For Valentine’s Day, I’mma love myself.

Recently, I’ve been terrified I was failing everything in life. I’ve felt behind, buried beneath, and bassackwards.

Turns out, I have been failing spectacularly.

I’ve been failing myself.

I have been my own worst enemy, afraid of my body. I had a resurgence of sexiness last year, but it dwindled by the end of the year and vanished completely in the last two months or so. I’ve become afraid it would drive those I love away, as it felt like it had in the past. It doesn’t help that two partners in my life have told me that they were no longer sexually attracted to my body because of it’s size. The first time it happened was devastating. The combination of derision in that partners’ eyes, along with the words that shot from their mouth was something I’ve spent years battling. The second time it happened made my heart sink but I also was able to hold my head up and have a discussion about it. There were tears. A lot of tears. I went for a drive. Had a conversation with a dear friend who reminded me to love myself, first and foremost.

Then I also remembered a scene recently where I was petrified to take off my clothing. I was not ordered to. In fact, Sir told me to get down to the lowest form of undress that I felt comfortable with. But with another wonderful person’s help, I got to the point where I thought, “was I really going to protect myself by keeping my pants and bra on? And if my body was going to drive him away, wouldn’t I want to know that now? And why would I want to be with someone like that anyway?” Something stronger than my fear told me I could trust the situation, Sir, and the scene.

So, I stripped to my panties and got to my knees where I belonged.

The scene was amazing and brought me places I haven’t been in years. During aftercare, though, my brain kicked in again and I got scared. Sir made me talk through the shit my brain was telling me and the conversation we had went something like this:

Me: I’m not good enough.
Sir: Wrong.
Me: I’m not pretty enough.
Sir: Wrong.
Me: I’m not submissive enough.
Sir: Very wrong.
Me: I’m too fucked up for you.
Sir: *laughter* Nope.
Me: I’m too old.
Sir: Nope.

By the end of that conversation, I felt more centered and safe again. Later, though, it kept banging around in my head. Apparently, it didn’t fully resonate until I was able to internalize and believe the answers myself. It’s a daily fight to believe it. But I’m prepared to fight. I posted a pic about three weeks ago from a scene back in November at GKE: Classic. It’s taken me over two months to post it because of body image issues.

Also, I started writing this post three weeks ago when I posted that pic and it’s taken three revisions to finally not be afraid posting it.

For some reason, it’s easy for me to see that my friends and partners and metamours are gorgeous and glorious, regardless (or maybe because) of their color, size, gender presentation, hairness, religion or lack thereof, mental health issues, neural diversity, etc. I think variety is good, healthy, necessary. One of my favorite quotes is still from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves:

“Allah loves wondrous variety.”

If this is the case, why is it so fucking hard to apply this to myself? Especially since I’m poly and have multiple partners? One would think that that would be enough to correct my brain, like, “hey, you’ve got multiple partners of different types. Why you no think you pretty?”

Because it goes beyond beauty. Because it’s also sexiness. And sex. I mean, society in general still has a fucking hard time being okay with the fact that not just young, thin, straight, white cis people fuck. Old people do. Fat people do. People of all ethnicities and genders and all kinds of people do (except some ace spectrum people…I see you, too…technically am still one of you to a certain extent.).

And I’ve had a really, really hard time admitting that/when I want attention. That elusive feeling of being desired. When it starts coming up, I hide. Retreat. Say I don’t need anything. The few times makeout sessions happened recently in the last few months have been stupid fucking difficult for me because I don’t think that the other person really wanted it to happen, even with what seemed like enthusiastic consent. It kind of impedes things, especially that being desired thing, if I don’t believe or trust that the person on the other end actually desires me when they are actively showing me that they do.

See, as a submissive, I’ve always loved to please those I care for, both in nonsexual and sexual service (for those with whom I have that type of relationship). It means I tend to initiate things in established relationships. Or used to. And back when I identified as a lesbian a million years ago, I thought I was a stone butch. I’m currently pansexual, and realizing that it wasn’t so much that I solely preferred to please my partner and not have it reciprocated so much as, at some point, I got scared to accept attention, especially in the sexual sphere. I have a hard time believing and trusting anyone could be attracted to me. I tend to need to be hit with a clue by four before I’ll even consider that someone could be sexually interested in me.

