“You’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll take breaks, and it’s mostly on a trail.”

So I agreed to go. Jupiter return is all about travel and stepping out of comfort zones, right? Sure. Honestly, I had no place going, but 2019 has been the year of letting my life flow to places I had no right to be in the first place. I’ve dared to be Active While Fat. I’ve dared to be Strong While Chronically Ill. I’ve dared to be Joyous While Battling Mental Health. I’ve dared to be imperfect in places where society has a perfectly neat and tidy image of who deserves the privilege to be there. I’ve stomped my awkward, fat, anxiety ridden ass all over it, quite unapologetically I might add, and created a new image.

Havasu Falls is a 10 mile trail through a rocky dessert with a stop at Havasupai Village about mile 8. We left before dawn to beat the heat where I learned that I have excellent night vision, especially with a full moon hanging over th canyon. What fucks with my night vision is people behind me with a million lumens strapped to their foreheads. I took my time, didn’t fall down a cliff, and was usually only about one switchback behind my companions. The trail continued, and it got hotter. Eventually I realized I couldn’t get water from my pack bladder. Feck. Now, for those of you who don’t know, my two bottom teeth are fake, which greatly impairs my ability to bite down on water bottles that require a bite and suck maneuver to relinquish water.

So, tired, frustrated for continually being so far behind that I couldn’t see my companions most of the time, and feeling exceedingly like an albatross they were dragging across the dessert, I tried to keep up. I chanted. I let myself be grateful for the beauty around me. I gave each stone under my foot a name of something I once took as a weakness. Fear. Insecurities. Guilt. Doubt. I said their names out loud, taking back the power is let them have over me. And you know what? I made it. Overheated from lack of water and fighting not to give in to anxiety or panic. Seeing stars and given a choice between puking or crying, I chose crying because puking in the dessert with the pack and the heat and already increasingly over me as a whole hiking buddies seemed like a really bad time. I couldn’t really afford to lose much more of their respect or it was going to be an agonizing several days.

But the point is, I did it.

I’ve been told my entire life that I’m weak. The shape and composition of my body, no matter how much I’ve ever toned or trained, does not yield to athleticism. My hips don’t allow for a big stride. My feet are shaped against equilibrium. My legs are bowed and I walk with a turn out. Blah blah blah. Throw in a healthy dose of muscle, bone, and joint issues and the odds are not in my favour. And before you tell me “just spend more time in the gym” I’ll remind you that I used to be a dancer and athlete, and no amount of working out will change most of my limitations. Ive accepted that. You’d think by the time I turned 36 I’d give up, right? Fuck no. I’ve just learned to have an exit strategy.

So back to this trip, and I find myself already slightly injured scaling what my companion keeps referring to as stairs, but I’ve strongly suggested he acquired a new dictionary. My legs and ass are scraped and bleeding and I’m not sure how I’m getting back up this rock face that resembles the backdrop of a Disney ride, breathing back tears because if I cry I’m going to let go and die. This time they’re helpful, as we’ve all had naps, and it’s honestly the only reason I made it back the top. But this time I don’t let myself feel sorry for my speed or what most might view as failing.

Why? Because not long ago it took that monumental effort to walk to the bathroom. I looked at the people pushing past me on every trail and realized that many of them will never be told they’ll never walk on their own again. Most of them don’t own a wheelchair for the bad days. They’ve never been told to have their affairs in order…more than once. Never had to relearn to use 90% of their muscles. Never had to fight just to lift a spoon to their mouths. If they have? Awesome and I will be a champion for anyone further in their healing journey than I am. I think of these things and I look at where I am now, and I’m fucking proud of me, and if I’m proud of myself no one else has any right to be disappointed with me due to their own expectations.

Later I managed to get one of my companions to just relax on the stream.and let the cool adventurine toned water just wash over him, and I could see his soul relax as if it hadn’t been allowed in ages. The next day I sat in a cluster of small cascading falls and meditated and I found my place.

Havasu Falls sits on tribal reservation land, and everywhere I looked I could see the energy that nourished everyone who sets foot on its trails. I spun poi as the sunset gav way to stars a galaxies while singing chants and hula story songs, which I haven’t done in a long time. I saw the Grandfathers in the canyon walls. I saw the Grandmothers in the trees that stretched towards both stream and sky. I saw the Old Ones reflected in the ever moving waters. There’s a Havasupai saying that the water of the falls flows over the land and through every member of the tribe.

And it’s true. Not just because we all had to traipse through it to get there, but because the water speaks to anyone who will listen. The water heals wounds on the spirit. The water flows into the heart and soul of every single living thing it touches.

There in the sacred waters of Havasupai I closed my eyes and let them speak to me. Dragonflies landed all around me. Crows spoke their stories. Coyotes implored me not to forget who I am and the power I possess to teach and get through to places most would turn from in defeat.

So while I’m not the fastest, not the most nimble, and definitely not the strongest human to walk the earth, I am a force to be reckoned with. I am a teacher, a Master, a leader, and a healer. I am subtle and coaxing like the stream, but like the falls I am not to be underestimated.

