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Celibacy was a very curious thing for me. At first it was difficult – not only do I have a pretty active libido, but I also was quite used to sending out a vibe that said “Sex? Yes please!” and stopping myself from doing that proved to be an interesting process. In the end, what I ended up doing was essentially a hermitage – after all, if I am not seeing people, it’s not that hard to NOT fuck them. This wasn’t really my intent per se starting out, or at least, not one I thought of consciously, but it being one of the best pieces of it. Not that being a hermit is a great thing necessarily (and for me can easily be a sign of depression) but it really helped me to break my NEED PEOPLE OMG WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE??? addiction. And that, my friends, is a great thing. More importantly, it is a highly needed thing, especially in that it gave me the time and space to recognize, relinquish, and move on from my ended marriage.

I have always been addicted to the rollercoaster rush of intense emotions in a relationship – particularly a high drama, difficult relationship. This wasn’t exactly a newsflash – it’s fair to say I’ve known this about myself for many years. However, knowing there’s a problem and changing it are two very different things. Now, this issue had already gotten much better with the advent on poly in my life (and, for those that know me well and are raising an eyebrow here, let me just add: you don’t even know the HALF of what it was like BEFORE poly!). There was a time when I would have done anything for this man, and everything I could to get him back when he left. And, to an extent, I was better about that when he left this last time. I knew why it wouldn’t work, and why, although he is a lovely human being, we don;t work well as a couple. At least…I thought I did. But when I went through my celibate, hermitage period and really got away from…everything, including much of my own internal chatter, I had time and space for things to sink in, to become part of my *identity* in a way that they hadn’t before. (See? It all relates!) In fact, my identity was BUILT around my being in that relationship. It was part of my core. And while my relationship with D will *always* be a part of who I am (hell, I’ve known him now more than half my life, and had a relationship with him for longer than I knew my father, who died when I was 13!) I have finally altered how that fits in my idnetity. That me-shaping relationsip helped form me…IN THE PAST. My identity with regards to D has finally settled down into something that is not front and center. And, more importantly, my view of “ideal” romantic relationships has altered a great deal.

I realized a few months ago that D and I have always had a VERY strong sexual connection, as well as a strong emotional connection. And, as befots the societal narrative of One True Love, we tried to fit our relationship into the proscribed box. There’s just one problem with that: we are not compatible as a couple. We make amazing lovers and decent friends, but as a couple, we drive each other batty and easily bring out the very worst in each other. And yet we kept BELIEVING, because, isn’t love supposed to conquer all? The thing is, it doesn’t, and it really isn’t fair to expect it to. I still love D a great deal in many ways, but in no way, shape or form can we live together. And you know what? That’s ok. It is so much easier to accept people for who and what they are to you, than to try and make them fit some definition that doesn’t quite mesh. It’s a lesson I wish I had really “gotten” earlier, but hey, that’s part of the process, right? Part of what I realized is that there are many things I will not “do for love” anymore. I will not give up my identity “for love.” I will not uproot my life “for love.” I will not give up things that I need “in the name of love.” I occasionally fell anti-romantic like this, but it’s worth it, because I feel so much healthier. And happier. Not being plugged into the emotional rollercoaster (“but if you loved me you would change your name”) is less exciting, but does constant nausea really count as excitement? Not anymore, for me.

One thing I didn’t expect at all is that my lust for sex and D/s in specific has cut down to a manageable level. I still miss having a live-in partner (daily sex is AWESOME and someday I’d like me some of that again, thanks) but I’m not clawing at the walls to get my fix either, and that’s a welcome thing. I am thinking about sex more now than over the summer (when my celibacy officially ended), probably because I did have a fairly regular partner at that time and now I mostly don’t (and my free time is going way down for unrelated reasons). With that in mind, I’ve giving thought to attending orgies again πŸ˜€ mostly because with so little time I’m not too expectant of finding a serious/primary partner and parties = lots of bang for your buck. πŸ˜‰ On the downside, none of said parties are local to me, so everything involves a fair amount of travel and that kinda sucks.

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When I tell my friends (and lovers) that I am choosing to be celibate for a good period of time (until July 2011), they are often perplexed as to why I would choose this. I’m not surprised; it’s a little shocking even to me, and I’m the one making the decision! In case you don’t know, to give a little background, I have LONG been a supporter of positive sexuality, have been polyamorous for quite a few years, and have no qualms about telling people I LOVE sex. So, why give it up then?

