Friday, July 27, 2012

July Highlights

I haven't done a highlights post in a while.  I think it's time.
  • The Mongoose has learned about a billion new words, among them yucky, Cookie Monster, and cheese.  We were making grilled cheese sandwiches the other night, and he walked into the kitchen, looked at the Libertine, and demanded "CHEESE!!"
  • The Monkey has been asking to see the Princess all week.  During breakfast this morning he looked right at me and said, "We get to see the Princess TOMORROW!  And make CAKE!"
  • Last weekend we attended at party at the Prime's house.  I helped the Prime's wife with party prep beforehand, and got to snuggle on their baby for an hour or so while "helping."  Baby snuggles are the best when it's not your baby.
  • During the party the Prime sought me out a few times to tell me he loves me and that he was happy we came.  It made me feel special.
  • The Mister cleaned half the house while I was at work.  This is better than oral sex to me.  Maybe I should put that in my profile.
  • The Mister, the Libertine, the kids, and I all went grocery shopping together.  Having that third adult along to help with the kid wrangling was AWESOME.
  • Friends have reached out and invited us out socially both with short notice and invitations to parties.  It is nice to see that all the poly snark doesn't extend to everyone we know.
  • The Mister, the Libertine, and I went to see The Dark Knight Returns.  It was a fun afternoon, but the best part was listening to the Libertine tell me about his coworker's reaction to us all going on a date together.  "Wait, so he KNOWS?  And he went WITH YOU?"
  • I got a new dress, and it made both the Mister and the Libertine's jaws drop.  
  • The Monkey has been watching us play Lego Batman.  Whenever the bad guys pop up, he tells the Libertine, "Get the criminals!"
  • The Libertine and the Mister have taken to doing the dishes after dinner.  Love, love, LOVE this.
A lot of the angst and anger of the past few weeks is behind me now.  I'm feeling more secure, less temperamental, less bitter.  I'm loving the direction we are taking now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Feminist Sub

I was raised with feminist values. Women should make the same salary, have the same rights, share the housework, etc. A partner should be just that - a partner who shares your load. My parents split and remarried when I was 11, and I remember watching the different marriage dynamics with fascination. My mother and stepfather split things pretty evenly, he taking most of the outside tasks/home maintenance and she commanding the house like the captain of a ship. My father and stepmother had a much more 1950's vibe going; she was a stay at home mom, and took care of every single thing that needed doing, except mowing the lawn. In both cases the woman managed the money, although my mother and stepfather seemed to share and communicate about it much more.

In my marriage I'm the one who wears the pants. I have most of the power, and not by choice. The Mister is a very passive, free spirited personality; he is perfectly content to simply move through the day and see where it takes him, whereas I am extremely Type A - I plan, strategize, and execute. In my work life I am the boss. Everyone in my building follows my lead, and there is very little question as to who is in charge.

When I'm subbing, I feel this amazing sense of freedom and peace. I have no power. I have no say in what is about to happen. I can stop things with one word if I choose to, but the course of events are not up to me. The Libertine has taken an interest in this aspect of my sexuality, and perhaps because of the immense amount of time we spend together, it's no longer contained to the bedroom.

It's exhilarating. He will allow me to be in collar for hours at a time, just going through a normal day (typically a day we are off together). He will randomly issue a command, and my heart leaps as I rush to obey. I love this aspect of our life together. I love that he enjoys it as much as I do. I love that he expects me to serve him, and I am completely willing to do so.

I don't think that it's at odds with my personality to feel this way. Just because I enjoy subbing doesn't mean I can't be strong-willed, or competent, or have an opinion. It doesn't mean that I want to be subservient in every aspect of my life, either. At the end of the day I still want an equal partner. I still want him to respect me, and admire me. I want him to value my opinions and ask for my input.

But I also want him to fuck me like the whore that I am.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Finding Myself in Songs

I first came across this song in early 2002.  I was finally coming to grips with my self image, and seeing myself as my own person instead of identifying myself through the likes and dislikes of the men I was dating.  2002 was the year that I began aggressively dating for the first time, it was the year my "number" almost doubled.  Every time I hear this song I remember that year, and I see how far I've come, and the lyrics still resonate with me so so much.

All the things we love, all the little addictions we carry around - they make us who we are.  And I am unapologetic about loving who I am, addictions and all.

