Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Recap.

WARNING This Post may contain links that may take the reader to adult themed websites.  We discuss sex, sexual freedom and personal sexual expression in this post.  NO sexual images or content are hosted on this site or this post.  LINKS NSFW with exceptions.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way……

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was amazing, exciting, and informative.  I must say, one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many.  I have to stop and say though if it were not for Tantus I would not have been able to attend.  They hosted a scholarship for admission via a Twitter contest.  I entered and happened to win!  Thanks TANTUS!  I owe all this to you!
Tantus

Now,Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (SFS from now on), is held in Virginia by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. ” The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.  This Summit is for EVERYONE interested in learning about the issues in the realm of sexual freedom, advancing their current knowledge and in gaining the tools to actually create the change we need to accomplish.” And advance my knowledge they did.
Woodhull's Sexual Freedom Summit

Friday I arrived in time for the lunch break and I got to catch up with friends I had not seen in some time.  Of course I did some networking with new folks and made connections that will hopefully bring new and exciting opportunities for all of us in the community.  (More on that another time.)  It became apparent quickly that I was a little fish in a new, large, expansive ocean.  Most of the people I was meeting had LOTS of letters and titles behind their names.  I became pretty aware that I was in a new class of conference.  None the less, I was treated fairly, and on par with everyone. At no point did anyone talk down or act as if they were “dumbing-down” the content or conversation for me.  It was ok to stop them and ask to have something explained or expanded in detail to make sure I understood it.

As the classes got started for the afternoon session, I was torn on what to go to. There were so many exciting classes it was difficult to choose.  Finally I settled on Sex, Laws & Videos: Legal Updates from Woodhull’s Free Speech Advocates (#SFSLegal)
Presented by: Luke Lirot, Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.  This class was not all legalese and lawyer speak.  It was a real world look at how the current laws are affecting sex work and sexuality across the US and where the laws are heading.   I’ll be doing a recap blog post of each of the classes I participated in (with exception of one). This class had lots of great insights into the current state of laws and sex.

Next I went to the Friday Keynote.  Keynote: From Slacktivism to Meaningful Action: Using Tech to Fight for Freedom Presented by: Aida Manduley, MSW, Trina Scott, Cindy Lee Alves .  This was by far one of the best keynotes I have even been to. This group of women from the Women Of Color Sexual Health Network presented this in a way that made me think, made me uncomfortable (in a good way) made me open my mind to view things differently, and then made me cry with the empowerment of a people. This was inspiring and incredibly powerful.   Thank you WOCSHN!

After the Keynote it was dinner and social time mostly.  There was a carnival themed dance and entertainment, but after being awake since 4AM for my flight, I was in no shape to stay up and party.  I crashed out at about 10:30.

Up early in the AM on Saturday for a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.  It was a run day and there’s no cheating on run day, even if I’m traveling. So up,  run, and grab some breakfast before the first set of classes.   Breakfast was provided by one of the sponsors,

First class of the day, It’s Different for Men: Masculine Victims of Sexual Assault (#SFSAssault) Presented by: Sebastian Sprague M.Ed..  This is the class that I will not be posting a blog entry / review on other than what I say here.  We discussed the effects and causes of sexual assault on men.  Men as victims and why most men don’t come forward to report abuse and assault. Patriarchy, misogyny, and macho-ism.   Systems that harm women, also harm men.   This was a very good class and discussion . We asked that the specifics of our time together be kept confidential.  However personal statement will not be included.  Not even my own.   I did take some photos of the presentation which we were told we could share so I may post those with a bit longer description. This class set the tone for my Saturday however, exploring uncomfortable topics.

A short coffee break, sponsored by Chaturbate.  and then back to the learning and brain work.

 

Decolonizing Sex Positivity – Re-thinking Inclusivity (#SFSInclusive)
Presented by: Sonalee Rashatwar, Nafeesa Dawoodbhoy .  This was  a very interesting introspective class that really left me thinking about all the ways we colonize things in our lives.  It challenged the thought that things are like my experience everywhere.  That just because I see the world like X doesn’t make it so. And in order to be truly accepting and inclusive we must accept that another’s view of the world is not only different, but also equally valid as our own, at times even more so.  I have said it in classes about other things but its the idea that Different is no more right or wrong, it is only different.  Of course there is a lot more to it … and Ill expand in my post about this class.

