Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This is a post to say:

I am feeling so happy today, especially in this moment.

I am off from work for 3-4 weeks and I have enough money to get me through.
J is done with the Bar today (about this minute).
I emailed J's mom, apologized for things I am truly sorry for, and received a warm and loving email back from her. We even talked on the phone the next day and it was warm and loving.
I finally applied The Work to my drama from last summer, and as things were settling out in my brain and as I was deciding to send an apology email to the woman from last summer, I received a message from her. The world works in mysterious ways. I emailed her my apologies, and received a short and sweet message in kind.
I noticed on FB that an ex-boyfriend from high school was in PDX with his fam. I have held some resentment toward him for a long time because it was a weird relationship with weird dynamics, and when I tried telling him that I loved him  he hushed me before I could. I thought I saw him on the street last night, messaged him, and received a super sweet response in which he apologized for being a less-than-stellar BF and hoped we could be friends.
I had an amazing time reconnecting with my cousin this week.
I had a fabulous facial AND massage from two loving and amazing people.
Had a really great counseling session in which my counselor said that if three relationship hurts went "poof" in one week, something I'm doing is working.

And I have I mentioned our Big Party is THIS WEEKEND?! And that I am so excited??

And my GF gets home next week?!?

And then we are going to Glacier National Park for our Honeymoon?

And then I get to go back to school in September??

My life is truly amazing. I am blessed.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Swingers' Clubs

My post on our first experience in our swingers' club went live on DA. Yay! I love this post- it's really fun for me to reflect on the purely fun and positive experiences we have had, especially in the beginning when everything was just super shiny and new.

I would add the following to the post:

If you are visiting a swingers' club for the first time, here are some basic rules of etiquette and things to think about:

-Be friendly, smile, make eye contact
-Don't be pushy
-Always ask before you touch someone
-Practice talking about safer sex before you go, and expect to talk about safer sex when you are there (if you engage in any sex)
-If this is a totally new experience for you, try to keep an open mind and keep an attitude of curiosity
-Have boundaries set up with your partner(s) before you get there
-Check in with your partner(s) throughout your time there. Check in with yourself too! How are you feeling? Many people feel overwhelmed at swingers' clubs, even during their second, third, or more visit. Be gentle with yourself, and with your partner(s), and try to enjoy your moment there without expectations or pressure.
-Talk with other regular patrons of the club to hear about their positive and less-than-ideal situations and experiences. Ask about club parties, good nights to go, other ways of being involved in the community. Making friends can help you relax and enjoy socializing with other sexually positive and adventurous people!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More- Loving What Is

I forgot to include a few things in my last post:

Part of how The Work is so powerful is Byron Katie's encouragement that one "lives" the turnarounds. This includes making amends with those that you have hurt (even if initially you felt hurt, doing the turnarounds and finding examples of how those are also true sheds light on your part in the hurt occurring). 

For example, she says:
Self-realization is not complete until it lives as action. Live the turnarounds. When you see how you have been preaching to others, go back and make amends, and let them know how difficult it is for you to do what you wanted them to do. Let them know the ways that you manipulated and conned them, how you got angry, used sex, used money, and used guilt to get what you wanted...
Reporting is another powerful way I found to manifest self-realization. In the first year after I woke up to reality, I often went to the people I had been judging and shared my turnarounds and realizations. I reported only what I had discovered about my part in whatever difficulty I was experiencing. (Under no circumstances did I talk about their part.) ... You are doing this for your own freedom. Humility is the true resting place. ~p98-99
Also, I love this Q&A from the end of her book:
Q: How can I learn to forgive someone who has hurt me very badly?
A: Judge your enemy, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. See for yourself that forgiveness means discovering that what you thought happened didn't. Until you can see that there is nothing to forgive, you haven't really forgiven. No one has ever hurt anyone. No one has ever done anything terrible. There's nothing terrible except your uninvestigated thoughts about what happened. So whenever you suffer, inquire, look at the thoughts you're thinking, and set yourself free. Be a child. Start from the mind that knows nothing. Take your ignorance all the way to freedom. ~p297

Friday, July 26, 2013

Power of Now & Loving What Is

I can't believe it's been a week since I blogged last! J and I took a much-needed backpacking trip and I was able to go way introverted and finish Loving What Is, practice The Work (Byron Katie's method of practicing inquiry), and continue re-reading Power of Now.

