do I want to say? I feel like I have SO much to talk about and I don’t even know how to start.
I know it’s been awfully quiet around here and I’m so grateful to have this space to report back to when I can, when it feels okay. Thank you for being around.
Amidst all my excitement about this summer and all the potential it carries, I have one nagging worry. I’m worried that my copious amounts of free time, most of which will probably be spent by myself, will put a strain on my relationship, that when she’s home I’ll be wanting to hang out while she may often have other things to do. Maybe this isn’t so much a worry as it is something to look out for and be mindful of this summer.
As it is right now, I do sometimes feel as though we don’t have enough together time. I work a lot of hours, take burlesque classes, volunteer on the crisis hotline, have family obligations once in a while and statistics homework to do, and have various appointments that sometimes inevitably take up evenings and weekends. She, meanwhile, has band practice generally one evening every week and one full day into the night every weekend, plus the occasional late evening at work or evening/weekend appointment. All this PLUS spending time with friends at least weekly means that … we really don’t have that much plain old hangout time. We spend a lot of time together, but it’s often just in that hour before bed when we pop in the latest disc from our Netflix queues, watch for a bit, and then have a quickie before going to sleep. It’s been even tougher lately with her new work schedule, which has her (and thus, often, me) getting up at 6:15am, rather than 7:35 as it used to be — a change which necessitates an earlier bedtime, obviously. But since my work schedule hasn’t changed (yet! ha!), and I’m still getting out of work at 6 or 6:30 on a good day, our evenings have been shortened.
And, to me, it doesn’t feel like enough. To me, it feels like our sex has stopped progressing — we do the tried and true, rather than the new and unknown. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I realize — hell, we’re still having sex at least 3 times a week, usually 4-5, and it can’t always be new and unknown (nor would I want it to be! familiar is often exactly what I most desire). But it’s at a point now where I do feel like we don’t have the time to spend with each other working on our relationship. The time we spend together gets filled up with having our relationship — watching movies, fucking, cuddling, cooking/eating, giving each other footrubs, talking about our schedules, decompressing after our respective days, sleeping — because those are usually the most pressing wants. We want to relax after work, we really want to hear about each other’s days and all the things going on that are bothering us or exciting us. We want to zone out and watch movies and curl up together just feeling each other’s bodies. And we want to have sex, to connect physically, erotically.
But I think a lot of that stuff is very short-term gratification. It’s what we think we want to do right NOW because NOW I’m tired and want to relax and chat about regular stuff. It’s comfortable, and cozy. But to me, always indulging that immediate sense of relationship laziness starts to take a toll. Sexually, I start to feel like many of my more elaborate or scarier desires are slipping into the realm of “fantasy,” rather than the realm of “to do this weekend.” Other than sexually, I start to feel like the more we do the same things with our time together, the less able we are to do other things. So maybe this is about spontaneity — making sure we keep infusing the Regular with the New and Exciting. And this spontaneity has to be something that we work on together.
I’m not sure how to start bringing more of an Our Relationship Is a Project that We Work on Together mentality into our routine, especially because (1) we’re both so busy doing our own personal projects that we really love and that really fulfill us, and (2) I think the Project Relationship mentality is more of something I want than something she wants. She, I think, is perfectly happy to just go along the way we’ve been going along. She likes comfort and routine, and doesn’t like feeling like she has to work on yet another thing in her life. I, on the other hand, really like to have relationship check-ins, and to discuss what’s working and what isn’t, figure out how to fix what isn’t and congratulate each other for what is, and to set little goals, and to be intentional about things that we do. In fact I start to feel anxious and unsettled if we don’t do those things. And I know that because that’s not a high priority for her there will always be some give and take on that front. But it’s starting to feel more pressing for me lately.
To bring that back around to my worry about this summer, the worry I have, I guess, is mostly that I’ll have a whole lot more time to devote myself to our Relationship Project than she will (I mean, I’m hoping to write here every day, and oftentimes, even this is, in a way, part of our Relationship Project), and that that will start to build up in me as this tension that isn’t getting resolved because there just isn’t time.
