Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Jealousy~

Oh, jealousy.

I was driving to pick up Georgia from a friends house this afternoon, and Pandora spit out Natalie Merchant singing Jealousy.

The whole song is comparison and sadness. I really wish I understood jealousy better.  I’ve read the idea that jealousy is a manifestation of fear, or insecurity, or grief.  I want to dissect it. I want to understand it. I want to be over it already. 

There was a day a few months ago, when Special Man was talking about a date he’d had with Montana and how I would have hated it because they talked and talked about congressional law.  He was almost giddy with it.  And I was pleased that he was happy and excited and that she was interesting and different than I was, and in that moment, I wasn’t jealous.

I think I was actually compersive.  And I want more.

I want friends and lovers and partners and I want good mushy feelings and I want more of that content feeling.  It’s a shift for me, but seriously, I want that ideal.  I don’t know if it’s unrealistic to want this as I’ve long held the opinion that compersion is a myth. But I’m different.  Maybe it’s okay to dream big.

I am rambling tonight.  Time for sleep.  But first….

Here’s my three-years-ago take on compersion:

https://polynirvana.com/2013/03/16/compersion-thou-art-a-harsh-mistress/

And Natalie Merchant, my favorite:

 

Goodnight.

 

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~Early~

It’s six in the morning.

I can’t sleep.  Special Man Friend is asleep upstairs, in my bed.  I feel so far away from him, but I can’t tell him that.  He’s got his own demons, and he’s holding them very close to the vest.  (What an interesting phrase that is…)

I don’t know what to do or say.  I want to make him talk.  He’s told me in the past, that when he gets like this, which isn’t very often, that he just needs me to be okay on my own, and not take it personally that he’s shut me out.

I hate it.

My mind goes everywhere. I know that he is spread so thin, that something is going to have to go, soon.  I’m afraid it’s going to be his emotional well-being.  My deepest fear is that it’s going to be me.

I’m not perfect.  But I work really hard to be a good partner.

Mrs. A read my whole blog.  It didn’t go over well.

How do I write and continue to grow in my poly if I’m gagged?  This has been my place for self expression.   I don’t have anyone to talk to, except SMF and CC, and there’s issues with being completely open with each of them, because of their relationship to each other.  I’ve gotten the feeling lately that I’ve over shared with CC, and that puts her in a strange position.  We both have issues surrounding Mrs. A, but peeling away the layers of that situation is proving to be difficult.  Yes. I would have some processing and adjusting to do with any new girl he started to get close to.  That’s the nature of this kind of relationship configuration.

But I have some real and valid concerns.  Even if they are only valid to me.

Special Man goes back and forth.  He says he respects how I feel, but then I feel that he is impatient and has different expectations.

I have this sick feeling that he just thinks I’m doing bad poly.

But he would be wrong about that.

I told Mrs. A that she should not read my blog if it was going to bother her.  I suppose I should tell Special Man Friend the same thing.  He and I need to talk, about a lot of things.  But he’s asleep and I’m awake.  And I don’t know how far away from me he will be when he wakes.

This has been a challenging week.  At the beginning of the week, we both said we needed to have a relationship maintenance talk as soon as we could.  Between work, and scheduling, last night is the first opportunity we have had to be together, and he was not ready to talk.  I can’t go another week.

I was so looking forward to Valentine’s Day this year. I think I want a do-over.


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~Flight~

Wendover, Nevada.

Oh my goodness: A thirty eight minute flight on a plane which was filled with excited and chatty senior citizens.  Special Man Friend found a dirt cheap weekend package, and apparently it’s very popular with the over 65 crowd.  It’s been a good giggle. (I know I’m no spring chicken.  But come on!  I’ve got fifteen years until I’m even sixty!)

We are here until tomorrow.  It’s been good for me I think.  Mostly the sleep.  SMF played poker last night, and I slept from 8:30 on.

Wait.  Maybe I am ready to be part of the Senior’s Fun Tour.  Darn.

SMF saw Mrs. A several times in the last week.  It was hard for me.  I hate that it’s hard for me.  I am trying to be gentle with myself. I have been able to relax more about his weekly date with her.  But midway through his third time seeing her in a week, I just had reached some kind of critical mass.  It doesn’t matter how secure I am in the fact that he loves me.  It doesn’t matter how reassuring he is.  It doesn’t matter how many self-love techniques I use, or poly books I read.

I am a poly girl, with a mono- minded heart. I work hard to be happy.  I am loved, and I know that SMF will be there for me, whatever I need.  But man, it’s hard sometimes. I  am not sure how to navigate this specific issue. In three and a half years with him, I haven’t ever had to deal with him having three dates with someone else in a single week.  It sounds silly when I type it out, but it is not silly. I am a good person with real feelings.  I have to forgive myself for struggling, because the last thing I need is to be mad at myself for having feelings.

