It’s amazing how people and habits shift as time goes on. You think yourself the passive observer, and then you discover that you’ve become something that you never thought you could be.
When I was being mentored, I was bothered by how Cal compartmentalized his partners, both past and present. We were all placed in boxes with different labels, and he would divy up his attention between all of us depending on how much value we had to him, and what priorty we had in his world. As someone new to poly, it bothered me horribly. He was never fully present when we were together, and compersion was a very new, unknown phoenomenon to me at that time. I felt neglected, but malliable. I morphed into what he needed me to be.
It wouldn’t be the last time I morphed; accomodated to suit the needs of partners. Ryan calls it resiliency. I suppose I am resilient. I survive. I go on.
I did it with Kane, attempting to adopt the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mindset to function through the relationship and not feel like his dirty little secret. I’ve done it with Chris, sensoring what I share with him and put on him so that I’m not too much of an emotional burden when I know he’s going through his own emotional work. And Godde knows I’ve done it with James; walking on eggshells and morphing to his emotional means and depth, limiting myself to keep him comfortable. And my sweet boy, my Ace.. he has so many brain squirrels of his own, a world away. He.. did not react well to some of mine. Certain things just don’t need to be talked about between he and I, especially with so many other things on his plate for the time being. I’m in his life and I’m not all at the same time. Grey… pops up too sporaddically to really share things with. No one, romantically, has seen all my bits and pieces. Ever. Even when I was monogamous. Hell, even before I was dating, I morphed and adapted to be the shadow that followed my pretty best friend around through high school and middle school.
And that scary, scary thing that I’ve never done is the main thing that Ryan is asking me for. Uncensored, unboxed, unmorphed, me.
I’m. Not sure I know who that is.
I realized while Ryan and I were talking the other night just how much my poly practices began to resemble that of my former mentor. Instead of putting my partners in boxes, I put myself in them. I cut off certain aspects of myself that I deemed “too much’ for them to take, sometimes without asking, because I became use to partners like Kane and James. Loving, good men, but with so many stressors of their own they couldn’t handle mine. Kane saw one of my anxiety attacks at one point and absolute froze; he had no idea what to do. How to fix it. I remember the lost panic in his eyes… and knew I would never let him see one again.
There’s always been fear as to how easily Ryan has gotten under my skin.. Bit after bit, he’s hacked at my armor, dug out the holes of my past, and tried to heal what he could. He is.. a Daddy.. A caring balm unafraid to push and correct me when necessary. And he’s wormed his way deeper than I ever thought I would let him. There was a DO NOT PASS GO line when his primary partner was in the picture, but they parted ways a month ago and since then… That line has been erased. With that invisible barrier no longer in place, suddenly a lot more of me is aired into the light. I find myself showing him more, and more, and more…pieces of myself that no one has seen in years, if ever. And he still wants more. He hasn’t shrunk away from the danaged parts of myself. He tries to push me through them. I am grateful..and also overwhelmed. Terrified. Spent. Last time someone tried any sort of process like this… Well.. James had a tougher lover approach, but…
Yeah. You get it.
The last talk between Ryan and I got..intense, raw. I found myself much too bare underneath his gaze; he sees too much. I could be wearing a fucking parka and he would still see too much. He knows my manerisms too well at this point, and could see when I slipped back into old defensive habits. I couldn’t meet his gaze. I fidgited. I refused to touch him. I tried to put my walls back up while he asked me, over and over, what was wrong. The more I shared, the more he seemed to ask the impossible of me. The more got shook loose. The louder my head got and the harder it became to actually answer him. The more intensely he stared.
“I will nto let you think of yourself as a burden. I. WILL NOT.” But… that’s all I’ve ever been in my mind. A weight carried until dropped. Shaking an idea that’s been with me for twenty six years is… Is it even possible?
For the longest time, my nickname has been Shadow. My friend back in NJ, Dragon, gave it to me a world ago.. I think we were twelve or thirteen at the time? For half my life, I’ve been the little shadow. The reprieve for others but never for myself. The safe space without safe spaces that simply fades into the background when no longer useful. It’s a solitary existence, but it’s suited me relatively well until now.