This brings us to the Lunch break that was catered by the hotel and provided by the conference. I could not believe that the day was already half over.  As I joined everyone for the Vicki Recipients’ Roundtable Luncheon Presented by: Carmen Vazquez, Scout, Kenyon Farrow, Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot, Megan Andelloux, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Yea, its a round table and the award recipients will most likely speak that part I got. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of impact that these award winning social justice warriors have had on the community over all and specifically in their areas of work.  Remember I am a little fish in a big new ocean.  I’m used to local level organizers.  This is where it began to strike me just why I was here.  More about this epiphany in my detail Round-table post.

After the round-table I was in brain overload.  I had so many concepts and thoughts sparked alive that morning, I needed a break.  so I wandered around, played a little Pokemon Go, went to my room and vegged out.  A nice, much needed break.

As the next round of classes was getting ready to begin, I felt a lot better and decided to head back down to participate some more.

The class selection was again challenging, but I saw one that looked very interesting.
Just Don’t Talk About It: The Current State of Men’s Sexual Health, Expression, and Exploration in the United States (#SFSMen) Presented by: David Mandell, Dr. Andrew Siegel, Paul R. Nelson, CCMA, Robert Heasley, PhD, LMFT, Leo Donato . These men and the way that they talked about mens health, they engaged and questioned beliefs and explained issues in a way that was, beautiful.  These men were well educated on their topic, they have good resources and sparked a lot of conversation.  My biggest take away from this class can be found here on my twitter. “When educated about sex from porn you aren’t learning how to have sex.” Men learn how to fuck.  But not how to have meaningful, loving sexual intimacy. More in my SFSMen Post coming soon!

After SFS Men it was again dinner time.  The day was almost over.  Other than the nighttime entertainment and dance later on there wasn’t much more to be done.  I wandered here and there caught up with some new friends, watched some of the Olympics, talked about relationships, ate cheese and bacon fries at the bar…  it was a good time.   I decided to head up to the room and pack my bags.  My 615 Flight meant I once again had to be ready to go at 4AM to the Airport.  Sheesh, will I never learn?  LOL  But I digress….

The evening party time was more award presentations and acceptance speeches from activists.  One of whom made a remark that was so impcatful on me it it is still ringing in my ears today…  “Bisexual erasure by the LGBTQ community isn’t even a microaggression- it’s a macroaggression. Why are there still LGBT organizations that are run only by L or G people? Why aren’t there bisexuals at the helm too?” –@Scoutout   Scout’s story is amazing as well.  But he makes a good point…..

I headed to bed about 10:30, settled in and had everything ready to go , set the alarm.  As I lay down, my brain starts processing everything I have taken in this weekend.  ALL AT ONCE!  I am racing with ideas, topics for discussion, new classes, blog posts… DAMMIT BRAIN SILENCE   I must sleep…  11 comes and goes, still wrenching my brain as it hits a new idea.  11:30… then 11:45.  I am finally able to stop it and that’s when it hits me like a ton of bricks.  You are here to experience the next level of activism.  You are here to see what a national organization can do to affect change, and support different communities while promoting a single root cause.  You are here to be inspired.

Not a day has gone by yet where I have not done something related to my experience at SFS.  Be it a blog post., Facebook outreach, building new workshops in other cities, reaching for our brand, starting new recognition programs, or just a thoughtful conversation about sexuality as a human right. SFS16 lit a fire under me and in me that I hope isn’t extinguished, ever.

I am again very thankful for the opportunity provided to me by TANTUS for the Membership and by Relationship Equality Foundation for paying my travel expenses. Thank you to the amazing presenters, speakers, moderators that lend their knowledge to this conference.  Thank you to the Organizers, staff and board of WoodHull.  This was a life changing experience.
If you would like to support more individuals having these types experiences, perhaps even yourself, then I highly recommend joining REF as a supporting member today.
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Catching up- You Me Her.

Hiya folks,

First, let me apologize for my absence.  Life has been pretty busy the last few weeks.  I am preparing to take and pass the CAPM exam this Friday.  Additionally,  Atlanta Poly Weekend is right around the corner and its all hands on deck planning team for that.  Also I have a family that wants to see  me and I need some me time every now and then.

Speaking of ME time looks like that’s what Izzy is going to be doing ….

