No more “WE”

Folks, It has been too long and I’ve been too quiet. I have been withholding a lot of stuff out of the fear that someone else may be hurt by what I have to say. I don’t intend to harm anyone. But I really don’t have a good outlet for what I am going through other than this blog.

This withholding of information goes directly against my personal and ethical belief of transparency and honesty at all times, but especially in times of hardship and struggle. We like to share the good with our friends, neighbors, and followers, but all to often we hide the not so good out of fears. Sometimes that fear is shame of the situation, other times we are coerced by fear to protect someone else’s feelings. Neither of these are ok in my system. Allowing this to happen undermines my own value system and causes greater problems for me than just owning the crap that is going on in my life.

Don’t hear me wrong however, my intention is not to deliberately cast shade to another person. I truly am going through some stuff and I feel I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. And hey, random internet people have probably been through this or a similar situation and may be able to offer me support, answers to any questions I have, or even just an ear to listen.

My struggle.

Like about 50% of the American population I am currently in the midst of a Divorce. Yep we are at “separation level”.  Many of you may have already known this from previous posts I made. But there it is. I know many of you may be saying ‘ Eh it’s a divorce, what’s the problem, these happen all the time’ .

The act of separation and divorce isn’t really the problem. I am logical in accepting in the descision that we agreed to. We both have grown in different ways. We still care about each other and love each other in a way that I can’t explain. We are co-parenting our child in the same house with our existing partners… Like nothing has *really* changed, except for our joint identity.

Well, recently it has become evident to me that being married to this one person for half of my life has given me an identity that I now have to separate from. Not only the person that is leaving this part of my life, but now I have to lose a part of myself that I have had for this long. That’s deep stuff right there.

Attempting to accept this separation of the relationship and separation with self identities is where I am currently struggling. The joy she shares with other used to be the joy WE shared with others. The trips to visit friends , used to be OUR trips. The things she does alone , are all things WE did together. But now I find I am home alone when she goes to do these things.

For some things, it is my choice not to be there, for others it’s not even asked if I would like to go. I miss the US things. Those things WE did. I find myself having a real hard time accepting that WE don’t exist as a concept or construct anymore. ANd I think it’s more the latter…. a construct.

This seems to be the biggest point. Society puts so much value on a person based on their relationship status. Society is hierarchical in treatment, acceptance, and value based solely on what your marital or relationship status is. The more “committed you are” the more ” accepted you are” and this is where I have a great deal of problems with societal relationship scripts.

Everyone has value. Every, single, individual person has value . Once more for those in the back, EVERYONE; EVERY, SINGLE, INDIVIDUAL, HUMAN BEING, HAS VALUE. We have placed so much on the value of people as a unit and ability to provide offspring, and contribute to society as a couple , that I think we are losing that individuality that make relationships so wonderful the people in them.

My first struggle is losing that “couple identity” that I had with this person for half my life. I don’t know how to be single. I never was. Part of me is wondering what I missed out on as a single person.  I wonder where I may be and who I may have become had I not gone the way I did.  Not with regret,  but curiosity.  I am very happy with my choices and the person I have become.   Including the ones that have lead me to this blog post.

Secondly, we developed an identity with another person as a triad.  We all formed a relationship with interpersonal feelings and connections.  I am losing that as well.  As the other members of the triad are continuing their relationships on without me in that.  And there is likely some envy of that deep down inside somewhere.  But I do not at all have bad feelings for them. Infact, I wish them great happiness together.  They are very happy together.

My current live in partner, and also fiance’, and I are very intentional and direct. The two of us discuss things and make plans based on how each of us want to live as individuals. Not as “we” want to live as a couple. Each of us are building support for our individual needs and the needs of our relationship. These needs may be and often are separate things . As individuals our needs are not the same thing as the needs of the relationship, and that is an important part of it. Knowing what the individual needs are so the relationship can flourish. This was not the case with my previous relationship that is now ending. In the previous each of us took a LOT for granted and assumptions were made based on a lot of societal scripts.

We started our relationship with the ideals of individual first, including the right to self-determination, self-autonomy, and non-hierarchy. We hold transparency, respect and honesty in high regard. And through conversation,  neither of us have indicated that we would like that to change anytime soon.  It is definitely challenging but also very rewarding.  And this is much more inline with my value system than the other relationships I have had.

My identity crisis, as I am calling it now, means that I have to unlearn all this behavioral crap and societal scripting that was built up over 20 years of being with this same person and learning how to relate to them in a totally different way. WHILE at the same time, unlearn what it was to be a triad and what this means for my Polyamorous identity.

I need to learn to let go of that “us” and accept that she is she and I am me. And that they are they and I am me.  Each of us is an individual with feelings, and ability to move through this emotional rollercoaster in different ways and as much as it hurts,  and as nice as we are to one another…
at least for the foreseeable future, there is no more WE, as there was.

