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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

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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.

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Admittedly this post is long past due.  Admittedly this lesson is one I should have learned long ago.  Admittedly this is something I should have foreseen.  Admittedly, there’s still a lot I don’t know.

The window between Mabon and Samhain is always a trial for me.  It’s full of landmines…anniversaries of loss and old wounds, PTSD triggers, and every year there’s something new, but every year I come out of it renewed somehow.

I’ve written twice now about the reality of healing and my experience post-Good Girl.  Every single thing I’ve experienced in the year since the show has been a first-time experience, and not all of it has been a smooth transition.  The area I’ve struggled the most has been relationships.  My marriage is improving, but there are bumps in that road as I learn how to speak up for myself.  I got engaged in April to my partner in California, and forging a new serious commitment has shown me how much the past ten years have changed me.  It’s all helped me find pieces of myself I’d forgotten were ever important, but it’s also shown me where the wounds I started healing in 2015 were holding me back from being wholly present in any relationship.

Then there was this new relationship.  It was unexpected, intense, and an all together new experience for me.  Then I botched it.  Oops.  Admittedly there was some hardwiring that needed to be reworked before I tried to start any kind of relationship, especially one I wanted around for a while, but I didn’t know that.  I knew I’d healed a lot.  I knew I was still working on things.  I knew there was no precedent for this in my life, because I had never been this version of myself in a relationship before.  The problem was…I didn’t know how to be that person in a relationship, so I undulated constantly between a healing me and worrying about whether of not I was doing it right.  In addition, I was just starting the long process of getting the medication I needed, and knowing help for my chemical issues was coming but delayed just made all my issues worse.  Neither of us was perfect, but I will accept the parts of the perfect storm that were my fault in tainting what was a strong, healthy, happy relationship.  Lo and behold, just after Mabon we have the fight that precipitates the end, and I spend a chunk of my time trying to sort it all out.  By the end of the first round of serious journeys I realized this was just a symptom of a bigger problem, but it was a tangible one, so I could focus on it.

With this new information, a new series of introspection began.  What was this bigger problem?

As Samhain approached and I began to make my connections to those who had passed in the last year, then those who had passed from my life, the messages I got were clear.  I needed to die.  I’ve spent my entire life fielding suicide attempts and health crises.  I’ve burnt myself to the ground and rebuilt my life numerous times.  I’ve felt dead inside on a regular basis for years.  What I’ve never done is actually die.  What I’ve never done is shed the part of me that cannot be healed.

When Allen Ginsberg first met Lucien Carr and began to really discover himself they decided they needed to die, but their symbolic suicides almost ended in accidental actual suicide, and I was not ready to take that kind of clutz awareness test.  However, part of my spiritual growth this year has involved impromptu rituals and journeys.  It wasn’t pretty or elaborate.  It honestly started with a candle to make the bedroom smell pretty while I started my NaNoWriMo outline, but I quickly found myself immersed in a working to sacrifice myself completely.  You see, when I began to heal I also began to die, an aspect of me anyway, and she was still in there dragging me to the bottom.  In this vision I found myself dredging her up, drowning with her, and emerging as the person I’ve felt calling to me for almost a year.

This new me is still scared sometimes.  She still hurts.  She still bleeds.  She still loves unconditionally and wants to believe the best.  She still tries, takes risks, and she will still fail at things, but this new me is tired of dying slowly.  The worst has happened.  I’ve died, and I’ve survived it.  While I don’t know that this relationship can be salvaged, I do know it’s taught me a very important lesson about myself and several about other people, and it’s been the source of invaluable memories and love.  Does it still hurt if it’s completely over?  That’s human, and I accept that I am human, but I also accept that the world is full of possibility, and I’m tired of being afraid of it.

 

Aloha.

Go now, die and survive it.

bpd2

I was told to write out what I would say to you if I could tell you how to make a relationship work with someone with BPD, someone like me.  For some of you it’s too late.  The damage is done.  I’ve hurt you irreparably, broken trust, and shattered security.  We’ve already reprogrammed our relationship to be what it can despite those things, and I deal with the wave of sadness that hits to think of all the things I lost by not being able to tell you what I needed, by not knowing myself.  Each and every one of you has asked me what I need from a partner, but even as much as I’ve grown in the last couple of years, I couldn’t put them into words until they were worded as advice for someone else.  If that isn’t just the portrait of BPD, I don’t know what is. My hope is that this can clarify some things, maybe starts some dialogues, and definitely give us some blueprints on how to move forward and forge stronger, healthier bonds.

Sometimes I need reassurance that I’m important, and I have said this over and over again.  I don’t need to be your top priority, but I do need to be one of them if you’re going to call me a partner.  Sometimes I need a little extra attention.  Nothing grandiose.  Just a reminder that I’m loved.  It’s never that I don’t believe I am, but it’s nice to hear, see, feel it from you.  I need random messages and occasional outpourings of emotion from you, not constantly, but I need it not to vanish for weeks at a time.

