joreth: (feminism)
I remember expecting my mom to have dinner ready at night, and of Super Bowl parties where dad and the guests sat in the living room while Mom (and some of her friends more interested in friendship than sports) worked in the kitchen.

I remember my mom getting so angry that I didn't want what she cooked for dinner or that I whined about being hungry because food wasn't ready yet that she told me to make my own damn dinner. And I remember her getting upset when I started doing exactly that, because I was now eating at different times and not having our family meal together.

Because she was first unappreciated and then a failure for not keeping her family "together". And I didn't understand at the time the external and internalized pressures she had on her to do it all, to be it all, and how my separation from the dinner table played into all of that.

I don't live with my partners because I can't deal with exactly this kind of default separation of roles that *everyone* I have ever been with falls into, even if they happen to make some kind of exception somewhere (maybe he cooks, but I'm still the household manager, or something).

But even living separately, I still have to remind partners that I need to eat, I still have to *ask* for their help instead of them offering to help with anything that isn't a "manly" chore, I still have to remind them when we haven't spent time together or we haven't had "romantic" time together like dates, and I often have to plan the dates.

And forget "vacations" together - I am the travel agent every single time or nothing gets planned and I don't get to do things that I want to do because it doesn't occur to them to plan anything or ask for my input. I've had exactly one partner who did this - who asked me if he could plan something for me, to take some of the responsibility off of my shoulders, who asked for my parameters and then just ran with it.

One.

I'm told that they're just so easy-going that they don't really care what we do, as long as we're together. And THAT'S PART OF THE PROBLEM. They can't see how the responsibility falls on their women partners by default, or that we might have different priorities so that we *need* them to start caring about what we do together.

That's great that you don't care. However, *I* might want to do something with the fact that we're in a town I've never been in and I'm spending a lot of money to be here, so seeing nothing but the inside of a hotel room kinda defeats the purpose of taking *this* trip to *this* place.

So maybe y'all can do the Googling to see what there is to do around here, and maybe y'all can suggest some activities that you think I might enjoy, and maybe y'all can pay attention to the clock instead of me having to wake up early enough to get y'all out of bed, fed, dressed, and out the door in time to do the activities when they start?

And, again, maybe some people don't do *all* of the things - really only one of my partners is actually less of a morning person than I am, but somehow I still have to get myself up in time to make sure that they aren't distracted by something else and we leave late when that's one of my own weakest areas and maybe I need someone else keeping *me* on track for a change?

Anyway, now I'm rambling. Point is, even among "enlightened", "feminist" men, this is still a problem.

https://www.facebook.com/NewWorldMom/photos/a.723915847641604/1827440620622449/
I was a young girl when I realized there was a hierarchy in my home. Chores were designated by gender. Blue jobs for my brother, and pink jobs for me. Mom did the cleaning, cooking, and most everything needed to make our house a home. Dad mowed the lawn, fixed the cars, and played with my brother and I until he could barely keep his eyes open. An amazing Father.

It took me a long time to understand why my Mother scowled at my Dad when the three of us entered the house after an incredible summer night digging in the sandbox.

That realization came fast and furious once I had kids and a marriage of my own.

As latchkey kids raised in the seventies and eighties, my brother and I were expected to do our chores and start dinner before our parents got home from work. Every day it was the same. I spent my time tidying up the house, cleaning the kitchen, and starting dinner. Usually, spaghetti, because it was the easiest thing for me to cook without burning the house down. Okay, so this one time I almost burned the house down, everyone makes mistakes. Lesson learned.

While I domesticated myself, my brother would either mow the lawn, take out the garbage, or... come to think of it, there weren't a lot of blue jobs that needed daily attention. I noticed my workload was different, perhaps even harder at times, but I was the girl, and it was what was expected of me. There were multiple days I spent bickering with my brother because I was having trouble handling my workload. I still remember thinking, I just want his help. I felt like I was drowning and couldn't do it all on my own before our Mom got home. Why was this my responsibility just because I am the girl?

This same scenario played out in my marriage many years later.

It was in those moments I realized his chore list seemed a little heavier in physical weight but much lighter in actual duties.

Nevertheless, I didn't rebel. I didn't speak out, complain, or say anything. I didn't know it to be different, or wrong. But I did know without a doubt if I did complain I would be met with resistance. I might indeed be labelled, crazy. A nag. I had heard it all before. The word 'nagging-bitch' had no trouble spilling from my Grandfather's lips while my Grandmother waited on him hand and foot.

I had spent my whole life watching the women in my life carry the weight of the entire house on their backs while men sat back and watched them do it. It was normal, expected.

A Grey Cup party filled with food my Mother made became the norm, while the men sat in front of a football game expecting more. More beer, more food, more work. More take, more take, more take. No give.

My Mom was a goddess, and in my mind's eye, she could run the world. She was already running my world, beautifully.

Somehow, I knew at that young age, I wanted to be just like my Mom. She was spectacular to watch. She could do/and did everything to keep our house afloat. My Dad by her side, supporting her every step of the way, but mostly from the couch.

From my Father's spot on the sofa, tangled in his legs I would watch my Mother drudge over the dinner I'd half-prepared. Still dressed in her silk jumper, her purse barely placed on the kitchen table, she stood over a chocolate brown stove while the three of us indulged in the newest episode of M*A*S*H.

Every once in awhile I would notice her glance through the butler's window in our kitchen to catch a glimpse of her family. Sometimes she would yell, and I would wonder why she seemed so angry. Sometimes she would pour a glass of wine and drown us out. Sometimes she would smile so big her eyes would fill with tears stained by love. All the time. Every single damn time -- she made my entire family a sit down dinner fit for a King. Not a night went by that woman didn't feed our family whole real food. She is my super-hero.

I have an amazing Father. I do. He is strong, forgiving, loving, accepting, and, what has always stood out about my astounding Dad; is he speaks of equality, freedom, and humanity in almost every sentence that leaves his prophetic mouth. However, he was brought up in a generation filled with misogynistic values. Taught to be served by his wife. Doesn't that sound stupid -- "served by his wife". I am literally shaking my head as I am writing the words. He learned it from his Dad, my Grandpa.

It's no one's fault, except maybe the patriarchy, I grew up in a misogynist's world. Back in those days, things were different. My parents were instruments of their generations belief systems, and the belief systems of generations before them.

We can, and need to change this. The mentality of women "doing it all" is not only propagated by males, but females alike. Our belief systems insinuate that the Mom should endure the burden of household chores. This is wrong and unfair.

When I was growing up, both of my parents had full-time jobs. Careers, in fact. My Mother was a successful Bank Manager, yet when she arrived home she still cooked and plated my Father's meal. No one did that for her. She did it with love, she wanted to take care of him, but regularly she was exhausted. No less tired than any man in her position. Yet she was assumed to come home and feed her family. Expected to clean "her" house, only to be told she wasn't worthy of the title on the deed. Sometimes she wanted her husband to take care of her. To plate her meal, or fold her laundry. Most times she wanted to be respected and appreciated. This I know because I have lived my Mother's life. I have catered to the men I love. Not with regret, but often with repugnance.

I now know why my Mom grimaced at my Father when he spent "his" time playing in the dirt with us, especially after a hard days work in uncomfortable heels and constricting skirts. It was her time too. Perhaps she wanted to be the good guy. The "Dad" out in the yard getting dirty. Maybe, she didn't want to cook another meal. Instead, play catch with her babies on a soft summer evening. Maybe she didn't want to do anything at all but simply sit on the couch with her babies tangled in her legs.

I want to smash the patriarchy for allowing me, my mother, and all women to believe were not capable of doing it all, without being labelled. That we were and are crazy for resisting our overburdened and under appreciated workloads. When in fact we were and often still are, doing everything, to keep our houses afloat. Making homes.

We can change our world for the better if we allow our preconceived notions to change. Not just for women and men, families. Marriages. And, most importantly our children, and our children's children.

It is time men stop telling the women in their lives they are crazy. It's not crazy to be exhausted. It's not crazy to voice fatigue. It is not crazy to ask for help. It isn't nagging when a woman pleads with her husband to clean the toilet or help around the house. She shouldn't have had to beg him to clean his mess in the first place.

Women aren't crazy; they are tired. They are tired of picking up after everyone in their lives. Women are angry they have gone unappreciated for so long. Women aren't assholes because they are finally using their voice.

No.

Stop calling women nags and bitches. Start doing your job as their partner so they don't have to complain about the shit you don't want to do. This isn't about men helping women to run the house, it's about men actually seeing that it isn't only a woman's job.

If I learned anything from my superhuman Mother, it is:

"I can do it all, but all of it is not mine to do.”

Darla Halyk
joreth: (Default)
Someone once asked me what behaviour in myself have I altered because of my experience with cis men. I think it might be illuminating for some men to hear about the kinds of things that at least one woman has changed about herself because this change was easier to make than to deal with men unaltered.  Let me repeat that:  it was easier to actually change myself than to deal with the shit men do when I am me.

And I feel that I have cultivated a space and enough armor that I can share these things publicly to make this lesson.

Other people who are not cis-men can contribute their own stories of alteration if you want to, but I'm not asking anyone to share this vulnerability in public. Because that's what this is - many of these alterations are protective behaviours and rely on the typical willful ignorance and deafness that men have towards women's emotional labor.

What I don't want is for cis men to tell me their own stories of altering themselves for women.  Everyone makes changes to accommodate the other people in their life, sometimes willingly, sometimes coerced.  This is a personal illustration of a gendered trend, and I don't want to get sidetracked with Not All Men or But Men Too.  I also don't want cis men to express more surprise at the efforts I or other women go to. At this point, nobody on my friends list should be surprised by these kinds of things - not knowing specifically what any given woman does, sure, but that we do it? Not any more.

So if you are surprised, I don't really want to hear yet again how blind men are to all the work that women do to manage men's emotional reactions.  That is part of the problem.

I also don't need to hear criticisms or anyone suggesting that the alterations were not necessary, that I was overreacting, or that I shouldn't have to do this with all men. Because you have no idea what the consequences for not altering are and also because fuck off.



I have to always cut the loaf of bread served at restaurants before dinner, and I have to do it discreetly.

I do this because I've dated too many guys who just mash the entire loaf by grasping it too tightly and using too much weight on the knife, and they grab the loaf first, ruining it for everyone else.

I do it myself because I've learned that suggesting a different way of cutting bread (as a person who used really soft bread loaves in my demonstrations as a cutlery salesperson) hurts their feelings and they respond angrily to the implication that they are not master bread slicers nor master knife wielders (whereas, I actually am).

So I just grab the bread first as if I'm really hungry (and my love of bread is usually well known), slice it about halfway, and take 2 of the slices for myself, leaving the rest of the slices for anyone else at the table who wants them. Somehow, they don't seem to notice that as a commentary on their slicing abilities.



I have learned to not ask to drive the car when I share a vehicle with a man who has access to his car. Doesn't matter if we're dating or not. I LOVE driving. I take great pride in my driving. I suffer anxiety on the scale of mild to panic attack when I'm not the driver.

And yet I do not request to drive, because I've learned that it's not worth the fight that comes from asking *the wrong man* to allow me to drive.

I've also learned how to have a panic attack silently and to hide the fact that I can't always look out of the window when I'm in the passenger seat.  Because then I have to do emotional labor, placating them that it's not because they're bad drivers, but because I'm "broken" in this way.



I never leave the house unarmed. I have had to pull a knife on 3 separate occasions in my life to warn off aggressive men - only one of whom was amorous.



I have learned how to go out alone even though I'm terribly shy because I've had so few romantic partners who are willing to do the things that I enjoy doing. If I want to go out in public with a romantic partner, it has to be for things that he enjoys, not for things that I enjoy. So if I want to do things that I enjoy, I have learned how to do them alone.

And I have learned how to deal with the feelings of loneliness that always accompany these outings without showing them "too much" to my partners because then I have to do more emotional labor in comforting them about how "hard" it is for them to do the things that I like.  For some reason, it's always a challenge, it's always difficult, it's always a sacrifice for them to do the things that I like, so my complaints about feeling lonely, feeling neglected, and feeling dismissed turn into soothing them about how much pain and hardship they're under when they accommodate me.

Sometimes they will insist that I do their things and not understand if I don't like them or not see how their feelings of rejection aren't comparable to mine when they don't like my things.  Sometimes they will be fine with me not accompanying them to their events, and then use their acceptance of me not attending their events as leverage in the arguments of why I shouldn't feel hurt when they don't attend my events.  And occasionally they actually don't have any interests outside of the home or us or the relationship, so if we don't go do my things, we just stay home and do nothing.

Even if I can drag them to an event that I like, they will inevitably take out their phones and ignore the thing that is the reason I want to be there and the thing I am trying to share with them, so sometimes I'd rather they not be there anyway.



I have developed a rather annoying habit of cutting people off and speaking over them because I've found that it's the only way I ever get to say anything when men are talking.



I tend to treat the men in my life like helpless blind people, becoming hyper aware of the space that they take up, and very gently, physically guiding them or maneuvering myself in such a way as to manipulate their own movements, to prevent them from having the sorts of accidents that so many men have - walking into people who will not get out of their way, walking in front of people because they don't notice other people are there, blocking aisles and walkways, stepping on toes, hitting people with overly large gestures, etc.

I stand between them and other people so that their large gestures can't reach the other people.  I hold their hand when we walk so that I can tug on it and hold them back from barreling into the street in front of cars just assuming that the cars will stop for them.  I take shopping carts from them so that they won't park them in the middle of the aisles.  I lean towards them when we walk so that they will be forced to veer to the side when other people are sharing the space and they would otherwise insist on maintaining their trajectory, forcing everyone else to go around them or bumping into people as if they didn't even see those people blocking their path.



I started holding my romantic partners' hands (back when I still did not like displays of affection - more on that below) just to keep them from sprinting ahead of me when we walk together. No matter what speed I walk, men keep walking ahead of me, and then complain that I'm always trailing behind.

So I hold their hand and tug on it when they go too fast.

Now that I have a knee injury to blame, I can get men to stop and wait for me when they get a significant distance ahead, and most will no longer complain about my slower speed, but the only way I can get many men to *pace* me is to hold their hand and then literally hold them back.

(Meanwhile, I have never walked with another woman or non-binary person who didn't automatically adjust their pace so that we walked together unless there was a significant reason, like a power imbalance, or someone was racing ahead to catch something for the slower people in the group, like a door or a vehicle that was about to depart.  Dancers, however, I'm discovering, are much better at keeping pace with their companions, regardless of gender, which shouldn't be surprising given the spatial awareness and the automatic body-matching that dancers do.)



I thought I disliked physical affection entirely because I did not realize at the time that all physical affection I'd had up until that point was entangled with displays of possession. I didn't know why I didn't like physical affection, just that I didn't. So I refused all physical affection except for sex in private.

It took until my mid 20s to figure out that I did actually like physical affection, and to deliberately use a relationship (with his agreement) to work on this. And, not only did I actually like physical affection, but it's one of my Love Languages, and because I had been denying it to myself for so many years, I was touch-starved, even with an active sex life.

To this day, I still have issues with instigating physical affection and from disentangling it from sex, so I am still touch-starved.



I stopped living with other people. Even though I don't make enough money to afford to live in a "safe" neighborhood, or in a building that isn't literally falling down around my ears, I choose terrible places to live because that's what I can afford on my single person's income.

I stopped living with other people because I can't handle being the Household Manager. Project Management is a full time, upper level position. I don't have the energy to do it as a second (or third) job, to do it without pay, or to do it in relationships that are not supposed to be business relationships.

And I have never had a romantic relationship with a man that didn't put me in this role by default. So I minimize it by making my living and sleeping space my own and not subject to Managing other people. I have other reasons for wanting to live alone as well, but I have tried cohabiting in the past in spite of those preferences, and it's the Household Management problem that made me alter my behaviour and stop living with partners.



I have started asking questions that I already know the answer to because I see men around me doing the wrong thing, they won't ask what the right thing is, and they ignore me when I tell them what the right thing is or they get upset with me for correcting them, and then I have to go behind them and fix it.

So when a supervisor comes along, I ask "wait, what am I supposed to do here?" or "how is this done?" or whatever, where the man in question can hear so that the boss can tell me within their earshot the "correct" way to do something, that I already know.

And I HATE that it makes me look like I know less than I do. I'm wicked smart, and I pick up on things quickly. But I have to look like I'm still a beginner at shit because men won't listen to me, so they waste my time and theirs and we all end up doing double the work.
joreth: (polyamory)
#WhatRealPolyLooksLike

“Oh you’re poly?! Are you dating lots of people? Tell me about your partners!”

"So, how many partners do you have, then?"

Well, I've been in a seriously long-term, low-key toxic relationship with the Entertainment Industry. It takes up most of my time and it interferes with all my other relationships, but I just love it.

Ballroom dancing is my secondary. I don't get to see it very often, but it's a wonderful change to my regular routine - I dress up, I go out, I get to forget all the daily grind stuff, and I come home all excited and giddy from the endorphins, and often a little too sore to walk straight.

I also have a pretty exacting Dom named Costuming. Every so often, Costuming decides to cut in and make me service it with long hours spent on my knees on the floor or bent over a table with a variety of textiles and a box of sharp pins. Everything else gets put on hold until I've completed the tasks that Costuming sets out for me.

My husband and other romantic and sexual partners have pretty well adjusted to being long-distance with all the others taking up so much of my time. I think things are working out, in spite of the challenges.

Tell us about YOUR partners! Use the hashtag so we can see all the diversity of #poly relationships! You can also just tell me in the comments if you want.

#polyamory #polyamorous #OpenMarriage #OpenRelationships #ConsensualNonMonogamy
joreth: (being wise)
So, everyone already knows how much I hate living here in Florida. But I've been here for 18 years now, so while it doesn't feel like "home", it's *familiar*.

I've had 2 dysphoric driving episodes recently that are making me think that I really need to get the hell outta Dodge soon whether this whole Canada thing pans out or not.

The first was last week when my car tanked and I had to drive my RV to work because gas for the RV is still cheaper than calling Lyft.

I was driving home from my retail shift, so it was about 10 PM-ish. My car hasn't had a working radio for almost as long as I've owned it (maybe 10 years now?), so I've been listening exclusively to my iPod in the car for much longer than most people (because cars weren't easily converted to be able to listen to iPods at first).

But I actually like listening to the radio. I don't like commercials, but I like keeping up with what's new in the music scene in several genres. So, since I drive alone and there's nobody else to annoy, I just channel surf to avoid commercials.  Since I haven't had a radio in so many years, I have a tendency to listen to the radio whenever I rent a car or have another car with a working radio, even though iPods are ridiculously easy to hookup to a car system these days.

So I was driving home in the RV, late at night, listening to the radio and channel surfing when I came across a '90s rock station. I'm extremely susceptible to music. It immediately, noticeably, affects my mood, whatever is playing.  Because of that, I have specific playlists that I've carefully curated for driving with no songs that will make me angry or anxious, because I used to race cars until I rolled mine down a hill, so I need music to keep me calm while I'm driving.

I'm on the interstate, with no traffic (for once), surrounded by darkness, the streetlights whipping by, sitting up high in the seat and hauling 5 tons of metal and fiberglass behind me, listening to rock from the era of oversized flannel shirts and Doc Martins with really short skirts, and I'm instantly transported to October, 2000.

In October of 2000, I climbed up into my 1979 skoolie - a converted school bus into an RV - and set out across the country and away from home for the first time. I was sad and hopeful and more than a little terrified. But mostly I was excited.  For a few minutes in October of 2018, I considered just not turning off the interstate at my exit, just keep on driving north, and see where I end up. And I was sad and hopeful and more than a little terrified, but mostly I was excited.

To realize that I was not, in fact, driving my old skoolie and I was not in my twenties with my whole adulthood still ahead of me and that I was not leaving for an epic adventure across the country was such a disappointment, it was visceral. It was so strong that I'm feeling crushed by it again now, just remembering it.

But for that moment, with Steven Tyler screaming out at me from the speakers, I loved the road again, which the various city governments in Central Florida seem determined to teach me to hate with their piss-poor planning and reconstruction.

God I LOVED to drive! I still do, but there was a special quality to being 23 and on a road trip and leaving home to start an independent life that isn't like any other driving experience, even other pleasant ones like vacation road trips.

And I felt that same exhilaration tinged with that curious broodiness and loneliness that teenagers in Gen X seemed to take on as though we owned that feeling and nobody else would ever feel it again or ever did before.

Grunge rock brings that broodiness on for me, the way that Air Supply brings on the depression from the '80s I was in when I was being bullied and thinking that nobody would ever fall in love with me because I was so ugly and weird. Like I said, music affects me. But I digress.

Exhilaration tinged with loneliness edged with hopefulness, just as I felt in 2000, driving my ancient old school bus across the country with nobody but my sweet, possessive little kitten, frightened of the noise and the heat of the big engine. I was right back there, in that time, in that moment. I half expected to hear her distinctive squeaky meow behind me, as if to complain that we had been driving long enough and it's time to make the loud noises stop and curl up together to sleep.

Arriving "home", usually a relief after working a retail shift, was disappointing instead.

Then there was today.

I had a gig in a town 2 hours away, so I got a motel room over there for a few nights and I drove home today. Every time I think about returning to the place where I live, the word "home" pops into my mind out of habit as the word to use for the place where one lives, but then my mind corrects itself "this may be where you live, but this isn't home".

Every time. Every time for the last 18 years. I have never once thought of this place as home, even though I have used the word to label my dwellings as "home".

So, I had to drive "home" today, and the usual voice in my head made its usual objection that I mostly ignore. But part of all this construction on the roads have given them a lot of false altitude changes. Florida is basically a flat swamp, but as we drain the swamps to make room for more parking lots and McMansions and hotels, we cart in more "ground" from other areas, and we get a few rises in the roadways that like to pretend that they're hills.

As I topped one of those rises, something about the combination of literal heat waves and smog in the air, and probably my perpetual homesickness, made a mirage. I crested the pseudo-hill, and my brain insisted that the horizon was not the flat blue of the Florida sky, but the faint grey, blue, and white of a snow-peaked mountain range, so far away that I could only barely distinguish it from the surrounding crisp California sky.

This is something that I've only seen in a desert state, where there are miles and miles and miles of flat land surrounded by miles and miles and miles of mountains. Everywhere else I've been has either been just flat with no mountains, or hilly and mountainous with no flat vistas far enough to create mirages. And the air has to be crisp and dry too, in order to create that illusion and allow you to see that far into the distance at all.

There is a confluence of circumstances where the mountains are so tall and yet so far away, that you really can't see them, but you can. Sometimes they're actually below the horizon but optical illusions bend the light and make a reflection of them appear to float above the horizon. But sometimes they really are just that tall and the surrounding area is just that flat.

They turn a different color at that distance, with the atmosphere doing the weird things that it does, so it's almost more like someone put a layer of celluloid with the picture of a mountain on top of the horizon but turned down the transparency so that you see more of the horizon and sky behind it than you see of the mountain itself.

I crested that hill and my brain insisted that there was one of those transparent mountains right in front of me where the road cut a swath out of the surrounding skyscrapers and buildings and trees.

And it didn't matter how many times I told my brain that Florida doesn't have mountains, let alone snow-capped ones, and that this was a memory, not real, I couldn't make that mountain go away. I had to look away from the horizon and only when the view changed angles did the illusion finally break.

My dad was hinting about me coming home for Christmas this year. I haven't done that in several years. I have mixed feelings about holidays with my folks. But I just came back from a trip there in September, and I was out there twice last year - once for my own wedding in August and once for my sister's wedding in October. And I'm getting really tired of traveling when what I really want to be doing is *moving*. I'm also especially tired of spending money that I could be saving up to move.

What I didn't tell my dad is that I also don't really want to go home because it's getting harder and harder to leave and come back here. Every time I get off that damn plane in California, and I see those mountains in the distance, and I open the door to the outside and I breathe the thin, dry air instead of choke on the feeling of being smothered by a wet blanket, my brain screams at me "NOW WE ARE HOME!"

I feel like Adam's mom, in Blast From The Past, where Christopher Walken built a bomb shelter underneath their house that was an exact replica of their real house except underground and the family got trapped down there for 30 years and they finally got out and Brandon Frasier's character built another exact copy of their house but on top of a hill surrounded by empty land, and Christopher Walken just kind of sniffs and says "it's just like the bomb shelter" and Sissy Spacek is standing on the back lawn admiring the sunset that she hasn't seen in 3 decades and she turns back towards the house and throws open her arms and says "No, THIS is different!"

Everything here is kinda the same as there - we have houses and restaurants and things to do, and a lot of those restaurants and things to do here I really enjoy and I think we might even have more of them or better ones than back home - but back home is *different*.

And it's different in a way that my brain and my heart feels as a sunset over a lightly wooded field on top of a hill surrounded by hills after having been locked in a basement for 30 years different.

Most of the time, when I feel dysphoria over my surroundings, it comes as a kind of surreal realization that I'm living in a TV show, because the palm trees and ocean views and the 348 days of blue skies and bluer water and fluffy white clouds are what the rest of the world watches in movies and travel destination shows but nobody actually *lives* there, right? Except I do.

But this week, my dysphoria is different. I'm no longer here, in Florida, in this reality TV train wreck of a state. I'm on my way out or already gone. I need that to be my reality before my brain finally cracks and convinces me that it *is* reality when it's not.
joreth: (polyamory)
People who proudly proclaim that their partner (almost always singular even when they're poly) has complete access to their phones, including their messages, because they have "nothing to hide" freak me right the fuck out.

They basically tell me that I can never divulge a confidence to them unless I develop the exact same amount and type of intimacy with their partner because nothing I say will be held in confidence.  They tell me that they are not actually whole and complete individual people, because I have to *treat* them as a singular unit with their partner, since anything I share with them will also be shared with someone else.

Whether they *feel* complete is irrelevant from my perspective because I can't *treat* them as complete, I have to treat them as an extension of another person, so anything I share with one must be something I'm willing to share with the other.

I kinda have to treat them like a ship's avatar, if anyone is familiar with The Culture book series by Iain M. Banks - a physically separate being, usually humanoid in shape, that can run autonomously when desired, but is inextricably linked to the mother ship and will merge and become one being (if you define "being" by the collective knowledge and experiences that make one up) at some point.

So nothing the avatar knows or experiences will be kept from the ship. When you interact with the avatar, you are, for all intents and purposes, interacting with the ship itself even when the avatar is, at the moment, cut off from contact with the ship, either by design or circumstance.  If I don't develop the relationship with the ship where I want to share something in confidence with it, then I can't develop that kind of relationship with the avatar either. And I can't develop intimate relationships with one "half" of a "couple".

