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I once mocked Kamala Devi’s proclamation that she was an expert on relationships because she was involved in so many of them.  This is not always a case in which practice makes perfect, especially in the sense that no two relationships are the same, even within the same household or with any of the same people.  This I know intellectually, but recently I found myself just as guilty of personal assumptions.

Hubby has pointed out to me, not just recently but many times in the past, that I have used poly as a crutch in many ways.  While it has given me the confidence to find people who truly enrich my life and the faith that I am not only lovable but someone people want in their lives, it has also allowed me to hide parts of myself from these same partners as I see fit.  Until recently I have not been completely open to a single one of my partners.

I can’t with any honesty say this is a new behaviour.  I realize how how much I’ve missed and talked myself out of because I built a very intricate suit of armor.  Historically people I have not guarded myself against have hurt me pretty badly, so even those I loved and cherished got the Reader’s Digest of not just my heart but my personality as well.  I built an entire suit of slutty armor and superficial romanticism to avoid even getting deeper than the surface, and if anyone did happen to find a way in I had plenty of booby traps and Sphinxes waiting to deter them from sticking around too long let alone going any deeper.  It worked for a long long time.  Hubby was the first time I found myself completely trusting and comfortable with anyone despite my best wards and precautions, until now.

This brings me to an interesting part of our poly story.  This is the first time Hubby has watched me fall in love.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’s seen me sweet and loving and committed to a new partner, but this is the first time he has seen my process of opening up and giving myself over completely to the experience.  It’s akin to the “awakening” I mentioned before when you watch someone new to poly find that comfort zone where it all clicks.  He is in absolute awe and thrilled for me, but it has also caused him a little anxiety.  I’m not sure he realized it was happening when it was with him, so the intensity of my focus has been slightly unsettling.

I have to admit, friends, that I was just as unsettled.  I am never comfortable being this ridiculous, this vulnerable, or this hopelessly without strategy.  I feel like I’ve lost half the small ration of sanity I had to begin with, and a bit confused and chastising of myself for this kind of reaction over someone who may be a flight risk.  On the other side of the coin, I’m really enjoying the feeling of absolute optimism and naivety I’m allowing myself to uphold.  I am embracing not always feeling like I’m “playing the game” or watching my steps for landmines.  I realize that I’m completely setting myself up to be completely disarmed, and that that leaves me naked in a tornado, but I no longer see that as a devastating thing but an experience to build on.  (Ok, so I’d never expect to survive being naked in a tornado, but you get my drift, Dorothy.)

With my family behind me it’s a much less daunting and terrifying feeling to leave myself on the line for as long as I have been.  It’s something I’ve missed, and something I didn’t revel in much with Hubby because by this point in our relationship we were handfasted and taking new steps.  It reminds me why I love being poly.  Yes, I love the close-knit family we’re starting to form, but I also adore the beginning stages of something really good once I can eschew the self-doubt and insecurities that usually push me to rush through it.

In the end, no matter what happens, this will have been a huge learning experience and a unique opportunity to grow and solidify the bonds of our existing household.  I am quickly learning to enjoy my NRE while continuing to be not just attentive to Hubby but also supportive as he and A experience some tension and growing pains and he has his own reaction to my unexpected insanity.  I am just as quickly learning to not insert myself where doesn’t need it, when my advice is useful and valuable, and how to not take offense when he starts calling me “dude” and talking to me like one of his buddies when we talk about his relationships in particular.  This is an interesting new level in our marriage, and one that I think will ultimately bring us closer and make us stronger.

For the first time in a long time I can say that I am content and really enjoying where my life is at the moment.  I am feeling the best parts of the stage each relationship is in and ignoring the parts that would normally wound me until I added armor and a padlock.  This is what healthy love feels like in complimentary levels of deeply, committed dedication and flirty, blossoming adoration.  Feels like the perfect place to spend Mabon, in balance.

Aloha.

Go now, stop thinking about it so much!

Rollerblades

I got my first learner’s permit when I was fifteen, and I was terrified, which was unusual for the girl who would careen down an uneven driveway on rollerblades or hop around in the snow on a broken foot, but I was.  I had never been good at race video games, and my ability to ride dirt bikes and motorcycles provided no comfort.  I had nightmares.