It’s a damn fine question. In fact, I have to admit that I didn’t decide to be celibate for a particular set of reasons; rather, I decided it was right for me at this moment, intuitively, and only later set about thinking of what ways this benefits me at this time. And there are numerous ways…I’m sure I’ll miss some but here are a few of the big ones that come to mind:

A great deal has happened this year, and the biggest by far is my separation from (and soon to be divorce from) my exhusband. I have been with him, off and on (on more than off), for the past fourteen years. We started dating when I was sixteen. He was my second boyfriend, and the second person/time I ever had sex. I’ve been fucking him a LOOONG time! Needless to say, my character was greatly influenced by this relationship, and so was my sexuality. In many ways, for both of us, we have no idea who we would be without the influence of the other. I have known D for almost half my life (I’m 31 now) and actually, truly, moving on from that relationship has had a tremendous impact on me.

We had actually separated once in the past, for two years, but we saw each other very frequently during that time, and were physically involved shortly thereafter. This time is different: he lives three hours away and, although he sees the kids every weekend, we hardly see each other for more than 5-10 minutes a week. Getting this distance has been good for both of us, and it has made me see several things clearly that I have ignored/looked over/glazed over in the past. One of the things that has been a constant between us is an extremely powerful physical connection. The force, the gravity, of that connection was overwhelming. It was an addiction. The physical pull towards each other was so strong, and intensified our emotional connection so much, that we both were constantly drawn to each other despite many significant differences in outlook and personality that caused constant strife between us. We have wildly different approaches to finances, to parenting, to housekeeping, to holidays, to family..and those are only the biggies. With the distance we have now, I can see clearly that he does not share ideals that I wish to share with a primary partner. And here is the crux of things: I do wish to have a primary partner again. For a while, I did not. I did not want the entanglement, the stress, the drama that could easily come from such a commitment. But, as time has gone by, I realized I do miss certain things. I miss the feeling of being part of a team, of having someone to snuggle with at the end of the night, someone to coparent with, someone to share resources with, to giggle with over silly little things.

In realizing this, I began to do something I had never done before: I made a list of qualities I need in such a partner. These things are not complicated: a similar parenting style, financially stable, able to budget, poly, preferably kinky. The only one that surprised me was the realization that I want someone who has their own kids: because I am DONE with that part of my life. I enjoyed childbirth very much, both times, but I have no desire to start over with a baby as I would someday like to have MY life again. Anyway, when I made this list, I also saw that it’s important for me to connect with someone strongly in a mental way first, BEFORE any physical connection. Because I am very “boy” that way – if the sex is great, I get distracted, I overlook important, VITAL compatibility issues. And I am simply unwilling to do that anymore. (I find it rather ironic that, far from the “usual” female reason for celibacy in dating, i.e. to be sure the guy wants to be with her ASIDE from sex, I have the opposite problem: I am fully confident that people want much more from me than the sex, but I need to be sure *I* don’t get caught up in the sex and distracted…that is, I need to be sure I want THEM without the sex lol!)

SO that’s one major reason why I feel pulled to this celibacy thing.

Another one has to do with sex and my libido. When D moved out in May, it hit me hard. I missed the sex something fierce, and I wasn’t really enjoying sex so much with other people. In large part, that is due to the fact that the D/s in our relationship was so predominant, and I really don’t sub to anyone else. So I missed the submission tremendously, and it had a dampening effect on everything else. However, I know myself very well, and *because* I was craving submission so strongly, I knew I could not trust myself to navigate a scene wisely…so I abstained totally from D/s. It sucked, but it was the best thing for me. Meanwhile, my libido continued to be nonexistant. I continued to have sex on a fairly regular basis, but it was mainly driven by other people’s desire. That is, if THEY wanted to, I was fine with it, but if someone else didn’t make a first more, I would have gone the whole night just snuggling. It’s very easy for me to adopt a “why not?” attitude with sex. I don’t have to be lusting after it like crazy to decide “sure” when someone else is interested. I do enjoy it in the moment, I do cum, but the *motivation* to make it happen wasn’t in ME. So a good portion of this celibacy choice is to address that as well. I feel that, to solve the Case of My Missing Libido, being very selfish with my body and allowing ME to feel desire for someone first – and to let that desire build over a LONG period – was a necessary thing. When July rolls around, I WANT to be going completely nuts wanting sex. That would be exactly according to plan LOL! Because this “me not wanting sex” thing? Is weird, and freaks me out, honestly.

