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
I thought my character trial as a parent ended with my divorce. Nope, it’s all been dredged back up again in our current situation. All of it.
Will I ever just be able to put that chapter behind me and move on? And will I EVER get past the feeling that I need to prove that I’m not the person my parents and ex said I was?
I have an incredible chosen family and my life is so amazing I often feel like I’m dreaming. When can I simply settle down and enjoy it?
I am so very, very tired.
I decided it was time for an update, to address why I’ve been fairly inactive on here for a while.
Those of you who have been reading long enough, or who have read back through previous posts, know of my divorce and custody battle, and how being openly poly was used against me in an attempt to assassinate my character and malign my fitness as a mother.
That was finally wrapped up in July of last year, and I breathed a sigh of relief to know that chapter was over, and I could move on with my new life, with an incredible core partner who fulfilled everything I’d never known I wanted in a match.
The peace was short-lived.
Less than a month later, I was again on the custody roller-coaster, but this battle was ten times worse…and is the reason I’ve been laying low.
This time, I’m in it as both participant and bystander. My core partner, Raven, has a fantastic daughter that I am now very proud to say I am evil stepmother to (she laughs hysterically at me when I make that claim…not sure why). I call her Chickadee.
Shortly after Raven and I moved in together, Chickadee’s mother decided to go off the deep end, and began a vicious campaign to have Raven permanently barred from his daughter’s life. Her statements to the court were vile, the accusations deeply personal and horrific. It was crystal clear that she could and would use absolutely anything she thought would give her case weight. She went way past mud-slinging into pure fabrication.
(For the record, though I believe her actions were in retaliation for Raven’s involvement with me, he and his ex had not been involved romantically for more than a decade at that point.)
Her attempts have not only dramatically failed, but we ended up with far more custody than he’d had previously, and the mother’s mental health has been called into question. (On second thought, I really should have titled this “The idiosynCRAZIES of life”.) :P
So, once again, I’m back in the round of home visits, interviews with a Guardian ad Litem, court dates…and the constant, very real fear that Chickadee is going to vanish.
Other than this process, my life is so full of epic and win that I would be posting nearly daily if I felt able. I would love to open a window into that life so you can all see that being non-monogamous can truly, truly work with the right partners, with honest and open communication, and with empathy and care for each other.
But I can’t. Not yet.
Brace yourselves, though. Once this has concluded, I will unleash the torrent of awesome that is my existence upon all of you. You have been warned.
(Update: based on the above sentence, a friend made this for me. I just about killed myself laughing.)
I am a lucky, lucky woman.
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.
…if I’d only freaking LISTEN.
While chatting with a friend today, I mentioned how very important the concept of “fairness” is to me. It pretty much defines how I look at life. If something is unfair, it bothers me, and the more unfair and unbalanced it is, the more I choke on it. I can’t watch or read about news stories where someone is taken advantage of, or where justice isn’t served, without getting worked up. Sometimes I rage at the screen…which is particularly awkward if I’m reading a story at work. ^.^
The friend I was talking to made a point that gave me pause. He said something along the lines of, “Then I bet this whole divorce situation really makes you upset.”
Normally I would have said like, “Well, yeah,” and moved on with the conversation. It’s kindof a given. I am not being treated fairly by my ex OR my parents, and haven’t been since this whole mess started, and yes, from the beginning the very unfairness HAS tied me up in knots.
I went from sharing my life with my greatest love and best friend, absolutely secure in the knowledge that no matter what, we were committed to working through any issue, and living with my darling son, being directly involved with every aspect of his life, tucking him in most nights, being there to see him make new discoveries, learning to see the world through his eyes…and literally overnight, that was over. I still cannot believe how thoroughly my life was shattered, and at how completely I’ve been excluded from my own son’s daily existence, how I’ve become a part-time parent…entirely against my will. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
That’s where the epiphany comes in. All of those things flash through my heart and soul like a drumbeat whenever I allow myself to think about the situation, and this sense of raging helplessness begins to rise in my chest and strangle me. This time, that started to happen, as usual…and then all of a sudden the light came on, and all my angst and pain simply drained away in this rush of realization. Maybe this whole situation is the universe trying to teach me the lesson I’ve never been able to learn: that life simply isn’t fair, and that I need to learn to accept that.