Both of these books have allowed me to continue my practice of self-awareness and self-growth through focusing on the present moment, observing my thoughts, observing my feelings, and trying to stay enough in the present that the thoughts and feelings pass instead of attach, linger, fester, grow, turn into monsters, etc.

Byron Katie's The Work has been amazingly helpful for me this week. I had blogged about her method before about seven months ago, albeit briefly, as I had found her free materials online. I am so glad I was finally able to read Loving What Is!

Here is her method:

Take an upsetting, frustrating, etc situation or person and use it to fill out the following statements and questions:

-Who anger, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don't like? 
"I am (angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, irritated, etc) at (Name) because (blank)."
-How do you want them to change? Wht do you want them to do?
"I want (Name) to (blank)."
-What is it that they should or shouldn't do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer?
"(Name) should (blank)." 
-Do you need anything from them? What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
"I need (Name) to (blank)."
-What do you think of them? Make a list. Remember, be petty and judgmental.
"(Name) is (blank)."
-What is it that you don't want to experience with that person again?
"I don't ever want to or refuse to (blank)."

Then, with every statement that you wrote, apply these questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Turn it around (to the self, to the opposite, 180 degrees; there could be others), and find three genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in your life.

I'll provide my example of the Work I have done with J's mom as the subject (bear with me, it's a long one! also, you will see I don't follow the steps exactly, but you'll get the point):

-I'm disappointed by J's mom because she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles. She was mean and hostile during our video chat. She hasn't reached out to me since to talk or apologize.
-I want her to be more open-minded. I want her to reach out to me and to love me.
-She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
-I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we're happy.
-She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
-I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.

Statement 1: she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel victimized, left out, misunderstood, and marginalized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel at peace with myself
Turn it around: I am not open-minded, etc (2 examples: I am not open-minded of how she has lived her life; I am not tolerant of people I see as bigots)

Statement 2: She was mean and hostile during our video chat
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more amused and compassionate
Turn it around: I was hostile during our video chat (3 examples: I rolled my eyes; I felt attacked and communicated to protect my threatened sense of self; I raised my voice)

Statement 3: She hasn't reached out to me since to talk or apologize
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? Yes
---> In this instance, since I answered "Yes" to both questions, a follow up phrase that can help get at the underlying issue is to add "and it means that" to the original statement (there are other ways of doing this, including listing what "should" have happened, and making a list of the "proof" you have for your statement, and then continuing on). So I made this statement: She hasn't reached out to me since to talk or apologize and it means that she doesn't love me.
Then, I would answer the first question as No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel depressed and mournful, like I am grieving
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more peaceful
Turn it around: I haven't reached out to her to talk or apologize (this is just as true as the original statement), and rewritten- I haven't reached out to her to talk or apologize and it means that I don't love her (I don't feel like I like her very much right now, even though I do love her. So in a way this is true)

Statement 4: I want her to be more open-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel desperate.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more relaxed in myself
Turn it around: I want to be more open-minded (2 examples: I want to unconditionally accept her; I want to reach out to her)

Statement 5: She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? No- she is how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would be more at peace
Turn it around: I should be loving, self aware, and communicative. I should not be self-righteous or closed-minded (2 examples: I haven't been loving towards her in my mind; I have been self-righteous and feeling superior and "more evolved" than her)

Statement 6: I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we're happy.
1. Is it true? No- that's not reality
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and lonely and invalidated.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel complete
Turn it around: I need me to give me a big hug and tell me I love me no matter what, and that I'm happy we're happy (Ex: I haven't been very self-compassionate or loving to myself, and instead of have been critical of myself)

Statement 7: She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
1. Is it true? No- I don't really know how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad for her and sad for myself.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would have space to focus on myself
Turn it around: I am sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous (3 examples: I have had more anxiety and periods of depression the past couple of years; I feel bitter and hostile towards her; I act childishly when I feel threatened by snapping, interrupting, etc)

Statement 8: I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.
Turn it around: I look forward to being verbally abused. I welcome being verbally abused.

