Self confidence is not the same as self forgiveness

Yesterday was the first day since I started my daily writing challenge at the beginning of December that I didn’t write.  I made it almost two months without fucking up.  I’m going to try and continue to make it the rest of the year.  I won’t be perfect, I may fuck up.  The point of this journey is growth and part of my growth is teaching myself that that is okay.

Yesterday started with taking one of my pups to the vet cause she had stopped eating.  She was diagnosed with lymphoma last year and went through chemo, and is now one year in remission.  Her battle with cancer has made me extra protective of her and extra nervous about losing her, so I suspected some GI problem, but my biggest fear was the cancer was back.  My vet ran bloodwork and sent us to a specialty hospital/ER about two hours away.  The cancer wasn’t back, or isn’t as far as we know right now, but instead she has IMHA.  I won’t go in depth into that condition, but the short version is a fair to guarded prognosis with a estimated 65% chance of survival after days or a week of hospitalization with medication and blood transfusions.  I was a mess, I still am.  I thought about writing when I got home, it didn’t happen.  I thought about doing homework too, it didn’t happen.  Aside from a short trip out to bring my niece home from work because she was considering walking 3 miles in 1 degree weather which was not happening on my watch, and talking to the doctor again about Kiwi a bit after midnight, I really wasn’t in any shape to do anything.  I’m still not, but homework has to happen, so I am going to at least try to do that now.

Anyway, I feel crappier because of not doing anything that I see as useful and productive, and because I failed to write yesterday or do homework.  Which teaches me something very important.  I may have a lot of self confidence, I don’t think I’m shitty in any way for not being functional right now, but I need to learn to forgive myself.  I can fail to meet my standards for myself and still maintain my self esteem because I don’t connect individual actions with my overall self image, as long as I’m not violating my core morals.  But that doesn’t mean I’m immune from feeling like a failure for a specific action or lack there of.  It doesn’t mean I’m not hard on myself.  And right now is not an appropriate time to be hard on myself.  It isn’t helpful or reasonable, and I need to foster forgiveness and compassion for myself instead.  So there is my lesson for the day, I have yet to figure out the exact hows of doing so.  Normally I learn through my writing, this process teaches me a lot about myself.  Today I learn from what happened when I failed to complete my writing, and I will use that learning to better myself even more.

Winter’s Love

Light snow falls in softened greys

the king of winter in his shadowed halls

embraces his lover the downy sky

with cold arms reaching from afar

The sky presses his lips down in softness

each flake a gentle kiss laid upon

the king of winters bare earthen brow

of frozen ground and early darkness

The cold wind howls a mournful tune

a serenade of their solemn romance

sweetness in the arctic chill

a graceful love affair set in snowdrifts

The king of winter and his lover sky

the stormy sky and his lover winter

a blizzard of passion and utter silence

a timeless ardor of ice not flame

Handling expectations from metamours

There is no normal for expectations.  There is a common ground among cultures, groups, communities, but there is no normal.  This morning I was reading about a clash between metamours in a polya dynamic related to expectations that weren’t met and it all boiled down to an assumed normal or standard for expectations.

In the situation, Person A was asking for advice because their Partner B had brought Metamour C to the home A and B shared.  During that time, A had been busy and had not run into C during the couple days C stayed there.  There were times they were both home, but A was in the bedroom they share with B, or in the shower, or generally not in the main living areas.  During the majority of the time A was actually not home or sleeping. C was in the guest bedroom during most of this time.  C did not take the time to seek out A and greet them while they stayed there, and A was very upset about this and felt it was an incredibly disrespectful action of C’s part.  In their perspective, C has come into their home, been eating their food, using their utilities, and had not even had the good grace to find them and greet them in exchange for this hospitality.

Many of the responses to the post took the opposite perspective, they did not feel A had any reason to be upset, but that it was C who had been wronged.  Responses found A to be inhospitable and a poor host to not have sought out C to make them feel welcome.  Rather then feel A was reasonable in their expectations of greater respect, as they saw it, from C, they felt that A was being a horrid host for not making the initial effort to verbally welcome C into their home and initiate conversation.

