Monday, June 13, 2011

How I'm Moving On

So many people have written or called to see how I’m doing, and to offer their love and support. That means a lot to me.

This post is about how I'm dealing with D these days, since we do live under the same roof for now and still have to untangle a few things like who owns what, etc.

I'm really writing this more as a journal piece for myself, but writing with the intension of publishing it gives me the chance to have people offer their own perspective to what I have to say.  And I welcome the input.

So, how am I dealing with D?

The first thing I can say is that this dissolution is remarkably different than any I've lived through before, and that has everything to do with what choices I'm making, and almost nothing to do with what choices she has made. 

Let me quote from an email I sent a friend yesterday who was offering their support and checking in with me. I wrote:

I'm already on the road to recovery. I won't be a victim. I won't wallow in self pity and I won't make a friend with revenge. I don't know how many years I've got left but I don't want to waste any of them feeling sorry for myself. 

I've already started a healing journey, and even included D in part of it. 

As Robert Frost, said, “All I know about life can be said in three words: it goes on.” 

I guess you can’t have joy without sorrow, pain without pleasure, or life without death. It is what it is. 

I can't deny nor diminish the pain and hurt that I feel. But I CAN choose how I want to respond. Choosing to dive into a pit of self-pity and flailing about asking "Why me?" is just not going to help.

I might feel better temporarily by exploding in rage, or flogging her mercilessly until she crumbles into a  sobbing pool of tears, or figuring how clever ways to sabotage her as she moves on, but what's the point? 

I'm not as angry as some would quickly say I have "a right" to be, I'm actually feeling more sorrow for her and the choices she's made, and for the journey she must now make to do the work, learn from her behavior, and create a new life for herself.

She's damaged a lot of people - she hasn't destroyed lives, but she's tossed a grenade into innocent lives and that's going to take a lot of therapy and self-examination and personal forgiveness for her to move on – at least in my opinion.

And I don't want to invest in anger at the expense of making good healing choices for me instead. It's tempting to get righteous, but it's simply not worth it. 

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." And I'm not going to give consent!”

So, after the dust settled when the first conversation took place on last Wednesday evening, I did a lot of reflecting, I gave myself some interior space to sort this all out, and by Saturday, I was ready to talk to D again, from a completely different perspective - that of one who knows the truth (or enough of the truth, at least).

And so we did. We talked and talked and talked. We cleared a lot of air. We 'fessed up to much smaller issues we'd both been keeping secret or holding back or otherwise avoiding because we were afraid of upsetting an applecart or hurting the other's feelings or perhaps just admitting to ourselves.

I'm going to grieve the loss of my loving relationship with D for quite a while, I suppose. It is gone and probably will never return. That being said, we reached a place where we both feel we might actually remain in one another's lives in a much different - and much more honest - way. 

Please know that I haven't lost my senses. I'm not crazy. I have my heart very carefully protected and that's going to stay that way with her for a long time. I fully recognize that it's one thing to say you're sorry and it's another to demonstrate you've made real, fundamental change and grown from your mistakes. 

And I'm not being tolerant or understanding or even forgiving because I'm holding on to a secret hope that we can work all this out and go back to the way we were. I know the relationship we once had is over. Dead, and soon to be buried.  

But can I forgive her? And does that matter? 

I can, and I will, and I've started to do just that. I'm not doing that for her sake, I'm doing that for mine. Holding on to what most would certainly called justifiable angst and judgment and anger and all of that isn't going to serve me. I'm not exploring forgiveness to make her journey easier; I'm doing to heal myself

Beyond that, I believe my forgiveness of her doesn't really matter, at the end of the day, in terms of her own healing journey. I suppose it might be easier for her to know that I'm not going to play the victim card, and that I'm not going to do things to sabotage her life.

But that still doesn't take her off her own hook when she looks in the mirror. She knows what she's done; she's taken responsibility, and those are the first steps. Maybe even the easiest steps. Now she has to do the work. 