So recapping quickly if you aren’t current,  Izzy went to Jack and Emma’s to try and patch things up from the whole bit where she scared the crap out of them emotionally.   ANd ends up doing it again.

Izzy,  who is truly head over heals in NRE with Jack and Emma,  is exhibiting classic NRE behavior or reading a lot into what’s happening, moving with emotions and not thinking through her actions.  And Jack and Emma,  being more seasoned in the long term relationship application of principles, seem to be moving with a fun and logical approach (in their eyes) to the decisions,  EVEN though those decisions do not take Izzy’s feelings into account. They don’t see that.  Until it’s too late and Izzy is hurt. They are confused.  And everything is upside down again.   This is where/how it becomes problematic in Poly relationships.  I think the show gets this right.

Izzy has been hurt a few times in quick succession and is scared that she is making huge mistakes that will end up ruining her life.  What’s a person to do?  Go Home.  Yep back to the safety of Mom and look for the guidance that was there as a child.   I understand this response.  There were many times in early poly days I wished I could run away from it all and find wisdom…..  But I didn’t have anywhere to run.  Izzy at least has a safe harbor to return to, clear her head, and then decide if this really is something she wants to pursue.

This show really highlights a phenomenon that happens a lot in the Poly community.  Where a couple has one set of expectations and a 3rd person comes in and has a different set of expectations. ANd the couple is looking out for the couple’s best interest (jobs, community standing, peer acceptance, etc)  and the 3rd individual just wants to be a part of something that they feel is really satisfying. In real life it isn’t always as fast a 7 days like it is in the show, although I have seen it move that quickly.

There is a lot of growth from this in the poly community as of late .  The focus is moving from couple centric thinking and practice to  an individuals right to choose what is best for themself.  In doing so it is really helping to circumvent some of the problems that come into poly relationships with regard to hierarchy and power exchange.

I kinda wish they had more time to put into the show to highlight the resolutions styles that the people are using.  But hey its a first season sitcom,  what can I expect.  A LOT more communication takes place than what they are able to show in the time they have allowed.  And sometimes, its not as pretty as TV would depict it.  Don’t get me wrong, this show isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs, however,  conversations go more like “The Morning After” a lot more frequently than one would think.  ESPECIALLY early in the relationship building period.

I want to bring to light one thing that I haven’t touched on yet… Jack and Emma,  they still have the same problem they had before Izzy came into the picture.   Granted they are having sex,  but they didn’t do anything to FIX that problem… All they did was introduce a distraction from that problem.  ANd that is how they are treating Izzy as well, as a distracting, treatment for an underlying issue that they both are contributing to.  Polyamory, is NOT a cure for a hurting relationship.  I think Jack and Emma have some personal issues that they need to work on before they can be individually healthy enough to move into a full Poly relationship.  Jack is insecure and unsure of himself,  Emma feels alone and without support from her partner of many years.
IN MY OPINION.  Relationship problems = People Problems.  I don’t care what kind of relationship one is in….. If it has issues, problems or isn’t working the way it was when you started,  and nothing has changed,  may want to take a deeper look into ones self,  chances are you will find where that change occurred inside.

Only one episode is left in this season and we haven’t heard if there will be a second season or not.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it.  its going to really sum up my whole thought process on this show.  Up to this point I really think the show has done a fairly accurate representation of how ONE style of Polyamory is initiated.  Something to remember is that there is no one true way for polyamory.  There isnt a cookie cutter design.  Polyamory is best practiced as individuals making connections with other individuals.  Even if those individuals are in other coupled or non coupled relationships.

Thanks to John Scott Shepherd  for putting together a great show. And also for mentioning my reviews in an interview.  I am happy to provide feedback and glad you like what you are hearing.  Also thank to the YOU ME Her Social media team for engaging with us on twitter and facebook.  I look forward to getting my umbrella soon!   I wish there was more time to get you all to come to Atlanta Poly Weekend this year.

Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 ( Preview)

Well, its that time of year again.  In just 2 weeks Atlanta Poly Weekend 2016 will be taking over its new hotel home.  Yep , if you hadn’t heard they are moving to a new venue this year.  The new home for #APW2016 is the Sheraton Downtown Atlanta ! APW is excited for this move as it indicates growth, change, and expansion.