That one partners’ eyes come back to me and I’m thrown back, suddenly thinking, feeling this new person is going to wind up looking at me the same way, if they weren’t already. That my body is too big, my breasts are too weirdly small, and my double chin was eventually, if not right now, going to make them sneer at me. And even when I get past all this self-berating talk and difficulty from the past, I may or may not spend awhile asking if it’s real. And even then I may or may not spend a little longer thinking, “sure, okay. You like me now. But when is the other shoe gonna drop? When is the love in your eyes going to turn to disgust?” Might as well beat them to the punch, right? Tear myself down before anyone else can?

What? That’s served me ever so well.

*sigh*

Yeah, I don’t believe me either.

What I’m realizing is that I’ve spent so much time drawing my sense of value, worth, and sexiness based on what other people thought of me. In the relationship with the partner who chose an incredibly hurtful way to tell me they weren’t attracted to me anymore and why, sex had been falling off gradually and I felt like I had to beg (not in the good way) for any attention or interaction. That takes a toll. I think I kind of gave up. Decided I wasn’t worth it.

It took reading a post on Fet to make me understand how desperately I’d wanted someone(s) to be demonstratively, publicly proud of me so I could use it to try to constantly fight the feeling that anyone with me must be secretly ashamed of me and eventually going to leave me for someone younger and thinner and better.  That I’ve craved public displays of affection and dominance because my own self esteem says if it’s not happening, they don’t want it to happen because there’s something wrong with me. That I have a hard time talking about sex because I’m certain if it’s not happening or hasn’t happened in a long time, my body must be what’s wrong. And if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s clearly because they don’t want me. Not any number of other reasons, including, as I’ve recently been hit over the head with, hey…other people have fears and insecurities, too, and they may not want to push me or be sure that I’m attracted to them. These are not easy things to admit. But it’s not fair to try to use someone else to be a buffer or balm to things I have to deal with in myself.

So! I’ve recently tossed all those negative fucks out the window. I’mma love myself first.  I’m not going to draw my self worth from what someone else thinks of me. Or, I’m gonna endeavor not to. It is still a journey. My plan is to seek out people who want to explore and have fun with me and we’ll figure out what that means and what we do as we go along by talking directly to each other. It’ll be different with each person because we’re all unique people. I’m going to stop being my own worst goddamned enemy and running scared before I even get close to someone so they can’t hurt me first. I will hold my head up and rediscover my own fucking fuckableness.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. No matter who you’re with or not with or what kind of relationship style you’re in, may you find a center of love in yourself for yourself. As for me, life is kind enough to line up with these epiphanies I’ve been having and I’m spending Valentine’s Day night having dinner with a dear friend and picking up a vanity she’s giving me. If that’s not a message, I don’t know what is.

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A year of evolving love and kink

So. 2016 was fucking rough. If you’re one of the few people for whom it wasn’t rough, mazel tov and I’m incredibly happy for you. I hope for more good things for you in 2017. But for me? And many of the people I love and are close to? 2016 was massive What The Fucking Fuck year. It tore through with a staggering number of celebrity deaths, unprecedented change, massive amounts of life shifts, and some of the worst pain, confusion, and turmoil I’ve had to go through in years. I would like there to be less of those things, please, in the coming year. While I do understand the learning experience value of these things, and that the cycle of life also includes death, it would be nice to balance things out a little.

I will honor the bad things that happened as part of the journey. However, I want to focus on the good to direct my future journey. In that regard, most of the good things that happened in my life centered around poly and kink, so I’m going to celebrate those.

In my resolution post from last year, I set forth to rejoin the kink scene/community among other things. My overarching goal was to get back in the swing of things, so to speak. And I did almost everything on that list under the kink section, and then some.

