By Bjorn Paulee
Accepting this assignment for NCSF has been a difficult time, but not for reasons you may assume. One of the members of our poly family has been ill and in and out of the hospitals locally, and time has been precious more so than normally.
I’ve known that I was poly before the word existed while I was going through puberty. During my dating years, I was at one point going “steady” with four different girls at four different high schools. So what does it mean to be poly in a vanilla world? If I were to bring it down to the most concise phrase I could, it would be “emotional juggling,” and if you think you desire it, you’d better be ready for it. Only those to whom it comes naturally seem to be able to do it consistently.
Our poly family right now is four and growing, with one under consideration and a number of others who may be asked if they want to be under consideration. The problem is whether they are ready for it and are poly by nature or have another agenda.
But let me go back to the topic of living in a vanilla world. At best, it is difficult. The national culture is not ready to accept polyamorous or polygamous relationships in the open. The result is that most alternate lifestylers are forced to lie in order to live the life they feel they need. Psychologically, that is not healthy. It also means that only the best liars are the ones that can survive without being outed.
I was a very good liar for many years, something I am not proud of. I was able to maintain vanilla relationships, while letting the needs I have play out. But it hurt others in the process. I have good relationships with my kids for the most part, but they were raised in such a manner that they knew who I was and why I had to live as I did. I have a close group of lifelong friends and most of them know about me, but some live very conservative lives and this is not something to wear on your sleeve and throw it in the faces of others.
A few years ago, I made the decision not to lie any more. For the most part, I’ve been able to hold true, but there are still times that cannot be helped. For instance, one of the members of our poly family was in the hospital and in order to get information about her condition and make good with the nursing staff and doctors, we needed to say we were part of her family, so she instantly became a sister-in-law to me. Sigh. As a result, we have now put an Advance Directive (Living Will) together and are working on more legal documents that long–term will allow us some legal rights. Again, it is difficult at best.
For me, there has been lots of conflict throughout my life for having to use personal skills and talents to be in the closet about swinging early on and polyamory in the later years when swinging was no longer providing satisfaction. I yearn to have multiple relationships and the variety it brings and I make a good partner, one who enables my partners and friends to be the best people they can be without being intimidating physically or emotionally. But for now, I am living a reasonable relaxed life, something I was never sure would happen.
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