I’m here, and my place here is solid and permanent. My touch is felt in ripples. My voice rings true even when it trembles. My story is one I’m not ashamed of, nor will I keep quiet because my words don’t fit a narrative that’s convenient. My truth is a powerful spell, and its effects are more and more evident with every step that takes me somewhere I have no place going.

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I alluded a little bit in one of my last posts about a breakup, and I’ve gone back and forth over how much I was going to talk about it, but it does deserve a little space, as that relationship was a core piece of my life. You don’t expect a relationship of almost three years to simply dissolve, but it did, and as hard as I adapted and understood and worked to make things right, I couldn’t.

Breakups are hard, man. Seriously. And this one? Right before my birthday! It could have at least come with a card that played music or something, but no, it happened quite fittingly in Facebook messages and noncommittal terms because there was no dramatic event that lead up to it, no big blow up, no huge revelations… just the one that he simply wasn’t happy here. But right before my birthday, and I struggled with how to proceed. I was devastated, and yet I’d promised myself that this birthday was going to be about me celebrating me. I’d be damned if I was going to let it be consumed by me grieving for him.

Quite fittingly, someone asked me yesterday how I handle bad mental health days, and after I delivered a litany of questionable coping mechanisms I thought about how I would have handled this breakup a year or two ago and how I had spent the previous two weeks. The differences were quite acute.

My usual method of healing post breakup is to pull the plug for a while and just stop responding to life for a while. Self care via dark cold room if you will. After that I’d swing to the other side of the spectrum and surround myself with anyone I possibly could and spend all my energy and focus on external stimuli. These things are great, but exceedingly draining, and it would be months before I’d really address the deeper wound left behind.

So how did I manage to honour both my need to celebrate and the space I needed to give my emotions surrounding a breakup? I learned to ride the waves.

I went on a women’s retreat… I chakra danced (which I may write more about later) in a blindfold and forgot anyone else was in the room. I reconnected with someone I’ve known and loved for almost 18 years. We snuggled and laughed and read tarot. I spoke with people I know my path was meant to have on it. We made flower crowns and sat around the fire with sparklers listening to Native American flute playing. I dyed my hair purple, even if I did just come out mostly black, and on the way out we stopped at a sunflower field and brought home armfuls of bright happy flowers.

I spent time with loves and good friends… On my birthday I had the pleasure of seeing four different people, all of whom bring different smiles to my face. People sent messages and made phone calls and sang to me. There was day drinking and walking in the rain. I left my ID at the house, which meant we couldn’t get into any of the bars or bowling alleys in the area, so instead we parked at a Sonic and shared laughs, conversation, and tots.

I let the tears flow… mostly because I was exhausted on an airplane at 0600.

I pet a kangaroo… Seriously, did you know the Nashville Zoo lets you pet kangaroos? Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals and zoos, especially if I get to touch said animals. I got to see a women’s restroom with an enclosure in it full of tamarins. We were there around closing time, so we saw the animals pacing and active waiting for to be fed as a reward for not eating any children. I walked a rope bridge and looked at a bird-eater tarantula for over 5 seconds.

I pet a kangaroo… Just in case you missed it the first time!!!!

I was gifted a cake… quickest way to my heart. Birthday cake.

I introduced a new BFF to Uber Eats… and watched her freak out about having Taco Bell delivered to us at midnight while we drank wine and snuggled watching Kitchen rescue and giggled about how dreamy Gordon Ramsey is. We discovered an International Food Market and laughed our way around parts of one of my favourite cities. She took me to a huge used book store where I browsed through graphic novels to some WWII era crooning while a thunderstorm rumbled and rattled the roof.

I introduced a crush to Thai food… which is one of my favourite types of food! We laughed and looked at Halloween stuff at Michael’s. She let me vent a little bit and didn’t judge when I rambled about my breakup. She took me to an abandoned church where we took pictures and selfies. I met her hubby, who is also a crush, and we played Cards Against Humanity and laughed until there were tears in our eyes. We snuggled on the couch to my hotel room, which had USB ports in the microwave and was completely random. Her hubby and I wandered around the mall like silly teenagers to be able to talk and get to know each other. When they dropped me off at the airport we all hugged and I felt more warmth than I could have imagined. We all had little stresses and anxieties happening, but I felt happy and optimistic.

I wandered through an adult store in Atlanta… come on, it was called Starship Enterprises. Seriously. I found a new toy in a shape I’ve never seen before. I got to see yet another human I adore.

I was honest… Please read that again. I was honest.

I was honest about my emotions. When I was nervous or anxious. When I was sad or drained. When I was confused. But also when I was happy. You see, I have a post breakup problem with not letting myself feel joy for a while. It makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. It makes me feel conflicted. It makes me feel like the fact that I’m still having sad moments looks fake. But I took a chance and spoke my feelings and was honest with myself about what I wanted. I stopped talking myself out of things.

There’s freedom and healing in honesty. There’s healing in being true to yourself and your heart, whether it’s hurting or glowing. There’s healing in fearlessly taking the next step, then the next, then the one after that.

