Monday, April 30, 2007

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary--Hierarchy of Polyamorous Love?

Some polys abhor the idea of classifying their lovers as "primary", "secondary", or"tertiary". They find the concept degrading. Personally, I find the terms valuable when wanting to use a simple word that explains the practical nature of your relationship with a specific partner. Now, if someone were attempting to use these labels as descriptive quantifiers or qualifiers in regards to "how much" they love a person, or to the "degree of intensity" of that love--a sort of categorizing of lovers who win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, places in their heart, that does strike me as degrading.

Here's my idea of a practical application for using these terms although there is of course no set way of structuring the primary, secondary and tertiary statuses of your polyamorous relationships. This is merely an attempt to explain a feasible way to use these terms.

Primary Partner: This is the lover you spend most of your time with. You probably live together but not necessarily. Your finances are often combined in that you might own a home together, have joint checking and savings accounts, as well as other shared investments. This person is the mother/father to your children and you share the holidays together with relatives on both sides. This is the person you are mostly tied up with in the mundane aspects of life. As the mundane is a significant part of most of our lives, it's very nice to have a responsible and committed partner to share these daily duties with. After a long day of work and kids, it's nice to relax on the couch with this person and exchange foot rubs. Hopefully, on the nights you aren't too tired, you'll have an incredible session of lovemaking before falling off to sleep in each other's arms.

Secondary Partner: This is the lover you schedule the next most significant amount of time with. Since your life is busy with your primary relationship, kids, work and everything else, you probably have a fairly regular schedule worked out to be with this person. Maybe you meet them for lunch every Tuesday, and do dinner with a sleep over on Thursday. Sunday they might come over for brunch and help you and your primary with yard work. You probably talk on the phone and exchange a lot of emails with this person to keep the communication and scheduling clear, and also just because you miss them.

Tertiary Partner: This is the lover you see twice a year. Once, in the winter when they come to the city you live in to visit their relatives (and you) for a week, and then once every summer you take a mini vacation to visit them for three days. Other than that you talk on the phone every month or so and email occasionally.

Of course, these are just made up scenarios that might suggest the level of life involvement you keep with your primary, secondary and tertiary lovers. They are meant as reasonable descriptions of the level of contact you might maintain with your different lovers. There are certainly no hard and fast rules nor definitive lines that place relationships in rigid primary, secondary, and tertiary boxes with specific time allotments. Some people may have two primary partners and live with one or both of them. You may or may not share your finances with your primary partner. If you don't have children or a busy work schedule you may have lots more time for "playing" with your all of your partners. Maybe your primary partner travels a lot and you see them least of all your partners. Some people consider themselves as their own primary partner and their lovers as their secondary partners. Maybe you have no primary partner and two or three secondary partners. Maybe you are in a group marriage and the responsibilities, including the children, are all shared equally. Or you might be part of a triad and you are all primaries to each other. Maybe you have no primary partner and half a dozen tertiary partners who all live in the same town as you. Also of course, life situations change and people evolve and a secondary could move into primary status or vice versa.

Whether a lover is primary, secondary or tertiary, it does not refer to the quality or quantity of your love for them. You might have a tertiary lover that you've known for twenty years and the love you share is just as deep and abiding as the love you share with your primary partner of 5 years. And each relationship is different. Each person is unique and therefore the love we share with them is unique. We are multi-faceted individuals and each person we are in relationship with will focus on a different facet, will see our shine from a different perspective. Love manifests differently in every relationship. One love isn't better or worst than another. There is no hierarchy of love. The nature of our relationships aren't higher or lower. Primary, secondary or tertiary, love is love.

To be continued.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Hoax

Last night I watched The Hoax, a drama starring Richard Gere. It's based on the true story of Clifford Irving, who was imprisoned in 1972 for writing a bogus biography on Howard Hughes. It was a good film, well written with great actors. It was portrayed as a historic event that had a hand in bringing Richard Nixon to impeachment. Politics, plus the fact that Irving was a bad friend, a lair and a thief, as well as a cheat aside, one can hardly help admiring someone who had the guts to try and pull off such a grand scheme.

In the end though, what struck me the most after all else was said and done, was the default pattern of demanding monogamy that people seem to automatically fall into regardless of the ultimate cost.

Clifford Irving was in love with two women at the same time, his mistress, Nina van Pallandt, and his wife Edith. Clifford and Edith were still in the process healing the wounds from his original betrayal with Nina. They were rebuilding trust and the love was flowing between them when Nina called Clifford, hoping to start their relationship back up. He made a half-hearted attempt to resist her temptation but fell into bed with her once again. Edith found out of course, as wives always do, and was filled with jealousy and the rage of a woman scorned.

Edith turns out to be a liar and a thief just like her husband but supposedly she isn't a cheat and his infidelity is the ultimate undoing of their marriage. I always can't help but ask, Why? Why can't these people who obviously love one another just stop lying and cheating and start telling each other the truth about loving and wanting to fuck someone else? Why do they insist on buying into the social construct of monogamy and then either cheat until they get caught, or if they are the one being cheated on, just buy into the full force of their jealously like it's the only option?

