I've talked a lot on this blog about shame. A lot of navel gazing in the name of vulnerability, self expression, processing difficult feelings that are hard to talk about, and unraveling the mysteries of my mind. This particular blog post has been one in the making for a long time, and no exception to the above mentioned motivations for writing.
I am a bi-sexual polyamorous woman. I am, and have been, in an ethical non-monogamous relationship with Reggie for 5 years now. That means we know about each other's outside relationships, the status of those, and we support and respect each other within those relationships. Our marriage is loving, playful, sexual, and our family isn't affected negatively by our being open.
I don't want to make a big hullabaloo about it, and while I don't believe this will be a single event in transparency, I do want to have a measure of openness and casual atmosphere in my life that doesn't restrict my language, put boundaries around topics of conversation, and impose a secretive level of shame that perhaps I still carry around from growing up with the traditional values that our society tends to lend itself to.
Towards the end of my first marriage 11 years ago, I realized I was questioning the type of marriage and relationships I desired. Certainly, that doubt contributed to my unwillingness to work through the toxicity of that marriage, and instead of plowing through more years of struggling in a relationship that simply was never going to make me happy, I walked away. With that freedom I was able to talk to people in non-traditional relationships more intentionally, and began to research and explore those ideas for myself.
Reggie and I had always talked and flirted around the idea of opening up, and when we finally did, all cocky and self-assured, I don't think either of us were prepared for the journey we would eventually take in all of it.
I never really considered myself to be a jealous person. (cue laughter) I knew I had a Costco size jar of insecurities, but what I didn't know is how deeply rooted jealousy is in the tree of insecurities, and how opening up taps into each and every branch of insecurity you have. How the roots of that asshole of a tree creeps to the surface and force you to deal with them, like a whiny toddler banging on the bathroom door after you've locked yourself in with a good book, softly lit candles, and the hot bubbles of a luxurious bath. There have been, and probably will always be, interruptions on the way to bliss.
However, I have yet to find a more productive avenue for extreme personal growth. Together, Reggie and I have slayed a number of dragons along the way, becoming ninjas in healthy, open and respectful communication, all the while falling more deeply in love day by day. We are not the same people as we were when we started this in 2009. And while our marriage has flourished within it, we have been forced to grow through all the challenges. This lifestyle isn't for the faint of heart, as you can imagine.
In my own process of personal evolution, I have grown to identify as solidly, without question, polyamorous. Though we have had to take breaks and close our marriage to others during times of emotional crisis (yes they were my emotional crises), there has never been a doubt in my mind that I am fundamentally non-monogamous. I do not desire a "one love forever" type of arrangement. I deeply value freedom, expression of affection and the abundance of love in the world. I believe each time I make an emotional connection, there are no boundaries or limits on the potential of that connection. There is no room in my world for the exclusivity of that love and desire. It was put within me to share, and so I must.
None of this should or will come as a surprise to most of my friends, as I have created a large intentional community who also strongly identify with and respect non-traditional values and relationships. There are, however, many people who it will surprise, perhaps shock, and possibly even disgust to the point of alienation. While I understand and respect others' decisions to live their lives according to their own values, I do not wish to lose anyone in my life due to my lifestyle and values, but I will not compromise mine.
That said, my coming "out", isn't some kind of preparation for the invitation to the sordid details of my private life. While I won't be discussing my sex life, I do want the freedom to be able to talk about my relationships the way we all talk about our relationships in a traditional way. There are many MANY exciting things happening in my life that are simply too big to continue to keep quiet about. I''m looking at you, Facebook.
The first of those is that my girlfriend, Cher, whom I'll be celebrating 6 months with next week, is living on our property in our "man cabin - now known as the "Gypsy Shala"and has become a beautiful branch in our family tree. She absolutely love my kids, and they absolutely adore and love her. Really, what's not to love? She is one of the most loving, kind-hearted, adorable humans on this earth. Reggie and her have similar personalities and get along famously though they are not involved romantically. I guess that makes our relationship a sort of "V"?? (cue big cheesy grin) She is a sweet addition to our family and I'm grateful for her amazing contributions to our home and lives.
Reggie will be celebrating a year with his girlfriend in a couple of months. Neither of us have dated anyone new for months and months, as we've taken some time to settle into our new relationships and invest in those, giving them our focused attention.
In other news, this next year will see me attending a coaching program out of San Francisco (http://www.celesteanddanielle.com/professional-training/). Cher and I took a road trip to California last month and I had an interview with Danielle while we were in San Francisco, and was accepted into the training for 2015, starting in April. As you'll see in the link, it is a coaching program focused on sexuality and relationships. It is perfectly aligned with my career goals, (empowering individuals in living authentic and juicy lives). Until then, I'm working to find a job to fund my trips and tuition, and then find time to read the 11 books that are starting to arrive. (cue laughter...again)
The training itself I forsee being a powerful force for continued growth for me, personally. I am ready to tackle the remaining demons that tend to encourage me to stay closed and afraid. Vulnerability is an intense life skill that needs many opportunities for practice. Diving head first and trusting the Universe will see me safely to the shores of self acceptance, intimacy and more more more love.
All this has been put on my heart to share because it's been once again proven to me how sacred and short life can be. Over the past couple years I have slowly started to create a protective shell around me, closing my desire to be authentically open and transparent. During that time, I have felt hurt and pain and kept my joys private and my cards close to my heart, allowing only a small fraction of people into my soul. When a sweet and precious friend passed away a few days ago, I realized how closed off I've become, and how living that way has hardened me and prevented vulnerability from really reaching me. It served it's purpose and given me time to cocoon, but it's not a sustainable mechanism for my ultimate happiness.
Her sudden death, after months of her unwavering hope and soldiering on through her battle with cancer, reminded me that my purpose on this earth requires me to be freely open and fully embracing this life with my heart stretched wide open, like she did, risking the pain of loss and pain for the reward of joy and happiness. So here I am, starting again, unfurling and unzipping the truth of who I am. Onward and upward, here I go.