Saturday, July 31, 2010

How much is enough?

For quite a while I had a policy about dating, one that was created and honed by experience, and it seemed like a darn good idea: Don't date people that don't have a primary partner already. You see, having done that a few times, it seemed pretty apparent that those who didn't have a "primary" partner, which I'll define as someone that they either lived with, or had significant emotional and practical entwinement with, always seemed to want/need more from me than I had available to give, in terms of time and practical/emotional commitment. So why get into something just to feel inadequate, and have someone move on once they found what they really wanted in another partner?

Cut to the current time, where S and I have that live-in entwined thing, but I also have two other partners, neither of which have a "primary". Honestly, I've been kind of nervous about that. While I feel like I contribute positively to each of my partners, I don't have the amount of energy or time available that I would like to share. So, how much is enough?

For years, I've tried to make that choice for others. If I didn't feel like I had enough to give, I just didn't move into the relationship in the first place. Still not thinking that is a bad idea, actually. What's shifted is that I am trusting others more to let me know if what I have to give is sufficient for them, rather than unilaterally making that call.

It's definitely been something that is discussed in advance of getting emotionally attached. Conversations like this one: "Hey, I really like you, and feel good connection. I'd like to take this deeper, but am really concerned that only having enough available time for a weekly date, and several phone calls isn't going to feed you enough to feel satisfied, especially since I know you are interested in having a live-in partner. Can we talk about how that feels to you?" Those have been good talks to have. It's something that gets touched on pretty regularly on an on-going basis as well.

Sometimes, that sounds pretty good in advance, and then someone realizes that they'd really like to have a partner sleeping over several nights a week, or maybe they'd like to shift into a more "primary" level connection, which isn't within my grasp to give. At that point, the conversation moves into another area. "From what you're sharing, it seems like you'd really enjoy having a different kind of relationship that has xyz qualities. Does that feel true? Yes? I want you to feel happy and loved in every way that is important to you, so how can I help support you while you are looking for another partner that has that to give?"

One of the hardest parts has been letting go of trying to force myself to produce the time and emotional space to be all things to all people in my life. It's just not going to happen. So, I am learning that whatever I have to give is sufficient, that my partners will let me know if they need something more from me, that I am enough.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

So much space...

In the past couple of months, S's daughter relocated to be closer to her extended family, and now PG (yes, I know he's got that new name now, but for the purposes of continuity, I'll probably continue to use that moniker) is moving out this weekend.

When we built this house, it was set up to have all three adults working here, and the two kids, plus have space for a guest or two. Now we have the two adults working here, one kid, and that's about it. It feels a bit cavernous for just the three of us, so I'm looking towards doing something totally new for me: some form of communal living.

Yes, it's not exactly poly, but it feels a bit related. I don't think I'd be terribly satisfied with people that just pay the bill and come and go without any social contact. Ideal, of course, would be other poly people that we could form some sort of community bond with, or at least not have to explain all the intricacies of ethical non-monogamy. To be honest though, I'm not exactly sure how this is going to go. I've never lived with anyone that I wasn't partnered with, or nuclear family of, and have only had two partners that I've ever lived with, PG and S. For all my wild ways, when it comes to home, I'm a bit of a fuddy-duddy apparently.

I'm sort of seeing this whole idea as a metamour kind of thing: Here's someone you don't have a real direct connection to, but that you want to get along with reasonably well, because it will make a host of other things easier! Self-interest aside, you may find them personally appealing, and someone you could learn things from, so there is a level of effort that goes into creating connection and empathy, learning each other's patterns and schedules, and generally getting to know them.

So here we go! Wish us luck with this search for a great person(s) to fill out our household dynamic. It's kind of a "blind date", but shoot, my parents met on a blind date and are still going strong!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Keep Moving Forward!

Yesterday our daughter hit her head on the ice hard enough that it warranted a trip to the emergency room to get a CT scan to make sure there wasn't any bleeding or bruising on the brain. As ER visits go, it was really exemplary, and I recommend that, in the event of an emergency, you go to SW Washington Medical Center if you have that option.

When I arrived, my car was valet parked, we were checked in within 5 minutes, and ushered to a room, where a nurse arrived within seconds to check vitals and make sure all the details of the incident were duly recorded. She also popped a dvd in to the player in the room to keep C entertained and relaxed. It happened to be, "Meet the Robinsons". If you haven't seen that particular movie, it involves a young orphan boy in search of a family. The boy is an avid inventor, but hasn't yet created an invention that works as designed. There ensues some time travel, and a few other interesting incidents. At one point, the boy comes face to face with himself as an adult and discovers the secret of his own successes in life: Keep Moving Forward!