And yes, there’s healing in petting kangaroos.

Being polyam for over a decade has taught me a lot about my own emotions and how I respond to them. So has actually being treated for my mental illness in lieu of letting them rub the show. I don’t compartmentalize, but it’s taught me how to not let my emotions from one relationship completely bleed into others It’s also taught me a lot about not burning bridges, unless of course they’re letting zombies onto your island, then burn away. 

I haven’t had a hard hitting breakup in almost three years, but here I am, and I’d almost forgotten how poorly I deal with them. I walk into every new relationship knowing sometimes things don’t last but loving and living as if they will forever. I don’t half ass my love, and I don’t go in expecting that connection to completely be severed one day.  But it happens. 

You know what also happens? Excitement over new possibilities and connections happen, sometimes simultaneously with feeling shattered over a dissolution. For this very reason the last week has been an emotional rollercoaster. 

This is where I also note that I’ve been burnt out at work, planning a move halfway across the country a year earlier than originally planned, and weaning off a psych meds that had started to actually exacerbate rather than ease my anxiety and depression. Shiny.

It’s all been an obstacle course of panic attacks, self harm impulses, and random blushing in public. Swooning over text messages, planning trips, and breaking down in tears at work. Not knowing if I’m waking up in the middle of the night screaming, crying, or smiling, but knowing either way I’ll be reaching for someone. It’s fucking exhausting, mates.

My biggest struggle has been not spending all of my interactions with new interests moping about my new ex. In fact, the day I met that particular ex I spent my entire night doing just that. Notice a cycle? I’ve also spent a lot of time making sure I’m not just rebounding, especially where new kink feelings are developing. Hell yes, polyam people can rebound. NRE is a tempting sedative to mask the pain of endings, but that’s all it does. It doesn’t actually heal anything, and ultimately it adds to the hurt when the NRE wears off, the new situation struggles because you tapped it out as a rebound, and now you have double the flesh wounds. 

I don’t have a god fix for this. Sorry. I hope you didn’t expect my first vlog after such a long hiatus to solve anything. I’m struggling. I’m hurt. I’m frustrated. I’m disappointed.  Honestly, I’m shattered, but while a part of me needs this and doesn’t want to move on and accept that it’s over, the rest of me knows we will. We’ll move on and we’ll continue growing and maybe, just maybe, one of these new possibilities will blossom into something beautiful. 

I won’t know if I don’t keep moving forward. 

July has been hard for a lot of people. With no less than four different astrological events, even the most balanced amongst us have had some wobbly days. I won’t get into minutiae about moons and planets, but the important words to write down are things like:

Transition

Letting go

Revisiting past trauma

Entering new phases

Moving forward

Releasing what no longer serves us

Cleaning house

Also consider Mercury being in retrograde, which always warns against starting bew things in certain areas of it lives. Of course, I love to live dangerously, so I promptly eschewed that advice for the sake of new adventures. There’s not much more the universe can throw at me at this point anyway. 

At the beginning of the month I pulled the Death card, and July didn’t not miss a beat; I have hit every single one of those aspects. In some cases, I’m what’s being let go. In others, I’ve had to loosen what I realized I was gripping in vain. Hard decisions were made. Painful breakups. Loss. Actual Death. Illness. Even one of my meds no longer having the effect it had for the last few years is part of a new phase.  

I, too, am entering a new phase. In a few days I turn 36, and I have felt my Jupiter return fast approaching since June. My wanderlust I’d already chronic, which is why I work for an airline, but lately that wanderlust has turned inward. I seek solace and seclusion. I look to unplug and detach for a while. I took a trip to Paris in April, which was just as cliche and magical as it sounds and I will write about that later, and it reminded me how much I enjoy solo travel. Hint: I fucking love it. 

In the last month I’ve been making plans to travel throughout my birthday month. What started as an urge very quickly took shape as one friend invited me on a bucket list hike to Havasu Falls and another convinced me to attend a spiritual overnight retreat in PA. A love invited me to Costa Rica with his family, and in between, I decided, I would fill my days with love. I’m visiting people who already have a place in my heart, crushes, maybemores, and friends. I’m celebrating the birthdays of two partners and planning an amazing overnight in September with my girlfriend. I’m taking the lessons July offered to heart and living loud as Jupiter rounds the corner.

Today as we crossed out of Mercury retrograde and into Lughnassad there was a palpable shift in energy. I was in the middle of giving a friend a tarot reading and it was already an emotional conversation, but without knowing anything about it she had guided herself to the lessons of the last month. 

“I’m done. With all of it,” she sobbed as the cards told her it was time to make take back her power and make her life hers again. 

With this one shift I could see all the paths behind me, a few of the ones in front of me, and even more that are yet undefined. The journey I took last month may have thrown some obstacles and detours in my way, but none of them have to mean a dead end. What it does mean, what all of this means, is a fresh start (or ten). A change in direction. New perspective on…well everything.  I can’t think of a better time to do this than a Jupiter return.

