Anniversary

Soundtrack

A little over a year ago, I found myself in hysterical tears on the steps of a church in Streeterville, Chicago.

It was a month into Spouse’s residency and I had never felt so alone in my life. I was in a new city, trying to figure out the basics and Spouse was married to the hospital. We had intended to go grocery shopping together, but as was so common, he was asleep before 8 PM and I was left to go it out alone.

Before leaving, before he fell asleep, I had expressed a need for some emotional reassurance, some closeness and words or actions of solidarity. He couldn’t give them to me. I know he wanted to. And that fact made it harder and more painful. So I got out the grocery cart, took it down the elevator and began the 15 minute walk to the store as he fell asleep and began to snore in our new, king sized bed.

While I walked, I called my big brother, J. J has always been there for me, fully and without judgment. This is when I fell apart. Somewhere en route I had to stop because I was crying so hard. I tucked up into the church steps, hoping darkness would conceal me a little bit on the busy streets. At least three people stopped to be sure I was OK. Including the doorman from across the street, who brought me tissues. I suppose being on a church’s steps made it seem like a very different kind of breakdown.

I thought of this tonight as I walked a similar route, this time headed back to the el after my weekly therapy session. You see, tomorrow is Spouse and my 5th wedding anniversary. Or, I guess it would be. Do you stop counting after you decide the marriage is over?

I cried, albeit not as hysterically as a year ago, all the way home. There is actually something really beautiful about walking around the city, listening to music, and crying. Now I’m sitting on my front porch, still teary eyes, but calmer.

When I tell people our marriage is over, they often ask if I will stay in Chicago. Outwardly, there is nothing keeping me here. I work remotely, after all. I could do my job from anywhere in the US and none of my family or closest friends are here.

But the truth is, I have built a life here. In only a short time and under relatively traumatic circumstances, I have grown into this city. I have an incredible roommate, a growing group of girlfriends and a kooky little dog. I have had more new experiences in the last year than I thought I even wanted. I have had tastes of love, companionship, friendship and great sex with men and women across the north side and am fostering the beginnings of more. I know how to live in this city. I can get around and enjoy myself and I know there are opportunities for me to do anything I want here. And I’m really proud of that.

Last year, our anniversary fell on the night before residency began. We got dressed up and ate at a nearby Italian joint, taking a moment to pause about getting here and what beginning this life would mean. At that moment, we still had a fair amount of blind hope, firm denial and the only thing still true this year: a lot of love for each other.

This is not how I expected to spend my fifth anniversary. But, it’s a lovely night. A warm wind is pulling my hair across my face and the tears are gently rolling now. Last year these tears were futile and frustrated, broken and tragic. This year, the tears are leading me somewhere.

 

Going Inside

Knowing your marriage is over and feeling that your marriage is over are two very different things. In some ways, I have been “making up for lost time” over the past 8 months since Spouse and I separated. Tons of dating, tons of sex, new friends, new adventures, etc. But the pace at which I was going was unsustainable. So, the day after I finished checking the last big box on my sexual wish list, I realized it was time to slow down and do some feeling.

The weeks since have been a mixture of grief and peace, new hope and despair. I have not once questioned the decision to end my marriage, but the fact that it’s the right thing doesn’t make it an easy thing. We’re lucky in that the dissolution of our marriage has been respectful, kind, honest and mutually decided upon. But there is still hurt and pain and disappointment.

There are so many ways to understand what happened or didn’t happen. I can tell myself and others the story of my marriage in a million different iterations and they’d all be true. But trying to comprehend such a thing is both worthwhile and futile.

So I’ve retreated some. I abruptly stopped maintaining existing relationships with men, deciding that the important ones would continue to seek me out. I reasoned that just because I could sustain all of these casual relationships doesn’t mean that I should. And right when I decided that I felt at once relief and sadness and very quickly, exhaustion set in.

Having healed from one trauma before and also believing that life is nothing but a slew of traumas, I know that it isn’t a consistent upward trend. Healing comes in fits and starts and this is no different. Some days I believe the darkness is largely behind me and other days I feel as though I’ve only just begun letting it in.

But one thing is for sure, I am showing up. I am paying attention and I am letting myself feel what must be felt. There are still multiple men around, there is even a new one that I find really promising. But most nights I stay in with S and M watching Gilmore Girls and sewing. This is a moment for turning inward and I intend to embrace it fully.

I truly believe I can at once close off the borders to my body and my heart for healing purposes and keep them permeable enough to consider myself open to new and deep love. We shall see.

