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This year Imbolc was very quiet and subtle.  I’ve been sick and healing from several setbacks, but I’ve also met an unmatched capacity for love and serendipity, creeping in from the balance of solstice.  I chose not to do a set ritual this year.  I didn’t even journey, I merely put on some music and began to dance and stretch.  I had originally felt that the aspect of Brighid that would come to me would be the poet or the smith, as I’ve finally started writing again, and I’ve felt forged by the events of the last several months.  What I was not expecting was Brighid the warrior.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m strong; I’m a survivor.  However, I’ve never been known to be on the frontline.  I’m the healer that comes in afterwards.  I’m the strategist who finds ways to avoid the fight.  I’m the wife who stays at home and supports her soldier, and I always have been, but in this moment it was just me.

Our family is facing some tough choices, and I’ve felt like nothing I can do will protect us from failure.  For the first time in a long time I don’t have any answers, and it’s not just me surviving this time; it’s us.  Our country is under attack from within, not for the first time, but people are coming together and marching and making our voices heard as a country.  I’ve felt bad that I’ve been sick or working when these big events happen.  I want to stand up.  I want to shout.  I wanted to speak up against the men who stood in my workplace spouting hateful words, but my family depends on me to keep this job, so I kept quiet and wrote poetry in my head.  I felt defeated, so when Brighid the warrior came to me and called me her child I felt like a disappointment to my goddess.  For years she’s provided for me, and in this aspect I have not given everything I could have, but she wrapped me in her warmth and gave me a very important lesson.

There is a time and place for action, and this is going to be a long fight.  It’s ok to let the people who are out there raising their voices now stand for me, and when they need to rest and recharge, those of us who have watched on the sidelines will be able to take over and keep the momentum going.  Sometimes the loudest voices are the ones who whisper quietly on pages and surreptitious pipelines while the fires and the crowds distract attention.   The quiet warriors are powerful, like a silent rage that flows under the surface of this resistance.  We are the veins of the revolution, keeping the blood pumping and the tides churning.  We are the spirit of America.  We are Brighid the warrior.

brigid1

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November 8th.
I’m on a plane, and the 55 minute gate to gate flight from LAX to OAK seems to just keep getting longer as we watch the numbers creep up to the inevitable, and between trays of drinks and trash pick ups I feel a sense of dread creeping up inside me.  This is going to be one of those days when, 20 years from now when we’re asked about it, each of us will remember vividly where we were, who we were with, what we were wearing.  This is going to be the JFK assassination, Loma Prieta, 9/11.  This is not good.

I look down the aisle.  How many of these people are watching the numbers climb in exaltation?  How many are ready to celebrate victory?  How can I respond professionally if a passenger says something to my face?

“Don’t take this the wrong way,”  the attendant working besides me begins, “but I hope Trump wins.”

I look at him for a moment before I can formulate a reply.  A white make in his early 30s.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,”  I speak, “but my genitalia prevents me from agreeing with you.”

He understands.  He respects my opinions.  We talk about the unrest this election is going to precipitate, and I can tell this is the warm up.  Not all the conversations I’m about to have won’t devolve into arguments about why my family, my tribe, my community now has a whole new level of fear of the government that should be protecting them, and yes, I focus on the things that touch me personally because the nation of people I can’t reach is still too much to process, and it hurts my heart.

In the days that followed I’ve watched that nation hurt.  I’ve watched that nation question.  I’ve watched that nation panic.  I’ve also watched people come together in support and love for one another.  I’ve watched whole communities protect their own.  I’ve watched individuals take their rage and find the voice to say “fuck you, this is who I am, and I’m not hiding any more, so you’re going to have to fight me!”  This…this is what needed to happen. Instead of laying down and worrying about the outcome, we need to find our rage and focus it on change before the hammer falls.

Years ago I saw this moment in a meditation.  Years before Game of Thrones would warn us, I would be told to be prepared before winter came.  Years ago I wrote a poem about the power of  nation with nothing left to lose.

This is our rock bottom, and as I take a break from writing an entire book about my experiences weathering my own winter, I am reminded that this is where most people find their No; when to stay silent is a death knell.

