How I Knew… I Was Polyamorous

-written by adam-

I should have known I was polyamorous many years before I finally put the pieces together.

Looking back, the only reason I think I didn’t figure it out sooner is I just wasn’t exposed to the idea. I didn’t know that polyamorous was a thing that I could be. Most of us grow up conditioned to think that committed, long-term relationships between two people (usually between a man and a woman, specifically) are the ultimate goal and the truest relationship model. We are taught that anything else is somehow inherently less true and less valid.

I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t really contribute to that “normal” vs. “other” conditioning, at least not in any intentional way. We talked a lot as I was growing up of being open-minded, questioning everything, and actively seeking new experiences and perspectives in life. A phrase I remember well from my parents during childhood is “weird is wonderful.” It was said loudly and often, teaching me to embrace any “otherness” type feelings I came across instead of being ashamed of them. I am intensely grateful for that phrase, even to this day. That being said, I was still vastly unaware of many life experiences. As open and accepting as my childhood was, I still didn’t get exposure to anything other than monogamy.

So I spent years in the dark.

For as long as I can remember having feelings of romantic love, I can also remember there being a lot of it.

As in, I have long had feelings of a love more vast and open than I understood. It was always beyond what I could fit into the only relationship structure I thought there was: Monogamy. Unfortunately for everyone I loved during that time, I didn’t understand those feelings. I kept trying to build meaningful relationships with the only blueprints I had, but that meant trying to trim away at myself so that the pieces would fit. Of course, all the relationships I tried to build that way were destined to crumble. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I was trying to love them in a way I wasn’t capable of.

Throughout my teenage years I struggled through relationship after relationship, always following a (now) recognizable pattern.  They would start off promising – full of energy and commitment – but they burned too hot and too fast and quickly turned to ash. I didn’t understand it. I had so much love to give, but I somehow kept making people feel like they weren’t enough. When I tried to love them in the way that made sense to them, it didn’t make sense to me. I would inevitably feel like I wasn’t being true to myself, and once that happened, the relationship was in its last days. I never tolerated not living my whole truth for very long, and I was always gone soon after.

Fast forward a few years (and a disappointingly high number of failed relationships) later.

When I finally learned what polyamory was, things very suddenly started to make sense. I realized there were other people out there who had feelings like mine and who still had loving, successful relationships. This knowledge launched me into a trip of self-discovery.

Those times were filled with many late nights spent logging hours at a time on the internet. I clicked my way through Google searches, polyamory articles, and support forums. I read story after story about all different kinds of relationships. Everyone navigated them slightly differently so as to make sure the structure worked for them. While most of the stories and relationship structures I read about still didn’t quite feel right to me personally, just knowing there was something more was instrumental in my growth. The blueprints for different relationship structures were within my reach.

It didn’t take me long to accept this new knowledge of myself.

It did, however, take some time for me to figure out how to put it into practice. I was in a 7-year, monogamous relationship at the time, and coming out to my partner was a disaster. Neither of us knew what we were doing, mistakes were made, and feelings were inevitably seriously hurt. The relationship ended shortly thereafter. Sadly, that relationship was already failing and had been for some time by then.  So before you ask: No, polyamory isn’t what killed it. The mess that resulted from my coming-out surely played a role in its last breaths, but polyamory itself isn’t to blame.

Now that I’ve found Rife and Ali, things are brighter, but ultimately I’m still on this journey. The way I see it, the journey never really ends, but I am comfortable and happy identifying as polyamorous now. I am especially comfortable and happy in this beautiful poly triad we have. I’ve never felt a love quite like this – so safe and supportive and unconditional.

My only words of advice?

Don’t wait as long as I did. I’ve learned that lesson multiple times now. Waiting – trying to bury the truth you feel in your chest – never turns out to be the right choice. Whether it’s polyamory, sexual orientation, gender identity, or anything else – just go for it! Research, embrace, and try the things that feel right. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Our Love is like an Octopus

This week, Ali and Adam learned that octopuses have three hearts. Now, we all enjoy a bit of useless trivia, but this particular tidbit of information struck a chord. We have a longtime joke that poly is really just being sassed in surround sound, but truly, it must be closer to the existence of an octopus: three hearts and a lot of arms. We are all pretty funny people(though Rife may disagree and think that he isn’t), but we’ve suspended the usual wit for a bit of sentimental squish in honor of Valentine’s month.

If you do not enjoy the lovey-dovey, squishy romance that this month represents, turn back now. Run. Flee! For this week we have decided to each answer some questions of the squishy romance variety. 