(What’s a good balance, anyway? How can you find the spot between co-dependent and over-committed to other things? Is it better to spend a lot of time on our own things so that we’re whole complete individuals without needing the other to complete us? Or is it better to spend a lot of time on each other, so that we feel unity and affinity? So that these anxieties don’t surface? Clearly I think a balance is necessary, but what is that balance? And at what point do we have to start sacrificing one thing or the other in order to strike it?)
So, I think it’s good that I’ve identified this issue as something that might come up for me this summer. I still have enough time to work on coming up with ways to avoid that surfacing, and strategies for combatting it if it does. Like if I set goals for myself every day, enough to keep my on my toes and sufficiently busy, then that should help. Spending time actively out and about with other people will help, too. And I think I’d like to bring up with her the idea of committing to eat dinner together whenever possible, shutting off all our other projects at least an hour before we go to bed whenever possible, and identifying and scheduling Together time as separate from time we’re together but working on separate things, so that we can make sure we’re staying attentive to each other and our relationship. And I just need to remember, too, that it’s much more of a relationship Want, for me, to be intentionally thinking about this stuff than it is for her, and that that doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about the relationship as much as I do.
Last night, we climbed into bed much later than we’d planned, both tired and already bracing ourselves against the Monday morning alarm clock. We settled into what we call our Sleep Position: big spoon (her) and little spoon (me), her arm wrapped around me. It’s become so much of a habit that I hardly think of it anymore. But last night, after a few moments, she pipes up: “Do you like sleeping like this?” “Yes, baby, I do.” “Why?” “It makes me feel safe, and snug, and warm.” “Okay. Just checking.”
Snug as two bugs in a rug.
Reading the comments to my previous post helped me clarify my thoughts about this femme fantasy. So I thought I’d do it “out loud” here, too.
I don’t think the fantasy I described of being perfectly domestic, perfectly sexy, perfectly exactly for my lover is the only way I conceive of myself as a femme. I certainly have my own goals and ambitions and social life and tastes and enjoyments, and I certainly want to keep nurturing those and developing myself as a person. (As greg said in the comments, I absolutely need those days of knotting the hair back, donning the cracked boots and jumping in the jeep. Well, I don’t have long hair or a jeep, but that’s the general idea!) Writing here is one of the ways I do that; doing the rape counseling work is another; keeping in touch with my friends, applying for graduate school, playing piano, doing yoga… all of that is stuff I do to continually round myself out and build myself up. And it’s absolutely necessary for me to keep doing that, always. Always.
But the fantasy is there, and I want to explore it. Until now, I’ve been angrily pushing it away, thinking “no! that’s co-dependency! get out!” For example: I feel like baking. What do I bake? Into my head pops the thought: “mi’lady’s favorite is strawberry rhubarb pie…” and I get all warm and tingly and excited at the thought of surprising her with a warm homemade pie when I see her in the evening. But before I get too excited, I cut myself off. “Why do you always want to do what she likes? You don’t even like pie! Bake something you like!” And so I’ll probably end up compromising, I’ll bake something I know she’ll like but that I like too, and I make sure to bake it not with her specifically in mind. So when I see her, it’s “look! I baked cookies today! Have one, they’re yummy!” rather than “look! I baked your favorite pie today, just for you!”
It sounds so selfish. But I guess I’ve thought it to be necessary, as a way of coaching myself to pay attention to my own wants and needs, rather than always catering to other people’s. I think it has a lot to do with vulnerability for me, too. I get angry with myself for giving too much of myself away to someone else. I get afraid that the more I give away, the more I’m allowing her to hurt me. I’m giving her power. And maybe I’ve thought of it too as a zero-sum game — that if I give her the power to hurt me, I’m somehow lessening my own power to heal from hurt.
So, to continue with the previous example, when I bake mi’lady’s favorite pie, just because I know she likes it, I’m making myself vulnerable to her by doing something for her. It’s saying, “you matter so much to me that I’m going to bake you your favorite pie, just because.” And what if it’s not reciprocated? What if she doesn’t like it? Or doesn’t really notice? Or just says, “oh thanks baby, that’s so sweet” absent-mindedly. Clearly if I spend my afternoon baking her favorite kind of pie, then my afternoon was about her. But what if her afternoon wasn’t even remotely about me? What if I think about her more often than she thinks about me? What if what if what if. So stopping myself from baking that pie is a way of holding back, keeping things level.
