Open to feeling happiness when you don’t want to be open to feeling hurt?

You can’t be is the simple answer. One that I am starting to realize. we all have past hurts that affect how slowly we dip our toes in the water the next time. How cautiously we decide to see where the bottom is as we edge out deeper. What happens though when the past scares and hurts have you sitting on the shore instead of even hesitantly wandering in, no matter how slowly?

What happens is where I have been for the past three years essentially. Either making very conscious decisions to not let anyone close – physically or emotionally – or becoming involved only with someone who is “safe” because of their built in limitations on where the relationship could ever go. Simple. Easy. Safe.

Devoid of emotions. The opposite of hurt and sadness is not happiness or joy; it’s apathy. Feeling nothing may avoid feeling hurt but eventually it hurts worse in its own way.

The hard part is that to expose yourself to what is needed and wanted – joy, happiness, laughter that you actually feel, softness, liking someone a whole lot 😉 – also means that the floodgates are open and that you expose yourself to being hurt again. You’re vulnerable and that’s scary. Terrifying actually.

Lots of looking inside lately and trying to decide what to do. Sit and watch from the shore where it’s safer but feels like I am missing something that could bring so much more into my life or do what feels right and say fuck the toe dipping and just splash in. If the bottom falls out underneath me, I know I can tread water or swim.

The knowledge that I will be just fine is enough to give me the nudge.

A song today that brought back so many memories. It’s amazing how a few seconds of a song can take you away to another time so fully and swiftly.

A song that was playing during a wild and fun sexual romp with my boyfriend at the time. Almost 5 years ago and with just a few seconds of that song, I was right back there. All of the feelings and emotions and images flooding my mind made me smile. Then they made me sad. In a quick turnaround, I am left with a sadness, not over the loss of that relationship or missing that person , but a sadness over the difference in ME now.

That was a time when I was finally living my truths. Life had taken yet another massive turn for me and I was separated and raising my boys as a single parent again. I had just sat the boys down and had the talk with them about how things were changing. I was sick of working too much and not having enough smiles and fun in our lives. It was time to not only lighten the schedules, but to make joy a priority. Part of that, for me, was living a healthy expression of my sexuality and relationship choices.

I was finally openly (to myself, others would come later) bisexual and happily open with my sexuality and how I explored that. That meant being openly poly in my relationship choices. The people I was involved with were all aware that there were “others” in my life that I shared time and connections with. For the first time in a very long time, I was happy and comfortable with my Self and how I was living my life.

That song this morning… boom… right back there. And like a jolt, it magnified for me how far grieving and living with depression has taken me from my truth, my freedom, my joys.

I miss the lightness of being. The ease of knowing that even though things were sometimes hard, I was happy with my choices. I miss the ability to connect and enjoy experiences with people. That’s been lost for too long.

I think back to the song playing, 5 years ago, and I close my eyes and make a promise to my Self that I’ll find that feeling again.

Back in the old home town for a work/ continuing ed conference this weekend. Travels through old neighbourhoods and sights. So many that have changed, but so many that haven’t.

Funny how the mind can swing between happy and sad within the space of seconds. Seeing the reminders of times long past and the feelings stirred up along with that. Buildings that are gone now replaced with shiny and new; bringing up feelings of wondering how, if the landscape can change so completely, how can the memories and the feelings be so UNchanged.

Driving to my son’s place to stay with him. The oddness of me, his Mother, going to be a guest at his home now. Roles all ajumble and askew. More feelings and memories to work through as I near and arrive at the place he lives now… the same neighbourhood we lived in when the boys were babies and little boys. Again. So many changes and so many feeling and memories still fresh and like yesterday.

The strangeness that settles inside of me as I realize that the disconnect I am feeling with same yet different is much because of the fact that I am changed. That as much as I view and feel myself the “same”, I’m not… to live is to grow and to change. The feelings and the memories are a call back to an older version of me. A version that was different, younger. The me that is here now is different and changed. Much like the landscape that I travel through. So much the same yet so much altered.

I love how sometimes you say something (or hear something) and it smacks you upside the head just how it relates to something bigger in life.

Out hiking today with 2 of my kids and it was a loop trail that went around a lake. There was one vantage point that I was standing at with my youngest son and he was hesitant to go to close to the edge. It was a sharp edge to the “cliff” and you couldn’t get close without seeing how far down it was, or even how sheer the drop was. The angle of view was just not good and it looked dangerous. So he stayed back a bit even though he really wanted to see how far down it was.

We didn’t think much of it and kept on the trail and it looped back around the end of the lake to the other side. At this point my older son made a remark that the cliff face we were now looking at from across the lake was where we had been standing. Sure enough, there it was. It had some unique looking tress and it was easy to see that it was indeed where we had been.

