Thursday, August 25, 2016

Work in Progress: The Imaginary Third-Wheel Blues

The main reason I started this blog was to try to help folks on either side of Mono/Poly relationships relate a bit better, and to provide one of the few Poly (well, Mono/Poly) resources written from a monogamous point of view (since many mono folks don't really relate well to the For-Poly-By-Poly resources out there). When I post, then, I tend to wait until I feel like I have my shit together - that I've examined it from all sides, come up with whatever awful analogy I hold dear, and can present it in a way that might make sense to both Mono and Poly folks alike.

But I don't always have my shit together, and I struggle with those posts.

This is going to be one of those "work in progress" posts. There are many things I and my partner (and my metamour) have worked through over the five years we've been navigating the Poly road, and that's fantastic. We're all in a different place than we were back then, and I think that's a good thing. However, the issues that remain are the sticky ones, the ones where the root cause isn't easily identified, or solutions aren't easily found.

In the original spirit of this blog, I've tried to dig a bit deeper into the reasons behind the emotions, but it's not a finished product, and I don't know if it ever will be. I do, however, think that sharing these things are a way to show that the passage of time isn't always a silver bullet for the issues in a Mono/Poly relationship. There may be work and maintenance that goes on for the life of the relationship... and if it's manageable for everyone involved, then that's okay.

So... getting to the point.

I tend to prefer a "separation of relationships" when it comes to my partner's partners. I don't really do compersion, outside of a generic sense of, "I'm happy for you." I'm happy my partner gets to be true to who he is, and I'm happy to see him excited about meeting new people, but that's kind of where that ends for me. Everything else to do with a particular relationship - things they obviously enjoy and get excited about - cross that line of separation, and I feel like I'm intruding on that relationship, even if they don't feel that way.

This comes to a head in very inconvenient ways, however.

My partner's other nesting partner lived for years in a Big Coastal City, which will subsequently be referred to as "BigCoastalCity" (because I'm nothing if not original). BigCoastalCity is on the opposite coast from the general area in which we all live now, but in the early stages of their relationship, he would fly out to visit, and they, of course, had some great "together time" and made many memories out in BigCoastalCity.

Which is why I blanched every time he would tell me that *we* should visit BigCoastalCity. Because that's *theirs*. Because anything that we would do would be clouded by "this was their stomping ground, and their experiences." Because I would be a third wheel going to their special places.

Not that THEY said any of this, mind you. This is all my own internal monologue working overtime.

That said, let's rewind a bit. Early on in our relationship, when both relationships were still young and the path we were walking wasn't just strewn with holes, but the occasional lava flow, my partner and meta were tossing around the idea of going to ForeignCountry (consistency in originality... that's my bit). I clearly had some sort of presence of mind to know that this was going to be an issue for me, and I brought up the idea, early on, that I didn't want anyone in either of these relationships to be limited by what's "ours" versus "theirs." In other words, I didn't want ForeignCountry to be "theirs" and feel unable to share it with my partner in our own way. We all agreed, and I felt pretty good about it. No artificial limitations.

So why on earth am I shutting MYSELF out of the things I feel are "theirs"?

I do this with quite a few things: places that have special meaning to them, TV shows they both like, music they both like - anything that my brain/heart have come to think of as "theirs". I have a feeling it's why, despite my need to keep my Geek Cred up (I clearly haven't gotten enough CECs in lately), I haven't been motivated to finish watching Firefly yet. Please, feel free to beat some sense into me here. I probably deserve it.

When they express enthusiasm for something together, I wall it off as "theirs" - and wall myself off from it in the process. Why?

I'm not entirely sure, but I have some theories. Come, we'll go spelunking in my brain...

In monogamous relationships, you don't really have this situation. Places you went and things you did with your ex are in the past. Maybe you look back wistfully at the time, place, and situation, but ostensibly, you've moved on. If you're in a new relationship, you're building new experiences, even if they're built on things that happened in the past. The experiences of your past shaped and influenced you, but you're focused on the "now". Focused on the "new". The past is in the past. In polyamorous relationships, this isn't necessarily the case - both relationships and experiences may be happening "now".

