I wrote this post about polyamory a while ago. It became a bit viral in the polyamory community. There were very extreme reactions to it. Positive and negative.
And looking back on the post, I remember what I was feeling when I wrote it. I remember having just gone through a breakup and then having reconnected again with the same person. I remember the emotional roller coaster of that, the changes in me, the changes in the relationship, the re-familiarity and the re-distancing. Ya know, the typical things that happen in all relationships, especially romantic. Just…exaggerated with multiple partners.
As I’ve become more and more monogamish (not because of new rules, but because of choices around time and priorities), I’ve found myself losing the freedom I once felt in my heart – the freedom that let me be a happy (but emotionally fragmented) polyamorous person, the freedom that removed all the hesitation about connecting with others, the pleasure of being entirely in the moment and being part of a truly organic moment.
I’m not entirely sure what happened to my polyamorous heart. I still have loving emotionally close and platonically affectionate relationships with many people (which may still be considered polyamorous by many), but romantic ones are basically removed from the pool. It isn’t even necessarily because I wouldn’t want to fuck or kiss or be in love with someone else. It’s because of the roller coaster x2 or x3 or x4. I’m just not interested in getting on the ride again.
But I’m realizing not everyone rides that ride. A lot of people just let the waves of emotions wash over them and revel in the feeling of the waves at all. They focus on the sun shining on them, the people around them, their own inner core. People come and go around them and it doesn’t affect them; it doesn’t change the way they look at their day or their week or their life. They feel stable and secure or maybe just don’t care because they see it’s an illusion, and all we have is today. All that’s here today will change tomorrow or the next. I wish I could live by that; I wish my heart would pay close attention to its wisdom and could just let go of the outcome and the potential pain.
I feel like the only time I was able to be free with my heart entirely was when I felt I had nothing to lose. I lived in the moment. I met new people every day. I pursued connections. And when those burned, I went onto the next. Looking back, many of those were connections that were more like flings to the others involved, but I still gave them pieces of my heart, pieces I feel like I can’t get back. I said at the time that I lived with my heart on my sleeve. I thought that was a good thing. When I looked in someone’s face, I could see all these amazing things about them, things they couldn’t see themselves. And they saw themselves reflected in me, reflected back in this way they had never experienced before. It was like I was a glowing mirror of light, attracting moths to a flame with their own beauty.
One time during that period, I met someone with a friend while we were on a trip. It was my friend’s friend. We happened to be in the same place at the same time. He later told my friend that he was afraid to get too close to me; he felt I was “aflame and he might be burned.” I remember thinking how odd a statement that was. But recently, it makes more sense. Because today, I feel my heart’s fire dimming every day. I am no longer attracting people in the way I was and I no longer feel a mutual connection at all. In fact, I don’t want to – because I know eventually, it will hurt too much.
But I want to want to. I want to want that feeling again, my heart cracked open, the world my oyster or whatever that phrase is. That feeling was contagious. It was the feeling of being alive – all over, in every nook and cranny. I don’t know if it was really polyamory that achieved that. It was just…I don’t know, a different me. A less scared me. A me with less to lose. Or one that acknowledges there’s no such thing as “having” at all.
It’s more frustrating, honestly, to know what it is to feel alive and then have the door slammed in your face. Or even if it’s a door you closed willingly at one point and would like to open again only to find it’s locked and sealed shut. And then to feel like the rest of your life, you are pounding on the door, using blowtorches, everything to feel what you once did again because everything else feels dull in comparison.
At one point, I thought I had fallen in love with myself. I knew I was worthwhile, desired, loved, and cherished. I knew it in my bones. I felt the same towards others. There were no questions on either end. But today, I listen to people’s words about my worth, their desire and love and cherish of me and nothing registers. Those are words, says my heart. Only words. And it quickly goes back to protecting itself, sealing the door with more spackle, paint, locks, and glue. Even if I see that others feel this about me, there is a disconnect. I am not open to their feelings. Their feelings are too much. My feelings are big enough.
At times, I believe these big loving feelings I had for the world may never come back. Maybe what allowed me to be open was this desperateness to fit in and be desired for the first time in my life. Maybe that hunger and insatiable drive to connect is not something I will ever feel comfortable with again because it is no longer something I *need* outside of what I already have in my life. And maybe it is just not something I have room or capability for anymore. Maybe it was just a really long manic phase. Now that I’m on mood stabilizers, maybe everything is just less than it will ever be again.
There was a moment I got a glimpse beyond the door a year or so ago. I had felt myself closing the door and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to open it again or close it all the way. I met a man who told me that people like me cannot be half in or half out; I need to be all in the door or I will be holed up in my brain forever. Half-connecting just isn’t enough. Fully removing myself makes me suicidal. He told me this without knowing anything about me. Soon after meeting him, I was at the grocery store. And this weird, anxiety-provoking feeling came over me. I felt like every person I saw was showing me their pain, that I could feel their sadness, their weight. I couldn’t take it; it was like the exact opposite of feeling people’s light. He wrote me in this moment (without me initially writing him) and said “I feel you. What’s going on.” After my initial shock, I told him that I felt *everything.* He told me to breathe into it, to let go, but all I could feel was the weight of those people on my chest. Ultimately, it went away – but I could tell it was because I was at a crossroads, a moment that I could have chosen opening again and I distinctly chose against it. I closed the door.
Every time I think of that, I ask myself why. Isn’t feeling alive one of the most important feelings in all of the world? It seems like now, I need to keep reaching higher and higher to feel anything remotely close. It feels never-ending. It feels unattainable. It feels useless. Why is fear of pain so averse to humans that we remove ourselves from pleasure to (pretend to) avoid it?
Pain is unavoidable. And pain comes with growth and learning and struggle. And I know all of this.
But my heart won’t listen.
Spackle. Paint. Locks. Glue.