"I... Gotta tell you something" she says. I already have an idea. At this point we've been a couple for three years and change, always living in the same apartment. "There's someone.. Someone I really like." It's been barely four weeks since I left, drove across the country and moved into a tiny dorm room to go to school, leaving her behind to focus on work.
I guess who it is on the second try. It was obvious, after all. We've an arrangement within the spectrum of polyamory, even if it's been mostly on paper and less in practice over the years. "No fair that you knew before me!" she pouts. They kissed, after he had helped her move. My gut roils, but my message says "aww!". I can't be the contrarian this early on, or she'll recoil. I probe for more information, but she doesn't know how she feels or what she wants.
"Well, I want to have sex with him" she tells me a little later. My heart stops for a second. This was expected to a degree, we've had similar talks before, but they've only led to fruition once or twice. "Well, do you have to go that far right away?". She says she can't know how she feels about somebody until they've had sex, and my intestines attempt to flee through my throat. "Well, as we've talked about, I wanna talk with him first" I try, clutching straws. "I was thinking of inviting him over for wine in the weekend" she volunteers. It's too much, I break down.
Suddenly I feel broken inside, like what we had has just been thrown out the window. Intellectually there's still a distance, this is still technically the early stages of negotiation, if I've remembered our rules correctly. "To be honest..." I hate myself I hate myself "I'd prefer if you took it slower than that, really. I don't mind kissing, fondling etc, but I really don't feel comfortable with the thought of the two of you..." my vision blurs "you know, fucking. Or being naked together..."
"Come on!" her furious sadness is palpable through the monochrome text. "Here I thought you were FINALLY letting go, and now you're in control again?! I need more autonomy, you don't OWN me for FUCKS sake". My head is filling with static, like a thousand televisions with the volume turned to full. I have no idea what I'm feeling anymore, and can hardly express it. The sickness in my stomach has set like food poisoning.
"I've never demanded LESS control, don't you see?". There are tears in my head somewhere, but they can't seem to find their way out. Years of conditioning and subconsciously fighting them back whenever faced with my own real emotions forbid it, once more.
The week trudges on, my heart full of acid and my mouth full of bile. All conversations we have now revolve around me trying to express my insecurity, and I feel met with non-sympathy. I try to talk with other, wiser friends. It helps, a little, but as friday evening rolls in, I instinctively buy a sixpack of beer and barricade myself in my dorm room with light hearted comedy and alcohol, trying my best not to allow any part of what might be happening in her new apartment be subject to speculation. Did she keep her word? Would she tell me if she didnt?
I macerate a garlic on my kitchen counter making dinner. My hand bleeds, but remains unbroken as I pick the splattered remains off the walls and floor and gather the usable cloves into a cup. My mind is ablaze with feeling replaced, cuckolded and reduced to a prop in her life's play. Later I drift into fitful sleep, still unable to cry.
The next morning I wake and ask her. She replies with as few words as possible without directly withholding information. I hate myself I hate myself "you said so many times you didnt want to know, but now you do?" she objects. I ask her directly, and the reply comes six hours later. "We made out, that's all". Part of me trusts her, but a Dragon on my shoulder lists the reasons why she doesn't have to be honest, I'm nine hours away after all. Considering how I've reacted, what incentive is there to be honest? "We've talked now, so you can talk to him". I don't take her up on it until later.
"I just wanna bang her, and she's nice to talk to" is the wordsmith's reply. I've just bared my soul to him, in an attempt to squash the Dragon Ambergris that has taken residence in my gut. He's apparently unable to discuss emotion, and his motives are nauseatingly straight forward. He was my friend in that town, second only to her, and he has no qualms with stepping on the grass. The dialogue progresses slowly, I attempt to make myself clear, but he's unable to reply with anything but trite idioms and news-kiosk-clichés.
"Around her I don't joke my feelings away, and I don't know how to talk, think or react to feelings. She's really nice to be with". I thank him for his honesty and leave, to get wasted in a cheap bar downtown. The alcohol numbs me enough to shove the war in my heart to some unread section for the night. Going to work a few days later, the thought acts like a skullbound baton, disabling my focus until once more, I shove it back down the hole.
The Dragon is less furious today, but his claws are buried deep.
I don't know how this will end. I just want the pain to go away at this point.
Faced with my own emotion for so long, rationality is the first casualty. Later in the week I find my focus once more, exploring Buddhist methods for handling jealousy. As it turns out, being such a ubiquitous emotion, fighting jealousy is considered a core tenet of that way of mind. I meditate, for the first time in years. In the stillness of that imperfect clarity, I find peace. At least for a while.
Instead of sitting inside my darkened dorm, steeped in emotion like a forgotten bag of tea, I explore the little gym room adjacent, the use of which is included in rent. The gym becomes my second home for an hour every other day, the weights and machines become extensions of myself. Grunting like a lumberjack, I ignore my pot belly and focus on the motions. Testosterone and dopamine blend like kahlua and cream, neutralizing some of the acidity.
Not for myself, for her. For what we built during those years, the long nights of whispering when we should sleep, the hours of making love and the frantic combat-like sessions of passionate, primal fucking. I can't give her up, I can't give us up, not now, not over this. I must grow, and leave the past behind. Like a launched rocket, going back is synonymous with disaster.
He's just a little cuckoo.
I AM the dragon.