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Lost and Found February 6, 2014

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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A little over 4 years ago, I lost a relationship which was, at the time, important enough to move me away from Philadelphia.  The same day that relationship ended, just a few months later, the origins of my relationship with Ginny started.  And that, ultimately, brought me back to Philadelphia.  More importantly, it brought me back to myself, and possibly a better self due to the struggles I had with depression and other emotional difficulties caused by that loss.  In my opinions, the gains outweighed the losses in that case.  Ginny is my rock.  She always stands besides me and loves me, and I am extraordinarily lucky to have her.

And up until a few days ago, another person was as integral to my life as Ginny is, in many ways.  We lived together, laughed together, and when things were wonderful they were amazingly wonderful.  Gina was a person I intended to spend the rest of my life with, and now that possibility is uncertain.  Now that relationship is gone, at least for now.  And I feel lost again.

So, now I spend a lot of time analyzing what it’s like to struggle through painful times, while looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.  And being the cynic I am, I’m not seeing beds of metaphorical roses.

Pain, struggle, and all the related emotions and circumstances are hard, especially for someone who struggles with emotional stability and proportionality.  The increased introspection brings forth more self-awareness, emotional maturity (at least, hopefully), and forces me to take some more time for re-evaluation.  At least, that’s what I have told myself, before, when I healed from such times.  But right now I’m not sure if I buy that narrative; at least not completely.  It’s true that I think more than usual, but not really that much.  I just think about specific, painful things more.  I just hurt more.  I may not actually be any more introspective at such times (but I’m definitely outside the norm in terms of my normal level of introspection).

I’m starting to think that maybe the narrative of ‘painful times are periods of growth’ is not completely correct. Our brains do their best to maintain the illusions and narratives of a whole self who does not act completely crazy and unpredictable, let alone simply irrationally and unreasonable.  Our memories are altered by a process that maintains this illusory narrative to put together our selves and lives into a sensible story.  As we remember those times of pain and struggle, we have to put them in a context of where we are when we don’t feel that way any longer, and growth is as good a narrative as any other.  In order to maintain some level of consonance with our self image as a stable and grown person, we humans tend to construct a narrative of how the pain we went through made us stronger, better, and more prepared for life.  It never feels that way when in the midst of it, though.  At the time, it just sucks.

I hope I’m a stronger and better person than I was 4 years ago, but the fact is I can’t be sure.  I have painful memories which give me pause when approaching similar mistakes which helped precipitate those painful events, sure, but is that strength? Isn’t that just conditioning, a la Pavlov? Is it not possible that I would actually be stronger today if those painful experiences had never happened? How would I know?  Because if I’m stronger and better today, perhaps that would have happened whether I went through those painful times or not.

Then I think of all the utterly obtuse and non-self-aware people I know, and I think that maybe I’m just being too pessimistic and cynical.  Why are so many people apparently oblivious to not only their own issues but the cues of others? How have they avoided actual emotional growth for so many years? It seems weird to me to not be introspective, but I guess my introspective nature looks weird to them, too.  I’m getting off track.

What I want to know, essentially, is whether the pain we go through when dealing with loss–whether through death, break-ups, etc–is actually ever good, or whether we create a narrative which makes it seem good in retrospect.  Because when we’re better, things look better.  And so in that case we can weave memories to fit how we feel.  If we are fine after the shit is all over, then the crappy days, weeks, or months we just plowed through must have been worth it, because here we are! Right? But that’s not how the brain works.  Sometimes, we just feel better because we forget the pain (or, at least, most of it), new good stuff happens, or because we ate the right foods that day to help support a healthy mind.  And then we reconstruct the past to fit the present state of mind.

I really am being cynical and pessimistic, aren’t I?

*Sigh*

I’m dealing with loss right now.  I’m hoping that I will run into some ‘finding’ as well.  The fact is that I am on the verge of starting a new relationship, so I may be repeating the pattern of losing and finding simultaneously, but it’s also premature to make any hay out of that.  The happiness I am feeling from that is somewhat mitigated by the pain of that other loss, but it’s still happiness and hopefulness.  But mostly, right now, I’m feeling sad, hurt, and angry (mostly at myself).

And I miss her.  Badly.  I’m trying to make sense of my life without her in it, and it just doesn’t make much sense at all.  I think of things I would usually share with her, and I can’t.  Too painful to talk right now.  And everyone keeps telling me that this might just be temporary, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel that way.  I’m just going to have to wait out the worst of this, and hope that when I feel better things will be different.  The scary thing, however, is I don’t know how they will feel better.  The uncertainty of it is terrifying.  I guess I just need to practice patience, and hopefully all will be better soon.

