Vulnerability: the Self-Vivisection of Music, Submission, and Love

“You know….you clearly don’t know what it takes for me to be bold.”
-from the song “I Found a Boat” by Scarlet Sails

Holy fuck, I sang on the boardwalk Sunday night. In front of people. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I mean, some part of me knew it would eventually happen, but I wasn’t certain it was going to be this past Sunday.

See, I’ve been talking with a friend about performing; they invited me to join them on the boards since they have a busking license. A few months ago, I asked them if they would learn the guitar part of a song for me that I really feel the need to sing and hear every damn day. I’m trying to learn it on guitar, but it’s slow going, so I was hoping they could help me get out there. So we set up time to rehearse for this past Sunday. Spent some time singing the harmonies together on a song they wanted to sing lead on, a few times over, and I played some stuff for them, and we worked on the song I asked them to learn. It was great. It was beyond great. It was something I’d dreamed about for decades…singing and playing with another musician in this way.

And then they asked if I wanted to go out and busk. Like…right then. That day.

The “sure” that flew out of my mouth surprised both of us, apparently. It seems I just….had found a pocket of courage and decided to run with it. I’ve wanted this for so long. To sing in front of people like this.

Now, some of you who know me might be all like, “but you’re a burlesque dancer who sings!” Or, “but you’ve been in choirs and musicals!”

And you’re absolutely right. However, there’s always a kind of character involved. Always someone else. And even when I was myself, like in choirs, I was still…part of the choir. Which isn’t me, right? It’s a group. I can blend in. Even when I’ve done solos…I was a bundle of nervous…but, it’s still with the choir. I know, I know…it’s weird.

There are just so many facades; this way, I don’t have to actually, fully be vulnerable. Because obviously, the world would end. Or at least that’s what my fears and anxieties scream at me. I mean, the actual world we all live in wouldn’t end. Cause, duh. No matter how illogical my fears are, I know that the world does not revolve around me.

But my world, the world where I have people in my life that I care about, things I enjoy doing, (or people whom I enjoy doing and things that I care about…y’know six of one…)…it feels like it would all come crashing down. I battle Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. I also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, as well as clinical depression. On top of all that, I’m an introvert.

They’re all managed. Mostly. But management is not a cure. It doesn’t all just magically go away. I’ve worked my ass off for over two decades to learn, to grow, to manage, to adapt, to push myself outside of comfort zones and try to open up.

However, there’s still an underlying, paralyzing fear that all the people I care about would leave if they knew what I really felt. The crippling fear and panic I deal with every day that I try to bury under all the layers of socially acceptable I slather on. The smiles, the banter, the glamour, all like a duck trying to swim so smoothly on the surface, but hiding the frantic feet churning water as fast as possible to stay ahead of everything, seek out every possible threat, protect myself in all the ways I learned when I was a kid.

The thing is…I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to hide from pain. Or fear. Or, basically who I am and the things I am passionate about. I wanted to face it all head on. I’ve learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the persistence to keep going, Do The Thing, even when you’re shaking and terrified. I’ve worked for years, on therapist’s couches, in cars on long drives talking with people I trust, over the course of hours and days in solitude crying and processing, and in so many other ways, to keep opening myself up. Over and over. Some things are easier than other to talk about, act on, be. I am very comfortable being a creative, polyamorous, kinky, pansexual gray ace.

However, I’ve realized there are three basic things that strip that all comfort away from me: submission, music, and love.

Writing, art, dance, and creativity in general are ways I peel off certain layers, but submission, music, and love are the ones that cut to the quick, tap a vein, and various other metaphors that try to explain how I feel like I’m cracking open my chest and leaving all my gooey innards on display in some weird self-vivisection. Making the parts that people don’t see completely vulnerable. The parts I try to hide, because life has taught me when you let people see those things, it hurts. They laugh, they leave, or…they let you know that it doesn’t matter to them. That is probably the one that hurts the most. The indifference. It sounds stupid to admit…but I want to matter. I want to be valued. And at certain times, in certain ways, with a few people…desired.

Submission is one of the quickest ways to, appropriately, bring me to my proverbial knees. Some people have made the mistake of thinking that submission is weakness. Which is bullshit. Submission is absolutely not weakness. It’s been said before, by multiple people in many places, but I will say it again: You cannot take power away from the powerless. There is a core of strength and solidity to submission that is anything but weak. There is also tremendous vulnerability in submission.