Byron Katie likes to say that you don't let go of thoughts; thoughts let go of you. I did this Work a few days ago, and ever since, I have been feelings so much more relaxed and peaceful about the situation with J's mom. It's really amazing. Clearly, I can't adequately cover her entire book in my blog post, and so I can't recommend her stuff enough (her website is here, which includes a lot of free resources).

What I am finding difficult is using this method in the moment of feeling threatened, angry, hurt, etc. Before or after the fact it is still an impressive way of investigating unexamined thoughts, but I am striving to use it in the moment to help thoughts pass that used to bring about a lot of upset.

I love how The Power of Now and Loving What Is complement one another. While TPN is about spiritual enlightenment, LWI is about a technique for practicing inquiry- both are about living in the moment, and observing thoughts and feelings without attaching to them needlessly and inflicting self-harm and pain. I highly recommend both to people looking to move beyond thought and emotional patterns that cause stress, worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, panic, sadness, etc.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Intimate Relationships Map #3

Add on BDSM relationships... duh!!!

Intimate Relationships Map Updated

So funny that before I published my post on intimate relationships map I caught a few different errors I had made, and since I posted it, there have been a couple other things that I realized I messed up (one I realized, another that was brought to my attention). Clearly, all of this is pretty complicated and a dynamic part of life.

The things I added are in the upper right part of the diagram:

Romantic relationships
Nonsexual romantic relationships
Nonsexual nonromantic intimate friendships

And, obviously any orientation can hook up into these relationships depending on relationship and personal boundaries (dating, solo poly, partnered poly, monogamous-oriented, don't ask/don't tell, etc).

I think you can click on the image to make it bigger :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Intimate Relationships Maps

Have you seen this map before?

Here is my reinterpretation, albeit not as pretty :) I don't particularly like the value judgements in the map above (assuming codependency only happens in monogamous relationships, only depicting empty marriages as monogamous ones- I think any of that can happen regardless of the relationship structure you are in), and I also was a little confused as to why celibacy (which has to do with sexual behavior) was included in the map, when other sexual behaviors were not (kinks, BDSM, etc) (although J did point out that for some who choose celibacy it is about an intimate relationship with themselves or god). I also totally know that my map below is not exhaustive either :)

How do you map out intimate relationships?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letter to My Partner's Parents

Dear My Partner's Parents:

I am sorry you are hurting so badly. I am sorry that our coming out to you activated such a deep and intense network of past hurt, pain, betrayal, and deceit. My mom keeps telling me, "Hurt people hurt- they hurt themselves and they hurt others. They are in pain." It's not an excuse for your behavior, but it definitely provides context for what you are saying and how you are acting, and for managing my own negative reactions to your reaction.

This is what happens when people aren't able to reconcile their hurt, whether it's from when they were 1 year old or 2 or 5 or 10 or 17 or 20 or 25 or 32 or last week. And the reasons are numerous- you didn't have time, money, access to mental health services, support from family, messaging you needed to "suck it up," internal belief systems that you deserve hurt or dissatisfaction or that life is supposed to be hard, messaging that you have to stick it out in your marriage because of X, Y, or Z. Regardless, the consequences of a lifetime of hurt spill out and ripple out and touch those around you. Like a bandage being ripped off of a wound that never healed- the skin never healed, and the blood comes rushing. But no one can help you, because you lash out like a defensive creature, hurting everyone else around you, and ultimately, you are left with no one but yourself.

This is amazingly difficult for me. I am giving up my image of being part of your family and what that looks like and feels like. I am giving up the idea that I am a loved and supported member of your family. I am giving up the idea that you are two people in my support network. I am giving up the idea that our party in just a couple of weeks will be filled with people who love and support both of us and our relationship. Instead, I am doing my best to envision other possibilities: that I will now be misunderstood, blamed for all wrongdoing, blamed for not loving your son enough and for not being committed to him and for not seeing him as "enough" for me and for not being "enough" for him, demonized and othered as a freak and idiot. That I will no longer be part of your holiday traditions and other family get-togethers. That a few of our guests at our commitment ceremony and celebration will bring with them a cloud of negative, black energy- a swarm that sees our relationship as doomed to fail in tragic divorce.

