Trigger Warning : This essay contains descriptions of emotional abuse, depression, drug abuse and self harm which may be sensitive topics for some readers.
This is Part 2.
Things did not get better in the morning. There was another layer to this story. He had been betraying my trust in another way that I could have never imagined. My mother called me into the kitchen and said “Do you know he has people on the phone when y'all are arguing?” I didn’t understand. “People on the phone mom?. What do you mean?”
She told me that last night while I was bouncing around the house in my drunken stupor that they had gotten into a conversation. A few things came up, mostly centered around my drinking, and how much he didn’t like it. And then it went to a space where he revealed to my mother how unreasonable I am in arguments, how much I overwhelm him so unreasonable that he had to put a friend of his on the phone, muted on three way while I was “irrationally yelling” at him one day just as proof of the “abuse” he was being subjected to.
I almost didn’t believe her. It seemed insane quite honestly. Rather than have a conversation with me about how he felt when we argued he thought it was healthy behaviour to secretly have someone on the phone during a vulnerable private moment between he and I? And who was this person? How many arguments and conversations had they been quietly listening in on? I felt so violated. On so many different levels. My mental health began to spiral out of control. I felt trapped.
I confronted him on all of his betrayals. He revealed to me that the woman on the phone was one of his lovers (whom months prior he had suggested we enter into a triad with), let’s call her Melissa. He let me know that he “had to” have her on the phone to know whether or not he was right or wrong in the argument. Melissa told him that he was right and I was being unreasonable so that then justified her being on the phone and violating my privacy. Never mind what I said, thought or felt. Melissa agreed with his assessment of me, and so from that day forward it now was a fact for him in our relationship, a fact that he could use as a counter to anything he would later to do to me and the relationship, those things had become fine in that moment, it was okay for him to hurt me because I was overwhelming and unreasonable - I was too intense.
Regarding his relationship with Jessica, for whatever reason he finally admitted that they had been getting to know each other romantically. I received no apology for the months of arguing and lying, my thinking I had gone crazy or the damage done to my mental health. He just moved on to explain to me that and that she and I could not meet right now because she “was not ready” and he wanted to respect that. When I expressed my disappointment and hurt by this, he reminded me of how overwhelming I am as a person and ended the conversation.
Rather than get into the nitty gritty details of the trauma that went on for the next few months, I’ll just give you the edited version.
After weeks of arguments between He and I he told me gave Jessica an ultimatum. That if she continued to refuse to meet me, that he would not speak to until she agreed to meet me. I let him know that I thought this was not the healthiest way to handle things, and that perhaps he should investigate why Jessica did not want to meet me. He ignored my comments on the matter, and weeks later would tell me that he had cut off communication with her but she was obsessively messaging him, inquiring about his whereabouts. Adding that this is why he’s pleased with his decision to conclude their interaction. Probably about the 5th or 6th time he mentioned her obsessive messaging to him, and how "crazy" she was, I realized I was ignoring a excellent opportunity. An opportunity to tell her how angry I was at her but mostly an opportunity to speak to her so we could compare notes. Perhaps I could finally find out the truth. Following a moment where he had entered into his "Women Are Crazy" monologue, I offered myself up as the good angry girlfriend and I requested her phone number. He gave it to me and I ended up sending her a mildly rude message. I still carried rage and somehow blamed her for all of this. I recognize I should have approached her differently and perhaps she and I could have walked away from him in a healthier way but I was clearly in a dark toxic place at this point. However, I do feel I had a right to my rage, (but that's a whole other topic)
Jessica responded to my less than friendly message, and revealed quite a bit. Mostly things I knew already about his dishonesty but the details she knew about my personal life and what he really thought about me were the most devastating. Jessica let me know that he had been telling her I was in the way of their relationship. That he was desperately trying to end things with me for months. That I was obsessive; controlling and insecure. Jessica knew about the night I cried myself to sleep and argued with my mother. She told me things that I recall him yelling at me during our worst fights. Jessica was entitled. She was speaking to me in the exact way I was speaking to her.
He of course called her a liar. Said that nothing she said was true and said that I could be assured of that because he had had Melissa on the phone during a few conversations where she admitted to her lies. And all I would have to do was speak to Melissa so that she could confirm Jessica's dishonesty and insanity.
