Category: Love


remapping the keys

Things happen when you’ve got a long-distance relationship. Those big lulls between seeing each other make changes so gradual as to be invisible and yet after such a time, when you finally do crash into one another again, those gradual invisible changes become stark as black and white.

It’s disconcerting. Shocking, even. Especially when you’re still in contact with each other every day one way or another. You like to think that you change gradually together, and you do, but sometimes those changes aren’t ones that can be experienced across long distances. So coming together after so long and finding those changes, well, sometimes it’s beautiful and wonderful, and sometimes it’s like the universe clocked you one square in the chin.

The great lie about long term relationships is that you’ll never feel insecure. The reason it’s a great lie is because there’s nothing further from the truth: you’ll feel insecure all the time. All the fucking time. The difference is in what you do with the insecurity, in what you can do with the insecurity. I mean, there’s always the option of panic, freaking out, shitting the relationship bed, running so fast you leave little cartoon-dust-clouds behind you in the opposite direction. For some people that’s a coping strategy. T and I, however, prefer to talk.

First, you gotta talk though.

Sometimes a shock like that is too much to talk about right away. Sometimes when all you’ve got is a week together you want to soak up all the good and just be in denial about the bad until you’re far apart again and all you can do is talk. The problem with this approach is that this kind of insecurity has this insidious way of seeping into the good. It’s inky and murky and it contaminates everything it touches and it leaves what would otherwise be a totally energizing encounter unsatisfying. You want to be filled but you get shorted by over half a tank.

We did get to talk in person, eventually, and not without many tears. I wasn’t at liberty to spend a proper night trying to work things out, though I wheedled and cajoled and cried trying to do so. I don’t often twist under the limits my husband sets, and don’t often resent the permission he doesn’t give. Thankfully he and I found a place where we could agree even though it left me a little kid digging my toe into the dirt, frustrated to all hell that I didn’t get my way. I don’t often press him like that either; he was exasperated with me and it showed. He usually contains his frustration with me better and doesn’t explode at me with hurtful jabs about how I want to abandon him so I can “fuck it out” with my boyfriend despite having already had a week with him.

I hated being in that spot, truly torn. I love them both and I want to give them both what’s best for the respective relationships and a time does come when sometimes, you have to choose. It helps that I know my husband tried as hard as he could to accommodate. It helps that there were apologies on all sides. It helps that he gave me what he did: one night, despite his exhaustion, to cuddle with T and try and work out what we could with whispers.

I think the take-away lesson from all of this is that when insecurity rears its head, much as we might really want to push it aside and ignore it so we can experience the good feelings, that kind of denial is ultimately not healthy or helpful. It left me feeling hollow after the experience and it seemed to leave T in a worse place than he would have been if we’d just talked about it in the first place. It’s so much harder to have tearful discussions when we can’t hold each other.

It helps that I know that we’ll work through it, and that I know T is confident about that fact as well. It helps that we’ve weathered insecurity before and are excellent communicators and are both very certain that we can navigate this in a healthy way that leaves us ultimately stronger. It’s hard though, being so far. Insecurity comes up not infrequently, and I believe a lot of it is because of the time we spend apart. I always feel worse for having to do the reassuring when I can’t touch him. Those teary talks, much as they’re not fun to have, always leave me feeling more connected than before. It’s that connection I crave, far more than orgasms, far more than sex.

When I don’t get that connection but I get the sex, I feel like I’ve eaten nothing but candy and no solid food. It feels somehow wrong and sick and I hate that feeling. Nothing stains like that feeling, the dirty-and-wrong feeling, the feeling like despite the fact that by all metrics the sex we’re having is really really great and the togetherness we’re having is comfortable and warm, that there’s something missing and it’s something truly fundamental and it’s just gone. The worst, the absolute worst is not knowing where that feeling came from and being terrified, just terrified, that maybe the connection went somewhere and it’s never gonna be seen again.

Isn’t that just the most tragic kind of comedy? Both of us just dying inside, but trying so hard to keep on a brave face for the other person somehow takes priority over cutting yourself open and letting the pain spill out? Because it’s messy? Because we’re worrying about what’s inside our own heads and completely forgetting that there’s this whole other person here who we can confide in, who we trust more than ourselves sometimes? That trying to avoid that conversation wrecked things more than having the conversation in the first place ever would have? After the fact it just makes me shake my head. For all our talk, we forgot to be authentic.