Along with the new hotel,  lots of other new things are happening this year, the most presenters they have ever had, 30 as well as, the most new presenters they have ever had, 18!  That’s over 50% NEW FACES teaching classes.  But of course they brought back your favorites from previous years. Some of the presenters listed include, Tikva Wolf (Kimchi Cuddles) Dr. Eli Sheff, Joreth, Bettie Bullet, Amanda Anatra, Ricci Levy, and  myself.
Classes this year have been extended to 1 hour 30 minuets, so plan accordingly. They will have a 15 minuet break between classes that should help with restroom times and stretching the legs.

New events happening this year include a Pool Party (pack your swim suit) in place of a dance.  Organizers have said the dance has been poorly attended in years past so they wanted to try something new.  The Pool party will be on Friday Night from 7-10Pm.  Make sure you are there for all the fun! Also this year brings back the loved game of Match Game against Humanity.   This  is a mash-up of the traditional Match Game, and CAH, where the staff choose the Black cards out of a deck of CAH for the questions,  and the panelists answer with their own made up white card answers. It is a lot of fun.  Not one for the kiddos though.

Classes look really interesting this year, as usual.  APW really prides itself on not only the amount of classes they offer, but the quality as well.  With classes ranging on topic feom Asexuality, to Yoga, to communication and coming out,  you name it I think they have it covered.  With this year a night time Adult track of topics restricted to 18+ years old.  See the full line up and descriptions here .

In addition to all the new programming that APW has this year, never before have this many community organizations been represented at APW.  over 12 different organizations have come out already to support this wonderful event.  They include, Relationship Equality Foundation, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, NCSF, Atlanta Poly, AID Atlanta, Lost n Found Youth, Relate Con, and several more.  Its amazing to see this much support for the event that started so humbly 6 years ago in the basement of  a hotel.

With all this awesome going on, I ask you will I see you there?  If you have not already bought your tickets,  go now and get them HERE Badges are only $60.00 per adult. Meet some of the best presenters, activist and advocates in the Poly Community,  learn skills and expand your minds view on different topics, make new friends,  but most importantly, have a good time.
Ill see you June 3-5 2016 at Atlanta Poly Weekend!

Leadership, Education, and how we are seen.

Had a few thoughts today on Polyamory leadership, teaching, and the way educators are viewed by those who they teach. As well as a nugget of thought I have been mulling around. And this probably applies to many areas of instruction, however, since I am a poly educator, I will stick to my own yard.

1> Poly educators have it all figured out and don’t make mistakes.They have perfect poly lives.  And all the answers. 
In reality, We make as many mistakes as others or already have made the mistakes we are teaching about. We teach the lessons we learned to hopefully give others the foresight to avoid it or at least see it coming and how to navigate through it. We aren’t Preventative Maintenance technicians.

2> Poly leaders / educators are sometimes seen as “Great wise people on the mountain”.
In reality, we are normal folks, we have not been gifted this great knowledge from on high. Most, if not all, of what we know we lived. We screwed up, and we learned from it. Knowledge is knowing what you did, Wisdom is not repeating the mistake. Some of us have a greater desire to learn new and challenging concepts.  Others just wing it.  Some of us read all the books as they come out, others of us just try to live our live as authentically as we can.  There are many guides to poly/ non-monogamy,  but there is no one true way to get it right.  But there are lots of really easy ways to screw it up.

3 Poly problems = (typically) People Problems. Many times I hear people say… ” Poly didnt work out for me because I/they was/were too jealous”
Here’s the deal, If a person has people problems, (Here is the really important part) AND THEY DONT ACKNOWLEDGE AND WORK ON BEING A BETTER PERSON> they will have a much harder time in not only Poly relationships, but also mono and non romantic relationships in general.
My poly life got better when I addressed the issues I was facing internally.

Finally I want to close with a word of advice for those who may be looking at going to classes….  If you haven’t ever heard of the person presenting , do your homework on them.  Look them up on the web, ask other poly people if they have heard of them.  There are more and more people getting into teaching classes as ” experts”  Im not an Expert on polyamory.  Dont claim to be.  People have called me one, but I am not.   An expert is someone who knows everything about a particular topic/subject.  I dont believe such a thing can exist in polyamory.  There are too many styles of relationships.

New workshop for Mental Health Professionals

This should be an amazing time!  Wont’ you join us?

