Editor’s Note: This week’s featured article on relationships and sexuality comes from Mel Mariposa’s Polysingleish blog, where she writes about “Adventures in an Ethical, Anarchic, Solo Polyamorous Lovestyle.” We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below. — Amanda
“Emotional mastery does not mean that you need to be in a state of absolute peace, equanimity, joy and bliss all the time. Rather emotional mastery is the ability of allowing yourself to full experience your full emotional range and recognizing that these emotions do exist within you. However this does not mean that when you get sad or angry you will throw yourself on the floor and start screaming like a 4 year old child. Adults can develop the skill of becoming emotionally fit and ultimately taping into what is known as the “witness consciousness” where you simply witness without identification whatever is happening for or to you.”
There’s many many reasons that people can come to explore non-monogamy.We search for multiple loving partners for biological reasons, for emotional reasons. Some people, like me, feel they were always this way to some degree. Seeking an antidote for unsatisfying long-term relationships can also be a catalyst for leaping into polyamory — or as I like to think of it, honest and responsible non-monogamy.
Sometimes we just want to feel loved and adored by everyone, and can’t stand to turn anyone away. Some folks are just afraid of commitment. And sometimes its a combination of several of these reasons- and others.
When I began my explorations in polyamory, I desired for people to love me. I thought, as many people new to polyamory do, that I would slowly build up a collection of partners — one or two primaries and a host of secondaries. That perception quickly changed.
In early 2012 I dated a man who I fell head over heels for. I thought I had found a primary partner when — on our first night together — we were already talking about partnership. I was devastated when the relationship ended a whole six weeks later.
It was in the aftermath of this, while over dramatically wailing on the ground and asking myself “Why?” (as only a theatre major can) and furiously channeling my emotions into paint on the canvas (as only an angsty artist can), that I had a revelation. All the time while I was married, and during all the explorations of dating I had done since separating from my husband- I had been seeking love externally.
Now, I have battled with depression for years. Struggles financial, emotional and health-wise make it all too easy to feel down and to seek external validation. I realised that in the midst of all that, I had forgotten how to love myself. Furthermore, in an attempt to emotionally bypass the deeper things going on within my psyche, I was becoming enamored with multiple external distractions, seeking human crutches on to which to lean my wounded heart and spirit. I resolved that I didn’t want to do that any more. I decided that rather than seek a primary partner externally, that I needed to be my own primary partner.
Pursuing relationships — any relationship, let alone polyamorous ones — purely in search of more people to love you is not a healthy approach. it’s one that I’ve certainly done at times, and I observed that it was symptomatic of unresolved emotional states within myself. I realised that we can’t be coming at it from a place of feeling that we lack love. And the only way to do that is develop an absolutely kick-ass relationship with one’ self, to be able to love yourself even when you are totally alone.
Growing up within a yoga tradition, I was taught, “Love yourself, honor yourself, God dwells within you, as you.” The teachings I was brought up with were about evolving into greater self awareness. Based on the philosophy of traditional Tantra (not to be confused with Western “Tantra”), self awareness comes from not hiding from any single aspect of one’s self. It is about exploring and embracing both our shadow selves and our light. Or, as author Jeff Brown puts it, “Transcend nothing, include everything.”
Having looked outside of myself for love, and experienced the momentary validation that comes from someone else telling me, “You are Beautiful,” “You are wonderful”, “I love you”, I’ve come to find that all that is, is validation. It’s not Love. It’s all light and rainbows, and never any shadow. I find the shadows when I can be completely present to my experiences. And I experience the strongest sensations of Love as flowing from within myself.
The time I spend with lovers can become a meditation on Love, allowing the novelty of passion to find expression in each breath. It’s my own means of adoration and devotion to the beauty I see in the person — or people — I am with. And, when I am with a lover, I want to be one hundred and fifty percent present with them. I want them to be able to be one hundred and fifty percent present with me. I don’t want my mind to be wandering elsewhere. I want to be IN that moment with them- not in the past, not in the future, but right there, breathing their breath, responding to them, dancing that dance. And when that dance moves and shifts and I am alone, or with another lover, I want to be just as present to that moment.
I’m not non monogamous because I seek love or validation in myself. I want to be in multiple romantic relationships because I experience so much love within me to be shared that I would loose my mind if I tried to hold it back.
