Cheers Sexy People!
I have been waiting for the right moment to share what I have learned about the concept and teachings of Nonviolent Communication as described by Marshall Rosenberg. Given how my last two weeks have been, now is the time, my dear friends. This is really powerful stuff, and it’s another bit of amazing wisdom that I watch myself go back to time and time again.
But first, an update of the goings on in my polyamorous life:
A Coming Out Story
I decided to embark on another “coming out” mini-adventure. This past Friday nite, I spent several hours with an acquaintance who I suspect will become a closer friend. My husband and I have known her for years. She recently moved out of the area back towards her roots (why do we sometimes get closer to people after they move away? Hmmm). Turns out she is going through a rough patch and is at a crossroads in her life, much like I am (the “crossroads” part. I’m hoping the “rough patches” I have experienced are coming to a close for me – at least for now). As we talked about a million topics, she eventually described how she ended her last relationship, partly because her beau was interested in BDSM and was “addicted” to the high of starting relationships and couldn’t stop talking to women online. She said she felt, to each his own, but that wasn’t her bag, baby, and she didn’t see it working out long-term. She was still sad about the relationship ending partly because she wonders if she’ll ever get married and settle down. I’ve been there! I used to think there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t seem to be satisfied with one man and just “settle down” like everyone else. Anyway, I decided since she seemed open-minded and we were having a great bonding session, to tell her about my ethically non-monogamous, polyamorous life. I explained how it started and how my husband and I got here together, how the dynamics worked, the difference between “swinging” and polyamory, how I met my boyfriend, and oh, by the way, he lives with us. As I described the epiphany I had reading the Introduction in The Ethical Slut where the concept of polyamory was first described to me, I explained quite loudly (OK, REALLY loudly! I’m half Italian and a singer with a booming voice.) “All that time I thought I was fucked up – here I was just a polyamorist and didn’t know it!!!” I immediately covered my mouth in embarrassment because I realized I just exclaimed that out loud sitting at the bar of an open air restaurant. A man at the other end of the bar behind me started to laugh and my friend looked over at him and laughed with him. I was too embarrassed to look him in the eye after my revelation. He could look at the back of my polyamorous head. Haha! When I was done my tale, she didn’t even blink an eyelash and went on to tell me more about herself and her relationships. Later, I asked if I had surprised her. She said “honey, nothing surprises me anymore.” What a nite. I love her to death. And I’m going to see her this weekend, where she will be sleeping over at my poly household, looking at my boyfriend who lives there with new eyes, I’m sure.
A Nonviolent Communication Story
Early on in my polyamorous life, I discovered the book, Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life. I have always loved psychology. I almost even minored in it in college. I found the book both fascinating and extremely helpful. The author felt that we could change the world if we could just all learn how to communicate better, and listen to each other when we talk with compassion and understanding. We can help learn more tolerance of all of our differences and can better celebrate our similarities in that we are all human and make mistakes and wish to be understood. Great, profoundly useful stuff.
So last Monday, I was feeling a bit… fragile. Hey, it happens to the best of us, even when we are constantly doing internal work on ourselves and trying to maintain emotional strength, etc. Resigning from my job and doing the long good-bye dance there is proving to occasionally make me question myself, and if I’m not maybe completely nuts for leaving a perfectly good “day job.” Then last Sunday nite, we visited two very close friends who both recently have newborns. Being an infertility survivor, seeing newborns, especially ones conceived through IVF (my husband and I were unsuccessful and it was traumatic), holding newborns tests your emotional reserves for sure. It’s hard not to feel a bit like a failure that “everyone” else – even others with fertility problems – can make babies and you can’t. The next day, my beau wanted to introduce a new girl to us that he is seeing by having her over for dinner. I walked into the house feeling tense. There was no polite greeting. Probably an oversight, but in the moment, I got more tense. Over the course of the nite, my beau’s date turned out to be young, sweet, well-spoken and polite. I did not feel threatened overall, BUT it’s easy to start having feelings of insecurity swirling around in your head. I took a moment and headed for the bathroom to catch my breath and pull myself together. My beau came to check on me, which was incredibly sweet and touching. As we talked, turns out he recently started seeing another new girl too. That was enough to put me over the edge and I struggled not to cry. Sometimes, too much emotional stuff all at the same time can break you. I pulled myself together (with a little help of an emergency where the cat needed to be washed immediately because she ran into some lethal Draino clog removal. Thanks for the distraction, kitten!) and pulled up my bootstraps and got back out there and socialized. I wanted to also be there for my close friend who was visiting while she was in a brutal trial for a week and had to take the stand in her own defense. Just watching her go through this horrendous experience was stressful! Yikes! What a weird 48 hours.