I implore you today to look deep inside yourself and find your No.  Make it a Fuck No!  It doesn’t have to be fighting or extravagant gestures of disobedience or heroism.  Your No can be a donation to the ACLU or local organizations that protect the marginalized members of your community.  Your No can be offering to walk with someone to make sure their safe from harassment.  Your No can simply be checking in on those around you to make sure they’re safe inside their own emotions, because this is a terrifying time for many people who already had limited outlets.  Your No can be their No until they can find it within them.

We will not survive this by hiding from it.  We will not survive this by submission and supplication.  We will not survive this with rash decision making and senseless destruction.  Nothing comes from breaking the windows of a local business in an already struggling neighbourhood.  Nothing comes from taking the last source of income from someone barely getting by.  Everything comes from focusing that energy where it can actually bring change.  Find your No in standing beside one another.  More is accomplished from a thunder storm than a tidal wave.  Let’s find our No in the thunder…together.

this is the winter they warned us about

when the weight of survival
is too much
for those who cannot afford to say no
when dreams are outlawed
and hope is taxed
and the price of a voice
has risen so high
that it must be taken some other way
when the snow falls
and the freeze sets in
and the discontent have nowhere to go
but the dark barren homes
they’ve spent every cent to protect
this!
this is the season we’ve prepared for
while you watched it on TV
laughing in the comfort
of the luxury we’ve afforded you
this is the time
when the starving wolves
leap for the throats
of those who have caged all the rabbits
and thrown the world out of balance
this is the night
when darkness falls
we set the world on fire and dance in the flames
because we have nothing
left to burn for
and they can’t take that away

Aloha.

Go now, be your No.

Anger Quotes Buddhism Thich Nhat Hanh

 

We are taught as a society that anger is bad.  Angry children are punished instead of taught to process, angry men are destructive, and angry women are irrational.  We learn to ignore it, to bottle it up, to fear it, and this leads to a breakdown in communication and emotional presence.  But anger is not the enemy.  Anger, like any other emotion, is defined by how we respond to it and process it.

Even just a year ago I would have turned the first time I got angry as a new partner into fear that if I expressed it at all he’s walk, and past experience has taught me that anger makes me a monster, a selfish bitch.  Crazy.  Both of my parents got very quiet when they were angry, and I have inherited that behaviour.  When I’m frustrated I get snappy, but when I’m genuinely angry I shut down.

Our challenge as adults in relationships is to deal with anger instead of letting it push us apart, right?  How do we do this without the emotional toolbox we should have been given decades ago?  How do I process and communicate my anger without getting passive aggressive, hurtful, or adversely, detached?  How do I help my partner not feel like he needs to be on his defense?  These are not questions I have answers for, and they stir up the fear that I’ll merely succeed in pushing him away from me, but staying angry doesn’t help anyone.

Aloha

Go now, use your anger

It is the moment I hear the words “I can’t handle drama” or “I need something uncomplicated” that I cringe, because I’ve never been considered particularly high maintenance to anyone except for the people who start conversations this way.  You see, the term “you throw up red flags” is it’s own monumental crimson banner.  Sometimes it even has floodlights and a little commemorative plaque.  In any case, this goes one or both of two ways.

In the first case I note the need and do my best to keep things laid very free-flowing, but there comes a point where my needs fall by the wayside, because any request on my part is seen as some kind of irrational demand on this person’s life.  I am immediately labelled “High Maintenance”.

In the second case I begin to walk on eggshells, afraid that anything I say or do may be misconstrued as histrionics, until I am so frustrated and exhausted by the who experience that I begin to reach out for anything I can get. This generally makes any previously mentioned “red flags” a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The added complication recently has been the additional condition of “What does Jenn need or want?” wherein not answering makes me a doormat and answering makes me complicated, both actions making me equally unacceptably high maintenance.  Friends, the answer to that question had two very simple conditions to it, and they’re the same as they have ever been.

This all seems like a perfectly good waste of what started as, and has the potential to be, an amazing relationship behind all the overthinking, but I have no other recourse but to step back and see what direction he takes.  I can’t keep worrying about it, nor can I keep throwing energy at something that neither meets my needs nor seems to be doing anything for him.  Do I hope it can be worked out? Of course I do.  Have I given up?  Nope.  But can I force something with someone unwilling to be inconvenienced?  Negative.  To try is a fool’s errand, and too often in love I end up a very frustrated fool.

