Almost two weeks ago, Jeannie asked me a pretty simple question. “What do you miss most, Justina the relationship or Justina the person?” I thought about it for a moment and responded pretty definitively “Justina the person.” I said this because what I miss most is having a friendship with her – a friendship that was based on the person that she is. Of course I miss the relationship, too. But at this point, I’m very clear that I don’t want the relationship that we had – I do want a friendship.
The next day we were eating lunch and watching Lucifer. A line in the show made me deeply emotional. The line was something like, “she loves me for who I was, not who I’ve become.” It was super weird that it made me emotional. But then I had my epiphany:
Justina was the first person to truly love me for who I’d become and I got lost in that love because I thought Jeannie was still loving me for who I once was.
There’s a lot to unpack in that statement and almost two weeks later I’m still processing this. Perhaps I will be for a long time. Let’s start with some context.
Around 2016 I started to change quite a bit and by 2018 nearly my entire friend circle was different. Between cycling and raving, I was spending a lot of time with a very different friend group. Especially in my rave community (along with the Burner community), I was spending time with the most nonjudgmental and beautiful humans I’d ever known. It was incredibly fulfilling and really building me up as I tried to embrace a more open and abundant lifestyle.
Jeannie had grown in many ways, too – but it was over a longer period of time and I felt very attached to her growth. She went out of her way to include me in her growth. Yet I didn’t, and it was clear that some of my new desires did not align with hers. Instead of addressing that, I threw myself deeper and deeper into things I wanted on my own instead of our shared interests.
Let me be clear here, it’s not that Jeannie didn’t come along on my journey, it’s that, in some ways, I didn’t invite her in.
So what happened as a result?
During this time we made the decision to open the marriage. Jeannie found partners easily, I did not. After a year of being open, the only partners I had were ones that Jeannie acquired and shared, or were very casual and superficial. So when 16-months has passed and Justina started to truly get me for who I am, who I am right now, I was thrilled! I didn’t recognize this at the time, and while I have no regrets that I got involved with Justina, I also see now that I didn’t give Jeannie the feedback or the chance to get close to who I’d become.
Jeannie and I are now on the same page about who we’ve each grown to become, and how we want to each be a part of that for the other. I also think I can let go of the relationship I had with Justina and build a new intentional and meaningful one with her based on friendship and trust. I’m not confident that’s what will happen, but I can only offer my friendship and see if it will be accepted.
Meanwhile, Jeannie and I are doing the work to be really intentional about our plans and our actions and our connection. We check in on several things daily now, and this has built a new line of communication that helps assure we are keeping each other informed and not leaving ourselves adrift. I feel closer to Jeannie then I have in quite a long time and I think I’m finally “back on track” now. From here it’s important to stay on track. Or at least be clear when I’m leaving the track so we can decide, together, where we are going.