Because these experiences with an ex happened in the past, it's easier (at least for me) to process those emotions. It becomes "this is a place you liked and now you want to share it with me" and I end up feeling happy that you want to share this important place/thing/idea/whatever with me now.

But in a Poly relationship, there is no sense of "now this is ours". There's no sense of having moved on. And as such, I feel awkward about hanging around BigCoastalCity because in the back of my mind, I'm wondering things like, "Is this reminding Partner of Meta and the things they did here? Is he not in the moment with me? Is he wishing he could be here with her because they shared x, y, and z together?" Basically, I wonder if I'll feel like I'm on a "Partner and Meta tour of BigCoastalCity"... like a third wheel.

Now, I *know* that different experiences happen with different people, even in the same places. I've gone to BigOtherCoastalCity with not only my partner, but with friends, with my daughter and her dance class, and yes, with my ex-husband. And with each and every one of those people (or groups of people), I had different experiences. I know that, and I've felt that. I'm even happy at a general level that my partner gets to experience that with multiple people. However, when he does, the emotional side of me goes, "Okay, this is now their thing, move along. Nothing to see here."

There's a reason that the Heart and Brain warrant their own webcomic.

It's even goofier because if Meta came to me and said, "Oh! You should go see this," I'd register it as a friend giving me some pointers. But if Partner wants us to do something because he and Meta did it, now it's "theirs" and a source of discomfort. Oy. Brain is looking at Heart, going, "Dude! WTF!"

And so, I'm trying to fix it by pushing myself through those uncomfortable feelings. Not only am I going to eventually cue up Firefly (maybe after Stranger Things), but I'm going to BigCoastalCity with my partner. I have asked for reassurance (to try to help poor old emotional Heart deal with things a bit better) that this will not be a "Partner and Meta Tour of the City," but our trip. Not that it wouldn't have been anyway, but you know... emotions.

It's funny... there are things that I've found easier to navigate within a polyamorous context than others. Sexual fidelity, for example, was never a big deal to me, while I know it's extremely important to others. This? This is one of my hangups.

At least for now. Gotta have something interesting to work on, no?

Any advice or commiseration, please feel free to comment.

Guest Post: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Mono/Poly Relationships

Today's post comes from a post Gwenyth made over at the Mono/Poly Yahoo Group, who likened the adjustment phases a Mono partner goes through to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I thought it was a well thought out post and wanted to share it here with her permission and minimal edits (removing some of the initial personal details and correcting some typos only). Thank you, Gwenyth!


For those who are not familiar with [Maslow's Hierarchy], it is a psychological theory on human development. It basically says that until the most base needs are met (represented by the bottom of a pyramid) a person is unlikely to have the energy to think about, let alone focus on, the next level up. (here is a link to a good illustration of the pyramid if anyone wants to see it 

Well, as I was typing a post to Facebook, I realized that this applies very much to poly/mono relationships, especially when poly is new or there is NRE in the air.  Many poly folks get frustrated with how long it takes their mono partners to adjust and/or how they react when a new relationship actually begins. And yet, Maslow's Hierarchy actually explains it pretty well.

You see, on the first/lowest level, is physical needs like food and water. However sex is also on that list. I have seen/heard more than a couple mono folks who get 'jealous' that their partner/metamour is getting more sex than them (not always the case of course). Well, it seems to make perfect sense that if the mono's sexual needs are not being met, they are definitely not going to be all peachy, happy that their sole partner is getting their needs met elsewhere.

The next level of the hierarchy includes security of body, resources family and the like. Now, a partner can tell me all they want that bringing poly into the mix is not going to put any of these things at risk. However, it has to be remembered that a sense of security is a feeling, not a reality. I know a woman who has $60,000 in savings and worries on a regular basis about whether or not she can afford things, like going out to dinner at a reasonably priced family restaurant. That makes no sense to me, but it is her reality based on her experiences. Feeling secure in your relationship, feeling that your life and home are not about to fall into chaos and ruin is a feeling. Security comes from experiencing, again and again, that a set of events or circumstances are safe and can be counted on. If poly is new, there is no experience to grant that sense of security. It is going to take time for those experiences to build.