So do I suck it up and deal?  Do I ask him to slow down a little for my sanity?  Do I just wait and see if it happens again?  I think this week may have been a fluke, but I was completely blindsided by the intensity of my discomfort.  CC is out of town, and there has been so much going on the last few weeks, that date nights have been moved around and his time with Mrs. A has been inconsistent.  I tell myself that he has consistently been there for me, and I am not losing time with him.

But there’s still part of me that is uncomfortable.  I think I’m afraid.  Afraid that he doesn’t have room for all three of us, and that I will get the proverbial boot. Afraid that she is cuter, funner (funner is totally a word), thinner, newer, smiley-er, easier, simpler, sexier… happier.     And who wouldn’t want to be around someone who was happy.

Things have been really heavy lately.  Special Man has not once, batted an eye about taking on what he can in an effort to support me, and to support my kids. He is my best friend, and my biggest supporter. The bulk of my life falls on me, and he knows that.  But when he steals me away for a cup of coffee, or lets me cry while he holds me, or takes the kids to the library he gives me the chance to breathe.  The chance to regroup.  The chance to find some peace again.  He honors his commitment to me.

That’s what my logic tells me.  I wish my little emotional heart would listen to my amazingly logical brain.  Damn heart.

I’m sitting on the fringes of a noisy, smokey casino, with a very bad cup of coffee, while he upstairs in our room, stealing a nap for an hour.  (The biggest shock to my system on this little trip has been the smoke filled casinos. In Idaho, you can’t smoke in public places unless you’re in a designated smoking area, so this level of second hand smoke is making me nuts!)

Tomorrow we head home.  I feel good.  I had a doctor’s appointment a few days ago (a follow up for my cancer history)  and she found a few things in my bloodwork that we are hopeful will be able to be corrected with changes in medication and , supplements and I’m making a six week recovery plan to deal with the physical and emotional aftermath of the last few months.

I feel positive.  I’m looking forward.


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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.)


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~Year~

One year ago today, I posted my first writing on Poly Nirvana, titled “Perfect Poly”. I actually had written it a year before that, out of frustration with the larger poly community and this feeling of not fitting in anywhere; of not being evolved enough to feel true compersion, or mature enough to not ever be jealous. Or lonely. Or sad. Or any of those feelings that we are all trying so hard to get away from, and that everyone talks about, all the time.

I received this message this week, and I’m posting with permission from the darling friend who wrote it.  I’m sharing it because it resonated with me, and I’m also sharing my response.

________________________________________________________________________

Hi Ginger,

I have something that I’ve been struggling with and I was hoping that I could get your perspective. I hope you don’t mind. It has to do with polyamory, metamours, jealousy, hurt, and my reaction to hurt.

I’m trying to get some different perspectives–not because I don’t trust people around me, but I’m really just hoping to cast a wide net and hope that something works for me, because I’m really struggling. I really respect your thoughts, from reading a lot of your writing… and I’d appreciate your input.

So here are the basics: A person with whom I am in a relationship (going on three years) has a new(ish) partner, and I’ve been struggling with this new(ish) partner from the beginning (about a year and a half). I’ve reached a lot of peace about the situation, but sometimes I just feel so HURT when I know that they’re together. I’m working through that. What I’m really really struggling with is a desire to hurt my partner back in some way with a mean or jealous comment, by withdrawing, by screaming or yelling. I know that something is being triggered within me and I know that I need to figure that out, but that desire to hurt, to hit back in some way, is really upsetting me.

Do you have any thoughts on this, or experiential learning that you’ve done that you could share? 

_________________________________________________________________________

My response:

So when I first read your message, I was immediately like, “Oh , I so know exactly what that feels like.” The problem is, that I don’t always know how to best deal with it, in a healthy way, except to recognize it, accept it, and possibly verbalize it, which it seems like you’ve done.

There’s a knee-jerk reaction that we have sometimes, that is a defense mechanism when we are feeling vulnerable. We do it as children when we lash out, and we do it as adults. When I’ m feeling insecure, I find myself saying something that I know will make him worry about the stability of our relationship. It’s not nice, and I didn’t realize that I was doing it for a long time, and it didn’t happen very often, but once I recognized it, I was able to at least be a grown up and choose to simply tell him instead that I needed him to tell me…whatever…I needed to hear. Once I said it out loud, it lost it’s power, and I could see it for what it was. “Tell me you’re not going to dump me for the 24 year old stripper with awesome legs that you just met because my legs are thick and meaty and I’m an old lady”. Usually he just looks at me and says the right things, which I knew anyway, but I just have to process it out in the open.

Feelings are hard. I read a sentence in a blog recently…

“I think the poly world puts too high of a premium on being un-feeling ever-compersive robots, but reality is that we all handle things differently.” (Link here.)

