Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That Wasn't Me

I remember when I was 18 and Moneypenny was trying to convince me to take meds for my depression. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be me anymore. I had spent all my life feeling like I had. I thought that how I felt was just me. Six weeks later, when the meds finally hit, it was kinda the same feeling that I had when I got my first pair of glasses. I hadn't realized how blurry everything had been before. Each time I get a new med that works better, things come into focus more. That doesn't mean that everything is peachy-keen. It doesn't mean that all, or any, of my flaws have disappeared. It just brings a bit more clarity, a bit more control over and space between me and my emotions.

When you're dealing with mental illness, trying to become a better person, learning that your bad behavior was a result of a larger pattern in your mental illness that you can and should break, it's tough to figure out what was you and what wasn't. It's also difficult to explain, not just to others but also to yourself, that while you did what you did in the mental illness you still need to own it, make amends, and change. I often compare it to addiction. An addict has a disease that they need treatment for. Much of their personality and actions change. When they are in recovery, they are closer to who they are, but that doesn't mean that they didn't do what they did before, it doesn't absolve them of guilt. It means that they need to make amends, make positive changes in their life, and continue to manage their disease. I do too. I know I did more shitty things when I was more unwell than I do today. (I still do shitty things. We all do.) But I have to keep making an effort to put my actions in line with the person I think I am and then with the person I want to be.

This song really hits home on that and I hope that my loved ones know that wasn't me.

Hang on, just hang on for a minute
I've got something to say
I'm not asking you to move on or forget it
But these are better days
To be wrong all along and admit it's not amazing grace
But to be loved like a song you remember
Even when you've changed

Tell me did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you see, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, that wasn't me

When you're lost you will toss every lucky coin you'll ever trust
And you will hide from your god like he never turns his back on us
And you will fall all the way to the bottom and land on your own knife

But you'll learn who you are even if it doesn't take your life

Tell me 

Did I go on a tangent?
Did I lie through my teeth?
Did I cause you to stumble on your feet?
Did I bring shame on my family?
Did it show when I was weak?
Whatever you see, that wasn't me
That wasn't me, that wasn't me

But I want you to know that you'll never alone
I wanna believe 

Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet
When you fall I will get you on your feet
Do I spend time with my family?
Does it show when I am weak?
When that's what you see, that will be me
That will be me, that will be me
That will be me

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can't you just pretend?

Most of the time, I can accept and deal with the fact that I don't believe what most other people believe and that I'm interested in things that most of my other friends aren't. And I don't want to live unchallenged. But sometimes, especially when I'm really excited about something, I really wish that I could get someone else to at least pretend to be excited about it. Or at the very least not be determined to pick apart every godsdamn thing. Can't you people let me enjoy anything without telling me how wrong I am?

I know it's contrary to most of the other thinks I say, but... I'm just so frustrated with everyone shooting down everything I get excited about lately. It just makes me not want to share anything. Maybe I should choose friends who aren't competitive at all, but I end up feeling like all that really matters is that they are right, not that I want share something I think is really cool or fun or interesting. I'm used to disinterest, which is what I usually get, but lately all I've gotten is everyone trying to tear it down.

I'd like to say that I think I'm just going to not talk for awhile, but we all know that isn't true.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In Defense of Damaged, Crazy, or Insane

It seems like people are always doing awful things. Each time they do, everyone else searches for the reason(s) why. The farther out of your own realm of experience, the farther what that person did from what you feel you could possibly do, the easier it is to see them as an "other," talk about them as the "other," as someone completely foreign to you and the world you live in. While I understand this impulse, feel it myself in many situations, I feel myself wanting to scream out about just how hurtful this can be to the "other" who isn't an other, to the people you know and love who might also be different in the way that you're dismissing the "other" as being.

