Madness, Memoir, Menagerie

What Polyamory Means to Me

(Originally started November 2020, completed November 8, 2021)

Why polyamory?

I can only answer for myself. There are as many ways to be polyamorous as there are people who are polyamorous. The following is a snapshot of my personal journey.

Polyamory reminds me every day that I am not alone. That no one is an island. We each bring different things to the poly family (polycule).

It’s been more than two years since I dropped a blog post in which I came out as Polyamorous and pansexual. For me, that was a big moment of liberation, in that I let go of any pretense at all of hiding who I am from those around me. Ironically, almost no one really read it. That’s ok. I’ve been coming out again and again ever since that moment. Each time I do, it’s affirming all over again.

As I share who I am, who I’ve always been, with each new or old friend or relative I am granted yet another opportunity to feel and express my joy and gratitude for all the gifts an authentic life can bring. And I get to take a moment to live into the love I feel for my partners as well as for my community in a deeper way than I would be keeping it all to myself.

As for most people, 2020 brought with it many tests, trials, changes, losses and gains, both to myself and to my polycule (polycule is a common term that polyamorous people often use to refer to our partners and their partners as a group). At the beginning of 2020, I dated someone new. It was beautiful, but it turned out I wasn’t ready to add anyone to our little cluster just yet. As the pandemic swept in and re-ignited old anxieties and triggers, I found I was ill equipped to handle my own emotions let alone the extra give and take that new relationship brings. So I ended it–and chose the long standing friendship we’d already built. I dug into self care, therapy, inner work. My polycule supported me as I fell into guilt and depression about it.

Then came one of the biggest, hardest rollercoasters I faced in that fateful year. I closed my 10 year old sewing business. I’d poured so much of myself into my work that I barely, rarely knew where I ended and it began. Closing it was like watching a beloved friend leave me forever. Again, our polycule carried me. Supported me. Loved me. Encouraged me, us, as Zen and I embarked on new paths to fulfill the call of creative work that we both love.

I grieved all summer, kept digging with therapy and more self care. Art. Zen. Polycule love and support.

Then, in November, Zen’s husband broke his wrist. Our polycule supported them. We fed them. We shared in driving and some help with expenses. We’re always catching each other–so no one falls completely now. We’re a family. We share pains as well as joys in each other.

I cooked all of Thanksgiving dinner for the polycule and for another friend we invited into our lives at that moment in time. Cooking for everyone was a gift to me in and of itself. It helped heal the longing I’d still been feeling from losing my Grandparents a few years ago.

Fall passed into winter as we continued to all care for one another, celebrating birthdays, joys and sorrows and the holidays. As the seasons turned, I fell in love again, with Maurice. He brought to life other facets of me that were in the background with other partners. Another benefit and joy of being poly. I bring different parts of myself to the forefront with each partner and together they love and bring out the whole me, in ways that enrich all of our lives.

Navigating the ups and downs of new relationship energy and reconciling new love with ongoing loves had and still has its challenges but again, the polycule carries me. We carry each other.

My husband was out of work from April 2021 until recently and we’ve all had challenges making ends meet, but we’ve continued to be here for each other and for friends along the way. I won’t recount all of them, but every week brings new questions, new difficulties and new opportunities to rediscover who we all are, individually and collectively in our polycule. At the end of the day, we all love each other. We share our troubles and our celebrations with each other. We are made stronger by that foundation of trust and communication and shared experience. It is, perhaps, Ohana in that truly no one is left behind or forgotten.

I know that polyamory isn’t for everyone. It requires hard work, communication, trust, honesty and perseverance–just like monogamy. We make mistakes, we work through them together and we forgive and move forward–just like monogamy.

I don’t know what the future holds. I only know that I am grateful for the love and support of my polycule and of my community of friends and family who have taken the time and done the work to learn about our family and have accepted us. It is good to feel seen. Going back in the closet is not an option. So we live our lives out loud now, advocating and educating whenever and however we can.

Invite me for a cup of tea, as I said in my earlier post. I’ll answer most any question and maybe we’ll know each other better after. Be well and be safe my loves.

Standard
Madness, Memoir, Menagerie, Uncategorized

RPGs and PTSD or How Gaming Turned into Therapy

(originally written April, 2020)

I have a long and complex personal history with RPG’s (role playing games). I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in high school with a boyfriend. During the time I was dating him, he used elements of gaming as one of several methods of manipulation and psychological abuse. Further in, the abuse turned physical. I came out of that time with very few memories of actual game play. I remembered the characters I created and minimal mechanics of how to play. I also came out of the experience with understandably mixed feelings about gaming, role playing of any kind along with so much other baggage that mixed together in a crazy anxiety stew.