  • Joined the (then local) scene in Memphis, became a member of the local dungeon, went to events, played, and learned. I also slowly started to rejoin the New Jersey scene.
  • Rediscovered my love for rose flogging and then proceeded to rose flog a bunch of people that I care about over the course of a few months, culminating, for me, in my first ever duel rose flogging scene at the close of the dungeon to “Bohemian Rhapsody” at GKE Classic. Which was a BLAST.
  • Even though it was scary as fuck, and some parts of the journey were bumpy as fuck, in February, I reached out to someone who would eventually become my Sir. We’ve spent almost a year building a relationship that works for us which is evolving, flexible, and a constant surprise to me. I look forward to seeing what the new year will bring for us.
  • I had some great (and some really shocking – in the good way) make out sessions and my ideas of what my sexuality is continue to morph. Demisexual doesn’t fit anymore and I’m not so sure about gray ace, either. What I do know is that I’m far more interested in sex than I used to be, but still with a fairly limited pool of people.
  • My husband and I embarked on shifting to becoming anarchical poly instead of hierarchical. There have been some challenges, but overall, it seems to be best for both of us. For me personally, it’s the only thing that makes sense anymore.
  • With help, I got over two fears regarding submission. One, and the scariest one in general, was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to submit anymore. And/or that I was no good and/or too old. And/or out of practice. That I wouldn’t be able to get to the head space I had been waiting to get to for years. Two, being afraid to submit in public at an event where I had a managerial role. With Sir’s help in both regards, I was able to, in the same scene, drop further than I have in nearly five years and find a pocket of off duty time to submit in public. Transcendent doesn’t even begin to cover that experience.
  • Experienced fire play for the first time.
  • Experienced sadistic fire play for the first time. Holy hell, I need more of both of those in my life.
  • Did needle play for the first time and then went on to set up a needle play play date, both of which were awesome.
  • Hit K&P on Fetlife for the first time ever for one of my poly writings. That was an amazing feeling.
  • Dealt with difficulties I had re: poly by talking and writing them out. Or I could say: Jealousy…now with a whole lot more helpful words and only minimal bottling and fear!
  • Rekindled a connection with a dear partner.
  • Rediscovered my complete and utter adoration of being punched in the back.
  • Rediscovered my complete and utter adoration of bruises from being punched in the back. One weekend, after a really good punching, every time someone hugged me at the event I was at, it was the most painfully delicious reminder.
  • Saw anarchical poly evolving amongst my partners and metamours and had moments of such compersion and sheer astonishment and gratitude that things were…working. Like, there was more than once where I found myself going, “holy shit…this can all work. People are getting time together, and having fun, and I’m getting time and having fun, and the compersion is building and we’re all handling our shit and talking things out. Hot DAMN.”
  • Tried to pull back from over-labeling everything and let each relationship I’m in seek it’s own level. Including meeting new people or getting to know people I already knew and discovering new feelings for, and eventually, gradually learning that they don’t have to fit into the boxes I’m used to people fitting into.
  • Made a concerted effort to get to know my metamours better. Haven’t gotten to know all of them yet, but in the process, I’ve made at least one great friend and discovered some really cool people who are fun to talk to and spend time with, and who have the potential to become friends. At least I hope so.
  • Started going to Leather events more. I really, really like Leather events from what I’ve seen and witnessed so far.
  • Asked for what I wanted more.

To me, this seems like a damn impressive list of good stuff and I’m hella grateful for these experiences and the people involved in them. My hope is to continue to learn, grow, and have more adventures in 2017. I’m working on a poly/kink bucket list for the new year but for right now, it felt important to get out some of these positive things and lead into the new year cultivating the good, carrying it forward, and building from it.

Comparisons: The Poly Pitfall of Doom

You know one of the quickest ways to tank your self esteem as a poly person? Start comparing yourself to any of your metamours or things your partner(s) are doing with other partners.

And yet, I’ve fallen into that trap waaaaaay more times than I care to count. Today alone.

Just kidding. That was yesterday. Today it’s only happened a little.

It sucks. Because reason tells me that I know better than this. All I’ve read and written and experienced tells me, for the most part, better than this.

And yet, there are times when I can’t see past it. Past the fear, the panic, the “are they better than me?” Sexier? Kinkier? More flexible? And if they are, the root of it….am I going to be left behind?

This is probably the pit my brain tosses myself into headlong most frequently. Therapists and I have theorized about an abandonment complex based on things from my past when I was younger and people who were supposed to care about me dropped off the face of the earth when I was younger. In the span of about four years, my mother disappeared, my sister went off to college, my aunt and uncle, whom I used to see every other weekend along with my cousins who were like my little brothers, stopped seeing me and calling me, my grandfather stopped contacting me. Hell, even the guitar teacher I had just…stopped. This was from was from when I was eight until I was twelve. And yeah, I spent many years obsessing, wondering, afraid. What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? What could I have done to have made them stay?

The answer(s)? Nothing. Nothing. And nothing.

I know this now, after many years have passed and conversations have happened.

But on the other hand, people have told me I’m “too much”. I think too much, feel too much, laugh too loudly, get into hobbies too deeply, am too dramatic. So I’ve retreated sometimes. I’ve been worried about what I say, what I do, if it’s too much. If I’m too much.

Conversely, my brain also tells me I’m not enough. I’m not enough to for people to want…anything from. Not sexy enough, or attractive enough, or kinky enough, or interesting enough, or competent enough, or intelligent enough, or witty enough. I fight feeling like I’m failing at everything….my job, relationships, writing, life. It’s hard to see the things I’ve done right while the things I’ve done wrong scream at me.

