I have to say, 2018 was one of the most tumultuous years I have ever faced. It was jam packed full of big intense changes, and well, human beings are not known for dealing well with change. I survived though, and it was one of the most transformational years I’ve experienced in my lifetime. In fact, I would say on a whole, despite some exceptionally hard moments, it was a very happy year with an abundance of personal growth. So here is my year in review.
I started the year off attempting to do Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I had a whole list of aspirations for each month, and wrote a couple sentences about my day in a journal each night, and every day at the end of the day Kelev and I would check off which out our happiness project objectives we had done well with that day. It was definitely beneficial, I grew a little from that the first few months, but it really wasn’t a format of doing things that I could keep up with. Also in January, I took the TEAS and scored in the 99th percentile, securing myself a spot in nursing clinicals. The other important event in January was going with Kelev for his social security hearing in front of a judge. After three years of fighting for disability benefits this time around, and close to six years or more including previous attempts, he finally was able to get in front of a judge and present his case. We finished January knowing that we had done all we could, and now we just had to wait and hope for a good result in a few months.
On one of the last days of January, I got a message on a site I’ve been on for thirteen or so years, and actually met quite a few of the most important people in my life through. I was intrigued and responded back, and in the beginning of February began texting back and forth with Hoffy. Over the next month we fell in love. I was cautious going into the relationship, because I had previously decided not to get involved with folks new to polyamory, or people who were not out (about polya, sexuality, etc) because I was not willing to be someone’s secret. He was so intensely open and honest, with a desire to learn and a completely refreshingly curious outlook without judgement. I make most decisions based on my rational mind, and I knew the intensity of my emotional connection played a part in me making an exception to rules for myself, but I also knew such intensity was something I so rarely felt in my life and I wanted to explore that as deeply as I was able. Also towards the end of the month, Kelev and I visited a friend and were taught about a couple new kinks that we had not explored before. One of them, fireplay, had been a limit of mine for year, not because of disinterest, but out of fear. I decided this was a year to face my fears, and not only did I learn a little about how to engage in a fireplay scene, but I also took the bottom role and let it be done to me, something I would never have allowed in the past. It was exhilarating, both facing my fears and having such a surprisingly relaxing experience of sensations.
March was a pretty exciting month. I met Hoffy and our relationship intensified after the weekend we spent together. I was one of the most wonderful weekends of my life and I was a bit blown away but how much comfort I felt in person with him, as someone who has struggled for a long time with being comfortable sharing space with people. I also attended my first play party this month. I went with Kelev first to a rope demo, which was a whole lot of fun, and then to a play party following it. While I’d experienced several impromptu kink events in the past, this was the first organized one I had attended and it was a whole lot of fun. I was in awe of some of the scenes I witnessed, one I saw really stuck in my mind because you could absolutely feel the profound connection between the two people involved fill the whole space. To be honest, how beautifully intense their bond was, and the vulnerability and trust in that scene coupled by an electric energy, almost brought me to tears. I also tried porcupine quills for the first time, my second experience in bottoming for a scene in many many years, and I was surprised to find that I very much enjoyed it. It was also my first time getting to that floaty headspace that pain play can produce, and it intrigued me and opened up my mind to the idea of bottoming for more scenes in the future. I revised my personal definition of myself from strictly a Dom and top, to a Dom with no desire for submission, but a willingness to bottom for scenes to explore all the experiences I am comfortable with in life. March has a feeling of new beginnings and an exhilarating desire to test myself and experience all I could in life with a curious and open mind.
April was the beginning of the great departure, as I’ve come to think of it. Since I had left for college at seventeen, I had lived with an increasing number of partners, friends, metamours, and loves. At the most, I think we at one time had nine or ten folks living or staying for a spell in my previous home, and after buying this home, there were usually four to six of us living here. I finally hit a point of high stress over the end of last year and through the beginning of this one, where I had decided I needed space and to live with less people. I also felt for once that I had the place to ask for that. One of my housemates was talking about moving across the country to be with one of their partners, their partner who lived with us had expressed a desire to have her own place at some point, her other partner who had taken up residence in the basement had not intended to be a permanent fixture here as far as I knew, and our other housemate had moved across the country to move in with us a year prior but with the eventual intent of getting their own place. That left myself and Kelev, and he has been one of the few people in life I’ve had such a deep comfort with and desire to cohabitate with, that I knew my need for space still allowed for living with him. Since everyone else was open to the idea of moving elsewhere, I felt for the first time that I was allowed to ask for space, and I had begun doing so months before. In April my queer platonic partner, James, was the first to move out, getting a place with one of my other partners, Witty, who had been looking to move up to our town. They relocated to a nice home a few blocks away from mine, which was a perfect mix of being close enough to visit often and offer assistance to each other at a moments notice, but relieving me of some of the stress of a decade of living in crowded homes. I also got to see Hoffy for another visit in April, which was another intense emotional rush, and really cemented my attachment and desire for that relationship as a long term commitment in my life.