Because I am in no place to communicate with you (you don't want to understand me, and I am not going to agree with you that I am wrong and bad), here are some things that I wish I could relay:

We chose the phrase "commitment ceremony" instead of "wedding" to describe our celebration because:
1. It signaled to ourselves and to those who knew about our relationship that we have a nontraditional relationship.
2. As a way to support the LGBTQ community, including my sister and other people in our lives in same-sex relationships. And myself, as I see myself as someone who could easily be in a long term relationship with a woman.
3. To mark another way we were departing from the patriarchal institution of traditional marriage (other ways we are doing that include: both getting engagement rings, proposing to each other, having a mixed gender wedding party, K is keeping her last name, K is not being "given away" by her dad)
However, we view "commitment ceremony" and "wedding" as interchangeable, for us, because:
-We are committed to each other
-We love each other
-We plan on being together indefinitely
-We plan on getting legally married
So, to us, we are having a wedding, a commitment ceremony, a celebration of love, a party. All of those things, to us, describe what we are doing in August.

We have heard from you that you can't understand how our values are "so different" than yours. We challenge that idea. Our values include:
Love is infinite: This is related to the idea of compassionate and universal love, but also gets applied for us in how we express and feel romantic love. We don't believe loving other people takes anything away from the love we feel for anyone else, including each other. All love is different, and can't be measured in quantity or hierarchy. Loving other people simply means to us that there is more love in the world and we both think that is a good thing.
Non-possessiveness and non-attachment: We don't think it is healthy to think that we control one another, or any other person for that matter. Possessiveness, jealousy, and control are all feelings that can arise for us, but we value striving for freedom and non-attachment in our relationship to one another, so that we can choose our individual behaviors and choices. This also gets down to a basic physical level that is ultimately political- we don't control what the other person does with his or her body. To do so comports with the systems of patriarchy and ownership over other people, neither of which we see as healthy. Non-attachment is also more of a Zen or Buddhist philosophy, in which we strive to be able to view situations, feelings, people, and relationships as dynamic and always changing. To be non-attached means to let things change as they will, with the flow of life. To try to control anything means fighting life.
Compassionate and nonviolent communication and negotiation: This is extremely important for us in our relationship, and is a key building block in how we have been able to have a healthy and happy relationship together. This communication style includes using "I" statements (not "you" judgments), speaking from personal experience, validating the other person's feelings, and rephrasing what you hear the other person say so they can be sure they are understood. There is no yelling, name-calling, or hostility. If emotions are running high, we take space in the ways that we need first: K might cry, journal, or talk to other people. J might need to go for a walk by himself. Once we are able to be more calm, we can discuss whatever it is going on.
Consent: This about having the choice to be in the relationship we are in. Neither of us ever consented to being in a monogamous relationship; it just happened. With our current relationship structure, however, we have both consciously agreed to it and the terms, boundaries, and ground rules.
Fidelity and commitment: Fidelity to us means honoring one's commitments and promises, whatever they may be. Lying and breaking promises or agreements are not okay, just as cheating in monogamous relationships is often not okay. 
Trust, honesty, and respect: It takes a tremendous amount of trust in ourselves and in each other to make a relationship like this work. It means trusting ourselves that we are capable of speaking up about what we need and want, and it means trusting each other to respect each other and each other's feelings. The level of honesty it takes to have a healthy open relationship is huge- we have to be brutally honest with ourselves when something is not working, and then also take a big step in telling each other what isn't working. We have to trust one another that being honest about something won't be the end of our relationship, but that we respect one another and our relationship enough to keep an open mind and heart so we can hear one another's honest feelings and experiences.
Self awareness and self growth: This also extremely important, in that we recognize that people and relationships are not static. We change every day, and should strive to become better communicators, more compassionate, more assertive, more independent, more patient, and whatever else needs working on. To that end, K has gone to counseling for the past year as a means to continue working on becoming more emotionally independent and more assertive. We don't see counseling as a failing of an individual or a relationship, but as a tool for investigating oneself and growing, to the benefit of the individual and the relationship.

