Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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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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~Distance~

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

I’m considerate like that.

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

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

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

Me:  How long is a little while ago?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me:   I’m going to bed now.


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~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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~Hunt~

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

Umm, no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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~Meh~

I have three or four drafts working for blog posts. Some deep thinking kind of stuff.  But it’s not coming together.  I want to write, but I can’t find my words.

In the morning I start my prep day for Thanksgiving.  I can’t wait.  I’m excited to have a house full of people.  I’m excited to have Special Man and CC here, their son, and Special Man’s sister is coming and bringing a friend.  My kids will be here, and I hope it’s fun and loud, and that the house smells good and that my teenagers don’t fight with each other.

Or with me.

I’ve had a bit of a rough patch the last few days.  I had a revelation.  And I don’t like it one bit.

In the last year, as I’ve become more and more “out” and open and honest with others, and with myself, I have found myself strongly triggered in certain situations.  I have spoken with my fabulous therapist about it, and she was surprised that I had never had any counseling to deal with the aftermath of my abusive marriage.  As a nurse, I can intellectually talk myself through some of these things, simply because I recognize what is happening.

I was sitting in my therapists waiting room one time, not long ago.  There was a couple’s session going on, and I’m not sure if the door was open, or the walls were thin, but I could hear much of what was being said by the male partner, who was speaking in a loud, agitated, voice.  The female partner would occasionally respond in softer tones, and was generally interrupted by the man.  I heard a lot of “you did” this and “you should have” that.  I was uncomfortable.  I started to get hot, and I felt my face start to tingle.  My heart was beating fast, my palms were sweaty, and I was fighting not to cry.

The odd thing about this whole experience, was that my mind was calm.  I was thinking, ‘What is wrong with me?  I don’t feel upset, but my body is absolutely freaking out.  This is kind of PTSD-like.  I don’t have PTSD.  This is so weird.”

Except I probably do have some PTSD.

I’m just starting to get into it with my therapist now.  SMF snapped at me last week about something silly.  In three years, I can honestly say, that he has shown anger to me only a scant handful of times.  It’s a good thing, because my reactions are becoming more intense.  I don’t want to be this person.

But I am.

When Mrs. A verbally attacked me, my head went quiet.  I remember thinking after, that I was surprised I wasn’t more upset. It was similar to when I was sitting in the waiting room, listening to the man and woman fighting. My heart was pounding, my stomach hurt, and I felt like throwing up, but inside I was thinking, “Huh, this kind of weird.”  She said a lot of mean and ugly things; things I just haven’t been able to move past.  And it’s really starting to affect me.  A few nights ago, I lashed out at SMF.  Every time I know he’s with her, I’ve been upset and hurt, because I felt (feel?) abandoned.  I mean, don’t the sacred rules of couplehood and loyalty and all that, demand that he stand by me?  Put his foot down?  Never talk to her again?

No.

I’ve got all these concepts swirling around in my head.  Where do obligation and autonomy meet?  Is SMF obligated to share the same boundary as I have?  What’s my obligation to Mrs. A as a metamour?  What’s my obligation to my larger poly “family” if he continues to see her?  Falls in love with her?  At this point, I cannot be around her.  I don’t feel safe.  I have to protect myself, and in doing so, I want to protect those around me, and that includes HIM.

But he doesn’t feel unsafe around her.  He simply doesn’t have the same boundary around her behavior that I do. And that is both okay, and not okay.  I’ve almost worked through this in my head.  Almost.

But not quite.

I sent her a message this week asking her to have coffee.  I did it because I was trying to Do Good Poly.  (This phrase, Doing Good Poly, is now my nemesis. I think it’s now become a normative set of  polyamorous expectations, and I hate it. More on that another day, though.)  I did it because I felt obligated to SMF.  I did it because I felt obligated even, to my own vision of a comfortable and close poly network.

The same day, the anticipation of having to make nice with her, simply because she’s seeing my partner, made me anxious and tearful and the now-familiar stomach ache came back. I sent her another message. I won’t be meeting with her.  I am protecting myself and holding my boundaries.  The end.