Now, let's jump a couple levels to the 4th level up (and the 2nd from the top) this one is all about confidence, self esteem, respect of others and the like. These are many of the things that help to make poly work (in my opinion). But here's the catch. Most people are not going to give a rats back side about the respect of others and is not going to have the energy to work on their own confidence or self esteem if they don't feel secure in their family or home. 

So, if a poly person REALLY wants to make poly work, they need to work WITH their partner/s to make sure that these more basic needs, like sex, security and belonging (the level I skipped) are met before the 'higher' needs can even be considered.

At the top of the hierarchy are things like problem solving, lack of prejudice and accepting facts. Funny, Those are all pretty important for poly to work. And again, those are never going to come about until everyone feels secure and confidant. 

Yet, so often I see and hear how people new to poly are trying to jump right to the top of the these things. Unfortunately, that doesn't work. We have to start at the bottom and work our way up. It's the only way to build a strong base upon which to build.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sometimes, the "Why" Does Matter (Or, Really Bad Motorcycle Analogies)

Occasionally, I run across the occasional thread online that goes something like this:

Worried partner of a Poly person looks for reassurance when their partner is out on a date / overnight / away for a weekend / trip / whatever

Poly person responding asks, "Why is it any different from your partner being away for business?"

Worried partner either has no words to describe why, or states that they fear that their partner being away with someone else will hurt their relationship.

And not much happens after that, other than a discussion from like-minded people that this absence is no different from any other, maybe some advice to the worried partner about how to spend their time, but nothing that really addresses the underlying issue (but thanks, though, to the folks who offer advice).

So, here's where my unholy love of bad analogies comes in. Let me tell you a story...

My ex-husband didn't like motorcycles. His dad rode one. His mom's boyfriend rode one. His mom even got her license but didn't feel comfortable on one, even after her trip to Sturgis with her boyfriend. He remained absolute in his conviction that riding a motorcycle was RISKY BEHAVIOR. He and I saw his mom's boyfriend go through surgery to correct a leg injury that happened when he hit sand at an offramp and went down, hard. He saw his dad (and uncle and others) "walking funny" and believed that it was all because riding a motorcycle made you more prone to injury, and why on earth would any responsible human being put themselves at risk like that? At one point, when we were still dating, he had me promise him that I would never get on a motorcycle (and yes, I made that promise, because it was clearly far less important to me than it was to him, so sure... no skin off my back).

I, on the other hand, believe that different people have different levels of acceptable risk. For every idiot riding his speed machine in between lanes on the highway at a buck-twenty in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, there are many, many other riders who wear the proper gear, watch the other drivers like a hawk, and generally take as much caution as they can when they ride.

Why do they ride? I'm sure there are many answers, but for some, it's the feeling of freedom - feeling the sun on your face, being surrounded by nothing but open sky. For others, it's the idea of having a summer vehicle that gets far better mileage than a minivan (okay, so I may be biased here). For others, it may be the sense of community they feel as a rider.

So let's say I really, really decided I wanted to ride a motorcycle while I was still married to my ex. I yearned for the freedom of the road. I went to get my licence, bought a motorcycle, started talking to other enthusiasts, but only noodled around town because my husband was anxious about it... until I decided I really, really wanted to go on a road trip.

For someone like my ex, this would be far, FAR different from taking the same trip in a car. This would have been MUCH more dangerous, since I would be much more vulnerable on a bike. He may grow to resent the people I hung out with, thinking that they were putting him down as a stick in the mud, and encouraging me to just up and go, and that he'd just need to deal with it. And, to be honest, maybe some of them would have, although I'm sure some in the community would have their own advice to give.

To many people who've had their relationships open up, polyamory is just as scary and potentially dangerous. It's not a danger to your life, but a danger to the relationship. Instead of nice, safe monogamy, their partner is playing with fire by getting involved with other people, and we saw how that worked out for Judy and Steve when Steve was cheating on her with that hussy from work... How could my partner not see that? Even worse, how could they want that when they know this is risky to our relationship? How could they want that when they know how much I worry? Why would they put me through that?

Do I have an answer? No. And I wouldn't advocate that you listen to me anyway. This blog is just trying to bridge the communication gap... it's up to you to actually do the communicating.

