Monthly Archives: June 2015

When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong along with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.

Fred Rogers / The World According To Mister Rogers

(via solo amor)

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Language, Part I

This!

Social Otherness 101

I asked some people on social media this today:

“What are some words that you wish people–especially white people–understood?”

And woah did I get some amazing responses. You see, I can preach from my desk all day long and you may or may not believe me. But these wonderful people put in words what every other social other continues to scream at society.

READ THE LIST.

“Shut up”

“Don’t touch my hair”

“Stop.”

“Racism.”

“Whiteness”

“White fragility”

“Privilege”

“That’s not yours. Leave it the f— alone.”

“Do not touch me.”

“No.”

“Not your token.”

“White supremacy.”

“Soap.”

“That is not spicy.”

“Nobody asked you.”

“Culture.”

“This is not for you.”

“Shut up and listen.”

“Purple is not a skin color. “

“Imperialism.”

“Institutional. (Racism, misogyny)”

“Intersectional/Intersctionality.”

“That Allah does not mean ‘Brown God’. Arab Christians also say Allah.”

“Your flag does not welcome me so why should I welcome it.”

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It’s crazy to me to think that this could have been us.

What I facetiously called my “social experiment” with Greg was starting to matter. A close friend, who could tell I was wading in deeper than I was openly admitting, urged me to have the talk. “He should expect you to ask where this is all going, since he’s dating a monogamous girl.” A monogamous girl. That was my label.

And suddenly that concept, and in essence, part of my identity, was in question. What if I could be persuaded to bend the rules? Allowing a break from sexual monogamy could ease pressure on a relationship. Perhaps it could negate some of the potential thrill of “cheating.” But on the other hand, when I love someone, I don’t find I’m able to allocate love to an additional romantic partner. For me, love doesn’t multiply. Yet here I was, dating a man in a committed relationship with his live-in fiancé. Did that make me poly too?

–excerpted from “I Fell For The Perfect Guy, But Not For His Open Relationship,” by  on Buzzfeed

God this was like a trip down memory lane. I remember going through a lot of what she talks about going through in this trip (though the girl that JJ was seriously dating when he and I got together was not nearly as welcoming as the fiance of the author’s boyfriend). I remember wondering how it all worked, thinking they must have established rules, that there was some defined role I’d be trying to fit myself into and not extend past the boundaries of. (There weren’t.) I remember thinking that I’d be a smaller secondary thing for the life of our relationship. (I’m not.) I remember fretting about labels because he already had a girlfriend, and what did that make me? (I started calling him “boo,” and he called me the same, but we started thinking of one another as boyfriend/girlfriend and referencing one another as such in conversations with others pretty soon thereafter.) I remember feeling like there was no way this thing we were doing could go anywhere, could look or feel like a “real relationship.” (It’s the realest.) And yet here we are, cheesed up in my profile picture on Facebook, preparing to move in together in 6 weeks. If you’d told me from a year and a half ago that this is what our future held, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. But here we are. Here we are and I still don’t know what the future holds, and there still could come a time I say this is too much and bow out, but what I know is that not doing so around the time the author of this post did is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life.

For as long as I’ve known that I wasn’t straight, I didn’t think I was allowed to claim a spot in the queer community. Partly because I had come out so late in life, and partly because I was married to a cis (albeit, queer himself) guy. I felt that by identifying as bi (or queer, or pansexual) and not having had sexual or romantic experience with women, I was being dishonest—with myself and with others.

Because on the surface, me and my life can very easily pass as hetero. I’m in a long-term committed relationship with a dude. My sexual history is comprised almost entirely of the opposite sex. I’m super femme. I don’t have an alternative and / or multi-colored hairstyle.

Bi-erasure is very real, & I’ve often felt like I contribute to my own invisibility.

Sometimes I’d get curious about whether living a more out and “queer lifestyle”—whatever that meant—would help assuage my feelings of disconnect. But mostly, I’ve felt strangely separated and disallowed from non-straight circles because my sexual identity didn’t seem to qualify within the explicit confines of queerness.

Which bred self-doubt. Which spurred spiraling inner denial. Which exacerbated my otherness.

–Ev’Yan Whitney, “I Went to Queer Summer Camp and Came Back More Gay” | Sex Love & Liberation

This is so me sometimes. Every year I think about going to Pride things and I don’t because thoughts like this get the best of me. It feels like I’m taking up space that I shouldn’t claim, because my life doesn’t/hasn’t ever/might not ever revolve around queer relationships or queer desire.

I am pro-abortion like I’m pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery. … Abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing. I believe that abortion care is a positive social good. I suspect that a lot of other people secretly believe the same thing. And I think it’s time we said so.

–Valerie Tarico, “I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice

(via because i am a woman)

The first sentence of this quote was realllllllllly powerful to me.

