A couple years ago, I was going down the back steps to hop into the hot tub when I missed a step completely, and ended up falling heavily, albeit weirdly, on the front of my ankle. Not to be overly graphic, but the cement patio scraped a section of skin about two inches around completely off, so deeply the tendons were visible at spots. Not only did it really hurt, I was concerned about infection, and worried about working, because in my day job, I do therapeutic massage with my feet.
So, I cleaned it up the best I could, applied some antibiotic ointment, one of those big fabric bandages, and hoped for the best. The next couple weeks in particular were a struggle to bend, extend, and push with that area of my body during work. It took significant force of will to just do the bare minimums, and I didn't do anything at the gym, or walking, if I could help it.
Eventually, the skin began to regrow, knit together, and form a lump of scar tissue on the top of my ankle, and that became the new struggle: to keep the scar flexible as it healed, so that I didn't lose range of motion. This is where my job became an asset to me. Since I move my feet in more different directions in an hour than most people do in a day, the scar tissue healed well, bulky, but flexible. It is stronger than the original skin, but also takes up more space. It used to be angry and red, but now, two years later, its mostly blends in with the paleness that is the norm for my body.
Things changed in my poly life last year. There was the loss of a significant relationship, a major shift in my connection with my metamours, and substantial change in the way my parenting landscape works. It felt like my whole emotional life was a gaping wound, showing my internal weaknesses, and vulnerability. I couldn't get away from all the ways I failed myself, failed others, even if I could logically see that much of what happened was unavoidable. So, I took a big step back from community, from connection, from dating, from risk. I holed up, and tried to keep those wounds from getting infected. Wrapped the pain up tightly, and waited to heal.
The biggest challenge was that those hurts didn't heal up nice and neat. They kept breaking open, and for a long time that confused me. I was doing self-care. I had a supportive and loving partner. Why weren't things getting better faster? Then it occurred to me: The scar was getting stiff, because I wasn't using those areas of my heart that had been damaged. I'd shut things down in a bid to protect myself, but every time I tried to move forward in some fashion, I hadn't built the flexibility to do that without pulling those wounds open.
So, I started to stretch again. Cautiously, carefully, and consciously. I went on a few dates, and for several months, I had limited ability to connect with anyone on a deeper level, so I'd usually flame out pretty quickly, and then take another breather before I tried again.
Eventually, I met a fellow, M, who was newer to the area, and part of a live-in quad, doing the type of poly I like to do, with an extended family feel. We connected well, and formed a solid connection. I met M's wife, and other her partner, and his wife and child. That was all good, yet hard too, because it felt a lot like what I had, and lost, but this time, I didn't back up. I kept stretching those wounds, and reaching out towards the people, the bonds, and the environments that feed me the most, and things started to feel a little easier. I was moving in the direction of being a bit more fully ME again.
Over time, the desire to write, to use my voice again, has been growing. After having things blow apart, I didn't find much value in sharing my thoughts. It felt hypocritical to think I had anything of value to contribute. That's started to change, so I've begun writing. Some of that content you're not likely to see anytime soon, as it's still too raw for public consumption. Perhaps someday in the medium term. For now, some of what you'll read here is easy, and some will be more challenging. Bear with me... This post is a step in that process.
The drive to create something broadly useful within the community has reasserted itself, so I restarted the Poly Discussion Group, began a Face Book group to support that, and also moderate another poly forum. This time though, I've asked for more help, more input from the people around me to build additional structure, to contribute in ways that don't leave me feeling like this is all my ball to push uphill alone. The first meeting after taking a year off was last weekend, and it was wonderful! Even better has been the follow through afterwards. I'm excited and optimistic about the possibilities!
Last week M was out of town, and I got to spend some extra time with my metamour. That stretched something in me a bit. To have someone deliberately choose to spend their time and energy with me, even in the absence of our shared partner, because I am comforting and enjoyable to be with. I've also gotten to spend extra time in other contexts with the other people in their household over the past couple weeks, and have deeply appreciated the extension of energy and acceptance. Feeling like I have something to offer, to others, and to myself, is my happy place.
Choosing not to do something that feeds me because I am afraid it will be taken away is a horrid reason to stop reaching. Yes, take time to close gaping wounds, and remain aware that the scars formed will take stretching, and management on an ongoing basis. That's what baggage is, and whether it impedes the path forward, or gets unpacked, is up to each of us. Right now, life isn't all sunshine and puppies, but it is something I can work with, finding the depth of resolve that drives me, and creating anew, even with these scars.