I’ve always loved all of the elements that led to the creation of Dungeons & Dragons and other RPG’s. I’ve been a Tolkien fan practically since birth. Fairy tales, Fantasy and Science Fiction have been my go to reading since before I could read at all. I was ever the child who believed in fairies. As an adult I still do. My childhood was filled with all of the games of pretend and imagination. Role play was already second nature long before I knew D&D existed in its own right. I love character creation, storybuilding, fantasy art–I was built hard-wired for RPG’s. But that was corrupted in the blink of an eye for me.
Many of my friends have always been gamers. They’re my tribe. So in my 20’s, when I still could not feel safe participating in game play, I sat in on sessions with my friends–watching, listening to the stories grow through the games they played, and sketching. I enjoyed the atmosphere even though it felt too scary to join in. The visions they conjured as they played fed my imagination and my art. I felt certain I would never play again, though I’ve held onto my original set of dice to this day. They’re colorful, sparkly and they still felt good to hold and to look at the light shining through them. And I guess some part of me refused to fully admit defeat. I had a tiny spark of hope that I might someday use them again.


A few years ago, I saw light shining into my self inflicted darkness. ( here I should point out that I am fully aware that the trauma was never my fault, but continuing to hide from something I knew I’d probably enjoy was entirely a self made prison.) The timing might finally be right, after more than 25 years since I left the boyfriend and his abuse behind.


I’d known from before we started dating that Zen and his husband were gamers. I tuned out his stories of gaming because I couldn’t face this thing I wanted to do but felt I couldn’t do. My husband also enjoyed gaming when we first married. I sat in on their games too, but life had taken us away from that experience so he had not done any gaming himself for maybe 10 years or more.


I felt scared and intimidated by trying to learn a new thing while fighting off panic and anxiety that I had always felt around gaming and adding up the numbers quickly and under perceived pressure. When I feel anxious or triggered my brain can’t do any of the things that should come easily. That kind of compounds any other fears or anxieties already present.


One day Zen told me how much his husband, Paul, loved sharing his love of gaming with newbie. He loves teaching new people how to play. He has infinite patience with the often clumsy newbie. I tentatively reached out and asked if we could try it to see if I could do this.


Paul chose a game system that only uses d10’s (10 sided dice). That simplified everything. That reduced the pressure and anxiety by half at least for me. The game was Vampire: the Masquerade.


At first, it was just the four of us with Paul as the storyteller, or game master. (GM). Keeping the group very small gave me a sense of safety as I learned. Once I began to feel more secure in my role and in my skills, we added a few more friends to our group. Then we started exploring other systems using d20’s and all the other dice too. I still get anxious and stressed at the beginning of a gaming session, but I can feel even that easing up little by little with every new session.


We’ve been playing for about three years together now, and I look forward to gaming no matter what system we’re playing. I know that if I begin to fall, my group will catch me and show me the way back to where I need to be, with patience and love and lots of fun. Gaming has provided a creative outlet, therapeutic benefits, new ways to apply my own creativity, new friends, new ways to interact with friends and strangers alike and more opportunities for growth with every session.


And an ongoing obsession with shiny, sparkly, colorful dice! I still use my original dice too. Only now I have several other sets, despite some guy at a local gaming store questioning my choices in dice purchasing. Sad customer service aside, I’m certain one can never have too many dice sets…


And now, with social distancing in place, I’ve been battling my difficulties with technology. We’re using Discord for gaming. I find technology challenging, daunting and stressful. But I’m not letting that stop me. Tomorrow, I’ll participate in a third gaming session using Discord chat and digital dice apps. Soon, even that won’t phase me much.


It may not seem like such a big thing to most people. Gaming is even regarded as ridiculous and frivolous to some. But to have reclaimed that piece of myself in this way has been profoundly empowering. To have friends and lovers who cared enough to help me reach this point makes me feel wealthy beyond measure. My gratitude for this gift is limitless.

Standard
Madness, Memoir, Uncategorized

This is Me

Last night in the mirror I saw her again.

The other, stronger, edgier me. The one who is comfortable in her skin. The one who loves herself unconditionally.

She is the one who loves ME unconditionally. She loved me enough to leave dangerous relationships. She helps me love myself unconditionally. She is me. When she is in the driver’s seat I love myself. I am strong. Her smile, my smile, when she shines out of it, is so strong, so confident and so beautiful. I do not know why I don’t see that beauty when she is buried deep inside me, sleeping.

Though I can always feel her crying out, beating down the doors, trying to get out again.

The first time I saw her I was afraid of her,  afraid of becoming her. I was afraid of her fire, of her power, her storm. I had been broken for so long that I could not comprehend or envision what a whole, strong, powerful me might be. In a way, I was afraid to put myself back together. I was afraid of who I could be if I were whole.

