Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Blunt~

I’m talking with someone on OKCupid, and he invites me to his place of business to meet him. He’s younger than I am, a good conversationalist, and he’s charmingly assertive. I’m feeling mildly interested.

“Can I bring a chaperone?” I ask. “What if you’re a serial killer? Or you have a horrible sense of humor?”

Five minutes later he disables his account. So of course, now I’m trying to figure out if I just avoided being another unsolved mystery, or if I narrowly escaped a really boring and awkward date.

#‎ithinkiscaredhim‬ ‪#‎datingishard‬ #headdesk


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~Smiling~

This morning I woke up happy to be ME.

I put on goldenrod colored panties and bra, the prettiest set I own. A well-worn pair of jeans slid over my hips and I felt awesome. I have people who love me. A warm house with room for everyone. I have a car, a job, a coffee maker. Tomorrow I am having Thanksgiving dinner with my kids and my small poly family, and I am out to everyone and the world hasn’t ended.

As I get older, it gets easier to be happy. My priorities are shifted. When I put on that favorite pair of jeans this morning they felt awesome. “Damn, Self,” I thought.“You’re a pretty hot old lady.”

I went and stood on my scale. I felt so amazing and sexy and well, content with myself, that I thought surely I had lost weight. (It was a knee-jerk, long conditioned response.)

When the numbers popped up, I had an epiphany. Life is about context. Perspective. Attitude. Yeah, yeah, I already knew that. But as I stood there, four pounds heavier than I had been, I could almost hear the Universe chuckling at me.

And I got it. Finally. I am wonderful and imperfect and constantly changing. I am so lucky to be who I am, and where I am at this point in my life. I don’t have to be anyone other than exactly who I am, right at this moment.

So I’m finished thinking I’m not good enough. I am good. And it is enough.

And your good should be enough for you too.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


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~Meh~

I have three or four drafts working for blog posts. Some deep thinking kind of stuff.  But it’s not coming together.  I want to write, but I can’t find my words.

In the morning I start my prep day for Thanksgiving.  I can’t wait.  I’m excited to have a house full of people.  I’m excited to have Special Man and CC here, their son, and Special Man’s sister is coming and bringing a friend.  My kids will be here, and I hope it’s fun and loud, and that the house smells good and that my teenagers don’t fight with each other.

Or with me.

I’ve had a bit of a rough patch the last few days.  I had a revelation.  And I don’t like it one bit.

In the last year, as I’ve become more and more “out” and open and honest with others, and with myself, I have found myself strongly triggered in certain situations.  I have spoken with my fabulous therapist about it, and she was surprised that I had never had any counseling to deal with the aftermath of my abusive marriage.  As a nurse, I can intellectually talk myself through some of these things, simply because I recognize what is happening.

I was sitting in my therapists waiting room one time, not long ago.  There was a couple’s session going on, and I’m not sure if the door was open, or the walls were thin, but I could hear much of what was being said by the male partner, who was speaking in a loud, agitated, voice.  The female partner would occasionally respond in softer tones, and was generally interrupted by the man.  I heard a lot of “you did” this and “you should have” that.  I was uncomfortable.  I started to get hot, and I felt my face start to tingle.  My heart was beating fast, my palms were sweaty, and I was fighting not to cry.

The odd thing about this whole experience, was that my mind was calm.  I was thinking, ‘What is wrong with me?  I don’t feel upset, but my body is absolutely freaking out.  This is kind of PTSD-like.  I don’t have PTSD.  This is so weird.”

Except I probably do have some PTSD.

I’m just starting to get into it with my therapist now.  SMF snapped at me last week about something silly.  In three years, I can honestly say, that he has shown anger to me only a scant handful of times.  It’s a good thing, because my reactions are becoming more intense.  I don’t want to be this person.

But I am.

When Mrs. A verbally attacked me, my head went quiet.  I remember thinking after, that I was surprised I wasn’t more upset. It was similar to when I was sitting in the waiting room, listening to the man and woman fighting. My heart was pounding, my stomach hurt, and I felt like throwing up, but inside I was thinking, “Huh, this kind of weird.”  She said a lot of mean and ugly things; things I just haven’t been able to move past.  And it’s really starting to affect me.  A few nights ago, I lashed out at SMF.  Every time I know he’s with her, I’ve been upset and hurt, because I felt (feel?) abandoned.  I mean, don’t the sacred rules of couplehood and loyalty and all that, demand that he stand by me?  Put his foot down?  Never talk to her again?

No.

