“Friends Who…” – A Post-Poly Manifesto

My journey through Polyamory, like those of many others, has been a process of constant transformation. It started with rules and conditions, with hierarchical labels. Safety valves for jealousy and insecurity. Excess structure to hide behind from fear and uncertainty.

Also like many others, these mono-culture relics fell away. I learned how unfair Primary and Secondary was to everyone involved, not just the Secondaries. I learned how my partners are their own people, who are imbued with the right to define their life and their relationships how they see fit. Rather than imposing rules on someone else, communicating insecurities and working together to help lessen the fear of them is much healthier.

The problem with this is that everyone is in a different place on this journey, especially other people I might be interested in exploring…well, something with. Here’s where letting go of labels breaks down. You face the problem of wanting them, but not wanting to be defined by them. I have avoided labels for a while. I’ve used generic ones like “partner” when required. But a solution has presented itself, inspired by the Person who inspires everything great in my life. I’ve evolved beyond traditional Polyamory. But something about Relationship Anarchy has never felt right, either (although it’s more accurate). I am moving on to the “Friends Who…” stage of my evolution.

“Friends Who…” is what I want to be, with anyone who wants to be that with me. “Friends” is a label that everyone is comfortable with. It’s two people who have established a bond, who have chosen to learn about each other, accept each other for who they are, to entangle themselves in some emotion-driven way. You love your friends in a way that doesn’t carry the baggage of the romantic use of that word. I want those whom I consider to be my friends to accept that, no matter what comes after the “who”, the fact that we are and will remain friends endures. Now, friendships come and go, grow and separate. But choices we make together about those ellipses above will not change that we are friends.

We can be “Friends Who…”: Cuddle. Make out. Go dancing together. Explore our kinks together. Have lunch. Explore intimacy, sexual or otherwise. Build an entire intertwined life together. Get married. Raise children. I could go on forever. The point is that the parts after “who” are just things that we have decided we want to do together. They don’t carry baggage with them. If we decide we want to make out, it doesn’t add expectations of sex or a relationship. If we have sex, it doesn’t mean we have to profess our love constantly, or get on a relationship escalator of having to take things further and deeper. And the “…” can change, ebb and flow, wax and wane.

If you are one of the limited circle of people I consider a close friend, I want to make you happy and feel connected with you. If there’s a “…” which will enhance that for both of us, then I want to explore that with you. And it doesn’t have to imply anything beyond that.

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In Defense of Divorce

I once said the words, “until death do us part.”  I meant it then, and looking back on it, I mean it now. Death was the ending of that marriage, though the death certificate came in the form of a divorce decree.

As almost all beginnings are, the beginning of that marriage was easy. We were married just out of college. He had a good job, and I had one that paid more than minimum wage. We were able to pay our bills, and we knew no need. We were able to take trips, visiting family and friends. We loved and laughed.

The middle was fine. We bought a home. I was in a bad car accident, but I recovered. We had a child, and then another. We continued to live within our means, and we built toward a future. I knew a little bit of need, but I ignored it. I had a beautiful home and wonderful children, and all of our bills were paid on time. We loved but didn’t laugh.

The end was exhausting. I moved to another bedroom, and then out, hoping that the spark could be rekindled. Maybe we could learn to laugh together again, if I wasn’t busy doing all of the chores that went with a joint household. I broke down, a few times, trying to be strong enough to make it work.  But it didn’t, and he was clear that he could be my friend in the future only if I wasn’t so emotional around him.

The credits were not traumatic, by any stretch of the imagination. We met with a mediator to split the assets we had built together, to define the parenting agreement of children we both love, and to try to learn to talk with one another again… me working to hold back tears and failing miserably, him the stone I had once loved.

I worked hard on that marriage. Perhaps not according to my ex-husband. Perhaps not according to my out-laws. Perhaps not according to each friend I lost in the process of the divorce. But, I swear, I killed myself to try to make it work.

I failed, and I died.  I am not sure which came first.

But neither do I care.  The phoenix doesn’t care that it has to burn in order to be reborn. I’ve started to come alive again, and as much as I might hate to admit it, I am grateful for the experience.

I learned much through my marriage and its end.

I learned to be true to who I am: an emotional, whimsical and spiritual woman.

I learned to stop expecting that people will change in a specific way. Yes, people change. No, I can’t determine the course any life other than my own will take.

I learned to value the sacrifices others make for me in my times of need.

I learned to appreciate the gifts I have to give to others, but to be cautious not to waste them on people who neither want nor need them.