In May I went to my first potluck with the local polyamory community I had connected with. It was a wonderful experience, I have talked before about how fantastic it was to begin getting close to some of the leaders of that group, and how much it inspired personal growth in my to see them grow as people. May was really the beginning of all that, and I found a group of people who have become like family to me in many ways. I also began my nursing clinicals in May, and it was the start of what is a much more challenging and invigorating program then I could have imagined. I started of with an abundance of determination and I strong desire to do better then I ever had before with formal schooling, in this new venture. May was also when Kelev finally heard back about social security and was granted disability benefits. It was a fantastic victory after fighting the system for years to acknowledge his illnesses, and I was so ecstatic for him.
June was a busy month, school was in full swing and I was scrambling to keep up with a new program that was more challenging than I had ever imagined, but which I was very thoroughly enjoying. I was also preparing for the continuation of the great departure, Kyuu was getting ready to move across the country in the beginning of July, and Floof and Bear had begun discussions on getting a place together and started looking at apartments. I also got to see Hoffy again, his visits had become bright rays of light in my year, always full of an abundance of love and a feeling of safety, coupled with a very exhilarating excitement at the intensity of out connection. I was by that point struggling quite a lot with knowing that our relationship was a secret though. It was what I had been afraid of when cautiously getting involved, and he had talked about coming out to family and friends after the first time he visited, but I was still waiting for that to occur. It was a delicate tightrope I felt I was walking, trying to be honest and open about my emotions, but also not trying to apply any external pressure on a big life decision that I felt he had to make on his own time. I often felt I was hiding the depth of anguish it caused me to spare his feelings, but I knew that during the few frank conversations we had about it I was blunt, and I felt to continue to address it more often just because it was a constant weight on me, would have crossed into pressuring him on a choice I felt was not mine to make. After this visit we discussed it yet again and I could see how much he was struggling as well, but that he was strengthening his resolve to approach it soon. Finally at the end of June he told his parents about his sexuality, and our relationship. I know for him it was probably a life changing moment. For me it was a huge sigh of relief. I wanted to respect how big that moment was for him, coming out is never easy and he had hidden that part of himself for a long time, and experience I couldn’t relate to because I had always been explosively blunt about newly discovered parts of myself regardless of what sort of reaction I feared, so I did not know quite what it felt like to speak that sort of truth after a long period of hiding. I know for myself, hearing about that moment filled me with not just relief that I was no longer a secret and the deception was over, but also overwhelming pride for a partner who had come to mean so much to me in such a short time. Seeing someone cultivate courage and face their fears, growing so much since I had first met them, it was inspiring and heartwarming in ways I still fail to describe aptly. June was already such an overwhelming month of highs and lows, and I was gearing up at the end of it to help Kyuu move out, and Floof and Bear soon to follow. Then Kelev dropped the bombshell on me that he would be leaving as well. The whole story there is one for another time, but in short is was a profound shock and one that fucked my up real good for a short bit, but once I recognized that it was not a changing of our connection but simply of our structure of life, I handled it a little better. The knowledge that it was something he needed to do for both his mental health and the good of his family, helped immensely. I had always taken the role of trying to care for him in any way I could, so doing what was best for his mental health was a decision I fully supported. His family as well had made me feel welcomed in a way I don’t even feel my own extended family always has, and their best interests were also of great importance to me.
The month of great change. July is when the big changes actually happened, Kyuu and Kelev both moved out in the first week, and Floof and Bear were gone by the middle of the month. I was alone in my home, living by myself for the first time in my entire life. I was concerned, I spent many hours alone in my parent’s home as a teen and it had led to suicidal ideation, depression, self destructive habits, and worse. I was also concerned I would love it too much, become so comfortable in my aloneness that I wouldn’t want to go back to living with others. Neither really happened. I found a lot of joy in my time to myself, it was refreshing and invigorating, the breath of fresh air I really needed. I did a lot of introspection and worked on myself during that time, and I felt more -me- then I had been in many years. I empowered and reclaimed myself, and I also found more joy in my relationships with others now that I could truly be alone. I was also lonely at times, it was a feeling I savored sitting with calmly and accepting. I was looking forward to when I would transition to living with others again, while also treating my time to myself as a glorious vacation and a time to grow into my own skin once more.
Whee vacation time! In August I went to Hawaii with my parents, the first trip with them that I had managed in a number of years. It was a magical life changing trip, I fell in love with the climate and the people there, and oh goodness the food. I miss the food, I miss it desperately deep in my soul. I’m a food oriented creature and I love putting raw fish in my face, and Hawaii delivered that in spades. I also decided it was a chance to challenge all my fears. I’m afraid of heights, of mechanical failures and depending on human made objects (cars, roller coasters, ski lifts, airplanes, etc), of being underground and being buried alive, of swimming in deep water without assistance, and of ants. I went zip-lining, walked across wood and rope bridges high up in massive trees, explored underground lava tunnels, went snorkeling with dolphins with no life jacket, and made friends with a wide variety of insect life including a good many tiny ant friends. I honestly wasn’t really afraid, I had decided to challenge my fears and somehow that decision to face them helped to nullify them. Things like being on a wind rocked wood and rope bridge a hundred feet in the air which would have triggered an intense panic attack before, but I had resolved to be a different person there, a person who forged ahead bravely and somewhat recklessly into any adventure I could get my greedy hands on. I took a bit of that person home with me. When I got back, I left again a couple days later on a second vacation, this time a trip to Ithaca with James. It was the first vacation of my life that I have planned and budgeted for entirely on my own, with no assistance from my parents. We explored Ithaca, hoping it might be a landing ground for out intentional community, staying in an ecovillage there and visiting another. We also met up with Hoffy, all three of us touring the ecovillage of Ithaca together and hiking through state parks. It was a lovely experience, though we decided that it might not be the place we would eventually settle in. Coming back from vacation, I started my next semester of school, though I was tired from a break that was more adventure then relaxation.
