Tag Archives: lessons

Jealous of the Moon

I’m a bit of a perfectionist by nature.  School was the ideal distraction for me as a kid: I could dive into it completely and dedicate myself to learning all the rules, reading all the books, getting the highest scores on tests, etc.  Unsurprisingly, math was my favorite subject.  (Or maybe surprisingly, since math is always getting a bad rap and I am, after all, A GIRL. GASP!)  There’s more than one way to arrive at an answer in mathematics, but ultimately there’s only one correct answer (or set of correct answers).  There’s something comforting and definitive about math that the other subjects lack, and math doesn’t even have to sacrifice any creativity for it. 

Direct, decisive, but creative.  In a nutshell, what I aspire to be.  

But math doesn’t stop there.  Because you have to show all your work (or, at least, we did when I was in school; I don’t know how the state of calculator use has advanced), you can always go back and find your mistake.  Find your mistake, fix it, recalculate and we’re back in business!  If only determining and remedying our mistakes in the rest of life were so easy.  

I was called “wise,” tonight.  It’s not the first time I’ve been described that way, but frankly I don’t think I possess any special skills or insight others lack.  Truthfully, if I’m wise it’s because I make a lot of mistakes.  I make mistakes, I reflect on them, and I try to make different and/or better choices the next time.  It seems simple because it is, this is how we learn.  But as I grow older I am honestly floored by how many supposed “adults” I’ve met that are afraid to make mistakes or, worse yet, learn from them!  Even my closest friends warn me against taking risks.  I know they mean well, I know they don’t want to see me hurt, but the size of the reward is generally directly proportional to the size of the risk.  You dream big? You’ll have to take big risks to get it.  

So let me propose that the idea that mistakes are in any way, shape or form “bad” is completely ludicrous.  Mistakes are a blessing.  For one, we’re not actually required to be perfect, even if we insist on putting that pressure on ourselves.  (I’m utterly convinced perfect would be boring anyway.  The Twilight Zone fans out there know what I’m talking about.)  More importantly, mistakes open the door for new knowledge and insight.  Some of history’s best inventions began as “mistakes.”  

If mistakes are inherently good things (which seems oxymoronic to say, I know), the best mistakes are the one you learn the most from.  Which, unfortunately, often correlates with the size of the mistake… There have been times in my life where getting my heartbroken, saying the wrong thing to the new boss, utterly embarrassing myself, etc.–the things that sting so damn much in the moment–where the best things that could’ve happened to me. 

Relationship mistakes are perhaps the most interesting because we don’t learn what’s necessary “right” or “wrong,” we learn about ourselves.  We learn who we are, how we love, how we cope, what we want, want we can give and what we’re willing to give.  And those are some of the most important things to know about oneself.  So was dating my coworker dumb? Sure.  Did dating someone twice my age present more challenges than I anticipated? Absolutely.  Will co-dependency gnaw at your sense of self like a hungry rat? Of course.  But I don’t regret a single one of these mistakes.  Perhaps I wish I’d know better sooner, but I know better now.  And that’s what matters.  

So what exactly have I learned through my various relationship follies?  Well, it sounds cliche, but I’ve certainly learned that the most important relationship I have is with myself and that self-care is not optional or self-indulgent, it’s a matter of survival.  I’ve learned that while relating is important, I never want to be the most important or *biggest* thing in someone’s life or vise versa.  I’ve learned that relationships are supposed to enhance your life, not become your life, not engulf your life.  I’ve learned that you don’t give to get, and, at the same time, if you’re consistently giving and not getting anything in return, it’s time to move on.  Often the act of giving gives back to ourselves, but if that’s not happening there’s a problem.  I’ve learned that jealousy is an extremely silly emotion that usually arises from not speaking your peace.  I’ve learned to speak up.  I’ve learned that sex is better when you’re loud. 

I’ve learned that Love is not always enough. 