The next day, a dear friend of mine who has also contributed to this blog held my hand with compassion in his heart, virtually (he lives in Canada). I explained all that I was thinking and feeling, what I was struggling with, all of the fear and anxiety of the past few days… feelings of being a failure, not wanting to engage in a competition (with these other girls), how I felt like things were getting unbalanced with my beau, all of it. We knocked around ideas of what to do next, what could I say to my beau as the speed that he is dating others may be too fast for me and more than I could handle at this time. Is that wrong of me? I’m the champion of “sex is fun and pleasure is good for you” and I write a poly blog! Why was I being such a wuss? I also felt GUILTY about potentially making him feel GUILTY for having sex with others. Ah, that old Catholic guilt can rear its head in the most unusual of ways. I felt like, in terms of my beau, the scales were tipping in the wrong direction, like he was taking too much out of the “emotional bank account”, maybe more than he was putting in. Or was he? I didn’t know! I felt confused.
It dawned on me that I needed to consult the nonviolent communication teachings to figure out how to best have a productive convo with my beau, so that we could come to understand each other better, and grow closer instead of driving a wedge between us. I didn’t want the conversation to turn into an ugly argument. I wanted to help make sure that we were each getting our needs met effectively in our relationship, but I knew there might need to be some negotiation and compassion from both sides. I also just needed to vent and talk some stuff out instead of keeping it all inside. But I wanted to do it with love and compassion, and with an understanding of HIS needs too. I wrote myself some notes, an outline if you will to keep me focused. No accusations. No blame. Taking responsibility for my own feelings and where they came from. Stay on target, Kitty! You can do this!
When I got home, he greeted me with two beautiful bouquets of purple flowers. Wow! He said he knew I was feeling low and a little depressed and he wanted to cheer me up and make me smile. Double wow! I felt like he had done a fair amount of personal growth and was getting quite good at reading me and desiring to be there for me. After hugs, kisses, more hugs, we did eventually talk. We had a nice chat where I brought up the concept of the emotional bank account. The simple act of him being thoughtful enough to buy me flowers to cheer me up definitely helped add to our emotional bank account. Having a heart to heart about what I mean to him, versus what new girls that he’s dating mean to him and it going smoothly, that added to the emotional bank account. Him really listening to me and understanding where I was coming from, and consoling me when I needed it. That added to it as well. By the end, we were more than good. We were fantastic.
As I’ve said many times before, being ethically non-monogamous ain’t for sissies or the faint of heart. It also takes a helluva lot of work and personal growth sometimes. But the rewards to me are completely worth it. I love two men with all of my heart and soul. I love their rough edges, their smooth surfaces, their points of view, their essence. And it feels wonderful! It helps me feel free! Free to love, free to roam, free to be me. The real, authentic me.
I urge you to read the summary of Nonviolent Communication below and bookmark it. It’s helped me over and over again in ALL of my relationships.
Let me know if you found the article useful. And definitely let me know if you’ve applied the teachings there to your own relationships and communication habits. Also, have any “coming out” stories that you would like to share with us? Please feel free. Sharing is caring.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)