Add metamours into this mix and sometimes, my brain sometimes goes haywire.

Here’s the thing. I actively chose and continue to choose to be in open relationships. After over 15 years, I know this is how I’m wired. It just makes sense to me to love more than one person. And that love can come in many different shapes and forms. I err more towards relationship anarchy style of poly these day, in that I do not want to tell my partners what they can or can’t do with other people and I don’t ever want anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do with other people. And most times, I love hearing fun stories of scenes that other partners have done, or fun experiences. I can usually do compersion like a mofo.

And yet. That pesky “and yet” slams me upside the heart and I’m gone.

I’ll think of a metamour, especially a new one (because new ones are waaaay harder to process than existing ones, most times), and go….fuuuuuuuucccckkkkk. They’re hot. Which, for some reason, suddenly means I’m not. They’re into things I’m not. Which suddenly, for some reason, means that I’m less valuable or interesting. They see said partner more than I do. Which suddenly diminishes the time I spend with that partner. All of the things I am and do and are interested in suddenly, in my stupid, stupid brain, are warring to be both not good enough and too much. Because that’s a thing that my brain can magically maintain.

Because it’s easier to beat myself up than to just understand that a new person does not automatically mean I lose.

Because a partner having NRE or wanting to see someone he hasn’t seen in months makes it feel like our communication is less/different and I feel like I’m kind of all alone. Add to the mix when life is crazy hella hectic and I’m at a touch and sex and play deficiency and suddenly everyone becomes competition. Suddenly, I’m afraid of losing everything.

Two of the best ways I’ve found to combat this are to talk and to focus solely on my relationship with my partner, not their relationship with anyone else. That latter one came from this gem of an article I read about a month ago called “Change your Cookbook: A monogamuggle’s guide to cookin’ with polyfolk”. (side note: I love that some of the best poly advice I’ve ever gotten comes from a monogamuggle. Also, I love the term “monogamuggle”.)

When it comes to talking, I’m finding that talking to partners is one thing. And that can be incredibly helpful. I mean, if you’re focusing on your relationship with your partner and you feel like they’ve been pulling back or things have changed, checking in with them is a good idea. But the best people I’ve found to talk to? The metamours themselves.

This used to scare the ever-lovin’ fuck out of me. Talk to the people that must be better than me? That might be taking my partner away? But…that seems impossible and painful. Like the bad kind of masochism. And that’s coming from an emotional masochist.

Funny thing, though? Metamours are fucking awesome. And when you start talking to the them, sometimes, you wind up having conversations with them and you find that you’re way more alike than you are different. You learn that they have similar hobbies, interests, and are really cool people. You also sometimes discover that they have similar insecurities or struggles and then you are gobsmacked but feel way less alone. They’re not trying to take everything away from you. They’re agenda is exactly the same as yours…to love, to have fun, and to enjoy time with the person you both care about. Because that makes sense, right? Isn’t that what this is all about?

And there’s time and space for all of these things to happen. And sometimes, you wind up wanting to hang out with them…like, without your partner! And sometimes you even are able to and suddenly you’ve made new friends and holy shit kitchen table poly can work.

This may or may not’ve happened to me a few times. And yet…each time it surprises me. But in that good way. Like, right. I don’t have to torture myself with horrible thoughts of being left and sad. The reality is way different than my fears and anxiety keep trying to tell me sometimes.

So those are two ways I’ve found to help quell the brain beasts. Does anyone else have any other advice on how to deal with this damn pitfall? I’d love to hear it, if so.

What did YOU bring ME?

Recently, I was getting to know a guy on Fetlife. He approached me respectfully and when I asked what brought him to my inbox, he said he liked my pics and my profile.

Okay. Cool.

I asked what he liked about my profile. He gave me a few items that were from my profile (and weren’t right next to each other, so there’s no c/p action going on) so it felt like knew he’d actually read it.

It was going fairly well, if not a little slowly.

Then this happened:

“What do you do for work? For fun? I know it probably says in your profile but I’m asking anyway lol.”

Duuuuude. Why? Why would you waste a message asking me something you admit to knowing you might could find the answer to and then throw an “lol” after it? Like, a lack of effort is funny to you? What the hell?

I’m tired of a lack of effort. I’m a service-oriented submissive to my core, part of which means I adore and feel personally fulfilled putting effort into the people I care about. But I’m also a switch. I know both sides of the slash, and I know damn well that both sides take effort.