I’ve got all these concepts swirling around in my head.  Where do obligation and autonomy meet?  Is SMF obligated to share the same boundary as I have?  What’s my obligation to Mrs. A as a metamour?  What’s my obligation to my larger poly “family” if he continues to see her?  Falls in love with her?  At this point, I cannot be around her.  I don’t feel safe.  I have to protect myself, and in doing so, I want to protect those around me, and that includes HIM.

But he doesn’t feel unsafe around her.  He simply doesn’t have the same boundary around her behavior that I do. And that is both okay, and not okay.  I’ve almost worked through this in my head.  Almost.

But not quite.

I sent her a message this week asking her to have coffee.  I did it because I was trying to Do Good Poly.  (This phrase, Doing Good Poly, is now my nemesis. I think it’s now become a normative set of  polyamorous expectations, and I hate it. More on that another day, though.)  I did it because I felt obligated to SMF.  I did it because I felt obligated even, to my own vision of a comfortable and close poly network.

The same day, the anticipation of having to make nice with her, simply because she’s seeing my partner, made me anxious and tearful and the now-familiar stomach ache came back. I sent her another message. I won’t be meeting with her.  I am protecting myself and holding my boundaries.  The end.

So now we come back around to Special Man. I sent him this message:

“I’ve been acting under an assumption that I was obligated to make things good with me and A. in the name of good poly, or for the good of our greater poly network. I think it’s something I put on myself, and it’s something that you have put on me in the past with CC and anticipate will put on me in the future with A. Ideally, I want to be friendly with your other partners and with Cc’s partners and with their other partners. I made a huge effort with A. even when I was uncomfortable out of obligation to you and *good poly*. My obligation ended when she made it clear to me that I have some serious and valid! boundaries around cultivating relationships with people whose mental illness causes them to be irrational, abusive, and out of control. And I have been feeling hurt that you don’t have the same boundaries and that isn’t fair to you. You don’t have the same boundaries. You’re OK with her. And that should be okay with me. I need to respect you and your choices while still taking care of myself. And you’ll have to respect my choices. Don’t ask me to hang out with her and don’t give me a hard time when I choose not to come to things, like poly potluck for example. I will not take your relationship with her as disloyalty to me, but you can’t take my purposeful distance from her as disloyalty to either you*or* to polyamory. I know I’m going to miss things and people and opportunities to spend time with you because of my choice, but it’s also because of your choice. And that’s just the way it is. I messaged her last night in a fit of obligation, to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe she already told you. But I was wrong. I don’t have to fix this, because I am trying to keep myself happy and healthy.”

Monogamy tells us how we are “supposed” to act and feel. Not being monogamous? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m playing ball, at all.


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~Ever~

Once in a while, something so horrible happens to someone, that it makes you stop and wonder how you got so fortunate as to not to have ever experienced it.  We get so hyperfocused on our own large lives, that it takes witnessing someone else’s pain, to make you stop and think, “I have much to be grateful for”.

It’s been a year since the last time I held a baby with no heartbeat.

Last night I stood in the morgue, holding an eight pound baby, and I wept.  I had wrapped her, so carefully, padding under her back, and a pink hat on her head before wrapping her in more blankets and layers.  She had died inside her mother a few days before.  Her small body was fragile and I handled her with a delicate fear that I would hurt her further, just from my touch.  I didn’t dare dress her, but I chose a pretty, lacey, yellow blanket to cover her with as I had carried her through the back hallways, and down.

A security guard was with me.  He made nervous conversation, and when he unlocked the place where I was going to leave her, he motioned to a high shelf, and told me to put her there.

“I can’t”, I said. It wasn’t the shelf I objected to.  She was too fragile for me to lift her up that high with my hands, I told him.  He didn’t understand.  I tried to explain how bad things were for her.  “She’ll break,”  I said.

“She won’t break,” he said.

“You haven’t seen her,” I said, “I’m not putting her up there. I’m not doing it.”  I started to cry, hot and angry tears, and the security guard looked as if he might cry as well.  I held onto her for a minute, and then I laid her on one of the chrome-colored gurneys he had insisted was reserved for adults.

I spent the rest of the night taking care of her mother. There was nothing I could do.  I gave her cranberry juice.  I rubbed her legs, gave her pain medicine, listened to her talk about her family.

“It’s times like this,” she said to me softly, “that I feel bad for people who don’t have anyone. I think, ‘what if I was homeless? What if I didn’t have anyone to call? No support at all?’ I don’t know what I’d do.”

And then, as I left the room so she could sleep, this woman who had started her day expecting to give birth, and ended it with her daughter in the morgue, said to me, “Thank you.  You’re awesome.”  I stepped into the hallway, and tried not to cry. This mother, was not lost in herself.  She was the one who was awesome.  All I did was get her some juice, and wish that I could do more.