Sometimes, the motorcyclist just really, really needs that feeling of freedom (full poly). Sometimes, they can compromise and just ride around town (maybe open, with some rules attached). Sometimes, they are willing to just set that aside because it really wasn't that important to them anyway (stay in a monogamous relationship). Sometimes, the worried partner can go get a license of their own, realize they like it, and go riding themselves (try and enjoy poly). They can accept their differences, worry but talk about it, and give their partner space to ride (many mono/poly relationships), or they can say, "If you keep riding, I won't be able to handle it," and a decision will have to be made. Nothing's etched in stone, but it's far more complex than, "isn't it the same thing as a business trip?"

In the end, no. It's not.
Sometimes the reason for the thing is the problem, and not the thing itself.

And yes, now that I'm free of that promise, I hope to take the motorcycle class next year, when I can afford a bike. And no, that wasn't a metaphor. :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Seven Things" Check-In: A Month and Change Later...

I'd been planning to do my check-in at a quarterly pace, but I think I really need to hold myself accountable... sooner rather than later. Measurable goals are great - when we measure them. I'm going to give myself a D on that right now, since "when I remember to" is not "regularly measuring and keeping track."

That said, though, here's what I have for grades so far:

1a. Spend Money/Time on Myself: A
I have added money in my budget (category: "self"), and I have been making time to see friends more often. The "shopping for myself" seems silly, but it does help me actually value my own sense of fun once in a while, and not just put myself on the back burner all the time. Plus, I like my new coat. Especially now that winter has decided to grace us with its presence.

1b. Just Say "No": A
January is a tough month, time-wise, for me. I'm just getting off the holiday merry-go-round, and I'm clinging HARD to time with my partner and needing to reconnect. Add in a trip between my partner and metamour that kind of twiddled with our schedules a bit, and it took far longer for me to get out of the "we have no time together" doldrums than usual.

However, I was also starting my list of "Seven Things" and was trying to spend more time on things I enjoyed - gaming, time with friends, etc., and the conflict between these two things, time-wise, had me conflicted emotionally as well.

I had an opportunity to go gaming with a new group from work. A group of people I don't know very well, but am looking forward to meeting at some point. This opportunity was going to be the week after my partner returned from his trip, on a Thursday. We would be spending Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday together. Tuesdays I spend with my kids as well. Wednesday was a band concert. This gaming night? You guessed it. Thursday.

After trying to figure out how to make it work, I finally just said no. There will be other opportunities (I hope), and it was too much in too short an amount of time.

You'd think that would have felt good, but it took a day or so to feel less conflicted about it. I'm curious to see if that will change over time.

2. Write/Create More: B
I did get the 1 blog post per month done (and not this meta stuff, either). Writing: A

As for the creating piece of this, I've decided to count my house projects as creativity. They're "making things" in one way or another, and I like getting them done. So far, I've gotten a table assembled in the cellar, a bathroom closet mostly completed (who rips shelves out of a bathroom closet when they move? WHO DOES THAT??), so I'm pretty happy with how that's going.

That said, I've probably only done about half of what I wanted to do, on average. I don't have an exact measurement, though, since I got distracted and stopped measuring this one. Sigh... Back on the stick. Grade: C

3.
I still need to pull back from the "fart around online" stuff, but I finished "More Than Two" on the last day of January, dammit. With hours (HOURS!) to spare. Working on "Ready Player One" at the moment, and I'm loving that book, so it shouldn't be too hard to make it through February with another A. The trick will be to see if I can complete "Ready Player One" in time to finish "The Martian" with the time I have left now that I've taken that e-book out as well.

Oh yeah, I found the e-book site for my library. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

4. Healthy Stuff In: D-
Let's just call this spade a spade. I stopped keeping track of my veggies. Period. When you're pressed for time, you either skip grocery shopping and go with what's in the house (not veggies... or certainly not fresh ones), or you "eat lazy". I tend to fall back into the "lazy eating" category as a default, and this has been no exception.

The drinking thing... meh. I've been drinking more tea, and I've limited my booze budget - instead of absorbing it in my "groceries" category, I spell it out separately and only buy x amount per month. That's been working out okay, despite some wine consumption at home alone. The budgeting thing is the only reason I'm not giving this entire goal an F.

