Writes of Passage ~ Forgiveness

Guilt (noun): the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law.

The definition of guilt implies something someone actually did wrong; it is a factual state proven by evidence. More recently it seems to have become an emotion eg. “I feel guilty for saying that”, but the words “ashamed” or “embarrassed” seem more fitting to describe these emotions (“I’m embarrassed that I upset you by saying that”). I have had a self destructive relationship with Guilt; perpetually feeling like I had done something wrong and needed to be punished for it. By shifting the language I use and wording my apologies this way I still acknowledge the other person’s feelings but I don’t admit (or keep myself accountable) to actually doing something wrong.
This is why I believe that you can have forgiveness without guilt.
You could not in fact be guilty of anything but still need to give forgiveness to yourself. You may not have any proof of someone’s guilt but still offer forgiveness within yourself to move on with your life. You could gift someone forgiveness by holding space for them, hearing their stories and telling them they were right in feeling the way they did (sound familiar?).

If I could gift myself a little box of forgiveness I would use it to forgive myself for the mess I contributed to in 2013; getting married to a guy who wasn’t right for me.
For being naive, blinded by romance and not seeing that fact sooner.
I am not guilty for being young and inexperienced or believing the words of someone who loved me, but I forgive myself anyway. I feel embarrassed when I reflect on that time and how caught up I was in the fairy-tale; for romanticising my life and my future with him.

Just yesterday in fact I finally paid off my wedding dress and it was sitting on my bed fresh out of the dry cleaners when I arrived home last night.
I felt a weight lift off my mind – I finally had this piece of my own personal history (herstory?) back in my possession. A piece that I designed myself in collaboration with the women in my family (which seems like quite a juxtaposition from my last writing). At the time my mum was going through a divorce with my father and during the creation of the dress she sought forgiveness by sharing stories of our time together as a family.
I could tell that she felt guilty but there was no actual guilt… just a couple of adults who had done the best they could and a relationship that had run its course.
The dress was created with the intention of it being a family heirloom. My designer incorporated pieces of jewelry and fabric from wedding dresses donated by the women in my family into the embellishments on the front.

I forgive and absolve myself from the cost of the dress and the emotional labour.
I offer myself understanding of the attitude towards marriage I have held since.
I swore to myself that I would never commit myself to another person like that, that I would never wear that dress again but I will; I give my future self permission to seek that, to wear the dress and make that commitment if I so choose… to rewrite the story the dress still holds for me.

 

Writes of Passage Facilitator: Gabriella Salmon (http://www.gabriellasalmon.com)

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The Honeymoon Phase in Polyamorous Relationships

The “Honeymoon Phase” refers to the period of time at the beginning of any relationship where you are completely swept up in the other person/people. It forces your whole world to slow down so that you can savour each new sensation and every new discovery.

Generally, it is a positive feeling but as usual when adding more than one person to the mix the Honeymoon Phase becomes somewhat more complicated.

Some people will immerse themselves entirely into something that feels so great, while others will develop a deep mistrust for obtaining something this good if it does not come with any terms or conditions.
Having multiple relationships that are all at different points along the “relationship escalator” can also leave some people feeling disorientated about what each relationship needs but, sometimes the energy and excitement from a relationship in the Honeymoon Phase can trickle down and have a positive effect on your other relationships.

How you and your partner(s) react to this inevitable part of a new relationship will depend on personal lived experiences and how conscious you are about what other’s need and want.

There is only one certainty about the Honeymoon Phase – it will end.

It is only a phase after all but like the moon, the relationship will transform into another and that initial phase will be a vital part of your relationship; the experiences that you share and all that you learned about yourself.
Then, time will pass and you may meet someone else, or a partner will, and you will get to experience the excitement of the Honeymoon Phase once more.

We Are Whole Universes

I’ve always wondered why it’s so difficult for people to fall in love and form meaningful relationships. Shouldn’t it be as simple as finding someone you click with and spending time with them? Surely everything will be alright if you both feel the same way.

Most people aren’t really aware of anything outside of their own little worlds though… they stumble around in their relationships presuming that the person they’re with thinks the same way and must want the same type of relationship, the same future.
When, in actual fact, you’re connecting with a person just as complicated as you… with strange little habits and hangups, who is titillated by different images, whose brain has been formed in a completely different family environment which means their whole reality is likely something you can’t even imagine.

