Friday, February 28, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
"When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible. Keep worthiness off the table. Your raise can be on the table, your promotion can be on the table, your title can be on the table, your grades can be on the table. But keep your worthiness for love and belonging off the table. And then ironically everything else just takes care of itself."--Brene Brown
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Heartwise, I’m still missing the Mysteries very much, and I probably will for a long time. I hope to never mix star-crossed love with internet-addiction again—I keep wanting to hurl my now-retweet-notification-less phone out the window for making me so lonesome for them. But I’m starting to forgive myself for taking comfort in a thing that didn’t make sense, because it also DID make sense. I wish I were still writing and receiving those “I love yous,” and now, in calm and quiet heartache, I still know I really meant them, so maybe somehow they did too.
I’m not really sure if I can go on identifying as poly, not because I don’t love a whole bunch of people at once but because I keep not asserting my real needs because I end up feeling guilty and ashamed of emotions and reactions that don’t seem poly enough. I keep pushing myself to accept more metamours than I can manage because not to do so doesn’t seem compersiony enough or something, and I try to power through and understand jealousy instead of recognizing it as the warning sign that it is for me. I should be able to identify and avoid things that don’t make me feel safe or cared for, but instead I try to process, change, and adapt to them lest I should not seem loving or understanding enough. When I type it out, those seem more like problems with my own boundary drawing than with poly, but I still don’t ever want to feel that nothing-feeling that I felt last Thursday night again, and I don’t know if there’s a way to avoid it in the poly world as I keep finding it. Relationships are a ways off for me anyway, so we’ll see.
Anyway, mental health: After last Thursday’s panic attack at school, my therapist made an extra house call Friday evening. By the time she got there I was in a pretty giddy state from being back in real life, but I had really worried myself the day before, so for the first time in my entire life, I broached the topic of being medicated. I wondered aloud if I should have an as-needed prescription for panicky times, but knowing how important it’s always been to me to not be medicated, she said it’s not necessary, that things aren’t serious enough to start messing around with my brain chemistry. I felt very validated, relieved and proud about that. (However, I threw a bottle of Tylenol in my work pocketbook—it’s been proven to ease existential despair, so maybe it works for temporary soul death too.)
Yesterday at work, another momentous mind-thing happened. I happened to witness something particularly ugly and triggering (in an inner-city school, this is a semi-weekly reality) and I didn’t scream or cry and my soul didn’t flee. I notified the proper people and teams and stopped downstairs after school to talk to my mentor about it. As we talked, I felt the experience physically leave my brain, like a little pain-butterfly. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an important or upsetting event, but if I could not carry around every scary thing that happens in my body, that would be a very good thing.
The Big Therapy Project is to start a dialogue with my 16-year-old self, and I wasn’t sure if she’d talk to me. Last week, she showed up in a dream, surly and sniping, in the guise of an old not-quite-metamour. She said I’d never given her any reason to trust me and then completely shut me out, so I’ve been asking her all week what I could do to help her feel safer. Somewhat unsurprisingly, she asked for privacy. She liked what The Puncher’s Girl said to me the last time I was at the Regular Dungeon: “Let me get your clothes, you don’t need to be any more vulnerable.”
And since I’m finally making her a priority, keeping her from slipping through the cracks, no longer putting her at the bottom of the pile, now that she is my highest and deepest priority, I have to take care of her and do what she asked for. This is a pants-on operation for a while (except Mr. Sweetface, whom she likes) until she feels safe again. I un-RSVPed from some nakedy things as an act of love for her. I don’t know how long it will be, but I do know that it will be worth it.
16-year-old me is deeper and wiser than adult me in some ways, she’s even optimistic. As awesome as she was at the art of the zipless fuck, she’s the one who believes in sex for love and she would really like me to keep trying for it. Maybe it was that summer writing letters to that nice Catholic boy, or maybe she’s just where the heart part of me lives. After I spent about 45 minutes writing a conversation with her, I felt spent and warm, the way I did that weekend at the Big Poly Conference. I slept better than I had in a long time. If I can keep turning my attention to my own heart until it’s healed, I believe I can get better and be closer to the loving person I really want to be.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
For the last few weeks, my street, like many of the streets in our city, offered only snowbank/glaciers disguised as parking spots. Last Saturday, relieved to be home after a bout of sobby snow-driving, I pulled into one and was promptly stuck, pulled-in but crooked, my tiny front wheel drive car unable to move forward or back.
Though part of me saw this as a permanent condition, I went out every evening after supper and shoveled it a little, watching the sunset in the process, getting in long, somewhat overshare-y conversations with my downstairs neighbor while his two-year-old goofed around with the shovel. I wasn’t really hoping to unstuck myself, just to thin the layer a little bit so I could get out sooner if a thaw ever came.
Yesterday was the most beautiful day, the perfect day to finally drive somewhere, anywhere. I was shocked, shocked! when the car pulled right out and I was on my way. I drove around for hours listening to old mix CDs and stopped at a state park to take a walk. I loved the sunlight and the smiles on the other hikers. One girl behind me was so overcome by the relief of the weather that she began singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in a way that made me immediately want to agree. I stopped and watched in awe as a constellation of geese made bright white shapes across the sky and disappeared into the distance.
When I stopped at a Whole Foods for supper, the girl who was ringing me up must’ve thought I needed Buddha so badly that she gave me my copy of Tricycle for free. From what I read over my sushi and chocolate cookies, she wasn’t wrong. I drove and drove, belting out early Beatles songs at the top of my lungs until the rottenness inside me started to break up and be replaced by warmth, the way the parking spot ice had begun to. I started to be free as soon as I realized that I have to just go ahead and be stuck for a while.
When I look with compassion at my most vexatious connections, I see a common motivation for all of us: trying to fight grief with love. All of my most painful mistakes happened with people in the midst of dissolving relationships, mourning deaths, post-traumatic stress, or just trying to forgive themselves for their parents’ sins and their own. People, that is, just like me, trying to build a fortress of sensation, experience, and love in the face of unfathomable loss, a pain so big it’s hard to even see, let alone start feeling it. I’m sorry for the ways I’ve combined with their pain to make it worse.
