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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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Before you talk.

Ask this question and hopefully you can gain clarity and a better way to communicate.

What do you need from me in this conversation?

Lets talk about this.    What the crap does this even mean?  Of course, they want to tell you whatever it is and have you fix it right?  Not likely.  Its been my experience that many times we try to “fix” the problem and only make matters worse.
Case in point,
Melissa/Lindsey ” Can I talk to you about some stuff that’s bugging me?”
Me “Sure whats up?”

“Well, this thing happened and it made me feel ______”  At this point it does not matter WHAT the thing is OR the emotional response. Typically this is in reference to a negative emotional response. What matters is what you do from this point.

My typical response to this is, “Well, I didn’t mean it that way.” “I was just trying to________”  Or  ” Wow really?  I had no idea that was gonna make you feel like that.” “I’m sorry” . Insert explanation and reasoning  to validate my meaning and not the way the partner feels.  Yea, that is not the way to do it.  Yet that seems to be the standard narrative that we go to.  Why?  Who knows really.  I’m sure there is a study somewhere but I’m not here to figure out why.  My goal is to share with you a positive mode of communication.

This week Lindsey came to me and asked if we could talk.  She had made a realization after chatting with a friend about some things and wanted to share them with me.  Before the conversation actually started I tried something different.

“Before we get started I would like to ask what you need from me in this conversation?  Do you need support, reasoning, want me to just listen?  ”  I said to her… I think she was a bit taken aback by my question as this is out of character for me.

She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and said, “I think I’d like you to listen first and when I am done if I need anything more I’ll ask. ”

“That is fair” I replied.  and sat waiting to listen. This is contrary to my standard behavior.  and my insides were screaming at me to blurt out apologies and explanations, even though none of what she was saying was my fault nor did I have control over any of it.  She explained some issues she has with an upcoming trip I am taking and some things that have been happening on a daily basis that reinforce those fears.  Explaining all the while how they make her feel and what her thoughts are on where the fear is based.  It was really good to see her open up to me about these things and share with me the scary parts of our relationship that she lives with on a daily basis.  I know she was scared.  It takes a lot of guts to come out and say some of the scary stuff one faces daily.

I listened for all of it. Never once interrupting.  I wont lie I had to really fight to not interject at times and try to explain a behavior or phrasing.  But I never did…  I listened to the end.

After she was done I sat looking at her and reached out for a hug.  we embraced and I held her for a moment and told her,
“Thank you for sharing that with me. It sucks that you have all this going on inside.”    (Acknowledgement of HER feelings.  Ive been trying really hard to do this lately.)

We talked about strategy for trips. DIscussed future conversations and how this was a positive experience. We talked in more detail about how things daily can be less of a stressor around trips I take to see other connections and go to conferences where I may make new connections.

We say that the biggest thing that makes poly work, or any relationship really, is the ability to clearly communicate expectations, feelings, and plans.  This is a great way to learn how to listen better.

Asking upfront what the speaker needs to get in the conversation allows the expectation to be set. ” This is what I need from you. Nothing more. ”  It also sets a boundary.  A safe space for the conversation.  If you cross that line then yes you are the butt head and they have every right to shut off the conversation and walk away. Because you obviously don’t care what they have to say.  I am NOT saying sit there and be a punching bag for a person.

You too have a right to end the conversation if you feel at all like they have crossed a line, are making things too personal, or perhaps its a bit much for you to process at once and you need a break.  If this is the case, I suggest that you politely, raise your hand.  YES Just like in grade school.  This is the universal sign for I need to ask a question.  They can acknowledge you.  and then you can say ” I need a break”  “I’m not understanding you”  ” Can we slow this down a bit I’m getting lost”  ” I feel like this is attacking me and I would like to stop this conversation.”

All of this can be set up ahead of time in the “What do you need from me in this conversation”   but that question can be the difference between a fight and a loving meaningful conversation that brings you closer to the person you are talking to.I plan on using it more often  and making it a part of my standard of communication. Anytime someone close to me says, ” Can I ask you/talk to you about something?”  I hope you have the same results I did.

Things are getting real.