My partners have *technical* access to my devices, meaning that it's physically and technologically *possible* for them to access the contents. It's not locked up so tight that only a master hacker could break into it.  They have this ability for safety - if something happens to me, certain individuals who I trust need to be able to take care of the business of death or incapacitation. But that's not the situation I'm talking about.

My partners don't have *permission* to access these things any time they want to. And I only date people who do not *want* that kind of access because they, too, value the intimacy that privacy protects.

The "but for safety" people, I'm not talking about you. However, the "it's just easier to have my husband read my text messages for me when my phone is ringing in the other room and I don't want to / can't get up to get it" people? You're straddling the line.

It's not about "hiding" anything. It's about being vulnerable and raw and choosing when, where, how, and with whom to be vulnerable and raw.

I have a fucking scan of my brain while having an orgasm posted on the fucking internet. I have nothing to "hide". But who can I expose my sensitive nerve endings to? Everyone knows that I *have* nerve endings, and a lot of people know what those nerve endings are connected to, but who can I *expose* those nerve endings to?

Who can I give access to my soul to? Not the person who will hold that access door open for someone else.
joreth: (polyamory)
We have this damn argument constantly in poly forums.  Somebody calls someone a "unicorn hunter", somebody gets upset at the insult, someone else demands that there's nothing wrong with being a unicorn hunter, someone chimes in that they're a unicorn and proud of it, someone else tries to explain what the term means and where it came from, and then everyone yells "language evolves!" and "language police!" to justify whichever position they happen to hold.

And I'm fucking sick of it.

The history of this term is hard to cite sources for, because nobody really documented it at the time.   I mean, all our conversations were in text on the internet, but in old BBS boards and email lists and geocities websites that are all defunct now.

So basically it's left up to the old-timers like me who were around back then to try and explain things, and then the young'ins come along with no understanding of our cultural history and how that shapes our cultural present, insisting that things aren't the way that we experienced.  Most don't even realize that we *have* a "cultural history".   But the word "polyamory" was coined in 1992, and it was coined because people were already doing this thing that we wanted to name.  26 years is long enough to create a sense of culture, to create art and history.  It's long enough that we are now multi-generational.

So let me tell you a little story about How Things Used To Be.

The polyamorous community did not invent the term "unicorn" for a bisexual woman.   That came a long time ago, at least from the 1970s, back in the disco swingers' era.  It might even have origins earlier than that (as the wife-swapping version of swinging is said to have evolved out of WWII with soldiers on deployment, so swinging has been around even longer but it may or may not have been applicable to have "unicorns" in other iterations of the Lifestyle) , but since I was never part of the swinger community, I am not as up on swinger history as I am on poly history.  I only know it as tangential to poly history.

So, anyway, in the '70s swinger communities, a "unicorn" was a bisexual woman willing to have threesomes with a straight MF couple, and then go away again without causing any complications like coming between the primary couple or trying to "steal" anyone.  I'll be honest, I don't know if there is any subtext or any implications in that context.  I don't know if it was considered an insult or a compliment or if it was neutral.   Again, I wasn't part of that community, I just know that this is where I first heard the term to refer specifically to a bisexual woman.

However, when the poly community adopted it, the term was definitely used derisively.  When we used the term, we weren't actually calling bisexual women "unicorns", like we were complimenting them as magical beings.  We were insulting the people who were using women as breathing sex toys by accusing them of "hunting" for a mythological creature who didn't exist anywhere except in their own imaginations, to fulfill their own fantasies of capturing such a wondrous creature.

Back when the term first started getting widespread use, those of us who used it were not calling bisexual women "unicorns".  Bisexual polyamorous women were "bipoly" women.   That was our term for them back then.  We liked portmanteaus back then more than the slang today that prefers metaphor or pop culture references.  We used to say that you couldn't go to a poly potluck (because back then we didn't have "discussion meetings" or conferences, we had potlucks) and swing a stuffed parrot (because that was the symbol we used in public for people to find our gatherings) without hitting a bipoly woman.

We weren't calling anyone "unicorns".  Unicorns don't exist.  That was the whole point of using that term.  A "unicorn" was symbolic, not a real person.   It was symbolic of all the hopes and dreams and naiveté from monogamous couples curious about "opening up" their marriages.  As the unicorn has always been symbolic of hopes and dreams and naiveté.

And power.

The unicorn has also always been a symbol of power.   The brave and courageous hunter or prince or knight charges into the forest, seeking that symbol of purity and beauty and grace, hoping to overpower such a powerful beast, kill it, and tear its horn from its head to drink from and steal its magical properties for himself.  There are actual, real thrones made out of narwhal horns and billed as unicorn horns.  Ground "unicorn" horn powder was sold as medicine and magic.

Or perhaps the hero sought the unicorn be found worthy by the magical creature who only appears to the pure of heart to bestow its blessing.   Every myth and legend about the unicorn says something about how the men see themselves, or how they see their gods (which are further reflections of themselves).  Even the legends about unicorns being irresistibly drawn to virgins to lay their heads in the young maidens' laps and sleep (so leaving a young girl alone in a forest as a trap for a unicorn was a thing) says something about powerful men and their values.

The unicorn has never been about the animal.  It has always been about the ones seeking it.

So when the poly community adopted the term "unicorn hunter", we used it in this manner.  A lot of our early lexicon-creators liked literary allusion and historical references (some a little more "pseudo" than others).  The arrogance and ignorance and entitlement of the wealthy white fictional and real historical men who hunted unicorns was more than applicable to what we saw happening in our own communities, with hetero couples trading on their couple privilege to maintain an uneven power distribution in their relationships.

Back then, we didn't have the language of "disempowerment" and "privilege" ... not that this language didn't exist, but it hadn't made it into widespread social use as it is now.   A lot of us made a lot of semantics mistakes back in the '90s and early Naughties because we didn't have this language.  But we were talking about the same things we continue to talk about today - power.

I came into the poly community as a single, bi-curious woman back in the '90s.  I did not start out "opening up" a monogamous relationship.  I wasn't introduced to poly society as part of a "couple".  I didn't have the safety net of an existing relationship to fall back on if this "poly thing" didn't work out.  If my relationships ended, I didn't have an "existing primary" that I could "close up" with and try to go back to being monogamous, or who would stick by me as we tried again as a single unit, I was left alone to mourn the loss of my relationships, and possibly the loss of several relationships if I also lost my metamours in the breakup.  Unlike those couples who only lost a girlfriend, I lost an entire  *family* when a couple decided to dump me for not living up to their magical unicorn standards. 

From my perspective, the community was made up of two kinds of people - hetero couples and Free Agents.  Long before we had the term "solo poly", we had Free Agents - people who dated and who had partners but who always operated as individuals whether they had many partners, one, or none.   The men who were Free Agents were routinely looked upon with contempt for their callousness, lack of empathy, and selfishness.  Even by women who were also Free Agents.

But the women who were Free Agents... I did not identify with that term.   I had known too many men who treated polyamory as a way to have lots of sex without doing any emotional labor in their relationships (not that we had *that* term either).  What I wanted was to build intentional family.  So I didn't identify with the Free Agents.  But because I always maintained my own identity and independence whether I was partnered or not, I was seen, essentially, as a Free Agent by the hetero couples, who almost exclusively did hierarchical polyamory.  The fact that I wanted a "family" but was "unattached" made me extremely attractive to hierarchical polys looking for a bipoly woman to "add to their relationship".

So let me tell you how people treated me.  I have a whole inbox from an old poly dating forum filled with nothing but straight men asking me to join their households either as an equal threesome or as "sister-wives", raise the children, keep the house, and manage the chicken farm.

No, seriously, there was one in particular that actually opened up correspondence with me looking for a co-wife to raise chickens in Montana.  Or, South Dakota, or something.  And when I complained about his email online, a half dozen other women responded that he had sent them the exact same email, verbatim.   A form letter seeking a co-wife to run his chicken farm.

Many of them didn't start right out the gate like this guy, asking if I'd be interested in becoming a wife.  Most of them went through the motions of pretending to want to get to know me first, but really, all of these meetings and correspondences were interviews.  They had a job position to fill - co-wife - and they wanted to see if I could fit into that position.

The first couple of emails from the first couple of guys ... it's easy to overlook the feeling of being "hunted" at first.  Especially if you're in a category of person who, statistically speaking, never gets hunted and is expected to be the hunter.  Complain about catcalls to a lot of men, for instance, and many of them will respond with "I *never* get complimented!  I would *love* it if women would just yell out a compliment on the street sometime!"

When you're in a category of person who has a lot of social capital and a lot of cultural power, even if you, personally, have setbacks and challenges in your life, it's really difficult to understand how someone without that capital and power might feel on the receiving end of attention from people who have it.  Because part of the advantage of all that capital and power is the freedom from experiencing life without it and not ever needing to even notice what life is like without it.

So, the first few emails just sound like ... dating app messages.   But the next few emails, and the next dozen emails, and the next hundred emails, over years and years and years of them all being the same thing - hetero couples not listening to me, not seeing me, not getting to know me, all of them looking for what I can do for them and not really caring about who I am or what *I* may be getting out of the deal...

It's predatory, it's demoralizing, it's depressing, and it's dehumanizing.

Hence, "unicorn hunters".

So, before our history is lost to ... well, history, I wanted to make a record of what it was like back then.  I wanted to put in black and white what our intentions were when we were still coming up with the terms that people throw around, and away, these days with careless abandon.

Sure, "language evolves" and words change meaning.  But a word's *origins* are important. Words, out of context, might have just a simple definition. But within context, the word can say a whole lot more than just a line in a dictionary.  The origins of a word can tell you what a culture's *atmosphere* was like when the word was coined.   It can show you insight into how we got to any given point and when we turned a corner and where the culture was destined to go from there.  It can explain the subjective experience of the participants of being in that culture.

Words have power.   We started using the phrase "unicorn hunters" to describe a very specific set of circumstances and a very specific type of people.  We needed that term because we needed to be able to discuss a very big and very real problem we were having.  If we couldn't discuss it, we couldn't address it.

And now we have people entering the community who were in diapers back when the term was first being coined, arguing about "evolving language" and "taking it back" and being "proud" to be unicorns, as if all our history doesn't matter.  We still need to talk about disempowerment in relationships and predatory behaviour in our community.  The need for the term still exists, whether that specific term has "evolved" or not.  But we don't have a replacement for a term that is still incredibly accurate.  And the words we *do* use to describe what we mean when we say "unicorn hunter" are received with even more offense.

Because that term is meant to be offensive.  It's meant to describe offensive behaviour.  That's what we always meant when we started using that term nearly three decades ago and that's what many of us still mean when we use it now.  People might want to erase all the subtext and context that comes with the term "unicorn hunter", but I want to make sure that we at least don't erase the history.  That history will tell us where we came from, and show us where we're going.  


For reference:
joreth: (polyamory)
http://qr.ae/TUNDQL

Thanks to some experiences with people who use "agreements" as weapons and who also hide their abusive behaviour behind social justice language, I have become extremely averse to words like "agreements" and the casual use of the term "rules".

I was always pretty anti-rule, but a lot of things are treated as rules while being called other things. And I've discovered that the words we use are important because they subtly and subconsciously influence how we think and view our partners and other people, especially when we use agency-denying language in jest or casually.

So I have written an answer to the common question "what are your relationship agreements" that I'd like to archive on my blog to share every time the question comes up:

I don’t have very many “agreements”. I learned the hard way a long time ago that some people use the word “agreement” as a blunt object with which to beat partners over the head. I don’t do “rules”, which are things that are imposed on other people that dictate their behaviour (and sometimes their emotions and choices). I do “boundaries” which are lines that I draw around myself where I don’t want other people to cross.

Some people treat “agreements” like “rules”. You can usually tell that someone is treating an agreement like a rule when you discover what happens when someone “breaks” the “agreement” or wants to change it. If there are punishments, if breaking or changing the agreement is seen as a “betrayal”, then it’s probably a rule in disguise.

What I do is, I have certain things that I *prefer* to do with my own body, and I tell my partners what those things are so that they know what to expect of me. If I change my behaviour for any reason, then I notify my partners as soon as possible that I’ve done or am planning to do something different, so that they can make informed decisions about their own body (mind, emotions, time, etc.) based on my choices.

The things that I prefer to do is to get tested once a year for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, & chlamydia (what I refer to as The Big Four) and also HSV +1&2. If I have not had any new partners in the last 6 months, and my ongoing, regular partners have not had any new partners, then I might skip a testing period. But if I am considering taking a new partner then I will get tested right before so that my tests are the most current possible. Then I also prefer to get tested about 2 weeks after I take on a new sexual partner.

I prefer to see the actual tests results on paper for my partners before we have genital contact or fluid transfer for the first time, and 2 weeks after any ongoing partners take on a new sexual partner. I also prefer to keep an open dialog with all potential partners and ongoing partners about our sexual history, our current STD test results, our interests in potential new partners, etc.

I tend to use condoms only for birth control, and I tend to prefer having sex with men who have had vasectomies so that I don’t have to use condoms for birth control. I don’t consider condoms alone to be sufficient protection in the absence of discussing sexual history, STI testing, and sexual patterns so I don’t generally have even barriered sex with people I’m not comfortable having unbarriered sex with.

I prefer to choose sexual partners who have similar STI risk profiles as me - people who prefer to get tested regularly, only have sex with partners who get tested regularly, who openly and frequently discuss sexual risk and history and behaviour, who tend to have a relatively stable number of partners, who have had vasectomies, and who have paper test results that they are willing to share with me.

We do not make “agreements” to do these things, these are just things that I tend to do and I prefer to date people who also tend to do these things. Should either of us make choices that differ from anything we discussed that our partners can expect from us, then we talk to each other about the different choices we have made (or want to make), and we each evaluate the new situation and make our respective choices based on the new information.

I have found this to be the most statistically likely to prevent me from unwanted consequences for sex and to also be the most respectful of everyone’s agency. This allows everyone to be in charge of themselves, to have complete autonomy over their body, mind, emotions, and choices, and to still respect the risk we might place on our partners through our decisions.



**Added**  I  received a comment on my Facebook post of this article and I like my response to it that I'm adding it here.  The comment was about a person who responds negatively to agreements being broken, not because they're "rules" but because they believe their partners should find them safe enough to come to them and renegotiate any agreements that aren't working instead of just breaking them, because their own personal integrity requires them to keep any agreements they make and so only make agreements that they can keep, and because many times people will break an agreement and then dismiss this person's upset feelings as if they are not responsible for breaking their trust.

Here is my response:

And that's exactly why I don't make agreements. I basically treat them as promises, and I don't make promises that I can't keep. For most things, since I can't tell the future, I can't guarantee that I can keep an agreement or a promise. And, yeah, when trust is broken, it's understandable that someone would be upset and want that broken trust to be acknowledged.

For most reasonable people, things like "we both agree to pay half the rent" and then a few months in, having a conversation that goes "honey, I don't think I can make my share anymore, can we change this agreement?" are conversations that are had and people don't generally flip out about one person "betraying" them if they can't make their share anymore.

Those are expectations and agreements about how two people are going to treat *each other*. You will pay for half our our shared expenses, and I will pay for half our our shared expenses, and that is how we will help each other survive.

But most of the abuse that I see comes from "agreements" between two people about what one person will do *with their own body, mind, emotions, and time*. When someone makes an "agreement" about what they will do with their own body, time, mind, and emotions, and then they change their mind about that, whether it's something talked about before or after the fact, the other person they made that agreement with takes that as a personal betrayal, even though it was the first person's sole property, so to speak, to do with what they will, "agreement" notwithstanding.

The casual way that people mix these two types of "agreements" up under the same label of "agreements" is the danger, and, in my experience, most people are not savvy enough to separate these two things out when discussing their relationship arrangements.

I make "agreements" all the time, where I "agree" to come pick someone up from work because their car is non-operable and they need a ride somewhere, or where I "agree" to call them before I show up at their house to give them some notice, or where I "agree" with them on where to go for dinner so that we find a place that we both want to go.

These are not generally the sorts of "agreements" that get people into trouble. I mean, they *can* ... lots of people do things like agree to pick someone up and then totally flake out on them and leave them hanging. But when it comes to  people asking "what kinds of agreements do you make in your relationships", this is not generally what they're asking about.

Usually, they're asking about having sex with other people, falling in love with other people, spending time with other people, and spending money on other people. These are things that are better handled by discussing *boundaries*, because these are things that only one person can *own* and stake a claim to (excepting money, in states with shared property marriage laws).

I will make agreements with someone on how I will treat *that person* and how I want that person to treat me. This is discussing our boundaries. I say what my boundaries are, they say what their boundaries are, and we agree to respect each other's boundaries. Then, if for some reason, one of us feels that we can not abide by that particular agreement anymore, we discuss it.

But I will not make agreements with someone on how I will treat *my body, time, mind, emotions, or money* with respect to other people. My time away from my partners is my own time and I will not make agreements with my partners on how I will spend that time away from them. My body is my own, and I will not make agreements with my partners on what I will & won't do with my own body, etc.

It is the lack of awareness of that division (or the deliberate blurring of that division) that I see causing problems (and becoming abusive, in many cases).

It's one thing to get angry because a partner had sex with me without telling me that they recently had unprotected sex with a new partner without trading test results - that is a violation of my ability to consent. That is a "betrayal".

It's quite another thing to get angry just because they had sex with someone else, even if it was unprotected and without trading test results, and even if it goes contrary to their preferences. That is not a violation of my ability to consent. That has nothing at all to do with me. That has to do with *their* body, and I am not entitled to control of their body. That is not a "betrayal" of me.

And I will not be punished anymore for things that I do with my body, my time, my mind, my emotions, and my money just because somebody else had an expectation of the things I would or ought to do with my stuff. They are not entitled to those things, even if they have reasonable expectations of what I would do with those things.

What I do with the things that are mine are not a "betrayal" of someone else. But as soon as you say the word "agreement", people take any deviation as one.

So I don't make "agreements". I state the kinds of things I am *likely* to do and try to only date people who are likely to do similar sorts of things.
joreth: (anger)
You know what I'm really fucking sick of? People who see all my independence and my relationship and poly experience and think that means that I don't need any care and feeding at all.

"Joreth is self-sufficient, so I can just put her on a back shelf somewhere and she'll just be there waiting for me when I have time to get back to her. "

"Joreth knows how to do introspection and stuff so I can just leave her to it while I put out everyone else's fires for them or with them. My other partners need help, but Joreth can handle all her shit by herself."

"Joreth is good at being alone so I don't need to pay attention to the fact that we haven't spoken in over a month, but my cohabiting spouse hasn't heard my voice in 20 minutes and they're getting anxious so I'll just put off talking to Joreth another day."

"Joreth spent years getting over her painful shyness so when we go places together, I can ditch her as soon as we cross the threshold because she already did the work on herself so now she doesn't need my companionship."

"Joreth and I have lots of common friends so I can ditch her when we go out together because all these people are her friends too so she isn't alone if I disappear for the remainder of the event."

"Joreth has been alone for so long, I don't really need do build up any common friends or shared activities because she's used to going out solo so she'll be fine if I never come along to her things or include her in my things - she'll still find a way to go out and socialize."

"Joreth has so much patience and understanding that I never have to worry about her emotional needs or pay attention to her Bids For Attention or manage my own issues in order to save some resources to help her with her issues because she will just serenely take everything in stride."

I do not have infinite patience. Sometimes I feel insecure and need reassurance. Sometimes I get a little selfish. Sometimes I need to do coupley things even when I don't like being part of a "couple" just because sometimes it's fucking nice to have someone else around to go to movies with or to walk into a strange environment with as mutual support or who knows me well enough to finish my sentences.

Sometimes I just want to be someone's priority. Maybe not their only priority, or even not their absolute #1 priority (that should be themselves), but A Priority. Sometimes *I* want to be the whiny troublesome partner who needs looking after instead of looking after everyone else, always doing the emotional labor in a relationship, or stepping back politely while the metamours get all the attention and energy from our mutual partner leaving none leftover for me.

Sometimes I want someone else to be the designated grown up. Being good at relationshipping doesn't mean I'm flawless at it. But even people who know me IRL and who should know that forget it.

And, of course, it's hard to talk about publicly as a community leader, because when we're not flawless, we lose credibility. So I can't turn to my community for support because they're looking to me to uphold the example, and I can't go to my partners because they're the ones I'm having the problem with and the problem is that they think they can get away with not being there for me and shouldering some of the burden.

Fuck all that. I need care and feeding and attention too.



From my comments in my FB thread:

Like, solo poly doesn't mean NO poly. I'm still a fucking partner, I still need to be treated like one, not the backup plan or that old college buddy who will be there whenever you get around to calling them. ...

I feel like a polite "hey, pay some attention to me, please!" should be sufficient and I shouldn't have to be a squeaky wheel, at least not in a romantic relationship where, presumably, the other person *wants* to exchange attention with me. It's not like I'm a passive communicator who requires people to read between the lines and magically divine my thoughts to figure out what I want.

But when other people expect to only notice when relationships are on fire before they start fixing things because that's how everyone else gets noticed, my polite "hey, pay some attention to me, please!"s get lost in the chaos of the rest of their lives.

So then I wait until I'm pissed off, and when I finally start shouting, people get surprised to find out that I'm at the end of my rope over here and when did the fire even start, let alone turn into a blaze, and oh crap, did this relationship have to blow up when everything else is on fire too?

Well, yeah, if there had been routine maintenance done, then this one wouldn't be blowing up while they were busy being distracted by other fires to put out. The check engine light has been on for a long time now. Apparently I need to start adding annoying beeping to my check engine light, to prevent people from ignoring it just because there are no knocking sounds coming from the engine just yet.

Have I mixed my disaster metaphors sufficiently yet?

The big problem is that by the time I start becoming that squeaky wheel, I'm actually pretty done and ready to start withdrawing too. So it's often too late to fix anything by then.
joreth: (polyamory)
Commitments Parchment
* I am committed to allowing the relationship to find its own structure and direction without forcing it into a predetermined shape and to considering alternate structures and directions before automatically resorting to breaking up when situations and priorities change.
I am committed to allowing the relationship to find its own structure and direction without forcing it into a predetermined shape and to considering alternate structures and directions before automatically resorting to breaking up when situations and priorities change.

This is the natural extension of the previous commitment. In addition to committing to being flexible with plans within a relationship, I want to be flexible about the relationship itself. As I mentioned before, I have a style of poly in my head that I idealize - the close-knit poly family. I need to be accommodating to the individual needs of each relationship and to make sure that the relationship follows its own natural path. Sometimes those paths twist and turn a bit. When they take a sharp left turn, it may not be necessary to get off the path entirely just because it's no longer going in the direction I thought it should. Sometimes, I may be able to follow a new path.

Just to make sure that metaphor was perfectly clear, I am reminding myself here that there are more than two states for romantic relationships - together or broken up. I have already established that I can accept a variety of relationship configurations and that I do not want to prescript my relationships. So here I am establishing that I will not let my relationship descriptions turn prescriptive once we get in them. If, some time into a relationship, one or the other (or both) of us decides that our life needs to look different than it currently does, I am reminding myself that it may be possible to simply readjust our relationship to look different too.

When I first started dating Franklin, we lived 3 miles away from each other. Then he moved to Gainesville. Then I moved to Orlando. Then he moved to Atlanta. Then he moved to Portland. If either of us had insisted that our relationship was a local relationship and could only be a local relationship, it would have ended with the first move to Gainesville a mere year or two into it. Instead, what I got was a long-distance relationship that has, as of this post, lasted more than a decade, brought me valuable life lessons, been a source of joy and comfort, taught me how to become the person I wanted to be, and introduced me to the people I consider my intentional family and those I feel the most connected to anywhere in the world (with the exception of my best friend, who I met through another partner).

When things change, I do not need to automatically reach for the breakup card. When things change, I can assess if we can change with it. The relationship may not be what we originally hoped it would be, but then again, it might be something just as valuable or more that we never anticipated if we give it room to just be.
joreth: (boxed in)
April Fool's Day - the day when trust is a punishable offense.

I think April Fools Day is a cruel holiday because the generally accepted way to celebrate is to pull the sorts of pranks that humiliate the person being pranked. On the internet especially, they rely on telling someone a lie, someone who, on every other day has no reason to expect you to lie to them, and then punishing them when they believe a lie from an otherwise trusted person.

"Ha ha! You believed me! You trusted someone who has spent time building up a trusting relationship with you! Fool! You are so silly for trusting me!"

I do not enjoy or appreciate humor at the expense of other people's embarrassment or shame. And I particularly do not appreciate taking advantage of other people's ability or desire to trust the word of people they know and like, or even expecting a basic level of courtesy from strangers.

Some people like the idea that this holiday teaches "critical thinking", but it doesn't. It teaches cynicism and guardedness and that humiliating others can be funny like, ever. As both a skeptic and a cynic, I know the difference. If it taught critical thinking, it wouldn't last just for the day. It teaches *distrust*, which is not the same thing as "critical thinking", even though critical thinking requires the desire to verify information.  Skepticism (and the critical thinking that underlies it) is not a lack of *trust* or an active *distrust*, it is a lack of *credulity*, which is a *very* different animal.

The next most common way to celebrate is with physical pranks that startle, embarrass, or inconvenience others, such as swapping out the fillings on a sandwich or the classics like toothpaste or plastic wrap on the toilet seat.

If this were a day that *normally* celebrated something like "comedy" with jokes and puns or whatever, that'd be fine. If we only saw pretend products for sale and that was the extent of the "make someone believe the lie", especially if it was more clearly satire like The Onion or ads for obviously spoof products like "unicorn meat", I'd even be OK with that. I enjoy clever satire.

I don't even care that most of the people who like me enough to follow me here not do that other shit, because clearly y'all are not "normal" or y'all wouldn't like me so much. It's what's considered "normal" or common that I usually get up in arms about - social norms. That this kind of cruelty is considered "comedy" says a lot about our culture - none of it good.

It's hard enough to develop and maintain trust in this world without deliberately undermining it with a nationally-sanctioned holiday that seems to be nothing BUT undermining trust and causing embarrassment.

I hate this holiday.
joreth: (polyamory)
I just had an ah-ha moment - one of those things that I kinda already know but it somehow crystallized for me in a way that it hadn't before.

I come from an immigrant family.  It's true that both of the parents who raised me are natural born citizens, but my grandparents on my mom's side were immigrants (and POC at that, who never really learned English), and my grandparents on my dad's side were from that sort of white Norwegian immigrant type family that embedded their immigration status into their family identity, regardless of how many generations ago the actual migration happened.  Like, y'know, Minnesotans who still maintain ties with their second cousins from "the old country" and who are still baking the same old family recipes at county fairs and stuff.

