how to handle tuesday: a list

have dinner, but not until after 6 pm otherwise it’s too much time between dinner and bedtime which means more time to resist snacking

journal about your life, your day, your hopes dreams fears habits embarrassments

read your books

update your reading app to show how many pages you have progressed in said books

fantasize about the weekend

play a board game with your daughter

give yourself a break from the divorce papers for one night at least

nest in your bed while watching “tiktoks with vine energy” collections on youtube

get high without shame

do half of a yoga video on youtube, stopping because your wrists get sore at the same rate that your shoulders uncoil and tension leaks out

scroll instagram for visual candy but stop before you become discontent or numb

remember to put your phone on charge and turn off the light before you fall asleep at 9:30 pm because you are too relaxed and too tired to keep your eyes open

Love Is Not a Video Game

Good morning! I have some really good news: 

You cannot make anyone love you!

You cannot trick, glamour, coerce, or earn love from people. The secret word or magic sigil movement does not exist that will unlock the love inside people. There is nothing to read or study about another person in order to be someone they can love. And if anyone in your life acted like love was something you had to bow, scrape, research, or earn as a reward, they were using you. 

If this is already apparent to you, then I am thrilled that you are in a healthy place with loving relationships. It’s something to celebrate because many of us don’t learn this until later, if ever, in life. Up until two nights ago, I thought–no, that’s not right. There was no thought in it. Up until two nights ago, I believed without examination that it was my responsibility to be a person who could be loved. That to love and be loved, I was responsible for being loveable, finding the words that fit the lock, being magical, buying the love somehow with my words, thoughts, and actions.

I can only imagine how this looked to the people I love. Like trying to reimburse your friends for the birthday gifts they’ve given you? Like trying never to underwhelm or overwhelm others with your love and attention so as to avoid creating a debt? Like love and affection are levels in a video game requiring exquisite timing and perfect play in order to progress?

Love isn’t a video game. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t planned. There isn’t a series of correct steps. It isn’t an accounting either. The really good, top-shelf love isn’t concerned with a balanced ledger of debits and credits. Quid pro quo is not a relationship model.

Love is open to the unexpected, the messy, the imperfect. To wild gestures and quiet care. And I am thankful to everyone in my life who patiently, messily, imperfectly loved me until I figured this out. 

The Generosity of Polyamory

My last post was about being honest about yourself and how that can be polarizing. So let’s jump in, shall we?

 

Polyamory has a loaded history and generates extreme opinions in people. It’s been associated with swinging, open relationships, cheating, ethical non-monogamy, non-traditional families, etc. Many of these relationship expressions fit the Venn diagram for polyamory as they describe the ways that humans negotiate their sexual, emotional, and companionable relationships. I don’t care to deeply define polyamory here when *others have done a thorough and nuanced job of explaining its roots and current branches. 

Regardless of how you feel about polyamory or what it means to you, I want to focus on one of the biggest advantages I believe polyamory fosters and cultivates in its practitioners. 

Generosity in the face of greed

A friend of mine told a close family member that she was poly, and the family member remarkably took it in stride. “Ok, ok,” they said. “I think I understand, but isn’t that…greedy?” This is the unfortunate reaction that many people have to the idea of polyamory because we have been taught that love is a zero-sum game. If you give some of your love to someone else, there’s less for me. In such a scenario, we become love-misers, holding on to every scrap of affection as if it’s the last, anxious to corner the market with the people we love. If trying to lock down a steady supply of love that no one else can share isn’t greed, then I don’t know what is.

Scarcity mindsets never breed generosity or open-handedness, and a scarcity mindset about love is no different. The greediness here leads to asking too much of one person, requiring an individual to be your whole world when no one is a world in themselves. We need each other–I’m talking multiple people spanning diverse perspectives–to create the world we want to live in. That means I can’t demand of one person all of the interests, experiences, or affection that I desire.  

Generosity goes both ways

So you can have all the love you want from all the friends, lovers, and playmates you want. If you are someone who is skeptical of polyamory, that might indeed sound greedy. Especially if you are the person hearing that your partner wants more and wants it with other people. But the generosity of polyamory goes both ways if you are able to open your hands and let go of the restricted, controlling views you were taught about relationships and how you fit in them. 

No one person is my whole world. But the converse is also true: I do not have to provide an entire world out of myself to keep relationships with the people I love. The pressure is off to provide the human relationship equivalent of forests, oceans, reefs, mountains, and deserts. Instead, I spend my time and energy cultivating my corner of the world and cycling my interests and affections in and around those who delight in them. Freely. Believing that what I put into the world will come back to me, so there is no need to stockpile or cordon off myself or others. 

Generosity in love is not easy. I would never mislead you into thinking that. But it is empowering to define yourself as a whole and valuable person aside from your relationships. It is enriching to weave affection throughout the lives of friends and lovers while avoiding expectations no one person can fulfill. It is an exquisite joy to open your hand and find the world in it.

 

 

* For in-depth reading on polyamory and ethical non-monogamy, look for The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy and More Than Two by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux.

No One Likes You

No one likes you. The dreaded curse lobbed by school bullies with brutal honesty, telling you what no one else had the guts to say. The thing you fear as an adult in social situations where no one will come right out and say they don’t like you, but the frosty smiles and reluctant invitations say it all. 

I’m going to tell you what you fear and already know. 

No one likes you.

Some people love you, can’t get enough of you. They’re crazy for your attention, time, and praise. Those people adore your company, enjoy your opinions, appreciate your help, and look for ways to help propel you forward too. They want you at the party. They know you would love this movie, or that concert, or the taco place around the corner. They are touched when you remember their birthday, favorite movie, or comfort food. They remember your favorites too.

Some people can’t stand you. When they see you coming down the hallway at work, they detour so they don’t have to talk to you. If you’re lucky, they avoid you. If you’re unlucky, they go out of their way to make life hell. They are the people who heckle from the virtual cheap seats in comment sections. They are the date that ghosts you, the family member who makes cutting remarks, the coworker who attempts to humiliate you.

These groups that love and hate you have that reaction for the same reason: you have been authentic and truthful about who you are. Authenticity polarizes people, just as distinctive sounds, sights, and flavors turn people into fans or foes. And making yourself stand out will cause people to have strong opinions about you. 

Good. 

We flatten our relationships with niceness, refusing to display what makes us unique, brilliant, insiders, outsiders. And that feeds into humanity as a whole, muddying the strange and exciting traits that improve all of us. We do this for the dubious status of being liked, not realizing that noncommittal personalities drain the color from life.

Now that you know no one likes you, you can own your strange, extravagant plumage.

You can risk rejection and gain enthusiastic love.

You can get on with the business of being your undiluted self.

The Anguish of the Butterfly

I am in the midst of major life changes. Some days it feels like a high-dive jump with rolls, flips, and tucks. Exhilarating. Other days it feels like sinking to the bottom of the ocean, the weight of the water growing heavier, darker, colder.

All of it is transformative.

This week I want to share something from Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost that has stayed with me ever since I read it several years ago:

The people thrown into other cultures go through something of the anguish of the butterfly, whose body must disintegrate and reform more than once in its life cycle. In her novel Regeneration, Pat Barker writes of a doctor who “knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem of the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.” But the butterfly is so fit an emblem of the human soul that its name in Greek is psyche, the word for soul. We have not much language to appreciate this phase of decay, this withdrawal, this era of ending that must precede beginning. Nor of the violence of metamorphosis, which is often spoken of as though it were as graceful as a flower blooming.

(Emphasis mine)