I love that the next part of this mentions Brené Brown and her research. Brené’s TedTalk about the power of vulnerability tells part of her story about minding the gap – being aware of the difference between the person you are and the person you want to be.
Go ahead – take a listen to her talk. It’s really relevant, not just to polyamory, but to becoming a self-loving person.
One of the first things she discusses frankly is how, when an event planner wasn’t sure how to describe Brené in the literature for a speaking event Brené would give a talk at and the event planner said she wants to call Brené a story-teller, the acedemic, insecure part of Brené thought “you’re going to call me what? Why don’t you just call me a magic pixie?”.
How often do we hear someone say “well, the insecure part of me is freaking out about this a little”? How often do we admit to feeling insecure? How often do you admit to feeling insecure?
If you’re wondering, “well, Liz, how often do you admit to being insecure?”, I’ll tell you – I’m so deeply secure in my sense of self that the last time I admitted to being insecure was 1996.
That’s a joke. Hahahahahahaha – who wants to get a beer and eat a banana-nut muffin while we change the subject?
(If you watched Brené‘s talk, you know what I’m talking about 😉
Here’s an insecurity:
Maybe I’m really not polyamorous. Maybe things with Lora aren’t so bad, but I’m blowing them all hugely out of proportion because I secretly want Jon all to myself. Maybe I secretly don’t want to share him. Maybe I secretly want to “win” him.
The part that makes me squirm is that I really don’t like Lora very much right now. I don’t want to help her. I do want her out of my life, out of Jon‘s life. Isn’t it convenient that she says and does such awful things – it gives me an easy reason to push Jon to break up with her and have him all to myself.
Now I know that this is total and utter bullshit. I know that I love being polyamorous. I know that I love that being polyamorous gives me built-in time for myself. It gives me spaces to see other friends and lovers. It gives my lovers and bigger and better support network – if something happened to me, Jon has other people in his life to live and support him (theoretically). Both Jon and I come back to each other, having had intense time with others that can give us ideas and thoughts to share with each other. There’s so much good there, so much that I love.
And yet, I worry and I feel insecure that I’m really not poly. That I’m not good enough. Smart enough. Compassionate enough. I worry that I’m just not…enough.
Sometimes (like the book mentions), instead of “minding the gap”, I stare obsessively into the gap and wonder if I’ll ever do any better. Sometimes the gap looks like the Grand Canyon. Between me and the other side are all those empty words: “good enough” “smart enough” “compassionate enough” “just enough”
And even on the days when I feel like I am enough, I argue with myself about what the person on that other side of that gap – the person I want to be – really should do. I argue about what the best thing the me I am right now can do. Being enough doesn’t necessarily mean knowing that right thing to do.
That kind of sucks, sometimes.
In my journey in life, what I’ve learned is that it is too easy for me to be too soft. To err on the side of being easy on someone, instead of calling them on their bullshit. To mistake enabling someone for cutting them some slack. To take more on myself, rather than push someone to own their shit. With Lora, a part of me says “if I was a more compassionate person, I’d have been OK with her not getting therapy and continued to gently encourage her to get therapy instead of demanding it”. Whether or not that is truly the way to go (I don’t think it is), I need to remember to protect myself too. Because Lora not getting therapy will directly impact me as long as she is a part of Jon’s life, and by extension, my life. As More Than Two says:
You can’t control how your partners’ other relationships develop, but you can control how you allow them to intersect with and affect your life.
I can’t control – don’t want to control – Jon’s relationship with Lora. That’s for Jon and Lora to figure out. But I do have to speak to my needs, and how Jon and Lora’s relationship intersects with my life. I can choose the actions and behaviors that I feel I need to keep me safe from Lora’s bad behaviors. I have a duty to myself to go to Lora and Jon with how I feel, and see if we can work out some way to still live together.
Being compassionate isn’t always gentle. It isn’t always saying yes. It isn’t always bending. Sometimes it’s saying “No. That doesn’t work for me. If you want to do that, then these are the way things must change, in order for me to protect myself”.
Because I need to give myself compassion too. I need to take care of my needs. I need to remember that I am worthy of protection, of feeling safe, of having my own agency.
Which segues into the next part about worthiness and how it comes from within. My feelings of worthiness are tied into my own “dark night of the soul” that came long before I chose polyamory. It feels awkward to write about, and also creates feelings of – yes – vulnerability inside me. It is an intimate look into one of the most painful experiences of my life. It’s also going to come with trigger warnings, for rape and for emotional abuse.
Part one of this series I finished writing over a month ago. This entry was mostly finished for about three weeks, though I did a little bit of polishing in the last few days. The next part I had to mull over and discarded four different drafts before I came up with a way to put everything down that made sense. Interestingly, it was the email that I wrote to Lora about a week ago that put me on the path to figuring out how to write about it. But I’m still not done writing it, and it is going to take a lot out of me to finish. With what is going on in my life right now, I’m taking my time on it. But I will say, it feels right, or at least appropriate, to be going to this place now.
So I hope you’re feeling patient, and part three will come out eventually.