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Yep… Shit got real the last couple days.
And by that I mean,  I have been sharing real honest feelings and situations with you, my readers.  your response was amazing… I have had 2 days on my blog when viewership has been 150+ and both of those days had to do with real life stuff.   As an educator and activist in the community I would be blind not to see this as a sign of something bigger.

We, educators/activists, can write, blog, talk powerpoint, and definition the topic to death and folks won’t learn a thing. Or worse yet they leave with knowledge but no real life way to apply it.   It occurs to me that by not giving these real life examples I have been doing the rest of the community a great disservice as well as self shaming my own experiences as negative . Hiding them from the world.

Polyamory Relationships, have problems.   Plain and simple.. I don’t care if you have a mono, or poly.  It really doesn’t matter what type of relationship practice you have, you will at some point encounter issues and problems with another person.   One of the many things about Polyamory that I like is this, the relationship structure can at times force a person to work on the underlying causes of the problem(s).  There is no “autopilot” in Polyamory.

In monogamy it can sometimes be easy to ‘set the cruise’ and just ride the relationship roller-coaster to the end.  Both parties can get complacent, have underlying personal problems that they don’t recognize OR that they feel would burden their partner.  Sometimes the partner just doesn’t have the emotional capacity to know when something is not right.  Other times the participants fear upsetting the balance of the relationship.  Or they don’t want to disappoint society and end what everyone around them thinks is an amazing relationship. Moreover though it has been my experience that we just get complacent.  And that can do a lot of damage.

In a polyamorous situation that experience has been vastly different. Sometimes, one person who will not settle for less than the best that you have to offer.  Other times the participants in the relationship can recognize an issue that is effecting the overall dynamic of the relationship and address it as a group.  Perhaps there is a person who has a need that isn’t getting met. If that person doesn’t speak up out of (insert reason here) then many times one of the others may speak up for them and encourage that voice to be heard.   Polyamory makes us work for the greater good.

The Poly Mantra is supposedly “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate” .  What exactly does that mean?  I hear people say, ” We talk about everything”.  But do you?  REALLY  ????
Do you talk about what you need?   “I need to know you value my accomplishments in my self work”  ” I need to understand you more completely.”
Do you ask for love?  “When you are upset at something I did can you please be kind when we discuss it?”  ” I know you love me when you do _____”
When your partner(s) do something that upsets you, do you discuss it in a healthy productive way?   ” When you do _____ I feel _____”  vs  ” You should not have done _______ now everything is f*cke*”   EXAMPLE…   Melissa and I have been rebuilding a lot of things in our relationship lately and one of those is the way we talk to each other.   INstead of being critical of her actions when I don’t agree with them, IF it affects me directly,  I can address her as such… NEW WAY “When you don’t clean up your things, it makes me feel like you don’t respect our home. “– OLD WAY  ” I wish you would clean up after yourself.”  The latter is very negative focused.  It is not telling them how it makes me feel and therefore I am not stating a very important need… To feel that those in the house respect the place we call home.
How about when they do something nice for you.  Do you explain to them how that makes you feel loved and appreciated?  ” WHen you message me out of the blue to say hi, it makes me feel loved. ”   ” Thank you for buying me cookies, it makes me happy that you thought of me.”
What about the mundane, everyday stuff..  They brought you a glass of water while you were working in the garden, or had a cold sports drink waiting for you after a workout in the basement?  Do you thank them sincerely and tell them you appreciate it?  “Thank you for that glass of water.  It really shows me you care about my well being.”

Some will say about this method,  These are all standard things.  I know that my partner loves me.  Of course they would bring me a glass of water, that is the decent human thing to do……  My reply, so is showing appreciation.  If we just say “thanks” and keep on going then over time that glass of water will stop being there.  The mindset becomes, ” They must not appreciate it/me that much.”   That act of kindness, caring and love will stop.