It all boils down to expectations, and what a person views as normal or standard.  When we acknowledge something as common, we realize it is frequent and maybe even well understood by most people.  But when we think something is normal, there is an added implication that not only is it common, but it is good, it is the right way, and a deviation from it is abnormal, often seen as incorrect.  Person A thought it was normal when coming into someones home and staying there, to make sure to greet the owner of the home, in this case that would be both A and B, so A was neglected in this.  They felt they were being gracious in letting C into their home, and in C not feeling a need to do this, C was only seeing it as B’s home, and it was an affront to A, whose home it was also.  They felt that this was a thing of such importance, that despite A having been absent or busy during much of the visit, C should have expended the extra effort to find one of the times A was around and sought them out for this customary greeting and brief moment of conversation.  Not doing so was ignoring them, which was a disrespectful slight against their hospitality.

Now it is hard to tell what Metamour C felt in this situation, since that wasn’t voiced.  Instead I can only make assumptions based on having seen this situation play out in my own life, and having been a metamour and guest in someones home, as well as having partners bring metas into the home we lived in.  Presumably C did not have the same normal.  Judging by the responses, they may have had the seemingly common expectation that since it was A and Bs home, it was on A to offer hospitality and initiate conversation and greetings if they chose.  They may also have just viewed things from a more independent perspective.  That the home is shared between A and B, that B had them over as a guest, so that was between them and B and A need not be involved if they were busy and didn’t want to interact.  In that scenario, less possessiveness or control is placed on the home and proper ways to behave when in it, because it does not matter so much that it is A’s home as well in that C is not required to interact with A while in that space.  What matters is only C being respectful of the space itself, not breaking anything for example, and spending their time with B, the one who invited them to share some of that space.  In this version of normal, A isn’t really relevant in respect of being a good host or being ignored in some gesture of impropriety, and interaction with A would only be relevant if it were agreed on by them both and then that agreement broken.

In looking further at the responses, A wasn’t willing to accept the idea that they in fact were the one who had a breach in etiquette by not initiating contact and “being a good host”.  In their normalized expectations, they had been a good host by allowing someone in their home, and for someone to put the expectation of initiating contact on them was abnormal and ridiculous.  For many responders the idea that you would not greet someone you had invited or agreed to have in your home was rude and ridiculous, and it was abnormal to put the onus of that on the other person.

So, let’s look at it with the view that no expectations are normal.  There is no right way to do things, there is sometimes a common understanding, but with that, there are also outliers.  If you have expectations and they are reinforced by your experience and upbringing and mirrored by the people around you, they are common, at least among your culture or specific community of people at the time.  If someone comes along and does not automatically do what you expect, since your expectations are no longer seen under the guise of normal and right, just common, the next default assumption is that maybe they are an outlier, they are someone who doesn’t know or share these common expectations.  Suddenly they are not doing anything wrong in this, they just either lack awareness of what you expect, or they have a different set of expectations that are common for them which can exist separately from yours.  Normal is loaded with okay vs not okay, common is something that simply varies from place to place.  Once you see it this way, it is easier to move on to how to address the situation.

Once you recognize your common expectations are not being met, and realize the person not meeting them may not be aware of them or may have a different set of common expectations, what do you do?  Well you communicate of course.  In this case, A could simply approach C and let them know that they have an expectation that anyone who is a guest in their home will take the time to seek them out and greet them.  A can explain that from their common experience, this is a way of showing respect for someones space, so not doing so makes them feel disrespected.  C may simply have had no idea, and may be surprised to find they had played a part in A feeling disrespected, and may be happy to try and meet those expectations in the future now that they know them.  C might instead have other expectations, they might explain that what is common to them is the host being the one to initiate contact and greeting, and to not do so feels inhospitable or unwelcoming to them.  If C is also able to look at things from the perspective we are using, C can realize this is also not one right or normal way, but simply what was common in their experience.  A can understand this and realize that they too may have caused C to feel unwelcoming, simply because of a mismatched set of expectations.

From that point you can move forward.  Most people can get to this point and reach a mutual understanding of where the other person is coming from and what they may feel in a situation, and how that is shaped but what is common for them.  The hardest part is what to do when your expectations still don’t match afterwards.  So, the next step, which is easier when you acknowledge that your expectations are not some one right true way, but just a variation you knew with more frequency, is to let go of those expectations.  This is a lot harder for some people then others, or for some expectations then others.  It also can really relieve a lot of hard feelings between people if you can achieve that.  So, you look at the core sources of desire behind the expectations.  A wanted to feel respected and acknowledged in their home.  When you take it down to that base emotion, you can work out a way to do that with the other person.  C might explain that they don’t feel comfortable seeking out A when A is not around for much of the time and is not in common areas of the house but still want A to feel respected and acknowledged.  Knowing that is the core motivation, they could come up with another way to do so, like bringing their own shampoo and food so they are not using the supplies A has, or leaving a card behind that thanks A for their hospitality in having them over in the home they share with B.  Or A could be like me and find it simpler to just let go of those expectations all together and decide it would feel better to handle those emotions myself and not need other’s validation to feel respected in my home.  After all, as long as the other person is not being destructive, and is aware that I live there and it is my home as well, I don’t really need them giving respect to a concept I already am secure in.