Intellectually, I know that not everyone has the same kind of family ties that I was raised with.  I have the kind of family who still gets offended if their great-niece doesn't send her annual holiday letter every year, and the first time I drove across the country, I was required to stop by and meet my dad's father's sister-in-law's brother (who is my great-uncle by marriage) who my mom hadn't even met yet.  It would have been mildly offensive for me to not introduce myself while I was in the neighborhood.  Keep in mind that I hadn't even known of his existence until I announced the trip, but I sure as hell had to stop and say "hi" or risk ruffling some feathers (and as a product of this family, I thought it was kinda neat to meet family I didn't know I had).

I *know* that not everyone has these kinds of family connections.  But I just put it together that this was related to immigration.

I have drawn parallels before between polyamory and "normal" monogamous extended families.  People often ask me about scheduling in a poly relationship, and I always say that it's no more complicated than trying to schedule an extended family event.  When people seem to get stuck on that concept, it's clear that they've obviously never tried to get 3 uncles, an aunt, about 12 cousins, two grandparents who are divorced and don't speak to each other, a great aunt, a cousin-once-removed, two god-siblings and a god-nephew to Las Vegas for a wedding anniversary party.

And people look at me like I've just grown a second head - of course they've never tried to do that, who would try to do that?!

When I tried to explain to Franklin about the wedding guest list and the need for a large enough venue, he kind of boggled at me rattling off my list of relatives.  Why did we have to invite everyone?  Because of the family politics of *not* inviting someone! (Not that he actually balked at inviting people, but it didn't actually occur to *him* to invite second cousins and great-aunts and it certainly didn't occur to him that any of his relatives might get offended for not getting an invitation).

Meanwhile, I had to check in with him after the wedding to see if his sister was even notified that he had just gotten married.  He *thought* someone had told her.  I have no concept for this in my head.  My bio-mom's step-daughter's (from an ex-husband) cousins all heard (directly from me) about us getting married.  I can't even fathom the idea that a *sister* might have been told by someone, maybe.

So, I know that not everyone does family the way I do, but it didn't occur to me that this is, at least in some part, due to immigration.

If you look at recently immigrated families, you'll see some trends.  Often you will see entire sections of town devoted to preserving their culture, like having a "Chinatown" or a "Jewish" district.  Sometimes that's imposed from the outside, to keep the POC safely contained, but a lot of it is also because recent immigrants to a new country can rely on others of their nationality for support.  They might have immigrated in the first place because they already had family here.  Certain foods might be unavailable anywhere other than their own grocery stores.  They can be guided on naturalization, on language classes, on jobs that will hire them.  The schools in the area are more likely to understand and connect with the children who may be bilingual (or not yet speak English) and have different customs and foods and clothing.

To come to a foreign country is intimidating and there are often a lot of obstacles in the way of settling in.  So people who have had similar experiences, both with the immigration process and with their cultural background, often band together to form large extended family-like neighborhoods and communities.  People whose families have been here long enough for the descendants to no longer identify as a hyphenated-American, but simply as belonging to the US, don't have this same pressure to build and maintain ties to people whose ancestors came from the same place.

Not that they *don't* do that - the Daughters of the Revolution, for instance, is a good example of a purely US extended family construct that has many of these kinds of traits - pulling together as a community, pride in lineage, common cultural mores and foods and clothing and thoughts and behaviours, etc.

But if a person doesn't have, as part of their *identity*, the struggle to fit into an alien culture and needing those like them, even if not directly related, for support, that person may have an easier time adopting a "rugged individualism" sort of identity and maintaining ties with smaller groups like a nuclear family, and perhaps even experience a freedom of social mobility to move through communities and even physical locations without a sense of culture shock and loss of identity.

I have been told by several people that white people like to think that they made up this poly thing, but if you look at black culture, you'll see that something like polyamory has been around for much longer than the '90s when some neo-pagans coined the term, and longer than the Free Love movement that inspired them.  Sure, even white people will talk about how some form of non-monogamy has always existed, but talk of historical non-monogamy tends to be mostly made up of other white examples. While my POC friends point out that they've been doing this *in parallel*, not in response to or influenced by whatever it is that white people think is polyamory.

So, while black cultures can seem to be coming almost from the opposite direction as immigrants, seeing as how they didn't "immigrate" while trying to hang onto an old culture but instead had their culture stolen from them when their ancestors were stolen, the response seems to be to come towards the same place as immigrants - which is to build interconnected, dynamic, extended support networks of families. When you have nothing else, you at least have each other and your shared experiences as an unwanted "outsider" in a hostile land that you call "home".

So, when I was pulling out my usual "polyamory isn't any different from monogamy with extended families", it occurred to me that if anyone needed to develop better tools regarding extended family interpersonal relationships (like therapists, for example), one could look at the research on recent immigrant subcultures and communities in the US.

Which then led me to consider, if immigrant families are so prone to this kind of interconnected family networks, could that be where I picked it up?  My mom is from a recently immigrated, Mexican family, so yeah, probably there.  But what about my dad?  Oh, dad's Norwegian whose parents moved here from Minnesota, who are also pretty notorious for their in-group communities.  No matter how many generations have lived in the US, they still act like recent-immigrant communities, kinda like Jewish people do.

So, now this is a connection I have in my head that I can use to explain polyamory better.  To someone like Franklin, the idea of not talking to a sibling for months or years, or even needing to cut a sibling out for "differences of opinion" is an option that's totally on the table.  But for someone who comes from a Mexican family like mine, or a Chinese family, or an Indian family, the idea that, when two people get married, and the new spouse has a problem with the sister-in-law, the idea that the married couple can just stop talking to the sister because the "marriage comes first" isn't even an option.  It's not even considered, unless one is willing to cut ties with the whole freaking family.

You simply Do Not just drop someone who has a conflict with a romantic partner.  You fucking work it out, one way or another.  And, in some cases, it's the romantic partner who gets dumped.

I'm not saying we should stray too far in this direction where toxic and abusive familial relationships are maintained because they're "family" to the detriment of healthy romantic relationships.  But I am saying that this is a model, a framework, where (some) people understand that a romantic relationship is not the pinnacle of all relationships, and that interpersonal dynamics are complex and strong, and good conflict resolution skills are prized because winnowing down to just "the couple" is not considered the healthy option.

In poly relationships, when we make "the family" more important than the people in it, we stray into coercive territory.  But that's not what I'm talking about here - that's a whole other rant (which I've made several times before).  So I'm not talking about making the family more important than the people.

But I *am* talking about making the family at least AS important, if not moreso, than "the couple".  THAT dynamic needs to go.  That's a lesson we can learn from recent-immigrant communities.  The people in the relationships need to be more important than the relationship, but once that is prioritized, the *networks* of interconnected people needs to be at least as important as any given dyadic romantic "couple".

Because polyamory is not something that "couples" do, it's something that people do.  Your metamours are not people you can just drop when you're having your own issues inside your dyad, in the same way that your mother-in-law is not someone you can just cut out of your lives forever when you decide it's time to have a baby, to focus on your own nuclear family, or when you're having a time of stress between you and your partner.  In fact, calling on your mother-in-law when you start having children, or maintaining your connections with your siblings when you're romantic relationship is going through a rough patch are excellent tools for helping people get through those challenging times.

Poly networks can be an incredible tool for the same things.  When someone dies in a recent-immigrant community, everyone bands together to take some of the responsibility off of the grieving widow, for example - it's a trope to bring food to a funeral because, when this practice became popular, making food was a seriously time- and effort-intensive process (still can be) and if the person who died was the "breadwinner", a community can come together and make sure that people who are grieving, and potentially now out of income or labor to support the family, can still get fed.

And when the entire community pitches in, nobody is overly burdened.  When my grandfather died, my grandmother was not able to care for herself, so she got shuttled around from one of her child's households to another, adding an extra amount of food and financial obligation and labor to that nuclear family.  At least she had several children to keep passing her around to.

But if she had a *community*, with someone who could have dropped off a casserole every other day, and someone else who could have come by to play bridge with, and someone else who could have interfaced with the lawyers, etc., etc., none of her children's nuclear families would have been taxed to the point that she was needed to be "passed off" to someone else (the reason she only had her kids and no extended community has to do with my grandfather being an abusive patriarch type, but that's another story).

Or, as many other elderly people who didn't come from the kind of community-based background as my grandmother and didn't have nearly a dozen children who believed it was their obligation to take her in no matter what have had to rely on nursing homes and the kind of kindness of strangers that money can buy.

When I went into my suicidal depression, I had several people I could turn to, all with different ways of helping - the one who could show me love and affection, the one who could help me navigate the complicated medical system while looking for a counselor, the one who could just listen, etc.  When I found a low-income clinic that accepted my application for the most amount of financial assistance they had to offer ($10 therapy visits), and the counselor they assigned to me learned of me being poly, the first thing he asked was if the stress of multiple relationships was contributing to my depression.

I explained to him that my poly network was the only thing that *wasn't* contributing to my depression and, in fact, was actively helping by being my support network.  I could tell that this possibility hadn't even occurred to him (not that he was familiar with poly in the first place, but naturally the first thing he thought of when he heard "multiple partners" was stressful love triangle, jealousy, competition, superficial connections, etc.).

But, to me, it seems obvious that more people to love means more people to support me.  I credit a lot of my ability to grasp polyamory with my adoptive background too.  My parents instilled in me a very strong sense of "family is more than who you're related to, it's who you're connected to through love, not blood".  But a lot of people see adoption as a last resort, and not even that because they want children "of their own", they don't want to raise "someone else's kids".  And it occurred to me that part of my parents' ability to see adoption as "god's plan" for them and their adopted children as "theirs" might be related to the whole immigrant thing too.

The church I went to in high school was predominantly Filipino, with some Mexicans.  I sang in the church youth choir.  All of us choir kids called each other's parents "mom and dad", because, in our church, they were all our "parents" and we were all their "kids".  Lots of people in this area had adopted or raised "someone else's children" - siblings or children who were unwed teen parents that couldn't raise their children so they did instead, young cousins or their own siblings who had some kind of problem at home and needed to escape, their own kids' school friends with similar problems, a relative's child who lived in an area with poor schools so they took in the child to give them an address that allowed them to attend a better school, stuff like that.

For recent-immigrant families, seeing everyone as part of one big family is how we survived.  I think it gave my parents the ability to provide me with probably the most idyllic adoption story possible short of a Daddy Warbucks story, and that sense of family and my positive adoption experience gave me the ability to foster a healthy outlook on polyamory, one that sees the destructiveness and toxicity of couple-centrism and couple-privilege.

In recent-immigrant families, you can't isolate yourself down to just "the couple".  That's where you are in the most danger.  You can't lock yourselves into a "couple" because that leaves no room for family, friends, god, and community, and without those things, you can't survive.

Obviously, within monogamy, a "couple" is still important - you wouldn't want someone to "come between" a romantic couple by having more romantic connections, so the analogy starts to break down at that point.  But, even there, we have some room.  There is some precedence for "the mistress" being part of the family, or at least maintaining connection to the community.  As we see in The Color Purple, black families have had some romantic interconnectedness going on there too.

These things have happened, they're just not talked about in the same way as modern polys talk openly about polyamory.  A lot of times, kids grow up never really understanding that "Aunt" Sarah isn't someone's sister or a friend of the family that moved in to have help raising her kids, but her kids might be Daddy's kids too.  And in certain sorts of communities, while this might not be the norm or widely accepted, it has happened, and people are not thrown out for being "black sheep", because they're *family* and family is supported and helped to the best of the community's ability.

So I think we can look to the complex nature of recent-immigrant communities for some guidance and modeling of large, complex, interconnected networks of family systems.  And maybe all these damn "couples" can learn a thing or two by emulating the healthier aspects of communities with rich cultural traditions of extended families.

Lots of time, the Argument From Antiquity is a logical fallacy - just because it's "old", or "we've always done it", it doesn't mean that it's true or healthy or good for you.  But sometimes things are "always done" because it's a system that works.  Sometimes, it *is* in our better interests to "listen to our elders" and keep certain traditions alive - like valuing the larger family and not prioritizing couplehood over complex family network connections.
joreth: (boxed in)
This is your occasional reminder that I have actually had to pull my knife on a man 3 times in my life, since I started carrying one.

Assault, harassment, and intimidation are regular, "normal" parts of most women's lives, and definitely a part of mine. In absolutely none of the cases where I had to pull a knife out and brandish it was I "dressed for it" or "asking for it" or "sending mixed signals".

In all 3 cases, it was actually after work and I was wearing my military cargo pants and steel toe boots with no makeup or attempt at hair styling. I was in a casino lounge with my other coworkers, minding our own business and not interacting with any other patrons, at a party at a friend's house in a conversation with my ex (who was not the one I pulled the knife on), and at a gas station working on my car.

There are *lots* of times when, in retrospect, I should have pulled a knife on a date or a "friend", but because they were not strangers, I just kept giving them the benefit of the doubt and trying to find non-violent ways out of the situation. I even remained "friends" with many of them or continued to date them long after the fact (or while the behaviour was ongoing).

Being attacked by strangers, while common, happens less often than being assaulted by "friends" and partners. Had I pulled a knife on someone I had some kind of relationship with, I guarantee you that I would have been accused of "overreacting" or of being the aggressor or the "assaulter" for having escalated it to violence with a weapon. We are taught to fear Stranger Danger when the worst of our danger comes from intimates.

But, the thing is, it has *never* occurred to me to pull a weapon on a partner or a "friend". Because each and every time, the severity of the assault is not fully recognized until afterwards, when I've had time to see that my brain won't stop replaying the incident and I'm getting more and more upset over it, since I couldn't afford to react in the moment or else risk escalating something, namely his wrath.

My instinctual response is to freeze, make myself smaller, and smile to placate him into thinking it's not a big deal so that he doesn't get angry at me. The last time I actively fought back against a "friend" who was assaulting me, I got my shoulder dislocated for the effort. I have not fought back since then (I think I was 14?). I go very still instead.

When my ex-fiance used to sexually assault me at night by touching my genitals when he thought I was asleep, if I would get pissed off at him and try to leave the room to go sleep on the couch, as I was attempting to get out of bed, he would tell me that if I left right then, my precious figurine collection (which I loved dearly, almost everything in that collection was a gift) would be damaged.

I know now that this is a clear cut case of abuse, but that's not something I knew back then and I'm not entirely sure that, had I been told, I would have recognized it as abuse while I was going through it. He never once laid a hand on me in anger, or threatened to, and I never feared that he would. *That* was something I would recognize as abuse. But not the sexual assault and not the threat of property damage.

It would never have occurred to me to respond with violence to someone who was not being violent towards me, particularly with someone I loved. Partner abuse is a much more complex and insidious thing than stranger assaults.

And I have had enough of both that I have pulled a knife in self-defense 3 times so far. I'm lucky none of them had a gun.
joreth: (boxed in)
So, I had no idea, but the apartment upstairs (the one that leaks water into my place every day) was rented by a man. I have seen a man coming and going every so often, but several months ago, I saw a *woman* move in. She introduced herself, we've chatted a few times, I've given her cupcakes, and she was all apologetic when I ran upstairs the time my entire fucking ceiling started leaking all over the apartment to see what happened.

A few days after she moved in, I discovered she had kids when they peered out from the window at me, when her car was gone and I assumed she wasn't home. Shortly after that I started posting about kids having races upstairs and pounding back and forth across my ceiling.

Anyway, she wasn't a great neighbor but she wasn't terrible either. Fast forward to the whole leaky ceiling thing and I've been trying to get my management company to fix it since before the hurricane. Not that the company isn't doing anything, but the maintenance people keep not showing up to fix it.

Now, we have yet another maintenance guy here. He came out a few days ago to inspect it, and through him, I discovered that the apartment upstairs was supposed to be vacant on the 28th. I had heard that she was getting evicted (although she told me that she was leaving because she hated living here), but I didn't know when. Apparently, the *guy* on the lease told the company that he *was gone*.

But she still lives up there.

So the new maintenance guy has been trying to get upstairs to find the source of the leak. Yesterday, after confirming several times that the apartment is supposed to be vacant and the person on the lease verified that he is gone, he drilled out the lock on the door and put a new one in so his plumber can get in there today while I had the day off, to give him all day to work on the leak.

Today, the plumber tried to get in and found that the new key, that was installed yesterday, does not work. So he went off to do another job and the head maintenance guy came back to solve the problem.

In the meantime, her car came back and is parked in the yard. So now the head guy is standing outside with a cop pounding on the door above my head demanding to open up. Since she hasn't after several minutes of pounding, the cop gave the go-ahead to the maintenance guys to drill out the lock again. So now they're up there drilling, while the cop hangs out, eating a brownie and shaking his head over how complicated this whole thing is.

Y'know, if the first maintenance guy had just come back when I made the first complaint last fall, this whole thing would have been a lot more simple, and I wouldn't feel bad at the idea that someone who is in a bad living situation (like I was a few years ago) might be having her place invaded before she's able to get out.

Had I known any of this about her squatting before I started complaining about the leak, I might have lived with the leak a little longer, to give her some time. But when they sent (a different maintenance team) out who cut a hole in my ceiling to investigate *and then never came back to fix it*, I started getting more insistent. And my management company responded immediately with these guys who are actually trying to do work. But in order for them to do work, they had to get involved in the drama upstairs.

Apparently, when the lock was changed, someone actually climbed up to the balcony and entered through the balcony door, because that door was open. And then they did something to the new lock - don't know if they changed it over night or they just damaged the tumblers to prevent its use.

Cops just said they found some "drug paraphernalia" inside, and they gave the maintenance guy permission to just clear it out, so at least nobody is going to jail for drugs. I asked if he found any kids hiding upstairs, because she often leaves them there alone, but he said no. Her car is still here, but nobody is there.

So here we are.

And no, I don't think that buying a home would solve my problems either, because then I'd have to pay for all this shit myself, which I can't afford to do. This is just what life is like when you're poor.
joreth: (Default)
I have very high self-esteem. Self-esteem doesn't mean that I think I'm awesome, it means that I see myself fairly accurately and I accept both the good and the bad parts of myself. Not that I don't think growth and change are necessarily bad things, just that I accept who I am right now and where I am on my path at any given time. There is a confidence that comes from knowing that I'm not perfect and that's OK. That's self-esteem. I am not blind to my own foibles.

Someone asked if we were to have a statue made in our honor but it would be made of an unusual material, what would that material be?

My answer is:
Something mostly stable under reasonable conditions but temperamental and explosive with the right catalyst - like C4.
I know I can be a loose cannon online.  It started out because I needed an outlet for my anger, and people who connected with the things I was angry about and the way I was angry started following me.  So I deliberately crafted "Joreth" to be that outlet, to be the place where that anger lives.

If I were to have any sort of statue made in my honor, the content of the statue can be any number of things about who I am, the things I do, and what I stand for.  But if the material is to be something "unusual", I think a tribute to my rage with a plastic explosive is fitting.
joreth: (Default)
I'm working on my memoir. I've always expected it to be published (like, on my blog or something) either post-mortem by a loved one, or at least near the end of my life. It always felt ... I dunno, presumptuous, to write a memoir while still young enough to have more stories to tell. I suppose if one had a particular segment of life that had an identifiable ending to it, that would make sense.

My memoir is basically a chapter-by-chapter review of my poly explorations, to see how I've grown and the mistakes I've made over time.  I'm also working on a book about breaking up. This is more of a how-to, self-help sort of break up manual. Although, to be honest, more than a little of the "do not do" stuff is shit that I've done (and the rest is shit that I've had done to me).

Recently, I wrote about having to block an ex over something that, by itself wasn't really a big deal, but was symptomatic of a larger picture of abuse, and then I ended up telling the whole tale of our breakup where he physically tried to restrain me from leaving.

As I get more informed about what abuse is and isn't, I look back over my history and I've come to recognize that more and more of my past relationships were abusive and I just never recognized it because, to me, that's just how relationships go, according to my expectations from my culture and the sheer commonality of the behaviour I've experienced.

Like, early on in my relationship with Franklin, we discussed something that I call Octopus-Hands - how I've been on dates, and just hanging out with "friends", who have suddenly tried to touch my breasts, and when I knocked their hands away, they grabbed for my crotch, and when I tried to block there, they used their other hand to go for the breast again...

Franklin was appalled. He couldn't even fathom that this would happen at all, let alone be common. When he expressed surprise, I responded with surprise at his surprise, telling him that this is just what it's like being a woman who dates men. Like, it surprised *me* that someone was surprised that it happens. I think it was my first sign that my experiences weren't "normal" - or rather, they were "normal" in the sense that they were common, but they're not "normal" in the sense that they're acceptable or universal.

I talk about my abusive ex, who didn't abuse me because I didn't "take" it but did abuse someone else, and I talk about my abusive ex-fiance who *did* sexually assault me and gaslight me on the regular. But I never considered that other ex, who tried to prevent me from leaving, and who did the whole pussy-grabbing-while-asleep-after-I-said-no-sex-tonight thing to be "abusive" until I wrote out the story recently.

The growing realization of just how many of my past experiences were actually, unambiguously abusive combined with my writing of a book on how to break up, and the periodic drive to get back to my memoir all combined at once yesterday to forge an idea that popped into my brain.

What if, after my how-to breakup book is published, I rewrite and release a serial publication of some sort detailing every breakup I've ever had (that I can remember)? Maybe I can crowdfund it, and each breakup will get its own release, perhaps on my blog, perhaps as an e-booklet or something? Might this be something people would be interested in?

If not, I'll end up publishing my original story anyway, probably as the original blog series, but later in life as planned. I was just struck by the confluence of subjects and events and wondered if I could connect all these things together.
joreth: (boxed in)
"Friendships can be abusive. It took me a long time to realize that a friend can manipulate you, emotionally abuse you, gaslight you, and that the effects of that trauma can last for years after the friendship ends. Abuse also knows no distance; one of the most damaging friendships I ever had had thousands of miles between us. We haven't spoken in years and I'm only recently discovering the depths to which that friendship has affected me to this day. I didn't even want to admit the fact that it was abusive in nature even though she's not in my life anymore because her hold on me is still present, and because I didn't think friendships could be classified as abusive relationships. But they absolutely can be. Please be careful and take [care] of yourselves and if you think a friend is crossing a line, please reach out." ~ jacksisko
When I was in high school, I had a best friend. Because I tend to nurture post-breakup friendships, I did some post hoc analysis with my exes. With 3 different guys (every guy I was involved with one way or another while she and I were friends), I discovered that she contacted each of them to deliberately mislead them about me.

Each guy, she tried to convince I was cheating on him. One of them, I did end up cheating on him, but only after she told him that I already was, and I did so because instead of confronting me about it, he just turned into an asshole and I turned to another guy friend for comfort that led to sex, instead of dumping him for being an asshole (I was a teenager with my own relationship issues).

One guy just flat out didn't believe her. We're still fairly close.

And the third guy I wasn't even dating, but he was a friend of mine who was actually obsessive about me and was girlfriendzoning me, trying to be my "friend" so that I'd eventually recognize him as superior to all those "losers" (i.e. like the awesome guy above who refused to believe her lies) and dump them to be with him instead.

It was only after she ghosted me on our high school graduation day (devastating me on what was already an emotionally challenging day) and the final romantic relationship breakup happened a year later and then all the post-breakup repairs were done with all 3 guys that I found out she had pulled the same stunt with each of them.

As I connected the dots on the patterns of our relationship with the benefit of more information and hindsight, she turned out to be extremely jealous of anyone who was taking up my time and attention and was manipulating everyone around her and gaslighting me about their behaviour in response to her manipulation to control our friendship so that she was my sole focus.

She is one of the main reasons why I held onto the Chill Girl persona for so long - I'm not one of Those Girls, I don't do Drama, I just don't Get Along with women, blah blah blah. It's taken me a really long time to learn how to trust women again, and I have never gotten over my physical withdrawal from them. To this day, I still can't initiate a cuddly, affectionate relationship with women like I had with her. I can only respond to overtures of affection, but I can't initiate (once an affectionate pattern has been established, I can, but I can't be the one to start that pattern).

My cousin also tried to develop an abusive relationship with my sister. She would go into a rage if my sister didn't put her first, didn't read her mind and anticipate her emotions. I've told the story before about my grandfather hosting a BBQ in my sister's honor when she came to visit (after having moved up north from living in their neighborhood for a year or two), and my cousin just going ballistic at my sister for receiving the invitation from our grandfather instead of directly from my sister. It didn't seem to matter that it wasn't my sister's party, or that my sister didn't even know about it at first. What mattered is that my sister wasn't the one to extend the invitation. She did shit like this all the time.

So, yeah, you can have abusive friends too. Abuse is about control. It's a belief that one is justified in controlling another. Platonic relationships do not offer some kind of magical vaccine against one's deeply ingrained belief that they are justified in controlling other people.

If anything, I might suggest that women, with our social permission to develop deeply intimate platonic relationships, can be particularly prone or at risk of doing this to others, and also likely at risk of having it done to us by abusive men we are not dating but who *want* us to date them, because girlfriendzoning seems like a situation just ripe for someone with beliefs about entitlement and controlling others to obtain what they feel they are owed.
joreth: (Default)
www.publix.com/pd/high-road-ice-cream-bourbon-burnt-sugar/RIO-PCI-537206

Because I don't have health insurance or a lot of disposable income, I've never been "tested" for my alcohol "allergy".  It's not even an allergy, it's just something I react to, but it's easier to shorthand that with "allergy".  But it's not just that I "don't like alcohol", or even that I just "don't like the effects of alcohol" - it's something that makes me experience it in a way that's different from other people, and that way is unpleasant.

Basically, I feel what feels exactly the same as a lactic acid burn in my shoulders.  It feels like I've been lifting weights, only without the muscle strain.  And my core body temperature, not just the surface temperature, actually rises a degree or two.

I also suspect that I'm a supertaster, from the description.  This is an actual genetic marker that we have identified on DNA, but I haven't had the spare cash to get one of those DNA tests done to see if I have it or not, but I sure tick off all the checkboxes.  Then there are those people who think cilantro tastes like soap.  I'm not one of them, but, again, there's an actual genetic marker for it.

Here's why I believe that my alcohol thing is not just a "preference" but something actually different about me, possibly genetic but who knows?  Just like those people with cilantro, and there's some other food that does a similar thing, alcohol all tastes like "alcohol" to me.  It doesn't matter what it's made from, it doesn't matter what the quality is, everything with alcohol in it *tastes like alcohol*.