There have been very few people in my life with whom I resonated in any way as a submissive. For various life reasons, my submission is beyond back-burnered. I’m grateful for all the experiences and the people I have resonated with, as my submission is something I guard very closely and wound up shutting down for a few years because it just hurt too much and I also battled some serious “I’m a terrible submissive so why bother?” demons. I’m especially grateful for the people who helped bring my submissive out of hiding. There was a brilliant combination of some gentle coaxing, some distinct challenges issued, some blunt truth, and a hefty dose of magic involved and all that has given me the courage to be open to the rare times I do get to be submissive and also hold out hope that one day I will have opportunities to be submissive more regularly.

When it comes to love, you’d think I’d be more…skilled and less scared in regards to it, being polyamorous for over 15 years. But no. There’s still true terror. I continually push myself past it, as best I can, but it’s always there. I’m realizing lately that there is part of me that struggles to feel worthy of the people I love. Like…I think they’re wonderful. But why would they want me? Also, it’s fucking hard to admit that I…have desires. That I want things. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they are, and then once I do….communicating them is terrifying. It’s one part being an adult and being prepared to hear “no” because that’s always a possibility and one should know how to hear that maturely, and one part, “omg, what if they want that, too?!” I mean, it should be awesome if they want the same thing, right? But then my brain goes, do they really want it? Why do they really want it? If they wanted it, why didn’t they say something? It all boils down to a baseline fear of do they really want me? And if signs are pointing to yes…why do they want me? Followed by, but sure and then they’re going to leave. There are some people who’ve come into my life that I constantly have to shout down the jackass parts of my brain about. I might’ve written a little about it here. Constant process, learning to love myself.

And then there’s music.

Dear *insert dieties here*, music. They say that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, but for me, the most powerful is music. A certain song can throw me backward 20 years. When I find myself falling in love with someone, I go on a quest for music (and sometimes the music gets delivered right to me, which is AWESOME) to help me understand what this particular type of love means to me. I also look to music to help me process most emotions or to amplify certain emotions. I’m forever grateful to people who’ve introduced me to types of music or certain groups/performers that I hadn’t experienced before. There are certain singers/bands that will always be entwined with specific people because they’re the ones that exposed me to that music. My best friend has said that I experience the world through music and I think it’s true. It’s my first filter. I often think in song lyrics. They’re flying around almost always in my head. Music is infused in all I do.

And when I write my own stuff, and sing it…it’s…it’s like stripping away everything and flashing the world with my soul. It’s immediate. Visceral. I can’t hide behind the covers, a computer screen, nor sprint for the nearest door. I mean, I guess I could run and hide. But if I’m committed staying there and singing…it means I’m actively choosing to stay and be seen. It’s one of the purest forms of sharing. It’s so raw.

Sometimes it feels obscene to be that raw. Like, surely there are propriety laws or at least common social mores to observe. Someone is going to accuse me of, like, corrupting minors or breaking a law, right?

And because the Universe works in mysterious wonderful ways and helps to keep you on the path of opening up when you decide to, I found this poem on a friend’s FB earlier this week when I started writing this post. I now need to look up the works of Nayyirah Waheed.

Aaaaaand speaking of the Universe and its mysterious wonderful ways, also as I was in the process of writing this, I was reintroduced to this quote:

“Most people believe vulnerability to be weakness, but really vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves, are we willing to show up and be seen?”
– Brene Brown

Sounds similar to what I had said above about not being able to take power from the powerless and how submission is not weakness, either. It’s all connected. And at least for me, in my heart…music, submission, and love are points of vulnerability. Opportunities for courage. Offering another fucking opportunity for growth.

And man, this year has been one of grieving, change, and growth. I sometimes can’t keep up with all the emotions/experiences and being an empath on top of it makes it even more challenging. I’ve also been traveling a lot lately, and it’s difficult to be traveling with people I care about and not always be sure what to do with all the conflicting things that I’m trying to process. The past and the present and the future all swirling together. There have been many tears and only a few answers so far, and I get so frustrated with myself when I can’t control the damn tears.

Vulnerability means that I can’t always close myself back up the way I used to. It means sitting with the grief and uncertainty and insecurity and figuring out how to proceed. Sometimes it fucking sucks. Sometimes, though, it means other things. Like creating music with someone you respect, trust, and care about and just…being seen. When it’s that, it’s fucking awesome.