I was terrified, but I tried to get over it.  Then I over-corrected and hit a pole, and my confidence vanished.  My father tried but I was jumpy.  My grandparents tried, enrolling me in private lessons, and though I knew how I lacked assurance.  I took the test once, and I failed it, before the State of California decided my diabetes was too “out of control” to safely operate a motor vehicle and revoked my driving privileges outright.  It was a tough blow, but a part of me was slightly relieved.

I moved to Pennsylvania and lived in the city with no need to even think about my license.  I learned to use public transportation in several different cities, and made myself proficient at getting around almost anywhere.  It was a pain, it really was, but I justified it to myself pretending it was easier than having a car in the city.

Eventually I moved out of the city, and I began to consider driving again.  I prepared myself for months, but a week before I had planned to take the written test the driver of a car I was in ran a red light and t-boned a minivan.  The mild concussion and bleeding kidneys that landed me in the hospital for days and out of work for weeks were nothing compared to the damage done to my confidence.  I could hardly handle being in a car let alone the thought of driving one.  I had panic attacks almost constantly, and the nightmares returned at once.

It was right after this event that I met Hubby, and if nothing else he was immersion therapy.  The first day he met me at home we talked until I missed my bus, so the only choice was to have him whisk me to work, and whisk he did.  I don’t remember kissing the ground as I climbed out of his car, but I may have.  From there it’s been years of this kind of therapy on his part.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband can drive anything with wheels and some without, but that knowledge is little comfort to someone with my level of trepidation.

Last year I was finally ready.  After years of the longest public transportation hike I could ever imagine I was ready to take the next step.  The only thing that stood in my way was California. We went through countless phone calls and forms, and for almost a year I fought for the fact that I am functioning just fine as a diabetic and not a danger to society.  The day they found out I live 3,000 miles away they sent me the papers saying I was cleared.

The day I got my permit it was pouring and dark, perfect day to ignore a fear, right?  Hubby had me drive him in what I’m sure was a Pennsylvania monsoon, and I did better than I expected I ever could.  Since then he’s had me driving him around like a personal chauffeur, and while I am still nervous in some spots I can feel my confidence growing daily.  I am actually excited sometimes about driving, something I never thought possible.  Hubby has been an excellent instructor, something else I never though possible, and I cannot thank him enough for the patience and support his has shown through this process.  Now if only I could learn to parallel park.

The festival of Mabon marks the beginning of the dark part of the year.  The leaves are falling, the days are shortening, and the air is starting to chill.  It is not yet winter, but a fair part of the bounty has come and gone.  To our ancestors it was a lot more scary and unstable of a season than it is now, but we still carry that inherent link within us.  Yes, we can go to a grocery store for food, and we have electric and gas heaters whenever we need them, but there is still that intuitive feeling of darkness for those of us who feel the seasons.

This isn’t a bad thing.  The darkness is imperative to growth and change.  The darkness challenges us to look deeper within and rid ourselves of impediments and weakness.  The darkness forces us to face our fears and uncertainties head-on and learn from them.

I admit for much of my life I either lived in the darkness or ignored it.  The constant state of imbalance meant I was spinning my wheels when it came to any progress in my life.  Living in darkness I missed a lot of opportunities and lost my way a few times.  Avoiding it I not only neglected an important part of myself but allowed myself to be comfortable and what I thought was content.  In reality all it did was let the darkness grow, until it demanded attention.  At that point I was back at living in the darkness.  It’s a detrimental cycle to be sure.

I am still learning to not fear the darkness, to take it as it comes, and to let it go.  I am still learning to understand that in order for there to be light there must also be dark.  I am still learning to not consider darkness “bad” or “evil”.  I am still learning to accept that the path is not always well-lit, well-worn, or easily travelled.  If it were I would be getting nowhere.

This year we’ve been blessed with a lot of light, but it took us a long trudge through the darkness to get there.  Issues with partners and our marriage made us recognize things we needed to resolve to be a stronger couple.  Those same issues brought up individual insecurities and resentments from our respective pasts that needed to be addressed before we could progress in our life together.  Losing jobs and our house brought us closer to family.  On my end it bolstered me to work harder to provide for my household and forced us to learn to save and budget.  It also gave us the opportunity to pay off debts that have been blights on our credit for years.  Health problems have given me a better look at where and how I need to take better care of my body, spirit, and self in general.