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Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Recap.

WARNING This Post may contain links that may take the reader to adult themed websites.  We discuss sex, sexual freedom and personal sexual expression in this post.  NO sexual images or content are hosted on this site or this post.  LINKS NSFW with exceptions.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way……

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was amazing, exciting, and informative.  I must say, one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many.  I have to stop and say though if it were not for Tantus I would not have been able to attend.  They hosted a scholarship for admission via a Twitter contest.  I entered and happened to win!  Thanks TANTUS!  I owe all this to you!
Tantus

Now,Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (SFS from now on), is held in Virginia by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. ” The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.  This Summit is for EVERYONE interested in learning about the issues in the realm of sexual freedom, advancing their current knowledge and in gaining the tools to actually create the change we need to accomplish.” And advance my knowledge they did.
Woodhull's Sexual Freedom Summit

Friday I arrived in time for the lunch break and I got to catch up with friends I had not seen in some time.  Of course I did some networking with new folks and made connections that will hopefully bring new and exciting opportunities for all of us in the community.  (More on that another time.)  It became apparent quickly that I was a little fish in a new, large, expansive ocean.  Most of the people I was meeting had LOTS of letters and titles behind their names.  I became pretty aware that I was in a new class of conference.  None the less, I was treated fairly, and on par with everyone. At no point did anyone talk down or act as if they were “dumbing-down” the content or conversation for me.  It was ok to stop them and ask to have something explained or expanded in detail to make sure I understood it.

As the classes got started for the afternoon session, I was torn on what to go to. There were so many exciting classes it was difficult to choose.  Finally I settled on Sex, Laws & Videos: Legal Updates from Woodhull’s Free Speech Advocates (#SFSLegal)
Presented by: Luke Lirot, Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.  This class was not all legalese and lawyer speak.  It was a real world look at how the current laws are affecting sex work and sexuality across the US and where the laws are heading.   I’ll be doing a recap blog post of each of the classes I participated in (with exception of one). This class had lots of great insights into the current state of laws and sex.

Next I went to the Friday Keynote.  Keynote: From Slacktivism to Meaningful Action: Using Tech to Fight for Freedom Presented by: Aida Manduley, MSW, Trina Scott, Cindy Lee Alves .  This was by far one of the best keynotes I have even been to. This group of women from the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network presented this in a way that made me think, made me uncomfortable (in a good way) made me open my mind to view things differently, and then made me cry with the empowerment of a people. This was inspiring and incredibly powerful.   Thank you WOCSHN!

After the Keynote it was dinner and social time mostly.  There was a carnival themed dance and entertainment, but after being awake since 4AM for my flight, I was in no shape to stay up and party.  I crashed out at about 10:30.

Up early in the AM on Saturday for a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.  It was a run day and there’s no cheating on run day, even if I’m traveling. So up,  run, and grab some breakfast before the first set of classes.   Breakfast was provided by one of the sponsors,

First class of the day, It’s Different for Men: Masculine Victims of Sexual Assault (#SFSAssault) Presented by: Sebastian Sprague M.Ed..  This is the class that I will not be posting a blog entry / review on other than what I say here.  We discussed the effects and causes of sexual assault on men.  Men as victims and why most men don’t come forward to report abuse and assault. Patriarchy, misogyny, and macho-ism.   Systems that harm women, also harm men.   This was a very good class and discussion . We asked that the specifics of our time together be kept confidential.  However personal statement will not be included.  Not even my own.   I did take some photos of the presentation which we were told we could share so I may post those with a bit longer description. This class set the tone for my Saturday however, exploring uncomfortable topics.

A short coffee break, sponsored by Chaturbate.  and then back to the learning and brain work.

 

Decolonizing Sex Positivity – Re-thinking Inclusivity (#SFSInclusive)
Presented by: Sonalee Rashatwar, Nafeesa Dawoodbhoy .  This was  a very interesting introspective class that really left me thinking about all the ways we colonize things in our lives.  It challenged the thought that things are like my experience everywhere.  That just because I see the world like X doesn’t make it so. And in order to be truly accepting and inclusive we must accept that another’s view of the world is not only different, but also equally valid as our own, at times even more so.  I have said it in classes about other things but its the idea that Different is no more right or wrong, it is only different.  Of course there is a lot more to it … and Ill expand in my post about this class.

This brings us to the Lunch break that was catered by the hotel and provided by the conference. I could not believe that the day was already half over.  As I joined everyone for the Vicki Recipients’ Roundtable Luncheon Presented by: Carmen Vazquez, Scout, Kenyon Farrow, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot, Megan Andelloux, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Yea, its a round table and the award recipients will most likely speak that part I got. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of impact that these award winning social justice warriors have had on the community over all and specifically in their areas of work.  Remember I am a little fish in a big new ocean.  I’m used to local level organizers.  This is where it began to strike me just why I was here.  More about this epiphany in my detail Round-table post.

