Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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~Memorial~

Today in a thrift store, I found a wedding cake topper that is identical to the one that was on my wedding cake twenty-one years ago. I’d had a vague idea that I wanted to have something to represent the death of my marriage for the Day of the Dead altar I am planning on November 2nd. When I saw the white ceramic bride and groom, I stopped and looked at it for a minute before I picked it up. I was a little sad for that girl who got married at age 22, but I also was flooded with a feeling of relief. Who I am now, is far from who I was then. I lived the life that was expected of me for many years. I may still be trying to find my way, but now I try to live with choice and intention. And that is a very good thing.

I have a lot of patterns that I am trying to change. Patterns of shame which do not serve me any more. I am aware, and I am present. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to live my life according to someone else’s idea of who I should or shouldn’t be.


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~Sliver~

A good portion of my interactions with Special Man Friend take place via technology like text, email, and Google Talk.  He lives twenty minutes away from me (twenty five on a heavy traffic day…) and I see him at least once a week, usually twice.  It’s important to me to have some daily contact, though I think his need for it is a little less than mine.  He knows me well, and if a day passes without hearing from me, he knows something is up and he hunts me down, which I enjoy.  (I’m such a girl.)

Because of this concentrated, pared down type of communication,  I have learned to ask for what I need.  Whatever is going on in my head, in my life, in my day, I know that Special Man will be there for me.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been those times he’s failed miserably at giving me what I ask for, and there have been other times when I have been so out of touch with myself that he was scrambling to connect with me and I was simply out of reach and oblivious.

Yesterday was not such a good day for me.  The details are inconsequential, it was just one of those days when life piles up, and all I really wanted was to turn out the lights and cuddle up with someone who loves me, and not talk.  But that’s not the structure of my relationship.  I have to find alternate ways to nurture myself and my partner.  Here is a part of the conversation that relaxed me into the rest of my night.  When it was finished, I put myself to bed early, knowing I was loved and wanted and that one bad day didn’t change any of that.

Me: could you please just tell me something you like about me
 
Him: of course. I like the way you laugh and blush with incredulity when I point out some little flaw or quirk you thought you were keeping hidden.
that was a weird-ish request. Was that intended for someone else?
(I LOVE those little flaws and quirks, btw)
  
Me: who else would I ask for something weird-ish like that??
that was rhetorical
 

Him: Also. I like the supremely girlish lilt of your voice. It is really awesome (it was the word ‘just’ that made it seem a little out of place, that’s all…)
 
Me: That was a good answer btw
 

Him: I like the way you smile big and arch your eyebrows sometimes when we talk.

 

Me: (okay I could see that. the just was a manifestation of my frustration as to what the hell is wrong with me.) :/

Yeah, I like my smile too.
I like the way you make me feel.
 
Him: I like the way you practically melt into me when we spoon
 
Me: I miss you.
  
***Posted without permission.  So there.  (I’m such a rebel.)

 


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~Returning~

I feel as if I’m in some sort of No Man’s Land. I’m doing much better than even last week as far as pain goes, but my body is tired all of the time, if not utterly exhausted. I’m starting to realize how many things I need to take care of, things that were necessarily ignored in the weeks after my car wreck. The idea of catching up and returning to real life is a little overwhelming right now. But, I figure, that the first step is acknowledging my trepidation and then moving forward.

My doctor said I needed two more weeks away from work, so that is a big relief. I was worried about how I would be able to handle the demands of bedside nursing at this point. I’ve started to drive again, and my palms get sweaty and my heart speeds up a little, but I am not paralyzed by fear of another accident, even though it is in the back of my brain. I suppose that part is a natural consequence. We learn from experience.

I went to see a counselor last week, just to be proactive in dealing with some of the stress that I’m feeling start to pile up. The weather has been dim and gloomy and I worry that some depression will sneak back in without me realizing. Being proactive is difficult, when what I want to do is stay in bed and baby myself and my injuries, which is a horrible plan, I know. I have let a few friends know about my concerns, and have given them permission to prod me a little if I begin to withdraw. In addition, I am on the look- out for a light box, to hopefully lessen the effects of the seasonal aspects of my mood.

Writing this status update, is my personal declaration that it’s time to return to real life. It’s time to focus further out than making it through the next 24 hours with as little pain as possible. It’s time to do some hard things, like look for a new car, and deal with the bills from the accident.

Being a grown-up is hard.


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~Absorb~

Metamour.

Is this even a real word? Language evolves to meet the needs of a society or community as it changes over time. When I Google Metamour definition, the first thing that pops up is an entry on Urban Dictionary. Next you will find a plethora of polyamory related web pages, in fact the 11th and 12th entries link right back here, to Poly Nirvana.