Oh, and  Mr Too-Complicated?  He’s got a story for me every day about how negative and overly emotional people are making his life difficult, but I had too much going on to be date worthy.  

It has been my experience that people who use this condition are either ill-equipped to deal with emotions, unwilling to accept a situation that might require a little effort, or are prone to exaggeration.  Maybe I need to start taking their “red flags” as stop signs.

Just a thought.

Aloha

Go now….with the flow.

In a recent post I mentioned briefly the adjustments I’ve been making in my relationships to conquer the distance inherently put between me and my partners by my job.  I’ve always held a strong position against long distance relationships.  I rely heavily upon touch and face to face interaction to ground me in a relationship and give me a sense of stability and connection, and I havent never seen that possible in a situation where I don’t see a partner more than once a month, but with the commute I make for my job I’m finding more and more that even my marriage has similarities to a long distance relationship.

At first I fought it.  Adjusting to the commute and unusual schedule was hard enough without taking into account what might be happening at home.  In turn, Hubby sought solace in his tangible life and partners he could reach out to and began to suppress fears that I was on the slow road to leaving him, and our life together far behind.  The next step in the downward spiral was a deep depression caused by feelings that I was gradually being erased from my own family.  I considered leaving.  Unable to voice this feeling properly, I only validated Hubby’s suspicions, and the unraveling began, leaving us both feeling alienated and alone.

The solutions seemed bleak.  We either had to accept that this was our life now or end it, and neither of us was willing to accept either option.  Hubby’s approach was to demand things.  My time.  Phone calls.  All my plans and commitments at home would have to be cancelled to spend time with him.  I felt exhausted, smothered, and stretched too thin, and I lashed out, suddenly understanding why trained tigers might eventually eat their owners.  I felt helpless.

Then something happened.  I started texting him every day.  I didn’t have the hour or five a day he would have liked to have phone calls, and there was nothing I could do about the frequency with which I had to end such conversations abruptly because of my schedule, but he started to realize just now much I think of him when I’m not around.

A transformation began.  He became easier to talk to.  We exhumed inside jokes that had lost their sheen in the midst of our fighting and developed new ones.  Suddenly I felt like there wouldn’t be an exhausting battle every time we spoke, so I started putting him on speaker phone while I readied myself for work.  In short, I got my best friend back.

Other relationships were not so lucky.  After months of not knowing how to fix it, Ralph and I decided we could only survive in each other’s lives as friends.  Other tentative relationships came to similar fates, while the ones that were able to find a way to reconnect in new way thrived.  This.  This is where I began to see where the strength was in myself and in my partners.

Since this experience, each new relationship has been a valuable learning experience in communication and bonding.  Things that are important to me have had to be compromised while new needs have emerged in order to gain the stability I need to be a happy, sane, openly loving wife, partner, and even friend in some cases.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times I feel like these new endeavours are an emotional game of chutes and ladders, but it’s forced me to take  second look and only spend that energy on someone I feel deserves that kind of time and energy.

I’m still not sure what my stance is on long distance relationships.  The impulse is to have more partners to cover the lonely times, but even people I don’t see regularly take the same amount of resources, and I know all too well the effects of polysaturation.  Instead, I’m learning to find what works with each partner, and to give myself some of that energy as well.  We’ll explore that concept a little bit more later.

Aloha

Go now, reconnect.

2014. The year that changed everything.  It all sounds very serious, doesn’t it.  Well, it is.  I know, I know, every year is about change, but 2014 brought transformative change.

With Brighid came the catalyst for the biggest career change I have ever made, and the biggest risk.  The training alone was a challenge, but I rose to it, and on Ostara I earned my wings and held a star I’d been reaching for for 6 years.

WIth the change in jobs came a huge change for our household.  I was based 3,000 miles away on the opposite coast, and the adjustment in all my relationships was a blow that some of them wouldn’t survive.  Routines were uprooted, and we had to find complex solutions to even more complex problems.  I suddenly felt very alone, and Hubby felt abandoned.  As he strove for stability and reached for his other partners, I felt more and more isolated from my family, which strained an already stressful period as I adjusted to a new job that is very much a lifestyle.

