I’ve written before about the clichés that dominate the mainstream media when it comes to polyamory and non-monogamy. One of the most common cliches is the idea of the triad. My own experience and journey into non-monogamy was reduced to a “tangled love triangle” by one tabloid and mere sexual exploration by a broadsheet. It’s as if there’s a default way to report these things – any nuance or complexity is edited out. This is certainly what happened to my story when it was edited to shreds by The Guardian in 2017.
For me, polyamory and non-monogamy are about creating a strong and evolving network of connections. Conscious relationships, as I tend to think if them now, are about a complex galaxy of relationships and connections, with the self as one bright star amongst the many. You may orbit one or two others for a while or you may spend time streaking across the night sky in a shower of light. Either way, it’s about the shifting nature of needs and the ever shifting nature of the constellation that is centred rather than the idea of fixing yourself, and your relationships, to a place and point in time.
I’m a shooting star travelling across the sky, casting light, rather than a sun or planet in slow rotation
Having spent years extricating myself from a toxic marriage and the past few years (as well as the period of lockdown) working through some unhealthy co-dependent dynamics in my romantic relationships, I now feel ready to let my own light shine. I’m giving myself the full galaxy of space that I need to explore my own feelings, my own creativity and my needs.
This might be called solo poly or it might not. The label is not as important as developing self-consent and placing my needs at the centre of my life. There is an empowering sense of really tuning into what I feel and what I need and then actually taking steps to get those needs met or processed and grieved for when they can’t be.
One way of being in relationship is not objectively better than another but there are ways in which certain frameworks can meet your current needs better
I wrote, last year, about complete self-consent and emotional labour. I’m doing my best to navigate this new found self awareness with kindness to myself as well as others. All too often the problems I experience are to do with expectations, the misplaced expectations that many other people have of me, especially as a person who is also a parent, as an infinite pool of care and patience. As well as the not always very realistic expectations I have of myself. The “lion’s roar” (the sound of potency and power that emerges when we see our own power and the ways in which it has been limited for so long) can be deafening but can also be strengthening if released with grace.
My rage, when it appears, is clean and bright-burning, aimed only at creating and cleansing. My sense of personal power feels immense: a star shining for the first time in a while. I notice the shifts and changes in my energy and feelings and go with, rather than against them. I’ve taken care to remove obstacles such as alcohol, not enough sleep and not enough time to myself in the past few months and the rewards have been more clarity and a sense, when things are off, of why that might be. The sky is clearer and so I see myself better. When there are clouds, I trust they will burn away when they are ready.
If you can take the time to reflect on how you want to interact with yourself and your time and the others you care about. How well are your values and priorities matched by your actions? What feelings come up after seeing certain people, doing certain things? What energises you? What drains you? Feel into your body and trust that those feelings of unease, joy and all the things in between all have secrets to share. They are all there to help you shine.