And, to be honest, I have to do my work as well. I have to face my own issues, such as the tendency to look the other way when things aren't working, rather than putting them on the table. The issue of always wondering, "Am I good enough, smart enough, patient enough, attractive enough?" The issue of becoming so comfortable in my own skin that I can be alone and be okay. 

So here's the way it is. D and I are certainly on "speaking" terms. We're going about the important (and required) business of finding separate places to live, and sorting out our mixed collections of everything from kitchen gadgets to furniture. We're working it out. We're not walking on eggshells. 

The one thing that I think is recoverable from this earthquake, the one thing that might be salvaged, is the friendship I have always treasured with D. Not the romantic, loving, exclusive and intimate relationship, but the friend I could engage in conversations about politics, or world peace, or great movies.

As I dash from the pile of rubble grabbing my emotional possessions, trying to sort out what to take, and what to toss, that's what I hope to keep. 

So that's how I'm dealing with D. Just in case you wondered. 

When you hit the perfect storm, there's always a proverbial silver lining: reinvention. Let go, move through the confusion, embrace the ambiguity, focus on attracting what you want, let go of the outcome, and trust the process. Or, pour yourself a double Scotch. 

It's five o'clock somewhere, isn't it???


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset


sunset-boat_779386i.jpg


As the song goes:

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years.
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

There are at least two things no dom can do: make someone fall in love with you, and make them stay in love with you.

My three year saga with D is now in it’s final chapter, at least in the form that it began. We are moving apart, and more importantly, we are not going to be a “couple” anymore. While we’ll remain friends, we will both be moving on.

For newcomers to this blog, you can read all the posts about how the relationship began (with this blog, actually) and about our loving relationship that followed. But nothing is forever, and our relationship as lovers has entered the end game.

The beginning of the end actually came many months ago. You can read D’s take on it here: and my first reactions here.

I’m struck, as I look at my post, with the final paragraph:

I just hope against hope that all of this stuff - health issues, financial issues, and so on don't prove fatal to what has been the most incredible, powerful, loving, amazing relationship I've ever known. 

Indeed, they proved fatal.

They say people come into your lives for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. D came into mine for all three – but not in the ways I might have expected.

Perhaps the reason she came into my life was to allow me to affirm who I am, and embrace myself completely, rather than hide my “kinky” side, not only from the world, but from myself. I am what I am, and through my relationship with D, I learned to celebrate who I am.

Loving D and having the kind of relationship we had for three years is a long season in the sun. It is something for which I’ll be forever grateful. If I’ve given D anything I’m proud and humbled at the opportunity to have touched her life. It’s very clear that D has given me much more than I had dared to hope for and she has touched me more deeply than any other person ever has.

Our season together was wonderful, amazing, empowering, fun, delightful, and so many other things. We proved to ourselves that love is possible, that it is worth the risks taken to find it, that it is the source of growth, compassion, and purpose.

I shall never stop loving D, no matter where her path takes her, or my path takes me. I hope that she will feel the same way – but again, even if not, one thing I can’t lose is the choice of loving her and hoping she finds a path with heart.

When D’s challenge with menopause (and other things) began to overwhelm her, I reacted in the classic first stage of grief: denial and isolation. I hoped and believed that this was temporary, that she’d handle it (and we’d handle it) and things would soon return to normal.

I was overwhelmed and unsure how to be supportive and helpful, but I did my best. I tried to be there for her when she wanted companionship and affirmation, and give her space to have “alone time” when she wanted that.

Time passed, and the menopause and other factors (one financial crisis after another, for example) continued to interfere with a return to normalcy. Predictably, as I look back, I moved into the second stage of grief: anger.

I was really, really angry – not at D, but at the whole damn world and the factors that were taking away everything precious in my life. During this period, both of my parents passed away, my college-age daughters completely withdrew from my life for reasons I still don’t understand, and my business continued to languish in this lousy economy. These were all things well beyond my control and I felt helpless and angry.

It was like the proverbial clich├ęd metaphor – everything I cherished was slipping through my fingertips like sand. 

