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More Than Two: 1.3

How important is my desire for multiple romantic relationships?

To me?  To the universe?  To my tiny chunk of the universe?  I assume that they probably mean the first….

It is not the defining feature of my existence, but it is very important to framing my paradigm.

If I had not had doubts about my high school boyfriend’s jealousy, tied to any idea of me being anything other than just his, we might have stayed together for some time when I was at university and I would have lost the chance to explore that part of me.  To current me, that seems unacceptable.

There are so many people that I would not have met, so many opportunities I would not have had the chance to have, so many decisions I could not have made without it.  Everything in my life has been touched by it – I would not be where I am without the opportunity and desire to pursue romantic relationships.

I would not have had the chance to fall in love with most of the people I have in my life.  There are only two people I have had romantic love for that I would have had the chance to pursue: my first boyfriend and Musician.  The others have had such a profound impact on my life, on how I see myself, how I see the world around me, and my daily life – both now and in the past – that I am not sure I would be the person I think of as “me” without the ability and desire to pursue multiple romantic relationships.

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More Than Two: 1.2

Do I feel there can be only one “true” love or one “real” soulmate?

No.

Let me clarify.  This idea goes all sorts of ways for me, none very good.

Like most American kids, especially AFAB kids, I grew up with the fairy tale, happily ever after, one true love idea, fed to me by Disney.  Boy meets girl, they fall in love, and get married.  End of story.

But a few things in my life have thoroughly disabused me of this possibility, at least for myself.  

The first one I can remember was when I was volunteering at a summer Girl Scout day camp, probably about the second or third year I did it (so I was about 12 or 13).  The volunteer structure was sort of a mentor thing – they had adults and older teens supervising and mentoring the younger volunteers.  We all had a space away from the campers where we could sit and relax for breaks and meals.  During one of those break periods there were a few of us hanging out there and one of the older teens said something that has stuck in my head for the years since: “There is no such thing as one true love or a fairy tale ending”.  That shattered my brain, clicked a switch that I didn’t know existed.  One of the weirdest things about this experience is really how it has panned out now: I got back in touch with her, when she moved back to Seattle, oddly enough through a poly speed dating event.  And I am casually dating (one of) her partner(s) now.  It seems to have all come around in an odd sort of circle.

The second was my introduction to the idea of polyamory and multiple relationships shortly after I started college at 18.  It was paradigm changing to learn about this idea and read about the long term relationships and the people who made it all work out.

The third has been more of a span of time, rather than a fixed point.  Through the last three of four years I have been through a mess of things and only started to really socially stabilize this last year or so.  But through that period I found love a handful of times – none lesser or smaller than the love I already had with Trydaen.  And my love for people has changed and grown over those years – not just romantic love, but familial, platonic, sexual, and companionate.  Knowing about the breadth of love has made it impossible to ever be satisfied with just one love, forever and forever.  Even if I end up with only one partner, I know that there’s a lot of love out there and that love will never be alone, ever again.

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More Than Two: 1.1

Have I ever felt romantic love for more than one person at the same time?

Absolutely.  More than once in my life, in fact.  But not as often as one might think from someone who actively identifies as polyamorous.

1: When I was with Musician, Horus, and Trydaen.  I was only with the three of them for a short amount of time (things were in a period of transition with Horus when I started seeing Trydaen), but there was definitely romantic love for more than one of them.

2. When I was with Trydaen and Minx.  I only got a week of proclaimed love with her, but it was there for awhile beforehand, even if not declared.

3. When I was with Grey Sky and Trydaen. “….Need we say it was not love,/ Just because it perished?” (Passer Mortuus Est by Edna St. Vincent Millay)

4. Currently.  This is the longest period that this has been the case (the others totaled maybe 6 months), and I have to say, I rather like it.

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Enough?

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this afternoon as I was driving and they were talking about expanding sexual orientation in relation/response to non-monogamy.  The idea came up about not being queer enough to claim queer.  My first response is to call bullshit on this, but I know that I have internalized a lot of the “not enough” bullshit.

I do not feel “queer/bi enough” because I am currently a Kinsey 2.  I have a female partner who I have sex with, and might be interested in having sex with another female partner, but am otherwise not really interested in pursuing any other women.  In the past a great majority of my relationships have been with male or AMAB people.  Am I queer enough?

I sometimes do not feel “poly enough” because my saturation point is fairly low and in the past I have chosen to only have one partner when I was not mentally stable.  In that particular case I began doubting myself – not my identity, but myself, as being poly is rather central to being me – because I was not sure I would ever fall in love again.  Fortunately, that did not end up being the case.  But that still remains in the back corner of my head (more quiet than not these days).  I am not loud and proud about being poly, but don’t make much effort to keep it any bit of a secret.  Am I poly enough?

