All Good Things Must Come To An End

Love is not about losing freedom; it’s about sharing freedom with a partner who’s as talented a liberationist as you
~ Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology

This post has been hard for me to write. Indeed, it’s been hard for me to write anything for Polysingleish of late — a combination of focusing my writing energy elsewhere, and also feeling like I didn’t have more to contribute here.

I started this blog because I didn’t have anyone to guide me when I began my journey in consensual non-monogamy. There was no guide for being polyamorous while in a primary relationship with one’s own self.

Naturally, I stumbled. I messed up. I slowly figured out (sometimes through trial and error) what it meant to be polyamorous without a primary and without being on the relationship escalator.

This blog has been around for over 8 years now— and over the course of those 8 years, my words have landed with thousands of other folks who have been exploring relationships in a similar way. It has been an incredible honor, and so very humbling to receive feedback — from both friends and strangers alike — who say I’ve articulated something that they’ve always felt but thought they were alone in their experience.

I want to stay in integrity with all of you who have read and followed this blog through the years, and offer you a reflective summary of what this journey has been, and share with you the important ways my relationship landscape has shifted.

“I’m in a primary relationship with my self and having an orgy with the universe.”

Before I had the language to define myself as Solo Polyamorous, this was how I would explain myself and my relationship desires to others. In 2012 — as I transitioned from living in a quiet, hippy-centric community on coastal British Columbia into the busy, poly-friendly city of Vancouver — I began blossoming into my Self in a way I never had before. 

I’d married in my early 20s, and had so little dating experience prior to that. My marriage had been characterised by accommodation and compromise (mostly on my part) which I grew to resent. Through 7 years of marriage I lost touch with my own self, with the things that brought me joy, and the sense of play that had lifted me out of depression in my teens. Being a foreigner to Canada, introverted, and socially awkward, I had struggled to make friendships with people I shared values with. I had something of a community that helped me patch up a hole in my social fabric, but it didn’t totally fit who I was or who I aspired to grow into being.

Ending my marriage marked a new chapter, a coming back to my own self, and the possibilities of being able to explore and embody all the aspects of myself I’d kept locked away — through a childhood with a narcissistic, emotionally incestous and co-dependant homophobic mother, and through seven years of compromising my needs and dissocating from my desires within my marriage. I’d always dreamt of having multiple partners (so much so, it was a feature in my make believe stories as a kid). I knew I wanted to explore my sexuality with women. I had desires to unlock the kinkster within me. I yearned for connections that felt transcendental whilst simultaneously supportive, nourishing, and most of all where I could be fully myself.

My entry into the world of polyamory was bumpy. After early experiences of falling back into the temptations of Disney fantasies of romance, and feeling confounded by what was then a very couple-centric environment within the Vancouver Polyamory community (where almost everyone asked me if I had a primary partner), I said fuck it, I’m my OWN primary partner. 

I started engaging with myself based on that: taking my self out on dates, doing things for my Self that I had longed for a partner to do, etc. This was such a radical idea in my mind. And my goodness, it was exciting.  My commitment was to be firmly polysingleish for two years, and then re-assess.

I had many intense experiences during those two years. Looking back at it now, I see the younger me who was struggling: struggling with the loss of her relationship with her mother, struggling (still) to find a community who felt in alignment with her values, struggling to make a living in a city where the cost of living was twice what she’d been used to. That younger me took a long time to feel at ease in her relationships, but she had some incredible learning experiences along the way.

I remember the first time a partner asked for my consent for something sexual. I’d never been asked about my consent before. I remember nervously dating women for the first time. I remember the feeling of parts of my mind I’d never used before awakening, and the excitement that kept me up till 4am writing blog posts about my experiences.

I also remember when I felt things were not quite right. The overwhelm of attention that the ‘shiny new thing’ (as one partner referred to me) in a community receives. The fawn-responses that I gave to that attention because I didn’t know how else to engage with it, and so dearly did I want to belong in this polyamorous community that I was fearful of putting up boundaries, especially when it was community leaders who were taking an interest in me.

My own Monogamy Hangover would take over more than once. 