Phase Four

We submitted our application for our first apartment together on Thursday afternoon. Wednesday night, we had a touching conversation about starting to build our lives together and how awesome it will be to come home to one another on a daily basis, and how each of us is the best thing in the other’s life. We held each other tight and tears were shed. Living with him used to feel like an impossible idea, so much so that one of the disquieting questions that lives in the back of my mind used to be, “How does it feel to be in a relationship where living together will never be an option?”. I remind myself of that when “nevers” get tossed around in my head these days, because nothing is permanent. My daydream/procrastination time in the past few days has involved online window-shopping for console tables, patio furniture sets, area rugs, even a new bed frame. These things excite me. “Our apartment” excites me. I know there will be challenges, and days we get on one another’s nerves, and probably some nagging about cleanliness and general organization, and assorted other things that take some getting used to around living together, but on the whole I think about the next year of our life together and just feel sappy and goofy and exuberant.

I told him that I’m not completely unworried. I didn’t get into why. One of the biggest things that worries me, we’ve already thought about and talked about: the fact that my partner who I will be living with has another significant other who is long distance. She doesn’t have her own space here for them to spend time together in when she’s in town, which seems to point to either costly hotels or me needing to vacate my home for a period of time to give them space/time to spend together. Which, at face value, seems like it’s going to suck. I can barely handle her coming to town and me not getting to see him for a stretch of days as is. I was such a mess at the end of May when I didn’t get to see him for a week because of poor planning around her visit.
But some of that messiness was productive. In advance of her visit, I purchased The Jealousy Workbook: exercises and insights for managing open relationships, after seeing a poly tumblr I follow recommend it in their FAQ. (I don’t remember whose FAQ it was, sorry!) Overall I think the book was helpful and constructive, but it was downright painful to go through at times. It made me name and confront feelings I want or have, like “knowing my partner will always prioritize me,” “having my partner’s abiding loyalty and commitment,” “spending most of our free time together,” “the stability of being able to plan our future together,” “feeling controlled or restricted,” “sexual problems: not enough sex, differences in sexual needs, loss of passion,” “not being sure what I can count on,” “not having guaranteed access to my partner,” and dealing with “lots of ‘surprises’ that can disrupt my life” in the form of a cost-benefit analysis. It made me think deeply about how important my needs for companionship, affection and touch, sexual satisfaction and compatibility, emotional intimacy and closeness, romantic love and romantic attention, intellectual rapport and compatibility, an adequate amount of quality time together, trust and emotional safety, long-term security and the stability of the relationship, sense of family and community, domestic partnership (compatibility in living together or spending time together), independence, personal autonomy, and privacy, shared interests and activities, similar values and worldviews, and financial compatibility are to me, and how well each of those needs is being met in my relationship. To make a long story short, this book put me through the fucking wringer. But some good insights came out of it.
Exercise 9 helped me to identify sadness as the primary emotion I experience in episodes of jealousy. Exercise 12 had me unwrapping that sadness and trying to figure out what it’s made of, examining the onion of that feeling. In so doing, it occurred to me for perhaps the first time that there is a chance that being around him literally all the time will make me less averse to having time apart. I’m about to move from a Time with JJ scarcity model to a Time with JJ abundance model. This could backfire, and my brain feel like NOPE WE’RE USED TO GETTING ALL THE TIME WITH JJ! I DON’T WANNA SHARE ANYYYYYYY! But there will be little things about being around one another all the time that are annoying, for sure, and even entirely outside of that, I can see my need for independence/personal autonomy becoming a thing I need to devote more time/energy to when my life is structured around our interdependence. Also, a significant portion of the sadness I feel when she’s in town now (and the gap between the importance of an adequate amount of quality time v. how well I feel that need is met in our relationship) revolves around feeling like I’m waiting for him to decide when he wants to see me again, and I don’t know when that will be. But that will no longer be the case when we’re living together. The situation now is that I only get a certain amount of days to spend with him, which usually feel as though they’re at his discretion, and whenever she comes to town I am losing days to her. But in six and a half weeks, I’ll start to spend literally every day with him unless one of us is out of town or she’s here. I expect that there are probably big emotional differences in those two realities, though I can’t quite predict exactly what they’ll be.
Our relationship has gone through a few distinct phases already, each of which came with its own sets of emotions, challenges, desires that felt untenable, fears, etc. When we first started dating, I wasn’t his primary partner, and I assumed that the person who was would always be. My big issues were how to ask for an amount of time to spend with him that felt “worth it” without causing undue stress upon their relationship, and a lot of complicated feelings around recognizing that I was falling in love for the first time in a relationship that I thought could never look “normal,” in a relationship I wasn’t even telling people about yet because of its unusual nature. The beginning was very future-unsure; every time I saw him could have been the last time. Once we got past that, and started talking about a future together as a thing we both wanted, the big issues were around reciprocity of investment and prioritization, feeling off-balance in how much I was giving versus how much I was getting. Phase two was actively future-wanting, but not being sure what that future looked like. Since the priority of the two of us as a team has been established, this third phase has involved preparing to make our lives look as wrapped around one another as they feel, while still making space for his other partner, because I don’t want her to feel the way I felt in phase one, and also recognizing and accepting that I may not ever want to have additional partners again, and recognizing and accepting that the feelings I have around his other partnerships may not ever completely go away. This has been a future-planning phase, as well as a self-reflective one. And again we are moving into uncharted territory, but this time we’ve scoped out what lies ahead and tried to draw preliminary maps. We’re embarking on the task of building a home. This is phase four, and if the previous phase-shifts have taught me anything, it’s that I can’t expect to feel then how I feel now.
