Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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/poly/not poly/

One of my most pleasurable tasks in school, was diagramming sentences.

(What can I say, I was an odd child.)

The compound predicates and the gerund phrases. The modifiers and the prepositions. Adverbs. Interjections. Subjects and verbs.

Every word, analyzed and mapped out. Organized. Every single word had a place. It was perfect.

It was a task that suited my brain; my need to understand the way things fit, in relationship to all the other things. It was logical. I could figure things out, put things together. There were rules and standards. There was always a right answer and a wrong answer.

It all made such glorious sense. It might have been the last thing that truly made perfect sense to me.

Fast forward to me, all grown up.

Nothing really makes sense, and you can forget about logic. Politics, taxes, war. Religion. Crime, hate, mental illness, world hunger. Cancer. Teenagers.

I want things to make sense to me. Everything. All the things. I can accept things that I understand.

I want polyamory to be more logical. I want black and white simplicity. I confess, I miss mono-normativity. Or, rather, I miss the acting without thinking.

I miss auto-pilot.

I don’t know if being poly or mono is an orientation, or a learned social construct, or maybe it’s a choice. I’ve heard arguments for each. I don’t know whether or not jealousy is really just fear and insecuritym but I can sure deconstruct and reframe my own feelings. I’ve got all the new language down: compersion, polycule, metamour.

I’m in a poly relationship. But I don’t think that necessarily makes me poly. In fact, I’m not sure I am poly. I can do poly. I can communicate, self-analyze, be kind. But I could do all that and be monogamous too. So where does this leave me?

I’m a small circle person. I like intimacy. I like the known quantity. First dates are absolutely the antithesis of the know quantity. New relationships are kind of part of polyamory, and, truth be told, I’m not a fan.

Is poly something you are, or is poly something you do?

In the end, what I worry about is that maybe the answer doesn’t matter. If poly is something that you are…then maybe I’m just Not Poly. And that would be a real bitch, considering how enmeshed I am in poly: I write a blog, I moderate groups, I’ve presented classes. It would be like coming out again (except I suspect if I “came out monogamous”, my mother would weep with joy). If poly is something that you do… well now, that’s another beast all together. If poly is something that you DO… what if I just don’t really want to do it any more?

My love, my heart, My special Man Friend will read this, and though these thoughts of mine will be familiar to him, he will probably feel kind of sick. Maybe angry. Certainly worried. I’m not sure. But I do know I love him, and I have for a long time, and I am not ready to be without him.

But that’s not really fair, is it.

All I AM sure of is that I don’t know how to map this out. Nothing is clear to me right now, except that I am missing something, and I feel like I’m looking at apples and oranges, and I want both, but I can only choose one.

Someone draw me a diagram.


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The elusive orgasm of words.

I am trying to get something out into the universe, and it’s just. Right. There.

It won’t come.

I get close. There’s a tingle that starts to build. A beautiful, complete, sentence materializes, and I feel a small rush. I wait. But what comes next is a brittle collection of words that sends me back into myself, quietly berating the little girl, who thinks she can write. Who has the audacity to take “Writer” on as one of the roles she pretends to play.

There are small pieces and parts, sentences and phrases that make her giggle with delight, and flush with pleasure. There are flashes of ideas that wash over her, making her moan and writhe, but then leave her cold when the words ignore her.

The harder I try, the farther away it moves, this slippery seduction that mocks me. I get weary. I want to give up, drift to an impossible sleep, and just stop thinking about the fucking words.

But I also want it. The pleasure. The satisfaction. The shuddering, toe curling knowledge, that I am the only one in the universe, who put these words together, in this space, in just this way.

So I keep trying. I write. I write. I write.

And sometimes, I come.

 


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~Distance~

I was talking to a nice man on OKCupid, who lives in Washington.  I asked a few questions.  You see, not only do I not want to waste my time with an impossible or potentially difficult connection, I also do not want to waste HIS time.

I’m considerate like that.

We are a high-ish match. 91%. He was polite, respectful, conversational, interesting. The distance, while challenging, was not a dealbreaker for me, for the right connection.

Me:  So tell me about your open relationship… You don’t mention it in your profile, but it’s in your relationship status.

WAGuy:  A little while ago, my wife and I decided we were comfortable pursuing other relationships. We have both dated and found that so far we are comfortable with it. I know some people are not OK with it, so totally understand if you are not.

Me:  How long is a little while ago?

WAGuy:  Probably about 12 or 14 months now. We had been both thinking of it for a while, but were afraid to bring it up

Me:  Ok, and can I ask, what kinds of rules, if any, you two have between yourselves? Like what exactly is your ideal “open” situation?

WAGuy:  Hmm. Not so much rules, I guess, more of a set of agreements or understandings.
No hiding or lying.
We can share as much or as little as one asks, but if they ask, they can’t get upset at the answer. If that makes any sense.
If you learn something new, you have to come home and share. (this is the best part).
People we meet have to be aware of the situation, and that to the extent we are open, we don’t share it with those outside our group. IE -Discretion.

Me: I’m just curious to know how you see yourself. Polyamorous? Open? Swingers?