We think these values can be incorporated into any kind of relationship, although the outcome can look differently depending on the structure, negotiations, and behaviors. Also, we don't view "monogamy" as a value, but as a structure, system, and norm- perhaps that is why you have been saying we have different values. If you do see monogamy as a value, then it is true we don't hold that value for ourselves.
I wish I could help you see that monogamy is a paradigm (define: 1. A typical example or pattern of something; a model.; 2. A worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject.) and as such, is not The Truth. I wish I could help you understand that not "99% of therapists" would say that open relationship are "doomed to fail." I wish I could offer you books and articles that would describe the positives of open relationships, and that you were in a space to listen and receive. 
I wish you could be more self-aware, and see how your own stuff is dramatically coloring your perception of us and of me. I wish you wanted to be more self-aware and to grow as a person, instead of trying to shove your ideological crap down our throats.

I wish you could not only love your son, but love his partner still (like you did before all this, for the past 6 1/2 years), and support him (and us) in his choice of relationship.

I wish you could understand these ideas:
Relationships that are consciously CHOSEN are usually more rewarding than relationships built on default assumptions.
A partner who CHOOSES to be with you is more satisfying than a partner who can't leave.
Life is CHANGE.
Don't look to others to COMPLETE you.
Feelings are not FACT.
Treat those you love with RESPECT.

I wish you could simply see us as different people who have made different choices than you

But I need to stop wishing. I need to accept my reality, I need to accept my present moment.

And that includes two parents who I will now frame as disgruntled, closed-minded, conservative relatives. People who I would not have invited to our wedding if I didn't feel like I had to, people who I will create emotional distance with, people who I will feel less and less tied to. Just as we have other conservative relatives coming to our wedding that I have superficial relationships with (no politics, religion, values-based discussions, social justice issues, etc), I will come to peace with my relationship with both of you settling out at this place.

I am now affirming:
The joy and peace that fills my heart.
The compassion I feel for everyone I come into contact with, and those that I don't.
The universal love I feel for everyone that I come into contact with, and those that I don't.
That I am becoming more adaptable and flexible with the flow of life and with constant change, including change in my intimate and familial relationships.

I will always love you both. But I also love myself, and respect myself too much to allow myself to be part of a toxic relationship with you. 

As our good friend put it: The door is always open, and the house isn't changing.

You are welcome in when you can enter lovingly.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Awesome Threesome Experiences

"My 5 Hottest Threesome Experiences" is live on today :) I love this post! So many positive memories, experiences, fantasies, situations to look forward to... And don't forget about my #Threesome #Advanced post I published a couple of weeks ago! (Because that most definitely counts among my hottest threesome experiences)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Feel the Fear... And Do it Anyway

I loved this book.

Basic ideas that I loved:

-At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can't handle whatever life may bring you. (p7)
-If you know you could handle anything that came your way, what would possibly have to fear? The answer is: Nothing! (p8)
-Five Truths about Fear
1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out...and do it.
4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I'm on unfamiliar territory, so is everyone else.
5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. [I absolutely love this point.]
-If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there "doing it" despite the fear, then we must conclude that fear is not the problem. (p25)

