Poly Nirvana

Love, Life and Rational Polyamory


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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.


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~Look~

So I mentioned a few days ago that my sweet friend was having a crisis.

In a nutshell, this beautiful, smart, professional and wise woman found out quite suddenly that her husband of many years was not only using cocaine, but was dealing. And her adult children knew. Her disbelief upon discovering that her two grown boys had known, was further compounded when they both told her that her husband had been so casual about it, so open with it, that they never imagined that she hadn’t known. They were astounded that she could have been so oblivious.

This has weighed heavily on my mind these past few days. How is it that some things that are so apparent to others, can be completely out of our personal realm of reality? Is it simply a matter of perspective? Perhaps we soothe our minds into holding ourselves and our lives together, by turning a blind eye, not asking too many questions, not allowing ourselves to really see.

What am I missing, and do I really want to see it?

Lately I have this feeling like something is shifting, and it’s right there, but I can’t see it. Almost like the sensation of a word being right on the tip of your tongue, but not being able to find it in your brain. I am wondering if it is something that I am afraid to see, afraid to embrace. Change is painful, even good change. Anything that is different, can be uncomfortable, and I resist being uncomfortable.


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~Personality~

The Type A Personality: “The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.” (from Wikipedia.Yes, Wikipedia.)

(That’s me.)

I try to pretend that I’m an easy going, flexible, easy personality…but I am not. (And I don’t think I ever really fooled anyone anyway.) I’m a do-er, a fixer, a take action kind of girl. I will make things work, or die trying.

So today, I am letting go. I am my own girl, my relationship is mine, and it is good and strong. I can’t be so vested in the end product (whatever that may be) that I’m distracted from the love I have today.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

So all you little Type A’s: Take today for what it is. Find joy, and release expectation. It’s exhausting trying to micro-manage absolutely everything, isn’t it?


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~Progress~

People who know me laugh when I say that I’m shy.

Apparently I fake being outgoing incredibly well.

After some thought, and acceptance of How I Am, vs Who I Should Be (according to who? Society? The media? The image in my head of how a grown-up lady is supposed to act and feel?) I have come to the following conclusion:

I am an introvert.

When I’m feeling good, emotionally, physically, whatever, I can push through the anxiety and navigate new people. I can be in a crowd, I can make the small talk. I may even find it pleasant to be in a social situation.

But it’s never, ever, easy. People scare me. New people, casual acquaintances, old friends… they all pretty much scare me. Or annoy me. Or bore me. .

So this past weekend, as I headed up into the mountains for a big group camping trip, with people I was fairly familiar with, I was nervous. Even apprehensive. I had verbalized to Mister, my self-defined functioning parameters. 1) Practice my small talk. 2) Withdraw if I needed to, and not feel guilty or “less-than” if I needed some quiet alone time. It was important for me to say these things out loud, not just for myself, but for him as well. He is an extrovert who loves talking to people. We have had issues in the past, wherein he has interpreted my quiet presence at the fringes of a group conversation, as being unengaged, uninterested, anti-social, even sulky. And for a long time, I tried to be what I thought he wanted me to be, and I felt like a failure most of the time.

But now I’m free. A free, happy, self-proclaimed introvert. Granted, I may be an extrovert-leaning introvert, but as with anything, things are rarely black and white, but rather a sliding scale of gray. I had a good weekend. I went in without expectation. And I had a good time! I talked, and visited, and rolled with whatever came my way, and when I needed to recharge, I withdrew, for an hour here or there, to my quiet loft room with the polka-dot sheets and the stripey quilt. (Yes, it was cabin camping, complete with my coffee maker and real bathrooms. So, maybe not exactly camping per se, but it was in the mountains. I had to drive on a long and winding dirt road to get there, and there was no cell service. That’s camping according to Ginger.)

I like me. I like who I am. I see room for improvement, but that will come.


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~Compersion, Thou Art A Harsh Mistress~

I think compersion is overrated. There. I said it. There’s nothing in the poly world that has the potential to make me feel more inadequate than the concept of compersion.

Compersion as defined by Wikipedia (because, you know, it isn’t a word that has even made it into the dictionary, at least as far as I could find…):

Compersion is an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy…..It is commonly used to describe when a person experiences positive feelings when a lover is enjoying another relationship. It is an opposite of jealousy.

In the poly world, compersion is touted as the end all, be all. As if it is the ultimate enlightened goal for each of us. We all know, jealousy is BAD and compersion is GOOD.

Bullshit.

It’s a personal success, when I can feel pleasantly neutral about my partner wanting to spend time with another woman.

Here’s what I really think:

How you feel is completely separate from how you act.

Let me say it again.

First, feel your feelings. Second, choose your actions wisely, and thoughtfully… Even if your feelings and your choices are at odds.

You still get the poly points, gentle reader.

I had a jealousy flare-up a while ago. I was so jealous it made my teeth hurt. When my guy offered to not see her, if I asked him not to, I was stunned. Of course I wasn’t going to do that. I was just feeling my feelings. I’m generally proud of myself and the choices I make in my poly relationship. Asking him to not talk to a woman he might enjoy was not something I had ever considered.

Moral of this story?

You can do good poly, and never attain that ultimate state of compersion. Moreover, you can even feel jealousy (~gasp~) and still be a successful practitioner of healthy poly. Love yourself, love your people, and do your best.

This is all I can do, and it has to be enough.