The Chosen

Full moon rises outside the window
Two deadweight bodies radiating body heat
Legs across mine
Claiming me as their own even in sleep
I don’t mind
I have been theirs since the moment I could finally hold them in my arms instead of vaguely curse at them to get the fuck out of me

Tension rises outside the door
Voices raised as emotions are expressed
Two people learning how to love each other again
How to belong to each other
And themselves
I don’t mind
I have been there, walked those exact steps, been overcome and overwhelmed and desperate
And came out the other side with more love than I ever believed possible

Words rise inside of me
Always wanting to get out
Past my tied tongue and my half open eyes and stiff fingers they demand release
I don’t mind
Racing across the page they are the wind in my sails
Pulling the weight from my heart and pouring it on the page they are my anchor
They are my breath in good times and bad

We rise out of expectations
Insisting on making our own way
Laying down the burdens of antiquated ideals
Ignoring the calls for self sacrifice from the same lips that call us entitled
I love him I love her they love me we love
And I don’t mind
The side eye when I introduce my partnerS
Call myself a witch
Or hear my child drop the f bomb at story time
Because at the end, when I walk into the light again, I will never wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen it instead of accepted what I was given

Friends Without Agenda

As an ex-Christian (and a devout one who studied theology for fun kind of Christian) I have a lot of “say no to “let’s meet up for coffee!”” posts about enforcing boundaries while deconstructing on my social media feeds. Which is super important and I whole heartedly support those “no”s.

But why? There is an assumption here that isn’t being talked about as clearly as I feel it needs to be. When the “friends” ask “let’s meet up for coffee!” they are being false. They don’t want coffee. They want confrontation. They want to address what they see as a deviation from their expectations of your life. That, friends, is *toxic as fuck*.

I’m not saying true friends won’t invite you out for coffee to address sudden, or even subtle, changes in behavior. They will. They should. What I am saying is that true friends will invite you out for coffee to listen, not talk. We all change. All of the time. And the course of our lives will shift. Sometimes subtly, other times drastically. If you had told me 8 years ago as I was walking down the aisle that not only would I whole heartedly abandon the fuckery that is American Christianity, but be in a polyamorous relationship and understand myself as a witch – I’d have freaked the fuck out. And yet, if you ask me about it now, I can calmly and rationally explain (granted, with the use of curse words, not even remotely sorry) that my deviation from my original “life plan” is actually a heart felt continuation of my deeply held beliefs about the nature of the divine, justice, and love.

That rather than a deviation, I see my current path as a natural exploration of my values once the destructive influence of the patriarchy was removed. Once the ways in which I expressed my values were no longer dictated by a completely arbitrary set of rules, my life is what happened.

And I am currently supported by friends who understand that, even when our values are not identical, or do not express themselves identically. But I wasn’t always. When I was beginning this transition, in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t have a solid friend group. And I listened to friends I shouldn’t have. And it almost destroyed my life. Not because of my life choices, but because of the way they were framed by my “friends”. I began to doubt myself. And that’s when the real problems started.

My friends, well meaning though they were, had an agenda for my life. Monogamy was part of that agenda. And it almost ended my marriage. The toxic trait isn’t the questioning of the change. It’s the refusal to consider the why. It’s being convinced that there is only one right way. Denying individuality, denying personal revelation, completely unable to address discrepancies in common belief systems, and worst of all, using friends as surrogates for their own problems and projecting issues onto them.

*cough* married people with their own damn problems *cough*

And fram, the only way of finding those people is to be those people. My network is incredibly diverse. Polyamorous families, monogamous families, agnostic, atheist, buddhist, pagan, Christian, sex workers, transgendered uncles, boy scout leaders, in the closet, out of the closet, parents, childless, and a missionary. But the one important thing to note is that not a single one of those choices, be it a lifestyle choice or the choice to live authentically and loudly, was made because it was expected of them, or because it was society’s default. Every life is lived because they examined themselves and decided the best way forward.