In 2014, when that time to re-assess came along, I was in a space in my life where I felt so empowered. I had loving partners, I had incredible friendships, I was growing community through the Solo Polyamory group, and I was feeling seen, heard, and understood at a deep level for the first time in my life. I re-committed to remaining Solo, whilst diving in to loving, long term partnerships. At one point I had three incredible concurrent relationships. Between these three partnerships in my life, I felt like I’d found something of a centre to my life as a solo polyamorist. I felt confident in my sexuality, and in my Self. But shortly thereafter, I went through a series of experiences that left me overwhelmed, unable to cope, and struggling.

Dancing with Demons: Tackling Trauma 

If you’ve never experienced trauma, then please consider yourself fortunate and privileged. Relational trauma is one of the hardest of all: human beings are relational creatures who need connection (albeit in differing degrees) as part of their physical and mental health. When you’ve had the experience of harm coming from an intimate connection, it does a number on your ability to trust and feel safe in future connections. 

As time rolled on — after being bullied by a former partner, stalked by one metamor, assaulted by another, screamed at in public spaces repeatedly by yet another meta, and feeling the withdrawal from partners who didn’t know how to engage with my resulting trauma — my enthusiasm for exploring new intimate connections began to dim.

I shifted my focus. Embracing the principles of Relationship Anarchy that I had already found so much resonance with, I began focussing on my platonic relationships as being the primary source of security and stability in my life. In my journey of recovery from trauma, it proved invaluable to nurture my friendships and community connections as the web through which my safety needs could be met. Along with growing a stronger community, I began going to therapy, and gradually felt myself regain the confidence to step back into intimate relationships — albeit much more mindfully than before, and with a craving for more simplicity and less drama.

One of the most important pieces of the journey of this past decade has been an unrelenting self-questioning. Why? My inquisitive mind has asked why of everything: of monogamy, of polyamory, of polynormativity, of solo polyamory, of sex, swinging, kink, everything. I ask myself why in my own relationships. Why am I drawn to this person? Do I feel comfortable with them because they are familiar, and does familiar mean healthy? Is my nervous system truly at ease with this partner, and if not, why not?

I often follow up with another question: what else is possible? And it is the pondering of this question over the past few years that has led my inner landscape and understanding of my needs and desires to shift. 

For the past four years I’ve taught classes on the Monogamy Hangover and run workshops on how to disentangle from the trappings of patriarchal monogamy. I’ve come to see that the Monogamy Hangover is all about the ways we seek out safety, security, and stability: it’s not the only strategy that can offer that to us, but it’s the one many of us are most familiar with, and so, we will keep returning to it until we find a BETTER strategy, one that makes the Monogamy Hangover obsolete. Every time I teach this, I find myself sitting down to question what aspects of the unconscious story and programming show up in my world still. 

As I write this, I’m 38 years old, and the shifts in my life over the past decade have been profound. The lessons in autonomy, agency, and independence that Solo Polyamory have taught me have assisted me in finding my own radical path in life, and have supported me as I step into being the bohemian and rebel I have always aspired to be. I learned how to be secure and loving with my own company, and have done so much healing for my own soul.

But along the way, I found something was missing for me: a grounded and secure place to come home to, emotionally. 

For all the incredible partners I have had, I never found my desire for an emotional home was fully reciprocated. For some, they didn’t have the capacity to meet me with what I was desiring in our relationship. For others, they had already found that with someone else, and struggled to realise that their polyamory was more about sexual non monogamy than it was about emotional non monogamy. 

I also began to realise that the ways I had pursued my sexual freedom had left me with deep wounds, and as much as I had been able to heal and integrate that past, I was now holding back in relationships because I didn’t want to re-awaken sexual traumas, nor did I want to slip back into a space where I was traumatised through erotic experiences. The slutty singleish saga of my early 30s had lost its deep appeal, and I was struggling to enjoy even my solo polyamorous connections, which began to feel either too brief, too shallow, or too far away. 

I was stuck, repeating the same pattern and expecting different results.

I returned to critical examination of my relationship desires and actions, digging deep into the questions of: what do I want, why do I want it, and where do I want to be in 5-10 years?

When I first asked myself those questions five years ago, I was clear: I wanted to live in a home with good friends, and enjoy loving relationships with multiple partners. Well, I got there. And, I wasn’t happy with it. I was agitated, anxious, stressed. I’d done all this healing work on myself, and about relationships, and yet something was missing.

Much to my surprise, I found a longing awake in me for something different than the Solo Polyamory path I’d been pursuing, and for two years I’ve held that longing gently in my awareness, allowing myself to be curious about it. 