I’ve learned that while I cannot control the actions or reactions of others, I can make informed choices and be in control of my own emotions and reactions, which is actually quite a lot.  I’ve learned that I don’t have to catch what others are throwing at me.  I’ve learned that making and keeping boundaries is hard work, but well worth the effort.  I’ve learned that love is meant to be shared–inclusive, not exclusive.  I’ve learned that 99% of the time it’s not personal.  I’ve learned to trust the person who shows me they love me without saying it, over the person who says it without showing it.  I’ve learned that my heart will heal and grow back, and being bitter just keeps the wounds from healing.   I’ve learned that if I love myself first, I have more to give others as a result.  I’ve learned that dating co-workers is about as good an idea as living with friends (i.e. not very).  I’ve learned some people will take as much as you let them.  I’ve learned that you are not obligated to anyone, even if they love you.  I’ve learned that communication is crucial.  I’ve learned that genuine love means letting go, even when it’s the last thing in the world you want to do.  

I’ve learned that there’s more than one right way to Love. 

This is an incomplete list, by far, and I know I still have much to learn.  The things I’ve learned are not necessarily universal truths, though some might be.  They’re what’s true for me, what I want in and out of my life.  I think that’s why there are so many mistakes we have to make for ourselves.  Not because we’re stubborn and won’t listen, but because we’re all unique people, so we’ll learn different things through our mistakes.  We’ll learn what we value, what we love, and what hurts the deepest.   

As long as you’re willing to take a risk, the rest will follow.  

Starin’ down the stars
Jealous of the moon
You wish you could fly
Just being where you are
There’s nothin’ you can do
If you’re too scared to try…

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Polyamory

On our third date, I met my new beau’s family, or most of it at least.  His two kids (both under three, and adorable), his husband, one of his other partners and his kids–and that’s not even to mention the dogs.  You could hardly accuse these people of a lack of love.  There was plenty to go around.

My beau jokingly said to me that if I wanted to run away screaming, now would be the time.  I’ll admit, part of me wanted to run away, but it wasn’t the poly family: it was me.  It was that feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I know I’m horribly out of place.  All of these people had found their domestic bliss: partners (plural), kids, pets… things I have apparently sacrificed for the sake of a career, minus some cats.  Not that the opportunity for settling down and starting a family has ever exactly come a-knockin’.  So I said to him what I thinking, “I’m just not sure what I bring to the table.”

I guess that’s always been my concern with poly partners.  What could I possible have to offer that you’re not already getting from your other partners? I know that’s my quirkyalone insecurity speaking; that in some ways being a quirkyalone is the exact opposite of being polyamorous.  My natural state is singledom, and because of that how one even accomplishes polyamory is completely baffling to me.  I have a hard enough time finding one person to date…

I guess the irony is I think I’d have more luck romantically if I were polyamorous.  The traits I’m most concerned with in a sexual/romantic partner (queerness, kink level, fat-acceptance, etc.) all do intersect… but I’ve almost always found that when all those things do show up simultaneously, so does polyamory.  And it’s not like I haven’t tried.

My first encounter with polyamory was with a girl I met in college.  I’d recently come out and gotten dumped by my first girlfriend after just a few short weeks when I met this girl.  We started hanging out, a lot, and it wasn’t long until she was hanging on my arm every time we went out.  I knew she had a boyfriend, so as far as I was concerned she was off limits.  Then she told me she was “polyamorous.”  It was the first time I’d ever heard the term, and she was adamant that it wasn’t about sex, but about having “many loves.”  (My critical opinion many years later: it’s definitely about both.)

Anyhow, under her direction, we started something up because she told me her boyfriends (there were two) were fine with it.  Well, I came to find out that her primary partner did not know about me, and then it became this waiting game where I asked her when she was going to tell him, and got a less realistic answer each time.  “I’ll tell him tomorrow… next week really is better… I’m going to wait until spring break… You know, maybe I’ll just tell him over the summer.”  You can see the writing on the wall.  Without getting too much into the mucky details, he did eventually find out, lots of promises of “never again” were made, and everything went to hell in a hand basket.  Years later I heard through the grapevine that she married someone who doesn’t believe cheating is possible, since he didn’t believe in monogamy.

