Insert creative title here

After writing my last post, I felt much better.  It was actually quite a remarkable transformation, apparently I needed to get my feelings out in a coherent(ish) way.  I was supposed to have a date yesterday, but plans fell through when he wasn’t feeling well.  So we’re on for next week.  Although at the rate we’re going, first me cancelling, then him cancelling, we may never meet.  So, I informed A that I was available for drinks again, and headed off for ramen as comfort food and then back to the river valley to feed the mosquitoes and listen to an audiobook that had been given to me by a friend.  I was thoroughly enjoying said audiobook when A texted to say he could meet for drinks.  Pleasantly surprised, I hoofed it back to my car and met him at one of the places we frequent.  Cue complete relaxation.  I’m not sure how it happens, we’re both a bucket of stress lately, but three hours later, and just random conversation that consisted mostly of updating each other on life, I left (after getting the most amazing hug) feeling completely reset.  Ready to conquer the world again.  Which is good, because when you have world-conquering plans, you need to be ready for it.

Today was a weird day. I volunteered in my daughter’s class this morning and had a blast.  It was so much fun.  Then home to nap and off to my day job for a meeting.  I had changed a lot of things while one of my coworkers was on maternity leave and I wanted to run the changes past her.  So I filled her in on everything I did, and we had a great talk.  She was seriously impressed with the changes I made and told me that when I was hired, the job I just did was exactly what she was envisioning.  It was one of those moments complete with professional fulfillment. I had worked hard, done a good job, and not only was she OK with it, she was thrilled with the hard work I had done.  It was awesome to be appreciated and acknowledged.

I have slowly told people at work that I have separated from F.  One of my favourite coworkers, who frequently comes into my office to show me something cool or talk to me about something funny came by today.  He asked me how things were going with F.  Then he asked me how I knew it was time to ask for a separation.  So I told him some of my story, although a very abridged version, and he sat down and dumped his issues on me.  It was amazing to be a source of support for someone who is going through so much of what I have been through.  He told me that he’s pretty unhappy in his relationship, and he realized that he has to tell his wife, and he doesn’t know how it’s going to go.  It ended with me offering him a hug and wishing him good luck, but it felt pretty damn good that he felt comfortable coming to me.

Yesterday, I read this cool article about a woman who took control of her sexuality, through “wild sexual exploration”, and how embracing her needs and wants, communicating them, asking for what she desired, and being true to herself while still being challenging and sometimes difficult, led to a transformation in her outside the bedroom.  She became more likely to ask for what she needed in her professional life.  Turned down opportunities that didn’t support her goals or add value to her life.  She took on jobs that valued her education and professional experience.  She made decisions throughout every aspect of her life that honoured herself.  She stopped sacrificing herself for the selfishness of others.  She lived a life of authenticity and purpose.  She is happy.

As I read it, while the central tenet of her article was mostly dissimilar to the course my journey has taken, many of the prevailing themes resonated with me. Making the decision to shed cultural norms, making decisions for myself with disregard for societal pressures and the years of indoctrination that I have received, and living authentically, and sometimes selfishly, by making decisions that are the best for me, when others would have me choose otherwise.    She wrote about it being difficult to shed the indoctrination and identify for herself what she believed and acting on those beliefs without the internalization of cultural norms like slut-shaming, misogyny, and her own ingrained judgements hit home for me.  I’ve been pretty open with my acceptance of my polyamorous nature.  But it hasn’t been without judgement of others, but also judgement of myself, by myself.  Part of this is directly entwined with the sexual aspects of my new relationships and the fact that I both enjoy having sex more and asking for what I desire has become a norm, and I have embraced aspects of bdsm, but also that I have multiple partners.  Growing up in a mononormative culture means that I had to shed my beliefs to be true to myself.  Shedding my beliefs about what I should be doing and how I should be behaving meant thinking deeply about my feelings about others and how they act.  Its part of the realization that I truly believe that people should be able to live their lives sexually free, within the boundaries they provide, with no judgement from or for other people.  The things that rock my world are not necessarily going to be your type of storm, nor mine yours.  But as long as you are getting what you need somewhere, I’m going to be happy that you are sexually fulfilled and living a life true to yourself.  

Through acknowledging who I am and asking for what I need in one aspect of my life, polyamory, I gained a momentum that I didn’t really understand.  I started trying new things – my 40 things before 40 was one example.  I started taking charge of my life more. I was already strong and independent.  But I became strong and independent and unstoppable.  In all my relationships, I asked for what I needed.  I started expecting the respect I hadn’t been getting automatically.  It’s part of the reason why I’ve had to redefine boundaries with my sister, father, and F.  It’s why I’ve taken charge of so many aspects of my career.  It’s part of why I’ve found my voice in my relationships, both clothed and unclothed. I’ve started insisting that everyone in my life honours who I’ve chosen to be.

What does this all mean to me?  It means I’m happy.  Not “life is easy and everything is coming up roses” happy, but happy knowing that I am living my life the way I have chosen.  That my decisions and actions and interactions are my own choice. That I’m doing the right thing for myself and my family and taking control of my life means that the challenges I face are mine, the victories are mine, the sorrows are mine, and I can learn, love, laugh, cry, fail, and succeed knowing that I’ve made the best decision for myself by acknowledging myself and honouring myself.  