-Change how we hold fear from a place of pain to a place of power: framing our lives not with pain words (helplessness, depression, paralysis, I can't, I should, It's not my fault, It's a problem, I'm never satisfied, Life's a struggle, I hope, If only, What will I do?, It's terrible) but with power (choice, energy, action, I won't, I could, I'm totally responsible, It's an opportunity, I want to learn and grow, Life's an adventure, I know, Next time, I know I can handle it, It's a learning experience) (p26-31)
-Reclaim you power through taking responsibility for how your thoughts and attitudes affect your behaviors and experiences
-Embrace positive thinking.
-If you think about it, the important issue is not which is more realistic [negative versus positive thinking], but rather, "Why be miserable when you can be happy?" If being a Pollyana creates a happier world for you and those around you, why hesitate for one more moment? (p62)
-Practice affirmations (for example "I am now handling my fears," "I am becoming more confident every day," "I am practicing being peaceful and loving")
-It is amazingly empowering to have the support of a strong, motivated, and inspirational group of people. (p80)
-The knowledge that you can handle anything that comes your way is the key to allowing yourself to take healthy, life-affirming risks. (p107)
-No-Lose Decision-Making Process:
Before Making a Decision
1. Focus on the No-Lose Model.
2. Do your homework.
3. Establish your priorities.
4. Trust your impulses.
5. Lighten up.
After Making a Decision
1. Throw away your picture.
2. Accept total responsibility.
3. Don't protect, correct.
-No-Win Decision-Making Process:
Before Making a Decision
1. Focus on the No-Win Model.
2. Listen to your mind drive you crazy.
3. Paralyze yourself with anxiety as you try to predict the future.
4. Don't trust your impulses- listen to what everyone else thinks.
5. Feel the heaviness of having to make a decision.
After Making a Decision
1. Create anxiety by trying to control the outcome.
2. Blame someone else if it doesn't work out as you pictured.
3. If it does work out, keep wondering if it would have been better the other way.
4. Don't correct if the decision is "wrong"- you have too much invested.
-It doesn't really matter (p121)
-The magic duo- 100% commitment and acting as if you count- allow you to be totally present in each aspect of your whole life (work, contribution, hobby, leisure, family, alone time, personal growth, friends, relationship, etc) and not become excessively dependent on any one aspect, and also able to remain positive if unexpected challenges arise with any one aspect
-Say Yes to your universe. (p143)
-Acknowledgement of pain is very important; denial is deadly. (p148)
-Saying yes means getting up and acting on your belief that you can create meaning and purpose in whatever life hands you. (p152)
-Steps to Saying Yes:
1. Create Awareness that you are saying no.
2. Nod your head up and down- say yes.
3. Relax your body.
4. Adopt an attitude of "It's all happening perfectly. Let's see what good I can create from this situation."
5. Be patient with yourself. It takes time to adopt a "yes"approach to life. Say yes to you!
-If all of your "giving" is about "getting," think how fearful you will become. (p160)
-When we give from a place of love, rather than from a place of expectation, more usually comes back to us than we could have ever imagined. (p163)
-Give away thanks, information, praise, time, money, love
-If we do not consciously and consistently focus on the spiritual part of ourselves, we will never experience the kind of joy, satisfaction, safety, and connectedness we are all seeking. (p192)
-Why choose to be right instead of happy when there is no way to be right? (p199)

I loved applying these ideas to the fears I have encountered in our open journey (J will leave me, I will be alone, I won't be loved as much or enough, etc) and to the fears I have in other areas of my life (I won't be accepted by my parents, I won't find a job I like, I won't be able to make enough money and travel like I want to). This book provided a really valuable way for me to re-frame my thinking, and I think it will sit in the same spot as other books that have tremendously helped me (Opening Up, Love in Abundance, Intuitive Eating, Love Freedom & Aloneness, etc)- ready to be picked up again and read, and read, and read.

In the line-up next are:

The Power of Now
Loving What Is

Super excited! :)