I always yearn for them to start admitting the truth, and then finding a reasonable way to deal with the real person they are in relationship with. Why do they refuse to process through the fear and jealousy while continuing to love and support their partner as a member of the same team? If they tried crawling out of the monogamous box their relationship is trapped in, perhaps both relationships could stay enact, or maybe not, but the long standing committed marriage probably would and end up being all the stronger for it.

Don't you get tired of seeing relationship after relationship break up because someone opens their heart to another? It reminds me of little children refusing to share.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Check This Out

Nan Wise, psychotherapist, and polyamorist, has been in relationship with her husband, John, for 30 years. Here's a nice article she wrote called The True Confessions of a Responsible Non-Monogamist. Jerry and I met Amy, John, and Nan (in order from the left in the picture) at a Building Bridges Conference in Seattle, 2003. It was put on by The Institute for 21st Century Relationships--The Foundation of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. They were lovely folks.

Check This Out

Mistress Matisse's new article in the Control Tower and Kick Calendar in Seattle's, The Stranger is out today. It's called Mistress of Masturbation and is "a chat", with Betty Dodson, sexpert, and author of Sex for One.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Father--William Parker

If I remember the story right he was from Georgia and his family were wealthy tobacco farmers, originally from England. My paternal grandmother's name was Mary (as is my maternal grandmother's and as is my middle name) and I met her once. I also met my father once, and my aunt Margaret, my father's sister, once too. So much for family closeness.

My father's name was William and he had no middle name. My mother had told me a story, which my father later confirmed, about how he stabbed a preacher in the hand with a fork when he was a little boy. The preacher, who was a guest for Sunday dinner, was trying to force my father to eat a tomato. My father didn't like tomatoes.

He was an alcoholic and a chain smoker. The story goes that a doctor once told him that he had cirrhosis of the liver and only 3 months to live. He never touched another drink and then went on to get married, have two more children and live another 15 years. He didn't stop smoking though and died of a heart attack when I was 24 years old. I don't know how old he was when he died but it was fairly young as my mother was 56 and I believe they were close in age.

I lived in a little farmhouse in Oregon at the time, with no phone, my husband, and 3 young children. I opened the mailbox to retrieve my mail and I saw it sitting in there. Whatever they called those special letters back then in 1978, express post, or something. One lone, white, envelope with red and blue highlights. The letter was from my brother who lived in California and it scared the heck out of me. I though maybe my mother had died.

I was in the midst of chanting japa, (a spiritual mantra repeated over and over again while fingering rounds on a string of beads) when I pulled the letter out of the mail box. I kept chanting while walking the long driveway back to my house. I sat down in my rocking chair and continued chanting, letter in hand, finishing my round on the beads. Slowly I opened the letter and read my brother's words, "Father has left his body." I cried out, sobbing and sobbing, tears streaming down my face. I was so relieved. My mother was alive.

My mother had told me a little about my father as I was growing up. She said she had married him simply because he asked her to and that she felt sorry for him. On their first date they stopped by a church and my father lit candles. My mother thought it was very romantic. They had my brother and then 4 years later I came along.

Most of the stories about my father did not flatter him but I always pictured him a gregarious and confidant man. There was one story about how her wedding ring was repossessed along with all the new furniture in their house. Another about her hiding, crouched down in the closet holding my 4 year old brother while he hit her. She was pregnant with me at the time. She told me that if I ever found him he would either be doing great things or would be face down in a gutter somewhere.

She left him while she was still pregnant with me and was living in San Francisco. I was born in Saint Mary's Hospital and then when I was a few months old she moved back home into her parent's farmhouse in the little town where she graduated high school.

I remember talking to my father on the phone at least once, maybe more, when I was very little. I remember him sending presents once, maybe more. I was sure that the baby doll I grew up with was a gift from him but recently my mother told me that she was the one who bought that doll for me. I'm not sure I believe her and prefer to think it's her confusion.

I devised a plan while growing up, that I would one day hire a private investigator who would find my father for me. He would be doing great things and would not be face down in a gutter. My mother had a picture of him in her album, and another of my eldest older brother. He was my father's child from his first marriage, and he had the same name as my father. It was this brother who actually found our father, as I had always planned to do. That's when he discovered he had another brother and sister out in California where he had also grown up. He found us by phone and told us about our dad.

A brutha from anotha mutha.

I was 17 years old, with a child of my own when I met my dad. He lived in Manhattan, New York, with his wife, two young sons, and an African American nanny. He wasn't in a gutter but I don't think he was necessarily doing great things either. Well, I don't really know that, maybe he was. He did have an impressive office in a big sky rise and I remember bragging that my father lived in the same elegant apartment building off 5th Ave. that the Family Affair family lived in (remember Buffy, Jody, Cissy, Mr. French, and uncle Bill, a high powered engineer and swinging bachelor?). The brother that I grew up with got to know him a lot better than I did so I should ask him what our dad was actually up to. I do know that our father made a very big impression on my brother and influenced a big personal change in his life in a very positive direction.

He flew me and my 6 month old son back to New York from California for a week long visit. I was soon to turn 18 years old. He seemed to be making decent money doing something that had to do with franchising for national sports. The story I've held on to is that he was making $20,000. a month (that may be true or I maybe I made it up to impress people) but spent it all as quickly as it came in, maintaining his newest family, gambling at the greyhound dog races, and sending my two younger brothers to private schools.