After the murders in Aurora, CO, there has been a vacuum as to the motives behind why this killer did this, which I have heard many fill with the words damaged, crazy, or insane. Few that I've read use these words are interested in exploring these issues further, but instead use it in a dismissive way. "Why are we asking any questions about why he might have done this? Clearly he is damaged/crazy/insane." That's it. The story ends there for them. To me, it also seems to imply that the arrow works both ways. Not only did he do these things because he is damaged/crazy/insane/whatever word they chose, but people who are damaged/crazy/insane/etc do things like this, so what can you do? Let's all just throw our hands up and say that it's got nothing to do with me. But that implication hurts people like me, people like those that I know and love, people that I'm sure are present in everyone's lives, people who are damaged or crazy or insane. And, yes, if you read this (or any of my blog posts for that matter), thinking that it sounds like I'm angry, that's because I am. Nothing wrong with a bit of anger now then. Dismissing me because of my tone also means erasing my voice, my experience, my life. 

So I'm going to try to take things one by one. Let's look at "damaged." I read someone in the rather civil comment thread to this post say that the shooter was "clearly mentally and emotionally damaged, and almost assuredly was born that way" Asserting that someone was damaged from birth makes me ask if this damage is something that can be tested for, if this damage always leads to violent behavior like this, and, if so, what the commenter thinks society should do with people who test positive for this kind of "damage." I think that the more common use of the term "damaged" to describe someone who has committed an atrocity like this is that the trauma they have experienced in life has had such a profound effect that they are, if not broken, then severely impaired, in a way that leads them to commit these acts. So, the short of it is "people get fucked up when bad shit happens to them." Alright. That's true. If bad shit didn't happen to these people, they probably wouldn't have done these things. But bad shit happens to everyone. Some people get out mostly unscathed. Some people develop mental health issues as a result of that bad shit, especially when combined with "damage" they were born with. I've met many people when I was hospitalized and  people in my group therapy who have all had bad shit happen to them and been fucked up by it. I think that most of us would be insulted if you implied that we'd ever do something like what happened in Aurora. I also think that those people's loved ones would argue with you if you said that they would do something like this because of the trauma they've suffered. So where do you draw the line between what bad shit or the extent of the bad shit that happens and when you automatically commit mass homicide? And how much does that allow you to not attempt to deal with the person or the trauma they've been through, because, well, the damage is done?

Before I go into talking about the "crazy" label, I want to jump forward to quickly cover the "insane" label. Insanity is no longer in scientific or mental use, but is only legal terminology, referring to a person cannot tell right from wrong, or fantasy from reality. The perpetrator may very well have been insane, but very few mentally ill people who commit crimes are eligible for an insanity defense, as most mentally ill people still know right from wrong. I know that for most people it is impossible to think believe that someone who knows right from wrong could do something like this, but there is often an internal logic to the perpetrator which precludes an insanity ruling. Of course, most of the time when a person uses the term "insane," they aren't referring to legal terminology at all.

Closely related to both "damaged" and "insane," in fact what I think many people mean when they use those words to describe someone, is mentally ill or crazy. (I've written before about my own ambivalence about the current way that mental illness is treated, as well as the ways others are trying to reframe it. And, personally, I often use "crazy" to describe myself and behaviors that are closely linked to how my mental illness is exhibited, but I think of it as more of a reclaimed word than the word I think should be used by the general public.) The NAMI website states: "Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning." I think that it is safe to say that at least a few of those things would seem to be true of the anyone who did something like this, but, even if mental illness is an underlying reason, it is unfair to paint the whole of mentally ill people with that brush. Mental illness is such an overarching term for a wide variety of diagnoses which means that it includes a multitude of individuals who are just trying to live their lives the best they can. The majority of schizophrenics are not the homeless man, mumbling to himself. The majority of bipolar people aren't...well, whatever stereotype people have for us, especially after there's a widely publicized crime perpetrated by someone who has been diagnosed as bipolar. You get the picture. This erases the way that the majority of people experience mental illness, the majority of whom are law-abiding upstanding citizens. During my hospitalizations and experiences in treatment, I don't think I've ever met a felon. If my fellow patients had committed any crimes, even those in the hospital that was used by the cops as a dumping place for people that they picked up off the street but had dubious grounds or not enough room to hold in jail, they were misdemeanors- property destruction, petty theft, drug use, getting into fights- not causing serious premeditated harm to others. Even then, it is few and far between. I think that most of the people I've met during hospitalizations or in group therapy would be offended by the assumption that they are criminals as a result of their mental illness. 

