After I wrote yesterday’s post about Lora calling incessantly, I did a pretty horrible thing. I feel ashamed of myself and angry at myself and like…this is the kind of thing that didn’t happen when we didn’t all live together, and goddamnit do I long for those days right now.
First, some backstory:
I’d posted about a month ago that Lora was going to start going out once a week so that Jon and I could have some time totally alone together. That worked out pretty well until Lora’s school started up again. For the past few weeks (actually, since right after I’d made that post), she hasn’t been able to go out. The reason? We’d (all three of us) been choosing Sunday as the day that Jon and I get alone time – but Sunday is the day that Lora’s school work is due – usually at midnight. Come Sunday, Lora wouldn’t have enough done, so she’d cancel going out.
This past Saturday, Lora mentioned to Jon and me that she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to go out. I said that that was a problem for me. Jon asked her how much schoolwork she had, and it was a lot, but he reasoned that she *should* be able to get it done with plenty of time. To which Lora said “But you’re forgetting that I’m trying to go to the gym nearly every day too, and it closes at five. I can’t miss the gym.”
I think I started to look really pissed off at that point, because Jon told Lora that he thought she should try really, really hard to figure out a way to make it work, since it hasn’t worked in several weeks. I really appreciate him saying that, because I’m trying to think of a tactful way to ask her how it is that she can have a whole week to do her school work, and somehow be so behind with it that she can’t go out for a few hours once a week. And if she has to miss the gym for one day, I mean…nothing can be given up so that Jon and I can have alone time? Even when the past three weeks have been skipped? I really feel like I’m at the bottom of the priority list here.
Not to mention, Lora’s current passionate feelings about the gym are great for her, but they’re really hard for me to listen to at times. I used to go to the gym at least three days a week. I often made it four or five, because I love working out and feeling tired and sweaty and knowing that I’m doing good things for my health. But because of the health problems I’m having, I’m currently not allowed to do any physical exertion until they get sorted out. I’ve gained weight. I feel sluggish and shitty and have low energy. I feel jealous that Lora can go out and get in shape and I can’t. I also feel really shitty that Lora isn’t willing to skip going to the gym for one day so that Jon and I could have a few hours together. But I don’t say any of that, because…I’m just not feeling great about being vulnerable and saying something like that right now.
What I say instead is that we should talk about how we’ve got these days set up, because if Sunday is the hardest day for Lora to go out, then we should pick another day. Which, incidentally, as the three of us were picking the days (not Jon and me choosing, and then telling Lora), I’m not sure why it took a month for it to come out that Sunday is the worst day for her to go out. But, whatever, we’ve figured it out now, so let’s move on.
So Sunday, I’m on pins and needles all day, wondering if Lora is going to be able to go out or not. She finally tells me about an hour before she’s going to head out that she is actually going to go out. I feel really relieved, but I also feel really frustrated and pissed off about the situation as it is now. I think about emailing or talking to Jon and saying to him that in addition to moving the day Lora goes out to Saturday (or possibly Friday some times), I think we need to have some kind of back-up plan for if Lora can’t go out. Because part of what is really bothering me about this is that I have no control over whether or not Lora actually goes out. If she doesn’t make it out, we don’t do an extra day later; there’s not some kind of consolation thing that Jon and I do. I just have to accept it and hope the next week is better. That feels like a really hard place to be in.
It feels like I’m surrounded by hard places.
But that’s not what’s happening today. Today there is a soft, bright spot – Lora is finally going out! Jon and I can have a few hours of totally private time together! Huzzah! This is going to be a good day.
Maybe if I stop making these wild assumptions that a day is going to be good, they’ll stop going so far to hell.
Jon comes home from work, and he’s stressed and miserable because his work day was crazy, and he forgot to each lunch. Luckily, I’d just finished making dinner, so he wolfs down a meal and goes to shower. Our plan is to spend a little bit of time relaxing, then go have some nice, long, wonderful sex.
