This goes pretty well with Entry 38.

Emotions: Threat or Menace? Dozens of posts on this blog so far, and we haven't talked directly about what I see as the most pervasively damaging issue affecting men in our culture. It's the one at the root of many of the other problems we suffer, and is perhaps the most intransigent and resistant to change. So yeah. Let's talk about the fact that men aren't allowed to have a full emotional range. Yes, okay, "allowed" may be putting it strongly, but I think we here are all … Read More

via No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

39 (no title)

July 26, 2011

Had a bit of a meltdown.

Not sure it’s over.

Figuring things out.

Naturally, more to come later.

38 (emotion)

July 21, 2011

I think a lot about how i feel about things.

There are a lot of times when i’ll feel a particular emotion and i’ll get all wrapped up in it, but then i calm down and start to think about why i felt that way.

When it’s a positive emotion i don’t really question it.

When it’s a negative emotion a lot of times i’ll scold myself for feeling it in the first place: i’ll tell myself that it’s childish or stupid to have felt such a thing. This has never worked out well, because then i get angry at myself for being so childish and stupid, i feel more negative emotions around that, and it’s just a big downward spiral.

Though it seems like it’s late to start doing so, i’m trying to just go ahead and FEEL things. Something i read recently:

With our physical muscles, we never get strong if we never pick up or hold any weight. The same is true emotionally—if we never let ourselves experience emotion we become increasingly weaker in our ability to handle emotion.

Just in searching my own feelings, i know this to be true (kooohh-haaahh). Growing up male, playing sports, and being subject to coaches, relatives and, well, life in general who all told me to “man up” and not cry or otherwise express when i was feeling a particular emotion, i became unable to handle my emotions when they did become intense. I can think of many times when i’d just lose it and break something or punch a hole in something or otherwise damage property because my emotions became too much to bear. Then i’d be told that such action was unacceptable and just be more angry that i couldn’t control myself. Again, downward spiral. So it’s only natural that i have similar reactions and thought patterns when dealing with emotions at this point in my life.

I remember when our first pregnancy ended. We were all very upset and sad, and dealt with it in our own ways. I also remember when my daughter was born. We were ecstatic, and joyful, and expressed it in our own ways. There was a situation with the hospital, where she was transferred to pediatrics, and i wasn’t allowed to stay overnight with my wife and child. This was incredibly trying for all three of us, and the following day when i got to hold my daughter again, i openly cried. I happened to be on the phone with my mother at the time, and she warned me not to get to emotional, because i’d lose my effectiveness as a father if i let my emotions take control. I talked to her about this later and i think this was the first time i said the right thing in standing up to her, saying that it’s only natural that a father would become overwhelmed with love and emotion for his own child, and that crying is a sign of that and not to do so would be, frankly, cold. It’s not as though i’m dealing with a newly crafted pillow after all, it’s a BABY! It’s MY baby!

Thinking about it all, i can only think that the reason she was so afraid of me becoming “too emotional” is because she knows how i handled emotion when i was younger. Of course the way i handled emotion when i was younger was to not show it and as a consequence, eventually not feel it, especially when it came to negative emotion. As a natural consequence, i was not accustomed to letting my emotions go, and allowing myself to just feel them, so when a particularly strong emotion came on, i couldn’t handle it, and shit would get broken.

So now what? I still punch things when i get angry. Sometimes it’s fine (like when it’s a couch cushion), but a lot of times it’s unhealthy and i know it is. I still fly off the handle when my emotions become too great. I can only wonder if this is because i wasn’t shown how to REALLY handle them in my youth, and the only thing i can think to do to change this is to try and deal with the full weight of them now. The up side is that doing so cognitively will help me to be able to process emotion healthily. The downside is that the emotions i’m dealing with at this point in my life stem from some very complicated situations, and it’s that much more difficult to be mindful of the fact that my emotions themselves aren’t the problem/issue. Once i get my head around that, though, it will be easier to deal with the situations appropriately.

In the meantime, i need to not get down on myself for simply FEELING.

37 (wants and needs)

July 17, 2011

Been thinking about what i want and need in my relationships. Since they’re poly relationships (and since i’m a poly n00b since my wife and i haven’t really been active until this year), they are naturally more complicated.