Back to the Basics

Part of J's family's concerns, anger, and dismay over our relationship are due to their idea that we "hold such different values." Do we? I don't think so at all. I think many of the values are the same; the behaviors that result from our values are different. But our values are quite similar. It's not like J and I are immoral, stealing, lying, murdering, raping... We certainly have values, and many of them did come from our families. We are just choosing to exercise them in different ways.
My values:
Love is infinite
Compassionate and nonviolent communication and negotiation
Fidelity, loyalty, and commitment
Trust and respect
Self awareness and self growth
Love and sex don't always go together, and don't have to
Sexual intimacy as just another way to connect with someone else (other ways include emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, spiritual intimacy, etc)
These values can be incorporated into any kind of relationship, although the outcome can look differently depending on the structure and negotiations.
I am having a difficult time reconnecting with who I was two years ago; I feel like J and I have journeyed far enough away from our monogamous selves and relationship that I am finding it challenging to be truly understanding and compassionate for those in J's family that are having a super hard time with our choices.
It was actually helpful for me to look at the relationship styles presentation I put together for the human sexuality class I took last year. I created it based off of Tristan Taormino's Opening Up, and made it as accessible as possible for a monogamous demographic. I had a quick thought of using this presentation as a way to bridge the vast divide between myself and, say, J's sister (someone who is having a really difficult time with learning about our relationship). I remember most students I presented to being really open-minded and curious. Of course, the context is different: learning about something new in an academic setting versus feeling lied to by family members and feeling like your value system has been thrown away in lieu of some "line of bullshit." Very different experiences.
I am finding comfort in returning to my bottom line: I am loving, compassionate, happy, and peaceful. My relationship is a vehicle for personal growth. I am fulfilled by my choices. Even if I can't convince others that these things are true, the most important thing is to remain present in myself and positive in my present moment.

With Gratitude and Love

We sent the following message to many of the people in our lives that have supported us unconditionally since we opened up over two years ago. I wanted to be sure to post it here for those of you I didn't get in touch with personally, so that you know, too, that J and I deeply appreciate you.
We want to express the deepest gratitude to everyone in our life who has shown us support and love in the past two years since we opened our relationship.

J ended up telling his mom last week that we have an open relationship. Long story short, we now know what it's like to have a negative coming out experience. The silver lining of the experience is receiving the reminder that we have so many other supportive and loving people in our lives.

We have been blessed with many open-minded and loving people in our life, and we feel lucky to have a community of friends and family that truly support us in our journeys of independence, interdependence, love, happiness, and health. Thank you from the deepest places in our hearts for being part of our intentional family and for giving us the space to be who we are. We love you all so much and appreciate each and every one of you for the value that you add to our lives.

Finally, we want to acknowledge and appreciate all of you for taking time out of your lives to come to X in a few weeks (and of course acknowledge and appreciate those of you who cannot come to X for our party for whatever reason; we love and appreciate you all, too!). We are so excited to celebrate the relationship we have built over the past 7 years and plan on continuing indefinitely with the continued love and support and help all of you have already provided so much of. Thank you to all of you for making us a priority in your lives - we certainly would not have made it to this point without you.

We Love You! And can't wait to party in August!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Soothing Words for Today

If you're AFRAID to say it, that means you NEED to say it.
Relationships that are consciously CHOSEN are usually more rewarding than relationships built on default assumptions.
Real security comes from WITHIN.
When you hurt someone - and you will - suck it up, take responsibility, and do what you can to make it RIGHT.
Treat those you love with RESPECT.
You can't be GENEROUS or COMPASSIONATE when you fear loss.
Compassion is most NECESSARY when it's most DIFFICULT.
Don't vilify those who hurt you; they are people, too.
The world is as it IS, not as we want it to be.
Life rewards people who move in the direction of GREATEST COURAGE.

~All from Franlin Veaux's awesome Principles for Good Relationships poster

Today included one of the most difficult interpersonal situations I have ever been in. Ever.

J and I had a video chat with his parents today. It was not a conversation, but them expressing how angry and hurt and upset and sad and disappointed they are that 1) we didn't tell them about our relationship two years ago, and 2) we will "never know the true intimacy" of being with just one person. They think because we are open, we can't be truly committed to one another, and thus our commitment ceremony is a lie to everyone we invited. They compared us to pedophiles and zoophiles. They told me the email I sent was heartless, sterile, and unfeeling. They implied that I was coerced into being in an open relationship, told me that I am unhappy, and also accused me of not being loving or committed to J.

The place where I finally was struck deepest was when I realized that this was the heart of the issue I have been working on in counseling: to be seen and heard, to be independent, to articulate my needs and desires and to command attention and listening. I voiced my opinions, my apologies, my love, my desires and needs, and received almost zero respect or love in return. It felt really awful. I feel extremely closed off from his parents at this point, and really unsure of any kind of positive relationship with them returning.