When something is tried and doesn't work, or only works partially, it is challenging to not toss in the towel and just give up on the concept. In this case, the house combo poly didn't work out for one of the parties involved. Some of the factors had zero to do with anyone directly involved, things like employer choices. Some could have been seen more clearly in advance, and others couldn't have been anticipated. The bottom line for me is that poly isn't a failure, that the house combo wasn't a failure, but that parts of it didn't work for everyone involved.

This is still a good concept, and one that my future plans may include. S and I have other partners currently, and still identify strongly with polyamory as a concept and way of loving.

At this point, we want the dust to settle a bit, and are looking for a roommate or couple that we aren't personally involved with to share our home and help with some of the financial shifts following the loss of our other household member. If you live in the area, and might be interested in living with other poly people, please let me know, and I'll be happy to discuss the specifics.
Oh yes! The kiddo is doing fine this morning, and is off to the ice rink for the day. She's ready to keep moving forward as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who We Are

The following has been this blog's intro summary for the past two years:

"Who We Are
He's Polygestalt, she's Polyfulcrum, and I'm S1m0n. We are a quirky MFM polyamorous Vee in Vancouver, Washington, and we bought a house together in August 2008.
Convinced that each of us has spare time and that our lives are extraordinarily interesting, we've decided to hone our writing skills and share our experiences through a blog. Yay!"

I can't help but wonder when S1m0n will change it. Of course, the title "Journals of a Polyamorous Triad" could still be valid with the addition of another writer.

PolyGestalt is no more. True, I still have the OKcupid account, but I will be transitioning that into my new identity (also now on OKcupid): METAwhetstone. By the end of August, I won't have any PolyGestalt or Gestalt user accounts on the internet. If anyone wants to follow me, feel free to friend me there under my new account.

In two weeks I will be moved out of this house. I'm not sure what to really say here. Even though I've tried to explain myself several times in different ways, many people don't understand why I must leave -- especially if I still have affection for the people who live here.

A while back, I posted a poem that resonates with me:
"The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

One stanza of that poem sums up the core of it better than I can. Either you will understand or you will not, but I'll assume that you will draw whatever conclusions you like about my character and that will be that. The excerpt:

"It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy."


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life in the Fish Bowl

My father is a minister of a pretty conservative denomination within the Christian faith. As a Preachers Kid/Missionary Kid (PK or MK, as we termed it), I grew up with people watching me. Peering at my every move, scrutinizing my behavior, decisions, grades, whether I was properly attentive during services to my father's droning sermons, and eyeballing my fashion choices, from crown to toe. In short, I lived in a fish bowl. People would look in, and with their own filters, draw conclusions about me distorted by the curves of the glass. I felt consistently conspicuous, and made great efforts to appear "normal" in an attempt to avoid disapproval.

For many years now, I've been pretty aggressive about avoiding that level of attention. I actively pushed away from leadership positions, chose a quiet profession that lends itself to being away from large groups of people, and then, I went all poly on myself. I discovered that I had things to say, ideas that I wanted to examine with others, I was deliberately deciding to do something a bit out of the norm, that wouldn't blend well. Still, my level of passion for this type of loving was something that couldn't be put on the back-burner. My natural inclinations to be in the forefront started to assert themselves, and I found myself back in the fish bowl. It's even pushed into my professional life, and every week, there I am in front of a roomful of business professionals, running the show.

Poly, now that I've been able to move past (by and large) the childhood fear of disapproval, has given me a handle towards using the gifts that I have in leadership. Professionally, this has been really useful to me. Personally, I've benefited by having a strong network of support and caring friends surrounding me.

As PG and I have been moving towards dissolution/radical change in our relationship, that feeling of fear about being in the fish bowl has been popping back up again. What do people really think? If I have good relationship skills, why is this happening, and why would anyone find value in what I have to share? Aren't leaders supposed to do everything well? How can I continue to put myself out there while the biggest relationship I've ever had disintegrates around me?

For now, I keep coming back to the idea that even people who love each other and try very hard, even those with amazing skills to bring to the table, sometimes don't succeed in making things go, and that doesn't mean that those skills, or those people, are any less valid as examples of ways to have a fantastic relationship. So, I'll keep plugging away here, and with the discussion group I host, and keep that high profile, because life in the fish bowl still has something to offer me, and perhaps someone else.