Most of the time, in this blog, I focus on polyamory and other forms of “ethical non-monogamy.” Today, I’m offering something involving another facet of my own “outside the box” nature: Paganism. In a somewhat uncharacteristic way for me, I’m going to offer the poetry first, and the explanations after. So scroll down if you’re interested in more background on how this poem came to be, and why I’m posting it here. Enjoy! ~♥ Dawn
Out in the wind
the Goddess speaks:
Branches whispering to one another, swaying in the wind.
“Bend;” she says, “flexibility is the key,
lest in bearing your natural pressures, you would otherwise break.” Continue reading →
A recent post in Facebook by Veronica Monet spurred me to post this poem I wrote a few years ago, about boundaries, in particular that “liminal space” where things are changing from one thing to the next. Veronica referenced the article “Monogamous, Except Online” and asked the question “What about you? Do you consider online sex to be “cheating” or is it harmless fun?” My answer there:
“Cheating” is breaking one’s agreements, whatever those are. So if you and your partner/s have an agreement not to have sex of any kind, even virtually, with someone else, then yes, it would be cheating. For me personally, I don’t have that sort of agreement, and it’s more about whether I feel like I’m hiding something from my partner, or vice versa. If I am able to be open with my partner, and not feel that “oh, I’m doing something wrong” feeling, and if they are able to hear about what I’m doing (online or elsewhere), and be ok with it (possibly even enthusiastic!), then it’s not “cheating,” and I know everything is ok. If they have a negative reaction, or if I feel “weird” or “furtive” about what I’m doing, then it’s a call to be in better communication with my partner.
So what about you? How do you know that you’ve come to “the edge of the world”? What kinds of Agreements do you have … or not? Do you prefer fences? a sign? guards? a guided tour? or complete freedom? As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, either here, in Facebook, or in email (LoveOTB@gmail.com). And if you’d like to talk about Agreements as a path to safety, or any other topic related to polyamory, love, and relationships, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and tools with you.
May you always love boldly, safely, and well!
PS: I’m running a summer coaching special, so now’s a great time to contact me by email, or call me (510-686-3386), and save 30% on a package. Find out how to make your relationships happier, safer, and more fulfilling! 🙂
PPS: In honor of Pride Month, you might also want to check out my Love Is OK T-shirt with the rainbow heart. Because no matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK! (Tip: Use code 15PROMOONALL for a 15% discount when you order by end of day on 6/11/13.)
In the spirit of yesterday’s post about forgiveness, I offer you a poem about letting go of past hurts. I wrote this one most of a decade ago, and it remains one of my favorites. Sadly, the Poetry Generator that spurred the unusual images is long gone, but the poem it inspired remains. 🙂
In the Attic of Enmity
In the attic of enmity, the peacock’s milk
spills variegated across the detritus of past quarrels.
Memories of wrongs long discarded
of slights unused, and disregarded
lie quiescent in shards of dusty, pallid daylight
which peep through narrow cracks in the confining walls of our history.
What use, this milk of human pain?
What purpose does it serve?
Cataloging our misery,
each agony protected against the softening effects of time?
Should we not allow instead the rough edges to be worn away,
the sharp corners blunted,
till they become some unrecognizable mass
unremarkable, unremembered, and of use no more?
Come, let us descend the creaking stairs
our arms full of unknown and anonymous hurts,
their meaning long since rendered indecipherable by time.
Throw them all, unlamented
in the dustbin of our lives,
no longer to burden our attic of memory
with the bitter milk of human unkindness.
Free at last we emerge,
blinking, into the sunlight of love
so long obscured by our hoarded pains.
Light of step, light of heart
we fly now to the forest of surrender
where the fruits of human kindness lurk
succulent and tempting
trembling in anticipation of our touch.
