The Monogamy Mindset

October 23, 2009

readytobereborn2So even though I said in my blog title these confessions are from a “poly” woman, I mostly use that as a shorthand for convenience. I don’t really identity as polyamorous. It’s not “who I am”. It’s “what I want”, in terms of my relationship style, which means I am “in an open relationship”.

People who identify as “monogamous” have a strong attachment to the importance of sex and romance being an exclusive act. People who identify as “polyamorous” have a strong attachment to the importance of sex and romance being shared in appropriate times and ways, as defined by the people involved in the experience. However, I think someone can identify as monogamous and still be in an open relationship.

In a monogamous relationship, the evidence of your commitment is often encapsulated in what you don’t do — have sex or romantic connections outside your couple. Most couples have a variety of ways they show their love and commitment, but when someone breaks this larger agreement, it sends them spinning. There are people who identify as polyamorous who have this “monogamy” mindset — these couples behave like monogamous couples with hall passes for sex. They structure complex agreements to handle the intricacies of this behavior, but in the end, the way in which you behave with other people is a huge part of the evidence of your commitment.

For me, an open relationship is about having the freedom to fully pursue your personal growth with a lifelong partner to support, encourage, comfort, share, and delight with you. It can include the expression of romantic and physical connection with other people, but the larger purpose is to create an environment of opportunity. So someone can have a sexually monogamous desire and practice while still engaging a relationship structure that creates opportunities for independent growth and expression.

In this type of relationship the importance and specialness of the commitment rests less in behaviors with other people and primarily in behaviors towards the other partner.  Because my partner and I are in an open relationship that includes sex and romance with other people, we have some structures around that. Less specific rules about external activities and more rules that indicate respect for our relationship. And ultimately they are rules that easily apply to how we handle money, free time, employment, parenting, etc ..

1. No surprises (we should be connecting both regularly and openly enough that anything about to happen should have been well telegraphed)
2. No decisions in the moment (they can make it harder to remember anything beyond what you want right now)
3. Don’t make decisions for your partner (if they say they want something a certain way, believe them. and don’t engage in behavior that can affect them without their consent and knowledge)
4. Be sure you are meeting the needs of your family and your ongoing commitments first, before you start making new commitments
5. Manage risk responsibly and with awareness of your partner and how it will affect them.

Hearts and Guts.

October 21, 2009

anatomyI don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. Right now my guts are out there though. An acquaintance of mine has an open wound in his side — very thin flesh covers and protects his most vulnerable internal organs. He wears layers of protection and walks with awareness that any random, accidental movement could bring him down and possibly end his life. I guess emotional damage isn’t nearly as dramatic. My life isn’t going to end because I am really, really sad about some things. I do feel like I have this layer of cellophane between me and everything else. It’s part roller coaster, part marathon. These ups and down happen and I want to just curl into a ball. And I have a life that requires I pace myself and I keep on going. Which is most likely a good thing– I think being able to indulge ourselves in our bouts of self-pity is rarely a good thing.

What your risk reveals what you  value.

You spent me without counting the cost. 

I want things, too. I just keep choosing to be here and now. 

I worry that you are so used to being the star and the focus that you think you somehow are entitled. That I don’t have a choice. That you can treat me with disregard and say it’s the nature of our relationship. We are in an open relationship, which means we get the freedom to explore opportunities and delights. It doesn’t mean you get the freedom to ignore me or devalue who I am to you when it’s convenient.

HOA fails again.

October 21, 2009

snow leopardI woke up feeling incredibly drained. I blame the weather. It’s snowing — in October?!? I believe we passed legislation against that — or maybe we just voted in the home owner’s association (HOA) that snow would start in mid November. It seems like no one keeps their word anymore. I will have to file a complaint.