Lesson I learned from this: Always tell the truth.  No, SERIOUSLY.

My second dance with polyamory was a much better of example of how to successfully maintain multiple relationships at once.  I’d been out of college about six months at this point, living in a new city, and was at a party specifically for queer women.  I didn’t expect anything special to happen (you know, in effort to save myself the disappointment when nothing does happen).  Well, not only did I meet someone that night, but I got in touch with my inner exhibitionist too.  The woman I met that night became my first Mistress, and she taught me much about the kink scene, playing safely, and Top/bottom psychology.  She believed in a discipline model wherein you ignore the behavior you dislike, and reinforce the one you like.  I can’t say this works 100% of the time, in my experience, but I do like the model, especially when dealing with adults.

That relationship eventually ended because of a miscommunication (boy, did I ever feel disposable after that), but she had the poly thing down.  She had her primary partner (who she lived with, but maintained her own bedroom), a girlfriend, a house girl, and whomever else came along that she wanted to play with.  For about six months, I was her “boi.”  But she was open with everyone involved about her relationships, and her consistent partners were part of her “tribe,” as she put it.  I got invited to a tribe brunch once or twice, but I couldn’t help feeling like a bit of a fifth wheel.

Lesson I learned from this (besides the invaluable knowledge about myself as a kinkster and smart/safe play practices): When in doubt, it’s better to communicate too much than not enough.

After Mistress, I did date another poly person, but it was so short-lived that it never became an issue.

So here I am, after several years, venturing into poly world again.  Sometimes I think I ought to try harder.  I seem to love, well, harder than some, and many of my exes have not been able to handle it.  Poly folk, though, are used to a lot of love.  I don’t seem to scare them the same way.  But I’ve never felt drawn to polyamory.  Like, when I heard the term “quirkyalone” or “genderqueer” for the first time, there was something in me that lit up with recognition.  This has never happened with polyamory.   It’s always been something I’ve admired in people who can manage it, but nothing I ever saw as applicable to me.  Since I’ve known about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people are just wired for polyamory, just as some are wired for monogamy.

This isn’t to say I don’t believe in open-minded relationships.  If I was with someone and they really wanted to fuck someone else,  I would absolutely want them to come talk to me.  And hey, if you’re back in my bed at the end of the night and you’re safe about it, it’s all fine by me.  I do realize there’s more to a relationship than committing to be sexual with only one person.  People have needs, I get it.  And really, my issue with cheating is that it’s LYING, and also that you’re putting your fluid-bound partner at risk without their knowledge or consent, which is pretty damn screwed up in my book.

So how can I fault the polyamorous?  Sure, there are a few bad eggs, some folks who say they’re poly because it’s easier than trying to get out of an unhappy relationship all together, but they’re the outliers.  Because the whole lifestyle is based on honestly, I’ve generally found that the polyamorous have a much easier time with honesty and open, direct communication than many monogamous couples I know.  (Just as I’ve found kinksters have a much more vibrant and active dialogue around consent than vanilla folks do, since playing requires it.  Sadly, I have many vanilla friends who’ve never even had a conversation about consent with their partner… it’s just assumed… which, at this point in my life, I consider downright disrespectful.  There’s really nothing sexier than asking, in my opinion, at least with a new partner.)

Anyhow… I worry that I’m not going to fit into his family very well.  His day to day life is kids, animals and school.  Mine is work, work and more work.  But I really like him… so it seems worth trying.

He came over later that night.  I made dinner, we cuddled and watched The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and eventually commenced with the oodles of kissing.  He definitely makes me feel special when we’re together, and isn’t that all a girl could want? It’s all I want, really.  Someone who will accept my love, and make me feel special to them.  The rest is all gravy.

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