“The only constant is change.” — Heraclitus of Ephesus, c.535 BCE – 475 BCE
Right now, my life is undergoing some massive changes. I’m not really at liberty to discuss some of them, as they’re not my news, but suffice to say, they affect me and my family profoundly. One result of this change, is that I’ve taken an immense “swan dive into the unknown” by taking another course (this one called Creative Genius CEO–how cool is that? :)) from my mentor Samantha Bennett. Tangentially related, I’m participating in the National Obsession With Writing Month (aka WNFIN or NaNoWriMo) by attempting to finish a draft of my Agreements Workbook. So what this means is that you can expect to see significantly more of me in the upcoming weeks, for sure. I may not POST every day, but my goal is to attempt to WRITE (almost) every day on something related to the Workbook, and/or Sam’s course. And I’ll certainly be posting more often.
Therefore, without further ado, here’s the next installment in the Agreements Workbook, Tip #3: “Additive Agreements, OR New Models for Old Situations,” which is about providing positive options and positive frames for your Agreements.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about these Agreements Workbook entries, feel free to contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box.
3) “Additive” Agreements: New models for old situations
In making effective Agreements, it’s important to “stay positive” in a couple of different ways. First, in changing any behavior, especially a habitual one, it’s important to know what to do differently. Otherwise, then the same situation arises, the default behavior will be the habitual one. So what happens when the same situation arises, and you don’t have a new action to substitute for the old habit? Most likely, you’ll do the old thing again, with added shame and guilt in addition to your feelings of failure! Whee! So instead of that, it’s a great idea to figure out in advance what you’re going to do instead, the next time that thing happens. I call this making the Agreement “Additive,” because it adds new options in place of the old ones.
Another way it’s helpful to stay positive in Agreements is to phrase your intentions in a positive way. Generally, people who like to do Daily Affirmations [e.g., http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/04/20/the-art-of-affirmation/] advise that it’s best to frame those as positives, otherwise, you end up accidentally affirming exactly what you don’t want. I have also found this to hold true when making Agreements, which are essentially “relationship affirmations” of a sort — things both/all parties agree to affirm with their thoughts and actions.
So let’s look at this very simple example. Suppose you need to keep the bedroom neater. It’s tempting to try to write this down as “I/we will stop leaving clothes on the floor.” However, this isn’t a great Agreement for several reasons:
There is no alternative action. Where exactly does the laundry actually belong, then, on the bed? In the bathroom? Draped over the lamp? If you want it in the hamper, it’s best to say that.
It’s framed as a negative, which will continue to affirm the behavior you don’t want, rather than energetically emphasizing what you do want.
Also, by phrasing it in the future tense, you may never see the results, because they’ll always be in some nebulous future. When exactly will you stop the behavior? Tonight? Next week? When you get around to it? Phrasing it as something you are doing now is generally more effective.
So instead, you might try something more like “I/we agree that we will place dirty laundry into the laundry bin immediately upon taking it off.” That is specific, positive, and timely, and includes a specific action to replace the one you want to change. All these suggestions apply just as well to more complex or more “charged” Agreements — e.g., those around safer sex, or resource sharing amongst several lovers — as they do to this simple example.
Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.
n my email today I found a poem (authored by Marge Piercy), thanks to one of my fellow HAI L2 co-journeyers. It seems to me to express well one aspect of learning to love outside the box, in particular the box of “possessiveness.”
May you always “love consciously, conscientiously, concretely, constructively.”
To Have Without Holding
Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.
It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.
It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.
I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
you float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.
~ Marge Piercy
From The Moon Is Always Female (Knopf, 1980)
I’m having a hard time writing right now, in part because what I need to write about isn’t so much related to polyamory (except inasmuch as I am polyamorous, of course). So while I wait to see if I can find the time and energy to write about my experiences getting healthcare for someone close to me who is underinsured, I thought I’d give you a poem I wrote last week.
Hands -- a sculpture by Nathan Sawaya
It seems I’ve lost myself
It’s not the first time.
I’m forever losing parts of myself
like lost LEGOs
secreted under the dusty furniture
with my missing spoons or hidden in my dirty laundry.
I wonder what I’d make
if I could ever get myself together?
Bits of me, reunited
rising from the floor
A cantilevered structure reaching toward the light
layer upon layer, piece by piece
riotous colors and random blocks
all fitted together to make…