In the end, try and distance yourself from your expectations.  Try and see them as common or uncommon variations that may be shared by many others, but are not one right way.  Detach from the concept of normalicy or something being a correct way of doing things, especially if it is a social norm that varies widely.  Communicate about any expectations, if you don’t, there will be misunderstandings.  Find the root causes and see if there are compromises that can satisfy everyone’s core wants and needs.  And let go of ones that don’t serve you or learn to manage your emotions yourself without outside validation when you need to.

The concept of health in a broken world

I’m in this endless pursuit of this mythical idea of health, and I’m not even sure what that means.  I picture myself hanging by my legs upside down from a 20ft tall geodome as a teenager with no fear of falling, of my body when I was a dancer and could see the muscles beneath my skin.  I picture being able to climb a tree without a second thought.  But what I don’t picture is how much time I had back then, how I climbed that geodome during a summer where I worked and played outside all day every day.  How I was a dancer in high school where walking home from school, between classes, to the metro to go hang out with friends, was the norm.  How I had time every day once school was over to do 200 cruches each morning and night, and how there was really no stress constantly looming because fuck ups were inconsequential and slipped off the glassy surface of my mind without leaving large jarring scratches.  When I climbed trees with no second thought I was carefree, and time outdoors was plentiful, weekends were jaunts in the woods full of energy that didn’t require caffeine or a sugar high.  My ideas of health are all colored by the backdrop of childhood, lack of stress, abundance of free time, everything falling into place with no schedule.  My ideas of health are colored by an absence of trauma responses and chronic pain.  My ideas of health neglect to remember that half the time I was obsessed with numbers on a scale and numbers of calories burned and eating less then 200 calories a day when I could get away with it.  My ideas of health forget the years where I could go the five days in the school week subsisting on mountain dew and nothing else, and the weekend living on two taco hell burritos and feeling like that was too much.

I want the energy and exhilaration I had in childhood.  I hit puberty so early, so I was this tall and at my healthy adult weight by the time I was a teenager, even a little bit before.  So my whole idea of what this shaped body I have now should be able to do, is based on a concept of a thirteen year old with no cares in the world.  When I try and imagine fitness at this age, I can only picture the lean muscular elderly folk I see running the trails at the park.  They’re in their seventies and eighties and probably in better shape then I’ve been in for over a decade.  I think about the ideal of mental health.  I don’t know anyone mentally healthy.  My generation is all people who are traumatized and fucked up beyond belief because we give voice to the problems of the world and they weigh on us like bricks.  How can you be mentally healthy when watching the rise of fascism and the death of your peers for loving a different gender then expected or being a different gender then expected?  How can you be mentally healthy when you see the earth that you want to reach to for sustenance, becoming a ticking time bomb counting down to the extinction of your species, because of the greed of corporations and the wealthy few in power?  For that matter, how can you be physically healthy when there are another hundred cleanses and fad diets birthed each day?  When you are constantly told that health looks like photoshop lies, and comes from on of the thousand one true ways to decrease in size that is marketed violently and splashed all over any physical or virtual environment you step into?

So I wish I had a conclusion to this, but I’m not there yet.  I’m just at the -the world is fucked and my brain is too, but I need to get to a better healthier place, and that’s hard and I have no idea how, but I’m gunna do it anyway- point.  I do hope to offer more insight if I get there though.

Manic starving daydreams

The tight grip on my chest

making breathing laborious

accents the cold that seeps in past layers

cutting icy knives into my skin

its a manic high of being alive

the winter sun too bright

my bones to shallow beneath my skin

a cigarette breakfast for company

I remember those feelings wistfully

with full knowledge I shouldn’t

for I was lean grace and agony

starving away my flesh and soul

Some days I tiptoe back

towards that heady precipice

the sky rush of empty caverns inside

and dizzy days of fierce tortured accomplishment

Its hard to fight off the courtship

with death and self consumption

when you feel most alive when starving

the closer to death the more bright the colors

Each day a forced resolution

to find a healthier happiness

each day convincing the self

we won’t go back, we’ve chosen to live

 

To succeed, you have to do it for yourself…or do you?

