Belonging

The sad reality is that I’ve been searching my whole life for somewhere to belong… where I fit nice and snug into a groove made specially for me, in a community or group of people who proactively want me there.

As time has gone on it’s become more and more apparent to me that I am a. very good at giving love and acceptance but very bad at recognising it and accepting it in return or b. too different and emotionally complicated to fit into any one place.
Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

Ever since I was a teenager I have flitted about like a butterfly from one group to another… some people look at me and see the extent of my influence. I will run into people I know quite frequently and they all seem happy to see me.
But they don’t really know me.

Like a butterfly my time here is fleeting and I flit about from one flower to another, perpetually on the periphery. Never really landing and never really flying, keeping most people at a friendly arms length to avoid my wings getting damaged.

Trust & Personal Boundaries

Trust is one of the most important aspects of any polyamorous relationship. Well, of any fulfilling relationship really. I’ve written a little bit about it before but lately it’s been popping up again and again like it’s a lesson that needs to be remembered by rote learning.

The trust I had in Thistlebird has gradually worn away over time after certain actions have played out and words have been said.
I’ve felt completely hopeless over the last few months because I didn’t know what to do… if I want to have a relationship with Hectic I have to trust Thistlebird and I have to have some form of a relationship with her to make it all work.
And I didn’t get a choice in any of it happening.

The only choice I really have is to leave – which I have seriously considered – I don’t want to give up on what I’ve built with Hectic though so it feels like a stalemate. I’ve felt trapped and began to resent their relationship as being the cause. I know logically it isn’t… that none of us really know what we’re doing or how to make it work and we’re all doing our best but it still doesn’t change how I feel about the situation and it doesn’t help me figure out a solution.

Thistlebird and I spent about a month not talking because of something I said which offended her – I’m sure this wasn’t the only reason.
To be completely honest it felt a bit trivial in comparison to some of the things she has done and said to me in the past which have left me feeling betrayed, violated and dismissed but I’ve been berated by Hectic for saying this – all it has done is solidify the belief that Thistlebird’s emotions take precedence because I deal with my stuff internally therefore making me more “capable”.
Personally I believe it’s because I don’t trust other people with my feelings, insecurities and weakness’. Why would I communicate those things to people I don’t trust?

In any case, I’ve realised this is part of the issue and I’ve been working on trusting people more… the only way I’ve figured out how to do this is to find where my own boundaries lie and communicate that.

About 3 weeks ago Hectic, Thistlebird and I had a round table where we agreed to talk about these things and lay down some rules.
There were two that I had set for myself. The first was a time limit to our discussions (2 hours max.) because I feel like after a time they just become cyclical. The second was that I didn’t want to be friends with Thistlebird and would prefer a parallel type of arrangement where we rarely interacted directly (up until this point we’ve been trying to make kitchen table polyamory work).
During the discussion it also became apparent that Hectic hadn’t been advocating for himself properly or communicating with Thistlebird about the parameters of their relationship.

During the time I’ve known Thistlebird it’s become obvious that she has a knack for pushing boundaries whilst claiming ignorance or a miscommunication when you point out what’s happening. Even though she accepted my boundary without question and created her own similar boundary with me she’s been messaging me, trying to start up small talk and offering me emotional support. It has made me anxious and uncertain and I’ve had to reinforce them by explaining that I only wanted to talk to her about our mutual concerns regarding Hectic. She tried arguing with me about this!
I can’t tell you how frustrating this is – to constantly have your boundaries pushed and prodded no matter how clear you communicate what you’re OK with.

We have a second round table coming up in about 2 weeks where I said we could discuss it further if need be. If they respect and help me reinforce these boundaries – to help me feel safe – then maybe I’ll begin to trust her, and their relationship, again.

Recently it feels like Hectic and I have come out the other side of a storm. The pressure has really tested our relationship and it’s proven to be strong.
I’ve had my fears and insecurities dragged into the spotlight but he has surprised me with his patience, trust and the extent of his love. He contradicts my preconceived notions of “partner” – sometimes that’s challenging and at other times it’s a relief.

There are many, many layers and for me to tell the whole story would be extremely tedious so I will focus on the positive changes.

This August we have been together for 3 years which is a strange thought as it feels simultaneously longer and shorter than that. When we met we were both pretty different people – just out of long term mono-ish relationships that had sucked all the joy and confidence out of our lives. It was fun having lots of sex and flitting from one casual partner to the next while keeping our relationship light and non-committal. We began to fear that we were too different to who we used to be and that our relationship had become irrelevant as a result, but it was the memory of this time that encouraged us to seek out what had been missing. We wanted to recapture the fun we used to have and appreciation for one another’s eccentricities.

Last week we went on our first holiday away together just the two of us and it made me really appreciate the “Old Relationship Energy” we have together. I don’t know when our relationship went from one to the other but I realised I was trying to hold onto the “New Relationship Energy” and forcing it to be something it wasn’t anymore. The coals which burn hot all night in comparison to the bright hypnotising flicker of the new relationship flames… sometimes it’s forgotten or taken for granted but it has its own positives to offer.

