Cheers Sexy People!
Phew! I’ve had a whirlwind of a bunch of months lately! If you’ve been reading my last few posts, you know that I am heavily into some serious NRE (New Relationship Energy) right now with my new boyfriend. It has been remarkably beautiful to see how deeply you can dive in with someone in a short amount of time. It’s been a lovely journey of mutual respect and admiration, lots of laughter, as well as allowing ourselves to truly “be seen” as we are, leaning into our own vulnerability, and really “go there” when we need to have some tough conversations – you know… the kind that make you squirm in your seat, get sweaty palms, and out of your comfort zone. This poly stuff can really make it all even more complicated. From my love’s end, he’s had to wrap his head around getting to know and then welcoming into his life my husband as his metamour, watch me cautiously manage these multiple relationships, and deal with his own evolving and sometimes confusing emotions regarding me as well as his existing relationships.
From my standpoint, the challenge of honoring relationships and my loves continues to confound me. This past weekend, I had the joy of performing in a master pole dancer’s showcase, sharing the “stage” with other amazingly talented, courageous and strong women who are not afraid to tell their story through dance while scantily clad. I attended both the rehearsal as well as the live performance with both my husband and my boyfriend. I wondered how I was going to introduce them ahead of time but didn’t obsess about it. A few of my close pole dancing sisters know about my poly life, but not the extended circle nor new friends I haven’t met yet of course. In the blur of the moment, they ended up introducing themselves as my husband and my “friend”. Ew. Then I had to introduce them to someone else later, so I used the words husband and “my close friend.” That still doesn’t feel right! Damn it!
What the fuck am I trying to hide anyway? And why hide it from people who are fearless taking almost all of their clothes off to defy gravity while suspending by one toe from a vertical steel mass! These people have open minds surely! What gives?
I’ve been studying a course lately called “Living Brave” by Brené Brown whom I’ve mentioned here before on the blog. Her work and research on vulnerability, courage, empathy, shame and other tricky subjects never before looked at with a “microscope” has been life changing for me. One concept that I love hearing from her is that it makes good sense to only divulge information to people once they have earned the right to know. I like that! It helps me to not feel like a coward when I choose not to “come out as polyamorous” right away to a stranger. On the flip side, she dives into the deep end of the pool on the feeling of shame. There is definitely an aspect about being open about my lifestyle that tweaks feelings of shame in me (being a former Catholic and all especially).
She explains that we ALL experience shame, but no one wants to talk about it – yet, the less we talk about it, the more control it has over our lives. Hmmmm, that’s not good! Let’s deconstruct this a bit. From her Daring Greatly book:
Shame is the fear of disconnection. We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection) is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection. ‘I’m not worthy or good enough for love, belonging, or connection.’ I’m unlovable. I don’t belong. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
Here are some examples of how shame can manifest in an ethically non-monogamous life:
… hiding the fact that you are polyamorous.
… shying away from the topic that you are sex positive, and having sex with more than one person (sometimes at the same time. GASP!)
… avoiding saying out loud that you have an open marriage.
… not divulging that you love sex and openly discussing how much you freaking love a great orgasm!
… losing friends, being ridiculed or not being accepted for the way you want to live your life. Worse, getting a lecture about how what you are doing is wrong, wrong, WRONG!
I often struggle with the conflicting idea that some of the above information is my PERSONAL life. And again, have they earned the right to know? Once I do “come out”, sometimes people ask very personal questions that I occasionally find offensive. Why do they suddenly feel they have a right to such information after they learn that I identify as polyamorous? As a counterpoint, would I walk up to a monogamous friend and say “Hey, do you and your husband have anal sex? I’m really just dying to know!” That would fall into the “none-of-your-effing-business” category, right? But I am over time learning where my own healthy boundaries are and how to protect them.
This weekend, I’m going to another pole event with my boyfriend. I’m considering introducing him as “my sweetie”. That seems like the truth that can be taken any way the person may want to let their mind wander. I welcome your thoughts here or words of wisdom of what has worked for you in introducing your various loves in mixed company. Daily I am working on being courageous and brave, being authentic and not hiding who I am. But I also want to simultaneously respect other people’s boundaries. If they are not ready for certain information, why force it down their throat? Brené Brown called this practice “floodlighting” and I’ll delve deeper into that in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.
Let’s get back to talking about love, and being vulnerable. I believe one of the reasons that my boyfriend and I have gotten so close so quickly is that we both let our guards down. We allowed ourselves to truly be seen as who we are. We allowed our faults, our wonky wobbly bits to hang out there in the wind (figuratively and yes of course literally too. I’m sex positive! Whoot!), and we talk through the tough stuff pretty much right away whenever we need to. It’s quite beautiful. REALLY beautiful actually. And it feels surprisingly natural. Which is why this feels so darn right to me. I’m leaning into it, FAR. Bring it! And I’m so in love, and reveling in every moment that I get with him. Every beautiful exchange that we have over text. Every voice message where I get to hear his lovely voice. Just. Awesome. (Damn, that NRE is spilling all over the page again. Oops!)
