And Then the Rain Came

benchrainumbrella

It was a long night.

I won’t lie, I took a sleep aid.   I actually went out to the drugstore, specifically to buy something I don’t even keep in my house, because I needed sleep more than anything. I’m not as strong as I might like to be, and I couldn’t face the barrage of questions that have woken me for weeks,  at all hours of the night. Insomnia, on a night like this, is debilitating.

Still, I woke in the wee hours. Focusing on every breath, pushing out every thought. — In. — Out. — Praying for sleep. Eventually I dozed and found relief.

I woke to rain. He tossed himself against my window, reminding me that he and I are friends. He matched the tears on my face, trying to bring me some measure of peace. He invited me, as he always does, to come outside, lift my face to the sky, and be washed by the same refreshing that falls everywhere, on everyone I have ever loved, in an unending cycle of quenching thirst, and healing this broken earth.

I did not go out. I could not find the strength. But I listened.

I listened too, to the wisdom of a lover. He is new in my life, We first exchanged words at the beginning of Autumn.  He has been on this road, before, and his passion and life’s work are inextricably tied to the study and practice of loving more than one. His insight and love, along with the loving support of my husband, have been indescribable strength for me.  Early this morning, he said,

I would recommend you assess the core concerns that underpin the tortuous questions and fears. Face them with courage and determined perseverance. As you do this, you erode the basis of the crippling fears, and are able to choose a healthy response.

(I love his scientific mind. His voice of reason, and gentle tenderness. He is amazing.)

I suspect, in fact I know, that deep within me is a well of strength. I have stored up courage, and perseverance. Today, I feel very weak. I know fear as she lies beside me, sits at my elbow, follows silently in my footsteps. I accept that today, she is my companion. I am trembling and bleeding, but I am not crippled. Today, that rain provides a buffer of white noise against the torturous questions. I am resting, and drinking in strength, hope, love and peace.

I know that whatever tomorrow brings, I will survive. The sun will come; her warmth always follows the rain. I will greet her. I will face my fears, and choose a healthy response. I will let life show me what I cannot now see. I will grow, love, and keep walking.

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Image Credit: http://services.flikie.com/view/v3/android/wallpapers/16785896

Let Me Just Lie Here

storm

Some days are good days. I feel happy, fulfilled, surrounded by love. Some days polyamory is a happy road, and I am strolling down that road with the sun on my shoulders, and a song in my heart.  (Granted some days are just average. I’m glad to be poly, working out my own stuff, dealing with life’s stresses, and still happy, though a little frazzled.) Some days, I’m walking on air.

Today is not one of those days.

I am a girl in transition.

Six months ago, I was planning a hand-fasting ceremony to celebrate a five-year relationship, pledging a lifetime to a man I loved and trusted enough to wear a choker and a ring that symbolized the depth of our commitment. I was in love with a beautiful woman, who also loved this man, so much so that she was also planning a ceremony, a wedding. She and I were trying to find our feet with him and this new triad, and explore a new and vulnerable love between ourselves. Life was full of bumps and challenges, we were all trying to navigate the turbulence of so many life changes, even though most of them were positive. I believed in us, in the strength of our love, and in our commitment to each other, and to all our individual relationships. We would sort out the changes, and come out on the other side in a better, happier place.

Five months ago, one of us decided the bumpy road, was in fact, too painful a journey to continue. If you’ve read recently, you know that in that decision, I lost a triad, and a girlfriend, whom I loved very deeply. My heart is still broken by this grief, and I’m still fighting to pick up the pieces and rebuild a “V” relationship with that man, whom I love in a way so deeply intense, there are no words to say it out loud. Fighting to make a place for that love in the midst of this storm takes all the strength I can muster. It is very likely the hardest thing I have ever done in my polyamorous life.

Some days the road feels like an early 1800’s wagon trail washed out by spring rains. We are all three jostled and tossed around so much that we’re bruised, sore, and not very nice to each other. In fact, it’s been a while since she and I have spoken; we’ve chosen instead to focus on the individual relationships we hope to preserve with him.

Today we have a busted wagon wheel. Or I do. It’s so dark and stormy, I’m not even sure I can see beyond this pile of wood and steel at my feet. I can hear the voice of my beloved, and it is breaking with frustration and anguish. If I could see his face, I know his tears would match my own.

I cannot see the horizon. I do not know what lies ahead. I’ve not given up on the strength of our love, or the possibility of healing. But today, I simply want to lie down here beside the trail, and rest until I stop bleeding.