Any relationship, whether we’re talking blood, friendly, romantic, sexual, kinky, aro, ace, or professional takes consistent effort from both sides. And effort is attractive as hell. There’s something intoxicating in knowing that someone chose to take time from their life to invest in yours. That they want to make time to let you know you’re important, attractive, intelligent, awesome, witty, etc.

And let me tell ya, I have less and less patience with people who don’t make some kind of effort. Because why should I stick around if I’m the only one doing the heavy lifting? Or, not even heavy lifting. If I’m the only one bringing something to the table at all, or 99% of the time? That’s too much for me. I want to know I matter. It’s taken me too damn long to get even close to thinking that I do matter, and now that I have…it’s not so easy to shut that off. And why the fuck should I?

Maybe people will tell me I’m a bad submissive or switch or I just don’t understand how to be Dominant. I probably won’t play well with those people because, damnit, after nearly 20 years in the scene, I have learned some things. At the very least, I’ve learned a fuckton about myself.

I spent way too much time living on crumbs. I need more than that. I need vibrant, evolving relationships that all parties are invested in. I welcome change and growth and learning from my partners, friends, family, colleagues. I crave to be challenged, surprised, delighted. I ask for constructive criticism in both my professional and my personal life.

In turn, I try to give do and give these things to the people I love and be responsive and attentive to the things they’re looking for. One of the best things in the world is when someone mentions something that they like or want and then, sometime in the future, doing or giving them that thing. I’ve seen people’s eyes light up because they can’t believe I remembered what they consider a throw away comment they made months ago. But it’s all…information that I store about people I care about. I mean, we do it if someone is allergic to something.

It’s hella important to remember that Jane will, y’know, die if she has shellfish so I’m not going to serve her shellfish. And to me, it’s a natural extension to think that if Jane mentioned one day that orange gatorade is the best aftercare drink for her, that if Jane and I play, I’m gonna do my best to have some orange gatorade at the ready. Things like that matter and they mean a lot to the person receiving them. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of that and it just…builds good things. I don’t understand why it’s difficult to pay attention and act accordingly to someone you’re interested in or someone you care about.

Another part of this, in my mind, comes up in the book that Jeff Mach wrote. There’s a section in Give: some explorations on submission called “What did you bring me?” which asks many questions of the theoretical submissive. The crux of this section is to challenge the submissive to think about what qualities they bring to the relationship beyond a body and their own fantasies. There are questions like:

  • What skills do you bring?
  • What knowledge?
  • What are you prepared to teach me?
  • Have you brought me a mind, the ability to make choices and judge circumstances?

For some people, this is revolutionary. Like, you mean a submissive or slave doesn’t exist to solely obey? In fact, Jeff wrote about that misconception yesterday in his post on Fetlife called “‘I ain’t payin’ you to think’: a fallacy of slavery”. And I’m glad for this type of post. I’m glad he asked the questions he did in his book. Hell, I’m glad he wrote the book.

But I’ve always had another thought when reading this section…

What will the Dom/Top/Master/other person bring to the relationship? I’ve spent years trying to understand, embrace, hone, expand, and articulate the skills, knowledge, interests, etc that I bring to a relationship and this email from this new guy hit me like a bucket of cold water. Like, not only did he say he likely knew where to find answers, but he couldn’t be bothered to check. Oh, and let’s throw an “lol” after.

No, I don’t find it funny that you don’t want to put the effort in to make real conversation. I don’t think it bodes well that you’re not going to pay attention to things that are already in front of you. And I sure as hell am not going to waste my time repeating what I’ve already taken time to say when you’re dismissing it with an “lol”. I’ve already listed some of the things I bring. What exactly are YOU bringing to ME in this regard, especially since you’re the one who approached me?

So far, not nearly enough.

Hey, jealousy

So let’s get one thing straight…I’m not.

Ha-ha.

For serious, though, I hate jealousy.

(I know, Queen of the Smooth Transitions, right?)

For as much as I tell people it’s okay to feel it, that it’s normal in non-monogamy (and in monogamy) and it doesn’t mean you care any more or less about someone, that it doesn’t mean you want partners to stop what they’re doing, and it doesn’t mean that you’re broken or bad or wrong…

Can I apply it to myself?

Fuck, no! That would be logical! Who’s got time for that?

I still fucking loathe feeling jealous. I’ve talked to so many people about jealousy over the 15 years I’ve been in ethical non-monogamous relationships. So many. And read so much. And understand that when I’m jealous, it’s likely because I just am craving something or feel a deficit of something I see other people getting. It doesn’t mean that they have to stop or even should stop doing what they’re doing with others. It just means I want some, too. And most times, I can identify this and say something like, “hey, you’re doing X with so and so. Can we schedule some time to do X, too, cause I really like X as well.”

