Coming Out To Your Family

At the recent Poly conference in Berkeley, J and I spoke about the dangers of either coming out or being outted at your place of work/business as a poly person.  We have lived first-hand, every single day for the past 3+ years the painful results of what that has brought to our lives.  But, today I want to focus on coming out to your family.

When I left my 18 year monogamous marriage, my parents did not support my exit– even though my mom hadn’t spoken to my ex-husband in about 8 years.  My parents were very dissatisfied with my marriage partner.  They were appalled by the way he didn’t provide for his family, by the ways he didn’t support me or try to improve our marriage.  He wasn’t being a “Godly” husband and father in their eyes.  And yet, when I left, because they so wholeheartedly disapproved of my choice of a new partner, they switched teams and have supported my ex while actively participating in the destruction of my life.

There are no words to describe how painful this has been to me.  Not a day goes by that I do not feel sadness, anger, hurt, frustration– all over their actions that are still inconceivable to me.

But, it is what it is.  They are close-minded “Christians” who are so set in their ways that they cannot even use logic to make rational decisions about the situation.  They respond only with their emotions which are unequivocally linked to their religious beliefs.

I could write for days about how they wrote a declaration to the court asking the judge to take my children away in a custody battle that happened two years ago– Claim #1 in the case– that my polyamorous lifestyle was inappropriate and a danger to my children. Or, I could write a novel about the role my own sister played in the destruction of my business because of her disapproval of my relationship-  “When I found out what they were doing.. I didn’t want to have any part in that.” (from her September 2016 deposition).

Instead, I will tell the story of the empty fridge.

In the fall of 2013, just 2 months after my ex had moved out and I began my journey to finally leave my marriage, my parents came to take care of my three children one Saturday.  I had to work so I thought I’d give them a chance to see the kids.  I also couldn’t afford a babysitter and didn’t want to make my 14 year old daughter feel like she had to care for her 11 year old brother and 7 year old sister.

When my parents came that day, there was very little food in the fridge.  It was the end of my shopping week– I had plans to go to the store that evening after work.  But, rather than going to the store for me, seeing that I needed help or assistance, or even asking me if I had enough money to buy groceries, my parents got upset that I was “not even feeding my children”.   Their story of this became part of a CPS complaint two months later and was also mentioned in the custody case to take my children away from me 18 months after the incident.  Last week, this particular day was mentioned to me by my cousin in a text conversation during which she was trying to convince me that I need to “get my life on track and leave my sinful lifestyle”.  So, clearly, the lie lives on.

My beautiful oldest daughter is now almost 18 and soon will be launching out into her own life.  Before long, I’m sure she, too, will be a parent and I will experience the joy of having grandchildren.  I cannot imagine ANYTHING that my daughter could do that I’d perceive as being so aversive that I’d NOT buy her groceries if I went to her house and found an empty fridge.   I’d be worried– “Is she okay?”.  What my parents should have done is HELPED ME!!  Instead, they twisted this into further evidence that I’m a horrible parent, horrible person and making horrible choices.  All to justify their atrocious behavior.

I have no regrets about leaving my marriage nor about starting my relationship with J.  Even though it has meant horrific sacrifices on my end, I would not change a thing.  I am healthier,  I am happier, I am growing as a human being.  The challenges have made me strong, despite the fact that they have brought me so much grief and pain.

I sit here now, in 2017, and say that  I could never in my life have imagined a circumstance in which my own family would act in such destructive ways against me.  Unfathomable.  And yet, it has happened.  And they are unrepentant, continuing to lob dangerous balls at me every chance they get.

I cannot change this.  I can only work every day to protect my children from further damage from their close-mindedness.  Thankfully, my oldest one is showing signs that  she’s going to be just fine.  My middle child is a happy, healthy high schooler also well on his way to adulthood.  But, my 11 year old daughter is still embroiled in her own pain and inability to make sense of this mess.  For her, I worry most.

Today, there is food in my fridge.  It’s there at a price of almost $30k in credit card debt that I have accumulated over the past 3 years just paying for basic life necessities.  It’s getting harder to put it there as the credit cards are now full and I’m in a constant struggle to keep them away from being maxed out.

But, I will continue on.  Caring for my children.  Trying to forge my new path.  And standing up for what I believe in.  Whether or not I have the support of my family.

 

 

 

 

 

Berkeley Conference for Polyamory! Feb 10-12th

Please join Sue and Josh at the annual conference for the Future of Nonmonogamy at Berkeley this February 10-12th.  We will be presenting about our recent year long lawsuit against Sue’s former staff members at her music school as well as her custody case in 2015.  Then, on Saturday evening at 6:45, we’ll be conducting a workshop on writing a musical about polyamory to make it’s world premiere at the Poly conference next year in February of 2018.  Calling all actors, musicians, writers, composers and more!  Help us generate ideas for the writing and production of this original musical.