My youngest looked over and said, almost with annoyance, that it wasn’t anywhere near as high or dangerous as he (we) had thought it might be. That the slope of the cliff was actually pretty safe looking from here and the angle from where we had been standing was misleading.

A simple message and one that I needed to hear today. That so many times, when we have a chance to look back, we realize that the situation we had been in wasn’t able to be seen accurately because of our vantage point. Sometimes we’re just too close to the edge to be able to see the way down isn’t as bad as we think it might be. We look back after and the perspective gives us a new angle to look at it. Hindsight really is different but that’s not so much what hit me today. It was more that sometimes, in the moment, I need to stop and think that maybe what I’m seeing and viewing is skewed by the angle and my immediate perspective… things aren’t always precisely how they appear.

“I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy, and free.” ― Emily Brontë

I read this quote today as I was searching for just the right “MMM” for my staff at work. The MMM is my Monday Morning Motivation. At times, it reflects how I am feeling or things that are on my mind. More often or not though, it triggers me to think. Which is what this little gem did today.

You see, I read that and the first thing I thought was that I am, in fact, much more hardy and free NOW than I ever felt when I was a young girl. Racked with shyness and insecurity I dreamed of being fearless and confident. Free from everything inside of me that held me back, that told me “I couldn’t” or “I shouldn’t”. I grew up and struggled to push through the shyness, able now to carry that off most days. The insecurities and self-confidence are a work in progress…better than it used to be and still growing and evolving and making strides forward.

Free though, yes. That is something that, for the first time in my life, I can say that I feel. Reading that quote this morning brought a smile to me -inside- as I realized that for the first time I can say that I feel free. Something that I didn’t so much “find” as uncovered that it was there all along. I just had to let myself unleash it. Better late than never 😉

November is my birth month and I’m not usually a big celebrator of my birthday but this year I’m feeling a different spin on it.

I’ve been going through a bit of a shake up recently and the past year has been one of tremendous awareness and self exploration and growth. Discovering – and rediscovering – my Self and what makes me tick has been a roller coaster this year…and it’s just the beginning 😉

So I was musing over the past couple of months in particular and seeing that the stressors of life since the beginning of September have taken their toll. The basics of eating and sleeping and self-care have fallen by the wayside as they have a tendency to do with me. Bad habits that I thought I had set to rest have reared up again, a couple of them with a vengeance that’s frustrating. The worst part is that I’m no longer ignorant of the changes that I want and need to make. I no longer am able to ignore the lacking that sits inside of me when I slip up. But that awareness is also the best part; because it gives me clarity.

Clarity to ask myself what can I do? What do I need to do? I have struck upon an answer…and if you read my last entry you’d know that the awesome thing is that the answer was already there, waiting for me 🙂

I’m giving myself a birthday present this year. I’m going to celebrate Me. My Self gets a gift. The gift of freedom.
The gift of feeling not just good, but amazing. To eat healthy and wholesome so that my body feels nourished and cared for and valued by the Self that lives in it.
The gift of feeling strong physically. To know sweat and pain and the joy it brings me again…often and as much as I can. To know the serenity that comes from well worked muscles as they relax and soften after exertion. To feel the peace and the strength that flows through my Yoga practice again. Energizing and restoring me in a way nothing else can.
The gift of being challenged and to know the joy of achievement. To also give the gift of acceptance of knowing when my best is enough.
The gift of feeling nurtured. To experience a mind and a body and a spirit that is treasured and cherished.
The gift of expression and non-judgement. To follow where my Self meanders and explores and wanders. New paths and experiences are boundless and I give my Self permission to indulge and experience. Without judgement. With a knowledge that fear can’t and won’t hold me back.
With love, from Me to My Self.

A month to not just have a birthday but to have a celebration of the knowledge that I can, and do, chose to actively create and live my life. A life that embodies and embraces what fulfills me and expresses my Self. I put to rest those things that hold me back and move forward with those things that fan the flames of my fires.

Living Openly, Living Abundantly.

I’ve been in a place in my life lately where I have been seeking and feeling very unsettled. It seems to be going around. I have a few friends who have been struggling with some significant decisions as well. Lots of questioning and soul searching has been happening.

With some, it’s a matter of choices. There are clear and laid out options. This or that, or maybe a few this and thats but essentially, the options are known. The talks and texts…the coffee dates and the walks… all connecting and trying to come to some sort of place of knowing, really knowing what is the “right” decision to make. Weighing all the pros and cons and talking it over for hours. Calculating out and projecting and trying to make rational and logical decisions over matters of the heart and spirit. What it inevitably comes down to is what “feels” right. What does your gut say? What sits right in your heart?