1. What is your favorite thing about your partners?

Rife: Adam is so easy to just be myself with; I never have to put on a show for him. He’s like the master of unconditional positive regard. There’s not a part of myself I worry he won’t love. And Ali, she just has this beautiful childlike wonder and optimism. Everything feels brighter through her eyes.

Ali: My favorite thing about Rife is his softness. He is always so gentle and caring. The world is such a harsh place and he is so sweet despite it all. My favorite thing about Adam is his passion. He loves with all of his heart and wants so much out of life. He chases his dreams no matter what obstacles are in his way.

Adam: Honestly it’s really tough to choose a favorite thing about either of them, but I’m going to give it a go. For Rife, I’d have to say my favorite thing is his steadiness. He isn’t prone to panic and flitting between things the way I tend to be. He holds the course, and when I find myself lost and drifting, I can always look to him to find my way back. For Ali, it’s the magic she brings back into life. Remember the way the world felt when you were a kid? That’s what Ali breathes back into in these jaded old bones of mine.

2. What is one of your favorite memories with your partners?

Rife: Almost too many to choose, I feel like this isn’t fair. The first that comes to mind is from my very first trip to Colorado, and the first time I met Adam. We spent those few days desperately trying to hold onto the moment. I remember sitting on top of this ridge, overlooking the hills and the interstate, holding hands, and wanting to stay so much longer than I knew we could. And Ali, I think one of my most favorite experiences was the time we got stuck hiking in the middle of a crazy summer storm. We’d hiked probably two miles down to the river at Raven’s Run when the sky started to grow dark. We turned back, but too late. First the rain came, and then the severe weather sirens. We ran back through the mud and lighting and wind, soaked to the bone, holding hands and laughing like we weren’t in danger.

Ali: One of my favorite memories with Rife is our spring hike in the Pinnacles last year. There were wild flowers everywhere and the weather was perfect. We spent all day playing and taking a hundred pictures and soaking up the sunshine. It was amazing. One of my favorite memories with Adam is the day we spent in the Arboretum. We took the good camera and took silly pictures of each other, caught Pokemon, and spent almost an entire hour trying to find what I called “the faery spot,” a few wooden pews in the middle of the woods that looked like magical ceremonies took place there.

Adam: Our cross country road trip. This applies to both of them. Not only was that the trip when I moved to finally be living with them, but it was our first road trip together and the longest road trip I had ever been on. They flew out to Utah to help me load Ryder and the last of my few possessions into my Pathfinder before the four of us made the drive from southern Utah to central Kentucky. The miles we logged on that trip will forever be some of my favorite miles traveled. Even Kansas. We joke now about how awful driving through Kansas (the long way, from the western border to the eastern border) was, but let’s be honest: if your relationship can survive being stuck in a car together all the way through Kansas, it’s a solid relationship. I’ve got a heart full of wanderlust, and getting to share that long of a trip out on the open road with two of the most important people in my life is definitely making it on my highlight reel.

3. What are some of your favorite things to do together?

Rife: I always love exploring with both of them, usually some dirt trail in the middle of a tiny town. I love making things with them too: sewing shirts, planting things, taking photos.

Ali: Rife and I love to hike together. We find beautiful places to explore, spend the day getting lost there, and dream of the day we can live in the middle of it all. Adam and I like to camp out in coffee shops, catching Pokemon and comparing our highest CPs while talking each other’s head off for hours. I absolutely love it.

Adam: Hiking, exploring, traveling, napping, snugging up on the couch to watch TV or read, preparing meals together, laughing at the dogs when they do weird things… Honestly, how am I supposed to pick? Anything we do together, whether trivial or adventurous, is made better and brighter when we do it together.

4. What is your favorite physical feature of your partners?

Rife: Ali has the best smile, it lights up her entire face. Gosh, and her eyes too. Such bright eyes. Adam’s got bright eyes, too. Both of them looking at me with these striking eyes and beautiful smiles. Adam’s also got these perpetually soft lips.

Ali: My favorite physical feature of Rife’s is his smile. He has the most gentle and genuine smile I’ve ever seen. For Adam, it’s his eyes. His eyes are so bright and so blue, and light up when he sees something he loves. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning when the first snow falls or there is a particularly cute puppy in the car next to us.

Adam: Butts. Both of ’em. You can’t just not acknowledge butts that great.

5. What is something you’re looking forward to doing with your partners in the future?

Rife:I feel like our future is full of bright plans. Live somewhere where we’re surrounded by nature, grow some things, maybe make some things and sell them. Be together and just take it all in.