The veterans of writing four original musicals since 2013, Sue and Josh own a musical theater production company that restores old musicals from the early 1900’s and returns them to the stage.

Sue and Josh will be performing an original song Sue recently wrote about their relationship/legal issues/hatred/discrimination they have faced as a result of their Age Gap/Poly relationship, which will be the title song of a planned musical about their story.  The song is titled “Two Worlds Collide”.

Josh is a professional tenor, Sue a Mezzo Soprano.

 

 

 

 

 

Born this way- Polyamorous as an orientation vs. life-style choice

About a year ago, after months of anguish and fighting every time my partner brought up the prospect of another female, I came to the realization that I needed to ask him to close our relationship.  I have been under a tremendous amount of stress related mostly to my business for about 3 years now.  Last year around this time, a particularly bad crisis hit that   required I muscle every ounce of my emotional, spiritual and physical strength to fight it.  I began working 12 hour days– every day.  I went 7 months this past year without a day off.  It was hard.

Lucky for me, my wonderful partner understood and could perceive that I was correct in my assessment that I  currently do not  have the emotional depth and fortitude to actively practice polyamory and he agreed to the closure.  For how long?  Good question.  We do not know.  YIKES!  DOES THIS MEAN WE ARE NOT REALLY POLY??

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We have had several discussions lately about why being poly is harder for me– I’m much older and lived in a monogamous marriage for 18 years whereas he’s been practicing polyamory since the age of 14 and has NEVER been monogamous;  I grew up in a very strict, conservative home where I was told that sex is a sin outside of marriage whereas he was handed pornographic novels at age 13 by his liberal thinking mother–” Here son, read this!”.   A number of factors have led us to very different places on the poly spectrum.

I recently had an epiphany moment when having a conversation with a transgender friend about whether or not being trans is a “choice” or if transgender people are just born that way.  We were discussing my friend’s daughter, who has been exhibiting signs of being trans since she was only 2 years old.  Now as a 9 year old, she looks, acts and dresses like a boy.  She/he has been my most convincing piece of evidence that being transgender IS NOT A CHOICE for some people.  It is who they are.  I realize I may be stepping on the line of not being PC here, folks….please have mercy on me if I’m using words that are offensive to you.  This conversation about my friend’s daughter led me to say, “Oh, my God….J was born this way!”.

My friend laughed at the way my face lit up as the thought of polyamory being an orientation struck me.  It made me consider my own ideas about poly?  Is this my orientation or is this more of a lifestyle choice for me following the stifling experience I had in a long-term marriage?

I know that I was NOT born poly.  I had never heard that word before I was 41.  I knew as a college student that I liked men– a lot– and I often had more than one partner, all of whom knew of one another and a couple were even friends.  But, I thought I was a slut.  I thought this because I had been told that this is what girls who slept around were.  When I left my marriage about 4 years ago, I told my first partner (who happened to be J) that I would not be monogamous with him.  But, it was a lifestyle choice for me.  J could never be happy in a long-term monogamous marriage like the one I had for so long.  However, that is not true for me, even now.  I could just as easily be happy in a monogamous marriage/long-term relationship if that situation were presented to me and I decided to go for it.

So, where does this leave us?  

I think with more questions than answers at this point:

*If one member of a poly couple/triad or more has a poly orientation but the other(s) do not, what will this mean for their relationship?  What challenges will they face? How will they deal with them?  Is their relationship destined to fail?

*How can the orientation poly person help the life-style poly person better navigate the poly world?  Is the orientation poly person inherently more capable of higher functioning in a poly relationship- i.e. less jealousy, more open to the benefits of being polyamorous?

For now, J has agreed to our closure.  But, I feel guilty about it.  I struggle with my feelings around this almost every day.  I want to be okay with him experiencing meaningful relationships with others.  I want to trust him enough to let him make his own decisions and not have them be hindered by what I feel I can or cannot handle emotionally. I want to be happy for him when he expresses interest in someone else he’s met.

So, what do I do?  For myself?  For my own understanding and growth?

What does he do?  Just wait?  Help me find ways to de-stress and find more balance in my life so I can become more emotionally stable?

DOES THIS MEAN WE ARE NOT POLY?

I believe the answer to that is no.

We want this for our lives and we hope that someday soon we can re-open our relationship.  But, for now, we need to keep each of us healthy and that requires this sacrifice.  For this time.  For this place.  And that’s just how it is.