My father told me that he wanted to be a part of our lives when we were growing up and that he tried to get a hold of us after my mother married. He said he called around to all of the local churches until he found the one we attended. The minister told him to leave us alone, that we were a happy family and that Wayne, (our step-father) was like a father to us. Well, he was a deacon of the church and he did make good impressions on people. It was all a facade of course. My step-father did not love my brother and me. I don't really buy that story as the real reason he wasn't involved in our lives but I'm sure there was a part of him that did desire to be connected with his children.

Little bro, is that you?

The eldest of my father's two young sons, my younger brothers, had a foot fetish. He was an odd little guy who watched the weather channel for pleasure. He fell in love with my feet and wanted to constantly look at them and stroke them. He would throw fits whenever I tried to leave their apartment while wearing revealing shoes. They had to lock him in his room at bedtime because he had the tendency to get up in the middle of the night and do crazy things while everyone slept. He actually did get out of his room one night when I was there and tried to make pancakes in the kitchen. He had the stove turned on high and then emptied dry pancake mix into the pan on the burner.

I eventually met my eldest brother also. A few years after he had found our father, he came to our hometown to meet my brother and me. Then once again in 2005, I looked him up while visiting my husband's family on a trip back east. We met for lunch. I met his wife. He met my husband. We took pictures together and our resemblance to one another is amazing. I emailed him a bunch of pictures 6 months later at Christmas time and never heard back from him. Strike two for family closeness. I've never seen my two younger brothers again. It's been 35 years now. Strike three.

I'm glad to have met my father, even if only once. I spent my whole childhood thinking about him and wanting him. I always believed there was something terribly wrong with me because he had left. I was sure it was my fault. How else could a father abandon his little daughter, not stick around to love and protect her and teach her important things unless there was a very good reason? I believed that I was defective, that there was something horribly, awfully wrong with me.

One thing I'm sorry about is that I never called him dad. When I was visiting, he noticed that. He was kind and mentioned it, telling me that I could call him anything I was comfortable with--Dad, Bill, whatever I wanted to call him was fine with him. But I never did. I never could bring myself to personally address him with a name or title of any sort. I would just start talking and it always felt awkward. And that makes me sad.

I never really knew him but he was my father and he impacted my life in a big way. For instance...that pathological attraction I have for unavailable men? He abandoned me but first he gave me life. I'm sure he did the best he could. Gave the best he had to give. I'm glad I met him once. I'm glad I'm here. I wish I could see him again.

I love you, dad.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Juicy Women #2

Last night my Juicy Women's Group met for the third time and we started off with a short, silent meditation and then did a brief check in of our adventures since we had last met.

One woman shared lots of fun tidbits about her Abraham cruise to the Mexican Riviera with her husband and how she thoroughly enjoyed the trip but has found herself overly tired upon returning and is now recuperating from being sick.

Another is in the midst of the immense busyness and hassles of selling her home and is hoping to perhaps retire and have more leisure time for herself soon.

One is in the middle of starting a blogging website business and has been writing lots. She is waiting for her lover's business stress to break so she can experience what being in relationship with him will really be like when their financial situation has changed.

Another has just returned from a trip overseas where some of her adventures have left her contemplating a stuckness in her sexual attitudes perhaps pertaining to her religious background.

One spoke of her current status of being out of relationship and using the time to work on self-healing. She is feeling very empowered for releasing a steady client who kept crossing her boundaries.

And I mentioned the recent Enlightenment Intensive I attended at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center and the resulting deeper connection with Self and I have been experiencing.

It was Rosemary's turn to share her sexual history. She had lots of funny stories from her childhood about how she expressed her sexuality at a very young age.

She told us about an incident when she was four or fives years old and wanted to show off her yoni. She took off her panties and waited for a car to come by. She then laid down in the middle of the road, facing the car with her legs spread eagled.

I think the thing that impressed me the most was how she climbed to the top of tether ball poles in the middle of the crowded playground at her elementary school--bringing herself to orgasm by the time she reached the top. She would then hang there until it subsided and then slide down, no one the wiser to what her antics were actually about.

The stories she told about the sexual molestation she endured at the hands of her step-brother were not funny.

I could feel the yearning when she shared her seemingly excruciating long wait for the signs of secondary sexual development--breasts, the loss of baby fat, her period. She told us how she would put cotton balls under her tee-shirt and admire the breast-like bumps in the mirror.

We heard about her first boyfriends and her intent to stay a virgin until she was married. She managed her sexual energies by engaging in lots of kissing and dry humping to orgasm. She experienced her first penetrating sex, before marriage, at the age of sixteen.

She talked about the sexual boredom she experienced with her husband after giving birth to her first child. The only way she could handle having sex with him was to close her eyes and fantasize that he was someone else.

She slid over years of a divorce, another husband who was physically abusive, more children, relationships, love, sex.

And then her introduction into be continued in two weeks.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My HeartSong Into Polyamory*Part Two

The winter of 85/86 was a magical one. A whirlwind of polyamorous energy engulfed me and my circle of friends as we caught an exhilarating ride on an enormous spiral of love.

I had moved into a house that was a two story duplex of sorts. I was an apprenticing midwife and we used the downstairs for prenatal appointments and birthing classes.