People are complicated creatures and over the past year it’s dawned on me that when combining these individuals into a relationship you cultivate something even more complicated.

A third independent entity will form between two people. It’s what connects you to people you haven’t seen in years, it’s what enables you to pick up where you left off with this person who should feel like a stranger. It carries layers of memories and impressions of emotions which cause bias’ and illogical decision making. The longer the relationship, the more power it has… the more experiences you have together, the bigger it gets.

Like the person/people you date, this entity is a whole universe in itself. If you don’t consciously work on the relationship these universes can swallow you whole.

The Mono Mindset VS. The Poly Lifestyle

I’ve come across it a lot over the last few years… Monogamous people trying to fit the triangle concept of Polyamory into the circle hole of Monogamy.

No matter how hard you push and shove, they’re still completely different shapes.
Even if you can squeeze one corner of the triangle through, so that the triangle piece can sit steadily alongside the circle… there’s still two corners of the triangle that’s left to sit outside. It doesn’t completely belong.
What then? Do we just forget about the other corners or chop them off?
Maybe if we just leave it like that, they will fall off eventually…
or maybe the triangle will love the circle enough to mold itself into a shape that can squeeze its way through and ‘settle down’.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you can’t apply the same rules or concepts to polyamorous relationships that you do for monogamous relationships because they’re completely different.

I’ve read articles in the past that imply Polyamory is a choice… and I’m sure there are people out there who practice the many forms of non-monogamy and would agree that they could happily be mono if they found the right person.

But for me, that’s not the case.
Being Poly is just as much a part of my sexual identity as being Bisexual. I was born this way.

I fall in love hard and for years I tried so hard to be a circle, to squeeze myself into different shapes to fit into the mono lifestyle. I want more monogamous people to understand what they’re actually saying when they fall in love with someone who is Poly, then set boundaries and conditions on their love:
“Do whatever you need to do, as long as you don’t tell me anything and keep loving me”
“I don’t mind that you’re poly, we’ll keep it casual”
“Oh sweet, I like sleeping around too… this will work!”

Their intentions are golden but unbeknown to them, these are extremely selfish statements. For me – now – it puts their ignorance of what polyamory is in neon lights. Warning bells start sounding in my head. These people are closed minded and generally, inexperienced in relationships. Neither of these things is inherently bad but after experiencing many relationships that started in this way – that led to unnecessary heartache – I’m a lot more cautious.

If you are mono and have said similar things to your poly partner then maybe you should do some research, or ask some questions of them and actually listen. Because we live in a heavily monogamy centred culture, monogamous people do have privilege and sometimes can’t see past that privilege. You ask a lot of a poly person when you ask them to not see other people romantically. Just like it just doesn’t feel right to date other people to you… it feels just as abnormal for a poly person to not be allowed(!??) to form strong relationships with lots of people.
If you’re poly and have had partners say similar things to you maybe think about what exactly it is you want out of the relationship. If you truly love them then consider what you want and how that will effect them in the future. It’s not fair to let their youth waste away while they work on a relationship that will probably never mature into something they truly want. So, is it worth taking the risk? Could you see yourself being mono for good?

So, if you’re monogamous and have fallen in love with a polyamorous person… what do you do? (because we’re not off limits – I’m just bitter). Well, knowledge is power.

Polyamory literally means ‘more than one love’. I will have more than one partner at a time (including myself) and they’re not just sexual partners.

It’s more about the relationship you build with that other person. Just like any other relationship – you get to know them, fall for them, spend quality time with them and help them through hard times because you love them. Some relationships are platonic just because that’s how you feel about it, while others are sexual just because that’s how you feel about it.

This also usually means that your poly partner will be talking to their other partners regularly, they will want to tell you stories of what them and their other partner got up to on the weekend because it was fucking fun and they will want to confide in you when things go wrong. You will also almost certainly see photos of your partner and their partner or even meet them!

If you want to indefinitely deny your poly partner these things so they can be with you, so that you don’t get jealous… then you are being selfish.
You can ask it of them, but they have every right not to agree.

Also, polyamorous people in general understand that life changes and people come and go. Usually there isn’t any real ‘breakups’ and there’s quite a bit of partner sharing. A concept mono people find difficult to comprehend because generally, they’re looking for ‘the one’ and cheating (ownership?) is so black and white. This also means that you will probably meet their exes at some point too.