Another big problem with dismissing the perpetrator as mentally ill is that it dismisses the idea that something more could be done to help mentally ill people, particularly this person. I think that there is a debate to be had about the benefits of long-term (often involuntary) in-patient (including commitment) treatment versus outpatient treatment, but currently those are both options that are proving too costly for most people, families, and even communities, especially in this economic downturn. As was pointed out after a mentally-ill man, who's family said that they "could see this coming," opened fire in Seattle's Cafe Racer in May, killing six, most community-based outpatient mental health providers are severely understaffed and overworked, which is only getting worse as states budgets are getting trimmed more and more each year. I would also add that the increased difficulty in getting someone involuntarily committed, which I see as good on many levels, means that there is less funding "needed" for those facilities, which results in fewer of them as well as poorer conditions in the ones that do exist. What do you think that means for the people who want to be voluntarily hospitalized, who know that they need the security and intensity of inpatient care during a particularly bad period or during a medication change? 

In my experience, it's difficult for many people to even get the mental health equivalent of a drug rehab program. Even though my family wanted me to do it shortly after my original diagnosis, there was no local facilities for that kind of treatment and it was hit or miss whether our health insurance would cover it. I know a family that had to liquidate their 401k so that one parent/spouse could get 90-day inpatient treatment and the only facility is over ten hours away. As for community-based outpatient treatment, I obtained services from our county's mental health facilities for over a year, both prescriptions for my medications as well as once monthly talk-therapy, for a very reasonable, sliding-scale fee. Through school and then my husband, I had medical insurance, and started treatment with a psychiatrist that had treated me during a hospitalization. Even when I no longer had health insurance, my family ultimately decided that it was worth it to pay for a psychiatrist that I could get an appointment to see within two business days if I had problems with my medications, as opposed to the very caring nurse practitioner at the county facility, who I had to wait a month to see when I had an emergency with my medication and who was mostly just happy when I was still taking my medication as prescribed. Last summer and fall, when I realized that things weren't getting any better with time after my uncle's passing, my parents decided that it was worth it to pay out-of-pocket for my intensive DBT therapy, instead of me going back to our county mental health facility for my on-going treatment. It was a tough choice but one I'm glad they made, glad we currently have the resources to make. 

So, using "he's crazy" as a dismissal of the motivations of this perpetrator erases all debate about the current state of mental health care in this country, as well as the hard work of so many people who are dealing with and seeking treatment for their mental health concerns in that system. It also perpetuates the stigma of mental illness, which can be a stumbling block to seeking or continuing treatment. Before you use "crazy" as a dismissal, think of the mentally ill people you know, or just those dealing with mental health issues that will affect most humans at some point in their life (grieving, mild depression, trauma, etc), and if you think that their "crazy" means that you think they will, or even could, do what this man did. And, if you think it's possible, ask yourself if you're willing to keep dismissing the possibility until you instead find yourself dismissing their actions. 

I don't claim to have any answers about why the perpetrator did this, but I don't think that those answers will ever be as simple as "he's damaged/insane/crazy," even if those things did play a role. It may seem easier to write these events off this way, but never very accurate. Only even mentioning being damaged or crazy in the context of criminal behavior means that it's the only picture of mental illness that you are acknowledging exists, even while your mentally ill loved one is right there. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mon Parrain's Definition of Sex

Emotional and [or] physical surrender of one or both parties of that which they identify themselves as the center of their sexuality.

In a previous post, I wrote about the difficulties of only calling penis in vagina (PIV) sexual intercourse, and sometime anal intercourse, sex. If "So did you have sex with/fuck/sleep with/get laid by him/her?" only means PIV sex, then it seems to render "less than" a good deal of the very sexual acts that I've done, as well as erasing quite a few of the partners that I did it with from the notches in my bed post. In writing that post, I was making public that what I felt was sex was much bigger than just PIV sex. 