One thing that i have not done is define parameters for my relationships. In some cases this may mean giving them a name (boyfriend, girlfriend, dating, FWB, fuck-buddies, etc). In all cases, named or not, this means outlining the boundaries of my relationships and negotiating the terms of them. This is of course subjective to each relationship, but there are a few things that i need in all of them, including with my wife.

The first thing that i need is to be at least acquainted with metamours. If i can meet them and get to know them, even if i don’t necessarily like them and want to hang out, it alleviates feelings of jealousy on my part and that alone allows me to relax from very early on. Keeps me from getting all tight-chested and upset when i hear about them later on in conversation/online updates. Even better if i actually become friends with them, and have a friendly relationship aside from my paramour. If a metamour also becomes a type of paramour, that’s a whole different ball of wax. Hasn’t happened, but i suppose i’ll cross that bridge when i come to it. Anyway i need communication (whether actual or digital) with metamours. I’d also like to spend time with paramours and metamours at the same time.

In the relationship itself, like i said two entries ago, scheduling’s a big deal. It would be anyway, but since poly relationships deal with more than just the typical two people, it’s important. I need to make plans and i need them to be stuck to. Naturally, life gets in the way and things happen, so when these things happen i need communication. Like i said in #35, it should be common courtesy, but much like common sense, it isn’t. Also, like in #35, i need consistency. Regular hangouts/dates/together time is important. At the very least i need to know that another hangout/date/etc is forthcoming, even if plans are tentative.

I also need to know the rules, between me and my paramour, and metamours/primaries. Are the rules hard and fast or are they more like the pirate code and are merely guidelines? Either way I still need to know them. For example, am i allowed to sleep in bed or only on the couch? For that matter are sleepovers a no go? What is the level of physical intimacy that is allowed? Is there a BDSM component and to what extent? Is PDA ok? Also, though such things are nebulous, what level of emotion is involved? What makes things uncomfortable? What are roadblocks and red flags? What are absolute deal-breakers? If sex is involved, what kinds of protection are preferable? Etc, etc, etc. Naturally things change as relationships develop, so these can be talked about often and at length, though ideally they should be brought up early on just to establish a baseline.

As for wants, well there are plenty. I always want hugs and cuddles and kisses out of relationships, as well as just good times in general. But the only way to keep the good times going is to make sure that the needs are met first, and that there is a reasonable foundation.

36 (Sex is not Love)

July 16, 2011

I’ve been very lonely lately and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things I need in my life to remove that loneliness.

In need more friends, first of all, and not just online (not to take away from my online friends, but i can’t just go hang with them). That’s slowly improving. I’m meeting people thru my few current friends, and they’ve all turned out to be really cool so far. With said friends comes conversation, laughs, nerdyness and an overall feeling of camaraderie. So that’s moving along slowly, but surely.

On a similar tack but slightly to the left of it, I need poly/kinky friends. I’ve been meeting them as well, and that’s been fun too. There’s a fair amount of crossover here, as they also tend to be quite nerdy. So yay! Two birds. Also, they have a tendency to be more open and understanding about my changing tastes/moods/desires regarding my gender presentation. So, woohoo, triple threat blue birds! (if you get THAT reference, you and I SHOULD be friends, if we’re not already).

On a completely different level, and running much deeper than the aforementioned, I need to feel loved. The previous two situations let me know that I am liked and accepted, and that’s great, and definitely necessary. But I also need to feel loved and this requires a kind of intimacy rarely found in the previous two circles (though more in the second than the first).

To feel loved, I need people in my life who, first of all, like me and accept everything about me. Again, more likely in the second circle. The second thing I need is physical intimacy. Here’s where things get tricky.

Physical intimacy means many different things to many different people, but the first thing that comes to mind for most people is, of course, sex, and under that umbrella most typically, sexual intercourse of some kind. I’m going to stick with that very narrow definition for a moment, to say this:

As much as I like and enjoy sex and the release of orgasm, it is not a need, per se.

The reason for this is that sex in and of itself does not make me feel loved. It is merely an extension. The physical intimacy that I require to feel loved is far less risky, but far more complicated, and for some reason, also far less available.

For me, one aspect of physical intimacy is kissing (from a peck on the cheek all the way to makeout-type kissing). For some people this is INFINITELY more intimate than sex. For me it isn’t more intimate, but it is far more integral. Kissing is something relatively simple that can be done as a greeting, as a farewell, it can be done in joy or in sorrow, as a comfort, as a sexual wind-up or as a wind-down. And so on, and so on, and so on. There are so many variations on the types of kisses, just in the realm of face-to-face, mouth to mouth contact, that it should be it’s own physical discipline, IMHO. Anyway, for me this is at the very top of the list. When I am kissed, I feel loved.

A very close second, almost to the point of being a tie for first is touching. This is so varied that i don’t know if I have the ability to articulate everything about it, but I’ll discuss one particular aspect, and that is skin-to-skin contact. For one, this in particular necessitates a higher level of comfort among the individuals present (YMMV), because nudity of some type is likely involved, and plus some people just don’t like to be touched. For me, the more touching the better, and the more varied it is, the better. And of course, given the fact that i’d never wear anything if I didn’t have to, the more skin the better.

For me, it reaches something deep inside me to be touched, even idly. It’s also very important when in a “romantic” or sexual context, to be touched in “non-erogenous” areas (quotes used because both are subjective). One area that is so neglected that my nerves are practically on fire is my back. I like to feel ANYTHING on my back, and I have yet to find, save for bodily waste, anything that I wouldn’t want someone to touch my back with. You could rub, scratch, scrape, tickle, massage, caress, hit or otherwise touch my back with literally anything and I will enjoy it, even if I cringe at first. I mean this head to toe, btw. From where my would-be hairline ends, all the way to my heels. My back is just so neglected. If someone really spends some quality time with my back, I will feel loved.

Also in the realm of touching is hugging and cuddling. I love to be held and be idly touched. It feels safe, and secure, and it relaxes me immensely. This can be done with or without clothes (as stated, without is ALWAYS better), but either way, when I’m cuddled, I feel loved.

These are just three physical things that make feel loved, and whole. These can be taken with or without sex. Naturally they are a physical turn on, and an orgasmic (and in my case, ejaculatory) release will become physically necessary after a prolonged period, but I don’t need that via the hand (or whatever) of the other person to feel loved, nor do I consider that to be their responsibility. Of course, orgasm is awesome, and sex (whether manual or penetrative) is fabulous, and there is a kind of connection there that is on a whole different level, but it’s not what makes me feel loved. It’s these other types of physical intimacy that do that for me. As i said before, sex is an extension.

Without them, or when they are in short supply, I begin to feel lonely and disconnected. When I go without for a prolonged period of time, that disconnection… Well, suffice to say that it’s very unpleasant. It’s like an aggravated wound. Reintroducing them is what heals me, and sustains me in that way.

I don’t NEED sex. I WANT sex, sure, but for the most part, for that kind of release I can just masturbate.

I NEED physical intimacy.

In a previous entry there’s a bit where i talk about communication in my dating life. It is incredibly important that anyone i’m trying to date, or even just hang out with for any reason, return phone calls, text messages and emails (or any form of correspondence) for these reasons:

It should be common courtesy.

It lets me know that you care at least enough to respond to me, even if it’s to say “don’t contact me anymore.”

It helps me to discern a pattern of behavior. If I know, for instance, that you are a busy person, I’ll know not to expect a returned text message or whatever right away. If you typically DO respond quickly, when that pattern is broken, I can safely assume there’s an issue of some type. Also, when the connection is reestablished, I can assume a likely “sorry for the delay”-type message. But again, if that doesn’t happen, and the rapid response pattern resumes, that allows me to understand your personality. If you are one who responds consistently but not quickly, I understand to expect a response, but in only in due time, and I find security in that. Also if i see that you’re wishy washy about correspondence it lets me know that we probably aren’t going to be seeing each other very much.

In general, I find security in consistency. When things are not consistent, patterns are broken, or plans are changed, I get anxious. If I have fair warning/communication (i’m talking to you, most recent former place of employment) that something is going to change, that anxiety is partially alleviated, but it will still take time for me to get used to it especially if a new pattern is being established as opposed to a temporary or one time change.