And THAT screamed at me, I’ve been feeling that one for a long time. At the risk of sounding like a know it all, read this…   “Perfect Poly”

And remember, my sweet friend… It’s what you do with your feelings that matters. If you recognize that you want to lash out, and you consciously choose to DO IT anyway because it feels good and satisfying to hurt your partner for just a minute, then you’re giving up. If you feel your feelings and choose to handle them the best way you know how, and explore ways to handle them even better, then you are doing good poly, good relationships, and good human being-ness.

(It’s early, and I have a headache, and I suspect that this is somewhat rambling and scattered, but sometimes a stream of consciousness thought process works… Maybe…)

~Ginger

________________________________________________________________________

Thank you. It does make sense and it helps, and I appreciate the words of your blog entry from a year ago. I get into these moments (sometimes week-long moments) when everything seems like it’s crashing in and like I can’t stand the hurt and the confusion a moment longer–like I’m going to have to change something in my relationship or do something drastic like scream and yell, and then I kind of snap and say, “Um…this kind of misery is not part of my relationship. I have created this in my head.” And then I take a step back and I look at the big picture, and I realize I’m making decisions about the direction of my relationship (without my partner) and I’m deciding what’s in their head for them, rather than keeping myself open and vulnerable. Oh, god, the vulnerability of not assuming where something is going or what’s in someone’s head, and leaving myself open to “what will be.” And even though I have those moments when I feel fearful and hurt, and I want to say something hurtful or something that would damage the relationship, I know that in the long run it’s not the choice I want to make. I’ll probably never be the 100% secure and compersive partner because I seek out relationships that push me to grow as a person, and growing is painful and it can be confusing. I just have to remember to not get lost, right?

_________________________________________________________________________

I think I wanted to share this on the blog, because it always makes me feel better when I know that other people struggle with the same things I do.   And it’s inspiring to me when I see others trying to be good and kind and thoughtful in their choices.  It inspires me to try to do the same.  I not perfect, and I don’t do perfect poly.  I’m just a girl who is trying to find her way, along with everyone else.

Happy anniversary, little blog.


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~Swing~

Over the weekend, Special Man and I were in a Dollar Store picking up party supplies, for a “Day of the Dead” themed event I hosted in my home on Saturday night.  I’m not sure how we got on the subject of compersion, of all things, as we walked down the medicine aisle, but he stopped me in my tracks as he said, somewhat loudly, that he was of the opinion that swingers are way better at compersion than polys. (I don’t even know if polys is a word, but I’m making it up if it isn’t.)  I think his exact words were, “To tell you the truth, I think swingers are the ones who have the compersion thing down.”

He kept walking, assuming I was following, and I stood, in the middle of The Dollar Tree, thinking.  And I had a poly epiphany, right there.  Of course, swingers think they’ve got compersion down.  Their focus is so very finite and well defined.  It’s sex.  Usually together, often in the same room, and they go home together.  Every rule and guideline that swingers enforce, is in place to protect The Relationship.  Because sex is just sex.  I get it.

We polys have blown this concept up to embody the entirety of a relationship that doesn’t include us.  Not just sex, not just orgasms, not just bodies on bodies.  Emotions and time and fights and life and inside jokes and a history…and we are supposed to feel compersive about all of it.  The vision I have going in my brain right now, is that of a smiling, glowing Stepford Wife.    That’s what I feel I’m being asked to achieve,  when I read about how compersion is the highest poly state we should be striving for.

I wanted to stop and debate this right then with him, and I’m not sure why.  It may be that it struck me as so kind of, well, smug.  And he can be smug, because he and CC have a significant swinging history, and I’m pretty sure he identifies as a swinger, just as much (if not more) than he does as polyamorous.  While my style of poly includes a lot of self analysis, and processing, both internally and outloud, he is more of a matter-of-fact, black and white, just don’t dwell on it, kind of guy.  If he gets a jealous thought or twinge, he tells me he “just doesn’t think about it.”  He doesn’t dwell.  He waits for it to pass.

Now, lest you think he is perfect: He is not.  These “not dwelling” moments tend to pile up, and then come out all at once, at least with me.  I’m not sure how this dynamic works between him and CC.  Their relationship is in a much different place than ours is after their fourteen-ish years, compared to our two-ish years.  He does get a little jealous sometimes, and I usually don’t hear about it until it is really bothering him.  I, on the other hand, will spill it immediately.  I process out loud, and I know that can be hard on him.  Just as his style can be hard on me, as I can feel blindsided if he’s been acting fine and then all of a sudden, absolutely isn’t.