“To really succeed, you need to do it for yourself, not for someone else”

I can’t remember the first time I heard this message, but it’s something repeated often, and for many different circumstances. I hear this especially when it comes to mental health or addiction.  When you decide to get sober, it is a choice you have to make for yourself, not one that you can be doing to please others.  If you’re doing it for other people, you’ll inevitably fail.  When you seek treatment for mental health, it has to come from finally acknowledging your problems yourself and loving yourself, not from wanting to please others. If you’re doing it for other people, you’ll fail.  Does this narrative sound familiar?  It should, it’s fucking everywhere.  It’s also utter bullshit.

When I tried to stop drinking, I had deeply internalized this message.  I tried to stop for myself, or I said I did, but I also tried to stop to save my relationship.  My ex-fiance had cheated on me, had been cheating on me for months by the time I found out, and I knew that part of it was because I had been such a shitty partner.  The responsibility for his actions is still on him, but he was looking for love from someone who was compatible and healthy for him, and I was not that.  I gave myself the challenge of going from drinking around 12-20 beers a night, something I had been doing consistently for about three years, to going 100 days sober.  I did it, and our relationship still fell apart.  He cheered me on, but was still cheating on me the whole time while claiming not to be.  I backslid some then, after making it my first hundred days.  I tried to transition into drinking in moderation, and I was not ready for it, and the circumstances were poor since I was getting out of a six year relationship with someone I had been engaged to, that had ended with betrayal.  So doesn’t that prove the point that you have to do it for yourself, and if you do it for someone else you’ll fail?  Fucking nope.  It does show me that doing it to try and save a relationship that was already failing and beyond saving, without even evaluating if that relationship was healthy for me (it wasn’t), was a mistake.

So I kept working at moderation, and at times I took another 30 days or 100 days of sobriety.  Ex-fiance moved out, I started school, life continued.  I told myself over and over that I had to stop drinking for myself, it had to be for me, or I would continue failing.  I came out and began transitioning, I worked hard on getting a degree, I really started to love myself with a depth I haven’t known before.  I still struggled with moderation and sobriety.  I did the work for myself, because I truly wanted to be better, and for some people that is enough, for me in this instance it didn’t work.  I got an okay handle on things though, over the next three years I went from the daily 12-20 beers from before the first time I tried sobriety, to drinking just on weekends, then to drinking once a month, then to drinking every few months.  I still felt weak, like I was fucking up, like I couldn’t do it.  I was doing it just for myself and I was feeling like a failure.

One of those times when I drank, I broke the other rule I had for myself, even when I had been a constant alcoholic.  I had made a no hard liquor rule at the beginning because I saw how much I was beginning to drink, and I knew I’d be dead within a year of accidental alcohol poisoning if I didn’t set myself that limit.  Well, this one time, a few years into moderating, I went to a barbecue with Kelev and had hard liquor, and much too much to drink.  I made a complete ass of myself, I was rude to Kelev, I needed help getting into the car so he could drive me home, I was just a complete shitbird that night.  The immensity of how badly I’d fucked up hit me like a ton of bricks the next day and I realized that while Kelev had been an ever patient and supportive loving force, and extremely understanding because he had a history with alcoholism as well, that it might be a matter of time until he said enough and left.  Even if he didn’t, what I was doing was hurting him, directly on nights like that when I was a rude fucknob, and indirectly as he watched me hurt myself.

When I decided to take a full year of sobriety, I did it for him.  I did it because I didn’t want to fuck up the best relationship I’d ever been in, I did it because I didn’t want to hurt him with my behavior, and I did it most of all because I wanted to make him proud.  And you know what, it worked.  I made it a year sober, and so many times he would glow with pride and tell me how amazing my efforts were, and that was what I needed to keep pushing through.  I got out the other side, and every previous time after I had hit a goal like that, I would go back to drinking after.  Less each time, I had gotten to a point of moderation where usually I only drank every few months, and rarely too much like I did at that barbecue. But there was still always that relief of my sobriety stretch being over, and I celebrated with a drink.  This time I had no desire to.  I had him by my side telling me how he was so proud I’d actually made it, and I felt better then I had in so many years.  I still haven’t drank since then, and I may eventually decide I can handle moderation someday, but I’ve had no interest in that day coming anytime soon. I had decided to throw away the notion that I had to do it for myself.  Instead I had to find -a reason- important enough for me, and do it for that.  I found that, and that is what mattered, having a driving force that could support me through the hardest moments and push me forward.