Recently we’ve rekindled the flames. We remembered what made us fall in love with each other in the first place and applied that to our current situation – there has been a lot of talking, a lot of crying and a plethora of confusing, negative emotions that threatened to tear us apart. We have learnt so much about ourselves and have helped each other through that… seeing each other’s flaws, calling each other out on the bullshit and supporting each other while the changes needed to be made.

My Sexuality

I’ve embraced demisexuality and by extension; asexuality. My sexuality has always been defined by other people in the past. I’ve given myself that time just to be and to do what felt right to me at the time… to not allow myself to be pressured by other people’s expectations of what I should want.

I’ve spent too much time fretting over the genders I was sexually attracted to and “proving” this to myself. What really matters to me is the effort someone puts into getting to know me for who I am… not what I do or how other’s perceive me. To have an emotional connection with someone, to be completely vulnerable in each other’s company and to allow that connection to blossom naturally into what suits the individuals and their dynamic.

Genuine Honesty Pt. 2

At the end of 2016 I took a step back from my polycule which helped me see what I wanted from life and relationships clearer (I also had family stuff happening which needed my attention).

Hectic and I began dating about 2 and a half years ago. During that time I have seen many people come and go in his life. He tends to fall hard, crashing into their lives, turning it upside down and then moving on.
Thistlebird has been different; they had their 1st anniversary about 2 weeks ago.

In October (about 6 months into their relationship) I thought it was time Thistlebird and I had our own round table where we negotiated boundaries. Initially, when she started dating Hectic her concerns were that she was “secondary” but I was adamant that she feel equal to me and welcomed into our life. But after 6 months of constant reassurance and reiterating that I care, of unclear intentions and contradicting actions which really fucking hurt I decided it was time to talk to her about my concerns.

I tried to keep the conversation factual and to avoid overly emotional language which played the blame game… this was really hard to do when some of the things that have happened have caused deep emotional anguish. I’ve struggled with my identity and questioned what was wrong with me… insecurities, flaws and jealousy were brought into the spotlight. Things I had never really had to deal with before.
The discussion went well though and I successfully negotiated boundaries to protect myself and the relationship I have with Hectic. I took a step back from actively participating in metamouring with Thistlebird and it was refreshing to have that energy back to focus on other important things.

I can’t pretend Hectic’s relationship with Thistlebird hasn’t put pressure on the relationship Hectic has with me. This year has been a real challenge for us.
I have flicked back and forth between solutions as I try to figure out how to help keep our relationship relevant – sometimes I feel frustrated because I feel like I’m the only one acknowledging things are changing and actively trying to adapt the relationship accordingly.
Thistlebird recently separated from Manaqine and renegotiated with DJ so a lot of that emotional support has fallen onto Hectic’s shoulders. On top of that we’ve all been living life; moving, illness’, holidays, anniversaries, funerals etc have meant that defining the boundaries of our relationship has been put on the back burner.
I’ve been patient and understanding during the last few months as I felt like we were finally finding our feet but after any sort of confrontation Thistlebird tends to disappear for weeks even months at a time, making it hard to resolve issues and puts even more pressure on Hectic (and by extension our relationship).

Through all this I’ve come to accept that I just don’t have the mental capacity to be present for everyone all the time and that I don’t have to be friends with or even like my metamours – and that’s ok. What’s important is that my partner is being loved, supported and having his needs met by his partner(s).

Through everything I can’t help but appreciate Hectic; the extent of his love, his patience, the amount of trust he has in me.
No matter where we end up just knowing him is a comforting surety.

Writes of Passage ~ Space

Space allows transformation.
In a literal sense, the transformation of the universe… stars into black holes, floating lumps of rock into planets that can sustain and nurture life.
In a more metaphorical or philosophical sense the holding of space for people and their internal transformations on this journey we call Life.

Over the years I’ve discovered I’m a good space holder. I practice active listening and enjoy helping people answer their own questions, I love the light that flickers behind their eyes when they realise they had the answer within all along.

I recently decided to use these skills to facilitate a support group for local polyamorous people. I became admin of the Facebook page and started sharing relevant, light hearted content. It got people interacting and talking online; the online space naturally formed. Next came the events which were harder to hold. My first event had 20-30 attendees and the topic was jealousy as voted by the group (of course!). It was scary but I became more confident of not only my ability but also that this was something we needed here.

Initially I felt that because I was holding this space for others that I couldn’t “let the ball drop”; that it wasn’t possible for me to lean on others without making the whole structure collapse. I knew a lot of people in the community and feared that any advice or support I asked for would somehow come back on my polycule. I was afraid of gossip or people having a negative view of the people I was asking advice about.
That I had to be a *~perfect poly person~* in order to give advice or to claim such a public status in the community.
I’ve since had a lot of individuals thank me for my time and effort, for getting the group off the ground and offering real support to polyamorous people in my area. It’s encouraged me to reach out to the group and test if the safety net I’ve created would hold my weight. I have felt loved, supported and held respectfully by all involved during these times.
By putting myself out there and holding that space for people initially I’ve now created a space which can now sustain itself. It is rewarding and I love watching this community grow. By building a community of people who I can grow and learn with; offering that space to others and taking up space.

 

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