Why is there a man on this blog? Well simply I am TJ, Michelle and Sarah’s boyfriend. Yes they are married, and both have me as their boyfriend. We are your untypical polygamy relationship and it works. I would be the last person to have seen myself in a relationship with more than one person, having grown up with a father that is up to his eight wife or close to wife. He cheated on all of them and it made me grow up rather loyal to my partners. So it was an adjustment to accept two women at once and feel comfortable with it; but when you know how special these two women are you find yourself not wanting anything else.
First a little about my own mental illness. In my early twenties I have several large setback that lead me to a low point in my life. It took years to realize that I was in depression and I had my own awakening to that state. Without that I do not know if I would had come out of it, people around me noticed the problem. But I have always been an independent man. Listening to others when I wanted to resist them was never my strong point.
I remember with clarity the day it happened; though I can not tell you about any of the days before then. While sitting at my computer on a day off, time passed by and I sat, hour after hour went by and I sat. At some point in the evening I realized I had done nothing all day long but stare at a wall. The TV was on, yet I was not watching it. My computer was on, and my game had idled out over eight hours before then. Clearly I remember stating “shit what is happening to me!?!?”, and in those moments after that question I realized how I had drawn away from social events; family and friends, work events and hobbies. I had pulled away from everything and everyone, and I lost myself.
The next day I changed everything. I threw out the food in my house and stocked it with healthier options. I made a point to get in touch with friends, then started to hang out with them. Family began to see my face again at events and you could see their happiness as well as their concern. Even the very days brightened, it was like a curtain of fog was pulled away and the colors seemed more vibrant. My life was renewed. But I had a long hole to climb out of from that day on.
That time, that place, that deep hole are things in the past for me. Though their memory and what they did to my body, and spirit are still with me today. It is a constant reminder not to go back there again. One that feels like a losing battle, not that I will return to that type of depression; but that I will not remove the shackles it has placed upon myself.
Two of the largest consequences from that depression was the amount of weight I gained during it and the hammer it took to my self esteem. The weight today is still a struggle to remove, even years later. Tied close to that and to many other things that affect my personality is my self esteem. Let me note that ego and self esteem may be kissing cousins; but they are completely different things. My ego has always been tied closely to my intelligence, my wisdom, my ability to break things down and consider them. So perhaps it is only natural that it was not completely ruined. But my self esteem was crushed in the most violent of nonphysical ways; by myself, by society, by the place I found myself in after.
Today I celebrate every victory to gain a piece of my self esteem back. Six years ago I returned to college and quickly achieved my Associates Degree. That was not enough for my ego, so I pressed forward and gained a Bachelor’s Degree. I moved from that and gained a Masters Degree just last year. Each of those has given me so much personal power back. Not only do I know that I can move on to a better future, away from the factories, warehouses, call centers of my past employment and on to something I have passion in. I am happy to say that I find my new employment delightful. It gives me hope for my future like nothing else has in the past; except for my ladies.
Michelle and I have been acquaintances for over ten years. Though I can not give you a date or even a year to when we first meet. Our friendship then was a passing thing, talks on occasion, a passing hello, a friendly smile and how are you. But nothing of real substance, nothing lasting beyond those few moments. Then about five years ago we began to talk more. It quickly became a daily thing, if not almost every hour of the day. We were inseparable, in a long distance sense. Ahh technology and planes bringing the world together! That soon grew to more and about two years ago we moved our relationship beyond friendship.
From the beginning of us growing closer I could see the shadow following Michelle. She glowed so bright but even that was engulfed from time to time by that darkness. Our friendship was an easy thing and I believe because of my own personal qualities she began to trust me. Time and time again she opened to me, then told me that she had not told anyone but Sarah those things before. That continued to happen and I began to draw things out of her.
It is in my nature to be cold and detached. Perhaps I am broken in ways, but unless you are in my life; a friend, family member, or lover; or some variation of those, I do not have much compassion. Though even with that detachment, I early on grew compassionate for Michelle’s story. I have a set of old world values, honor I call it. That allows me no budge room; you do not hurt women. Doing the things those men did to her should had meant the death penalty in my opinion.