Len, the local moccasin maker, lived across the street. He was a sweet and gentle man, a polyamorous, social butterfly and his home was a
magnet to like-minded, open hearted folks.

We would invariably go out dancing on the weekend to one of the local bands such as Spark-n-Cinder or a visiting band such as Robert Cray. After the show when the bar had booted us out the door, we would find ourselves standing in a circle on a street corner. There would be ten or fifteen of us, embracing and smiling at one another, wet with sweat from dancing all night, counting how many feet in the circle were wearing Len's moccasins, an unspoken and unnecessary, but nevertheless token symbol of our tribe.

We would then head back to Len's, walking arm in arm for a night of "trundling." Don't ask me why we called what we did trundling because it makes no logical sense to me now. But that's the word we came up with and no one questioned whether it was a valid description of the activity we were engaged in, so it stuck. Trundling consisted of lying around the living room intertwined with each other's body parts. We were fully clothed, chatting, laughing and massaging whatever leg, back, or foot that happened to be within our reach.

Some nights when we didn't go out dancing, we would head for a sweat in the back yard. The atmosphere was always sincere but not too earnest, with the intent of opening our hearts to each other and the earth. We were definitely evolving into a new and deeper sense of our spirituality. We would get naked, enter the wood fired sauna and sing and sweat our prayers for hours.

Harold came and for a visit and we enjoyed a couple of days and nights together. We maintained a close connection for many years and are still friends with infrequent connection today. We both ended up at a LovingMore Conference at Harbin Hot Springs about five years ago and camped with the same theme camp, PolyParadise, at BurningMan last year.

During this time, I met my youngest son's father while sufi dancing and had an immediate vision of the two of us walking together, climbing a hill with a dark and curly-haired toddler walking between us, holding our hands. Our child was conceived five months later, on Easter Sunday, after a community sweat lodge celebration. Read here about his christening ceremony the next Easter. The day before I had participated in a ritual where I married myself. This symbolized another step along the road of emancipating myself from the belief that I needed a man to behave in such and such a way to validate my self-worth.
Shortly after the debut of the love affair with my youngest son's father, we found ourselves at an all night party where the love and sexual energy was buzzing full force and having it's way with us, teasing us along. Six or so of us ended up in a make shift bed on the floor a bit before sunrise. We were chatting an massaging each other. I was on the outside, lying next to my lover and he was lying next to our friend Shirley. They started kissing and getting very cozy. While enjoying this at first, I suddenly found myself overcome with jealousy. I turned my back to them, contemplating my feelings. I realized I had the choice to continue separating myself into the jealousy I was experiencing, or I could join in and share the love. I decided to go along for the ride. Shortly thereafter we drove home to my house and I experienced my first sexual encounter as part of a triad. I was hooked and ready for more. Lots more. Unfortunately, Shirley had just starting dating a lesbian, and their relationship got very serious, very fast, and she committed to monogamy. They are still together as a married couple today.

In the beginning of this new relationship I would imagine living polyamorously. I remember a dream I had of being in an encampment of women and my lover was going in and out of the various tents, making love with each woman. It had a sort of 'Krsna and the gopis' spin to it and I felt totally accepting of his love for other women. As long as I was his "Radha" I felt secure in my position.

It turned out that I wasn't his Radha, and it was a difficult relationship, to say the least. For eight long years we struggled together, monogamously. Well, I was monogamous. All of my "monogamous" relationships were one-sided with each of my partners cheating on me once, twice, or three times at some point along the way. We actually struggled for longer than eight years together but that's how long we held on to the sex. We had good sex together--well, good for what I knew of sex at the time, but he was a fine lover and we fit together very well. A year before we finally split up, I told him I would no longer be monogamous with him and then although I had no specific new lover in my sights, I would occasionally remind him that I was no longer practicing monogamy, and the fact that I wasn't actually being sexual with anyone else was irrelevant. I kept reminding him because I knew the pattern of complacency, on both our parts. I was still in love with him and wanted our relationship to work. I also knew I was serious about finding another lover and I wasn't interested in cheating on him. I eventually came to understand that it was time for me to move on but I was addicted to him sexually. Talk about pheromones. I had to physically withdraw from that man when we finally called it quits.
Jerry arrived on the scene and we fell
into deep and passionate love. We were consumed in New Relationship Energy (NRE) and although we shared our complete sexual histories and openly discussed monogamy, non-monogamy and everything in between, we were basically head-over-heels smitten with each other and not the least bit interested in taking on other lovers. I had finally found the love of my life, the man of my dreams, and kinda forgot, once again, my desire to live polyamorously. So once again, I fell into living monogamously almost by default. It's what I knew, and Jerry was just what I had been looking for.

We were married three years after our first date. We had a huge ceremony with over two-hundred family and friends. At one point everyone held hands and made a huge circle. It was incredible. Everyone gave their self to love that day. We had performances and ceremony during the afternoon, and then food and drink and lots of dancing with bands playing late into the night. We committed ourselves to loving each other, telling the truth, and pushing the boundaries of what we understood relationship to be. We've kept that commitment, albeit, with the imperfection of our humanness of course.