What would it mean to let go of this relationship path that has become so interwoven with my personal identity? What aspects would I want to maintain, and what specifically was it about SoPo that hadn’t been serving me in my journey to joyful relating?

The possibility of a life-partner, an anchor partnership based on co-creation and commitment to mutual healing work, has always been present in my mind. Indeed, in one old blog post I wrote that such a partnership might be the only thing that could pull me into a more nested dynamic, and away from my solo-ness.  

And then, last year, in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of the COVID pandemic, as social anchors were being challenged by politics and conspiracy theorists, and right when I had realised the changes I wanted to make in my life might have to wait, someone came into my relationship landscape with whom I started to experience a connection that lit up my heart in a way I’d never experienced before.

He and I met long ago. We felt the connection and rapport, but were in such different journeys at that time, processing through our own relational traumas, and moving to areas that were geographically further away. But, we stayed in touch. And, during the course of the pandemic, our daily conversations turned to phone calls, our phone calls turned to video chats, and our video chats turned into well-planned, COVID-safe dates in real life. 

Something began happening. Something we both noticed. It wasn’t a Disney romance. It wasn’t a Hallmark movie. But it was deep, it was profound, it was compelling, it was a good kind of scary — and as we pushed it and tested the connection in every which way we could think of, we found ourselves growing closer and more profoundly loving and appreciative of one another. 

Does he meet me in all aspects of my life? No, not at all. But he meets me in some of the most important aspects of my life, including in aspects I have never felt met before. We share a bond of experience, values, and vision, and it has been profoundly healing for me to find this with someone, and I cannot say enough about how important that became for me in the past few years. His care, his compassion, his deep understanding of the way drama in polyamory can leave one with tender wounds, and his capacity to hold space for all of the complexity that is me has brought me tears of joy, and softened my heart that had been growing hard. Most amazingly, he says I do the same for him. When we are together, we can be tender, we can be vulnerable, and we can hold one another with boundless love and support when we go to the scary places of our psyches. We show up with one another as secure, committed, and present to all the ups and downs in our individual lives.

Our connection has helped me be more gentle with myself, and by extension, step into a more loving self-relationship too.

And while he’s probably not going to join me for ecstatic dance, and I’m not likely to tag along to too many doom metal shows with him, the ways we meet are delightful, nourishing, and nurture both of us in ways we’ve been sorely missing in our respective relationship landscapes.

In this relationship, I feel nourished in a way I didn’t even know I had been missing.

Finding ‘The One’

Did I find “the one”? Oh goodness, I found ‘the one’ long ago: she’s me! But what I’ve found with this human is a partnership that allows me to feel a little less alone in my self-primaryship. Nothing about this relationship detracts from that self relationship, and if anything, the love and care I experience in this connection has brought me back into a stronger, healthier relationship with my Self. 

This isn’t a monogamous, escalator romance. This isn’t the ending of a journey or the arrival at some kind of ‘inevitable’ dyadic partnership destination. This is a bohemian, radical upending of mono-normative, hetero-normative, and yes, even poly-normative thinking. 

It is an anchoring, life-partnership that extends through all parts of my landscape: emotional, erotic, social, and practical. While our respective journeys to arrive here together have been similar yet different, we are now consciously weaving our life paths together. I revel in being able to build a healthy and integrated relationship with his other loved ones. I get to experience moving through my anxieties and fears and other brain demons about our relationship while being seen, heard, and supported by him. I have daydreams of domesticity, the stability of sharing a home where we can welcome our partners, lovers, and community with grace and ease, and share loving kindness with them as much as we share with one another. This is the start of a new chapter, one that is already confronting me with all kinds of new challenges, and I relish that. 

As a Relationship Anarchist I’ve held that labels should be descriptive rather than prescriptive. And the path I’m now on no longer resembles solo polyamory. I’m not just looking to move in with a partner for practical purposes. I am absolutely, consciously, creating an interweaving life partnership with someone, a partnership we both hope will continue to be nourishing for many years to come. 

But I’m not leaving behind that primary-ship with my Self. I’m not letting go of the agency that says ‘I’m allowed to change my mind, and live on my own terms.’ Indeed, if not for my journey as a solo polyamorist, I don’t think that I would have arrived at this place, and I don’t think I’d have the same understanding of just what it means to make bold changes to preserve one’s own right to do what you need to do for the greater wellbeing of your soul.  