5. Exercise More: INCOMPLETE
So... here's what happened with that.
I pulled together a training plan and started it; I noticed my stamina was building nicely, Spinning was easier, I was feeling pretty good, and was ready to register for that half-marathon... except for this really, really tight hip that isn't responding to any stretches at all.

Then the hip pain crept into my lower back and all hell broke loose. Again.

Now... doctor's orders: no running. PT. X-Ray on the hip (which came back normal). Possible visit to the orthopedist if the hip doesn't improve in a couple more weeks.

On a good note, the PT is certainly helping my back. The bummer is that I will need to find some other exercise in the meantime, and that half marathon in May is pretty much a no-go at this point, as I'll have to start training from square one when this is all over.

For the next check-in, I intend to have some sort of exercise plan in place. And hopefully some improvement on that hip. The goal will be rewickered with the new exercise plan in mind.

6. More Social Connections: A-
I think I'm going to tweak this one, as the "contact someone you don't normally contact" is going to change as time goes on and I actually contact more people regularly. Plus, I don't quite think I should penalize myself for not contacting people when they contact me first. That said, if I have a goal, I should actually measure it, so I'll dock myself a few points for that.

Maybe changing the goal to add, "if I haven't heard from anyone in the last 7 days" at the end will suffice. Reaching out is still a good thing, and a good goal.

That said, I've definitely been making more plans with friends, and working on making some new ones. Overall, a good result.

7. Go Back to Counseling: INCOMPLETE
See the aforementioned PT discussion... that's where my spare money is going now, as my HSA doesn't have all the funds in it for the year (since it's February) and I have to make up the money somewhere.

Once the immediate physical stuff stops being worse than the mental/emotional stuff, I'll re-shift priorities. I have definitely noticed a change in mood after I stopped running, but it's not as pervasive as it was at one point. There's definitely been some recurrence of the negative self-talk, but it's not all that common. Still keeping an eye on it, though.


Overall, not a horrible grade... not counting the incompletes, that's a B. I can live with a B.
Maybe a C+ if I factor in that initial D for not measuring my performance consistently, but I'm even okay with that.

Time to start keeping better track of things, though. And to work on those incompletes... not to mention that next blog post.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Virtual Book Club: More Than Two // Topic: "The Sushi Effect"

I decided to pick up "More Than Two" after a few months of leaving it on the coffee table (or on my bedside table, or wherever I moved it to) with a bookmark lodged somewhere in Chapter 3 or 4. I have no idea why I decided to stop reading it. Nothing really irritated me about it, it's not written in a way that makes it painful or slow to read. I just... didn't want to read it. And so it sat.

As part of my "Seven Things," I decided to make it my January book. A little extra motivation is good for kicking my butt in gear, but I digress. This isn't really a post about my Seven Things, but more about discussing things that pop up in my head while I read.

I do plan on writing a review, and overall, I think it'll be a good one. The book makes many fantastic points (the chapters on "Tending Your Self" and "Communication Pitfalls" are great, and I'm not even halfway through the book), however, there are still the occasional tidbits that make me scratch my head, think a bit more, and wonder if we're just speaking a different language.

I'd love to encourage discussion (from mono and poly folks alike) on these points, sort of like a virtual book club. Although I do encourage you to read the book, it's probably not necessary for discussion. The more comments, the better - let's hear what you have to say!

Topic: The "Sushi Effect"

In Chapter 4, Franklin and Eve share a story about "Melissa" - a friend of Franklin's who tried for months to get her husband to try sushi with her (and was rejected each time). When her husband started dating, his new girlfriend asked him to try sushi. This time, he agreed, and discovered he enjoyed it, to Melissa's irritation.

The situation was used to illustrate that change can be beneficial. Why get upset about a change in your relationship that can benefit you, just because you weren't the person who brought about that change or "did it first"? Why do we feel entitled to being first?

I'm making the same face now that I made when I initially read this passage... something of a "hmmmmm..." face. I've certainly been through this scenario - almost exactly, except it was Ginger Chicken. My ex-husband steadfastly refused to order Ginger Chicken when we went out for Chinese, to the point of making "ukkk" noises when I'd suggest it. He took on a girlfriend near the end of our marriage (no. it wasn't really a poly marriage, but it got a bit wonky near the end), and one day, as we drove through a town I wasn't particularly familiar with, he blurted out, "That's <GF's> favorite Chinese place. The Ginger Chicken is really good there!"