Ali: I absolutely cannot wait to homestead together. Find a big plot of land, build a house that’s perfect for the three of us, and raise some babies on this wild earth.

Adam: Carving a small space out of this planet that’s just for us. Always having Ali and Rife to come home to any time my wanderlust builds up and I need to venture out. Naming newly rescued dogs. Being the one to teach any and all kids in our lives to be rebellious but kind, and to never stop yearning for more adventure and knowledge. 

We hope your Monday was a good one and that the rest of the week goes well! Love to you and yours.

Journaling as a form of Self-Care

-written by Adam-

Hey everyone! It’s Monday again, which means another new blog post from your favorite poly family! This week it’s my turn to type for a while, and I’ve chosen the topic of journaling as a form of self-care.

The History

I’ve been journaling in some way since I was about 13-years-old.

At first I was just writing every angsty thought that crossed my mind and slapping a date on it. I burnt through 5 or 6 journals that way. Some time around age 16 I picked up a Composition notebook and entered my next phase of journaling. This phase consisted almost entirely of cryptic, vaguely poetic thought vomit, and random objects glued onto the pages scrap-book style. I used nothing but wide-ruled Composition notebooks(they were cheap) through this period. Today there is a pile of 10-15 of them boxed up in a closet silently bearing witness to the darkest period of my life.

I often wonder if I would have made it through that darkness if not for my journaling. Working on those notebooks allowed me to vent all my intense emotions in a contained, healthy manner. 

The Current Phase

My current journaling phase began as an attempt to start bullet journaling. I failed sort of miserably at bullet journaling and it has since evolved well beyond that definition. Now I use elements of a bullet journal, a passion planner, and a good ol’ fashioned regular journal. Though I don’t know what to call it exactly, it has become an integral part of my daily life. My stress management and self-care skills would be severely lacking without it.

I’ve kept the index, the yearly/monthly/weekly spreads, and a bit of the bullet noting system from the bullet journal concept. The minimalist look and feel of a true bullet journal just didn’t quite do it for me, however. I wanted something warmer and a little more eclectic to fit my style and personality. To solve that, I’ve added trackers of different sorts and some artsy elements to liven things up a bit. Those trackers and the spaces I’ve intentionally left for creating art is where the self-care bit really shines through.

Self-Care

Each year/month/week I draw out a new spread, and every spread has a different color scheme/doodle/feel to it. This gives me a chance on a regular basis to tune everything else out and create some type of art for a minimum of about 20 minutes. For me personally, this is incredibly relaxing and rewarding. Allowing myself the time and space to be creative has proven to be a necessity in my mental health, so of course integrating that into my journaling experience was going to be a given.

The trackers I’ve added are for things like mood, weight, and health. For example: I have a seizure disorder that I recently started getting medical attention for, so I track when seizures occur. My mood tracker is laid out over an entire year with a block for each day. At the end of every day, the block for that day gets colored in with a color that matches my code for the mood that prevailed. Green for “good,” yellow for “okay,” orange for “bleh,” and red for “sh*t.”

The trackers are particularly useful for keeping an eye on patterns in your mood/health/finances/etc. This allows you to easily look back on them and reflect. Self-reflection has been a really important thing for me these days as I focus on healing and recovering. I’ve realized that I am particularly inept at listening to my body when it’s trying to tell me something and my trackers have been instrumental in allowing me to pay more attention. Even just the act of filling in the trackers on a regular basis is really helpful because it keeps me more aware of those things throughout the day.

My Setup

The setup I have right now is mostly a mismatched collection of things we already had around the house. Things like a cheap ball-point pen, a set of Cra-Z-Art colored pencils, and sometimes my Staedtler marker pens (though they have a tendency to show/bleed through). I did purchase a Moleskine dot-grid notebook, which is the one I’m using now, because I wanted to try the dot-grid style and I’ve always been a bit partial to Moleskine notebooks. I definitely enjoy and recommend dot-grid notebooks for this type of journaling, but any notebook will do. It all just depends on what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

Of course if you do any kind of online research for journaling, you’re going to see a very wide variety of things that other people have done. Especially on Pinterest. Everything from clean, simple, minimalistic stuff, all the way to almost entirely art notebooks with watercolors, markers, paints, etc. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start off simple. Then, as you get more comfortable in the routine, you can add more things as you please. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be tempted to try everything all at once. Resist that urge. Just trust me on this. Allow yourself the time and wiggle room to try new methods slowly, so that you can find exactly what it is that works for you.

And that’s it for now!
Until next Monday, cheers to you and yours and happy journaling!