I was today years old
When I learned she
Doesn’t like curry
Twelve years together
Cohabitating for eleven
And I’m just learning this
But it’s more than curry
Feels like twelve years
This isn't really a poem, it just came out that way late last night when I first started this. This also isn't really meant to be read, but my brain is so full I need an outlet. This is one of the few safe places for that I have.
Life is complicated right now. I know it is for everyone, but if you start to compare and contrast your experiences with others around you, you don't do yourself OR those around you a service. Your experience is valid. So is mine. So yeah, my life is complicated right now.
My mother moved in with us back in June to get help/support with her mental and physical health. Mostly, this has been good, but really stressful. It also makes finding time to myself damn near impossible. It feels like she is frequently lurking. She doesn't mean to, but she has no life outside the games she plays on her phone. It's also been eye-opening seeing how terribly she eats, particularly when it comes to sugar. A literal 1/3 cup of sugar in her coffee - each (large) mug she drinks; plus what seems like a quarter cup of heavy cream. On one hand, that's pretty much her breakfast. On the other hand, she doesn't DO anything. She also smokes too much - despite having asthma and some scary run-ins with bronchitis in the past that lead to hospitalization. She very much is struggling with depression and anxiety, exacerbated by the rapidly failing health of her parents, as well as grappling with the realization she's in an abusive marriage. It's a challenge.
Then there is the aforementioned declining health of my grandparents. I recognize and cherish that I'm over forty and still have grandparents. All my great-grandparents and grandparents were alive when I was born, and I remember spending time with all of them. At one brief point we had five generations alive, after my brother had his first child. I had one remaining great-grandparent still alive at the time. Somewhere there is a picture.
That being said, I have a strong and close relationship with my grandparents (well, my Mom's parents). They have been supportive, wonderful people through all my life changes - despite them being ultra-christian/conservative and me being pretty much the polar opposite. I remember many times them telling me how proud they were of me - the queer heretic. They have always been super active, RVing across the country for decades after my Poppop retired, then a few years ago my grandma got super sick and they had to lessen their travel. THEN my poppop's hip stopped working right. They sold their RV and their truck. At least they still have the occasional getaways using Airbnb. Recently Grandma has been going downhill fast. It's so hard to watch. She can't keep food in her, and her hands just won't work right. Poppop has to help her dress, eat, and so one; yet her mind is still super agile, alert, and sharp. I am grateful that we've been playing an online scrabble game together for the last few months - even if I don't get to see them as often as I would like, she still gets to kick my ass regularly.
It is so hard to watch. So hard. And then watch my mom come to terms with their mortality. One plus is that Mom has been more present with her parents. She chats with them regularly, always on video, and has had some really important and difficult heart-to-hearts that have been a very good thing. I'm tying to brace myself for the inevitable and being totally wrecked.
Then there is the home life. Too much to unpack, way too much to unpack.
Mostly things have been better than they have been in a really long time. My spouse and I had an intense talk a few weeks ago, put into action a simple but effective plan to help our relationship, and it seems to be working.
I still wait for the other shoe to drop. I am trying to trust, trying to believe things really are getting better... and then moments like yesterday happen. Such a dumb, innocuous thing - with a huge impact. Short version, we are ENM. More myself than my spouse. A life-changing self discovery in 2019, well into our marriage - a marriage that was a hot mess, not healthy, and actually abusive. It has been a long, hard journey to navigate, but we've done pretty good, all things considered. There have been boundary changes along the way, changes in many directions, frustrating as hell, but it's helped lessen the hell I get when I come home from a weekend away. The theory is my spouse and I need to be in a better space before she could deal with certain lines being crossed - lines already crossed.
However - this has raised a real struggle within me regarding bodily autonomy. Something that reaches deeper than I have any conscious control over. Sure, I agreed to the terms above - but I also felt like I didn't really have a choice. Everything is so hard right now, and it feels like it's that or our marriage ends (or may as well end) two people living in misery is not living. She is also too stubborn to leave me. I find myself having a difficult time, again, with intimacy. Sure, I can perform - but I don't want to be touched by her. It makes me angry. It take a lot of energy to fight this. And I don't know what to do about it, without rocking the boat and spending spoons I am already running on a deficit from.
THEN there are the trust issues. I am held to an exceedingly high standard. Even the smallest infraction may as well be the end of the world - yet I do NOTHING to elicit such scrutiny. Though it has gotten better, there is often the suspicion of violated boundaries. These are projections of her insecurities and I am fully aware of this. But it hurts - especially because great pains are taken to NOT violate the boundaries. Sure, lines are toed, but nothing is crossed. When met with unspoken questions that are not quite accusations, I find myself wondering why I bother. If I'm presumed guilty, I may as well be - and enjoy myself in the process.
Except my goddamn ethics.
It is even more maddening when SHE has violated the boundaries on more than one occasion. IT has been said if the boundaries are violated the whole thing is off. Except that doesn't work. She doesn't want to be ENM - but doesn't want to leave me more. So my only recourse is calling the marriage off, or allowing for mistakes with grace. Fully aware it's bullshit. Fortunately, it has been a long while since she's violated the boundaries - but at the same time, she's also gotten what she wants to make this arrangement tolerable. It's not supposed to be forever, these boundaries, but I worry that she will get too comfortable in them and pretend things are different from the reality. It amazes me how that stills happens. It all makes it really hard to be fully present and to find a safe place at home. Sometimes, I don't know why I stay.
My saving grace at the moment is being intensely possessive of MY time. Taking hikes when I need to, my weekends I'm "allowed" to spend with my partner, my Wednesdays I don't work from home and have after work activities keeping me out late.
And my partner. I hesitate to write that - but its true. Simply by being consistent, steady, supportive, honest, and clear on boundaries - it huge. Not to mention eternally patient and kind. I am so damn lucky to being navigating this world with someone who GETS it, and all the messy complications. Who never falls back on "Just leave her", or bad-mouthing my spouse, or any of the usual, easy reactions to messy situations. They don't rescue me or allow me to rescue, but we consistently hold supportive space for each other when we need it. We can rely on each other to be there. And we can simply just BE. No pressure to be anything other than exactly who you are in the moment - and even when it's frustrating as all (not) fuck, it's still ok.
So what's up with the curry then? Last night Mom made curry for dinner. I love curry, I love making curry, and have made it many times in the past. Last night I learned my spouse doesn't like home made curry, and never has. This hit me way harder than something a banal as curry should have. But it cut to the core - not so much about curry, but triggered all the trust issues. Twelve years together, eleven actually living together, and now is the time you choose to share this? All the times you've told me dinner was good/tasty/excellent - was a lie? Somehow this is deeper than curry.
If I can't trust you with my curry, can I trust you with me?