I can recognize different drinks.  I can tell the difference between wine and vodka, for instance, but underneath the grapes and potatoes, wine and vodka has the same "alcohol" taste underneath it and it's all fucking terrible, just like how all cilantro tastes like soap.  And beer - I can tell that beer is different from wine or vodka, but ALL BEER TASTES LIKE BEER.  No, I don't care how hoppy it is or what-the-fuck, it all fucking tastes like goddamn beer.

So here's another data point that adds weight to my hypothesis that I have an actual -something- the way supertasting is a thing and cilantro-as-soap is a thing.  I bought some bourbon ice cream because I was curious.  It's made with actual bourbon but it's non-alcoholic (I assume the alcohol is just lost during the processing).  And I can taste the thing that makes it bourbon *but I don't taste alcohol* so I actually like it.  It might not compete for my top favs like pomegranate-vanilla cream with chocolate swirl by Hagaan-daaz, but I'll eat the whole pint (in several sittings).

I used to drink frou-frou mixed drinks all the time, before I decided that my not-allergy made drinking totally not worth the expense or the side effects.  My favorite was a Godiva something or other from Bennigans - basically it was a vanilla ice cream and Godiva chocolate swirled milkshake with Bailey's Irish Cream.  It was fucking delicious.  Except for the alcohol taste underneath all the sweet creamy goodness.  If I could have gotten them to make the same thing without the alcohol and to drop the price since there's no liquor in it, then I would have just ordered it virgin.

I also bake with alcohol all the time.  My special developed-in-my-own-kitchen frosting recipe uses a shot of different alcohols, depending on what taste I'm looking for.  The alcohol isn't cooked off, but it's one shot or less for an entire batch of frosting, divided up among usually 96 mini-cupcakes. That's not *enough* alcohol to register, apparently.

So, when I say that I don't like the taste of alcohol, I'm actually referring to the *alcohol*, not necessarily the drink (although, honestly, some of the shit y'all drink wouldn't be worth drinking even if they had a virgin version available - there's absolutely no reason to drink tequila, IMO, if you don't want to feel the effects of alcohol). Because, apparently, if I can have the taste without any of the alcohol, I guess I like some drinks after all.
joreth: (cool)
I think my parents are finally getting the hang of this whole poly thing.

Since we got married (at my parents' house), my parents finally remember and recognize Franklin as my partner.  Because he's always been long-distance to me, he isn't in a lot of my pictures that I post online and I don't have a lot of "we did this thing last weekend" stories about him, so it was easy for my parents to "forget" that I'm dating him.  But now he's a legal spouse, so that "counts" to them.

During the whole wedding extravaganza, they had a chance to meet Ben, who is our Squiggle Designated Extrovert and can charm the pants off of anyone (especially girlfriends' mothers).  Both of my parents just fell in love with Ben, who made himself indispensable during the wedding by filling in the gaps wherever someone was needed.  Ben has the same sort of "family" connection that I do, which is that family-of-origin of the partner is important so he makes friends with parents & siblings of partners that even outlast the romantic relationships.  I still send holiday cards to my high school boyfriends' parents.

So now they can't pick just one of my partners as the "real" one, because Franklin is the spouse and the person I've been with for 13 years and Ben left such an impression on them that they continue to text each other directly just to see how each are doing.

I had to actually reassure my parents that neither I nor Franklin would feel slighted if my parents developed a friendship with Ben because of his outgoing, friendly nature that makes him so easy to like.  They were concerned that we would feel that they were undermining or dismissing our married relationship by befriending Ben, so I got to have yet another poly talk with them about the independent nature of solo poly relationships and the solid self esteem of both of my partners who do not take things personally when people like or dislike the other one because it has nothing to do with them personally.

Now my parents actually tell me to pass along their hellos and well-wishes to both partners!

#polyamory #ItOnlyTook20YearsButTheyMightFinallyBeGettingIt #ParadigmShift
joreth: (polyamory)
One of my ongoing rants is the anti-polyness of pop songs. With only a very small exception of artists who do an excellent job with music production and in that "it factor" in writing music, most of the songs that are written by poly people as poly songs are really pretty terrible songs, quality-wise. The recording quality is terrible, they don't have the full range of instruments to make a good, round sound, and the lyrics, while they rhyme, aren't really all that catchy.

Say what you will about the banality of pop lyrics, but they're catchy and they stick, which is what makes the songs popular.

Popular music (through the ages and genres, not just Britney's and Justin's music) is popular for a reason. It's well produced, it's catchy, the combination of instruments and vocals blend into pleasing sounds, and if the lyrics themselves aren't exactly high poetry, they're memorable and they flow.

So I've long said that what we ought to do is just record parodies of popular music with poly themes - people would be much more willing to listen to it, I think. Of course, we'd still need decent recordings, but we already know that the melody will be liked.

So, here's an excellent example: One of my favorite songs is Pink's Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely. I think it's an EXCELLENT example of what it's like to be solo poly, except the song is clearly not poly. It has one line that explicitly excludes multiple partners. But, it also means that there is really only one line that needs to be altered to make it a solo poly anthem. And it's ridiculously easy to change this line too...

I don't wanna wake up with another
But I don't wanna always wake up with you either

to:

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either

So now we just need someone who can do justice to a Pink song to get the karaoke track and a decent mic and record this very slightly changed song to make a *really* good solo poly song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEwKSFdA-Y



Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

I love you so
Much more when you're not here
Watchin' all the bad shows
Drinking all of my beer

I don't believe Adam and Eve
Spent every goddamn day together
If you give me some room there will be room enough for two

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either
No you can't hop into my shower
All I ask for is one fuckin' hour

You taste so sweet
But I can't eat the same thing every day
Cuttin' off the phone
Leave me the fuck alone
Tomorrow I'll be beggin' you to come home

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Go away
Come back
Go away
Come back

Why can't I just have it both ways
Go away
Come back
Go away

Come back
I wish you knew the difference
Go away
Come back

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely

Alone I'm lonely
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
I'm tired

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely

Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
Tonight
Go away

Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/telling-poor-people-to-just-cook-is-stupid-10102260

When I first moved into this apartment, it literally did not have a fridge, stove/oven, and cabinets (or dishwasher or disposal).  Like, it really came with none of those things.  I had to obtain them (I never did get a dishwasher or disposal - no room).  I was so poor, I had to accept from my boss an advance on my paycheck to cover the rent deposit so that I could escape my fucked-up situation with the dude who was killing my cats.

When I moved into this place, I had just moved 7 times in 2 years because I'm so poor, I can't afford decent housing so I keep living in these shitholes that are so bad, one of them literally had the water shut off by the city to try and root everyone out so that they could raze it.

So, after the expenses of moving 7 times in 2 years, and having a boss generously offer to give me cash so that I no longer had to keep my poor cat in the car in the parking garage while I worked because I had nowhere else to keep her, and after spending $50 FOR EACH APARTMENT APPLICATION I FILLED OUT because application fees are now standard, I moved into a place with no fridge, no stove, and no cabinets.

Eventually, I obtained these things.  Eventually.  But they are still inadequate. Between my lack of proper storage, the fact that I live alone, and the fact that I'm anorexic and simply *cannot eat* the volume of food of a normal person, it actually costs me more money to cook my own food after factoring in the amount that goes bad before I can eat it and I have to throw it out.

And all of this is even with having a pretty comfortable kitchen trousseau (and I mean that literally - in high school, I started collecting household items, one at a time, and storing them until I could move out, under the assumption that I would be building my own kitchen for my future husband and family (I was raised Catholic)).

Every time one of my kitchen utensils needs replacing, I scour the thrift stores and dollar stores and Walmart trying to find the absolute cheapest way to replace it and have it still be functional.  If I was just moving into my first place and had nothing at all, or I had to move in such a way that I lost most of my stuff (like someone being reintroduced to society after a long stint in jail, for instance), I certainly couldn't afford to outfit a kitchen like mine all at once.  And by "like mine", I mean "still has a hand-cranked mixer", not "has the whole line of Cuisinart tools" level of kitchen.

I do cook.  But for just me, and the storage limitations, if I'm going to be spending extra money on home-cooked food, I'd rather spend it on baking ingredients that I can share with coworkers and friends instead of produce that I can't eat all of before it goes bad and can't store to keep anyway.

The rest of my food budget is most efficiently spent on individual sized, well-preserved meals that provide me with the veggies that I can't afford to buy fresh and what little protein I need in my diet to prevent the weird health issue I have when I don't eat meat.

And some fast food when I don't have time to go shopping because it now takes me 2 fucking hours to drive 12 miles to and from work and I'm one of the lucky ones with a (mostly) working car or when I'm stuck on a job site without my portable hot plate and have to eat out because there are no break room facilities in my job for bringing a lunch.
joreth: (anger)
Here's the thing.  The latest guy I blocked on FB is an ex-bf.  One of the reasons why I dumped his ass is because I suspected him of spying on my internet activities (we were in a poly relationship at the time, so there was no reason to have done so, other than fucking entitlement, which I'll get to in a moment).

He is a rather skilled computer networking type guy.  In fact, I learned a lot of my own networking skills from him.  Sometime after I moved out, my computer crashed.  I was dating another somewhat skilled networking type guy at the time who helped me recover my hard drive data.  During the deep recovery process, we uncovered a keystroke log buried in my hard drive.

This keystroke log did, in fact, show exactly a private IM conversation I had set up with a friend to "test" to see if this guy was spying on me.  We said some things in that conversation, and when my ex let some things slip that he would only have known if he had seen that conversation, I moved out.  And now here was the evidence that I was not paranoid, he did, indeed, spy on me and it wasn't by chance that he happened to say the right things to make me suspect him.

So, years later, he found me on FB.  Contrary to all my advice to other people, I have a habit of keeping toxic people in my life, justifying to myself that I want to "keep tabs" on them.  So, after about 3 years of letting his friend-request sit in my queue, I dubiously accepted it.

Now he fancies himself a "photographer" because he has money for all the latest technology, which makes just about *anyone* look like a competent photographer without doing all the hard work of learning the foundations of art, like composition, photography history, art theory, color theory, light theory, etc. and he's not a total bull-in-the-china-shop with computers.

So he decides to contradict me online about photography and Photoshop, which he himself admits to not being an "expert", even though *I am one*.  Most of y'all ought to be aware of how I respond to mansplaining my job to me.  So I blocked him.  Because fuck him.  I was already on edge with him with the whole violating-my-privacy thing.

He immediately contacted me using another account.  Not with an apology, of course, but to whine about me responding to his last comment and then blocking him so that he couldn't see my response, and he wasn't trying to argue with me anyway, so why I gotta be so rude and block him?!

Here's that entitlement thing.

You see, when people are told in no uncertain terms "I do not want to talk to you anymore" (which is exactly what a block is, and y'all fucking know it), and they keep trying to talk to you anyway, this is entitlement.  They feel that their desire to continue communicating with you is more important, and worth more consideration, than your desire to NOT communicate with them anymore.

It doesn't matter if it's an apology, if it's to continue the argument, to "explain" that they weren't trying to argue, or what, when someone tries to end communication and you try to continue it, you are, in fact, absolutely saying that your desire to continue trumps their desire to end it.

Here's why I get so pissed off at this:  His entitlement to attention at this very minor argument and his entitlement to my privacy are the same thing.

He feels that he has the right to access me even when I have explicitly said he does not.  My express wishes to cut off contact were dismissed.  The very idea that I could have private internet communication without his knowledge was dismissed.  Whatever reasons he had for violating my privacy, he believed those reasons justified violating my privacy.

And this is why I get so pissed off at people for doing seemingly minor infractions.  These infractions do not happen in a vacuum.  These infractions are usually part of a pattern.  Entitlement is a foundational value, and that value will affect all other interactions with people.  Feeling entitled to access someone, *even when they said no* can and will manifest itself in different ways.  Maybe he has some kind of line drawn somewhere in his head where his entitlement justifies his intrusion into [Group A] people or situations but not [Group B] people or situations.

So, like, maybe if a girl he hit on in a bar said she wasn't interested, he would totally respect that rejection.  But other things that other people told him that he couldn't access, he wouldn't respect those rejections.

"Entitlement" doesn't have to mean that everyone who feels "entitled" are all equally capable of exactly all violations.

But it does mean that they are capable of *some* violations.

And, as a former partner, I happen to know for a fact that he is capable of some violations.

Not only did he install a keystroke log on my computer to spy on my internet activity, he also was one of the MANY former partners I've had who did not take "no" for an answer.  

I fully believe that he would never meet a stranger in a bar, ask her for her phone number, and when she said she wasn't interested, he would never, not in a million years, follow her out of the bar and violently rape her in the parking lot.  He would, however, ask a girlfriend for sex, and when she said "not tonight, honey, I have a headache", he would wait until he thought she was asleep and then start touching her in ways she just said she didn't want.

I know he would do that because he did that to me most nights towards the end of our relationship.  We even fought about it a few times, but he still did it, until I banished him from sleeping with me anymore (we had our own bedrooms, he just slept in my bed every night because I slept in my own bed every night).

Then there was the Tupperware Incident.  I had been engaged before, and my ex-future-mother-in-law bought us a set of Tupperware as an "engagement gift" (considering that she hated me, this was kind of a big deal).  I took the Tupperware when my ex-fiance and I broke up (another relationship I had to "escape" from, but that's a tale for another time).

So, here I am, moving all the way across the country, my first *real* time away from home, and I move in with this guy.  And I bring my Tupperware with me.  Then the suspicions start, then the "test", then I move out.  I tried to mostly get my stuff out of the house while he was at work, to avoid a confrontation.  He knew I was moving, but I was hoping to just not be there one day when he came home.

On my very last trip back for the last of my stuff, he came home as I was putting the last load in my car.  It was awkward and tense, mostly because I didn't actually, "officially" break up with him, I just said I was moving out to try living on my own (since I never had, at that point) and to live closer to campus, where I had started going back to school.

As I walked to my car, he asked about the Tupperware.  He accused me of stealing it from *him*, that he had stolen it from his ex-wife when he kicked her out, and he wanted it back.  We argued, and I tried to end the argument (as I often do) by just leaving.

Before I could close my car door, he literally dived, head-first into the driver's seat and across my lap, holding onto the steering wheel, pinning my legs down, and blocking my view, to prevent me from leaving.

So I laid on the horn and screamed "rape!"  It was dirty play, because he wasn't trying to rape me, but he *was* assaulting me.  Startled, he backed out of the car and I peeled out of the parking lot with my door still open.  I used to street race, and I have a manual transmission, so as long as I could physically operate the car, he was not going to win against me in a car.

I also used to do really foolish shit, like drive with two of my friends hanging onto the hood of the car and one guy laying across the roof of the car, really fast around curved roads.  So I am *not* afraid of using my car ... unconventionally.  I also hit one of my closest friends with my car once, in retaliation for an injury he gave me, so I'm also fine with using my car as a weapon (we had an, let's just say "interesting" relationship - my teen years were kinda dramatic).

All I needed was enough room to operate the vehicle, and I would have driven off with him still hanging on through the open door, if I had to, with absolutely no concern about flinging him out of the car by simply taking a fast turn.  Because I used to do shit like that for fun.

Fortunately, for him, he was startled enough by the scream and the horn and he voluntarily backed out of my car.  I never contacted him again. We had run into each other a couple of times after that, and he never once apologized for physically restraining me as I tried to leave, or even acted awkward or concerned about our last encounter.  As far as I can tell, he doesn't think there was anything unusual about how we broke up, which is fucking frightening.

So when someone violates a boundary like "stop talking to me online", I know that this violation is possible because of a sense of entitlement.  And I know that when someone has a sense of entitlement, it is not isolated to one specific action.  It is an underlying belief structure that informs many different actions.

Which ones, I do *not* know for every single person.  But I know that entitlement sends out little tendrils at the base of their behaviour decision tree, and those tendrils flow under and around and through that decision tree, touching various branches here and there.

So while I don't know exactly what else someone with entitlement is willing to violate, I know that they are willing to violate some things.  When a person is blocked on social media, and that person *immediately* tries to contact the other using another account (and I will make a small exception for those whose attempt at contact is a humble, contrite, PROPER apology with no defensiveness and an awareness of wrongdoing and a willingness for accountability, but I have never actually seen this from anyone who was blocked who then attempted to force more contact within a few moments), then I know they are willing to violate boundaries.

I know this person is unsafe, because they have *just* demonstrated a lack of respect for boundaries, a willingness to violate boundaries, a sense of entitlement that their desires trump others' needs, and *I don't know what else this entitlement will affect*.  But I know that it will affect other interactions.

That makes someone a *very* unsafe person indeed.

So, sure, trying to contact someone after they've blocked you might not seem like a rage-worthy offense in the grand scheme of things, not in isolation.  But doing so reveals that they *are* willing to make rage-worthy offenses, because doing so requires them to have an underlying sense of entitlement to access another person against their express wishes, and that value does not exist in isolation.
joreth: (being wise)
https://onbeing.org/blog/the-gift-of-presence-the-perils-of-advice/

Just a bit of perspective - but when people are complaining about "technology", particularly mobile phone usage, this is actually what they're asking. They're longing for more present-ness from people. They're asking you to witness them.

So while I am firmly on the side of "technology is good, the internet has saved lives by bringing connection to those who have little or none, and nobody owes you their attention", when a partner or friend spends a lot of their time on their device while physically spending time with me, it can feel hurtful because it feels like they're not really present and not witnessing either me or our rare and limited time together.

Sometimes I wish various partners I've had wouldn't be so prepared with their charging cables and their phones would just die so they have no choice but to be more *here* with me, because phones are so rarely their "in case of emergency" device there days; they're usually their "get instant answers and check in on people who are not present while the present ones wait for attention" devices.

So maybe "completely unplugging" is an unrealistic or selfish request, but if someone you value is complaining about your devices, perhaps putting it down a little more often and just being in the moment with them is an act of kindness, a response to a bid, that you can afford to pay a little more.

Also, stop with the fucking unsolicited advice. Seriously, if you feel this compulsion, there are tons of FB groups with people asking advice and Quora is a place specifically designed for advice giving.
"Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good."

"He talked while I listened and asked a few more questions. When we were done, he told me that some measure of peace had returned. It was a peace that had come from within him, not from anything I’d said. I’d simply helped clear some rubble that blocked his access to his own soul."

"Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through."

"And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up. As Mary Oliver has written:

“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”"
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
http://www.crocs.com/p/womens-busy-day-stretch-lace-up/204760.html

I think my mom didn't realize that I have 2 separate wishlists.  She usually hates buying me clothing because she's afraid it won't fit me, even if I put the size in the instructions (don't ask - it is *very* important to my mom that other people be happy, and she doesn't want me to be unhappy with her choice of gifts). But this year, she *only* bought me things from my clothing wishlist.

2 years ago, I separated my clothing into its own wishlist because she and my dad were getting overwhelmed by the sheer size of my wishlist. So now I have 3 - a clothing one, a gift-card one, and an everything-else one (I also have an "adult" one but mom doesn't need to see that one).  Anyway, mom bought me a pair of shoes I had on my wishlist.  When Crocs first came out, I hated them.  I thought the clogs were the ugliest shoes I'd ever seen and I refused to wear them no matter how comfortable they were (and, it turns out, I didn't find them comfortable either).

Then they started making *shoes*.  A former friend of mine, who is seriously high-femme, was wearing an interesting pair of high heels and I commented on them.  She said they were Crocs and they were so comfortable, that they were the only heels she could wear for an entire weekend at a sci-fi convention, on her feet all day, every day.

I was impressed.  So I went to their website and fell in love with their high heeled wedges and a pair of sandals.  I bought the sandals at a local store, where I could try them on, and they are now the only shoes I'll bother to wear unless close-toed shoes are required for some reason (like work).  I also discovered that I can't bake without wearing them because standing barefoot on the hard kitchen floor for that long hurts my lower back, but the Crocs sandals make it possible to stand and walk for hours without pain.

So I tried the wedges.  I've written before about how comfortable and cute they are. When I go dancing, my dance shoes are floor-exclusive - they cannot be worn off the hardwood dance floor because of their special soles.  So I need shoes to wear to and from the event.  I want to wear my Crocs because, even in shoes made for comfort while dancing, after 4 hours of it, my feet are killing me and I can barely walk.  But my sandals are not attractive.  They're not as ugly as the clogs, but they're not high fashion either, and certainly not suitable for the femme attire I dress up in to dance.

Enter the wedges.  When I am *literally* hobbling off the dance floor, I put my wedges on and stand up, and instantly my feet stop hurting.  I have been known to walk around the block for another 2 hours after dancing, while wearing my Crocs wedges.  So I now have them in 2 colors and a third pair of mary-jane style wedges.

Between my retail job (which believes its employees should never sit down and always look "busy"), and my backstage job (which requires unloading trucks, pushing cases from the loading dock to the room we are setting up, and then staging our storage room across the convention center from the event room), I walk an average of 5-15 miles per day.

Yes, I know it's a big gap, but some days I sit down backstage and only have to walk from the parking lot (a mile away) to my room, and then from my room to the break room (about half a mile away, no I'm not being hyperbolic), so I can get away with about 5 miles of walking.  But make enough .5 mile trips from the dock to the room, and 15 miles comes quick enough.

When I'm not actively lifting heavy things and therefore wearing my steel-toe boots, I wear my Converse high tops with special insoles.  These are very comfortable and helpful.  But after 15 miles, I still wish I could be wearing my Crocs.  So now Crocs has sneakers, and an all-black pair.  So I put them on my wishlist and my mom actually got them for me for Christmas. I've worn them twice now at my retail job AND I LOVE THEM!

They have the squishy, bouncy Crocs sole & insole, and the rest of the shoe is made of something like Neoprene so it's very stretchy and "huggy".  I really wish they made high-tops because I have not worn low-top sneakers since before Reebok high-tops came in fashion back in the '80s.  I'm really not a fan of low-top shoes, but I was willing to try it out for the sake of Crocs sneakers.

If you need a good pair of walking shoes that aren't specially formulated for some kind of exercise or sport that you're doing, I'd recommend trying out one of their styles of sneakers. If you can, visit a Crocs store to try them on first, but if you find Crocs to be comfortable at all, you will probably like these sneakers. They do have other styles, as well.  And for those who wear larger sizes and/or prefer "masculine" styles (not that there's a big difference between the masc and femme styles of tennis shoes), they also have this style they call the Swiftwater Hiker, which I actually like better but they don't make in my small size:  http://www.crocs.com/p/mens-swiftwater-hiker/203392.html
joreth: (boxed in)
So, about 6-ish years ago, I lost my long-term place to live.  I had been there for years and I was given no notice (there's a legal reason they could do that but it's long & I don't want to go into it).  Because I had no notice, and I was poor, I spent the next 2 years bouncing around.  A friend would take me in with no notice, that situation would become untenable, I'd have to find the first place I could afford, that place would bottom out, another friend would have to take me in, rinse repeat.

In the middle of all this, I applied for low-income housing.  Let me tell you why this is not a solution for people with low incomes.  More than 4 years after I applied, I finally heard something from them today.  And it's not to say that I finally got in.  No, it's to say that one of their properties is changing owners, so I'll have to go on a *separate* waiting list if I want to still be considered for that property.

I had completely forgotten that I had even applied for low-income housing.  Fortunately, for me, I managed to bust my ass enough to make just enough money to afford this shitty little apartment I found with a landlord who was (at the time) a real person I could talk to and explain things to, and not a management company who has to follow "policy".

Otherwise, I might have spent the last 4 years couch-surfing still (and wearing out my welcome with friends all over town), waiting for the city to get back to me with an apartment I can afford.

This is why poor people stay poor. There are just not enough resources to help them get out of a system that is designed to make them stay in it.
joreth: (boxed in)
I wish they had told me in high school that suicidal people usually *don't* announce to you that they're going to commit suicide, especially when followed by some kind of condition, such as "I can't live if you won't go out with me".

I wish they had told me this was a manipulative, abusive tactic and that the correct response is to immediately call the authorities and warn them that someone is a danger to themself, even and especially if they tell you not to, and let people trained in this help them.

I wish I hadn't spent 5 years worrying about a "friend" just because I wouldn't date him, and then another 10 years feeling like I was a mean person for finally snapping at him and telling him to just fucking do it then, but if he isn't going to, then stop telling me about it. And then yet another 10 years still talking to him, trying to salvage a friendship out of the girlfriendzone he kept putting me in.

I wish they taught the wheel of abuse in middle school, so that I would have been prepared for when I met all the abusive boys and men I let into my life, when I was pressured to be "nice" to them because their behaviour was "romantic", and even if I didn't return their feelings, when I was told that I still owed them kindness just because they "loved" me.

We keep arguing over sex ed in schools and whether or not to teach people who are probably already sexually active what's going on with their bodies, but we almost never talk about what's going on with their minds. I wish we taught kids how to recognize abusive tactics, in others and in themselves, and how to disentangle themselves from abuse.

I wonder who I would be today if anyone had taught me these things?

#TheWindowsWereFineToBeginWith #NotAllLessonsNeedToBeLearnedFirstHand #IBetIWouldBeALotLessAngryToday
joreth: (being wise)
So, this is interesting. I'm putting together a playlist of love songs that don't suck. Basically, I just want songs that are merely absent of exclusivity in their lyrics and absent of promises of forever. And I'm grading those criteria gently. I recognize that, while I have found tons of songs that *technically* qualify as poly-ISH, in that they're explicitly about multiple partners in one way or another, most of those songs actually suck. They are either poorly produced, or they're joke or satire, or they're just badly written.

So if I want to get all schmoopy with music, I'll settle for songs that I can apply to any individual partner because they don't actively prohibit the presence of others outright or they don't violate autonomy by making promises that can't be kept and so reasonably shouldn't be made. In other words, if I can't have good quality "I love you and you and you" or "I love you, but not to the exclusion of the others I also love" in songs, then I'll take "I love you but without 'forever' and 'only you'".

So, now to my point.

I had the song I'll Be by Edwin McCain in my library. But as I added it to my YouTube playlist, I thought "why don't I just double check the lyrics, in case I'm missing some context that plain text might help me see?"

When I looked up the lyrics, I started to get a little wibbly about its inclusion in the list, what with it's line about "love suicide" and its future tense implying a promise. So I looked up the meaning of the song, and I learned that it was never intended as a love song, but of a guy processing his feelings during a breakup.