Yesterday I was talking to my partner D, and she was telling me how her other partner, the Brit, had taken an important step forward for his health.  How he had done so without her prompting, but because he wanted her to be proud of him.  She said how she wished he had done it for himself.  It reminded me of my experiences, and of the trope we buy into that we have to do things for ourselves for them to work, or to be healthy, or to love ourselves.  Sometimes when it comes to physical and mental health, one of the biggest barriers is not loving yourself.  Low self esteem and self regard can really hold people back in seeking help.  Apathy or self destructiveness can feed into the most unhealthy behaviors.  That is where the trope that you have to do something for yourself becomes harmful, it can hold someone back from seeking help because they can’t muster up enough love for themselves alone, or desire to exist, to push forward.

It is okay to get help because of external motivation.  If you are doing something that is good for you, because you want to make someone else proud, or for any other external reason, you are still doing something good for you.  That is important, that is valid, and it still pushes you forward.  In fact, that is still even a form of self love.  When you decide to take care of yourself because you want to make someone else proud, you are still doing so because you enjoy the feeling of them being proud of you.  You are still on some level seeking out a good feeling, and that is loving yourself enough even just a little, to seek something you enjoy.  Even if you only are getting joy from the happiness of someone who loves you, you are letting them love you and take pride in you, and that is an act of loving yourself.  From there you can move on to acknowledging that you deserve that love, as you succeed for them you can build yourself up and build confidence in believing that you may actually be worthy of that support because you are succeeding in what you are doing.  This isn’t just that the ends justify the means, but that in trying to improve for other people, you often create a healthy cycle that feeds your healing.

Of course there are situations like I had with my ex-fiance, where I was trying to improve to save something that was unhealthy for me and not worth saving.  But even then, if I had not started on my journey at that point, I may never have continued pushing until I found a reason that was strong enough to bring me through this, and I might not be where I am today.  So when you decide to make a big change for yourself, when you are facing a struggle and looking for a reason to improve, let go of the toxic trope that the only reason that will work is an internal one.  Let go of the idea that you must do everything for you and you alone, and that is must come from this already existing place of loving yourself.  Loving yourself may help a whole heck of a lot, but it is okay to seek external motivation as well.  What matters is finding reasons that are healthy enough and good enough for you, that are strong enough to pull you through the hard times.  If you foster love for yourself to start and let that drive you, it might be easier at times, or it might not be enough.  If you find the strongest reason you can and run with it though, the self love will likely come in time.  And you can succeed, don’t be afraid to lean on others for support and to seek validation and encouragement.  That is just as good of a reason and you will see that when you reach your goals.

I didn’t know I’d lived so much until I reflected back

I am absolutely terrible at keeping track of time.  Not short time, like the hours in the day, but long time, like years passing by.  I think about things like when I first got on the path to stop drinking and I’m like hmm, that was a few years ago right?  A few years ago feels pretty short in my brain.  Then fb memories remind me that it was five years (and forty days) ago that I first truly acknowledged I had a problem and then took a hundred days of sobriety, which then led to learning moderation, and eventually the last year+ of complete sobriety.  Five years. When it’s a number instead of a vague concept of a few, it seems a lot longer.  Holy crap, has it really been five years?

Likewise, I often struggle with putting concrete times and dates on other big events, until I have something to measure them against.  My ex-fiance left the same year I stopped drinking, so now I know when that was.  That’s pretty exhilarating.  I love being able to concretely date the times of things better because it makes me feel more accomplished.  I’ve spent five years without a person who only saw how I could fail.  Five years later I’m sober, have gotten one degree and am working towards another, have a bunch of lovely stable relationships with fantastic communication and none of the toxicity of the ones in that older time period, have held down jobs where I literally saved lives (I mean, doggo and kitten lives, but that’s legit), and decluttered the mess of a house I once shared with him to have a home that on it’s messiest days is still eons cleaner then it ever was in it’s cleanest state before.  I’ve begun pursuing my BIG life dream of having an intentional community, and my life has been basically a whirlwind of forward momentum with a few little bumps in the road.  Oh, and I have a flat chest and facial hair now and get gendered correctly all the time, let’s not forget that.  Being able to recognize where events fit into time really helps me in feeling excited and accomplished about life, because I can see how much progress has been made.  In the day to day moments it may not feel like things are moving fast enough, but reflecting back really shows the huge transformations.