I sometimes do not feel “genderqueer/genderfluid/non-binary gendered enough” to claim that identity or to claim being transgender.  I tend to look lazy femme or just tomboyish in my presentation.  My dysphoria only flares up occasionally.  I do not have any issues with how my genitals look or work or the fact that I have visible breasts and other curves that may not be easily disguisable.  I strongly prefer they/them pronouns, but am willing to accept she/her in some contexts.  I am not out about this identity to anyone except friends.  Am I trans/NB enough?

I sometimes don’t feel “mentally ill or neurodivergent enough” to claim those.  My depression is cyclical and my anxiety is, in at least half of cases, controlled enough not to show.  Yes, I have sensory processing issues, but those tend to just come across as being a little weird to most people.  My ADHD is moderately well managed and also just tends to come across as a bit odd or flighty when not.  Am I mentally ill/neurodivergent enough?

I sometimes don’t feel “physically ill” or in pain enough to claim being a spoonie.  But the truth is – I have an autoimmune condition that I will have to take medication for for the rest of my life and does have an effect on my energy levels.  However, that’s under control and my migraines have mostly abated.  My joint pain is getting worse and I’m starting to think it might be something other than the barometric pressure shifts to that pain (the remaining migraines are definitely just that though).  My pain levels do affect my energy levels.  Yes, there are many people who have it worse.  It is hard to remember that my pain is also valid.  Am I physically ill enough to be a spoonie?

Am I enough of a partner for my partners?  The idea that I was defective because I was not the only partner a partner has, that they were looking for someone else because I am not enough never was an issue for me.  Instead it is a matter of other measures.  Am I available enough, physically or mentally?  Am I stable enough (physically and mentally) to be in a relationship with them?  Am I pretty enough to keep their attention?  Am I satisfying enough in bed for them to still want to sleep with me?  Can we build enough of a relationship to weather the years (can I contribute enough to the relationship to this building), if that is indeed something we want?

Am I enough?  To myself I can be, that I know.  And I am very glad that I am at a point in my life where this matters most.  It was not easy getting here and sometimes I slip back into old thoughts.

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Girl Scout Song

One of my favorite songs from Girl Scouts that I remember to this day is so simple and beautiful and has been popping up in my head rather often the last few days or so:

“If you love me, if you love, love, love me,
Plant a rose for me.
And if you love me for a long, long time,
Plant an apple tree.
Whether I stay, or whether I go,
You’ll have an apple or you’ll have a rose.
So, if you love me, if you love, love, love me,
Plant a rose for me.”

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What Love Looks Like…

Winter has been mehing all over me lately, so I haven’t been up to writing much – the brain’s still going with the ideas, but the translation to words has been a bit scattershot.

I was thinking the other day about the myriad of weird little ways that love shows up for me.

1.  Being concerned about me not eating/making sure I eat at least occasionally.  Not forcing the issue (if I am seriously not hungry or feeling seriously nauseated there is very little I am willing to put in my body), but poking at it every once in awhile.

2.  Long, involved conversations.  Especially if it is about something one or both of us is/are super interested in.

3. Pictures.  I like seeing myself with my partners and chosen family.

4. Calling me out.  No, seriously.  I may dislike you for a bit, but I hear you and often when I have time to process, I realize that there was a reason why it came up when and how it did.

5. If we’re intimate in that way, showering or bathing with me.  Or sitting and talking with me while I do, if not up for the water.

6. Playing games with me (and putting up with my odd taste in games).  Board games, card games, video games, RPGs, doesn’t matter.

7. Taking into consideration that I am neurodivergent, and mentally and physically ill.  I have aches and pains that show up, sometimes unpredictably, and they really impact my energy and mental and emotional health when they flare up.  When my ADHD meds wear off for the day or I forget to take them, I can be a bit erratic energy level wise.  I can mostly handle doctors’ appointments, but I really want to talk to the people I am close to about what goes on.

8. Giving me time to process internally.  I am not an external processor; trying to do so cruds up my whole process. ADHD piles on top of this – I will have things going on in my brain that hearing lots or taking in lots of information will interrupt.

9. Recognize and respect my boundaries and be able to set ones of your own.  I am far more able to respect that you are willing to stand up for what matters to you if you give me boundaries.

10.  If I’m not doing well, checking in on me occasionally.  Not often, as that can get annoying, but every once in awhile, just in case I need the help.

