Adventures in Polyamory

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I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I've been living the poly lifestyle since 1997, am married with two children, and enjoy the attention of two additional partners. I moved to Seattle in 2011, and have been openly poly ever since. 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

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Posts tagged "fear"

Just had a realization about myself that explains a HELL of a lot.

I tend to live life in the moment. While I definitely plan ahead, and GREATLY prefer the stability of predictability, I’ve learned the hard way that life doesn’t pay attention to your expectations and kinda does its own thing. 

So I’ve learned to enjoy what’s right in front of me, enjoy the hell out of it, revel in the bliss, and wallow in the happy for as long as it lasts, then bid it a bittersweet adieu when it’s gone, and move on. 

And while this strategy most definitely works for me, and allows me to accept life as it comes…it also extracts a price. For one, people who don’t know me well often mistake me as flighty, shallow or insubstantial as a result…when nothing could be further from the truth.

For another, it’s not always fair to my loved ones, is it? I’ve developed an almost fatalistic attitude that it’s all going to come to an end (because that’s what life has taught me - everyone leaves, eventually) and so I have a hard time truly trusting, all the way down deep in the core. 

Backstory:

The one time in my adult life that I let loose and trusted with all of my being got me burned the worst I’ve ever been burned…arguably, BECAUSE I trusted so fully. It wouldn’t have hurt anywhere near as badly as it did if I hadn’t trusted…but the reverse is also true.

I actually expected my mother to turn on me. I didn’t expect the methods she used, but what happened was not a shock. I was terrified the day I came out to her; I honestly expected that she would turn right around and call CPS and hire a lawyer to take my son from me. When she didn’t, I had some hope that she and I could finally have a truthful, adult relationship where she knew all of me, and accepted all of me. Since I’d never shown her all of myself before, she’d never had the chance to show me she COULD accept me unconditionally…and when the initial reaction wasn’t horrible, I had hope.

That didn’t last, and she did indeed try to take my son. Not in exactly the way I’d anticipated, but that’s what happened. And the worst part is that she did it out of “love”, believing it was what was best for me, to bring me back to the right path. She can only accept me if I choose to live the way SHE thinks is right. If she’d done it maliciously, or out of hate, I wouldn’t have such pain in my heart over it all.

But evil done out of love or with positive intentions is still evil. And that I can never forgive. 

The betrayal I never saw coming was that of my ex-husband. He was the first person since I was 8 (incidentally, the age I realized I wasn’t straight, and that I didn’t believe in my family’s religion) that I fully trusted. 

Those of you who didn’t know me then who think I’m a free spirit now? No, who you see now is cautious and somewhat fearful. When I met and married my ex-husband, I believed in the concept of unconditional romantic love for the first time in my life, and I truly let go. I could be completely myself with him, as I’d never been able to be before. I learned what true acceptance felt like. And it was incredible, and amazing, and so very fulfilling. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything, regardless of the devastation that came later.

So when it all fell apart, and when he told me that who I was was no longer acceptable, that he didn’t trust me any more, and that he actually had had a lot of problems with who I was and just hadn’t told me, it felt as if a nuclear bomb had gone off in my heart and soul.

Honestly, I’m surprised I was able to pick up the pieces from that. I think the only thing that kept me sane was my son. I HAD to keep it together for him, pull myself up by my bootstraps and build a home and a life for him. So I did it. I had a lot of support that helped me through those dark months, but ultimately, I was the one that made it, and I still shy away from thinking of that time.

It’s a measure of just how incredible my fiancee is that I am even capable of contemplating the idea of marriage again, let alone eagerly wanting it. Unfortunately, he’s having to play bellhop to my trust baggage. And I am oh, so thankful for his patience.

Because we’re absolutely EPIC together, and our lives are going to be fucking amazing. And goddammit, I’m not going to let fear destroy that.

He said something incredibly loving to me last night that unclenched something tight in my chest, and made me see that I’m not being fair to him. 

This business of living in the moment, savoring the bliss he drowns me in, is awesome, and I’m not going to quit that (because reasons)…but doing it with the buried expectation that it’s not going to last is going to STOP.

All my base are belong to you, my love. I think I’m finally starting to let go of the mind-killer.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”

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.”

…the realizations that are flying at me, you perv. ;)

As I continue to process recent relationship events, and what it’s all dragged out of the dark, spidery corners of my brain, another gem winked at me today.

I made DAMN sure I was ready for a relationship before I began dating again. I did a lot of writing and processing through the breakup of my marriage, my culpability in it, and learned a lot about myself in the process. I made myself my own central partner. I have a packed schedule of events for ME. I have a thriving social calendar of close friends. I am the exact opposite of lonely.

When I realized that I was craving a relationship so that I could give of myself again, that I was ready to open my heart again, then, and only then, is when I put my OKC profile back up and began accepting invitations. And things were fine, I was fine…but I realize now that it was only because I was keeping my distance emotionally. I was holding myself back…out of fear.

And when I did get involved emotionally, I thought that by expressing that fear, communicating that I was afraid and why, I was protecting myself. Obviously, that’s not true.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I saw a quote that applies directly to this: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” The experience that I got, the gem, is this…I may have been ready to give of myself, but I wasn’t ready to be hurt again. And that’s part and parcel of relationships…so I really wasn’t ready.