That last night, the Mystery Family asked me for forgiveness, but if I look honestly at the situation, there’s nothing to forgive. Once I stopped coming from a place of fear, stopped fighting to regain some imagined loss of dignity, I can see an honest attempt at connection that just didn’t work. Of course it’s possible that he could have been both missing me and playing with someone else—I was never nothing. I just wasn’t the right thing for me to be, and that was my responsibility too.
More important, though, is the fact that they were not nothing. The pain that I’ve caused others every time I’ve failed to take care of myself, failed to say the good no, is real. When I’m in that place of helplessness and smallness, I feel as if nothing I could do or say can have impact, so I scream and rage thinking no one will hear me or ever be affected, but I know they are. I know we were all trying to do what we could for each other and that every accusation, rejection, and harsh paragraph breaks down whatever was good between us. I’m very lucky to have been forgiven by some of them.
I know I can’t make it up to anybody, but I know I can act in better faith from now on, recognize my real limitations and not just what I wish my limitations were. Instead of trying to solve grief with outside love, let me turn and face it, let it be where I am right now. I’m not cute or compersiony, I’m pissed. Sometimes I’m simmering with bitterness and rage that my friends are at the center of loving families while I am here alone. Though I’m alone for the best and most necessary reasons, I hate it with every cell in my body. I want to be the person I want to be, not the one I am right now. I want to be loved and embraced and to do the same for others, but right now I have to admit that I can’t.
As long as I try to correct grief with new relationships, I will be dehumanizing people in exactly that way that drives me crazy. I’ll be the contradiction that upsets me most in others: both nakedly available and completely inaccessible, a plate-glass window for sparrow hearts to keep smashing into. The way I’ve played through grief has often been deeply irresponsible, and for that, I’m truly sorry.
I will try and honor the hearts I’ve harmed, accept the love they gave for what it was, and do my best to care for myself, shovel myself out a little each day until the thaw comes.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
On Thursday I woke up missing the Mystery Man a lot and feeling really sad about the choices I’d made with the Mystery Family, about having done the same self-erasing thing I’ve done so many times before. I felt like all of my efforts to take myself forward must be false if I keep doing this and maybe I would never be capable of loving people who actually want me. Though my Twitter account didn’t really feel like mine anymore, just a way to keep futile-ly reaching out to those unreachables, I wrote some sad Tweets before I went to work and I admit to hoping they’d get their attention.
It was a hard hard day at work. The kids were winter-frustrated and fighty and it was the second time I’ve felt so panicked there that it felt like my soul had actually left. A day in a classroom with 23 riled-up children when I’m feeling like I’m not really there was a very hard thing to get through. Credit our Gangnam Style Emergency Dance Party with the fact that we were able to (mostly) retain our sanity and make it to 3:09.
I know the panic was mostly an after-effect of processing the assault stuff and the Twitter-claustrophobia—I wouldn’t have made it a day in my job if riled-up kids were that upsetting. My therapist had warned me that there might be a delayed reaction to Sunday’s appointment, and I wasn’t giving myself the space to be kind to myself about it.
When I got home, the Mystery Lady I felt closest to (and the one who instigated my “relationship” with the Mystery Man) had said a bunch of nice things in response to my sadness, but she also said this:
“You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you, both here and IRL.”
She was still claiming to love me, and yet she was reiterating that we aren’t in the same life. They were real life loves to me and nothing I could do or say could convince them that we all live in the same world. She also told me to stop feeling sorry for myself, which is a bonkers thing to say to somebody whose heart you just broke over the weekend. Seriously, Lady, (I did not say) YOU get rejected by eight to twelve people at once and see how it feels! (Not that I would wish that on her or anybody. I wouldn’t.)
I very much wanted to go back to being friends, to them being comforting confidantes, people whose messages always propped me up during hard times, but I didn’t know how to do that since they were part of the Bad Thing now. I told them I missed them (the last message I got from the Mystery Man was an “I miss you too” tweet, which would prove by the end of the night to have been the worst, creepiest, most vile lie.) and then told her how I didn’t understand loving somebody she wouldn’t have over. I told her I felt betrayed because after all the paragraphs she’d read about my struggle with personhood, in the end she’d asked me to be a fragment of a person. (Less than a fragment, you’ll see at the end of the story.)
After I tweeted her all the things (Jesus, may I never use the verb “tweet” again after this.) Gold Star Winggirl picked me up to go over to her house for a beer and then to the neighborhood music night hosted by the Cute Church Couple. (By now they’re much more friends than crush.)
GSW was the perfect antidote to the online mess: “Oh, you dyed your hair,” she said, “Because you’re real!” When I told her she seemed to be really stocked up on soap, she said “See, these are the things we’re supposed to be able to learn about each other. This is the way it’s supposed to be.”
My soul was still hiding, though, so I couldn’t quite connect with the nice music night, but it was the best possible place to be. All of the songs seemed to be about real, in person love, starting with my good old talismans, The Beatles.
When I got home, the Mystery Lady had said more things, mostly making me feel like she heard and understood me, so although my still-panicking guts were telling me to flee, I started to write back. While I was doing that, though, she wrote a post thanking another girl for playing online with him “just when he needed it most. #Compersion #Poly”
It was the most nothing I’ve ever been. While I’d been missing him and longing for all of them and feeling guilty for wrecking the friendships, he’d moved right on ahead to the next thing and replaced me. That was truly one of the most humiliating moments in all of my adventures, maybe THE most because of its non-corporeal quality. I blocked them all, but that wasn’t safe enough. I deleted the entire account. I took comfort in the idea of all of my messages disappearing from their Interactions, all at once. It was the only way I could take back some of what I’d so foolishly given.
I can’t for the life of me figure out what prompted them to reach out to me, what I could possibly have ever been to them, what need I could have possibly served. Maybe it’s just pure addictive behavior on all of our parts. Since I was the third time something like this had happened, GSW suggested that they need to “love” and then other other people, break hearts and get sad and band together over and over so that they can draw together against the outsider and keep telling themselves this story about getting stronger when they really are a house of cards. I used to do this to try and be close to Sweetie, choosing guys who would break me partly so she and I could bond against a common enemy. Whatever the Mystery Family’s motive was, I’m so ashamed that I got sucked into whatever ugly drama they needed to have, that I let myself get (even momentarily) flattened by it.
But the real ugly drama here is my own. In the interest of learning how to stop being one crazy story after another, I need to understand what draws me to situations that make me into nothing. Clearly, there is part of me that wants to keep experiencing that. It feels so good when I am not nothing again, when my feet are solidly under me and I can hear the birds singing and be all the way in the room with the crazy students I love so much. Maybe erasing and unerasing is a way to prove to myself that I’m still alive, but really, by now, that should be assumed.
As much as I’m grateful to be polyamorous, the way some people practice it makes me feel unethical for being part of it. Polyamory is toxic when it’s used as a way to avoid actual intimacy. When it’s used as a way to treat people as if they’re interchangeable, it takes away their agency and sexualizes them. And of course I continue to be disgusted and dismayed at the way that outside partners are routinely treated with casual cruelty and neglect.
Since I can’t and don’t want to un-poly myself, the best I can do is be mindful of those possibilities and be more careful about choosing partners who fit my standards of egalitarianism, openheartedness, and genuine face-to-face communication. Those who remain on my dance card do, so I’m off to a good start.
Once I deactivated my Twitter account, I felt back on track. The next steps are to refocus on self-love and the Big Therapy Project, keep treating myself kindly about the griefs, and keep in mind the year’s goal of close-to-home connections. I wish the Mystery Family have come along with me, but in the end it’s a blessing to let go of any love that isn’t real.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Saying it like a prayer, people!
BY SIR WALTER RALEGH
A Farewell to False Love
Farewell, false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure's lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith then thy trains my younger years betrayed,
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed,
Whose course was ever contrary to kind:
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu!
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
***If you get triggered by images of sexual assault, definitely skip this series. Plenty of kittens and snuggles to come, I promise. ***
This past Sunday, my therapist helped me to begin the process of confronting the teenage trauma that’s unfortunately one of the defining factors in my psyche, in the hopes of making it perhaps less so. After I told her the story, she tasked me with starting a dialogue with my sixteen-year-old self, with the goal of reaching some kind of…forgiveness isn’t the right word…acceptance, understanding, amends? Maybe embrace. Last night after I wrote the story on paper and put it in the Box of Things to Be Worked Out Later By Unseen Forces (What, you don’t have one?), I actually could feel my young self, ragged and feral, holding onto me for dear life. Maybe I can write her to safety, since I couldn’t fight our way there.
It’s possible that such a process might repair some of the holes inside me, break down the walls of anger, defensiveness, and detachment that come between me and self-love.
Before I can start the dialogue with the girl (Let’s call her S.) I have to tell you what happened. I’ve written it here before but I think it’s important to tell it from where I am now, from a place of processing rather than panic. There are many echoes of the story in the present-day one—sometimes I’m very proud of the ways I’ve relived and rewritten it, how I came from a place of helplessness and shame and somehow became a person who wins at parties, gets rescued by the Cutest Boy, who smacked the shit out of the guy who put an unwanted hand over my mouth before I figured out I liked it. But before all that, there was this. If you read it, thank you in advance—you’re easing the project along and easing the burden.
One spring when I was in high school, my body woke up and made me antsy. Because I didn’t count myself among those who could have relationships, I opted for quick and anonymous sex with any good-looking man I could get my hands on. The basketball court, conveniently located in the park three doors down, was an easy place to pick them up, and I still kind of envy myself the ease with which I took them home, fucked them, and sent them on their way.
I’m not introducing the story of the trauma with the fact that I was slutty in order to suggest any cause and effect relationship (though I admit, for years I did) only to give you an idea of what people thought I was, what I kind of thought I was for in a situation where it might’ve been helpful to see myself any other way.
My best friend told me that her boyfriend had a friend who’d fuck me, so we set it up for a Saturday night. We did the classic thing of telling each other’s mom’s we were staying at another friend’s house and went to meet the guys. They picked us up at the grocery store, of all places.
They took us to a park on the outskirts of town. My friend stayed in the car with her guy and me and the friend hiked up a big hill that overlooked the lights of our suburban town—I wanted to leave on my glasses to enjoy the view, but he didn’t like the way I looked in them, didn’t really like the way I looked at all, I don’t think, but he fucked me anyway, doggie style, maybe so he wouldn’t see my face. I enjoyed letting out yowls that echoed through the hills, felt both pleasured and degraded, mostly kind of coldly successful at life.
When the guys were all done with us, it was only 12:30 and we’d told our parents we were at Kristi’s house so we really didn’t have anyplace to go. We sat in the little park by my house, thinking about falling asleep on a park bench, when a pickup full of whooping partiers stopped to see if we wanted to join them.
I felt absolutely no hesitation, enjoying the idea of how horrified my mom would be if she knew I was riding in the back of a pickup. They drove us to a nice, neat apartment complex with “green” in the name.
I can’t say for sure that I was drugged, but I do know I was way more drunk than the number of beers I had. They were drinking some Cisco and could have slipped that in, too. We were sitting around playing quarters and I was barely able to sit up when the ugliest, most snaggle-toothed of the men said “So, which one of us are you gonna fuck?”
I said nobody, that I’d had enough that evening, but they kept pushing and said I had to pick someone. They kept insisting and I did feel like it was who I was, like it was something I had to do, like I couldn’t escape them or my slutty self. So I picked the cutest guy there, who I also figured wouldn’t do anything because his girlfriend was with him. But he sent his girlfriend home.
He took me in the bedroom and closed the door, made me strip off all my clothes. I was kind of a sex robot. I lay beneath him and tried to do my job of making noises, but he put his hand over my mouth. I don’t remember what the sex felt like, really, just remember scrambling around after my clothes because he left the door open after so anyone could see in.
I did get most of my clothes on but after that I couldn’t really move and I started throwing up everywhere. I passed out and when I came to, everyone was hitting me, atleast 5 people including one girl, with what turned out to have been tennis rackets, blows coming down everywhere in the pitch black and I still couldn’t move. They were all calling me names, yelling at me for throwing up, telling me I was a stupid slut and in between saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” I was screaming my head off so that some blessed person heard and called the cops. Otherwise, those might have been my last moment on earth.
The next thing I remember was seeing my bloody face in the bathroom mirror, the girl who’d been helping to beat me up was making soothing sounds and cleaning me up. My favorite shirt (a bright mod swirly thing in the manner of De-Lite front woman and my style-hero, Lady Miss Kier) was spattered with blood.
As the police put us in a circle and questioned us, it dawned on me that my best friend had been in the front room, all of this time, standing by while those things happened, that she had let it happen.
I refused, no matter how many times they asked, to tell the police or anyone the sex part of the story. In no way did I think it wasn’t my fault for being drunk and slutty. I’d never seen The Accused, but I’d seen a review of it on Siskel & Ebert and I knew well enough who the accused would be. The not-telling is the part I feel most horribly ashamed about, the guiltiest. Some of them did go to jail for what happened, including the guy, but not for rape. I’m very, very sorry for not having done what I could to try and protect other women from that experience; I wish I could go back and do the right thing.
The following weeks were a family nightmare. My mom, horrified that I’d chosen to dye my hair the same purple as the bruises beneath my eyes, upset that it made her look like a bad mother, held my head over the tub and tried to bleach it out with Clorox. In the culmination of a fight with my mom, my dad pushed me down to the floor a week after the incident, kicked me and punched me, called me the same names the other people had and blamed me for bringing this violence into our family, though of course it had always been there. He pushed my mother down the stairs and the next day, she had bruises to match my own.
A newish friend, an artsy dykey girl I totally had a crush on, came and rescued me that night, but there wasn’t anyplace safe to be until I was shipped off for a few weeks that summer to my Catholic aunt’s house in the Maryland countryside, which had always been my favorite place in the world. I learned how to make homemade pop-tarts and fell in love with a boy from her church, who’s as gay as the day is long, but that didn’t stop us from kissing in the waves and whispering sweet nothings with the wild ponies of Chincoteague island. I took comfort in his innocence and it took me through that horrible year, but the wall of refusal and dread inside me was otherwise insurmountable. I’d already been a damaged girl, but now I was very often nothing but fight.
Monday, February 17, 2014
In the end, I finally got to hear his voice, to tell him how much I love them all, how much I wish I could be with them. It didn’t make it any easier to break up, but it did take away the feelings of bitterness and helplessness that came from being confined to the internet. It did my heart and soul good to cry real tears to him, to tell his ears all the things I’d typed but never got to say.
As much as online relationships are still a mystery to me (The combination of seeing the movie Her, reading The Circle by Dave Eggers, and trying online love has convinced me that modern times are completely unfathomable.) I don’t know how I would have made it through these winter months without him, without the daily images of their gorgeous and complicated life, without his affection—it was all completely irresistible. But at the same time, it’s a relief to let go of my fantasy of them and accept what’s real—they don’t have room in their lives for everything I have to offer, they aren’t able to give me what I really need. It’s a relief to love them for what they are rather than try to wait or fight for things to change, to accept them and try to let the crush part go.
Dear Mystery Man,
The fact that I can even write you a love letter means you’ve taken me a long way forward. Thank you for keeping me company in such hard, cold months. Thank you for loving me in the ways that you could and for letting me love you too. Thank you for giving me a clearer picture of what I want someday, of why I have to pull my attentions close to home and be present here with my whole heart. I don’t know how to stop longing for you and the Ladies, I probably won’t. I hate that circumstances keep us apart and I will miss you very badly.
Until you, I hadn’t told a man I loved him in a romantic way and had it returned since 1995. I’ve always fought a very deep belief that it couldn’t happen, and now it has. Thank you for letting me say it, and hear it, and practice it, so that when the heartbreak heals I’ll believe a little more that being loved by a man is something I deserve. It’s such a blessing to meet someone whose heart is as eager and voracious and fragile as mine, to believe that such a thing is possible. I’ll look for it in future loves, and think of you.
I still wish I could give myself to you and the Ladies, every single part of me. I don’t really know how to let you go, so I’ll carry you around in my heart forever like all the other characters. I wish there were anything I could write that’s as beautiful as the sound of your voice.
My heart is broken but much better for having let myself love you. Thank you all the way to the stars.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
I deserve someone who wants to be in the same room with me. What a crazy thing to have to declare, but here we are.
After the Mystery Man officially entitled me a “Keeper of His Heart” and a member of his family, I’ll admit I was a little hopeful/vulnerable about wanting some Valentine’s Day attention, but what I got was him disappearing mid-conversation before we’d made our date. Earlier in the week I’d gone right out on a limb and asked them all if I could have some time with him during Valentine’s weekend, and though they all said yes, of course, had to ask three times before I even STARTED to get a time. Soon as I was supposedly officially a part of them, I saw myself slip through the cracks of their schedule, just like with the Steampunks. I have to make myself stop loving overbooked guys.
Lacking information or a goodbye before he disappeared for the weekend, I did maybe more Twitter-reading than I should have and found out they were having a party that night, which I hadn’t been told about and definitely hadn’t been invited to. I physically ACHED to be at that party, dancing and hugging and really seeing them. That yearning opened up the cognitive dissonance that made me take the blinders off and start to realize that their version of me being in their “Family” did not necessarily include me ever being in their presence.
So I was hurting but that hurt was ameliorated by a wonderful surprise—Mr. Shiny Eyes! After I called him Friday evening to touch base after our conference adventures, he decided on a whim to drive over (from, it must be said, the same VERY close city where the Mysteries live) and jump into bed with me for Valentines. I was so touched and turned on by the gesture and I loved the visit, especially our morning. We cuddled in bed talking so long before jumping on each other again, it was so intimate, such a time-luxury compared to the (also fantastic) festival sex we’ve enjoyed before.
There was no way, after a gesture and a morning like that, to pretend that I was okay with someone who claims to love me but doesn’t want to see me. After Mr. Shiny Eyes headed home, though I assumed the Mystery Man was busy with some kind of Valentine’s fun, I tried to ask him about the implications of me not having been invited to the party. I thought the problem might get bigger in my head if I waited until our not-really-set-yet date.
I tried to write it as a letter, but probably should have asked (through the cloud of interrupting-shame) for a real conversation—a real 10 –minute talk could have solved the problem, if the problem could in fact be solved at all.