I don’t think this is an inevitable path for people practicing Solo Polyamory. And I worry that, having had such a place in the public eye of solo polyamory, the changes in my relationship landscape might be seen to invalidate the solo polyamorist’s path. So let me be clear: there is profound healing work that needs to be done outside of enmeshed relationship. We are so many generations thick in trauma from enforced monogamy and all the trappings it brings (including gendered oppression, and more) that I do believe every individual would benefit from spending some of their time in the realms of Solo Polyamory. What might, perhaps, be inevitable, is that each person in their journey may need to find their own way of balancing the tension between self-intimacy and intimacy with others, as a crucial piece of finding secure attachment and somatic ease within themselves.

Almost ten years since I started this blog, and the conversation in polyamory has shifted. We’re just starting to undo the couple-centric and monogamy hangover thinking that has directed most consensual non-monogamy till now. We’re starting to talk about having a trauma-informed approach to polyamory. And, we’re beginning to collectively realise the real significance of supporting a healthy relationship with one’s self as being paramount. 

I take pride in having played a role in that shift. And even though my own relationship style has changed through the years, I maintain that primary-with-my-self attitude, and work to cultivate self-intimacy daily.

This is the last post I intend to make here on Polysingleish.

It has been quite the ride, and I am grateful for everyone who’s taken the time to witness it.

But my own personal journey is not over. Rather, it’s a new adventure that is beginning. One where I get to explore just how profound this self love can become when building conscious and transformative relationships with others. You can keep following my work over at Radical Relating, via my mailing list, and also on Facebook and Instagram. And, I promise you I’ll keep doing everything I can to offer validation to, and create spaces for those solo and singleish folks within the polyamorous communities, and within the world at large.

With all my love,

“Remember that self love is also revolutionary and world-changing. We cannot fight for others when we are fighting a war inside ourselves. Compassion is reflexive, a power that we first bestow on ourselves, and then give away through our actions — to people, to our planet. When we recognise that truth, that is when we let love become our legacy”

~Amanda Gorman.


Self Intimacy, Sex-Positivity, Shame, and the Resilient Edge of Resistence

“Boundaries are an essential part of life. They delineate and maintain needed borders and separations, making differentiation possible at every level. Boundaries both contain and preserve the integrity of what they are safeguarding, be that physical, psychological, emotional, social, or spiritual. Without them there is no relationship and therefore no development, no evolution. But despite this clear truth, we often fall into the trap of believing that boundaries hold us back, preventing us from being free…”
~ Robert Augustus Masters, Boundaries Make Freedom Possible

skin

I heard a great metaphor for boundaries recently, from my friend and mentor Marcia. Boundaries are like skin. Skin protects us from bacteria, contaminants- it keeps the bad things out. It also holds our bodies together and keeps the good things in. It has elasticity and can stretch and squish for short periods of time (this is called the Resilient Edge of Resistance, think of it as a plus/minus margin around your boundaries). Push that edge too far, and we reach our limits- the skin breaks. It is semi permeable, so we can let good things in (like sunlight and moisture) and sweat the bad things out. And without skin around us, things get messy.

Similarly, without boundaries, life gets messy.

In polyamory we are constantly being challenged to redefine our boundaries, to explore some of the difficult stuff in that resilient edge of resistance- sometimes we reach our limits. We also traverse an emotional field where we invite more vulnerability into our lives, because we are allowing more people to connect with that core part of ourselves that the boundaries are there to protect. The more partners we have, the more we are asked to live in that space of vulnerability. Doing so feels radical, revolutionary, and many people experience a sexual and emotional liberation when they begin exploring this.

In a traditional coupled relationship, boundaries are created to protect and preserve the primary relationship. They are there, like a warm blanket, keeping the relationship safe and in a place of comfort, where the individuals in it can relax and grow and flourish. This is true of monogamous and honestly non-monogamous couples.

However, when it comes to flying Solo, it is not quite so straightforward.

Evening clouds above

There is no primary partner, there is no obvious other to create shared boundaries with- though we absolutely can, many people perceive boundaries as limitations, and equate them with primary like relationships. Ultimately, we all have to develop our own clear boundaries around what we want to nurture in our lives, and what we want to keep out- and this is far more apparent when exploring Solo Polyamory. The nature of Solo Poly relationships is so often fluid and changing, that one can sometimes feel there is no safe-house to come home to unless you create one for yourself. But, it can be easy to forget this, and when you are unattatched to a primary partner, there are plenty more opportunities to explore that Resilient Edge of Resistence.

