As much as I strive to live in the moment, I’ve always been someone who rehearses things.
When I’m about to have an important conversation, I will often find myself imagining how it’s going to go. Sometimes this involves actually playing out the hypothetical talk. Acting out both sides clumsily like a person playing a board game against themselves.
It never really helps though, come to think of it. Often real life plays out in a completely different way than I prepared for. Either there are no problems whatsoever. Or in the case that something does crop up, it’s often something I didn’t even anticipate.
I used to do the same thing when I was about to go on vacation. I’d look over the list of things I was planning to see, start daydreaming and fantasizing about the trip. But I don’t do that anymore. Because I found that the actual vacation, while nice, rarely lived up to what my imagination was capable of conjuring. So I was disappointed.
And perhaps most notably, I’ve been known to pre-grieve. In spite of myself, I’ve found myself imagining every regrettable outcome I can think of. Most of my close relatives have died and been buried in my brain. Friends and lovers, too. I’ve mourned them though they’re still here. (It’s a behavior I’ve been working on and trying to stop, however. More on that in a future article.)
I’ve also suffered more early breakups in the Land of Imagination than I ever did in real life. (Where typically relationships I’ve been in have gone on for way longer than they probably should have, except for the circumstances in which I ended them myself.)
I Was Wrong About Which Parts of Polyamorous Life Would Be Easy and Which Ones Would be Difficult
When I ventured into polyamory, I had a clear picture of what I thought my experience would be like. I thought I knew what I would struggle with emotionally. What I would enjoy. What would be difficult. And what would be an absolute breeze.
And you know what? I was absolutely wrong.
Things that were supposed to be tough were easy as heck. Presumably easy things brought me to my knees. I was blindsided by other concerns, other considerations that never even entered my mental rehearsals of what it would be like to be in a relationship that was not only physically open but emotionally.
And most humbling of all, I didn’t feel like I thought I would in theory. As I was skeptical and pessimistic heading in, this was mostly a pleasant surprise. But there were times I struggled with something tiny and became frustrated because it didn’t square with my own view of myself. How I hypothetically thought I’d emotionally process the situation.
You Don’t Know How You’re Going to Feel. And That’s Okay.
Sometimes I’m asked “How do I know if XYZ is right for me?” or “How do I know how I’ll feel when XYZ happens?”
And while I wish I had a decoder ring or a crystal ball to hand you, the truth is that I don’t.
I don’t know how you’re going to feel because you don’t know how you’re going to feel.
And that’s okay.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t handle it. Or that what you feel then is wrong.
All it means is that you’ll figure it out when you get there. And learn something new about yourself in the process.
Books by Page Turner: