Friday, January 22, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches, or, Polysaturation.

I'm full up. Really. Totally. Completely. It's a good feeling, and one that stretches me. Of course, I kind of like being stretched in good ways, so that's working! ;) If you'd told me that about six months ago, I wouldn't have thought it likely. Granted, I've never really had issues finding interested parties, but interesting, highly-skilled, smart, non-flaky people that put in just like they take out, looking for sustainable long-term connections, well, those are a bit harder to come by! Oh yes! And all local! THAT takes some doing as well!

So, what's a woman to do when surrounded by so many luscious opportunities? Be grateful. That's where I'm starting from. I'm grateful that I have two fantastic men, PG and S, that I love deeply, to live with, be family with, and handle all the niggling necessities of life alongside. I'm grateful that the couple I've been dating, T and Z, moved to this area a few months ago. I'd been getting to know them in bits and pieces online for quite a bit prior to that, and it's created a nice streamlining as I've gotten to know them in person. They are consistently who they present as in all that I've read and heard to this point, and much more in person! I'm grateful for my friend, D, who is moving in the direction of being more than strictly platonic, who is caring and patient, and delightfully insightful in ways that I appreciate deeply.

After all that gratitude comes a bit of panic. How can I possibly do it all? Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Since these are all adults who can take care of themselves, by and large, I just get to be the best me I can bring to the table (or bed, or couch, or whatever surface seems handy), and when someone needs something from me, they get to ask for it, and I can say yes or no! Since I have a good level of appreciation for my own giving nature, that's a pretty comfortable place to be.

Following panic, there's a bit of euphoria. It's that, "It's a cold winter night, the pantry is full, and you're snuggled up by the fire with a warm beverage, and even warmer company." sort of feeling. It's just multiplied out by a higher factor than the usual settings!

T and Z, and D are a bit more oriented towards the kinked side of the fence, so that creates more opportunities to explore that side of my sexuality than I've had in a while, and consistently with the same people, which I find most rewarding. In addition, each and every one of my partners are very cerebral, touchy feely, and emotionally aware. (sigh of contentment) Let's hear it for bringing one's game up a notch or so!

On the other hand, there's a been a smidge of disgruntlement from some people who had indicated interest in dating in the past, where the timing wasn't right. Sort of a sense that, once I decided that I was open to date, there should have been a "right of first refusal" sort of setting, where they got first shot at it. Since when do I have a obligation to make a declaration of Open Season on putting myself into the dating pool again? Actually, since I largely have been in huntress mode, that just never even occurred to me. Picture the duck, from the really old Looney Tunes cartoons, who tosses himself into the dog's mouth. That's about the size of it. Putting myself out there was a bit risky, but I've found that it generally works well for me, and at worst, someone feels flattered about my interest.

So, I head towards next weekend, when we are hosting a Poly Potluck at our home, with anticipation. Looking toward feeling a deeper sense of community, at having many of my connections, PG's and S's all here at once. T and Z are bringing a visitor along, the first of T's other partner's I'll have the opportunity to meet in the foreseeable future. PG is bringing his newest serious connection along, as well as her Sig O. The kids will be here. The dogs, well, we'll try it out! It'll be a zoo, but it'll be a fun zoo! And at some point, I will pause, look around, and acknowledge that I've got it damn good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The last 10%

When someone has been injured and they come in to see me for bodywork, it's a process of gradual improvement. There is generally a pretty steady upward curve for the first segment, and then it's down to the last 10%. The final portions of recovery are the parts that take the most time and awareness, and are usually the most frustrating. By the time the injured party is at that point in the process, they feel pretty good most of the time, and it's usually then that an important mistake happens: "You know, I've been wanting to build that retaining wall in the yard. The weather's pretty nice this weekend, so how about we just crank that out?".

The next thing I know, said client is back on the table in a condition that I may have not seen for months! When a system isn't fully healed and stabilized, doing something very strenuous can put things backwards quite a bit. It isn't because that last 10% is such a big piece of the whole, it's because that 10% is the foundation for everything else, and when it goes, everything else goes to pot in sympathy.

So, I've been thinking about this idea in connection to relationship "injuries". When there's been a trauma in a connection, taking the time to do the rehab on it is valuable, and even when things feel highly functional and positive, it may be worth considering that some of the latent injury may take time to become fully stable.

As PG and I have hit the reset button on our relationship, this is something that I want to keep in mind. To not push too hard, too quickly, to back up from something if there's a sense of strain, rather than continuing forward to prove that I can do it (whatever it is), because it may not be the right time to push ahead, because the long-term stability piece is more important to me than getting all the i's dotted, and t's crossed immediately. So, I shall attempt to allow things to find a equilibrium without managing that as actively, and listening to those little twinges before they become full-out spasms.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


When I tell people who don't already identify as poly about choosing this for myself, one of the usual responses is that this won't be a successful relationship model. After all, if over half of traditional marriages end in divorce, how can something that is more complex survive?