 

Being a Unicorn: Adventures in Emotional Tourism

In the world of kink, Unicorn is a label prescribed to people, mostly women, who enjoy or even prefer being the third in a sexual or romantic endeavor with a hetero couple. We’re called unicorns because we’re hard to find and therefore very special. When I first began my sexual exploration, I may not have described myself this way. But now, I embrace the term fully.

I don’t think that it is my defining characteristic as a person, even if we’re speaking strictly sexually. But over the last few months I have been surprised at how much I loved being the third. I have had a half a dozen threesomes with different heterosexual committed couples and each experience has been unique and beautiful. For a few hours, you get to step inside someone else’s relationship. You feel the love they have for one another in a really safe way.

When I told Spouse about this – yes, I tell him about my sexual exploits and he loves hearing – he called it emotional tourism. And I think that’s right. You get to visit a relationship, feel and enjoy and be involved in their dynamic for a short time, but you don’t have to move there. You can even visit frequently, but it isn’t your home. For me, at this moment in my life, that has been really beautiful.

I have also been lucky in never having found myself in a situation where one partner had been more or less coerced into the experience. In all cases, each partner was invested in my involvement.

Sexually, it was a wild adventure. So many hands and bodies. It can be a bit overwhelming. One of the hottest things is when a the male part of a couple teaches me how to give his woman an orgasm. Because I have not been with women outside of these experiences, I have no idea what to do with a pussy. But, I can follow instructions! And it is wildly fulfilling to give someone that intense pleasure.

Participating in threesomes, especially the experiences with women, taught me something else about sex and pleasure: it’s not hard to be “good” at sex, all you have to do is care about giving pleasure to the other person. I don’t walk around thinking about sex with women the way I do with men, but I really enjoy pleasuring women in bed because I enjoy pleasing women and people in general. It’s like giving a gift.

Each couple I was with did a really good job at making me feel both wanted and safe. I knew that I could consent or withdraw consent at any idea. This is an important dynamic when it’s essentially 2 on 1. I think I also did a really good job giving both parties in each couple equal attention. I knew that if I was in a couple and we invited a third, I would hate for that person to give one of us more attention than the other, so I tried to stay cognizant of that. It’s pretty easy really, you can always have at least a hand or something on each person.

In each case, I was careful to have a pretty detailed conversation in advance about what each person found compelling in this situation. I wanted to know if one person wanted to watch the other with me, or if they had a specific thing in mind, or a specific thing they didn’t want to do. These conversations are awkward at first, but get easier and are ultimately extremely necessary to the success of a multi-person sexual experience, in my opinion.

The other aspect that made these past few threesomes more like tourism was that it was very clear that this was a sexual experience, we weren’t trying to date one another. So at the base of it all, it’s a true friends-with-benefits situation.

I’m not longer on the hunt for new threesomes, but I’ll stay open to the idea, and will absolutely repeat with some of the couples I’ve been with.

Checking off my sexual wish list

About three years into my marriage, when the sex had all but stopped, I remember thinking “this is just what happens in a long term relationship”. Another few years of that and I couldn’t accept that as truth. I couldn’t accept is as my truth, anyway. So once Spouse and I finally separated and my months with Barista had come to a close, I began embarking on a something of a Rumspringa.

Beyond opening myself up to new romantic possibilities, like non monogamy, I opened up to new sexual possibilities. There were days where I felt like a 13-yr-old boy, the only thing on my mind was how, when and with whom I would secure my next orgasm.

I bought toys and branched out in the porn I watched. I sexted constantly, exchanging naughty words and (mostly) faceless sexy pics with randoms and people I knew alike. I found sexting to be an extremely exciting and also safe way to try new things. I let myself play with being submissive in bed this way, setting scenes of bondage and power play. I imagined multi-person experiences and public sex and other scenarios I knew I was unlikely to ever end up in.

I found that, for me, sex is a multi-person experience. I can masturbate to porn or a mental image, to be sure. But I so prefer to at least have another person on the other end of the phone. Just the idea that someone knows I’m touching myself and thinking of them is incredibly exciting to me.

In real life, I had a lot of firsts as well. I gave my first blow job to completion – yes, I was a 26-yr-old who had never given a blow job to completion – and literally spit the cum up on the dude’s shirt and laughed. Not my finest moment. I tried deep throating and loved it, gave a few foot jobs, also very fun. I experimented with anal play and learned I’m very into it and then had anal sex for the first time soon after! I participated in a handful of ffm threesomes, which are something of a favorite of mine. Had two mmf threesomes. Let myself be tied up a handful of times. Lots of spanking, a little light choking and lots of verbal power play. As it turns out, I am very into being called a “good girl”. I fucked older men, married men (only ones who were consensually open), men and women. All in all, there have been about 25 new people in my pants over the last 6 months.

