Note: This is not a primer on polyamory. If you do not know the term, please read up on it here.
What I’m here to talk about is how polyamory has broken me and will likely break you too. I am here to tell you what no one shares about polyamory. You can watch the TV shows focusing on all the sex or watch the people in the news with multiple partners and babies and poly communities. What you don’t see is all the heartache, all the tears, all the therapy and gut-wrenching loss.
You see, polyamory can be freedom, autonomy, lots of sex, lots of love, lots of amazing amazing times. But it often takes a whole fucking lot of carcasses of relationships to get there. Just like people who are monogamous “kiss a lot of fish in the sea” to find the “right” one, polyamorous people go through all the same things…except multiplied. And all the great times are balanced out with all the HEAVY WORK and constant changes and adaptations it takes to deal with multiple relationships co-existing together at one time in one life.
What no one tells you about polyamory is that constant change can be tiring, that constant loss can be painful, that fear and insecurities about future changes can be paralyzing. What no one tells you is that no matter how many partners you have, you may still have many nights you are sleeping alone in your bed or having dry spells of sex or feeling utterly fucking alone. What no one tells you about polyamory is that people can’t fill the gaping wounds in our hearts and if you ever expect it or hope for it to, there is immense sadness in knowing that in the end: You are the only one who will always be there for you.
This is, of course, true in monogamy as well. But most of us grow up with this belief that if we find “our person” and we get married, we’re set. We can last for a long time in our life (maybe forever) believing that it’s true – believing that person will always be there for us and we are “safe.” As soon as that spell breaks, that belief can never come back. As soon as the wheels come off – even once – it’s over. We’re done.
In Japan, there is a concept called kintsugi, where they repair broken pottery with golden lacquer and it thus becomes more valuable than its original state of intactness. I believe this is how we are as humans – more valuable after being broken and having put ourselves back together again more intentionally. And yet there is still such a huge part of us that wants to feel secure in a future…and when that illusion is broken, there is no getting it back.
Tonight, I am stuck here.
When I first left my marriage, I appreciated the disenchantment and even the “broken” state. I had this “fuck you” attitude with the world. I didn’t care about anyone but myself. I did what I wanted and I could care less what anyone thought about it. I intentionally wore my heart on my sleeve and soaked up every bit of life and love I could. I was free. I knew it would cause me pain at some point and I accepted that too. I thought I did at least.
But over time, the fear of inevitable loss has caught up with me. I’ve had enough relationships now within two years that ended in such immense hurt that it feels as though it permanently scarred my heart. My heart has been torn down and built up so much that it feels like scar tissue is blocking the light from getting in.
What no one shares about polyamory is that you will experience such amazing times that nothing else can quite compare. Your heart will never again be contained inside the box society tells you needs to be accepted/fit within. Even if you “go back” and choose to have “only” one partner, that partner will not be able to fit you into the mold of who you “should” be and vice versa.
Polyamory will take the wheels off and make you rebuild them by asking for help. You will learn to depend on yourself and yet create your world around a village – one who loves you more than you ever imagined was possible. Within this village, you will experience compassion and care worthy of a vista view and hurt so deep you will believe you cannot survive it. Within this village, you will be held, cherished, beat, confronted, torn down, built up. You will experience tough love, deep connection. You will face your past, your present, and your future – sometimes all in one evening, sometimes in one moment. You will lose everything and gain everything. The world will change colors before you.
What no one tells you is that polyamory breaks you *open.* Everything you do after you have experienced this will be a conscious choice, an effort, an intention. You will be in charge of you – for the first time in your entire life. And it will be fucking terrifying…and then it will be amazing…and then it will be terrifying again. You will grow a thick skin and yet, you will know how to take your beating heart out of your chest and offer it to someone else with the best of intentions and tell them to “hurt you please.”
We are best at hurting each other. We learn how to take it. We learn how to build walls. Our parents teach us how to be suspicious, how to run from strangers, how to protect ourselves in all the ways. No one teaches us how to show others our weaknesses and sit still and quiet as they poke their fingers in those places. And just breathe. No one shows us how to take care of someone else’s heart as they display it in front of us. We see it as weakness, we see it as fragility, not as what it truly is: Strength, bravery, truth in its purest form.
No one teaches us how to love and how to be loved. We are too busy fighting, creating, avoiding, and preventing the possibility of pain to let it go and just let someone else love us and let ourselves love back. We will love imperfectly and we will be loved imperfectly. It is inevitable.
What no one tells you about polyamory is that it will break you open and it will break everything around you. And your heart will hurt. And you will love and you will lose love. And you will make walls and break them down and make them again. You will love like your life depends on it. You will learn to love yourself.
And despite (and because of) all of that, you will walk out of the burning forest of your life