Cigarettes and chocolate milk
These are just a couple of my cravings
Everything it seems I like's a little bit stronger
A little bit thicker, a little bit harmful for me

If I should buy jellybeans
Have to eat them all in just one sitting
Everything it seems I like's a little bit sweeter
A little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me

And then there's those other things
Which for several reasons we won't mention
Everything about 'em is a little bit stranger
A little bit harder, a little bit deadly

It isn't very smart
Tends to make one part
So brokenhearted

Sitting here remembering me
Always been a shoe made for the city
Go ahead accuse me of just singing about places
With scrappy boys faces, have general run of the town

Playing with prodigal sons
Takes a lot of sentimental valiums
Can't expect the world to be your Raggedy Andy
While running on empty, you little old doll with a frown

You got to keep in the game
Retaining mystique while facing forward
I suggest a reading of a lesson in tightropes
Or surfing your high hopes or adios Kansas

It isn't very smart
Tends to make one part
So brokenhearted

Still there's not a show on my back
Holes or a friendly intervention
I'm just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish, a little bit
Tower of Pisa, whenever I see ya
So please be kind if I'm a mess

Cigarettes and chocolate milk
Cigarettes and chocolate milk

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kids say the damnedest things

The Libertine usually spends Saturday nights with us, and then lazy Sundays playing with the kids if he doesn't have the Princess.  The kids all know the routine now, and they look forward to waffles and bacon and playing Lego video games and reading stories.

This Sunday, my father-in-law happened to be coming for a visit.  This happened over breakfast:

Me:  "Monkey, Grandpa is coming to see you today!  Do you remember him?"

Monkey:  "Yay!  Mommy?"

Me: "Yes?"

Monkey:  "I think Mr. Libertine needs to hide."

Four and a half years old, and already knows that Mommy doesn't share her special friends with Grandma and Grandpa yet.  By this time next year, I hope to change that.

Friday, July 6, 2012


We all have baggage.  My primary one happens to be not being able to trust other people when they tell me I've done a good job, or that I'm attractive, or funny, etc.  I am not good with compliments or praise.  I'm used to not feeling good enough for others, professionally, personally, emotionally.  I'm used to family members saying things that are hurtful, and even though I know they are not doing it consciously, it devalues my relationships with them.  I'm used to the Mister prefacing a comment with "don't take this personally, but..."  I'm used to feeling like my boss dislikes the work that I'm doing.  I'm used to being subtly told that my career choice is a joke.

The baggage we carry affects every relationship we choose to be in.  We make assumptions about current partners based on previous experiences.  Every time the Libertine or the Prime tells me that I'm beautiful, sexy, desirable, I immediately shift to the defensive and throw out a witty rebuttal.  I diminish their compliment by being self-deprecating or coy.  

And the stupid thing is, I have an amazing amount of self confidence.  I know that I'm attractive.  I love my body.  I know that I'm intelligent, and funny, and a fun person to hang out with.  I'm a good mother, and a great cook, and I'm exceptional at my job.

I'm not perfect, but I absolutely love who I am. 

So why do I let the slights of others get me down?  Why do I let the idiocy of past relationships damage the ones I currently have?  It's not just this baggage, either.  There are so many things that I have gut reactions to, defense mechanisms learned through a lifetime of shitty loves, horrible family, jealous friends.  

I am sorry.  To each of my lovers, I am sorry.  I am trying to let it go.  I am trying to look forward, not back.  I am trying to build a life with you, not destroy what we have begun.  

I love you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Struggling for Acceptance and Nonjudgment in the Poly Community

There's an ugly little truth in the polamorous world.  Things aren't always as perfect as they seem.  My boyfriend is getting divorced.  My primary relationship with the Mister is struggling, for reasons totally unrelated to what is going on with my other partners.  In fact the trouble in my marriage has nothing to do with polyamory at all.  Yes, outside relationships do come up in the course of the arguing, but the core of what is wrong is completely unrelated to having an open marriage.

So, we come to something I've noticed in the past month or two.  There is this tendency in the poly community to pretend that poly relationships, especially poly marriages, are sunshine and puppies all the time.  And they just aren't.  Poly relationships are just that... relationships.  People get hurt.  People grow apart.  People do stupid things.  Relationships are work, and they are hard, and sometimes the cost to benefit ratio stops working in the direction you want it to.

The Mister and I, I don't know what will happen.  My lover and his wife, they couldn't work it out.  The boys and I have had our share of bumps and relationship bruises.  This doesn't make us failures.  This doesn't make us unworthy of being seen and heard and read.  This doesn't disqualify us from using the label polyamorous.  This makes us human. Just because you are poly and unmarried, just because you are poly and your primary relationship failed, does NOT make you less than those whose primaries are successful.  

I think the poly community is missing out on a huge opportunity to hear the stories that no one wants to acknowledge.  Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes we fall.  And every time we do it we learn something new about ourselves and what we need in our relationships.  Just because we do so doesn't mean that we are bad people or that we can't lean on the shoulders of our other lovers.  It doesn't give anyone outside the failing relationship the right to judge you for what they think you have or have not done.  The amount of information out there about being polyamorous or nonmonogamous is so small, and pretending that every poly relationship is perfect all of the time isn't helping anyone.  Shutting people down or boxing them out because they are "failing" isn't making us a bigger community.