September was exciting. I was adjusting to living on my own, and finding that my relationship with Kelev was all the stronger for the change. We went to our first concert together, Alice Cooper, and it was a thrilling experience! I enjoyed the York fair, the food truck festival, and struggled to keep up with school during a semester of high stress and low motivation.
At the very beginning of October, or maybe the last couple days of September, I got two new housemates. My longtime queer platonic love and friend Raichu and their partner A. moved in, ending my three month experience of living alone. I was grateful to be around people again, I know three months does not sound like a long time for living by yourself, but it was enough for me to get a feel for the experience so I could say I had done it once in my life, and then to move forward. Their coming certainly heralded moving forward. I had been talking with them over the years about forming an intentional community, and we had begun more serious conversations about it starting in the spring, along with James, Kelev, Hoffy, and a friend of theirs. They took the leap and moved back from the west coast, so we could begin planning out our dreams and then manifesting them into reality, so our community could begin construction over the next few years and we could come home to it within the next five, or so we hoped. I’m sure if I didn’t also mention that the new Halloween movie came out, Kelev would be distraught, since that was likely his biggest event of the year. We went to see that and it did not disappoint.
November was the month of Thanksgivings. Our polycule had our celebration early and it was a wonderful gathering. Almost our whole group came, Kyuu visited, coming from across the country and staying for a week. James and Floof and Witty and Kelev were all there, and my partner Shara also came up from Philly which was wonderful. My parents were in attendance as usual and were incredibly helpful with making the food and being as fantastically accepting of our eclectic little polycule as always. We missed Hoffy, who couldn’t manage to get off work to come down for the weekend, and Kwik, who is up in Canada and had not yet made it down to visit. And James brought his new partner, a gorgeous badass goth, Nikki, who has now become a dear part of our family as well. After first thanksgiving, I had second Thanksgiving with Kelev’s family. It was amazing being able to host them and cook for them, and it reminded me again of how much they have always accepted me and welcomed me, which I appreciate beyond words. Then Kelev and I celebrated eight years together, going down to Baltimore where he chose a trip to the aquarium for our day of celebration, and I chose the Hard Rock Cafe for our dinner following that. I also had my first clinical experience with patients, which was terrifying up until the moment it began, and then morphed quickly into a fulfilling but somewhat anti-climactic experience after all the fear and hype.
December began with my birthday, and I managed to not have a crisis as I realized I was now only one year away from thirty. I wondered how, looking back as my life, I had lived so much in a mere twenty nine years, and at the same time how I still felt like a bumbling teenager most days and was close to hitting my thirties. December has been a chaotic month. I untitled one of my dynamics after a period of personal growth that led to me realizing the pressure of a title was often instrumental to me pushing people away when I couldn’t handle the expectations I put on myself in certain types of partnerships. I also had confirmed the ending of a few other dynamics prior in the year, though they were ones that had really just morphed from romantic or sexual shaped to more platonic friend shaped, and it was just a discussion and confirmation of that. I also began a new kink dynamic with Kelev and one of the amazing folks I had grown close to in the local polya community I found towards the start of the year. That took a lot of thoughtful communication and soul searching, because I am hesitant about new titles and dynamics as a whole, though I do understand the increased importance of titles in kink related dynamics for the structure it helps to provide when that level of trust and structure is needed. I also shy away from triad shaped dynamics because of problems with couples privilege and so on, so there was a lot of unpacking to do before that took shape. During that, I was able to be incredibly vulnerable with D., the other person I got involved with, and had a bit of a breakdown/breakthrough with her, and with help from Raichu, that led to a much greater understanding of myself and how I approach relationships and experience attraction. That is something to address more in depth at another time, but it helped grow an intense closeness that was already developing between us, and I’m grateful for it. I also completed my year of sobriety that I had decided on last December 1st, and while I have continued to refrain from drinking, I was fulfilled knowing I had proved to myself I could accomplish that, after the years of increasingly productive moderation that followed my decent into alcoholism and beginning of recovery. I also chose as my challenge for this year to write daily, and thus far have been successful in that, another path that has led to increasing introspection and personal growth.
There is so much more I can say about this past year, this really just scratches the surface. There are many events large and small that I left out for last of time and stamina to write about them all, or because I cannot even remember the wealth of experiences this year held. It was the most impactful year of my life thus far I believe, or certainly high up there in the ranking. I go into this next year full of joy, appreciation, and hope, eager to see what new changes and experiences are waiting.