After the round-table I was in brain overload.  I had so many concepts and thoughts sparked alive that morning, I needed a break.  so I wandered around, played a little Pokemon Go, went to my room and vegged out.  A nice, much needed break.

As the next round of classes was getting ready to begin, I felt a lot better and decided to head back down to participate some more.

The class selection was again challenging, but I saw one that looked very interesting.
Just Don’t Talk About It: The Current State of Men’s Sexual Health, Expression, and Exploration in the United States (#SFSMen) Presented by: David Mandell, Dr. Andrew Siegel, Paul R. Nelson, CCMA, Robert Heasley, PhD, LMFT, Leo Donato . These men and the way that they talked about mens health, they engaged and questioned beliefs and explained issues in a way that was, beautiful.  These men were well educated on their topic, they have good resources and sparked a lot of conversation.  My biggest take away from this class can be found here on my twitter. “When educated about sex from porn you aren’t learning how to have sex.” Men learn how to fuck.  But not how to have meaningful, loving sexual intimacy. More in my SFSMen Post coming soon!

After SFS Men it was again dinner time.  The day was almost over.  Other than the nighttime entertainment and dance later on there wasn’t much more to be done.  I wandered here and there caught up with some new friends, watched some of the Olympics, talked about relationships, ate cheese and bacon fries at the bar…  it was a good time.   I decided to head up to the room and pack my bags.  My 615 Flight meant I once again had to be ready to go at 4AM to the Airport.  Sheesh, will I never learn?  LOL  But I digress….

The evening party time was more award presentations and acceptance speeches from activists.  One of whom made a remark that was so impcatful on me it it is still ringing in my ears today…  “Bisexual erasure by the LGBTQ community isn’t even a microaggression- it’s a macroaggression. Why are there still LGBT organizations that are run only by L or G people? Why aren’t there bisexuals at the helm too?” –@Scoutout   Scout’s story is amazing as well.  But he makes a good point…..

I headed to bed about 10:30, settled in and had everything ready to go , set the alarm.  As I lay down, my brain starts processing everything I have taken in this weekend.  ALL AT ONCE!  I am racing with ideas, topics for discussion, new classes, blog posts… DAMMIT BRAIN SILENCE   I must sleep…  11 comes and goes, still wrenching my brain as it hits a new idea.  11:30… then 11:45.  I am finally able to stop it and that’s when it hits me like a ton of bricks.  You are here to experience the next level of activism.  You are here to see what a national organization can do to affect change, and support different communities while promoting a single root cause.  You are here to be inspired.

Not a day has gone by yet where I have not done something related to my experience at SFS.  Be it a blog post., Facebook outreach, building new workshops in other cities, reaching for our brand, starting new recognition programs, or just a thoughtful conversation about sexuality as a human right. SFS16 lit a fire under me and in me that I hope isn’t extinguished, ever.

I am again very thankful for the opportunity provided to me by TANTUS for the Membership and by Relationship Equality Foundation for paying my travel expenses. Thank you to the amazing presenters, speakers, moderators that lend their knowledge to this conference.  Thank you to the Organizers, staff and board of WoodHull.  This was a life changing experience.
If you would like to support more individuals having these types experiences, perhaps even yourself, then I highly recommend joining REF as a supporting member today.
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Then it hit me.

All this time I kept saying to myself, “I’m just an ally stay out of it give them space” ” Support their message.” “Give way and let their voices be raised louder than any other. ”
See as a fairly hetero-normative presenting person, it was easy for me to not see the problem here. For most of my life, I have been fairly open about who I am to certain people, circles of friends and communities that I feel safe in. Because even with all my privileges and status in society, I am still afraid of rejection and harm.
I have stayed silent.
But I cant anymore. In a conversation with a FB friend I was brought to tears by my own sexuality and self shame. I am a queer person. I am a Poly, Kinky, Bisexual man who loves openly and honestly.
I have been seething for days. I have felt rage building, depression filling in, I haven’t wanted to leave the house, I have been very combative on Facebook about various different issues I feel are important. but I have always given way to the voice of the persons i saw more closely affected to this than I was.
Then it hit me……I present so hetero normative that my rage in this whole unbelievably horrific act against the community is silenced by both sides. I feel ignored and shut down. It sucks. I feel that If I say anything I’m “tone policing” I’m telling people to “Be nice”. I’m so sick of shutting myself out of the conversation because I am a male, hetero-normative presenting person. I dont belong. I cant be a member of the community of Straight people , cause Im not. I cant be a queer person cause I “look too straight” Im alone and it sucks.
In that conversation on Facebook, my friend recognized me as part of the community. I lost it. In tears I am still emotional about it now. For once, someone outside of my immediate community, a person of the queer community that I respect, a person who has helped me grow and evolve my thinking broke down a wall. Thank you A.