Loving more than one does not mean that I don’t face alone the heartache and grief of change. I know that there are two other men whose only involvement in this particular journey is that they love me, and respect my love for the man and woman who share this road with me. I have no doubt that either of both of them would pick me up and carry me to a quiet place to heal.

If I let them.

I love them both, for that kind of care and support. But I can’t walk away from this wagon, just yet.

Today is definitely one of the hardest days, but it’s certainly not the last day for me.

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Image Credit:  http://www.free-hdwallpapers.com/wallpaper/abstract/free-hdwallpaper/1383

Depleted

writers-block

I wrote poetry yesterday, about feeling dry, needing sunshine, kisses, and some sort of renewal before the ink might flow again.  Today, I’ve spent too much time trying — to get something interesting down on paper — to find a topic that inspired me or a writing prompt that would push me into creativity.

I found out what I already knew, deep down.

I’m empty.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve written today.  I (semi) regularly put my backside in the chair, and write whatever comes out, even on days that I don’t really think it will be worth the effort.  I know there’s something valuable in the discipline it takes to write, whether I feel like it or not. Today, this may be all I’ve gotten out of the exercise:  a check mark on my list for a task completed.

But I know too, that what I really need is a few hours with a warm beverage, a comfy blanket, a good book. Perhaps I’ll dig into the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia I’ve got hidden in the freezer.

Life is good, my friends, even on days when the words seem to fight me at every scratch of the pen.  I trust the voices in my head that say a some good literature and perhaps a nap will kick-start me like a full cup of java on a cold, wintry morning.

Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with something to show for myself.

Meantime, shhhh… I feel a nap coming on.

running dry

OutofInk

sometimes the ink
 in my veins
 from my pen
 starts to dry
 cannot stretch
 across the page
 to complete this
 simple poem

some mornings
 my soul, like a
 sponge, squeezed
too long needs
a drink, needs
 the rain to soak
 deeply and revive

this morning
I am weary,
 stretched too thin
 letters fading
 on the parchment
I need to walk
 in the sunlight
 feel the wind
 tug at my hair

let me drink
 long, wet kisses
 from your lips
 until I’m filled
 and these words
 darkly rich will
 find the new ink
finish the poem
That I began.

ABOUT:  I woke up, with the image of this poem in my head, the way the ink faded with each line, from left to right. I knew it would be about feeling dry, and needing to rest, to soak in beauty and life so I could write again.

But She Had Wings

shehadwings

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.

– Dean Jackson

This morning, I read the above quote and it resonated with me. That’s a pretty good indication that it should inform my writing today.

For most of my adult life, the symbolism of winged creatures — specifically birds — has colored my writing and my thoughts. I am the woman who falls in love easily, finding the good, the attractive, and the valuable in people who  are willing to open themselves and be intimately known by me.  Socially accepted norms for relationships frustrate me with their narrow scope and strict limits. An untamed spirit, I am frustrated by the idea of having my wings clipped.

It was a long, confusing road to adulthood, and not until my late thirties, did I find myself coming into my own understanding of the possibility of ethical non-monogamy. When I first felt the pull to honor the way my heart is wired, I was a caged bird. I loved my husband. (I still do.) The transition from a monogamous marriage to the freedom to love him and others equally, with integrity and passion, was a trial by fire that nearly ended our relationship. We have learned what doesn’t destroy you can definitely make you stronger.

(I might just be a monogamy-to-non-monogamy-phoenix.)

It is hard work, but very rewarding to seek out, foster and nurture romantic relationships with others. I’m learning from my own experience (and to some degree, the experience that successful, long-term-poly people have shared) the healthiest of these are built on trust, and equality. Relationships with ownership rules, or “primary”, “secondary”, and “tertiary” designations can end in heartbreak and frustration. I believe strongly that relationships are unique, and difficult to define, and one is not more valuable or more deserving of commitment, or protection.

I believe a mutual dedication to trust and respect will offset the “need” to designate the primary relationship, or to set rules meant to protect or rank one over all others. I do not treat my loves as second-class citizens of my world, whether we live in the same home, share a bank account, parent children together, or schedule our weekend visits around google calendars, family holidays and other lovers. My partnerships are unique; they are not ranked.

There are others in my world for whom the ranking and hierarchical approach to polyamory is so vital, that they refuse to have relationships without the safety net this approach provides. They do not always like the way I assert my freedoms, or the way I fly.  They are uncomfortable with my views or the stand I take on how to structure healthy, ethically non-monogamous relationships.  I have been in this sort of power struggle and had it end horribly. The truth is, that my heart is not at peace with the kind of polyamory which sets the priority for the health or value of one relationship over another.

