Posted in Ali

How I Lost Religion and Found God

The Backstory

I was raised in that good ole, small town, religious atmosphere. Everyone you knew was a Christian, and if they weren’t it was okay, you were going to bring them a plate of spaghetti and the gospel after Wednesday night services. My dad preached, my mom had me baptized when I was in first grade. I went to church at least twice a week, attended a Christian school, and went on to a Christian college.

Scratch that. I followed a girl I was in love with to a Christian college.

I remember the first time my parents had asked about her, in that suspicious, slightly panicky way. They knew her well, as we spent almost every weekend together and every weekday talking on the phone after school. We had just returned from a church trip and I was sitting in front of my computer showing my mom all of the photos I had taken that weekend.

“And look at this one. Doesn’t she look cute?”

There was pure fear in her eyes.

Fast forward to college. I’m taking a couple theology classes, discussing different verses in their original Greek. I’m realizing that most of what I read growing up wasn’t actually correct. (Did you know there isn’t actually “hell” as we think of it mentioned anywhere in the Bible?) And on top of that I’m going to therapy. I have come to accept without a doubt that I like girls. So the only thing to do at that point was fix it. Spoiler alert: that didn’t work at all.

Following was a year of complete chaos. I was losing my faith, terrified of what that meant, and hating myself all while officially dating a girl for the first time. It was a year of secrets and fear and wishing I could just be “normal.”

The Breakdown

It’s two days after Christmas and my mom and I are wandering around in Macy’s. I’m home for winter break and therefore had seen the aforementioned girlfriend a few days prior. Not big on subtlety, she had left a hickey on my neck that I had been desperately trying to cover up with makeup since.

We were standing in the middle of all of the coats, and my mom reaches over and points to it. “So who gave you the hickey?”

I panic. I think of at least five different lies and try to decide which one she is least likely to suspect. And then I get a crazy idea: why not tell her the truth? Maybe it won’t go as badly as I think it will. So I muster up all of the courage I have and say, “I’ll tell you in the car.”

To say she cried the entire way home would be an understatement. There was complete sobbing, a lot of apologizing, and a few minutes of silence before the tears resumed. We sat in the driveway for a long time before she told me I had to tell my father. I walked in and hugged my little brother, cried on him like a baby for a few minutes, and then stood at the bottom of the stairs leading up to my parent’s room.

I remember every single step. I forced myself to breathe as I stared at each one, willing my feet to move.

We didn’t talk long. He gave me the ultimatum of “get help” or lose my family. Since I had already tried therapy, praying over and over to be different, and finally came around to accepting who I was; “getting help” wasn’t going to work. It was a terrible night, and I still can see the porch light fading as I drove my car and a bag of clothes to my girlfriend’s house.

The Breakthrough

It took me three whole years to finally escape the feeling that I was somehow inherently wrong. It’s hard to relearn and undo what you had been taught into adulthood. But with patience, lots of reading, and a few good cry sessions, I made it out on the other side. I met so many wonderful people – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists – all who showed me religion does not make you a good person, your spirit does. I stopped living in shame and started loving out of joy instead of fear of an unknown and angry god. I read books about spiritualities that resonated with my soul and felt like home. I found home within myself.

The Beliefs

I still believe in a higher power: an energy, a life force. Every living thing: plants, animals, and people all have this divinity inside of them. I don’t believe you need to go to church to find god. I believe people are good, and that love is beautiful. I believe that telling people they will be eternally condemned if they don’t believe the way you do is wrong, and that taking care of each other is our duty on this planet. I believe each and every lifetime after this I will find my loves again, and that life is breathtaking.

For those of you in the same situation I was, things will get better. I know it’s scary, and you feel alone, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. The rate of homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth is staggering. According to the True Colors Fund “In America, it is estimated that 1.6 million youth are homeless each year and that up to 40% of them identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” That is an incredibly high percentage. 

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not evil, or corrupt. You are beautiful and divine, no matter who you love. It’s hard to know your worth when you grow up in an environment that tells you otherwise. If you are struggling, reach out. Whether it be to a trusted friend, a mentor, or even to us. Your life is precious and the world wouldn’t be the same without you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Resources for LGBTQ Youth by State

Posted in Adam, Ali, Personal, Rife

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.

Posted in Rife

To Appalachia, With Love

I was born and raised in Kentucky, near the foothills of Appalachia. I could drive twenty minutes in any direction and find myself square in the middle of abject poverty. Every spring, winter-hardened homeless men reappear to beg for change by the end of most interstate off-ramps.

The people here don’t love me. I’ve been glared out of nearly any kind of establishment you can think of. The south is a place where there are crosses in sight nearly everywhere you go and Mitch McConnell has been voted repeatedly back into office since 1984. They play country music in the Dairy Queen and everyone has a Ford pickup (“because they’re made in the USA!”). It’s a place where speaking in tongues isn’t crazy but being transgender sure is.

Everyone I know wants to leave. They set their sights on Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon. Out in the west where everything is bigger, more open, more open-minded. A place where they might feel safe.

But Kentucky is my home. I love it from deep within my bones. The hills nestle you into them, lovingly, nurturing. In the summer, the air presses into your lungs like it has something burning to say. The forests here are more alive than any other place I have seen; the cicadas sing nonstop and the greenery is so lush that it holds you. A teacher once dubbed it “the sacred yoni” and I have since longed for nothing but mother earth’s embrace. I feel her magic everywhere.

Y’all. I can’t leave. I love these people the way you can only love the people where you come from. I love all of the brave queer kids and the scared queer adults and everyone in between. I love the homeless men begging for the kind of change that you can’t pull out of a wallet. I love the hills and the rivers and the trees.

Someone has to stay. Someone has to make it a better place.

Posted in Adam

Journaling as a form of Self-Care

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!