I am Queer. I am a Bisexual, Poly, Kinky, Guy. My voice is important too. And if to no one else, it is important to me. And maybe some of you already knew this.  But I have to say it.  I have to accept this identity and be open about it.  I cannot stay scared safe anymore.

I was allowing my own erasure from society by staying in the closet. I never really came out of it.  I just added on.  It was small but then I found others like me and to stay safe,  I only knocked out the back wall and added room to the closet.    I was only allowing what I wanted others to see be shown.  What was safe.  Fuck Safe.   In the words of one of my childhood heroes,  “I YAM what I YAM! “

Catching up- You Me Her.

Hiya folks,

First, let me apologize for my absence.  Life has been pretty busy the last few weeks.  I am preparing to take and pass the CAPM exam this Friday.  Additionally,  Atlanta Poly Weekend is right around the corner and its all hands on deck planning team for that.  Also I have a family that wants to see  me and I need some me time every now and then.

Speaking of ME time looks like that’s what Izzy is going to be doing ….

So recapping quickly if you aren’t current,  Izzy went to Jack and Emma’s to try and patch things up from the whole bit where she scared the crap out of them emotionally.   ANd ends up doing it again.

Izzy,  who is truly head over heals in NRE with Jack and Emma,  is exhibiting classic NRE behavior or reading a lot into what’s happening, moving with emotions and not thinking through her actions.  And Jack and Emma,  being more seasoned in the long term relationship application of principles, seem to be moving with a fun and logical approach (in their eyes) to the decisions,  EVEN though those decisions do not take Izzy’s feelings into account. They don’t see that.  Until it’s too late and Izzy is hurt. They are confused.  And everything is upside down again.   This is where/how it becomes problematic in Poly relationships.  I think the show gets this right.

Izzy has been hurt a few times in quick succession and is scared that she is making huge mistakes that will end up ruining her life.  What’s a person to do?  Go Home.  Yep back to the safety of Mom and look for the guidance that was there as a child.   I understand this response.  There were many times in early poly days I wished I could run away from it all and find wisdom…..  But I didn’t have anywhere to run.  Izzy at least has a safe harbor to return to, clear her head, and then decide if this really is something she wants to pursue.

This show really highlights a phenomenon that happens a lot in the Poly community.  Where a couple has one set of expectations and a 3rd person comes in and has a different set of expectations. ANd the couple is looking out for the couple’s best interest (jobs, community standing, peer acceptance, etc)  and the 3rd individual just wants to be a part of something that they feel is really satisfying. In real life it isn’t always as fast a 7 days like it is in the show, although I have seen it move that quickly.

There is a lot of growth from this in the poly community as of late .  The focus is moving from couple centric thinking and practice to  an individuals right to choose what is best for themself.  In doing so it is really helping to circumvent some of the problems that come into poly relationships with regard to hierarchy and power exchange.

I kinda wish they had more time to put into the show to highlight the resolutions styles that the people are using.  But hey its a first season sitcom,  what can I expect.  A LOT more communication takes place than what they are able to show in the time they have allowed.  And sometimes, its not as pretty as TV would depict it.  Don’t get me wrong, this show isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs, however,  conversations go more like “The Morning After” a lot more frequently than one would think.  ESPECIALLY early in the relationship building period.

I want to bring to light one thing that I haven’t touched on yet… Jack and Emma,  they still have the same problem they had before Izzy came into the picture.   Granted they are having sex,  but they didn’t do anything to FIX that problem… All they did was introduce a distraction from that problem.  ANd that is how they are treating Izzy as well, as a distracting, treatment for an underlying issue that they both are contributing to.  Polyamory, is NOT a cure for a hurting relationship.  I think Jack and Emma have some personal issues that they need to work on before they can be individually healthy enough to move into a full Poly relationship.  Jack is insecure and unsure of himself,  Emma feels alone and without support from her partner of many years.
IN MY OPINION.  Relationship problems = People Problems.  I don’t care what kind of relationship one is in….. If it has issues, problems or isn’t working the way it was when you started,  and nothing has changed,  may want to take a deeper look into ones self,  chances are you will find where that change occurred inside.

Only one episode is left in this season and we haven’t heard if there will be a second season or not.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it.  its going to really sum up my whole thought process on this show.  Up to this point I really think the show has done a fairly accurate representation of how ONE style of Polyamory is initiated.  Something to remember is that there is no one true way for polyamory.  There isnt a cookie cutter design.  Polyamory is best practiced as individuals making connections with other individuals.  Even if those individuals are in other coupled or non coupled relationships.

