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October 26, 2012

Metamour Intensive – Tomorrow!

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 7:25 pm

Want to know what Common Poly Wisdom™ has to say about metamour relationships — and why I think we can do better? I’ll be presenting my Metamour Intensive at Transcending Boundaries 2012 tomorrow, 11:00am, Room 4 of the Mass Mutual Center. If you’re anywhere near Springfield, MA, come check it out!

Metamour Intensive (Rebecca Crane): As polyamorous folks, we talk a good game about our relationships with our “metamours”: people with whom we have a partner or partners in common. For many of us, a cornerstone of our polyamory is having caring, appreciative, and mutually-supportive metamourships. But poly communities don’t talk much about HOW we develop and maintain these relationships. Meanwhile, mainstream culture tells us that our lover’s other lover is someone we should dislike and distrust. How do we make the leap from “threat” to “family member”? How do we stay connected to our metamours when relationship troubles hit? Why do metamour relationships even matter? In this hour-long Metamour Intensive, we’ll dig deep into the nature of having and being a metamour. Drawing on the challenging work of Franklin Veaux, Maymay, and David Jay, we’ll discuss what metamour relationships are and WHY we don’t talk about them enough; share concrete strategies for building and facilitating healthy, fulfilling, stable metamour relationships; and untangle how normative cultural programming gets in our way. By the end, you will understand why strong metamour-relating skills are important not just to polyamory but for social justice work as a whole.

Or you can just wait with bated breath ’til I post a recording online. 😉

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October 18, 2012

When the Tide Goes Out…

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 6:26 pm

A friend once told me that the happiest times in his life have been times when he continuously asks himself, “What is true?” I’m sitting on a couch, for example. I’m typing on a computer. The wall in front of me is red, etc. “What can I know about the situation that I’m in?”

I had a pretty abusive relationship with my mother growing up.

Sometimes, I feel like this wasn’t a particularly big deal. I’m resilient, and I had a lot of positive influences in my childhood that helped counteract the negative impacts of my relationship with my mom and, like many (many, many, many) other people who’ve suffered various forms of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and epistemic abuse, I’ve done okay for myself anyway. In fact, even some of those negative impacts have transformed me in ways that I appreciate as an adult. This doesn’t mean that the pain of abuse was “worth” the tools and skills and strength I gained through learning to survive. It just means that I like myself and I wouldn’t trade in my life, even the bad parts.

And sometimes, I feel like it’s the end of the fucking world. That having my one-and-only childhood taken from me in that way was shitty, and tragic, and a really huge deal. That it’s limited me and damaged me in ways that I’ll never fully recover from in this lifetime. That, as with most peoples’ relationships to the people who raised them, my history of abuse is a part of the fundamental fabric of who I am. That it transformed me in ways I don’t like and wish were different, that it will always be a source of some fragility and sickness and suffering at my core, no matter how healthy or well-supported I am otherwise. That it’s something that should never happen to anybody, ever, under any circumstances, and that it was totally unfair.

For a long time, I was in denial about the fact that it had happened at all. Until my mid-twenties, any suggestion of “abuse” in my history or the history of anyone else who didn’t claim that word themselves triggered the fuck out of me — made me angry, defensive, righteously indignant. (I ha-a-a-ated Dr. Drew and his stupid radio show, too, for this and other reasons.)

…And it made me really scared. Because whatever else might be “wrong” with me, it was something I could “fix” if I just worked hard enough to achieve my arête. But if I had been abused as a child, well, then I was just fucked. Broken forever.

When I finally cut my mom off, made enough space from my present-day relationship with her to deal with the past, it was like a dam breaking. I was a wreck for months. Sobbing at random. Curled up in bed scared with the curtains pulled tight, unable to go to work, fears and images surfacing and surrounding me, uncontrollable shaking fits, the worst hallucinogenic panic attacks of my life. Abuse was all I could talk about, all I could think about; it colored everything else in my life. Anger. Hopelessness. This was it. I was broken forever.

One particularly comatose and crazy winter afternoon, my friend Matthew came and pulled me out of my room. It had dumped more than a foot of powder the previous night and, having recently moved back from more temperate climes, his three year old son had never seen snow before. They wanted to go to the park. I remember walking, stricken and bleary-eyed, next to Matthew, watching Trevor, bundled up in baby boots and parka, as he scrambled and waded and *thwumped* through the unfamiliar consistency of this sparkling lanscape. At some point, I turned to Matthew and said, “Y’know one thing that’s great about kids? Perspective. They make you feel like your own life is over. It’s not really about what happens to me anymore. Now, I get to be an extra in Trevor’s story.”

