How much love can a heart hold?

Please let me begin by apologizing for the extra long post. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee, or other caffeinated beverage, to help you stay awake. Happy reading…

Back in June of 2017, when Catie and I first started this blog, I wrote an entry, Love as a rainbow… where I tried to explain my point of view on love, and how I believe there is no limit on how much we can love. To me, love is limitless. Infinite.

This week, Bina and I had a talk on the subject, and how my heart has grown to include others. It was a bit of a painful discussion to have with my “child.” (She’s 21, but will forever be my “child.”) It was difficult because she’s very afraid of our family dynamics changing.

(No, we’re not perfect. And some psychiatrists out there are wondering if they should report us to child-protective-services for exposing children to this, “God-awful, very damaging, live-style.” I’d argue that, despite our non-traditional home, our kids are as healthy as any others out there. Possibly more so, because our kids have additional support that families in a traditional 2-parent household don’t have.)

Our culture has told us that normal is: 2 parents, a male and a female, with 2.5 kids, a house with a picket fence, and a dog. Well, that’s what I grew up thinking was normal, anyway. But according to the Pew Research Center, the number of 2-parent households has been in steady decline since the 1960s, dropping from 87 percent of households in 1960 to 69 percent in 2014.

Guess what, everybody! “Normal” is changing.

(As a side note, cats are technically the most common pet. Though there are more households with dogs, cat lovers can’t have just one. The average cat lover has two feline friends, making cats the more popular pet.)

Now, back to Bina.

The conversation began because she kept texting me, “Where are you?”

The answer was one I didn’t want to give her–just yet. Because, 99% of the time, I was in my car, driving home from a visit with a… male friend. You see, once a week for the past month or so, I’ve been taking lunch from work and going to see this… “friend.”

(Have I mentioned that I sometimes hate the English language? He’s not my “boyfriend.” He’s not my “lover.” He’s not even technically a “friend.” He’s someone I’ve known for years, and our “relationship,” whatever that definition might be, has changed to include an occasional sexual visit.)

Yes, Paul and Catie are aware. I asked them and obtained a “blanket” permission, so I wouldn’t have to tell them every time I went to visit. Nothing Earth shattering. I’d go, stay for a half-hour, then come home. No big deal.

Until last week.

See, last week, I got there and he was asleep. Yes, I knew he would be. The plan was that I’d wake him, we’d have some fun, then I’d head home. Only, I didn’t wake him. Instead, I did the creepy thing and watched him sleep.

But it was only for a few minutes!! Like, maybe two or three. Five tops… Wow, that’s so fucked up…

By the time he woke up on his own, (probably from me staring at him like a weirdo,) I was freaking out. Unfortunately for both of us, my stomach rolled and I felt like I was going to be sick. Literally. I ran out of there like the fires of hell were chasing me.

(A double bummer for him… No sleep and no happy ending. Very sad.)

Okay, back to Bina. Again.

Wait. Some of you must be wondering how this will change our current trio-dynamics. Will our poly grow by a fourth? Will I be leaving? Will the cheeto-in-charge die of covid? These are all great questions.

Questions that Bina had, too. I tried to tell her that nothing was changing, but she got into a panic. Couldn’t sleep. Cried for a couple of days straight. The more I tried to talk to her, the worse it got. She asked why Paul and Catie weren’t enough. Asked why our family wasn’t enough. Accused me of cheating (because the agreement was “physical only; no emotions.”)

T saw her sister extremely upset and asked about it. I simplified it, but told her. (Which she later told her therapist. The conversation I heard from T’s side: “She’s having sex with him… Because she told me… She said Dad is okay with it… Because she told me…” At this point, I walked away. Just what I needed; someone else thinking I’m cheating on my husband.)

I tried to tell Bina that I didn’t see a need to limit the people I love. (FYI–This is the wrong answer! Wrong answer! Do not say this!!) I tried to tell her that there was certain information that she wasn’t privy to. (I mean, what the hell, I don’t want to share my sex life with my daughter. Nor should I! These are conversations for my partners.) I tried to get her to remember how worried she was when Catie first came into our lives. (She cried then, too.) Years later, we’re still doing okay. (I stayed away from telling her to mind her own business, even though that’s what I wanted to yell. After all, she was defending her dad and Catie, and I’m forever proud that she sticks up for the “innocent.”)

Eventually, I asked her to have a “family therapy session,” just the two of us. She agreed. It was difficult. Painful. But healthy. And we’re both better for it. (A big kudos to my therapist–who rocks, big time.)

But Bina’s questions (accusations) triggered a lot of thinking, and I got lost in my own head.