While she had been seeing therapists, I knew that she did not trust them or believe in their skills. But what could I do? I thought she seemed to open to me and I felt at the time that she needed to get these things out, get them off her chest, and expose them. About two years ago I started up a blog, hoping she might follow me and do the same. Michelle had expressed interest and I had told her she should try it out. But before then she had not done it. Luckily for us she did start up the week of me starting mine, and you see now what has come from that endeavor.
Hearing about the darkness, how she expressed it was a hard task. Even so I continued to ask for more, asked for her to open up to me more and she did. Some of those realizations can be painful to hear, if not terrifying. But nothing prepared me for the first time she cut herself and I found out. Helpless does not even come near the feeling, frantic was more like it. I tried to get a hold of Sarah, of her Family, and would had a medical center if I did not hear back from Sarah soon after. That was the first time that being long distance was an eye opener at the least.
What else could I do at a distance but continue to be there for the woman I was growing to love? Distance in ways can be a cushion and a curse. The cushion has kept me focused on school and now work. It gives me the freedom of time to pursue the goals that I need to so firmly work towards. That is just one of the reasons I adore Sarah’s strength. She has to do it all; work, medical school, be a mother, be a wife and homemaker, and remain firmly on the front lines with Michelle. But that is why it is also a curse. I feel as if I should be on the front lines hand and hand with her. I often feel the aid I give is too small and not nearly what my heart or honor demands that I should. I feel less of a man sitting here so far away from my duties.
What Sarah wrote about, that she wakes up and puts her game face sounds true with me as well. But I understand that Michelle’s needs are priority now. My bad day, my pain, my needs, my attitude all need to be filtered so that I can give her strength; and buffer Sarah as well. I am not perfect by any means, so I can not always keep that face on. It also seems that the longer we are apart, the more time that builds between each of our visits, the greater the loneliness builds upon me. It is a day to day fight to keep that feeling away and to be strong for both of them. There are days when I can feel the cracks spreading, and others when they reseed. I strive to do the best for them, that I can.
A little more than a year ago, I had a surprise lined up. It was something that Michelle and I had wanted, and I worked my ass off to make it happen. She does not even know this was a possibility, because I lined it up right before Michelle began to spiral downward. I had an internship lined up to work with one of my professor’s colleague. The position came with pay and an apartment. It was doing computer modelling of the Everglades or some specific research that professor was doing. But quite simply it was a perfect opportunity for us; for me to get closer finally in a longer term since and not just a quick visit; for me to get some professional roots based in Florida; and for me and Sarah to get to interact more. She is not the online junkie like Michelle and I. I had to pass on that internship, Michelle began to spiral down and while Sarah and I scrambled together we could do nothing.
That fall was undeniable and unstoppable, and most of you know where it ended. We are now past 11 months since the worst happened and with each baby step I see the light of hope growing. If something good could had come of a bad event, it was how it brought me and Sarah together. Sarah is not an online or phone junkie as I have said. Our relationship had its ups and downs over the time that Michelle and I had grown closer. I personally had referred to her as my girlfriend at that point; but that was in the sense that I accepted them both as one. I told Michelle early on when we both knew we were growing to feel something for the other, that the only way it could work is if Sarah and I worked. It would be unfair to them and to me if all three of us were not on the same page. To tell you the truth there were times when I worried it was impossible.
For a little more then a year now, Sarah and I have been on the same page. Since before Michelle left to Hawaii to clear her mind, we have been a team. Sarah has been amazing, she has been there for me like none before her really have; none but my family and not even them since I am too proud to open to family at times. I can not quite describe how words can fail when you talk about someone like her and I tear up now thinking about what she has done for me. I do not believe I could have emotionally lasted this long from afar or near if not for her constant presence. So much that I feel a vacuum when she is busy. She has earned my love and friendship forever; and I can only hope every day that I have given her some small support along this path as well.
Now that we come close to 12 months from that day, the clouds are parting and I stand firmly with two women that take my breath away. Both earning my friendship and love separately, uniquely; and both who honor me by allowing me to call them mine.