Instead of reassurance, though, or an invite to some future party, (I mean, COME ON, even the most elusive of casual guys invited me to parties at his house!) I was told that the “online contingency” aren’t usually invited and that I would’ve run the risk of making people uncomfortable. This was followed by a litany of things that were higher priorities to them—that old bottom-of-the-pile feeling. I told him I was hurt by that, that I didn’t like being on the outside looking in, that I needed to know I could do normal things like be near the people who purported to love me.
The “online contingency,” fucking OOF.
I didn’t hear from him again and imagined that he had gone back to whatever lovey-dovey permutation of entanglements I was being left out of that day. It was only by chance that and secondhand I found out he’d melted down about what I’d said, and that made it even harder and guiltier to try and communicate.
I did try (on open Twitter, since I felt like I wasn’t being heard on the private channels) but all I got back was an “Are you leaving me?” and no further communication from him. I tried talking to the Lady whose time I’d unwittingly derailed, but it really was moot, since he’d rather break up than face the prospect of having me over.
I really do love him, and it was never just him. I loved the Ladies first and I always wanted to just arrange the whole family in a pile and dive in. More importantly than the sexy stuff, though, I wanted to be their friend, to feel their warmth around me in ordinary, everyday ways. The concept of “online friendship” makes absolutely no sense to me. My love and friendship are physical, even for people I’ve never met, and loving without face-to-face contact is unsafe and ungrounded.
I shouldn’t be in the position of feeling like crazy stalker girl for wanting to included by people who’ve used the word “family” or for wanting to be physically near someone I love. I shouldn’t have to convince anybody that my presence is awesome and should be welcome and encouraged. And (typing this for maybe the millionth time, maybe I’ll learn it) I shouldn’t have to feel like a burden or an interruption every single time I need something. I deserve to be a clear priority, even if my role is smaller than others’.
The ironic thing about this situation is that if somebody else were treating me this way, this family of readers would be the first to get up in arms about it, telling me to get out and that I’m amazing and strong and wonderful and deserve so much better. Without them to tell me that, I’m trying to tell myself.
This “online relationship” business is just complete nonsense, especially from someone who lives two hours away.
Last night, while my nerves were still jangled and my heart was definitely breaking, Mr. Sweetface made it over for our long-awaited play date. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay him the proper attention, but it’s amazing what bodies can take care of all on their own. The smell of him, his big pretty eyes, his beautiful naked self across my knee all subby and soft—how lucky am I? When it was his turn to spank me, I cried a little at the end and he gathered me up and told me I was beautiful, told me I’d be okay. The generosity of that easy gesture, the sound of his heartbeat, his strong arms as he wrapped me in the blanket, that’s what I need. That’s what I am.
A few months ago when I was panicking to the Lady of the House about the Steampunks, she said, not unkindly, that I seem to find myself in one crazy story after another, that it might be beneficial to look at the pattern and figure out what attracts me to unavailable people. Since then, I’ve tried to be mindful of only making choices that wouldn’t lead me back to loneliness and panic, so I’m sheepish and sad to have chosen a constellation that, however loveable, has infinitely more barriers up than the Steampunks did. I love them so much and sometimes they’re all I want in this world, but I ignored a million red flags and broke my own very good rules to love them. I don’t know what makes me do this, except that I needed the words “love” and “family” so badly that I would’ve given anything. That’s where I am right now and I’ll keep trying to be careful with it.
Friday, February 14, 2014
You wouldn’t think that getting added to a Twitter list would be momentous, but it is if those lists happen to be named “the keepers of my heart” (Just two wives, two girlfriends, and…ME!) and “Family” (a whole bunch of really adorable people.) One of the Mystery Man’s wives (the hot Dominatrix) added me to her “family” list first and when he followed suit, I was so turned on that I had to take myself right to bed. And then tell them about it. And then they took themselves to bed about THAT, because we are all awesome.
I’ve been reading and admiring this particular family for…a year, maybe? They seemed like a dream come true and have always been kind friends. One of the Mystery Wives pulled me out of a panic attack last fall was I was in the depths of shame about Steampunk Guy, and they’ve all cheered me on through every challenge of such a sad year.
Watching them love each other has been hot and healing, a balm for a heart that once thought polyamory couldn’t be real for me. They’ve changed me just by being so generous and sharing all of the different ways they take care of each other.
And now I can’t believe that I’ve sidled my way in. It’s a similar feeling to meeting somebody famous, if that somebody famous were making sure that you got time to chat-snuggle. Yesterday when all those metamours were adding me to their family lists, I felt loved and accepted in a fancy new way, and ready to climb all over all of them.
The Mystery Man is a very special character, and I’m so grateful to him for the generosity and joy he brings to my daily life. I love wishing them a happy day before they go in the commute-tunnels in the mornings and saying goodnight when it’s time for him to go read his daughter bedtime stories. I love plotting against him with the Ladies. I love the light that shines over to me with every silly interaction.
So on this Valentine’s snow day I’m feeling very happy and grateful to be polyamorous. I love the way that my relationships have taken their own shapes, how I’ve grown into someone who can accept all different kinds of love and let it evolve on its own terms. At the beginning of the year, I decided that we never know what magic we’re making, and that was exactly right. I love this new life of letting everybody be near wherever they are, accepting magic when it comes, and generally just being the luckiest girl in the world.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Since the project that emerged for me at the conference was to learn how not to panic when I get excited about somebody, I was superexcited to go learn about NRE and neurotransmitters. I guess naming the talk kinda gives away which conference it was, not like it was such a big mystery anyway. If you ever get a chance to see this talk, I couldn’t recommend it more. If you're headed to Atlanta Poly Weekend, you'll be able to see it there!
I think most poly folk are familiar with the brain processes of love, but looking at the list of “symptoms,” of being in love made me realize there’s some overlap with anxiety and even depression. (Perseverating, obsession, jealousy…) But the biggest flash of insight came from learning that, during the early stages of passionate love, serotonin levels drop! As a (now pretty mildly, I’d say) depressed person who’s been treating herself with non-medicine fixes, that was the most helpful possible tip! If I’m going to wade into excellently lovey-dovey emotions, I have to make sure to take extra care of my brain first with as much sunlight as possible (rare these days but I’m hoping the sun will be back…) don’t skip the gym, eat lots of produce, etc, and slow down enough so that anxieties don’t snowball and turn something cute into something overwhelming.