Are Paul and Catie enough? No… they’re not. You see, we like different things. Let’s break it down simple-stupid. They like the fans on. I don’t. They like coffee and mustard. I don’t. They like to get-shit-done! I’d rather chill with the stories in my head. Does that mean I love them any less? I don’t think so. It’s just different. Is that bad? Again, I don’t think so.

But let’s take it further. Let’s imagine that I’ve found someone who enjoys the same things I do. (I joke enough that I’m getting into an RV and driving across the country. Without them. It’s only half a joke. Because this is something I really want to do. I really want to go places, see things. They don’t. Catie has less-than-zero interest in any RV. And Paul is grounded. He enjoys staying home, being productive, providing for his family.)

So, let’s imagine that this “friend” (or anyone else, for that matter) enjoys things that are more inline with what I like. Because I’m married, (“spoken for,” twice,) I can’t love him? Does my heart shut down because it’s full? Am I forever bound to this house, this family, these people, this life–and only this?

I’m not gonna lie. I’m feeling a little trapped.

It’s the expectation of limitation that I have a problem with. I’m expected to love my husband, and only my husband. Why? Because society said so?

I don’t know… It’s definitely unconventional, but I believe there’d be a lot more happy marriages/relationships if people opened up to the truth that the heart isn’t so limited.

We put restrictions on ourselves because of our own fear of being unloved, unworthy, discarded. This fear of being alone is what drives us to be attached and take possession of another human, claiming them as ours, (my husband/my wife/my spouse–mine!) instead of looking at this person as a partner in life.

Hi there; Catie here! This is a heavy post and one I have a ton of unexpected feelings about. Mostly because I’m finding out about most of this for the first time right now. Wanna talk about feeling out of the loop? Me either.

First, I’m sorry that Bina freaked out when I came around. I’m a little surprised she did though, I wasn’t Paul and Lena’s first live in girlfriend during her lifetime and I had been a pretty constant (if not live in) presence for quite a while before moving in. It’s not like I popped out of the woodwork one day and moved my shit in. I hope the scary change was worth it for her in the long run.

Lena here: It was. Still is.

Second, Bina is nosey, opinionated and self important plus she has trouble accepting change. She has a ton of amazing characteristics but I find they often get buried under these incredibly frustrating ones. Can you tell I’m a little angry, annoyed and frustrated that Bina feels entitled to an opinion about our relationship status and sex lives? That she would push her mother to the point of needing a therapy session over it makes me slightly bonkers. NO ONE (except me) should drive my girlfriend that crazy.

Aw… that’s so sweet. I think…

As far as I’m concerned, Lena doesn’t owe Bina any explanations about anything, but least of all, her sex life. In fact, I don’t think anyone on the planet owes anyone outside of their personal life an explanation about their personal lives, ever. Yet Bina will hound people to the point of, well, needing therapy if she doesn’t get one that satisfies her. I’ve been under the Bina Inquisition, it’s not pleasant and it will make you want to throat-punch her or at the very least kick her off your phone plan so the texts stop. (Once upon a time I didn’t have violent tendencies, those truly were the good times.)

That Lena had to say anything more than, “I’m seeing someone,” to anyone on the planet, other than Paul, absolutely infuriates me and makes me hope that a big part of the their therapy session involved setting boundaries. There are just some things “children” don’t get to know about their parents. I’m very close to my son, I adore and love him, with every fiber of my being, but I would never, ever, feel like I needed to explain my relationship choices to him. When I started feeling like I could be with Paul and Lena seriously, (read in love with them,) Ri was around 13. I made sure he liked Paul and Lena enough for me to continue down that path, knowing he would be exposed to them, a lot, if that’s the way things went, but that was the extent of it. If I started seeing someone else now that he’s an adult, he would most likely never even know about it. There is a boundary there, just like there is around the intimate details of my life with Lena and Paul. Ri knows and trusts that I’m happy, safe, loved and in love. It’s what I wish for him too, and that’s enough information for both of us.

I appreciate Bina’s concern for Paul and I, but like a stranger’s “thoughts and prayers,” I’d rather not have it. She should know (or not, because honestly, it’s NONE OF HER BUSINESS) that her parents and I don’t keep relationship secrets, and that Paul and I are completely capable of expressing any concerns we may have to Lena directly, in a caring, honest way, so we could work it out – GASP– on our own.

Like the adults we are!

I know this might surprise her, but we’ve been doing the whole adult thing for a while now, and have a pretty good handle on it. For some perspective, by the time I was Bina’s age, I had a 3 year old son, a full time job, bills and a rocky relationship of my own to worry about, so I didn’t put any thought into my parents’ sex lives, as odd as that may seem to her.

And I do believe we’ve come to the conclusion of our passion filled post. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading the mess of the week, and know that we’re still a-okay.

Yup. We’re just fine…

Stay safe out there!

Lena

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