We were afraid we forgot the steps to the dance, and that we couldn’t dance anymore, and totally forgot that the most important thing is to let the music move us.

Let’s try not to forget again.

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on radio silence

I need to write. I need to write like an addict needs a fix and I don’t understand why I have resisted it for so long. Things roll around inside my head and they get more murky and harder to understand. I’ve tried to segregate my life into tiny pieces of myself and write about just those tiny pieces, but it’s a lot like trying to build a whole outfit out of only a spool of thread. Eventually I run out of thread and I’ve only just begun but there’s so much else I can’t say for fear of breaking out of this self-enforced subject segregation.

No more.

I am happiest when I am writing. I self-examine more, I am gentler with myself, my mood is better and my relationships are more healthy. Maybe the self-segregation is a bad thing (to a certain extent, I can see certain subjects staying segregated) and this means that I should write more often than I don’t. It’s been two and a half years since he began his adventure and things crashed and burned and I found meaning in it and so did he. It might mean we’re destined for bigger and better things but the only way to tell is to live the future.

I read the past (I’ve documented it spottily) and in the last four and a half years I’ve found another love. Ten years in a primary relationship and this summer it’ll be five with my other lover. Dan Savage asks, why do most people assume all non-monogamous relationships will fail? Because I can’t speak up. Because despite the fact that when I bring my lovely T to thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s house, and my father refers to him as my ‘surrogate husband’, I still can’t find my ovaries and be honest about it with most people.

The honest truth is that my husband and I are perfect for each other in so, so many ways. He is open minded and loving, and doesn’t take me too seriously. He encourages the best in me, disapproves of the worst (but is supportive in helping me change it,) and doesn’t let me take myself too seriously. He is silly and cute and loving and cheers me up when I am sad. He doesn’t take me for granted (mostly) and appreciates that I don’t take him for granted (mostly).

He’s also been lovely enough to realize that there’s no limited amount of love in my heart; that giving love to another doesn’t mean he gets any less. As wonderful as he is, there are things he isn’t: romantic, sappy, a supplicant at my altar. He is better at doing than listening and wants to fix the problems I want to talk about when I talk about them; sometimes I want someone to just listen and hold me and tell me I’m wonderful even when I’ve fucked up royally.

I tried to put it to the husband (who still, in this monogamish arrangement, does not understand why I would seek out other relationships when one is ‘complicated enough’) this way: sometimes I want things that he isn’t. Either he isn’t able to give them to me, or he isn’t going to want to give them to me, or he just isn’t going to really understand why I want them in the first place. Instead of pining away for things he isn’t and asking him to fake it and being disappointed when he does, I enjoy him for who he is and what he gives me and don’t pick away at the tiny holes in the relationship until they become great festering wounds. No relationship is perfect and there is no ‘one’. I believe that very strongly. There was a time when I called my husband Perfect with a capital P and he denied this very strongly; he had more clarity than my dazzled eyes could have at the time. He knows he’s not perfect and now that we’ve been together ten years (ten years!) I can acknowledge myself that he isn’t perfect and I’m not perfect and neither is our relationship. Those tiny holes don’t mean the whole relationship is a sham. The tiny holes, if anything, mean we’re different people and we have a way to breathe when we’re wrapped up in each other.

There is no comparison of quality or amount of love or prowess as a lover or any other insecurity one could think to name. My lovers are simply different. Master/husband is one person. T is another. They occupy somewhat different (but also overlapping) roles in my life and not only do they enrich my own private life with each of them, they each enrich the relationship I have with the other. It’s this big Venn diagram of love in a sense; I don’t think most poly-negative people would ever fathom how good it is for my primary relationship to have someone else who loves me with his own intensity, acting as a cheerleader for my relationship with my husband. How could an other want anything less than to have me all to himself? How could he be anything but a threat to the primary relationship? How could it be that he isn’t somehow out to sabotage my marriage so that he can monopolize my love?