As with the advice I got in the previous post, I got a chance to test this theory right away. On Tuesday night, I was planning an ironing-some-things-out talk with the fantastically NRE-ful Mystery Man, so I took care to put writing and getting to the gym first. Probably we’d’ve done fine anyway, (We’re very cute.) but it was a lot easier to talk past sticking points and be open with my needs when my brain was all thankful and calm.
Since I’m still mostly a single girl (Well, as single as a girl with about five Valentines can be…) a lot of what I’ve experienced in the past couple of years has been the wonderfully anxiety-producing new parts of relationships, and to some degree I have used it as a (somewhat ineffective, it turns out) mood elevator, but also it’s just how I am.
I probably will always get very enthusiastic about lots of people, but I look forward to eventually seeing what comes after the “Call Me Maybe” phase of things—what happens when I’m calm and slow enough to ask for what I need and be able to hear what other people are asking for, too. I’m starting to feel like I can feel safe forming real attachments. As a lot of my snuggle pals are long distance, I’m clearly in a needing-some-elbow-room phase, but I’m curious to see which folks will end up evolving alongside me, becoming lasting bonds.
One thing that bothered me about the audience of this talk (Not the talk itself—seriously, see it.) was that even in this most poly of poly settings, people were still approaching outside relationships as potential problems, NRE as a threat to the existing structures. Nice poly person after nice poly person talked about “making it up to” the existing partners, with extra chores and hugs, as if excitement about somebody else were something to atone for rather than drink up and share.
It was kind of interesting to watch even the most seasoned of poly folks still separating themselves out into disparate relationships rather than feeling like a network of connections. When I love somebody, I love their whole thing, and to me that means loving their partners too, even if I don’t want to smooch them. (Probably I want to smooch them, though.) I guess not everybody wants to smush all their people together into one big pile, but that’s how it looks in my ridiculous heart.
Anyway, that day was one of the most illuminating learning experiences of my nascent sex geek career, and I’ll think about it all the time.
At the end of the conference day Saturday, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Usually I do maybe one thing on Saturdays, and I’d done about 50. I fell into bed after a very brief visit to happy hour, with an alarm set to get up and go downstairs to the Sacred Sex Puja. I didn’t really know what that was, but I figured it counted as a church checkmark, and unlike last year, it wasn’t listed as being “for couples and groups only.” (That still makes me a mad to type.)
One of the hosts was a dreamy guy I knew from the Lady of the House’s circles, one of the people I’m always surprised to see with clothes on, but we all had them. The conference room was draped in pretty silky fabrics and there was a little altar built to some nebulously-defined goddess. About twenty of us stood in a circle, taking instructions on how to rock our pelvises and breathe. My pelvis was tired from lunch with Mr. Shiny Eyes, and I felt grumpy about the extra work of special breaths, but right away I felt something uncatch beneath my right shoulder blade, felt something warm stirring.
“Did anybody experience some sensations during those breaths?” asked the host.
“Um, I felt like, some little sunbeams?”
He chuckled and asked the circle if anybody else had felt a sunbeam. (The Lady of the House later declared “Sunbeam” to be my nickname. I always was kind of a hippie chick at heart, even as I try to keep it semi-ironic…)
As the class leaders took us through the breaths (In through your nose, all the way down to your hoo-ha, flex the muscle there, keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, stop sucking your gut and let the air in, it was a lot of things.) I got space-issues from the noises people started making and I couldn’t stop yawning, so I figured I’d stop fighting my body and just go to bed. As I look back, though everyone seemed perfectly nice, I didn’t want to share my energy with them, even with close friends. Suddenly I wanted to take care of my energy and be choosy about who I shared it with.
At the time, though, I thought I was just being grumpy and going to bed. Ms. Sweetheart was kind of blazing into the room when I got there, tired from a drunk-laden dinner and craving introvert time, so I relished the chance to just be silent together, in two beds but enjoying her near me.
I lay down and realized that in fact, the puja had worked some magic on me. I felt warmth play around in my body like my own personal sunlight. I was so cozy and happy to be with myself, like I’d had a glass of self-love and got drunk on it. It was a feeling I’d always wished for, that I knew I needed. I was full of joy to have wrapped myself in a comforter and given myself the gift of rest even though there were a million very friendly things I could’ve been doing. My body and soul felt celebrated, like the very best afterglow.
There was sadness, too. Once I let myself stop moving, the truth came out that I was missing Sweetie very badly, that I felt adrift here without her to talk about the sad things with. Everywhere people were using the word “communicate” a million times, but there were some things I couldn’t talk to anybody about. I missed the way her words would soothe me when I was being a mess and tried (IN MY HEAD ONLY) to use kind words to soothe myself. But I felt so lonely without her. I love belonging to the world, but I miss belonging to a person in that way where the bed is a sacred place and all the chores are for someone you love. I miss my family very badly, the family I was with her.
Even as I was feeling those things, I rejoiced in being so warm and self-contained. I did go up and try the party, but I almost immediately felt impatient with it—I didn’t even have the urge to take off my clothes, I wanted to keep all my stuff to myself. I spent the past few years getting more and more naked, pushing outward because I had to in order to survive, in order to reach escape velocity, but now that I don’t need the push of adrenaline to stay sane, my priorities are changing.
So I left the party as it was just starting, found Mr. Shiny Eyes who was all involved a big discussion about the meaning of love down in the hotel restaurant, kissed him on the forehead and gave him some very happy/fuzzy belated aftercare. He offered to meet me in the room later, but I was delighted to find myself wanting to be alone some more.
It’s just incredible: in a hotel full of friends, lovers, and all manner of adventure, the person I wanted to be with! Was! Me! I can’t overstate how much of an accomplishment that felt like. I’ve arrived at a new place of awesomeness, and someday soon I might not even be a project at all.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Almost as soon as I got to the Big Poly Conference, this conversation happened:
Mr. Shiny Eyes: “What are you doing at lunch?”
