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
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.
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 topic came up in a thread on a poly Facebook group that I’m a member of. I started to respond, and realized pretty quickly that my thoughts on the subject weren’t exactly organized. Apparently I’ve got some strong feelings about this topic, but I haven’t laid them out in an orderly fashion…until now. So prepare for some rambling as I work my way through the tangled landscape that is my brain.
For me and my relationships, I don’t like the term “rules” at all. I greatly prefer the term “boundaries.” But that was a purely emotional reaction, so to start my thought process, I went looking for definitions of the two terms. For “boundary,” I strongly identified with this one:
It’s a military definition, but what’s resonating with me is the idea of defining limits to avoid conflict. Brilliant! That’s exactly what my emotional definition of the term is, as I apply it to my relationships.
When I looked up the definition for “rule,” I discovered exactly why I have such a strong negative emotional reaction to it. Here’s the link (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rule).
The definitions have to do with authority, power, control, restriction, dominion, command…the exact opposite of what I practice in my relationships. There’s a very real discomfort level in my brain at the idea of imposing rules on my partners.
The two defining characteristics of my relationship philosophy are these:
Neither of these characteristics fit with the idea of control, power or restriction. I just can’t Tetris those together, no matter what.
Communication, knowing where my limits are, and accepting that discomfort on my part does NOT constitute an emergency on my partner’s part are key to that kind of freedom in relationships. Yes, I experience insecurity, envy, fear, and all the other emotions that “rules” are supposed to be able to head off. Guess what? They don’t.
And when I’ve experienced those twinges in the past, attempting to stop them by controlling my partners was exactly the wrong way to handle it. All that led to was resentment and pain.
For me, it works much better to examine what’s causing the discomfort. Is it just that I want more time with that partner? Ok, communicate that. Is it that I’m noticing the dynamics changing between me and my partner, and I’m not liking it? Talk to them, find out if it’s in my head or if things ARE changing. Is it that their actions aren’t matching their words? Sit down and have a heart-to-heart to find out what’s going on.
The bottom line is that avoiding the issue is never the right answer for me. If something is making me uncomfortable, I need to understand why and fix it. And sometimes, fixing it means that the relationship needs to change, and in some cases, end. Imposing rules in an attempt to force a fix has only ever been a delaying tactic, never a solution.
If I had to choose a single word to describe my relationship style, it’s freedom. And that applies equally to me and to my partners. They are free to go where they will, as am I.
There is no room in that concept for rules, only requests.
I do apologize if this post comes across in any way as condescending; that is most certainly NOT the intent. This is only what I’ve learned that works for ME. Poly is what you make of it…and the beauty of this relationship structure is that it’s different for each person practicing it.
If rules are working for you and your partners, more power to you. They just don’t work, in any way, shape or form, for me.