 

 

 

Being Vulnerable

It’s been about a month now since my blog was viciously attacked and made fun of on a social networking site.  I am feeling better now, but I am still afraid to write.

It was hard for me to experience people I don’t know taking my words that are meant for healing, for guiding,  for inspiring—both me and my readers —and turning them into folly.  It made me realize how vulnerable we become when our words are shared in a public format. Not only our words, but our emotions, our inner thoughts– all are exposed.

What will our readers do with them??  One would hope hold them with care and compassion. Or, if our words raise issues or challenge assumptions, be willing to hold honorable discourse. That is not what these people did to me. They mocked me. They attacked my ideas, the premises of my posts, even my personal self. They made a big deal out of finding me in the real world. I am not hiding.  I recently spoke at the Polyamory Conference at Berkeley under my real name.

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I have missed this outlet. I write to understand myself and the world of polyamory more. I read what many of you write. I seek understanding.  I do so with an open mind and an open heart. I may not agree with many things I read,  but I can question respectfully.

I am going to reopen my mind to this venue. Even though the risk of being attacked again is high. I can tell they are still watching.

Thanks to you who have supported me through this and encouraged me to keep writing.

 

 

 

Getting Stronger This Holiday Season

This was my third post-divorce Christmas.

The first one, 2013, was a very difficult time for me.  I was severely depressed, I couldn’t focus on my children at all.  I went away for about 2 weeks between December 15th and 30th that year to try to find healing for myself.  I lived in a yurt with no heat other than the fire I built each day, no running water, no way to cook other than the woodstove.  It was raw.  I was raw.

The neighbors let me borrow a tiny pink Christmas tree for when my kids came to visit on Christmas Eve.  I had purchased them each small gifts– mostly books and a game or two– at a toy store in Olympia the day before.  Shopping had been so hard for me.  Too many memories of what was.  Too much fear of what was happening to me.  Too much worry about the future.

That afternoon, J came to get us, bringing us back to my long-time family home where my life was falling apart.

That evening, I got drunk with our former partner, C.  We made a terrible attempt to forget the past and make new memories.  It didn’t work.  I just got more depressed.

I didn’t have the kids that year.  But, my ex was going to my parents’ home as we did every year.  Trying to keep things the same for the kids, you know.  I remember sitting in the chair in their computer room, away from the hub-bub of the living room where my ex, my children, my sister and my parents were gathered.  I now know that my sister knew that the next day, the axe would fall on my business when the first of the teacher resignations came in.  I can still hear her laughter as she played with my children (she has none of her own) and acted as if everything were just as it always had been.  I was dying inside.

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I went home that evening to find J waiting to take me back to my retreat where I stayed for another 6 days.  On December 26th, my life, my business, my livelihood exploded.

I somehow made it through 2014.  On the Winter Solstice of 2014, I celebrated my first Yule with J.  I made him a nice dinner complete with candles and fancy dishes.  I gave him a warm, fuzzy robe and pajamas which he then barely removed for the next two weeks that we were home on a stay-cation.  It was a new tradition.  It felt good.

I had the kids on Christmas Day and it felt awful.  I managed to get a fake tree up a few days before and I actually bought them each a few gifts.  Shopping was still hard.  Being in my new house and away from the memories of the old one helped.  I let the kids spend a couple of hours with their dad that afternoon and then a couple of hours with my parents who were boycotting the offer I’d made for them to celebrate a Christmas dinner with us at my home.  They don’t come to my home.  They don’t like J and they don’t approve of my “life of sin”.

Then, 2015 was a year of recovery.  For me personally, for J as well.  And, certainly for my business.  Every day I am getting stronger.  I am watching J grow and mature, realizing more all the time who he wants to be.  I am learning to be a mom again and helping my kids work through the pain of this mess as best as I can.

This year, a week before Christmas, I went shopping.  I actually enjoyed buying gifts for J and for the kids.  I bought all new ornaments and decorations for the tree and my house.  For the first time, I put up lights.  And, I was happy.

I didn’t have the kids on Christmas Day this year– and my lousy ex didn’t return the favor of allowing me to spend a couple of hours with them–.  But, I had a friend over who recently started her own divorce process. We went for a nice walk.  We made lunch together.  We talked.    Then, later in the day, J and I spent several hours with his family at his grandparents house.  We played games.  I felt like part of a family for the first time in a very long time.

Surviving this divorce mess and my venture into a whole new way of living in a communal, polyamorous lifestyle with my much younger partner has brought a lot of challenges.  But, I’m doing okay.  I’m getting stronger every year.

I can do this.  I know I can.