No one in my circle thinks that there is a way we are supposed to be other than kind. Each way is authentic to the person living it. The end. And the beginning. And the middle. It’s the most supportive, encouraging, loving community I have ever been a part of. I have watched so many women heal.

So when decided which people are truly your people – please remember to say no to anyone who is invested in your life looking a certain way.

Give Me The Chisma

For those who don’t know, chisma means gossip and is pronounced “cheeze-mah”. And I’m going to be super upfront about the fact that I *live* for chisma. Do you know someone’s drama? Do you need a safe place to unload it? Hello, here I am. Let me listen. I will not interfere. I will not judge. I will listen, wide eyes, munching on popcorn and nodding or gasping on cue. I cannot tell you how much I cherish chisma.

So when Eilan was giving me the deets on his office drama – I was *there* for it. I was drinking it in. Relishing the details.

Until the details started to take the shape of my own insecurities. “He really just wants someone to partner with, you know? She stays home all day. She doesn’t do anything. She is totally cool just being supported.” And he glances at me, and instead of the side eye part of me is always expecting to imply that I am not doing enough, the look is easily interpreted as “thank goddess my partners are awesome” and I had to mentally take a step back.

What?

Like, he does know I am home all day, right? And that I have been (falsely) accused for years of having no ambition? And that as our children are rather young, I’ve got at least a decade before I have any plans to pursue any career outside the home. I *often* do not change out of pajamas. It’s been a month since the last time I wore make up and I am extremely contented being supported.

And he does not and has never seen it that way. It is not his money it is our money. He has said, multiple times, that he cannot afford me. I’m not just a sexy lady parading around the house in my pajamas making half baked plans to get the body of a super hero while downing my 3rd cup of coffee while my body pleads with me to drink some water. That’s who I see in the mirror. He sees a badass who nurtures his offspring while making multiple dinners because god forbid the littles eat something other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches. He sees a woman who keeps the house running while he is out working so that he can come home and just relax. He sees the woman who makes sure all of our bills are paid on time so he can focus on work and family and have a hobby. He sees the woman who does yoga cards with the kids at night which somehow almost always involves pretending to be a family of cats that need to curl up together and snuggle because apparently thats what cats do. He sees the woman who gets up in the middle of the night to gently guide our offspring back to bed, or at times, open the warm covers and hold them for a while after a bad dream. He sees me teach them how to sound words and add double digits and try to get them to remember the shape of Europe. (“I remember that one! It reminds me of syrup!” – 5 yr old) He sees what I do. He sees me and all the effort I have poured into our family over the past 8 years and he never looks at my lack of a paycheck and thinks “this is a woman without ambition” but that “this is a woman who has decided that for now, her energy and ambition is better spent in the home than out of it and I am so thankful for her”.

He sees my stretchmarks and thinks “my kids made those when she grew their bones inside of her”. He sees my saggy boobies and thinks “she nursed them for 4 years to give them the best she could”. He sees me close my eyes and count to 10 when I cannot even with the emotions of a 5 year old capricorn and sees me apologize when I don’t catch myself in time and teach said capricorn the meaning of sarcasm. He sees me hunched over my computer reading the 328249248th article on childhood development and trying to figure out next year’s history curriculum. He knows this “job” of mine is demanding. But because of him, it is not thankless.

Because of him, when I see those stretchmarks in the mirror and feel the gentle, constant tug of my stretched out boobs, and see the *now trendy* dark spots under my eyes from another night of broken sleep I can hear, ever so faintly, the words he has repeated to me over and over and over. “You are sexy.” “You are beautiful.” “You are worthy.” “I love you.” “I appreciate you.” “I choose you.”

Until it builds into a crescendo that covers my existence and writes the words “YOU ARE SEEN” over my skin and over my sky and over my eyes. Until meaning flows from my fingertips and covers everything I touch. Until I begin to believe it. Until I let it transform me. Until my guilt is washed away and I’m laying on the living room floor just BEING and feeling the sun slowly trace its way across my skin as it flows across the sky.