Thanks to John Scott Shepherd  for putting together a great show. And also for mentioning my reviews in an interview.  I am happy to provide feedback and glad you like what you are hearing.  Also thank to the YOU ME Her Social media team for engaging with us on twitter and facebook.  I look forward to getting my umbrella soon!   I wish there was more time to get you all to come to Atlanta Poly Weekend this year.

Earned, Never Given.

Earned, never given. A phrase we hear quite often to instill upon us the level of difficulty a particular achievement is.

White BeltI have earned something I never thought I would.   I have earned a Black Belt in Taekwondo. Yes,  martial arts is hard. Everyone knows that it isn’t easy to go learn these kicks, and forms.  It takes discipline, dedication, and lots of hard work.  Something a lot of people don’t know,  it takes passion, it takes desire, and it takes every single ounce of energy you may have on each and every day.

I started my journey in June of 2014.  I went to a ground self defense class at our local dojang. I really enjoyed it.  So  I signed up for a trial 2 weeks of Taekwondo. We also signed our daughter up .   My 2 other partners at the time were already in TKD at this school.  After the first class I was ready to commit to a 6 month contract.  Just wanted to see how I would do.  By the 3rd month and after receiving my green Stripe, I was ready to go all in.

As I progressed, I made friends in the dojang.  Teammates.  and we encouraged each other, helped each other, and started to form what we now call “Team P”  When we all hit Blue Belt together, we knew the 6 of us would not quit. We were there 3 days a week, no matter what.  Sometimes,  I wonder just how much I was going to support my team mates and how much I was going for myself.   There were days we were in tears of pain, tears of joy, and tears of exhaustion. Yet, we never quit on ourselves, or each other.

Personally, I have suffered 3 major injuries along the way.  I rolled my ankle the first time in sparring drills so badly I had to be carried off the mat.  The second time it was the other ankle.  Those kept me off the mat for a couple weeks at a time, but I healed and came back strong.   The last was the worst.  I pulled my lateral groin muscle.  More about this in a bit.
Along the way we participated in tournaments.  My first was the Yong In Presidential Cup.  It was an international level event.  I participated in one event- Board Breaking.  I place 2nd in my weight and Belt class.  I was very happy with that and learned a lot from the experience.  The next tournament I participated in was smaller.

Master Ha’s Tournament.  By this time I was a Black stripe and I was very confident in my skills.  I had Joined the Adult Sparring team and was now attending classes 5 days a week.   It was October 2015 and the tournament was on Halloween. Two weeks prior, I was in Sparring class, and we were doing core and leg drills, affectionately known in our group as “oh S**T Im gonna die” Drills.  They consisted of crunches, side crunches and A.B,C’s.  (leg lifts at different intervals, 90 degrees, 45, and 15. ) It was during one of these ABC drills that I felt my groin pull happen. It was like my inner upper thigh and extreme lower abs had been lit on fire.  I couldn’t lift my leg.  After the drills I could barely walk.  I decided to take a couple weeks off and rest it before the tournament.  My master agreed that was the best decision.

Master Ha's Knife HandIn Master Ha’s tournament, I was to compete in Poomsae (forms), Board Breaking and Sparring.  My board breaks were Knife Hand Strike and Flying Side Kick.  My Form, Pal Jang (Red Belt Form).  And my sparring match was the last event of the day.   I was still sore but I thought it was manageable.  I took my Aleve and had on muscle tape, and icy hot.  I was ready.  Board breaking, 1st place, Poomsae, 2nd Place.  Feeling good about my day I went in to sparring pumped and ready.  After the first round we were tied at 3.  Halfway through the second round I got racked by a kick and could not recover.  He won 6-3.  And my groin was in extreme pain.  I went home after that and questioned my ability to return on time for black belt testing in March.  I was only a single Black Stripe. 2 belts away from Black.

By the end of November, I still was hurting and I went to my doctor, who confirmed my thoughts of a torn groin muscle.  It was minor, but he said to stay off of it for 6-8 weeks. THAT’S 2 MONTHS!  I knew I wouldn’t make it for sure now.  I had decided to just wait till September. I went to Double Black testing to support my team mates,  I watched as they learned and went on without me.

By mid January I was feeling better not 100% but better,  and I had been doing some light workouts at home.  I went to class for the first time in almost 3 months and I realized how much I missed it. being on the mat with my team mates and that feeling of togetherness was great.  Everyone welcomed me back with hugs and high fives.  It was great.  I was talking to one of the front office staff after class one evening that first week.  And she asked me if I was able to come to class, and make testing in March.  I wanted to.  But I wasn’t sure it was possible.  She said, If you can commit and do the work , I will make sure you test with your team in March. It would be a shame to miss it.” I told her I would think about it and let her know at the next class.