Often I look back and wonder how I’ve packed so much -stuff- into such short amounts of time.  I’ve been an adult for a bit over ten years.  I spent about three or four of those years in a drunken haze.  Yet just in that time I’ve lived with 20+ people in households of various sizes, had 20+ relationships that on average lasted a bit over 3 years, gone to 4 different schools and gotten 2 college degrees and now working on a 3rd, raised my own livestock and fed my family with the meat and eggs from them, traveled to 2 countries outside of my own and 12 states within my country, worked 9 different jobs, and tried to run my own business.  I’ve had an uncountable amount of experiences trying amazing new foods, exploring new kinks and developing deep bonds of trust, making absolutely phenomenal friendships, taking ridiculous risks and feeling ecstatically alive, and generally living life to the fullest.  And I mean, I spent quite a few years drunk on my couch and pretty much out of commission, so when I think of where I packed that all in, I can’t even really include those years.  I don’t often reflect on it all as a whole, I may think of specific moments or dwell on specific relationships, but it takes looking at it all at once to put it into perspective.

Now I know this whole post might seem like some sort of long humble brag.  First of all, there’s nothing fucking wrong with that if it is.  I am all for each person listing their accomplishments that make them feel fantastic, reading the fuck out of that list, and feeling on top of the world because they are a rad fucking person who can do anything.  And I’m happy to do that and feel no shame in celebrating what I’ve done.  But, this is more then that.  I don’t know if I’ve always come across as confident to others, but I’ve always felt I was a confident person.  I’ve realized recently that it was because I’ve gotten very good at telling myself that narrative and ignoring the parts where I felt like I wasn’t enough, or was failing somehow to do this whole life thing.  I hear those parts of my mind, I recognize them, but I didn’t let it disrupt the view I had of myself as a confident individual with great self esteem.  It was a discordant note, viewing myself one way, and feeling things that were quite to the contrary.  And therein lies the problem, I could tell myself I had great self esteem and believe it, but that didn’t actually make me feel any less shitty and like a failure when those were the messages my brain meat focused on for the day.  So instead I’m learning to recognize those, to see that I do struggle at times and I can admit that.  Oof, that vulnerability hurts.  I don’t want to be a person who has to admit that.  It is part of me though, and in recognizing that, I can begin to accept and heal parts of myself that were damaged by years of abuse, by the hands of others, and even more so by myself.  I hurt myself when I spent years being a pretty toxic being to my own body and to everyone around me.  Healing that means recognizing the time that was my reality, and how much time since I’ve begun to move on from that.  It means acknowledging all I’ve done, the amazing life I’ve led, and what I can do when I am a better little human.  Somewhere in there I might have to forgive myself for the person I was through some of the dark years, though I’m not quite there yet.  For now, I look back at time, and I build a real confidence rather then a fabricated one, through seeing the journey and really cementing in my mind how far I’ve come.

When you’re gone

Your lips are a memory that lingers

Your fingers playing down my spine

My body responds even once you are gone

Your scent intermingled with mine

I have sweet manic dreams in bright colors

You’re not in them, but every last one

Has that energy you left behind when leaving

Your aura won’t be outdone

I savor the electric fantasies

Hungry for the knowledge of you

Your body, you mind, consume me and see me

This yearning threatens to break through

I’ll wait content with my hunger

As all my walls become dust

You inspire a fire that devours my fears

Connecting with love and with trust

 

 

Falling in love in a series of moments

Do you fall in love all at once, or in a series of moments?

For me love has always been an unfolding series of emotions but often with a secure path.  I recognize NRE easily, and feel it pretty readily as well.  It’s the feeling of my breath catching and heart fluttering when I’m getting to know someone and they say something sweet.  It’s the tugging sensation when I’m talking to someone and they express their values and goals and I see how they reflect my own, and I want to share more of my life with them.  It’s the excitement of learning their favorite food, or what author has shaped their life, and this information being precious because it comes from them.  New relationships have a particular electric excitement to them that enhances everything, those floods of brain chemicals making me want to think about someone constantly and spend all day talking to them and exploring their mind.  I acknowledge the love and limerence I feel during that time as real and feel honest in the expression of it, while also knowing that it doesn’t always predict the shape of a long term connection or translate into a more deeply seated love.

Following the rushing torrent of NRE feels, my love often takes one of two paths.  The first path is into a comfortable realm of cozy warm feelings of contentment and comfort with a person.  I would liken my love to a warm hearth, stable and providing security, not full of intensity, but full of a consistent glow of enjoyment.  This path often runs towards a slowly deepening loyalty and commitment to a person and exploring vulnerabilities together over time as we grow close.