Brené has a lovely definition of love that she created from her research. It goes like this:
Definition of love:
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.
Love is not something we give or get, it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.
I think this definition ROCKS, and I love hearing it defined by a researcher and expert in the field of turning abstract emotions into more tangible words and vocabulary that we can look at and discuss openly.
I know this: Love is beautiful. And finding the right love in your life can feel like magic! Hold onto it, inside your heart and inside your mind. It never goes away. It lives inside of you. Cherish it.
How about you? What’s setting your world on fire now – is it a new love? How do you introduce your significant others to newbies? What do you think of Brené’s work if you have ever followed it? Click here to see one of her first TedTalk’s if you have never seen it. It’s soooo worth the twenty minutes. She is AMAZEBALLS!
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
GREAT ARTICLE KITTY !
GREAT ARTICLE KITTY !
Thank you so much!
YOU ARE WELCOME !
AWESOME post, sistah! **Love** it! (And I am a big fan of Brene Brown’s too. I find her work so empowering.)
I’m so glad you tweeted it–I thought I subscribed to your blog feed, but, apparently I did that wrong (not surprising…I am such a dork when it comes to technology more complicated than a toaster). So I’m glad to get the tweet that alerted me to the new post.
Like you, I am a former Catholic (a “recovering” Catholic, as I like to say). Obviously it’s not only Catholics who can feel shame (especially in moments–ironically or not-so-ironically–when we are feeling most free and expansive and most deeply connected with our core selves), but boy-oh-boy, that shame-based and fear-based teaching runs deep and takes years of mindful vigilance to unlearn.
The idea of only sharing our truths with people who have earned the right to know them is a powerful one. That flips the equation around in what I feel is a healthy way. Because otherwise, we can fall prey to the knee-jerk reaction that tells us that we have something to be ashamed of (which is not true! That’s just the byproduct of the distorted lens of the world-at-large). So instead, we decide who deserves the knowledge and who doesn’t. That feels right.
Because I’d rather be peaceful than stressed, I try to make it a practice not to judge people who are judging me. (Man, is that hard, though! And some days I just have to indulge in lots of judgey-ness.) Even as I know they’re viewing me with raised eyebrows and saying whatever about my lifestyle, I try not to judge them for it and instead feel compassion for them and know that their judgements come from a place of fear (just as mine do when I’m judging them for judging, hah!). So now I make the decision to spare myself the judgements of others when meeting new people by keeping the dynamics of my love life private unless/until I get to know them better and determine they are trustworthy.
How’s that for a long answer to your question?
The juxtaposition of our public and private lives is a topic that fascinates me, and I love how you’ve explored it here. As always, thanks for your honesty and openness.
And please keep tweeting your new posts so I don’t miss any!
(Oh, and I am majorly impressed that you are skilled at pole-dancing! I’ve always wanted to do that–it’s so sexy and strong!–but I am hopelessly clumsy…)
Wow, Celeste, what an awesome and informative comment! You rock! Yes, whenever I publish a post, WordPress automatically tweets it for me. Yay automative technology. So you are good! But subscribing directly to the blog is great too!
Yes, Brené is absolutely amazing! And Oh. My. Gosh. YESSSSS to this!
“The idea of only sharing our truths with people who have earned the right to know them is a powerful one. That flips the equation around in what I feel is a healthy way. Because otherwise, we can fall prey to the knee-jerk reaction that tells us that we have something to be ashamed of (which is not true! That’s just the byproduct of the distorted lens of the world-at-large). So instead, we decide who deserves the knowledge and who doesn’t. That feels right.”
That is AWESOME and so well put! You go, girl! And I also love the “I’d rather be peaceful than stressed.” Amen to that, sister!
“The juxtaposition of our public and private lives is a topic that fascinates me” = ME TOOOOOO! Especially the more I dive into this poly stuff.
I’ve been pole dancing for almost four years now and I LOVE IT! I was clumsy and awkward when I started too. Ya gotta start somewhere. And I still fall down and get bruised up. That’s how we learn. Maybe give it a try! I didn’t even start until I was about 42 years old.
Rock on and Happy Friday!
Another great and thought-provoking post!
Thank you so much, beautiful lady! (for being you and for this lovely and supportive comment). You rock!
YOU SEEM TO BE MORE ACTIVE THAN EVEN ME IF THAT IS IMAGINABLE !