WAGuy:  Probably more open, with a leaning toward poly. I think our ideal situation would be another person, or couple, who we would both be into. Not really swinging, as to us that implies randomness, as opposed to building multiple relationships that are external our existing one.

We talked a little longer, but really, I had already decided.  No thanks.  Factor in the long distance, the brand new to poly, the absolute discretion, the desire for a common partner to be into”, even the idea that “if you learn something new you have to come home and share…”

Me:   I’m going to bed now.


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~Cookies~

I stayed up late last night, baking mediocre cookies and building a gingerbread house.

I was so tired.

I didn’t want to bake cookes.  I wanted to have cookies for today’s monthly poly potluck, which was a holiday cookie exchange, but I am not a baker.

I should stick with what I know. I should have just bought some amazing bakery cookies and put pretty bows on them.

The gingerbread house, was an obligatory holiday thing I needed to do for the kids.  It came from a kit, and it wasn’t a big deal, really, but I had promised the kids we would do the decorating today, and I wanted the house to dry overnight.  So I did it.

When I woke up this morning, my throat was hurting, along with everything else. I was tired and a little weepy. Special Man Friend suggested I stay home from the potluck.  It was such a relief. I had a running list in my head of other things that needed to be done.  Leo needed a book from the library for a book report and new shoes for his band concert this week.  Georgia needed patches sewn on her Girl Scout sash.  The gingerbread house needed it’s candy decor, and it’s Necco wafer roof. There’s laundry, and a clogged bathtub drain, and I’m back to work tomorrow night and Georgia needs a blood draw and prescriptions picked up and I’m nowhere near ready for Christmas, and I’m trying to keep my head above water, but it feels like I’m drowning.

Just like almost every other single mother out there.  This isn’t a poly thing.  It’s a me thing.

SMF stopped by just little while ago and brought me cookies.  Special flourless peanut butter cookies, because he knows I love them and too much flour makes me feel sick.  He’s having his own stress, and wants to withdraw. He says I’m pretty good at not letting him though.

“Oh yeah?” I said. “That’s just because I kick my feet and throw a fit if you do.”

“That’s not a bad thing, Love,” he said.

*Good answer.*

So today I got a few things done, and left a few for tomorrow. I made an easy dinner of breakfast burritos, watched a distracting show (*”Helix”*, a series from SYFY that is available on Netflix, two thumbs up for solid entertainment), and I’m almost done with the Girl Scout sash,

(Here’s to small victories.)


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~Hunt~

Today on the big bad interwebz, I read a brief rant and subsequent discussion about the term “unicorn hunters” and are there really that many out there, and how it seems like there are more people who complain about the unicorn hunters than there are actual unicorn hunters.

Umm, no.

Here are my thoughts, in random and meandering fashion, because, well, that’s what I’m good at, and I might as well stick with what I know.

As a single female, my complaint about unicorn hunters is that they come at you from the following place:

“Hi!  We are looking for Our Unicorn!”  (And usually from the female partner. I’m not sure why.)

Not: “We are individuals in a committed relationship, exploring additional emotionally attached human relationships. We would love to explore a triad with the right person, what are you looking for?”  

Or, better yet (and yes, I’ve seen ads and gotten messages that are almost this blatant):

Hi! We are looking for Our Third!  She will be sexy and fun and equally available to both of us to play with or not play with, but only with the two of us together, because we are a couple and a unit and nothing will ever come between us, so basically there would be US, and there will be you. Because you know, we’ve been together for a long time and we intend to never let anything get between us, even a unicorn, we want fun and sex and this new thing called Polyamory sounds just great!  Oh, and by the by, there are these rules that the two of us made, so that we can feel safe and good with each other, but don’t worry about that yet.  As long as you don’t feel closer to one of us over the other, or text one of us when the other is feeling insecure, then it will be fine. And maybe try not to be TOO cute or TOO sexy, because, jealousy. No matter what, our relationship comes first.  So, you know, wanna be Our Unicorn?     

Is everyone like this?  No.  But there is a reason that it’s a stereotype.

My eye starts to twitch, every time I see the infamous sentence “We are looking for Our Unicorn”.  I’m not sure if it’s the words themselves, or the whole stereotypical attitude that I’ve seen attached to them, over and over and over.  But do yourselves a favor. If you are a Unicorn Hunter, just don’t.  Approach people as individuals, as potential connections, as possible friends.  State what you are looking for, but also, ask what potential partners are looking for.  If you want a casual occasional tryst as a threesome, awesome.  Find someone who is looking for that too.

But here’s the thing.  There are a lot of solo-polyamorists now, (who may be UNICORNS) who are looking for different kinds of relationships.  We want fulfilling, emotional connections.  Don’t say you want one thing, when what you really want is another.  We are each open to different levels of connection, but the bottom line is, we are people.  Not a label.  Calling me a unicorn, is akin to calling me a MILF.  Yeah, yeah, maybe it has it’s place.  But it takes away my personhood.  And when you say, We are looking for Our UNICORN, you are reducing me fill a slot, a slot that you have defined, and any old unicorn will do.


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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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~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.