In the mean time, I can’t stop moving forward, otherwise I will spin my wheels into a rut of listless sadness.  I need to keep moving forward, and hope that maybe that lost relationship might be found when things feel better.

But for now it hurts too much.

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Of anniversary and double entrendre January 16, 2011

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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It may be arbitrary to some degree, but a year is a year (is a year? How much repetition distinguishes an idiom from redundancy?), and it has been a year.

And digressing thoughts aside (as well as regressive digressions about digressions), perhaps this post could use some context. After all, I do not think it that it is common for people to celebrate arbitrary dates and celebrate (or mourn) random days. Not that I have never been known to do uncommon things, mind you, but not even I am that abnormal…I think.

So, back on October of 2009, I moved to Atlanta with a girl names Seana. We met in Philadelphia, began dating, and when she was offered a job in Atlanta she took it and asked me to join her. I, not having a job at the time and wanting to experience life in another part of the country (and eventually the world), decided to take the risk and go. Risk being the word which has emotional import to this blogger.

So, a few months later things were not going so well, we had a minor argument, and she left. She did not give me an explanation, she refused to speak to me again, and was just gone from my life. That was January 16th 2010, one year ago today.  Happy anniversary to me!  But one does not usually commemorate dates of break-ups, at least if one is to be considered emotionally healthy, and likewise that is not the intention here.

While the circumstances of this painful break-up were non-typical in themselves, what happened next was what more appropriately makes this an anniversary…perhaps…that’s an issue for debate.

That very same day, being emotionally distraught and in need of distraction, I called two friends I had made while in Atlanta. I met them at The Brick Store (if you ever visit Atlanta and you love beer, you must visit this place!) and had a few drinks, distracted myself, and had a few laughs.  One of those friends was a girl I had met a week before, Ginny, and in my anguish and confusion I found myself attracted to her, and things went their natural way as they do with people in such circumstances.  Thus, another kind of anniversary, on the same day.

But that is not quite right.  Despite this start, it took time to heal, and in that time Ginny was the best of friends, most trusted confidant, and eventually we began to see ourselves as partners (polyamorous partners, of course), and I fell in love with her.  But the ability to trust, to love, and to move on after such a wound takes time.  She was patient, and in time I, even with the scars that still exist, have found that I have been able to trust, to love, and to look forward to a better future.

But the question still remains as to when, precisely, our relationship started.  The question Ginny and I have asked ourselves is ‘so, when is our anniversary?’  It’s a legitimate question, one which we  do not have a definitive answer to.  Ultimately, it is of little practical difference, as it does not change how we feel about each other, but it becomes a matter of deciding how long we have been together as partners.

In any case, we are, and I hope will continue to be, partners.  She is a wonderful person, ideal in my opinion, and I am glad beyond my ability to articulate to know her.  In fact, I think I have found myself in a better place now than I was before.  I mean no disrespect to any particular exes, but I think I have upgraded in every way, and there is a lesson in this.  I think the lesson is that sometimes when we are in pain, we don’t see that things can indeed get better.  I urge anyone in pain, suffering a loss of any kind, to keep this in mind.  You may find that you will learn things about yourself in times of loss that while unfortunate, may give you perspective.  I can almost thank Seana for giving me that perspective…but she’d never hear it nor would she likely understand.

And while I would like to have some explanation, some understanding, and possibly some closure (that will not happen, almost certainly), I am almost….glad (that seems odd to say, but it feels true) that previous relationship did not work.  I realize, only in retrospect, that while I did love her, she was not the right fit for me because the truth that is necessary in any relationship was not present in treating a loved one in such a way.  It was not warranted, and if it had not happened then, and in that way, it would have happened some other way, at some later time, most-likely

That’s the thing about trust.  I thought I could trust Seana, but it turned out I should not have.  But I won’t stop trusting.  it took me some time, but I came to trust Ginny.  And there is no guarantee that this trust will maintained in the end, but I will not resign to the cynicism of keeping people at a distance out of fear that they may break any trust I give them.  I will not allow the actions of a fearful and ultimately selfish person to ruin my future with other people I care about.  I hope, for the sake of her current and/or future partners, that she will grow beyond who she was to me.

But, I take one thing back;  it is not a double entendre at all.   No double anniversary here.  I do not need to remember such a day, such an act, or such a person as Seana with any further thought (which is not to say the scars will disappear, of course) or comment (that I can control).  I therefore, commit such things to the past, where they belong.

Ginny does not always wear a bag on her head...

But, more importantly, I hope that the people in my life will end up being more like Ginnys than Seanas.  I thank Ginny for being the amazing person she is, and I wish her a happy anniversary (of sorts).

And, as we plan on moving to Philadelphia, I hope that those I know there will grow to love her as I do.