And because of some (not okay) things that have happened in the past, because of accusations made against polyamorous partners (that non monogamous men are not family men and do not value their partners and that polyamorous women are just being abused and don’t know it), I need everyone here to know that this is my chisma.

I’m not saying we don’t fight or get our feelings hurt or have really, really, really shitty days. I’m not saying we don’t have misunderstandings and work to do on our shadow selves and trauma to heal on our child selves. I’m not saying we’re always great parents and great partners. I’m not saying there is no conflict and its nothing but shiny happiness behind closed doors. We’re people. With flaws. With baggage. With children who have intimate access to our buttons and hands that looooooove pressing them. With hormones and prozac and endless work to keep. going. forward.

I’m saying that I can consume gossip with gusto because the biggest conflict in my own life is the fact that I need to learn to see me how my partners see me. I’m saying that if it weren’t for the fact that I am hilarious, my life would be exceedingly boring. Polyamory is not inherently dramatic. I’m saying there is something fucking *magical* about being loved for who you are and not having to hide the fact that you want to go to bed at 8:30 and your partners giving you a kiss and crawling into bed 3-5 hours later after they have been *themselves* and awake and doing stuff. I’m saying that the biggest challenge in my life right now is my own brain and the pile of laundry that I swear to Hathor never gets any smaller. Ever.

In the end, I think don’t think I’m writing this for my polyam fram, or other moms, or even women in general. I think, actually, that I am writing this for those who don’t understand that “alternative” means “authentic” and nothing else. My alternative life is more boring than most monogamous relationships I know of for the simple reason that I am more fulfilled than my monogamous counterparts. Less is expected of me because it is understood that I cannot *and will not* fulfill all of my partners needs and that I need to spend a significant portion of my energy fulfilling my own needs.

And to be clear, I don’t think that polyamory is better or a more valid option than monogamy. I just think those that embrace polyamory are more likely to embrace authenticity and authenticity is the key to fulfillment. And doing the work. And learning how to communicate. And doing shadow work. And nurturing our inner children. And accepting our full selves (even the parts that live for gossip). And accepting our flawed and still perfect partner(s).

We don’t do this for the drama. We don’t do this to be “different”. We do this so we can live our best lives. We do this because it’s who we are. We do this to make our lives *easier*, not to make your life *harder*. We do this because we cannot stand the thought of another generation of children thinking that something is wrong with them. We do this because we are burdened with the weariness of a hundred ancestors and have no more capacity to do anything other than LIVE.

Grey Hell

To every parent trapped in the grey hell of knowing their parents are toxic af yet wanting their children to have a relationship with their grandparents and for that to miraculously not turn out badly.

It’s exhausting. It’s mystifying. It’s incredibly painful. It is a true, unsustainable limbo. It’s the fine line between being a hard nosed hypocrite and a spineless snowflake. Or maybe. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m still dibbling in the koolaid. I mean. How is demanding that your extremely young children be surrounded by people who aren’t going to shatter their tiny hearts with narcissism and manipulation being a hyprocrite?

Do I know my children are going to encounter narcissists and manipulators? Yep. Add in there all the other types of people I don’t want them to get hurt by but know that they will. There’s a difference though, in knowing it’s going to happen at some point and dropping them off there for an afternoon.

How does blood justify the inability to communicate the most basic things? How does blood justify the refusal to acknowledge our family as a whole? It… doesn’t. If anything, their blood is a witness against their ability to understand what family is supposed to be.

And I for one, will no longer be silent. I will be sassy. I will be cheeky. I will say things to purposefully send them into a tizzy because when their buttons involve the basic dignity of oppressed communities – I say we just go for it at that point. Because, like american republicans, I just cannot take them seriously anymore. To pretend as if this is any sort of normal is just too much. I’m done. I’m done with truth not being a thing, making up facts and restating them loudly to prove some sort of point, of talking down to people, of treating others like social pariah’s for NOT listening to baseless facebook conspiracy theories, and casually deciding that the health of every neighbor, every friend, every disliked acquiantence is worth LESS than my discomfort level at covering my face in public. And I am 100% done with them treating any form of consequence for their gross, destructive, oppressive, insane behavior as the basest of insults to their very existence.