And, ironically, his explanation actually made me feel better about including it as a love song that doesn't suck.
"It was the end of a relationship for me, and it was also an admission of my inability to function in a relationship, hence the love suicide line. And it was the hope that I would be better, grow and be better as a person. I was struggling with some personal problems at the time, as well, so it was all of those things. It was this admission of failure and this prayer that I could be a better person, wrapped up as sort of the end of a relationship kind of thought. "
To me, an admission of one's faults that contributed to the demise of a relationship and the motivation to become a better person through one's experience in a relationship IS a song about love. Maybe the relationship ended, but he is taking responsibility for his own part in the demise, he is using the experience to be a better version of himself and to grow, and he is not holding onto bitterness when he says he'll continue to be a fan of her and her work. Those are very loving acts.

I wish all breakups were as positive as that, even though this particular breakup was traumatic for him. Some breakups are relatively painless (but likely a little bit uncomfortable), and some are just fucking torture. But if this is how we come away from them, regardless of how much they hurt to go through, I will have considered that a successful ending (or "transition").
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  That fucking show! This is Florida, it's not that dramatic.

Monkey Brain:  You must bulk up for the winter. You need calories.

Me:  Shut up, I do not. It's frickin' 86 degrees outside and anyway, I have heat at the house.

Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  Stop saying that!

Monkey Brain:  Eat all the things.

Me:  I DO NOT NEED INSULATION FOR WINTER!

Monkey Brain:  Chocolate. Pastries. Cheese. Sugar. Carbs. Winter is coming.

Me:  I hate you.

#EatingSeason #BrainChemistrySucks
joreth: (strong)
www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-its-like-to-win-the-lottery-as-a-woman/2017/11/24/c90f67ea-cd69-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html

When I was in junior high and high school, my teachers and administration were all very good about telling us what domestic violence looked like. I vowed at an early age that if anyone ever so much as raised a hand to me, whether he followed through or not, whether he expressed remorse afterwards or not, there would be no second chances. I was vocal about this vow. I told everyone how I felt about anger and violence. I didn't even allow anyone to touch me in any manner if they were angry. And I have never been in a physically violent relationship.

But what my schools were not good about was explaining the more subtle forms of violence - emotional and sexual abuse. Sure, we knew that "no means no", but nobody ever mentioned what it meant to have him keep you up all night, every night, begging for sex, so that you suffered chronic sleep deprivation over a series of weeks, and what that sleep deprivation does to you emotionally and physically, so that eventually you say yes just to get a full 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Nobody explained when yes means no.

So by the time I reached my mid 30s, I believed I had only been in one abusive relationship, and that it didn't "stick" because I got myself out relatively quickly and easily. And even that relationship I didn't recognize as abusive until years afterwards. I just thought he was a dick.

The thing with emotional abuse is that it tears down your sense of self, of who you are, right to your core, so that you end up hollow and empty, not a real person anymore. And that's something that, for some reason, I have never had taken away from me. So, in a sense, I was correct that abuse aimed at me doesn't "stick". In that sense, I am a lottery winner.

But the author of this piece talks of being stalked, but never touched. That's what makes her a lottery winner. I, however, was "touched", many times by many abusers. I just didn't recognize it, so I could turn my back and walk away.

I dated someone whose victim tried to tell me in that incomprehensible way that victims call out for help but that nobody can understand. He didn't touch me, so I didn't see it. Until he did try to touch me. And even then, I still averted my eyes. I tried to reassure him, certain that his unreasonable behaviour was merely insecurity that, if I could just reassure him enough, he'd learn to move past.

But he didn't want reassurance, he wanted control. So when I reassured but didn't bend to his control (it didn't stick), *he* dumped *me*, to the shock of everyone closest to us. To everyone who was close enough to know, I was his healthiest and most stable relationship at that time. Literally every other relationship in his life was falling apart at the seams. Nobody anticipated our break, or that he would be the one to initiate.

I won the lottery. I saw what happened to those for whom his abuse did "stick".

Abusive tactics are taught as a matter of course in this culture. They are celebrated in pop culture, they are modeled in our parents, they are accepted by all as The Way Things Should Be. Everyone has picked up some of these tactics somewhere along the line and everyone has used them or excused them in their own behaviour and on behalf of others.

But the vast majority of that time, they are not in "abusive relationships". They are not performed as a foundational part of an overarching goal to dominate and control another. They are often used as ... time savers. Someone wants a certain outcome, manipulating the flow of information just a little is easier. A child won't eat her brussel sprouts, says she doesn't like them. Mom gaslight her "yes you do" because it's just too much effort to have a reasonable conversation with a finicky 3 year old and because her mom told her the same thing so it obviously can't be all that bad of a tactic.

In my relationships, however, it has taken me until nearly middle age to recognize that a harried mom trying to get her kid to eat healthy is not the same kind of disempowering, entitled sense of possession the gaslighting, coercion, manipulation, and controlling that most of my exes have done to me - that what my exes did to me isn't as dismissable as what that exhausted mom does to her child even though it's the same *tactic*. I just didn't recognize what my exes did to me as abuse at the time because nobody told me what it looked like and it didn't "stick".

I won the lottery. I've bedded down with wolves and didn't get eaten, although I got nicked a bit here and there. I won the lottery. So far.
joreth: (polyamory)
Not too long ago, Professor Sex contacted me and asked if I had some extra energy reserves to address a question she had. She asked, if I was on a poly/CNM social networking site (not a dating site but there are no moderators/rules about dating etc.) and I see the following post: "Hey folks, we are a secured married couple in seek of a third to complete our triad. Any women in our state?" --- if I were to assume that they were well meaning and just needed to be educated, how would I reply to that?

So I wrote out a long response. And a whole ton of it got used in an article addressing Unicorn Hunters! I think it's a great article (not just because it uses so much of my own material) and I'm so pleased to have something like this I can bookmark and link to in all the forums whenever this subject comes up. I like it because the tone is so much nicer than I usually end up being because I'm out of patience, and yet it doesn't mince any words or pussyfoot around the subject, or even make allowances. That's a really hard line to toe.

I even got to throw some love out to my dear metamour, Maxine, when the link to her blog post about poly unicorn math was included. Remember, I have now added tags for all my blog articles on Unicorn Hunting, Hierarchy, Couple Privilege, Triads, and Solo Poly, which are all related to the subject of this article. Most of the posts under those tags are decidedly not so polite in tone.  But if you're looking for more of my opinions on the subject, they can be found here.

I was also asked a second question, which may or may not find its way into another article someday.

In your opinion, is there an ethical way to "unicorn hunt"?

No. The term was specifically coined to describe an unethical practice. By definition, it is unethical. The words themselves mean "mythological, non-human creature" and "predatory". It is a label for behaviour that is dehumanizing, objectifying, and predatory. I write more about how and why it's unethical on my blog.

There is, however, an ethical way to form a triad that happens to have two bisexual women and one straight man - and that's by simply being one of those people and managing to run into the other two people and having the relationship form naturally out of the compatibility between those people. Don't try for one. Be open about who you are and what you have to offer a relationship, and be open to meeting all kinds of people and considering all kinds of relationships. An FMF triad may form out of the people you meet that way, and if it happens organically, without any prescripting of roles or having anybody in the relationship tell another person in the relationship what they can and can't do with their own bodies, minds, or emotions, then it might be an ethical FMF triad.

Don't try to find people for the spaces in your life, find spaces for the people in your life.
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
For me, the difficulty I have with holidays is not about having to spend time with family (either of origin or of choice). Even though I am MUCH more radical on just about every single topic than almost all of them (with the exception of my immediate polycule, the Tangle, who I *don't* get to spend holidays with anyway because of distance), I still like spending holiday time with family.

The difficulty I have is when the holiday gatherings include people my family is close to. So, like, if I host something, it's all people I get along with. But if I go to their house, usually the only people I connect with are the ones I bring with me and the hosts. Because I am the more radical one, my friends are less radical. And then they have friends who are less radical, or otherwise different from them, and those friends have spouses who are similarly more conservative than the friends-of-friends, and so on and so forth.

So, for me, the difficulty of holidays is the anxiety of attending a gathering which will have a high but unknown probability of running into someone who has a perspective that I strongly, personally, disagree with, and I'll have to do mental calculus about how to respond.  Even choosing to do nothing takes a mental toll on me, so just being in that space with that person is exhausting and trying.

These days, I'm becoming more and more anxious and undesiring of attending social functions simply because I don't want to deal with "friends of friends" who are, say, Trump supporters, or who casually joke about rape, or who throw in the random mildly racist statement (even if it's "benevolent" racism), or who feel the need to remark "well, to each his own, but *I* couldn't do it!" when they first figure out that I'm poly, etc.

Like, even when I choose to let it all slide so that I never once get into an argument, I still don't want to deal with it. A part of me wants to say "I like you well enough, but your friends suck and I can't pretend to be nice to them anymore, even though they're being perfectly polite to me."

But if I did that every time I got an invitation to something, I'd literally never leave my house or socialize again. Because there's ALWAYS someone around who says or thinks something awful, and even though socializing takes energy because I'm an introvert, I'm still human, which is a social species, so I still need some social contact.

But today I'm feeling it. I had absolutely no bad or awkward encounters on Thanksgiving. Nobody said anything within my earshot to make me uncomfortable. But I was on edge the whole time waiting for it.

And I'm thinking about all the other upcoming holiday parties - parties that I actively want to attend - and thinking about all the different times that I'm going to be feeling this anxiety about dealing with people I don't like when I'm there to have a good time.

And today, I just don't wanna.
joreth: (Default)
 
This is pretty accurate, I think. I'm on the Relaxed side of the spectrum but not very far, so I have some bits of On Edge anxiety. I'm also on the Engaging edge of the spectrum but just *barely*, so I have a lot of Avoidant traits too:

Relaxed-Engaging (Secure): Relaxed-Engaging individuals tend to have good self-esteem and typically find it easy to share their feelings and opinions with others. They spend less time fretting and second-guessing themselves than individuals in the other three quadrants, [all me] and they generally find it easy to ask others for help or support when in need [I do not find it easy to ask for help].

They are usually straightforward and trusting in their relations with others [I am straightforward, but not always so trusting], and their usual state is one of being open, approachable, and relaxed [I am open but I am not always perceived as "approachable" because some people find me intimidating, apparently]. For this reason, they typically have fewer interpersonal defenses than others [this is patently not me - I have tons of interpersonal defenses].

They naturally seek to connect with others while remaining realistic about the transformative power of intimate relationships: Relaxed-Engaging individuals don't expect to be swept off their feet, or to have their entire world turned upside-down by the arrival of some romantic savior or the like - they're already "comfortable in their own skin," so to speak. Instead, they seek to cultivate simple virtues, such as mutual trust and a sense of shared intimacy with others. They generally don't play games, but seek to establish uncomplicated and mutually beneficial relationships. [This is definitely all me]

Relaxed-Avoidant (Dismissive): Individuals in this quadrant often take a dim view of others, preferring to keep their distance and guard against invasions of their autonomy and privacy [I am cynical and my experience has been that my autonomy will be violated repeatedly because the world experiences me as "woman", so life has made me "avoidant" in this sense].

Relaxed-Avoidant personalities tend to have a strong belief that others are too different from them for truly intimate relations to be worthwhile. They may have a spouse and family, and even be solidly anchored in a stable network of friends and acquaintances, but at the end of the day, they tend to avoid entering into relations where emotional interdependence and intimacy are required [I do not avoid intimacy or emotional interdependence and in fact crave it, I just don't find it very often because people really *are* very different from me, at least in how we each perceive the world. It is because of the fact that I don't avoid these things that I keep finding how different I am from most people].

Unlike individuals who fall in the On Edge-Avoidant quadrant, Dismissive personalities tend to be quite content keeping their deepest feelings and views to themselves, and they often have a deeply-held belief that the opinions of others are mildly irrelevant or even second-rate [Again, I don't keep my feelings and views to myself - I blast them from the rooftops, but I do tend to think that other people's opinions are basically irrelevant]. Consequently, many Dismissive types are often quite good at dissimulating, that is, appearing to share their innermost thoughts, while in reality, they are simply appeasing others without ever letting them come close. [Yep, not me at all. What you see is what you get]

Independent and proud of it [me], these individuals can typically achieve remarkable feats of social manipulation and self-restraint [funny, but every time I've tried to do this, in order to "better" a community, I've failed spectacularly], but on the downside, they may have trouble kicking bad habits (such as drinking or smoking) which they can enjoy in solitude and use to comfort themselves, independently of the company of others [not me at all].

They can frequently be unmotivated or lazy with regard to the duties that others expect of them [depends - if it's expected of me and I didn't agree to it, i.e. gender roles, I'm unmotivated to adhere, but if it's something I agreed to like working out with a friend, I'll stick to it better than if I didn't have their expectation to motivate me], but on the other hand, they are often very original (since they are not hindered by concerns about having to conform to the expectations of the group).

Finally, they also tend to be intelligent risk-takers, since they are at heart relaxed and cool under fire. [yep, me]

The Horizontal Axis: Relaxed-On Edge

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards themselves. Roughly speaking, individuals who fall towards the Relaxed end of this axis appear self-sufficient, confident, and low in anxiety when engaged in social situations. In short, they give off the impression of being at ease with themselves.  [yep, me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the On Edge end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of being more vulnerable or concerned than their Relaxed counterparts. In a nutshell, On Edge individuals feel a sense of unease about themselves whereas Relaxed individuals tend to be more at ease. [this is accurate of my experience being Relaxed]

A complicating factor in the precise administration of this axis is that On Edge personalities have often learned to counteract their root uneasiness, for example by being intensely gregarious and charming, thus causing others to believe that they really are Relaxed (whereas in reality, they are overcompensating because they feel that if they did not, others would not notice them). [Yep, this is not me, so being on the Relaxed side of the axis is accurate]

The Vertical Axis: Engaging-Avoidant

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards others. As a general rule, individuals who fall towards the Engaging end of the axis appear approachable, open-hearted, and open to forming relationships with others. In short, they give off the impression that one could easily become friends with them and form a relation where they will keep you in their thoughts. [Depends - some people tell me that I appear approachable, open-hearted, that I'm a good listener, that they surprised themselves by confiding things in me they haven't told others, but some people say the opposite of me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the Avoidant end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of independence, coldness, aloofness, and of being hard to approach. [This is what the other people say of me, so it depends on the person and whether they associate "independence" with coldness and being hard to approach or whether they find "self-confidence" to be "indimidating"]

In essence, Avoidant individuals feel a sense of unease about others whereas Engaging individuals tend to have fewer fears about forming connections with others. [This is why I'm on the Engaging side, but just barely. I don't feel unease or fear about connecting with others, I just don't often think it's worth trying when I can tell that we're very different people]

Avoidant individuals may give off the impression of being simply private or closed, but according to Attachment Style Theory, this demeanor is really an adaptation; a counterattack against their root feeling of uneasiness about others. [And this is why I'm not Avoidant, but just barely. My closed-off-ness is a defense mechanism, but it's not in response to "unease". To me, it's like wearing a seatbelt - I'm playing the odds and choosing caution, that's all]

(Note that an Avoidant Attachment Style is not the same as an Avoidant Personality Style.)
joreth: (being wise)
I'm an introvert. That means that I spend a lot of time in my head. Introversion does not mean shyness, or lack of social skills, it means that interactions with people outside of one's monkeysphere is taxing on the emotional reserves and one will need some alone-time to "recharge". That's all it means.

If you like socializing and like people, but you feel tired after *most* (not all) social interactions and want to spend some time by yourself or with just one or a few close intimates, you're an introvert, not an "ambivert". But introversion / extroversion is a whole other topic. Because introverts "get energy" from being by themselves, that often leads introverts to being very introspective as well. MY VERSION of introversion includes having imaginary conversations with people. Lots of them.

By the time I've said something out loud, it's been rolling around in my brain for a while now. Unlike extroverts, I'm not "thinking things through out loud". I'm now sharing conclusions. I've reached a conclusion *about my viewpoint*, but since a viewpoint can be changed with more information, it doesn't necessarily mean that I've found The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything (42), just that I know what my subjective position is on the subject. Now, either I need something from outside, or I'm done and I'm making an announcement.

Some extroverts, particularly those with a P in their personality designations, when they hear "I want you to do something", what they actually hear is "Hey! An option! There's a thing that exists! Just FYI, for you to add to your list of options!" When an introvert like me says something, though, I'm actually saying "I've made a decision that this is a thing that needs addressing."

So, when I say "we need to talk about this", I'll say it gently. I'll say "hey, I'd like to talk about this when you have a moment" or something flexible or soft like that. But some people will hear that and think "OK, there's no time limit so it must be not a big deal. I'll get around to it when I feel like it."

But what I'm *actually* saying is "I want your full and undivided attention to address this thing. I am not going to infringe on your autonomy to decide when on your behalf, because that will only add resentment to the difficult conversation, so I'm giving you a warning that you need to choose some time that you can dedicate to this thing, because it will require your attention."

When I say things like "I need to talk about something", it's the Check Engine light going on - this isn't the moment that the car explodes in a fireball, but it's not idle chatter either. If you don't address it, that fireball is in your future. You should probably address it while it's something as simple as needing oil, not when you're sitting on the side of the highway, stranded, with black smoke pouring out from under the hood.

So every day that goes by after I've said "I need this from you" is a day that I give up a little more on you. It's one day's less worth of trust that you care about me or have my interests at heart. It's one day's less worth of caring that I have back towards you for this being a mutual exchange between us.

And eventually, that caring, compassion, and trust that I give up reaches a bottom where I can't care about you anymore. You stop being People for me, and there is likely nothing you can ever do to win back that trust. I will always see you as The Person Who Does Not Care Enough To Talk To Me When I Say I Need It. I will always expect you to let me down. I will always assume that anything you do that's positive for me is for a selfish reason and that I can count on you removing your effort as soon as it's no longer convenient for you.

And it doesn't even matter if you have a Really Good Reason for putting off talking to me. Because I do not pick moments to have Talks willy-nilly. Like, I've seen those romantic couples who get into fights at parties that make everyone around them uncomfortable. I've even had those partners who picks fights with me right before bedtime on work nights, or when I'm on my way out the door.

One of them actually scheduled to come over to my house one weekend, was 3 HOURS LATE, I was already in bed and had to get up to let him in, where he then insisted on having a Talk, and I had to be up for a dance performance the next morning where my appearance and my focus was actually important. I even told him on the phone when he called to say that he was finally on the road that I could not stay up that night because of my responsibility the next day.  So I don't do that shit to others. I'll give you space to choose a mutually less-inconvenient time. That's why it doesn't matter to me if you have a Really Good Reason for just continuing to not talk to me. The longer you put it off, the more I distrust you.

I once had a partner who started dating a poly newbie. She had all the usual problems adjusting to poly. After about a year, I put my foot down and said "do something about this". So he approached her and she said she couldn't talk about the problem anymore. She wanted a 6-week moratorium where she didn't have to hear anything about polyamory or his other partners at all. She wanted 6 freaking weeks where she could pretend it was just her and him.

So 6 weeks go by without them talking about it (but otherwise being in a relationship together). And then another week. And then another week. After about the 3rd or 4th month of not discussing her inability to be in a poly relationship after I said she needs to show some improvement at being in a poly relationship, let alone him reminding her that her sunset clause was up, I broke up with him. I could not trust her, and because he saw no problem with that, I could not trust him either.

So, by the time someone in your life says "there's something on my mind..." it means FUCKING PAY ATTENTION THIS IS SERIOUS. If it's not serious, they'll probably tell you that. Unless you know for a fact that this person is the type of extrovert who likes just throwing shit out there and has no attachment to anything they're saying, and that what they're saying right now is indeed one of those things, then assume that every time someone in your life says that they want to talk or that they want you to do something for them, that this is a bid for your attention that will get weighed against all the other bids for attention, and the longer you refuse to acknowledge that bid, the more they will pull away from you.

Dr. John Gottman at the The Gottman Institute has written entire volumes on bids for attention. Bids for attention are basically any statement or gesture towards another person that requests their attention back in some way. It could be as simple as saying "I talked to my sister the other day." That's a complete statement, not a question, so it might seem like it doesn't require an answer. But what it means is "I'd like to chat with you."

If you don't pause for a moment to say "Really? What about?", then you turn away from their bid for attention. If you *can't* turn towards their bid for attention right then, you should say "I'd love to hear about it, as soon as I'm done with this thing, OK?" That's still a "turn towards" or a positive response to a bid.

"We need to talk" and "I need you to do something" are much clearer than "I'm hungry [aka hint hint I want you to take me to dinner]". Those are obvious bids for attention. Not all bids for attention will be that clear, but that doesn't make them "passive-aggressive", or even "indirect communication". Gottman's research shows that couples who turn away from or turn against bids for attention have a higher chance of divorce. His predictability on this subject is in the 80-90s% rate. People who do not turn towards bids for attention WILL LOSE THE TRUST OF THE PERSON MAKING THE BID. And loss of trust leads to the end of a relationship. Pretty much every time.

Gottman's research is primarily on heterosexual romantic monogamous couples. But, just like the 5 Love Languages that has similar perspective limitations, it's actually applicable to *any* interpersonal relationship - friends, parents & children, coworkers, and in poly relationships, metamours. Orientation is also irrelevant, although there may be some cultural differences in expression and in response proportions.

Saying "I need this from you" or "we need to talk" is what Gottman calls a Sliding Door moment. That exact moment that the bid is offered is not usually the big blow-up ending. But that's the moment that the decision the other person makes that leads inevitably towards the path - the make it or break it moment.

If you've not ever seen the movie Sliding Doors, and you can still stomach Gwyneth Paltrow, I recommend it. It's a brilliant film that explores possibilities. What happens when the door to the train stays open just long enough to catch it? What happens when you just barely miss it? Whether the door slides shut in front of you or behind you isn't a noteworthy event, by itself. But the chain of events that stem from when the door shuts leads to very different outcomes.

Bids for attention, particularly large bids like "I have been thinking of something for a while and it's a big enough deal that I'm finally saying something about it and it needs to be addressed" are sliding door moments. Every day that this bid is not addressed is lost trust.

Lost trust leads to the end of relationships. By the time I'm willing to verbally say "this is a problem and we need to talk about it", it's a Big Fucking Deal and we need to talk about it. Every day that we don't talk about it is a massive withdrawal from our shared Trust Account. When that balance hits zero, you stop being People to me and I close myself out of the account. You can then start trying to build up more trust again, but I very likely will never trust you again once I've checked out, no matter what you do.
joreth: (polyamory)
I write a lot about the non-possessiveness of love.  This was my latest comment on someone's FB post:

I cannot share my partners because my partners are not my possessions to share. Their body, minds, emotions, and time do not belong to me, they belong to them and them alone, and THEY choose to share THEMSELVES with me (and anyone else).

What they choose to give of themselves to others is not something taken away from me because it was never mine to begin with.

What they give of themselves to me is a gift. And only when received without entitlement and without obligation does it remain a gift. Otherwise it is a tithing, and I am nobody's lord and master to be tithed to.

We are equal partners in this partnership. That which I choose to share of mine, I share freely. That which they choose to share of theirs with me, they share freely. Together, it blends into a wonderful new entity that is our relationship.

But always it is made up of mine and theirs, and we each retain sole ownership of ourselves - our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our time - to share with whom we choose.

Nobody can take that away from me which is not mine to begin with. My partners are not mine to share, they share themselves with me, and that is exactly what makes relationships so special, so unique, and so irreplaceable.
joreth: (polyamory)
Q. How do you handle things like shared finances, economic support, gifts, co-owned property, etc. without letting those financial entanglements create Escalator expectations in your relationships? When people start buying dinner for each other, or buying gifts for each other, or owning property together, it's usually a sign of a relationship going somewhere, like, to the next step. But what if you don't want to move to the next step? How do you mix finances and still stay off the Relationship Escalator?

A. I'm solo poly and always have been. I don't live with any partners. But I do tend to date other people who respect autonomy very highly. We discuss our expectations and assumptions about money early and often in our relationships. And then money (or the equivalent thereof) is offered as gifts freely, without obligation. Sometimes the gift is rejected, and that rejection has to be received gracefully - that's part of the "without obligation".

One of my partners has a full time job whose salary more than meets his needs, plus he puts in a lot of overtime. He has his own goals for his money and I don't pay attention to the specifics like how much exactly he makes or what he does with his money. I just know that he is comfortable with his spending and income.

I, however, am a freelancer. My income is erratic. Some months I have a surplus, some months I have a deficit.

This partner will often come over for several days at a time and then go home and we won't see each other for several days at a time again. No set schedule, just whenever we both feel like it. Every so often, he hands me a handful of bills "because I eat your food and I want to help out."

I am free to reject it if I want to, but I know that helping others makes him happy and he can afford what he gives me. I don't expect this money and he gives it to me whenever he feels like it. It's totally no-strings-attached. I have food at the house that he can eat. Sometimes he gives me cash to put towards buying more food.

When we go out, we just automatically assume that we're going dutch, unless one of us says "I got this". And then the other one just smiles and says thank you, and that's it. There is no obligation to pay, and no expectation of payment or of what that payment "means". It just happens when one of us feels like doing it.

He also likes to do repairs around the house. His Love Language is Acts of Service. He'll fix things, like my washing machine when it got vandalized, and he installed a watering system for my plants in my tiny garden. He does these things because that's how he shows that he loves people. He does these kinds of things for *everyone* who mean something to him and who will let him.

One weekend, we drove 4 hours south to a mutual friend's house, climbed an ancient tree in the back yard, and re-rigged this massive potted plant that the previous owners had hung there years before. We had to cut the chain out of the tree branch and re-hang it with padding so that it didn't cut into the tree again. The mutual friend had once mentioned that he was afraid the limb would break during a storm and crash into the house. So, because my partner and I both climb things and hang things for a living, we went down there to fix our friend's tree. Because we love our friend and it made us happy to help.

Then there's the story of my metamour and my AAA insurance. She was concerned for me and had the money at the time. It made her feel better to know that I had emergency roadside service with my car breaking down a lot that year. She paid for one year, I said thank you, and that was the end of it. I didn't expect her gift and she wasn't obligated to do it. She just did because she wanted to. And then she paid for another year. And then another. Each year was an unexpected gift. Finally, one year, she said she couldn't afford it anymore. So I thanked her profusely and told her how much it helped me and that was the end of it.

When my house got broken into and all my electronics were stolen, one of my partners who had some extra cash lying around offered to replace one of them for me. Just a gift, because he knew I needed it.

My ex-sweetie, to this day, asks me to do the driving when we meet up and then he pays for something to compensate for me doing the labor. If we just meet for, say, lunch, then I drive out to him and he pays for my lunch.

