Poly Phone-Phobic

phoneI have to start this by saying I’m a social anomaly, I really hate when people use their phones in company. Most people tend to agree with me verbally, but usually this is said while their phone is sitting on a table in front of them, or worse still in their hand. We all say that it is rude, but most people carry around with them in their day-to-day the constant distraction of chats with someone else. Now that I’ve outed myself as completely biased on this topic I want to ask some questions about personal space, polyamory, and phones/communication.

In the mono dating world people swipe and Whatsapp their way into dates, fucks, and relationships. There is the scouting stage, the ‘have you seen this meme/cat/documentary’ bit, the laughing at each others finely crafted personal CVs, there may be dicks, and there may be tits. All the while there are beeps, butterflies, and the constant checking of a phone. It’s fun, I’ve been there, I’ve definitely been more addicted to the giddy thrill of it than the actual person I was messaging. The aim is that the person is more impressive than the attention, and that things progress beyond this point.

In mono land dating eventually stops, but what if you are poly? There are many permutations of what your version of poly may look like, you may live with one partner but not another, you may live alone and date several people, but unless you live with all of your partners there there will always be the desire/expectation to keep in constant contact with partners. Added to this is the seeking aspect of poly, the world of dating new people isn’t closed like it is to mono people, so not only is there the time taken up messaging partners, there is the effort put into looking for and making connections with new people. To me that seems like a whole lot of digital time logged that just isn’t spoken about in the poly world.

I don’t want to come across as a phone hating curmudgeon, but I want to look at what is accepted as part of the choice to be poly, see am I okay with it, and see are there any ways around it. What is so wrong with phone use? Everyone does it, am I just misplacing poly baggage and calling it an aversion to tech saturation?

I was having a discussion yesterday with friends about kids and tablets and phones. They couldn’t see the difference between watching tv and watching Netflix on a tablet. My argument was about accessibility and personal space. There is a difference between a box attached to a wall and a device you carry around. If the opportunity is always there to choose the easy thing, the entertainment, then we lose our natural entitlement to space. We opt out of the times spent alone taking a shit, queuing, sitting in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. These down times are integral to our mental health, we need to exhale into those moments of being alone, and be okay with ourselves. As a generation we fill those times with Twitter, selfies, and digital noise. I also think that specifically as poly people we fill those moments with constant communication or date seeking. We have lost the art of being lonely. Poly rhetoric talks of finding people to fit in with the different aspects of ourselves, well what about our own relationship with ourselves, shouldn’t that be a huge part of the poly learning process?

How can this minefield be negotiated? I have felt like I was dictating poly rules when I’ve spoken about this with my partner at the beginning. I was afraid that I was hiding from anxiety about him showing attention to someone else, and labeling it as phone intolerance. Part of me was, I was stepping out on my poly Bambi legs, but mostly it was about respecting the time that we were consenting to spend together. It was about making an active choice to have phone time, and an active choice to have quality couple time. It is a dance we have negotiated over time, he has been incredibly understanding but also firm on what he felt was an infringement on his relationship. There have been wiggles in that negotiation, there have been painful fuck ups, but there is always the intention not to hurt each other(or metas), or take each other for granted.

Currently I feel like I’m at a point of digital fatigue, I spent years selling online, doing marketing for various businesses on social media, and I spent about 3 years single on dating sites doing the same silly dance over and over. I know I’m burnt out with putting my Photoshopped best foot forward, and I have retreated away from a world that is so edited that it feels inauthentic. In that retreat I feel like I’ve locked my own poly chastity belt. I live in a small town in a small country, the likelihood of me meeting someone in real life who is my shade of poly/queer/feminist/artist are realistically slim to none, yet I can’t muster any enthusiasm for the dating game. This writer gets writer’s block as soon as I even think of message courting. Rather than force it I’ve just accepted it as part of who I am, or more accurately who I am right now. This may change, but it seems a waste of time, other people’s, and energy, my own, trying to force online banter when I feel spiritually allergic to it.

So here’s this poly phone-phobic lady asking am I alone? I suppose just like taking a shit in peace without distracting myself with Facebook, I’ll have to be okay with being alone in this opinion.

MeToo, MeToo, too many times Metoo

metoo-I visit his shop to look at all the fascinating antiques, to ask about art, and to be talked to like I’m not a child. It is his job to remember that I am, and not tell me how nice my legs look in my school uniform. I am 12.

-I change my route home from school to avoid the man on the bike. Look at the ground so I won’t catch his eyes. My shoulders hunched, his wheels slowly following me, his words drowned out by the the blood thumping in my ears. After months of being afraid of walking through the village I don’t avert my eyes, I scream in rage at him to stop following me. I was 13.

-We hold hands, he writes poetry, his smell intoxicating, I feel pretty. I tell him it’s all too much, I tell him I’m a virgin, he says ‘I know’ and seems happy, I’m relieved he doesn’t run. I say I can’t yet, that it’s too soon. He does run. I’m 15, he’s 23.