But with new partners come new disclosures. Though I did tell a new potential partner the number he asked for, which was the number of men I have had penetrative sex with, I did also tell him that I didn't think that was my real "number," that my real number was quite a bit higher because it included much more than just penetrative sex with men. To his credit, he didn't say that those other notches didn't count generally, just that he didn't find them pertinent to what he was using the number to evaluate. 

After looking back at my little black book for the numbers, I had made some observations that I shared by texted Mon Parrain. Now, he tends to go for long periods of time and only pop his head up when he's both bored and I've texted something quite interesting to him. This seemed quite interesting to him. 

I found his thoughts on "what counts" quite interesting. Here is an excerpted bit of our conversation:

MP: Lol...No, that people with no dicks, or those who do not identify their dicks with their sexuality, are just as capable of fucking...
MP: And being fucked.
MP: Sex has nothing to do with penetration, even when there is a cock (or substitute cock)
Me: only orgasm?
MP: Nope...
Me: Then what?
MP: Emotional and physical surrender of one or both parties of that which they identify themselves as the center of their sexuality.
MP: For a masochist, it might not even involve genitals...
MP: If the surrender is there, for me its sex.
MP: There is no reason to force gender or physio normative standards.

Me: Can I put that def on my blog? I think of the bdsm play I did with [name redacted, person 1] as sex, though I'm not sure either of us orgasmed and there was rarely any penetration or "sex." He is a number for me, though I also know the PIV # and oral included # 
MP: Sure...you can even attribute it to me. 
Me: I don't plagiarize. Of course I'd cite my source.
MP: A m to f transgendered person can have sex despite the fact that she has a penis without having to be penetrated herself can't she?
Me:  I totally agree.
Me: And a f to m without penetration.
MP: Exactly... Although that is his choice.
MP: His only self identification with his own sexuality may dictate that he can't surrender his own sexuality to someone until he can penetrate.

MP: So its a tricky number to calculate.
Me: I thought it bad manners to push too much on how pointless I think PIV # is with this [new partner].  
MP: You may well have had sex with someone who didn't know that he/she was having sex with you.
Me: Quite possible.
MP: Ahhh but you miss the point. 
Me: He sees that as the only way to surrender?
MP: As a sub, its vital that you embrace his identity in your sexuality, at least in the moment. 
MP: So if he is heteronormative, then that's the number that matters if he is to connect with you.
MP: It's an insult to his sexuality to deny him the opportunity to feel that way.
MP: In an ideal world, he would tacitly acknowledge the same about you.
MP: But an ideal dom is hard to find.

Me: So what about [name redacted, person 2]? He sees PIV as the only thing he will call sex. He's done the rest, but not sex to him. BUT he does think the rest counts, even kissing.
MP: I see no harm in allowing [person 2] his personal definition
MP: And that he can only choose the center of his own sexuality. 
Me: I find sleeping in the same bed as him to be sex, more intimate than other "sex" acts. 
MP: Exactly.... I agree that sex with one partner may be very different than another partner with the same sex and gender.
Me: I try not to push on him what I think is sex, but I'm not going to change it for me.
MP: It's not the act, but the state of mind that surrounds the act.
MP: Any other definition denies that one who is unwillingly raped, does not have sex.
MP: And that it is possible to be raped regardless of penetration.
MP: Rape is the forceful taking from another that which they identify as sex when given to another.

...(While he and I talk about some other stuff, this is probably a good time to interject something for the new readers out there. I'm not good with secrets, mine or anybody else's. If you've heard me tell you something private about someone, you can probably guess that I've told them something of that same level of privacy about you. If you've seen me write something about someone else on this blog, I will probably write something of the same level of privacy about you on this blog. That's another reason why I use pseudonyms, so when someone searches "Mike Smith" to find about you, what I've written about you in this blog won't pop up. If/When I write my book, I'm sure some aspect of you, good or bad, will be made a part of some character in it. I would say I'm sorry, but, if I thought I was going to be sorry about it, I wouldn't do it in the first place, now would I? Mostly, you've been warned. Now we'll resume a little later in the conversation, with a last little bit of ego stroking.)
MP: You know, maybe the world would be a better place if sexually interesting people like us took a vow.
Me: What vow would that be? 
MP: Never have sex with someone who doesn't understand the spectrum of sex and gender. MP: Hold out until the world becomes enlightened. 