And that’s what it is, it’s holding back. Because really? I want to bake that pie. I guess I have to throw those what-ifs to the wind. Because she does matter to me that much. And I want her to know it. I want her to feel it. That’s not co-dependent. That’s so far from c0-dependent. What it is is trust.
Love is not a zero-sum game. I need to practice believing that in how I go about loving. There’s plenty to go around. There’s enough for us both. And the main thing I am now slowly coming to realize is, if I do something for her, I’m not necessarily losing myself, or giving myself away. I could be, for sure, depending on the context. But I could also actually just be reaffirming myself. So the next step I guess? Working all of this into my relationship with mi’lady in a way that feels right. Stay tuned, this could be a wild ride.
(Updated to remove weird duping of the post? It doesn’t appear in my editor but I tried to just delete all and re-paste so we’ll see if that works…)
I’ve been learning, lately, how to pay more attention to the little voices in my head. The ones that say “yay!” or “boo!” to all the little things I do. The ones that have the answer to questions like, “do I really love playing piano, or do I just think I love it because I was supposed to love it growing up? because my dad wants me to love it?” or “do I feel like myself when I wear this [insert item of clothing here]?” These voices have been buried in me for a long, long time. Digging them out has been quite an interesting process, and I think they’re still mostly buried, but at least now I know they’re there. And whenever I feel up to it, I can keep digging a bit more, and eventually I’ll have unearthed them all.
There’s something that’s been peeking out of the ground for a while now, and I’ve finally dug it up. It’s a fantasy, and it goes like this:
I am a nurturer. More than anything, I want to take care of you. I want to support you and give you what you want and be your pillar. I want to stand next to you proudly, “I’m hers.” I want to cook for you, and bake your favorite sweets for you, and clean. I want to notice the little things that make you feel better, and do them for you. I want you to dress me, in whatever you want me to wear. I want to be manicured, and pedicured, and wax my arms and legs, and spend a half an hour every morning and evening on my skincare regimen. I want to wear four-inch heels with peeping toes. I want to iron your shirts and make your bed and stroke your head until you fall asleep. I want to plan little surprises and encourage your passions and turn you on. Making you tick is what makes me tick. So.
As I said, that’s been peeking out of the ground for a while. I kept ignoring it, thinking it’s just another indicator of my co-dependency. My tendency is to want to exist for someone else rather than for myself. And I’ve always thought that that’s because it’s easier to take care of someone else’s wants and needs than it is to take care of my own. (The responsibility of making myself happy? Huge.) So it’s been really easy to write off that fantasy as something unhealthy and something I need to dismiss, something I need to work out. I’ve thought of it as the problem.
But maybe the problem itself is the very solution. Maybe it’s not co-dependency, but in fact a valid form of self-identity. Can this be? I have a lot of feelings about this. Frustration – have I really been working so hard to discover what I really want, only to realize that what I want is, again, just to do what someone else wants? Fear — what does this mean? Will I lose myself even further? Confusion — but I thought I was ambitious and driven and independent! Worry — how on earth will my friends and family take it if I come out to them this way? Excitement — wow! So much to work (and play) with here! Weeee! Intrigue – what would this feel like, to actualize this? what worlds might this open up for me?
So, I think I’m going to try this on for a while. See if it fits as well as it does in my fantasy. I need to keep reminding myself, though, that I’m doing this for me. In the end, I’m not really doing this to sacrifice myself for her. Rather, I’m allowing myself to indulge a fantasy. I’m going for a dream.
Maybe I don’t need to find co-dependency support. Maybe I need to find femme support. How about a Femme for Dummies: How to Make Sure You’re Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Your Lover (and Others).
Anyone out there? Femme bloggers who’ve written about this sort of journey? Any femmes who read here who want to pop out and say hi? Maybe there is a Femme for Dummies that I just don’t know about? Oh my gosh, I feel so thirsty. Is this what it feels like to know what I want?