Them: “Can you believe all of this? A stolen election.”

Us: “There is actually no evidence -“

Them: “Well there is if you’re not brainwashed by the mainstream media.”

Us: “Like what?”

Them: “Did you watch that Tucker Calson clip circulating on facebook?”

Us: “No.”

Them: “Well if you’re not even interested in finding out the truth for yourself then why would I waste my time trying to show you the truth you’ll deny anyway? You know you weren’t always like this. You used to be such a godly girl. I bet its all the gays you hang out with.”

Us: “The gays?”

Them: “Yes. Your morally devoid friends.”

Us: “That I met volunteering?”

Them: “At a women’s clinic where they have ABORTIONS. YES.”

Us: “They also treat all sorts of mental health and fertility -“

Them: “I will not listen to your justifications of baby murder. Honestly. They should just cage those women up like the filthy immigrants bringing the china virus defying our LAWS-“

Us: “Actually, seeking assylum is not illegal -“

Them: “How would you know what’s legal and not? You won’t even say the pledge of allegiance!”

Us: “It is possible for me to know legal from not without pledging my allegiance to a system I was born in that I don’t necessarily agree with-“

Them: “You entitled snowflake! You could have been born in China where they kill Christians or a socialist country where your poverty is guaranteed or -“

Us: “Hear me out, though, democratic socialism is a thing -“

Them: “Of course you’re a communist! You always wore black on Easter and I always said it was bad luck and now you’re a communist. Next thing you’ll be a democrat.”

Us: *Silence*

Them: *whisper* “You didn’t.”

Us: “At this point what on earth do you think I would vote for that abuser -“

Them: “Biden is only being used by the Clintons! He’s not right in the head! He can’t even finish a sentence!”

Us: “Have you… no, you know what – I really just will not sit here and listen to extremely ignorant and certifiably false statements that cause harm to people I love anymore.”

Them: “How DARE you be ungrateful for all that we have done for you!?”

*The above conversation is a amalgamation of many conversations I have had with many family members over the past 4 years in which I realized that people I once looked up to have gone COMPLETELY off the rails and I don’t want them anywhere near my life or my family.

And granted, I am still close with family members I don’t see eye to eye with. This is not about striking a match with every relative you have a disagreement with. This is about removing yourself from endless cycles of insanity.

And protecting your kids from it too.

I have no doubt that one day my kids are going to be quite livid with me about choices I made about their childhood. I have definitely yelled (and apologized) to my mom about it and forgave her and acknowledged she was doing the best she could. I hope my kids give me the same grace, someday. Because we all fuck up. I apologize to my kids at least every week. I recieve apologies from them at least once a week. We, none of us, are perfect. But we keep trying.

We don’t belittle them for who they are.

We don’t take every mistake as a personal insult.

We don’t punish them for being different than us.

We don’t try to force them into believing anything under threat of eternal torture.

We do not start crying and yelling when they ask us for an apology or point out a wrong we did.

We do not place our convenience above their health.

In conclusion: I have tried, and tried, and tried to keep the peace. If the peace is dependent on me being ignored, belittled, and attacked – Fuck the peace. That is not a peace worth keeping. And these are not people allowed on my island, in my bliss, in my safe spaces, or – absolutely necessarily – in positions of authority or privilege with my kids.

Sharp Knives

I have let a lot of things and a lot of people disturb my bliss. Parents to classmates to teachers to – I’m ashamed to admit it – fellow parishioners, boyfriends, lady friends, girlfriends, and siblings. Hell, even a few times some random people at the grocery store. But I am thankful to be able to say that the last decade has actually taught me some lessons that I’ve successfully absorbed.

One of them was beautifully and succinctly put by a good friend the other day. “Sometimes,” she said, “you have to guard your bliss with many sharp knives.”