I’ve never had much trouble accepting just about anything else in life. I’m very adaptable and changeable, for the most part. This one thing, this hangup about my NEED for things to be fair…I’ve never been able to overcome it. I’ve learned to work around it, but that’s avoidance. And now, looking back over the journey I’ve taken, I’m recognizing there’s been a series of lessons the universe has put in my path about fairness…and each one’s been tougher than the last.
All of my life, my father told me, “Life’s not fair, kiddo…get used to it.” I HATED it when he would say that to me. It seemed so dismissive of whatever injustice I was complaining about. I would outright reject the very idea, and believed that it COULD be fair, it SHOULD be fair.
I’m not black and white about much at all…but on that one concept, I most definitely am. A situation either was fair, or wasn’t, and wasn’t RIGHT if it wasn’t fair. And that meant that Something Must Be Done to address it and bring about justice and balance.
But life ISN’T fair. And nothing is going to make it fair. I can do my best to balance that with how I treat others and how I live my life, but I can’t change others’ actions - and guess what? It’s not my place to try to change others’ behaviors. I can, and should, only be attempting to change myself, not others.
Plus, railing about the lack of fairness in any situation does nothing productive. Nothing.
So there it is. Life. Isn’t. Fair. Yes, my situation sucks, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I cannot control what others are doing, but I CAN control how I react to it. And allowing it to hurt me, make me bitter and angry, isn’t the healthy path.
I’ve always been proud of my strength. I’ve survived some crappy stuff, and come through it stronger than before. But I’m starting to think it’s gone from being an asset to a liability. I can only be SO strong before it’s going to do me harm…if it hasn’t already.
I need to be like a reed, bending and swaying with adversity, rather than the rigid tree, resisting the current. That’s only going to get me broken or torn up by my roots.
And I think I’d better learn this lesson quickly. The way they’ve escalated over the years, the next assignment will be a doozy. Whatever it is that is directing these situations, it’s been trying its damnedest to get my attention, and I haven’t been listening.
So. Surrender to the currents, and count the blessings I have (which are myriad) rather than focus on injustice. In my particular situation: I still have my son; if not as much as I would like, I AM still a part of his life. And I cherish every single precious moment.
Surrender. Learn to breathe through and embrace the fear of what letting go will mean.
Surrender. It somehow conjures an image of peace breaking free from the clinging grasp of fear.
Could it truly be that by releasing my grip, I might actually fly free rather than falling?
I can do this. I can do this. I CAN do this. I would absolutely welcome any suggestions on how I might be successful. What’s worked for you?
If you’ve been reading my updates about the breakup of my marriage, you’ll see that I’m suffering the consequences of my open policy (see Why Am I So Open?).
My own husband, who willingly and actively participated in polyamory with me, who was poly and married when I met him in 2005, has decided to use monogamy with a new partner as a tactic to gain custody of our son. He is fully participating in slut-shaming, implying that my private sex life somehow affects my fitness as a parent, and flat-out said in court documents that because he is now monogamous, his home is the better one for our son.
I am not going to change who I am or what I believe as a tactic, and I am disgusted at the hypocrisy of those who do. My private sex life has nothing to do with my parenting, and never has. The fact that the courts are taking it into account in determining custody of our son is a sign of just how poorly polys are viewed by mainstream society…and we need to work to change that.
The only factors that should affect the custody arrangements of my son are how I parent. Who I date, what I do on those dates, and how many people I am dating at any given time have zero relevance as to whether I’m a good mom. I did not involve my son in my private sex life before the splitup of my marriage, and that hasn’t changed.
Let me reiterate: I could be having sex with ten guys in a single day. What possible bearing does that have on my skills or ability as a parent? As long as my son is kept out of it, it shouldn’t matter at all. And it’s a comment on our society that I’m actually fighting the urge to specify whether or not I actually WOULD have sex with ten guys in a single day, as if you knowing about my relationship preferences would make you think of me as a better person. If you know me, you know the answer…but no matter what, IT’S COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO MY ROLE AS A MOM.
