(Also nice to find that sion_a wasn't too tired to stay up for a while, later...)
I must confess, though, I'm worrying about sion_a, and about poly in general. I've asked him so many times if he's okay with everything, and more and more the answer seems to be along the lines of "Of course I'm okay with you seeing other people, because I'm no use to you". Which is totally untrue, and totally not the reason I'm seeing other people -- any more than (I hope!) it's the reason that he's seeing simonb. Or indeed any more than it's the reason that I have friends other than him. He claims he wouldn't prefer us to be monogamous ... but I'm finding this increasingly hard to believe. I'm terrified that he's only saying that because he thinks that's the only way he can keep me.
The worst of it is, there are so many voices in the back of my head at times like this; there's several years of Christian brainwashing telling me that of course we're unhappy, because we're Believing Lies from the Devil (i.e. we're not in a monogamous [heterosexual, of course] Christian relationship where neither partner even dreams of holding hands before marriage); there's the voices of people I know saying "Well, it always did seem like a bit of a bad idea, but you have to make your own mistakes"; there's the voices of the poly "community" saying "You're just no good at polyamory"; and there's the voice of Disapproving Mainstream Society saying "Of course he's unhappy, of course he feels useless, it's no wonder when you're CHEATING ON HIM, you've stripped away so much of his self-confidence by using him like this that he doesn't even dare leave you and find a real girlfriend", and "He shouldn't have to tell you that he wants you to stop behaving like a whore, your own morals should tell you that" ... and so on.
With all those voices in my head it can be quite hard to hear the voice and the wishes of a nearly-silent sion_a ... who doesn't seem to even know what he really wants most of the time. But what I do hear from him is that he's stressed, he feels useless, he doesn't feel valued ... and he seems to "know" there's nothing he can do about any of this, because This Is The Way Things Are. When people treat him like shit at work, that's just "what happens", and there's "no point" in saying anything about it. When I upset him, that's just "all he deserves". He won't tell me I'm wrong, even when I know I am; he just tells me that he's "crap". Nothing I say makes any difference to what he "knows". Nothing I say seems to reach him at all any more.
I wish I understood what made it so difficult for him (and others -- he's far from alone in this) to talk about things. I can understand not having the right words, but I'm used to fighting for the right words, for talking around the subject until I get to the right words. Sometimes this means I end up talking a lot and only gradually making any sense. Sometimes it means I write about stuff to try to get it clear in my head before I say it to people. But I tend to figure that while the words that come out might not be quite right, they're still a much better starting-point for the listener (assuming a non-psychic listener) than silence. Yes, there's a risk that the words might offend or upset the listener... but then silence might offend or upset or worry them too, and in my opinion silence is much, much, much easier to misinterpret than words.
Mind you, this obviously isn't true for everyone; to sion_a, silence appears to be a truly null statement. As far as I can tell, to him, silence can't mean anything, because, well, it's silence. He doesn't seem to understand why it upsets me when a question like "Do you just want me to go away?" is met with total silence, or why it worries me when "Are you sure you're okay?" is left unanswered. Maybe one of us is just being weird. I don't know.
I just wish he loved himself even half as much as I love him... even though I suspect that if he cared more about his own happiness he'd leave me immediately. But at least then he'd be happy. At least then he'd stand a chance of being happy.
I also wish he could talk to somebody about the things that are stressing him out -- maybe even somebody who could help him learn to express the things he's thinking/feeling -- because I think it would help. Even though it's hard to accept that I'm not that somebody, that he can't talk to me about his hopes and dreams and fears and worries.
But then, of course, I worry that I'm trying to make him be more like me, rather than trying to let him be himself. Maybe I'm being narrow-minded and selfish in trying to get him to talk about things; maybe he's got the right idea, and it's much better to just suffer everything in silence. After all, it's not as if I'm a model of well-adjusted happiness, is it? At least when he's upset the shrapnel doesn't injure people on three separate continents. Maybe I should be striving to be more like him. Or maybe I should just be accepting that we're completely different ... and utterly incompatible. :-(
I don't know what to do. I don't know how to react when I can feel him being upset but there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. And of course when I get upset by this, he just sees this as further evidence that he's "useless" because he's upsetting me. It's not that. It's not that at all. It's just that it hurts to see someone I love more than anybody else in the world being stressed and unhappy, and not to have the faintest idea how to fix it.