I pushed and stretched and redefined my personal Resilient Edge of Resistence for two years. After a lifetime of frustration with the limitation of my creative expression and sexual shaming, I dove heart first into a dynamic and powerful exploration of living life without restrictions. I began to embrace my sensual expression, I grew to honor my shadow self, I found alchemy in letting my spirit blossom and fly free. I looked to the free spirits around me and followed their examples. I was going to sex parties, being guest listed for kink nights, throwing my own kinky raves with my friends, being invited to participate in the sex-positive community both locally, and internationally. I felt comfortable having sex around strangers, and engaging in BDSM play to the side of the dance floor. It was so incredibly liberating! I had come so far from the shy, ashamed, repressed young woman who flinched at the idea of talking about sex.

shattered glassAnd then, I became intoxicated with the freedom. I became addicted to my shadow self. I pushed myself too far.My resiliency broke. I lost my boundaries. I lost my skin. My guts went spilling all over the place, and toxic, unhealthy influences entered into my life.

Months later I still wake in the middle of the night from nightmares filled with flashbacks of trauma, and my heart remains heavy with heartache, regret, and deep sorrow.

After reaching a breaking point with exploring my resilient edge, I attempted to build a wall around my heart, and my Self, reinforcing my boundaries into an impenetrable fortress. While this made me feel more safe, it also made it impossible to reach out to the ones I loved- because I couldn’t connect to my heart without connecting to the pain too. They felt pushed away.

While all this was happening, I was diving into studies of the nature of intimacy, boundaries, and self-actualisation. I learned about something called Self-Intimacy, the conscious awareness of one’s own emotions, desires and thoughts. Without healthy self-intimacy, we struggle to engage in healthy conflict, and displays of affection can become shallow and disconnected. When we lack healthy self-intimacy, our negative emotions can build up, and without expression or support for resolution, they can drive us to disregard our limits, and live in a state where our resilient edges are being constantly pushed to breaking point.

I had spent so long pushing myself to explore my edges, I had forgotten how to relax, and just be with my self. My inner perfect poly person had grown adept at suppressing my shadow emotions in relationships, and my mind was at conflict with my heart. Even though I had intellectually consented to almost all of my experiences, my heart’s consent had not been present. I had been ignoring the messages from my body, ignoring the crushing pain of approaching my limits- until they had been reached, with heart-breaking consequences.

jumpingLiberating ourselves of the shame around sex and embracing sex positivity shouldn’t have to mean going to orgies or BDSM play parties. It doesn’t have to be a process of pushing our resilient edges of resistance to breaking point- either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. It might mean those things for some people- and that has certainly been part of my own journey- but I don’t think that it has to include those things. I think sex positivity is hi-fiving ourselves and our friends and partners for good sex, sex positivity is exploring healthy connections and physically empowering chemistry. It’s about not flinching when someone else talks about sex. It’s embracing your own nature as a sexual being. It’s accepting the diversity of experiences people have had, and the complex relationships each person can have to the act of sex- and respecting that most people do not need to live in the adrenalin addiction of having their edges challenged in relationships constantly.

I’m valuing the existential crisis inherent in all of this. In my personal quest for identity, relationship, and meaning, I have too often become trapped in doing mode, a state entangled in mental pathways, removed from the experience of simply being. Rather than following my head into new situations, I’m slowing down and listening to my heart, and my whole body. In finding solitude and quietude again, I’m reconnecting with the courage to just be, and finding freedom in that. The clearer I become on what I’m living for- my deepest desires- the more my natural boundaries become apparent. The margins of my being may not be what I once thought they were- or perhaps, they have changed- and I am giving myself permission to change, and nurture my resiliency.

