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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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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~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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~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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~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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~Touch~

 

IMG_1034

I named him Leo, after Leo McGarry from West Wing.  He was born ten days before I started nursing school, and he’s an enthusiastic, energetic, creative, affectionate and loving kid.  This sucks.  I’d like to say, all’s well that ends well, but right now even my bones are exhausted, and Leo just told me I should take a shower.  I guess two days of stress and worry can make a momma bear a little frayed around the edges.

And stinky, apparently.

Yesterday was a long day, with surgery lasting just over three hours, and a long recovery period complicated by violent vomiting that would not stop.  He was given drug after drug, a fluid bolus, acupressure wrist bands that might help (they didn’t), more drugs, and, when a kind nurse told me she was trained in “therapeutic touch”, and offered to work on his energy, I said bring it.  (I wish I had a picture.)  She was a very kind woman, who didn’t bat an eye when he began to throw up during her healing session.

We tried more drugs.  Finally. Peace.

And then my important person was there  I had almost tried to let him off the hook earlier in the evening. He texted me right back.

::I need to be with you, kitten. I’ll be there in 30 minutes::

(He calls me kitten sometimes.  It’s my favorite.)

He apologized for getting upset when I told him I wasn’t happy he was leaving town this week.  “I wasn’t thinking,” he said.   He isn’t going anywhere.  And, in three weeks and six days, when it’s time for Georgia’s surgery, he’s taking a personal day at work so he can be with us.  And that is how I want my relationships to work.  Communicate, adjust and readjust, move forward.  I’m fortunate that I get to recognize these small milestones, because that’s how I see them, as important little relationship mile markers.   Look at us, I think sometimes.  We are really doing this.

Tonight CC and SMF were both here.  She sat and crocheted, he ordered sandwiches and managed the bedside table for Leo.  I sat on the floor, my arms wrapped around my knees and did not cry.  It was easy, this being together, and in my exhausted state I felt emotional, and raw, and grateful.


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~Forward~

I’m really excited about a lot of things.  I’m also nervous, because I’ve decided to take some risks which put the possibility of failure on my figurative, full to overflowing, plate .  Still, it’s a fantastic feeling to have plans and ideas to look ahead to.

I’ve cut one shift every other week at the hospital, so that I can move forward with my plan to supplement my income with my photography. I know I’m on a steep learning curve, but I love it, and I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback on my work.  I plan to cut another shift in the near future, so that I’ll be working two twelve-hour shifts per week, instead of my current schedule of three shifts one week, and two shifts the next.  Honestly, I never thought I’d attempt to have my own business, but I’d never found the right outlet before, either.

This is it.  I know it.

In addition, I am making plans to attend two poly conferences, with an eye towards presenting.  I loved my time at Beyond the Love last year.  It is a challenge for me, living in a very small conservative area, in a very conservative state, to have the face to face community that I think can be so important to any group of people who are “outside” of the box.  Much of my learning and socialization and feeling of community within PolyLand, comes, for me, from online and long distance interaction.  I am not sure exactly where I’d be without my online community,my friends, my discussion groups, my blog.  The things I assimilate and integrate into the way I practice relationships, and the way I function in my relationships are very much influenced by the things and people and writings I have access to through the internet.

I think this is an amazing thing.

So, I want to give back to this bigger community.  I want to contribute too.

The last thing I’m looking forward to, is opening my heart to the possibility of another significant relationship.  It’s time.  Special Man and I are very solid now, months after The Great Failed Breakup of 2014. I have been closed off, and, well, downright scared.

I’m not scared any more.

I am however, skeptical that I will find anyone local that I connect with.  I am careful, cautious, and slow to love. And I’m really okay with that.  It does mean that finding kindred partners is a challenge, especially when you factor in the previously mentioned very small conservative location of my existence.

Oh well.  The first step is opening your heart to all the possibilities.

So, bring it. 


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~Birthday~

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with my kids and Special Man and CC.  At least that was the plan.

We were preparing our Tiny Food (for our Tiny Food party), when my mother walked in. I heard her voice from the kitchen as she walked in.  “It’s my mother,” I whispered to SMF.  Now he’s met her, multiple times. I believe she liked him, until the day I told her he was in an open marriage.

“I had no idea he was so dysfunctional,” she told me. (Not sure what that says about me, thanks, Mom.)

I introduced her to CC.  “This is SMF’s WIFE.”  Mom was polite. Appropriate. Surprised. I could almost see the wheels turning in her head, as she debated how she would proceed. My mother considers herself a morally responsible person, who has a duty to make her moral position clear. To everyone.

I’m sure it killed her not to say anything. But she didn’t. Not even to me privately.

When she left she made a point to call CC by name and say goodbye and that it had been nice to meet her. They didn’t really interact, but I suppose that’s okay.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that after three years, I’m truly OUT.

And the world didn’t end.