I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I'm a strange mix of experienced and n00b when it comes to poly; I've been actively living the poly lifestyle since 1997, but have lived in mostly small towns, and have kindof stumbled into partners by accident. I have never experienced a poly community...until very recently. This has opened up a whole new world to me, as well as new pitfalls that I'd never been aware of. Join me as I chronicle my journey into this incredibly rewarding lifestyle.
Note: Nicknames or initials will always be used in this blog. If you think you know who I'm referring to, DO NOT call them out by name or use identifying characteristics.
"A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." -Dossie Easton
Yesterday marked one year of living here in the Seattle area. I had mostly forgotten the significance of the date; this was an incredible weekend with my sweetie and the kids, then a birthday party for one of my chosen family…but last night, after I’d finally flopped into bed and the whirlwind stopped, the heartache all came flash-flooding to the surface.
This might sound silly, but it felt like my heart was melting and pouring down my face. The tears were NOT a relief, and the more I cried, the more I hurt. I don’t think I actually stopped crying, so much as I finally fell unconscious in sheer exhaustion, somewhere in the extreme wee hours of the dark.
Don’t get me wrong…my life has changed so much in 365 days that it’s nearly unrecognizable, but in almost every way, the awesome is off the scale. My partner is an incredible fit in my heart and life. I fall more in love with him every single day…and he doesn’t hesitate to make sure I know exactly how much he cherishes me. My financial situation has greatly improved. My divorce is final…amenhallelujahpraiseallthegods andfaethatmightexist. My son is absolutely amazing. My partner’s daughter absolutely owns me. Plans are in the works that fulfill dreams I’ve held and some I hadn’t yet dared to imagine.
So what was the shattering pain? It’s not what it might seem at first glance. I wasn’t mourning my marriage (good fucking riddance, to be crystal clear on that) or releasing the anguish from the past year (I did that a few weeks ago, the day of the final divorce hearing).
It’s my son. I miss him so much, so very much. This time last year, I was living with him, having a hand in raising him daily, as I’d had since the day of his birth. I had his smiling face to look forward to at the end of every workday (I would often leave work, pick him up from daycare, and bring him back to work with me, just because I was missing him). The most awful, stressful day could be immediately salvaged by a simple hug from my little boy, or one of his quirky observations. He took such joy in the simple things, in just living. He taught me how to slow down and enjoy it, too.
Now…I only get glimpses. He changes, sometimes, in the space of a week. He gets haircuts, he gets new clothes, he grows. He gets bruises and scrapes that I wasn’t there to kiss and snuggle the hurt away. He’s being molded and shaped into the person that he’s going to become, and my hand in that isn’t what it was supposed to be. I’m seen, and treated as if, I’m actually a detriment to him, as if the things I teach him must then be undone.
I no longer have the right to see him simply because I’m missing him…I have to beg Drake for any deviation from the parenting plan. And more often than not, the answer is no.
I think that’s the hardest to deal with, to be honest…the loss of that ability to see my sweet boy for no reason other than missing his face.
I’m a part-time parent, in spite of everything I did to prevent that.
This is not the future I saw for him when I held him, squirming and squalling, fresh from my womb.
I miss my son.
From a FB post of mine this morning: “I am off to the courthouse to witness the death of promises. A moment of silence, then…onwards to an even better vision, dreams and hopes for the future.”
Today was the day I’ve been both hoping for and dreading for months: my divorce from Drake was finalized.
One of the most painful chapters of my life (and that’s SAYING something) has just come to a close. I am shocked by just how much I’m hurting over it. I’ve been actively working for months to bring this to a close, and now that it’s over, I’m just as bereft as I am relieved.
Sitting in that courtroom, I couldn’t help but flash back.
To the day I met Drake, and the sure and certain knowledge that I could find a happiness I had yet to know with this man.
The day I moved in with him, fitting our lives together.
The day we got our marriage license, so excited to be beginning this journey, so hopeful.
The day we wed, on the beach on Maui, with the waves crashing behind us. The vows we wrote, so personalized and meaningful for us, promising to always cherish one another.
The day we bought our first house, after months of heartbreak in the search, and finding just the right place to begin the next bit of our story.
