“A world where it is safe to love, is a world where it is safe to live”
– Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
I sit down on the bench as a feeling of deflation brings me down. Here again. She just left my visual space in pursuit of a choice to be with someone else. My heart twists with the pain of a deep wound being exposed and emanating from my chest. The pangs of inadequacy, stabs of betrayal, lashes of resentment, and holes of jealousy surge through my body as I release a salty waterfall of tears in convulsions of protest.
No tissues. Just let it out. Give it back to the Earth.
A vision flashes; a memory of the not-so-distant past. Another woman, another rejection. Her leaving me for him; choosing an-other. The waves continue to pulse through my body.
The memories continue their reverse slide show, moving deeper into the past. Again and again, the same feelings, the same bodily sensations – playing out in different shapes, colours, and forms of circumstance and situation. The tears release; now finally free to find expression and flow away.
Deeper still. I am a child again, playing with my Mom and little brother. I want her attention but she is giving it to my brother in this moment. Why won’t she give me attention? Why does he get it? I want to lash out at him. I want to manipulate her. I feel somehow less… and I have no one to help me through this.
I tell myself it’s okay. I am deserving, whole, and able to ask for what I need. Look at how happy my brother and mother are in this moment – not an-other – but a part of me that I can also feel joyous with. I am full and connected with my Self.
Loving the Labels
Being the social creatures we are, human beings love to give things labels. To apply a word as a name helps us to understand and explain, relate and communicate. We label our relationships with many names: mother, brother, father, sister, friend, lover, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, etc. – the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with using labels, it’s how we navigate, interact, and create within the world. The trouble comes in when we use labels and assume the person we are talking to has the same definition or understanding of the word (often leading to miscommunication and even conflict).
Two labels I am hearing more and more often these days are ‘monogamous’ and ‘polyamorous’. Someone might say, “I’m in a monogamous relationship” or “I am in an open/polyamorous relationship”, but what exactly does that mean?
Looking at it on the surface, I get the sense that most people use the terms to communicate whether they are free to have sex with one or multiple people. But even the word ‘sex’ has multiple meanings, layers, and dimensions to it. What does sex mean to you?
Words somehow always fall short in attempts to convey the depth of what it is to make love (that’s probably the point) – but here goes a few. To me, there is much more subtlety to sex and intimacy than the usual go-to physical apex of genital union/penetration. The multiple dimensions of sex – sharing of body, breath, and fluids, feeling into the energetic heart space of love, and dissolving the boundaries of self into a temporary union with an other – are present and accessible anywhere, in every moment. Why do we experience such a scarcity of connection and intimacy in life?
To be intimate is to connect with an other – to be seen, felt, and heard through a level of presence that dissolves the permeable boundary of separation. To make love is to dance with the natural arc of attraction, the creative life force, the sexual charge, and to channel that into something beautiful. Being intimate and making love extend well beyond the physical act of penetration.
We exist in an ocean of intimate connection, a constant cycling of sexual energy merging with form to create life. There are over seven billion people with whom we share this planet, each one capable of being a mirror to aspects of our self, each one with a heart to remind us that we are loved. We are in and of this world that environs us; that flows through us in our breath, food, and senses. We are all our relations.
Expanding the Self
In a society that gives primary importance to the concept of the individual, we tend to think of our selves as individual beings having relationships. This assumption is well conveyed in the question I hear often, “Are you in a relationship?”. While I often think I know what people mean when they ask that question, it still confuses me as I have come to recognize that all I am is ‘in relationships’.
This lifelong assumption of ‘having relationships’ and individualistic emphasis within society can make it difficult to grasp the idea of our ‘self’ being the nexus, or point of coalescence, of a web of relationship; the core of our very existence being relational. I know who I am only in reference and relation to what I am not. Yes, there are two individual selves/parts coming together, but the two give rise to a third – the space between – the relationship. This is why it is essential we discontinue the ‘relationship comparison’ and recognize each one as a unique expression of the two coming together in this present time and space.
Perhaps that was a bit of an airy tangent. Let’s ground it again with a new lens.
Everything is now, and began as, some expression of sex. You are here as a result of the union of two. The air carries pollen to propagate love making in the forest. All of life engages in a sexual dance to continue the rich tapestry of form and flow on the Earth body. The spiral orbit of celestial bodies entwined in a gravitational attraction of love. It’s all sex.
Everyone is now, and began as, a completely free being. You are the creative actor, director, and writer of your life. Given the gift of free will, you are able to choose where, when, and how to give and receive attention. You are free to choose how to be intimate with others and how deep into the space of love you wish to allow yourself to fall. No one is limiting you. We are all polyamorous.
It is from this place of seeing all as sex and everyone as free in relationship that we get to explore the juicy stuff. This is why I consider all of my relationships as ‘open’. We are open to share and safe to be honest and authentic. This perspective requires and develops a deeper knowing of self as it necessitates more openness, honesty, and communication between people relating – including an understanding of what one’s needs are and what one’s love language is.
For example, with the usual ‘label approach’ someone might say, “I’m in a monogamous relationship”. Okay, but that doesn’t tell me much. Do you mean to say simply that we cannot have sex? Can we eye gaze or have a deep conversation? I see you in freedom and know intimacy to be accessible on many levels. This is why I see the labels of monogamy/polyamory along more of a continuum, rather than an ‘either/or’.