Sunday was fucking awesome.

And yet: A poly/kink meditation

Driving home from a partner’s house recently, I relished the ability my brain has to work through things while I’m traveling. At the time, one of the things I was dealing with was remnants of jealousy and insecurity regarding a metamour. My brain kept eating me alive and I did everything I could think of to deal with it up until that point: smile through it, put it aside, pack it up, ignore it, poke it gently with a stick, kick it in the neck. Y’know, the usual.

But when I get in a car or on a train and there’s a long trip or, at the very least, 30 minutes or more on a highway, I go into parsing mode. Meeting things head on, feeling my way through them, exploring ways to actually deal with them rather than constantly pushing myself into survival mode.

And a nifty thing happened while I was letting my brain ramble and unwind. It went something like this:

Anxious, scared brain: This metamour is younger and into things you’re not.

Suddenly, another voice joins in, soft but solid, of a new friend with whom I had been marveling recently about all the good/interesting things that were happening in our lives that we never expected to. The phrase they used was “and yet.” Two simple words to ground you and bring you back to the fact that those good things were happening.

So my anxious, scared brain goes: This metamour is younger and into things you’re not.

Soft, solid voice answers: And yet, your partner still wants you, too.

Anxious, scared brain goes into tizzy and tries to hurl something scarier at this new voice: Yeah, well, that metamour is closer geographically than I am.

Soft, solid voice replies again: And yet, your partner still wants you.

Anxious, scared voice is freaking the fuck out, thinking it’s about to be put out of a job and goes for broke: This metamour is thinner, and more attractive, sees your partner more and your partner wants said metamour more than you.

Soft, solid voice bitch-slaps back with a simple: And yet. It doesn’t matter, ultimately, about “more” or “less”. Bottom line. No getting around it. It may’ve taken some time but there is a part of you that knows this to be true now. Your partner finds you attractive and still wants you.

Anxious, scared brain will not be defeated and decides to go for completely batshit low blow and shouts: YOUR PARTNER IS GOING TO LEAVE YOU FOR METAMOUR. YEAH! “AND YET” THAT, MOTHERFUCKER.

Soft, solid voice smiles and says completely calmly: And yet. My partner has not left me yet. Our relationship isn’t based on a relationship escalator, and while I would love for it to go on for a long time, the success of it is not measured in longevity. It’s measured in, to quote Rent, love. You know poly means that your partner can care about, play with, date, have sex with, love, be with, whatever-the-fuck-you-wanna-call-it with other people and it does not mean you’re getting left behind. They are NOT mutually exclusive. They coexist. You coexist. You wrote a fucking piece about it here and everything! Your partners care about you for you and their other partners for who they are and the wondrous variety of it all is what makes it so goddamned beautiful and awesome now shut the fuck up and let’s sing some showtunes!!!

Wow. That soft, solid voice apparently grabbed a megaphone and some spirit somewhere along the highway because, daaaaammmmn. Anxious, scared brain walked away in a huff, promising to come back with better ammunition. I turned on Hamilton and sang along to “That Would Be Enough”.

***

About a half an hour later, anxious, scared brain gets back online and wants to go again.

ASB: You know that new person you like? There’s no way they could like you, too.

SSV: And yet. Have you talked to them about it? Have you asked how they felt? Do you know that for certain?

ASB: No…but…screams and stomps off I WILL FIND SOMETHING!

SSV: And yet. I will likely refute it.

***

I sing more Hamilton. Put on some Fleetwood Mac because I’m suddenly feeling more mellow and relaxed. Replay some of the happier moments from my time with my partner. Just about then, that jackass ASB struts up.

ASB: You’re a terrible submissive. You can’t be a director and a /s and a switch. They don’t go together. What’s wrong with you?

(Wow. What a smug asshole my brain can be sometimes. What the fuck? C’mon, SSV, don’t fail me now…)

SSV: And yet. I am all those things. At different times. With different people and situations.

ASB: You’re not submissive enough for your Sir. You’re not good enough. You’re too old and out of practice.

SSV: And yet. Sir says he is pleased by me more often than not and when he’s not, corrects and/or punishes me to his liking accordingly. It is not my job to second guess what he says he is pleased by. It is my job to trust his word and actions.

ASB: People won’t respect you for being a switch, especially in public.