The poly community needs to stop being so judgmental all the time.  It's basically a snowglobe of drama just waiting to be shaken up.  The community here in Chicago has given me the cold shoulder on more than one occasion, and the only reason I can think of is that I was with an extremely active and sought after man.  For every warm and welcoming person I've met in the community, I've probably met three who were, quite simply, awful.  It's a clique, and it's not one that I've decided I want to be a part of.

Hearing the stories from OpenSF, listening to the Life on the Swingset panel podcast, I can't shake the feeling that as much as we all want a truly open and bonded community, we aren't going to be able to lose the labels, the judgment, the justifications, and the snark.  Maybe if we admitted that we're all just people looking for connections, and that sometimes those connections aren't great, we'd all be a lot happier.  Maybe if we poly people could admit that we date just as much for the sex as we do for the love, we could be more accepting of swingers.  Maybe if swingers could admit that it can be hard to have sex with someone and not develop a bit of affection for them, they'd be able to see where we're coming from, too.  Maybe if we were able to truly be appreciative of the things we have in common, and not just focus on the things that make us different, we'd be able to make our voices heard by the traditionalists.

We need to stop pretending that we're better than everyone else.  Not everyone can be polyamorous, monogamous, married, single, straight, gay, bi, queer... pick your label.  I identify as polyamorous, straight, and currently married.  During my lifetime some or all of those things might change.  I define my labels, I don't let them define me.  In the community we need to be able to meet someone and genuinely accept them for who and what they are.  It doesn't matter if their kink makes you squirm.  It doesn't matter if your level of nonmonogamy doesn't mesh with theirs.  All that matters is that we are all willing to walk out the door every morning and meet the world as we are.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Negotiating Boundaries & Setting Expectations

With all the changes going on right now, I'm finding that some of the boundaries and expectations previously set with my partners are not quite where I want them to be anymore.  As my relationships grow and change, things that were previously no big deal are suddenly causing huge emotional responses.  Things that were previously extremely important are becoming minor and inconsequential.  I've been with my partners long enough now to know what their hot button issues are, and they know mine.  But what do you do when a new hot button appears?  Or when something that used to get you hot no longer does?

In any relationship, poly, monogamous, or otherwise, you need to be constantly evaluating what you want versus what you need from your partner.  Things change over time.  Feelings deepen, or fade.  What once was new and exciting might become commonplace and familiar (or, gasp, boring).  In my marriage, for example, the Mister and I have a routine in place for day to day tasks.  He takes care of X,Y, & Z.  I take care of A, B, & C.  This arrangement has come about because I realized that I needed him to help with those things.  In the beginning, if he helped it was nice, but not needed.  It was a want, something that was awesome if he could provide but that was not critical to the success of our relationship.  A few kids and more job responsibilities later, and now those things are needs.  I can't physically do them myself on a regular basis, and my want for his help became a need - if he can't step up and help out, it affects our bond.  

This is true for just about any relationship .  Maybe you are okay with the way your sex life is right now, but you're curious about kink.  Asking your partner to explore with you is a want.  You don't need the expanded sexual experience to have a fulfilling, happy relationship.  But you want it.  Make sure you are being clear with your partners when you are discussing boundaries and expectations.   Don't tell your partner that something you need is really a want.  Being vague isn't going to get you where you want to go, and in fact it might result in the exact opposite! 

While you're evaluating boundaries, consider how your expectations mesh with those of your partner.  Do your wants and needs still line up reasonably well?  Does one of you want a primary relationship while the other only wants to get together twice a week?  That situation isn't going to work for very long.  Keeping relationships healthy and growing requires work, communication, and sometimes a good strong reality check.  If what you need doesn't line up with what your partner needs, it might be time to reconsider the relationship as a whole.  Maybe you need to simply evaluate if you are willing to realign some of your needs to meet theirs and vice versa.  As long as you meet in the middle somewhere, and communicate often, you can make it work.

Something I personally struggle with while assessing the state of my relationships is remembering to look forward, not back.  Yes, things that happened affect where I want my relationships to go, but once the new boundary is set, once a partner and I have learned from the experience and know what to expect, that event needs to stay in the past.  I have a hard time with this because I am an over-analyzer.  I need to figure out where I went wrong, or what I did that exacerbated the problem (even if it wasn't my fault to begin with).  Learning to let go of past events is something I'm working on as a person; no one wants something that happened a year ago to come up suddenly in the middle of a heated argument just because it makes a good barb.  

Everyone knows that relationships are hard work.  Be open to change, be willing to meet someone halfway on the big issues.  Be willing to concede the ones that don't really matter to you but are important to them.  Ask questions, ensure that your partner is getting what they need from you (and at least some of what they want).  Remember that relationships are about balance.  As the Stones said, you can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.