By summer there were storms raging.  Hubby and A split, I had completely pulled out of our D/s dynamic, and there were talks of separation. Things were seriously strained, compounded by the re-emergence of The Vanishing Act.  My emotions were shot, and I withdrew.  When my birthday rolled through in August I was sure I was bound to be moving on alone.  Hubby seemed unwilling to see anything from my perspective and immersed in a new relationship, The Vanishing Act had done what he does best, and I felt suffocated by the weight of everything falling apart at once.

For the first time in a long time I felt helpless, hopeless, and ready to go.  There’s a soul-shaking moment that passes when you no longer feel a desperate need to end your life, but have accepted it as the next step.  It’s not a rash decision you can recover from just as quickly, it’s a concession that the darkness has won, and this is just what happens when you lose.  I was gone.  My spirit was dead for a long time, and I had no one to blame for it but myself.

Enter Autumn and a big push from the universe to be in charge of my life.  I embarked on a last-ditch effort to save myself, and I began living my own life.  Hubby pushed against it, but what resulted was both of us giving the ultimate ultimatum.  Love me for who I am, or let me go live my life.

The season also brought a whole crew of new people to my life.  Friends, love interests, and everyone in between.  2014 has brought me more new connections and strengthened connections with people I already had than I could have asked for.  These wonderful souls are the reason I’m here in as close to one piece as I am.  They are my tribe, my Ohana, and I would be incomplete without them.

As I pulled out of the fall with hope and optimism, 2014 gave me one last reminder that there is still a lot of work to do. A few lives connected to mine were suddenly torn apart.  We had medical scares and heartbreaking developments.  In addition, several of my partners also had some deep rivers to cross.  Once again I felt out of my depth and drowning, but the tools I had acquired and the people who had gathered around me throughout the year had given me the strength and will to keep moving forward.

Things are still rocky.  Things are still changing.  2014 was a year of questions without answer and answers spawning new questions.  I still feel terribly ill-equipped to handle the war that fights, not in violent flashes like they do in the movies, but quietly under the surface of the mundane as war is apt to do.  I don’t have all the information.  I don’t have all the tools.  I don’t have all the magic words.  What I do have is Ohana.  What I do have is people who love me and believe in me, who have y back no matter what happens.    What I have, as i mentioned at Yule, is hope.

This year I have learned to adapt.  I have learned to be away but still present.  I have learned to be alone but not lost.  I have learned to love and not question.  At midnight tonight I won’t be with any of my loves.  I won’t have a single person to kiss, but I shall be kissing each and every one of them in my heart.

2015…a year started with hope in my heart.

Aloha.

Go now, kiss somebody at midnight, even if it’s just in your heart.

There are words that push me over a precipice when I’m upset.  Mainly “It’s OK”.

It’s OK. Wait, it’s OK?  Well, then, I guess all this snot and crying is for nothing!  I might as well just stop this instant.

No, friends.  It’s not OK, hence all the snot and crying, and it makes me livid to hear these words used to comfort me.

When did we become a society that devalues being upset?  Why are we so afraid of raw emotion? What makes us say anything just to make it stop?  When women are upset they’re hysterical or histrionic.  When men are upset they’re unstable or weak.  Why should human emotion make one a pariah?

It has always been stressed during group rituals that there is a serious rule about interjecting when someone gets emotional unless there is an obvious emergency.  Why? Because to interrupt is to rob someone of an integral part of the experience.  Granted, being sad and going to someone for emotional support isn’t a ritual experience, but it is still very important to see it out.  I’ve told Hubby in the past that I don’t ever expect him to fix my problems, I just want to know I’m not alone while I process them.

Being upset is a sign.  It means something in our life is important enough to be upset over.  It’s an impetus for change and growth.  It’s a push to rid ourselves of what’s holding us back so that life can heal us the way it’s meant to.

I know most people mean well when they say “it’s OK”, and most of the time what they mean is “it’s going to be OK”, but it’s a cop-out to the obvious.  Instead, what anyone who is upset and reaching out for comfort needs to remember is, “it’s not OK, and that’s alright”.

I talk a lot about NRE and how to set your polyamory in motion.  In fact, most books, blogs, and articles (oh my!)cluster around beginnings and how to get the ball rolling.  Right now I’m going to flip the coin and talk about something we seem to avoid like a taboo: endings.  Yes, I said it, endings. While we would all like to believe that once we’ve found partners who complete our circle and fulfill our needs we never have to worry about breakups.  It is a fact of life that this is simply not true.  For many reasons, sometimes perfectly good partnerships end.  Not that I’m trying to jinx any of you, but here are some important things to remember when navigating a breakup like an adult.