And I ESPECIALLY wasn’t prepared to be hit in this particular spot. That’s the chink in my armor…I don’t think much of my looks, I don’t feel attractive…and so when someone I’m interested in tells me they love who I am, they want me in their life but don’t want me physically, it’s reinforced. 

Pair that with the fact that I am an intensely sexual person. It’s where I feel the most free, it’s often how I truly express myself to a person I care about. There are very, very few people that I allow to see that inner sex kitten. Having given that to someone, and have them walk away…yeah. I don’t think Kitten is going to be coming out to play again anytime soon.

I could have handled, with some regret and pain, nearly anything else. It was THIS particular thing that went right to the gut, hit me in the most tender spot I’ve got. I might also have been able to handle it better if I’d had other relationships in between…but being that this was the first relationship since Drake said those things to me…hoo, boy. My inner hateful bitch is having a field day with the negativity.

Someone told me yesterday that the vast majority of relationships don’t work out, and that’s normal. It’s the rarity when they DO work out. There’s that dissonance between intellectual knowledge and emotional knowledge, again. I KNOW that, but apparently my gut and heart didn’t.

They know it now. 

I probably would have learned this in my college years, the years where a person traditionally dates a lot and gains a lot of experience. But as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I never had that, so I never learned those things. I’ve experience aplenty in long-term, serious relationships, but when it comes to dating, I’m very, very n00b.

So. Until I learn how to be ok with being hurt, and to conquer that fear, I’m off the market. My OKC profile is back down. I’m not breaking off the connections I currently have…but I’m keeping it light and fun.

And I’m going to be working even harder on my Make It So list. I’ve accomplished a lot of them already…anyone have any suggestions on things to add to it? Here’s the list.

When I said I had another blog post in the works, this isn’t the one I intended to write. But events today have put that other post on the back burner.

Warning…this is a very personal, heartfelt and painful post for me. I’m being wide open and vulnerable here. Please be gentle with your comments. Also: I’m not fishing for compliments…I would honestly rather hear YOUR experiences on how you’ve learned to get past similar issues.

The other day, I mentioned that I recently experienced some disappointment as far as romance went. Today, I was dealt another blow. Two breakups in the space of a week is just brutal…but these two in particular are very painful for me for several reasons.

This was my first serious foray back into the relationship pool since my ex-husband and I split up. I took a long break from dating, and then when I did start dating again, I deliberately kept it light and fun. I was timid about risking my heart again.  

And then I got a message through OKCupid, from a smart, funny, adorable woman who seemed to want all the same things I did. So we chatted off and on for about a week, then agreed to meet for lunch. She mentioned that her partner was available to join us, so I said sure! Bring him along! The more the merrier, and it would most likely put her a lot more at ease.

I went to lunch that day, expecting nothing more than a pleasant hour. And was promptly blown away…by both of them. I have never felt so comfortable with strangers so immediately. This is significant, because I am painfully shy when meeting new people one-on-one, especially in date situations. I’m usually very standoffish on first dates; it’s pretty darn rare that I feel any real level of comfort at all. It nearly always takes me a good chunk of time to begin to relax.

Not with them. We laughed, flirted, talked, flirted some more, and just had an amazing time. It’s the best first date I’ve ever experienced.

I could attempt to dissect how we ended up here, with first one, then the other, ending things with me. But I won’t. I can’t speak for them, only for myself…and I wish, oh, I wish, things had worked out differently.

But they didn’t.

As I’ve been processing through this for the last week, and now with today’s events, I finally have an idea of why it’s hurting so much.

It’s not entirely because of the loss, though that’s part of it. We weren’t together long enough for me to be in love, but I certainly care very much for both of them. And I enjoyed just being in their company. I’m going to miss that a great deal.

No, what’s hurting so much is triggers from my past. As I’ve mentioned before, until five years ago, I was morbidly obese. My abusive first husband (who was my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first lover…my first everything) told me he was only with me because I was a doormat. He filled my ears (and heart) with what he thought of my looks, and none of it was positive. The damage from that relationship has resonated to this day.

After I (FINALLY) ended that relationship, my adult life was spent stuck firmly in the friend zone. Nearly all of the people that I found attractive liked me a LOT…as a friend. I went for years without a single date. I’ve had ONE positive long-term serious relationship, with Drake…and look how THAT turned out. Is it any wonder I’m gun-shy?

Emotionally, when it comes to dating, I’m still the fat girl, banished to the friend zone. Dozens of times over the years, I was “let down gently”…just like what happened today, and last week. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to try any more…and I did give up on the whole idea of finding love.

I don’t want to go back to that dark, lonely place…but two breakups in seven days, both of whom told me awesome they think I am, that they still want to be my friend…just triggers all of that. 

I’ve heard it too many times before.

I’m always more than a little hard on myself, but in this particular instance, I’m bitching myself out like a boss. That tiny, still voice in my head that likes to tell me horrible things, the one that I’m usually so good at telling to shove the fuck off or laugh at, is suddenly very, very loud. And she’s flinging blame about with wild abandon.

I feel like an utter fool. My prior timidity is nothing to how frightened I’m feeling now.

When I said I needed to learn acceptance, I didn’t realize the universe was going to test me so soon.

…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?

I’m scared.