I went home and thought hard about it .  If I were to agree to this it would mean doing 4 months of work in 1 and a half months.  A seemingly impossible task.  It wasn’t something to think lightly about.  This meant giving up my social life, going to class 6 and 7 days a week sometimes 2-3 classes a day.  But the reward would be testing with the people I had trained with for almost 2 years. So I agreed to the challenge.  I wanted to prove to everyone that I was ready. My first Belt test was for Double black at the end of January. Then four hour class.  OH GOD FOUR HOUR CLASS.  that was brutal. and painful. But I survived.

February came time to relearn my initial 4 forms and perfect my spinning kick.  ( Im not a big fan of this kick). I went to so many classes in February. LOL  I think I was in class more than I was at home. 🙂  I was pushing hard .  Then I made my 1st maintenance test a teh end of February.  I was starting to believe that this was going to be possible to do.  But I couldn’t miss anything.  Any stumble, injury, loss of focus…. I would be out. done.   Second four hour class came and It was not as bad as the first. We learned our self defense partners and started choreography.

Flying SIde Kick 2nd MaintSecond maintenance testing was in 3 weeks.  Then 2 weeks later was Black belt testing.  Talk about cutting it close. I was on a razor thin time table. No Mistakes. I made it through 2nd testing and was well on my way.  Finally It seemed as if I could breath a little easier.

Black belt testing day…….  I was fine till I sat on the mat in the waiting area. then it hit. All the pressure, all the nerves all at once. Would I stumble? Would I remember the forms?  That darn Spinning kick still isnt right. Self defense should be fun though.   Im called up … I do my thing….Break 2 toes while doing my forms.  I didnt even realize I had broken one of them until I got home and saw the bruising. LOL.  Self defense, that was a lot of fun!  Board breaking time,  Knife hand, Break!  Spinning kick, 2nd try….  FLying side kick, nailed it (again… this is my favorite kick).

We are awarded our uniforms and Poome Belts.  It’s done. We made it.  After 20 months of training our journey has only just begun. Becoming a Black belt only means you are ready to begin your training in the art.  You have mastered the basics. Now the real work begins.  I cant wait till I am back on the mat.  Ready to bow into class, and start learning Koroi.

The moral of my story and my lesson learned is this, If you want it, do whatever it takes to earn it.  Earning a black belt is NOT EASY.  This was the single most difficult task I have ever undertaken in my life.   When I was injured, I considered giving up.  But I didn’t. I fought on.  Because it was important, because I wanted it, because it was worth it.

Poome Belt

 

When she hugged me goodbye it hurt.

Being married for a long time is an amazing accomplishment. You work with someone for years to develop the methods of communication and care that each of you needs.  then one day one person changes.  Not over night of course, but gradually.  They start seeing things or are shown things about themself they would like to change .  So, they take action, make changes, grow and become something new.

The changes that a person makes can be devastating to the existing relationship.   Not in only the new ways a person relates. It can cause the existing partners to find regret, and open old wounds that you thought were healed years ago.  However, assuming that wounds have been healed because your partner no longer speaks about them to you is a dangerous pit to fall into.  Trust me.

Tuesday, she asked me for a separation.   We have been married for 18 years.  I was really looking forward to doing something special for our 20.  I had big plans.  June 22, 1998 we wed in a gazebo on a misty afternoon in South Louisiana. We joked that the gods we so happy they were crying for us.  She was dressed in a thrift store-bought summer dress, white with flowers, barefoot and bouncy.  Flowers in her hair that she had braided herself that morning.  She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  I loved her more on that day than I thought I could ever love anyone.

There were hard times financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  We suffered 2 miscarriages, 2 walk outs,  joblessness, a hurricane, uncertainty, and loss of loved ones.   At times we didn’t know where the next box of mac and cheese was coming from so we could feed our kids.  We used a cooler for a refrigerator for 2 weeks once because we couldn’t afford to pay our electric bill.    Yes things had been hard at times. But we made it through.

There were great times too.  We bought our house, had a pool, boat, trampoline, I had a workshop & good job, she worked in her field doing what she loves.  We were surrounded by friends and family.  Life seemed perfect for those years.   There were bumps and little things but we had made it… the American dream it seemed.   I can still remember her smile as we rode the intercoastal in the boat.  She’d look back and smile at me her hair waving in the wind… “I am one lucky son of a bitch” I would think to myself.   And I loved her more on those days than I thought I could ever love anyone.

During the  “good times”  We decided to try to open our relationship to other people.   We discussed rules and situations, trying to make each other as comfortable as possible.  I asked for things like gradual increases in affection and no sex without me.   This was a horrible idea.    It placed limits on her freedom and stifled her personal growth.  Yet she seemed to be ok with them at the time. And not knowing in the early 2000’s what we do now about relationships and personal choice and oppressive rule structures, we went forward.   Her rules for me however were a bit less restrictive.  ” Be smart”  that was basically it.     I did not see it that plainly however, and many times I would check in and ask if things I was doing were ok and within her comfort zone.  We grew a set of  “acceptable behaviors” and it seemed to work for a long time.  Sure we had a few flare ups about things and grew our comfort zones.  But that base line stayed the entire time.  We never discussed changing the structure.  We accepted it as is.