ALTERNATIVE RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION WORKSHOP EVENT

ARE WE

HOSTED BY RELATIONSHIP EQUALITY FOUNDATION

Sponsored by

CharisBooksSquareLogo                          AND          final_hi_logo-TRANS

Creative Commons, Michael Ruiz

Sign up below NOW!  We only have 32 seats remaining!!!

Please join us for a one-day workshop designed to educate therapists, counselors, and others who seek to learn about diverse relationship structures and techniques to serve clients with varied lovestyles.

This event is designed to educate mental health professionals in the areas of sexual, gender and relational diversity – specifically alternative relationship structures and contracts that may also interact with considerations of relational attraction, sexual identity and gender expression.  The sponsoring organization, the Relationship Equality Foundation, has observed that despite efforts to maintain generally non-judgemental attitudes, most mental health professionals know so little about this area that their responses to clients who “come out” to them in session can range from off-putting surprise to a disapproval that has significantly reduced the likelihood that community members will seek mental health services in the future.  In short – reactions of therapists have anecdotally even done damage to clients, and certainly have created barriers to future treatment.  We hope to prevent these experiences by educating mental health professionals about the diversity of relationship constructions that may walk into their office, and to offer practical advice for treating these clients.  The event will be divided into morning and afternoon sections – the morning dealing with theory and ethics, and the afternoon presenting practical considerations for therapeutic interactions.  Presenters have been (or are being) selected from local professionals with experience in treating these populations, many with involvement and national exposure in the development of ethical non-monogamy and mental health standards in this area.

This workshop will have six classes and provide six CEs to those who attend both the morning and the afternoon sessions. The morning session focuses on information and ethics, and will provide two Theory CEs and one Ethics CE of practicing with alternative relationship clients. The afternoon session will cover the practical application of ethical practice with clients in alternative relationships and provides two Ethics CEs and one Practical Application CE. There will be a lunch break in the middle of the day with a catered lunch for all registered FULL DAY participants.

Location:

Phillip Rush Center
ANNEX Event Room
1530 Dekalb Ave
Atlanta GA
http://www.rushcenteratl.org/parking-information/
Look For Signage EVENT PARKING

Dates:

March 12th 2016
9 AM – 5 PM

Cost:

6 CE  FULL DAY Registration $125.00
3 CE Half Day Registration $75.00
General Public (NON CEs) $100.00
Students (with Valid Student ID) $50.00
Registration will open Jan 2nd
LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE
Only 65 registrations available

Speakers include:

Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CASA, CSE
Rachel Anne Kieran, Psy D.
Anna Baxter, LAPC
Angelique L. Burke, MS, EdS, LPC
Faughn Adams, Ph.D.

FULL SCHEDULE HERE

Sponsors

Charis Books
The Health Initiative 
Atlanta Poly

CE’s Approved
Psychology, Social Work
Certified Counselor

Breaking down.. Part 2

Lindsey and I went into my room to talk.    I shared with her my breakthrough.  I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.  I cried hard.   I told her how my asking to cook breakfast was an opportunity for group interaction.  And how it let me down that they knew I was out in the kitchen working hard for them and I wasn’t thought of. (or so it felt) . She apologized then congratulated me on my breakthrough. we held each other and I cried some more.  I told her I needed to tell DOug about my feelings,  He too deserved to know what was going on.  Its the responsible honest ethical thing to do.  Lindsey then shared with me that Doug had mentioned to her, that he thought , I was going to need some reassurance today and that she should be prepared for that.  That told me he cared about my well being.   That was a huge turning point for  me and it gave me some courage to do the next part. [Learning Note: Its ok to be scared.]