If you’re like me and most of the successful poly people out there you probably have a pretty severe allergy to drama.  Be that as it may, sometimes we forget that when things don’t quite turn out as we expected.  It’s easy to get caught up in accusations and exaggerations, but honestly, mudslinging reflects poorly on everyone involved.  You might feel justified in warning the world about your wounded perspective, but if it’s a true blight on the part of an ex partner most likely everyone else already knows about it.  There’s no reason to resort to social slandering.  Most circles within the poly community are rather small, and the likelihood of crossing paths with an ex or someone associated with an ex is pretty good.  In some cases you may still have to attend the same events and meetings.  Drama within these circles most likely ends with the one doing the loudest squawking alienating herself, as no one wants to sit next to a crying baby.  This includes social media.  The world has enough negativity without you blasting your latest libel where everyone has to read it.  It’s attention seeking behaviour, and it’s ugly.  Stop it!

That being said, not all breakups have to be ugly.  Not all reason for breakups are negative.  For example, maybe one partner is moving away.  I for one can’t function well in a long distance relationship, so a partner relocating would most likely end our relationship.  Instead of lamenting the ending support that partner in what was probably a tough decision to make.  Don’t make it a more difficult situation emotionally, especially if she’s moving towards something positive.  Let her be happy and excited about this new direction, and she will be more likely to be supportive as you process the change.

That brings me to my next point.  All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy.  Let me say that again. All partners in a relationship deserve to be happy. Partners, metamours, spouses, co-lovers, unicorns, children,everyone.  As much as we try, and as much as we work through issues together, sometimes the truth persists that for one reason or another you cannot avoid detrimental unhappiness.  I’m not talking about compromise; that’s a natural expectation of a relationship.  I mean the kind of unhappiness that’s harmful, the kind that breeds resentment.  There is no good reason for anyone to stay in a relationship that becomes something to be dreaded or burdensome.  I have often told Hubby that it would hurt to lose him, but if he were miserable with me I’d hope he wouldn’t stay just because we have a legal and spiritual bond between us.  If no compromise can be made, change is necessary.  Knowing that he’s with me because he wants to be, not because he has to be is a wonderful feeling.

I believe wholeheartedly that everyone in my life is here for a reason.  I might not know what that reason is, but I will damned well know when that reason has been satisfied.  Some relationships are the same way.  Not every partner I have is meant to be a long-term committed partner.  Not every loving partnership is meant to last a lifetime.  Sometimes a relationship serves as a wake-up call, a reminder, or an awakening.  Sometimes I have a need that the relationship fulfills, a lesson to learn, or an experience I would not have had otherwise.  Isn’t that what life is about?  That being said, when that purpose is satisfied those relationships have a tendency to become stale, unstable, or even unhealthy.  Being stubborn about holding on to these relationships generally leads to an unnecessarily explosive ending.

A few more things to consider before you unleash the drama llama…

The people you may or may not be dragging through the mud are people you once cherished, but they are also people who once represented you and your collective.  These are people you’ve possibly defended and upheld.  How you appear as a part of a relationship reflects on all people involved in that relationship, but the adverse is also true.  Whether or not you are still involved with them, what good is it to further muddy the waters?

On the idea of children.  I have had many friends who stayed in rotting relationships for the sake of children, both biological and non.  In my opinion this is a disservice to both the adults and the children in this situation.  Adults deserve to be in a situation that is healthy for them, and children deserve to be in a family structure that is happy and positive, and when that is not the case they often internalize it.  This can cause deep and lifelong issues, especially if the adults in the situation just can’t get along.  I am strongly convinced that children have a much more positive experience with happy, well-rounded, separated parental figures than with bitter, resentful, bitter ones who just shouldn’t live together.