That’s what I try to remember when I think about needing to decide whether to re-sign the lease after a year. Our move-in date would be 7/29/15, which means that we’d probably need to decide whether we want to renew or not by 5/29/16. The end of May 2016 has two large significances in my mind at the moment: his 5th Reunion, and the fact that the girl that he is dating long distance will have graduated from her master’s program in LA by then, and could possibly have decided or still be deciding whether she wants to move back to the DC area.
We wandered around in downtown Silver Spring last Saturday afternoon after looking at four apartment buildings, including the one we submitted our application for, and got really delicious burgers at this place called Burgerfi. While we were waiting for our food to be ready, we started talking about lease lengths, because the leasing consultant we were working with at the last place we visited asked him what we’d think about a 15 month lease instead a year-long lease while I was in the bathroom. He told her we hadn’t talked about it, and so we started to talk about it in the restaurant. He hadn’t been aware that the lease term can be something more random than a year. We were both okay with the idea of 15 months — it’s not that long of an additional commitment, and it would mean we can stop moving in the summertime, which is better for the actual moving process and no longer peak season in terms of apartment-hunting in this area. I asked him how long of a lease he would be down to consider, and he asked how long they can be. I said the longest I’ve seen is 2 years. He said he wasn’t sure. He turned the question back on me, but conveniently our buzzer started going off, letting us know that our food was ready, and we went to go get it and conversation drifted to other topics.
I have said to other people, but not to him, that I would not be willing to consider a 2 year lease with him at this time. For the people I share fewer intimate details about our life with, I generally say something to the effect of, “That’s as long as we’ve been dating,” which is the truth. But for the people I can be real with, I bring up the potential for the other girl to move back here, and how I don’t know what the best way to handle that would be. He and I have only discussed it once, in the hypothetical, and of the living situation he said it could be dope if she lived nearby, and that he anticipates tension around him living with me and not living with her, that in fact some of that tension is already playing out. The implication that her moving back here wouldn’t have a bearing on whether he and I continue to live together is probably supposed to reassure me that we’re a team, that we’re growing and building together, that wanting some sort of a future with her does not substantively change the future we are creating for ourselves.
But I honestly don’t know that I’d want to continue to live with him if he were going to be splitting his time between us. I don’t want to come home to an empty apartment a couple of nights a week. I’ve never wanted to live by myself, and I already imagine the weight of his absence in bed with me and during our morning routine being crushing. But what’s the alternative? Will I want us to go back to living apart after I was the one to suggest we live together? Will I go looking for a room in a house again, spend my time with roommates, see him a few days a week at his discretion like I do now? Would she want to move in with him if I don’t want to live with him anymore? Would I be able to handle that? Would our relationship survive downgrading from being live-in partners? Could it survive the emotional turmoil I suspect that I’ll go through knowing he’s spending the night with her while I’m sad alone in our bed? Is there a way she could move back here without the everyday reality of our relationship suffering critical losses? Is survival in either of these scenarios dependent largely (if not entirely) on the degree to which I’m fine taking what I can get? And what is that if not settling?
He thinks about the farther away future than I do. I don’t feel capable of making plans past what I know to be true or can reasonably predict. And him having another significant other that I do not know and do not communicate with means that my prediction range is short. Whenever anything happens with her, it’s a surprise that feels disruptive. (How can it not? How are she and I not diametrically opposed, even if neither of us is actively trying to “win”?) Him loving someone else makes me feel like the ground I stand on isn’t solid long-term. The terrain is inevitably going to change in ways I cannot predict or control. My choice will always be adapt or flee. But committing to adaptation before I know for sure what I’ll need to adapt to is going to be terrifying. I can feel it already. I feel great about the next year in our life together, but from where I stand right now, it’s hard to see where we’ll go beyond that.
But then I think about where we were a year ago today, and how much has changed. It was a lot harder for me to see how he prioritized our relationship then, and commitment to one another was a thing we talked about occasionally, but that commitment wasn’t nearly as reflected in our day-to-day as it is now or will be in six and a half weeks. We were figuring it out as we went alone then, and we’re figuring it out as we go along now, and for as long as we go along, we’ll be figuring ourselves, one another, and our relationship out as we go along. What’s going to happen is always an unanswerable question, whereas do we want to move in together is a resounding yes on both sides. Do we want to make this work is a resounding yes on both sides. Are we willing to put in emotional work and have hard conversations and make some sacrifices to put the relationship first is a resounding yes on both sides. We are moving into uncharted territory, but we’ve been building the skills to deal with the challenges we’ll find there from day one.