I had been asking her advice in a situation in which I mostly knew the answer, but it was difficult to see entirely clearly. The conclusion was definitely, and absolutely to keep the person requesting re-entry into my life quite out of it.

Which I found particularly interesting considering the reconciliation that had happened less than a month ago. The circumstances were eerily similar. Two e-mails, two relationships that had ended around a year ago, two women that I had once valued as dear friends.

And two very different answers. The first damn near broke my eyelids as my eyes popped open, consumed the e-mail in record time, reread it in order to confirm it was really there, and then fired off an apology and an acceptance together before my lips had touched a single drip of coffee.

The other I sat with uncomfortably for days, trying to see past the plea in the e-mail that was tugging at me to remember the relationship that my gut was telling me might cause far more harm than good.

And it has led me to evaluate both current and former relationships in new ways. While we all have established patterns, so many of which need healing, there are relationships that go in circles, and relationships that move forward. Like tree growth, personal growth can also be measured in how far we reach down and how far we reach up. Relationships that go in circles are not introspective, nor straining for anything. They are cycles of repeated patterns that are destructive and increasingly draining.

Whereas relationships that grow… can change those habits. When a destructive pattern is recognized, it is changed. It is named. It is recognized. And ownership is taken for its consequences.

And if there is one thing my friendship group has been learning, it’s cutting people out who do not take ownership for their actions. Be it shitty parents, in-laws, neighbors, old friends, or partners. Because it is those people, trapped in their own cycles of destruction that will wreak havoc on your bliss. They will crash through it like a cat on adderal at 3am and then blame the dog. And they will do it over and over again.

Your bliss, by the way, is your peace of mind, your life’s stability and general calm. I like to think of my bliss as my dining room table at dinner. When we are all around it, sharing a meal, the voices of my favorite people, resting in each other, investing in each other, and recharging. People who wreck it are bringing divides into it, stealing your rest, silencing voices, or bringing so much of their own chaos that your bliss is lost in the background.

And we all deal with this at one time or another. We all put up with inconveniences to our bliss. Like that judgmental aunt at Thanksgiving, it happens. But that aunt isn’t in our daily life, because if she was we’d be murderers. And that’s bad.

But it isn’t always as easy to see as Aunt Mc-Why-Are-You-Still-Single? It can be friends who are in your life because you are an anchor while it feels like their life is spinning out of control. It can be an ex who wants to relive the drama. It can be your parents refusing to see you as an independent adult. It can be a controlling partner.

And even more confusing, sometimes we are all shitty to one another at times, or need an anchor in our lives, or have to be divisive in another person’s bliss when we see something hurting them that they refuse to acknowledge – nothing about human interactions is easy or clear cut.

And a lot of us did not have the protection from our parents or nuclear family that we should have growing up. And I think it is that realization more than anything that got me. I have to keep this place safe for them. This blissful time together, their world, my energy given to them, our home, in everything I can, I will give them peace. So that they know what peace is. So that as they get older they can protect their own peace, their own home, their own bliss. Whether their bliss is polyamory or monogamy, heterosexual or homosexual, single or partnered, kids or no, adopted or no, artist or accountant, vegan or keto – they can be themselves. Safely. Peacefully. Blissfully.

It is the only way to keep ourselves sane enough to be the activist humans the world needs. We have to have a safe place to go. And we have to protect it with the word “no”. No, you cannot talk to me that way. No, I will not be the person you text when you’re drunk. No, you cannot say that to my child. No. No. No.

Our words can be the sharpest knives we have, and the strongest binding we posses. Use them wisely.

Or, use them to promote baseless conspiracy theories on social media and delegitimize a democracy for the sake of your cult. Really, up to you.