Angry? You bet I was angry – but I didn’t know what to do with the anger, and so I bottled it up. I wasn’t angry with D, (none of this was her “fault”) and I didn’t know how to share my anger with her in the midst of her own physical and other challenges. I couldn’t bring myself to add to her burdens the burden of “being there” for me.

So I bottled it up.

As time moved on, our financial problems forced us into an uncomfortable situation. We were both strapped, and to make ends meet, we had decided to move back in with one another. It was an arrangement born of convenience but not of real choice. I moved into her townhouse, and remain there to this day. It was far from ideal – it has always felt like “her” place, and we’re cramped and have too little privacy. Not ideal, and certainly not healthy for a relationship in trouble.

But perhaps it was the fact that the townhouse was sold, and the new owner let her know he would be raising the rent and asking for a year’s lease that forced the two of us to finally talk about all the things going on under the surface.  We’d been living together, being civil and friendly and staying as much as possible out of each other’s way. I was still hoping her physical troubles would end and that we’d go back to how we were, but that’s not what was going to happen.

So, we both admitted to each other that we had to move. Even though I believed (and continue to believe) that we could find another place that was bigger, more private for each of us, and still save money over renting two places, D was very clear. What she needs right now perhaps more than anything is to be alone, on her own, and finding her way. She even entertains the idea of moving out of state (or out of country, for that matter).

It finally became very clear to me that our relationship – the one we’d started as a result of this blog and had for over two years before all of the crap started happening – was over. I’d moved from stage three of grief: bargaining (If I just do this or that, perhaps “the universe” would let things go back to normal) into depression.

Which is where I am today. Depressed and isolated and rather immobilized. I get the feeling that D is as well but she’ll have to speak for herself.

We’ve cleared the air, we came through that conversation intact and without the all-too-common fighting, blaming, etc. that characterizes the end game of so many relationships.  That was never the way we were together – and it won’t be now, either. She’s not leaving me for another (nor am I leaving her for another). She’s not leaving because I wasn’t “good enough” or because I acted in ways that she couldn’t accept.

Like the movie title, “She’s just not that into me” anymore. She’s had a change of heart.

Or perhaps it’s better to put that another way. D doesn’t find, in the possibilities of a committed, intimate, and yes, kinky relationship with me, what she wants and needs right now. She hasn’t felt that way for a long time – and she was much too compassionate to tell me “It’s time to move on” earlier – because of all the other things I was dealing with (like the deaths of my parents and my children’s behavior). There just never was a good time until the issue got forced by the new landlord.

So I’m depressed but aware there’s a fifth stage of grief: acceptance. And to be honest I can taste it already. Over the past six months, I’ve had plenty of time to begin to experience what it might be like if we dissolved this relationship as it was constructed and found independent paths to follow. It’s probably easier to move from depression to acceptance when the cause of the grief isn’t so sudden. The signs have been there for a long time even as I tried to deny them, get angry about them, or try to bargain them away.

So what’s next for me?

First of all, a new place to live. Much as I have moving, it’s unavoidable. I’ve already begun the pruning and discarding of old, unwanted things. (That’s been symbolic as well – as I discard the old, I know I’m making room for the new.)

And what will become of this blog? Well, I haven’t been very active with it in a while. I don’t know where it goes. Perhaps as this last chapter of our initial relationship comes to a close, so does this blog. 

I’ll leave it up for now because I know there are so many people (particularly in the kink world) who want to know some truths about finding, maintaining, and even ending relationship such as ours. Perhaps I’ll blog some more in the coming weeks about my experience of life “alone again, naturally.”
And I hope, and know that those of you who know both D and I will wish for us both peace, love, and joy.

To all the tops and bottoms and doms and subs out there, let me remind you once again: you can’t make someone love you, and you can’t make them stay in love with you.

What you can do, what you always have the choice to do, is to love others, unconditionally. The most important insight I have about my experiences with D is that I, perhaps for the first time in my life, was able to love her for her, without condition, not because she loved me, not because of what she could or would do for me, but simply because of who she is. Maybe that’s the reason she came into my life – so that I could learn what it was like to simply, unconditionally, love another person.

Bon voyage, D. May you continue to walk the path with heart.