It’s up to him to explain how or why he feels the way he does. The best I understand it is that he sees how happy my husband makes me and he loves me enough to want to see me be as happy as possible. He respects me enough to know that my husband is the life partner I have chosen, for a myriad of reasons. Speaking as the person on the other side of this arrangement, I can only say that I am very happy to have someone to love for love’s sake, who loves me back for love’s sake. Two people whose goals are basically to make each other as happy as they possibly can for as long as they possibly can (and time is often limited); it creates a wonderful positive feedback loop that fortifies me in times of difficulty and supplements my happiness in times of joy. It is truly nothing but a good thing. It lets me love my husband better and in a purified form, and seeing my love reflected back at me does double duty. The reflection is a mirror held up to what kind of a person he sees me as. I get a chance to see myself in another person’s eyes. It reminds me not to take myself for granted either.

I trusted you to them, my love.

They took you and they flayed you, they forged you in pain and sweat and vomit and suffering, they told you who you had to be. You are noble, you took it and you made it into your own. You let them hurt you and I stood back, and you said trust you, and I did.

I trusted them.

You emerged, skinnier and lithe with strength. Your spirit was clear and pure and you were, as you said you would be, still you. You had more patience, a strange compliment to give one of the most patient people I know.

Too patient.

They broke my trust. They mistreated you. They gave you to hungry wolves who tore their pound of flesh from you with their teeth and left you broken and hurting. I couldn’t protect you, my protector.

You wanted this so bad and so you took it. You were patient, ever patient, calmly and cleanly patient. It’s been almost a year now since I first heard you utter the words where you asked yourself aloud whether you wanted to keep giving them your flesh if all they would ever do is take it from you.

A year of threats and suffering, a year of fear and anxiety, a year of abuse and emotional torment. It’s taking its toll. We are both worse for the wear, and while you are ever putting up a brave face, I can see it in you.

I have given up hope. I have given up faith. I drank their kool-aid and swilled it happily, but their words are not the same as their actions.

You have more integrity in your little finger than the mangy carnivores that left you bleeding like this.

I have been unsure about almost everything up to this point, but I am not unsure about the relief that it brought on me to hear what you were planning. To hear this may end, for real may end. Something new may come and what’s to come only fate can show, but something different and altogether not full of this false hope. They can take away my honeymoon, they can take away the clothes, at the end of the day it isn’t an identity, it’s not who you are in your core.

They can’t take you away from me and they can’t take me away from you.

I have your love and I’m lucky for it and they can’t take that away.

I feel a fool for having believed their rhetoric and I can only imagine how you feel, after having given them your blood. You gave up on so many things, sacrificed for them, and in return you get nothing except experiencing firsthand what they are capable of.

I don’t want to wish ill on anyone but at the same time the part of my heart that lusts for vengeance hopes that they will reap what they have sown.

We will move on, and be better for it.

So many things, and so much time. I’ve got to stop doing this — leaving it months and months between posts when really the time that passes is a rich scenery of love.

Since the last time I updated on T, we’ve grown together in a different way. There isn’t any taking of each other granted anymore, or at least, far less than there was before. He doesn’t see me as something he only has when he doesn’t have a girlfriend. I don’t see him as mine-mine-mine, as something I can’t let go of if it were to ever come to that. In our understanding, we continue our dance, deepen our love for one another, and improve our level of intimacy.

There’s been a lot of stress at my home in the last several months. Things are uncertain, and Master is feeling the wobbliness of it all. If anything, Master has been trying to keep me stable while I try to give him love and reassurance and ensure that he has a nonthreatening lovely place to strip off all of his stress and shields and simply be loved. This uncertainty has my own heart beating a bit fast, with my tendency to worry unnecessarily. Things seem to be settling down and Master reassures me that I have no reason to worry. I’m trying, with difficulty, to not do so — T has helped me masterfully in this way. While Master is busy intensely applying himself to the stressor in an attempt to make it go away, he has trouble being soft and comforting and reassuring. He’s busy just concentrating on eating and getting enough sleep.

T, on the other hand, has always excelled at the emotional side of managing the kitten. I can cry, and he reassures me and helps me understand. We can talk through my craziness and worry and he is exceptional at talking me down. Lately, this means he’s been holding my hand while I hyperventilate about stress I can do nothing to control.