So, what do you think about this definition of sex provided by MP? Do you find it too broad and not based enough in the physical, bodily realities of what we intuit sex to be? Or do my "vanilla" readers disagree with the idea that sex is about surrender, rather than specific acts? As always, please comment!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So My Therapist Says, Vol. 3, Monogamy Edition

The idea of monogamy hasn't so much been tried and found wanting, as found difficult and left untried. - G. K. Chesterton

I should start off by saying that I am aware that my therapist's job isn't to be my friend or my yes person. Those of us who go to a mental health professional do so because we feel there is something wrong. Especially when dealing with people with bpd, therapists often have to point out to a client that the way they see the world not only isn't the way that most other people see it, but it also hasn't been very effective for them in the past. On the other hand, therapists have grown up and lived in the larger mainstream culture, just like the rest of us. For example, it wasn't until 1973 that homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the DSM. I don't think that all the mental health professionals before 1973 who treated homosexuality as something that people needed to be cured from or treated for were stupid or wanted to do harm. I think they lived in a society that believed that. I also think that they also treated gay people who displayed a number of mental illness and addictions and thought that their sexuality was the cause of those of those problems, instead of those problems being a result of being gay in an intolerant society. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I understand that my therapist is trying to open up my eyes to a more effective and healthy way of looking at and living in this world, but I think that she is still of this world with all of it's assumptions about what effective and healthy look like.

But this isn't just about stuff my therapist says. It actually started the day before my last therapy session, when I went to see my psychiatrist. To her great credit, her medication check-up sessions are 30 minutes and she often talks to me even longer than that. At this meeting, after we talked about my medications and a few other issues with the bipolar, she complimented me on my rainbow gay pride bracelet and she asked me a question that will be familiar to any bisexual person, "So do you date both men and women at the same time? How does that work?" I explained that many bi people are monogamous within their relationships but their next relationship could be with a man or a woman. I also said that I preferred non-monogamous relationships, though not because I am bisexual. While she was both respectful and genuinely curious about how I felt on this, I knew she probably did not agree. At one point, she asked me, "Do you think that now that you're using the [DBT] skills, that things are going better, your self-respect will increase and you'll start to think that you deserve a monogamous relationship?" I was pretty stunned, too stunned to really explain that I've never preferred non-monogamous relationships because I didn't respect myself. Instead, I talked about the book I've been reading, Sex at Dawn, which uses sociology and evolutionary psychology to question modern assumptions about marriage, monogamy, and human sexuality. I'll explain farther down what I wish I could have explained to her, but first let me get to my conversation with my therapist.

Yesterday, I had my individual therapy session. We ended up talked a good deal more about my developing relationship with a sexual dominant. We'll call him Dom Chaney here. He's in a non-monogamous marriage and, if he and I did begin a physical relationship, it would be his secondary relationship. I've known this since the beginning and am perfectly fine with that. At this point, I want someone I am sexually compatible with and I think that having a serious LTRPR (long-term romantic primary relationship) would be a trial by fire at this point for all my new skills. So, this is fine. Not surprisingly, my therapist questioned me a great deal on this. She started out by saying that she is coming, in large part, from being a therapist who sees couples everyday and she's never, professionally or otherwise, seen a non-monogamous couple who were both equally happy for very long with a non-monogamous relationship. I really wish I had been quick enough on my feet at this point to tell her that is because the couples that are happy with their non-monogamy don't need to see a counselor, and that there is too much stigma for most people to come out as non-monogamous to their friends or family, but I didn't. She also asserted that she wanted to see me in a happy relationship with someone I'm in love with where I can get 100% of what I needed [sexually]. I did interject here to tell her that I see no reason why I can't be in a happy relationship with someone that I love that isn't monogamous, as well as that I think it's unrealistic to expect that you will get 100% of what you need from anyone, sexually or otherwise, whether or not you chose for that relationship to be monogamous or not. Also, it's way to much pressure to be expected to be someone else's 100%. She did not seem swayed by this argument. She also went on to speculate both that no-strings attached sex was unhealthy and that there's a danger of becoming too involved emotionally when in a friends with benefits situation, which seems to  leave sex in a long-term relationship as the only possible healthy option.