But when we move on to the sex part of our time together, he’s clearly wiped out from his day. I’m pretty tired too, as I spent part of the day catching up on work (which I frequently have to do on the weekends because I’m so fatigued that I can’t quite finish my work during the work time), as well as doing laundry, cooking, and otherwise organizing things for the long, grueling, upcoming workweek. I tell Jon that he looks really tired, and I feel badly for asking him to do anything other than just relax when he looks so wiped out. He says he is wiped out and he’s frustrated about it, because he was looking forward to having a wonderful time having sex and not worrying about anything for awhile. He’s also worried about Lora, because she’s stressed about getting her schoolwork done, and asks if it’s OK if we switch sleeping nights. Instead of all of us sleeping together tonight, he want to sleep with her tonight, and then the three of us will sleep together tomorrow night. I say that’s fine – it’s about the same difference anyway for me, and if that’ll help Lora feel less stressed as she finished her school work, then good.
That settled, we look back to ourselves and how we feel and decide to do some massage and see where it goes. After some massage, Jon looks a bit more perky but still mostly wiped out, so instead of having the energetic sex that we’d been planning on (and yes, we had talked about that the day before, there are no crossed signals on what we’d hoped to do on Sunday), we have some slow, cuddly, nuzzley sex.
Or rather, we try to. Except that we can’t. Because Lora is texting and calling every minute.
After our uncomfortable (for me at least) time of quasi-intimacy and terse discussion afterward, I head back into the kitchen, to get back to work, because I’m not yet totally caught up for the day. Lora gets home and she and Jon start spending time together.
As I’m finishing up work, I start simultaneously working on another (upcoming) post about time and also writing Jon an email about time, and how time is being figured out between all of us. I’m feeling emotional and stressed, because I’ve made some realizations about how time seems to be managed and…they don’t feel good. Unless there is something really huge that I’m missing, we’ve got some serious time double-standards going on that need to be addressed (a quick preview/example: When Lora was out, the time that Jon and I spent alone together was assumed by all to be “our time” (mine and Jon’s time) together for the day. He and I spent about four hours together. Lora and Jon spent the remaining time (four hours) together in the evening. However, Lora and Jon are home together every day. I don’t know how much time they spent together – I assume not the whole day, but they do spend at least a few hours of time together. When I get home in the evening, the time in the evening is split equally between Lora and me. Their daily time earlier in the day doesn’t “count” as time spent together, when we decide how we’re going to spend time together in the evening. But – the alone time that Jon and I have together once a week does “count” as our time spent together for that day. This is enormously unfair, and I need to have a conversation about it. We need to realign how all of our time is handled, so that it’s handled the same way.).
As I’m writing this email about time to Jon, and feeling stressed and emotional and upset, I hear something. I hear the sounds of Jon and Lora having exactly the kind of energetic sex that I thought Jon and I were going to have today.
Now, a few things before I go on. Just so we’re all clear:
1) I know that Jon doesn’t owe me any particular kind of sex. I know that Jon can’t control who he feels like having sex with and when and what type of sex it’s going to be. I know that these things happen often spontaneously and organically. I absolutely believe in that as a concept and a practice for all of us. We all absolutely have the right to have sex with who we want and how we want (assuming the other person is on board) with no input/permission needed from anybody but the two people involved in having sex.
2) I’ve overheard Jon and Lora having energetic, awesome sex repeatedly in the past. I feel kinda bad when I hear it. It reminds me of all the energy that I don’t have. It reminds me of all the fun Jon and I used to have, back when I had energy. I start to worry that Jon and I are never going to have energetic, fun, crazy sex again, because I’m too tired and sick to have the strength or the energy. All that said, I generally just breathe through my feelings, and resolve to continue to push my doctors to figure out what the almighty fuck is wrong with me, and try to be happy that my partner and my metamour are getting their needs met and enjoying themselves – two things that I do want for them. I’d just love to not listen to it regularly, really.
Those things said, when I hear them having the kind of sex that I was hoping to have today (but Jon admitted that he was too tired to have with me earlier), and think of the short, interrupted-by-constant-texts-and-phone-calls-from-Lora, uncomfortable sex that we had earlier that day, I. Lose. My. Shit.