It feels like the last hiccup, where he left me for other girls, where he ended up getting burned and coming back, was a good thing. I feel like we’ve pruned away all the bad parts of the relationship — the aforementioned taking people for granted, the worry and self-censorship, the possessiveness. The love we have seems purer and less cautious, the tenderness more overt, the reassurances coming freer and very much in earnest. The sex has therefore gotten better — we have gotten better — as rather than looking inward at ourselves and trying to extract the maximum amount of pleasure from the moment, we spend more time trying to administer the most pleasure to the other person.

Lately, some most exciting things have come up. T has a lady that he would like to pursue. This lady seems to want to explore poly as well, which leaves us in a position where I do not have to give up my T to have T enjoy someone as a primary lover. I’m extremely excited by this not only because I get to keep my very dear friend as a lover, but because it means he’s liable to have some extreme happiness coming his way in the future. Nothing is for sure yet, of course, but I have my fingers crossed rather tightly as I hope for new and exciting things to come his way.

T found for himself a new girlfriend. She seemed exciting, full of promise and limerence, all of the things that he wanted it to be. He’s easing out of his shell of pain at having lost his most beloved, and I was happy for him that he seemed to be finding love.

These girls all had something in common, however. They all wanted monogamy. T didn’t take this request lightly; several trips out by himself, sleeping by himself, smoking, freezing in the spring cold, and thinking. Like Archimedes emerging from the bath, as I drove in to his city after a long separation, he delivered his decision. I fairly tore it out of him, I’ll admit. I had pleaded with the universe to provide, fantasized that everything would turn out as I’d wanted it to. I’d built up a dream inside my head of how it was going to be. T wasted no time in smashing it, as I asked him to.

So it was over the phone that he delivered to me the truth, that he couldn’t see himself turning down what appeared on its surface to be a perfectly functional relationship with what seemed to be a perfectly lovely woman, simply because she wasn’t willing to compromise for his polyamory. He told this to me in all gentleness. He said it with great concern and care. And though our relationship had been based on the known fact that I’d very soon be moving a six-hour drive away, though we had stipulated at the very beginning that anybody had to be able to end it at any time for any reason with no hard feelings, or it wouldn’t work, I was absolutely crushed.

In looking back, I understand fully why this happened. He made gentle comments at the time that we appeared to have become a little bit too attached. I took this as a heavy blow. I reacted irrationally. I took it personally. I was wounded in every possible place that my heart could think to be wounded. It means he doesn’t love me! It means he doesn’t want me anymore! It means he’s breaking up with me! It’s not him, it’s me!

This was all magnification, of course, and he was very careful to disperse any misconceptions that he could detect in his apartment with me wavering between anger and grief and sadness, the whole thing steeped in tears. He hugged and stroked and soothed as best he could. He still loves me, it’s just not the same when we’re not living together, when he’s looking at other women in the absence of living with a warm girl in his bed, when I live a figurative world away, when I’m suddenly suffused again with love, real love, true love, this love that I put on like warm socks, that I wrap around me like a fuzzy blanket, this love that is the way I imagine a strong narcotic must feel, even after this many years.

This is the kind of love that has ever made me want to put down the exogenous things that make me able to ignore all of my pain, that has made me want to pick up my problems and solve their puzzles with all their difficulty, to do the real psychological heavy lifting that even my adult parents are too weak to do. I know this like I know that breathing keeps me alive, like I know my heart pumps blood, like I know what pain feels like.

The truth is that T and I were something to each other during a very conveniently timed point in our lives. I was alone, absent my love, gone for six months being psychologically and physically beaten, and he, fresh from having his best beloved torn off of him, wound all raw and bleeding.

He took care of me at my most vulnerable, and I nursed his wounds at his most wounded. We did share a bond, indeed, there was something between us. But he’s right when he says that we became too attached; we both assumed that it would be like that forever.

It wasn’t going to be.

Once I could swallow the truth that we were never going to be what we were, that our attachment was situational, that the grief was going to come one way or another, and that the longer I delayed it the more painful it was going to be, I was able to let go. He was never mine in the first place, and I was grieving his absence as if he was, as if I didn’t have a beautiful blue-eyed man at home who loves me and knows it like he knows he is alive.