I know that I will probably never change most people's minds. But I'm writing this for myself, so that I can put how I feel about monogamy and non-monogamy onto paper in a comprehensive manner for use in the next conversation I have about this, so that I don't regret all the things I didn't say in the conversation.

In addition to my own experiences, I think that the biggest contributor to my non-monogamous ideals, before reading Sex at Dawn, has been reading Dan Savage's advice column since I was a teenager. Through the years, he has answered many letters from people who are in long-term relationships with people they truly love, who they have built a life and a family with, but, for a variety of reasons, are not sexually compatible with. Sometimes this has happened because they were not honest about their kinks, with their partners or even sometimes with themselves, before the became committed. Sometimes it is just being with someone for so long and the waning of sexual interest. Whatever the reason, Savage discourages cheating, which, when found out, will almost always be much more hurtful than the current situation. He usually does suggest that the person talk to their partner about non-monogamous options. In a NYT article from last year, Mark Oppenheimer explores Savages views about monogamy, including that it is to everyone's detriment to ignore that it is often much more difficult that we are led to believe and:
“Given the rates of infidelity, people who get married should have to swear a blood oath that if it’s violated, as traumatic as that would be, the greater good is the relationship,” Savage told me. “The greater good is the home created for children. If there are children present, they’ll get past it. The cultural expectation should be if there’s infidelity, the marriage is more important than fidelity.”
For me, reading Savage's columns all these years, as well as reading his books and articles about him, opened my eyes to the idea that long-term partnerships are much more about the stability they provide, not just for children, if there are any, but also for the people inside them, than to be the end-all-be-all relationship in your life.

Before I wrote this blog post, I asked a few of the non-monogamous people I know to give what their answers are to the questions asked and concerns raised by my psychiatrist and therapist. Dom Chaney just explained how he and his wife had gotten to this moment in time. Without quoting him directly, my sense is that within their almost two decades long marriage, they opened up to each other about things that they wanted to explore and found ways to make that happen, both together and apart. This is something that I've run across several times in speaking with older people in long marriages. Not so much that their marriage needed "spicing up," but that either one or both partners had desires that had been left unexplored when they made the choice to marry, to not let this very special person slip away for wont of the road untaken, but at some later date they were able to be honest about those desires and their partner was either turned on by the idea as well, or accommodating enough to let them explore that. For TyRoy, it seems to be a combination of not wanting the obsessive love that requires one person to be everything to you sexually as well as a sense of sexual adventurousness. I would also venture to guess that he avoids people who require monogamy because of past bad experiences. Of course, I only obtained the opinions of men before I did this and mainstream culture believes that men and women do not think the same way about sex. I'd be curious to hear the opinions of any women who are in or who prefer non-monogamous relationships.

As for me, coming to non-monogamy was it's own journey. Like most people, I thought that monogamous relationships were the only way to go. I also bought into the romcom ideal of one's romantic partner being the ultimate relationship in their life, that if that person wasn't 100% of everything to you there was something wrong, that sexual infidelity was the ultimate betrayal and reason to end a relationship. When I was in monogamous relationships, I was possessive, crazy jealous, and checking up on my partner all the time, as well as scared as hell to completely reveal my own sexual desires because I might lose them, which would have been a disaster in my eyes. But being up my partners' asses all the time didn't help the relationship. They often felt the need to be secretive and lie, while still continuing the relationship, both out of fear for what new crazy would develop at the time of break-up. In addition to this, these "monogamous" relationships were never monogamous in practice. I cheated in all of them and I now know that most of my partners did as well.