SSV: And yet. I played in public on the right side of the slash in a place where I was in charge of a portion of the event recently and have so far seen no diminishing respect from colleagues, friends, partners, or anyone else. If anything, I’ve gotten many compliments on how happy I was that day as I went (what felt like) fairly seamlessly from the right side of the slash to the left as appropriate to the scenes I was having.

ASB, muttering under its breath: Fuck you and the “and yet” you rode in on…

SSV: And yet…that sounds like fun.

ASB explodes in a POOF

***

So. For the rest of the car ride, I just kept throwing “and yet” at all the insecurities that popped up and lo and behold, it’s been slamming them down right and left. I’ve even done some kneeling meditations on it and it’s held up strong. I don’t expect it to combat everything…

And yet I’m glad for what it’s doing right now.

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.

Two great tastes that taste great together…

(Book review #7 – original post @ Cannonball Read 8)powercircuits-ravenkaldera

Warning: This book and review deal with power dynamics being carried out in real life adults that some might not be comfortable with, and may also contain some triggering words that have a very different meaning in the kink scene. Please note that everyone involved has agreed to be so; this book is about consensual power dynamics and conscious relationship style choices, not coercion. As the author states in the synopsis on the back of the book:

“Power Circuits is an alliance between two alternative lifestyles: polyamory, or multiple open and honest romantic relationships; and power dynamics, relationships that choose to be consciously and deliberately unequal in power.”

So I’ve been in the kink scene for just over eighteen years. Of those eighteen years, I’ve been polyamorous or involved in open relationships for about fifteen years. In the course of those fifteen years, I’ve read and written a lot about polyamory. I’ve also read and written (albeit less than poly) about kink stuff. Thing is, up until I found this book a few months ago on an Amazon search, I had never seen the two put together. Sure, some poly books touch on the overlap between the poly community and the kink scene, but never anything in depth that I remember. And yeah, some kink books go into threesome and multiple partners, but the subject of love seems to be mostly avoided. But this book…THIS book puts the two great tastes together in ONE book! And really well, I might add. It’s been a while since I brought a pencil with me as diligently while reading as I did with this book. It’s full of underlined passages, notes in the margin, and I even spent a few weeks using it for a series of writing prompts while exploring more about D/s & M/s relationships this summer.

One of the things I love about this book is how it’s organized. There’re about 100 pages of Part One: “Background and Basics” that I breezed through because the author’s style is so accessible and smooth. This section covers some basic definitions, why he decided to write this book (basically because, as I said above, no one ever had before), some common pitfalls, a rough outline of various intensity levels to power dynamics, a chapter on queer templates called “Polyamory and Power Dynamics in Nonheterosexual Communities”, and, of course, the ever present poly mantra of “communicate, communicate, communicate.” I was especially grateful that during all this explanation of terms, Kaldera had a very open perspective on power dynamics and throughout the book, in fact, is guided by the principle that the people in each relationship should work out what they want and not subscribe blindly to being a Dominant or submissive in a certain way. He write on page 19 that “there is also great variety in the levels of power dynamic between relationships with any given partner…many ongoing polyamorous families end up looking more like constellations than simple geometric forms.” But my favorite part is when he elaborated on it on page 54:

We don’t believe in saying that subs or slaves or masters or mistresses “ought” to have certain rights or limits. These are all negotiated in intensely personal ways between the people involved, and the only way to judge is if everyone involved says that they’re completely happy with the situation. Beyond that, it’s up to them. There is no one “right” way to do this. There’s only the ways that work to make everyone content with their choices, and the ways that make someone in the relationship miserable. That will be different for everyone.

Part Two: Essays from The Ones in Charge and that was where my pencil really had a field day. There was so much information in there! And different perspectives and relationship constructs…it made me so happy. One of the Masters talks about how he focuses on a “personal angle of self-improvement and overcoming internal conflict” and holds these guiding themes as his ideal:

…make the girl the best that she can be, along the lines of self-actualization described by psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. To that end, preserving elements of the girl’s ego is not only important, but core to what I wish to accomplish.

AND

My artistic urges revolve around the collaborative fusion of audience and artist, so the final creation is a gestalt of my will and the will of my slave or submissive, each one different.

That Master sums up his section by urging readers to “set out to find what is right and then build your own terms around it. Never let the words dictate the realities.” That’s what I strive for.