This attachment, that the Buddha points out is the source of pain, was what I had done. I had not intended to do it, and did it mindlessly. Now, mindfully, I had to let go of my attachment to this idea that T and I would be this perfect couple that lasted forever, the idea that coalesced out of soothed tears, when I was living frustrations in my relationship with Master, when I was terrified of the idea of him leaving for six months, when we were chafing at relationship imperfections, when I was afraid he would return as this changed creature full of vexation and cynicism and bitterness.

I had a comfortable landing pad in a period of emotional strain. And yes, I did wonder at times if T was really a better alternative to my Master, with T’s ability to comfort me, and Master’s stress and my stress snowballing into conflict, and me seeking refuge in T, and Master’s leaving-soon causing him to interpret my seeking refuge as avoiding him, it was bad scenes all around.

I think I became a little fixated on that attachment with T, to the point where, even when we moved away, even when living with Master (and Master living at work, training,) I was still fixated on T, still seeking my refuge. I was stressing myself out trying to be the ideal fiancée, the ideal proto-wife, the ideal sub, the ideal girlfriend, instead of being myself.

I grew to let go of T. We drifted apart for a little while, and it wasn’t really a sad thing. I think we needed our space to grow into our own, and I needed to really build my relationship with Master, to grow together as a couple. I fought against that a lot.

I have a lot of psychological demons, and I’ve spent a lot of time running from them. A lesser man would have left me by now, and it’s true when Master says if he didn’t love me, he wouldn’t be here. Not that putting up with my bullshit is all that epic a battle, but that this many years, this many hours, this kind of tears and listening and trying to grok when he so clearly isn’t on the same page I’m on, let alone the same book, he tries, oh, my, how he tries. That’s what makes all of the difference.

In T’s absence, I found myself at first not coping well, until Master very appropriately tuned me in. I sobbed. I was falling apart. I had nothing left. I didn’t know what to do or how to be. I have written about that breakdown elsewhere. About the very soul-deep discovery that what Master wanted was me, and how that was exactly what I didn’t want to give him, feeling it was the most heinous thing to give him in the world.

With this realization and working at telling him and showing him and sharing with him who I am, who I really am, not the façade that I put on for him, we’ve grown together in our intimacy. Things are better, more whole. I feel his love, this love that I didn’t think existed at all.

So T’s girlfriend turns out to be a crazy bitch, and we drift back together. We talk, over several drinks, late into the night. We lay out the groundwork. About how his withdrawal of consent had a little bit to do with the fact that he didn’t feel comfortable having be as a fuckbuddy, thinking that he was emotionally taking advantage of me. Now he’s realized how I’m a big girl, really, and I can make my own decisions; I don’t need him to decide it’s too painful for me to be his fuckbuddy. I’ll decide that on my own, thanks.

We’re amused, both of us, at how in laying the groundwork, we are dancing around one another’s boundaries, we are trying not to step on toes, we are so careful not to push. It’s indeed part of why we are so good together: how careful we are to not force things, to not push buttons, to ask permission instead of telling and to negotiate before jumping in feetfirst. So we dance, again, and negotiate new boundaries, and I find myself out in a camping trip, just me, and T.

At first I’m excited somewhat, but I remember our first encounter after renegotiating the boundaries and I find myself also somewhat anxious. I found things far less satsifying than I remember, and I chalk it up to no privacy, to not having explained things to his roommate-brother, to awkward, hasty ninja-sex in a too-cold room under unromantic pretenses.

I discover during this trip that what we had was somehow less than I remember. Magnified by emotion at the time, my feelings excoriated by the experience of being left alone and vulnerable, his spirit rubbed raw by the loss of his most beloved, his need to nurture and support soothed my fear of Master’s changed-nature and my own apprehension at moving far-far away. I remember this incredible closeness and this loving environment that had me seriously wondering whether Master was really the Right One, especially during a time when his stress and my stress had us fairly at each others’ throats.

I sought refuge in T and that didn’t help things with Master, but this is only something I can see when stress-free and not immersed in anxiety about the future. What seemed to be so perfect at the time actually had its own undercurrents of dissatisfaction, subtleties that I ignored because I had bigger things to worry about. The bigger things are gone, on this camping trip. All I have to focus on is ‘us’, myself and T, and how, while we are still ‘us’, there’s this sense that this is never, ever going to be … enough.