The day our son was born, after a dangerous and fearful pregnancy, and seeing that fatherlove blossom on Drake’s face for the first time, seeing it hit him right in the heart and bring him to his knees with tenderness and fierce joy.
The day I nearly died, fading in and out of consciousness in our bedroom as the ambulance crew loaded me up, and the only thing that mattered to me was making sure he knew how much I loved our family. Waking up in the ICU with him at my side and being so relieved that I would be able tell him.
And all the days in between, knowing I was in the right place, with the right person, that our family was sure and strong, that we could handle anything life threw at us as long as we faced it together.
All of that flashed through my heart today, as I sat, choking back tears, waiting for the court official who would bring it all to an end.
Our names were called, we stood in front of the commissioner, the lawyer asked a series of questions. When she asked us both if the marriage was irretrievably broken with no chance of reconciliation, it broke my heart afresh that the answer was, “Yes.”
And with that, it was over. Ten questions, the commissioner signed, and a chapter encompassing seven years of my life was done.
So little fanfare. It seemed anticlimactic.
I was able to hold it together on the ride home, but once I was alone, I couldn’t hold back the tide any longer. All that grief and pain came rushing to the fore, and I laid in my bed and sobbed. And sobbed. Long past when I thought I should be done, more continued to bubble to the surface.
I haven’t really allowed myself to truly mourn the end of my relationship with Drake. There’s been too much to DO in working towards bringing it all to a conclusion. All of that came out today.
And now that THAT’S out, I can move on. Paraphrasing another FB post I made several hours ago: I am far too blessed in my current life and relationships to allow myself to be sad for long. So I’m allowing myself this one day to be blue, to look back and sigh over lost hopes and dreams then…onwards.
Today, I cry. Tomorrow…I’ma make you my bitch.
I wrote this blog post towards the end of February.
I wrote THIS blog post about two weeks later.
About ten days after THAT, I had my first date with my beloved, referenced in the second post.
I have chills.
“Wherever you are, whenever it’s right, you’ll come out of nowhere and into my life.”
And yes, it’s amazing.
That person, who I’ll refer to as Raven on this blog, has more than confirmed that I did not yet know what true love and joy were. I have never experienced such peace with a partner.
I was oh, so right to be excited!
I JUST (as in about an hour ago) finished reading a book that explains exactly why I think the way that I think and act the way that I act in relationships (romantic or otherwise). It’s called Attached, by Drs. Levine and Heller. I firmly believe this book should be required reading for polys, right up there with Ethical Slut, Sex at Dawn, and Open. I learned so much about myself, why former partnerships failed…it even explained exactly why my mother is so toxic to me.
Everyone should pick up a copy of this book and read it immediately. Not only has it assisted me in deciphering past relationships, it’s definitely going to help me in current partnerships, and will make a massive difference in any future interactions.
Even if you’re not dating, have no plans to date, I strongly suggest picking up this book. Its lessons are transformative in all interactions, whether romantic or not, poly or not. It’s a quick read, and the value of what you’ll learn will quickly outstrip the fairly small purchase price.
Here’s a link to the book. No, I’m not affiliated with the authors or publisher in any way. :)
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll confirm that I’m an optimist. I tend to view life through rose-colored glasses (sometimes to my detriment). No matter how bad the news, it’s rare for me to be down about it for any real length of time. I bounce back fairly quickly, because I can pretty much always see the bright side.
Side note: my favorite movie growing up was Pollyanna. *giggle*
My sunny, bouncy, positive self fails me, however, if I begin to look inwards. When I see where I’ve failed, where I’m lacking, or just where I could have done something better, I have a hard time simply learning the lesson and moving on. In other words, I beat the crap out of myself.
For example, if something happens in an interpersonal relationship (be it romantic or otherwise), I pretty much always automatically take the blame internally. I start looking for the ways I’ve messed up, thinking of how I could have done things better (but in a negative, why-didn’t-you-do-it-that-way-you-idiot way rather than a what-lesson-can-I-take-from-this-to-do-better-next-time way).
The thing is, that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re looking for failure, you’ll find it.
