Category Archives: community

Joy

Two years ago, things blew apart with Wash. Hurting, and lonely, and facing a quiet summer without him, I turned to the modern lonely hearts club, the Internet. And I found on Twitter a sweet and funny guy who was bored at work and wanted to chat about all sorts of things. And we became close friends, and pretty soon, my day didn’t feel right if I hadn’t heard from him in the morning. And I’d go on dates, and would leave them feeling unsatified, because the person I wanted to be dating wasn’t them. It was him. 

And I was deeply unhappy, not realizing that the Bitch had snuck through a crack in my defenses and ravaged me again, so stealthily this time, I didn’t even realize it happening, instead blaming my marriage and my breakups and my job for my deep sense of sadness and dread. I couldn’t sleep in my bed, so I resigned myself to uncomfortable nights in the couch, further eroding my closeness with my husband. I felt friendships begin to crack, and even though I had a new job that I loved and wanted very much, I felt like I was failing, drowning in the darkness.

The bullshit thing about mental illness is how your own brain lies to you. The Bitch will tell you that you are fine, that everything else is fucked up, and convince you that the problem belongs to everyone else and it’s their job to fix it. 

The Bitch whispers sweetly in your ear that you are alone, that you are doomed to fail, and that no one cares anyhow. She convinces you that fighting is pointless, so why bother.

Something in me was strong enough to realize that I needed to fight.

And I couldn’t do it for myself. It had to be for someone else.

There used to be a spot I drove past, every night on my way home from work. There was a break In the fence, there, and no guardrail, and every time I drove past it, I would think of how easy it would be to drive off the road, drop the many feet down to the freeway below. I could see myself doing it, see the crash scene, the emergency crews, everything. But then I would see my husband, widowed, and trying to explain to the kids what happened. I’d see my mom, losing another child to mental illness. I’d see my kids, my sensitive and gentle son and my daydreaming wisp of a girl child, and I’d keep driving. I’d spend another restless night caught in invasive thoughts of falling off cliffs and bridges, waking to a panic attack and wanting to vomit. 

Heavy stuff for a blog post titled “Joy”, but bear with me here.

I realized a few weeks ago, that I had always fought for other people. I needed to beat my illness for them, for my husband and my kids and my mother, because they counted on me. My mental illness, the depression and anxiety and ADD, was something I needed to overcome because they needed and deserved a healthy mother, wife, daughter, friend. 

I didn’t think I was worth fighting for, on my own. My language was never that I deserved to be a healthy person. 

Last year, that sweet and funny Twitter friend flew up here to visit me. We’d never met in person, and I was scared of what might happen. I was scared that the spark that was online wouldn’t exist in the real world; I was more scared of what would happen if it was. I was in a new job, a position I had coveted and worked hard for.

I was miserable.

Everything hurt, all the time. I barely slept. My marriage felt, to me, like it was falling apart. I felt like I was under-qualified for my new position, and I badly missed my children and my friends. The spark was there with my new partner, and the Bitch was right there with it, telling me he’d never come back, that the happiness I’d felt with him would be snatched away too. Finally, a romantic weekend I had planned with my husband had fizzled. I spent it sad and weeping. My depression snatching away another chance at happiness. 

That week, I went to my doctor. I started medical treatment.

And, I just realized recently, that was the very first time in my life that I made the decision to get well, to fight like hell, FOR MY SELF. 

I finally realized that I was a whole person who deserved to be healthy and well and happy. I realized that I was the best person to fight for. That I deserved a shot at joy.

This year, I had the strength to go to a con, with my partner, Ziggy.  We went to Furlandia, here in Portland, and It was amazing . We had a magical weekend together. My husband and his new parter took the kids to the coast that weekend, and we all got together for dinner that Sunday night to share stories and celebrate Ziggy’s birthday.

And I was awash in something I hadn’t felt except in brief glimpses through the worst years of my illness. 

I felt joy.

I see the pictures of myself from the con and I don’t recognize me. My body is relaxed, comfortable, not twisted and tense from pain. I’m laughing, hard. That weekend, I danced. The joy is there, in every line and freckle.

And in my falling dreams? I no longer wake sweating and shaking, bracing for the fall. in those dreams, a breeze catches me, and I grow wings, and I soar.

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Summer’s End

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday.

And with that, the summer that had started with a whirlwind and so much drama has drawn, quietly and easily, to a close.

I’m doing well. I had meant to write more, to create more. But long weeks at work got in the way. I’ve not harvested much this summer, I’ve not done much canning. I’ve been busy, working for the most part, enjoying these fleeting moments with the kids.

We adopted a new cat this summer. He’s a lovely long-haired boy named Bing. The dog seems to like him. The other cats endure him. I’ve done plenty of knitting. I finished a hat and a pair of socks, and I started a sweater. I did not go camping this year, but the kids and Mr Awesome did and they had fun. I’ve been to Powells a few times, and the beach once, and I have done very little hiking, and no eventing at all. And I’m ok with all that.

I haven’t heard from Wash, and I miss him a lot.

This summer has been long and hot and dry. I feel parched, ready for the autumn rains, and hopeful for snow this winter.