Said another way: I could be completely celibate, and guess what? It’s completely unrelated to my role as a mom! And yet, many people reading that statement would feel measurably better about me as a parent than they would if they read the first. WHY DOES IT MATTER?
I know a lot of people would read the above paragraphs and immediately think, “SLUT!” The negative connotations assigned to that word aside, my entire point is that what I’m doing with my body in my private sex life isn’t any of society’s business, and should not even be considered in determining custody of my son.
What I’m going through in this divorce isn’t really all that dissimilar from a nasty monogamous marriage breakup…it’s just different mud that’s being thrown. What sets this apart is that this mud is even being considered as a factor, simply because society is squicked out by it.
I will continue to be open, and to share the good, bad and ugly I encounter in this lifestyle. It’s only by showing our society that the neighbors, family members and co-workers that live alternative lifestyles are just as “normal” as they are (as normal as any of us are) that we’ll gain acceptance.
For those who might be even slightly skeptical: I’ve provided all public court documents to several organizations, including the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund…and they are now fundraising on my behalf. Unfortunately, the donations coming in, while certainly appreciated, are limited, and aren’t reaching the threshold of what I need to hire an attorney. This is real, and it’s happening, and I need help if I’m going to be able to have any real presence in my child’s life.
February 2013: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR AN UPDATE!
If you’ve found this post through Twitter or G+, welcome.
When last I posted about my poly lifestyle, my husband Drake and I were having issues.
Sadly, those issues have blown up into a nasty clusterfuck that has destroyed our family.
Drake has filed for divorce, and he and Jewel are using poly against me in an attempt to win custody of Ripley, my three-year-old son. They have publicly, and in divorce papers, declared that they are now monogamous and are therefore the better parents and the more wholesome living situation for a child. In their papers, they also state that my being poly and queer could result in me sexually abusing my son.
They have also stated, both in their papers and in court, that my being welcoming of LGBTQ persons as a possible roommate means that my home is unfit. Paraphrased quote from the initial hearing: “Not that we have anything against ‘those people,’ but it’s not a wholesome or appropriate household for a child.”
This in spite of the fact that Drake is bisexual, and Jewel is bisexual, queer and kinky.
Drake was married and poly when I met him seven years ago. Jewel has been poly her entire adult life, openly identified as a poly activist when I met her, and volunteered on the staff of our local sex-positivity activist group. She had a blog called PracticingPolyamory.com that she has since hidden from public view. Note: a whois query on the domain name shows that the blog is still active, just hidden. This seems to be pretty clear evidence that she intends to reopen it once this court case is decided…otherwise, why not just delete it and cancel the domain?
It’s plain that this is merely a tactic to prejudice the court against me, imply that I’m immoral and that my private sex life somehow has something to do with my fitness as a parent.
I am highly skeptical of such a convenient paradigm and philosophy shift. I also doubt they’re going to stick with it in the long term after YEARS of living in polyamory. I would not be at all surprised if they return to the poly lifestyle after the divorce is settled. In fact, Jewel has done this before: gone mono for a relationship, regretted it, and returned to poly.
But their tactic worked. The court was sufficiently concerned about the statements they made and the lies they told that I now only am allowed to see my son one evening a week and every other weekend.
I stress that there is no reason based on my parenting that this should have occurred. I don’t do drugs, I’m not an alcoholic, I have a stable job, I have a clean home, I do not abuse or neglect my son (I don’t even spank him), I don’t have a criminal record, I have excellent credit, etc. I submitted 13 declarations to the court from people who have seen me parent, some of whom have known me for many years, stating what an awesome mom I am…and I still lost.
I emphasize: all I want is shared 50-50 custody. I am not trying to exclude my husband from our son’s life, I am only attempting to prevent him from doing that to me, as he has done and is continuing to do.
