No more “WE”

Folks, It has been too long and I’ve been too quiet. I have been withholding a lot of stuff out of the fear that someone else may be hurt by what I have to say. I don’t intend to harm anyone. But I really don’t have a good outlet for what I am going through other than this blog.

This withholding of information goes directly against my personal and ethical belief of transparency and honesty at all times, but especially in times of hardship and struggle. We like to share the good with our friends, neighbors, and followers, but all to often we hide the not so good out of fears. Sometimes that fear is shame of the situation, other times we are coerced by fear to protect someone else’s feelings. Neither of these are ok in my system. Allowing this to happen undermines my own value system and causes greater problems for me than just owning the crap that is going on in my life.

Don’t hear me wrong however, my intention is not to deliberately cast shade to another person. I truly am going through some stuff and I feel I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. And hey, random internet people have probably been through this or a similar situation and may be able to offer me support, answers to any questions I have, or even just an ear to listen.

My struggle.

Like about 50% of the American population I am currently in the midst of a Divorce. Yep we are at “separation level”.  Many of you may have already known this from previous posts I made. But there it is. I know many of you may be saying ‘ Eh it’s a divorce, what’s the problem, these happen all the time’ .

The act of separation and divorce isn’t really the problem. I am logical in accepting in the descision that we agreed to. We both have grown in different ways. We still care about each other and love each other in a way that I can’t explain. We are co-parenting our child in the same house with our existing partners… Like nothing has *really* changed, except for our joint identity.

Well, recently it has become evident to me that being married to this one person for half of my life has given me an identity that I now have to separate from. Not only the person that is leaving this part of my life, but now I have to lose a part of myself that I have had for this long. That’s deep stuff right there.

Attempting to accept this separation of the relationship and separation with self identities is where I am currently struggling. The joy she shares with other used to be the joy WE shared with others. The trips to visit friends , used to be OUR trips. The things she does alone , are all things WE did together. But now I find I am home alone when she goes to do these things.

For some things, it is my choice not to be there, for others it’s not even asked if I would like to go. I miss the US things. Those things WE did. I find myself having a real hard time accepting that WE don’t exist as a concept or construct anymore. ANd I think it’s more the latter…. a construct.

This seems to be the biggest point. Society puts so much value on a person based on their relationship status. Society is hierarchical in treatment, acceptance, and value based solely on what your marital or relationship status is. The more “committed you are” the more ” accepted you are” and this is where I have a great deal of problems with societal relationship scripts.

Everyone has value. Every, single, individual person has value . Once more for those in the back, EVERYONE; EVERY, SINGLE, INDIVIDUAL, HUMAN BEING, HAS VALUE. We have placed so much on the value of people as a unit and ability to provide offspring, and contribute to society as a couple , that I think we are losing that individuality that make relationships so wonderful the people in them.

My first struggle is losing that “couple identity” that I had with this person for half my life. I don’t know how to be single. I never was. Part of me is wondering what I missed out on as a single person.  I wonder where I may be and who I may have become had I not gone the way I did.  Not with regret,  but curiosity.  I am very happy with my choices and the person I have become.   Including the ones that have lead me to this blog post.

Secondly, we developed an identity with another person as a triad.  We all formed a relationship with interpersonal feelings and connections.  I am losing that as well.  As the other members of the triad are continuing their relationships on without me in that.  And there is likely some envy of that deep down inside somewhere.  But I do not at all have bad feelings for them. Infact, I wish them great happiness together.  They are very happy together.

My current live in partner, and also fiance’, and I are very intentional and direct. The two of us discuss things and make plans based on how each of us want to live as individuals. Not as “we” want to live as a couple. Each of us are building support for our individual needs and the needs of our relationship. These needs may be and often are separate things . As individuals our needs are not the same thing as the needs of the relationship, and that is an important part of it. Knowing what the individual needs are so the relationship can flourish. This was not the case with my previous relationship that is now ending. In the previous each of us took a LOT for granted and assumptions were made based on a lot of societal scripts.

We started our relationship with the ideals of individual first, including the right to self-determination, self-autonomy, and non-hierarchy. We hold transparency, respect and honesty in high regard. And through conversation,  neither of us have indicated that we would like that to change anytime soon.  It is definitely challenging but also very rewarding.  And this is much more inline with my value system than the other relationships I have had.

My identity crisis, as I am calling it now, means that I have to unlearn all this behavioral crap and societal scripting that was built up over 20 years of being with this same person and learning how to relate to them in a totally different way. WHILE at the same time, unlearn what it was to be a triad and what this means for my Polyamorous identity.

I need to learn to let go of that “us” and accept that she is she and I am me. And that they are they and I am me.  Each of us is an individual with feelings, and ability to move through this emotional rollercoaster in different ways and as much as it hurts,  and as nice as we are to one another…
at least for the foreseeable future, there is no more WE, as there was.

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.

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!

 

 

 

When Metamours collide.

Being polyamorous can be hard enough at times when everyone is getting along well.  Now imagine that the metamours of a relationship don’t get along at all. Or better yet, have zero interaction and limited conversation with one another.  It can get real uncomfortable.

So what happens if they don’t get along?  How do you manage to ‘keep the peace’ and keep things moving smoothly, especially at group functions.  I have found that the best way is to encourage friendly social activities in times when there are shared interest. Not to push, but to encourage.  It is hard to do .  No one wants to make anyone uncomfortable or on edge but we want peace.

Sometimes they just cant.  For what ever reason one of the people maybe just cant be in the same area, room, county, or state as the other and it really makes them uncomfortable to hear stories about your oSo, or join in group activities.  Well in this case there really is nothing you can do but be supportive and try to be there when they need you.  They may ask for a lot of time during this period as will your other.  Try your best to give them the time they each need. individually, and reassure them that you’re not going to disappear with the other.

These situations are also good times to assert your individuality and do things on your own. Yep not involving anyone else, just you.  It can be very rewarding.  and everyone does their own thing then comes back and shares experiences.  This is most likely to be the situation at a con or music festival or other event with multiple things going on.  Sometimes at community events, dinners with large groups etc this is also possible.

So all that may work for the interactions but how about for the non interactions. The thoughts and feelings that come up when one starts feeling a way about another?  I will listen to what they have to say and TRY MY BEST not to defend the other I say simply and firmly… ” I am sorry that you feel that way and I can see how it may look like that.  I suggest you talk to them about it the way you just talked to me…. calmly, respectfully, and then you all can come up with a solution that may work for you.  ”  Or at least I try to say that. The point is to not be the middle person, the net between the players.  Its ok to mediate, just dont be the messenger.

 

In summary, what do you do?  Reassure, take care of needs, encourage group time, encourage  individual time and encourage them to discuss their differences with each other.  This wont always be easy, nor will it always be the fix but my experience says it can help.  and a little relief is sometimes the best.