I don’t need to live life on the edge all the time- and neither do you, if you do not want to. You have permission to be loving to yourself, to honor your physical, spiritual, mental and emotional body and boundaries, to embrace your shadow self, and your light. Life doesn’t have to be lived on the cutting edge, doing all-the-things. Life can also be lived with warmth and nurturing; life can be lived by simply being. You can love your boundaries. You can grow roots, live a life that doesn’t push your resilient edge of resistance to breaking point, and still be radical and sex-positive.

self-empowerment
“We are not here to shed or abandon our boundaries, but to breathe integrity and strength into them, to fully illuminate them, and to make sure that they take a form that serves not only our highest good but also the highest good of all. We are not here to override or devalue our boundaries but to use them as wisely as possible… discovering the freedom in fully engaging our experience. Our boundaries stand as guardians on this path, with an authority that supports our growth and awakening.”
~ Robert Augustus Masters, Boundaries Make Freedom Possible

(with gratitude to Orion and Chelsie for editorial feedback)

Conscious Connecting

“Emotional mastery does not mean that you need to be in a state of absolute peace, equanimity, joy and bliss all the time. Rather emotional mastery is the ability of allowing yourself to full experience your full emotional range and recognizing that these emotions do exist within you. However this does not mean that when you get sad or angry you will throw yourself on the floor and start screaming like a 4 year old child. Adults can develop the skill of becoming emotionally fit and ultimately taping into what is known as the “witness consciousness” where you simply witness without identification whatever is happening for or to you.”
~Ascended Relationships

There’s many many reasons that people can come to explore non-monogamy.We search for multiple loving partners for biological reasons, for emotional reasons. Some people, like me, feel they were always this way to some degree. Seeking an antidote for unsatisfying long-term relationships can also be a catalyst for leaping into polyamory- or as I like to think of it, honest and responsible non-monogamy. Sometimes we just want to feel loved and adored by everyone, and can’t stand to turn anyone away. Some folks are just afraid of commitment. And sometimes its a combination of several of these reasons- and others. 

When I began my explorations in polyamory, I desired for people to love me. I thought, as many people new to polyamory do, that I would slowly build up a collection of partners- one or two primaries and a host of secondaries. That perception quickly changed.

In early 2012 I dated a man who I fell head over heels for. I thought I had found a primary partner when- on our first night together- we were already talking about partnership. I was devastated when the relationship ended a whole six weeks later.

artistic catharsis

artistic catharsis

It was in the aftermath of this, while over dramatically wailing on the ground and asking myself “Why?” (as only a theatre major can) and furiously channeling my emotions into paint on the canvas (as only an angsty artist can),  that I had a revelation. All the time while I was married, and during all the explorations of dating I had done since separating from my husband- I had been seeking love externally.

Now, I have battled with depression for years. Struggles financial, emotional and health-wise make it all too easy to feel down and to seek external validation. I realised that in the midst of all that, I had forgotten how to love myself. Furthermore, in an attempt to emotionally bypass the deeper things going on within my psyche, I was becoming enamored with multiple external distractions, seeking human crutches on to which to lean my wounded heart and spirit. I resolved that I didn’t want to do that any more. I decided that rather than seek a primary partner externally, that I needed to be my own primary partner.

Pursuing relationships- any relationship, let alone polyamorous ones- purely in search of more people to love you is not a healthy approach. it’s one that I’ve certainly done at times, and I observed that it was symptomatic of unresolved emotional states within myself. I realised that we can’t be coming at it from a place of feeling that we lack love. And the only way to do that is develop an absolutely kick-ass relationship with one’ self, to be able to love yourself even when you are totally alone.

Growing up within a yoga tradition, I was taught, “Love yourself, honor yourself, God dwells within you, as you.”  The teachings I was brought up with were about evolving into greater self awareness. Based on the philosophy of traditional Tantra (not to be confused with Western “Tantra”), self awareness comes from not hiding from any single aspect of one’s self. It is about exploring and embracing both our shadow selves and our light. Or, as author Jeff Brown puts it, “Transcend nothing, include everything.”

"Theologue"

Having looked outside of myself for love, and experienced the momentary validation that comes from someone else telling me, “You are Beautiful,” “You are wonderful”, “I love you”, I’ve come to find that all that is, is validation. It’s not Love. It’s all light and rainbows, and never any shadow. I find the shadows when I can be completely present to my experiences. And I experience the strongest sensations of Love as flowing from within myself. The time I spend with lovers can become a meditation on Love, allowing the novelty of passion to find expression in each breath. It’s my own means of adoration and devotion to the beauty I see in the person- or people- I am with. And, when I am with a lover, I want to be one hundred and fifty percent present with them. I want them to be able to be one hundred and fifty percent present with me. I don’t want my mind to be wandering elsewhere. I want to be IN that moment with them- not in the past, not in the future, but right there, breathing their breath, responding to them, dancing that dance. And when that dance moves and shifts and I am alone, or with another lover, I want to be just as present to that moment.