When I was about 25, feeling like I'd missed out on all the sex I should have been having in new ways and with new people, exploring first dating and fucking non-exclusively and then exploring more committed but open relationships, I started to feel free from all that crazy codependent shit. I found that when my partners didn't feel like they would definitely lose me by being honest about their desires and actions with other people, I could trust them more and be that crazy jealous person less. I also felt more cared about when they still kept coming back to me, in spite of the fact that they could be with someone else. I also found that I didn't necessarily have to sacrifice being cared for or even loved just because the relationship was non-monogamous. Yes, there were times when I just had sex because I just wanted to have sex. But more often than not, I had friendships or romances with these people. Some of them I still do. Just as I didn't care less for them because I couldn't get all my need fulfilled by them, I don't feel like they cared less for me. Also, just because I would be open to developing a long-term partnership with one of these "friends with benefits," I don't feel like I have to do that or that I'm losing out when that is not the direction it takes. I still value the sexual and romantic time I had with TyRoy and I do not feel like that is diminished by the fact that he and I did not get married. I also don't love him less (love, not in love) or feel that he loves me less just because he loves and is in love with is current girlfriend. It does not have to be a zero-sum game.

I will stipulate that this does not mean that things have always gone perfectly, that I haven't overreacted to perceived (or actual) non-honesty. It doesn't mean that my sex partners have always been honest. Ultimately, the thing that ended my marriage was that my husband wanted to be monogamously committed to another woman, though it was not someone he started a relationship with open and honestly while in our marriage, but a woman who he loved before he ever met me who had finally become single herself. It seems like that could happen whether one is in a monogamous relationship or not. But, overall, I have found negotiated and open nonmonogamy to be the best way for me to negotiate the jealousy and codependency that I had in previous romantic relationships.

Dom Chaney asked me the other night what I thought my preferred non-monogamous long-term relationships to look like. Though I was less committal when I answered him than I am now, I think I'd rather have a monogamish situation, than a truly poly relationship. I want someone in an everyday relationship, every night in my bed, to be my partner. If that person and I were highly sexually compatible, which would include him being sexually dominant and me meeting whatever kink he had, I imagine we would have small dalliances outside of our relationship, but not necessarily anything long-term and on-going outside. If either of us had a kink that we couldn't get met in our relationship, I imagine we would have on-going relationships outside for the purpose of getting that need met. Either way, I think that the biggest components for me would be honesty and honest communication. I'm not as worried that my partner has needs that I don't or can't meet, as long as they express that. I'm not as worried about my partner having sex with someone else as I am about them not telling me about it. I'm not any more worried that my partner will leave me for someone else because they were allowed to have sex with them than I would be if we were monogamous and they weren't. And I do not begrudgingly agree to non-monogamous situations because I don't feel like I deserve all of the love and attention of one person. Maybe I do it because I think we all deserve to be honest about wanting love or attention or sex or kinky play from more than just our primary partner and to be honest about the fact that many, if not most, of our romantic partnerships are not monogamous in practice.

While I'll get to the rest of the things I think we should be more honest about when it comes to monogamy and human sexuality when I finish Sex at Dawn and write a blog post about it, I want to leave you with a few quotes from it:

"Monogamy is not found in any social, group-living primate except-if the standard narrative is to be believed-us." p 64

"Think about that. No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied-including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all this bloody retribution, it's hard to see how monogamy comes "naturally" to our species. Why would so many risk their reputations, families, careers-even presidential legacies-for something that runs against human nature? Were monogamy an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, as the standard narrative insists, these ubiquitous transgressions would be infrequent and such horrible enforcement unnecessary." p 98  

Saturday, July 14, 2012


As I drove away, headed back home, I felt a great emptiness rising up inside me, one I hadn't felt in some time.

I had spent the day in one-on-one contact with other people, people that are new to my life, that I am still getting to know. But when I transitioned from their presence back to my solitude, I was left empty.

Suddenly, all my life felt rather empty. Boredom is not something I have felt very often lately. There is always something more to do. I have lists and lists and lists of things I could do. Some of my time is spent simply avoiding the the things on the lists that I have to do. I know that the lists will never be finished and I bounce between pushing too hard to get as much as possible of the lists done and then giving up what seems an overall futile task.