Another author in this section talks similarly about he views polyamory/non-monogamy:

My concept of non-monogamy is based on the firm conviction that we can’t control love, and so we’re much better off learning how to navigate our lack of control than investing in futile measures to clamp down. In other words: there is no such thing as forever, because you can’t possibly know today how you will feel in twenty years. There is no such thing as “the one” because we are all evolving and changing at every moment, and we all have infinite potential to meet others with whom we could share a few steps or many leagues on our journey.

Part Three: Essays from the Ones Who Surrender also saw a lot of my pencil, especially since it had a whole chapter based on being a cuckquean, which is not something that’s often written about – especially from a kink perspective. There are six different essays in this section (two more than the “Ones in Charge” section, which I find interesting in a good way) and besides the cuckquean one, my favorite was the one that talked about (and was titled) Being in a Leather Family. For a long time, I’ve been peripherally tied to the leather community through friends and work, but have never really explored it myself. This one essay made me want to dive in headfirst once I move back to the East coast this fall and to my home kink scene.

My favorite parts were the ones that said “the role of Master and slave was more important than sex in its own way” and that “there are many, many kinds of love.” Because YES. This! But the best part, I think, and the part that really made me want to learn more about the leather community was this:

It’s part of the queerness that created the leather family – the part that says, “They’ll never accept me out there, because they don’t understand me, so I will create my own family designed around affirming my sexuality and my lifestyle.” That’s queerness, even when it’s a leather family full of straight people. That, not sex, is what binds us together.

The last section is called Families Speak and touches on parenting within this dynamic and contains an interview with a poly/power dynamic family and the Kaldera. This section contains probably my favorite anecdote. The family is talking about one of their contracts, because in these types of relationships, sometimes there are contracts that spell out what type of power is involved and what is expected of all parties. These can get very wordy, very over-the-top, and, in my opinion, a little dramatic. Sometimes. But this family has an ageplay dynamic that led them to do one of their contracts with much more levity and I think it’s perfect:

Our contract very much reflects who we are as people, because part of our dynamic and part of our personalities is that both of us are “littles”. So if you read our contract, that would shine through loud and clear. The title of the contract is “Da Rulz” and it says things like, “The dominant, he can haz the power.”

This pretty much encapsulates what I love about this book so much. It helps and encourages people to find what works for them, to be honest with their partners about what they want, and to always communicate, communicate, communicate. The author spends about a third of the book giving his experiences and input, but then opens the rest of it to people who are doing it and how. Also, none of the people shy away from talking about how many mistakes they made getting to where they are now and saying that these relationship styles are not for everyone. It’s not a proselytizing book in the slightest, but it is worth it’s weight in gold for people who are navigating these waters because it is part of who they are.

Hey, jealousy – part duex

Hello and welcome back. I still hate jealousy.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ve just come across an article/interview and new poly resource called Poly Pocket on Autostraddle described as “new series showcasing polyamorous and ethically non-monogamous relationships.” The article is called Making Relationships Up As We Go and contains this quote that just about sums up the root of my jealousy:

“The scary part of being poly is trusting that you’re worthy of love and worth sticking around for not because you’re the only person around but because you have inherent value just by being you.”

Boom.

That right there. I’ve only recently, like this year, have come to feel more secure in my worthiness. And when new people come on the scene for my partners, I have a mad rush of “Fuck; it’s an elimination round and I won’t survive because I’m not valuable enough.”

Which is a fucked up way of looking at things. I know, I know.

But the feeling is embedded deeper in me that I realize from my monogamous upbringing that monogamy and exclusivity are what protect you. Your worth comes from nabbing a man and then catering to him and that makes you worthy. That makes it justifiable to stake your claim on him. And he on you.

And even though I’ve spent more than a decade dismantling these ideas they still pop up. Less frequently, to be sure, but still. Enough that I have to make sure my Box of Non-Monogamy tricks is fully stocked with things like:

  • Affirmations. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggoneit, people like me. Thank you Stuart Smalley.
  • Ownership is for kink relationships. Otherwise, no one owns anyone else.
  • We each come with our own inherent value. It’s what makes open relationships so beautiful. I don’t have to sit through a movie I have no interest in or play video games that make me sick. My husband has partners that will do that with him and enjoy it. That doesn’t negate the value of us sharing Gilmore Girls, Inkmaster, and Drag Race or our love of geeky board and card games. And even when I have things in common with metamours, that doesn’t mean they do that fandom “better”. It means that partner now has at least two partners who like the same things they do.
  • Relationships end. This is the hard one to come to terms with sometimes. Longevity is not my primary measure of relationship success anymore. In fact, I’m trying to phase it out as a metric. Yes, it’s commendable to weather storms together, but sometimes…people need to part. Sometimes a relationship stops being good for us and we should move on. Embracing this is difficult. It means I don’t want to claim anyone or be claimed (again, unless we’re talking kink relationships. In that instance, being called “mine” by the right person is one of the hottest things ever.)

