Neon Trees

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.

The seeking spirit

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.

Primary Privilege, not right or wrong, just is.

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.

simple really

I was asked last night what it is that I want in my life… Now to narrow that down, because that is a huge question…. I was at a gathering of friends when that question was posed to me. During a discussion about relationships and sexuality to give some context.

After a bit of stumbled thought and sentences (some wine had been consumed) it clarified for me very simply. Simple. That’s what I want. Not necessarily easy, because that’s different from simple … But simple. I know what I want and I know what is right for me when it comes to intimacy and closeness and relationships.
I have run into struggles when I have turned away from what I feel and know is right for me in attempts at “should”. Marriages and monogamy that just aren’t for me. Neither are random encounters with strangers to just satisfy base needs of the moment – although that’s not to say that doesn’t or hasn’t happened or won’t again… I’ve learned enough about myself to be honest enough with myself to know not to say never to that.

What I want is simple. I want connection and intimacy. Without the expectations that an evening of wonderful shared time will be anything other than what it is..that maybe that evening is just an evening; or maybe it’s an ongoing, “when we connect and the mood strikes” type of thing; or maybe it’s once a week, established and “us”. I want for what is, to just be allowed to be what it is. I

I want relationships that are open and loving with people who I care for that care for me. I want, and need , communication that is honest and expansive … I am purposely transparent in my needs and wants and in how I “do” relationships; I have spent too much time and effort in years of discovering that and owning my feelings to settle for people in my intimate life that can’t be that way with me. That means me listening and hearing their needs and wants and boundaries just as much as them hearing and listening to mine. I want to see my partners in love and loving others who fill their needs and wants just as they see me expressing mine with others as well.
I want, and need, and am, primary and committed to myself first and before anyone else. Solo poly and not only comfortable that way but happy and right that way.

I want the people who I chose to share my life and my Love with to know that me identifying as single and solo doesn’t mean that they mean less to me but that they are THAT important to me that I DO chose to welcome them to my heart and my life.
I’ve been doing this long enough to know that this doesn’t always translate to easy, but it is simple.

The key to making it work, I have found, is not only honest and open communication but being self-aware and honest enough with yourself to be able to communicate with others what it is that’s in Your heart and mind. Without having that connection and understanding with yourself first, there’s just no way you can relay it to someone else in order to convey what it is you want. YOU have to know what you want and need before you can tell anyone else 😊.

That question last night was a great reminder to me that I DO know and it really is simple.

To “send” or “delete”? That is the question.

As my role as a staff and facility manager for the past number of years I have had a number of times when I have been needed to help my staff deal with emotional responses in the realm of client service. My staff would often tell me that they were stunned at how polite (without condescending sounding) I was to clients in email – even when faced with rudeness or ignorance or even downright stupidity; let’s be honest, the customer is NOT always right. They talked about how nothing ever ruffled my feathers. How no matter what, my email replies were so professional and well thought out – devoid of emotional responses.

I had one staff in particular who had a nasty habit of typing heated and emotional responses… filled with sarcasm and blatant rudeness. She would fire them off in a fury then come to me apologizing; usually a few minutes after she did it. Her anger would be cooling off and she would realize how unprofessional her response had been and she would regret having sent it. But here’s the key… she never regretted WHAT she said, just that she had sent it.

That’s the clincher here… and how I explained to her how I kept it together. The fact was that I was just as reactive as she was… just as fired up and inflamed at times. But that I had developed a safeguard.

Having grown up with a wicked temper, I realized in my early teens that I needed to do something to control it and vent it safely. After the second hole in the all that I kicked the idea took hold. So I worked hard to find ways to vent. Learning to recognize when I need to walk away if I am unable to control my emotions was a big step for me. Not running away, but knowing when to step back and “walk it off”. Being able to move physically allows me to process the emotions and move them through me… in a more healthy way. Most of the time.

With work I developed a similar response. Although on the surface different, it works the same way. When I would walk as a teen I would say all the things I wanted to scream out inside my head. By the time I made it back, two things had happened. One; I had realized that my responses were irrational and emotional and I was over them and could move on , or , two; I had at least calmed down enough and organized my thoughts enough that I could now calmly and rationally have whatever discussion was needed without my actions being controlled by my temper.

So my work response was simple. When faced with a situation via email that triggered a temper response I would open a new email and type… whatever response came to mind and no matter how vile and angry and unprofessional … just let it all out. Purely emotionally driven and as fast and unbridled as it could be. My fingers would fly and I would have tunnel vision sometimes even and it would all come out. When done, I would read it over… usually at least a couple of times since I was upset and I tend to skim when I’m reading angry. Then I would take a deep breath and hit… delete. Not “send”. The first and most important rule is to never, ever, type a name into the “To” field. Even if you know you have no intention of sending it, the automatic pinkie finger whack on “enter” is too risky … and there really is no recall no matter what anyone tell you ;). Then you type the real email and all is good; or at least better than it would have been.