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~Chili~

Special Man makes a good chili.  No, he makes a great chili.  Before I met him, I had no idea that people make chili without beans.  On purpose.  Just to eat.  I mean, I had bought no-bean chili in a can for chili dogs for my kids.  But SMF’s chili has all sorts of meat and spice and utter deliciousness.  I love it.

Yesterday I texted CC, at the suggestion of a friend in Chicago, who knew I was feeling disconnected and alone, and kind of frustrated.  “This is a great chance”, Chicago said, “for you to be vulnerable, and reach out to CC.”

Special Man has been stressed and, as I see and feel it, distant.  It’s hard to know what to do, what to say, how to act.  It’s especially hard, being the non co-habitating partner.  I don’t get to see him, to lay eyes on him, to know that yes, he is distant and withdrawn, but he is okay, and we are okay.  I don’t get to hand him a cup of coffee, or squeeze his hand as we pass in the hall, or observe that while he is withdrawn, he is still in there.  It’s been a challenging week.  I want to give SMF what he needs. But…he wants/needs to withdraw…and since our time together is very limited, if he withdraws, I see it as him disappearing.

And I didn’t handle that as gracefully as I could have/should have/would like to have.

Chicago was right.  I texted CC.

::I know SMF is having a hard time, but it won’t last forever, right? You know him best, you see him every day, when he withdraws it’s unsettling for me because he’s just kind of checked out and I don’t know what to do::

::I know, I’m kind of in the middle of that right now, too.:: She texted back.

That was all it took. There was more, but just knowing that she was in it too, helped me to breathe just a little easier.  Maybe that’s the beauty of metamours.  They are kind of in the middle of it too.

Soon after, I got texts from both her and SMF.  Come to dinner, they each said. Come watch a movie.  Come have chili and caramel corn.

I don’t know, I said.  Everything felt stressed and strained and difficult. I was tired, I was emotional, I was crabby.

But I went.  I went because it was important.  I went because they reached out to me, I went because I was invited, and I went because I was welcome.  I also went because there was chili.  (And CC’s caramel corn, which might as well be called caramel crack, for how addicting it is, and I’m not even exaggerating.)  We had chili, we watched a dumb movie, and we didn’t talk about anything hard.  It was awesome.

It’s funny, because ultimately, I went out of obligation and commitment.  I went because they wanted me in their space.  I was cranky and I was truly feeling the “solo” part of my solo polyamory.  I wasn’t lonely.  I was alone. I was separate. But tonight I have leftover chili in my fridge, and the memory of a nothing special Saturday night, where we were all in the same space, and it felt good, and it felt easy.


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~Reprieve~

I’m taking a forced twenty minute break from working on a new website.  I think I may actually gouge my eyeballs out with a fork if I don’t.

I’ve been blogging for almost two years now.  I use WordPress, it’s been relatively simple and straightforward.  I like simiplicity in my visual presentation, and brevity in my words, so I haven’t had to do much website design at all.  I just click a button for “New Post” and then click “Publish” when I am done.

I plan to spend the next year building a photography business. I will probably always stay on staff at my hospital, but I’d love to be able to be a photographer who moonlights as a nurse, and not the other way around.  I am being methodical about building both my business and my portfolio.

There’s no reason this won’t work.  Except for one. And that would be this damn new photography website!  I need examples of my work, an intro page, and a contact form.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  I’ve settled on a site host, and I don’t even have to code anything, and I’m still going crazy.

However. I will figure it out.  (I always do.)

But first the panicking!

It’s snowing today.  Actually, it pretty much dumped on us.  I’m not a fan.  Special Man left for his roadtrip to Oregon, and turned around after he passed the sixth accident in less than thirty minutes.  He may try again in the morning, but I suspect he may just skip it.  I know he’s been looking forward to this, and I’m disappointed for him. I hope the weather clears enough for him to go in the morning.

I find myself idly daydreaming about meeting and making new relationships with new people. In my daydreams, these are not necessarily romantic relationships that I crave, but I feel open and ready to make new connections.  This is a good thing.

(A very good thing.)


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~Reviewed~

In the middle of the summer, I was contacted with a offer of an advanced copy of a new book on polyamory, and a request to review it on my blog.  The book has since been released, and at least once a week, my partner pokes me and says, “Hey, did you write your review yet?”

No, I haven’t.  I’ve never reviewed a book before, and I keep thinking that there’s some dry, intellectual, and boring format that Official Book Reviews are supposed to follow, and I’ve been putting it off.  And putting it off.  So, this morning, as I sit in my favorite coffee shop, I’ve decided to write my own kind of review.

