I’m always flirting with the danger of being a little too stuck in the past. I revisit old lovers, I regularly journey wistfully in nostalgic reverie, I seek out connections to the past at any opportunity. I want to live in present and often do, but I like to revisit where I’ve been. It’s useful to gain some perspective, to reframe the thoughts I have about who I was. Ultimately, it gives me some insight and inspiration into where I want to go.
A few days ago I turned 40 years old. (Yay!) I was lucky enough to spend a full 48 hours on things that nourished my soul. A chakra massage, tarot readings from two different people, joyful celebration, quiet contemplation, a party, a blessing, a clearing, a purging of my darkness. See, the overwhelming message that came through to me (even with The Last Jedi) was how I needed to let go of the remnants of the past so that I can finally move forward to a place of deservingness and peace. I need to stop examining the past to piece together my shattered worthiness and instead needed to accept my own light, accept my new role and create a future of bright, shining energy.
This is my own personal Tower. This is the structure that has been holding up my life, created from memory, from experience, from learning, and above all from distortions about these. This structure of service without reward, of absorbing the darkness in others so that they might find their light has been such a primary source of identity for me. I’ve been resisting tearing that down, but it’s become so apparent to me that this is the last piece of “suffering” I must do in order to fully feel like I can move forward into the structure I’m building for myself.
The time has come for me to step into Who I Really Am.
The Origins of the Tower
Growth is accepting that not every structure in our life is meant to remain. We must either tear down the old, worn down Tower of self or a wrecking ball will come through and force us to rebuild.
Some of you have seen me talk about “tearing down my tower”. The Tower, a reference to tarot, is what I use to refer to those sacred institutions, behaviors, beliefs, reactions, etc that we use to process the outside world. Whether it be religion, sexuality, expectations in friendships, family values, politics, we each construct a Tower for ourselves, the structure for our home, our life, our relationships, our spirituality, our outlook on life.
The walls of our Towers are adorned with paintings of our grand achievements, statues of the important people in our lives, wall-to-wall libraries containing the knowledge we’ve accumulated along the way. Each is unique to our own self.
Our first Tower was built by our parents, caregivers, and others in authority when we were children. They were shaped for us so that we should be taught how to treat others, what to believe spiritually, what we find beautiful or loving, what priority learning should have in our lives. It provides us with shelter and protection.
Dear Hot Guy, (insert name here)
Thanks so much for messaging me. It’s nice to hear from you. Before we get started, let me establish a few things first just to make sure we’re on the same page…
I’m not an easy target
I’m sure that if you’re messaging me that you’ve noticed that I’m fat. Let me establish right away that fat girls are not the low hanging fruit ripe for a hot guy’s selective desire. Just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I lack standards. Your presence in my feed or in my life isn’t a gift. And I can easily sniff out when your tone is tinged with a smug “You’re lucky that I came along to save you from a life of loneliness” when I enforce my standards and set my boundaries.
I remember back in middle school, when I had braces and frizzy hair, I would get these men, these boys, these hot guys who would come on to me. Whooo, I was so flattered. They liked me? They really liked goofy looking me? It didn’t take long to figure out that not only did those guys, not like me, that they publicly made fun of me for believing that they could ever like me at all.
I grew my first layer of armor soon after.
I have since learned my own value. I don’t admit (nor ever want to admit) my own beauty. I’ll accept that others might find me attractive, but that isn’t my true value in me. I want them to see me as a woman who has the strength to withstand darkness, the wisdom to share compassion and the courage to prioritize my own self-worth more than any singular man’s attention toward me.
So, if you’re assuming I’ll be an easy lay because, you know, fatness (or age, or presumed cougar-ness or MILF or whatever). I promise, I have plenty of partners who keep me happy and I’m not salivating at the sight of your nude body. It takes more than the mere suggestion of sex with a hot guy to turn my head. That’s because…..
You are not the first; nor shall you be the last
Trust me, there will never be a drought of hot men who like thicker, curvier women. There will never be a drought of hot men who get turned on by older women. There will never a lack of hot men who love going down on a woman. There will always be hot guys with big cocks (and retailers that sell good approximations) And there will always be the hot men who secretly desire women like us but can’t get past their own self-loathing to declare it openly.
Likewise, there will never be a drought of hot men who are attracted to passion and soul. Those who respond to wit and intellect. Those who share openly with their hearts and who cherish what they see in mine. Ultimately, those men remain in my orbit, connected to a shared moment or purpose together that surpasses more than just their mere hotness.
Show me what makes you shine
I admit I’m a greedy bitch. I’m not driven by lust for a body alone. Offer me more. I want the men who have deep passions, generous souls and are pursuing their heart’s purpose. And I also want those who care deeply for others, accept their own vulnerability and take responsibility for their presence in the world, including their fears and biases. Having that kind of wholeness offered is intoxicating. To have those qualities likewise come in an aesthetically pleasing …ahem…package is downright decadent and luxurious.
But once you’ve tasted the richness of someone’s soul, you’re not as thirsty for basic, low-effort dick. It will never matter how big you are or how you plan to “treat me like a queen” until I see more of who you are. Your hotness isn’t all that you can or should offer to me. Your dick’s length or girth will never make up for a lack of personality or casual cruelty. Why would I waste my time on someone who thinks I only want his surface-level offerings? Baby, I want so much more than that.