 

 

 

The Matriarch– communal living

I ran the dishwasher three times today.

The house was filled with the aroma of curry this morning, the scent of pasta tonight.

The doorbell rang as usual at 8 p.m. with Ryan’s pizza delivery.

With the holidays here, the house was full with 14 people at one point today when we all had visitors.

This is my life.  Every day.

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J and I have chosen to live in community. People come to our home or hear about it from us and say, “What!?! You have 8 people living in your house!?”

Last December when we realized we were in a financial crisis following the events at my business documented elsewhere in this blog, we had to make a choice– move or find a way to rent out part of our house. So, j moved into the master bedroom and I moved into the living room/dining room with my 3 kids. All of us crammed into about 500 s.f.  We then began hunting for housemates.

This was no easy task given the unusual family that we are– 43 year old female, 23 year old male, three kids ages 9, 13 and 15. Who would want to live with us??

Kraig (age 21) and Jeevan (age 20) came first.  Kraig had been my babysitter for 3 years back when I first started my business almost 9 years ago. He had cared for my children when they were just 8, 6 and 2. It was a strange kind of homecoming of sorts. He also happens to be j’s brother. They didn’t always get along so it was a bit of a risk for Kraig to try this living environment.  Jeevan is a fairly recent transplant from India and Kraig’s best friend.

The guys were so uncertain at first that they would only sign a 6 month lease.  I remember with a smile when I shoved a 2nd lease under their door in September.  They were in awe that the first lease could be up already.

Ryan (24) came later. A six feet six giant of a man, I have known Ryan for years. He was my martial arts training partner when he was 19 or 20. I hadn’t seen him in years. Ironically, he used to live with j a few years ago.

We make a rather interesting family—so diverse. But, the guys think of me as the house mom–  and they love my kids.  That’s important.

The kitchen is always clean. They laugh and smile when I ask if my vacuuming will interrupt their videogames. They often find a load of folded laundry outside their room when they left it in the dryer too long.

It’s nice to have someone to welcome me home from work. To have someone to call when one of the kids needs a ride. To have strong arms to help me move the couch–again.

I am the matriarch and they respect me as such. It’s nice.  Really nice.

Most importantly,  they respect my relationship with j. They love us, support us and share a lot of fun times with us in this place we call “home”.

 

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The ways we love each other

 

Last night I celebrated my third Yule/Winter Solstice  with j.   It was a nice break from the craziness of our daily lives.  For just one night, I stopped–to make him a hand drawn card, to wrap the gift I was so excited to give him, and to contemplate the ways in which we love each other.

In the earliest days of our relationship, when I was discovering new paths of spirituality and seeking to discover my own inner workings, j shared with me that he’d always felt a strong connection to the ancient Egyptian god, Horus. Horus was the son of Isis. He symbolizes protection and perception.

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I drew this symbol on the card I made for j. “These things you give to me.”, I said. In all of the storms that j and i have weathered over the course of our relationship, he has been my protector and so often sees what I cannot see.

 

My symbol, so closely linked to my Celtic heritage, is the triquetra, sometimes called a Celtic knot. It has taken on many meanings but my connection to it is of maiden, mother and crone.

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I drew this symbol for j, explaining the ways each of these aspects of the triquetra represent a facet of my love for him.

Maiden: new beginnings, hope for the future, youthfulness

Mother: stability and power

Crone: wisdom and endings

As a woman in my 40’s with a man in his 20’s, seeing myself as all of these 3 female forms is extremely gratifying– and necessary.

There are parts of me that are youthful. I am fun and adventurous! I am also pretty damn sexy for a woman my age!!  Yet, I bring to j the stability and power of a successful, life-experienced, nurturer. I am a mother to him in so many ways that his mother has never been. I am also the old woman with her wisdom.

Not long before we met, j spent two years as a homeless young adult with no prospects for a healthy and happy future. I brought to him a chance to make a new start. And I have stood by him, not judging him, letting him make his own mistakes for almost 3 years.   I have provided him with a home, with food in his belly, with a warm bed to sleep in– basic necessities that were missing for most of his life prior to meeting me.  He is building a career from the opportunities I have provided for him. He is learning from me– about love, about life, and most importantly,  about himself. He is turning into the most beautiful human being.

I hope to be in j’s life for a good long time. But, I am also painfully aware that we are different. He wants to have kids,  build a family, explore the world.  As he should desire all of these things. I have done all of that– my three children are teens, I have traveled extensively, I have lived a lot of life.

So, my prayer for j this Yuletide is that he will take what he has learned from me and carry it forward into the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I will enjoy this time I have with him and hold him close.