It’s been a rough step in our lives together and separate,  but it’s been necessary and in a positive direction.  There’s still work to be done, and as we enter another dark season I wonder what it will bring,  but I’m learning not to fear it but to embrace and learn from it knowing I will come out a better me on the other side.  I know things will come to me as I am ready and able to handle them, and I know that my faith will get me through with a little support and love from my community and my family.

Welcome to the dark time, my friends.  What will you learn about yourself this year?

*Namaste*

The Atlantic Ocean and I have always had disagreements.  I always figured she knew I grew up on the West Coast and knew my loyalty to the Pacific.  Before this past weekend I had been to the beach twice.  Both times I spent maybe five minutes in the water before I was somehow injured or almost drowned, so when Hubby suggested we take a trip to Gunnison Beach, a clothing optional beach in New Jersey, I was a little hesitant. 

More the geographical feud between oceans, my main issue with the beaches in New Jersey is that they don’t allow flotation devices.  I get nervous in giant bodies of water that could easily suck me in and swallow me without even trying, especially when I have nothing to cling to if I can’t swim anymore.  If I’m in over my waist, I generally want something that can hold me on top of the water.

When we arrived at Sandy Hook National Park at 10am, it was already over 90 degrees.  The sand scorched our feet, and the ice in the coolers was melting quickly.  I had no recourse but to spend a good amount of time in the water if I was going to avoid heat exhaustion.  I was also going to be doing it among throngs of naked people.

Now, my friends, your dear Autumn does not have the highest self-esteem.  A trip to a clothing optional beach was as much about getting over myself as it was about getting over my hesitation with the ocean.  So, I did what any self-respecting wife, mother, and woman would do; I got naked. 

Normally when I get into the water at the beach I ease myself in to a comfort zone about thigh high.  Something about being completely naked and only in the water up to my thighs made me terribly uncomfortable, and the other people in our beach party had gone ahead and left me on the wrong side of the breakers.  I also still have an injured knee, which made the force of the undertow at that level almost unbearable.  My choices were to slow roast on the sand or move to deeper waters.  I decided to make my peace with the Atlantic.

We had a few rough moments.  I resisted rhythm the water and the ocean smacked me int he side of the head with a few early breaks, but once that was all over the Atlantic and I had a new respect for each other.  By the end of the day we were best friends, and I was sad to leave.  I have always had a fondness for the ocean despite my trepidations. Like I mentioned in my last post, I have always connected and communicated with Water the most.  The difference between the two coastal oceans is amazing.  Their energies are unique, and a different approach and interaction is required. 

This is not a post about the ocean’s energies.  That will come later.  This is a post about me overcoming fears and personal demons.  This is about me being naked and not once worrying about who was looking or how ugly they thought I looked.  This is about me being so deep in the ocean I couldn’t touch bottom and not only not panicking, but feeling free.  This is about me growing yet again, and loving every minute of the growing pains.

At the end of the day Hubby asked me for a lesson, something he rarely does.  I know it took a lot for him to get over the fact that I’m his wife and his peer and let me be his teacher for a moment, but it was just as much for me as it was for him.  There I was literally in my element doing what I have always been meant to do.  Teach, nurture, heal.  I can’t do any of that with fear or hesitation in my heart or my faith.  I can’t do any of that if I can’t believe in myself.  That day I learned what it meant to be whole.

What does it mean for you, my friends?

Go now, find your freedom.

Namaste.

(I apologize, yet again, for interrupting a series…something tells me I need to write this NOW  I also apologize for its length.)

You heard it here, dear readers, and it is no secret that yours truly does not have and has never had a driver’s license.  I had a permit when I was sixteen years old, but I failed my first test because of a parallel parking issue and the new insurance card was not in the vehicle for my second attempt.

My first hurdle came from the State of California.  As a diabetic I had to have my doctor fill out a five page questionnaire regarding my health.  At the time I was having a lot of problems with my insulin routine, but no one seemed to want to help me smooth out the areas where I was having issues.  Still, I was not losing consciousness, I was never in the hospital, and my ability to function was in no way impaired.  My pediatrician was always certain I was lying about taking my shots, but that is a topic for another time, and wrote on the form that “with diabetes there is alway’s a chance something can go wrong”, so the Department of Motor Vehicles revoked my driving privileges.  This was a week before I was to move to Philadelphia, where I would have no need or use for a car, so I dropped the issue and learned to take the bus.