My foray into the world of mellow kink culminated in an evening of double penetration, one dick in my pussy and one in my ass. LOVED IT.

But the strangest thing happened. I woke up the next morning feeling like I’d accomplished everything on my sexual wish list. I had been pursuing new and frequent sexual experiences in an almost manic way and all of the sudden, I felt ready to stop. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret anything I tried. In fact, I think I am likely to repeat most of it. But the fervency with which I chased those experiences left me about a month ago.

 

Rainy afternoon

Lately I’ve been doing a culling of my relationships. I have intentionally cut out fuck buddies who didn’t respect me. Spouse and I are over in that way, Storyteller decided to become monogamous with someone else and I even recently cut Barista out of my life, though that’s a longer story. I wanted to make space in my life for relationships with men who would respect me, and men with whom I could develop deeper connections.

So I still have a few pure friends with benefits relationships and am still seeing Feathers regularly, though the sexual relationship has really cooled lately. But what I really would like is one or a few slightly deeper connections as well. A man or men I see relatively often, with whom I can develop an emotional/romantic connection. But I’m also always looking for new and good casual sex friends.

Ad Man and I have chatted on and off on Bumble for several months now, but last weekend we decided to actually get together. He told me that while he was open to a relationship, he was really just looking for casual sex. I told him that I was really looking for a relationship, but that since I do non monogamy, I could always use another good fuck buddy so it was no problem either way. We agreed to just see how it went!

We met at 2 PM for coffee and ended up spending the next nine hours in his bed together. Not only was the sex amazing (I learned to give a foot job! Lol! More in another post), but we had an incredible time with one another in general. It was a rainy day and so we cracked the window and drank red wine in bed all afternoon while listening to the rain in the trees. We have a very similar sense of humor and just in the span of this first interaction the teasing and laughing and cuddling felt very natural.

I completely lost track of time and honestly didn’t want to leave his house at the end of the night, but I had to get home to S.

We had so much sex, I came three time and he came 6! In one instance, he came twice back to back, which I didn’t realize can even happen to dudes. And neither did he! He joked that this is like “call your doctor if your erection lasts this long” situation and that he hadn’t even jacked off this much in a day as a teenager. He really prioritized my pleasure and wanted to be sure I was getting everything I needed and more. I might be more into foot stuff than I realized.

Beyond the sex, I’m not sure what else took up all that time. There was a lot of laughter and snuggling and talking. At one time he picked up his banjo and danced around singing me songs along with Alexa, who we yelled at all afternoon. Then he sang and played Jason Isbell while I lounged in bed in the silky burnt orange nighty I’d brought along just in case. He cried when I told him about the dog I adopted at 11 who only lived until 13 and laughed when I told him my girlfriends have been trolling the 45+ crowd on Tinder with a fake profile of Topanga from Boy Meets World.

It just all felt rather magical and shielded and I’m still a bit starry eyed from it, 5 days later.

By the end of the night, we both expressed that although the pretense of meeting was casual sex, we were maybe feeling more and wanted to spend more time together. We shall see.

More Adventurous

There is a song by Rilo Kiley called More Adventurous that has a line referencing a Frank O’Hara poem.

The Rilo Kiley song says:

“I read with every broken heart, we should become more adventurous.”

The Frank O’Hara poem says:

“Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth.”

For years, this idea has described me. I’ve always felt like a fearless lover. When my heart breaks, I do not feel deterred, I feel determined. Maybe I’m a masochist. Or an optimist. Or maybe something about the ups and downs of love feel like truly being alive.

So now, as I sit in the discomfort of such a huge shift as an ended marriage, the fragility of my heart may truly allow another person or persons to enter it.

Yes, I’ve been dating throughout the separation. But the day Spouse and I decided to end our marriage and transition into simply best friends and co dog parents, I felt this calmness wash over me. It felt clear to me. I was free and my best friend supports me completely in finding the happiness and love I want in my life.

That night I met up with a new person, a beautiful Frenchman who had expressed an interest in a friends with benefits relationship where we could explore sexually together. He was specifically interested in threesomes and “swaps”, the former I have done and enjoyed, the latter seemed new and exciting. Before meeting we clarified that we both wanted to start as friends with benefits and then be open to something more if it felt right. Because sex is so important to me right now, this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

So we met and he was charming and handsome, honest and reserved with a truly European sensibility. We went back to his and had sex a few times. All I can say is I don’t know any American men who do it that way. He was passionate and intense, insistent upon a lot of kissing and full embraces. A true love making experience, even though it got relatively rough. During and in between each time he would say he wanted to fuck me all night and wanted me to come over every night. At the end he asked me to stay the night and I did for a few hours, only waking to go home to my dog, S.