All along in my now air-conditioned car, with the windows rolled up tight, I was lonely. I wonder how often I am lonely but do not realize it because I fill my time up with so much other stuff, because I do not let the alone-ness sink in long enough for me to ask myself if I am also lonely.

Last weekend, Moneypenny was visited. We spent almost every waking minute together, as well as some sleeping moments. I felt so comforted to have him with me, someone who knew me, someone I didn't really have to try for. It is the same feeling I have when TyRoy visits, though our visits are often shorter. There are so many people and groups of people around who I can still feel both alone and lonely, but not them. But what is better about Moneypenny and TyRoy is that even after they leave, I still feel sated. Maybe not overflowing, but satisfied. (And I don't mean that in a sexual way, or at least not only in a sexual way.) I'm never happy to see them leave, but I'm happy that I got the time I got with them. Where seeing or talking to most people is a chore, even if they are people I like, or love, or am excited about getting to know better, my relationships with these two men, even when they aren't sexual, have that extra something. I still get butterflies just talking to Moneypenny on the phone about how our week has been going. I get warm and smiley, like a good wine buzz, as I read TyRoy's daily email.

This isn't to say that there is anything wrong with any of my other friends, including the two I spent time with today. It isn't to say that I won't someday feel that towards either of these friends, or other friends currently in my life. But I long for that heat, that pull to and fire with another person. (I was about to add ",even if it's only in a platonic way," but who am I really kidding? Even when I feel that pull with people that I can only have a platonic relationship with, I don't think it is ever a platonic feeling for me. There is always some romantic and/or sexual longing wrapped up in it, even if that will never be fulfilled. I don't want my friends who clearly aren't interested romantically or sexually in me, whether because they're gay men, straight women, or just not attracted to me, to think I'm only interested in sexin' them up, because I'm not, that's not what I mean.) I know that it isn't something you can have with everyone. I"m also sure that feeling empty unless I'm being consumed is a very bpd thing, that most of the times that I do feel that intensity there is actually something either wrong with me, with the other person, or the way we interact, but I haven't gotten to a place of wise mind on this yet. Rational mind says all the parts of that last sentence before the "but" and emotional mind yearns for more of those relationships. There is no happy medium as yet.

So I keep working on things on the list, to the point of avoiding sleep  just so I don't have to feel that emptiness for too long.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

All Along The Road

Have you been feeling that pull?
And are you hearing that call?
Cause you've got everthing that you need to make a start...
And I would love it sometime
If you would walk by my side
Going I don't know where to sing beneath the stars...
And when the world's laying you low
Why don't you let me carry your load?
When things get bad you know you'll have a friend
All along the road
...And when the world's laying you low,
Don't you let it rattle your bones
Sometimes the dream itself can keep you safe
All along the road

(Video embed might be too wide for the blog and you might not be able to see all the lyrics. If you want to go to a link to see all of it, a slightly more visually interesting video is here, and it has lyrics if you hit the CC button.)

In life, you can miss much if you're too dogmatic about anything.

In my DBT class, we don't just learn one skill for one sort of problem, because nothing will work well for every person or even for every person in every situation. During the interpersonal skill section, we learn a skill for trying to get what we want, another for trying to keep our respect in a situation, and another focused on keeping the relationship. We also learn way to evaluate which one might be best to use at any given time and with any given problem.

Lately, especially when looking to start new romantic relationships, I've been attempting to avoid relationships that I know will be chaotic. And, in the not too distant past, I've left friendship situations that I know to be particularly chaotic or that create instability in me. But sometimes you can't do that. Or at least I can't. Sometimes it's a relative that drives me up the wall but is part of the little blood I have left and who has done so much for me. Sometimes it's that friend that you keep re-enacting the same chaotic, hurtful patterns with, but who has always been there, all along the road. Sometimes the chaos and craziness is worth having someone, but most especially worth having them. Hell, I wouldn't have any friends if my friends didn't feel that about me.