Metamour relations can be tricky.  They can be downright difficult.   I liken it to in-law relations, mainly because I still view many things through the glasses of traditional monogamy, in that I make sense of  poly things by relating them back to mono things.  Anyway, you don’t choose your in-laws, and while it isn’t absolutely necessary to be best friends with them, it sure does make things a lot more peaceful, and a lot more fun if you do genuinely enjoy each other.

So what’s the etiquette for interactions with a metamour?  Should you meet early on in the relationship or later? Should you give them a card or a gift on their birthday?  Is there a basic assumption of obligation to your partners’ other partners, as there would be with, say, a mother or sister-in-law?

(I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  I can offer no deep insight.  I’m figuring it out as I go, and, I’m afraid, not very gracefully.)

The latest of my less than gracious reactions to a metamour, included me, sitting with tender feelings and a bruised heart, because although I have had an abundant show of support and love in this week since my car wreck,  via text, internet, and in person, from both friends, and family…. I hadn’t heard a word from CC.  I didn’t need anything.  I didn’t want anything. If I had texted her for any reason, I know she would have done what she could for me.  But I didn’t want to ask.  I wanted to be one of her Important People, and if the roles were reversed, I thought, I would have contacted her immediately, and I projected that onto her.  My feelings were hurt.

It wasn’t fair for me to put that on her.

But I stewed about it for a few days, as I began to feel more and more isolated, with my slowly healing body, and my labile emotions.  I felt left out and forgotten, as SMF made another date for a big party that I had been looking forward to, and was now not going to be able to attend.  I was mad.  Mad for reasons that I was making bigger in my head.  I was left out.  Circumstances had conspired to shrink my universe down to my body, on my bed, in my house.  And life went on for everyone else.  And I wanted someone to stop and notice that I was missing.

We really are the centers of our own little universes.  It’s easy to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me when we are talking about things or people far away and unknown to me.  But it takes self awareness and mindfulness to stay on top of the fact that there are lives that overlap mine, that affect mine, but that I am not a priority.

So I had a meltdown, or rather, several small meltdowns.  Both Special Man and CC tried to fix it.  But it was too late, and I had to start putting myself back together.  I’m processing.  I’m being gentle with myself.  I’m trying not to berate myself for not handling this unexpected speedbump better.  I wanted to run away from everyone last night, especially SMF,  and there was a small sane part of my brain that switched into logical nurse mode and said, “Wait. This is the pain meds, and the trauma to your body and to your spirit.  Wait.”

So I waited.

The anger faded, but the hurt is still there.  I am weary of taking care of myself.  I want to be kissed on the forehead and tucked in to bed.   I want to know that when I wake up, someone who loves me is still there, waiting for me.  I want to be taken care of.  Just for a little while.

 “She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! Alas! She must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.”  ~Jane Austen, Persuasion


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~Birth~

I get paid to watch over women during childbirth.  It is incredible, and amazing, labor-intensive and sometimes heartbreaking.

There’s a moment, when a woman realizes that this thing she is doing, is really happening, and there is nothing she can do to change it.   In this moment, there is a look of panic on her face, as her eyes lock on mine, and I hold them there.  I do not look away, and I say to her, I know.  Sometimes she will fight it. She will try to get away from it. But eventually, the realization comes to her: This is mine to do.  

I love watching women change during childbirth.  For that brief period of time, rules of polite society are put aside. As she sinks deeper into herself, she cares less about what is happening outside of herself.  She is focused on one thing.  It’s raw, and it’s honest, and sometimes it’s ugly.

After years of this work, I was taught a new lesson this week.  I observed a girl, in her first pregnancy, labor so beautifully, so instinctually, so powerfully that I was stopped in my tracks.  I was awe struck by her peace, and by her connection with the process and with her body.  The way she moved, as she worked through contraction after contraction, could not be taught.  No class or book could ever standardize the way she gave herself over to this thing that she had never experienced before.

After many (so many) hours of labor, and many more hours of pushing, during which she was completely present, for reasons completely out of her control, I ended my night with her in the operating room, numb from the chest down, covered in blue sterile drapes.  She could not move, as her baby was pulled from an incision in her abdomen.  She had done everything “right”.  She’d had no medications, as few interventions as possible, and good labor support.  She had walked and squatted and used gravity to ensure safe passage for her infant into the world. She did everything within her power to get that baby out the way she had planned and desired.

And it was not going to happen. It didn’t happen.  She didn’t get the natural vaginal birth she desired, and had worked so hard to give herself and her child.  I was disappointed.  Perhaps a little disillusioned.  I wanted so much to see her get the beautiful moment when she pushed her baby out and heard him cry.

It is easy to become cynical sometimes as a caregiver.  I see so much that makes me roll my eyes.  People in ridiculous situations of their own choosing.  People in horrible situations through no fault of their own.  Women who are so caught up in themselves, that they choose meth or other drugs over the lives and safety of their babies.  I’ve heard the wails of women who are told that their perfect, almost ready to be born, babies have simply stopped beating their hearts, and there is nothing anyone can do.  And then I’ve watched, as those dreadfully still and silent children are born.