I’m precisely the opposite with everyone else. No matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are, I will nearly always assume your motives are not the bottom of the barrel. In fact, I tend to give everyone the highest benefit of the doubt, and assume the absolute best of their intentions. Even if all the evidence supports a much worse conclusion.
In my divorce, I was blindsided by what my ex did and said in his papers. Not because the evidence wasn’t there, but because I simply couldn’t believe otherwise of him. And even to this day, I continue to often give him the benefit of the doubt. I very, very rarely jump to a bad conclusion (let alone the worst one), even after all that’s happened between us.
I AM naive, I know, and this does get me hurt…but it’s who I am, and I’ve learned to embrace it, not try to alter it. So why do I have such a hard time applying this nature to myself?
I’m a counselor. I don’t do it professionally any longer, but for a while, I assisted those who were in crisis. I have a large toolbox at my disposal to help one break that negative cycle of thought. And yet, I don’t seem to be able to utilize those tools when I myself need them, and I get caught in the very same spiral of dark, self-defeating (and self-perpetuating) thoughts that I used to help people escape.
This speaks a little to my previous post about “filling the silence,” which I know that I do. I have been working on that using my cognitive behavioral therapy tools, and I am improving. Eventually I will reprogram that bit of my brain to automatically spit out something at least neutral rather than negative when a worry pops up.
But this self-focused pessimism goes much deeper than that. When I have a worry about a relationship, I have a hard time seeing all of the positive things that should diminish that worry. All I seem to be able to see are the (much smaller) negative things that reinforce my anxiety.
And anxiety is my kryptonite. Once I start feeling anxious, I start seeing the negatives, I get more anxious, I start seeing more negatives, and I fall into the Pit of Despair (tm). And Fezzik and the Spaniard are not going to come rescue me.
So. Major character project. I need to figure out how to break that particular cycle before I fall into the Pit.
The basic cognitive behavioral piece is this: contradict a negative or damaging thought with a positive one. Repeat. This helps to reprogram the brain; if you do it enough, the time interval between the negative and positive thought begins to decrease. The desired outcome is that over time, the positive thoughts will replace the negative entirely.
For my character project, I will need a much heavier-handed approach.
First: When I begin to feel anxious about something, I need to stop and breathe. In a panel on jealousy at Polycamp last year, I learned that if you can sit through the first 15 minutes of a negative emotion without reacting, the worst of it will dissipate, and one can think much more clearly. Many of the actions that I’ve taken when in the grip of anxiety end up causing more damage rather than mitigating the situation, no matter how positive my intentions are. I need to learn how to sit with the emotion without taking action until I’ve reached an equilibrium.
Second: I need to list positives that counter the negatives my brain will be shouting at me. Every single thing that contradicts, no matter how small, needs to be listed. And it will help to physically write them down, not just list them mentally.
Third: I will read and re-read this list to myself as often as necessary, whenever anxiety begins to creep up again.
Fourth: When I have the anxiety reasonably under control, I will determine the root cause. If it’s something I can/should fix on my own, I will do so. If it’s something that I need outside input on, I will get that input. If it’s something I need to ask for from someone else, I will ask.
Now, I have a list or three to go write for myself, so if you’ll excuse me…
This. Oh, this. http://tacit.livejournal.com/378670.html It’s not that new relationships aren’t threatening to existing relationships…they ARE. It’s how you handle it that makes the difference.
Particularly these lines: “…adopt a policy of resilience—to know that even if things change in my relationship, I will be OK. Another is to advocate for my needs; if I need something from my partner that I’m not getting, but I don’t ask for it, clearly and directly, then it’s not my partner’s fault if I don’t have it. Still another is transparency—always sharing with my partner, even things that might be hard to talk about or that I’m afraid my partner might not want to hear.
These tools don’t make it 100% safe for my partner to start new relationships. But then, nothing can do that; there’s no choice my partner makes that’s ever 100% safe for our relationship, and I think it’s time to acknowledge that.”
And I think this is my motto, which I already practice and believe in, but Franklin says FAR more eloquently than I: “Any new relationship will potentially introduce new elements and new stressors to my relationship. I don’t mind, as long as I know that my partner is dedicated to preserving our relationship, and that my partner and I have the skills, the willingness, the desire, and the intention of making choices that will protect our existing relationship.”