So we went into the dining room. I sat down nibbling on a few pieces of bacon.    I knew I needed to eat something.  Then it happened. I just started talking.  I was scared. Terrified is a better description of my emotional state. Pouring out all my thoughts and the realization that I had come to.   I wanted the opportunity to be Doug’s friend.  I felt that I was being neglected and that normal behaviors were being forgotten .  That I needed to be cared about and cared for. That I apparently had a need to know and connect with possible metamours .   I shared that if I was understanding if that was not a shared feeling and I could learn to do without that connection. However that would be very difficult for me . Doug added “Especially if that situation is occurring in your home and space right in front of you. ” He gets it…. He understands my need.   They listened, and empathized with me.  Lindsey and he held my hands at one point.  We shared thoughts on inclusion and friendship.  The importance of each of us to have a connection with the other, on honesty and feelings, vulnerability.   We laughed at how silly some of this was on the surface. But how in reality these are the things that build connections and grow relationships.  [Learning Note: Being Vulnerable while terrifying, is a form of the greatest honesty we can share with others.]  We reveled in the growth and personal strength that this created.  The positive aspect of the conversation.  How expectations, however small can snowball into an emotional roller coaster and nightmare. How I wanted to respect them and their privacy. At one point we got up to get some water (because we had only been drinking coffee this entire time. ) and Doug and I embraced in a hug.  [Learning Note: When in an emotional conversation keep lots of water handy…. You will need it. ]  We chatted for a while and I checked the time.  It was time for them to leave for yoga. 10:30.     But instead of packing up to leave they chose to stay.  I almost begged them to go because I didn’t want to be the reason they didn’t go.   We acknowledged that time was an issue.  Doug had to be on the road no later than 3 ish to be back home at a decent hour as well as the had already made plans to be home in time to see the eclipse with his home poly family.   Yoga would have them back at 1 they would obviously want some time alone before he left.  and I would not get any time to explore a friendship.  other than this emotional vomit session.  [LEARNING NOTE:  Expectations of time spent should be definite and fully explored and communicated with all PRIOR to the visit.]    With a little more discussion we all agreed we would like to hang out as a group.  We sat on the couch, the three of us, holding each other. Spoiling Lindsey in the process as she was squished between Doug and I… You should have seen the look on her face…  I didnt know a smile could be that big.  I felt happiness for her.  I looked to Doug he too was happy and this made me even happier.   YAY Compersion.  I’m starting to feel better.  My needs were expressed, heard, validated, and honored.  What more can we ask for as human beings?

The next step in our conversation was to discuss what a friendship would look like and how we start formulating that.  For me its just the spending time together .  Having a shared experience in a positive manner.  They both agreed that it is the same for them.  We decided to spend the afternoon together, to go get ice cream at the local Scoop Shop and then hit the local gaming store.   It was a plan.  [Learning Note: WHen you communicate your expectations to those who have the opportunity to do something about it, be prepared to follow through when they say , “YES Lets do that. ” ]

So we set out.  I offered to drive.  We rode around played Ingress and spent time just hanging out. Talking about relationship stuff but in a light and intellectual way.  That lead to good conversations about styles and universal relationship structures, thoughts and our own relationship styles and issues.   At one point, Doug opened up about some of the struggles he has faced in his Poly Journey.  Sharing emotional situations and discovery of his own.  We were trusting each other to share and be vulnerable.  This is more growth and building a foundation on which a friendship can grow.
We went to the game store and got all geeky and nerdy over games. We shared our favorite games. Talked about different game systems and what our next game purchases would be.  Time was running out.  Doug picked out some games he was wanting to buy and we headed to the checkout.  Homeward bound.

We got home and it was nearly time for Doug to leave.  I went in the kitchen to get a drink and, out of habit,  looked down the hall to Lindseys room.  I saw she and Doug looking at each other, in an embrace. and they glowed with happiness.  I smiled turned and walked back the other way thinking ” I hope they kiss hard and like it.”   This thought made me happy, and excited.  MORE COMPERSION!

So what did I get out of this?  All this experience and emotional struggle and hard conversations?  I learned what I need from potential; metamours.  I learned I can be open and honest early on and things will be much easier.  To communicate expectations EVEN IF I think my partners and I are on the same page .  I learned that no matter how long you are poly, issues still happen and to think that you will be ok just because you’ve been going this for a long time is naive and unhealthy.  Polyamory is an ACTIVE relationship choice .  and by that I mean you are always working on some aspect of the relationships.
I think I’m gonna be ok with this… It was a hard weekend but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT> AM I 100% healed? No it will take days for the emotions to sort out and get a full understanding of the impact of what happened. Maybe even weeks.   This ain’t over! #polyprocessing
Thank you Doug and Lindsey.  You are amazing people who helped me get through this hard time.  I love you both.

Breaking Down. Part one of a series.