I’ve sent women home either giggling or tearful, because I’ve told them that no, their water did not break, that they simply wet their pants.  I’ve sent women home angry, because I cannot predict, nor influence the time and the day that their labor will start.  I watched a woman punch her stomach and call her unborn child stupid.  I’ve been snapped at by women who later apologize; I’ve been sworn at by women who never apologize.

We get the hand we are dealt.  The cliche is appropriate.  There are things we can control and there are things we can’t.  Knowing the difference, and making the thoughtful choices when they are ours to make is the secret to contentment.

I only hope I’m playing my own cards wisely and thoughtfully.

Something about this particular patient made me remember what it is that I love about what I do.  I’ve lost some of that over the years, and I want it back.  I came home after this delivery exhausted and aching and a little melancholy.  At the same time, I was content, and I was happy.

I’m a lucky girl.


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~Write~

About a month ago, I was referred to on another website as a “blogger”.  Oh pish posh, I thought, I’m not a Blogger.  That sounds kind of serious, like some kind of commitment to have something to say, all the time…  I’m just fooling around a little…

And then, a few days later, it hit me.  Holy fuck. I’m a writer.   

Every day I write.  I can’t stop.  I wake up in the middle of the night composing sentences, and I speak these sentences in my head, as I lay in bed, staring into the dark.  I have a voice, and I have a hundred stories to tell.  Sometimes I think if I can’t write, I will implode.  These stories and sentences will become heavy and dark as they melt together into a mass of tangled words that will never come out.

When I sit down to write, I go into my head and pull out one of these sentences.  I watch, as it appears in front of me, like a magic trick that only I know.  I choose the words, the rhythm, the flow.  My power is in words, and these words are gloriously mine.

When I was a young girl, there were things I knew, without ever being told.  I knew that there was so much more to me than anyone thought. I stayed quiet and good in the world, even as I was screaming in my head that I had something to say.  I knew I had a voice, hidden underneath all of the rules and restrictions and expectations of a false perfection that had been assigned to me.

Today is my declaration of intention.  I’m a writer.  And writers write.  I’m not afraid of it any more.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”   ~Ernest Hemingway


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~Preach~

Once upon a time, there was a Southern Baptist man who told me he was polyamorous.

An hour into our first date, I knew that he was a liar. He had a wife. And she thought they were a happily married, monogamous couple. I was sad and cynical and bitter after my divorce, and for some reason, of which I am decidedly not proud, I went out with him a second time. Then a third. He fascinated me, as I tried to find my place in a world I was new to. I was newly single, I had walked away from the religion I was raised in, and all of a sudden, I was searching to find something I believed in.

I didn’t make any vows, I thought. This is all on him. So I quietly had an affair with a married man for almost nine months.

This man symbolized everything I was, at that time, pushing back against. He wasn’t just a Southern Baptist, he was a minister with his own congregation. He was married with a pregnant wife. He had a position with the local right-to-life organization.

I had a friend tell me, that the irony was so ridiculous, he couldn’t get over it. “Religion completely fucked you over,” he said, “And now you’re fucking a preacher.” I didn’t feel anything. I felt numb. I wasn’t attached to him, though I enjoyed our conversations and our time together was pleasant. He expressed much more moderate views of the world to me, in private, than he did to the public. I felt like he was one person with me, and another away from me. Maybe this was how I justified what I was doing. We joked that we were therapy for each other.

After about six months, I began to feel that I was wronging someone. I was wronging his wife. I was wronging myself. I had found the boundaries of my own personal morality, not a forced set of moral laws set on me by a church or a god, or a society. I was a human being, and human beings should be kind and do right by each other. Even if you didn’t make any vows to them.

After another few months we parted, and I didn’t look back. I didn’t love him, though I wished him well. I told him I hoped he would figure out a way to be true to himself, and to honor his wife’s expectations of their marriage. I don’t know what choices he subsequently made in his personal life, but he continues to lead his congregation, even writing in a public forum, about the dangers and immorality of adultery. I don’t know if he’s a hypocrite, or simply a sinner with good intentions.

I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I am hesitant to post this, even as I know that nobody can judge me as harshly as I judge myself, but it happened, and this experience pushed me to figure out who I really wanted to be, and how I truly wanted to live my life. This was my first introduction to non-monogamy. It wasn’t ethical, and it wasn’t honorable. But the idea was planted, this possibility of open, consensual, loving relationships, where everyone was doing their best for each other and for themselves, and this vision both enthralled and terrified me.

And that hasn’t changed. The concept of polyamory absolutely thrills me.

But some days I’m still a little scared of it.

The end.