This viewpoint is based on a pass-fail way of looking at things. If you do a relationship "right", you'll be together, forever, until you die, and anything else is a failure. To that, I say: Crapola! Each and every relationship I've ever had, including the ones that would be considered failures by this measure, has taught me new skills, brought fresh perspectives, more awareness, and a more developed sense of self.

Relationships are often about learning things from others that you might not stumble across on your own, so even when it isn't something that lasts forever, there's still value in what is learned, and from what is taught in return. Some of those lessons aren't as easily accessible in a day-in, day-out relationship, others seem to require a level of consistent exposure that scours away artifice, where routine becomes a path to deeper understanding of self and other. Some of the things learned show us paths that aren't desirable, others grow even more enriching upon repetition.

Having been in a space where the dissolution of my marriage was a distinct possibility over the past several months, I've thought about that whole pass-fail dynamic a bit. I'm very happy that the reset button has been hit, and things are on a positive track, but even in the darkest time I wouldn't have seen a divorce as a failure in the sense that most would. I've been blessed to be in a wonderful relationship with a caring and supportive partner since I was 18 years of age. If it had ended or changed significantly, that wouldn't have changed. There are a great many ways that having a stable connection for my entire adult life has been beneficial, and that value doesn't just go away.

That said, one main thing I seek in a relationship is continuity, so it's something that I select for with partners. I'd rather have good long-term relationships than something fleeting, no matter how intense. The difference is that, if things don't work out as planned, it isn't a failure. It's an opportunity to learn and do better the next time. It's only if you stop trying, allow the fear of failure to limit your opportunities to love, that failure becomes part of the equation.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Community as family

It's been a very stressful and challenging six months. As PG was sharing in an earlier post, things have been all over the map for him, and for us. I've leaned pretty significantly into my support networks, into S, people that I am delighted to be dating, and many of the friends that we've been able to form community with.

One of the things that has been very pivotal for me has been the response that I've gotten from these people over the past several months. When things hit a pretty intense pitch a couple weeks ago. I contacted my friends, my play partners, and let them know that I would likely be less accessible for a while. The response I was expecting was sympathy, and an offer to give me space that I might need. What I received was the sympathy, but also offers of support, repeated check-ins to make sure I was doing ok, offers to have dinner, snuggle, and invitations to be in a different space.

So many people pay lip-service to the idea of community or family. They are in it as long as it is comfortable or convenient, and when things feel less than completely pleasant, they step back to clear themselves from that space. What I am being shown is an entirely different type of community, where, even when things are less than pleasant, rather than shying away, there is stepping forward to help hold me up. I am humbled and blessed by the people in my life.

PG and I have turned the corner with our relationship, and decided that together is still a better place to be than apart, that the love is still there, that this family is worthy, and that we can each pursue individual goals and dreams within the context of being partnered/married. We are beginning again, with different skills and experiences to draw off of, and renewed commitment to each other, and I thank my community for being there for us during this trial, and invite you to share our joy in this renewal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Over Communicating

Hello. My name is Polyfulcrum, and I'm an over-communicator. (Crowd waves. "Hi, Polyfulcrum!")

Communication, communication, communication. It's a common poly mantra. What do you need to make this whole thing work? Well, good communication skills, of course! Then, there's me. I've been known to push for that extra level of information sharing, the next step in resolution, just one more concern to be addressed! For me, it's a way of sharing intimacy, to share information, to talk, to be open. For some, this can feel like control, a way of forcing intimacy, of not being content with what is freely given, since I'm implicitly asking for more.

So, having identified this as a potential problem, what can I do to move towards a solution? Well, as simple as this sounds, I can just shut the F up, listen to what is said without pushing to find out what is not said, and actually allow the conversations I share with others to remain at the level that is comfortable to them. Sometimes, people just want to have a relaxed discussion, and not wax all philosophical, and that's going to be sufficient!

There may be times where others use a lack of information sharing, or under communicating, as a means of self-protection or control as well. Being able to discern the difference between, "I'm just all talked out." and "I don't want to share with you." is a skill that is good to hone. The first seems pretty reasonable, even if it isn't something that often happens to me. The latter is not something that I want to promulgate (Thanks for bringing that vocab word back up, D!) on a relationship level.

Now, I do have several people in my orbit that are similar to me in this way. Discussing relationships, ideas, examining nuances and shades of meaning is just fascinating stuff for us! Really, never gets old. The trick is to know when to shut it off, and just enjoy sharing someones company. And if I'm REALLY in the mood to just talk my fool head off, well, I know people that are going to be willing to do that with me, and I would be well-served to seek out their company, instead of pulling out the entrails of a conversation with someone that would rather just eat the steak without really seeing that it did come from an actual animal. ;)