11. Tell me you love me.  Occasionally even tell me why, or how, or what for.

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A Contemplation…

For some reason I am full of everything today – love, sadness, joy, grief, and philosophy, to say the least.  But I am remembering a time, a celebration of a time-person.  I occasionally like to gather my thoughts on an event, a relationship, a book, a substance, and see what I can actually remember.  What actually stuck in my mind – what my brain deemed important enough to go into long-term storage.

CN: depression, grief, alcohol use (in excess), marijuana use (illegal still), throwing up

For today, a funeral.  Well, I’m not sure if it counts as a funeral if there is no body (only ashes) and the emphasis is on joy and remembrance, rather than sorrow.  For my passed/past beloved Minx – for whom the memories are fading too fast and the feelings all I have left.  It is hard when all that is left is feelings – there is nothing solid to back them up, no reason, so what is the point?  But they exist.

I remember feeling sad.  The sad that exists in a functional way.  I can see and hear and do, but everything is tinged with sadness.  There is no hope for it, just pushing through, gaining joy in each day until the sadness is no longer mentally overwhelming, but just a set of feelings, just memories filling a void.  That is recovery.  At this point, I am not even sure I was starting that journey.  I had forced myself to exist in the world for awhile, so I didn’t have to contend with the profound grief that came with living in my own head.

I do not remember what I wore that day, only that it was colorful – couldn’t do black for someone that joyous and full of life.  Probably purple because she loved that color.

I remember bringing two bottles of wine and finishing one whole one and about eighty percent of the second, along with at least some beer and most of a mixed drink.  I do not even remember if they were good, just that they were white wines and intoxicating (I had not figured out how my body could do red wine yet (I was on the way, but I only drank full portions of whites).

I remember food, a huge spread of it, a potluck.  I remember trying to keep it organized (for the love of god V, do something useful, don’t just stand around at an event – says my mother in my head).  I remember it was divided up by whether it contained meat, animal products, or gluten.  I don’t remember what I brought, though I think I made it myself.

I remember going on a walk with Musician.  We had been broken up for close on 2 years at this point, but he felt for me.  We took a walk around the property and just talked.  It was talking in that odd way that exes on decent terms can do – I knew you well, once upon a time we were intimate, but now, now we can talk of, now we can do some reconciliation.  Heal what can be done from the past, instead of trying on the immense boulder of pain that is the present grief.  So walk we did, over rocks, through the forest, and talk we did: about the current pain, past pain, and what to do.  I can’t say it was cathartic, but it was good for that time.

I remember being in a barn and vaping pot.  I didn’t actually care what kind, just a bit of distraction.  So I did.  One of the very few times that the pot and alcohol mixed poorly for me and amplified each other’s effects.  I think most of that was due to quantity of alcohol and the effects of the overwhelming emotions present.

I remember many memorializg speeches.  Heck, I remember giving one and thinking about how bad it was, compared to others.  I remember karaoke at the end of things, as the sun was setting.  I know I got up there and my memory seems to say that I did passably well, but I doubt it, given the quantity of substances I had already consumed at that point.

I remember getting ready to leave, as I knew I had to head home soon, and only then noticing that I wasn’t the drunken person there – that was Raven.  I knew how much I had consumed and if what he told me at that point in time was anywhere near a perfect recollection of what he actually had consumed, then he was far more gone that me.  I remember a passing thought about us being the two people who had earned the right to be drunk (like at a wake, but a more lively one).

I asked Trydaen to drive because I was majorly incapacitated.  We made it to a couple hundred feet outside the property gates when I asked him to pull over.  And we were there for several hours as I proceeded to empty the contents of my stomach in an unfortunately forceful way.  Then we managed to make it to the outlet mall (about a ten minute drive) where we had to pull over again for a bit more than an hour.  I remember feeling physically and emotionally very ill indeed, with a hangover the next morning that was almost as bad.

I remember those last details very vividly.  They are the basis for my more moderate attitude towards alcohol today – because I never wanted to be the cause of me feeling that fucking miserable again.  And I haven’t, in the more than 3 years since.

In written form this seems like a lot of memories.  But really, it all feels so small, so insignificant, in comparison to the scale of the feels present.

These days I am better.  This grief has impacted my life and my brain permanently, there’s no way around it.  But I have felt so much joy in this last year or so, and joy in learning how to interact with my grief in the time prior, that I am through a great majority of the pain and working to be through even more – not to forget, in fact the contrary, but to be fully present for my partners and not find them in comparison, but simply, as them.

The future looks so bright from here and I am so amazed at the potential it has for me.

I love, am loved, was loved, have loved, and that, that is joy.