Jupiter’s return speaks of aspirations and the future. It gives us a little extra push to follow our hearts and leave behind anything in which we’re not fully invested. It’s a year of abundance and change. A year for growth and expansion…and even some risk. 

Jupiter comes around now to remind me where my passions lie and what grabs at my spirit. The universe shows up here to provide the resources I need to turn my dreams into action. Jupiter reminds me that I have meaning and invokes me to immerse myself in the things that make me glow. 

There’s a part of me that holds a lot of gratitude for the ways July has opened my eyes. Letting go is hard, but so is traveling with a bunch of stuff I don’t need weighing me down. Leaving behind people and things we love is heartbreaking.  But not as much as not putting my energy where it nourishes growth and love. Not as much as losing myself on a path that is no longer the one for me. While I hope someday I’ll be able to pick up some of the things I’ve had to set down, because while they were so fucking heavy I couldn’t move forward I still treasure them, I don’t know that I can. What I do know is that if I don’t focus on the energy coming my way I’ll have wasted a gift. 

So I’m welcoming Jupiter with open arms and a road trip. Sky trip? Something like that. 

Here’s to my 36th revolution. 

Note:  This also applies to men and nonbinary folks.  I went with girls because this is taken from my experience as a cis female. 

I don’t talk about this a lot, but on the cusp of the coming holiday season I felt compelled.  

I’ve suffered from eating disorders since I was 6 years old.

I was always the kid they said would be pretty once I “lost the baby fat”.  I was in dance classes and sports.  I loved to skate and bike.  I was an active child, but I was still the fat kid, and people felt a constant need to  lecture me on what I was eating. 

At 8 I was diagnosed with diabetes after losing over a third of my body weight and being sickly thin.  In the following months, as my blood sugars stabilized and my body got healthy again, I gained back most of what I’d lost. Fat, muscle, all of it needed to be regained, and after three months I was berated by a doctor and told I was going to be sent to fat camp if I didn’t stop gaining weight.  I tried to follow the nutritionist’s guidelines to the letter.  I made cute games to help and took them to my appointment, sure she’d be proud of me.  Instead she sternly told me to do it the way she’d shown me. 

I gave up.

At the time no one understood that children could have insulin resistance and other issues that affect blood sugars.  It was just assumed I was lying about taking my insulin, and my diet became more and more restrictive.  Not only that, but I was constantly hungry.  So, I did what any hungry 9 year old would do, I started hoarding food.  It got so severe there would be moldy containers and wrappers shoved under my bed.  Not only was I compulsively hiding food under my princess canopy bed, but the rash bingeing when I knew no one was looking was causing more and more weight gain.  

At 10, I started taking diet pills…

I’m sure my grandmother thought she was doing me a favour, but really it just reinforced the idea I was already harboring that I would be better if I were skinnier.  They were gross, and they made me sick, but I kept trying until a teacher found them and took them away from me. 

My next bright idea was to just not eat, which doesn’t work well for a diabetic, and I would end up with a dangerously low blood sugar inhaling anything sweet I could get my hands on with shaking sweaty fingers and blurring vision.  

And this is where I remembered how proud people had been right before my diagnosis.  I was skinny.  Sure, my  body was eating itself alive, but everyone told me how much better I looked now that I’d lost the baby fat.  This was my answer.  I was being yelled at for being fat with high blood sugars.  I might as well use them to my advantage.  

So for years this is what I did.  I skipped just enough insulin not to end up in the hospital, I rode through the days where I felt like garbage, and I pretended I didn’t constantly feel like sandpaper.  My weight fluctuated madly, causing even more health and self esteem issues, because I was acutely aware of how the people around me responded differently when I was skinny than when I was fat. 

The cycles continued…

By the time I was in high school I was a constant mess.  My mom had passed away the year before and my home life was tumultuous.  On top of it, every bit that went into my mouth was judged and criticized.  All my extra money went to donuts and burgers in the cafeteria.  My depression was out of control, and with it came stress eating, and the blood sugar downward spiral continued, helped along here and there by whatever I could put in my system to either kill my appetite or make me forget I felt so sick. 

My junior year a Tahitian dance teacher held up an extra long lei of shells, telling me I might feel more comfortable if I had something to cover my stomach.  So I quit.

In college I just stopped eating unless friends forced me to do so.  What inspired me to pay attention was finding out I was pregnant, but once I lost the baby my habits resumed. Starve.  Binge.  Starve. Binge. Don’t eat for 2 days.  Eat an entire 6 pack of Cinnabon in a sitting. 

So, what kept me in these cycles for year? Even after people noticed my patterns?

I was still fat. 

I tried to open up about my issues, but I was still above my recommended BMI.  I was starving myself, and I was still obese, so any time I tried to get help I was turned away or even berated for mocking people with “real eating disorders”.  Coming out to my family about it garnered the same reaction. 

I still have issues with weight and body image, though I’ve worked hard to love it exactly the way it is and focus on health not weight.  What sticks with me is the uneasiness I feel eating in public or in front of people.  Food dates are extremely hard, and we are a society that centers around food and eating together.