During the year leading up to our actual wedding day, I started having reservations about committing to marriage and exactly what that meant as far as my sexuality was concerned. I realized that there was no way I was willing to commit myself to monogamy with just one man for the rest of my life. Jerry and I shared a journal at the time and one of us would write our thoughts and feelings and leave the journal out for the other to read. I started writing about my concerns and he would read what I wrote and write me back. We talked about it too of course, discussing it all to the best of our abilities, and sorted out an agreement that worked for each of us at that time.

As we humans are ever evolving, our agreements must eventually change to keep up with our changing understanding of ourselves. That's been Jerry's and my and process when dealing with our marriage in general, as well as staying true to our sexual selves and practicing polyamory specifically. We are currently in our fourteenth year of relationship and it's an on-going process. Because I never wanted to be married, simply because I happened to already be married, Jerry and I have a yearly ritual of reassessing our marriage and deciding if we want to stay together. Each year we have made the conscious choice to remarry and redo our vows. Each year our vows are different than the year before as they reflect the deepening truth of our understanding of ourselves. A constant for us has been our willingness to commit to authenticity of self and love for the other.

I've a long way to go in creating the polyamourous life of my dreams but as time goes by, I find myself more accepting and in grateful appreciation of the reality that I live. My heartsong remains polyamorous and I've certainly been blessed with a beautiful "bouquet of lovers", both with and without the potential of more sexual loving.

My HeartSong Into Polyamory

I first learned about polyamory back in 1985. I was still married to my second husband, the father my four middle children. We had been separated for awhile and although he had hopes of getting back together, by this time, I knew I was done. I had always been monogamous in my relationships up until that point in my life and hadn't experienced another lover besides him since 1973. I was eighteen years old when we met, he was ten years my senior, and was married with three children.

I had been studying herbs for years and Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss had been like my bible while raising my five children who were ages three through fourteen at this time. I had been dabbling into midwifery for years, having my babies at home and attending the births of friends. But now I was serious and apprenticing with two new friends who were partner midwifes. I was interested in expanding my knowledge in regards to using herbs during pregnancy and birth and had plans to attend a three day herbal retreat, at Breitenbush Hot Springs, in Oregon. Many renowned herbalists of that time (Susun Weed, and Ed "Herbal Ed" Smith, from the Herb Pharm most readily come to mind) where presenting and I was very excited.

I was also excited because this trip marked a turning point in my life. I planned on consummating my status as a single, sexual woman, who was in charge of her own life. I needed a new lover who would help me fulfill this ritual and I knew he would be at Breitenbush. All I needed to do was to show up. I was thirty-one years old with five children. My husband, obviously oblivious of my plan to extricate myself from the shackles of my marriage, was on his best behavior, trying to win my favor, agreed to watch the children while I went gallivanting off.
I had arranged to carpool with two women from the bay area who were driving through Chico. They turned out to be wild women, intoxicated on the herbal elixirs they were constanting sipping on, and were just the influence I needed. And we were off on a fabulous adventure. We arrived just before dinner and parked the car. As I gathered my belongings and made my way from the parking lot to my camping space I noticed a man sitting on a wooden fence, playing his guitar. He was singing a love song and I knew it was him, my would be lover. But as he didn't meet the physical characteristics I had envisioned, my mind said "no", and I continued on my way.

The presentations at the retreat met all of my expectations and more. It was the last night before we headed home and I went to soak in the community hot-tub which was fed by the springs, when the guitar playing man re-appeared. He got into the tub next to me, introduced himself as Harold, and that was that. We got to know one another, chatting and allowing our bodies to occasionally touch until finally we kissed. We soaked in the hot water until we were as shriveled as prunes and then dressed and went for a hike. We sat on a log, over a creek talking for hours.

Harold offered me my first glimpse into polyamory. He had been a part of a married quad. He and his girlfriend had met another couple and they all fell in love with each other. Both the men as well as the women were bi-sexual so the sexual relationships within their quad ran every which way so they did a lot of bed hopping. Harold's original girlfriend got pregnant and no one knew who the biological father was until the baby was born. The physical characteristics revealed the obvious. This was Harold's child. Eventually the quad split up and the couples switched from their original partners and went their separate ways. The baby went with the biological mom and the other dad. They all remained friends. I was intrigued.

It was extremely dark when we decided we should try to make our way back, and we realized we were lost. We wandered in the woods and eventually we found our way to Harold's tent where we spend the night together and made love. Harold was leaving the retreat fairly early the next morning. He packed up and we exchanged addresses and phone numbers and headed for the big community ritual that was already taking place. Brant Secunda, a Huichol Indian shaman, was hosting a Dance of the Deer celebration. I remember the intense heat of the fire and dancing around and around as I had never danced before. I was in a trance and my status as a single, sexual woman, in charge of her own life, was consummated. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect gift from the universe.

I returned home and officially ended my marriage with my husband. He didn't handle it well and I received many middle of the night phone calls with him threatening suicide. It was heart wrenching. I would tell him to please not hurt himself, to think of our children as they needed their father, and that I loved him and knew he would get through it. I hoped I was right. I was.

There was no Internet back in those days but I was still able to find bits and pieces about polyamory here and there. I discovered Loving More Magazine and ordered some of their back-issues. I was enthralled. I loved the concept. This was the highest form of human love that I could imagine. Opening one's heart and mind to loving another so much that you willingly released the need to possess their affections and rather than buying into jealousy, you actually shared in the love experience of your lover loving another in something that was called compersion.