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November Write 30

When raised with monogamy we are taught that part of why we are important in a relationship is that we are unique, that that was very important for all we do to be unique.  It’s what makes us special for our partners.  If we aren’t unique for our partners it is the end of the world – we are stuck comparing ourselves to past relationships and generally finding ourselves lacking in some regard (age, appearance, intelligence, job status, etc.).  Which, wow, that sucks.

As a poly person, dating people with other partners, that can come to the forefront.  It is often a concern with new poly people, so they put restrictions on who their partners can date because of their fear of not being unique, of not being special to their partner.  Which is really a load of hooey.

Even if you do the exact same things, look the same, went to the same college, have the same job, so on, you will never be not unique.  You have different genes, different backgrounds, different life stories – that’s what makes us unique, makes us special.  No matter how much we are the same, we will always be different people.  Part of the joy of poly is that. We get to build different relationships, to have different stories to tell, build different lives together.  And, that, that is one of the greatest joys.

I get to be a different person with each of my partners.  I get to build a new life with them.  Our relationship gets to be whatever it is going to be.  Even if I’m dating multiple people at the same time I can have very different relationships with them, can choose different labels, have different kinds of sex, go to different kinds of events, express my affection for them differently.

Comparison can become much more complicated if you know the other people involved, especially if you’re on good terms with them.  When on good terms metas become full people, with fabulously different lives and stories.  Yes, it is likely that you will share some things in common with your metas – people tend to have types of people they’re attracted to, whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or sexual types.  So yeah, you will likely have something in common with your metas.  Nothing wrong with that.  It can be harder than when the other person was just a hypothetical ex, someone that may or may not have actually existed – having a real person on the other end of things can make things harder.  Or easier.  Depending on how you are wired.

But love is love and the amazing part is that we get to build our own unique stories with the people we love, whether that be for months, years, or a lifetime.

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November Write 26

I do not know what to write on.  I want to talk about being in love (doesn’t every lover?), but there is more feeling there than words can ever describe.  There is more depth there than we are equipped to handle, I think.  For being just a cascade of hormones that seeks to bond human beings for the purpose of propagating the species, it sure is a potent thing.  But, above all that, it is a choice.

I’m not saying we actively choose to fall in love or not fall in love with someone.  If that were the case, oh, life may be far easier then.  But we choose the path that gets us there.

Yes, there is some control that we don’t have.  We don’t choose who we find sexually attractive.  We don’t choose those for whom we get that intense rush of bonding chemicals for or what degree we get them with any given person.

We do choose to go to that party or respond to that message.  We choose to engage with someone, to talk, to message, to touch.  We may not choose who that hormone cascade happens for – that surge of attraction (sexual, romantic, intellectual, physical, emotional) – but we choose what we do about it.  We can choose to form meaningful relationships even without the surge of mating chemicals, even sexual and romantic relationships.  We choose our engagements with people.  We choose what we say.  We choose what promises we make.  We choose what physical activities we pursue with people, what sexual activities we pursue with people, what intellectual activities we pursue with people.

We build relationships with our choices.  We build love with our choices.

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November Write 25

This evening I met with a potential therapist, someone I knew to be poly, kink, and queer friendly, from repuatation alone.  So, taking a chance on that.

From the second I stepped into the waiting room in her office, I knew we were going to be fine, even if we didn’t click – she had tea, books, and penguins.  But we did.

I went in with my intake paperwork – I had originally intended to send it to her, but had been a bit intimidated by all the pages and had put it off until today. Such a wealth of information.  A lot of it was questions about partners, medical stuff, and that sort.  The intake form even had five slots for partners/spouses, which I thought was pretty neat.

But the big important question: what brings you here?  Such a big question, so full of promise.  So I thought very hard about it.  This is what I came up with:

1. Balancing relationships and learning how to set boundaries, even if they are different for different partners and learning to be okay with that.

2. Figuring out my gender identity and expression, learn what that feels like to me, and what being comfortable in that skin feels like.

3. Putting together a plan to come out as poly and non-binary to my whole world, not just the limited folks who know now. It used to be more important to me to come out as non-binary, but with much thought and much time to reflect, especially on feelings around this holiday season – poly has become more important, more essential to my long term happiness.

We talked about these and their relative importance to me.  We also talked about brain science and the connection between the mind and the body, that looping connection.  We talked about Minx’s death and how it is still impacting me, still affecting my ability to successfully carry out romantic relationships, even though most of the pain is gone (well, the grief and the overwhelming sadness are gone – I am the broken china, repaired to be more beautiful than ever, shining with gold).  Apparently it is not common to be as consciously aware of this effect as I am.

We talked about my anxiety – decided that would be the first thing to tackle. So, that’s that.  I now have a new therapist. 🙂