I’m here to remind you, especially as we approach a holiday centered around food, that fat girls can suffer from eating disorders, too.

Eating disorders don’t have a body type.

And in many cases, like me, these girls have been told they don’t count, that they need to lose the weight, that they’re being cruel to people with legitimate disorders.  They believe they don’t deserve help or that they’re not as bad as someone who looks like a skeleton.  Many times they even believe they’ve made it up.  I did for years. 

If this is you, be kind to yourself as the holidays approach. 

If this isn’t you, please be aware of yourself.  It can be extremely hard for anyone who’s had an eating disorder to exist at a holiday that’s foodcentric followed by a season of people giving baked goods and handing food out around the workplace.  We are barraged by food images on a regular basis, but it gets worse this time of year, and often it comes from well meaning friends and family.  

Thank you for your time, and Happy Holidays!

When I was about 6 years old I found a branch with at least 50 caterpillars living on it.  I lovingly collected them and put them in a not quite empty Folgers coffee can. I was enamored, and I stayed awake that night certain that in the morning I would open the can to a flood of butterflies.  As you can imagine, I was heartbroken the next morning, This was obviously going to be a much more involved process, so I gathered some leaves for my caterpillars to eat. I gave them some twigs to play on.  Once in a while I’d let them have a little sun or dribble some water into the can for them. I was a very dedicated etymologist and butterfly tamer.

For three days I repeated this ritual of throwing myself out of bed and running to meet my butterflies, only to be horribly disappointed that they were still caterpillars.  I didn’t want anyone to know my experiment was failing, so I never told anyone about the can full of caterpillars under my bed. Nature, however, is a tattle tale, and eventually a not quite empty coffee can full of caterpillars develops its own unique perfume, and the jig was up. What I was doing, it was explained by my mother, who sat on my bed holding the festering can while trying not to breathe, was not how it worked.  I couldn’t coax nature to do my bidding with some twigs in a coffee can. What I was doing was bad for the caterpillars, many of which had stopped moving, obviously because they were exhausted from working to become butterflies and needed to rest. After a few tears and a promise not to hoard living creatures under my bed ever again, I released my little captives back onto the tree from which I had harvested them.

The caterpillar experiment taught little me a few important lessons.  It taught me that you can’t take something out of its true nature, its home, and expect it to thrive and be what it is meant to be.  It needs the symbiosis of the world to which it belongs. It taught me that it was greedy and selfish to take the caterpillars in order to have butterflies from myself.  They did not, and could not belong to me. It taught me that, in trying to force the caterpillars to be what I wanted them to be I was ensuring they never would. Because I was trying to force them to go against their natural chrysalis I was slowly killing them, depriving myself and the world of the butterflies they would have become on their own.  

Think about this for a minute.  If it’s a lesson on caterpillars, it’s a lesson on people.  It’s a lesson on love. It’s a lesson on life. It’s a lesson on self worth and the stress we put on ourselves to be what we, by nature, were not meant to be.  A short after releasing the caterpillars back to their world there were butterflies. All I had to do was be patient and trust the world around me to do what it’s been doing all along.

My question for you today is this. What chrysalis are you holding back, and where are you hiding your caterpillars?

Aloha

Go now, set your butterflies free!

I’ve survived as well as I have because of my empathy and intuition. Early on I learned to navigate the world by following body language and following my gut.  In fact, it’s been the times I let overthinking drown out my intuition that I’ve been the most damaged, and a recurring life lesson for me is “listen to your intuition and stop talking yourself out of shit!”.  

Empaths generally deal with anxiety in some form.  We’re easily overwhelmed until we learn to block out a lot of the random energy and emotions that day around on a daily basis.  We become accustomed to feeling and seeing things before those around us, and because they’ve yet to realize their own feelings, we’re often left feeling mislead.  We’re told “it’s not like that”, “you’re overreacting”, and worse. It’s not that everyone we meet is lying to us. It simple means they’re not yet aware of their own feelings.  Nonetheless, this leads to more questioning ourselves, more anxiety, and repeating patterns we start believing we’re broken and crazy. We start ignoring our intuition. We start worrying instead of manifesting.

But something else happens when an empath learns to use their intuition early in life. We begin to rely on it, and this can be dangerous, because there are days when it’s just anxiety taking over. Blind trust without examination can lead to some dark places. We start to develop what I call “anxiety Hubris”.  We trust our empathy without question, and we start telling people we know better. We know whats really going on. You can’t hide your true feelings from us. Friends, this has ended quite a few relationships. Not only does it make the empath a bit paranoid, it also makes them look like an asshole. Believe me, I’ve been that asshole. It also doesn’t address the anxiety and real fear behind it, so it continues to build until the inevitable meltdown hits.   

The flip side of that coin is that we tend to stay in relationships way longer than we should, because our empathy can see through the toxicity to the human beneath the damage and abuse. We feel for them even as they hurt us, because we can feel their pain. We’re sure it’ll get better. They just need someone willing to give them a little more time. Then, once we’ve been through this a few times, we begin to push people away because anxiety has made this reality in everyone we meet and we mistake it for intuition.  It’s an ugly cycle, and if you can’t find a way to break it, it will break you. It’s that simple.