With great love comes great responsibility.  Open, public polyamory often makes examples of us whether it’s warranted or not.  However we act and whatever we do becomes polyamory.  It’s an unfair responsibility, but it is a responsibility nonetheless, and a caveat to the freedom we enjoy.  For this very reason endings tend to become all about the polyamory, and this is a very easy trap for even those of us who live it to fall into.  One bad breakup and suddenly someone “had a bad experience”.  Just because in your eyes or the eyes of family and friends your relationship may have failed, it doesn’t mean that you or polyamory at large failed.  It also doesn’t mean polyamory isn’t for you.  It just means that relationship was no longer for you.  It happens.  Learn from it, grow from it, and move forward with a peaceful heart.

A peaceful heart.  I’m going to say this as bluntly as possibly.  Holding grudges is stupid.  There you have it.  Why are grudges stupid?  For the same reason holding a hot barbecue briquette is stupid.  Holding a grudge hurts no one but the person holding it.  Hate, pride, and shortsightedness may temporarily hurt the people at whom you hurl them, but in the end you are the one stuck with the lasting scars.  The only way to heal is to process it calmly and let it go.  Admit that very few endings are one-sided.  Admitting your part in the breakup is the first step.  Take what you can from it, don’t try to carry all  the blame or innocence, then toss it aside.

That last part is pretty important, too.  The polar opposite of pretending we are infallible is to take all the responsibility for a breakup and let it fester.  Guilt is quite a strong emotion, and it may lead you to reneging on the decision you made to move on.   Some initiators feel they don’t deserve to mourn the loss of a relationship they ended.  Some non-initiators feel the same way.  This simply is not the case.  Loss is loss.  When someone chooses to give a baby up for adoption or put down a sick pet we don’t fault them for grieving.  Why then shouldn’t it be the same for someone who ends a relationship that isn’t working?  It shouldn’t.  By the time we reach the end there is no reason to point fingers or lash out, and you cannot deny the other people involved their emotional right to feel the loss.

People? Yes, people, plural.  In some cases you may break up with more than one partner, but even if you don’t there are generally other people affected by the breakup.  Your partner’s other partners will feel the ripple effect of their grief, and you may have made some close bonds with them as metamours.  I know if Hubby and A broke up I’d have some pretty strong feelings to work through.  I’d want to support him, I’d want to help him process if I could, and I’d feel my own loss at the departure of a family member and the disruption of what has become a very comfortable routine for us.  We are not isolated beings in polyamory.  We are all connected like a spiderweb, and any break or movement in just a string on the web causes the whole structure to shift and change.  Everyone in the web feels it.

Endings are just as much a part of life as new beginnings, and without one we cannot have the other.  Instead of having a lifetime of bad breakups and negative feelings towards our exes there is a true peace at the core of anyone who can let all that go and truly be at peace with goodbyes.  One of the highest levels of compersion is found in the ability to with someone well when the best thing for him is not with you.  One of the purest forms of self acceptance and love is making decisions that truly enrich us on a psychological, emotional, and spiritual level.   Oftentimes the decisions that are the hardest for us to make are ones we have already made in our hearts.  Be honest with yourself, and listen to your intuition.  You alone know what is right for you and when it has stopped being right.  You owe yourself that level of communication and trust as much as you owe it to your partners.

Aloha.

 

 

_Emotions 02

 

 

 

“Polyamory probably saved my marriage.”

 

I have heard this statement made several times, and it always refers to something different.  Sometimes it refers to a sense that things had gotten stale and polyamory put a fresh spin on the marriage.  Sometimes it’s been sexual desires or orientations.  Other times it’s been a deeper need to become closer through shared experiences.  For me it’s been about lessons.  I mentioned in a previous post that recently Hubby and I had some troubled waters.  I strongly believe that we would not have come out of them unscathed as a monogamous couple, at least not as the monogamous couple we were.  While the idea is emotionally unfathomable, realistically I don’t think we would have had the right tools to keep our marriage afloat.

Communication:  While this one seems like it should encompass everything else, there are a few key lessons in communication that come from experience with polyamory.  Most of us know how to identify communication, but many don’t know how to actually communicate.  Good communication makes the difference between an electric mixer and a wooden spoon.  Where good communication makes things smoother and easier to handle, bad communication often causes nothing but soreness and a mess.  My apologies to anyone who likes to mix things by hand.  To communicate freely requires that one eschew fear of being honest.  Oftentimes when we bring up an uncomfortable topic we try to avoid confrontation and word things to sound more innocuous.  Sometimes we even try to predict what the other person’s reaction will be and how to avoid it being negative.  The truth is, sometimes we need a negative reaction.  Sometimes Hubby needs to know things are not copacetic.  We can’t fix a problem he doesn’t know exists.  That being said, communicating dictates you be calm, concise, and factual with no emotional mudslinging or attacking.  Everyone listens instead of plotting their next move, and everyone gets to talk.  As long as this can be done in a mature manner, you’ve done it!  You’re communicating!