OK, so those are some of my main reasons. The “rules” are simple: no sex until July. Dates are fine, kissing is okay, that’s all. Exact date in July to be determined, and hey, I will likely throw a party to celebrate! :p

Questions? Please throw them at me! The more I explain it to others, the more I understand it myself…

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Dear F,

More than likely I’ll have to print this for you to have you read it, but that’s okay. For you, always.

I don’t think you have any idea the impact that you have had on me. You taught me that it is okay to take care of *ME*, to reserve some energy and even money to pamper myself, that in fact it was important to take care of myself in order to take care of others, especially my children. When I would visit you, it was a time for me, precious and lovely. Being with you, and in your peaceful home, refreshed me for the week ahead. And when I was home doing my chores, and would talk to you while cleaning up, gosh that made me happy. It is so easy to get lonely cleaning up by yourself, kids asleep, and even when D and I were “together”, he was always busy in his own space once the kids were in bed. Talking to you was a lifeline, a way to feel connected and chat even when I was in fact quite alone.

And boy, were you a great sounding board. You were SO supportive of my marriage, always the voice of reason, reminding me that my husband was in fact a great guy, pushing me to look at my own faults in whatever argument we had had, and advising me to give him time “to come around” as you were so certain he would. And you were right, every time. Perhaps if I had talked to you when things went badly, it would have been better LOL! Patience is so difficult for me when I sense something amiss, and it was always your counsel to be patient.

When you found someone you wanted to be monogamous with, it was a difficult lesson for me, one we both knew was coming from the start. I was, and am, very happy for you, and you have yet again helped teach me something: how to let go with grace.

Thank you, for so much that I cannot explain; for loving me, for taking care of me, for being there when I needed someone to cry to. Thank you for your open mind, your surprising kinkiness, your trust and your heart. I love you.

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Dear Kittie,

Where to even begin? In the year and a half that I have known you, I have only begun to understand how truly special you are. Your intelligence and skepticism push me to examine things further, to question my own biases, and to accept that not everyone who supports gun ownership and the military is an idiot :-p.

In a number of ways, being involved with you has helped me with my understanding of drama-free relationships and poly commitments. I have been happily surprised to find that the D/s that we fall so easily into has not hindered your ability to be fiercely independent, nor has it been difficult for me to recognize when I need to allow you space and when I should step in. You are the second person that I have found I can fall deeply in love with *without* it being a consuming force, and that connection does not have to veer into obsession.

You inspire me to be more “girly”Β in my selfcare (who would’ve thunk I’d EVER *file my nails*, yeesh!) and more ambitious in my decorating LOL! Because of you I have put “gun range” on my to-do list, along with bringing the kids camping, teaching them home repair (well, with assistance!) and the proper care and ownership of a knife (though not quite yet…).

Your willingness to be skeptical even of your own skepticism makes me smile every time. Watching you wonder at tarot is a special memory. πŸ˜‰ Speaking of watching, seeing you teach the kids how to saw is one of my most treasured memories. Watching the look in your eyes when you drop is still the best though…

And of course I appreciate your fabulous taste in books!

Thank you for giving me your love, and for accepting mine.

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About a year ago, I was at the dinner table with my kids when my younger daughter, then three, taught me a valuable lesson.

Β To give a little background, my kids are very eager to get taller. They have a wall marked with measurements and they love to check it. My sister (their primary caregiver) had begun telling them that they “need food, water and sleep to grow”, in part to encourage them to nap – after all, it helps you grow! So, at this particular dinner, my two daughters were talking with their father and myself and the youngest one pipes up, rather randomly, “I need food, and water, and…and sleep to grow, right?!?” Before I can reply, their dad jumps in quickly with “And love!” which of course made me smile. My daughter however didn’t miss a beat: She replied “Oh, I HAVE love! I love Mommy, and Daddy, and Ana and Connie and Nanen and Grandma and Grandpa…” and on she lists all the people she loves, while I struggle not to burst into laughter. That wasn’t what Daddy meant at all!

But later I got to thinking about it. And I realized…she was right, and we were wrong. You don’t need the love coming from others to you. What you NEED is to have love in YOUR heart for others (and for yourself, but that is another story…)

The more time went on, the more I realized what an insight this truly was. When you’re feeling lonely, or upset, or afraid, just look into your heart and realize, love keeps you warm. Not the love coming in from others, but the love you radiate out into the world.

How many people do you love?

