Cheers Sexy People!
I am happily writing you from London where the hubs and I are traveling, having a 1.5 week leisurely trip (OK, some business too, but not much) visiting friends and family. We are having a splendidly AWESOME time. We just landed here last night from Edinburgh, Scotland where we spent five days. WOW! Put that on your bucket list if you like castles, history, gorgeous scenery and don’t mind the weather being somewhat unpredictable (but it was mostly fantastic for us with gusty, refreshing winds). The best way I can describe it is it’s as if you walked onto a Penny Dreadful or Harry Potter glorious set, except that it’s REAL, and thus so much cooler! Even though it scared me a bit to do so, we dared ourselves to walk down alleys where you absolutely could picture Frankenstein or Jack The Ripper attacking you down the dark, antique, history-laden corridors. Just fascinating and magical…
But I digress. The point of this story today is that I find it interesting that on this trip, I have put myself “back in the closet.” I have been pretending that I am a monogamous, heteronormative, traditional woman. Why you ask? Well, partly due to my surroundings, partly by the company we are keeping, and partly because it is simply easier to do so, and I’m on vacation and would like to take life in a breezy, easy fashion, and not try to blow people’s minds unnecessarily, and in an un-invited way. People generally prefer things that they can understand, that make them feel comfortable. Our hosts (friends and family) are graciously putting us up in their homes, feeding us yummies, letting us do our “stanky” laundry, and giving us a close-up glimpse of their proper, British lives. It does not seem the time to rock their worlds, telling them information that they are not ready to hear, completely disrupting their vision of what’s normal, sane and lovely in their world. What’s the point? It’s just a short (but glorious and well-needed) trip.
Take our Scottish hosts. They have been married for 15 years, having had a lovely Edinburgh, traditional wedding of which my husband (then a dashing younger man with a wild heart, making the ladies swoon) was a guest. (Oh, were those photos funny to look at! That wild HAIR and I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin). The wife, one of my husband’s dearest friends, gave the toast at our wedding nine years ago. This is the first time that we have seen them since. Is it possible that we don’t have to wait another nine years to see them again? Perhaps. But this trip was not the time to blast them with tales of our polyamorous life. It was simply easier to say that the man who lives with us who is taking care of our kittehs and home is a close friend and a tenant. Call me a coward if you like. But that’s not what this is. It’s simply a decision that we made not to tell them about our “other life”, not now anyway. It just wasn’t the right time, or the right situation, or the right audience. Decision made. Let’s just enjoy “second breakfast”, another shot of whiskey (well, they can, not me, the smell makes me shudder. Ew! 🙂 ) and go take spectacular pictures of another castle together and enjoy the view. If we do spend more time with them later in life, might we tell them? Perhaps. Only time will tell.
Our hosts in London are my husband’s family: His only brother, his wife and their two children (aged 8 and 11). The hubs has made a very conscious decision to never tell his brother and sister-in-law EVER about our polyamorous inclinations, because not only will they not understand, but they will not approve. It quite possibly could get ugly, and might even cause an estranged relationship between them, or result in no relationship at all. They are what I would describe as extremely traditional, conservative, proper and rather straight and narrow. Mind you, they are lovely people. But I not only respect my husband’s right NOT to “come out” to them, but I also respect their space to not be told. Honestly, I don’t think they would want to know anyway. It’s just not what people in their circles talk about, and I don’t think they want to think of us “that way.” I honestly think it might gross them out, confuse them, or worse, they might look down on us, or think we are completely kookoo. Who needs that? And again, we only see them once every few years. I’m pretty certain that my boyfriend would be bored to tears in their company anyway, so no loss there. As I like to say often, “it is what it is”, meaning, I think it’s much better to accept reality than to fight and struggle against it.
What does prove to be difficult as it has been on other family trips – is not so much the occasional denying that I have a boyfriend in the first place – it is simply just how much I miss him. I guess it does prove more difficult that I cannot talk out loud about how much I miss him (except to my husband a bit). But more, it’s mainly the time away. Most traditional families get to travel as a family. The three of us (or our extended polycule) have never as of yet traveled as a family unit, openly. And I wonder if we ever will. I hope we do, but who knows, eh? Families tend to travel together to take care of one another and enjoy each other’s company. In our case, we had to leave my boyfriend behind both because he had work to do at home, and he is helping take care of our family by playing uncle to our two feline kitties. But also because it would not be acceptable for him to travel with us “as a family” on this trip. Maybe we could have said, “he’s our good friend, can he sleep on your couch?” But still, that seems odd, not good somehow, inauthentic and somewhat disrespectful to me. So, let’s just not go there at all, shall we? It’s a strange existence sometimes… this double life that we lead on occasion.
I am really trying to live an authentic life… be as “real” as I can be with more and more people that I care about. I know there are some in my life that I am more “real” with than others, partly because there are some parts of my life (like the polyamorous stuff) that not everyone sees, because not everyone understands, as I described above. I prefer to be as close to 100% authentic as possible as something to strive for. And I CHOOSE to be authentic and real with all of you here in our community all of the time.