When I first started to learn about polyamory,  I was very interested to read about different experiences with open relationships.  I didn’t know anyone else “like me”, a single person doing polyamory. I started reading the standard, recommended poly books, and quickly realized that the bulk of information out there was for couples. Even chapters that referred to “secondary” relationships, seemed more about how to manage primary couplehood, in spite of “outside” relationships, rather than how to just be a good person, with healthy and whole relationships. I felt outside. I was the outside relationship; all the books said so. This ultimately sparked my own involvement in the larger poly community, my writing, my discussion group, my love and desire for community.

I didn’t want to like “More Than Two”, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.  I’ll admit it.  I’m a tough customer, and I think that comes from having to muddle through a lot of popular polyamorous muck in order to arrive at my own vision of happy and healthy relationships. (I believe I’m an optimistic cynic, however, so there is that.)

This book is a fantastic resource for anyone looking for a thoughtful, reasonable approach to polyamory, no matter who you are.

(That’s it. That’s my review.)

The things I look for in healthy poly relationships, are the things I look for in any human relationship. Polyamory doesn’t excuse anyone from being a good and kind human being.  Healthy relationships, whether with lovers, friends, co-workers, or family, include such things as responsibility, boundaries, communication, nurturing, and self-care.  “More Than Two”, offers a realistic and rational approach to being a whole person, who is mindful of self, and of others.

~finis 

(Have you read “More Than Two”?  What did you think?  Comments welcome!)


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~Tuesday~

I’ve reread last nights post.  Several times.  It’s probably the only time I’ve written in the heat of the moment like that.  It was reactionary, and emotional.  I thought about deleting it, especially as I’m still all worked up and wacky over it.

But I can’t delete it. Because it’s a real thing that happens to this real person trying to be all self-aware and mindful and crap, and sometimes I get blindsided.  Sometimes it’s an epic fail.  Sometimes I handle things completely wrong.  Sometimes I lose it.  And this, this imperfect poly is the whole reason I started writing.  So it stays.

Relationships can be tough. Not just poly relationships. All of them.  Familes, friends, lovers, partners. Polyamory doesn’t make me special, or my relationships easier, no matter how many articles and books and blogs I read. They are just hard sometimes. And sometimes, the harder I try to control and manage things, the faster things fall apart.  This is part of my personality, this wanting to be able to manage things.  I must manage ALL THE THINGS.

::facepalm::

So now I have this icky feeling that I’m difficult and needy and that now Special Man Friend (and everyone else) knows.

Someone give me some chocolate.

I texted with CC this morning for a few minutes, and she said all the right things, but think I may have overwhelmed her with my “I’m so needy, I don’t know how to do this, I need a pep talk” texts.

“It gets better,” she texted.  “You get to be needy sometimes, too.”

I’m really glad she’s my friend.


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~Fine~

Disclaimer:  This is the real poly that goes on in my imperfect life.  It is neither enlightened, nor glamorous, despite what you may think of my awesome poly skills.  You have been warned. 

Alright, poly peeps.

Let’s say, you’re having a crabby day.  And, in an effort to cheer you up, your partner sends you a picture of a kitten, which you dismiss with a “Nice try, I’m immune to cute animals.” text.  Then comes another kitten.  “Nope.” you type back.

So then, your partner, thinking that a cute picture of HIM will cheer you up, sends a picture you happen to have seen once, because his newest partner showed it to you before, in a gush of NRE.

But even if you hadn’t seen it before, HE should know, that you might not want to see a cutesie picture of him, in his new girlfriend’s sunglasses, making kissy smoochie faces at the camera, on a date with her, while she took the picture.  It’s a study in freaking New Relationship Energy, and you simply don’t need a picture of it.

And it’s moments like these, that seem so silly and small, that make me think, What the hell am I doing here?

Seriously, where’s all this compersion everyone else gets so excited about?  Where’s MY compersion?

Ok.  Deep breath.

Honestly, I know this has to be tied up in the layers of conflict that I have with Mrs. A. I don’t think he intended to be insensitive at all, though I am holding him to his subsequent insensitivity after I was explicit in what bothered me about that.

DO YOU HEAR ME, SPECIAL MAN FRIEND?

I know I really screwed this one up.  I keep thinking I can detach, and be over here all mindful and self-aware, and he can be over there managing his relationships, but it really does bother me that things are so complicated, and I can’t fix it.  And I’m worried and stressed and I should have gone with my gut and gone to bed early, before any of this happened.  I wish I could take it all back.

(But you still shouldn’t have sent that picture.)