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I wrote this to my ex today for his birthday. I’ve been planning to start writing thank you letters to all the people in my life. This seemed an apt place to start.

Dear D,

In honor of your 33rd, I wanted to list a handful of things I like, appreciate, admire and/or am thankful for about you.

1 – Your tenacity. You hit every challenge like you’re jumping over a truck – it might be tough, and involve a few tumbles, but you’re absolutely convinced that if you just go for it enough times you’ll make it over eventually. That fucking rocks.
2 – Your way with words. You have a lyrical gift, and an intense intellectual approach to your poetry that is nothing short of amazing.
3 – Your artistic vision. You bring the same intellectual approach as with your writing, but then hit it off with color and form that grab people’s attention…and that have so many layers if only they look harder.
4 – Your openmindedness. In the course of my knowing you, you have become an advocate of natural childbirth, cosleeping, babywearing, cooking from scratch, and other less child-friendly things LOL. All things that were all a stretch for you years ago, and are now second nature.
5 – Our children. Oh, what a gift I have had from you there. Words cannot express.
6 – Your dedication to fitness. As I struggle with consistency in my workouts, I look to you as an example of how to fit in fitness even in the most tight schedule.
7 – Your commitment to being a great father. Though we may differ in our opinions of how exactly that is defined, your commitment to your ideals is always clear to anyone.
8 – Your embracing of nongender norms…like wearing skirts! Not only do they look great on you, but the fact that doing so fucks with “traditional” gender expectation is just awesome. You’re fearless in that regard, and it’s wonderful.
9 – Right along with that is your willingness to allow the kids to do both “girly” and “nongirly” stuff. Not everyone can manage that mental shift, but after that fated conversation we had, you truly did, and made me prouder than I can possibly explain.
10 – You once stood up to your mom for me. ’nuff said.
11 – From you I have learned to put myself in another viewpoint with every discussion. The most difficult and yet valuable lesson to learn from loving someone so different from yourself is to understand why they see things the way they do. I would not be able to see others viewpoints nearly as well as I can without the many years of practice I’ve had with you.
12 – From you I first discovered that I am polyamorous, long before I understood what it meant. Precisely because of our early rocky start, I learned through experience that love and monogamy are not exclusive; that when you cheated on me it did not mean that the love was gone but merely that there were issues we had to address. From you I learned that I could love more than one person, that love is expansive, and that I carry that love inside of me, regardless.
13 – I am thankful for your support during the birth of each kid, but particularly with Eva. With your support I had the most powerful experience of my life, one which you affected in ways I am not sure you understand. But I do, and I thank you.
14 – From you I have learned that anger can be put aside for love, even in the most heated situation. I don’t always succeed, but I know from my history with you that it CAN be done, and that every argument need not end in tears if we can only recognize that at heart, we do care for each other. I admire how often you succeed in pulling back from anger when you could easily allow yourself to be swept away.
15 – You are damn sexy. It kind of goes without saying :-p but I’ll say it anyway.
16 – You have a great deal of compassion, even when you think you don’t. It’s untrue – you do, and I see it all the time.
17 – From you I have learned and finally understood that a room is like a mind. This is a gift you have given me.
18 – Your ambition inspires me to push myself harder. Whenever I hear Madonna’s song “Push”, I think of you – that is exactly what you do for me.
19 – From you I have learned that I need to be strong for myself, that I need to hold on to my own power and be careful not to give it away, even to someone who loves and cares for me deeply. This is an incredibly valuable lesson.
20 – I admire your willingness to see your own weaknesses even when it is difficult to do so.
21 – Your fashion sense. What’s not to love? πŸ™‚ I especially appreciate that you learned to Dress Appropriately – whatever that may call for.
22 – I love your playfulness. It would be easy for you to be Mr. Serious, but it is never a fear. If I forget that, I need only watch you with the kids.
23 – I am grateful that you were willing to take risks with me in D/s. It was an amazing experience and taught me a great deal.
24 – I appreciate your honesty. Though at times it is painful, you have taken on my view that honesty is of primary importance, no matter the difficulty, and you are, in my view, a better person for it.
25 – I admire and respect your discipline.
26 – You can be a fabulous teacher. With the kids, with your parkour students, and I am sure with others, you display a patience and ability to make others feel comfortable that you should be quite proud of.
27 – Your humility. For all your many talents, you are always humble, and seem surprised when people admire you. You shouldn’t be surprised – you definitely deserve it – but it is lovely that it does not go to your head.
28 – Your loyalty and supportiveness. I have appreciated both for many years now. Even when you disagree with me, you always support my choices. It is a rare gem.
29 – Your love of physics. It’s just awesome. πŸ™‚
30 – Dancing…oh the dancing. I really adore going out dancing with you.
31 – Your willingness to try all the weird food I’ve hoisted on you through the years. Mmmmm green smoothies.
32 – Your tenderness. So many of the things you are known for are in the Tough Strong Brave category, but when I watch you with the kids, I can see your soft-hearted center, and it fills me with joy. I can see in the kids that they take some of that from you.
33 – Your intensity. Sometimes it is difficult to deal with, your unwillingness to do things halfway, but I admire it nonetheless. Everything you do, you do with a passion.