This is the point in the story where most mono people throw up their hands and say they’re just too jealous of a person to be with a someone who is poly. That’s totally, 100% OK. Contrary to popular belief polyamorous people get jealous too – some more than others. But we acknowledge that jealousy is an emotion and not ‘anyone’s fault’ we work on our feelings surrounding jealousy by ‘processing’. This usually means talking to one of our partners, writing things down (like I am now!) or crying into a pillow. The key is being honest with yourself and being able to reflect on exactly why you feel jealous and being able to determine if it’s something you can change, ignore or work with.

In the end – as always – it boils down to this:
Whether you’re poly or mono, open and honest communication is the key to successful relationships.

And quit trying to change everyone you date

Love

During your first encounter with it, you considered it an emotion; a feeling that spread like wild fire through your veins. A feeling that you thought signaled the arrival of “Soul Mate”.

But now.

It’s not a feeling. It doesn’t flow like other emotions… they come and go, rise and fall. Love stays constant.
It burns brighter the more you share it’s flame and engulfs your whole Being. You are love.
It’s a a way of life.

So why does this seemingly incomprehensible and ambiguous concept make people do such outrageous things?
Why do people search their entire lives for it?

Is it purely hormonal? A mix of Oxytocin, Dopamine and Vasopressin being released into your blood stream?
Is it instinctual? It is written into our very DNA to ensure the continuation of our species?
Most people believe there is only one person out there for them… their “soul mate”. Is there really a higher purpose to human coupling?
Maybe it’s a combination of all three… with some childhood experiences thrown in.

No one really knows.

What I do know is this…
It’s an infinite, unmeasurable resource and each person has different ideas about what it is, why it’s around and how it should be displayed.

It will never disappear, meerly change to suit the people who are experiencing it and their way of life.

Just like fire…
You can stand with it, basking in its warmth and admiring the flickering, randomness of the beautiful flames but when you get too close or try to handle it without knowledge or experience – it will sting.
And the pain won’t leave.

Like a burn, the pain will shoot up your nerve endings straight to your heart. Your entire body consumed by the heat.
It will then blister and leave a scar in your psyche.

Humans are imperfect. They will always make mistakes, and hurt the people they love. I don’t believe that makes Love any less important. It will shape who you are and remind you who your true Soul Mate is.

Your Self.

Faithfulness & Loyalty

Short answer; honesty is the best policy.
I don’t form relationships with people I don’t trust, that I feel aren’t being honest or that I can’t be honest with. Telling the truth is hard and it can hurt, but lying is harder and keeping the truth from someone you love is selfish.

Long answer; At the very core of polyamory is love… and what made me really relate to the concept was this idea of equality.
Everyone in the relationship(s) know about one another, maybe even all have relationships of their own, with agreements and loyalties crossing over. Everyone involved are consenting adults who all share sexual health information and generally do what is best for the ones you love… Because you love them.
And love is selfless.

This is where it gets controversial though.
As someone who is poly and potentially has more than one partner at a time, it can be hard to know what your responsibilities are in regards to cheating, unfaithfulness and disloyalty. Sometimes even overwhelmingly so because there’s usually so many people (and emotions) involved.

I’m a very empathic and compassionate person so, for self preservation, I believe it’s up to the people who are in the relationship to determine what is appropriate of them. I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to stalk everyone I date on facebook to suss out their relationship status (or even their potential relationship status). Nor do I believe in telling someone when their partner is ‘cheating’ because you don’t know what their agreements are (is flirting cheating or is it only cheating if there’s penetration?) Not to mention I find it generally distasteful to go behind someone’s back (a kind of disloyalty in itself).

Of course there are always exceptions and I know to most (mono) people that cheating is very black and white. I disagree, but it’s ok to have different opinions about it.
In the end, love hurts and it always will whether it be because they cheat on you or because you grow apart. No matter if you’re poly or mono.
So, be honest. Communicate what you want and need. Don’t be ashamed of what will make you feel 100% loved and fulfilled in your relationships.
However, If you can’t be an adult about relationships, don’t get into one. Don’t lie, be honest about what you’re about and trust that the other person/people are doing the same. Enjoy the times when you feel in love but also accept that it will probably fade or transform at some point and that everyone makes mistakes (including yourself).
And that’s all ok. Even when they end or change, the relationships you have are still an important part of who you are.