Some things are better left unsaid. Is that hiding or discretion or simple kindness? What you risk reveals what you value. We all have a beast in us that values only our survival; only our happiness; only our needs. I have a friend who is a dedicated pacifist. He won’t eat or use products produced through violence. I think he is changing the world for the better. I know that my life requires a certain amount of denial. Although I do try to imagine the death and destruction in my meals and accept it as part of my choices.

This whole crazy-crazy we’ve been going through, my enchanter and I, is a different kind of death and destruction. It is the violence of our behavior on the beings we have the strongest emotional response to. It’s not a new story — it’s the grist behind the afternoon soaps and the political sex scandals. We have, in all of us, a beast that will take what it wants when we let it.

I voted against it in the last HOA meeting we had. I guess it’s like the snow, another primal force with a mind of it’s own that even Robert’s Rules cannot contain.

Ugh. Healing. I think we found the mending point. We’ll see. Baggage is heavy to carry and sometimes fairly invisible.paws holding fingerIt’s really nice to be in this with someone who isn’t rushing just to fix it or smooth it over. Instead we have both been sitting with the yuck while we try to work through it. And, after 2 divorces, I know myself well enough to know what I can let slide and what will sit on me for the rest of eternity.

In the end, marriage is falling in love with the same person, over and over again. And it feels like we are on time 3 …

It did bring up for me how incredibly interconnected the past and the present are. How my triggers and insecurities are so wrapped up in how I was formed as a human being. And while it’s been a crummy, crummy time, it’s also made it clear to me that he’s here, for real, even when it hurts. I honestly don’t think I have ever had that before.

Hello mother.

October 19, 2009

blueshoe with heart stalkinsI was in Florida for work last week. Yesterday, I finally made it to the beach. All the Floridians were convinced it wasn’t beach weather, but I rolled my pants up, took my shoes off, and waded in as far as I could go. The first shock of water was like a bath gone cold. As my body adjusted to the temperature, it felt perfect. Salty water soaked through the bandage on my foot and stung the place on my ankle where I’d been bitten the other night and scratched a little too enthusiastically. I sank my toes into the sand and let the water whirl around my legs. The water was a little angry, wind whipping, white caps crashing far into the horizon. Not a swimming friendly ocean. It took most of my willpower not to disrobe completely and immerse myself despite that. Last summer we visited the beach and I closed my eyes and floated in the arms of the ocean for as long as I could hear the sounds of people on the beach. This turned out to be mildly foolish, as I floated fairly far out. Luckily I am a strong swimmer and no harm was done. I knew looking at the ocean yesterday that I couldn’t float again. But I could sit. I have some small regret that I did not. Instead, I waded for as long as possible and then washed my hands in ritual fashion, reminding myself of my inner strength and how it connects to the strength beyond me. And for a time, I was at peace.

If wishes were horses.

October 17, 2009

dirtThere was once a simple merchant who fell in love with a woman who danced like the desert wind. He knew she wouldwant shelter from the sun and a place to rest her head. And so he sought a safe way through the desert and a camel who was sure of foot and swifter than any other camel in his to

wn and he began to trade with the city. In the beginning, he cared for his camel with all the love he could not give the dancing woman. And after several months he had earned enough to buy a simple dwelling and offer it to her. She accepted with laughing eyes and they were married. And for a time they were happy.

Soon the merchant looked upon his dwelling with a more critical eye. If only he had traded for more, they would have fancy tile and marble fountain. Impatient with his simple trading, he began to increase the loads of goods he piled onto his camel for each journey to the city.

His trade increased and his dwelling became grand in size and expression. And for awhile he was satisfied. Soon the merchant looked upon his family with a more critical eye. What is the purpose, he wondered, of such a large house for just me and my wife? I am sure my camel can carry a few more rolls of cloth, and then I will be able to afford a concubine. This will help my wife to be less lonely when I am gone and please me. as well, as she can no longer dance for me all the time, being busy keeping our grand house.