In response to a post of mine in which I mentioned I was struggling with some baggage and insecurities as a result of my divorce, a very dear friend sent me this blog post. It’s about what some of us do in the void between communications, and how very damaging we can be to ourselves.
What do you project into the silence?
That blog post is spot-on. When there is no communication, when I’m waiting to hear back from someone and the time stretches on, I begin to fill the quiet with my own interpretations, and they are invariably the most damaging to my psyche.
Why do I do that? Part of it is conditioning, from past relationships. And part of it is insecurities - I don’t think all that highly of myself, and so I keep waiting for others to see what it is that I see in myself. For clarification, I don’t necessarily think poorly of myself, I think I’m pretty neat…but I don’t think I’m anything all that special, either. And the way things went down with my divorce really reinforced that for me. I’m still clawing my way back from that.
In addition, I have this coping mechanism: when I have an emotional reaction to something, I tend to take a step back and disassemble it. I try to separate it into its components and understand what’s going on underneath the emotions. Once I can understand the mechanics, the emotional reaction tends to dissipate. However, I run into a roadblock: sometimes, even when I understand the mechanics, there’s a piece that I can’t fix myself. It requires the input or effort of another person…and I struggle with feeling as if I’m asking for too much to request it.
I keep feeling like I have to fix it all, do it all, myself. I’m poly, therefore I’m responsible for my own well-being, right? I’m supposed to take care of myself, of my own needs, and not place expectations on my partners.
That’s where I’m stuck. I’m currently deep in introspection about two things that have come to my attention, and ferreting out how much of these two things are due to my own expectations, and how much I should be expected to handle on my own.
The caveat: I honestly feel like I should handle it all on my own, that it’s not my partners’ responsibility to alter anything about them or their lives in order to accommodate me and my issues. So, if I can’t fix it, I have to learn to accept it.
And in trying to figure out how to accept it, I’m running smack into the aforementioned insecurities, and I’m suddenly feeling very broken and afraid.
In discussing this with a metamour (thank GODS for amazing metamours! <3), I was given this quote: “Fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death which brings total obliteration.”
I need to conquer this fear. I’ve done a damn good job so far with not allowing the fears programmed into me by the demise of my marriage to overtake me, and prevent me from experiencing the joy I’m currently basking in. I need to keep that up, and not let the fear nudge me into messing things up.
Because, honestly? My current partnership is the best partnership I’ve ever experienced. So much love, peace and joy on a daily basis.
Can’t let my brain fuck this one up.
This here video is me, performing at the 2012 Emerald City Comic Con in the karaoke contest. I didn’t do too badly, considering I was scared out of my gourd to be singing in front of so many people! The largest audience I’d ever sung in front of before is about 50. This room was the same room the con put George Takei into for his panel. I would guess there were at least 2,000 people in the room that night, perhaps more.
Enjoy! The video is poor, but the audio came out pretty great for a cell phone!
Seen on Facebook, and I couldn’t agree more:
A sane, healthy, complete person does not ‘need’ anyone to do anything for them. They are able to feed, protect, shelter, care for and love themselves by themselves.
Someone that seeks a relationship to ‘fill a need’ tries to find outside themselves something to fix themselves.
A relationship should be somewhat of a luxury, something that is great to have but without which the existence of the person is not in danger. A ‘need’ is something necessary for the survival (physical, mental, emotional) of the person.
I want to walk toward a relationship with the knowledge that with or without the person(s) I am, always, complete.
I want to walk toward a relationship not from a need but from a grateful point of view, not from the ‘please fill my needs’ standpoint that soon becomes a place where people think those things are ‘due’ to them, but from the point where I can say, each and every day, “Thank you for those marvelous surprises you brought into my life. You didn’t have to, but you made the choice to and I am very grateful that I am the person you choose to give to.”
I want to walk around this world handing out the gift of my love to whomever I feel like loving.
I do not say that when you walk the path of relationship there is no point where one can have the need of getting help from the other, from the moment the relationship is solid and the “team” of individuals is built, they should both be able to count on each other in time of need. But the two individuals should still be able to, most of the time, stand for themselves AND stand for the team.