I need you to hear my words not my tone or body language.  I need you to believe my words not take them as passive aggression or sass.

I need to feel secure, and when i ask for clarification on what seemed like a small action to you, I need you to not take it as malice or suspicion.  I’m just trying to understand.  Sudden changes in tone, behaviour, or levels of interaction will be internalized if I can’t mention them to you and get them out of my head, which is running through every reason why it’s all a sign you’re about to leave me.  I’m not saying these changes aren’t natural or understood, especially when something is happening in your life.  I’m just saying I might ask.

I need you to talk to me.  I need you to let me talk.  This all boils down to communication.  I’m going to overthink things, and getting it out helps.  Weird things cut deep sometimes, and all I need is to mention it so it doesn’t fester.  I need to know we can have an open dialogue without you lashing out at me.  It helps me stay calm and rational.

I need you to know I worry about pushing you away.  I worry about being too complicated.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I worry.  Mostly I worry about whether or not you’re happy with me, whether you’re still happy with me, whether you stay because it’s become routine.

I need honesty, even when I might not like it, because I need to trust that you will tell me the bad things along with the good so I don’t constantly wonder what you’re thinking but not saying.

I need balance.  I need you to trust me to handle my issues on my own first before you swipe in to try and fix it, but I also need you to know that if I’m reaching out to you I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t want to add to your stress, and I’m doing what I can and taking steps every day to do it better, but I can’t always do it alone.  It took me a long time to be able to ask for help, and if I do it means I trust you with my life and my heart.  Please understand this.

I need you to know my triggers.  I’ll never ask that you avoid them, because part of learning to cope with them is getting used to processing them, but I do need you to be a little sensitive to the aftercare if you’re going to trigger issues.  I need to know I’m safe having a reaction to things with you.

I need you to give me some control.  I need to feel competent.  I need to feel like you believe I’m competent.  I need you to not be condescending.  I’m an adult, and I’m fully aware of what’s happening and what I need.  When I feel like I’m being coddled, babied, or invalidated it triggers everything, and I forget I’m strong and stop trying.  I need to not stop trying.

I need you to be clear, patient, and observant at times.  Especially when it comes to your needs and issues.

I need you to trust me to adjust my behaviour when I am wrong.  I need you to trust me to understand when you need a little space, but I need you to eventually come back from that space. I need you to trust that nothing I do is malicious, and help me be a better partner.  Lastly, I need you to trust me to be doing everything I can to be a better version of me every day.  I’m not happy being this difficult to live with.  I’m not complacent in it.  I’m not making excuses.

This is not a list of things you have to learn to do for me.  This is a list of things we can learn to navigate together.

I don’t believe we are stuck.  I believe things can be improved even after years of unhealthy habits.  No, you can never really start over, and there will always be old wounds, but healing is a powerful thing, and all of my relationships are strong, or we wouldn’t be in them.

I’ve done a lot of my own reading and research, but maybe it’s more helpful from a voice that’s not mine…

Which is why I’m here.    I was asked whay advice I would give to a partner of someone with BPD.  This is what I said.

Aloha.

 

Go now, feel.

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roller-coaster-300x297

New relationships give us all sorts of opportunities.  A new partner means all these new frontiers to explore, don’t they?  Suddenly we’re interested in couples Wii bowling tournaments and Faberge egg painting, and we make all these plans like they’re blueprints for this new relationship.  Then reality sets in.  Wii bowling happens on a work night, and neither of you can paint a fence let alone a hollowed out egg.  Instantly there are all these unmet expectations.  Now throw in the fact that this is a new person you’re learning, and no matter how many times you’ve dreamily cooed the phrase “it feels like I’ve known you forever” it’s been two months, and you’re still learning to communicate and exist on this planet together.  This is where hopes get let down, miscommunication runs rampant, and because NRE has the happy gauge turned up to High Octane, these small disappointments feel world ending.  Sometimes they feel relationship ending.

This is where real life has to interfere for the relationship to survive, and as comfort levels are established we must be willing to let some of those expectations be set aside for a rainy day, reshaped a little, ot even just released back into the wild.  Maybe you buy a Wii and bowl at home.  Maybe you take a Vino and Van Gogh class one weekend, get smashed, and paint nothing put stick figures and butts.  Maybe you find something else that excites you.  The key is to adapt, because at some point the letdowns get bigger; it’s a fact of life that no relationship, yes even yours, is perfect.  If you can’t handle the reality that your partner hated the recipe you learned because she said she likes lasagna, how are you going to survive when you find out she whistles in her sleep and keeps you awake, when the perfect night out you planned in your head ends up on the couch in pj’s because one of you had an awful day, when tears are in her eyes because you weren’t even aware you’d done something hurtful?  These things will happen, and these little compromises on expectations build the foundation for a relationship that can sustain them.