(Disclaimer: For me, the word that works best to encompass all this is “femme.” I fully realize that many, if not most, femmes probably don’t share this same fantasy and wouldn’t necessarily identify this fantasy as being femme in nature. For now, just realize that yes, I acknowledge that, and I apologize if anyone feels that their identity is stepped on. As this is all coming to light I’m sure I will write more about this in the near future, because boy do I have thoughts…)
…and I’m back! It was brilliantly glorious to be without internet and cellphone service for three days. The first day I was going through an anxious withdrawal, feeling very cut off and absolutely sure that something horrible was going to happen that I wouldn’t know about because I was so cruelly cut off from the world. The second day, I was basking in the serenity of knowing no one could reach me. I didn’t have to be available! For anyone! I could shower without worrying that my phone would ring. I could go to sleep without the wary alertness that I might receive a text message from mi’lady. It was positively LIBERATING. And then going back to the fully wired reality… it was welcome, but not needed. I think I need to take technology vacations every once in a while. And perhaps relax a bit on the idea of needing to be constantly available.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been working through some weirdness. It sprang up seemingly out of the blue. Mi’lady and I were tangled up in her bed, post-sex, marvelling about how we’ve been together almost nine months and it seems both much shorter than that (we haven’t settled into taking each other for granted! joy!) and much longer (how could we possibly have learned each other so well in such a short amount of time?). “You’re quickly moving into the rank of Second Longest Relationship!” she said, “as long as we stay together another month and a half, you’ll beat B.” I laughed, and said “my goal is to be your longest relationship, and then some!” “Well you’re… let’s see… 3/8ths of the way there…” she said. (Funnily enough, she’s 3/8ths of the way towards becoming my longest relationship too. We’ve both been in significant 2-year relationships previously.)
And then she got quiet and pensive. The problem is, I feel like there’s this standard that her ex-girlfriend has set (the Longest Relationship girlfriend, that is). She still feels all kinds of pain about this break-up, which is now over two years ago. She feels bitter that her ex says she learned through their relationship that she could be loved, while mi’lady learned only that she could be broken. She says it was like all that work, all that energy, all that love, all that time, all for nothing. And she still gets hurt when her ex does things like untag herself from pictures on Facebook that they’re both in. Mi’lady says it feels like her ex is trying to erase her from her life. “What was the point?” she says.
Sometimes I’m afraid that forever and ever, despite anyone else who comes after, no matter how much she loves them, she will never quite love the same. She loves me, for sure, but somehow she’s endowed her ex with all this power, this ability to cause her pain like no one else ever had and ever will have. Obviously I don’t want to cause her that much pain. I don’t even want her to give me the capacity to cause her that much pain.
But what I do want is for her to realize that it’s not her ex that hurt her that much, it’s she who let herself be hurt. My belief is that she needs to let go of her, take away the power she’s given her to hurt her. She put all of herself into that relationship, every last little bit. So when she lost it, she lost herself too. The reason I know this is because I understand it all too well. I did the exact same thing with my Longest Relationship, and I lost myself when she broke up with me, too. But then I took myself back. I’m still struggling with keeping myself, and not give myself away entirely to mi’lady, as I tend to do. But I want to find that balance, of how much of myself to give in order to have a strong, sustaining, loving relationship. And I want her to find that balance too.
I don’t want her ex to have this mythic status. The one who broke her heart. Is that crazy? Is that unreasonable? Do I need to just let it go?
I have a hard time with love.
I think it’s another trait of co-dependency that I use up so much of my self trying to figure out what other people want me to be. And then the rest of my self that’s leftover is too small and too depleted to figure out what I actually want to be myself. With love, that’s definitely been a common thread for me. I want so much to be the perfect person for every person that I love. I want so desperately to be, for someone, ideal. The one who meets all their needs. The one essential person. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling so irrelevant. I have a hard time trusting, when I have friends, that they really like me. I always think maybe, somehow, they like the person I am on the surface — confident, smart, warm, compassionate, a little bit goofy, a little bit shy — but would scorn me if they knew what I sometimes feel like inside — needy, hypersensitive, anxious, depressed, fucking damaged.
When I tell people I’ve been raped, I have this whole narrative I feel obliged to give. The “I was hurt but now I’m stronger for it” narrative. The “I’m not a victim” narrative. The “I will never let anyone ever hurt me that way again” narrative. Stoic, strong, whole. That narrative is a lie. I was raped when I was 15, and it fucking broke me. It shattered me into a hundred thousand pieces and I’m still trying to pick them up and glue them back together but when there are so many pieces it’s hard to put them back together right, like a massive jigsaw puzzle where you don’t even know what the full picture is supposed to look like. But I have to pretend that I do, I pretend that I was able to put myself back together long ago, and that while I’m scarred, the way one is after surgery, the wound itself is healed and the scar is just a proof of my strength and a proud symbol of my suffering. That’s the way I’m supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be here, eight years later, still fumbling around in the dark trying to find all the pieces of myself I’m still discovering I lost.