-I tell him to put the cans back or pay for them. He says he has no money. I tell him to drop the cans and get out of the fucking shop. He puts them down and takes out his cock instead, ‘I like it when you’re angry,’ staring at me while pulling on himself furiously. I only look away to find the baseball bat that has a nail in the end of it. I make him leave.

-The day was long, my muscles sore. I drag the mop bucket upstairs to clean the bathroom, small space, tired eyes, counting down the minutes before clock out time. A voice behind me ‘I like that drawing you did, you’re so talented.’ He is too close, I inhale his stale Guinness and tobacco breath, he blocks the stairs. His hand on my shoulder his tongue in my mouth. I am 23 he is 62.

-Walking home, thinking of my bed. Can’t afford a taxi, it’s a 5 minute walk, I refuse to spend the hard earned wages I just worked for because the world tells me to live in fear. Another drunken idiot looking for small talk on the street, I’ve dealt with enough of them already in work, at least there I’m paid to smile. I ignore him. He keeps talking, he gets angry, calls me a ‘stuck up bitch.’ His large hand on my shoulder, his over-sized foot placed to trip up my own. I stumble, catch myself and run. I am sober, he is too drunk to catch me.

-The day is hot. I open the windows, I’m singing along badly to some mindless trash on the radio, nobody is home I don’t need to be embarrassed. I’m dressed in shorts and a vest. I’ve blown my food budget on paint for my room, because aesthetics matter to me. The chair I’m balanced on to do the edging on the window is a little too rickety for comfort. I see him him in the lane way behind my house, pants around his ankles, hands working, eyes fixed on my window. I jump fall from the chair, crouch on the floor, feeling like he is in the room with me, I crawl on all fours out of the room to the safety of downstairs and cry.

-‘I’m really tired, I think I’ll go for a nap upstairs, do want to join me?’ My boss asks me. I awkwardly change the subject. I hear his wife thinks he should fire me, she told the manger I was lazy. I know I’m one of the best staff there. I don’t want a nap, I want to keep my job, I need to pay my bills. I’m 24, he’s 58.

-All those nights in toilets, all those hands unwanted. Women lamenting their own bodies, fingers touching mine before they’ve bothered to ask is it okay. It’s a flimsy courtesy, they’re squeezing, assessing and comparing before I’ve even answered. They are another reason to cover up, another top I buy with a high neck, another time I blame myself for not making less of myself. Sometimes they cry, mostly they tell me how they hate their bodies. All they see are my breasts, not all the rest that comes with it. I pity them, but they too are part of why my body doesn’t fell like my own.

-He locked both doors. His hand on my throat, squeezing. The other on the back of my head, I can’t breath. I cry. Body pushed on that cold table. I say no. I die inside. I shut down. It hurts. I do as he says to get past those locked doors, I lie, I smile while crying, anything to get out. I said no, but I still don’t feel like I can name it, not for 10 years, because my body has never been mine.

I name it now. I join the dots. I see the life I have lived. I fight back. I speak out. No more. No More. No more.

Erotic Artwork(mature content)

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I’m so happy to have gotten back to doing some drawing again. I wanted to bring things back to basics and see what I could do with just a pencil, sometimes the distraction of paint or photoshop is too easily used to mask a lack of skill, I wanted to challenge myself. Both of these are drawings from photos I found online, I want to explore a series of pieces that portray all sexual expression and inclination. Far too often it is portrayed in such a two dimensional way, with very few body types being considered sexy enough to be having sex. I want to show all sides to our tastes without overly fetishising them either, it’s time that niche tastes were shown without pointing the finger.

For me shibari rope is a wonderfully serene experience, and I wanted to show this peace in the drawing above. It is from a photo of the rope work of Das Falke, a wonderful Shibari artist who incorporates spirituality and energy work into his practice. I had the pleasure of having one session with him a couple of years ago, and it was a sublime experience. If you have any interest in rope work you should watch the short documentary below on Das Falke and his practice.

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Why I’m Polyamorous

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I always joke with my partner that Polyamory is the best free therapy anyone could do, it involves so much self examination and hard work it doesn’t let people lie to themselves. During one of our many brutally honest talks with each other I came to the conclusion that if I’m poly now after two and a half years of mostly only having one partner then I must really be poly. I’ve had all of the hard work and not many of the perks and yet I still can’t imagine ever going back to being monogamous. People often ask me why I am non monogamous, it’s a complicated nuanced answer that can’t be boiled down to the soundbite that they want.

Before my thirties I lived a fairly regular life filled with serial monogamous relationships, each person I thought was ‘the one’, every time I’d step on the relationship escalator thinking that I’d have a life of domesticity and cable TV ahead of me. As happy as I was in those few relationships I always had a niggling feeling that I was missing something, that I was playing the good girl, but it didn’t feel like me. I was bored, and then consumed by guilt for not being grateful for the loving partner I had. My desire for other people felt like unforgivable greed, like a hangover from my teens that I couldn’t shake. I told myself that I was in love with romanticism, that it was a toxic side effect of a movie industry that taught me how to desire but not how to love. I told myself that over and over, and kept my eyes averted and locked up my heart.