There are new beginnings at this season change. Both kids are in school for full days, and for the first time in a decade, my weekdays belong, primarily, to myself. I find myself wishing Wash was still in my life, to enjoy this time with me… It was something we had talked about, the chance to spend afternoons together this year, once I had them free. But life changes, and moves on. I’m certain he is where he wanted to be, and I have let that part of my life fade into the past, where it belongs.

I’ve been on a few dates. One, terrible and terribly humorous, ending with me so thankful for an escape that I got on a train out of the city without a thought to whether it was even going the correct direction. I might write about that one later; it was a funny experience. I had a date, yesterday, which went amazingly well, with no need for a public transit rescue. But over all, It’s been a season of being monogamous, which hasn’t fit very well, and has felt strange and awkward. But it’s been good, too. It’s been good for my marriage; a good chance to reconnect with my husband without the distraction of other partners. Also, a chance to connect better with Velah, and (I hope) help her through a pretty rough patch.

I’ve escaped the seasonal cycle, this year. There’s been a few rough days, but, by and large, the bitch in the corner has stayed in her corner, and the depression hasn’t taken me as it has in the past. I am very, very thankful for that.

Tonight, I can hear the frogs outside my window and think of the rain that will soon replace them. I’m eager for the rain, for the change in seasons. I’m eager to see what’s on the horizon, to see how my children grow this year, and how the change.

And for me? New lovers, perhaps. New friends, certainly. New experiences, without a doubt.

And at the center of it all, I stand, living and laughing and loving.

Happy autumn to you all.


Single

Somehow, in the busy-ness of life, I’ve managed to not write since February. I haven’t needed to. Life has been full and fulfilling and fun.

And then last week happened.

I had the perfect weekend planned with Wash. My kids and my husband were out of town. He came over, and we made love and are deli sandwiches for a late dinner and we stayed up late watching anime. We went out for a huge breakfast the next day and went for a long walk and watched more anime and he went home.

And I’m not sure how everything happened afterward… He’d told me his girlfriend knew about our weekend, but it turns out she didn’t. He had told me she knew how close we were, but she didn’t. He had told me a lot of things, and I’m not sure how true any of them were, anymore. I know what I believed, that he was stuck in a relationship that he really wanted out of, that he clung to our time together as a source of peace and renewal. I had told him his relationship seemed unhealthy, to seek help and to, possibly, get out of the relationship so he could heal and learn who he really is.

He decided to stay with her. And I hope they can make it work. I really do.

But I know that means there is no place for me in his life now.

Because so much has been said out of context, behind people’s backs. Because confidences have been broken and lies have been told and people have been badly hurt. I was called some hurtful, horrible names, and it’s time for me to be done.

He asked for time. I told him I loved him, always. He said he loved me too, and good night, for now.

And I know that the last I will likely hear from him.

The two of them an have their life. I wish them the best. I never wanted them to break up, except when I thought it was an unhealthy place for both of them to be. I never wanted to replace her… simply to have a place of my own. And ultimately, if I had known that she did not know how close the two of us were getting, I would not have allowed the relationship to progress like it did. If I had known that she did not give her blessing or consent, I would have bowed out much, much earlier. Before things got so heated. Before they got so intense.

Before I fell in love. Before he loved me back.

So.

After five years of other partners and lovers, I’m, essentially, single again, at least from the poly perspective. My boss asked if I was taking a break from dating, and I said I think I am. I have Mr Awesome. He’s the best husband a girl could ask for. He’s been amazing throughout this whole crazy couple of weeks. I have Velah, who lets me cook for her and brings me Starbucks cards. I have Jirris and Moredena who send me concerned texts, and the amazing girls at work and my twitter peeps.

In other words, single. But not alone. Never alone. Not with the amazing people I have around me.

I’ll heal. It’s summer. There will be harvests and picnics and July 4th and my birthday. I have my art and my work and just maybe I’ll be a little better about writing here again. I’m thinking it’s me who needs the break, after having two relationships end in the last eight months. Take some time to get to know my own head again, recover from the hurt and bewilderment of how things crashed and burned so quickly with Wash.

Time, I think, to dip my toes in the ocean, examine my belly button for a while, and let the universe carry me along to my next destination.


A Rose By Any Other Name

I don’t fit into a box very well.

I know, I know, big surprise there.

I’ve given up on trying to use language to define who or what I am, either to myself, or to other people. I am simply Me. I take up a Me-shaped space, have my experiences, live my life, love my loves.

Oh, if I am pressed, I can rattle off a list of labels. I’m a mom – but if you call me a soccer mom, I will bitch you out for it. Even if I drive an SUV, even if my kids play soccer. Ahem. Anyhow… I’m a wife, and a friend, and a girlfriend, and a daughter. I’m poly. I’m queer, and currently I’m a little bit butch. I’m an artist. I’m a blogger. I’m a writer.

Wash was saying last night that he thinks what he and I have doesn’t really fit poly well. To me, it fits the definition of poly perfectly… people with multiple loves with everyone being open and honest with everyone else involved. But then, according to Mr Awesome, we don’t fit traditional poly very well, simply by the length of our relationships… his tend to last two or so years, our marriage has lasted  more than 16 years, and my other relationships tend to be more long-term, also.

