As I am leaving tomorrow for a business trip (and will probably spend most of that afternoon having discussions with coworkers about slides and examples to take with us, as well as packing), this turned out to be a good time for Jonathan to have a conversation with Lora and I about how the rest of the week will go, time-wise. He wanted to layout some ideas on how he wanted to organize time and what his expectations were. Since spelling out time divisions clearly seems to be the only say to have a time division that isn’t unfairly slanted away from me, I agreed this was a good idea.
Jon pulled us together before bed to have a quick talk with all of us. I think he did a really good job. He said “Since Liz is leaving for a few days and I won’t see her at all, I want to be sure to spend a lot of time with her when she gets back and also spend a concentrated amount of time while Liz is gone with you, Lora. So this is what I figure…” He laid out that he’d be working fourteen hour days on Sunday and Monday, but he was off Tuesday and Wednesday. As I was getting back Wednesday morning, that meant he’d have Tuesday to spend the day with Lora. I always get the day off when I do a red-eye back on a work day, so Wednesday would be a day that Jon and I could spend together. That was pretty easy to verbalize. Lora and I didn’t say much, other than to agree. I didn’t have much to say because it all makes sense to me. Though it did scrape at me lightly that something like this wouldn’t actually be intuitive, or just common sense when two people are sharing a partner.
Those plans in place, we decided that we’d revisit this in a few days, to plan out the weekend. In terms of doing things that will convince me that the three of us can live together well, this is definitely a small step in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether or not it’ll be followed (and that we’ll continue to have these get togethers to talk these things over), but I’m taking heart that good things are being said and everybody agrees that they are fair.
One thing that…it doesn’t bother me, but that I feel a sort of mental chafing about is how these things need to come from Jon. I wonder to myself if all these communications should come from Jon. As he’s the pivot partner, it makes sense that these communications should come from him, since this is dividing up his time most specifically. On the other hand, I wish that we were all able to be more proactive about bringing these things up. Lora has never broached these things between the three of us, but tends to communicate her needs through Jon. And given that the current situation involves an ongoing time imbalance between Lora and me, I would guess that me bringing it up could come across as more strident and demanding than I mean it to be.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t feel strident and demanding right now. I do. Being patient, reasonable, and expecting all of us to look out for each other didn’t seem to work out well in this situation (I realize that might be an unfair assessment. But it’s how I feel right now, so it’s what I’m going with.). So I’m focused on being firm that Lora and I both spend a fair amount of time with Jon – and by “a fair amount of time” I mean days when we may see him in different proportions (more time for Lora on some days, more time for me on others), but that the aggregate is that we both see him about the same amount of time. No more of this garbage where our baseline is that Lora and I see Jon an equal amount of time on any given day and the only variation is that Lora sees him more than I do.
If I seem angry about this, I am. I am very angry that this had to go on for nearly two months before steps were taken to rectify it. I am angry because I’ve tried my utmost, from the beginning, to be fair and caring towards Lora. I feel like that’s frequently (though not always) been repaid with Lora not treating me with the same kind of care and respect. I know it’s not on purpose, as in, I know she’s not out to screw me over, or try to drive me away. I think I’m still very angry about two things. I still don’t know what the hell Jon was thinking during all this time, and why he didn’t speak up about it to Lora himself. I am angry at him because I feel like he really left me hanging there. I thought I could trust him to be aware of those things and keep track of them because he did do that before we all lived together. At one point, he did tell me that he was watching, and he asked me to trust him. That didn’t work well. I still feel like I haven’t been able to have a good, direct heart-to-heart with him about what happened and why he didn’t speak up.
The other thing I’m angry about is that even if Lora doesn’t mean to be hurtful towards me, even if I know she’s coming from a place of low self-esteem and fear, eventually it doesn’t matter to me any more. What I mean by that is that I am far more willing to be compassionate and patient with people who I know are struggling versus people who I believe have actively negative intentions towards me (for example, Lora being freaked out about not having time with Jon because she’s lonely and doesn’t do well at entertaining herself vs someone who was trying to take up all of Jon’s time specifically because they didn’t want me to have time with Jon and were actively working to keep us apart). But eventually I do hit a limit where it doesn’t matter WHY something that is hurting me is happening. What matters is that it has continued to happen; it’s begun to hurt me in a way that I cannot cope with or continue to be patient about; it’s become too damaging. So I feel angry because I am really angry with Lora, but I’m afraid of expressing that. That’s in part because these recent discoveries about exactly how bad Lora is at managing a host of things in her life…being angry feels a bit like kicking someone when they’re already down. But on the other hand…how can someone be this “down” and be able to be an healthy adult relationship?
I need to find a path that respects Lora as a human being and is compassionate about her mental illness, but also respects my needs and my limits and allows me to advocate for those things fairly. It’s a far harder path than I thought it would be.
To bring it back to the original subject of this post – I do think that communication that Jon is doing about time and spending more time with Lora one day, then more time with me the next day truly is an excellent step in the right direction. Now what remains to be seen is if it really works, and Lora is able to open up her tunnel vision enough to acknowledge that the separate days will be uneven, but that the conglomerate of days does even out.