Melissa on the phone again? Melissas word was law again? What the hell was going on? Things were out of control. I was out of control for still even being involved in this clusterfuck of a situation. And wanting to be there. I wanted to be with him still - What was wrong with me?
The final betrayal happened quickly and unexpectedly. Because I'm stupid, I decided to push down the trauma of the past year and half deep down. I was going to ignore everything, forgive him and move forward. He had said sorry and the other woman was gone and from what I could tell he was being more transparent about his partners now. Maybe everything that had happened was just a little bump in the road? And even if it wasn't, he had to be thankful to me for just moving past everything right? If ignored everything that happened he couldn't call me intense and overhelming anymore right?
Throughout our relationship the woman who had been on the phone (Melissa) was always an awkward element. When we started dating they were sexual with one another, and then that stopped because of certain responsibilities in her life she could not be available to him as frequently as other women could be. At that point he told me they were just really good friends and not at all sexual with one another. Though, he was present for her he was never present for me. Remarkably attentive and sensitive to her needs, even at the expense of me and my needs at times. He had been encouraging me for a long time to spend time with her and build a friendship, but I was really consumed with other things and not really interested in making new friends. Further to that it takes me a very long time to warm up to people, to trust people and allow them into my life - This seemed to bother him very much. Following the incident with her being on the phone I was very uncomfortable with continuing to get to know her at the level I had been getting to know her previously. That among other things he revealed to me that indicated a bankruptcy in her morality. But because she was someone I knew was probably never going to leave her life, I decided I was going to try and get to know her and eventually when I was comfortable unpack everything I was uncomfortable about.
One day though, I noticed I had been deleted and blocked by her on every single social media channel. This was very odd to me because as far as I knew we had no disagreement. No argument. Nothing had happened. Outside of my conversations with him about my apprehension in getting to know her, there was nothing I could point to that would cause her to want to cut me out of her life in such a way. I asked him about it, and he was mad almost immediately. Almost as if he knew something I didn’t and wanted to avoid the conversation so to not say what he knew. I couldn’t let this go though. She had recently moved and I was preparing a package for her. I needed to clear this up because if this person no longer wanted to communicate with me I should probably not send them a package. And it all just felt so strange to me. Like everything that has happened between the Joker and I. Why were the things that appeared so simple to me always overly complicated and dramatic? Why was he always trying to quiet me when I asked questions? What was I missing? He shut things down and forbade me from asking him anything further about it. So , I decided to send her an email. To which she let me know that she would be willing to have a conversation as to why she was cutting me out of her life, only if he was on the phone as well.
I didn’t understand. What did he have to do with anything? My anxiety began to rage again like it has throughout my relationship with this man. When I told him what she had said he said he had no idea. I asked him (although I suppose I knew the answer) if he had shared with her anything I said to him privately about her, I asked him this question more than once. He assured me he did not.
When the three of us got on the phone, I sensed her hostility and resentment that she even had to speak to me and explain herself. She began by letting me know that she wanted to build a friendship with me but was disappointed that I was not making the same effort as she was. She felt as though the only points of communication that she and I would have would be for me to “pry” information from her about him. Which I suppose is partially true. I did often ask her questions that he would not answer but she had positioned herself in the relationship in that way. I saw that as her role. He would direct me to her to as the "law" on almost everything. "Just ask Melissa. She'll tell you" He would say anytime I would question him on things. And so I would promptly ask her. And she would answer, everytime. Never once indicating that she had a problem with it. Was the the onus not on her to let me know if she was uncomfortable with anything I asked her? And further to that, not everyone builds friendships the same way so what exactly did she mean I wasn't putting the in the same level of effort? I was confused.
Melissa went on to tell me that the Joker had revealed to her that I didn’t trust her following the phone incident and she was angry that I never said anything about it. My mind switched from her to him in an instant and I began to ask him why would lie to me about that and put me on the phone with this girl with misinformation about what the scope of the situation was. I was now having to explain myself to someone (who violated me) I was not ready to explain myself to. It then turned into the two of them going back in forth about all the ways in which I had apparently ruined my relationship with this woman, as well as simultaneously revealing how close they actually were.