It’s difficult for me to fall asleep, but since that night I’ve fallen asleep in his bed half a dozen times. Something about being with him keeps me present, comfortable and entranced. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a fully put together adult. Meaning he has a great job, knows how to dress himself (think a slightly more European J-crew look) and keeps his life and space organized. He is also not a big partier.

I came over one after a work gala he had planned and attended for work and caught him still in his tux. WOW. He had taken another woman to the gala as we had only met several days prior, but it flattered me he didn’t go home with her and came to me instead. When he mentioned her, I got a pang of jealousy. He saw it and teased me. I had literally just told him I could not see him the next night due to another date. I’m unsure whether the jealousy had to do with wanting to attend a gala with him or because I may be developing more substantial feelings towards him. It passed quickly, but it isn’t something I’ve felt a lot of since I’ve been dating again.

Our time together is still very sexual and there is still talk of a third, etc. But there seems to be something else developing there as well. I drove him to the airport, for example, because we wanted a bit more time together before he left town for work. Something a fuck buddy may or may not really do. He asks a lot of questions about non monogamy and how the time I spend with him is different than the time I spend with other men. I’m not exactly sure what to make of that.

In any case, too soon to be too worried about any of this. But I do feel as though the vulnerability and freedom elicited by deciding to end my marriage is contributing to my openness to a new relationship that could be more than casual or purely sex based. We seem to have the same ideas on the best ways to spend time: nice music, a mellow lounge or low-key bar, the orchestra or Opera in Grant park, reading poetry to one another, and lots and lots of very passionate sex.

It does cross my mind that the feelings I’m developing for him could end in heartbreak. But I think that’s what makes them matter! And the fact that I can even start to feel this way again with anyone gives me hope for my ability to find love again.

 

 

 

 

The End

I married Spouse with a sincere belief that we would grow old together, husband and wife. But alas, it isn’t true. Instead, we will grow old together as dear friends, confidants and one another’s constant champion. I imagine that will look differently over the years.

I refuse to see the end of our marriage as a failure. Quite the opposite, in fact.

At the beginning, we fell in love quickly, madly and without hesitation. We founded and ran an advocacy group in our conservative college town and community. We held hands and walked together away from a religion and culture we now condemn. We gave one another the confidence and bravery to be the truest versions ourselves.

The first night we kissed, he was about to drive me home for the night when he came around to my side of the car, opened the door and asked me to please get out. He said he couldn’t wait and he pulled me close to kiss me as the first snowfall of the season began around us. The first time we had sex, I cried. It wasn’t my first time, but it felt as though it was.

For months, I would lay naked in bed, watching him play guitar and sing Iron and Wine or Sufjan Stevens and he would pick me wildflowers on the way to my house each day in spring. We spent hours on his roof discussing philosophy, poetry and religion. We both felt fully seen for the first time in our lives.

We were married  barefoot in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains not 8 months after meeting. We wrote our own vows and my pastor grandmother officiated as we stood beneath an arch Spouse and brothers had built from found wood in the mountains.

We moved in together and out of state simultaneously after that. We were so poor we had to borrow $400 from his parents just to buy a bed. We laid on a pile of blankets in our living room for months, referring to it as our couch. That first year of marriage was bliss and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. He built us a raised bed in the front yard and we adopted a dog together.

But then we began to grow up and through the things of life. Spouse embarked on the arduous and in my opinion, abusive, path of medical education while I held many jobs and finished my undergraduate degree. We supported one another the best we could. There was always love and respect and a good degree of emotional connection through these challenging years. But we were also growing into ourselves. And that means figuring out how we wanted to live and what kinds of things we could give and needed to get within a romantic relationship.

I don’t feel that I can pinpoint a moment where our marriage headed south, because it really didn’t. Part of our vows had a promise in it to hold the space for one another to grow and change as individuals and I feel proud to say that for the most part, we did do that. There is more to it than this, but I think it boils down to the fact that we just aren’t what one another’s needs anymore. Not in this way.

So even though I am palpably feeling the heart break of the end of our marriage these days, I find solace in the knowledge that a broken heart has cracks in through which more love can enter. And in the end, I still have my best friend and words cannot express how grateful I am for him.

Relief

We sat on my porch to discuss the disentanglement of our finances a few Sundays ago. It was just getting warm and he brought beer to ease us through a very annoying but important step we’d been intending to take for a while. We’d been discussing counseling a while. It was clear that although non monogamy seemed to be a good thing for me, it wasn’t solving the problems that existed in our relationship. So the conversation started there. Should we do counseling? What do we want out of that exactly?