After a night and morning of snuggles with the Sweethearts, I couldn’t believe my luck was still this lavish. I felt like Wonder Woman for asking him and had an inner fireworks display when he said yes.
As I say every time I have it, I never get enough PIV sex, and even though a timer was set so he wouldn’t miss the next workshop, this was fantastic enough to hold me for a WHILE. (Okay, ‘til the next morning. But still.) He has such a very very nice penis and he knows all the best ways to bend a girl around. It was so easy and bright and unselfconscious and special-occasiony. This was sex that made me feel like life wants to give me absolutely everything.
After we were spent, as the timer was snooze-alarming, we had a conversation that ended up being a bigbig breakthrough.
I mentioned an unspecified conference attender with whom I’d recently broken off a flirtation because he triggered some yucky feelings, which of course is a reasonable and necessary thing to do, but Mr. Shiny Eyes, having some insight into what it’s like to be told by me that he’d not a match, had this to say:
“You get really upset when you feel like someone might be seeing you out of a sense of obligation rather than desire. People jump to “not a match” sometimes when they could just share their emotions about the thing that triggered them.”
This was partly what I’d done in this recent situation, but I couldn’t quite get past the stomachache with the person, probably because it reminded me of the Steampunks among other things.
He continued: “And I notice that you tend to come from a place of self-deprecation, like whatever the person is doing is confirming the fear that they couldn’t possibly have wanted you in the first place.”
Uh, okay dude, thanks for workshopping my emotions while I’m still naked and tingling, but dangit if he didn’t have a point.
I ended up doing a lot of thinking on this trip about why I tend to break up with (and then unbreak up with) people I like, and he definitely had his finger on part of it. When somebody likes me, there’s still a big part of me that feels like it must be a trick, and I’m always kinda waiting for that trick to reveal itself. But the fact that so many of these breakups didn’t take is proof that the liking is genuine.
I have to stop and appreciate the characters who stuck with me as snuggle friends even as I went through such an ugly and harrowing year, even after they had to deal with rejections and (sometimes) overreactions. Sometimes someone isn’t a match (like when they use the “R” word while sexting and it’s not “ravish”) or isn’t a match right now, but it’s very good advice to slow down time, breathe and reflect when an alarm gets tripped, not just automatically run.
Monday, February 10, 2014
When I first attended the Big Poly Conference the year before last, it was almost like research as an outsider. I found many different kinds of comfort and acceptance (especially in my first nudist experience) but by the end of the day I was hurting and crying in the cuddle party, being comforted by the facilitator (who is, incidentally, now Showtime famous) and feeling like I should never be near such nice people, like I was just to rotten inside for all this togetherness. I cried my heart out all the way home that night, consoled by Sweetie in that toxic way we had, half-knowing that my relationship was part of where the rottenness was coming from.
Then last year I attended with much more experience and a few more good connections, spent the day mostly catching up with friends and being proud to find out where the big party was being held. That was the night I first really connected with the Sweethearts, Mr. Shiny Eyes, and the Recurring Character. Because Sweetie was staying in the hotel with me (though not attending the conference) I still felt separate from the poly folks and strangely protective of her, like I couldn’t give all the way in to everything that was going on around me.
This year, I shared a room with my favorite snuggle-couple, the Sweethearts, whom I’m still learning, of course, but thoroughly and emphatically enjoyed in both pants-off and pants-on ways. They feel like home to me, a physical and spiritual comfort to be near whether we were mid-scene or not.
As with last year, I spent a good amount of time catching up with the Lady of the House, who decided that wherever we are together talking is actually the nude beach--it’s exactly that sunny, embracing, and free.
I got to devour Mr. Shiny Eyes for lunch and have some emotional breakthroughs with him during postsex cuddles. (I’ll elaborate on all this as the week goes on…)
And yes, I did know where the party was, but I chose instead to curl up in a comforter and enjoy the warmth of my own company.
For all of the happiness, there was grief, too. I miss having someone to whom I could confess everything and be (until the next condemning fight, at least) absolved. And since last year’s party was all about Sweetie’s ropes, I missed the heck out of those too: I love that we were able to create such beautiful rope-magic even as we were falling apart. I miss the home of her even as I rejoice in finding and founding new person-homes.
This was also the weekend in which I finally admitted to myself that I believe in Tantric energy—I’ve experienced it enough times, I might as well. The first time I tried Tantric breath (at that same sobby conference cuddle party) I experienced it as stabby, almost debilitating pain, a grief-cramp that didn’t go away until I cried it out. This time, just after I left the Sacred Sex Puja, I felt such a warm, sunshiny glow move through me, and keep moving. Though I’m still facing some roadblocks and daunting obstacles, on some fundamental level I’ve come unstuck. There’s so much more work to be done, but sometimes I feel my body, mind, and heart giving me time and space to relax into the flow of whatever comes next.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Yesterday the Cutest Boy at the Party texted to thank me for still mentioning him in the blog and it was the second conversation I had in as many days about how some people will just always be mentioned. With the Big Poly Conference and its attendant reunion-snuggles coming up tonight, it's really sinking in that I've made some true and lasting connections. So yesterday when I was driving around singing in the little red car, I decided I had to dedicate this song to all the nice characters I'm still heart-hoarding, which is to say, all of them.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
It will come as a surprise to exactly no one that I regularly exchange “I love yous” with the Mystery Man and his Family, none of whom I’ve seen in person. At first I wondered if maybe this wasn’t going a little overboard, but as a reader and a writer I’m quite used to adoring people I’ve never physically met. The stakes are a little higher, but it feels natural nonetheless.
Back when my best friend Angel Face and I were almost a thing for five seconds, he admitted to feeling overwhelmed at the amount of affection I sent (Those who balk at “Call Me Maybe” may be glad you missed my Ke$ha-ful “Your Love is My Drug” phase…) but as friends we talk like that all the time. Getting to say it romantically to a guy, though, is new, and every time I read it or say it, it’s like a little more of me gets repaired, like I’m a little closer to getting to express my true self.