I’m getting better at realizing when my empathy is actually anxiety. I’ve started to take these days to get to know myself and my world without empathy, without intuition, without being plugged in.  It’s a time to replenish my resources and take a step back, a time to examine without hidden messages, and a sign from the universe around me that it’s going to be ok. I don’t need to save the world today. I don’t need to solve all the problems this minute. I’m allowed to just be and trust that life can handle itself for a little while. This existence without intuition is an important skill to hone. I can tell you right now, it’s saving my sanity and helping me live my now.  Without it I’d end up completely burnt out and completely unable to navigate the loud anxiety days. It’s definitely not easy, but I can see the change in how I process and react to my empathy and work through my anxiety.  

So these are my words of advice.

Love your empathy instead of seeing it as a burden.

Examine your intuition before you act on it.

Learn to appreciate disconnected days.

Own your anxiety so you can work past your fears.

Breathe. Keep going.  You’re doing a great job.

 

Go now, take a deep breath.

Aloha

The original title of this post was “Compersion Myths Discussed”, but it dawned on me how inherently negative that was, and my intention here is to write about positivity.  For this one I asked my community about what lessons they’ve learned about compersion through experience.  The results were diverse and educational.

Compersion: The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy

In my experience, I struggled with compersion for a long time.  I have a lot of abandonment issues, and worse, fears that I won’t be left but merely set aside and humoured once in a while.  I have only had one relationship in my life survive a new partner, and that’s been my marriage.  I held my breath through NRE widow periods when I just ceased to exist.  I was expected to understand and smile and wish partners well when their new love wasn’t poly and couldn’t accept me.  I dealt with gradual ghostings where there was just less and less time for me.

I held a lot of these painful experiences on my shoulders, and they became me responsibility.  Who was I to write and speak about poly if I couldn’t find absolute blissful joy for my partners when they found new love?  I felt broken.  I felt like a fraud.  I felt lost.   I started to hide my anxieties.  Anyone who suffers from anxiety will tell you, hiding it and swallowing it only allows it to fester.  Oh and it festered, until it infected everything.  Then something amazing happened.  I found a partner who heard me.  He listened to my concerns and anxieties, and he didn’t tell me I was bad.  He didn’t tell me I was wrong.  We didn’t fight; we talked it out.

Something amazing happens when I feel safe, loved, and heard.  Compersion.  Something else happens.  Sometimes the anxiety, the insecurities, the real life logistical concerns don’t go away, and I’ve learned that it’s ok.  Compersion doesn’t replace needs.  All these things can coexist, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It doesn’t mean I’m “failing poly”.  It doesn’t make me a horrible partner.  It makes you human.

So, I’ve been mulling over this for a few months, and it’s still something I go back and forth with, but I’ve started to do a few things.

  1.  I look at the situation and figure out if I’m really jealous of the time spent with someone else or that I’m stuck at work and they’re out doing something fun.  Usually it’s the latter.
  2. If I am jealous of the time spent with someone else, why?  Am I having a bad day?  Do I have a need I haven’t realized?  Do I merely miss my partner?  Being so far away from all of my partners means sometimes I just miss them, and I worry about the distance meaning I’m the last for them to find time with me.  I know this isn’t the reality of the relationship, but my brain is a jerk, friends.
  3. How can I resolve this feeling?  Is it adding a cool new item to the list of things to do when I see this person?  Is it voicing a need?  Is it reminding myself that we have tons of amazing memories and liking all the awesome pictures of what they’re doing on Facebook?  Usually it’s a combination of these things for me, because once I’ve sorted this I can appreciate the time they’re having.

This question lead to a few really interesting discussions, and I appreciated everyone who gave their perspective.

Here are a few:

Sometimes compersion isn’t feeling joyful or happy about your partner with someone else, sometimes it’s just acceptance.

Someone else responded here that “joy” is in the definition of the word compersion, and it’s true, but OP said something else that struck a chord.  Sometimes just the contentment of being able to accept something brings its own form of joy with it.  For some people, becoming aware of that step, or being able to find peace in a situation they might not feel comfortable or happy with, is a huge weight to release, and that is definitely a moment to revel in.  I remember the first time I gave Hubby’s girlfriend at the time a Valentine’s Day card thanking her for making him so happy.  It was a huge step and a freeing experience.  Even if she and I didn’t particularly get along.  Even if I didn’t agree with the way she conducted her relationships.  Even if I felt she intentionally sought to cause problems.  None of that mattered.  I was able to  be grateful for his happiness and accept her role in it.

You can grasp the concept AND still need to work to feel it.