Instead, I desire that we all — my loves, my husband’s loves, and those our loves also love — foster trust and respect, instead of rules and entitlement. My lovers, and their relationships with others are incredibly important to me. I do not make demands that my commitment to any of them be declared first, or best. I do not hold veto power.  I invest a great deal of energy and time into communicating and building trust, so that all involved feel safe and highly valued. I also try to choose partners who are healthy enough to also choose healthy partners, who can be trusted, and learn to trust me, and us, to respect and nurture their relationships, as well.

Finally, my unique relationships mean that my commitments are customized. No two relationships can look the same, or meet the same needs, for those involved.  In my case, I only share the joys of parenthood, joint-checking, and same-home living with my husband. We are married, and have been for two decades. We are not, however, tied to each other in a way that restricts our freedom to love others, or to build deep, lasting connections with them as well. I do not require my husband, to declare me as “primary”, nor does he expect me to rank our relationship as first among others.

I have a very differently unique, lifetime commitment to my other “mate”.  We would marry if it were legal to do so. We are friends, lovers, partners, and he is the man with whom I share a power exchange dynamic.  I’ve chosen to surrender certain freedoms and rights to him, because the energy we exchange in that dynamic feeds us both in an unparalleled way. You might think this sort of dynamic impossible within such an egalitarian framework.  However, with a great deal of communication, negotiation, and patience, we are learning to make it work. My surrender of some freedoms within that power exchange is respectful of and honoring to our other relationships, and my partner in this dynamic is committed to enriching the others, not disrupting them in the way we conduct our lives with  each other.

The third unique relationship I’m just beginning to explore, does not yet have a set of custom commitments, but it will. We are discussing them as things progress, and he is a man who, like me, is resolute about trust and freedom, without hierarchy or rating systems. My commitment to each of these lovers is to be careful to choose partners who are a good fit, and to not introduce and nurture connections that will threaten the whole.

I am determined, on this journey as a woman, to become my true self. There are, and always will be, those who do not agree with my views on this very complex relationship style. I do not judge or condemn others for crafting their monogamous or ethically non-monogamous relationships differently. There was a time when my relationships did not look the way they do now.  I accept that many will not like me because of my approach. I can only follow the road before me.  I cannot force myself to follow a path that isn’t true to my heart any more than I can insist that they agree with me and take the same road.

I do know that as a free and untamed spirit, I willingly choose the bird-cage of multiple, committed relationships. I am happy to build a framework for our lives, and to live within that “open-door” cage. I  do not surrender my freedoms except by my own rules, and choice. In reality, I never truly give up my freedom to love and be loved by others.  This freedom, these wings, fit the way my heart works, and suit the true me that I’ve been becoming, for so long.

ABOUT:

The following thoughts on “relationship anarchy” are in many ways reflective of my own style of polyamory: http://log.andie.se/post/26652940513/the-short-instructional-manifesto-for-relationship#disqus_thread

Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=420718091397366&set=a.252010398268137.60553.252006304935213&type=1&theater

Changing Winds

forawalk

The February and March winds
shift places, howling through
the hollow at the base of this hill.

I follow my feet, each step
an upward fight, I’ve only
a faint idea where to go.

Hoping to find my breath
borrowed by bleak winter days
stretching on without rescue.

The March wind tapped today
on my door, beckoned me with
the offer of her temperate hand.

I did not linger long in the shadow
of my doorway, as she lead me out.
Even she knows I can’t resist escape.

ABOUT:

The exercise is to create a poem using a set number of given words.  My words:  faint, rescue, offer, escape, and shift.  My source for these is the @baffled #HaikuChallenge:  https://twitter.com/baffled (words for 2/16-2/21) Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/239746380134851679/

Love is All You Need

all-you-need-love-red-matte-10x20

That’s what John Lennon said.

I mean no disrespect to the Dreamer, but I need more. Love is not enough to make a relationship healthy and strong. Poly love is no more complicated than monogamous love, in that it takes work to make it… well… work… and when relationships fail, love isn’t enough to keep them alive.

I still love her.

Beyond the hurt and grief, she’s still the amazing, generous, beautiful woman I fell for, and risked kissing. Our triad with him was the something I was willing to put my heart, my tears, my sweat and my soul into. The relationship between her and me was something I longed to explore and discover.

But it was hard; the triad became the focus before our foundations were stable, and that crippled us. Maybe we had three strikes against us.  Our individual relationships were not clearly defined.  We spent a lot of time and energy trying to sort out that tangle, and I’m not sure we all knew exactly what the others wanted from the mix.