I waited a couple of weeks and then wrote Harold a letter. It was a love letter of sorts with the intent of just letting him know how happy I was to have met him and to have him as a new friend in my life. My experience at Breitenbush was powerful and transformative and he had been a big part of it. I wanted so much to sign my letter, "I love you, Adrienne." But I just couldn't bring myself to do so. I was too afraid. Afraid that uttering those three words, I-love-you, would infer too much. I was mostly afraid of the vulnerability it invoked by exposing my heart to him. By admitting to this man who I had met only once, that I loved him felt too risky. I was afraid of setting myself up for rejection. And I had no interest in pursuing a relationship with him beyond friendship. I felt a desire to keep in contact to him, to see him again and to explore more with him as a lover, but otherwise I felt no attachment for one thing or another to happen with him. I was totally open to just allowing the relationship to evolve as it naturally would. I signed the letter, "Love, Adrienne" which felt more innocuous.

He returned my letter with a beautiful love letter of his own and he signed his, "I love you, Harold." I was both elated and ashamed. I had failed to trust, to follow my heart. I had allowed my fear of rejection to overpower my Truth which could have been spoken so simply in those three words,
I love you.

I whole new world developed within my imagination. And then life as I knew it (sexual monogamy) went on.

To be continued.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Love of Self and Other

I yearn for connection with Another. It seems to be an intrinsic yearning of my soul, the ultimate purpose of my life. At least one of them.

Mostly, what I tend to be interested in is relationships. I ask myself the questions, Who am I? What am I? What is another? What is life? What is love? What is this that yearns for connection? And when I contemplate these questions, they all ultimately merge into the same thing--a journey into relationship with Self and Another.

My yearning for Another seems to be a constant, as is my yearning for Self. When I am disconnected from Self, I seek connection with Another. When I am connected with Self, I also seek connection with Another. When I'm disconnected, I have the tendency to want Another to give me what I am not giving myself. Without sufficient connection with Self, I try to use Another to meet my own selfish needs. Needs intended to be met by Self.

This type of striving for connection with Another is exhausting. It is drains and demands. It asks Another to dedicate their energy and attention to feeding my hunger, a hunger that they can never satisfy. These demands on Another become endless and devouring and tax their goodwill towards the relationship.

Connection with, and love of Self, allows for a pure and unconditional connection with, and love of Another. It makes me more capable of loving Another for the Truth of what they are, rather than what I perceive they can give me. This places me in a position of connecting with and loving Another because I want to share joy, not because I need something from them. When I am connected with Self, my connection with Another stems from a pure unadulterated desire to love, which manifests very differently than a love that comes from a lack of unmet needs and the perception that Another can meet those needs for me. This love is free and spontaneous. It's dedicated to growth and it feeds upon itself.

The importance of how I choose to connect and love has become a very powerful understanding for me. As my connection with, and love of my husband has grown and evolved over the years, I started noticing many subtleties in the way we loved one another. Our love was intense and passionate, as well as safe and nurturing. I also observed that much of my love for him was attached to my needs, due to what seemed to stem from a disconnection with Self. I wanted him to take care me, to give me what I was unable to give myself. I also noticed that his love for me was oftentimes more about his needs for validation and security, rather than an actual desire to just love me in the totality of who I truly was. Although I felt loved and cherished, I also felt trapped by what he needed me to be. I felt a shift coming. We had such a comfortable sweetness in our relationship that a significant part of me resisted the beckoning change. A significant part in him too!

An overwhelming sensation of suffocation and unrelenting quest for freedom emerged. As sweet and comforting as our love had been for many years, I experienced a growing uneasiness in our attempts at giving and receiving love and connection to each other that we did not first possess in ourselves. I was no longer willing to demand, nor be demanded of, to give love in the attempt to fill an emptiness that originated in lack of Self.
All this was coupled with a deep and abiding love for my husband that was at the core of any misconceptions we had about how to love, or twisted in the kinks of the actual practice of the loving we were engaging in. We were best friends and I was committed to our love and marriage in particular, as well as the sustainability of love and relationship in general. I was also relentless of my pursuit of a polyamorous lifestyle.

Back during this time, a friend and potential lover once explained his hesitancy to act on our mutual love and sexual attraction. He and my husband had had several conversations and various interactions in which my husband's love for me, and his jealously of my love for my friend was quite apparent. My friend said to me, "He just loves you so much, I can't bear to come between the two of you." I responded, "Yes, I know how much he loves me, and I him. But the fear he is expressing and the demands he is making are not the results of his love." I refuse to support delusions in Self or Another just because those delusions masquerade as love.

Check This Out

Check out Mistress Matisse's article this week in the Control Tower & Kink Calendar, titled Root for the Home Team. It's another good one on Polyamory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beware of Rattlesnakes

Last April I had just returned from my first Enlightenment Intensive with Edrid at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center and was still in an altered state of consciousness. I walked to the tree farm during my lunch break and found myself in "the twilight zone". I couldn't find the lush area with the creek flowing through and the bamboo grove. I walked another trail and came to a sign saying "Beware rattlesnake relocation area, do not disturb the snakes."