At the end of it all, when you take the chatter and the lists and the scales of option a or b away… you’re left with the truth. The scary truth that we avoid with a vengeance.

The truth is, we each know the answers we are searching for. We know the answer even before we’ve let ourselves pose the question; because, by the time we start to question, the answer has been found inside already. The question is our mind and hearts way of bringing us to that answer. Sometimes it takes a little longer and sometimes we have false starts and we pick the other option that we know, deep down, isn’t “right”. But the fact is that even then, it is right. For that time. Because it wasn’t the right time yet to make the choice we need to make. But we find our way eventually. We always will, if we look inside and listen. That’s where the answer is. Always has been, always will be.

The place I have found myself in is a bit different. There’s no way to listen to the answer because I’m stuck with my Self not being able to bring through the question yet. Just unsettled and knowing that there’s a maelstrom brewing underneath. A change needed, a time of growth is here and a direction needs to be seen. Some answers have already been discovered and they feel right. But there’s more. Not sure exactly what or how or where but a calmness is inside, knowing that the answers I look for are waiting for me to find them. And I will.

I came across a term today that struck me and inspired me to put to words something that has been on my mind for the last year or so.
“The asking animal”, a term used to describe the human animal. What it is that makes us different from the other animals that we share nature with. Got me thinking though… are we all “asking”, or as I phrase it, seeking?

There are those of us who are seekers. Those who hunger and thirst for the “why” and for so much more that the status quo in life. Those who aren’t content with just accepting. Those who see where they are, not as the destination, but as just part of the journey. Not to say that this is the same as being always looking for the next best thing or the greener grass just on the other side of the fence. I’m talking about seeking and journeying towards more intangible gains. The striving to understand, to grow and become “more”. To desire to expand and experience rather than to be complacent. The wanting to be a better Self, a more aware Self, a more realized and actualized Self.

There are those who simply exist and bumble along in their lives. Like someone who simply drifts in the canoe down the river while the oars rest in the bottom of the boat. Maybe enjoying the ride and even looking around and appreciating the view. Happy with the direction of travel but not in control of where they go or how they get there even. They never wonder if there is a different stream to travel; one that might offer an alternate environment. They never think to take time to rest in a nook, to get out of the current for a bit. They never pick up the oars. They never even think to, never mind act on the thought. They never think of the even more radical idea of getting out of the boat altogether and striking out on foot for the mountain in the distance. The live aimlessly and complacently with whatever comes their way.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the option of simply drifting isn’t for me. Seeking and growing is who I am and how I live my life. It goes beyond just acknowledging that I am in control of my reactions to what comes my way. It’s an awareness that , in most ways, I can orchestrate how my life is lived and experienced. I may not always have control over what comes my way, but the reality is that I, we, have more input than we think we do.

To seek, to yearn and be in a constant state of growth. This is who I am. Life took a bit of a veer off for me in my twenties as I stumbled through a bad marriage and trying to live as I “should” but about 15 years ago, I made a choice to change the way I was living. I embraced who and how I am. Embraced that the striving and constant yearning to seek is me…and that it’s how I need the people who I keep close to me to be as well.

This past couple of years, living with grief and pain and finally seeing that I am the builder of my life, again. Putting it back together again after it had been torn apart by loss. Part of that entailed rediscovering that my Self craves holding the rudder and oars of my vessel. That it’s who I am. That I am happiest when the people I hold dear to me not only accept but share this embodiment of living. Choosing to cultivate relationships with the people in my life as purposely as I need to craft the rest of my environment for my Self to live. Making choices in drawing closer to those who grow and feed my spirit through friendship, chosen family and loves. Persons who support me and nurture me and accept me, as I do for them. The joy of being with those who lift me up and who I delight in seeing thrive in their travels through life. Hard choices also being made to release from my life those who merely drift and whose path encumbers mine in an unhealthy and suffocating manner. Understanding that for some, the oars will never be used and it’s time to wish them well and watch them drift away.

It means being happy and content with what and where I am but knowing that to stagnate here and to stop yearning and growing and opening my mind and my heart is to die.

There is a lot of talk surrounding “couple privilege” and “primary privilege” in poly relationships. As a single secondary by choice, it’s a  topic very close to home for me and one that I have lived and lost with in my relationships.

The common slant is that it’s wrong and hurtful and should be abolished in order for healthy and fulfilling relationships to be. That’s a simplified synopsis of a long and drawn out topic but it pretty well sums up the general consensus for the most part.

Taking a look at it though it’s not that simple.

In relationships, boundaries and parameters are set by the people  who are IN the relationships. There aren’t , and can’t be, “rules” that everyone should abide by. That would insinuate that we are all the same or that we all have the same goals or aspirations in our relationships. And we don’t.