I learned to love myself more than I ever had before.

And while I don’t cry over the loss of my last life, I do still mourn from time to time.

I’ve learned to allow myself that.

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How will we judge parks?

This summer, I want to explore as many of the parks in the southern Dayton area as I can with my two children, ages 6 and 9 currently.  In order to be able to fully evaluate the parks, we want to keep a full list of questions in our minds to review as we explore the areas.

When we write about a park, I will do my best to give the name, and the general area (like nearest cross streets to the park entrance we used).  I’ll let you know who all was with us, and what we did during our explorations.

Here is our starting list, generated this morning in a brainstorming session.  Feel free to add more questions you might have about parks in the comments!

  • How (well) can it improve our physical health?
  • How many portals does it have? (We play Ingress.)
  • Does it have picnic areas?
  • Quality of trails?
  • Do they have fun slides and/or jungle gyms?
  • What is the quality of the swings?  Are they in the shade?
  • How clean is the park?
  • How long has the park been around?
  • Does it have good/open bathroom facilities?
  • Does it have a concession stand?
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Beyond the Love, Polyamory Summit 2013

Darkmage and I went to the Beyond the Love Polyamory Summit (http://www.beyondthelove.org/ – site not yet updated for 2014) in Columbus, OH this past weekend, and wow.  What an experience!  I found myself back in love with the idea of polyamory, knowing without a doubt that I align with an open, ethical, non-monogamous relationship structure.

The trick now, is figuring out how to design and lead the life I want.

Step one will be to work on defining my Polyamory Mission Statement.

Step two will be to work on fulfilling the pieces of my Polyamory Mission Statement that are well within my own control

  • becoming a leader in the the Polyamory circuit – and developing my specialty focus? (Currently, I’m juggling “Self-worth within Polyamory” – see Stuff of Stars and “Spirituality within Polyamory” – see Unitarian Universalism)
  • being an established fictional writer with polyamory as a frequent theme?
  • finding satisfaction with the way I lead a polyamorous life, working to fulfill my mission statement on a regular basis.

Step three will be to become open to the possibilities life puts in front of me, willing to accept my good fortune, my downtrodden times, and everything in between with the understanding that little is permanent in our world… except my heart’s ability to love.

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When worlds fall apart

This was originally drafted in May of 2013.  Pixie made the decision that was seen coming in the words.  She made a decision that was the best fit for her, in a very difficult period in her life, and ended the relationship with Darkmage and me.

I do not believe that forcing someone to chose to be a single parent when a family is ready to stand beside them is the right decision of a court… but I see it coming.

I do not believe that a single child should remain a single child when the examples of imaginative play, lessons in sharing, and joy are abundant, as two other children are ready to be her siblings… but I see it coming.

I do not believe that attempts to help someone learn to grow as an individual and an adult should be turned around in spite… but I saw it happen.

I do not believe that a man so focused on vengeance should be able to manipulate an innocent child… but I saw it happen.

I want to believe in love, in infinite opportunity, in hope, but I’ve seen them find a dead stop.  I want to believe in people, in the goodness of a parent who wants nothing but the best for their child, in karma.

I’m having a bit of trouble tonight.

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Beef Stew – Slow Cooker Adventures

From the Slow Cooker Bible.

Ingredients:
1 pound stew meat (I used about a 2.5 chuck roast, and cubed it myself)
2 sweet potatoes, cubed in about 1 inch squares
1 onion, roughly chopped (large chunks for us)
2 slices thick cut bacon, rough cut
1 can beef broth
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
thyme, to taste
2 Tbsp water (forgotten)
2 Tbsp cornstarch (forgotten)

Put meat, potatoes, onions, bacon, broth, seasonings in slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours.

I was supposed to add the water and cornstarch at the end to thicken the sauce, but because I had to leave it running for a bit longer, the potatoes and meat and broken down fully and thickening the liquid was hardly necessary.

It needed more reasoning (Nature’s Seasoning brand blend did the trick) and we served it with leftover rolls and bread from the weekend. A good go-to for full day slow cooker meals.

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Life has gotten in the way of blogging…

Quick updates:
Orange has a new (part-time) job.
Orange is going through some medical issues, involving physical therapy three times a week and lots of doctor’s visits.
Orange got involved with a fundraiser for a local organization.
Orange finally had a chance to explore a long-developing cupcake relationship to its fullest extent.

General status:
Orange is tired. Thank you for your patience. I’ll get back to blogging soon, I hope. I miss it.

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