If not,  and you are experiencing any  hardships in your relationship, I encourage you to talk about the things in your life that evoke emotional responses.   Especially those which are positive.   This will set an atmosphere of love and kindness.  Your partners will notice the change and they may even ask about it.  It may lead to them responding in kind when you do things for them. YES you have to return the service.  Its not a one way street to happiness.   SO those things that you enjoy receiving, simple things… try handing them a glass of water after they come in from working in the yard.. “Here, I saw you were working in the yard and I thought you may like a glass of water.”  (or tea or sports drink whatever they like. )
This is being real in your relationship.   THIS is a REALationship.    A place where everyone feels welcome, loved and cared for, validated and supported.  These are the building blocks to my successful(ish) journey in Polyamory and I am working hard everyday to build these skills and be a more real person.    Im not in a relationship for me.  I go into a relationship hoping that all those involved will be able to get something out of it.  Healthy relationships are mutual endeavours by consenting  individuals whom wish to grow together.

I encourage more educators and activists to join me in sharing our real stories, situations success and failure at Polyamory.  It is only through mistakes that we learn and grow.  Share. I am hoping that every week I can share ONE story or event that is a real life learning experience or validation of a practice.   Opening up ….. for real.

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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….

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New Horizons and what’s been going on.

SO just a quick update on things in my polycule.

We are growing and building with each other.  This month marks a big step.. Lindsey’s house is up for sale and an offer has come in.  through some negotiations we have an agreed price and terms.  Now we hope the lenders approve and she can sell her house.  Thsi will be so helpful to have that property and those bills done away with.   It will be freeing of stress and helpful in the financial world for the house.

We set up a new budget and contribution schedule pending the sale of Lindsey’s house.   We took all the joint bills added them together then divided by 4 .  Due to the fact that incomes are different and what qualifies as a “fair share” doesn’t always mean “equal parts”  we adjusted  the amounts to reflect  a more accurate representation of one’s income.  For instance, one of us in the house makes substantially more than the lowest paid person in the house.  Is it fair that they both pay equal parts?  We decided not so.   The Highest paid pays  a little more than the mean and the lowest paid a little less .  The middle paid also contribute more than the lowest paid but not as much as the highest.
(I hope that makes sense.)

I also have recently bought Lindsey a ring. (She knows so this isnt a spoiler)  But I cant find a good time or think of a good place to give her the ring.   Id like for the whole family to be there.  However, the kitchen is not always the best place to present someone with a ring. LOL .  If any of my readers have any ideas feel free to shoot me a message via the contact page.

I bought a new car!   Yep 2015 Honda Accord.  Moved up to  a family class car.  LOL We needed something bigger. As our family is growing we will need something that can fit us all comfortably on road trips.

What else…….  Bought new windows for the house!

Getting ready for ’15/’16 conference season.   I’ve sent in my presenter applications to all those that I normally go to.  I will not be presenting at Beyond the Love this year however I will be in Attendance.   I have yet to hear back from Poly Living Phili…..  Ill be in attendance at Sex Down South and Infinity Con (2 new Sex Positive cons in the Atlanta Metro.  I am really looking forward to all the learning coming up in the near future and new connections with new people .  Also very much looking forward to renewing connections with those I haven’t seen in awhile.

So thats about all that is going on.  Want to hear my take on a particular topic?  Ask me in the comments or send me an email .  I’d bet happy to lend my opinion.

NRE navigating the rush.

NRE, New Relationship Energy.   That overwhelming rush of emotion when a new interest enters your life.  Everytime they message you, call you or you see their face it washes over you making you forget all the rational things that you have been taught about relationships.  Its confusing and can be scary at times.  Feeling like you aren’t yourself…. Well thats because you aren’t.

Studies show that NRE causes chemical reactions in our brain dumping the feel good chemical “Dopamine” and Oxytocin. (there are many many studies on dopamine, oxytocin  and love) Here is a good break down and explanation of one of those studies.  This accesses the reward stimuli of the brain and makes us feel good about the situation.  Who doesn’t like to feel good? So, many times we are blind by the good feeling. We are just going with the flow and we dont see the possible damages we are doing to those around us.

So lets talk about some of those negative things associated with NRE.

  • Eagerness to do everything suggested.

Many times when we are in NRE, the new person takes priority in our mind.  This is not intentional in most cases. We tend to be more willing to explore what is new and exciting our brain (remember dopamine?) . Many times we commit to things that we normally would not just to get to see that person, spend time with the and enjoy the high of infatuation .  Face it you have not yet spent enough time with them to call it love.  You may think it is but logically you cant make that decision yet. So this limits the time you have for yourself and others, if you are nonmonogamous or spend a lot of time with your family.