Now, my Daddy is asking me to shine. And.. I don’t know how. I know in some ways.. I shine at parties, and at BaGG. I put on a persona and can perform like nobodies business. I kick ass in a world that so many fear entering.
But in the normal world? How do I shine in the normal world?
I have always been overlooked. I don’t mean that in a self-depricating way, just as a fact. I’ve always been the supporting cast rather than the star. The backup that keeps the others going, the supportive best friend to the pretty, sexy girls who dress girly and sexy while I tend to be plain. Even now, I’m sitting around in one of my dad’s old button ups, hacked up jean shorts that are two sizes too big, and an ill-fitting but comfy tee shirt from Surrender years ago. How do I shine, when I’ve trained myself so well to hide?
I.. I need help. And I’m so scared to ask for it.
If I let him in more.. if I show him all of me… then what? Ryan asks me often, what is it that I’m not telling him. What is it that I’m afraid to share.
Everything, love. Everything. You are the first, the only, to ask me to share so much… and I’m not sure I know how. I’m not sure I have words for the fear and panic in my belly at you seeing too much..at me loving you too much. At me letting myself fully fall.
If I hold myself in check, if I block parts of me off, he can’t reach primary-level closeness in my mind. He’s not one that practices hierachy, and for the most part I’ve stopped as well.. But. He was never supposed to get this close, never supposed to see so much.
Physical pain is so much easier for me to process than emotional pain. It acts almost as a relief, especially on days when I am feeling more masochistic. When Ryan and I were talking I got defensive and laid the bratty sarcasm on hard, hoping that would stop him from trying to dig deeper. He treatened to beat my ass with a broom handle and I almost jumped for joy at the chance. Yes, beat me. Make this horrible feeling and buzzing in my head stop. In odd ways.. it was a reality check.. The more in pain I am emotionally, the more I crave the outlet physically. The physical pain silences the emotional and buries it back down deep, and I can continue functioning.
He didn’t beat me. He continued talking.. and my loud brain spiral has continued.
There’s a familiar panic in my soul. It started when I sat with my parents, waiting for an event last week, and the subject of Ryan came up. My parents are trying their best to understand poly, and kink, and to their credit they haven’t run screaming yet. They have a rhudamentary knowledge of my world, and work with what they can of it.
“So,” my dad asks, a grin on his face, “is Ryan your primary?” The only question he could think to ask to try and explain the closeness between my partner and I.. To explain to himself why I light up when he walks into a room, or my body relaxes just a tad more. Why my dad saw me more and more with stupid, shit-eating grins on my face every time Ryan was mentioned. And the term triggered so much in my screwed up little head.
Brain squirrels. Horrid, rabbid brain squirrels. They haven’t ceased knawing on me since then. Because what if the answer is yes. What if it’s no. What does that all mean. Can I even do that?
…is it safe to love him that deeply?
If I show Ryan all of me…do I get the same level of transparency in return?
Do I take the risk? Or do I do what I’ve always done?
Do I run like hell?
I could run.
No I couln’t.
There is a part of me that loathes myself right now. I felt the changes in my yesterday; the armor that I had let fall away steadfastly being put back into place. We were outside Ryan’s work. He was talking to me.. and I only half heard him. He kept trying to meet my eyes (something I’m bad with in general with people.. I can only really do it comfortably with James and Ryan) and I kept looking at my heads.. I kept walking defensively, with hands in pockets, and hesitated to return touches from him and reach out to him when he reached for me. I could feel myself closing in. Backpetaling. Going “Nonono! You got too close! You’ve seen too much! You’re done now!”
… I don’t.. I don’t want to. I REALLY don’t want to… But something got shook loose the other night. My head is so loud… and I am terrified. And I don’t know how to tell him how I need him. How the fuck do I do this?
Yours, torn to metaphoric pieces,