Easy peasy.

Lately? Not so much.

I’m getting frustrated, scared, angry, anxious, and withdrawn when I get jealous lately.

I hate it.

I hate the initial cause of the feeling and after I’ve identified that I’m feeling jealous, I’ll try just about anything to make it go away.

  • Pretend it doesn’t exist and smile through it? Check.
  • Yell at myself for stupid, pointless, unfounded feels? Check.
  • Try to turn it into emotional masochism and just power through? Check.
  • Stop talking and clam up? Check.
  • Cry? Check.
  • Tell myself that I’m going to lose all the awesome people I have in my life because I’m not good enough and the new people that my partners have are better and now that they have them they won’t want me anymore because they’re hotter/sexier/more submissive or something than me? Check, check, checkity check.

Now…it’s not bad to let things out by doing things like crying. And trying to use it as emotional masochism isn’t inherently bad…it just would probably be better if I told whichever particular partner is involved that that was what I was doing and how I felt.

The rest are not really defensible. I know this. Which is why I get frustrated with myself. I also know enough to not get lost in that last one of not being good enough or someone else being better.

Because again, for serious…

  1. love and kink are not goddamned competitions with winners and losers.
  2. I’ve been amazingly blessed with metamours.

With one exception, I’ve liked all of my metamours or potential metamours. And even that one exception is not someone who is terrible…I just…don’t understand their brain patterns. They seem so different and every interaction with them leaves me going, “wtf just happened?” It’s difficult but not illegal or disrespectful or abusive. Those are hard limits. This metamour touches on none of those and the one time they did (with something I thought was disrespectful and unsafe), we talked and rectified it, so really…it’s not that bad. In the grand scheme of things, I either really, really like my metamours – enough to, at one point or another, think maybe I could date and/or play with them (and some I have) or, at the very least, am really glad to make new friends with them. Some metamours who’ve been friends of mine have lasted for years, even after the romantic/kink/sexual relationship that connected us through someone else ended.

So why the fuck do I get so fucking jealous when someone new comes on the scene?! Or of other partners at all, new or not? Why do I keep going back to this annoying-as-fuck, kneejerk reaction of “hnnnggggg, they better! I lose! Sad! Go hide now!” I mean…what the ever-loving fuck?

It likely has increased proportional to stress and fucking hell knows I’m stressed a lot right now. Between moving, work pressure, saying goodbye to everyone here, and then moving back to the East coast where my husband and I had a lot of initial problems early in our marriage and where the Cost of Living is a fuckton more expensive…I’m scared. I’m fucking petrified that we’re going to move out there and the support network I thought I had, the beautiful and magically intricate one of partners, metamours, friends, and co-workers will disappear.

That me and my complicated sexuality, my hunger for more kink and pain, my deep ache for a more consistently intense D/s & M/s connection will drive the people I care about away. And the damn tapes start playing in my head of “if I feel like I’m not getting enough now, and then there are other people, how will I ever get my needs met? I’m just a breath away from being rotated out.”  And I fucking hate that my brain goes there. Because I KNOW that if a partner isn’t feeling the connection with me anymore, I do NOT want to hold them in a relationship they don’t want to be in. So why freak out about it? Why not just enjoy what I have when I have it and maybe that will last for years but maybe it won’t. I go around talking about how I don’t believe that relationship success is measured by longevity and then inside, I’m all like “I hope this lasts forever!”

*sigh*

Where did compersion go? Why do I feel so fucking vulnerable and lonely and lost? I looked at pictures of various types of play I’ve just discovered and started crying. I read a metamour’s account of a scene they had recently, talking about how after it was over, the pain was gone and it felt…wrong that it was gone and I know exactly how that feels and crave my bruises that reminded me of wonderful things with every hug for a whole weekend. I talk to a fantastic person that I’ve wanted to be actual friends with outside of work for a while and we’re getting there and suddenly I’m hyperventilating that they’re hotter, sexier, and going to take everything I’d been hoping for for months away.

My husband tells me it’s okay to feel jealous. To just let myself feel it and let it be and it’ll go away. To not get angry at myself. But right now, I hate it. Loathe. Detest. Do not want.

Urgh.

Is polyamory worth it?

