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.
It’s been quite a sprint for me. After two big poly meetups in three days, meeting about fifty new people and mingling as much as I could, I’m pretty exhausted right now. Poly people themselves aren’t exhausting, but such a high volume in such a short amount of time has left me feeling overstimulated.
Poly Cocktails on Monday night was amazing. There were so many of us in the bar that the air conditioner couldn’t handle it. There were so many new faces there that it became a little hard to keep track. And not just Chicagoans either: folks came in from Wisconsin and Michigan. And then last night there was another group of people I hadn’t met before, sitting and talking. The conversation got downright philosophical at certain points, and I love that part where we end up talking about what is truly important for ourselves.
I consider myself pretty outgoing. I don’t know that I’m a true extrovert, but I definitely gain something from the interactions that I have with others. That said, I’m looking forward to spending tonight at home by myself, pretty much doing nothing. I should probably try to get an appointment at the tanks sometime soon.
To everyone who came to one of the meetups this week: Thank you so much for coming out! I know we’re a bunch of weirdos, but you are too! It means so much to see folks at events, and build this community.
My wife has been sick for the last week. She was running a high fever for a few days, and had a hard time eating. I did what I could to help take care of her, but she was still pretty miserable. I went to the doctor with her, ran and get her prescriptions, got her as many slurpees as she wanted, and made sure that she was as comfortable as I could make her. Today is still a little touchy, but she is on the mend now.
All of this meant a lot of canceling dates and shuffling things around. I had to cancel my overnights away from home, and the time that I did have was a quick run out here and there. But it was super important to me to be able to support my wife while she was sick, even if it meant doing a lot of crochet and wishing I could see my other partners too.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. This time last year, my girlfriend fell and broke her arm. I canceled the date that I had that night, and ran over to the ER to be with her. I even dealt with the nurse who was confused by my wedding ring and thought we were married. My girlfriend needed surgery, and was in a cast for six weeks afterward. During that time I was over at her apartment constantly, taking care of things around her house, and making sure she was okay. My wife pushed me out the door to help her, and that was a great support that I needed then. Jamie helped too, taking her to the appointment to have the cast cut off. I’m sure that she would have survived without us, but I know that we were incredibly helpful to her when she needed help.
I love that all of my partners know that I would be there for them when they were ill, or needed me in a really intense way. And I know that they would support me when I’m sick, or when I’m off helping another one of them out too. It’s a giant network of love and support, and it is wonderful.