In my life, the thing I am absolutely the worst at is time. I’m pretty absent-minded, and I have a hard time remembering what I said I would do, let along when I said I would do it. Both at work and home, this is probably the area that I trip up on the most. This is why I need to remind myself to update the calendar when there is something to go on there, even if it isn’t a date. Making sure that I’m keeping track of myself and how I plan out my time is definitely something that I work on regularly, and something that I dearly want to improve.
Scheduling is all the more important in a poly context. As the old trope goes: love may be infinite, but time isn’t. I think the part of poly where I have struggled the most is around scheduling. And it falls in three specific areas:
- Overpromising: I want to see the people who I’m seeing. That probably isn’t news. But I want to see them so much that I chunk out as much time as I can afford with people. This sometimes means that I’m giving more time than I actually have, or someone is getting the short stick.
- Transitioning: Sure, I can totally make it across town in ten minutes on the bus with a transfer. Or I’m just running a little late, is that okay for, like, ever pretty much? I’m bad at taking that into account, and sometimes I ask folks to bump back times that we had set before. Or worse, I’m not sure how I’ll make it to see someone, so I’ll leave them hanging while I try to figure it out, so then I’m just leaving this poor person to set their plans on hold because I messed up.
- Not making time for myself: I am notorious for burning my free time so that I can see someone. I don’t have anything planned, so I can totally make plans! Except this cuts my ability to really take care of myself, or rest, or sleep, or anything of that nature. I don’t go to the tanks, and then I’m all grumpy. Or there’s this thing that I really want to sit down and write, but I never take that time for myself, and then I feel all stifled.
As a result of all of this, I end up hurting people. At best, I’m miffed at myself for not taking care of things. At worse, I am hurting my partners for wanting something as simple as consistency. It points right at being an unfair partner.
But, of course, there are things I can do to mitigate all of this. As with all things poly, communication is key. I need to understand and express my needs to my partners, and be able to hear and understand what they need. And then we talk it all out and figure out what works for us, and put it in the calendar, and address those things that are irking us. Which sounds simple in my head as I write that out. This doesn’t make those conversations easy or smooth by any means. But this is the foundation behind it all.
I also find it really important to remember that everyone is really busy and trying to make it all work. I try to understand others needs to adjust schedules, or accommodate if their plans aren’t yet set in stone. This is especially true when it comes to scheduling with my wife, because living together throws an extra set of complications in the mix.
We all want to see each other, and get to spend time together. We’re all on the same team. As long as we can communicate about it, the answers come together eventually.
I don’t feel insecure that often in my relationships. I think it’s a testament to being able to communicate with my partners, and know that I can have that dialogue with them if I need to. Sometimes insecure feelings rumble in the background of my emotions, but I’m usually able to hunt it down and address whatever the problem is in a reasonable order.
But every once in a while it reaches a critical mass, and it is totally overwhelming. It can feel like the supports that hold me up are crumbling beneath me. It’s terrifying and strange, and I don’t handle it that well.
Of course, it is usually a symptom that I haven’t been honest about my feelings, or that I have hidden instead of addressing smaller problems that I’ve encountered. But in the moment, the overwhelming panic and worry and hurt inundates me. It clouds my ability to process through those feelings, exacerbating what would otherwise be a bit of work and communication and reflection. It keeps me from hearing what my partners are saying, and instead I’m laying my own feelings on top of their words.
It is so easy in retrospect to pick apart what was actually going on. Once the clouds clear, the answers pop right up. And it’s easy to feel dumb at that point too. There are so many ways to be unfair to ourselves. I instead try to learn from my mistakes, and prepare myself for the next time those feelings wash over me.
But there is a valuable lesson in all of those moments. Because I have been in the midst of those feelings myself, I know what it is like when my partners are in their own insecure places. I know that, while I may not be able to do anything to help process those feelings, the one thing that I can always do is be empathetic and supportive. It is so hard to struggle with those feelings, and just being able to be present and witness their feelings them and talk and cuddle and hold my partners in that moment is all the more important because of my own insecurities.
I think it’s wonderful that we can learn from our own insecure moments, and then use that knowledge to help each other. We can be so deep in those feelings, but we can still have each other.
This is the eighth in a series of entries about the little parts of polyamory, from individual perspectives.
I consider myself an emotionally open person. I’m pretty up front about how I am feeling, sometimes to the point that I worry that I’m over-sharing. When I first got together with my girlfriend, she said one of the things that attracted me to her was that I was genuine with my feelings, and she always knew where I was coming from. It was one of the loveliest things anyone has ever said to me.
I think I also do a good job of staying open in tough emotional moments. I mean, I definitely have my triggered moments when I shut down and have trouble emoting. But those are thankfully few and far between, and I tend to know pretty quickly that I was reacting to something instead of being true to myself and others.
I am proud of this part of myself. I am happy that I feel like I can talk about feelings with others. I know that there are plenty of folks that struggle with that. I’m lucky that I have a bunch of people in my life that I feel comfortable sharing my emotions with.
But sometimes when I’m dealing with something difficult, I’ll hide away just a bit. I’ll not bring feelings up if I think like the other person might be over-loaded. I’ll gloss over feelings that I’m processing through, or not draw attention to an issue that I’m dealing with. I do this in a subconscious way, so I don’t even see the sign that I’m closed off until someone points it out to me.
I’d prefer that last part not happen. I’d like to be aware of myself enough to know I’m being a bit closed off. I am so happy that the people I am with are so aware of my emotional states that they know when I’m doing it, and feel comfortable enough to tell me when this is happening. But I need to see those signs myself. Because those moments when I don’t talk are exactly the moments when I need to be talking the most. Those are the moments when I need that support.
And it’s my responsibility to be on top of taking care of myself, ever if that comes in the form of asking others for support.