I’ve found that i need consistency in my life in general. Anybody could say this, but it’s been one of those things that i’ve found to be so important lately, it’s actually a little unnerving. It’s not to the point where i need a rigid hard and fast daily schedule (a la the Clock King), but i do like patterns and a reasonable amount of structure. For a long time, i ate the same thing for lunch every day. When i go to Chipotle, i get the same kind of burrito EVERY time. I eat the same cereal every morning for months at a time. I wear very similar clothes every day. I’ve used the same deodorant for YEARS (that’s kinda typical, actually). Point is, i do a lot of the same things and have done a lot of the same things for years and years, because i take a great deal of comfort in the sameness of it all. I do like breaking out of my shell on occasion and i have fun with it, but only because i’m dictating said shell-breaking.

One of the reasons polyamory works for me is because i have a very solid, consistent, home-base relationship. My relationship with my wife, whatever staticky moments we may have (and trust, we’ve had some) is easily the most consistent thing in my life. I have a great deal of safety and security in that relationship. Whatever outside interests either of us have, we both can always come back to each other to commiserate, or seek advice, or just to check in with each other. Of course, we also love each other very much and are primarily sexually interested in each other. So even if we are sexually interested in someone else, it doesn’t preclude our love and horniness for each other. If this weren’t the case, i don’t think polyamory would work for me at all. I’d be too worried that she’d leave me for someone else. I think this is one of the main reasons i get jealous when someone else i’m dating/seeing is also dating/flirting with/making out with/whatevering with other people, especially if i don’t know or particularly like the other person/people. So far, i’ve not felt as secure in any other relationship as i do with my wife, so i’m constantly worried that i’m not enough for my paramour. It doesn’t matter what goes on with said paramour when we’re together, or what that paramour says about our relationship. Until i get to a place where i feel secure in my relationship with said paramour, i will be jealous, and fearful, and get all tight-chested when i see them with someone else. The only time this doesn’t happen is with a paramour’s own husband/wife/LTR. Btw, this is all a fairly recent discovery, which i am only just now articulating.

Anyway, the message returning has been an issue with my attempts at polyamory. There have been MANY attempts to meet people, and establish new relationships with people, and they’ve all fallen off because people DON’T REPLY TO EMAILS. I haven’t figured out why this happens. If i go thru my OKC inbox, every email stream ends with my email being the last one, attempting to carry on the conversation. At some point, the other person just decides that i’m no longer worth contacting. Even if things are (at least as far as i can tell) moving right along and the conversation is going well, and me and whoever it is are connecting, at some point it just STOPS. It’s never because i lose interest, or say the wrong thing (i’m VERY careful about that; i always take my cues from the other person). The other person just STOPS. I can’t begin to tell you how much that pisses me off. If the person’s not interested, i get it, but i guess i just don’t understand how you can’t say “hey you seem like a cool person, and i’m sorry but i’m not interested in dating you.” I dunno. It’s just like when someone just stops calling. It’s just fucking rude!

I think i take issue with this because an ex of mine decided, after a year, to just not call. Now it’s become the kind of thing i’ll actually go after people about. I mean seriously, she decided, after a year, after talk of love and marriage, in the span of about two weeks, that i was no longer worth SPEAKING to.

So maybe this all stems from bitterness, but seriously, it’s not that hard to call/email/text someone back. If you’re worried that whatever you have to say is going to hurt me, then just say it and get it over with so i’m not waiting, thinking that everything is ok when it isn’t, or suspecting that something might be wrong and feeling like i’m just being paranoid. I have enough self-doubt in my life without you poking at it and fueling my lack of confidence in my own instincts.

OK, this went places i didn’t quite expect.

34 (Three of Swords)

July 2, 2011

This tarot card is typically depicted as three swords piercing a heart, and is generally considered a negative card, but i don’t really think of it that way, especially given the longer meaning (see below). But first, my version.

Ok, i know what you’re thinking: “How the hell is that NOT negative?”

Paraphrasing from Aeclectic.net :

The Three of Swords indicates that a secret or a hidden truth is going to finally come out. It will be hurtful, the words sharp, piercing. But it will not be a bolt out of the blue. It may even be a relief to finally know. No more waiting, obsessing, wondering, worrying about what could be wrong. This cutting truth, however bitter and painful, allows all that tension and uncertainty to finally drain out. The querent knows how things stand, the truth about how they’re seen by others. This development allows them to move on.