So fast forward all the years to about 6 years ago when I met J and thought he would be someone M would like.  They met, hit it of ad started a relationship.  Well, we had a few conversations about what and when how etc… and pretty much the baseline stayed where it was.   My rules and comfort zone was still there … READ- MY FEARS HAD NOT GONE AWAY.  I was still scared that my relationship was going to somehow be less important than the new one.   That I was going to lose something.  Out of fear, I put up all these barriers to keep that from happening.  To keep me safe.  Little did I realize the damage that was doing .

Three years into that relationship I was finally comfortable with how things were J and I got through my fears together as I made him jump through hoops to prove to me that he was not a threat. (Stupid man brain).  We 3 bought a house and moved in together.  Things were great.

Then, about a year later, M met a woman… let’s call her D.  D was great and made M feel wonderful.  Guess what… My fears flew up again… Those same illogical arguments came out.  And that’s when it happened.  D called me on my shit.  It was ridiculous the shit that I was saying.   That night started a change in me.

In the following weeks I started therapy.  I went to learn more about myself.  Learn I did.  I found that I am a co-dependant.  Notice I say AM.. I will never be cured of this.  This is who I am.  I started work on me.  Bettering myself learning what behaviors I have that are reinforcing my belief structure.  I started doing hard work on myself to be a better person and a better partner.  But I was focused on me.   I knew I had to get better before I could ever hope to repair any damages I had caused.   I went to therapy for a little over a year.  I healed so much of myself and became literally a different person .  I have a better understanding of myself, as well as how my actions affect other people.

During this time I met Lindsey and we started dating.  As I grew in myself, I was also growing with Lindsey. SHe was with me and saw the change in me as it was happening.  SHe didn’t know me before  she only knew me now.  There were no old wounds, no old heartaches,  no damage existing.  Our relationship has grown stronger and stronger.  We have been together a little over 2 years now.  ANd I love her very much.   I love her as much as I have loved anyone.

M has supported me through this transformation.  SHe has encouraged me to keep appointments when I didnt want to because emotions are hard.  SHe has driven me there, waited for me, sacrificed her own time so I could make therapy.  SHe has seen the change in me. Even commented on how different I am as a person than 3 years ago.  How good it is to see me finally healthy and happy.    How proud of me she is.   She loves me.  I feel it. I know it.  And I love her as much as anyone I have ever loved.

J has supported me through therapy as well.  Acknowledging the growth,  change and strengths I have been able to achieve. He too has driven me and waited for me, let me cry and vent.  He cares a lot about me.  I know this.. He loves M as well. He is the closest I have ever let a man get in my life.  I love him.

M and I have been struggling over the past year to get to the root of issues between us.  SHe feels she cant talk about certain things to me because of the fear I will do what I once did, as old me did and shut her down.  Not let her have the time to explain.  Honestly, I would be afraid of the old me too. I was an asshole.   We tried a few things and experimented with conversation styles and I had some great tips from therapy that were helping me let go and listen.  But it didnt seem to help.  The hurt is too deep for me to fix.  She has her own therapist.  A different one.  We have tried to get one together but it never works out.  something always happens where one of us is not able to go because of various reasons.  But I think it really comes down to we are both so afraid of what the other is going to say, that we dont want to go.   SO we go on daily not talking about things and living our lives as if nothing is wrong. WHen deep down we are both hurting too much to even say to one another.

More recently things seemed to be getting a little bit better.  We were starting to talk more about current issues and things that would come up.  Concerns would be voiced,  I would listen, then based on my internals, I would decide what my action would be.

One of these was to give Lindsey a commitment ring.  I wanted everyone behind me supporting me and to be there when I gave it to her.  I thought about doing this on our anniversary.  But I didnt get the ring in time.  Then we found the ring on sale and I bought it.  I talked again with everyone and asked how things were feeling… M was hesitant at best and I took this a my cue that she was not ready to be supportive.  A month-ish went by and Lindsey talked to me one day and asked, ” WHen are you going to give me my ring? I tried it on last night. ”   I felt maybe it was time to talk again.  SO I tried to bring it up and was met with discomfort again.  Lindsey and I planned a trip for her birthday.  I decided that this is when I was going to giver her the ring. Just her and i.  It was clear to me that the others were either, ambivalent about the ring thing, OR it would make them very uncomfortable.  Me (being co dependant) decided without conversation that I was going to do this.  SO I did.  Lindsey loved it . It was perfect moment, under the stars,  the whole thing.   We were happy.

