Thursday, January 7, 2016

Catching Feelings

I have this very distinct memory from my junior year of high school of being angry at my high school sweetheart because he wouldn’t let me have a threesome with a girl I’d had a crush on for years and her mega-hot boyfriend (ungh that dude was ripped).  I didn’t understand what the big deal was – it was just sex.  It wouldn’t change the way I felt about my boyfriend; he would still be my love.  A year later, I broke up with him because I had a huge boner for someone else, and society says the rule is that you only get to have one romantic relationship at a time.  I was devastated; he was completely heartbroken.  I still loved him deeply and didn’t want to end things, but I wanted to explore a relationship with this other guy and didn’t see any other way that could be possible except to cheat, which I wasn’t willing to do (yet).  The cheating part came later when we started sleeping together again while he was dating one of my good friends.  Teenagers.

Looking back on this now, it’s quite obvious to me that I was never a monogamous-minded individual.  In my early twenties, I cheated on multiple boyfriends with multiple people; I always tried to justify this by telling myself that something was missing from my relationships.  Sure, I couldn’t identify that thing, but something must be broken to make me stray, right?  But… nothing was broken.  I just loved two (or three) people at once.  I can’t imagine how my relationships would have been different if I’d had a vocabulary or framework to deal with and understand those feelings.

Coming off of a gutting post-cheating breakup, I decided that I just couldn’t be in romantic relationships anymore if it meant I was going to keep hurting people.  So I did what any hot young twenty-something would do: I banged a LOT of people and told them all I just wanted casual sex.  I didn’t, though.  I wanted to love and be loved.  I wanted to sleep next to the same people on a regular basis.  I wanted to spend holidays with partners I cared about.  I just didn’t see that as being a possibility when I wanted to be with multiple people. 

I built a fortress around my heart.  Even when, years later, I accepted that I was ethically non-monogamous, I still wouldn’t identify as polyamorous, joking that I was “barely amorous,” so how could I be poly?  But two years ago, out of the blue and much to my consternation at the time, I fell in love – hard – and my heart cracked open just enough to believe that maybe this poly thing could work.  Aaand then it got emotionally sucker-punched by the first person I’d had a real relationship with in years.  The first thought I had in my devastated state (my devastate?) was that I was right – poly wasn’t for me because love wasn’t for me.  Emotions are too complex and uncontrollable.  Tears and anger are for the birds.  I should just have sexual relationships without making myself vulnerable, even if it meant I’d never have what I wanted in my relationships. 

And then this miraculous series of events happened.  After Sucker-Puncher left Korea, I read More Than Two over the course of a couple of months.  I stopped talking to him for a spell so I could build better boundaries and do some heavy self-reflection and healing (and when we started talking again, I came to our conversations from a more honest and aware place).  I spent a week on a beach in the Philippines writing out answers (by hand!) to questions from the book to reflect on what I wanted in my relationships, who I wanted to be, and how I was going to get there.  I had this incredible travel affair with a lovely Welsh gentleman, during which I came to appreciate loving connections and successful short-term relationships.  And two months after I came back from vacation, I met The Texan, who loved me in a way I’ve always wanted to be loved and let me be exactly who I am.  I finally figured out that being vulnerable is essential to getting what I want, even if it is trying at times (and it’s really fucking trying at times).  It wasn’t that poly wasn’t for me – it’s that my needs weren’t being met and I didn’t know how to ask for them to be.  Now that I’m able to vocalize and advocate for my needs and desires (and have given myself permission to do so), I’m starting to get what I want out of my romantic and sexual relationships… and it only took twenty years to get here!

I came out to my mom as polyamorous when I was home for Christmas; she seemed completely unfazed.  It was way easier than coming out as bisexual (Her initial response to that was, “But I want grandchildren!”  Sorry, mom.); this time, she just said, “Okay, honey.”  I still haven’t told her that my long-distance boyfriend is married, ‘cause, you know, one step at a time.

2015 was a phenomenal year; it was the year I finally came to love and accept myself wholly as I am (most days, anyway – I am still human), which allows me to love those around me more freely and compassionately.  It was the year I figured my shit out.  It was also the year of the ass!  Really – what more could someone want in a year?  My parents always told me and my sister when we were growing up that thirty-five was the best year of their lives, and so far, it’s been absolutely lovely.

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