And so it begins…..
Doug Lindsey and I had an amazing weekend.  But first a little history.
We all had met at Atlanta Poly Weekend this past summer.  We were instant friends because of a shared interest in a game called INgress (viva La Resistance) . Doug, Lindsey and I all met again in Florida a few months later to play the game and we had a great time and there was some chemistry there for sure.
Lindsey and he had been chatting for some time online now and there was an obvious interest to discover more about each other.  He and I, for whatever reason, had not connected on social media and really didnt know that much about one another.   He and I also shared a connection through a different person in Ohio.
Lindsey and I discussed the vist and she shared with me a few texts and messages that led me to believe this visit would have time for me to get to know Doug a bit better.  I got excited at that thought and set an expectation .  I did not express or communicate to Lindsey this expectation other than saying, ” That would be nice I’d like to spend some time with him as well in a group setting”/..   Or something like that.   And we agreed that spending time together would be good for us.
[Learning NOTE: When you set an expectation in your mind be 100% clear to your partner what that is EVEN if you think they implicitly know and understand you]
Saturday, Lindsey, Doug, myself, and the rest of the available family went to lunch together. We spent a couple hours together hanging out and then went our seperate ways. Lindsey and Doug to go hiking, the rest of us went to watch Black Belt testing for our Taekwando class mates.  Before we left Lunch I stated I would cook dinner for everyone and BBQ.

I went and got all the BBQ stuff and then watched Black Belt testing then I went home and started cooking…  and cooking… and cooking some more. I had WAY too much going on and not enough help. Lindsey or Melissa normally help me in the kitchen when things go crazy.   I started feeling it right then, the dread, that hard knot in my stomach. The feeling of abandonment.    But I acknowledged it as a fear of loss and that I should be happy that Lindsey and Doug are getting to experience each other.  After all when they get back we can all hang out a bit.  We did plan on playing games that night.

I wasn’t’ quite finished cooking when they came in and they got bum rushed by Ashley who wanted to tell them all about her day and hear all about the Hiking trip . (Shes 11) . Consequently, Lindsey didnt get into the kitchen for about 15 mins to tell me hi and give  me a kiss. [ Learning Note:This started a feeling of resentment .She ALWAYS comes straight in and kisses me and tells me Hi…. OMJG  Something is different.This must mean something. ]
My brain went into freak out and I was now on Life support. Scared that I was now going to lose her forever and Doug had won….. “But wait Brain……  This isn’t a competition, different doesn’t mean better.” (self reassurance)  FInally after a few minuets longer she walked in the room and gave me a hug and quick kiss.  She asked if there was anything she could do…..  YES oh yes so many things. ” Hold me! Wait you mean cooking?  If you wanted to make a side you can. ”  Mashed potatoes? ” – “Sure if that’s what you want”  And I went outside to check the BBQ. And also to avoid her seeing me as being emotionally struggling.

INternal dialogue was going along the lines of. ” Why are you acting this way?  What are you feeling threatened by?  DOug is a nice guy.  You arent losing anything. SHe is gaining something. …….”  All the while freaking out emotionally .

I was so emotionally compromised that my normally really awesome BBQ was simply not up to par .  SOme of the chicken wasnt even cooked all the way and had to be microwaved to be finished.   I now felt bad about that on top of everything else and was really feeling like a loser, a failure and down into the pit of self hatred I went!   But I was determined to make this work.

After dinner we started our game night with the whole family.  This was a great group interaction.  I was having an ok time…..  but i was feeling really down.  Lindsey had barely touched me at all since she got home. Typically, everytime we passed one another we reach out to touch … if only a brushing of fingers.   (OMJG SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT I am really losing her this time for sure… I bet she already has a bag packed and is waiting till I go to sleep to leave”  )  No seriously I thought that in my head!  That is the voice of someone who has lost all reason and logical thinking ability.  After we finished the game we were playing. (i did not win)  I asked to speak with Lindsey for a few minuets to explain my feelings…..  After all its best if she knows what I am feeling and maybe she isnt aware that she has , in my mind, ignored me.
We chatted and I explained all of the above to her …  and she listened to me…. and I cried….  and she apologized… and I cried… and she said she would try harder to connect with me… and I cried….. then I dried it up and we went to play Cards Against Humanity.   Which was a ton of fun, but only cause I won and by won I mean I had 27 Black cards at the end.

