The holidays are always a weird time of year for me, almost irrespective of what’s actually going on. I usually need to take a day to be by myself, away from all of the friends and family with whom I’ve been having warm and fuzzy good times, because I have to decompress at some point. There’s too much travel, and too much making a fuss over me (my birthday is on Christmas), too much time spent in others’ spaces and not enough time to think and unwind.
These holidays were, while fantastic overall, no exception to the above. I spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth to see Carrie, her family, and her family of friends, and while I did enjoy myself I also got mildly claustrophobic a couple of times. I love my love, and am developing warm feelings toward her people, and I had a great time everywhere I went. Still, though, I was doing a lot of my usual act of bottling up tension so as not to let it out in public, and then expending it later when it wasn’t appropriate.
This manifested in a couple of times when I felt an intense need to get away, and it took a couple of tries before I fully realized that when that happens I do actually need to get away, and just powering through won’t cut it. We spent nigh unto a solid month together, and it was fine for a week or three, but after that the general sense that being in a relationship threatens my independence pitched up a little too high, and I had to take some time to myself. Carrie, for her part, is used to being the only one with a particular need for alone time, and she was busy enough keeping herself sane; as such, she didn’t really notice what was going on with me, and it wouldn’t have been her responsibility if she had.
One particular manifestation is worth pulling out. Carrie and I went to a party in MA with a bunch of her poly friends, and it was a rollicking good time. Everyone was fantastic, charming, and attractive, and I greatly enjoyed it. I really can’t wait to spend more time with these people.
This being a social circle full of people who are dating each other to various degrees of separation, the situation was a little odd for me. I was a sort of tangent to the room, connected to only one person. Normally, by the end of the evening, I would feel like a full member of whatever group I’d encountered, but that didn’t really happen here. Everyone had a sort of intense set of interpersonal connections that I didn’t slot into, and it was startling to me; I certainly felt welcome, but it’s rare that after a few hours I would still feel like an outsider.
That was already leaving me a little discombobulated, as it’s mostly outside my experience, and thus I had a certain level of tension all evening. And then, by the end, this being a poly social group, the whole thing turned into a sort of adorable cuddle party. It was good fun and great to watch, but made me feel a little more excluded and a little jealous of everyone else. Of course, I choked back on this and continued the small talk until it was time to leave, and then later laid it on Carrie as if it were her fault. I believe I said something about her not having made me feel particularly wanted, when she had spent most of the night playing footsie with me. It was ugly, but I’ve said and will say uglier things, I’m sure. When I do, I’ll try to mention them here.
In the morning I recanted and apologized, because it wasn’t Carrie’s job to make me feel included, nor was it really possible when I was, for very good reasons, fundamentally not included. That’s to be expected, but I was unused to it and reacted poorly. I began to realize that when something relationship-related made me feel bad, I was immediately blaming Carrie without spending the time to figure out whether it was my own head that was the cause; I’ve resolved to rectify that as well as I’m able. I’ll try to do better on these tests in the future, but no promises.
All in all, the holidays were excellent, and I spent them with excellent company. It was wearing toward the end, but I’ve since bounced back. Of course, there have been ups and downs since then, but those will have to wait for another post.