It’s been a long standing joke in my family (both blood and chosen) that my life is anything but simple. I’m kind of the black sheep, tending to gravitate towards experiences, interests, and people that are complex. I’m the one who taught my very vanilla sister about the separate subjects of furries (which was great, because she was able to be a safe person to talk to when she found out one of her co-workers was a furry), polyamory, and kink (and how no, the latter is not always about sex and for me it very seldomly is about sex at all, and no, my kink does not involve being a lamppost. True conversations.) I’m the one who broadened my dad’s world when I handed him an invitation to my poly wedding (two coming outs in one awkward card, as he didn’t know I was poly or pansexual!) I have this blog where I write publicly about being kinky, being poly, taking my clothes off in front of strangers, body image, sex, random cum stains in the shape of Pacman that amuse me and how that related to a happy compersion poly moment, and openly admit to being a cuckquean.

Sometimes…okay a lot of times, and especially over the past few months, being the black sheep and not able to just do or feel uncomplicated things hurts. When you don’t fall under the umbrella of social expectation, you kind of have to navigate your own way around instead of relying on what society in general tells you. While this touches on all parts of my life, from my job(s), to my kink drive, to the way I dress, and so much more, it’s never so apparent to me as when I consider love.

Recently, I may or may not’ve wound up driving and crying with my sister because while she’s vanilla as hell, she loves me and listens unconditionally. And the last two months or so have been…hard. Through a combination of life and work stressors, issues with metamours, and feeling unable to find support and connection with the certain people I either usually do or was hoping to, I’ve been a bit upset and floundering. Ever since May, it feels like I’ve leveled up in life, but with that comes an entirely new world that I’m unfamiliar with. There’s some advanced/complicated poly stuff going on, in addition to navigating a cross country move for work, in addition to my submissive and Domme sides resurfacing again in major ways and it’s all been really, really hard to deal with sometimes.

And during this drive with my sister that may or may not’ve happened, she asked me a very pointed question:

“Are you sure polyamory is worth all this pain?”

I could tell she wasn’t just asking about my current situation. She knows what I went through in my triad marriage and when it ended, in addition to my other poly relationships. To her, a woman who’s been married to the same man for 20 years, what I was going through seemed so foreign and complex. A simple choice could fix it. I paused, tears streaming down my face, nose running, heart aching, and gave the question its due even while my core was screaming its answer.

But before I get to my answer, though, let me reference a post Ferrett recently wrote that made me tear up. He talked about driving three hours to hold his girlfriend’s hand before she went into surgery. And how when the medical staff asked who she had waiting for her, she replied honestly that it was her husband…AND her boyfriend. Which flummoxed the staff to the point where, instead of continually repeating herself, she just wound up summarizing with “‘Look, I lead an alternative lifestyle, all right?'”

This hit him hard, as evidenced by the entirety of the post. It, in turn, had a pretty big impact on me. Because he goes on to talk about all the times we don’t talk about these alternative choices, especially, if you’re poly or kinky or both, who we love.

These paragraphs, specifically, were what brought me to tears:

Yet my girlfriend did not give a fuck. She was exhausted, and tired, and when she was stripped raw the last thing she wanted to give up was to acknowledge the love that was sitting out there in that lobby for her and fuck, I’m crying now.

But it’s a moment. It’s a moment where her don’t-give-a-fuck punched a hole through to another world where I saw what it might be like not to have really good reasons not to just be buried under a tide of assumptions, and in that moment our love felt realer than it ever had before, this thing where yeah, we don’t live together and we’re never going to get married and we’ll never have once-a-week dates and all the traditional pathways designated as “serious about each other” somehow didn’t fucking matter.

We don’t call each other, but I’ll drive out to hold her hand when she needs me.

We only get to see each other once every couple of months, but she’ll fucking face down a bunch of surgeons in the place of her to tell them, Give that man respect for what he is.

Between that post and the post he wrote called “Yes, of course” about his wife’s reaction to him driving three hours out to be with his girlfriend when she went into surgery, I just…felt a recognition. I know what my answer is. I’ve always known. And recently, despite or maybe even because of the pain I’ve been going through, I feel I finally found where I want to be with relationships.

Yes, it’s fucking worth it.

It’s taken me nearly 15 years to get to a place of polyamory that’s basically relationship anarchy/fluid (not to imply that it’s more evolved, it’s just that it’s where I evolved to) and yes, it’s fucking worth it. I want and actively chose this support network of complex ties and feelings and yes, love, in its many shapes and forms. I don’t always have to know how to define a particular relationship, but I sure as hell know when I love someone and all the tears are worth being able to say it and hear it back.

The feeling of making a new connection and exploring it and finding and developing another piece of myself with another person is totally worth the half a box of tissues I went through that night.