I’m not non monogamous because I seek love or validation in myself. I want to be in multiple romantic relationships because I experience so much love within me to be shared that I would loose my mind if I tried to hold it back.

ghmirrormirrorreflectionofmysoul-1I consciously seek people that I can build a connection with. Whether it’s someone I see for dates regularly, enjoy a more ‘low key’ yet passionate connection with, spend hours exchanging ideas with, or someone I get to share cuddles with perhaps only once in a few months, what I desire most is a connecting of hearts, a meeting of minds, and an exchange of mutual inspiration that stimulates creativity. Conscious connections nurture us. They inspire us, and they hold up mirrors for us as we continue to evolve our relationships to ourselves.

Being present with one person like this requires a lot of self work. A lot of releasing fears based on past experiences. A lot of surrendering of future fantasies. Being fully present with multiple partners-  it’s not for the faint of heart.

I’ve been engaged proactively in this process with myself now for over two years- tearing down the masks and the habits that hold me back from being present, and discovering new and exciting layers of my individuality. I no longer want to tone down the intensity that seems innate to my personality. Having grown weary of being ‘not me’, I’m learning how to un-zip this wildly present orgasmic Me.

That isn’t to say that I don’t fall in to a pattern of desiring validation. When I’m depressed, or under the weather, or just plain exhausted and want to hear “I love you”, “You are beautiful”, “You are wonderful”, I know that I don’t have to jump on OkCupid to find someone to tell me that. I can tell me that. And the friends and lovers in my life can tell me that too.

I remind myself every day to Love. I love to love. Perhaps I am simply in love with Love itself, seeking other lovers to share the delights of the moment with. I seek new and beautiful ways to love my self, and love others.

 

Depth and Desire

Two years ago, on the morning after my birthday, I woke up in a downtown Vancouver apartment, with a life changing epiphany.

I lay naked in bed, gazing at the man slumbering beside me, his fluffy feline companion curled up in between us. The previous night I had celebrated my birthday with friends, and had gone home with him. I felt a huge outpouring of love for this man. We had dated, broken up, reconnected- it was an intense relationship, one of those ones where the chemistry is so crazy strong it’s hard to stay away. I felt conflicted, and didn’t know what to do with these feelings. I reached into my bag and pulled out my journal and my Avalon oracle cards, and started shuffling. Yes- total new age hippie at heart.

The card that I drew that morning was, appropriately, “The Cat”.

cat“The Cat reminds you of independence and to set healthy boundaries. Love with freedom- do not look to own what you desire, for too much attachment can lead to loss. The Cat lends you its power to live freely and to remember that the adventure is just beginning… Live freely, love without unhealthy attachment, and remember that with the Cat as your companion, you may fully immerse yourself in life, for there will be many lives to come.”

 

I read these words, and something began to stir inside me. It was early, far too early to get up, but I felt a sudden impetus to leave. I rolled out of bed, packed up my things, and left the apartment without waking anyone or saying goodbye.

That morning was the beginning of my journey in being Singleish.

I had figured out that I wanted to be polyamarous long before that. I had explored things with a few different couples, had a few marathon days where brunch, lunch and dinner were all date zeros, and was having a casual sexual relationship with one of my male friends. I had been separated from my husband for over six months and had been enjoying my new single life, while all too easily and quickly falling into a default pattern of expectations every time something resembling a Relationship appeared in my life.

I reffered to that default pattern as the Disney Fantasy, and later heard others refer to it as the Relationship Escalator. And that default pattern just wasn’t fulfilling me. Every time it happened, I felt like I had only escaped the box of marriage just to jump into another box.

I started with the idea that being Singleish meant I didn’t have to be answerable to anyone at all. No primary. No one to veto my actions. No one to report back to. No one whose feelings I needed to tiptoe around or negotiate with. After a summer of pursuing several relationships with less integrity and honesty than I probably should have, I decided I need to be accountable to myself, and to avoid getting lost and distracted by the romance and intoxication of NRE, I had to establish a primary relationship with me.

All the time while I was married, and during all the explorations of dating I had done since separating from my husband- I had been seeking love externally. I have battled with depression for years, and in that battle I found that struggles financial, emotional and health-wise make it all too easy to feel down and to seek external validation. I realised that in the midst of all that I had gone through, I had forgotten how to love myself.