With my staff, she said she would try that option and the very next day she called me from a site she was at and said that she needed to send me an email that she had typed to a client who was driving her batty. She just could not have it just be deleted… she needed it to be read – maybe not by him, but by someone. After that, it became a thing… she would vent and type and send it to me instead of the recipient. It worked great.. she got it out of her system, the client was none the wiser, and I always got some giggles. Those emails were quite something 🙂

I’ve extrapolated the same working theory lately to relationships.

There are some emotions and issues that come up when dealing with relationships that are just better served when you process them solo. I’m not talking about issues that need to be dealt with or else the relationship is in danger of a lack of communication but rather, emotional responses that are purely personal and driven by fears or insecurities that just need to be dealt with alone. These are the things that come up again and again and that, when they do, are the same over and over. At a certain point I realized that these are MY emotional responses and that it serves no purpose to voice them to my partners when the reality is that they are mine to accept and deal with and move through.

I do need sometimes to say that I am needing time to just be with what is going on inside my head and heart and that is ok. Often I will write out a letter or email to the person explaining my hurt or my upset, being brutally raw and open and giving voice to every fear and insecurity that is driving my turmoil. I will read it over and see that no purpose is served in sending it. That these emotions are mine… not theirs to assuage or calm. So I delete. I go for a walk or run or have a nap… and process… and come back having managed the floodgates, so to speak.

Want or need?

We all have needs and wants and we’ve all had it drilled into us that wants are different from needs. That we don’t “need” all the things that we think we do; that, in fact, most of the things we think we can’t live without are just materialistic wants.

But what about when the line between what is a need and what is a want becomes blurred?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week on this and how it affects my life and more importantly, my quality of life.

The truth is that we only need a few simple things to exist. Food, shelter.. really not much to live. Our society has become so stuck on wants that are perceived as needs that there is almost a disgusting sense of greed that so many think they need to have a life.

When I moved a year and a half ago, it was a long distance move from one city to another and I decided to make this the time to purge my “things” and start over. I held onto the most important items but very much cleansed my life of most of my material objects. What happened is that I have found myself living with the sense of “I have what I need, I don’t need more than this”.. true in one sense but the reality that has become obvious to me lately is that sometimes something that you think is just a want is really a need… when you look at living versus existing.

I can live anywhere… yet I moved to Victoria – and specifically to the area of Victoria that I did – because of a need to have a certain lifestyle to have a quality of life that’s not just a want anymore, but a need – a need to be happy. Being able to walk to work instead of drive in gridlock commuting… being close enough to the ocean and beautiful beaches to walk to on a whim and sit and stare and smell the air…having an apartment with character instead of a cookie cutter look… these are all, on the surface, extraneous wants yet to me, they have become needs for me to have a life that is fulfilling. Going back to the morning rushing and exhausting end of day from commuting hell is not something that is permissible now to me. This lifestyle is a need for me. Non-negotiable to my happiness; and my happiness is finally on my radar.

Just like we need food to fuel our bodies and enable us to live, our souls need nourishment too. You can argue that having love and companionship isn’t necessary and in some sense that’s true. I have spent the last long while living the truth that while friends are nice and feel good, anything beyond that isn’t a need for me. That I’m all good alone and that I don’t need anyone in my life to make me complete… and that is a truth… I can exist alone. Yet having recently started to let people into my life and my heart, it has shown me that what I have always perceived as a want may in fact be a need. Not in the way that I can’t live without love and companionship, but with an awareness that for my life to be the quality that I need, then having people who I love and hold close to me is fundamental to that happiness. Living openly in relationships that fulfill who I am and how I love is a need to me now in my relationships, no longer just a want.

We always hear “life is too short to live without….” and the simple truth is that it’s not the quantity of life, it’s the quality of the life we choose to live with that’s important. Sometimes the wants become needs and we don’t realize it.

Day 3, chosen family

Smiles and happiness today because I am blessed enough to have people in my life that I care deeply enough to call my chosen family… and doubly blessed that they have chosen me as well to be part of theirs!

The saying “blood is thicker than water” doesn’t do justice to the truth that the people we chose to bring close to our hearts have special meaning. Whether right or wrong, there is a certain sense of obligation to love and care for the people that we are born into as family…if we’re lucky, then we like them too… but that’s not a certainty – the odds of actually liking and wanting to spend time with the family you are born to aren’t great. You have genetics or nurturing in common but that’s about it. All too often, families are groups of people who tolerate each other because they “have to”.

Yet with chosen family…we’re able to connect with a person or people that we share so much with… and build that connection and nurture a bond… and chose to invite them into our lives and our hearts and call them “ours”.

As I close today I smile because of that blessing.