When I get on a plane, there are about five or six people that know when I take off and when I land and those people also are told that I love them. I’m not “in a relationship” with all of them, and I don’t even know how the hell to define all of them, but I know they are important to me and I to them and if I’m staring down mortality, I want that to be known. I want love to be the thing I focus on, not fear. And it’s actually been part of what helps me get over some residual anxiety when it comes to flying. That’s totally worth frustrating interactions with a metamour.

The poly and kinky support network I’ve built over the years that spans nearly ten different states and a fuckton of people, the books and articles I’ve read, the conversations I’ve had sorting through my own shit or helping someone else sort through theirs is totally worth the pain of break ups, of sifting through complex emotions, or being stood up.

I mean, it’s not the structure itself that causes the hurt. When I got divorced from my poly triad, I was asked why I would continue to be polyamorous after all that pain and I replied that polyamory wasn’t to blame for my relationship ending any more or less than monogamy is the reason for monogamous divorces. It’s not the relationship style, it’s the people involved. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s universal. No relationship style that I know of is immune to…humanity and its wondrous variety.

And on the flip side are moments like my husband texting me today that he thinks the person at the deli where he ate lunch is totally my type. Or the compersion of seeing someone I care about twitterpated with NRE over a connection with someone new. Or when my husband came home today and I told him that I had spent some of my day negotiating to do a needle scene at GKENE and he made up a little song to the tune of “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5. However for him, since he doesn’t like needle play, it went more like this (complete with chair dance choreography and him spinning me in my desk chair):

You and I must make a pact, when he’s putting needles in your back
When that’s happening, I won’t be there…

That freedom to explore who I am, who I love, and what I want at my own pace, at my own comfort level, with the people I choose to, and the beautifully complex tapestry of people and experiences that ensue, including impromptu chair dances, are totally fucking worth it.

The Book MY Younger Self Could’ve Used in My First Poly Relationship

(Book review #4 – original post @ Cannonball Read 8…I’m a little behind in my blogging because of work and life, but here’s another review!)

Well, hell. This was a deceptive little book. It looks pretty slim and comes in at a scant 140 pages, which, I mean…after reading the unabridged Les Miserablès is downright tiny. And this is also a companion to a different book, The Husband Swap, but the same author which recounts her experience in polyamory and in a quad where she eventually wound up swapping husbands with another woman, but not before lots of heartache and personal growth. Which, for anyone familiar with polyamory, is…pretty much how it all goes down. There’s always at least one relationship that…transforms you. That breaks you open from the inside and changes everything you thought you knew about love, family, friendship, mental and emotional health, your own limits, and so much more.

My own experience with this kind of relationship was very similar to Louisa’s except I didn’t have someone to swap to. This may seem strange but it’s true. Her lessons and mistakes ran very parallel to my own and I’ve found myself looking back in a different way. With a little more understanding and a lot more peace. It’s helping me forgive myself for decisions I made that I sometimes wish I hadn’t.

I’m fond of the way she set up this book. Each chapter opens with as short excerpt from The Husband Swap, followed by two pages of the lessons she wants to teach her “younger self”. Right after that is the distilled version of the lesson, all pithy and quotable. The last four pages of the book are all the lessons listed in order, making referencing even easier.

One of my favorites was this one, which has taken me years to get to:

4. Be careful that the rules you make around your relationship aren’t an effort to push the emotional risk onto other people. You do not have the right to control others’ actions, only your own. You can and must express your own needs. But it’s up to you to seek partners who choose to do the things that help you feel loved, rather than making rules that they must do so.

It’s so much easier to make rules for other people. Or at least it used to. It was a way for them to “prove” their love. To “protect” my primacy. To give me a false sense of security. Now I’m much better at being comfortable with my partners figuring out how they want their other relationships to look and progress, and likewise have found people who feel the same. This was virtually impossible to imagine five years ago when I was still in my previous marriage. But then again, I wasn’t always good with change or imaging a future without the relationships I was in. I could’ve used lesson 17 back then, too:

17. Everything changes, and change is easier when you embrace it. You will get through it, and you might even fly like you never have before.

I’m working on embracing change. And that flying part. There are times when I catch wind and soar and it’s incredibly exhilarating.

However, I do have a confession to make. I’ve never read The Husband Swap. For some reason, this book called to me more than that one did and I feel like, while a companion guide, it stands alone quite well. The story was distilled into bite-size, easy to digest chunks and the lessons were swift and concise. Very grateful to have this book in my poly library.