But it was late and I was getting tired.  I knoew they woul be sleeping together…. Maybe sex… IDK, after all I dont know what Doug’s life rules are about sex on a first date.  I said good night, and explained in brief to Doug my feelings about the night and what Lindsey had done to comfort me and reassure me.  and he Understood and thanked me for sharing with him my feelings.  [ LEARNING NOTE:  I always think it is a good idea that all those involved with the emotional  situation be aware of where the emotions of others are. They may not be at fault, but they can lend support. NEVER PLACE BLAME  for an emotional situation on the new person or the existing partner…. Its usually an internal thing that you havent realized. ]      I asked if we could all cook breakfast together in the Mornign and got a tired but what seemed to me to be a positive affirmation that cooking breakfast would be a nice group activity for the 3 of us.

Its 1:30AM and we say good night.   Scared I may overhear their romantic noises from the room next doo I decide to plug in my earbud crank up the EDM and write.  ANd write i did.  I started smashing out feelings and asking questions, developing a self trust work sheet Q&A to go through and the a Partner Trust worksheet.  then a New Interest Trust worksheet…. I asked myself questions like. Do you trust your reaction to the situation to be safe and healthy for all involved?
IN the partner trust I asked things like ”  Do you trust they have no intention of causing you harm?”
And in the New interest category I asked this…” Do you trust the new person to keep your feelings in mind”  ANd that’s when it hit me WHat was causing all this stress, all this emotional turmoil….. the answer I gave shocked me…. “I don’t know. ”  ANd I tried to make it a Yes No answer… I could never answer definitively either way… it was always I do not know. ANd with Bassnecter blasting from my ear buds, I  began to reach inward and ask Why?  Why do I know know if I can trust him.. DOug is  a nice guy (and cute too).  He is fun and caring, I should be able to trust him… I think back to previous relationship maybes from other partners,  I had felt the same way.   Scribbling on my tablet,  Pattern Established … to the very beginning of my relationships……. I didn’t know the person , I couldn’t say if I trust them….  I needed a connection with that possible metamour to understand them.  I was missing out on an experience to get to know someone.  Someone I thought may be a really cool person who I would like to be friends with.
Its now 330 AM… I am very sleepy,  surely they must be finished with anything they may have been doing…  Put down my pad and take out the earbuds….  Sleep time feeling good that I did the work I needed to. Looking forward to sharing the thoughts in the morning while cooking breakfast.

8:00AM I wake up. Getting ready to get out of bed excited that I get to cook breakfast with everyone and share in an experience.   I roll out and start coffee, I am trying to be respectfully quiet as I can as Lindseys room connects to the kitchen.   I go ahead and start cooking after all they want to go to yoga at 11am so they will need to be fed by 930/10 am.  Biscuts, gluten free and regular, from scratch take a while to make. So I started on that.  After both batches were in, I started on the next phase, 1.5 lbs of bacon.
8:45 , I start thinking, they should be up soon,  Im sure they wanted to help me cook, they said so… I see the dog go down the hall to Lindsey’s room.  sitting as if he hears something… I call him back.  I start the water for the grits.

9:15 , the dog has made 2 more trips down the hall. I am convinced they are awake now, although I can’t hear anything as I have put my earbuds back in….. And out of respect for their privacy I choose to not go knock on their door.   Grits are almost done.. They surely know I’m out here cooking.. Im sure they will be up any minute to help.    flip bacon round 2, start eggs.

9:45 everything is done, I start to get out plates and take things to the table…..

10:00 they emerge form lindsey’s room, happy smiling as if they have really enjoied eachothers company.. “good for them. I think…. ” WHat about my happiness… doesnet it matter?”  A snide ugly tone in the back of my head screams at me….  Ok… I need to have  a talk with them… I cant eat now my stomach is in knots and I have lost all appetite…..  I just want to run away and hide.  So I tell them I’m not hungry and I am going to go in my room.     I don’t want Doug to think I’m some emotionally devoid asshole of a partner that is trying to control the experience.   I ask Lindsey to speak again.  In tears I walk to me bedroom and sit on the bed.  I feel horrible for even having these feelings.   I’ve been poly for like 20 years… this should be an easy thing to overcome…. [Learning Note; It doesnt matter how many years you’ve been Poly. If you dont slay the demon that causes you the issue and you use coping mechanisms to circumvent the real issue, you will always have the same problem with every new partner and metamour.]

To be Continued….