Unfuck Yourself: Co-Dependency Edition

Stumbled across an instagram post yesterday about how Christian women are raised to become co-dependent on purpose. And that hit hard because it’s true. *Please note, in this blog, whenever I refer to christianity I am referring to White American Evangelical Christianity.*

Being asked to be a wife is the #1 priority in a young woman’s life. Honestly, the sooner the better. She is available once she becomes 18 and the most blessed often have proposals before 22. Those who don’t are often reassured that their lives will ‘begin soon’ and they are encouraged to continue ‘preparing themselves’ for marriage. From the time they begin dreaming about Disney princes they are directed onto a path of strict, though confusing and often contradictory, path of purity in which they ‘wait’ for their future beloved and do little else but attempt to prepare for that time. Prayer for one’s future beloved, purity for one’s self, and the continuing pursual of selflessness – the only crown a woman can wear once she gives her purity away for the ability to have children.

The more burnt out the better. She should be so satisfied by her life and her Jesus that the thought of keeping any of herself for herself is anathema and her entire focus is her children (god willing) and her husband. She should rise before him to pray for him and prepare for his day. The day should be spent as much at home as possible, keeping the home while the man works, and to prepare for his arrival. Once home, because of his sacrifice to leave the home for her and thusly blessing her to stay there, everything should revolve around him.

She is most likely his sole emotional support, and this is as it should be. Male emotional intimacy is closely tied to his sexuality, and thusly he usually only leans on those he is having sex with. Or wants to have sex with. All other relationships are most likely superficial, or, in the cases of deep feelings for beloved parents or grandparents, often muted in their emotional give and take.

I have been married for going on 8 years and while I realize that there are many who have been married longer than I, I have been married long enough to say, “Oh, dear daughters. It’s all bullshit.”

Your life starts the minute you begin making cognizant choices. (Not trying to say it has no value before then, but no one is going to look at floppy necked babe and think that woman is living her best life.) There is no waiting for any part of it. It is all relevant and amazing and painful and no part of it is any less potent or valuable.

My life did not begin when I married. My life did not begin when I had children. My life has been roaring strongly for decades even if I had a really hard time seeing it until a few years ago. I can’t say I’m shocked that it took my husband being polyamorous to snap me out of it, because I was deep in the Koolaid and anything less than that I would have somehow blamed myself for and became an ashamed divorcee with even more self esteem issues than before.

Daughters, live your life to YOUR specifications and only your specifications. If someone wants to come into your life and join you, great. But frankly, look at your best friend and realize that is the most important relationship you are ever going to have and build your life with them. I promise you it will be a more authentic life than one built with a man who thinks he has to ask your dad for you.

We are not chattel.

And we are not responsible for our partner’s emotions. Partner had a bad day? That sucks. It is not your job to drop your life and make it better. It is their job to communicate their needs and recognize your right to meet your own needs first. Kids having a bad day? They have a tendency to do that while learning how to navigate the entire spectrum of human emotions. Doesn’t mean you need to put your self worth into their behavior and invest every ounce of your energy into their fleeting happiness.

Put. Yourself. First. It is your life. And I’m not saying think ONLY of yourself, I’m telling you what I wish I had been told when I was but a breastless child wondering when boys were going to stop being gross: it is your life. Do what you want with it. You want kids? Great, have kids. Don’t want kids? Embrace it and fuck your extended relatives that tell you when you are old you will change your mind. Know yourself, and give a giant middle finger to anyone who wants a version of you modeled after their own expectations and experiences. You want to get married? Awesome, go out there and learn about romantic, partnered you, and flirt because it is so fun. You want to make your career or life ambition your number one priority and your romantic relationships second? Or even third? Or just way down there on the list? GO FOR IT.

Please. Yourself. First.

There was a time, before polyamory, where I thought it was better to be able to look those in church in the eye, look my mom in the eye, look my extended family in the eye – at the expense of being authentic to myself. At the expense of being able to look myself in the eye.

And the weird thing is, young ones, it was when I started looking myself in the eye that I realized that I was my very own key. I thought I would lose the ability to look everyone else in the eye but I didn’t. My dignity increased. Why wouldn’t I look them in the eye? Why would I ever be worth less?

I’m not worth less because my partner is polyamorous. I’m not worth less because I am polyamorous. I am not worth less because I took sovereignty over my womb and closed it for good. I am not worth less because I saw through the bullshit and took away any mediator between myself and the divine. Nothing can make me worth less.

