Let me give you a glimpse into my life.
I am sitting writing this today in the bed of a wonderful person. I will call him C. He has allowed me to spend my time in his space while he is out, as he knows I’ve been missing a cozy nest of my own. We spent last night at a dance party with mutual friends then cuddled up under a bunch of blankets in a tent sitting outside on his deck in the middle of Denver. This morning, we made breakfast together and talked about Buddhism and life and relationships. As he left, he kissed me on the forehead and wished me a good day. If I described this to most anyone, they might gather we are dating. However, we are not. Or at least not in the traditional sense of the word. He is not my boyfriend or my lover. We do not have sex or even kiss (on the lips). But we love each other in the ways that connect us. We share affection and care and time and space together. I don’t have a word for what we are to each other besides that what we share is wonderful, sweet, and lovely. I’d like to keep it that way.
Yesterday afternoon, I went to a farmer’s market with a different man. I will call him D. He and I met on a dating site originally, but did not meet for a date as much as we met for a friendship. We had lunch together while listening to music at the market and I convinced him to come with me to a Meetup among similarly-minded people as us. During the Meetup, we discussed relationships and everyday things with others while holding hands and leaning into each other. About an hour into the discussion, another of “my people” showed up. Let’s call him D2. He introduced himself and kissed me on the cheek while hugging me from behind. He said hi to D, who he’s met before. I moved to sit next to D2 on the other side of the table and we cuddled up to each other and talked about events of the last week with sympathy. D moved over to the other side of me and we all held hands and got close while we talked with the people across from us and ate a shared plate of sweet potato fries. D2 had to leave, but D asked that I join him at his home before I leave for the dance party. We walked back together and cuddled on his couch with his cat while watching Pixar shorts. We hugged as I left, thanking each other for the sweet time together.
The previous night, I was feeling lonely and texted another friend, M, asking if she would like a sleeping buddy. She excitedly said yes and before we slept, laid facing each other talking about our days and our lives and our people. We slept curled around each other. We woke up and made breakfast together and she brought me to her favorite yoga studio for my first hot yoga class. When we got back, she cleaned her kitchen and I took a shower and started laundry and we spent some time working on our mutual things on our computers across from each other. I see M later at the dance party. She hugs me while screaming gleefully, as though she hadn’t seen me just that morning and evening before. And after she leaves the dance party, I receive a text message from her about how happy she is to have met me- through other mutual friends of course.
Two mornings previous, I was awoken by an excited knock on my door. This is a ritual for A and I. He drives or bikes past in the morning as he’s going to work and we spend time either sleeping more cuddled up, talking, or more than that before we both need to start the day.
A couple weeks before that, I got back from a month-long adventure with a few people I know well from various parts of the US. We shared space, time, love, and adventure. It was grand.
This is only a small peek into my everyday life.
I wrote earlier on this blog about how despite being married, I loved many people in my life. That hasn’t changed. In fact, since the end of my marriage, I’ve been able to love and be intimate in every way I’ve wanted to with whomever I’ve wanted to without limits (beyond physical health, emotional/time resources, and agreed-upon limits). That doesn’t necessarily include sex (but can and does sometimes). It has been the most freeing and amazing step of my life. It has been like stepping into an alternate universe. I could never before imagine a world that included open, honest, ethical communication about needs, wants, thoughts, feelings, and desires amongst many people, but I am seeing it before my eyes.
Along the way, I have learned some amazing lessons including but not limited to:
– Sometimes in life, all I have to do is ask for what I need or want and it will be granted. A “no” is also not the end of the world.
– There is such a thing as love so big and beautiful that it doesn’t restrict me in being myself but in fact gives me the strength and courage and freedom to be even more me than I ever thought possible.
– There are people able and willing and even interested in providing intimacy platonically, not just motivated by sexual outcomes.
– I have power beyond what I ever imagined- to love, to be loved, and to share love with many at the same time.
– Love can be multiplicative and infinite, not scarce and restrictive. Time and emotional resources are limited.
– It’s true that I have to love myself before I can love others. But there is a twist to that. And that is that someone else’s love of me reflects the things that are lovable about me. Thus, sometimes, it takes others loving us to see why we should love ourselves.
– Once I love myself, I can show others what is lovable about them.