If I truly seek a deeper knowing of you I am required to communicate that, to build trust and rapport, and to understand that consent is sexy. There is no more room for assuming, resenting, waiting, or trying to change anyone. If you need, ask. If it’s not a fit, don’t take it personally.
Can I get to know you over a collaborative painting session?
People often see monogamous relationships as limiting; as though you are no longer in freedom around other people. I know I have – it’s what started my exploration of the concept of polyamory. It was within that exploration of openness that I discovered a new take on monogamy and redefined it as – the coming together of two people in a mutual “Yes”.
That ‘yes’ can take many forms – an attentive and present heart-based conversation, sharing in making a meal or crafting a painting, sitting in silence, and even the usually labelled ‘monogamous’ desire to dive into sexual play with only one other person. The ‘yes’ is the acknowledgment of our freedom to choose, and for that choice to be what arises naturally from the heart. I’ve started too many ‘monogamous’ relationships from places of force, manipulation, coercion, or scarcity and know how quickly they break down due to feelings of constriction, stagnation, or limitations on each other. I knew I was meant to share more love with others than I felt like I was able to.
The Freedom of Touch
There are so many ways to connect and be intimate with others – through play, conversation, eye gazing, laughing, crying, simply sitting in silence, etc. I would like to bring light directly onto one form that is close to my heart – physical touch. I love it. I consider myself fairly open to some form of touch with most people. Hugs, hand holding, back rubbing, massaging, spooning, and of course, sex. Sexual, sensual, and plutonic – there are lots of touches to explore!
As someone who enjoys to give and receive touch, it is difficult to be in a world that represses physical contact to such narrow outlets. For too long I held back my touch specifically for one person and felt unable to connect with others in any way physically. At the time, all I knew was that I needed to be able to share touch with others; I needed to know who I was and how to express myself in a space of freedom, from a space of love.
It is within the space of freedom I am able to discover the uniqueness of each relationship and the many forms of intimacy available.
In freedom, I am able to feel into my boundaries as they arise in each moment – is this a yes, or a no? How does my heart, mind, and body feel about this?
In freedom, I am able to communicate, as honestly and as best as I can, where I am at, what I am able to give someone, what I need, and what I expect. If it’s not a fit, I am free to move on.
In freedom, I am able to allow a space of love to arise within and between.
In love, I am able to find the courage to know if a relationship needs to shift or is no longer serving us.
In love, I am able to uncover the boldness to ask for consent, and the integrity to hear and respect the boundary.
In love, I am able to feel into all my relations and to choose from the heart, with humility and compassion.
I opened this piece sharing an experience I had recently that exposed a wound tied further into my past. People often ask me if I ever get jealous. My response is usually, “Well, yeah, I am a human being”. It’s one of those emotions I have found to be unavoidable – in both monogamous and polyamorous relationships I see it pop up. The desire to face, release, and heal the wounds an emotion such as jealousy brings to the surface is one of my core interests in relating more openly with people. Anytime it arises, I have a choice of what I want to do with it.
The first step is to own the feeling – accept it is there, feel it, and take responsibility for it (i.e. it’s not the other person’s fault). From there, ask yourself what you need. There is no formula for this – it’s a dance dependent on the situation. Maybe you need to go sit by yourself to remember you are whole already. Perhaps you need a hug and can find someone else nearby to receive attention from. You might discover a boundary you need to establish (like ending a relationship) or a feeling you need to express (like bopping someone in the face).
It is when we forget to own our emotional state that we project it onto others and start to act from a place of painful vengeance (like trying to make the other person jealous) and disconnection that will only perpetuate the hurt in our relations. Stop waiting or hoping that someone will be different before you can feel a certain way.
All our relations exist to serve as mirrors in our quest of self-discovery. Each person we meet and every encounter we bump into gives us clues to learn more about who we are, where we are going, where we came from, and what we want or don’t want in our lives. As we meet and fall in love with others, we are falling in love with aspects of our self we appreciate and may not have seen before. Be okay with where you are at and stand strong in what you need (whether it is a certain type of relationship or a specific boundary). Allow that understanding of your self to shift and evolve with time. Remember that whatever your relationship is showing you, exists within you as well.
Then again, this is just a story… what’s true for you?
This is the first part of the “Becoming Ecosexual” series, and the continuation of “The Soulmate Delusion” series (the foundation to the next). For the foundation series, follow the links below. The “Becoming Ecosexual” series will continue to develop the concept of ecosexuality through my personal relationships and experience.
Thank you for reading through these stories, weaving word and experience together so that we may know our togetherness. I hope the words resonated with you in some way and help along your path. I am available for feedback, questions, and discussion. If you feel called to support my gifts, through comments, shares, likes, hugs, or dollars, know that your reciprocation ensures I am free to continue giving, and others are able to receive. Each blog I write averages eight hours of gifted devotion and any donations allow me to feel supported in this creative direction. Click here for details, or etransfer firstname.lastname@example.org and know they are received with gratitude; every bit helps.