When we speak at conferences together and we carpool, he has me drive and then he pays for all the gas because he feels it's a reasonable trade-off for not having to put the wear and tear on his car or do the work of driving. I really like to drive, he really likes convenience and is willing to pay or it.

It's not an expectation, though. If he ever didn't do this, that's OK with me. If I couldn't afford to drive all the way to him, or cover the gas on long trips, I would say so and we'd work out some other arrangements.

I am legally married, but my husband and I have a long-distance relationship. We do everything dutch. We have our own households, we have our own money, we have our own incomes, and we have our own expenses. If we ever *did* have any extra money to give, we would help the other out, because we love each other and relieving the stress of being poor is an act of love.

But we are both freelancers and don't have enough to support another. However, I do pay retail for all of his books so that he gets his royalties. I don't expect free access to his writing just because we're in a relationship together. He never asked me to buy his books. I just do. Because I want to help and I have a thing about supporting artists if I share in their art (y'know, being a starving artist myself, and all).

I never found it very difficult to have a mixture of independence and support from partners, but that's because I tend to date people who have similar views on these things as I do. And, being solo poly, all of my relationships from the very beginning are explicitly not Escalator Relationships. There is never any expectation that moving in together or any of the other entanglements are on the table. Any exchange of money is given and received as an isolated gift without obligation or expectation.

If somebody wants to do something and the other can't afford it, we just say we can't afford it. Then, if the other person can afford to cover both of us, and they *want* to cover both of us, they offer. If they don't, then they don't offer. That's it.

As for large purchases like buying property - I look at these kinds of expenditures as business ventures among colleagues. Lots of people can buy property together. My parents owned a vacation home with our next door neighbors when I was growing up. They are *definitely not* poly. Making purchases or having large expenses is a totally separate thing, to me, from being in a relationship. There is no expectation of "going somewhere" because all kinds of different people make these kinds of purchases.

One of my metamours and her husband (before they were poly) bought a duplex with another couple years ago, and they've shared that house for ages now. People who aren't in relationships spend money on each other all the time. Again, reference my metamour and the AAA subscription. We're metamours, so obviously there's no expectation that we're "going somewhere".

Anything involving finances is a *business* or *legal* matter. It's property law or contract law. That's separate. So we handle things that way. If we wanted to buy property together, it would be as 2 investors buying property together.

Tying the state of our romantic relationship to the state of our shared property seems ... weird to me, and a little bit coercive. "Because we own a house together, you now have to share my bed every night and have sex when I want it because that's just an assumption that goes along with owning a house together."

That's just ... weird. For us, owning a house with someone means only that we own a house together. It doesn't say anything about the state of the relationship, except maybe that we're on good enough terms to own property together.

And we TALK. We talk and talk and talk and talk. We all just *know* that going on vacation together doesn't mean that it's a sign that we're headed for the alter or something (well, except for the time 4 of us *did* take a trip together and 2 of us ended up married, but that was the intention of that particular trip!) We all just *know* that buying property doesn't mean that our romantic relationship is necessarily changing in any way. We know that because we all talk about what these kinds of things mean to us.

Buying property together might change the nature of our relationship, but it doesn't have to change the *romantic* relationship. It means that we are now romantic partners *and* property co-owners. So we would have an additional commitment to paying our share (whatever that arrangement is) and not screwing over the other person financially, but the *romantic* relationship is whatever the romantic relationship is.

I would have the exact same sort of financial commitment to a platonic friend that went in on a large purchase with me, just like my parents had a financial commitment to our neighbors when they all bought that vacation condo together. It *certainly* didn't mean that they were now a polyfi quad or something. They were still just neighbors and friends.

I think that, probably since I've always been this way about money and relationships for as long as I can remember, even as a monogamous teenager, that I can't really conceive of it being any other way. *I* have trouble understanding why helping out a partner when they're having financial difficulties automatically means that the relationship means something different than it did before helping.

Also, I think being poor and having a lot of poor friends helps with that too. A lot of people in my industry are used to fluctuating finances and hard times. So we all kinda keep an eye out for each other and help when we can. Most of us do that with no sense of obligation, because we believe that even if this one friend that we supported doesn't return the favor, somebody else will if we should need support someday.

I had a string of bad luck with housing a couple years back and I had to move 7 times in 2 years. One of my coworkers took me in twice during that time period. No expectations, no obligation, he just wanted to help. He was between homes himself just a year earlier, and some of our other coworkers took *him* in when he needed a place to stay. So he invited me in as "repayment" for all the friends who housed him when he needed it.

The second time I had to stay with him, after I was there for a few months, his bills went up so he asked me to start paying rent. He suggested a reasonable rent amount that was open to negotiation, and I payed until I found my own place to live again. In none of this time was there ever any expectation that our relationship was "going somewhere".

One of my former fuckbuddies is also my car mechanic. He drives the same car and just has a flare for automotive maintenance. He likes messing around with engine parts. I pay for all the parts, he does the labor for free, and this is the case whether we are sleeping together or not.

He was a coworker first. At the time, I was living in one town and working in his town 2 hours away. He used to let me crash on his couch so that I could take several days worth of work in a row and not have to drive 4 hours round trip every day on top of our 12 hour work days. Free of obligation, he just supported me in a way that I needed and that he could provide.

Somewhere along the line, we started sleeping together. And then somewhere along the line, we stopped. In the middle of that, I moved to his town so that I didn't have to commute anymore so I no longer needed couch space, and he started fixing my car. We haven't hooked up in, I dunno, like 6 years now, but he came over last week to work on my car again.

I think if people learned to value their friendships more, these difficulties with entanglements and assumptions would be easier to deal with. When we make our partners into our *entire world* and our whole support system, then we start tying together all of these otherwise unrelated things.

But if we have friends that we can rely on for emotional support, financial assistance, physical labor, emotional labor, etc., and those friendships aren't expected to "go somewhere", then I think we would all be better at developing the tools that protect our relationships from these Relationship Escalator traps.

The people best suited for my nesting partners may not be romantic partners. Good co-parents might be former romantic partners or never-been-romantic partners. Caregivers to disabled people might be best found among our siblings or relatives or platonic friends. A metamour might be the best source for financial assistance during economic downfalls.

There's no reason any of this should be tied to romantic relationships and no reason why romantic relationships should be assumed to be something other than what they are.

My relationships are what they are. Sometimes, we help each other out financially. Sometimes we make legal or financial commitments to each other. Sometimes they are romantic. Sometimes, those things overlap.

joreth: (polyamory)

A quick explanation of how I have boundaries regarding safer sex practices that don't turn into "rules" or those insidious type of rules that masquerade as "agreements" from a comment I made literally upon waking and not even out of bed yet:

Q. You say you don't have rules or agreements about what people can do with others, but don't your safer sex agreements cover what your partners can do with others?

A. Nope, they address safer sex boundaries *with me*.

All of my relationships are structured to support everyone in being authentic to themselves and any "agreements" are about what "you" can do to *me*, not what "you" can do with others. And even then, those "agreements" are always subject to negotiation. "That thing you said you needed me to do to you? I don't think I can live up to that, so let's talk about our options".

Boundaries are the lines I draw around *myself* and only myself. They are the edges of where I end and the world begins. They tell you how to treat me, and that's it.

Boundaries are if-then statements. Rules are you-will statements. So, my boundaries are "if you take these kinds of precautions with others, then I will have this kind of sex with you" and "if you do these things, then I will not have this kind of sex with you". I do not say "we agree that you (and I) will not do these things with others."

My partners can make whatever choices they want regarding their own bodies, minds, and feelings with regards to other people. Only when it comes to what they do with me do I get a say in it. Then I choose partners who naturally, of their own volition, *prefer* to do the kinds of things that match my boundaries. Then I never have to police anyone, and there is never any punishment nor "breaking" some agreement (which, btw, is one way you know it's a rule in disguise) because I'm not their mother to dictate and punish their behaviour when they misbehave.

My relationships are a Choose Your Own Adventure story. If we make Choice A, the story goes this way. If we make Choice B, the story goes another way. This respects everyone's autonomy and agency at the same time. They are free to make choices about themselves, I am free to make choices about myself, together our choices create our relationship structure.

joreth: (dance)

It is my opinion that social partner dancing is *the perfect* activity for poly people. Partner dancing is a conversation; it reinforces consent and active listening and communication; it actively supports multiple partners and good community skills; it's a physical activity that increases endorphins; it rewards effort and personal growth; it provides a pathway for intimacy and vulnerability; it creates an awareness of yourself, your partners, and your effect on others; and it satisfies the Physical Touch Love Language that so many polys seem to speak (possibly why they're drawn to community-based forms of non-monogamy in the first place).

I strongly recommend the movie Alive & Kicking, available now on Netflix (at least in the US, not sure about other countries). It's a documentary about swing dancing, from its origins to its modern day revival.

These are some of my favorite quotes from the documentary because they highlight exactly what I'm always saying about social partner dance and polyamory:

There's a leader and there's a follower. The leader always has to be thinking ahead, planning what they're gonna do next, how they're gonna move the partner. The follower is responding to what the [leader]'s doing and they have this great conversation.

It's a little hard to learn. It's like a lot of good things in life, maybe you have to put in a little work to get to a place where you get tremendous reward.

When you are social dancing swing, there's no choreography. You are dancing to the music that the band is creating.

You have to improvise, you have to negotiate. Kinda like jazz music, this ability to call and respond, to read your partner and see what happens.

You're sharing your imagination with someone else. That's real intimacy. In that moment, you never recreate it, that's what makes it special.

Unlike some dances I've observed that are partner dances but they're very much "I'm on a date with my girlfriend, don't ask her to dance", lindy hop it's understood that everyone dances with everybody. And the more the merrier. I mean I think really if there were a movie called "lindy hop", the tagline should be "the more the merrier".

...

There's an incredible intimacy that forms among strangers. You meet someone for the first time and by the end of the song, you feel like they're finishing your sentences. If I had that kind of connection with someone I met in the grocery store, I'd ask him for his number. But it's not like that. In swing dance, you just move on and then find the next person.

Frankie always called it, like, "3 minute romance". You're just gonna be in love with this person you're dancing with for 3 minutes and it's gonna be amazing, and then you do it again, and again, all night long.

I know that in some areas, the lindy hop community is pretty well saturated with polys and non-monogamists.

But not in all areas, and it doesn't work in reverse - there aren't many *poly* spaces that are saturated with dancers. If I go to a swing dance in the Pacific Northwest, I can be sure to meet a bunch of polys. But if I go to a *poly* meetup anywhere, I can't be sure that I'll meet other dancers, and if I go to any kind of partner dancing here in the South, I'm more likely to meet a bunch of conservative Christians than anything else. And also, lindy isn't the only (or best) style of partner dancing.

And that seems a shame to me because the nature of social partner dancing fits so well with the nature of poly communities. Especially if you expand to *all* forms of partner dancing, not just the acrobatic, elite level of swing dancing highlighted in the documentary.

There are even more elements that I find valuable, such as the reverence the social dance communities have for people of more advanced age that I so rarely see in other areas of society, and the wider community safety net.

So, go watch the show if you have access to it. Maybe it'll inspire you to learn how to dance, or maybe it will help you to understand why I love it so much. It's worth watching, even with the sprinkling of anti-technology sentiment thrown in there (ah, the irony of people who disparage the internet as a form of communication in a documentary that will be disseminated and spread through online viewing & social media, but that's another rant for another day). Roll your eyes at that part, but the movie is worth watching anyway.

joreth: (boxed in)
Me: I need this information to assess where I should place my boundaries.

Them: It hurts me that you would even ask me about that! Don't you trust me to tell you? Your boundaries make me feel bad. Don't you care about me to let me in?

Me: Sure, it's cool, I'll just do the emotional labor so that you don't feel bad.

If people wonder why I'm so standoffish and hard to get to know on an interpersonal level, this is why. It's easier to keep people at a distance than get into fights over who should be shouldering the burden of emotional labor. If I push, I'm a nag or I'm disrespectful of someone's hurt feelings. If I don't push, then I don't feel safe so I place my boundaries farther out and then I'm "cold" and "emotionally distant". Which hurts their feelings.

When I was a portrait photographer in a studio, I used to have lots of clients bringing in their toddlers and babies. It was my job to make their bratty, cranky, frightened children look like the advertisement photos of baby models who were deliberately selected for having traits conducive to producing flattering portraits (including temperament and parents whose patience was increased by a paycheck). I would spend more time than I was supposed to, patiently waiting for the parents to get their kids to stop crying and fussing.

Every single session, the parents would exclaim how patient I was! How did I do it?! What I couldn't tell them was that I had built a barrier in my head to tune them out. I just ... spaced. I did not notice the passage of time and I wasn't really paying them any attention. I just let my muscle memory control the equipment and make the noises that got kids to look and smile. It's an old trick I adapted from getting through assaults by bullies as a kid - tune out, mentally leave the body, make the right mouth noises to get the preferred response.

That kind of emotional labor management takes a toll. I couldn't express any irritation or annoyance at the client and I couldn't leave to let them handle the kid and the photographing on their own. So I learned to compartmentalize and distance myself while going through the physical motions.

But the price? I now hate kids. I used to like them. I was a babysitter, a math tutor, and a mentor and counselor. I originally went to college to get a counseling degree so that I could specialize in problem teens from problematic homes. Now I want nothing at all to do with kids unless it's an environment where I am teaching them something specific and I can give up on them the moment I am no longer feeling heard or helpful.

That's not what made me not want children, btw. I was already childfree-by-choice at that time. I just still liked them back then. Now I can only stand certain specific kids who are very good natured, interested in my interests, and able to function independently (as in, introverted and not dependent on my attention).

So, yeah, I can do the emotional labor. But the cost is high. Doing the labor for too long, to the point where I have to shut myself off from empathy to bear the consequences of doing that labor, results in my emotional distance.

That's what happened with my abusive fiance. He wanted a caretaker, not an equal partner. Everything I did to remain an independent person "hurt" him. I bent a little in the beginning, as I believe partners are supposed to do for each other. But eventually catering to his feelings while putting my own on the back burner took its toll.

So I shut down. In the end, I was able to watch him dispassionately as he lay on the concrete floor of our garage, supposedly knocked unconscious by walking into a low-hanging pipe conveniently in the middle of an argument. And then calmly walk upstairs without even a glance behind me to see if he was following. He described my breakup with him as "cold", like a machine. I had run out labor chips to give, even to feel compassion as I was breaking his heart.

Of course, I didn't recognize his behaviour as "abuse" until years later, or I might have bothered to get angry instead of remaining cold. Point is, emotional labor isn't free, and if you don't pay for it in cash or a suitably equitable exchange, it will be paid by some other means. I don't mean we should never do emotional labor for anyone, just that it needs to be compensated for because it will be paid one way or another.

Since this method has served to end several relationships with abusive men where I never felt "abused" because it didn't "stick" (I just thought of them as assholes), I don't feel much incentive to change it, even though it would probably be better to either not take on so much emotional labor in the first place (which is hard not to do because I *want* to do some forms of emotional labor in the beginning as an expression of love back when I'm still expecting a reciprocal exchange) or to leave or change things before I run out of fucks to give.

But I do eventually run out of fucks to give and I do eventually stop taking on too much emotional labor. And it always seems to surprise people when I do. Because I was so accommodating before so that I wouldn't push "too hard" or seem "too selfish". But that always comes with a price. People are often surprised to learn that.

joreth: (being wise)

As a kid, I grew up on Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Crystal Gale. That was '70s country. Crystal Gale is the reason I gave to my parents, when I was finally old enough to articulate rather than just scream and throw a tantrum, how much I hated having my hair cut. I had my own 8-track stereo in the room I shared with my sister and a stack of cartridges with these '70s country icons (among others).

Then, as I started going to school and became aware of the social strata of popularity, I decided that I wanted to be one of the "cool kids". So I dumped the country in favor of Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Corey Hart, and Culture Club.

Then, around 8th grade, I hit my rebellious phase and decided that being "cool" wasn't cool anymore, so I got into edgier music like glam rock, hard rock, and metal. If my mom wanted to throw the album in the trash, I thought it was great - Poison, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Lita Ford, Def Leppard, Megadeath, Slayer, Skid Row, Ratt, etc.

But I still secretly harbored an interest in country. I wouldn't even admit this to myself, but it's true. And then, in my junior year, I found myself at a school dance with two guys who were vying for my attention, both of whom were total metalheads. We were standing in the courtyard as I desperately tried to make this encounter less awkward, when the Alan Jackson song, Chatahoochie, came over the speakers.

These two blond haired guys wearing ripped, stone-washed jeans, black band t-shirts, and heavy leather motorcycle boots playing passive-aggressive dominance games with each other both immediately stopped their one-upmanship, looked at each other, and shouted in unison "Chatahoochie!" and ran back inside the building together, while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

Still under the mesmerizing sway of popular opinion (only now it was the "we're all so unique that we reject the mainstream in exactly the same way" type of "popular"), I decided that if these two rockers could like country music, that was enough permission for me to like it again. So I got into country music right then and there, with Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill.

About a year or two later, I was driving my sister around (who was not *quite* old enough for her license yet to drive herself). She liked rap and hip hop, which bothered the hell out of me. I couldn't stand the lack of melody lines and complex harmonies and the overwhelming percussion to almost the exclusion of any other instrument.

But it was my car, so it was my music. I don't remember if a Dixie Chicks song came on the radio and my sister expressed an interest in it, if the song was on one of my mix tapes, or if *she* put the music in herself. But somehow or another, she ended up admitting to liking the Chicks "because they're not really country".

So I said to her, "honey, they're bluegrass! They're more country than any of these other country stars on the radio!" She insisted that she didn't like country music, just the Chicks, who didn't "count".

This is the first memory I have of noticing the inconsistencies with the phrase "I like everything but country and rap". How could anyone like bluegrass music but not "country"? And then, a popular country song hit the charts that was released as a hip hop ballad almost at the same time. It was exactly the same, except for the accents of the singers - white twang vs. "urban" (i.e. "black").

This song became huge radio hits on their respective stations, but I noticed that A) most people had no idea that there was a version in the genre that they "hated", and B) when they did find out, they were outraged and they "hated" the other version in spite of using almost the exact same backing track and being nearly identical except for the singers' accents.

That started me down the path of learning about how the different genres influenced each other, which led me to the history of music in general (well, that and I was forced to take a Musical Theory class, which didn't actually teach us much "theory" (which I got more from my piano teacher) but did spend the whole semester traveling through time showing us how music genres begat other music genres), which finally led me to the conclusion that people who "like everything but country and rap" are full of shit. Including myself.

I have never been able to articulate why this now bugs me so much. I spend a lot of time rambling about the frustration of people who just don't know their music history. But this article simplifies the whole thing. This isn't just a widespread musical ignorance, it's a deliberate marketing decision to racially segregate an industry. And we all buy into it, literally almost a century later.

"That’s when the “everything but country” comment started to bug me. I figured people just weren’t trying, heard Toby Keith on the radio, and changed the station. Still, I couldn’t understand how some of the people I knew who were deeply interested in music like I was couldn’t see the light and recognize the worth of country music."

"“Everything but country and rap” at its core is a class issue. I just needed someone else to say it, and it confirmed why it had been bugging me. ... Where there’s class issues, there are race issues. This is no surprise. But that’s where the story of “everything but country and rap” starts: a formal racial division."

"When popular recorded music was first able to be distributed and marketed in the 1920s, a decision had to be made. This is the South-- do we keep all of the blues-based music together? That would mean white and black in one category. It was an easy answer at the time: no. This created two, in Hubbs’ words, “racially distinct marketing categories:” hillbilly and race."

"While they seem completely separate, hip hop and country sit on the extremes of the spectrum of popular musical genres, and find themselves subject to many of the same criticisms. This, to me, threw open the door on why “everything but country and rap” is a bigger deal than it seems. Authenticity is important in both musical communities, both policed inwardly and from outside listeners."

“Authenticity seekers today reject modern commercial country and its market-driven anything-goes stylistic idiom, idealizing past artists and purist notions of a genuine folk idiom,” Hubbs explains. In embracing this fantasy, listeners forget that “country has always been a commercial music.”

"To admit you like country music is admitting you like something inherently and purely working class, which jeopardizes your status as middle class. ... The middle class white actively avoid identifying with country music and hip hop because it represents something they’re afraid of being perceived as: something other than white, and something lower than middle class."

"Country and hip hop are seen as extremes: one very conservative, religious, and traditional, and the other vulgar and violent. ... These blanket statement topics are how the cultural majority is taught to interpret these genres. There’s no discussion that these are very rich groupings of music, with many vibrant subgenres of their own. ... The anxiety that causes people to avoid being fans of these genres, however, prevents understanding this. It all sounds the same because it all sounds different than what you listen to."

I've been trying really hard over the last several years to describe the sounds that I like or dislike, rather than blindly listing entire genres. I prefer melodic music, even better if it's in my own vocal range. I also like catchy hooks, and I also like complex harmonies and intricate interplay among different instruments. This means that I do occasionally like some songs that fall under the "rap" and "hip hop" genre titles because these are rich and diverse genres that sometimes incorporate these elements.

I don't like "country" so much as I like the sound of fiddles, banjos, and Southern accents, specifically. I am more likely to find that in country music, but not always. I also like blues bass lines, so I'm also going to find that in a lot of country music, because what's more "white culture" than appropriating "black" art?

After my departure from pop music into rock and metal, I adopted the typical rocker arrogance (which has since turned into hipster snobbery) where I didn't like anything "popular" because "everyone else liked it" (completely oblivious to the immense popularity of my own hard rock idols who filled stadiums with thousands and thousands of fans).

It has taken me a really long time to finally admit that I do actually like pop music. When I first started admitting to it, I tried to soften the revelation by saying that I only got into it because I do ballroom dancing, and we have an aging-out problem. It's really hard to continue bringing in new dancers when the dance style is an older style associated with older music.

So, as you might have noticed if you watch Dancing With The Stars, a lot of dancers have been dancing to modern pop music, partly in an effort to attract newer, younger dancers, but also because some of those dancers *are* new and younger and that's the kind of music they like.

If someone looked at me sideways for having a pop song or artist on my playlist, I would shrug and say "I'm a dancer. I build playlists, and this is what brings people in." But, honestly? It's on my playlist because I fucking like the song. Maybe not my YouTube playlists, which are deliberately built to introduce people to partner dancing and get them to learn how to identify rhythms suitable to each dance style.

But my personal playlists on my iPod contain songs that I like to listen to. And yeah, I have music from Nickleback, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and about half the former-Disney-bubblegum-artist squad. That music is commercially successful because it capitalizes on sounds *that people like to hear*.

So here is yet another rant on why I dislike when people dismiss entire genres of music when I know that they haven't put in the time to actually experience those genres. You can't always help the sounds that you like or dislike, and that's not what I'm talking about. I don't care if you don't like the sound of a fiddle. But that's not "country music". I don't care if you don't like lyrics that "glorify violence", but that's not "rap music".

What has bothered me about the "I like everything but country and rap" is something that I didn't have the words to explain - this is an inherently classist and racist attitude that was deliberately, consciously, developed in our society by a commercial mega-industry for the two-fold purpose of increasing profits and solidifying bigotry in our society.

http://www.runoutnumbers.com/blog/2015/11/16/everything-except-country-and-rap

(One of these days, I still want to put together an audio quiz with little snippets of songs and challenge people to identify the song as country or not, because I bet that people who don't listen to the genre and don't recognize the songs won't do well on that test.

I also plan to put together a YouTube video of snippets of songs that exemplify the different subgenres of country music, to show the diversity of the genre - Zydeco sounds WAY different from Beach Country which sounds way different from Southwestern Country which sounds way different from Pop Country which sounds way different from this new rap/sing-talk/country crossover thing, and sometimes it's *really* hard to tell if a song is bluegrass or Irish folk music.)

joreth: (polyamory)

This is one of those ageless questions that have been going around the poly forums for DECADES. Well, ok, 2 decades tops, because the word itself is only 27 years old as of this article, and it certainly can't have been very common when literally everyone was a n00b. The point is that ever since some people felt that they had enough experience under their belt to only want to date other people with similar experience, baby polys have been getting their feathers ruffled at the thought that experienced people might not want to date them.

Every so often, one of them stomps into a forum, crosses their arms, and pouts at us, demanding to know what's so wrong with dating newbies, and how are they ever supposed to learn anything if experienced polys won't date them (sounding very much like entitled white boys demanding to know how they're supposed to learn about feminism or racism if we won't drop everything and explain it to them in the tone they prefer or getting upset if women or people of color say they don't want to date cis white boys anymore because it's too much work). And then, no matter what we answer or how we answer it, somebody gets huffy at the response that they are not entitled to our wisdom, knowledge, experience, or emotional connection. This very reaction is exactly why poly vets use the phrase "don't date the newbies".

Although that phrase is popular, it's also not entirely accurate. This is a culmination of several comments I made on the subject that I hope will answer the question sufficiently to just refer back to this over time.

The short answer is that it's an issue of ethics, entitlement, emotional resources, roles within relationships / separation of roles, emotional labor, burnout, and boundaries.
 



Q. Why won't poly veterans date newbies? How else are we supposed to learn? What's wrong with teaching newbies?

#DoNotDateTheNewbies #DateYourSpecies

It's not that vets don't want to teach, it's that vets don't usually want to teach *the person we're dating*. I've been poly for more than 20 years. I don't date newbies anymore precisely because I can't mix the Mentor role with the Partner role anymore. It creates an unequal power dynamic (that isn't consensual PE, which is equal, by definition, because it's an *exchange* of power) and I just can't do it anymore.

Teaching and dating at the same time is VERY emotionally exhausting and also creates an unethical situation because of a built-in uneven power dynamic. Those of us who have been around a while have learned the hard way to separate our teaching from our personal lives. A dead giveaway that someone is a newbie is someone who doesn't understand the danger of uneven power dynamics in romantic relationships. You'll see this in other forms of uneven power dynamics too, not just the vet / newbie one. Just asking the question, or not seeing power dynamics in relationships, or not seeing the danger in them, is an obvious sign that someone is new, or at least inexperienced and ignorant which is often shorthanded to "new".

You get your mentoring and instruction from a mentor and from other resources like online forums, books, discussion groups, etc. Then you can go back to your romantic relationships as a *partner*, not as a child / student. Most of us vets have no problem teaching. Most of us vets lead workshops, write blogs and books, and even take on a student in a mentorship role.

We don't mind teaching. We mind teaching *our partners*.