THIS is what I try to embody in my relationships, whether romantic or otherwise. I do not always succeed, but I am always striving for this ideal. What I read above really struck a chord with me (as you’ll see below, lol).
There’s a song by Alanis Morissette called “You Owe Me Nothing In Return” which embodies unconditional love more completely than anything else I’ve ever heard.
Every moment with my beloved, REGARDLESS of whether it’s a partner or a friend or a family member, is a privilege, not a right. None of them owe me anything other than respect as a fellow member of the human race. Placing expectations on our loved ones leads to disappointment, usually entirely unnecessarily.
If you are whole in your own right, and are loving others and accepting their love as a gift, the blessings and rewards are exponential. And there’s no time limit on that…just because you’ve been with someone for six months, a year, five years, fifty, they are still choosing on a daily basis to spend their time with you. It is NOT a right, they don’t OWE you that privilege.
And beginning to act with that sense of entitlement is often the death knell of many relationships.
That’s the filter I try to view all of my interactions through. When I am upset by something, I immediately arrest myself and think - “Why are you upset? Truly, honestly, why the emotional knee-jerk reaction?” And nearly every single time, it’s because I had expectations that were not met.
Sometimes those expectations are valid. Maybe something was planned that didn’t end up happening, for whatever reason, and so, yes, I was expecting something and disappointed. But even when that occurs, the issue should be how it was handled, how the change came about in a way that left me feeling upset…not the fact that there was a change to begin with.
I reiterate this point, maybe to the point of overemphasis, because it’s made a MASSIVE difference in my relationships: nobody owes me any of their time. Ever. It’s always a gift. They can change their mind at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.
Here’s where I shift…it’s still about expectations, but in particular, as applied to hierarchy. For the record, I practice non-hierarchical poly. I may have a central partner, who I spend the vast majority of my time with, who I may even live with and raise my child with…but that person does not owe me anything more as his or her partner than they did before they were designated a central partner.
Viewing others’ time with expectation and entitlement is dangerous, and a particularly monogamous viewpoint. And yet it still persists in the poly community. That person is your primary/central partner? Great! Doesn’t mean for one hot second that you are OWED their time. You ASK, but they don’t owe you.
That’s probably going to touch a nerve in a lot of people, and believe me, with my history, I understand it. I’m sure a lot of people are going to have a very strong negative reaction, many will want to say that primary relationships are OF COURSE more important than others.
I disagree. There are responsibilities that come along with those kinds of commitments, of course, and shirking those responsibilities and disrespecting your central partner (or any of your partners, really, regardless of their status) is a completely different topic, and unrelated to what I’m trying to say. If you’ve made commitments and agreements with a certain partner, you’d damn well better be honoring those if you want that partner to stick around.
My basic point: just because Person A and Person B are primary/central partners (and I’m going from a binary perspective here for nothing more than simplicity - the same point would apply to moresomes), their relationship is NO MORE IMPORTANT than Person B’s separate relationship with Person C (or D, E, etc.).
Strip away everything having to do with the legalities/underlying mechanics that come with declaring someone a central partner and sharing your lives - the bills, the kids, repairs, doing the grocery shopping. At the very core, you have two people who want to be together. That’s it. And the time those two people spend together has no more or less value than the time Person B spends with Person C.
Acting as if that time should somehow be more important or valuable will cause disappointment, heartache, and loss, for someone. Usually for a non-central partner, as the pivotal partner makes concessions to address the insecurities…but sometimes the loss and heartache affects the central partners’ relationship.
I simply couldn’t comprehend non-hierarchical poly myself, until I had the vital realization that declaring someone a central partner does not magically confer extra status or power to either person. The dynamics of the actual relationship should remain the same, regardless of the contracts and commitments being drawn up, and agreements being made.
At the core, it’s still just two people wanting to spend time together. And choosing to share life responsibilities, living space, what have you, doesn’t entitle you further to their time. They may be CHOOSING to spend more time with you than before, as you are with them…but they don’t owe you squat.
View them, their time, and their love as a gift, not a right, and you’ll be surprised at how much richer and amazing love becomes.