How do I lose my shit? Well, the already painful email that I’m writing to Jon about time swerves into a furious, deeply unhappy rant. I tell Jon that while I know they’re not like, having awesome sex to make me feel bad, the juxtaposition between the sex I’m listening to them have now and the sex we had earlier in the day is like a rotting, rancid cherry being plopped on top of the shit-sundae that the past few weeks have been. I tell him that I feel like I have no value to him. I feel like the last few weeks have just been an amazing exercise in seeing all the things that I don’t get with him. I tell him that if it really is true that he values me, my time, my energy, and my needs so much less than he values hers, then just fucking tell me and be done with it, so I can figure out what I need to do about that.
I also sit and sob my eyes out and tell him that I do feel like the world’s hugest asshole for even being upset about this sex thing on top of everything else, but it’s like we’re playing a game called “See Where Liz’s Limits Will Break” and trying to push them a little farther to there every day.
Then I gather myself up enough to go to bed. By which I mean lie down in the bed, because I’m so fucking furious and hurt and stressed and miserable that trying to actually sleep is like a hilariously bad joke. When Jon hears the other bedroom door close, he comes to see what’s going on, because we always spend a little time together before bed say good night to each other. I tell Jon that I do not want to see him right now, and to just leave me alone. He asks what’s wrong. I tell him to read his email and I shut the door firmly then lay down in bed and shake with anger and misery.
Jon comes in a few minutes later and wants to talk. I say sure, but I don’t know how good I’m going to be at talking reasonably at the moment. He says he doesn’t know what to do. I say that I don’t know what to do. And I do explain to him (because this is very important to me), that I have heard them having sex before, and normally, I just deal with it. I think that I’d have been able to just deal with it this time too, had it not been for our sex being constantly interrupted by Lora’s texting and calling. It’s just…that was the last straw.
We have a hard, miserable conversation about how it is hard for both of us, that I’m so physically exhausted and fragile most of the time. It does make it hard for Jon to bring enough energy into the bedroom for both of us. He hates telling me that, because he already knows how much I hate the physical state that I’m in right now and doesn’t want to give me yet another thing to hurt about.
I tell him that I hate that I got upset tonight. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t have spontaneous, fun, athletic sex with Lora. I understand why it’s so much more difficult to do the same with me right now. I tell him that this was one of those things that was so much better when we didn’t all live together – having some of these things be so close, within earshot…it’s so incredibly painful. And nobody is doing anything “wrong” per se, so what do we do? What do I do? And I start bawling, because this all just sucks so hard and more than anything else in the world, I just want it to go back to when we lived separately and had clear boundaries about time and things like hearing their healthy sex life didn’t happen. Jon comes over and wraps his arms around me. I tell him that I want to apologize to Lora too, because this isn’t her fault and I’m not mad at her and I want her to know it’s just this shitty situation where everything feels so hard. I ask Jon if she saw the email, and he says that she didn’t, but that he told her that I was upset because our sex had been interrupted earlier in the day, and then hearing them having sex on top of our time being disrupted so badly was too much to deal with. I feel really guilty, because I want her to understand that I know that the way I’ve acted is shitty and not OK, and if it hadn’t been on top of this pile of all this other shit, I’d have never gotten so upset. I try to explain this to Jon and keep apologizing and sobbing and he keeps telling me that it’s going to be OK, and he understands, and that he forgives me and that it’s OK.
Suddenly, Jon says “Hold on, I need to check something”. He lets me go and leaves the room. Once the door is open, I can clearly hear what I didn’t hear before over the sound of my own crying. Lora is in the bathroom, the door is locked, the shower is on, she’s sobbing hysterically and having a full-on panic attack. He convinces her to unlock the door and let him in, and proceeds to calm her down as she’s sobbing and hyperventilating. She pulls herself back together in a matter of minutes once he’s there with her.
Jon eventually brings Lora into the bedroom, and we all talk a bit. I tell her that I’m not mad at her, I’m upset at the situation. She tells me (as Jon said) that he had told her that we were having sex. So we can actually talk about that now (Somehow, it doesn’t feel like much progress, in the face of everything else, but maybe I’m having a pessimistic day). They have a conversation again about how when she texts or calls him and doesn’t hear from him within a few minutes, she gets stressed and starts calling over and over, because she’s afraid something’s wrong. Jon points out that even if something was wrong, her calling repeatedly isn’t going to help. She says she does know that, and she’ll try to remember it in the future. But she gets so stressed. I’m not saying much, in part because I feel completely exhausted, but also because I definitely do not have anything productive to add to this conversation that’s probably been had dozens of times in the years that they’ve been together, and never improves for long (yet, amazingly, we all keep acting like we really think it’s going to be different this time).
