Monday, November 19, 2012

What Generates Growth?

A position of strength is very rarely a position of growth. This is one of those annoying realities of life that polyamory can bring to the forefront. The things we aren't as well-skilled in are the pieces that bump up to the top of the list repeatedly as being challenges, right up to the point where we do the heavy lifting to grow past those limitations, and get strong in areas that were previously weak or damaged.

Sigh. Sometimes, it would be nice just to feel like I'm not prepping for an emotional triathlon! ;) The good part is that I can look back, and see enough incremental progress over time in most areas that I know the potential to improve is there. That, in addition to personal desire for growth, wanting to be able to give my partners what they need, and most of what they desire, is what keeps me trucking in the face of the emotional equivalent of quivering quads.

I'm pretty sure I've talked about this before, but it's still a main area of weakness for me- the overnight. Going on them myself with anyone besides Russell still feels difficult, as does having my partners spend the night elsewhere, particularly Russell. When I say difficult, I mean uncomfortable to the point of wanting medication, high distraction, and being unreliable emotionally following such events.

Some of this is past trauma/sexual assault related, some of it is directly poly related stuff, where relationships changed in ways that were personally detrimental following trips/overnights, and now I fear them, even with different partners and metamours involved.

This issue is limiting, for myself, for my partners, and for my metamours. It generates stress and restrictions. It is weakness. This weakness is something I aim to grow past. There's been some progress made already, and a plan is in place to gradually increase the frequency of overnights, on each side, to a level that is more healthy and sustainable for all the relationships involved.

At some point in the future, I would like overnights to be a position of strength for me and mine, but for now, it is a focus of growth, with all the attendant stumbles, bumps, bruises, and occasional open wounds that come of doing something especially challenging. I have a loving team of partners and metamours backing me up, providing support. Partners who are willing to lovingly give me a kick in the pants as needed. When needed, I can borrow their strength, and push on. Soon, I will need less support, and be able to go farther and faster. Growth is happening.

Note:  Abs not to scale.

What strengths do you want to develop within your relationships? Look to your weaknesses to find the areas of greatest potential growth!


Unknown said...

Why do you think being comfortable with your partner having overnight visits, or you going off on overnight visits equates to you growing or being stronger? Maybe that type of arrangement just isn't you. Doing things that make you uncomfortable or unhappy and tolerating them don't make you a better person, sometimes getting to a place where you do things that were alien to you isn't growing, it's losing sense of yourself. Remember, plenty of people have relationships with other partners and that sort of level of bonding isn't acceptable. Open relationships, swinging, even poly people. None of these people who identify under these different labels are stronger than the other. In fact, some might argue that allowing yourself to be convinced that changing yourself in this way, putting yourself through this discomfort, shows weakness rather than growth or strength.

polyfulcrum said...

@Annelle: If something is limiting me in a way that I find undesirable, that's an area I choose to focus energy on healing, so that I can move forward.

I'm certainly not talking about things that are hardwired here. For example, if I were straight, or monogamous, that wouldn't be something I would want to "fix". Most often in the types of issues I'm approaching here, there is some sort of trauma motivating the limitation, and for me, not working to heal that is allowing myself (and my partners) to be victimized by those events. Unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Again, thanks for reading, @Annelle -

As PF's partner, I'm personally very proud of her ability to look at personal squicks like this as growth opportunities.

If she was absolutely dead-set against issues like this (we'll take sleep-overs just as an example), she'd be limiting the expansion of my secondary relationships.

She'd also be very unhappy every time that I stepped away from her. Instead of trying to constructively understand her emotions and her reaction, she'd be stuffing it. Emotional suppression isn't healthy, and neither is an absolute veto that'd limit my happiness.

This is the opposite of selfishness and hard limits. It's compersion taken to a personal level as to extend happiness to me.

PF is a strong, introspective woman. Her personality is the sort that she likes to push her envelope: she likes to see how far she can go and likes to learn something about herself along the way. This kind of activity isn't everybody's cup of tea, but this is why I chose her as my primary partner.

Russell (s1m0n)