So this has gotten off on a tangent. Sometimes I’m not sure what I’m going to vomit out onto a blog post, and I guess this is one of those times.  My original thought, was that I was annoyed that Special Man was declaring the swinger team the winner of the compersion trophy.  It’s been a challenge, having a relationship with someone who has both a swinger mentality, and a polyamorous side, and who can compartmentalize each so effectively.  In the beginning I was so confused.  I understood the swinger concepts, of sex being fun, and just something you can do with people you like, or people you’ve just met. But he and I have connected sex, loving sex, hot sex; sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes it’s fun and recreational.  But love is what makes it so good for me.  Was it “just sex” for him?  Where did I fall, into which compartment?  Swinger sex or poly sex, or was there even a difference?

Sidenote: Man, he’s so going to love this post.

Now, I know there are all kinds of non-monogamy.   This isn’t a swinging vs. polyamory debate, but I find they tend to exist in the same realm, and here I sit, from my little poly viewpoint, wondering why compersion is so elusive to so many in Polyland, but the swingers have that shit down.  And I think it comes down to degrees.  If I see SM flirt with another woman, it’s cute, but it has big implications…full blown, impactful, relationship implications.  On the other hand, if we were in a strictly swinging context, the implications would be so limited, to that night, to those hours, to the activity of sex and flirting, that I would think that compersion in context, would just be simpler.

This all just leads me back to my opinion that compersion, as I understand it,  is kind of overrated.  I’m still working from a place of pleasant neutrality and acceptance, when he is interested in spending time with someone else.  Some days, that’s the best I can do.  Some days, I’m a jealous, scared little girl. My poly is imperfect.  But it doesn’t mean it isn’t GOOD.

~Compersion, Thou Art A Harsh Mistress~ 


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~Sheriff~

So I drove five and a half hours last week, to Bend, Oregon for a date with a man I had never met in person.  This is not something I would typically do, but there were a few different reasons I wanted to do this.

The Sheriff and I connected through OKCupid.  He is smart and funny and he has a nice smile.  He has a good vocabulary, spells well, and I didn’t feel pressured that this long distance coffee date had expectations attached. (Truth be told, I knew we both had expectations, but I was comfortable, he was comfortable, there was just good mojo all around.)

Sheriff is from a tiny town more than nine hours away from me.  Tiny, like twenty thousand people.  When I heard this, I told him it sounded like the town of Mayberry, from the Andy Griffith Show, and that I was just going to have to nickname him Opie, or, alternatively, just Mayberry.  Apparently neither of these were masculine enough for him, and he requested (demanded) I at least give him Andy, after the Sheriff of Mayberry.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, Sheriff had a good ring to it, and this is often how my brain works.

I think we were both good from the moment we met.  It was comfortable conversation that we fell into, and an easy kind of rapport.  We had been intermittently chatting online, and by text for a couple of months, so it felt natural to be with him in person.

One of the reasons I chose to go on this far-away date with the Sheriff, has to do with my relationship with Special Man.  I think I need more of something, though more of what, exactly, I’m not sure.  I wanted to experiment, I wanted to explore some different options. I have a deep level of intimacy with and love for SMF.  It takes a lot of work to maintain that.  I miss him almost all the time.  Not curled-into-the-fetal-position miss him, but I often feel as if I’m waiting for the next time we can be together.  And really, between his work, my work, our family obligations and everything else that constitutes Real Life, I’m not sure how much more of myself there is left to give to yet another person, even an additional casual relationship.

I’ve heard the term, “poly-saturated” before, and I love it.  I like the idea that each of us, who identify as non-monogamous, may have a different level of poly- saturation.  While one person may easily integrate two significant relationships and one casual relationship, another person may be content with one significant and one casual. Of course there are any number of combinations and possibilities, and I want to find that balance between my needs and contentment, and my abilities to maintain my connections.

It was a good date, we stayed overnight in Bend, and I had a good time.  I was a little unsettled, being with someone new, but a preference for familiarity and stability is part of my fundamental personality.  However, all in all, it was a very low-key, easy experience.  There were many conscious pauses, where I took note of my feelings and and then filed them away for later processing.  When it came near time for me to head home, the Sheriff asked me if I could stay another day.

“Maybe,” I said as we walked to breakfast.

Part of me thought it might be fun.  Part of me was ambivalent.   The Sheriff was engaging, attentive, conversational, and complimentary.  But I missed Special Man.   I knew that he would not be comfortable with this change in plans, had I decided at the last minute to stay another night with a new man,  but in the end, I chose not to stay another night because I just couldn’t be comfortable with it.  It felt too new, too unfamiliar, and I didn’t feel like I had the energy for twenty-four more hours with a brand new person.  I needed to be back on familiar ground; my town, my bed, my children.

The unfortunate encounter between a tree and my car on the way home from Oregon, necessarily caused me to delay my thoughts about this date.  I like the Sheriff, and I may see him again.

But I’m still looking for something.