Not being born. Not being from another country. Not speaking another language. Not being kind. Not being educated. Not being uneducated. Not being an asshole. Tattoos. Less than flattering eyebrows. Revealing clothing. Modest clothing. Head coverings. Foul mouths. Sex positivity. Queer. Non binary. Young. Old. Somewhere in the middle. A sexual. Bi sexual. Gender fluid (you stunning beauties you).

I need you, just the way you are. Just like I need me to be me.

Let us unfuck ourselves, together. Sometimes the knots are tight and we need a little help to mentally unravel them. I am here for you.

Last thing ladies:

YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN SOMEONE’S (FUTURE OR PRESENT) WIFE.

How I Stay Grounded

Here’s the thing about my long term relationship that I adore – the highs and lows plateau out. I’m not saying that there aren’t highs and lows anymore, I’m just saying that we’ve got a relatively high cruising altitude with occasional turbulence.

And sometimes, I admit, that can seem rather extraordinary. Because the same issues that cause us minor turbulence can be the very issues that crash other planes. So how is it done, healthily? Because you do not keep a plane cruising that high by ignoring boundaries, not communicating, and distancing yourself from intimacy and vulnerability.

I’ve sat and thought about it for more hours than I can count – and there is going to be a separate post about repetitive work and why its so important for our brains – but it boils down to two key factors.

The first is experience. I am coming up on 8 years into this relationship. We have only been at cruising altitude for the past 2-ish. Before we hit this plateau our plane looked like one of those NASA prep flights where it was literally nothing but steep ups and plummeting downs. And not to mince words, we almost crashed that jet into the ground at least twice.

This ‘grounding’ that others see is not some type of achieved zen, if anything, it is pure exhaustion from having lived through a vomit comet. I have smashed things. I have yelled in the front yard. I have had meltdowns, breakdowns, and spent days sobbing. Some of them were appropriate responses – others were not. (Did I break down sobbing in tears and declare “Why do you hate me? I can never live up to your standards!” after being asked if he could help me get caught up on laundry? Why yes, yes I did.) Here’s the thing, though. I got those emotions out. I felt them. I lived them. I reasoned through them. And our relationship survived every single one.

So now, when something happens that would have sent us plunging before I have the ability to look back and see all of the other things we have survived and really, truly ask myself – is this going to crash us? Or do we just need a conversation and a course correct?

This also affords me the perspective to see how many things we have survived from me that might have crashed us, and how my partner handled those things. Did he stand by me when I made mistakes? Did he create distance and give me a hefty penance? Or did he come close and reassure me and help me do better? And at every instance asking myself this vitally important question, “What kind of partner do I want to be?”

The second is the single most important lesson I have learned about life.

Other people’s choices are not about me.

Including my partners. Especially my partners.

Do their choices sometimes affect me? Absolutely. Can I be justifiably hurt by them? You bet. Was hurting me the reason they made those choices? 110% No.

In this way, we are often living out subconscious inner childhood issues. When our kids are giving us a hard time, they are often having a hard time. This is not a full pass for an endless stream of selfish choices from adults, this is an insight into healing for both parties.

When I was overwhelmed and turned to alcohol, was I trying to hurt my partners? Not even a little. Were they hurt by it? Yes. Did I need to consciously choose to stop, permanently, and take their feelings into consideration while doing so? Also, yes. But it was very important that they understood my destructive choices, while hurting them, were not aimed at them. It helped me heal by being able to focus on myself and where the overwhelm was originating from. It helped our relationship heal by moving the focus from the hurt to the root. It helped them because they were able to understand that I wasn’t trying to hurt them, even though I did.

When these two lessons are taken hand in hand, it takes A LOT to tank that plane. It takes deliberate, planned actions to take that bad boy down. And that’s not the kind of relationship we have, that’s not who we are, that’s not who we have worked to become.

How do I stay grounded? I have complete and utter trust that while I might not agree with every decision my co-pilot makes, he is never going to try and crash the plane.