Put those two things together — the need to be the perfect one, and the scary truth that I’m not even a “one” at all, I’m a hundred thousand — and you get my deepest flaw. I can’t be vulnerable for people. I can’t tell people, here I am, I’m broken, but you can have all the pieces and maybe, just maybe, letting you have them will help me put them back together. It’s because I’m scared. What if they take one look at the pieces and run? What if they valiantly say, “it doesn’t matter, broken or not, I love you anyway,” but then it does matter? What if the brokenness becomes too much? Something broken can’t be perfect. If I can’t even figure out who I am, how am I supposed to be the right one for someone else?
I’m just now starting to be able to be flawed. I’m starting to figure out that I won’t ever really be able to love someone, or give her the chance to love me, if I don’t take the risk of handing her the pieces. If I try so hard to be perfect, eventually the illusion will come crashing down around both of us and it will hurt all the more. I used to think I could (and should) keep it up for my whole life. “It doesn’t matter who I am, because as long as I can convince people that I know, and as long as people love me, that’s all that matters. ” But that’s not true. People can’t really love me unless they know me. And how are they supposed to love me if I don’t respect myself, or them, enough to give them my real self?
I’m not sure really how to be really vulnerable, even for mi’lady. What I do know is I love her too much not to at least try. Because if I can’t tell her my deepest fears, my biggest flaws, my most profound insecurities, then I’ll never know whether she loves me despite them.
Love? Is fucking hard.
The first time I ever strapped on a cock, I had a panic attack and had to take it right off again.
The second time, I was able to keep it on, but had to ask my girlfriend to ride me, so that I was on the bottom.
The third time, I wore it with confidence and fucked her with authority.
The problem for me has always been the assumption of power. Strapping on made me feel way too big, somehow. I’ve always felt small, always taken up little space, and have always tended to step aside to make way for others. I tend to dismiss my own emotions and needs as insignificant, and put those of others on a pedestal. (These are definitely symptoms of co-dependency, I’ve grown to realize.) Complicating all of this is the fact of my own rape, and the resulting power I give cocks, this sort of scary, threatening power.
So when I first strapped on, I felt dangerous. And I had a panic attack. I felt awful, because mi’lady really wanted me to fuck her; it’s one of her favorite things, and I felt bad that I reacted to it so badly. And the second time she asked me, weeks later, she asked me more meekly… “baby? do you think maybe you wanna try the cock again?” and I said yes, sure, but I was anxious, and would she maybe ride me from the top? She did, but it wasn’t very good, it just wasn’t quite right. My anxiety was in the way.
So she didn’t bring it up again. I continued to feel awful about it because I knew it was something she really wanted, that she craved, something that filled her and fulfilled her. But I was scared. I was scared of what having that power would mean, and what I could do with it. What if I hurt her?
Finally I just decided to get over it. I made it about her and her pleasure, rather than about me and my anxiety. It was her birthday, and I decided to take her by surprise, cock ready, lube at hand. And I just did it, and it worked. I put my anxiety aside, and focussed on the fact that what I was about to do was going to turn her on and make her mine.
She was completely taken aback, so much so that it almost looked like she sank in her arousal. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but it was like her whole body became this vessel of sexual heat, and she just… sank in it. Her eyes were liquid and she was so, so wet, so open, right away, for me, for my cock. She gave me power. It was like a gift. “Here baby, have me. I’m yours.” And having that power gave me confidence and made me just know that this was right. I could do this. I was doing this. I could watch her and know what felt good to her and what didn’t, I could intuit when it was too much and when it wasn’t enough, and more than that, she would tell me. I trusted her to. I trusted myself not to take advantage of the power.
To me, there’s a lot to learn about how to occupy power. The first step for me was not being afraid of it. Owning it, I guess, as mine and as something I could do good with. It’s an amazing feeling, really, to have someone’s pleasure in my control. I love that feeling. It’s that feeling that makes me want to explore more D/s play, and bondage, because I think I can get better at it. I can get better at encouraging and drawing out her submission, and I think she can get better at releasing control and drawing dominance out of me.