So now we come back around to Special Man. I sent him this message:

“I’ve been acting under an assumption that I was obligated to make things good with me and A. in the name of good poly, or for the good of our greater poly network. I think it’s something I put on myself, and it’s something that you have put on me in the past with CC and anticipate will put on me in the future with A. Ideally, I want to be friendly with your other partners and with Cc’s partners and with their other partners. I made a huge effort with A. even when I was uncomfortable out of obligation to you and *good poly*. My obligation ended when she made it clear to me that I have some serious and valid! boundaries around cultivating relationships with people whose mental illness causes them to be irrational, abusive, and out of control. And I have been feeling hurt that you don’t have the same boundaries and that isn’t fair to you. You don’t have the same boundaries. You’re OK with her. And that should be okay with me. I need to respect you and your choices while still taking care of myself. And you’ll have to respect my choices. Don’t ask me to hang out with her and don’t give me a hard time when I choose not to come to things, like poly potluck for example. I will not take your relationship with her as disloyalty to me, but you can’t take my purposeful distance from her as disloyalty to either you*or* to polyamory. I know I’m going to miss things and people and opportunities to spend time with you because of my choice, but it’s also because of your choice. And that’s just the way it is. I messaged her last night in a fit of obligation, to see if she wanted to have coffee. Maybe she already told you. But I was wrong. I don’t have to fix this, because I am trying to keep myself happy and healthy.”

Monogamy tells us how we are “supposed” to act and feel. Not being monogamous? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Most of the time I don’t even feel like I’m playing ball, at all.


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~Chili~

Special Man makes a good chili.  No, he makes a great chili.  Before I met him, I had no idea that people make chili without beans.  On purpose.  Just to eat.  I mean, I had bought no-bean chili in a can for chili dogs for my kids.  But SMF’s chili has all sorts of meat and spice and utter deliciousness.  I love it.

Yesterday I texted CC, at the suggestion of a friend in Chicago, who knew I was feeling disconnected and alone, and kind of frustrated.  “This is a great chance”, Chicago said, “for you to be vulnerable, and reach out to CC.”

Special Man has been stressed and, as I see and feel it, distant.  It’s hard to know what to do, what to say, how to act.  It’s especially hard, being the non co-habitating partner.  I don’t get to see him, to lay eyes on him, to know that yes, he is distant and withdrawn, but he is okay, and we are okay.  I don’t get to hand him a cup of coffee, or squeeze his hand as we pass in the hall, or observe that while he is withdrawn, he is still in there.  It’s been a challenging week.  I want to give SMF what he needs. But…he wants/needs to withdraw…and since our time together is very limited, if he withdraws, I see it as him disappearing.

And I didn’t handle that as gracefully as I could have/should have/would like to have.

Chicago was right.  I texted CC.

::I know SMF is having a hard time, but it won’t last forever, right? You know him best, you see him every day, when he withdraws it’s unsettling for me because he’s just kind of checked out and I don’t know what to do::

::I know, I’m kind of in the middle of that right now, too.:: She texted back.

That was all it took. There was more, but just knowing that she was in it too, helped me to breathe just a little easier.  Maybe that’s the beauty of metamours.  They are kind of in the middle of it too.

Soon after, I got texts from both her and SMF.  Come to dinner, they each said. Come watch a movie.  Come have chili and caramel corn.

I don’t know, I said.  Everything felt stressed and strained and difficult. I was tired, I was emotional, I was crabby.

But I went.  I went because it was important.  I went because they reached out to me, I went because I was invited, and I went because I was welcome.  I also went because there was chili.  (And CC’s caramel corn, which might as well be called caramel crack, for how addicting it is, and I’m not even exaggerating.)  We had chili, we watched a dumb movie, and we didn’t talk about anything hard.  It was awesome.

It’s funny, because ultimately, I went out of obligation and commitment.  I went because they wanted me in their space.  I was cranky and I was truly feeling the “solo” part of my solo polyamory.  I wasn’t lonely.  I was alone. I was separate. But tonight I have leftover chili in my fridge, and the memory of a nothing special Saturday night, where we were all in the same space, and it felt good, and it felt easy.


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~Reprieve~

I’m taking a forced twenty minute break from working on a new website.  I think I may actually gouge my eyeballs out with a fork if I don’t.

I’ve been blogging for almost two years now.  I use WordPress, it’s been relatively simple and straightforward.  I like simiplicity in my visual presentation, and brevity in my words, so I haven’t had to do much website design at all.  I just click a button for “New Post” and then click “Publish” when I am done.