It’s fun! Don’t get me wrong. We enjoy ourselves and enjoy each other and do have a lot of fun playing around and take good care of one another. However, I find myself instead of stressed and being soothed with the balm of this comfortable presence, I’m now unable to ignore the fact that the sex is, at best, somewhat mediocre, the funnest part being able to watch him have fun, not necessarily the act of intercourse in and of itself. And he’s trying, in the process of foreplay, to tweak buttons that he knows are tweakable, but he’s doing the sexual equivalent of rolling his face on the keyboard to try and write poetry. He pinches because he knows I like pain, but he isn’t Master, and it doesn’t come in the context of pleasurable pain, it’s just pinching. He doesn’t know me like Master knows me. He can tease me to new heights using the tools available to him, but he can’t be Master and try and use Master’s tools. It just doesn’t work.

So here I am, standing back and staring at this exchange, going, this is it? This is what I was so crushed about losing? Which is only part of the equation, because I was crushed about losing so much more than that. I am just only now recognizing that the only thing I really did lose was that mediocre sex, because we’re still us, good friends, whether we are having sex or not. That said, we will never have the emotional bond that my husband and I have, we will not grow together emotionally in the same way that I will with Master, and he will not grow to know me in a way that a man who’s shared my bed and my body for eight years can.

And that’s what makes all the difference.

A gasp, and then I come up for air

We come together, our first night, no less than four times. It is desperate at times, frenzied. No slow, calculatedness to it. Pure lust, simple desire, enough power and passion in it to blow a house down.

My voice pleases him, its higher and higher pitches as he continues his assault. My dream comes true, that evening, as he has me dressed in cuffs. They are clipped, wrists to ankles, and he wraps tape around my head, creating a hasty bit-gag in my mouth. It is my bridle as he fucks me with wild abandon. The look on his face has changed, is no longer the whimsical happiness I am used to. His teeth are set in determination, bared with passion, his new muscles jumping as he yanks repeatedly on my body, riding me to his completion.

I am home.

It pleases him, this usage of my body. He giggles at following me into the shower, pointing out his red handprints on my ass. It’s a pleasant feeling, to be helpless, and it’s equally pleasant to be mounted and ridden without bridles and cuffs.

He delights in my new talents, in how well-trained I’ve become in his absence, that I can take all of him most effortlessly. I am shaking with my need, and he is pleased, fairly humming with his pleasure. We are learning too, our little cycles and silliness that we want to eradicate. He has come back trained in his own way, more ready to deal with these things, more willing to negotiate, to apologize, quicker to acknowledge his flaws, less easily frustrated with me, and all my frustrating little quirks.

Most of all, he’s come back. It’s the littlest things that I’ve missed, his silly faces and our in-jokes. I’ve missed antics and wrestling and play most of all.

There’s still adjustments, of course. His job takes up a majority of his time, and is extremely draining. I’m finding myself having to jostle for time. What time I get is precious, though, and he is better in his own ways. More vocal about his love. More appreciative. More thankful, in many ways.

Any love that I forgot about with him gone so long is being experienced anew. New love? Is woven in with the more familiar. And the mellowness is helping us develop ourselves more easily than we did before. Topics that were touchy, that result in tears, that could have been the topics of a fight, are instead the topics of serious discussions, weighty thoughts and weighty words but handled gently, instead of with frustration and anger.

This feels good. It feels like a future, like a life, like we are building on what we have, like there’s a strong foundation under my feet. I’m strong. And I’m finally alive.

As cliche as it sounds, it feels truest to me, right now.

I accidentally erased my text message cache with Master today, and my disappointment was immense. Gone are long conversations about the feel of my mouth on his cock, about what exactly he will do with me the moment he has me alone.

A visit around Canada day was not nearly enough, with my parents around and cramping my style (including arguing with him, loudly, when he introduced me to his friends as his wife. “You’re not married yet!” mother cries. And six-and-a-half years of dating and nearly three years of cohabiting are worth what, exactly?) and keeping us from what we do best. An hour to ourselves was not nearly enough time, though it was enough time for us to get up to a quickie and a short massage.

