As much as I love reflecting – in long blog posts – on the bumps that I’ve hit while navigating my first poly relationship, sometimes it is simply my insistence, stubbornness, on solving everything myself and never seeking outside help that exacerbates things. I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with the concept of inviting another person into my head and to the table to help process my feelings.
Communication in this arena has thus been halting at best as I find ways to fight that blockage. Emails and blog entries allow me to reflect more carefully and make sure I get my thoughts out as clearly as I can, though admittedly physical and phone conversations have the benefit of immediate feedback and vocal support. I am not prone to blurting out what I’m feeling right away, and it often takes quite a few days of sorting through my feelings to even talk about them coherently.
The balance I have been fighting to achieve is how long to wait, in the time I am taking to figuring out how okay or not okay I am with some occurrence, before I mention anything.
Because, of course, while I am trying to be more open about my feelings, I also recognize that it’s not practical or realistic to always mention when I’m not feeling good about something. Sometimes it is about self-care and distracting myself until some brief episode of jealousy passes.
This leads me to wonder: what are some of the ways poly people employ self-care to get through those periods? Would anyone care to share?
In response to the recent suicides related to anti-gay bullying, Dan Savage set up the It Gets Better project on Youtube a few weeks back. The idea is for those who have gone through bullying and homophobia themselves to reach out to LGBTQ youth by submitting their own videos. I heard about IGB early on, both through Savage’s podcast and various social media outlets.
The response has been generally supportive, though there have also been dissenting, questioning voices as well. And then counter-responses to those.
There probably isn’t much that I could say that hasn’t already been said by hundreds of others. Word of the project has spread virally. It has sparked waves of conversation and lots of news bytes, has both inspired and angered thousands of people. It’s moved viewers to donate to suicide hotlines and to reach out to others, while making others realize how much more needs to be done.
To that end, I already see IGB creating change and opening discourse on the topics of suicide and bullying. On a personal level, it’s incredible for me to see these videos of people talking so openly and intimately about suicide attempts and sharing explicit stories of bullying. As with so much else in our culture, suicide is so taboo and stigmatized a subject that it’s often difficult to talk this openly about it.
And without the language and shame-free environment to discuss these issues, it makes it that much harder to get help, open up to another, and recognize that you’re not alone.
It’s also true, what the dissenting voices say: it’s not enough, this standalone project, it doesn’t get to the root of the issue, and everyone will be affected differently from watching the videos. But to have the conversation at all, to insist on having this conversation, is what I think makes this a truly worthwhile cause.
I took a few photos of my back a few days ago to capture some striking rope marks from a self-suspension I’d done Monday night. Once I uploaded the pictures to my computer and got a good look at them, I did a double-take. Was this really my back? I was stunned to see any muscle definition at all – so stunned that it took a few moments to even see the rope marks.
My surprise may sound odd given that I do try to keep active and exercise, but I’ve historically never been more than just a casual athlete, and I never went through any consistent exercise regimen with weights or aerobics. Certainly, I’ve never had much muscle definition to speak of, so while this isn’t at the same level as what I’ve seen at the climbing gym, I view it as a personal victory and tangible evidence of my months of climbing and yoga.
The other victory is that, while I’ve come a long way in accepting my appearance and dealing with my personal insecurities, it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve been able to move from mere acceptance towards loving my body. Looking at this photo and actually being attracted to what I see – that feels like a huge leap in the right direction.
For a few years now, since really starting to be exposed to the poly lifestyle, I’d occasionally come across a blog post about someone’s struggle through dealing with jealousy or time management, and after reading, I’d mentally shrug, think, “Well, that was interesting,” and move on. Since it didn’t interest me as a lifestyle choice, I never pursued it further, researched the topic, or even asked myself what I could learn from those readings to improve my existing relationships.
Now, fully engaged in a large-ish, complex poly family, I’m much more interested in finding literature surrounding polyamory. Each time I’ve come across an article on poly in the past few months, I’ve read it more carefully, and made a mental note to bookmark it for later referral. Except that I never get around to actually bookmarking them, and it leads me to tearing through my mental archives searching for some key phrase or word that can help me identify the article enough to find it via Google.
No more! I should be keeping better track of these resources as I find them, because I’m certain they will prove invaluable as I continue down this path into nonmonogamy. Thus far, I’ve collected the following articles, and while I’ve linked to the specific page I’ve read, I have gained a lot from going through these blogs’ archives as well.
[edit: I’ll be adding more links here as I find them]
- The Special Thing – Kink in Motion talks about her struggle with identifying one of her needs in a poly relationship – that of needing to feel special, and various examples of how that may be played out. This was one of the first poly-related posts I read that resonated with me as I was starting to become more involved in Max’s life.
- 10 Rules – Another post I read fairly early on, I thought the rules were great and could be applied to many kinds of relationships besides nonmonogamous ones. Here is also where I was finally beginning to see the fluid spectrum that the word “relationship” encompasses, and how the various forms and rules that governs each are part and parcel of the general spirit of connecting with another person on an intimate level.
- Jealousy Megapost – I found this through the Poly & Kinky group on Fetlife, and besides having great points to make about jealousy, tacky_tramp also links to other articles and resources to peruse. In fact, many of these posts link to further reading, which means I foresee a lot of blog-surfing and article reading in the near future!
- Practical Nonmonogamy Tips – This is a pretty detailed breakdown of the many different forms nonmonogamy can take, the different reasons for choosing nonmonogamy, tips for managing boundaries and emotions, and other resources to turn to. Actually, I haven’t even finished reading everything here, but I plan on making my way through this because it just seems so helpful.
- The Broken Refrigerator – I just came across this article and am also still going through it, but I like his metaphor of the broken refrigerator as he goes through the various possible reactions you can have when hitting a bump in your relationship due to jealousy.
- Marcia Baczynski – This woman was recommended to me after a friend read a previous post of mine on poly. She does coaching and discussion groups around open relationships of all kinds, and she is also currently offering monthly topic-based sessions that I wish I could afford to attend! Her upcoming one on October 16th is titled “Managing Jealousy and Making Sense of Your Emotions.” She also leads a poly discussion group in San Francisco, so I may make it a point to join that.
- Opening Up – This book by Tristan Taormino has been recommended to me multiple times now. I have not had a chance to pick it up, but I’ll have to remember to look for it the next time I’m in a bookstore. I’d like to read a couple excerpts first to see if I should buy it (unless someone wants to lend me their copy?).
- Polyamory Relationship Success
This is only my starting point, but it’s already given me an enormous amount of reading material to go through. It is my hope that all of this research will open up pathways of understanding for me – of poly, negotiation, relationship skills, and my own inner workings.