The merchant, no longer simple, began to add more and more goods to the burden carried by his camel. One day on the crossing, the camel fell over, exhausted by the weight of his burdens. The merchant was enraged to have his dreams denied him and beat the animal to death before collapsing himself in the desert sun. Knowing he would not have the strength to go on without sustenance, he cut the veins of his beast and drank the blood and used the skin to drag the goods behind him to the city. Once there, he made a final, glorious trade, making him even wealthier than he had expected. This allowed him to purchase a new camel and a concubine to take back to his grand dwelling in his town.

This continued on for many years, his home ever expanding, his concubines ever increasing, until one day he could not remember the love he had for his dancing wife or his loyal beast and he looked at around at the gold trimmed doors of his home and his silk sheets and realized that he traded happiness for dust and despaired.

2 + 2

October 16, 2009

girlI made this place to contain the lessons of the past. I wish the heart had grades, like school, and I could just review my 5th grade primer, retake the test, and be done. It turns out life is a little more inter-connected. All the ventricles work together to keep things going… blood and breathe are balanced and somehow my past keeps running into my present.

I don’t know why I feel so … kicked? drained? broken? hopeful? I can’t distinguish between my emotions. I just know this is a test for me. Will I repeat the lessons of the past, like an inmate, certain that 2 + 2 must be 47, if I just add it one more time.

I know that 2 +2 is 4.

I know what I need to heal.

I am asking for things I don’t want to ask for. Things I don’t want to need. I am fighting myself, my insecurities, my social conditioning, my anger, my grief, my pettiness … I am accepting myself, my insecurities, my social conditioning, my anger, my grief, my pettiness.

What is skin, really? It’s nothing. It’s a moment. How much is a moment worth? What you risk reveals what you value. I finally understand that saying.

There are questions I didn’t ask. I wasn’t ready. I want you to feel the stabbing of breathes, shallow, deep, each one digging through me sharply, until all I could do was curl into a ball, like a polly-wolly bug, showing only the strongest part of me to the world. Except I don’t really want you to feel it. I just don’t want to feel it, ever again. I would pay a lot for that. Even changing my patterns. Even learning that 2 +2 = 4.

Even taking the leap of faith.

Where’s the melon baller?

October 14, 2009

any idiot

I feel like

someone cut my heart

out             with               a                       spoon.

Cause it would hurt more.

October 9, 2009

My heart hurts.

Sometimes.

October 8, 2009

pastandpresentshipsSometimes I feel like I woke up in the middle of open heart surgery. Not real surgery with anesthesia and trained professionals. TV surgery that was somehow necessary in the middle of a camping trip. My heart exposed and vulnerable while it gets poked and prodded and I silently comply.

Sometimes I feel like I need too much.

Sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing.

Sometimes I wish I could start over. Where is the redo button? Yeah, yeah, I know– what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. How can I be sure it didn’t kill me? I think sometimes it did. And through the power of lightning and self-delusion I am still walking but it’s all a patchwork of my rotting remains. All I need is the green skin and the side attachments at my temples.

Sometimes I get scared that the things that hurt 14 years ago will never stop hurting.

Sometimes I wish I were a much better actress. Or just a liar. This truth stuff can really suck.

Sometimes I feel like I am the middle of open heart surgery. Bleeding and breaking and still pumping away while we all try to figure out how to keep it beating and pour asbestos over it, sure somehow that’s good for me.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to take the road more traveled.

Sometimes even chocolate won’t help.

Sometime I miss you. Jerk and bastard though you were to me. I wish I could be dismissive of the whole picture and just remember the ick. Instead I am more likely to remember the nights we’d wake up and giggle like kids or the games we played or the adventures we had. I hate you a little for that, even though it’s kind of my fault.

Sometimes I eat fudge for breakfast.

Sometimes I can’t handle what I think I want.

Sometimes I feel like I am in the middle of open heart surgery. With all my friends doing what they can to help me stop the bleeding.

Sometimes healing really hurts.

Sometimes I doubt myself in every way.

Sometimes.