When I got home and it was pretty evident that I had given her the ring, noone said anything for a week or so… Then one night M asked me if I had given L the ring. I said yes I did .  She replied we talked a bit…. I said, Are you upset about it?  And she said, ” Yes, I feel like you didnt take my opinion into consideration and that hurt.”   BAM>..To me I did.. It seemed to my assumption that she didnt want to be a part of the ring giving, NOT that she didnt want me to give L the ring at all.  Miscommunication based on my assumption.  ( and to be fair I am still assuming that she didnt want me to give Lindsey the ring at all we have yet to figure this out or talk about it.)  We talked a bit more and the conclusion was that  what was done could not be undone so we would move forward.

Monday, M and I went on a date and had the most wonderful time. Probably more fun than I have had on a date with her in a while.  We went to a burlesque show.  Not just any burlesque… Gotham: A tale of Two Faces. Yep a batman inspired nerdlesque burlesque!  It was fantastic. we laughed cried, held each other,  clapped, cheered and loved every minuet of it.   We even said on the way home that we should do more dates like this.

Tuesday, she asked me for a separation. In an email that she wrote to me.  What a kick in the balls.  Here I am thinking I am doing all the right and rebuilding and we are working through stuff…. then this…. I am crushed.  She says she needs space to work on healing and that being attached to me is holding her back.  I am after all the source of hurt and pain.  Maybe from years ago, maybe from two weeks ago.  But she is doing this for her.  I am so happy and proud for her she deserves to be happy. But it hurts.  Its been a hard week.

I leave today to go to a Poly conference.  Where last year I spoke.  I talked on how important it is to acknowledge your partners while in NRE and how to not neglect them.  All the while Im blind to my own teachings.
M and I rode to work together this morning and as we parted she hugged me and said to have a safe trip.   I felt loved and it hurt. I love her today more than I ever though I could.

M  I hope you get to heal in the ways you need to and that we can always be friends.  I am sorry for all the pain I have caused you.  No amount of those words will ever heal the wounds. Of that I am aware.  Please know I am cheering for you  and I look forward to seeing you happy and healthy.  I love you. You will always be my Pookie Bear.

Dreaming.

I was on a military/government installation of some kind.  One un restricted to the public.  I was turning in some piece of news or an article to the news org that was in the building.  It would take some time for them to get it approved.   I was there with friends.  I was sitting in a chair and a woman came up and said it looked good.  She was very happy to have the piece and would get it up to the editor asap.  Meanwhile I could go hangout and wander around the grounds.

SO my friends and I went outside.  There were military folks everywhere. all in uniform… (so was I thinking about it) some in dress uniforms others in ACU camos, some in PT gear.  I noticed one of my friends standing next to a vehicle talking to someone.  SO I wandered over.  and next thing I know we are doing PT Drills.  Singing old Marine Corps chants and drill songs.

That’s when it hits me who this person was… My old step-dad.. My abuser.  The man who did so many awful things to me as a child I celebrated the day I read his name in the obituaries.  I was actually HAPPY he was dead because he could not hurt another living soul.   He no longer had power to inflict new damages and pain on anyone.  He truly was the one person on the face of the Earth I hated with a passion.  The things he did to us as kids were unspeakable and horrendous.  Physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse existed in my childhood.  You name it it most likely happened in some traumatic fashion.

He has been dead a long time.  I last saw him when I was about 9 years old.  Almost 30 years ago… so why now?  WHat was this dream telling me?

Back to the dream.   I left the area immediately after realizing who this guy was. I mad e an excuse and ran off.   ( Like I would when I was a child and I didn’t want to see him)  I watched with my friends from a distance as this man started talking to a boy, about 8 years old.   Now I don’t know if that was me seeing myself or if it was a different boy my brain conjured up….  I felt that pit of despair in my stomach, I just knew where this was going to lead. SO I went and found a police officer, told him what was happening and my feelings on where it was going to lead.  They entertained me and drove me to this guys house. (Apparently they knew him)
Upon arrival I see a three story white tower with only one window at the top and one door at the bottom.  It was an elevated structure with parking underneath. Something you would find in a coastal area. (I grew up on the gulf coast. near the beach). Very similar to this lighthouse.  The Police officers said,  “Well this is an impenetrable Ivory brick tower. Not sure what you want us to do from here.”

Lighthouses of France

Lighthouses of France

My brain was racing, “Lob tear gas in that window till he comes out the bottom.”  They laughed.  The feeling of dread returned as I knew there was nothing they would do…   I woke up feeling scared completely terrified.

I barely spoke to Melissa before leaving the house.  I shared that I had a bad dream but that was all I could say. It was like he had power over me again.  After all these years he still had power to make me afraid and to continue to hurt me. But HE”S DEAD!!!!!  I keep telling myself that it was just a dream… But its hard to get up and move, harder even to talk to anyone.