In the movies, (and in last week’s New Girl episode) the trope is that the “I love you” should be withheld until the big reveal, some big dramatic moment, but that isn’t how it feels to me at all. I love easily, instantly, and thoroughly, and that’s always made me feel a little bit out of sync. But what if there’s actually a place in the world for people who see life that way, for whom love is like breathing, like weather?
“I love you” is both momentous and ordinary. Or COURSE I love you, why wouldn’t I? My time on this planet is limited and I’m choosing to spend some of it with you. It’s obvious, it’s easy, it’s who I am. If I wasn’t loving everyone wholeheartedly, my job would eat me alive, divorce would have kicked my ass, and nothing would ever get done. All of it is running on love, all of the time.
It wasn’t until that really terrible casual sex with a random OKC guy right after Christmas that I realized I hadn’t really been having any casual sex these past two years. In some way, I’ve loved every person I played with, and every person whose person I’ve played with. I loved Cute Master and Pretty Slave from the moment they walked into that Kinky Karaoke party glowing with good sex (and probably good weed.) I loved the Cutest Boy at the Party as soon as he sat down and started chatting me out of my party tears. I loved Old-Timey Guy from the moment he smacked my behind with that godawful hurty ceramic star. (As a side note, I think it’s the romance that attracted me to BDSM in the first place—all the outfits, special names, and secret whispers, how lucky are we that that’s real to us?) I loved the Steampunks from the moment I sat down at their table, would have done absolutely anything for them. Fireguy’s paternal gaze, The Man’s first bus stop kiss, the rope-compersion I felt for the Boss of Me and Her Boy before I even met them—all of it, love.
Most of those folks wouldn’t say they’re in it for love, or they had enough love already when I came along, and that’s easier to accept now that I can just go ahead and admit to loving them. I did, and I always will, no matter how the story ended.
And the ones who’ll take the “I love yous” and give them back, too? You’re changing the way I see the world, the way I see my place in it. You’re helping me to settle into my real self and guess what? I love you for it.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Most Saturdays I do little more than read and maybe wash the dishes, but last weekend, a lot of moving forward happened.
A few weeks ago I decided that I couldn’t live with the sadness and shame that came over me every time I drove Sweetie’s car, so I started looking for one of my own. Being capable of having my own car doesn’t really fit with my lingering self-image of being broke and just kind of incompetent, but I made myself absorb the realities of a salary and (!) a good credit score. Somewhere along the line, I became able to take care of myself, and honestly I owe some of that to Sweetie’s support.
It only took a couple of Googlings to find the car I wanted, a bright shiny red compact with, sweet merciful wonder, an automatic transmission. I put off driving it until I knew I wanted to buy it, because I knew once I drove it I’d be attached. I was right. I tried to be cool in the dealership until the bargaining was done, but my insides were just bursting with joy. It was a triumph of self-control that I didn’t do the Snoopy dance right there in the dealership. The divorce is over. I’m free.
I had to go back and pick up the blue car from the dealership, (I almost mistyped “healership”) which gave me some nice impromptu catch-up time with my favorite neighbor, Gold Star Winggirl, but felt like a complete nightmare to be behind that wheel again. All of the anger and frustration and fear of the Sweetie relationship is in that car, and if I could reasonably push it off a cliff, I would. Will settle for having dropped it off.
As I think I’ve bragged about before, my lovely therapist makes housecalls and we had an appointment soon after I finished the car-errands. After telling her all of the things that were making me happy and moving me forward, I admitted that I was still concerned about how big my anger gets sometimes, how personal and consuming. She very, very rarely gives advice or directives, but she said that it’s time to confront The Big Thing, the real scary party from high school, that it put bad things in me that aren’t me and it’s time to start making those repairs.
I’m ready. Lord knows I’ve had enough practice confronting it. We’ll start talking about it on Sunday the 16th at 11:00 AM, on a three day weekend so there’s a margin from the school week. (Hey, that reminds me of something…) She said to give myself as much love and kindness as I can until then, in every single way I can think of—luckily that was my plan anyway.
Even though I know she’s right and that nothing bad is going to happen, when she left I felt like I’d gotten caught, like she’d discovered after all that understanding that I really am a bad person. I’ve felt so many variations on that feeling over the years; I wonder what it’ll be like after it loses its power?
It’s taken too many paragraphs to get to the BEST part of Saturday—the Mystery Man. On Friday, one of the Mystery Ladies had let me know he’d be available all weekend for my attentions, so I asked him if he’d be my reward after I turned in my report card grades. Since I was awesome and did interim reports last month, work didn’t take long at all.
Another of the Ladies sent a few tweets handing him over to me and sending compersion, and then I invited him over to the direct messages to negotiate a little. Since I was fragile the last time from not being able to physically snuggle after, I proposed some Twitter aftercare: after we were done playing, in addition to cute chatting, we would lavish each other with praise, since we’re awesome at that anyway. And it worked! The next day, I felt healthy, horny, and warm, like I’d just been to the nude beach.
It didn’t feel out-of-body this time. For the first 45 minutes, I mostly didn’t touch myself at all, just sat here drawing him a Valentine in my cute bra and lace undies, letting the warmth of his words move through me and put me at ease. It really did feel like sitting in the sun, my hair soft on my back, my shoulders warm, my cheeks flushed.
By the time I started getting handsy with myself, (around when he told me he was pulling me onto his lap and I said we’d have to stay there and make out like teenagers for a while…) everything was turned up and tingly and my pretty lavender lace panties (which would soon end up on the floor) were soaking wet.
I think that I need more practice with blowjob-describing. Though I got no complaints, I did get a little writer’s block about it. But maybe that’s because it was at the end and it was very hard to think or type.
After we came (together, how cuuuute) we did indeed heap on the praise. I have definitely met my match in terms of verbal lovey-doveyness—a few times, I was like, whoa, I definitely can’t top that. I’ve never felt more happy or accepted.
I was sad to say goodnight but glad I was sending him into the arms of his wife, my friend who’d instigated the date in the first place. I’m so grateful to have them in my life, that they’re willing to share their time and hearts and world with me. As I told the Mystery Man while we were celebrating aftercare by listing off the things that make us nerdy, he’s like those little gold cell-fixer things on Doctor Who, changing me with love and helping me regenerate until I’m strong enough again to save planets. I can’t thank you enough, Dear.