Trevor decided we were in a story about werewolves. So when we got to the playground, we howled. And howled and howled and some of the inarticulable grief escaped in guttural growls and spitting snarls and my throat was raw for the next two days. And I sat on the swings and watched Trev discovering snow and I took deep breaths and imagined that with every exhalation, swarms of bees were pouring out of my mouth and into the world and that, somehow, I was okay. That catharsis was nowhere near the end of the process. It was, y’know, somewhere in the middle.

I haven’t seen my mother now in about three years. I haven’t had a panic attack in about six months. It will be another year at least, maybe more, but I will probably want to see her again. Eventually. I’m pretty sure. The other day, when the possibility of running into my mother unexpectedly came up and I got incredibly angry and then started to cry, my therapist called it “a traumagenic response.”

“You don’t think I’m making it up?” I asked, “Sometimes, I’m afraid I’m making it all up.”

“Why would you make something like this up?”

Part of me is afraid to be okay. I’m afraid because I worry that, if I don’t feel totally destroyed by my abuse at all times, that means it didn’t really happen, or that it didn’t matter that much, and so it’s not something I need or deserve support around. But sometimes, I feel like it wasn’t a particularly big deal. And sometimes, I feel like it was the end of the fucking world. Neither feeling, nor any of the more complex feelings in-between, changes the facts about what happened to me or the ways it impacted my life. Having a diverse range of feelings about an experience doesn’t make the experience itself less real. It just means that grief comes in waves.

What is true?

My mother is not a bad person. But she hurt me very badly when I was a child. Some days, I’m a little bit broken forever. And, at the moment, I feel mostly okay.

October 3, 2012

P.S.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:03 pm

I tell stories when I’m scared.

Wasn’t it?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:02 pm

Just one more story.

“Wow.” A couple of high school kids on our second date — me, on my second date with him; he, on his second date ever. And he’s looking at me with that look so deep it’s as if he’s casting a spell and he says, “People spend their whole lives looking for this and we found it on the first try.”

“Hey, hold on,” I said [or something like it], “I’m 15. Let’s just see what happens.”

Five years later and we’re standing on the steps of a London hotel. “Can you believe it?” I’m saying. “By our fifteenth anniversary, we’ll have been together for more than half my life!”

“Okay, slow down,” he says [or something like it], “Let’s just see what happens.”

There were never any rings. Not that kind, you know. Not the kind that come with strings. No vows. No kids. No joint accounts. No sealing our commitment by co-signing on a condo. No rules that stuck around for very long. Just a couple of rose quartz rocks we picked up together in the woods one day; they matched but weren’t the same. For those privileged enough to have the option, health-insurance-by-marriage is a heady temptation. But we resisted together, to the best of our ability, every opportunity to institutionalize our love — as if enlisting outside support would dilute the purity of our devotion to one another.

“You two have the most cerebral romance of anyone I’ve met.” — Joshua Danger

We did. For almost fifteen years. Against all the odds, insecurities, fatigue, and attempts at sabotage. Across thousands of miles and multiple continents, through other lovers and tumultuous heartbreaks, graduations and funerals, sicknesses and sadnesses, betrayals and reconciliations and total identity reformulations, love letters and trauma and butterfly wings. We loved each other through some of the hardest times in both our lives without ever giving the power to enforce that love away to anyone or anything. And we did it in the face of dozens, hundreds, thousands of messages that what we were doing was impossible. So impossible that, not only would we fail, but we were deluding ourselves to think we’d ever been doing it at all.

“Thus it is said:
[…] The path into the light seems dark,
[…] True power seems weak,
[…] True steadfastness seems changeable,
[…] The greatest love seems indifferent.”
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching ch. 41

Look, if there was no contract to dissolve then what does “breaking up” even mean?

Growth means change.
Change means loss.
Loss means grief.

Breaking up means a tectonic shift in the ground of who I am.

If it doesn’t really end,
We can never really grieve.

I can’t live like that.

“There are a lot of thing I love about our relationship, yes. But the number one thing I value most about having you in my life is your integrity. It inspires my own. So, if continuing to tell a particular story about our relationship would mean you compromising your integrity, then my asking you to do that would be shooting myself in the foot.”

In a system that strives to make the cost of authentic intimacy too expensive for anyone to afford, we fought tooth and nail and side by side to love each other for free. We took damage. We’ve both got scars. Still, for 14 years, 6 months, 2 weeks and 5 days, we won.

. . .

“But I wanted it to last forever,” I told her between sobs, “no matter what. I wanted it to be magic.”

And she said, “Wasn’t it?”

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