Every time I receive an email from this human – especially when there’s a word doc attached to it – I get all giddy, for I know what I’m about to open will be profoundly moving. The best part is, she doesn’t even mean to do it. Sometimes our truths are the most influential; sometimes they cast a guiding light for others who are on similar paths, but steps behind. If I’ve learned anything from this beautiful and sensitive soul, it’s this: self love is a process worth undertaking, because the moment you understand yourself and appreciate your unique inner workings, the greater the capacity you have for understanding and loving others. Keep blooming friend…you’re a Goddess.
I have been seeing N for six months. I am head over heels. It’s easy to say that if I am awake, I am thinking about him. I feel lucky, I feel fluttery, to be honest I feel a little obsessed. N and I are polyamorous; both of us having primary partners at home. I start picturing a life where we – he and I, along with everyone’s current partners – all happily decide this is the happiest we can be and move somewhere reclusive together on a big plot of land. One big happy poly family. So why am I fighting back tears as N shares his excitement with me that he wants to start actively dating.
Theoretically, I am fine with this. Theoretically I ENCOURAGE it. In reality, I am just nodding along as he speaks because I am afraid if I say anything my voice will crack. I don’t want him to see me acting like this, A. because it feels absolutely ridiculous B. we have only been dating a little bit and I still want to appear ultra cool and C. I cannot come up with one reason for what it is that I am feeling (try following that train of thought), or why it is manifesting in such an annoyingly dramatic fashion.
Since becoming polyamorous I have learned that sometimes my beliefs do not align with my physical reaction. I can talk hypotheticals with a grin, but then I am presented with the ‘putting it into practice’ part and that grin quickly turns to a grimace. I keep being forced to confront some deep (like ‘hey, didn’t see you there’ type deep) fears. In my research of polyamory, it talks about the idea that jealousy isn’t really what you are feeling at all, when you experience jealousy you are really feeling something else unpleasant (fun, huh?). Maybe the word jealous comes to mind but maybe that’s really a fear of abandonment you’re tasting, or perhaps you harbour deep seeded hatred to being compared to anyone else, or just maybe you are still recovering from your years of being codependent and thinking it was oh, so, romantic. Maybe I am obviously talking about myself, and these are just the first easy three off the top of my head. If anything, polyamory is teaching me that I am a complicated being.
I am someone who works out my thoughts externally, when I was dating monogamously I felt that my long-term partner would need to adjust to this, and in a way I was right; this is an aspect of my personality, but now I see the demand of emotional labour I was expecting someone to want to put in for me. So after N brings the idea of actively dating, I try something new: I try to work it through on my own before detonating all of my disorganized feelings all over us. I put myself in his position, when I think of dating more people how does it feel? Exciting I realized, I wasn’t expecting that. And it didn’t diminish my absolute love for N, or even C for that matter. It felt exciting that if I was out and found someone cute, I could choose to pursue it. It made me feel like I could be in touch with my queerness more often. Now, I wasn’t dating two men, I was just dating and two of those people happen to be men. I found myself hopping onto my favourite dating app and swiping. Slowly, I showed myself that I wasn’t being left behind by anyone. If N wanted to date more people, it meant he was growing his community and that is always something to celebrate.
This is not to say all my stormy emotions blew over. I am still confronted with a surprising pang every once in awhile, and I am working out within myself the fine line of empowered internal processing and being chicken shit avoiding sharing my feelings. Who knew self work was so damn hard? I am having to name and become buds with aspects of myself that I haaaaaaaate, bits I know I would have explained away a few years ago as ‘not my fault’ are now something I find myself wanting to exercise and address head on.
I am so incredibly lucky enough to have partners and friends who challenge me to be a better version of myself. They call me out, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but god, my soul can be tender. As I have written about before, I didn’t have a very nurturing childhood, and I was constantly told I was too sensitive (what INFJ hasn’t heard that?), so to now be only surrounded by people who celebrate my gooey insides while still expecting me to work on myself is still a learning curve.
The ironic thing about realizing I was polyamorous is that although at its core I have more partners and ultimately more people in my life, it has dramatically been about the relationship I have with myself. I am having to identify the scary things I have hidden away. When I don’t react the way I thought I would to a new situation, I am forced to dig deep and ask myself why. I am learning strength in my vulnerability, and that when I choose to share it with someone, that means they are important to me, and not that I am a burden on them.
Despite all of this C is still my favourite sounding board, but the way these conversations go has changed dramatically; I am finally clueing in that by recklessly demanding my partner to listen to me work out a problem I was deeply involving their feelings, their emotions and their energy. I wanted C to not say a word when I wanted to rant, and to give me advice when I was ready. And here’s the thing: we are two very different people, who view the world through our own experiences, I would feel such resentment when his advice did not match my own. I would worry he was not the right partner for me because, here he was proving that he would never understand me. Now these conversations are just that, finally a conversation and not me emotionally dumping on him and anxiety spiralling. I am able to value his alternative viewpoint. I no longer view us as this unbreakable duo, but as two separate people who add value to each others separate lives.
The other day I was told that I can be needy. It wasn’t shade, it was said as an actual fact about me. I don’t want to be needy, it feels like weakness to me. To me being needy is a negative consequence of what is mostly a positive personality trait, being sensitive. When I heard the word ‘needy,’ I felt accusations and questions crashing down around me at once. I beat myself up. Why am I this way? I demanded to know of myself. The scary, authentic truth is that I am terrified of the prophecy that was told to me my entire life of coming true: I will be my authentic self and everyone will leave me because they realize I am ‘too much’.
“Too much” “too much” these two fucking words have haunted me for as long as I can remember. It felt like such a bittersweet moment: on one hand I feel frustrated that I haven’t moved past this, I feel sad for my inner child still healing from long ago abuse, but on the other I feel energized, and I feel downright eager to have something within myself to work on; part of me looks forward to the path I know I am on to get real raw with myself and (as our heavenly Goddess Lizzo puts it) become my own soulmate.
As I have taken the first few steps along this path I find that I am no longer obsessed; my daydreams aren’t running to a partner, wondering what they think about me or to any dream future, instead I feel preoccupied with thoughts of myself and exactly how I feel head to toe in that moment. Although I expect some days will be easier than others, I am going to value this relationship and connection with myself first and foremost from now on.
– Reba Rose
So, friends, what could you do for yourself in order to build stronger and healthier relationships with yourself AND others?
To get more of Reba Rose, follow her on Instagram @_rebarose!
Until next time,
Fuck well, friends, and love yo damn self!