It wasn't the "he did it first with someone else" thing. It was the continual rejection of MY suggestion, only to say "Sure!" when the same suggestion was made by someone else. I'm going to rename it the "Scooby Doo Effect" (bear with me): Shaggy would make a suggestion and the girls would pooh-pooh it. Then Fred would make the same suggestion, and suddenly it was, "Great idea, Freddie!" At least Shaggy would go hang with Scoob and let it all roll off his back with a couple Scooby Snacks. I just found it irritating as fuck.

Of course, it comes out looking like jealousy, or envy. "Why would you do that with her and not me?" Upon further reflection, though, at least in my case, it was more, "Why are we in such a rut that you automatically dismiss anything I suggest?" Getting ginger chicken with his GF simply highlighted that we'd established ourselves into a cycle of doing the things we knew we enjoyed and not leaving that comfort zone. With someone new, there is no comfort zone. It may seem easier to try new things when you don't know what you enjoy doing with that person. It's nothing personal against the "tried and true" partner, but it sure feels like a smack in the face when seen from that person's point of view.

So, the point? I think there's some misinterpretation of the rejected partner's feelings. It may come across looking like envy that we couldn't do this thing with our partners first, but in my case, it was more a feeling of being repeatedly turned down as a matter of course over something that really wasn't a "no" after all. It's getting upset with my partner saying "no" as a knee-jerk reaction, rather than thinking it might be fun to try something new once in a while. Why shouldn't I get annoyed with that?

To me, the solution isn't, "I need to be the keeper of all 'firsts'," but more, "please give my suggestions the same consideration you'd give someone else's." Not too much to ask, in my opinion.

I'm definitely interested in hearing other people's thoughts and opinions on the matter. Please feel free to discuss in the comments!

Now... back to the book!

Friday, January 1, 2016

State of the Union 2015 / Seven Things for 2016

Once again I find myself dusting off the blog. It's probably time for a bit of an update regarding what's rattling around in this chick's head - a "State of the Union" for 2015 if you will - before moving on to 2016. Is this a "resolutions" post? Er... yes. Clich├ęd, but it's as good a time as any to take stock in what's going on in my life and to plan for the future.

State of the Union 2015

Lots of good things happened (or continued to happen) last year - I probably can't remember them all, and some are probably small-potatoes enough that you don't want to read through it all (it's nice that I love my cats and all, but gushing over how awesome they are takes me into "Crazy Cat Blogger" territory, and I still think I'm a few years away from that level), but there were plenty of nice things both in my relationship and in my life in general:

  • The bathroom project is done! Mostly. Just some caulking and painting to go, but it works! And it's cute! Yay!
  • I took a bit of time for me and joined a gaming group that I've really enjoyed. On a related note, my game library at home has grown, and the kids are enjoying them as well. Win-win!
  • My relationship with my partner is still strong, after around five years. I still struggle with things (see below), but overall, we have weathered every storm that has come and gone, and I think we've become stronger because of it.
  • My metamour is a good-hearted person who has not just put up with my struggles, but supported my working through them.
  • My relationship with my kids is changing as they get older, and I think this is probably the best relationship I've had with each of them so far. I like that they're growing into young adults, and I like the people they're becoming.
  • My relationships with my partner's family are growing, and I'm feeling more and more like they are my own family as time goes on.
  • My cats! One likes to be "shoulder cat" and knead my partner's beard (don't ask), and one is a total lap cat (to the point of competing with the laptop at times). There, I said it. They're great little buds.
  • My partner arranged a surprise birthday party that was such a surprise, I cried because my brain couldn't process what was happening. I can't even describe how incredible that felt, and I will carry that one with me forever.
After all that positivity, it seems like a drag to discuss the negatives, but I think they're important to acknowledge and work through:

  • Armchair diagnosis (although I have plans to get a professional opinion - see below): some level of depression. Some of the negative thinking patterns and self-talk have worsened over the last couple years, and I've begun to notice that it seems tied to certain things like lack of sleep or over-consumption of alcohol. Overall, I know I have a list of things to do (hello, blog!), even things I really enjoy doing, but I have no oomph left to do them at the end of the day. I end up sitting in front of the laptop or TV with a glass of wine, perpetuating the problem. 
  • I still find myself holding on to old resentments toward my metamour, despite the fact that she's a good person who really doesn't deserve it (see above). Knowing I have them and saying that I need to work on them doesn't mean that I know how to work on them, however. I still find myself in a place where different circumstances set off the resentment, and I continue to struggle with it on and off.
  • Still some smaller residual relationship / poly issues that get set off from time to time depending on the circumstances. On a related note, Facebook can sometimes be that nasty bitch of a friend who likes to toss things in your face and stir up trouble. Except, it's much harder to cut out of my life than the nasty bitch.
  • Exercise has taken a back seat to just about everything else. I've put on quite a few pounds, my clothes don't fit, and I'm starting over from step one, which is discouraging.
But look at this! We have a brand-new year that's just built for making new plans! 

I took my inspiration from Wil Wheaton's "Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life" blog post, and wanted to do something similar for myself. The small number of goals seems manageable, and if I can make them SMART, I should be good to go. In theory. In practice, I can edit as I go, as long as I'm measuring from the start.

So, with no further adieu, it's time to stop looking at the past (except for reference). 

My Seven Things for 2016

1: Prioritize Myself

Okay, as it stands, it's not really SMART at all. I have two points with this goal, though: think of myself and my needs before falling automatically into "people-pleasing" or "yes" mode, and to make sure that I spend the time (and occasionally the money!) on things that enrich me.

Let me break this up a bit better:

1a: Spend money/time on myself

Spend some stinking money on new clothes, new books, a new game, whatever. Something that I will enjoy and not just serve as a distraction (TV / booze is out!). Do this once a month at a minimum. Put it in my budgeting software as a monthly category with a real dollar value. I'm worth it too, dammit.

1b: Say "no"

Not all the time, obviously, but enough to know that I'm considering my own time and desires as well as other peoples'. One "no" per month will be the starting measurement, although it seems a little strange to quantify it this way. Revisit this if needed.

2. Write / Create More

I could get lazy about this and say that more than zero is an improvement, but I won't.

Blog Posts: One post per month. Additional quarterly check-ins regarding this list (so I remain accountable).

Creative Stuff: Start with 2 days/week for 20 min./day. This must be spent on something creative (not a house project!). Acceptable projects: crochet, piano, writing stories or poetry, other crafty types of things. Goal is to work up to more days/week, but for the first quarter, 2 days/week will be fine to establish the habit.

3. Read More

One book per month. Facebook, Reddit, Magazines, online articles, or online ANYTHING (other than Kindle books) DOES NOT count. Books only.

4. "Healthy Stuff In"

For the first quarter:

  • Vegetables with 2 out of 3 meals per day
  • Vegetables for one snack per day
  • No solo drinking (booze of any kind - beer, wine, or liquor)
The goal is to start slow and add more healthy habits as time goes on. I will probably slack the first week of January, only because my birthday food is in the fridge and I'm not wasting it. Nom nom nom...

5. Exercise More

The quintessential New Year's resolution, am I right? Still, the measurable goal:

Sign up for a half-marathon in May and pull together a training plan. I've done this before and know it's doable, but I have to get off my ass.
  • Sign up in January
  • Pull training plan together by the end of the first week of January
  • Cross-training twice/week.

6. More Social Connections

Again, Facebook does NOT count.

  • Reach out and text a friend / family member once per week. This has to be a friend / family member I don't normally text (i.e., not my partner, my kids, my aunt, or my ex).
  • Once per month, get together with a friend / family member I don't normally see.

7. Go Back to Counseling

It's one thing to understand that you need to make changes. It's another thing to know how to make those changes. I can say that I need to let go of my resentment until I'm hoarse, but if I don't have any tools to do so, then it's going to be extremely difficult.

Goal: meet with my counselor once/month.

So, here you go. A mostly non-mono/poly post, but a decent "Let's Tackle 2016" one, with some more specific goals than the norm. We'll get to see together how well they work out. In the meantime, have a great 2016, and I'll see you again later this month!