Dedication:  It has always been my belief that one contributing factor to our nation’s divorce rate is how easy it is to give up.  There have been moments when we may have thrown in the towel had we not been married and committed to those vows.  If in the end we agree that we’ve done everything we could to fix our problems I will fully accept that, but until then I will keep trying to make our marriage stronger and healthier.  Many people in relationships act as if a difference in opinion or beliefs is an automatic sign that the relationship is doomed.  No one is perfect, and nothing that lasts a lifetime is polished in a day.  The marriages that last are the one that are constantly maintained by people who don’t avoid or repress their problems.  Instead they work through them one at a time to nurture their bond and grow as a couple.

One Step at a Time:  Think of a math equation.  Looking at all the different functions in the equation all at once can seem daunting, but if you break it down into smaller, easier to handle parts you can focus on one function at a time.  Quite often when a relationship experiences an obstacle it seems insurmountable because it’s never made up of just one issue.  Usually by the time a marriage is in serious jeopardy the root cause is an amalgamation of smaller issues.  Trying to work on them all at once can be overwhelming and will only cause more frustration and friction.  Prioritizing and processing one problem at a time and accepting that there will be setbacks can help the healing process to not become such a burden that a couple gives up.  Poly teaches us to deal with one thing at a time as it pertains to each situation.   Just as no two partners are alike, no two problems are alike.  Still, no member of our family is alone when problems do arise.  Working on them together makes anything possible if we take it one step at a time.

Letting it Go:  Once a problem is discussed and resolved it needs to be let go, not just until the next fight, not just until you’re feeling a little neglected and need some attention, but let go for good.  There is nothing as detrimental to a relationship that’s trying to heal like bringing up old baggage that doesn’t serve the issue at hand.  Poly teaches us to deal with any possible situation then let it go, because there is no room in healthy non-monogamy for extra baggage.

Perspective:  Sometimes the way we see things is not how others see them, and either way may be a skewed version of the truth.  Polyamory has taught me not to use phrases like “you did X” but instead say things like “it seemed to me like you did XYZ”.  Blame solves nothing, and it makes you look foolish and out of control.  Instead, calmly recounting the situation from your perspective can help the other person understand why there was an emotional response, and understanding is the beginning of both of you processing.

Avoiding Scapegoats or Insults:  Blaming solves nothing, but playing dirty makes things worse.  These issues are between you and your partner, not other partners, kids, or other mitigating factors.  Accept that they didn’t cause the problems you’re having, the two of you did, even if your partner’s behaviour was based on these other things.  I had this realization not too long ago when A told me it seemed like I was mad at her.  Even to her it seemed like I was blaming her when really my real anger was towards how Hubby was treating the situation or acting because of something in their relationship.  While it all may have exacerbated our issues, it wasn’t their relationship that was responsible for it, it was his behaviour and my reaction to that behaviour that was.

Emotional Independence:  Polyamory has taught not only to be responsible for my emotions but also to handle them as much as I can on my own. There was a time when both of us where extremely needy and co-dependent on each other.  Opening our marriage and branching out forced us to be aware of that co-dependency and to become more self-reliant.  I now feel that I don’t need to run to Hubby every time I feel emotional.  This puts less stress on him and allows him to be more self-reliant as well.  It also means he’s available when I really need the support instead of being burnt out or overburdened already.  Because of this emotional independence I have been able to trust both of our emotions and have faith that he’s with me because he loves me, not because he needs something from me emotionally.  It has also given me the confidence to voice my emotional needs and know when I just can’t process certain things on my own.  When working through problems in a marriage this is all integral.  I feel less desperate for that emotional support, therefore I can be more articulate about real needs.  I feel less burnt out and more willing to be supportive when he has real needs.  Without emotional independence neither of us can be honest with ourselves or each other about emotional issues.  Without it neither of us can grow as an individual.