I again, was furious.
Following that conversation I called him, hoping that he would be apologetic and give me some sort of explanation. That didn’t happen. He blamed everything on me. Said that situation had nothing to do with him. And the reason why he didn’t reveal to me that he had been revealing my private comments to him about my lack of trust of her was because I was far too intense of a person and when we speak I overwhelm him and make him forget things.
I was clearly dealing with a gaslighter and a narcissist.
He elected to stop answering my phone calls and ignore me for over a week. I had grown used to this type of behaviour as it was common practice of his throughout our entire relationship when I would confront him on his various betrayals. He would cut off all communication with me, despite him knowing how triggering being ignored was for my mental health. During those times I wouldn’t sleep or eat and I would engage in various self harming behaviour.
It was then I realized it was over. And that it had been over for quite some time. I had been dating a liar. I had been hurting myself. I had gotten to a very dark and violent place. And ultimately, what I truly realized is that I wasn’t even in a relationship with a polyamorous man - I mean, how could he be? How can you be polyamorous if you actively engage in such dishonest and manipulative behaviour?
This man had successfully convinced two women (that I know of) that I was a bad person. That I had been controlling and jealous and so deeply insecure that I was attempting to come in the way of him and their relationships (even though I did not even know they were in relationships) I can’t even imagine all the stories he’s told them about me or how many conversations they were listening in on that would provide them with all the “evidence” they need to support his deep deep manipulative tactics. Those are things I can never forgive him for. I’ve had a relatively smooth reputation up until this point. And now women are harmed because of what he has lead them to believe about me.
Part of what I love about polyamory is community. The ability to build a sisterhood with other women. I sought honesty and boundaries from him in his relationships with other partners to create a healthy space between he and I, to create a healthy space for their relationships and quite honestly to build community with those women. If we were all on the same page. If he was just honest with me about his partners. If we could have just all spoken and established boundaries that made us all comfortable I feel like none of this would have happened.
None of this had to happen.
When he finally decided he could speak to me I told him I felt I no longer had a place in his life. That his behaviour over the past year and a half has shown me that he does not even like me as a human being and that I no longer wanted to be with him or have a friendship with him. He agreed to end things.
I learned that when something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right. When someone lies to you, you don’t wait, you don’t ask questions, you leave. You can not be polyamorous and be a liar. I was in a relationship with someone who was a liar, and who used polyamory as a way to facilitate his lies.
Polyamory is about honesty, and he was dishonest from the start. Because I saw the dishonesty and allowed it to continue I think I indirectly told him that I was okay with that behaviour so he got really crafty with it and became emotionally abusing me in a way i’ve never even heard of before. When people ask about me and him it's always so hard to explain how deeply I was manipulated and gaslit. The things I did for him and how far I was willing to go to make him see I was worthy of more than lies. How on some level I thought I deserved some of the behaviour because I wasn’t being the best partner I could be for him. His comments about me intensity and my being “too much” still roll around in my head.
Looking back I think I convinced myself if i didn’t stay with him then I would be proving everyone who told me polyamory and black men would not work right. I would be living proof that it’s impossible to have a true polyamorous relationship with a black man. I would be a liar. It sounds silly but I truly felt that way.
I now know that he was just one man. One man who misled me. One man who I allowed to stay in my life far past his expiry date, causing me to engage in toxic behaviour that violated many of my moral codes.
Right now I’m in a better place. I’ve learned so much and I will not make the same mistakes ever again. I did not deserve what happened to me.
I hope that anyone reading this, any woman exploring polyamory or non-monogamy remembers that no level of dishonesty is acceptable. If your partner is lying to you, understand they are not polyamorous and end the relationship. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a dark space like I did. Don’t allow yourself to mirror the behaviour of the toxic person in your life. Honour yourself. You deserve to be told the truth. You deserve to be respected. Polyamory does not exist if it is not existing in a space of honesty.
I am so thankful that I have found my black polyamorous community. That I have had the honour and privilege of meeting black men who are truly polyamorous. They have taught me so much and I’m so thankful. They give me hope that one day I will meet more black men who will not lie to me and share with me the black and polyamorous love that I so desperately seek.