In addition, my family, who are extreme religious conservatives, and who have never approved of my lifestyle, are supporting my husband’s court battle financially. My guess is that they disapprove of me and my lifestyle so much that they’re willing to help pay to take my son from me. And since my husband claims that he’s now mono, that makes them feel better.
My family are very, very wealthy, and can finance this without even blinking. This frightens me greatly, as my husband has no financial incentive to settle this, and seems to be bent on dragging this all the way to trial.
I am struggling financially, as my husband is refusing to pay on most of our joint debts until the courts split them up. Not only am I paying these to keep them from going into default, I am now also paying child support. I had to get a roommate just to help make ends meet, and there is nothing extra for an attorney.
I am currently unrepresented. I had an attorney, but she let me go because I couldn’t pay her enough each month.
Please, PLEASE don’t let these hypocrites use poly and LGBTQ against me. I’ve already lost the first round, and I need your help in order to be able to continue the fight. Any donation helps…and if you can’t afford to donate anything, please spread the word of my story.
For more details, and to help donate to my legal costs, please visit my Chip In page here (http://ladyrainne.chipin.com/legal-fees). All money will be used towards the attorney’s fees, the Guardian ad Litem, mediation costs, or other court fees.
UPDATE: As of Jan. 10, 2012, I officially have an attorney! I have raised enough through donations and by pinching and saving that I was able to come up with the money for a retainer. It’s such a relief to have legal representation! However, I still still need help in KEEPING her paid, until, hopefully, my husband will just begin to negotiate so we can settle this and move on. So please, keep spreading the news of my story, and donating what you can. It was honestly the small donations of just a few dollars that tipped me over the edge!
We are still waiting on the report from the Guardian ad Litem; once that’s in, I think we’ll know better how this is going to proceed. With any luck at all, it will be favorable towards me and go a long ways towards negating what my husband has said about polyamory. I would love to handle this as no more than a standard divorce from this point on.
Keep checking back here for updates! And THANK YOU!!!!!!!
UPDATE: My divorce became final in July of 2012. I’m still paying off debt from attorney’s fees, but that particular battle is over with. In the end, I didn’t get the 50-50 custody that I was asking for, but thankfully, all the poly mudslinging ended up not being a factor. What DID affect the final recommendation from the Guardian ad Litem was that I was now a single parent, while my ex and his now-wife were a two-parent household in which one of them could be a stay-at-home parent. If my son was with me, he would have to go to daycare while I worked. So…I don’t get to see my boy as much as I would like to, but I have been able to forge a semblance of peace with Drake and Jewel. We can communicate easily about Ripley, and Jewel texts me pictures nearly daily of what they’re doing, so I don’t feel quite so left out. And I get to talk to him on the phone every day.
It’s not what I wanted, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.
However, my life took a turn for the OMGWTFBBQ less than a month after my divorce from Drake was final. I am once again embroiled right in the center of a nasty custody battle, but this time it’s Raven and Chickadee.
Shortly after I moved in with Raven, Chickadee’s mother decided to go off the deep end, and began a vicious campaign to have Raven permanently barred from his daughter’s life. Her statements to the court were vile, the accusations deeply personal and horrific. It was crystal clear that she could and would use absolutely anything she thought would give her case weight. She went way past mud-slinging into pure fabrication.
(For the record, though I believe her actions were in retaliation for Raven’s involvement with me, he and his ex had not been involved romantically for more than a decade at that point.)
Her attempts have not only dramatically failed, but we ended up with far more custody than he’d had previously, and the mother’s mental health has been called into question.
So, once again, I’m back in the round of home visits, interviews with a Guardian ad Litem, court dates…and the constant, very real fear that Chickadee is going to vanish. Thankfully, the financial situation between Raven and I is MUCH better than mine was during my legal battle, and we’ve been able to afford a good lawyer right from the beginning. It’s cost us a great deal to simply defend him against her accusations, and will cost even more to see this through to fruition…and then more to get Chickadee the counseling she needs to get past what her mother has done to her in this process.
I do not feel able to be as open about my life as I would like to be during this process, so I’ve been laying fairly low until it’s over.
Wish us luck!