My friend Juliette* lives in Spain, and facilitates a poly group there. I live in Canada, and do the same. Sometimes, I'm struck by how similar our experiences of poly are, even though we're half a world apart. Human feelings are indeed universal, including weird ones like how isolating it can feel to be someone who doesn't mind sharing a partner with other people.
Some days, I feel like I've gone through the looking glass of polyamory to the other side, and everything I see through that filter is somehow reversed, with jealousy becoming compersion and scarcity, abundance. While it's pretty cool to feel some of these good things, it's also odd to see how many people don't really "get" it. I can see their faces looking confused or afraid or hurt, but again... I'm on the other side of the glass.
Anyway, here's what Juliette wrote in her journal that made me think about this:
Sometimes I feel like I'm living on such a different plane of existence from the rest of humanity that I lose my ability to explain it.
Last night I went to brush my teeth before going to bed, and I heard Roland and Laurel making love. It didn't affect me at all. I did think about the fact that to many people, this would be Total Freakout Territory. We recently had a Facebook conversation with a friend who believes, like many, that jealousy is absolutely unavoidable and the best we can do is repress it somewhat. I didn't feel any jealousy at all. In fact, Roland and I had had great sex the day before, so why would I be bothered? I also didn't feel the "compersive joy" I read about many poly people feeling, that joy in your partner's joy. I remained focused, without effort, on brushing my teeth. Which leads to the other common argument we hear often, which is that poly people are unfeeling and don't really care deeply about anything or anyone. Sheesh, anyone who knows me knows my devotion to Laurel, Roland, and Maya knows no bounds whatsoever. So on the one had we have those who insist I am suffering in silence, repressing my jealousy, and on the other hand we have those saying I "just haven't found true love" so I don't really care about them anyway.
Not that I care what people say about me, but I do ponder my role in society. I don't want to stay silent, like so many insist we should, just quietly living our lives, because I have had too many people over the years tell me they were truly helped by our letting them know they weren't the only ones who felt and lived this way. But speaking up is getting harder and harder, because I can relate less and less to my original ways of thinking. I used to be quite proud of being able to help people bridge the gap between two worlds.
Lately I just feel like I am from another world altogether, and I don't even know where to begin.
So yeah, I can relate to this feeling of being in a different world from the majority of the population. Sometimes I even feel this way around other poly people, particularly ones who are new and tentative to the joys and challenges of opening up their hearts and minds and lives to sharing relationships in a whole new way. On the other hand, I also get irritated with people who think polyamory is some sort of higher evolution in relationships. I think you can be just as giving and loving and caring and open without feeling the need or desire to share partners. I strongly suspect that celibate monks and lamas would be laughing at us if we tried to put in a claim for enlightenment simply because we're ok with hearing our boyfriends and girlfriends having sex with other people.
In the end, what I find most difficult and at the same time most rewarding is the journey I'm on. I have to remind myself that it's my journey, and therefore unique. If I can find joy in places other people cannot, then that is a gift to be treasured. The challenges I've dealth with have changed over time since I decided to make polyamory a part of my life. I no longer struggle with simple jealousy or feelings of low self esteem when a partner is with another lover. As my challenges have deepened and become more complex -- like relating to the society I live in and the world at large -- so have my rewards become richer and deeper, and I suppose I simply have to trust that this will continue in a process of growth.
Still... sometimes I wish there were a few more of us around, if only to share cuddles with. :)
*Juliette's Spanish poly group website can be found here: http://www.poliamor.net/contenido/index.php