The second path is almost a continuation of NRE, in that it mirrors those intense rushes of emotion, the overwhelming sensations of being caught off guard and reveling in the energy of it.  Little moments become big electrical boosts in the person centered part of my psyche, thrilling me and driving me to focus intimately on those moments of exhilaration.  This often included elements of the first path as well, but has a definite aspect to it of love gathering intensity and momentum in a series of defining moments.

This weekend one of those stark moments came into clarity.  I was sitting in the backseat of Hoffy’s truck as he was driving and half dozing off, as we were coming back from hanging out with some other folks in the local poly community and stuffing our faces at the buffet.  I was a bit at my limit for socialing, had been wanting to just have some space to relax alone.  Being in the truck with Hoffy driving, Kelev in the front seat, Raichu in the back with me, and music filtering through the background with no need for conversation, was peaceful.  I was thinking of how I was surprised at how comfortable I was, because I don’t normally feel comfortable with someone else driving.  Then I looked at Hoffy and was watching him drive and sing softly along to the music, and it was one of those moments where I was just overwhelmed with how much love I felt for him.  There was just this intense feeling of ‘yes, this person. This is my person, I am happy here, and this is the person I love.’ There is a feeling of certainty in those moments of intensity.  And they are amazing moments in how they have the level of excitement of NRE, but also the sheer comfortable and stable feeling of love after NRE has passed.  I was thinking about how falling in love with him is a series of moments, just ordinary moments that happen as we live life together, but that take on this intense special quality out of the blue.

It is interesting, how my brain in those moments goes ‘this is the person I love.’  It’s true, it is absolutely true in that moment, and as a whole.  It certainly isn’t exclusive though, and that is the beauty of being a polyamorist relationship anarchist to me.  I very rarely feel that sort of intensity of emotion past NRE though, with most people I settle into that comfortable hearth fire love of stability and warmth, and overwhelming moments are not a regular occurrence.  Once in a while though, the path of my love with someone takes the more passionate and extreme route, with strong surges and surprising and startling moments of energy.  I found it amusing and ironic, that the other person in my life that I’ve felt that with was sitting in the front seat beside the person I was having those thoughts about now.  And it mirrored the experience I had when I first recognized I was feeling that intensely about Kelev, also coming when I was sitting in the back seat of his truck eight years ago, watching him drive.  I always wondered why my emotional connection with him was so much more potent at times, and here I was feeling that again.

I don’t really feel passion for people easily.  I feel NRE, I feel comfortable safe feelings of love, I feel extremely potent and intense loyalty and connection and vulnerability.  But passion, that often escapes me except in rare circumstances.  My passions are often directed to my efforts to create and intentional community and dreams of such, towards my activism which is one of the most important aspects of my life, towards art and music, towards my never-ending quest for knowledge and learning.  Those things are where my passions lay, and my relationships with people are more a beautiful cozy place rather then an enormous ardent one.  I’ve found another partnership in my life that has diverged from the usual path they take for me though, that has a more passionate quality to it that is unfolding for me in that series of moments.  Those moments where I really see him, and I am quite overwhelmed and absolutely eager for that fiery intensity.  I’m amused when those moments mirror previous moments in the series that has played out in my other partnership of a similar quality.  But most of all I’m just grateful for them, and for how they show me the many ways we are able to fall in love and appreciate that multitude and the aspect of it that I’m in at the moment.

Learning the space I fit into, balance, and how to ask for it

As a young child I was very much a loner.  I didn’t often fit in, and often didn’t care to.  I was usually content to play on my own, or have a single close friend.  I spent a lot of time in the woods or fields by myself when we lived in the country, or playing with my stuffed animals alone, or creating tracks for my matchbox cars of sand and pine needles on vacations in Lake Tahoe.  I think when I switched schools five times within four years in my pre-teen and early teen years, that was the first time I tried to fit in, because I did feel a little isolated having absolutely no friends.  It wasn’t even that I minded the solitude all too much, but that I saw everyone around me with a multitude of friends around them and I felt I was doing something wrong.  In my middle and later teenage years I came out of my shell again, I was a constantly hyper and outgoing creature, a whirling ball of energy and charisma among the crowd of oddballs and outcasts I found.  Since identity is more firmly formed around that age, I figured myself to be an extrovert.  I neglected to notice how starved I was for attention and affection at times, and how I was also going through the tumultuous and confusing time period of raging hormones for the first time. I’m sure now those things motivated the intensity of my extroversion.  I would flit from one house to another with my amorphous group of older friends, and thrill myself in the time spent on the astroturf, the unofficial hangout of every misfit teen, making new friends of absolute strangers on a whim.

