Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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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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~Boundary~

My ex-husband is mentally ill.

Not simply mentally ill.  He is utterly disabled.

It is something that I had to deal with for many years, as he deteriorated, and became more volatile and violent.  He was verbally and emotionally abusive to me and the kids, and sometimes physically abusive.  When I took the kids and left, I had absolutely no idea he would continue to deteriorate to where he is now, and  I would be here, six years later, about to say this:

My children’s father is now a ward of the state, and is currently at the state hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho.

It’s kind of bizarre.

It’s also heartbreaking, tragic, exhausting and emotional.  Especially because I see my oldest child exhibiting many of the same red flags, and it hurts my heart.  For a long time, I thought if I said the right things, did the right things, and walked on the right eggshells, that I could control, fix, or manage things.  I was horribly wrong about that.

As it happens, Mrs. A also deals with her own demons, and this weekend I witnessed some of the emotional instability that she struggles with.  I won’t get into details here, except to say that I took the brunt of it, with her venomous closing sentence to me being, “I’m happy that hurt you.”

I can’t.

I can’t be in that position.  It’s taken years for me to be able to stop internalizing the irrational actions of my ex and my child.  I took much of that on myself.  And in the end I was angry and resentful and hurt and so, so weary.

So it seems I have a boundary.  I won’t knowingly get close to someone who’s mental illness causes them to hurt me or those I love.  I am not insensitive.  I am not uncompassionate.  I can be kind and friendly, but I will protect myself and my heart.

I’d really like to veto this whole situation.  I can’t, and I won’t. But I am a mamma bear who is desperate not to see her people hurt.  But this is the difference, to me, between a rule and a boundary. My boundary is for me. I’m unwilling to make a rule…for him. I have to step back and let Special Man manage his relationship with her. I don’t really like it, this watchful waiting. But I love him, and that won’t stop because he chooses to have a relationship with someone I am not comfortable being close with myself.

I can’t decide if this makes me a bad person or not, but in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I just can’t.


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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.)


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~Uno~

Special Man Friend and his wife came for cards and pizza.  It was the first time CC met my children.

I cleaned my kitchen and sent one of the boys to pick up pizza. I was really nervous.  When I came out to my kids as poly, I was genuinely surprised at the neutrality of their reactions.  The worst I got was, “Huh.  That’s kind of weird.” and the best was, “Hey, the important thing is that you are happy.”

But meeting Special Man’s wife?  I wanted it to happen. I want the big happy poly extended family.  It’s been a long time coming, this first meeting, and truthfully, there was a time I didn’t think it was possible that we would ever make this step.

Life is full of surprises.  We are constantly changing and evolving as human creatures, and I am so grateful for that.

The whole thing was uneventful.  My kids were polite, well mannered, accepting.  My 19 year old had told me in advance that he was supportive but uncomfortable, and wasn’t sure if he would stay and hang out, and I was happy that he was able to tell me that.  He did meet CC, and stayed for a few minutes, but soon retreated.  We ate dinner, and then played a few rounds of cutthroat Uno, and it was easy, and casual, and relaxed.

We are already planning Thanksgiving.  Things feel good.


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~Time~

I’m in the mountains this week.  It’s green and lovely, and I can hear myself think.

My main thought last week:  Poly is hard, y’all.

This week?

Relationships are hard.

Special Man and I broke up.  Nothing is ever all good, or all bad.  No person, no relationship.  But poly is especially hard.  Especially when we are taught that good poly means that all your needs do not need to be met by a single relationship, and that it’s okay to take the good from a relationship and look elsewhere for your other needs.

But I wasn’t doing that.

I made a huge space in my life for SMF.  And he tried to fill it, within the parameters of the smaller space he had for me in his life.  But I found myself always settling.  Adjusting.  Making due.

It was painful for me.  And painful for him.  I thought that we were working towards a similar vision of poly, but I realized about a month ago that I was wrong.  He is a good man.  I love him, madly.  But we want different things.

The question now is, can we maintain any kind of relationship, any level of contact, where I can make space for another person, or people, and still remain involved with this man who has taught me so much about myself and about the world?

I’m honestly not sure.  How do you make a relationship … less?  You can allocate less time.  You can mandate less contact.  But emotional and mental space?  That’s the tricky bitch.  He wants to find a way that we can stay in each other’s lives.  And I’m not so sure.

I’m not dating anyone else.  I’m not involved with anyone else.  I’m choosing to be alone, rather than make SMF a default partner.  I want to be healthy, and happy, and open to possibilities.  Open to new connections.  And I didn’t allow myself that, three years into this poly relationship.  I made him my priority, instead of myself.  And our dynamic developed to the point where he expected to be my priority, and I don’t think it was healthy for either one of us.  There was a lot of hurt, a lot of expectation that went unmet.

It’s nobody’s fault, and it’s both of our faults.

 


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~Year~

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

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

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Hi Ginger,

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

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

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

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

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My response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Ginger

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

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

Happy anniversary, little blog.