I’ve said it before.  NRE is a roller-coaster, friends, and sometimes one partner gets off the ride before the other.  What then?  You will never survive this blow if you’ve let every other changed expectation tear at you.  This is where the true strength of a relationship is tested.  This is where you find out what you can do together, and once again you adapt.  This is where love and compassion can mean everything.  This is where reaching out and the little things that define your relationship are imperative, because they’re so easily left behind when the ride is over.

There is no other message here.  Just let that one sink in a bit.

Aloha.

Go now.  Hold on tight.

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

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This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing.   I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle.  What happened behind the scenes was even worse.  I convinced myself I was a fraud.  I convinced myself I was worthless.  I convinced myself there never had been hope for me.  I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself.  Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me.  The power I felt in telling a part of my story.  The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine.  My life.  That was not a lie.  That could not have been false.

I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl.  What I have not written about is the backsliding.  What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed.  What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes.  It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives.  The answer is yes, it’s worth it.  All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.

We’re told healing is hard.  We’re told it’s a process.  We’re told it’s painful.  We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives.  We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens.  What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea.  It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner.  It doesn’t change learned behaviours.  It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness.  It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break.  Healing is not curing.  Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.

The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low.  My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love.  It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin.  In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it.  These things are no longer buried under me.  They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life.  There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.

You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”.  You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.

 

My husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I’m happy he’s happy, but as I’ve mentioned before, poly will draw every insecurity, every self-doubt, every self conceived blight you have ever had, and I am not known for my high self-esteem.  This is not the reason we have issues, honest.  Really that’s because she lied to me, and I hold grudges, which is something else I’m working on.  It’s something I’m constantly working on, but occasionally old habits rear their bitter heads.

Feelings of physical inadequacy can tear down any relationship if you let them, but this has the potential to be detrimental to a poly relationship.  It would be easy for me to think this girl is Hubby’s trophy girl, but it’d be all my own internal baggage.  He has not stopped looking at me or telling me he thinks I’m beautiful.  Our intimacy has not waned or changed in any way. 

 I have no reason to let these fears creep back up inside me, but I admit I sometimes when new partners enter the equation.  When Hubby met his first girlfriend, Emmy, I had just started to be sick with what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.  I was sick, I was weak, and it hurt just to be touched.  For a very long time sex was out of the question.  Emmy, on the other hand, was just starting to explore herself and was loving the new experiences Hubby was able to offer.  Hubby never told me he was disappointed, but it was palpable every time he tried to touch me and my body just couldn’t take the pain.  I felt like a failure as a wife and lover, and while I was happy he was taking this new step in our poly life I also felt a tinge of inadequacy.  It was a very trying time in our marriage, and there were times I listened to the voice that told me he could only stand to stay with his invalid of a wife because he could still get his rocks off somewhere else.  It was an extremely negative thought process that only lead to more negativity.  I grew bitter, resentful, and depressed, and eventually I took it out on him.

The further decline and eventual improvement of my health forced a huge change in attitude and perspective.  I decided that if my marriage was going to survive I needed to stop looking at it as a need for him to find something more desirable.  Instead I learned to celebrate my strengths and experience and know that I am just as desirable to him as I always have been.  He may have someone young and sexy to have fun with, but he still comes home to me with the same heated fervor.   While there is the new shiny factor that comes with all NRE we have a passionate bond that only time and knowing each other’s ins and outs can bring.  I still see the want and need in his eyes, and he lets me know all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful.

In my head I accepted his love and admiration long ago, but I try to keep this perspective in mind whenever the voices of doubt and insecurity, and sometimes a little envy, creep into my heart.  All that comes from negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I act on the venomous emotions and thoughts I become ugly and undesirable, somebody no one wants to be around.  This is when I lose him.  This is when he seeks others not because of his own love and freedom but to be away from me.  It’s not my physical baggage that pushes him away, it’s the mental and emotional.  Luckily that’s something I can fix.

I feel thankful every day that I have someone who joins me in ogling men and women when we’re out, who is overjoyed when he feels he’s snagged a looker and never minds sharing, and who is proud of me when I manage a fine catch myself.  Hubby lets me know constantly that I am his dream woman.  Even on my worst days he reminds me that I’m beautiful, capable, sexy, and smart.  I still catch his eyes watching me, and he is just as playful and romantic as the day we met.  Through ups and downs, problems with other partners, and bad experiences, he has never let me feel ugly or worthless.