I plan to spend the next year building a photography business. I will probably always stay on staff at my hospital, but I’d love to be able to be a photographer who moonlights as a nurse, and not the other way around.  I am being methodical about building both my business and my portfolio.

There’s no reason this won’t work.  Except for one. And that would be this damn new photography website!  I need examples of my work, an intro page, and a contact form.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  I’ve settled on a site host, and I don’t even have to code anything, and I’m still going crazy.

However. I will figure it out.  (I always do.)

But first the panicking!

It’s snowing today.  Actually, it pretty much dumped on us.  I’m not a fan.  Special Man left for his roadtrip to Oregon, and turned around after he passed the sixth accident in less than thirty minutes.  He may try again in the morning, but I suspect he may just skip it.  I know he’s been looking forward to this, and I’m disappointed for him. I hope the weather clears enough for him to go in the morning.

I find myself idly daydreaming about meeting and making new relationships with new people. In my daydreams, these are not necessarily romantic relationships that I crave, but I feel open and ready to make new connections.  This is a good thing.

(A very good thing.)


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~Reviewed~

In the middle of the summer, I was contacted with a offer of an advanced copy of a new book on polyamory, and a request to review it on my blog.  The book has since been released, and at least once a week, my partner pokes me and says, “Hey, did you write your review yet?”

No, I haven’t.  I’ve never reviewed a book before, and I keep thinking that there’s some dry, intellectual, and boring format that Official Book Reviews are supposed to follow, and I’ve been putting it off.  And putting it off.  So, this morning, as I sit in my favorite coffee shop, I’ve decided to write my own kind of review.

When I first started to learn about polyamory,  I was very interested to read about different experiences with open relationships.  I didn’t know anyone else “like me”, a single person doing polyamory. I started reading the standard, recommended poly books, and quickly realized that the bulk of information out there was for couples. Even chapters that referred to “secondary” relationships, seemed more about how to manage primary couplehood, in spite of “outside” relationships, rather than how to just be a good person, with healthy and whole relationships. I felt outside. I was the outside relationship; all the books said so. This ultimately sparked my own involvement in the larger poly community, my writing, my discussion group, my love and desire for community.

I didn’t want to like “More Than Two”, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.  I’ll admit it.  I’m a tough customer, and I think that comes from having to muddle through a lot of popular polyamorous muck in order to arrive at my own vision of happy and healthy relationships. (I believe I’m an optimistic cynic, however, so there is that.)

This book is a fantastic resource for anyone looking for a thoughtful, reasonable approach to polyamory, no matter who you are.

(That’s it. That’s my review.)

The things I look for in healthy poly relationships, are the things I look for in any human relationship. Polyamory doesn’t excuse anyone from being a good and kind human being.  Healthy relationships, whether with lovers, friends, co-workers, or family, include such things as responsibility, boundaries, communication, nurturing, and self-care.  “More Than Two”, offers a realistic and rational approach to being a whole person, who is mindful of self, and of others.

~finis 

(Have you read “More Than Two”?  What did you think?  Comments welcome!)


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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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~Grateful~

If you blog about poly, you are an activist.

Some of you know this already. Some of you are thinking, “I’m just writing about my life. I’m not an activist. Why would anyone want to be an activist?”

I don’t know if anyone wakes up one morning and decides to be an activist. I don’t know if anyone says to themselves, “Self, I want to be a poly activist and the best way for me to do that, is to start a blog. Yes!”

Here’s the thing. There’s a huge poly community spread across the world, and yet, in my face-to-face life, I interact with few, truly polyamorous people. I have very few examples of successful, healthy, honest, long-term non-monogamous relationships. I felt weird, and alone, for a long time.

Then I started blogging.

People found me. All of a sudden I was aware of this network of people who were trying to do good poly. I saw kind and thoughtful people who were seeking out others, and who were becoming stronger in their convictions about love and life, as they learned and explored. I made contacts with ethically non-monogamous people all over the place. I began to feel a sense of community.

I didn’t feel weird anymore.

And that’s activism. That’s what all you badass Bloggers have done for me. I read what you write, and I nod my head as I read. I get it. I feel it.

I see you.