So these are the things I have to remember as I face the green-eyed monster. If anyone reading this has any other suggestions of things that work for them in their Box of Non-Monogamy tricks, please do leave a comment!

 

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.

“Hi Brad, I’ve just come to tell you how fabulous I am!”

(Title quote from the movie “Shock Treatment”)

So. This is going to be a weird post for me to write. It has to do with people wanting me. Which…is a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around much of the time. In my last post, I talked about being lonely and also talked (vaguely) about various issues I have connecting with other partners who are interested in me.

What I didn’t cover were the people who are interested in me that I…just don’t feel the same way about. I tend to forget when I’m on a pity party that there are about 3 or 4 people who want to play with me or be in some kind of more-than-friendship relationship with me…if only I felt the same way or circumstances were different.

This got brought home to me in a weird way today. See, there’s this guy that has been hitting on me on Fetlife. And my husband says he was just trolling me. And maybe he is. Maybe he really does want to get together and have sex with me, and was very interested in orgasm control. My husband says that if I shut him down, this guy would turn on me and be like all the other trolls out there. But I decided to handle it my own way. I told him that I wasn’t interested in sex right away and it takes me a while to build up to that. FetlifeGuy said that was fine, as long we could sext, he’d have no problem with waiting. And I love to sext. But I was just…underwhelmed by him. I’m realizing more and more lately that plain sex doesn’t do much for me, even with orgasm control thrown in. And that I don’t have to jump at “opportunities” that I don’t really want just because I’m afraid there will never be the kind I do want. So I never got back to him and pretty much never expected to hear from him again and was fine with that.

But then he messaged me again today…a month later. Granted, it wasn’t all that eloquent or elaborate. Simply a “Soo”. Like…that was the entirety of the message. But the fact that it happened, and my reaction to it, helped remind me of a few things.

  1. I immediately went, “Oh, seriously. This fucking guy again?” Or something like that. Which amused me because I clearly was not investing my self esteem in some random guy messaging me. And it was more of an irritation than anything.
  2. People do want me. I have to remember this when I’m in the throes of “woe is me”. And sometimes, I really wish I wanted them the same way they’ve expressed wanting me. It would make things so much easier. But I’ve never been able to do that. Sex is something very, very difficult for me to think about doing and that “on” switch doesn’t go on easily. Or very often, person-wise. But once it’s on…let’s just say I’m adventurous and eager. Other words you could use are “proud slut”. Whatevs.  But similarly to how I’ve never faked an orgasm, I can’t fake sexual attraction. And few people understand how I can flirt up a storm but have no desire to get jiggy with their jiggly bits. Sensual attraction is so different for me than sexual attraction. I feel sensually attracted to many people. But you start talking about how wet or hard you are or that you want me to touch you somewhere or me to touch you and I’m running for the nearest exit. In a different time and place, I’d be called a tease, but I think I’m fairly up front about the fact that I don’t want sex. You will know, explicitly, if I am sexually attracted to you. And since most of the people reading this are not the 2-3 people I’m currently sexually attracted to out of the whole world’s population, odds are, it’s not you.
  3. The kind of deep connection that I prefer and need takes time to build up. And sometimes along the way, the relationships I’m investing in and hoping to build won’t pan out. That happens. It’s likely currently happening for one relationship in my life. That’s okay. Saying no to what I don’t want will help me refine and get closer to what I do, and it will help to not clog up my time and energy in the process.
  4. Seriously, dude? You think “Soo” is a good way to pick a conversation back up? SMH

So I end this with a weird video montage going in my head. One is Janet from “Shock Treatment” stopping by to tell Brad how fabulous she is (for me, it’s an ironic reference, not in earnest to the original) and the other is a Rosie O’Donnell stand up from the 90’s, talking about how when someone says they’re interested in you and you aren’t interested in them, you should go home, turn on the Black and Decker vibrator and sing “I’m too sexy for my shirt…”

It’s just nice to have my brain go in positive direction. I’d like to encourage this and also record it for posterity.