So, yes, my husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I am happy he’s happy, and I am learning to forgive and let go of past indiscretions.  I also hear she’s quite fond of me and my body, and I am determined not to let my tainted self-esteem close that door to me.   After all, she’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain tolerance.

compersion

So, in 2012 I wrote this, and wasn’t I cute.  Go ahead.  Read it.  It’s still valuable information, but it merely skimmed the juvenile surface of a much more mature problem.  Also, note my almost defiant optimism that what we now know as The Vanishing Act would not, in fact, be a disaster.  Ok, so Hubby may have been right on that one, but now this is the evidence he needs every time he thinks a new relationship is a bad idea.  I’m surprised there’s not a commemorative plaque on the wall to mark the day in history.

This started out as a post about the balance between having compassion for the growing pains my existing partners experience when a new partner is added without letting it completely destroy my NRE.  Then it morphed, as I began to have more and more conversations about compersion, not only with my partners but with friends.  Here’s the Quick Guide to Compersion.  Or at least what I understand of it.

 

Compersion is unconditional.  It can’t only exist when you’re being doted on just as much as the new partner.  It can’t only exist if my NRE is exactly like it was with you.  It can’t only exist if you’re in some other way occupied.  It compersion isn’t there even when you’re having a hard time processing the new relationship you’re lying to everyone, including yourself.

 

Compersion doesn’t mean not questioning.  If you have concerns you still have to voice them rationally.  If you have disagreements you still have to work through them.  You’re allowed to ask for compromise or whatever you need to process, but compersion requires you to handle it like two adults who love each other.  Isn’t this what it’s all about?  Aren’t you together because you love each other?

 

Compersion doesn’t invalidate growing pains.  You can still have your process, you just can’t use it to be a shyte to everyone else.  You’re more likely, in fact, to get the extra attention and compassion you need if you’re not.  Compersion means understanding and putting the happiness of your partner in the forefront, but it does not mean sacrificing  your own well-being.  It’s your responsibility to address it before it becomes a big scary issue, a fight, or resentment, not your partner’s.

 

What this all boils down to is love, respect, compassion, and balance.  In a relationship, shouldn’t those things exist already?

 

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Demand your balance.

This year I got a rainbow tattoo.  It has other things on it, but I decided on a rainbow to represent my pansexuality in a tattoo about freedom.  I know, I know, there are debates about whether or not those of us who are bi, pansexual, and all other kinds of ridiculous queer nomenclature are allowed to use the rainbow, but I do.  Why?  I like rainbows, and I hate pink.

I give this disclaimer because I have been repeatedly told that I am not allowed to be in the queer club because of my lifestyle, which makes me cringe every time I have to defend myself in a community that preaches acceptance and diversity.  I have had women walk out of dates when they find out I not only continue to sleep with men, but am married to one and not opposed to others.  As a pansexual male who by appearance is very masculine and seemingly heterosexual until you get to know him, my husband  gets it worse.  Most people simply don’t believe bi men exist, and he has been lectured by gay men, lesbians, and even bi women.  This has made both our dating lives a little more complicated than I feel they need to be despite it being the reason we chose polyamory in the first place.

When we first opened our marriage it was just for same-sex partners as a way of being able to express our sexuality honestly and completely.  Let me start by saying that this was never a requirement.  I am perfectly capable and happy having monogamous relationships no matter how my partner identifies.  This was simply a way I had never considered or tried before.  My husband’s first girlfriend, as I’ve mentioned before, was supposed to be part of a triad situation.  However, after our first sexual experience she decided she was not actually bisexual, so I was no longer a part of the equation.  This made a lot of our decisions hard, fast, and undefined.  Had we opened as two heterosexual adults things may not have gotten such a rocky start…then again, it could have been much worse.

My entire life I’ve had to field the assumption that as a bi woman I should just be ok with the man I’m seeing watching every encounter with a female partner, like my sex life exists purely for his fantasies.  Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of threesomes or being a spectacle.  I may be game for the occasional diversion in that direction, but not as standard protocol.  I cannot count how many times ex-boyfriends told me “of course you can see girls!  As long as I can watch!”  This has been a common thread even now that we’re poly.  Many times people seem shocked that I don’t sleep with Hubby’s girlfriend or that once I have a girlfriend of my own I don’t just lend her out to the rest of my household.  Apparently, nobody’s personal taste or chemistry matters in this scenario as long as the plumbing fits.  Hubby and I have shared partners, but that was because we loved the same person not because we wanted to share women.

I really enjoy the fact that I have the freedom to have my marriage and the freedom to put together the family I want to have, regardless of gender or sexuality.  Not all of our partners are queer, and I have never viewed any of my same-sex relationships in a different light than any others.  What really matters is how we interact and love one another and that there is respect and acceptance for everyone.

It really IS that simple.

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