Growing up, I tried to adhere to strict Christian values. Remember those WWJD bracelets that were popular mid-90s? I had one in just about every color. More than once in high school I was called a “bible thumper”, and I was a complete goody two shoes (I skipped school once, to get a manicure. Badass right?). I wanted the prince charming once in a lifetime monogamous marriage. What I got was a divorce, a baby daddy and I became accidentally polyamorous.
Most people think of one man, married to multiple women when they hear someone is polyamorous, however that’s polygamy, and while related, it’s actually a completely different topic (See Jessie’s comparision). This is the exact thinking that made me turn up my nose at the concept of polyamory in the first place. However, realizing I still loved my ex-husband while falling madly in love with another man, drove me to near insanity. Combined with a tremulous relationship between my ex and myself, you can imagine the madness that ensued from trying to balance what was essentially two relationships and find a stable place to land.
It wasn’t until my new love mentioned polyamory that I ever gave it a consideration. Upon learning that he subscribed to poly principles, I began my research. I found a new outlook on life; we don’t have to choose just one person to love. We can love them both and still adhere to our values. We can have multiple relationships without damaging others or blockading ourselves off from the outside world. This knowledge has allowed me to open doors to a happy and healthy blended family.
Before learning about polyamory and how I could apply it to my own life, communication with my ex-husband had always been strained. Everything was a business deal. There was no kindness or compassion between either of us because that was too close to being an emotional attachment. At the same time I couldn’t talk about him to my partners because I was afraid they’d be jealous or upset. The fact is, I was right. During the extremely short time I was rooming with my youngest’s father, if I ever mentioned my ex-husband, an argument would ensue. If my ex-husband ever came around, that particular ex refused to even be there.
There was also the trouble of acceptance for the new girlfriends. Watching my ex’s new girlfriend (now fiancé) come into my daughter’s life could have really destroyed me. The casual conversation with my 5 year old, in which she asked “Is she my step mom?” would have caused me anxiety and a possible breakdown in my prior life. The idea of my child having multiple mommies was one that caused a panic attack. What if my daughter loved her more than she loved me? Believing that she wouldn’t love one of us more than the other was damn near impossible. However, when she eventually asked the question, my answer was simple: “Technically your daddy isn’t married to her yet, but yes. Yes she is.” And I’m forever thankful for her.
Now, I’m able to plan outings with my daughters and ex-husband without ever feeling guilty for doing so. We can talk, enjoy ourselves and sit next to each other without cringing. We’ve been able to celebrate birthdays and Christmas together with all of us. In fact, the times we do family things and she’s not there, actually don’t feel whole. She is just as much a part of our family as the rest of us are, and we love her too. In fact, I’m not sure what I would do if she wasn’t a part of our lives.
I am now able to balance multiple relationships by applying my knowledge to both my romantic and platonic friendships. I can love more than one person and still give someone my whole being. I don’t feel the guilt that I used to because I don’t have to choose one over the other. Each person plays a very important role in my life and the lives of my children. For me, it’s brought me deeper feelings towards people in general, because I’m allowed to feel everything towards them. I’ve had deep emotional connections with those I’d normally cut ties with once they left. But every absence is no longer infinite, but rather only temporary.
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