Even then I never felt comfortable at the wheel of a car.  I would have dreams where I was driving but could not keep control of the vehicle.  Either the car stopped responding to the wheel turning, I could not reach the pedals to adjust the speed or stop at intersections, ot a myriad of other panic inducing scenarios.  I could tell I was not ready to be a driver.  I could ride a bike, motorcycle, or scooter.  I could even drive a boat or a 4-wheeler, but mention driving a real car ona real roadway and I would have panic attacks.

My second speed bump came just as I decided I needed a license here in Pennsylvania.  A week or so from getting my permit I was on my way to a play at a Shakespeare Festival.  They tell me the light was red.  For all I know it was Royal Blue with gold inlay.  What I did see was a van in our path.  It did not register that we were going to collide with it until three seconds after we did.  Seat belts locked, airbags deployed, and my brain imbibed a sound and smell I will never forget.  When I opened my eyes, all I saw was white smoke and the airbag deflating.   My glasses and my right shoe had been knocked off, and I was certain in my mind that my driver was trapped, so I ran to the driver side to see how bad the situation had become.  It took little coaxing to get him out of the car to safer ground which was the middle island until help arrived as a couple Good Samaritans called for help and made sure we were alright before police ad ambulance arrive.  I set my focus on retrieving things we would need from the folded Volvo and managed to get our glasses, wallets, my shoe, and my bag containing my airport badges and insulin from the front seat, but by then the pain was taking over my sense of deliberation.    Panic had not yet kicked in, but once at the hospital I immediately felt nauseated, and the triage nurse handed me a shallow kidney-shaped pink basin to throw up in should I feel the need.  It seemed an ineffectual receptacle to me, so I prayed I would not actually need to make use of it.  I was taken back to the ER where I was introduced to Dr Charming.  They hooked me up to a heart monitor, and IV of fluids, and a blood pressure monitor that appeared to be connected by a coaxial, and I wondered whether I got HBO.  They then ran tests and set me up in a hospital gown to compliment the skirt I had planned to wear to the play.
Apparently the one person who did not know I was a diabetic was Dr. Charming, and he held me personally accountable for not disclosing such information immediately.   So, when I asked for a cup of water I received a Styrofoam cup with “Jenn does not reveal medical history” emblazoned across the side of it.  Obviously, Dr. Charming was in the mood for a smartass competition, so I scribbled “Jenn is a Type I diabetic” across the other side and made sure he was given my cup. Dr. Charming was not as good at tolerating as much smartassness as he was at dishing it out, so my cup was returned by him with “a PITA” added to “Jenn is”.  “It’s an acronym,” he informed me with a smirk, “know it?”  Touche, Dr Charming, now give me the news.  The result was a bruised kidney, possible internal bleeding, three months without work because I was unable to lift anything, and a battle with Esurance that was never resolved or paid out.  They could not believe that, as someone with no car or license, I did not have car insurance nor did I live with anyone who did have it.  I am still paying for the loss of wages and the coverage I was supposedly entitled by the insurance company, and it took me years to be able to be in a car and not have panic attacks or not hold the handle or seatbelt nervously.

This brings us to today, mere weeks from taking my first driving test in almost a decade.  The weather is bad, and I am in an extremely light car on the turnpike.  We hydroplane and we fishtail, but the friend driving maneuvers out of it beautifully.  A second later we catch something and swerve quickly into the median, sending us bouncing across traffic into the right hand lane.  K is upset, but we manage to pull the car over to the shoulder and check for damages.  We are safe, but the car is totalled.  We see several accidents throughout the day that are far worse than ours, but we are shaken.  We sit in the tow truck for over an hour and a half while the driver and his coworkers try to pull out a car that had gone off the road, up a forty-foot embankment, and into a wheat field.  We spend another couple hours in the town truck office trying to find a rental car dealer open after noon on a Saturday.  Finally one of the workers offers to drive us to the airport to pick up a rental car.

Despite all this, I am calm.  I am not afraid to get behind the wheel of a car.  I am not afraid to drive.  I have let go of these fears.  Am I cautious?  Of course, but I am no longer afraid of an accident.  They happen.  One piece of advice from the Tree last weekend was to cast away the fears that no longer serve me, because they are now holding me back.  Nothing here can hurt me in ways that can not be healed.  I am ready for my next step.  I am ready to grown, even if it is something as mundane as getting a driver’s license at the age of 26.  In a way I can find the positive in today.  This was my test, and I passed.

Now, my friends.  Go cast away the fears that no longer serve you.

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