How about you, my friends? Do you find that you are sometimes leading a double life? Do you have to hide parts of yourselves from others, whether you like it or not? And do you get to really thrive and enjoy those relationships where you can be 100% who you truly are, all of the time? Does that feel like a breath of fresh air to you, and quite a relief? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
Great article Kitty and I so glad you are having a rocking good time in the British Isles. I believe part of being authentic is being true to our personal code of conduct and behavior toward others. In your decisions not to tell your good friends and family about your “non-normative” family you are choosing the way of love in your relationship with them. You are showing that you care about them and your very limited time together more then your own desire to be out of the closet, as it where. You are honoring them by meeting them where they are and in doing so, honoring yourselves.
Safe travels home!
Thank you, Becky for your thoughtful comment. Yes, the British Isles are quite awesome. Loving it, though I do in fact miss home as well. Well stated there about “part of being authentic is being true to our personal code of conduct and behavior toward others.” Nicely done! This was beautiful too: “You are honoring them by meeting them where they are and in doing so, honoring yourselves.” This is not an easy lesson to learn, and sometimes you do question what is the right thing to do. But I am confident in this decision on this trip – but at the same time, I don’t much like not feeling I’m being “myself” and honoring my other partner. But by signing up for polyamory in a mostly non-polyamory accepting society, these issues are part of what you are signing up for. Oh well! It is what it is. 🙂
Loved your article! So much of what you said resonates with me. I’m a Canadian poly gal in love with a Brit and just spent 4.5 months living in the UK with my boyfriend. My husband came and visited for a bit as did my grown daughter and son in law. I had a wonderful time in London and Edinburgh. It’s a wonderful place to visit and I can’t wait to go back next month to be with my boyfriend.
I also empathize with the struggle when not living authentically. My hubby and I are pretty much out to most people in our lives. But it’s still fairly compartmentalized. And when I was in the UK and even at home there are people who I don’t share the details of my life with. This is uncomfortable because I don’t lie well, I have been known to slip, and just generally hate being inauthentic. But as in the case of your brother in law, sometimes no good can come from sharing with the wrong people.
Why, thank you so much, Shannon! I am so glad that you enjoyed the article. Your story and situation is very interesting and I enjoyed reading about another person’s perspective on this type of scenario. Thanks for sharing! That really must be challenging having two loves on two different continents and “across the pond” as it were.
I totally understand about the awkwardness of the compartmentalization of our dual lives. I don’t much like it either. I also don’t like to lie or tell half truths. I find the more I try to live authentically, there are STILL moments where I can’t be 100% honest, which I don’t like. I agree though that sometimes we have to make hard decisions or “take the high road,” stuff our feelings or desires to be “out” down for the sake of our loved ones, as well as for the sake of harmony. I wonder sometimes: What happens after we pass on and perhaps the truth comes out? What will they think, and do I care? Will they wish I had told them? I partly decide who I will tell based on how open-minded and accepting they seem to be. It’s a bit of a balancing act and certainly not an exact science.
The ones I have to keep it from are my ex and my grown children, sadly. Well, and my father. The day will come I might share it, but for right now its between me and my three loves.
It is sad to keep important parts of our lives hidden from our loved ones, isn’t it? That’s frankly partly why I write this blog: to help in any way I can to increase tolerance and acceptance for alternative lifestyles so that we won’t have to hide in the shadows so much in the future… I hope anyway. Maybe some of the mystery is a bit fun, but mostly, I’d prefer not to hide. I wish you and your three loves all of the love and happiness in the world!
Kitty, I think you are awesome and this is one of your best posts. It resonates with so many of us. When you are living outside of such deeply held cultural prescriptions you do have to choose who to tell, and not always for selfish reasons. Sometimes the loving thing to do is not place people in a position where they will have to process how they feel about your choices.
I would love to tell my mother about my Adored and to take her to my childhood home, but I worry that my mother would worry about what all this means. I don’t worry about her love and acceptance. But she’s far away and could not see how it really works. And, she has enough to worry about with my father’s health and my sister’s health. So, I fear that she would worry about how this can work for my family, and she doesn’t need that. I’ve shown her pictures of my Adored with the rest of my family without having to explain *everything*, and I’ll leave it at that. It’s enough for now.
Alphred, thank you so much for this comment. It really made my day when I read it! You rock! I’m so glad that this post really resonated with you. That’s awesome! It is so strange to me that what we are doing is “living outside deeply held cultural prescriptions” because it feels so natural to me. I hear ya though! I agree that sometimes it is more loving to spare our friends & family having to deal with the reality of our unusual relationships, if indeed maybe they can’t handle it or simply don’t want to. It’s a fine line to walk, and a bit of a judgement call sometimes. I am sorry that you have a difficult situation not being able to tell your family – people that you have known and trusted your whole life. But as you said, it may be making their lives easier for THEM not to know the actual truth. But I am so glad that you can at least have the joy of sharing photos without having to feel that you need to explain. Good for you!
Hello, Kitty. Yes, although my situation is slightly different, since I’m single poly, the feeling of hiding in a closet from those who should be my nearest and dearest makes me sad. I sort of ran head-first into an uncomfortable situation with it very recently, in fact. If you’d like to read about it, let me know and I’ll share the story.
My boyfriend is some sort of version of single poly (since we are not married), so I get your situation. He does not tell his family that I am his girlfriend. They just think I am a good friend and roommmate. It’s kind of funny in a way, and sad in another. I hear you! Yes, if you care to share, I would LOVE to hear your story and more about what happened for you. We can all learn from it I bet. Thanks for the generous offer. 🙂