What Worked Before:  Marriages sometimes fall into a comfort, and resentment can build when the NRE starts to fade.  When issues arise this is the first thing that gets flung between partners. “We never do XYZ anymore!”  My first question is always, “why not?”.  I have found that polyamory has kept us fresh and inspired.  We have found new ways to keep our lives exciting, and we hold on to the memories and traditions that still serve us.  The truth is that what worked before may not work now.  This can include little things like mutual hobbies and weekly rituals to big things like relationship style and family dynamic.  You may not do those things anymore because those people are no longer who you are as individuals.  That couple may not be the couple you are now.  That marriage has grown and evolved just as the two of you have done.  Nostalgia can be a great reminder of where we come from, but it can also be a great road block to moving forward.   We hold on to thing that once felt good forgetting that as we change we can and should find new things that make us feel good, too.  Whether it’s changing how you date others or changing how you eat dinner together, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate.  Polyamory has taught me to constantly re-evaluate our needs, my needs, and the needs of our family as a whole.  If there is not growth and movement a stagnant marriage cannot thrive.

I’ll say it one more time… “Polyamory saved my marriage,” and possibly my life, or at least the quality of my life.  I’ve used these tools with friends, coworkers, children, and clients.  I feel enriched and empowered, and confident that I can tackle anything.  Having my husband and our family on board helps, too, of course.

Marriage Equality

 

So, there’s this guy…

Doesn’t every good story start with “so, there’s this guy”?

In any case, there’s this guy, and we meet at a bar.  I ditch the excruciatingly dull date I’m on, and I bring home a guy from a bar, which is something that, at the precipice of 30 years old, I have never done before.  Another item on some kind of unwritten Bucket List I didn’t know existed.

This guy has a very black and white perspective on life and how the world turns.  He not so much questions my beliefs but preaches his opinion on them like a sermon to save me from a life of ridiculous spirituality and ill-advised relationship decisions.  On the former I stand firm, and there is no doubt in my mind that my faith is unshakable.  He seems frustrated that I won’t try to prove my beliefs, but it is not my responsibility to convince him of their validity or sciency data.  On the latter, however, I waver and bend a little.  I am unsure.  I unearth old doubts and question my faith in myself and the choices I have made over the last decade.  When it comes to believing in myself I am weak.  Things that were once true seem less so.  Things that made my love and my marriage healthy and good for me begin to seem detrimental and lacking.  Hubby and I no longer seem like the strong, loving partnership we once were.

This guy dangles in front of me all the things I’ve wanted in life, but as with most things worth having, it all comes with a price that until recently I have not been willing to even consider.  More questions.  Would I be willing to give up one big piece of who I am now to have a shot at goals I’ve been vying for my entire life?  In the last few years I have resigned myself to a limited path.  I have chalked  up a lot of my dreams and aspirations to bad decisions or believing those things just weren’t meant for me.  Hubby supports me where he can, but more and more reality sets in, and when our goals are in direct conflict mine fall away.  He is always more driven, always a better opportunist, and almost always has more backing and resources.  This is just how it’s always been.

I see myself now at a crossroads where it is integral that I have no doubt in the direction in which I choose to continue my journey.  This is something I’m unprepared for, and it’s a self-portrait I cannot begin to paint.  Can I adapt my current path or must I make a complete break and risk being lost?  This is a question I am unprepared to answer, but how long can I wait for life to make it for me before all the doors close around me?

The big question here is not whether or not I leave but whether or not we can fix the rift that’s grown between us.  It has not gone unnoticed, but I don’t think either of us has been aware of how big it’s gotten.  If we can we will be the solid couple we once were.  If not, it will swallow one or both of us, and we are each too beautiful and unique to be unhappy.  This guy is not my future, but he has prompted me to think about what I want my future to look like and how I can make that happen.  My hope is that a clear idea of just how deep and wide this rift in my marriage is can help us begin to fill it in with healing and love.

And here we are now.  We have faced the end of our story and refused to accept it.   Instead we have once more rewritten our future together.  We still stumble occasionally, but we now have a better understanding of and commitment to this marriage and the promises we’ve made to each other.  The Death card dealt here was not for a finite ending but for a razing and rebuilding, and we are building something strong and wonderful together.

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