Mi’lady is out of town this week. She left on Saturday, but the last time I saw her was Friday morning when we rode to work together after having spent the night spooning. She had band practice Friday night, and I had friends visiting from out of town, so we figured it wasn’t really necessary to see each other the last night. Especially since she’s gone less than a week — she’ll be back on Thursday, and you can bet I’ll be seeing her that night.
I realized after my friends left Saturday evening that I was anxious. I was anxious that mi’lady’s absence would make me have a breakdown, make me realize that I was completely dependent on her, that I rely on her completely for my social life, for my sense of self-worth, for my feelings of usefulness. I was afraid I would find out that without her around, I have absolutely nothing to do. See, when she’s actually around, it’s hard for me to know whether I rely on her completely, because she’s just there. It’s like you don’t realize you rely on water to survive until you’re thirsty, and there’s no water available. Since I see her almost every day, it’s hard to know whether seeing her is just a pleasant habit, or whether she’s like water to me. I was afraid of it being the latter. Afraid because I don’t want any person to ever be my water. I want to be my own water.
So Saturday evening, returning home to an empty apartment (subletters are out of town) with no girlfriend to keep me company, friends departed, I was worried that I would crash.
But I didn’t. I didn’t crash. Instead I looked at my list of ways to self-care, and then I made a weekend-specific list of things I could do (both personally fulfilling and errand-like) to keep busy and be a whole person without mi’lady. And it worked — not only did I not feel the panic of being thirsty when no water’s at hand, I didn’t even get thirsty. I was completely able to occupy myself, and was fully happy to do so. I watched a movie I’ve had from Netflix for the past few weeks (Monster with Charlize Theron — mi’lady didn’t really care to watch it with me so I’ve been waiting to watch it alone). I talked for an hour to my friend in Portland who’s going to come visit for a week sometime in the next month. I cleaned a bit. I took care of my dad’s birthday present (totally late… His birthday was June 4th, oops). I slept. I woke up Sunday morning and cooked breakfast, talked to one of my best friends from college on the phone for about 2 hours (she’s also going to come visit in a few months!), talked to my parents back in New York (haven’t had time to really talk to them much lately), had my new roommate over for a visit to talk about moving plans (I’m moving in with her next Sunday! Finally!), played piano, cooked dinner with my subletters who came back over the course of the afternoon, applied for some volunteer positions at various non-profits I’m interested in here, picked up a few groceries, wrote a to-do list for my upcoming move… I did a lot of stuff! And felt completely occupied and fulfilled and happy.
Got a text message from mi’lady around 6:30, saying she missed me, and can’t wait to cuddle. A call from her late last night as she was going to bed east-coast-time, in which she re-affirmed that she missed me, sounded almost wistful that I was going about business on my own without her. She has co-dependent tendencies too, she’s said as much and I recognize them in her. Can relate to them too, so I’m particularly aware of them when I see them. Just got another text message from her now, actually: “i miss you wish i was home with you.”
A little bit of distance. It’s good for me. It’s good to know that I can be okay without her. I don’t have many friends in this city yet, but I have a lot of people who love me in my life, and I have things that make me happy and complete without mi’lady. And so that makes me extra happy to have her in my life, and to welcome her home on Thursday. Funny how that works — the less I need someone, the freer I am to just … love her.
Feeling much, much better today. Yesterday was a day full of bloating, debilitating cramps, and IBS, which worsens 100% when I’m on my period. So, so not fun.
Also not fun is the emotional turmoil, which has also significantly abated since yesterday. The night before (so, for those who are trying to keep track, that would be Tuesday) was the night mi’lady was going to come over to my place and then decided last minute not to because she had shit to do at home. And I was in such an emotional state that evening that her last-minute decision not to come put me on the brink of breakdown. That was when I came home and wrote the post about self-care, with a list of things I can do to take care of myself when I’m feeling particularly like my self-worth relies on validation from others (especially my girlfriend). I wrote that post because I was feeling so utterly hopeless, lost, worthless. I calmed myself down a bit by writing, by reading a bit, by taking a bath, and by chatting with my roommate subletters. I still had a lingering sick feeling in my gut, though, this awful feeling that my relationship with mi’lady was going to fail. I couldn’t shake it. So…. I did the worst thing to do, and instead of sleeping it off, I called her to say good night.
