My first time skiing: I fell down (a lot).
First time snowboarding: I fell down. A lot.
First time cooking: I made a grape and black olive salad… Thing. It was beyond awful. My next couple attempts weren’t great either (inedibly salty falafel).
First time I picked up a violin for school: I sucked. A lot. It was also terrible.
First time I masturbated with a toy: It was super scary and I wasn’t able to get inside myself.
First time I went to a sex shop: Me and my two friends sat outside the parking lot hemming and hawing and being completely nervous and scared for about half hour before I said fuck it and went inside. (I wish I could see the tape of that. We were hot messes).
First time I went on vacation away from my family with my best friend as a little girl: I had moments of crying and missing my family and I think I ran out of money (including food money) like, 2 days before the trip was supposed to end.
First real relationship: Long distance (him New York, me Colorado)- we broke up and got back together and broke up and got back together for like, 4 years, until he moved out here to be with me and about 24 hours into it I knew it was a terrible, terrible mistake and that we were not good together.
First time I got married: Biggest mistake of my life. I fell down. Hard. A lot.
First time I tried to spherify stuff: They fell apart and I made a glorious mess.
My life has been a series of firsts. Forever and still. I suspect it will continue to be. There’ll always be new experiences, new people, new places. New ways of thinking, new ways of being. But I’ve been living for, well, a while now, and sometimes I forget that things can still be new.
Poly is not new to me- I’ve been poly for about six… ish? Years now. It’s mostly been pretty great. Lots of fun times, some crazy moments that have simply left me in happy disbelief thinking “How the fuck is my life this awesome??” There’s been some rough spots, sure, and a rough beginning to my poly career. There’s been boredom, loneliness, envy. All the things, all the feels. Recently I’ve been experiencing a lot of the “bad” things, and I’ve been grasping at straws, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with me. I’ve struggled before, but never like this. I’ve always been able to handle my emotions and work them out and get through them. These emotions lately are… Out of control, and extremely hard to handle. It’s gotten to a place where I’ve seriously not wanted to be poly anymore. Many of my emotions seem incredibly irrational. I don’t like feeling like this. The emotions hurt. I feel guilty, I feel ashamed. I feel weird and I’ve caught myself feeling like the suspicious crazy girl you see in movies. I don’t want to be that girl. That girl isn’t healthy.
Trying to find things to help me not be that girl, I stumbled onto an article yesterday by poly-centric therapist Kathy Labriola that said that “Adding a new relationship is like having a baby”. She went on to explain, saying “Just like a new baby, a new relationship will change your schedule, your lifestyle, and take a lot of your time and energy, as well as adding a major source of stress to your life. And, like a new baby, it is an unknown quantity, and it is impossible to predict how it will change your life experience and what kind of intense feelings it will trigger.”
Holy shit did that rock me back. It just made so.much.sense. Yes, this new Relationship is affecting my existing Relationship with my partner. It is absolutely an unknown quantity- there’s lots of fear there to unpack. There is lots of stress associated with that fear and being scared of how I am going to be affected by the new Relationship. But, on reflecting more, it hit me like a freight train:
I have never done this before.
My partner is adding a new Relationship and I have never experienced that before. I cannot believe it. How had I not realized that yet? I’ve always been the one adding, never the one being added to. For six years, I’ve always been the one to bring in new relationships. I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with the existing things, what was there before me, dealing with partners feelings about my new partners. But I have zero skills for the other side of the coin.
Realizing this has absolutely shaken my world up- in the best ways though. One of the things I felt almost instantly with my newfound knowledge was an immense sense of relief. I’m not bad. I’m not crazy. I’m just unskilled. This is my first time, and it’s ok that I suck at it the first time. It is so much easier to be kind to myself, and to forgive myself, when I realize that I’m doing something brand new. I haven’t been hard on myself (mostly) for when I’ve fucked up new things. I didn’t give up on a lot of things I wasn’t good at at first. I still cook- a lot, actually. And I’m pretty great at it. (Never perfected that grape & olive salad though…). I masturbate like a fucking champ now. I go inside sex shops with my head, full of sexy sex knowledge, held high. There’s things I never quite got (I definitely do NOT play the violin y’all). I will never get married again. It’s not for me: I need control over my body way too much. I’m going to keep playing with molecular gastronomy, and my first attempt was a fun, laughter filled evening with my best friend: hardly a failure. But I tried at them, and it’s ok that I’m just not great at something. It’s ok to suck at things.
No one comes into this world knowing anything (except how to suck, grab, and generally flail. Seems appropriate). We have to learn how to do everything, and sometimes learning is really, really hard. Ask anyone who’s struggled with math how hard that process was (hint: you can ask me). But I needed to learn math in order to do well in the “real world”. I’ve needed addition and subtraction skills almost every day of my life. Algebra, eh, less so. But if I couldn’t’ guess at how much money I was spending on groceries, it would make life hard. It would make most jobs I’ve ever held virtually impossible. So I’m glad I slogged through the hard thing that I hated, because it was for my own good and I needed to. I think this is going to be the same thing; probably hard, probably going to end in tears sometimes (like multiplication did). I’ll probably fall down, and I’ll probably make a mess or two. But it’s definitely worth it, and definitely for my own good. I know working through this will make me stronger, more aware, more conscientious, better for myself and for my partners. And knowing that it’s my first time and that I’m learning a new skill makes it so much easier.