Furthermore, in an attempt to emotionally bypass the deeper things going on within my psyche, I was becoming enamored with multiple external distractions, seeking human crutches on to which to lean my wounded heart and spirit. I resolved that I didn’t want to do that any more. I decided that rather than seek a primary partner externally, that I needed to be my own primary partner.

I was also clear that being Singleish, for me, had to mean more than multiple friends-with-benefits.

As a person, I’m a die-hard romantic, and I know that I need relationships with substance. Just because I don’t want to jump on the Relationship Escalator with someone, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to connect heart to heart, or that I will tolerate being treated as a purely sexual object or objective. All too often has that assumption been made, and I’m tired of people thinking that being Singleish equals treating the relationship with me as disposable.

To some, this has seemed like a total contradiction- a woman who desires relationships with substance, yet doesn’t want to commit to the standard “lets get married now” ideal. An individual who values her autonomy and independence so fiercely, yet who desires to share sexual, romantic, and emotional intimacy.

lifebeginsAt the same time, I’m realising that buried behind the joyous “I am Singleish; hear me roar!” battle cry is a huge amount of fear. I have grown to value my independence and free spirit so much, that I am absolutely terrified of sacrificing that or loosing it. I lost it in my marriage, and do not want to loose it again. Yet, I desire intimacy. I desire partnership. I desire to share more of my journey- but without jumping onto the Relationship Escalator, without finding myself entangled in an emotional co-dependency or, even more terrifying, an emotionally manipulative and abusive situation.

It has hurt to open my heart to others, because with heart opening comes trusting and an element of surrendering. It means I can’t be in complete control anymore. But I feel I’m moving past those fears, and into a place in my relationship with myself where perhaps I could take on more.

I desire depth of connection. And I know that deep connections don’t happen over night- they grow over time.
lovekitten

Recently, with the end of a beautiful emotionally connected and sexually charged six month relationship, I’ve been reminded of the energy of that Cat card again, about the importance of asserting healthy boundaries, and of diving in to the adventures life holds.

A huge part of my journey in the past two years- and increasingly in the past few months- has been learning about how to communicate in such a way as to nurture intimacy and closeness. I can’t nurture that when there isn’t deeply honest, vulnerable sharing.

As I ask myself whether it would be possible to have primary like relationships without being on the Relationship Escalator, I realise that a lot of what constitutes my definition of primary has to do with the ability to listen with ferocious honesty, to share with vulnerability, and for everyone involved to be willing to dive into the depths of their own love.

I desire love. Love with depth.

I desire to feel love, to share love, to be drunk with love.

This year for my birthday, I once more celebrated in the company of dear friends, including some people whose company I have come to value immensely. I woke up- in my own bed this time- curled up next to a beautiful man I’ve been seeing for a couple of months now. We had slumbered peacefully in one another’s arms, our naked bodies entwined, and as I stirred in bed he moved his face towards me and kissed me softly.

I used to be afraid of those deeply intimate morning kisses and would run away placing meaning on them that would drive me insane with expectations. But- no longer. I allowed myself to be present to his kisses, and in so doing allowed myself to be present to my own lips kissing him back. And I felt so incredibly content, and happy. Not just with that moment, but with where I find myself at today.

sunbathing

Two years ago, I didn’t know how to love myself.

I had gone so long without love for myself, I was looking to others to love me.

More than that- I wanted them to love the Me who I was afraid of letting out in to the open! Choosing to find a primary relationship with myself has been one of the most significant things I have ever done because it has guided me to a place where I am no longer afraid of being myself.

I’ve embraced that “Cat” energy, and loved without attachment, lived freely, and immersed myself fully in life- and what a journey it has been. I’ve discovered more about myself, and dared to step in to the fullness of being who I have always dreamed- and believed- that I could be. And now that there’s greater depth between me, myself, and I, it only seems natural to desire greater depth, authenticity, and presence, in all the relationships that I form.

“Without feeling the loving holding of the universe, we can have no basic trust. How can you really let go and let yourself be if there isn’t trust that things are fundamentally okay, that whatever happens is appropriate? If we don’t have this trust, we are constantly scared, tense and fighting reality – inner and outer. If we have this trust, we can interact with everything exactly as it is – Let it in, Let it out, Let it go, Let go of letting it go and Let it be.”
~ Gabrielle Roth