  • Losing track of time

I thought that was next weekend?  WHAT your Birthday is SUNDAY??!! I had plans with (new person) . As we all know there ae only so many days in a week and hours in a day. and when we allow our new relationships to consume our time not only can we forget important dates and activities, but it can also be exhausting to our own psyche.  Remember to make time for you. that will help to clear all the fuzzy happy feeling for a few and let you come back to reality world and remember everything else.  Even if you have calendar reminders et and all that… You can forget.. I do.  Example… I had met a new person and we got along well .  explored a little of each other and then we went home.  They live about 4 hours away from me and I knew that getting to see them would prove difficult.Over the next couple weeks we flirted and chatted online.  We felt that we would like to share each others company again. I also had been invited by the local community to come and teach a class on Polyamory .  Well I thought “hey I can do the class AND see this person. WIN”    I looked at my calender and picked a saturday.  I scheduled a class in the area to teach and they said I could stay with them.  Well that was all good… Until I told my girlfriend of over a year the plan. See her birthday was the SUNDAY of that weekend. I had promised her something amazing.   I fail at calenders…. i looked only at the Saturday because I was blinded by the excitement of maybe getting to see this new person.  We talked I rescheduled and everything is good now.  Lesson learned… LOOK at the WHOLE calender. Talk to partner BEFORE making commitments.

  • The “L” Word

Many people say this early on and while still in the throws of NRE.  And thats fine.. As long as you and the other person(s) knw exactly wheat you mean.  The L word doesnt mean the same thing to everyone.  Do you love being around them?  Do you love the sex?  Do you love the wayyou feel around them?  Do you just love everyone openly and say it freely to mean a platonic love?  These kinds of things all matter and if you aren’t specific  they could give the wrong impression.  I suggest being direct and specific about the type of love you are experiencing.  ANd to look deeply at it before you say it.  Do you know this person well enough to say it.  Are you jsut infatuated at htis time and your NRE Brain is thinking its love?  Be aware and if ther eis any doubt dont say it .

Thats 3 things I find can be big issues in NRE based times and a few ways to try to make it easier.  Now on to the good stuff.  What is good about NRE?  it confuses us, makes us feel at odds with our brains, and at times we act really silly and in ways we arent accustomed to.  Well NRE is a healthy emotional response and feeling it and embracing it can be freeing and mentally gratifying.

  • NRE for Mental growth.

When we can slow down and recognize we are in NRE, it gives us the rare ability to attempt to be objective about our emotional response to certain situations.  This gives us a chance to grow , mentally.  Open our minds to different ways of thinking. Our new person has a way of thinking that is different than ours and we can learn that and maybe even try it to see how it works.  Learning new ways to think and act on those thought is so healthy .

  • NRE for personal Growth

When we try new things with new people.  This gives us an opportunity to do things, maybe our previous or current partners arent interested in.  SO we have opportunity.  We get a shared experience.  As well as, it becomes a bonding event.  Something that you have together. Maybe it pushed your limits and you would not have tried it unless you were in a state of mind that let you lose some inhibitions .  This due to being excited about the new person.  *Example,  * When i met Lindsey,  we staggered through NRE for several months. Ups and Downs.  I introduced her to Geocaching, she really like is now but it ws something she would not have done on her own (or so she tells me) if she didn’t have an activity partner to do it with.

  • NRE for existing relationship growth

If you have a current relationship,  this can be a good thing.  Especially if you feel or your partners are open to feeling compersion.  Sharing your happy with your existing partner can be such a wonderful feeling.  Of course you don’t want to go over the top and constantly gush about the new person in your life .  I suggest, use the happy to infuse the existing relationship with energy and awareness that it deserves.  Make it special and important just like the new one.   and you can use NRE to boost ERE! This can vary in the manner you do it based on your relationship structure and style.

Well there are 3 ups and 3 downs of NRE.  It is in no way a complete list or solution guide.  but its something to start with.

 

Id love to hear how you deal with NRE and what tactics you use to cope, manage and use NRE.  Comment or message me your thoughts.

 

Until I write again!