I did too good a job, I think my love suffocated in that sealed little space that I created to keep it safe. So concerned with locking off any desire for people outside of my relationship I castrated myself within it too. I became sexless, with no idea how to find my way back to myself. I stared in horror, not up the escalator that had promised so much, it now looked like a dark tunnel that sucked me into a future I didn’t want. I ended my six year relationship. I had no idea what I was doing, all I knew was that I was really unhappy and couldn’t continue as I was. I won’t get into it here, for respect for the time we did have together, but let’s say there were many tears shed, but ultimately it saved us both a lot of pain in the long term.

I’d read about polyamory extensively, watched all the videos, and even went to a couple of meetings, the nerd in me needed all the information before I would embark on a new adventure. Armed with my tourist itinerary of possible romantic pitfalls I started poly dating. It was fun, but ultimately shallow, I knew I wasn’t struggling with jealousy because none of the relationships more than skimmed the surface emotionally- I knew I still had my poly training wheels on. Roll forward a year in my dating montage and I met my now fiancé.

At the time of meeting him I wasn’t involved in any other serious relationships,and soon even those fell by the wayside. I wondered if it was me falling back into a mono mode the more I fell in love with him, but I was shedding anything that wasn’t a deep heart connection. My desire for fluffier dalliances died, all I wanted was nerve jangling connection or nothing else. I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for light-hearted dating when I was experiencing something so cataclysmically beautiful.

That was two and a half years ago, aside from a couple of false starts with people I thought I had a spark with I haven’t had any other relationships. I think I’m the most monogamous poly person I know. Which is a hard thing to admit. It feels like saying I’m undatable when I talk to other poly people, they talk of busy Google calendars and not having time, and I nod, pretending to live the same life. I never say it to my mono friends because they look at me aghast, ‘stop being so greedy their expression’ says while they bumble through a platitude about being grateful for what I have. The thing is I am,every single day, there is no ‘grass is greener’, there is no feeling of ‘is this it?’, I’ve genuinely never been happier in my life. But I feel like having been through all the jealousy, hard work and tears of the past couple of years that now I’d like to go the party too please.

Because there are tears.

Lots of them, and when you think you’re done and you’ve figured it out there are more, more demons telling your logical brain insecure things that you should feel bad about. I think this is the thing people are asking about when they ask about poly. When you manage to get the truth out of them, most people are okay with the idea of having sex with more than one person (they struggle with the idea of loving more than one person,but I think that’s because the concept is so at odds with the given narrative about love). What they really struggle with is their partner having sex with and loving someone else, because we treat out partners like extensions of our ego, their behaviours and choices are reflections of ourselves. The idea that they would have autonomous sexual and romantic lives  is terrifying and threatening. I have definitely struggled with that autonomy, but working through it has been the most liberating and constructive work I’ve ever done towards building a happier individual me, and having a healthy relationship. Previously I bucked under the feeling of being owned, yet wanted to feel the security of owning someone, as a way of ensuring the longevity of my relationship. The truth is, or more importantly MY truth is, that the less I feel owned, and in turn the less I possess, the more likely it is that I can stay the distance with someone. I choose to stay in my relationship every day, knowing he makes the same decision actively, which makes me feel like we consent to ‘us’ rather than running from loneliness to each other.

When people think of poly, especially when they’re new to it, what comes to mind is the freedom that they will have themselves. The freedom to explore other connections, to forge new relationships. When I came to it first I naively thought I would have the fun of the dating world with the security of a long term relationship. That hasn’t been my reality. The less I need other people the less datable I’ve become, my happiness has made me intolerant of the game playing and manipulation of the dating world. I’ve had to dig deeper to live out the benefits of the soul searching necessitated by poly. They are there though. My freedom, even though I don’t exercise it, is an invaluable autonomy that I would never again swap for exclusivity.

This feels like a relationship that has had extensive and expensive blueprints behinds it’s beautiful design, something molded to shape our individual needs. Everything previous to that felt like falling into a ready made cutout that didn’t fit me. What’s so crazy about constructing a relationship model that suits the individual? Well it’s like any episode of Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud watches as people dredge through pain, doubt, and spiritual bankruptsy, but they come out the other side with a piece of idiosyncratic art perfectly made for them. I’ve made the relationship I wanted, there were long stretches when there was no roof, and the rain blustered while I wondered at my own sanity, but we got there in the end, past the tears, to the wide angled shot where everything looks beautiful.

Book Bites#5

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I have to admit that I love this character Wally, every time I write one I his scenes I feel like he’s giving me advice on life, listening to me with a warm tea cupped in his hands.

Book Bites#4

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Some words from my book, let me know what you guys think. Imagine me as a puppy with cute watery eyes, waiting for a treat, a bone, something to encourage me to keep putting one word after the next. Watery eyed feminist writer lady, that’s what they call me.

Book Bites#2

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Here’s some more words from my novel in progress.

Lavish me with love, attention, accolades, and gold stars. Or just tell me what you think.

Book Bites #1

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I’m gonna do a weekly post which gives you tiny little bite sized tasters of my as yet unfinished novel. I’d love some feedback and/or support, picture me as the young kid showing off my drawings waiting for the gold star, except taller and no way near as cute.