Hallelujah! I’m glad someone said this, so I didn’t have to.  I’ve said it before in discussing the trials of newly opened relationships.  You can do all the reading.  You can do all the discussing.  You can learn all the buzzwords, and you’re still going to be caught off guard by emotions.  This is also one of those lessons.  Understanding compersion doesn’t mean you’ll master it on the first go any more than YouTube videos can teach you to swim.  You might be a natural.  You might get lucky and have a good first experience.  You might hit the water, feel it run up your nose, and panic.  And you know what?  Next time is going to be completely different, because no two days in your life are the same, and our experience is often flavoured by outside influences and conditions.  See above:  Am I having a bad day?   My advice.  Keep working.  Talk about it.  It’s worth it.

 

 It is in no way mandatory to feel compersion to be “real” poly. And sometimes, even if the majority of the time you do feel it, you’ll have moments where you don’t, and that’s okay too.

I’ve learned that compersion can’t be forced. And if you don’t feel it right away, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. It’s hard for your head to understand that feeling sometime, and you just have to allow yourself to adjust.

The point here, is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t feel it.  This isn’t a free pass to be a jerk to your partner, but it is an opportunity to open up discussion.  Believe me when i say avoiding it all together is not a good idea in most cases.  Talk. Talk. Talk.  Do some internal searching. Talk some more.  If the opportunity is there, maybe spend some time with the other person involved.  I’ve found that learning the real person behind the outlandish abstract of infinite horrible worst case scenarios is a big help.

I admit, when they are on the verge of a new relationship, I still tend to get a little jealous, but once that feeling passes the compersion is definitely there. I think it’s adorable how excited they get talking to a new person and seeing them happy.

This is a really important thing to remember.  Compersion doesn’t have to be instantaneous to count.  Read it again.  Compersion does NOT have to be instantaneous to count.  Sometimes it takes some processing.  Sometimes it takes some discussion.  Sometimes it just takes a little exposure.  For the love of ice cream, don’t give up.  Did you see that second part?  It’s amazing!

You find it in the damnedest places and about the oddest things.

This is one of the most amusing things about compersion to me.  I can spend a month agonizing over how soon it’s going to be before I’m toast, then something clicks, something absolutely random.  For me it’s always been hearing that the other person mentioned me in passing.  An example of one of my random A-ha! moments of compersion was hitting Six Flags with Hubby and his new girl, which was also my birthday and the first time I’d ever met her, and watching her attempt to ride all the roller coasters with him.  I cannot, and will not, ride them, and seeing him find someone who would suck up her own fears and make it a personal challenge to ride ALL OF THEM was heartwarming.  Did I still have some anxieties after that?  Of course I did, because compersion is fluid.  Still, that was the moment I could see it, feel it, and enjoy it.

Feeling positive things for your partner comes back and improves all of your interactions.

Plain and simple, it does.  It reminds me every time why I chose poly.  It reminds me that I, too, can be open about new experiences and connections, and of how much love and support my partners give me when I’m on the other side of compersion.  It’s a helpful two-way street for me.  I find compersion by remembering that when I make a new connection none of the other fades, and that I am still madly in love with each of the partners in my life.  If I can do it, why should I be afraid that someone who has been good for and to me can not?  The joy this feeling gives me is one of the most fulfilling things a heart can experience, being grateful and surrounded by love, knowing that each of my partners still chooses me and that I am a part of a big beautiful web.  It leads to almost a reignited NRE feeling, and I’ve long since stopped having partners that make me an NRE widow, because that’s not healthy poly.  If I need time and assurance, I ask for it.  If they’re not willing to give it to me?  I decide if that’s behaviour I can accept.

I don’t feel jealousy often at all. I get envious of time spent sometimes, but most often, I experience compersion for anyone who is feeling loved and happy. I love love. I want to hear stories of love, good and bad, and I enjoy the energy people give off when they’re in love.
I am also a major introvert and I enjoy my ME time. Although I’ve been single for about 5 months, I am hardly ever without things to do. I’ve learned to love my time alone. So, when I do have a partner, and if they’re off with someone else, I will most likely find something to fill my time.

Hubby hates spicy food, and his partner, who lives with us, has some unfortunate food allergies.  Them being out means I can cook what I want.  With so many people in our small house, quiet alone time is rare.  This is how I first found at least a hint of compersion.  I found a hobby I would only do when Hubby was out with his girlfriend a the time.  In time, I came to look forward to their date nights.  It’s a little different now that my job and our living situation has changed, but there are ways to find a silver lining even when I might want to be out with them or feel lonely.

I am not really a jealous person, it’s just not something I often feel. I also don’t tend to feel possessive of my loves.
So with my partners, compersion is often finding joy that they are happy, loved, and fulfilled no matter what they are doing or with whom.
And I also admit that I enjoy the 20% when they are out and I get me time to do whatever as well.

It’s true.  There are people who don’t feel jealousy.  Good on them, really.  I realize this doesn’t mean they are without needs or anxieties.  Emotions and reactions manifest differently in different people.  I have a few partners who don’t experience jealousy, and for a while, again, I took it to mean there was something wrong with how I feel in a relationship.

