Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Close the lid

[Aug 8: Update -- Things have been challenging this past week. Very. But we're not down for the count yet. We've been able to get away from everything, refocus on what we do and who we are when we're at our best, rest our souls, and slowly, tenderly, reconnect. We're not out of the woods completely, but there are some very positive signs and we love each other very much. We may still work this out yet.]

I have just had the most fantastic weekend. It was truly joyous and an enormous part of what made it so was more than two years of introspection and personal growth.

I was planning to be a bit more cagey but as you'll see later, there is really no need.

I was at a twenty-five year reunion for a group of people that I performed with for a year in 1985. I was 18, a musician in a band, and with more than 100 people from countries all over the world -- from Canada to South Africa to Japan to Mexico to Poland just to name five of the more than 20 nationalities represented -- we traveled the US, Mexico, and Europe. We were young, idealistic, and in that year developed bonds that have stood the test of time.

At the reunion, years melted away as if they'd never happened. Within moments of each greeting, it was as if we'd picked up exactly where we'd left off a quarter of a century ago and we once again were sharing our mutual successes and hardships. We effortlessly flowed between the mundane "here's what I'm doing now" to our greatest joys to our inner most fears and challenges without fear of being hurt, mocked, or judged, and with nothing but love and support in return. We laughed so hard we hurt. On a few occasions, missing those who've already left or who soon will, we cried as well.

I reconnected with old friends as the new, authentic, and very real me. During the year of travel (as well as many years after), I struggled to fit in, to feel accepted with other people. It's only been in the last year that I realized that distance and emptiness that seemed to permeate so many of my relationships was self-inflicted. It's too much to get into and I have much more important stuff to share but I couldn't connect with others because even though I wanted to be an open loving person, the truth was I was a scared, self-loathing, and harshly judgemental -- mostly of myself.

You can imagine the response as well. For the first time in twenty-five years, I connected with people as fearless, accepting, and with sincere love for who I am and who I saw in others. I actually had something to give -- something worthwhile to those who were hurting -- and something to share. And I didn't hold back. One woman's husband has advanced cancer and she will be a widow and her children will lose their father soon -- she and I are a wickedly funny pair and she wanted/needed to have that back. I am not afraid of death nor of the "conventional" way of dealing with it so I was able to give her what she needed.

A couple of people's marriages are coming apart, one of whom -- who 25 years ago I had an 18-year old's crush on -- said that he knew he was a good father and that he'd tried to be a good husband but he no longer felt like a man because he hadn't been desired in years. I assured him he was desired. Not by sleeping with him of course; that's not the arrangement Vince and I have, but by holding his hand, looking into his eyes, and telling him where he could see and feel it that it wasn't true. And I felt no shame and no guilt. A friend was hurting and I was there for him.

Had Vince and I not come to the place we are I couldn't have done any of that. I would have stayed locked in the box of conventional thinking that says you don't joke about dying and married women not only don't desire men who aren't their husbands but the never, ever fucking tell someone if they do. And these two hurting souls, friends who I love, would continue in pain, isolated in their sorrow, and separated from that which makes us human -- our ability to laugh and to love.

So by the time I got back home on Sunday night and my beloved Vincent picked me up at the airport, I was exhausted (about 4 hours sleep a night) but happy. Vince didn't go so that I could be free to reconnect with old friends without having to explain every anecdote or worry that he was bored. It was a gift of amazing proportion and a sign of our complete and utter devotion. I was able to talk and laugh and flirt as well as totally focus on whoever I was talking to at the moment.

Once, when someone asked if Vince "cared" that I was there by myself, without him I started to reply "Oh, he doesn't care!" but stopped myself and instead said "He cares very much. He cares that I'm happy and having a good time. It matters to him that I'm able to reconnect with all of you. He's not threatened by my friendships with other people. We run our marriage a little differently than most people; we have no secrets. Our communication and love for one another mean we are able to let go of the other, relax, and trust."

I was wrong.

Or rather, he was wrong.

As we drove home from the airport, me a bundle of energy and excitement, talking a mile a minute about how wonderful it was to be "all of me" with that solid bedrock of our love, Vince became a bit snappy. In fact, some of the words he used were quite hurtful.

The next day, after a twelve hour sleep I woke up to a very agitated Vince. As the day went on, the argument got worse. Much worse.

It's too much to share here but the sum of it is that Vince is not okay with who I have become. He says and has said he loves that I'm an open, enthusiastic, smart, and giving person. But apparently, only if it's reserved for him. He loves that I am sincerely and honest, but not if it means I sincerely care about someone else. My enthusiasm is great, except for when it's not directed at him. My affection is his and should be his alone.

Moreover, in spite of the fact he has for the last year told me and acted otherwise, he is not okay with our foray into swinging. But perhaps most importantly, to me at least, he is not okay with my affection for you or anyone else. In fact, that is the straw that broke his back.

Jealousy. And not simply of the sexuality, but rather he is jealous that I actually have genuine affection and yes, love for any one other than him, especially if that someone is a male, it is somehow a loss to him. It is the conventional paradigm -- love is finite, desire (regardless of action) is only reserved for one, friendship that acknowledges attraction is not proper and is disrespectful.