Some climb on the relationship escalator and thrive in the progression of integrating lives and finances and social circles and all aspects of their lives. They tangle themselves happily and beautifully into each other lives and enmesh and forge a bond that fits them. That fits THEM.

Other float like satellites…tethering briefly from one person to the next for a time; maybe hours or days or weeks or even years… but essentially solo. Their own sphere being what fulfills them and they choose to connect in a different way. Not necessarily less emotionally bonded or less enmeshed. Just differently as seen from other points of view.

Others create vast and strongly intertwined polycules of loves and partners. Families and shared lives-  together but separate. Or multiple couples and singles circling the same expanse of a community, creating and forging different bonds with different people in a fluid and ever-changing dance of love and respect.

Poly takes on so many forms and versions and it all is a flow of communication and finding – and expressing – your needs and wants so that you can find what it is that you DO need and want. Something we each have to do.

Which brings me, finally, to where I started. Couples who are in primary style relationships. Poly in nature but living a bonded and committed long-term relationship that fits the understood term of primary. Two people who have decided that the relationships they have with each other are Primary and the most important to them emotionally. With that, for each partnership like that, comes sets of boundaries and parameters that are in place in order to protect and preserve the stability and security of that primary relationship. Why? Because they have agreed , together, that it is the one relationship in their lives that must come first, before all others,and they have built their lives together on that. They have based their boundaries for secondary interactions on the basis that their primary relationship is to be protected – above all else.

That isn’t a bad thing. It is what works for many many couples. It’s no different from a person who identifies as a solo poly or single poly stating their boundaries and need to remain and be “solo” even within establishing relationships. A solo poly person is not selfish any more than a couple in primary relationships are exclusion based. They’re just different.

Where it comes up that it’s “bad” is when people have experiences that hurt when they either don’t have that basis communicated or when it isn’t adequately conveyed that that is what is in place. Secondaries who come away from “couple privilege” hurt and angry and ranting about how bad it is have usually been subjected to either lies or omissions. They have been told that the primary coupling does not exist within the relationship they are joining or they have been told that it will change – when in fact there was no intention from the couple that it would. People have more reasons that able to be listed as to why lies are told or deceptions are perpetrated and they are usually set in fear of not getting, or keeping, something they want.

A partner who is one half of a primary coupling who plays the “primary card” and ends a secondary relationship is not bad or wrong or unfair. Not if it has been established that , at any time, they can choose to end a secondary involvement if they feel that their primary relationship is threatened or if they decide that it’s not working anymore. If someone is told and actively empowered that they have that right, then it’s not wrong for them to enact it.  The secondary may get hurt but if it has been initially laid out, then regardless of hurt, acceptance is how it ends…because those are the rules that everyone agreed to play by. Knowingly and with mature awareness.

Not right or wrong. Just how it is – for them.

It may strike some as wrong but if something is right for those involved, then its’ right for them and that;s all that matters. If a secondary is handed those rules at the outset and doesn’t think it’s fair or right, they have the option of walking away. oOt because it’s “wrong”, but because it’s not right, for them. There may be another secondary who sees those parameters and thrives and fits in perfectly.

It all comes down to ensuring that our needs and wants and parameters are clearly – and honestly – laid bare. From day one.. and knowing that we are responsible for seeing what is laid before us. With open eyes, seeing with our heads and our ears and our eyes… not just with our hearts.

We live and we learn and if we’re lucky, we don’t make the same mistake twice.

Listening to an ad on the radio this afternoon that has me somewhat stunned and wondering what decade we’re in.

Here’s the gist of it… “the perfect diamond engagement ring will be with her forever – even when you can’t be there…the next time she doubts herself, the ring on her finger will tell the world that this woman is loved, that she matters and has value…” You get the idea.

I actually spoke out loud in my car, what?! So stunned was I that a radio ad was being broadcast that carried the message that I had just heard. A message that, by its nature, implies that a woman cannot believe in her own abilities and live a confident, independent life without a man to support and encourage her. That insinuates that she has less, or no, worth or value if she doesn’t have that ring on her hand that shouts to the world that she is “good enough” for someone to marry… The message that she will need to have a ridiculously over-priced bauble on her finger to remind her that she has worth and value and strength because someone loves her…

Is this the message that we are still feeding ourselves? I had hoped that the fairy tale that every little girl just needs a prince to make her life perfect had been swept off the books. That fairy tale that told our girls that they were incomplete without a man was finally put to rest. A fairytale that instilled the pressure in our boys that they were responsible for a woman’s happiness.

Apparently that fable is alive and well though and has been prettied up and skewed just enough to be more about feeding materialism than measuring a woman’s worth based on her ability to find a mate.

Sad to think that as far as our society has come, there’s still so far to go.