When I was younger, a teenager, I was so completely myself. I was an individual, not like anyone else at all. People had no idea what to do with me. I refused to be boxed neatly–there was no box that could hold me. As the years went by, through the rape and abuse I suffered at the hands of my first boyfriend and later with my ex-husband, I was broken and boxed and shelved.

It has been a difficult journey back to myself. To wholeness. Breaking out of that box again has been a slow process. Sometimes now I find it challenging to live without allowing myself to be boxed and shelved all over again. It can feel simpler to take the easy way and be who others think I should be.

But I know, I’ve always known in my heart of hearts that it is infinitely better and more rewarding to be the butterfly storm I was always meant to be than to jam myself back into that tiny, ill-fitting cocoon.

 

I am meant to fly.

 

I am an artist.

 

I am that dark and shining, smiling woman I saw in the mirror.

 

I am beautiful.

 

I am a storm and I do not belong in a box.

Rebirth

 

Standard
Memoir, Musical Monologues, Uncategorized

Jumbled Thoughts

Thoughts jumbled

Voices mumble

Feelings rumble

World crumbles…

 

This sums up how my year has gone so far. Just before the turn of the year, Grandmother fell and broke her hip. I knew in my heart somehow that this was the beginning of the end for her. I guess we all did, but no one wanted to say it really. I regret nothing of the time spent sitting with her, watching, waiting, loving, living as she slipped away more every day. I am thankful I was there, sad that I wasn’t able to be there more. I don’t long to say more to her, to tell her things she didn’t know. She knew all of me. She built most of the world that gave me my foundations.  So I have no regrets. I know my roots. She gave me my wings. I watched as she earned hers by degrees. I was not there as she finally let go. And that, too, is ok. I am content that she finished what she came to earth to do. Momentary Sparkle

Still, there is a hole in my life without her. I have not had the luxury of time to truly grieve yet. I’ve been doing it in small chunks. A moment here with a photo, a moment there with tiny treasures that bring her smile back to me. Bits of paper and string, little pencils, old dolls, precious unfinished quilt pieces, fragments of memories, notes she wrote that turn up in my books, cards and letters she wrote–all of these have been signposts on my journey as I inch along, not yet ready to pull off the road and give them my attention. Not yet ready to fully feel whatever it is that longs to be felt. I am stubbornly not yet willing to allow anything to fill that empty space. img001

But empty spaces have a way of filling themselves sometimes. So my year has been full to the brim with busy. I’ve paid tribute to all that she taught me, each and every day since she left us. I have created more new work in this year than in any other since I began sewing professionally. I have cried into my stitching, blurry from all the tears and ripped it all out again countless times so far and the year isn’t over yet. I have shared stories and buttons and tiny treasures. I have felt joy and pride that she gave me the skills to change lives and hearts with the work of my hands. In the same breath, I have turned to the phone to call and tell her something new I learned or to ask her if she’d ever tried this or that craft, only to remember I can’t reach her now. wp-image-1354251400jpeg.jpeg

I have felt deeply the imminent loss of my childhood home–this, a grief so deep it surprised me, and few could comprehend my attachment to it.  It was my sanctuary, more than any other place I’ve ever been. It was where all my stories began and where some of them ended. It was where I learned about music and art and sewing too. It was the place where my imagination took wing and I knew I could do anything if I worked hard. Home was where I could return to nourish my aching spirit after all the times my world crumbled. It was simply home.

The year has felt like one crisis after another with no breaks, no vacations, no end in sight. My work has been behind deadlines all year. I have worked day after day after day, numb and in an endless hurry to finish so I could go on to the next thing. Even my writing, the thing which I felt was so healing, has fallen to the side in the face of deadlines. My health, too was suffering earlier in the summer. I’m slowly getting back on track.  Our family is now turning our attention to helping with all the random and myriad things that are so necessary to support our graduating high school senior. I don’t want to miss a moment of his senior year. I want to hold onto each one and it is all flying by so fast.