Lora goes to go to bed. Jon and I hug a few minutes more, and then he goes out of the room to go to bed with her. I lay in bed and feel…I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore.
When I write the things down, I wonder why I haven’t just run for the fucking hills yet. I also wonder if I’m a crazy, paranoid, self-centered asshole. Because lately, every time I get upset and need Jon’s time, Lora seems to get even more upset and do things that bring attention right back to her. Until my recent sit-down with both of them where I told them that the vicious, abuse-filled part of the fighting needs to stop, because I couldn’t listen to it anymore, when Lora was upset about something, I butted out and gave them room to figure it out. Even now, when Lora is upset about something, as long as it doesn’t go down into “blame all of the things on Jon”-land, I still stay butted out and give them time to figure things out.
It feels like we’re currently stuck on this horrible misery-go-round. I can’t help but notice that whenever I get upset, Lora seems to need to up the ante and get more upset. I’m sitting here trying to figure out if that’s true. There is a sour, hard feeling in my belly as I think about whether or not I should start keeping track of what happens with Lora whenever I get upset about something – is that something I should do?
I don’t think that she’s deliberately, maliciously doing things. I don’t think that she was constantly calling/texting Jon because she knew we were having sex and wanted to disrupt us. I don’t think she had a panic attack because she wanted to disrupt Jon and I when we were talking (I keep telling myself that I don’t think she’s doing things like that on purpose, because if I start to entertain the concept that she is, I think I’ll go stark raving bonkers). But I do think that, because of her self-esteem and jealousy issues, she has a really hard time with the idea of Jon having a good time with another partner, or Jon not paying enough attention to her, so she gets so anxious and so upset that she just…can’t stop herself from acting out until she gets Jon’s attention.
The end result is that the more time goes by lately, the more convinced I am that Lora and I are not able to live together. When we lived separately, Jon was able to maintain boundaries so much more easily. When Jon and Lora spent the evening together, he and I did text or IM occasionally, but if I stopped hearing from him, it wasn’t a big deal. And when Jon and I spent the evening together, when Lora started to text or calling him constantly, he would speak to her on the phone once to let her know that he wasn’t answering anymore, because he was spending time with me. Yes, there were times when she still tried to demand his attention – she would often call upset when anything happened – a light bulb went out, the toilet was clogged, the oven didn’t seem to be working. And he addressed with her what could be done about those things in the moment, what would need to be done the next day and tell her that he was hanging up. Sometimes it would get a bit ugly, and I overheard him say more than once “NO. This is NOT an emergency. I know that you’re bored and lonely and want me to be home with you, but I’m with Liz tonight and you need to pop in a movie or open a book and enjoy the night yourself. We are not fighting about this. I am hanging up now.” And he did.
But now it seems like every day some hard and shitty and miserable happens. I used to be a lot more lax and forgiving about some of the time I lost with Jon when Lora was upset, because I knew that the phone was going to be hung up soon. I knew that we’d definitely have uninterrupted time on a weekly basis. Because of his work schedule, sometimes we only had a few hours at a time, once or twice a week, but we still had it, and I could see it on a calendar and count on it to nearly always happen that way.
Now…it’s a new shitty thing every day. I used to a be a happy, excited “what wonderful new thing will tomorrow bring?” kind of person. Now I feel exhausted and hollow and wonder what painful, miserable, shitty thing will happen tomorrow. What thing that I hadn’t previously thought to ask about will it become obvious that I do actually ask about, because Jon and Lora are sometimes masquerading as Askholes? Jon only becomes an Askhole around Lora-related things, so…I wonder what that’s about? Or maybe I shouldn’t wonder what that’s about, since it always comes back to worrying that all this is straight-up control and abuse. And when was the last time that something wasn’t actually about Lora? I don’t even remember.