In fact, his jealousy pushed him to do something that I thought was impossible -- betray my trust. I have never lied to him nor hidden anything from him. He had a standing invitation to read my email or text, he reads every blog post before it's posted (except this one). I have never done anything he didn't know about and have always accepted the limits he put on my behavior as we navigated these waters. He has the passwords to everything -- my phone, computer, IveyLane. And yesterday, without my knowledge, he went through my phone and read the texts between myself and my old friend. He read them with no understanding of context and no trust for my judgement.

There were really quite benign. Such a small thing really. But I am devastated. More than the yelling, more than the anger and rage that filled his face as he screamed "you brought this on yourself!" as I was huddled, crying, in the stairwell.

He is tired, he says, of always being "portrayed" the one who is somehow "holding Ivey back." He says he has "eaten whatever shit [I've] dealt out" for over a year. "Who the fuck are these men and why are they in my life?!" he wants to know. He would be quite okay if I only wanted to fuck another woman and more than happy to participate if he get's to "pick her out" but another man "better have something to trade."

I have been, perhaps stupidly, honest throughout this whole experiment into openness. I feel now that is a mistake. Unfortunately, I'm a horrible liar and fairly self-aware. I, naively, believe what people tell me and act on whatever they say. I think actions speak louder than words so when Vince would search the swinger sites, bookmark people, and contact them I believed he was okay and interested.

I've always said that I would not sacrifice my marriage for swinging and I won't. That pursuit is now closed. And since this blog was part of that I'm going to close it as well. Close the blinds, so to speak.

I need to retreat. I need to lick my wounds and examine the mess that is now, to my utter surprise, my marriage and figure out what went wrong and what to do to move forward. Vince and I have no children to bind us together so regardless of whether we love each other if trust and joy are gone then there isn't much left.

Thank you all for you friendship and support. I know that in the conventional world there isn't much support for my perspective, that I am totally in the wrong and that Vincent is right, that I brought this on us. In fact, if our troubles ever come to light with our friends and family, I will clearly be the transgressor. We have been, or so I thought, the perfect couple. But perhaps I'm a better liar than I knew, only I've been lying to myself.

Next to me sits a box and right now I think my marriage and my husband's love is inside it. I have to crawl back in. And close the lid.



  1. Good luck, I've enjoyed what you have shared.

  2. I'm literally speechless, I don't know where to begin. And I don't think I'm going to try, words are probably little comfort to you right now.

    But remember, you always have my friendship, and you know where to find me.


  3. I'm shocked and saddened to read this. I dont even know what to say. This makes me think and wonder and question. My best to you. Many thoughts and hugs your way.

  4. Actually, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. Which is of little comfort to you anyway.

    Best of luck to you as you work on repairing things. I hope you come back and let us know how that goes, good or bad. Lurking isn't a bad thing.

    Damn. I was all excited by the first half of this post, too!

  5. Good luck, Ivey! It is often said that opening your marriage highlights all the flaws, inconsistencies, hurts, misdeeds, and dysfunctions. I believe this to be so, in fact I look at it as a blessing, because it forces us to become aware of these things. What we choose to do then becomes the deciding factor, doesn't it?


  6. So very sad to hear this. I hope things will go well with you in whatever you decide to do. Best of luck and love.

  7. As you've been for me, I'm here for you. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward and I feel that you and Vince's relationship is much like hubby and I's, so I am hopeful that things will iron out as they should. Until then, sending much love and positive thoughts your way.


  8. Wow. This is a powerfully written post. Im sorry for your pain. You are in our thoughts. Thank u for sharing. It definitely gives us pause and something to think about. I hope all works out the way you want it. We are sending you positive thoughts. Hugs, C-Man.

  9. Sadie said some smart things there. I'm sad and moved and here to offer an ear should you need it.
    Peace and love.

  10. Sorry to see you go. Have always enjoyed reading your posts. Good luck and hope everything works out for you!

  11. Ivey - I just discovered you and am saddened to see you go. Mostly because I was hoping by reading your posts I can see what is going on in my wife's life...

    she seems to be in the same state you were in a few years ago and reading your stories has made me realize that there is hope for my marriage.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope that you can work things out with Vince...

  12. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into your life and being so honest. You have been so open and raw. Also, thanks for giving us closure instead of just not posting. Take care of yourself Ivey.

  13. I know I don't comment very often. But I felt the need to at the very least offer you some hugs.

    Opening a marriage is an interesting notion.... I think it can bring about people's insecurities, jealousies, etc but can also bring them closer. I hope you are able to work through this. xoxo

  14. I came here from "At Longings End". That I could have written this post, is amazing. The only difference is there is no love for me.

    Stay true to yourself. Please don't lose what makes you feel happy and what makes you, YOU!

    I hope that you will be able to work things out.

  15. Oh wow. I am sorry that things have devolved to such a tense state.

    I sincerely hope you can work things out. Good luck.

  16. I'm sorry to read that things have deteriorated to this point, and I really hope you can both see past the hurt and anger and talk things through.

    Don't beat yourself up - you were always honest, and thought you were acting with your partner's blessing.

    I'm sorry to see you go, and hope that someday you'll be back.

    Take care... XO