When I was getting dressed this morning I noticed that one of Harold’s button-down shirts and a couple pairs of his socks were sitting in a pile of my clean clothes, waiting to be put away. I remembered that he had been looking for socks the other day and didn’t find any in his drawers. Without any conscious thought the words, “I’m a terrible wife,” went through my mind.
Wow. Even while I was struggling with that thought my mind went on to, “I don’t deserve to be loved.”
This is weird stuff. It’s so not how I think. But the more I pull on that thread, the more I realize that all of these thoughts are down there somewhere, deep in my psyche. They probably got there early in my childhood and have been festering in the dark. I want to be sure and take a look now that it’s come up because these aren’t thoughts I want to keep having.
I never wanted to be a wife at all. I like having partners. Wife is too kinky for me. It makes me think of chattel. I don’t want to be owned or to have wifely responsibilities. I want to be me. And just be with the people I love.
I don’t think of myself as Harold’s wife at all – at least, I didn’t until this morning, and that was in negative terms. Harold and I have a great partnership. We work well together, each of us bring our strengths to bear on our tasks and problems. If I wash Harold’s clothes it’s because I do all of the laundry and he does the dishes when he’s around. I don’t mind at all. When I’m more on top of things, it is a pleasure to do something nice for him, even a small thing like put his clean socks in the drawer.
Now, I am actually Joel’s wife, but we decided early on that marriage was the death of good relationships and we’ve worked hard to avoid the common pitfalls. I prefer to think of Joel as my partner. We also work very well together. When he is home he handles a lot of the stuff with the kids so I can go out and run all of the weekly errands. He’s also in charge of the garbage. Our relationship does include a legal agreement. But I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t include putting away socks.
As soon as I start think about Joel, that little voice starts telling me that I’m a bad wife for loving a man who isn’t my husband, not to mention all those erotic photos and writing smut on the Internet! What the fuck? Is this really my voice? As hard as it is for me to believe, I’ve got these feeling in there somewhere. It’s got to be old because I’ve been poly since I first starting dating in middle school.
I wonder how much harm that voice does when I’m not paying attention. Even though 99% of me is signed up for the choices I make, maybe that 1% does it’s best to make me feel bad about myself. That 1% is probably based on my parent’s marriage, before they divorced, when I was very young. That small part of me is really scared that I’m messing up and wants to make sure that I’ll still get what I need. I can’t help but wonder how many divorces are caused by similar voices and left-over internalizations about what it means to be married. Maybe it would help if we could just reassure those little voices.
So that’s what I’ve been doing – reassuring myself that I am indeed worthy of love and I am a good partner. In fact, I have surrounded myself with love. I know I’m very lucky, but maybe I’m also just very good to have the relationships that I do. Even when I don’t get to the socks.