But we still define ourselves as poly.

And I think Wash is trying to figure out where he fits in the community, all of this still being very new to him and to his girlfriend.

He and I spent a lot of time cuddled up last night. He needed some emotional support, and, to be honest, so did I. There’s been a lot going on recently, and it was nice to be able to air it out.

And he asked that awful question, the one that I dread…. The question that tries to label a relationship. As if a label validates it…

“What are we, exactly, to one another?”

I don’t love boyfriend-girlfriend, and to him, those labels don’t fit. He’s never been married, he’s always been a boyfriend or a fiancée, so he sees it differently than a married poly person might. He threw out that I’m his mistress, but I countered with the argument that that doesn’t fit as he isn’t married. It’s more like he’s my mistress, except he very emphatically is not female. I know some in the community call their other loves “sweeties” but I’ve never liked that, it sounds too cutesy. Friends with benefits might have fit, earlier on, but we have grown too close for that now. So we settled on lovers, and I like the sound of that. It fits as well as anything else, I guess.

That being said, I don’t tend to label my relationships any more than I tend to label myself. I’ve hurt people, before, when they have pushed me for a label and they got an answer that was true in that moment but not precisely true always. And I felt bad, but didn’t know what to do to fix it, because once those words are out in the open, you can’t un-say them. And I’ve never gone for hierarchal polyamory, where partners as assigned rank based on their position in one’s life… Except for one case. Mr Awesome is, unequivocally, my primary partner. He is my husband, and the other half of my being, and my world kind of doesn’t turn without him in it.

But, I do recognize that these labels are important to other people. It helps them find their sense of self, to figure out where they fit in this complex community as well as the world at large. And with that in mind, I’m happy to play along the best I can. Ultimately, if it’s important to the people I love, than it is important to me, too.

Read more on my thoughts about labels:
Labels
Effing Hippie
Ooh Shiny

And always, feel free to leave comments below… I love to hear people’s thoughts about what I have to say.


Grieving

I don’t even know where to begin this… and please forgive me for being all over the place tonight.

Superman died this week.

Ok, so he wasn’t really Superman, but to someone, he was. And he was obsessed with Superman. One of my clearest and earliest memories of him is his Superman belt buckle and matching Superman earring.

Four. That’s the number of losses in my circle in the last couple of years.
Mitch
Erica
Penny
Slash

Mitch died of a broken heart. Literally. His stopped working. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but I knew through the magic of Facebook that he was very ill. He was the first person I ever danced with. We were in the seventh grade and he was wearing a soft green sweatshirt. And his heart stopped working. He was the first person I knew that was my age that died.

Erica was my friend The Hag’s older sister. She died in a car wreck, last summer. I didn’t know her at all, but I went to her funeral to support The Hag. Because I had to. Because I’ve been through loss and I wanted to be a shoulder for an old friend.

Penny was Mr Awesome’s first long relationship after we opened back up. She died from a seizure. I’ve written about her before, in this post.

Slash was partnered to Penny from while she and Mr Awesome were dating until the day she died. I knew him from before that, when he was dating my co-worker’s step-daughter. He’s been on the periphery of my life for more than a decade.

Slash loved Penny with everything he had, and when she died, he kind of stopped, too. And this week, he decided to join her, and he shot himself.

My former co-worker messaged me last night to tell me. And while I can’t say I am surprised, I am still sad. I am sad that he never healed, that he never moved on. I’m sad for the loss and the waste.

And I hope that, somewhere, he is back with Penny and he has found his peace.

When you are poly, and the metamour of someone your spouse dated years ago, who has also passed, dies, how do you grieve?

How do you tell someone the odd depth of connection you have to this person? It was hard when Penny died, too, trying to explain to the people we weren’t out to why we were hurting so badly over someone we hadn’t seen in about a year. Telling my co-worker that there I knew some folks who knew Slash who would be interested in any information about a service seemed like a limpid half-truth. Telling the head Soccer Mom this morning that an old friend had died seemed like an injustice to the person he was and the place he held in our lives, as well as a complete cover-up of everything I am.

I’m realizing I have some thinking to do about these questions. And I don’t know what the answers will be – there is no Miss Manners for dealing with the tangled webs of relationships, lovers, friends, and everything in between that comes with living this lifestyle. All of this is new… coming out of the closet and when and to whom, outings as an uncertain triad to poly weddings, huge family photos, the “room mate” that is really a lover, and the grieving for former lovers and their partners. The hard truth is that the language does not yet exist to convey the emotions we feel about these people and experiences. How can we give voice to these emotions when the English language has not yet addressed the basic structure of the polyamory community? Indeed, at this point, we don’t really even have the groundwork laid for a community, because how polyamory looks and acts and feels varies so greatly from one person or family group to the next.

Big questions, rooted in heartache, and no answers for the foreseeable future.

Penny danced again on Monday night, in my dreams. She laughed and she smiled and she was happy. She was the girl I remembered, my friend, my husband’s lover.

I understand that Monday was the day Slash died, and maybe, in whatever existence comes after this one, she found her Superman again.

 

 


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