 

Some additional comments from my people:

  • For me it’s a sign that you truly love someone… That you want them to be happy. Compersion is never about yourself. At least in my opinion.
  • That falling in love with the love someone has for someone else is both bizarre and absolutely wonderful. That you can get butterflies, for them.
  • It is good in the beginning hard then and ends up very good
  • Feeling compersion is great and comes easily to me, but I also experience sorrow when someone’s relationship is going through trouble. I try to fix things so they can be happy again, and so can I. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen.
  •  I’ve experienced it, makes me happy when I see him happy. Even if it isn’t me that is making him happy, why wouldn’t I be joyful for him?
  • I’ve never been jealous or possessive and i like to see people in my circle happy..it genuinely feels good to see . Always been that way.
  •  I get super excited when they are happy and talking about a new person…I find it just adorable! I don’t get jealous…the most I will get is envious of they are doing something that sounds fun that I would like to do but I am always happy when they are happy
  • I get all giggling and school girl like, and am like “tell me more, tell me more.”  I wanna know all the things. As my eyes are big and smile awaiting to hear so much more.
    Sometimes, though, if I feel a bit insecure in a relationship, I may not have as much compersion. That is when I rely on my partner to assure me of my place and value.

 

I think the most important line in this entire post is “at least in my opinion”.  There is no right or wrong way to feel, find, or work on compersion.  I , and a group of my friends, can only give you the words of experience.  Compersion, in my opinion, is one of the biggest hurdles in poly, and no one or nothing can make it happen.  Keep working.  Keep loving.  Keep moving forward.

 

Go now, find your joy.

Aloha

The idea of kitchen table poly has always appealed to me.  I was an only child, and having a chosen family structure is an imperative part of my life. That being said, the key word here is”chosen”, which implies a choice, and by placing an “ideal”on something we strip away its choice.  Here’s the rub.

In many cases it’s a fairly simple equation. My partner and I have a loving relationship.  They and their other partners have loving relationships.  I love people who make my people happy.  Come to my table!  Sometimes, however, people don’t get along.  I can’t force anyone to like me.  I can’t force anyone to want to get to know me.  I can’t force anyone to want anything to do with me.  In that same vein, I can’t force my partners to get along.  Ideal vs free will reality, and with free will reality comes a choice.

Do I cling to the Rockwellian portrait of poly I’d love to see or so I adjust expectations and keep my heart, and the seats at my table, open? 

Enter The Community Table.

It’s possible to maintain the spirit and ideals behind Kitchen Table Poly and adapt to free will reality, you just have to tweak perspective a little.  As a kid, my parents were divorced, and those households treated dinner very differently.  At my Dad’s house dinner was 1700 every night, Hell or high water, and it was expected that everyone would be there every single night.  To this day, if you call that house at dinner time someone better be dying. My mom, however, ran things a little more fluidly, depending on schedules and when people were hungry.  If she cooked and you weren’t hungry, you could sit and chat.  If you were busy with homework or something else was happening, as long as you respectfully let her know what was going on there was no harm done.  My friends knew there was a seat for them at our table, on our couch, in our home, whenever they needed it, day or night.  Two tables. Two very different ways of approaching the same experience.

I’ve recently started to see the images in my mind of the ideal situation change to incorporate my mom’s adaptable Community Table approach to my life in general, not just my poly.  If you’re a part of my Ohana there is a seat for you at my table, regardless of whether or not you ever use it or want it.  The people of my people are also my people, and in times of need nothing else matters.  My mom didn’t necessarily approve of all of my friends.  I know for a fact there were a few she couldn’t stand, but if they were hungry they were welcome.  She might not choose to eat dinner with us, but it didn’t mean I had to send them away.  The Community Table gave all of us an open invitation, a place at the table, and a choice, and this is what poly, what family, is about for me.

The Community Table leaves the lines of communication open and supports the opportunity to build relationships without pressure or finality.  It authenticates freedom of choice by allowing every day to be a new choice, and it gives us all the room to grown and adapt as the table changes shape and size.  The Community Table becomes the access point for my life and my Ohana, where no one is pressured or sent away, and that’s my “ideal” situation.

Aloha.

Go now.  Find your seat.

2015-02-23-EatingTogether

It’s no secret that words have power.  How we speak to each other and ourselves changes everything.  Telling our stories helps others heal.  The words we use to do so make all the difference.

It took me years to be able to use the word “rape”.  Longer to say it out loud.  Sometimes it was as if saying it conjured it within me.  Others I felt judged, like people were going to make me prove it every time I formed the words with my lips.

In order to find my “no” I had to first be able to formulate “rape” instead of softening the blow with words like “sexual assault” and “he was rough with me”.  It wasn’t.  I was raped, a feeling that can only be articulated in the sharp stabbing word that it is.  In order to find my “no” I had to have the conviction and confidence to say it, so that instead of it conjuring it would expel the trauma from me.  The fear.  The questions.  The nightmares.  The regret.

I feel myself there again, and I hate it.  Choking on my own words like I’ve forgotten how to say them.

He raped me. 

 

And just like that… my NO. 

 

Aloha

Go now, find your “no”.pexels-photo-279013.jpeg

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