When it got too difficult, and fear of losing everything took control, I was the one who was disposable. Maybe it has something to do with the long-distance limits. Maybe the real root of the problem was bad communication and unresolved insecurity. The truth is, we did not communicate.  Whatever the true death-blow, I know that when one lover says they are through, no matter how the other lover(s) try to breathe life into the dying relationship, it’s not enough.

She called time of death on the operating table, as we were bleeding out. The relationship between she and I was the casualty. That was months ago. Now, no matter how my heart loves her, there’s no bringing the relationship back from the dead. I’m left with a separate relationship with him, and a hole in my heart where she used to live.  When I think about her, all I have… is not what I need.

All I have is bruised and aching, breathtaking, unrequited love.

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Image credit: http://geezees.com/blog/all-you-need-is-love-free-printables-from-geezees/attachment/all-you-need-love-red-matte-10×20

Disclaimer

poppy

I say to you, “Please don’t jostle
Don’t bump me, today.
I may get a nosebleed, heart
might tumble from my chest,
shatter on the floor.

Either way —
you’ll get blood
on your shoes.

“Please note the bright, red
sticker on my chest:
Fragile – handle with care!
(or better yet – don’t handle at all)

Unless you don’t mind
getting your hands dirty.”
You say to me,

“Tell me about
the not so good parts.”
and it happens:

the slow trickle,
the single drop
followed by a splash
and another… another.

You smile, gather an armful
blood-red poppies,
from your patient feet.
“Yes, they are lovely.

You are lovely,
your pain, just one shade
from a palette of reds.”

I stand, mouth open,
tears of grief and wonder
diluting the crimson
petals in your hands.

Maybe you are right.
Maybe they are — maybe
you are lovely.

You don’t mind stains
on your shoes or
your fingers, after all.

ABOUT:

Photo Credit: http://www.thoschi.net/poppy

Lonliness

http://sierra-autumn.blogspot.com/
http://sierra-autumn.blogspot.com/

“Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins.”  -Rainer Maria Rilke

There is a certain truth to the fact that life is lonely. Even for a girl like me — who loves more than one, and juggles google calendars and minimum sleep requirements for the lovers I’m lucky to have — there are more lonely hours than I care to admit. The best laid plans for afternoon phone calls, for dinner dates or weekend hotel reservations can swiftly become discouragement, no matter how logical the reason for cancellation.

I can morph from a giddy school-girl to a jaded and pessimistic woman, faster than I care to admit. Time with each of my lovers is precious, and a change of plans can bring flights of euphoria crashing rapidly to the ground. I suppose it’s just part of being a human… being here, on this planet with other humans. Disappointment is a fact.

Often I’m reminded my life is real. This is no fairy-tale, and I need to put on my big-girl panties, to deal with it. I need to deal too, with the underlying issues disappointment can uncover. My reaction to this latest unplanned aloneness is a red flag, reminding me to face some hard truths. Today’s is this: What I’m seeking — affirmation, value, growth, purpose, and countless similar things — cannot be found in those I love. To find these in myself, I have to be still; I have to be okay, being alone.

I must rise in the morning, and face the reflection in my mirror. I must listen to the clamoring voices in my heart. I must learn to be who I am, standing alone, with none other to credit or blame. Until I can sit silently with myself, without frantically searching for the television remote, or checking social media just one more time to fill the silence, I will always feel lonely.

For, that’s what this panic is: a response to fear, of silence, of aloneness, of too many questions, and of discovering that when I am all that I have — or all I have to offer another — I am not enough. Until I can relax with myself, and feel the same sort of contentment I feel lying silently in bed next to a lover, reading a book while he or she works the crossword, I cannot say that I am whole, or that I love as I ought.

The truth is, I spend much of my time alone. As a writer and poet, my daylight hours are spent in very solitary pursuits, but I am not truly alone with myself. The emails and status updates are like a crowd of people, all shouting my name. The laundry and the package delivery person are my distractions from solitude. The truth is, my soul longs to sit quietly in the sunlight, to meditate and breathe. My fingers ache to simply write out my soul, without struggle or procrastination.

I fight these demons, every day, fight myself as she keeps silence at bay. But I believe that Rilke is right. I think he knew that he must go out to face himself, his own loneliness, and the silence, to ever truly learn to live. I think I’m learning from his truth. Today, I chose to sit and listen, to spill my ink and follow my pen. Today I let the quiet teach me how to be quiet, so I could see the world with a poet’s eyes.

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image credit: http://sierra-autumn.blogspot.com/