 

Boundaries and Societal Expectations

I’ve had a lot of issues with people respecting my boundaries lately.  From my sister refusing to stop when I told her I couldn’t have the drama with her and her pushing to have a big argument with my parents included.  From my dad last night who decided to sing the virtues of Trump as president on my Facebook wall and after I’d asked him to stop 5 times was still not getting it until a friend stepped in.  To F, who repeatedly doesn’t respect my need for time and space or right to walk away from a conversation.  It makes me wonder what I’m doing to attract people who are so disrespectful of boundaries.  Is there something about our society that makes it OK to keep pushing and pushing, even when a person has clearly expressed their boundaries?  We talk all the time about consent and how important it is.  I have this talk with my kids daily, that “no” and “stop” are important words and we always listen to them.  That we don’t touch someone in any way if they don’t want us to.  Why doesn’t the same value for consent exist in verbal or written exchange?  Why is a verbally established boundary regarding words or actions that don’t involve touch not respected in the same way?  I don’t understand, but I wish I did.

In addition to this, I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about societal expectations.  Societal expectations of relationship structure with expectations for escalation of relationships, expectations of monogamy, and the judgement of kink as well.  I’ve had conversations about dress codes in schools and their inherent misogyny.  I’ve had conversations about sex positivity and timing of intercourse and everything in between.  

With regards to relationship escalation, I was talking to a single, monogamous guy that I met on OKCupid.  He was curious about how relationship structures work within polyamory.  I explained that we all have our own relationship structures and several of them are self-limiting.  My relationship with A will never escalate past where it is now, because it can’t.  He’s already happily married.  So because of that, it’s not something I would ever consider or want.  I suppose that now that I’m separated, if I and a partner wanted to escalate, we could.  I’m not sure if I want that.  Right now, I want my financial independence, a couple of boyfriends to fill the time and needs, and to enjoy my life – my career, my kids, and my loves.  Relationships can evolve and I’ll deal with what I want as they happen.

Obviously, being polyamorous means I have a lot of conversations about my lifestyle choice.  (Although I would argue that this is *who* I am over a choice). How it works, how I deal with the kids, whether I am really open and honest, and the good old “Isn’t it just a licence to cheat”.  Living an “alternative” lifestyle will always bring nay-sayers and judgment.  Mostly, I’m OK with it.  It hurts that my sister hates my lifestyle choice so much that she’s turned it into an excuse to launch a character attack on me, and it hurts that friends have chosen F over me because of his victim mentality, but in general, most of the people in my life have been amazing, supportive, and if anything, curious.  I truly believe that monogamy is a societal construct.  It’s an accepted one that is absolutely the right choice for some.  It’s just not the right choice for me.

Some men I’ve met on OKCupid ask the kink questions pretty quickly. Some are overtly inappropriate, some ease their way in, others (the ones I continue to talk to), let me bring it up first.  I’m getting the sense that kink is way more common in my generation than I previously thought, it’s just that people don’t talk about it.  But of course there is going to be someone who says it’s dirty or shameful or disgusting.  My response to them is always that I can enjoy good vanilla sex just as much as good sex in a dom/sub dynamic.  I’m versatile that way. 🙂

The dress code in schools thing comes up all the time. I have young girls and it pisses me off to no end that they are told what to wear at school.  No spaghetti straps.  Shorts only so short.  It’s ridiculous.  Like a 5 year old is going to offend someone by showing off her shoulders.  Stop sexualizing my elementary school age children, thank you very much!  Even then, other than for hygiene reasons, it shouldn’t matter if my child showed up at school naked at any age.  It is not the job of the school to teach my child appropriate dress. It is the job of the school to teach my child the curriculum that is mandated by the government.  My child’s understanding of appropriate dress and appropriate behaviour are mine and F’s to teach.  No girl should be told that she has to cover up.  Period.  But especially not because “it will distract the boys”.  Well, those boys, distracted or not, need to learn to control their own damn behaviour and not have my girls shoulders or knees blamed for it.

Then there was the sex stuff.  I tend to break a lot of supposed dating rules with regards to sex.  I like sex, and I have been known to be quite direct in my interest in it with new partners, I’ve had sex on the first date and had it result in a long-term relationship, I’ve never had a one night stand, except for with F, and that ended up lasting nearly 14 years.  I tend to bring up sex in conversation with people and I’m not at all shy about talking about my desires or other people’s.  I’m super sex positive. I just think that everyone should have great sex.  In fact, I think that people who can’t get good sex on their own for whatever reason should have the right to hire legal prostitutes to do the job.  It feels good. It’s good for people.  More people should feel comfortable talking about sex.  What they want. What they desire. What they need.  How they get it. Shame has no place in this discussion.  

Which is why when I talked about sex with one of the guys that I am talking to from OKC, and I had the thought that he might be the kind of guy that I have sex with on the first date, I was surprised with myself that I didn’t feel any shame or guilt about it.  I just thought “it’s my prerogative to do so and if we are consenting adults, who cares”.  It’s so freeing.  Then that spurred a conversation about societal expectations and the role of shame in control of women and men in the pursuit of sexual satisfaction.  Society needs to get the fuck out of all of our sex lives.  From reproductive choices to sexual satisfaction, the only people who need to be involved are the people who are consenting adults playing naked together.  This is a boundary that we all need to respect.