Happy birthday. You gave me wings when I could not fly, and opened my heart further than I thought possible. You taught me to look after myself, to fight when needed, and to believe in my own abilities. You encouraged me to dance when I was afraid, to perform more, and that I had something people would want to watch. You gave me two of the most amazing, beautiful and intelligent children I have ever met, and work with me to raise them in a way we will both be proud of. I am grateful to you for so many things, this list is but a short glimpse. I am eternally thankful for your influence in my life. May your 33rd year bring you much clarity, great joy, and the financial freedom that you have been seeking. I love you.

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A friend of mine who is new to poly recently asked for some advice from me. It made me think about how many things I take for granted as “givens” in a relationship, and how sometimes those givens are not there on my partner’s side, and thus we need to discuss those assumptions and come to a comfortable place on them. I’m thinking of things like: the assumption that my lover will talk to their primary partner about me; that if something big happens between us we will both discuss it with our primary partners and possibly other lovers depending on the situation; that we are on the same page as far as what “safer sex” consists of; that my new partner will respect and understand my priorities with regards to scheduling; and many many more.

I have a lot of thoughts on many of these topics, and I will be writing about it all in more depth shortly, but for now I thought I would share the questions that my friend asked me and my responses. To give a little context, I do have a primary partner (my husband) and have a lovely sub boyfriend (who has a primary partner of his own) as well as several friends who are lovers. Please let me know if you have anything you’d like me to address!

1) Have you ever been in a situation where a lover hasn’t told their primary about you? Is that something you would be comfortable with?

No, or rather, if I find out that is the case then that gets resolved in one of two ways: my partner tells his/her primary, or I end the sexual aspect of that relationship. However, I generally have spoken extensively enough with my new partner that I know everything is on the up and up. I am not comfortable being involved in someone else’s lies.

2) Do you think in poly that it is an assumption that everyone will tell all their partners or is that something that must be negotiated at the get go?

To me it IS a given, however usually conversation beforehand as I am getting to know the person clarifies that. I have been in situations where my sub’s primary was aware of me, but had not been told to my satisfaction when we exchanged the L word. (Communication in their relationship has turned out to be a BIG issue, and this was one of many signposts along the way to their current troubles – and we had had the same issue with his wife who at the time was dating/being dommed by my husband. For my husband and I this was a HUGE deal that had to be resolved.)

3) How do you balance the needs of your primary partner with any other partners need/desires? I need to have a discussion with a lover about my priorities (that he is not my primary and probably never will be…I want him in my life very much, but am not in love with him. I am with this one guy I’ve been seeing) and am concerned about not hurting him (more than necessary).

This is a tricky one at times, but honesty is your best policy here. I find that because I am extremely clear from the very beginning with new partners on what extent of my life they can expect to occupy, I don’t have very many issues with people wanting more from me than I can give. When in doubt, I frame it as a “kids” issue, which it often is. It helps that I make clear to all of my partners and lovers that they are dear to me and I care about them muchly, even if I don’t have time for them – I do have space in my heart.

4) On a slightly separate note, how do you deal with occasional jealousy (if you feel it), when a partner is with another lover?

I try and figure out what – to use a new favorite term here – my particular brain weasels are. Is it that I feel I am not seeing enough of said partner? Is it that although I do see her, she doesn’t pay me any “romantic” attention, e.g. flirting and silly gifts or notes? Is it that I am frightened that the “other” person is sexier/hotter/smarter/cooler than I am? Sometimes it is many things, and sometimes only one, but each is different and requires a different reaction/solution from me. Almost always (but not totally!) they are issues strictly to be dealt with in my own head that, though I may discuss them with my partner, really are MY issues and not HIS fault. Sometimes there IS something that said partner needs to work on though. Depends on the situation.

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