This week’s column is by guest writer Rainy Hannah
A few years ago, while in the throes of a very bad breakup, I stopped participating in the larger polyamorous community. I unsubscribed from everything and spent the next year and a half on sabbatical from the poly community at large. I needed time to think about things and make some decisions about what living a poly life looked like for me.
I’ve recently started dipping my toes back into the community pool and I see a trend over and over that really bothers me. I don’t think it’s restricted to new poly folks either, because I see it coming from people who have been in this community for a long time. I think they ought to know better.
We’ve all seen the scenario where partner A tries to fill up all his or her empty with a new shiny toy (or toys) while partner B stays home, neglected, and hopes that their empty will get attended to eventually by A. Maybe Partner B posts to a lot of poly communities online and we try to counsel them through the process, while secretly wanting to take a baseball bat to Partner A. We’ve all seen the scenario where someone bulldozes over all of the objections, concerns, and fears of their “old” partners in their rush to get to the new. How about the folks who end up with eight secondaries and one primary, and then can’t seem to take care of anybody’s needs?
I’ve been Partner A, just for the record, so I get to go there. I used to have a summer home there. Eventually, I wised up and moved on and began to treat my partners with the respect that they deserved, but not before it ruined some relationships I regret, bitterly, to this day. I don’t have anything to say to Partner A today. Frankly, I think Partner A needs a swift kick in the ass, but that’s not my job. I want to talk to Partner B. And C, D, E, F, G, H…. you get the idea.
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you.
“I am a brave little toaster and will soldier on through the mistreatment and drama that my partner(s) dish out, because of Love. I love them and know that someday, if I am Very Good, I will get my reward and things will be happy.”
Yes, and one day, monkeys might fly out of my butt.
Anything resonating there for you? I know it does for me. I have also been there, done that, from the perspective of Partner B. In light of this well-rounded experience, I feel I am uniquely qualified to cry bullshit on the whole idea. I think we ought to rephrase things.
“If my partner consistently treats me with anything less than a level of respect, consideration and love that works for us both, if he/she does not keep the agreements we have made (both the letter and the spirit), and if they are not willing to engage in an ongoing effort to keep things that way, I will kick his/her ass to the fucking curb. I am not a doormat.”
That sounds a lot better to me.
Here is the truth. There is no eventual Reward on the other side of all the drama and pain. You do not wake up one day happy because you were A Very Good Girl and someone finally anted up with the cookies you earned with your patience, love and self-sacrifice. All you will get is an empty plate.
The reward is NOW.
Live happy now.
Demand respect, now.
DO it NOW.
Chaos is not fun. It is also not love. Don’t be a doormat. Someone who knowingly, unrepentantly inflicts chaos on a life you are trying to build together, who walks on your feelings, who neglects you, who does not give your concerns, fears and needs equal time and weight is not acting with love. It is not okay. Why are you letting them? Because here is the part where it gets really difficult. It is your choice to stick around for that. It is your choice to be trod upon, to live in chaos, and to live with your truth unheard. You are the only person forcing yourself to live with that.
We have places of choice in our lives. Places where we come to a corner or to the end of our rope, places where we are alone in our hearts with the unvarnished truth. Those places hurt and are filled with fear and uncertainty. So often we choose the familiar, even though it is dysfunctional or pain-filled. It is what we know, after all. The point I am trying to make right here is that, every time you sit down and think about how unhappy you are, about how much you wish things would change – you are at a place where you can choose. You are, in fact, making a choice.
Partner B, I am begging you to do something. I am begging you to sit down with Partner A and demand that they make some changes. If you can’t do that or they won’t, then I am begging you to leave. You deserve so much more than this but you will only get it if you stand up and take it. Right now you have the short end of the stick, but only you can grab the big end. Only you can stand up and say, “NO. You may not treat me this way. This is not love, I am not happy, and it is not okay.”
Please try to refrain from beating Partner A with the big stick once you grab it. They probably won’t get the point. It’ll just create more drama for everyone in your community. They’ve got their own process and you can’t fix it. Let them continue the Quest For Shiny if they must. They will get it, or not, in their own time. It is a problem Not Yours.
Don’t be a Brave Little Toaster. Go on out, grab the reward that was inside you all along, get your cookies and live happy.
Do it now.
The Brave Little Toaster © 2007, Rain Hannah
Used by permission
Rainy Hannah is a polyamorous woman living in Southern California with way too much yarn, too many cats, a couple of kids, and a Very Good Dog. She has been there, done that.