“Hi! It’s me, just called to say good night!”
“Hi sweetie, omg I just watched this really weird movie… everything at the end was unresolved, I hate that…”
“Oh, that’s no good, maybe it should’ve had a Finale like at the end of Middlemarch!” [joke: we've just finished reading Middlemarch together, and though we both loved the book, it had a weird Finale ending, a la Harry Potter book 7, that just wrapped everything up too neatly.]
“Lol!” [she didn't really say lol, but she laughed, and at this point I'm feeling pretty good, I'm like "ok good, I can carry on a normal conversation with her and not get weepy and needy"... but THEN I say...]
“So are you going to bed now?”
“No, I’m going to do some music first, and then I’ll probably go to bed.” [and THIS is where I mess up...]
“But it’s so late! You always stay up late when you’re by yourself and then when you’re with me, you’re too tired to do anything and insist on going to bed so early!”
“Baby I don’t like it when you say things like that, I get so little time alone I just like to take advantage of it.” [she's annoyed now]
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know, that was a stupid thing to say.”
But by then I was already miserable, and we just said a pitiful good night and got off the phone. WHY INTERNET?!?!?!?! Why do I have to be that way? I mean, it is true that she does that — stays up until the wee hours of the morning when she’s by herself, and then peters out by 11 when we’re together and claims she’s too tired to have sex (though that’s not actually all that common, only felt more frequent last week)… But the same thing happens to ME, I stay up late when I’m by myself too, I just lose track of time, and I like to do things when I’m by myself that I don’t get to do when I’m around other people, including her, like write emails to my friends far away, talk to my parents and siblings on the phone, watch movies by myself that she doesn’t want to watch, read, take baths, play piano, all kinds of things. Alone time is precious, and I KNOW THAT. So why do I get so controlling of her? Why does it hurt me so much when I realize that she gets enjoyment out of other things besides me? It’s so stupid!
And it’s not like that all the time, it ebbs and flows — and I’m pretty sure now that it ebbs and flows with my menstrual cycle. Like all last week was getting worse and worse, and then the peak was on Monday and Tuesday, and then I got my period in the middle of the night on Tuesday, and yesterday was much better (MUCH better) and today is pretty much fine. Today I can see things clearly, and not feel like the world is crashing down around me.
I wish there were a simple solution. I’m seeing a psychiatrist on the 24th to figure out whether medication might potentially help me. But I don’t like the side effects of medication. Maybe birth control? I don’t know, we’ll see. But I just can’t keep on going like this. I worry that I’ll hurt myself when I’m buried so deep in despair that I can’t see my way out. Hopefully when it comes around again I’ll at least have better knowledge that it’s my hormones.
I woke up in the middle of the night because of cramping — oh joy, my period. Took me a few minutes to rouse myself out of my midnight drowsiness to get up, find a tampon, and take some tylenol. (Sometimes I’m GLAD I have really awful cramping… otherwise I might’ve woken up this morning in a puddle of menses! Delightful image, no?)
So when I woke up this morning, I started wondering whether it’s possible I have actual PMS or even PMDD. I know everyone talks about having PMS, but I know there’s a difference between the cultural and social phenomenon that is PMS (I think something like 90% of women claim to have PMS symptoms) and the actual medical condition (which I think something like 20% of women have at times in their lives). So I’m beginning to wonder whether that’s part of what’s going on with me.
I always struggle with co-dependency. But the intensity of my emotional neediness and feelings of depression and anxiety are not constant. And this morning I remembered that the *last* time I felt really depressed recently – despair to the point of wishing I would die — I woke up the next day with my period too. Coincidence? Perhaps. But perhaps not. I just went back and looked through my back-and-forth-at-work emails between me and mi’lady from my last two menstrual cycles, and boy was I a mess! Yikes. Like total meltdown mess.
So, that makes me hopeful that either anti-depressants or birth control can help me. The problem with both is a decreased sex drive, and that won’t be very happy for me or for mi’lady. But I think it will be much happier than continuing in this totally overwhelming and despairing situation of wanting to die when my period comes and being way too needy of mi’lady. It’s just not ok.