If we didn't want to teach, we wouldn't be here, on the internet, in these groups with y'all newbies. We'd all start backing out and making our own vets-only groups if we didn't like newbies and didn't like teaching them. Kinda like some weird, poly Logan's Run, where our palm crystals turn red when we've reached a sufficient poly vet age and we all ascend to a magical poly vet carousel in the sky to be with other poly vets, leaving only the children behind to govern themselves. As much as I might like to do that some days, remember how well that ended for Logan and his people?

And there absolutely are vets who back away from poly groups. After a while, they tire of having the same conversation over and over again, and they've been doing this long enough that they have a dynamic, active, supportive group of people who grok their style of relationships, and they just withdraw from the "poly community" because they're' too busy just living life and loving their extended families of choice. So those of us still here, it's not the teaching that bothers us, it's the context in which the teaching is requested or demanded.

I think that there may be a difference between poly vets and poly vets who are also community leaders. I would bet that a lot of poly vets who are also media spokespeople or lecturers or who teach workshops or who are intersectional activists - I would bet that those are the poly vets who are less likely to want to date newbies. But poly people who aren't activists and educators but who have just been poly for a while - I would bet that those people probably have more emotional resources for mentoring in their romantic relationships.

I'm an educator and activist. I need to be able to let that role go in my romantic relationships.

Also, this whole vet / newbie thing isn't binary. It's not like all vets are 20+ year vets and all newbies are 3-month old infants, and we're all set up across some imaginary line in opposition to each other. Someone who has never had a poly relationship before can still get into a relationship with an experienced person. Someone who has only been doing poly for a few months or a couple of years might feel "new" but might have garnered a lot of experience in that time and be well-suited to someone who has been technically poly for many years but has little experience. 3 years, 5 years, 8 years, - that's a lot of experience to draw on.

And not all vets are also *educators*. Vets who don't also write, blog, teach, mentor, give lectures and workshops, etc. and/or who aren't also educators in other, probably intersectional, subjects, don't reach burnout as fast. So you'll find people with lots of lived experience still willing to date newbies and also some who are willing to play the mentor at the same time.

Poly people are people, which means that they are diverse. There are all kinds of people at all levels of experience - people with little experience but who are still good at poly, people with lots of experience but who are still bad at poly, people who like to teach regardless of how long they've been doing it or how good they are at it, people who don't particularly like to teach no matter how long they've been doing it or how good they are at it, solo polys, RAs, hierarchical polys, 2nd generation millennial polys, aging hippie polys, just discovering poly after 40 years of monogamy polys, asexual polys, queer polys, straight cis polys, polys with mental illness, kinky polys, closeted polys, Libertarian polys, etc. All of these different kinds of people can be put into broad categories, and come with likely pros and cons of getting into relationships with them.

But the *specific* problem of mixing a Mentoring role into my romantic relationships is a set of cons that I no longer have the patience to deal with. Many other vets come to similar conclusions about their own energy and resources. I find that it's personally exhausting in a way that some other sorts of problems aren't, and I find it ethically questionable to have that sort of power dynamic embedded in my relationships.

Not that every single person who has been poly for more than a certain amount of time who is dating someone who has been poly for less than a certain amount of time *necessarily* has this exact same ethically questionable power dynamic. It has been pointed out in other contexts that being poly doesn't make one "enlightened" and there are certainly people who have been "doing poly" for a long time who still lack the advanced relationship skills, and who lack the power behind a community-held authoritative position.

But *I* am not a beginner relationship. I am not *just* a 20-year vet, I am also a 20-year *activist*, educator, and spokesperson. I *train other vets* on how to be even more advanced vets! I have a position of respect and authority in the poly community (or, at least, of notoriety), which adds weight to my side of any power dynamic that any relationship I engage in might have.  Even people who aren't that good at relationships but are pretend famous on the internet have a degree of power in relationships, because of that fame, that automatically influences their partners.

To me, dating newbies is like a tenured teacher who also sits on board at the school and has a vote in making policy or in deciding curriculum or in influencing the status or experience of other people in some way who then dates their under-age student who is in their class. It's an unethical power dynamic for *me*, and people in similar positions, to do it.  Since my whole interest in polyamory is in *ethical* non-monogamy, I choose not to deliberately add unethical power dynamics into my relationships when it's something I can avoid.

And because I spend so much time educating, I am totally out of the emotional resources to do it at home. Other problems that I might encounter with experienced people don't tax my reserves the way that *educating my lovers* in the basics does.

I mean, I still have to educate everyone I date on who *I* am as a person because that's part of getting to know people and finding out shared paths. But they're doing a reciprocal educating of me about them, so it's more of an equal exchange. I don't have the patience to add Poly 101 on top of that. That specific form of emotional labor is too much for me. I have other forms of emotional labor that are also too much for me, like teaching Feminism 101.

I shouldn't have to have debates and lessons *with my own lovers and partners* about whether or not I am an equal human being deserving of rights and equal treatment. When I get into a relationship with someone, I expect them to already have some of the basics down, like how to be ethical in a relationship. And those lessons on ethics are often the same lessons, whether we're talking about feminism, racism, or poly relationships - not treating people as things - so it's just tiring and frustrating to have to have those lessons with people I'm being emotionally intimate with at the same time.

I have other problems with experienced polys. But, 1) that wasn't the question, and 2) I can more easily deal with, and recover from many of those kinds of problems. I need partners who have a history I can verify, other partners I can check in with, and who have ties to poly communities. Those don't necessarily guarantee that they have all the skills I'm looking for in a partner, but it gives me more avenues to *verify* that they have the skills and more accountability for when they don't, and I don't have to spend time in my romantic relationships having the same annoying conversations that I end up in online, like repeating for the millionth time what the difference between polyamory and polygamy or poly and swinging is. By the time he's been poly for a few years and had a couple of partners, I don't have to tell him to check the glossary anymore.

Franklin's post about dating black belts is a good summary. A black belt isn't someone who has *mastered* it all. A black belt is someone who is proficient in the basics and now has enough knowledge to grasp just how much more they have to learn. A black belt in relationships is basically someone who can compensate for the Dunning-Kruger Effect (although he doesn't mention that term in the article) - it's someone who has enough education and training to be able to see how much they still don't know and to be confident in the skills they do have with a reasonable degree of accuracy.  I can have a student who is learning how to become a black belt, and I can have a partner who *is* a black belt, but they are mutually incompatible roles in my life. I can't have a partner who is also my student. It's too much work and it's unethical to date your students.

I also make a distinction between "well, I've never heard of it but I want to date you so I guess I can try it" newbies and "YOU MEAN THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE ME?! I’M NOT ALONE AND I CAN FINALLY EXPRESS ALL THESE FEELINGS I'VE ALWAYS HAD BUT OTHER PARTNERS MADE ME SUPPRESS?!" newbies. The latter type may be technically "new" to the word and the community, but they very often have the more advanced skills that I'm looking for because they often keep trying to find a way to turn their relationships into poly-like relationships except only with 1 sex partner at a time.

That's how I was when I first discovered the word back in the '90s and how one of my current partners was when I introduced him to poly 13 years ago (10 years before we actually started dating). When most of the reactions to my teaching are "there's a word for what I'm already doing?", I wouldn't really call that person a newbie. I usually call them "isolated polys", because they're naturally, inherently poly or have already received many of the skills necessary for healthy poly relationships, they just didn't know that they weren't alone.

But when the conversations are filled with "wait, why can't I call it polygamy again?" and "but I still don't understand how you can say you love me if you have sex with him!" and "can't we just have some rules in place so I can learn first, like training wheels?" and "I don't see why I need to talk to some strangers in a discussion group when I have you," I just can't anymore.

There are some common pitfalls when vets date newbies:

  • The newbie constantly feels that they are never good enough;
  • The newbie feels that they are being held to standards they can't possibly be expected to reach yet and may not even be possible;
  • The newbie feels like they can't just enjoy the relationship because everything gets turned into another lesson;
  • The newbie starts to feel like a project;
  • The newbie starts to feel like their partner can't relate to them or doesn't understand how hard things are for them;
  • The newbie feels that they are being controlled by the more experienced partner or molded to fit the experienced partner's vision of polyamory instead of learning to find their own vision of their poly self.
  • The vet constantly feels like they're a parent in a romantic relationship;
  • The vet can feel frustrated that they have to revisit lessons that they've already covered or already learned themselves the hard way, like they're doing double the work;
  • The vet can lack patience;
  • The vet can feel held back from their own personal growth because there's nobody around to challenge *them*;
  • The vet can reach burnout and lose empathy;
  • The vet can feel that there is pressure to always be the Perfect Poly Partner because they are more experienced so they can't ever make mistakes of their own;
  • The vet may have trouble relating to the more inexperienced partner, and may lack the ability to empathize and therefore expect too much of the more inexperienced partner;
  • The vet may indeed try to control or mold the inexperienced partner into their vision of polyamory instead of allowing them to find their own path;
  • The vet may start to feel like they're not really the inexperienced person's partner, but their science experiment.
When there is an extreme experience difference between partners and the relationship doubles as one big learning experience, then there's no space to relax for either partner. Think of what it might be like to date a math teacher who makes you show your work on bill night and tests you at restaurants when the check comes and makes you prove that you know how to balance a checkbook and assigns you homework.  Doesn't mean that the math teacher *never* gets math problems wrong anymore or never gets stumped by hard ones, and it doesn't mean that the math teacher is any good at anything else.  It just means that if you date someone who is also your teacher, they're going to be *better*, not perfect, at that thing and their job is to keep pushing you to get better too.

When the subject you're trying to learn about IS your relationship, you're never out of the classroom. *Everything* is Another Fucking Growth Opportunity. It adds another layer of stress on top of everything. And THEN, you still have all the usual sorts of conflicts and growing pains that comes with any old relationship.

As a vet, my relationships are *already* filled with relationship processing. We are already spending huge amounts of time digging in deep, analyzing, introspecting, communicating, revealing, and just generally working. I simply don't have the energy to *teach* someone how to do all of that in addition to *doing* all of that.

But I've also been doing this for more than 20 years. And I teach other things - I teach dance, I teach newbies at work how to do our job, and I teach other poly vets more advanced poly vet stuff. That's a lot of teaching, so when I come back to my relationships, I need to be my shoes-off self. I need to take off the Teacher hat and go braless in the Girlfriend t-shirt for a while. I need for my partners to take up some of the slack and do an equal amount of work in our relationships.

Read up on the concept of unpaid emotional labor. That's what a lot of the conflict about newbies vs. vets is here. People of color are frequently asked to perform unpaid emotional labor in their everyday lives, especially by white people. So are women or people socialized as women or people perceived as women, especially by men(etc.). Add on some intersectional issues like female queer POC, and basically their entire lives are nothing but unpaid emotional labor for everyone around them.

Most of the resentment in these poly groups over the whole vets vs. newbie thing is basically one long example of requests and demands for unpaid emotional labor. It's not appropriate to say "just don't do it". The solution is for everyone to respect the burden of emotional labor more and to shoulder their own share of it, so that teaching *can still happen* while people stop expecting others to carry all the weight of emotional labor.

Emotional Labor is a huge subject with *tons* already written about it elsewhere, so if you don't know what it means, you need to go off and read about it on your own. There, I introduced the concept and provided some context for you. I did that as an educator. Now y'all's job as students is to do some homework and look up more about it.

That's sharing the burden of emotional labor.

There are plenty of vets who enjoy teaching newbies the ropes as mentors and educators. There are also plenty of vets who are also educators who don't mind dating people with less experience, as long as they don't also have to play Teacher to their partner. If their newbie partner can find mentoring from someone else, or does the emotional labor on their own to go out and find resources and talk to others and build their own support networks, then a lot of vets are totally willing to date someone who is doing their own work. Or who did the work with vet as a mentor *first* and later traded in the "student" role for the "partner" role.

So vets dating newbies is a lot of *extra* work and an ethically questionable situation. But y'know a great way to make sure a vet doesn't date a newbie? Having the newbie complain that vets won't date them. It's kinda like when guys complain that women won't date them because they're "just too nice". Feeling entitled to someone else's experience because you are "owed" that lesson or "deserve" that lesson or that gaining experience automatically requires a payback in the form of teaching someone else is very unattractive. So maybe some vet *would* date a newbie, or mentor a newbie, or explain something to a newbie, but just not you because you're annoying and entitled and presumptuous about it.

joreth: (polyamory)

Commitments Parchment

* I am committed to discussing harm reduction plans and contingency plans for when bad things happen, because I understand that we can’t always prevent them from happening.

One style of relationships, not just in poly but in all romantic relationships, involves legislating away bad things. Fear of losing a relationship that is important is a completely natural and reasonable fear to have. It's what we do about that fear that makes the difference. For some people, the way they deal with that fear is to make rules saying that things that could lead to losing a relationship simply won't happen. I've seen lots of poly relationships with rules that say "you cannot get anyone pregnant but your wife" or "I promise not to get pregnant by anyone other than my husband." As if we can stop that from happening in relationships that include PIV sex. Oh, sure, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of that happening, absolutely. But condoms break, vasectomies fail, and sometimes someone forgets to take a pill.

A more successful strategy than trying to rule away something like that is to take all reasonable precautions (with "reasonable" being defined by everyone involved, not just the "primary couple") and to also discuss contingency plans and harm reduction. A more successful strategy is to realize that sometimes shit just happens and sometimes Game Changers come along and change the game. Therefore, we can't afford to pretend like we have control over our future. We have some, but not ultimate control. We need to accept that the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. If we go into our relationships with that as our premise, we are better equipped to deal with change when it happens. When it happens. Change is often unexpected, and we can't expect the unexpected, pretty much by definition. But we can expect that the unexpected will probably happen at some point even if we can't predict what form it will take.

So rather than freaking out about it, or feeling betrayed even though change was inevitable, I can accept that change was bound to come along and fuck things up sooner or later and just plan to change the plans. This is how my J-ness (INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale) handles P people - how a schedule-oriented person can deal with spontaneous people. I put on my schedule that this is Anything Can Happen Time. Now it's on the schedule, it's part of the plan.

I am committing myself to attempting to address contingency plans beforehand for those scenarios we can think up (like an accidental pregnancy) and immediately afterwards both for those scenarios we couldn't think up until they happened as well as those scenarios we did think up but now someone wants to change the predetermined plan, because Game Changers happen. This is especially important no matter which direction the change comes from. I might want something different than I did at the beginning of a relationship, or my partner might want something different. Either way, I need to be willing to consider alternate options. I want to be more committed to considering alternatives and backup plans than I am to any given plan, so that I can weather change with more grace and dignity than I have in the past.

(Read the full list of commitments at www.theinnbetween.net/polycommitments.html)
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Your relationship cannot "grow" if you try to keep everything the same. Even if you try to keep it "the same except this one thing". For growth to happen, you need Change.

Change is scary. Change is unpredictable. Change is inevitable. You can't determine how things will change, but you can be sure that change will happen. The best defense against negative consequences of Change is to embrace Change with flexibility and adaptability, not fight it with rigidity. Change laughs in the face of rules designed to prevent change.

As the old proverb says, a supple willow tree that bends with the winds of change will last, but a rigid, brittle tree will fall before the wind.

"The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than mighty oak which breaks in the storm." ~Confucius

"The wind does not break a tree that bends." ~Sukuma proverb

"The tree that does not bend with the wind will be broken by the wind." ~Mandarin Chinese proverb

I hate Change. I like my schedules and my plans. So I just learned how to accommodate for Change into my schedules and plans. Because Change doesn't care if I like it or not, and will do more damage the less I like it.

I had a partner once who was very spontaneous and could not be pinned down for plans. Even if he agreed to a plan, he would change it at the last minute. This made me furious, until I learned how to let go of my attachment for what I thought of as "the plan" and I started scheduling my time with him as "anything can happen time". Now it's part of the plan! It's in the schedule!

This sort of strategy needs of be applied to the bigger picture of relationships in general, not just individual dates. Many people have hopes for where they want their relationships to go. Some of us even turn those hopes into plans. And we get attached to those plans.

We need to let go of that attachment and embrace the opportunity and the challenge of Change. We need to take the challenge being offered to us to be flexible and to adapt to new circumstances and to come up with new "plans" on the fly. How quickly and gracefully can we meet this challenge? How can we steer ourselves to turn it into a new opportunity for growth, for experience, for lessons learned, for new skills?

Resistance to change is futile. You will experience Change. The more you try to resist it, the harder it it'll hit you. Your best defense for Change (and even little-c change) is to meet it head on and work with it.

Like my daddy taught me when learning to steer a boat in rough waters or drive car that is threatening to get away from me or my riding instructor when I first learned how to ride a horse - don't fight it. Lean into it. Feel what it's trying to do and work with it until it starts to trust you and gives up control. You collaborate with the turbulance and ride it out.

And then, if you're lucky, you walk away with a triumphant story. If you're a little less lucky, you learn how to rebuild the damage or how to start over. If the Change is just too big for you or you fight it too hard, you won't be lucky enough even for that opportunity. But maybe others can learn from your mistakes and we don't all have to go down the same way you did.

Your rules, your plans, your expectations don't mean shit to Change. It will come for you when it feels like it and in the form it wants. If you don't invite it in for tea, it will break down your door and make itself a 6 course meal.



To address some confusion:

I'm not saying that unpredictability is good or more evolved, I'm saying that it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, it will happen so we need to develop strategies to deal with it.

There were obviously problems in the relationship I used as an example, which is why he's a former partner. But I couldn't control HIS behaviour, and he was going to make changes. I could only control my reaction to the change. Continuing to fight him for control over how the relationship went would be an exercise in futility. I could bend with him, or I could leave, but leaving would be another change. There was no way I could make things stay the same or be the way *I* wanted them to be.

The point is that I can't escape change. None of us can. It's not fair, it's not right, but the universe doesn't give a fuck about "fair" or "right". It does what it does, and change happens.

I could change the example to include a person who has a chronic illness, rather than a spontaneous personality. Someone with a chronic illness can't always keep plans due to health reasons. I wouldn't call them selfish or infringing on my autonomy. That's what being in a relationship with a person like that means.

If we can't adjust to the changes that come with a person who needs to make changes - like someone who has to cancel plans last minute because of health issues or who won't commit to plans until the last minute because of health issues - that relationship will break.

Because the "how" and "why" are irrelevant to the fact that change is inevitable. I used the example merely to explain that a day-to-day skill that I had acquired needed to be extrapolated to the bigger picture, where "how" and "why" don't matter.

"How" and "why" doesn't matter to the number 10 bus that loses is brakes and careens into a loved one. That's a change to your life. Cancer doesn't give a shit about what we think of "how" and "why", it changes your life. A sudden influx of cash, a new baby, a random chance encounter with a person who turns your world upside down - "how" and "why" are irrelevant.

Change happens. We have to learn how to deal with and accept change, not make a bunch of rules trying to keep change from happening.
joreth: (being wise)
The latest chapter in my Street Cat Saga: Some of you may remember that I posted recently about now feeding the original 4 feral cats (one of whom was pregnant), an orange tabby, a new black cat, a possum baby, and a raccoon?

For those who missed it, I have a family of 4 feral cats living under my house - 2 black males and 2 tortoiseshell-tabby females. Both the females have these tabby facial markings that result in exaggerated eye stripes and remind me of old Hollywood "Egyptian" makeup, so I've named the cat with the true tortie markings Nefertiti and the pregnant cat with the tortie patches and tabby stripes Cleopatra. The two black cats are Mark Anthony and Julias Caesar - Titi, Cleo, Tony, & Julias for short.

I planted catnip under the house to attract ferals in order to keep the mice away, now that I finally got rid of all the mice in the house. And it seemed to work because these 4 hang around all the time. But they're very skittish about people and won't let me touch them. So I started leaving a bowl of cat food out on the back steps. Tony is the bravest and will wander into the house when I leave the door open. Occasionally he will convince one of the two females to investigate with him, but they are uncomfortable and will dart out again as soon as they see me. But Tony will now allow me to touch him.

Occasionally, a very large orange tabby will come up to the steps to eat, and if any of the other 4 are there, they will arch, hiss, and run away. He doesn't seem aggressive, but he also seems confident that he will eat the food. He is obviously not part of their pack.

One night, I left the back door open and a possum wandered in. These don't run out when they get scared, they back into corners. So I spent half an hour chasing it out of the house while trying not to hurt it. A few nights later, I heard loud crunching, which is unusual for the cats. So I peeked, and found the possum eating out of the food bowl. A few nights after that, I heard the crunching again and went to peek, but this time I found the teeniest little baby possum scooping food out and eating it! Around this same time, a fairly large raccoon had started making late night appearances at my back door when I had food out too.

Recently, I was on my front porch doing laundry and saw a black cat shape and reflective eyes. Thinking it was Tony, I clicked at it as I usually do. But this time, the cat immediately ran towards me and cautiously up the porch stairs to meet me. This was a totally new black cat.

The new black cat is clearly not a feral, but possibly abandoned. She has a rabies tag and ratty collar but no other ID, and she's REALLY friendly. She has no problem coming when I click at her and she loves being petted. She also has no hesitation investigating the house and doesn't freak out if I wander around the house, even if I block her path. She is clearly used to human companionship.

So today she wandered in while the back door was open. So I sat down in the living room and she came right up for lots of love, even resting her paws on my leg and kneading (which was very painful, given that she's a street cat with sharp claws).


My food was in the microwave so I got up when it was done and sat back down on the floor to eat and pet her. I haven't been pestered by a cat while I was eating in a long time, so what used to annoy the crap out of me was quite amusing as I tried to eat and fend off a nosy cat. She managed to knock her head into my bowl, spilling some food on the floor, so I let her eat it. Normally I don't feed people food to pets, as it's bad for them, but I imagine it can't be much worse than whatever street cats manage to scavenge normally.

Now she's wandering around the house again, and even took some time to sit on my lap while I typed for more pets. She's more anxious than house cats - hardly able to sit still in any one place for more than a few seconds, but totally comfortable in my presence and in my house.



Well, that was a close call. Tony and the new black cat officially "met". The new one is hanging out on my front porch and the door is propped open so she can come and go. Tony wandered in from the back door, as is his usual entry. He made it all the way to the front of the house and into my front bedroom. I followed him around, because he's an intact male so I usually watch him to make sure he doesn't spray.

Well the new cat saw me and came back in looking for attention. Eventually Tony wandered back out of the room and they came face to face. The new cat seemed curious, but Tony's tail started swishing. So I nudged her back towards the front door and Tony darted towards the back door.

But then they both turned back around to face each other. She moved closer, but Tony arched and hissed, so I stepped between them and they both ran out their respective doors. Tony slowed down when he reached the porch steps and seemed to no longer be agitated, but he didn't stop to eat from the bowl at the top of the steps and went straight for under the house, where he often hangs out.



Tony does seem willing to come back. He has since wandered into the house a couple of times. But because of the weather, I keep my doors closed and the air conditioning on more often now, so I don't see any of the cats as often as I used to.

The new black cat (whom I haven't named yet) has come in and spent the night with me 2 or 3 times. The first night she slept on my bed with me, but the next couple of times, she slept on the floor in the living room. I'm apparently going to need to get a litter box so that I can shut the door while I sleep and not have her damage the house.

She often spends her time cuddled up to me on the couch while I'm crafting, or on the floor at my feet when she comes in. But since the weather has turned and I keep my doors shut, I haven't seen her in a few days. I appear to have been adopted, though.

joreth: (Purple Mobius)
We're printing All The Things today and tomorrow and mailing out formal invitations next week! And the only way to get the address for the ceremony locations is through the mail!  Which means that we need your physical mailing address to send you the information you need to attend mine and Franklin's wedding, and we kinda need it right away.  The formal invitations will include all the details of the date and location, directions, lodging information, FAQs, RSVP cards, Pre-Wedding Party info, etc.  

You can download our wedding app, or login to the wedding website to give us your address and update RSVPs, or you can contact us in literally any other way that will reach us and we can update your address in our wedding app database on your behalf.  Then, if you prefer to do things the traditional way, you can RSVP using the included pre-addressed, stamped RSVP card in your formal invitation.

Please don't worry that you're "inviting yourself" - if you can see this post (and one of us hasn't blocked the other or otherwise refused to engage in multiple or all forms of interaction (see my recent post about temporary or contextual blocking vs. total blocking boundary violations)), then you're not "inviting yourself", you are invited!

But, since we don't have your mailing address (and probably your email address too, hence the public and generic posts), we can't send you an invitation yet. That's why we have to reach people this way. So you're not "inviting yourself", you are invited, but we need your contact info.

You can find our wedding app and website by visiting http://bit.ly/SquiggleWeddingCon and clicking on the RSVP link in the sidebar. Only 2 months to go!
joreth: (polyamory)
A few reminders:

1) Our wedding is public so if you can read this, you are invited (with only a few exceptions and they probably know who they are, mostly involving people I've had to block - if I've ever told you to fuck off, especially if I knew you in real life and I still told you to fuck off and then blocked you on all forms of contact, then you're probably not invited).

2) Plane tickets are going up, so make sure you make your travel arrangements soon for the wedding. San Jose (SJC) Mineta International Airport is the closest airport to the traditional ceremony and Seattle (SEA) International Airport is the closest airport to the handfasting ceremony.

Also remember that you need Northwest Recess event tickets to attend the handfasting ceremony.  

3) We have secured a block of rooms at an inexpensive (for Silicon Valley) hotel that is the closest hotel to the location for the traditional ceremony. This means that the rate is locked in and will not increase even as regular room rates increase. Any rooms not claimed under that room block 30 days before will be removed from the block and you will have to pay full price to get a room, assuming there are any left by then.

You don't have to stay here. We chose it for convenience and proximity to the wedding location and you can choose other accommodations if you prefer, but prices are going up. Silicon Valley in summertime is not a cheap place to visit, so make your reservations soon.

If you are getting a room there, please let us know so that we can adjust the number and types of rooms available. If you tried to reserve a room and the kind you wanted (2 double beds or 1 queen bed) was not available, let us know and we can add more of those rooms to the block.

4) We will be sending out formal invitations with instructions, maps, addresses, etc. in less than a month, so make sure you RSVP with your email address and mailing address before then to receive them, even if you aren't sure yet.

You can fill out the RSVP form, leave the specific events blank, and just add your addresses and comments for now if you want, and then come back and change your RSVP later.

All of this information and more, including relevant links, located here:  http://bit.ly/SquiggleWeddingCon 
joreth: (feminism)

In honor of today, a little history and a video about labels.

Today is not Mexican Independence Day and is not as widely celebrated in Mexico as it is in the US. When it is celebrated in Mexico, it is done so as a military memorial kind of day. It's only in the US that it's celebrated as a generic "yay Mexican culture" day. This date is actually the anniversary of Mexico's triumph over France during one battle (in a war that they ultimately lost). This is important to the US because, had Mexico not defeated France in this battle, the French would have been in a position to aid the Confederacy during the US Civil War, turning the tide of history.