There still is no long week of leisure time ahead in sight for me. I will continue to seek out those bits of memories, fragments of precious time with my children and those moments of bliss when I see I’ve made a customer love who they see in the mirror in my studio. This post was not meant to sound like complaint but to remind myself to cherish what I have and with whom I have it all. Everything is bittersweet this year. I cannot even begin to consider what the holidays will look like without her, but I promise to hold you all close and to tell you I love you. And I do. I love each and every one of you. Thanks for reading.20170507_192620_optimized

 

 

 

I

 

Standard
Madness, Memoir, Miracle Max, Muse, Uncategorized

Welcome To Manderley’s Soapbox

Creativity has infused all aspects of my life since birth. Through all the good and bad times, the accessibility of this wonderful tool has helped to keep me grounded and centered. I feel fortunate that creativity was fostered and nurtured in my life right from the start. It was never in some box, reserved for the “talented few”.  I was never taught to believe there even was a ‘box’ or a ‘talented few’. Without ever stating it directly, my whole family showed me that creativity takes many forms and is accessible to everyone in everything we do.  I have, at many  times in my life, suffered from bouts of low self esteem or self doubt, but I have never once doubted my innate sense of creativity. As long as I remember to seek it, creativity is there inside me, just waiting for my call. Creativity is inside everyone, including YOU.


Humanity is hard-wired to be creative. From basic survival–learning to make fire and tools and clothing–to storytelling and cave painting and then on to writing, languages, numbers, higher math and fine art– humans and creativity seem to have been born together. From the first moments of life, creativity is constant. Every parent knows this to be true. Children creatively challenge us every minute they are awake! And as parents, we meet these challenges with every ounce of creativity we have! Learning is a creative process. Creativity is a learning process.


So many people suffer under the misconception that creativity means one is skilled, gifted or talented at some kind of visual art such as drawing, painting, ceramics or the performing arts. Those are certainly all creative art forms, but they are by no means the only ways to be creative. That would be a narrow definition of creativity indeed!  While creativity is needed and fully realized in all of the arts, the arts themselves are learned skills. Some people may have a greater affinity for or dedication to a particular art. Just like athletes and sports, that dedication leads to more practice time and thus, greater skill. But given time and opportunity, anyone can learn skills necessary to participate in all of the visual and performing arts. In many cases, only basic skills are required in order to simply enjoy the process of creative self expression through arts and crafts. Classes are available in most towns and online.


“But I’m not artsy”, you say. “Crafts bore me” you say. “I’m just not creative” you sigh. It is at this point that my husband sighs and takes a giant step back as I step up onto my soap box. (he is actually afraid of getting hit by stray bits of glitter as I begin to actively help you dig in and find your inner well of creativity–he has seen this happen once or twice).  So, let’s do it–let’s look for it together. Trust me–I have experience.


First, just ask yourself a few questions (have a cup of tea and get comfy-this may take a few minutes).  What is your favorite color? Why is it your favorite color? What are some ways you bring this color (or colors) into your everyday life? How do you feel when you discover new ways to use your favorite color(s)? What is a color you DIS-like? What are some ways you avoid it?  I  know what you’re thinking – “is she for real? What does this have to do with finding my creativity? Is this some trick to get me to make a macaroni duck?” Whoa! I promise it’s no trick, although we could make a macaroni duck if you think that will help. I’ll follow your creativity wherever it leads….but I digress. Stay with me a few more minutes. ok?


The same questions I asked about color could apply to most aspects of your life. What are your favorite and least favorite activities, tasks, sounds, foods, people. The actual answers are not quite as important as how you think of them, the process of answering the questions. There, in the middle of coming up with the answers lies your creativity.


Creativity is in every choice you make. It is in how you see and interpret nearly everything you see and hear and taste. It is in your own unique experience of the world in which you live. You only need to open your mind and expand your perspective. Allow your own creative self to bubble up out of that box you set aside to contain it. Let your crayon wander outside the lines and ask yourself “What if?” a little more. Imagine the possibilities, and choose a few to explore. I promise you’ll be glad you did. Admit to yourself  that you ARE creative. Give yourself permission to wade into your creative river. Then dive  in and keep swimming! Share your experience-it will become more real. I’d love to hear about your creative journey!


And say to yourself  every day —

“There is no wrong way to be creative!”


Let’s repeat that together–

THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO BE CREATIVE! 

Standard
Memoir, Uncategorized

First Jumble

For some time now, I’ve been feeling a need to write and share my thoughts and observations. Facebook is often too harsh an environment for deeper sharing, so here I am. Sharing.

I don’t feel that I’m a writer exactly, but I do have things I wish and need to express. For now, this space will serve as journal for my jumbled thoughts and disjointed daydreams. If you’re here looking for perfection, you’re in the wrong blog. If you’re looking for honesty and vulnerability, the memories and mayhem of family stories-not always happy-then grab a cup of tea and read on.

I cannot promise to post with regularity for now-life gets in the way-but I will do my best to keep up.

My goals for this journey are to share some parts of myself not often seen by those around me. The worlds inside that want to come out and invite you in. And I also need to process the recent loss of my Grandmother-sharing the many memories and stories that made me and that are, even now, making my children who they are and will become.

Thanks for joining me.

Standard