– Need is not love. And need is not loving.
– Most of the limitations we perceive are our own mental blocks. Once we systematically work through these, most everything we want is possible. We just have to work our asses off for it sometimes.
A couple weeks before I left D, I wrote these words to my teacher friend from high school: “I know there is love outside these walls. Specifically, I know there is love for me and that I am deserving of it.”
And as soon as I left, I did see this reality, but it’s been a long time of exploring to get to the point of knowing what love I am looking for. It is not with just one person and it is not about sex and it is not about typical partnership. The love I am looking for includes many people loving and supporting in the way they are best at and the way that feels natural with each person in their life; And from that, making community. A home with many- if not a physical one, an emotional one: a space we can safely explore ourselves and each other together, a space we can love openly and honestly and authentically, a space we can share with many and yet have intimate separate moments as well.
This is taking time to build and has required many hurdles- emotionally, mentally, physically- and will require many more to come. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome, I’ve found, has been the mental limitations that have been constructed over time by society, by friends, by family, by all the structures around us that tell us we can only be happy with a partner and specifically with one partner who shares our life entirely. And sometimes, the story includes having a house and having kids and getting married.
Until this story is questioned, I’ve found, there seems to be a lot of unknown pressure, resentment, shame, and guilt surrounding if we are living “right.” At least there was for me. When I started breaking down the walls that had been built, I found my own answers to these questions were quite different than what others might call “right.” I wanted to feel free and I wanted the people I loved to feel free as well. And part of the freedom requires letting go- of preconceived notions of love and attachment, of what the present or future looks like, of being happy for people I love when they are happy (whether it involves me or not), of owning my own shit and them owning theirs, and many other things. It sounds simple, but it is not. It is the opposite of what everyone around us tells us and is doing with their lives.
Let me provide an example of our societal training that works against the concept of loving more and being free. As a female-bodied person, I was “trained” that other females are my competition (and males are really no different in this). In sports, I can only compete with other females. When they win, I lose. And vice versa. In romantic relationships as the typical story goes, to “have” a partner means another female does not have them. And vice versa. In career, I am often competing against other females for a position, as females typically have specific careers that males are either not competing for or not even interested in. Looking back at Neanderthal times, having connection with a male was literally the way females acquired enough food and support for themselves and their children. Making sure that male was “theirs” was extremely important for basic survival. Back then, though, a village raised children and it was also important to keep good social ties with other females so as to have help raising those children and acquiring protection from other threats in the world.
Things have changed though (at least in the USA). There is no longer a need (or encouragement) for people to cooperate well (though it does tend to increase productivity and efficiency in companies). I, as many other females I’ve talked to have experienced, had very few female friends up until recently. Looking back , my few female friends in middle and high school were either far less attractive than me or were not looking for male romantic connections. This is a phenomenon seen quite commonly. This is because in order to make myself look better, I felt subconsciously I had to surround myself with people who were not really competing in the same “game” as me. I also had low self-esteem…clearly. What changed?: Self-confidence and the realization and actual decision to stop competing. Also, meeting a female partner of my male partner and loving her too in a sisterly way. Becoming open to loving female (or other gender) connections – sexual or not.
These events and philosophies only came from embracing the idea that loving people instead of “othering” them is a more compassionate, more open, kind, authentic, and honest way to live. Instead of seeing how I can be above people as most of the things in society teach us, I am learning how to be at the same level, digging deep in the muck of others’ lives with them and finding the common ground- the things that make all of us human and thus the things that make us all lovable. Instead of trying to hide my flaws and vulnerabilities, I expose them. I show others my weaknesses and instead of finding that I am criticized or pushed down for it, I find sharing of similar feelings often and love quickly blooms within our hearts and minds for each other. This love may not be romantic or maybe even friendship. It is sometimes more similar to the meaning of “namaste:” My divine soul recognizes the divine soul in you. In other words, appreciating each other for our uniqueness, for our commonalities, for the things that connect us in inexplicable and obvious ways.
I am in no way saying I do life “right.” I actually don’t think there is a right or a wrong. But I fail to see how more love in the world is a bad thing. So this is the direction I’m heading in and have been trying to create in my life more. Are you interested in joining me in bringing more love into the world? I would love to hear how!