I don't know where this will all go from here. Our ceremony is three weeks away, and I do know that I want a happy, positive, loving, and supportive group of people around me when J and I have our public pronouncement of our love and commitment to one another. I don't want people there who don't support our relationship or see it as "doomed to fail" as his parents do.

Keeping my lavender candle lit for aromatherapy, and my focus on my heart and center.

Cocks & Come

Not Sleeping
Misunderstood, judged, pained, hurt
And then
in this instance, passivity, submissiveness, pleasure
Tongues, licking, biting, rubbing, stroking, vibrating, and
Coming, coming, coming
Cocks, cocks, cocks
(Six of them, to be exact)
All in the name of pleasure, of adventure, of exploration, of desire, of chemistry, of fantasy, of actualization
Later, lying in bed all I feel is my pussy vibrating with the memory of fingers and tongues and cocks caressing it and pounding it and using it
And all I see in my mind are hard cocks, pulsating

Friday, July 5, 2013

More Coming Out

Something happened this week that I honestly thought would not happen for a long, long time, if ever.

J told his mom about us having an open relationship.

I still haven't quite digested it all. This has been coming for a while, but I honestly didn't think it would happen so soon before we have our commitment ceremony (we are a month away from it now).

I know his mom has never been able to understand why it's okay for us to have opposite sex friends, why we want to include J's longtime friend (a woman) in our wedding party, or why we seem "cranky" when we talk about wedding planning (news flash: it's because we haven't been able to be authentic with her about why we are truly excited about our party. it's hard to be excited about someone else's values and vision when they don't line up with your own). And she has been/is under the impression that I am not happy in the relationship with J (the fights we have had at home have given her this impression. don't people fight sometimes?).

So she finally called J this week, and told him all this. That she doesn't understand what is going on, but that it seems unhealthy and it seems I am unhappy. He questioned her need to know the inner workings of our relationship. She was adamant that we were in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. So he just told her. We are not monogamous, and we are very happy with it.

She is not happy with this news (or, she wasn't during the conversation).

I decided to send her an email, modeled after the one that Zoe Hanis from Life on the Swingset wrote to her parents, and edited by both J and M. Here is mine:
[I took out the email for now, because I am nervous that J's mom may search for my letter. She seemed convinced that I used a letter template, and I'm not ready for her to find our blog. If you want to see my letter, just email me! I am happy to share :) And, I'll most likely re-post it here when things have calmed down]
I would hope that we receive something supportive back (like Zoe did here) but I have my doubts. I want to be realistic, prepared to move on in my/our life without their support, and open-minded to different possibilities all at once. That is a lot to be prepared for. But I think I have it. Really, I think it comes down to remaining compassionate, and remembering and striving to give up attachment to the way I want this relationship to look like. 

So far the only communication I have had since I sent that email is a couple of tense, cold emails from J's mom about wedding prep. I am just trying to remain positive- that she just needs time to process and will ultimately be able to be a supportive and warm person in our lives.

J also told her that I am bi. He knows I identify as queer, but didn't want to make the conversation more confusing for her. I get that. It wasn't until this past weekend that I told my mom I identify more with the label queer than with bi. 

And, I made a conscious choice in my email to use the words "nonmonogamous" and "open" versus "polyamorous." It seems to me that "nonmonogamous" sounds like what it means, whereas using the word "polyamorous" requires even more explanation (potentially). I also used those words because I generally tell people we have an "open" relationship since our other activities and relationships and boundaries have evolved so much and will continue to evolve. And, I also went with those words because J used the word "nonmonogamous" in his phone conversation with his mom, and I didn't want to throw more loaded words her way (loaded for her).

It is really important to me to have some healthy emotional boundaries set up, and J and I agree on some key things: neither of us will tolerate arguments or upsetedness about this every time we go home. Time to process all of this is expected, but it can't go on forever. At some point, our relationship will either have to deepen and become positive from it being more authentic, or it will have to revert back to the more superficial, but pleasant, relationship we had. If it it going to be constant questioning and drama, we are not going to stay in touch and remain in as close of contact (including going home for holidays, etc).

Anyone else out there with coming out drama? Advice for me/us?