"How did I get here?"
That was the question - the single thought - hovering in my mind as I looked out the second floor window of a psychiatric hospital. Across the street were buildings I had known as my place of employment for nine years. There, I had felt knowledgeable, respectable, almost powerful. I looked up at those buildings, remembering that confident person that I had been in that context and still not quite ready to accept the person I was in this context. Broken, vulnerable, fragile, and disempowered.
Earlier in the day, I had suffered a severe depressive episode. Uncontrollable crying. An overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Powerful urges to kill myself. I had been in an emotional free fall.
Standing at that window, looking out, I just felt stunned. And I felt like a prisoner. A nurse sat in the hallway about ten feet away. She was watching my every move. The admitting doctor had put me on suicide watch. But no one there knew me, my story, or the real answer to my question.
"How did I get here?"
They just knew that I was another patient who came to the hospital ready to end it all. In some ways, that hospitalization was incredibly de-humanizing, but in spite of that, it was there that I began to find the courage to rethink my life, to question beliefs that had not served me well, to start over.
Had I not ended up in that hospital, I don't know that I ever would have given myself permission to consider polyamory. It was, for me, a radical departure from beliefs I had held onto for decades - beliefs about what happy relationships should look like. But those beliefs had not led to relational happiness for me. In fact, clinging to them had slowly eroded my joy away until all I wanted to do was escape my existence.
This is my story. It is not intended to be an expert guide. I am not an expert. It is not intended to be right or wrong. It is only intended to be honest. And my hope is that it might help someone else out there who is feeling some of the same things I have felt or struggling with some of the same questions I have struggled with. Maybe that is you. And if you are feeling, as I did, alone and as though no one else could possibly understand how I felt, maybe my story will give you some hope.
You aren't alone.
Let's begin with Chapter 1.