Then sheepishly, Spouse said “I mean, maybe this is crazy, but what if we were just best friends?” I immediately began to cry. These were the words I’d said over and over to my therapist. What if this marriage that made so much sense at one time didn’t have to end in divorce and hate? What if we could transition into best friends? That’s the part of our relationship that always felt seamless. It’s the whole reason this separation and the last few years have been largely peaceful and always respectful.

I responded through my tears “that’s what I want to do too!”. He began crying too and saying “oh honey” in the most tender, loving voice. It’s the voice that soothed me when I worried I had said something dumb or wanted something dumb. It’s the voice that held me during many a panic attack, late night school work complaining and every other life hurdle Spouse has held me through.

I climbed onto his lap the way I always do after we’ve reconnected and we held one another on the porch for a long time, just sitting in the relief and love at the idea that our marriage the way it was is truly over, and that’s OK.

After a long while he said “you know what this makes me think? I want to hear about your boyfriends.” What a strange sentence to come out of my husband’s mouth. But it was the final piece to things. I could finally let him in on my whole self again, the way best friends do. It’s true that he may never meet another partner of mine and I will probably never discuss sex with him in that way. But, I spent the next 20 minutes debriefing him on the wild ride of the previous six months.

I gave him the basics of the important men. Barista, who he knows. We laughed cause he of course had picked up on the fact that we had probably dated. I told him about Storyteller and Filmmaker and Feathers. The most bizarre thing was that it actually felt normal and comfortable. I know that as we navigate going forward things will not always be this easy, but it felt nice to let my best friend in on my life completely.

Since then my world has opened. I spend some nights crying. I spend some nights with new loves. But I’m feeling it all.

 

The end is nearly as beautiful as the beginning.

It’s been six months since my spouse and I decided to separate. It’s been painful and good and sad and exciting and all kinds of other things. We finally came to a place we both feel good about. We are going to let the romantic and sexual part of our relationship go. We’ll continue to be best friends, co dog parents and in some ways, partners. We are both relieved and feel calm about this decision. I don’t regret one day of our marriage the way it was and I think I’ll always love him. Those of you who know Spouse can understand why. He’s truly a remarkable person and I feel lucky to have shared five years with him. We grew up together. Got each other through degrees and jobs and moves and truly breaking with our families of origin. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in all of that. And so even though we’re planning to stay legally married for the time being and there is some chance there will be romance or sex or love in that way again someday, this is very much the end of our marriage as it was.

I am happy to say I’m discovering and deepening female friendships, truly developing myself as an independent woman and enjoying some new romances. I am also able to enjoy Spouse again for the person that he is and not resent him for the partner that he couldn’t be. This decision has freed me to truly start looking for the love and partner(s) I need. But it’s also very emotional and sad.

I haven’t been writing much lately because it’s a lot to live. But tonight I found myself crying in bed and just really wanted to say these things to someone.

The Single Slut

pexels-photo-89820In the book Ethical Slut, a person without a primary partner is described as a single slut. This person may be seeing no one or may be seeing a few people, but they aren’t really committed to anyone in a deep way.

I had thought Spouse could be my primary partner. But I realized recently that I don’t actually feel that he is. Words like primary only have the meaning we put behind them and only matters insofar as they inspire action. The truth is, I don’t trust Spouse again yet and while I was fulfilling his needs in a primary partner, he was not fulfilling mine.

This became obvious when he forgot to wish me a happy birthday and couldn’t understand why that felt upsetting to me. I should be clear in saying that Spouse is not a jerk or an idiot. In fact, he’s very kind and very intelligent. But certain basic things that come to other people seem to elude him completely. I’ve often theorized that he exists somewhere on the spectrum, but who really knows.

But there was this moment when we finally talked about him forgetting that I realized: this man is not my primary partner. He’s a man I love, a man I grew up with, a man I hope will always be a part of my life. But he is not my person anymore. He cannot now and may never be able to be the kind of primary partner I need.

In the same week, Storyteller, who I had started to become quite close with ended things with me. I started seeing him before transitioning to nonmonogamy and so he really didn’t sign up for this. We both knew that eventually he would choose to be monogamous with someone else. I’m very sad that that day came. But I understand.

So that leaves me with a few things. There is Feathers, who already has a primary and who I wouldn’t want to couple in that way with in any case. Then there is Spouse, who I am disentangling myself more and more each time things like this happen. And then a few relationships that are sporadic and primarily sexual in nature.

And so, I am something of a single slut these days. And that’s a good thing. Losing Storyteller and in some ways, Spouse has made space in my life for whatever is next and I can’t wait to see what that is.