It *started out* as a holiday celebrated by Mexican gold miners and farmers in California, who were excited about the defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 and was celebrated only in California until about the 1940s when the Chicano movement started to fight for Mexicano civil rights in the US. Then it spread out across the country, but still mostly among people of Mexican descent or in areas with high Mexican populations.

It wasn't until the 1980s when fucking beer companies decided to use the holiday to market their products that the rest of the US got in on the act. So, pretty much everything about this holiday as it's celebrated today is literal cultural appropriation capitalism. No one but the Chicano activists cared about "Mexican culture" until beer companies told us we could get drunk to "celebrate" in order to sell us more beer.

Y'know what? I'd actually kinda welcome the US "appropriating" Cinco de Mayo if the reason was that we were celebrating Mexico's symbolic victory *because* that victory meant that the Union won the Civil War, instead of "hey, we have a lot of Mexicans here, so let's throw them a bone by selling them beer with Spanish names and letting them have parades once a year to pretend that we like having them in our country".

Like, if we acknowledged that this one battle led to the defeat of the Confederacy, so we metaphorically reached across the border to shake Mexico's hand to say "thanks for being badasses, we benefited from the sacrifices that your military made in its own struggle for independence and we honor your fallen", I don't think I'd have any problem with the US celebrating another country's holiday.

"Today, class, we celebrate a small victory of our neighbors against their invaders. Even though those invaders ultimately won, this single victory kept those invaders distracted from us long enough for our own government to clean house and defeat the rebel traitors in our midst.

And, to thank them for their sacrifice, we offered our military support to oust their invaders once we handled our own rebel factions. So we celebrate in solidarity with a nation whose success is inextricably linked to our own."

#PatrioticCompersion

The Battle of Puebla

The actual history behind the holiday is kinda fascinating. The Mexican-American war and the Reform War basically bankrupted Mexico, so they tried to suspend paying off their foreign debts for a couple of years. France, led by Napoleon III, said "no way, Jose" and invaded Mexico. In a massive battle where France totally outnumbered Mexico, the smaller Mexican army managed to defeat the French at a fort they tried to occupy.

This wasn't a strategically important battle, but this military version of the David & Goliath story boosted Mexican morale, which led to the Mexicans in the mining towns in California during the Gold Rush celebrating the victory that led to the US version of the holiday. Shortly afterwards, France sent 30,000 troops and totally crushed Mexico, installing their own emperor, although France continued to be besieged by Mexican guerrilla attacks. The following year, the US Civil War was over.

If Mexico hadn't had that one win, France would have occupied Mexico much sooner and been in a position to aid the Confederacy. But instead, they were busy with their own war with Mexico and by the time they had resources to devote to our own conflict, the US Civil War was already coming to its conclusion.

France held control of Mexico for only about 3 years because, with our own war over, we sent aid to Mexico to help get the French out. Napoleon III didn't much care for the thought of tangling directly with a now united USA, especially when he was also dealing with the Prussians, so he withdrew.

In addition, since the Battle of Pueblo, no European military force has invaded any country in the Americas.


Nowadays, what to call people of Mexican ancestry living in the US has become its own political battle. Growing up, I did not identify as Hispanic because I don't natively speak Spanish, although the term is applied to people with ethnic ties to Spanish-speaking countries. When I referred to my heritage, I preferred Latina. It was much later that I learned of the term Mestizo, which is more accurate for me - a person of mixed European and indigenous Amerindian descent (which is accurate for most people from Latin America, being descended from Spaniards & Native Americans during the Spanish occupation of Latin American lands).

The term Mestizo has a checkered past, being associated with the casta system (a system of racial hierarchy imposed on the Americas by Spanish elites). But in Mexico in particular, during the struggle for Mexican independence, Mestizos made up a political majority so the term became central to the new independent Mexican identity and became more about the dual nature of heritage and ethnicity than the casta system.

As a youth, I rejected the term Chicana because I heard it as a borderline slur used by white people. I wasn't one of *those* Mexicans, therefore I wasn't chicana. But later, I learned the history of the term and came to adopt it over Latina. Latina / Latino is an colonialist term imposed upon those whose whose ancestry or ethnic heritage comes from one of the many, diverse countries in Latin America.

I also rejected the term chola for the same reasons. Cholo has been in use since the 1600s and is another casta term. It also means someone of mixed European and Amerindian descent, but the proportions are different. It means the offspring of a mestizo and a full-blooded Amerindian. Because that makes someone lower on the casta ladder, the term became synonymous with lower class.

After the rise of gangs in California in the 1970s and spreading into the 1990s, cholo came to refer to specifically Mexican-Americans who were in gangs or who adopted stereotypical attire, because of the word's association with lower class, which is the only way that I knew the term at the time. So, because I wasn't one of *those* Mexicans, I rejected the term chola as well, although I have not since reconsidered adopting the label, as it still doesn't fit me as well as mestizo or chicana.

People of Latin American regions do not typically refer to themselves as Latin American, instead usually preferring to identify more locally as the region from which they come, like Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or even more specifically, the pueblo (village or tribal) identification such as Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huasteco, or any of hundreds of other indigenous groups. Generally only the US refers to people of those regions as Latino.

"Latino" is basically like calling someone "European" and ignoring their country of origin, only if we had colonized Europe (instead of the other way around) and then named them all generic "European" whether they liked it or not just to make it easier for our census bureau and corporate marketing departments.

In the 1960s, the Chicano Movement was started to fight for civil rights for people of Mexican descent in the US. Chicano was originally a pejorative and is still used that way by some, but some Mexican-Americans chose to reclaim the label, specifically for activists.

"According to the Handbook of Texas:

Inspired by the courage of the farmworkers, by the California strikes led by César Chávez, and by the Anglo-American youth revolt of the period, many Mexican-American university students came to participate in a crusade for social betterment that was known as the Chicano movement. They used Chicano to denote their rediscovered heritage, their youthful assertiveness, and their militant agenda. Though these students and their supporters used Chicano to refer to the entire Mexican-American population, they understood it to have a more direct application to the politically active parts of the Tejano community."

"For Chicanos, the term usually implies being 'neither from here, nor from there' in reference to the US and Mexico. As a mixture of cultures from both countries, being Chicano represents the struggle of being institutionally acculturated into the Anglo-dominated society of the United States, while maintaining the cultural sense developed as a Latin-American cultured, US-born Mexican child."
"Juan Bruce-Novoa wrote in 1990: 'A Chicano lives in the space between the hyphen in Mexican-American'".
"And as Chicanos come to terms with what it means to be a part of two worlds, post-colonialism, they must now deal with the fact that they have one foot in the Anglo-dominated world, that they are indigenous to and contribute, in their own, unique cultural experience, to the American melting pot; and all the while having another foot in New World they descended from, Latin-American, Spanish-dominated through conquest and Anglo-dominated through American Manifest Destiny, empiricism, and greed."
"Journalist Rodolfo Acuña writes: When and why the Latino identity came about is a more involved story. Essentially, politicians, the media, and marketers find it convenient to deal with the different U.S. Spanish-speaking people under one umbrella. However, many people with Spanish surnames contest the term Latino. They claim it is misleading because no Latino or Hispanic nationality exists since no Latino state exists, so generalizing the term Latino slights the various national identities included under the umbrella."
It should also be pointed out that none of this refers to *race*. The US counts Hispanic / Latino as "white" even though we are not white or are of mixed ancestry. Mexicans are typically descended from Spaniards (counted as "white") and Native Americans almost equally, with something like 10% of African ancestry mixed in. In fact, genetic research on Latin Americans, and Mexicans specifically, show a very strong paternal European line with a strong maternal Amerindian line - meaning that our mixed ancestry is overwhelmingly due to colonization of conquering Spanish men impregnating local women so often that the entire genetic makeup of the country was changed to a predominantly mixed ethnicity of nearly equal amounts of European genetics through male genes and indigenous genetics through female genes. This, in itself, is an interesting rabbit hole to explore.

 

Incidentally, this is why I have not accepted this new shorthand for polyamory as "polyam". The argument is that "poly" is short for "Polynesian" and we are somehow oppressing "Polynesian" people by using this term for polyamory, in spite of the fact that the term "poly" is actually Greek and is a prefix for a great many things. Much like the controversy between Latino & Chicano, "Polynesian" is a controversial term among people for whom that term applies. Some accept it readily just as some of Mexican descent accept "Latino".

But others recognize it as a symbol of their colonization and do not self-identify as "Polynesian", instead preferring to identify more locally as the region from which they come, much like many don't like to refer to themselves as Latino and instead refer to themselves from more local regions like Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or even more specifically, the pueblo (village or tribal) identification such as Mayan, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huasteco, or any of hundreds of other indigenous groups.

Like the myriad cultures in the region known to the US as the Polynesian Isles, each region in Latin America has its own distinct culture, identifiably and often contentiously separate from its neighbors. I empathize with and strongly identify with those under the "Polynesian" label who reject the term as a symbol of colonization because of my own ethnic relationship to colonizationally imposed ethnicity labels.

With many decades having passed, the debate about accepting our colonizers' labels for ourselves vs. maintaining our ethnic identity vs. breaking off and creating a new identity that accommodates our split heritage continues, even among ourselves. I choose the terms that reflect my split heritage because I feel split, torn, apart from, and I choose terms that celebrate and encourage activism and deliberate intent and personal choice.

I like the terms "chicana" and "mestizo" (the lower case is appropriate in Mexican Spanish) over "Hispanic" or "Latina" because I like the association with civil rights, activism, and the acknowledgement of a unique culture that results from the blending of the old ethnic ancestry and the new country into which one is born. Although I still use Latinx because that is more readily understandable, I am mestizo or chicana - a person of mixed ethnicity with ties to Mexico but no place in Mexican culture; an activist who is struggling to find her own place in this world with pressures to assimilate battling with pressures to recognize and remember; someone who is neither from here, nor from there; a person with a rich cultural tapestry and yet no home.

 

 


joreth: (anger)
It's really irritating how often people insist you have to be "tolerant of intolerance" or that when you stand for one thing in a romantic relationship between two people who are operating in good faith, that you must also stand for that same thing in non-romantic relationships, businesses or organizations, or people who are trying to harm you or harm others.

I was once part of a poly group whose focus was on community leadership. They couldn't get *anything* done. They literally debated *for years* about what the group's official definition of polyamory ought to be. Everyone had to have an equal say in everything else, even if they had no experience in the subject.

In another group around the same time frame, I was hired to be the organization's webmaster. The previous webmaster, who hosted the site on their own server, was leaving so they needed to find a new host. I made some recommendations, but if you don't have the ability to host your own, hosting costs money (if you need your site to do things like e-commerce, which they did). I was argued at for *days* over why can't we just make a free Yahoo or Geocities site? Yahoo hosts their email and they've never had a problem with them, so why not use them to host the website too?

Like, just stop. I was brought on for a reason. I have skills that you don't. You should not have input on organizational topics that you have no experience with. That's not how businesses or organizations are run. Not if they want to be successful, anyway.

Both of these groups were poly, and every time I objected to literally every single member having an equal voice on every single topic, I was yelled at because that didn't match their personal philosophy of egalitarian relationships.

THESE ARE NOT ROMANTIC POLY RELATIONSHIPS, these are *organizations* that have goals and shit that needs to be accomplished. You can't run your business the way you run your love life.

Back to the intolerance thing, liberals are often dismissed for not being "tolerant" of intolerant people or ideas. The very idea of tolerance, ironically, is dismissed out of hand if the person holding the idea doesn't provide a platform for literally every single fucked up idea that crosses their path. And "free speech" is often used as a defense when people simply don't like what they have to say.

So, 1) what I advocate for in romantic relationships is not necessarily applicable to other kinds of relationships, particularly business relationships or relationships between groups or entire nations or whatever. Sometimes it is, but sometimes, often, it's not. How groups, organizations, and businesses ought to be run is not how relationships ought to be run and vice versa. Sometimes hierarchy really is the better way to do things. Just not in romantic relationships.

2) What I advocate for in romantic relationships often doesn't hold true for people who aren't operating in good faith, like abusers, rapists, Missing Stairs, misogynists, racists, etc. Yeah, you should be kind and compassionate to your romantic partners, unless he's abusive and then your compassion will be used against you. Yes, you should listen and empathize with your romantic partners, but you don't need to empathize with internet trolls. Shit like that.

And that's not at all internally inconsistent. I never once advocated for unconditional anything. My advice is contextual. Failing to see that is intellectually dishonest.
joreth: (Default)
I've been on LiveJournal since May, 2006. It's amusing - my first post says "don't expect too much, I don't have time to keep this updated." Since then, I've gotten ... prolific. But recently LiveJournal moved its servers to Russia (having been bought by a Russian company quite a long time ago). Now, it's subject to Russian laws.

Specifically, it has 1 provision that affects me and 1 provision that could potentially affect me: according to Russian law, any blog or community read by more than 3,000 readers is considered a 'publication' and is subject to State controls on publications, including the provision that the blogger or moderator is legally liable under Russian law for any content posted by any user; and blogs are prohibited from "perform[ing] any other actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation."

I don't think that I have more than 3,000 readers, so I don't think I'm considered a "publication" by their standards, although I might someday have that many readers, or maybe I do and I'm just not aware of it.  I don't think of myself as being that big of a name. But Russia does have some laws regarding content. The Russian "gay propaganda law" forbids discussion of "sexual deviancy," which includes LGBTQ issues and "propaganda of non-traditional relationships" is forbidden by this law.

Now, I don't think I'm in any real legal danger here. I seriously doubt I'm going to be arrested or sent off to Russia to stand trial or anything. But my LiveJournal blog could just up and disappear someday.  And, frankly, that's been a possibility for a while, although not for reasons of archaic and barbaric "sexual deviancy" laws.

I've been wanting to move away from LJ for some time now, mainly because people keep telling me that it's an outdated platform. Which I think is a shame, because it does everything I ever wanted in a blog. It keeps a running log of my posts, it archives them, it allows comments and gives me control over comments, it gives me design control, it's free, it doesn't take up the limited server space that I pay for on my website, and it also gives me a convenient way to follow the blogs of other people. It's basically Facebook before there was Facebook with more personalization.

But every time I looked into moving my journal over to another platform, I came across technical problems. Until recently, there was no good way to copy everything from LJ (posts, comments, design style, user icons, permissions, etc.) and set it back up on another platform. There were some clunky ways to do it, but I always seemed to hit a wall - this exporter stopped at X number of posts, that exporter didn't get comments, this other platform refused to accept my LJ password even though it's supposed to transfer from one to the other ... stuff like that.

I was able to find an archival service that could back up my posts on my own hard drive, but I had other problems getting that archive to upload somewhere else. And there were a couple of other options that were just above my technical expertise, so when looking at the long set of instructions, my eyes bugged out and I just gave up.

But with this new Russian law thing, I was motivated to look once again and this service was recommended to me. Dreamwidth offered a built-in exporter/importer that grabs all the content I wanted it to grab and actually worked, unlike some other platforms that just kept telling me that my username or password to LJ was incorrect when it wasn't. It's a free service, and it appears to have a similar "friends list" sort of reader for other Dreamwidth users. Not that I really have time to keep up with a blog reader in addition to my FB and Twitter streams (which most people use to link to their blog posts anyway). But still, I like the option.  Which means that if you have a Dreamwidth account, hit me up with it and I can follow you back.

So, for now, Dreamwidth is my new blog home and you can find it at http://joreth.dreamwidth.org. I have it set up to cross-post to LJ, which is also set up to automatically tweet links to new entries. If I can figure out a way to cross-post directly from here to Twitter, I will do that instead of tweeting my LJ.  But comments are turned off on LiveJournal so if you want to comment, you'll have to come to the Dreamwidth site, which uses OpenID so that even people without a Dreamwidth account can still participate (a plus over LJ). If you choose to link to one of my blog posts, please use the Dreamwidth URL from now on. I *think* I have it set to include the Dreamwidth link on the LJ cross-post, but if not, I will.  I still have to go through all my 1,300+ posts and manually update links to LJ posts so that they now go to my DW posts, so that's a long-term project still in the works.

Also, Dreamwidth is still, as of this posting, importing all the comments from my past posts. Their servers have been working overtime lately with the mass exodus from LJ and things are taking longer than normal. As it was, I had to wait in the queue for about 40 hours before the blog posts imported.

As always, my website is www.TheInnBetween.net and links to my blog and my most commonly used social media can be found there. I have accounts on most social media but I only use Facebook, Twitter, and my blog regularly. But if you want to find me somewhere, search for Joreth, Joreth Innkeeper, or some variation on The InnBetween.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Him: I just want to ask, and I don't want to be rude, so if I'm stepping into anything here, please tell me. But, is it ... do you just like the thrill? I mean, I don't know how to say it, but, you know, the thrill?

Me: No, I actually don't like the beginning of relationships. I don't like the novelty, the newness, the excitement of dating. Some do. I like the old, comfortable relationships that have been around a long time and you really know each other and you're "settled".

I'm poly because I just keep falling in love with people before I'm done being in love with the pre-existing partners. There are a lot of interesting, wonderful people in the world and I fall in love with some amazing people who all bring value to my life.

There's nothing missing or lacking or broken about any of my relationships. I fell in love with new people while still loving someone else.

Him: Yeah, I can understand that. It happens all the time.

#RealConversationsIHave #PolyEducatingBackstage

When I have conversations in real life, as when I hashtag #RealConversationsIHave, about polyamory, the conversations are necessarily limited. There's something about verbal speech that makes conversations linear. So I can't get to every talking point in the conversation because my response sparks a particular response in them and I respond to that and we go in a particular direction.  This particular conversation even continued in another direction from here.

Plus, a lot of times, I'm at work. For most people, being at work means you can't say certain things, but for me it means that our conversations are interrupted when someone yells across the room for help RIGHT NOW and we have to stop talking to run over and save someone from being crushed by a falling truss or road case. Or, in less dire circumstances, we're just walking in two different directions so the conversation can only last for as long as we're in earshot. A lot of my soundbites were developed this way. That and Twitter, which I deliberately used as a tool to create soundbites for complicated and nuanced concepts. But then the Twitter-created soundbites also come in very handy in these situations at work.

So there are several reasons why I am poly, not just the one I happened to address in this conversation. One of which is my aforementioned falling in love without falling out of love reason. That's why *I* have multiple partners myself. But a big part of being poly, as opposed to some other form of non-monogamy, is in how one feels about one's partner having other lovers, and in how one feels about those other lovers.

I am also poly because I very strongly believe in agency and autonomy. Because of my aforementioned reason, I know that it's possible (and even likely) for my partners to fall in love (or lust) with someone other than me and still love or like or care for me. So, because I value agency and autonomy, I am also poly because I do. not. believe. in restricting my partners' expressions of feelings for other people. If they fall in love with someone else, they should be allowed to explore those feelings because it is not my place to "allow" or "disallow" it in the first place.

The stronger I really internalize this value, the less often I feel things like jealousy. I am not prone to jealousy mainly because, deep down, I honestly do not see my partners as things to feel jealous over. Envy, sure, but a romantic relationship is not required to feel envy of other people. Envy can be felt over any number of other people, even people you don't even know personally. And envy in poly relationships is pretty simple to solve - I want to do that thing that other people are doing, please do it with me too? Boom, solved.

And the third aspect of polyamory - how one feels about metamours - from the very beginning I felt empathy and compassion for metamours. And over time, as I explored the reality of polyamory, I learned the real-life value that metamours bring to my life as friends, confidantes, pillars of support, activity mates, co-conspirators, and sometimes simply other people to share in the emotional labor and the joy that comes with relating to our mutual partner. I am polyamorous because I see my metamours as opportunities, not as threats or competitors or even "other". The people I count among my best and closest friends are people I met through a mutual partner. In fact, if my metamours weren't already going to be the groomsmates, I'd have them as my bridesmates and one metafore is my bridesmate. Their presence in my partners' lives, and by extension in my life, makes my life better.

There are definitely people who like the NRE and some who like it at an unhealthy level (NRE-junkies), but there are those people in monogamy and other relationship styles too. I, however, am not in it for the "thrill". None of the main reasons *why* I am poly involve "thrill" or excitement or novelty or newness. They all involve complex emotions and interactions which are easier to handle and feel better with time under the relationship, with familiarity.

There are some fun parts to "newness", to "the chase", to the uncertainty, to the novelty, to the NRE, but that's not *why* I am poly. I could get a lot of that from being a serial monogamist too, or a cheater, or a swinger, or any number of other relationship styles. That's not the part that attracts me to polyamory. The more complex parts are what attracts me, because those more complex parts have higher returns, for me.
joreth: (Misty in Box)

https://themighty.com/2016/03/when-you-feel-suicidal-but-dont-want-to-die/

When I was about 13, I was so severely bullied that I became suicidal. I gradually lifted myself out of that state without ever once actually attempting to take my own life.

Then, many years passed. So many years, in fact, that I forgot what being suicidal felt like. I'm not naturally depressive. I don't really have the brain chemistry for it on my own. My depression is entirely situational. When the situation is resolved, I go back to being "me".

So I spent the vast majority of my life not being depressed. In fact, I was so in love with life that I was absolutely terrified of death. It was unthinkable. It was unmentionable. It was the thing that could never happen. I was (and am, in my "natural" state) so opposed to death that I would be an Alcor member if I had the money for it. That's one of those cryonics groups that freezes you at the point of death in hopes that they'll cure whatever you died of sometime in the future and bring you back to life. Any hope, even far-fetched hope, that death won't claim me was worth having that hope.

A metamour of mine calls death The Void, and she is so opposed to it that she is dedicating her life to defeating death through science. She is a dragonslayer. I remember being that afraid, and that affronted by death. Or, I should say, I know that I used to be that person, but I don't remember how it feels to be that person these days.

2 years ago, I slipped into a suicidal depression again for the first time since junior high school. I didn't even recognize it at first, because I wasn't me. I kept losing things and I didn't see an end to the loss in my future, so I started longing for death. But I didn't self-harm. I sought help and I worked on my situation and I eventually pulled out of it again.

But unlike my childhood depression, I did not swing so far to the other side that I forgot what suicidal depression felt like. I changed my circumstances but only marginally. The fear of slipping back into those circumstances remained constant, so the suicidal thoughts remained nearby - gone but not forgotten.

With the new Trump presidency, I lost my battle again. I've been in a suicidal depression since the election and it's not letting up because it's not a situation that I can change. But I'm also not in any immediate danger. As this article tries to explain, suicide is not black and white, it's not an on/off switch. I know these thoughts aren't mine, I know what's causing them, and I know how to seek help if the thoughts get louder than my voice.

But this is what it's like inside my head these days. I'm in the grey area. I can laugh, I can have fun, I can orgasm, I can smile, and all of those things are genuine. But there is a layer underneath that doesn't go away. It's like trying to grow a garden on top of permafrost, or like trying to grow anything in this fucking sandbar of a state - It can be done, but the roots don't go very deep and the sand can take over.

The hardest part about living with suicidal depression is the inability to talk about it. I have made a conscious choice to talk about it online, but I know that it makes other people feel bad. That's really what's so hard about having a mental illness. On top of the symptoms of my illness, I also have to manage other people's emotions about my illness. I can't talk about the thoughts in my head because they will hurt the people who care about me. I can't share the emptiness with others because they feel sad for me or frustrated and helpless because they can't fix it.

I have to feel these feelings and also feel the disappointment and responsibility because my inner feelings made someone else feel hurt. So I keep my thoughts to myself except when they start to bubble over and I write a post about it because I just can't contain them anymore.

I don't want pity or to make others feel sad for me. I'm not complaining or seeking sympathy or hugs or anything. I just want to be able to have my feelings, to be understood, and to be accepted that I have depression without taking on additional responsibility of making other people uncomfortable about my feelings. I want for people to, when they hear or read my words of depression, to just go "oh, that's Joreth and her depression," not "OMG it's so sad! I feel so bad that I can't help! Now I have bad feels because you have bad feels!"

So I share these things hoping to make other people understand what it's like, so that maybe they can learn to just hear and acknowledge their loved ones suffering from mental illness without also feeling guilty or pity or sad or frustrated or hurt just because *we* aren't having the positive emotion that *they* wish we would have in this moment.

Depression, even suicidal depression, is a livable state. It's not a comfortable state, but a livable one. We need more nuance in how we approach and interact with people who have mental illness. Many of us don't need hospitalization or extreme care. Many of us just live in the grey area.

joreth: (Misty in Box)
Ever since the presidential campaign trail, the effort to work alongside people and make happy small talk yet avoid important topics takes more spoons than normal.

I'm fucking exhausted and distressed at the end of work days because I'm forced to coexist alongside of people who I now know to be truly terrible people. So I can cut off all non-essential contact with my coworkers and lose one of the main reasons why I love my job, or I can very carefully manage dozens of relationships per day to stay within very specific parameters so as to be able to laugh with my coworkers and not be reminded that they honestly don't care about my existence on a daily basis.

I used to love my job. It was one of the things that gave me meaning. It wasn't just a paycheck to me, it was a passion. I still love doing the physical act of my job, but I don't look forward to each day the way I used to anymore.  I used to say that being at work was where I could be the most "me". I had the fewest filters, was the most authentic, and enjoyed life most often. Even a bad day at my job was better than a good day at any other job (and I've worked in something like 30 other industries, so I can say this with some authority).

I no longer feel that I can be my most authentic self at work. I have more filters now, and I have to put on more of an act. This takes a lot of emotional energy and I'm less happy to be working than I used to.

I once said (OK, more than once) that even if I were to win a lottery big enough to live in style for the rest of my life, I would still work at my job because I love it that much and I like staying busy. I don't think I would do that now. I have enough other hobbies that I also love, and enough other interests that I'd like to try, that tip the scales once we add on the weight of managing coworkers' awfulness.

Now, since I still need an income, this is still the job that I love the most and I'd rather do this than any other job. But if money weren't an object, I no longer love my job so much that I'd do it for free. I'd rather be costuming or photographing something or dancing (as long as I don't have to talk to those people either, because here in the South, the dance community is filled with some awful people too), than putting up with my coworkers' bullshit just to be able to climb some truss or fight for a seat behind a camera watching another talking head lecture about quarterly projections.

And I'm sad that my job is no longer one of the greatest passions of my life, or rather that the passion has been dimmed with prolonged exposure to the reality of my coworkers' bigotry and ignorance. After 25 years in the business, I guess the honeymoon is finally over.

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