Of course I backed out and then noticed I had a little paranoia of possible snakes who might have ventured outside of their new relocation boundaries and could be sunning themselves on the road I was walking. I felt a little jumpy and began comtemplating fear, specifically my fear. I'm generally not much afraid of many things and I realized that most of my manifested fear results from imagining that I will not get what I want (a preferance for a specific type of love for instance) rather than stemming from imagining I will get something I don't want (a snake in my path).

I was correlating of the "Beware of Snakes" sign on my walk, to life in general and reflecting that there always seem to be signs that warn me, if there is in fact something real to fear, and that otherwise I have no cause to worry much. And I don't. Usually anyway. That's my style. I basically go about feeling safe while paying attention to any red flags that may appear. Neat system.

By the way, The Twilight Zone was one of my very favorite t.v. shows from 1959 to 1964 when I was 5 to 10 years old. Do you remember that stuff? It was awesome. And Rod Sterling...I was spellbound.

Dr. Bruce Lipton

I just discovered this book, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles.

It's written by Dr. Bruce Lipton and I remember how struck I was by his teachings back in the late 1990's. I went to a couple of his presentations and used some of his materials in one of the psychology classes I taught.

Dr. Bruce Lipton taught medical students at the University of Wisconsin and was a research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine when his experiences in molecular biology catapulted him into a spiritual transformation.

When I last saw him in 2001 he was discussing the Human Genome Project and how scientists had discovered there aren't nearly as many different genes as they originally thought they were going to find. This indicates that there is something else that gives humans such complexity and diversity. He of course, went on to educate us on what that something else is.

He talked about understanding the important difference between correlation and causation and purported that although genes are correlated with our biology they do not cause anything. He revealed scientific findings that suggest that our beliefs can rewrite our genetic code and gave a convincing scientific breakdown of our biology and physiological functions that results in various conclusions:

Conclusion # 1 Perception controls our behavior.

Conclusion # 2 Perception controls our genes.

Conclusion # 3 Perception "rewrites" genetic codes

And of course it's our beliefs that control our perceptions so the end result of all this information is that we are not controlled by, nor are we victims of our genes but rather we are controlled by, and are victims of our perceptions of our environment. In that our beliefs control our perceptions, it is ultimately our beliefs that control our genes.

He discussed the aging process and what the baby boomer generation was taught in high school physiology, that the brain can not make new cells. Following this train of thought, brain cells just keep dying off the older we get and we have less and less... Of course, science now knows that this is complete bunk. In fact, we do keep making new brain cells but the problem is, that if we don't use the new brain cells they degenerate. We have to develop them and network with them just like we did as babies and young children. Alzheimer's is caused from lack of the use of the brain, mostly from lack of social contact and living an interesting life. Well, this little piece on Alzheimer's has me thinking now, as my 84 year old mother has taken this path. It just so happens that she certainly does suffer from both of these maladies and they were issues in her life before the advent Alzheimer's.

Another interesting part of his lecture was about how we use our genes for two functions, growth & reproduction, and protection. Survival equals growth divided by protection. He explained how we can't be fearful and also grow at the same time. When all our energies are going to protect ourselves due to fear, we stop growing and most importantly, we stop loving.

He shared all this great stuff about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the adrenal system, and how when we go into a fight or flight response to protect ourselves from something we fear, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This in turn suppresses the immune system which shuts down first to give full force to the adrenal system. This process pertains to emotional, psychological, and physical fear, whatever kind of stress, it makes no difference. We all know how stress isn't healthy for us. We also become less intelligent when we are under stress.

An interesting note, going back to the survival issue (survival equals growth divided by protection)--in a safe, loving environment we acquire more intelligence and express more creativity. Our fore brains grow bigger. Whereas, in a stressful, fearful environment we enhance our protection by building up body muscle and hind brain growth.

I enjoyed the part where half of the audience put on a set of special glasses and the other half of the audience put on a different set of special glasses. While looking at the overhead half of us perceived a "world" of fear and hate, something to protect ourselves against. The other half of us perceived a beautiful "world" of love. When we took off our glasses we saw that both "worlds" were there simultaneously (This reminded me of Abraham's contrast). It's ALL always there, the "good" and the "bad", our likes and dislikes, what we want and don't want. It's what we choose to look at. It's all a matter of perception, which comes from our beliefs about the world, ourselves, each other.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Emptiness That Contains All

Mt. Baldy Snow on
Sunday and on
Buddha's head.

We are back...sorta, kinda, mostly. Physically home in an altered state of consciousness. Slowly grounding back into the default world after dedicating ourselves to 3 days, 16 hours a day, to a contemplative art called dyad communication.

My question, What Am I? revealed more of my true nature, while also exposing several of the barriers I've erected that separate me from my full potential of being.

I opened more to the power of emptiness and its capacity to contain all. I seek deeper connection with both self and others by creating more space for Another to be fully present, while I hold firmly in my own presence.

I opened more to the power of the moment--the place where connection exists.

I opened more to the power of acceptance, a gracious guide that moves me into the moment.

I experienced a good dose of my inability to truly trust, which inhibits my intention of accepting that all in right in my world.