Time passes, and in recent years I’ve been rediscovering myself.  There was a lot of time in between my early years of discovering my identity and now.  There were years of alcohol induced haze, tumultuous years of abuse, years of dysphoria and confusion, years of heartbreak and loss.  On the other side I began my transition, I began pursuing fulfilling career paths, I began forming healthy relationships and nurturing the few I had through those dark years.  I began to reform my identity and I found it hard to be around people at times.  Often it was just more tense, less easy and comfortable than being alone.  Sometimes it was enjoyable, but exhausting, draining until I hit a point where I’d pushed myself too far to social and felt sick and anxious for days after.  I decided I must be an introvert, I learned to stick up for my space and boundaries and aloneness.  I also battle co-dependency and swung myself far in the opposite direction to break my ties to a toxic style of existence.

This new discovery of introversion culminated in my living on my own for a short while after the folks I lived with chose to leave, or I asked them to do so over a period of time because I knew I needed space.  I was desperate for space really.  I craved being left alone, saw through rose colored glasses some idealized dream of wandering off into the wilderness and becoming a hermit on a mountain.  I looked forward to living in a small household of just myself and Kelev, a person with greater independence then I had ever reached by that point at least.  Then the one I hadn’t asked to leave, Kelev, chose to move out as well for a time.  I had my space, it was terrifying and glorious.  I loved that while I kept in touch with the friends and partners and loves that I cared for dearly, that there were uncountable moments in my day where I was floating unattached to any other person.  There was just myself, my thoughts, and whatever tasks I set before me to complete for the day.

Then time passed, not much time, and other folks moved in, folks I was close to and working on founding an intentional community with.  They are comfortable to live with, and Kelev is comfortable to live with during the half of the time he spends here.  But I still value my alone time greatly and need it on a regular basis.  I also became more active in my local poly community and had sudden bursts of social energy, the like of which I hadn’t experienced since my teenage years.  After years of being so introverted that I never wanted to leave the house and interact outside of my little zone, I wanted to go out and meet new people and have new adventures! I remember the word ambivert, a mixture of introversion and extroversion.  Does it fit?

Sometimes I am very high energy for my introverted partners. I want to constantly be on the go, I feel cooped up when in the house too long.  I want late night runs to all night eateries, the pounding of music at the hookah bar or on a dance floor, the thrill of meeting a new group of strangers.  Sometimes I’m too introverted for my partners as a whole, I fear.  I need space, I sometimes struggle with wanting to take a week of silence from social interaction but knowing it would hurt the people I love not to hear from me for that long.  It may likely drive me a bit up the wall too, after a day or two I’d be reaching out to people left and right.  Or maybe I wouldn’t, I want to experience aloneness, and even loneliness, and bask in isolating and silence for a time.  When I am around the people that I love, the people that thrill me, it’s a high.  After a couple days of constant contact I’m exhausted and anxious.  This feeds self doubt.  Am I good enough for the people I am close to if I get exhausted and edgy from just the company of others?  Is there something wrong with me and does it make me incompatible for partnership or living with people or sharing closeness?  No, I don’t think so.

What I do think is that I still have a lot to learn about standing up for my boundaries.  I need space, every single day I need some measure of space.  I need to be better at defining my needs for space.  With one of my partners, when I ask for space, they leave the room and wander off on some adventure, returning in a few hours and messaging me to ask if I still need space or want company.  With another partner, when I say I need space, he retreats off the bed or couch we are sharing, to a space nearby but not quite as adjacent.  With another partner, when I say I need space, he disentangles his body from mine if we are cuddling, and maintains a nearness on the same bed, but with minimal or no direct contact.  With another partner, if I say I need space, he leaves me be and doesn’t talk to me at all, sometimes for a few days, until I initiate contact again.  These are wide variations.  When some are too little for me to satisfy my need for aloneness, and some are too much and make me feel like I have done something wrong and upset someone because of a complete lack of contact, I need to speak up.  I am a balance, inside me is love of excitement and deep vulnerability, emotional closeness and intimacy, and thrilling terrifying social interactions that are new and push my comfort zones.  Inside me is a love for solitude, for the coldness of an empty bed, the silence of an empty room, and a lonely walk with only my own thoughts for company.  I know that both my exuberant need for extroverted moments or my absolute need for introverted time alone may mean I’m not quite suited to everyone else’s needs or preferences.  That is okay, but I won’t know how comfortable I can get and how much my partners will make space for my needs and allow me to grow into them, until I better learn to express them and find my voice.