Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Review~

I haven’t been able to eat today.

I’ve tried. My brain says eat. But I feel sick. Sick with that dread feeling, when there’s so much spilt milk that you are certain you will never be able to clean it up. There will always be another spot, another drop, another puddle.

In the Mormon church, there’s this scripture, about how there “needs be opposition in all things.” It’s used to comfort people in hard times, but also to make people feel superior when bad things happen. I think when I was a girl, I mixed up the scripture with Newton’s law, the one about “equal and opposite reactions.” If you get really good things in life, then you have to get really bad things too. That’s balance. That’s life.

The problem with this theory, is that there is no real balance. The starving, dying children of the world, do not have anything equal, but good, to counteract the fact that they are dying in multitudes. I suppose you could balance out the starving masses with the obese video- game playing children of the world who have plenty to eat, but I doubt that’s what God, or Newton had in mind.

I had a really, truly, to the core, rough year. It could have been worse, I am very aware. I had three children, each with a rare cancer syndrome (which they were gifted by me), undergo major surgery; all three within eight weeks of each other. As sole emotional, as well as financial caregiver, I am utterly exhausted. I keep telling myself to be grateful that nobody died. To be thankful that nobody needed long courses of chemo or radiation. I’ve reprimanded myself for emotions that range from feeling sorry for myself, to downright anger. My emotional reserves are depleted, and yet, the emotional demands on me remain the same. I’m still the mom. I’m still the grown up. I still cannot escape.

I am not really coping as well as I expected.

Add to the mix, a very intense relationship that almost ended, and several strong friendships that ended very badly, and it all makes for a very bitter girl, who is tired, and simply cannot lift her head up to see over the walls she has built in order to protect herself.

I sat in the hospital, in the dead of night, so angry at one friend in particular, because I loved her with all my heart, and she should have been there for me, and she should have been there for my children. I know her heart, and I feel the loss of her every day, and I know my kids miss her too.

Everyone leaves. Everyone changes.

This is the lesson I’ve learned this year. People can be mean. And people includes me.

For 1209 days, I have been loved by a man who is just as broken as I am, though I may have finally built my walls high enough to keep him out too. This beautiful man, with eyes the color of root beer, looked at me last night and told me he wasn’t sure we should be together. The light was fading from his eyes.

I’ve finally figured it out. It doesn’t matter if I’m poly or not poly. Not one bit. It only matters that I can accept the love and happiness that he gives me, for what it is, without fear of the pain and uncertainty of what might come with it. Will probably come with it. Because for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. You take the good with the bad.

Because this man makes me happy. He sees good in me. I’m a better person, because he holds up a mirror and doesn’t let me look away. In the mirror I see a scared girl, who can almost always hold everything together, until she can’t. And he isn’t afraid to tell me that I’m starting to drown, and he can’t come with me.

“If you give up,”  he said, “if you drown, I can’t let you drown me along with you. So please, swim for your life.”

So I’m treading water, and trying to decide which direction to go.

I don’t know what to do, I said.

“Breathe,” he told me.

I’m breathing. It’s all I can do.


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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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Save yourself.

The air hostess
with her smiling fingers
sings the speech of The Oxygen Mask,
of putting your own on first
which, of course is (not) selfish
but
we tend to be of no use
to anyone
if we are gasping for breath.

I breathe, somewhere
between
lightheaded, and useless
the soft plastic of the face mask
sweating in my hand.

But the drift is selfish, and I
am not allowed to be
useless
so I pull the mask close to my mouth
and continue to
suffocate.


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~Date~

I had a date.

A FIRST date, no less.  Now, maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it really was.  I think I have first date stage fright.

It doesn’t matter if I know my date previously or not, though I will say that blind dates are particularly painful.  Especially if it’s someone I’ve met through OkCupid.  Anyway, this guy did, in fact, find me on OKC.

I’m very, ummm…, selective (fine, picky).

I don’t have the time or energy or desire for lots of dates.  Or people.  Or anxiety.

So when The Hippie (hey, he proclaimed himself a hippie, so who am I to argue with such an easy nickname) and I hit it off via messaging, I thought, Ok.  Let’s do it.  At the very least, I have a new friend.  (Because I genuinely do like him.)  But then you get the big D word in there (DATE, you perv), and I get all weird.

Except I wasn’t really weird.

It was fine.  Pleasant.  Easy.  Chemistry?  I’m not sure.  (Man, I sure hope he doesn’t read this, I don’t think he even knows I blog…) I didn’t find myself watching his mouth and wanting to know how it felt on me.  I don’t think I noticed his hands or his fingers, and wondered what his touch felt like.

Okay, so no white hot chemistry.  Damn.

He walked me to my car.  He kissed me a little. It was good.  I may see him again.

May.

Turns out he also has seen Mrs. A a few times. And I don’t know what the future holds for them, but I don’t really want to be involved with someone whose partners overlap to that degree.  And honestly, I asked him if he had gone out with CC as well, since there’s such a small poly community here. (He hadn’t.) This doesn’t have as much to do with my discomfort with Mrs. A specifically, as it does my unease with the sometimes “too close for comfort”, everyone knowing everything, poly network.

Tonight SMF is out on a first date of his own.  And I’m not jealous.  Not really.  A little distracted, when I realized that it was 9:30 and he was three hours into his date, and what on earth were they doing for three hours and was he having a good time, and was she amazing and beautiful and sexy, and I bet they didn’t just have a fight and say sad and scary things to each other like we did, and she probably thinks he’s awesome, because he IS awesome, and I should have just let him wear the dirty socks because then if they went bowling, she would be unimpressed but NOOOOO, I had to tell him to wear clean socks because girls notice those kinds of things.

And now it’s 10:26 and he said he’d be home by 10:30, or would text me if it went later, and I’m watching the clock  and wishing that I wasn’t.

But I’m not jealous.

I’m uncomfortable.  I know he loves me.  And I know he loves CC.  And eventually, at some point, he will probably love someone else as well.  

I hope I find more love too.

(Epilogue: I got a text at 10:41 and I really wish that 11 minutes didn’t make me nervous. It must have been an awesome date. )


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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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~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.)