I consciously seek people that I can build a connection with. Whether it’s someone I see for dates regularly, enjoy a more ‘low key’ yet passionate connection with, spend hours exchanging ideas with, or someone I get to share cuddles with perhaps only once in a few months, what I desire most is a connecting of hearts, a meeting of minds, and an exchange of mutual inspiration that stimulates creativity. Conscious connections nurture us. They inspire us, and they hold up mirrors for us as we continue to evolve our relationships to ourselves.
I’ve been engaged proactively in this process with myself now for over two years — tearing down the masks and the habits that hold me back from being present, and discovering new and exciting layers of my individuality. I no longer want to tone down the intensity that seems innate to my personality. Having grown weary of being ‘not me’, I’m learning how to un-zip this wildly present orgasmic Me.
That isn’t to say that I don’t fall in to a pattern of desiring validation. When I’m depressed, or under the weather, or just plain exhausted and want to hear “I love you”, “You are beautiful”, “You are wonderful”, I know that I don’t have to jump on OkCupid to find someone to tell me that. I can tell me that. And the friends and lovers in my life can tell me that too.
I remind myself every day to Love. I love to love. Perhaps I am simply in love with Love itself, seeking other lovers to share the delights of the moment with. I seek new and beautiful ways to love my self, and love others.
3 thoughts on “Conscious Connecting”
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Mel – I love seeing here your indication of coming to accept all emotions. I find there is so much fear of those darker shades – sadness, anger, fear itself. They’re there for important reasons. I found your explanation of that quite beautiful in itself.
There is a “cult of self-love” in the personal growth realm, and a lot of it is not grounded and therefor not useful. Mel’s description gets down into the root. This paragraph is grounded.
“Struggles financial, emotional and health-wise make it all too easy to feel down and to seek external validation. I realised that in the midst of all that, I had forgotten how to love myself. Furthermore, in an attempt to emotionally bypass the deeper things going on within my psyche, I was becoming enamored with multiple external distractions, seeking human crutches on to which to lean my wounded heart and spirit. I resolved that I didn’t want to do that any more. I decided that rather than seek a primary partner externally, that I needed to be my own primary partner.”
About validation, and human crutches, there is a difference between a crutch and a mirror. Sometimes when i’ve spent too much time in the shadowlands, it can be illuminating to receive appreciation, love, and acknowledgment from another human being, to see what others see, and look in the mirror. When my emotional life is fertile and ready to manifest a new range of growth, this kind of witness can be a seed of accepting a new expression of myself ready to come forth.
I think of the Inanna myth, enacted in each Venus cycle. In about 3 weeks, Venus emerges as the evening star, and Inanna begins her ascension from three months in the underworld. She rose from the dead after being sprinkled with the water of life and the food of life. That’s what the appreciation and love from another person can do. It’s a gift we can each give another, and one that we can be ready to receive. Not a crutch, but inspiration, and a way to deepen self love by looking in the mirror of witness. Allowing it.
Mel, It’s a very nourishing idea you convey, allowing the inner drama to exist without feeling like we need to fix it. You reach deep beneith the surface consciousness and express it so beautifully.
I see something like this; The basic split is showing itself and I can see where a deeper layer of neurosis’s first formed. But that is by consciously allowing what I am seeing without the fear and the natural/negative judgments. When I stare into a behavior pattern that has always been seen as a flaw – something I need to fix – but I today i look at it with complete compassion – I allow my consciousness to realize why the behavior is and where it began. Subtle is the process but I am glimpsing the core beginnings of where my self-hate began. It starts where we first formed the concept of how we look to the others. The question forms all the patterns we eventually construct. The question is all there is to consider. The consciousness forms ideas of what it is and how it appears to the others. The first attempts to pretend, who we are, based on calculation. Wanting the others approval so much must be an admission of the inner lack of approval. A lack of self-approval must stem from the basic separate personality that forms in the presence of calculated pretenses.
I feel like there is a new reality right here available now. Rebuilding self is 99.99% deconstructing the complexity we fell into. I almost believe that I don’t know anything at all and I don’t know what to do. Now if I can surf along with that wave it will get me closer to who I really am – and from there I am adorable – and I know that as the only absolute. From there I am looking through the eyes of Source and what I look for reflects my complete inner love and it expresses that way in the world. It’s like there is only love or lack of. Looking out from love just feels better. We can lay aside our pretenses and patterns only when we know without doubt that we are loved. I’m just a little stuck with my part to play seeing something but having no simple easy 12 step plan. Rather than building self up it’s about dropping the entire load we have accepted.