Mostly, it felt good to lay there, with him, and be held. I don’t have the same protected feeling when T holds me, as when my Master does. He is slender, but he moves with grace and power, and when he holds me, that power is focused on cradling me with gentleness. It makes me sigh inside, and writing about it brings tears to my eyes. I often cry when writing about him, and re-reading what I’ve written. The last letter he sent me made me cry, tears of longing, missing him, but I re-read it every now and then, when I want to feel that familiar bubble inside my chest, that tells me that I am loved more than I will ever truly understand.

I worry, as I am wont to do, that my love is not enough, or that I somehow do not love him as much as I should. (That word again.) The reality of the situation is that our love for each other is reflected back and forth so many times it is impossible to truly measure even the magnitude of it, least of which whether it is adequate.

He reassures me, soothing me in that way that I suspect he would soothe no-one else besides his own children, that my love for him is enough. I meditate on these thoughts, in keeping with my promise to try and take his love for me and hold it close, closer than I tend to hold my worry. I am learning to self-soothe, a task many people learned as young children. I am learning to repeat his words inside my head, in his beautiful voice, framed by his lips; that knowing that I am here, and that I love him, is enough. He is satisfied, he insists, as I fret about my perceived inadequacy. I am here, and I love him. That is enough.

I am missing him acutely now, officially in the part of our separation where we are apart the longest. It hardly feels as if the last time I saw him was almost exactly 31 days ago. It feels like far longer, and I have three weeks left to go.

Our separation has had the side effects of making us cherish each other more. Living together, a couple hardly discusses things like how they would love to snuggle in bed and breathe each others’ scent. After months and months apart, it’s practically all we do. I am going to have to be careful about who gets to touch my cell phone, however, as my cousin grabbed my phone from my hands to play with it just at the instant Master sends me a text message inviting me over to give him a shower and a blowjob.

Awkward.

A year ago I would have freaked, but now I just laugh and move on. Master has imparted many things upon me, including the wisdom to roll with the punches. His flexibility in sticky situations has always been a trait of his that I’d admired, and I recently had somebody compliment me on my own ability to keep on keeping on. It doesn’t seem like heroism (to me) to continue your life after it’s been shattered by tragedy, but apparently it appears heroic to others.

I am revelling in these new found skills, skills I did not realize I had developed until I had to live without my Master. His traits keep popping up in me, in dealing with everything: other people, my own feelings of inadequacy, my abject fear of the future and the unknown. This move, where we pack our lives and move far away from everyone we’ve ever known, it is simply a grand adventure to him, a spot of fun, and he’d like to do it more than just once. Growing together, I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter where we move to — if he is there, it is my home.

I am shocked at my composure, honestly, and my ability to handle this. Relatively few teary moments, continuing to function in my life. We won’t get into how I didn’t sleep hardly for the first few months, to the point where my boss dragged me into his office to ask me what the hell was wrong with me that I looked so wrung out. We also won’t get into how I lost 30 pounds because without him there, my appetite fled entirely, causing me to go several days at times without eating, without noticing that I wasn’t eating. An acquaintance recently commented that she doesn’t know how I handle him being gone. I deliberately neglected to mention the spare boyfriend in my bed, but I did mention how I was handling him being gone: insomniac anorexic that I became.

I have since figured things out a little — sleep is better, and I gained back about 10 of the pounds I lost through the magical technology of actually ingesting food. I am no longer worrying about my inadequacy as a girlfriend and simply dreaming of the days we can spend together finally, imagining his hands on my body as they were the last time we were together, the look on his face, mouth slightly open, pupils dilated as wide as dinner plates, as we made love.

It’s the love that’s pulling me through, to be honest.

Every text message (as douchebaggy as it seems to communicate entirely via SMS, in a paramilitary slash high-stress medical shiftwork situation, it’s the only tool we have to communicate at times) where he stresses how he misses our bed, with me in it, how he misses my breath on the back of his neck, how he misses his Shower Assistant, and how I, unlike the other men he is presently living with, do not annoy the everliving fuck out of him, is another thread, cast in my general direction, and my job is to catch as many of them as possible and make them into a rope to hang on to for dear life.

Oh, it is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done.

But if only to realize exactly how much we love each other?

Worth it.