I practiced getting out of my head and connecting more with my heartmind. I envisioned a pulley with a wooden handle and I would grab a hold of the handle and pull my mind from my head to my heart. This reminded me of a lecture I heard Joseph Chilton Pearce give about how the mind is actually located in the area of the heart, rather than in our brain.

I fell in love with the beautiful monks at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center center, who fed the most simple and delicious food--prepared with utmost care and understanding of our needs. They were kind and compassionate hosts in every way.

And the mountain was magnificent. It was fairly cold during our stay and we were gifted with snow on Sunday. I feel so incredibly blessed. Once again I'm awash with appreciation for everyone who participated in this sacred gathering.

My heart is opening, my love is unfolding.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Zen Roshi and EI Master

Tomorrow morning Jerry and I leave for a 3 day Enlightenment Intensive (EI) at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in southern California. We'll drive to Sacramento Airport and take Soutwest into Ontario were our friend, Ren, will pick us up. She's attending the EI also.

I attended my first EI in Apirl 2005 at this zen center and I'm excited to be going back. Hopefully I'll have a good enlightenment story to share. I've decided to stick with the "self" question, What Am I? rather than What is Another? This one scares me more so I figure that's a good thing somehow.

Anyway, I will not have any computer or cell phone access until Monday and I'll be traveling on that day so I figure I won't be posting again until next Tuesday the 17th.

Here are some zen pictures to meditate on while I'm gone.

This zen monk is calling up the spirit.

A zen snail?

I love this

This is a fun picture of Edrid. He is a dogzen master. I don't know if he would call himself that or not but I don't hesitate doing so. He is wonderfully enlightened and compassionate and besides that, just an all around nice guy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My 3rd Chakra Hurts

This evening I am very, very tired. I slept about 2 hours last night because I was having incredible pain in my solar plexus, which is the seat of personal power. It's the 3rd chakra and is associated with the color yellow.
As a child growing up, I experienced lots of pain in this area on a regular basis. Last summer I experienced solar plexus pain after returning home from a 3 day Enlightenment Intensive. I felt like I was all opened up and a bit too vulnerable for exposing myself in the default world.

Something is going on for me...I do have some family stuff going on right now. I'm also leaving for an Enlightenment Intensive the day after tomorrow. I have been trying to get comfortable with working on the koan,
What am I? Is that related to personal power? Ha. Maybe my ego is afraid I'll discover I'm not it.

I'm going to Google stuff about the solar plexus and post it here below:

POWER 3rd chakra: (located at the solar plexus) Personal power -- morality, judgment, self vs. other. This is the level of the will. When the 3rd chakra opens, there can be tremendous emotional upheaval. Lots of painful unconscious material can erupt. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and other digestive troubles can accompany this opening. Telepathy, clairvoyance, clairsentience and awareness of astral entities may emerge with an awakened 3rd chakra. The newly unfolding 3rd chakra can make one emotionally and psychically hypersensitive. This is quoted from here:
According to Hindu beliefs, the solar plexus chakra is "the center of etheric-psychic intuition: a vague or non-specific, sensual sense of knowing; a vague sense of size, shape, and intent of being". As such, some psychics recommend "listening" to it since it may help out in making better decisions in one's life on many different levels. This is quoted from here.
Chakra Three - Exploring the Major Chakras
The Solar Plexus Chakra is associated with the color yellow. This is the area which defines our "self-esteem". The personality that develops during puberty is housed in this chakra....otherwise known as the "EGO". Anyone experiencing dysfunction of the third chakra is having difficulty obtaining or maintaining his/her own "personal power". This intuitive chakra is where we get our "gut instincts" that signal us to do or not to do something. Strong self-esteem is a required for developing intuitive skills.

Chakra Three Associations
* Color - yellow
* Physical Location - solar plexus
* Purposes - mental understanding of emotional life
* Spiritual Lesson - acceptance of your place in the life stream. (self-love)
* Physical Dysfunctions- stomach ulcers, intestinal tumors, diabetes, pancreatitis, indigestion, anorexia/bulimia, hepatitis, cirrhosis, adrenal imbalances, arthritis, colon diseases
* Mental and Emotional Issues - self esteem, fear of rejection, oversensitivity to criticism, self-image fears, fears of our secrets being found out, indecisiveness
* Information Stored Inside Sacral Chakra - personal power, personality, consciousness of self within the universe (sense of belonging), knowing
* Area of Body Governed - upper abdomen, umbilicus to rib cage, liver, gallbladder, middle spine, spleen, kidney, adrenals, small intestines, stomach. This is quoted from here:
I find this interesting reading about the physical dysfunctions. I had a stomach ulcer when I was two years old. It was caused from stress. I could write more about this issue but I think I will leave it alone for now. Family stuff ya know.

The SOLAR PLEXUS chakra, located about a hand’s width above the navel, corresponds to the will, our source of energy, determination and motivation. If we’ve been pushing ourselves too hard, our solar plexus may feel depleted or irritated: sudden unreasonable anger flares or feeling burned out are both possible when the solar plexus has been doing more than its fair share of the work.

Be kind to your solar plexus today: do something restful that will help to recharge you. Remember that we don’t control everything: it isn’t all up to us. Let go a little, and trust that things will work out as they are meant to. This is quoted from here.

Ok, I'm ready for bed now. I think my solar plexus feels better and that it just needed some loving attention.