Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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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~

 

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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.


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~Pout~

Sometimes I look around and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

Poly is hard, guys.

Special Man has a new interest. I suppose at this point he might refer to her as a girlfriend, though I’ve not heard him say it out loud.  I know she considers him a boyfriend. And I know I’m supposed to be happy and compersive.

But I’m not, exactly.

Oh I get fleeting touches of it, this elusive compersion. It’s nice to see that someone he likes, likes him back. I like that he is happy.  But mostly what I’m feeling is territorial. I’M supposed to be the girlfriend.

It’s all very decidedly UN-poly of me.  (Commence pouting.)

She’s a great person. No, she’s a fantastic person.  She’s beautiful. She is creative and artistic.  She is strong, energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, funny, and she has a great laugh.  Also she looks wonderful without makeup.  She likes animals.  (SMF loves animals.  I mostly just like a few, and tolerate the rest.)  And I KNOW it’s not supposed to be a competition, but humans are fickle creatures, and I’m a little insecure.

He will debate that he and I first met Mrs. A on the same day, but really, she was my friend first.  SMF and I met Mrs. A and Mr. A for coffee, after they contacted me online, and were interested in  dipping their toes in the kink community.  At that point they were monogamous. So add that to the list of Things That Make Ginger Nervous: people brand spanking new to poly.

I genuinely like and enjoy Mrs. A. She is kind and thoughtful, and I think she’s a wonderful addition to my poly network. I really do.  This too, scares me.  If I’m struggling with this new girl in spite of the fact that she’s considerate and loving and mindful of others, what does that make me?  (Add guilt to the pouting.)

Underlying this new relationship, is the attempted breakup with SMF at the beginning of the summer.  We spent a few months in limbo, trying to let go, but never quite being able to.  Then came a renegotiation and redefining of our relationship.

The pendulum has swung, and though I’m committed to my partner and my people, I’m having a little poly performance anxiety.

(End pout.)