Moving Ever Downward

The past weekend turned a messy situation into a messier situation, so now we have mess on top of mess.

As I’ve mentioned before, Lora and Jon often do quite a bit of fighting. This has waxed and waned, depending on work schedules and moods. It has improved greatly over the past few months. And even when there has been tension and snapping, it’s easier to deal with because I know their work schedules, and I know there will be quiet evenings coming, when one of them (or both) is gone.

As Jon’s holiday parties wrapped up for work, I was excited to know that he would be home more often and I’d get to see more of him while Lora was off working extra shifts for the holiday. It seemed like a perfect set-up. Jon has the next few weeks off, so he can see friends, have alone time, and spend time with each of us. My schedule and Lora’s schedule gave us each the opportunity to be home alone with Jon, as well as have time for the three of us to be together. So we’d all be able to get what we need, and prepare for a great holiday.

Once again, reality didn’t work out quite the way I thought it would.

On Saturday, Lora came home in tears. She’d been having a hard time at her job for the past few weeks, and she decided that she couldn’t deal with it any more; she wanted to quit. She also wanted to talk to us first, and get our thoughts.

On one hand, it made total sense for her, and was the best decision. Her workplace had been getting increasingly toxic over the past few weeks. The woman who was her supervisor was famous for belittling and being sarcastic towards her underlings. A bunch of people had been fired for mysterious reasons, and the company was pushing Lora to take too many shifts; so many that it would have interfered with her ability to finish her finals. The last two days, she’d spent most of her breaks in the bathroom crying and trying to pull herself together enough to keep working. So yes, it did make sense for her to quit, and for all of those reasons, I agreed that she should quit.

However, the consequences of her quitting, in regards to our home-life…those weren’t so clear-cut, or so great.

Because of her social anxiety, Lora hates to go out, and mostly goes out either to work, or with Jon. She doesn’t go out on her own. Sometimes she runs out to grab some groceries, but otherwise, she doesn’t go out. Not to the gym, not with friends, not for a walk. So Lora quitting means Lora being home 24/7. Lora being home 24/7 means no totally-alone time for Jon and me. It means that any time we do try to have alone time, she may interrupt us. It also means that we’ll all be spending time together a lot more, which means more listening to her and Jon bicker about things. And Lora having no job lined up also means that she’ll probably become increasingly stressed and prone to lash out if it takes her too long to find a job.

As this all slowly trickled through my consciousness I started to view the next few weeks of holiday time off not as a nice balance of time for us all together, Lora/Jon time, and me/Jon time, but as a nightmare of never having Jon to myself and of always being on guard for when Jon and Lora were going to start to snipe at each other if not get into full hours-long arguments.

So, what did I do? I fired off an email to Jon. Along the way, I had a few realizations. I realized that:

  • I liked hanging out with Lora more than hanging out with Lora and Jon, because when Jon was added to the mix, the chances of sniping and fighting skyrocketed.
  • It was really important (and sanity-maintaining) for me to know that I would be having time alone with Jon in the apartment at times (to help maintain and nourish our relationship), and also that I would have time alone with Lora at times (to help build our relationship as a separate entity from the relationship that we have through Jon).
  • It felt incredibly unfair that as long as Lora was unemployed, Jon and I would have zero alone time in the apartment. Poly isn’t a tit-for-tat “all people must be given all things exactly equally” way of living. And Lora’s social anxiety is a serious things that needs to be treated seriously and respectfully. But I realized that I really do need to be able to have some alone time in the apartment with Jon, even if Lora isn’t working. To make our ability to have alone time completely dependent on Lora’s work schedule was taking something that is very important at me, and putting it 100% on the whims of something completely out of my control. I can’t live like that.
  • Given our lack of alone-time, I was struggling painfully with the jealousy I felt for all the alone time that Jon and Lora would be able to have while Jon and I wouldn’t be able to have any.
  • I was writing this email directly to Jon (and only to Jon) because Jon worries about what Lora can and can’t handle, and likes for us (me and Jon) to talk things over first, while he figures out the best way to present them to Lora. I had the abrupt realization that I-that we-couldn’t keep doing this. One thing that Jon has mentioned the past few times that we’ve had difficulties is that he can’t be the go-between for Lora and I; We need to communicate directly. And he’s absolutely right about that. But for us to communicate directly, that means that he can’t keep vetting situations and trying to figure out the best way to talk to Lora about things. That isn’t to say that I can’t ask for his advice on how to bring up difficult subjects with Lora (and that she can’t ask for advice about me). But if I’m having a problem with something with Lora (or vice versa), I should be emailing (or talking) to them both together from the beginning. This go-between shit has to go (as a side note, I mentioned to him that there better not be a fucking “Lora needs to vet things with Jon before she talks to Liz to make sure that Liz can handle them” thing going on, because I would be super-pissed. I’m a fucking adult, and even if things suck to to talk about, I want to hear about them directly. And there is a bit of a part of me that feels both outraged and concerned on Lora’s behalf about that too. If she’s adult enough to be having adult relationships, then she should also be adult enough to not need Jon to vet things for her. If she does truly need to have Jon as that much of a buffer for dealing with conflicts then we’re going to need a therapist and a whole other set of conversations and Jon and I will also need to have some serious discussions about what it means to have a partner that we’re treating as emotionally crippled and unable to handle things).

Jon didn’t answer my email while I was at work, and while I was headed home, I realized that, once again, I really didn’t want to go home. I didn’t even feel like our home was home to me anymore, because I was so stressed about potential arguing and sniping and still feeling incredibly unhappy and disappointed that all of my private time with Jon had just vanished. I was painfully aware and deeply jealous that Lora and Jon had spent all day together, just like they could do every day for the next few weeks, while I would continue to go to work every day, and then come home to both of them, and never just Jon.

So I pulled over and sat and cried and tried to figure out how to go home and not feel resentful and jealous and miserable.

Eventually, Jon started texting me and we communicated more through texting about the whole situation. He was the most upset because he felt like he and Lora had been sniping and fighting a lot less, and was surprised that I was so upset and stressed about it. I told him that it made worlds of difference to me when Lora had a job, because that guaranteed that Jon and I would have alone time, and it also meant that I knew there were nights that were going to be peaceful, because either he would be working or Lora would be working.

After all this outpouring of misery, Jon talked to Lora, and they decided to work out something where she would go out a couple of times a week so that Jon and I could get some alone time in the apartment. I feel…ambivalent about this. I do want that alone time, yes I do. But not at the risk of her feeling extremely stressed out about being out of the apartment alone. It’s something we need to talk about (because we still need to get together and talk about all of the feelings, oh yes. All the many, many feelings).

The way it ended last night, I finally went home and felt dead-tired and emotionally drained about everything. Jon and I did a little bit of talking, mostly about work-related stress that I’m dealing with, as well as health-related stress that I’m dealing with, both of which are definitely making the relationship-related stress more difficult. I said I was sorry a lot. What was I sorry about? Pretty much everything. But that’s a subject for another post.



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polyamorist, cat-lover, hopeless optimist when I'm not being a firm realist.

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