I want to be on your mind first thing in the morning, searching for messages I left for you overnight. I want you to crave my words and to respond to my touch. I want to see that flash of opportunity in your eyes. I want to explore deep into the chasms of your desire. I want to feel the tremulous waves of anticipation and share the inevitable surrender to pleasure and joy. I want to see the real you.
Allow yourself to be more than just another hot guy in my life. Supply more than lustful promises for my satisfaction. Offer more than just your dick. Surely, we both deserve better than that. Allow yourself to actually shine from within, beyond the glossy surface you’ve been told that women want. Worship at the font of authenticity and humble yourself before your own depths. I crave connection to the wholeness and am waiting to see you trust yourself enough to let it shine.
Only then will I truly know how attractive you really are.
You’ll have to forgive me, this is a stream of consciousness sort of post. I used to do these all the time back in my LiveJournal days. But back then I was talking to people I knew, I read on a daily basis. I honestly don’t know much about the people who follow me here. Some find me through Twitter or Instagram. Some are old friends. Some are complete strangers in countries like Peru.
The openness of blogging is enough to get to me sometimes. Not because I don’t like being open, but more because I don’t like being visible beyond the scope of my awareness. It’s one thing when I know the people reading me. I can tailor that experience and I can face the consequences of the subtext as needed. However, when it’s people I don’t know – it stirs the imagination to a not-quite-healthy destination. It inhibits me and creates an obsessive desire to shut down inside.
My mission has always been quite simple…
I want to nurture a love movement.
Back when I first became polyamorous, this was literally the name of the movement: A Love Movement. And while I am no longer with those partners, the original Brotherhood, I still feel very connected to this purpose. To nurture a movement to better embrace love for ourselves and for others in our lives. To create space to accept and give love on a deeper and more nurturing level.
I have spent most of my sexual life experiencing the depths of others. Even one-night stands used to be like that for me – deep and connective. Sex has always held the potential to truly see myself through someone else’s eyes and to act with loving acceptance for them in return. In this one intimate action, this moment of serendipitous connection, we can share a small moment of acceptance.
But too often our relationships are filled with shame. The look on our lover’s face that tells us they are bored or disinterested. The self-consciousness of body size or shape. The comparisons we make in our heads about our lover’s former partners. The accumulated and acute traumas that haunt the recesses of the brain. The performance anxieties. The worries. We’ve stacked the deck against ourselves – how are we to ever experience true joy if shame is always souring the taste?
How many times has shame prevented me from finding and reaching out for my joy? The anticipated rejection making me too self-conscious to speak up for my own desires. The past trauma and the self-doubt robbing me of a chance to truly experience myself through my lover’s actions. The suspicions that they don’t really like me because of my size or shape or age. The hurt and guilt making me less voracious than I might otherwise be.
I’m not the only one, right?
It’s way more than just me who feels this, right? And so, if we are walking around with wounds, why are we not only are we tearing open old wounds, but we’re recklessly inflicting more.
Once you see it, once you’re aware of it, you realize how pervasive this subtle layer of shame is over everything else in our world. It’s the ash that obscures our view of the brilliance of our own selves.
If you look and listen carefully, you’ll see it:
- It’s the little jabs at your wife’s weight and the weight of women that look like her.
- It’s the humiliating comments you make when you catch your husband masturbating.
- It’s the jealousy of your partner’s Top 5 celebrity crushes.
- It’s the declaration that bisexuality is just greed.
- It’s the “sex education” you provided when you handed your kids a book but avoided talking to them about it.
- It’s the go-to fap fantasies about lesbians but still voting for people who don’t want them to marry.
- It’s the storage of secrets as well as the violation of privacy.
- It’s the insult of “beer goggles”.
- It’s the objectification of someone for their skin color and the racist presumptions and fantasies you’ve placed them in.
- It’s the taking without giving.
- It’s the heaviness of the “let’s just get this over with” sigh.
- It’s the “you brought this on yourself” zinger.
- It’s the labeling of sexual appetites as addictions.
It’s us – shaming each other. We do it in our relationships when we just select default mode and put the connection on auto-pilot. We do it in our families with how we refuse to discuss sex and enforce healthy boundaries. We disseminate this shame through our churches and political systems, complete with consequences for noncompliance. We require adherence to vague expectations, such as fidelity, that have never been specifically discussed, defined or even decided with any level of mutual understanding. We react with hostility when we see a woman choose pleasure over modesty or if a man expresses even a passing interest in other men. Shame taints so much of our experiences, that a question of worth will always be at play.
Thus, we stay locked in a prison of our own making, the walls generously decorated with the etchings of every awful criticism and self-defeating thought that we’ve received.
What if you could really be loved and seen for yourself?
Consider: What might change if you were free from fighting the icy, cold shoulder battles at home with the spouse? Or if you finally felt confident walking into a first date? What if you knew your partner truly sees and wants all of you? That is the sexiest feeling in the world. What if, in our approach to sex and love, we gave each other a sincere opportunity to heal the wounds we’re carrying or, at least, a promise that we won’t make them worse?
I know I can’t be the only one who is ready to finally stand firm, look Shame in the face and tell it to fuck off, right? I know I’m not the only one who is ready to get off the roller coaster of high drama relationships. And for the love of all that’s holy, I want sex to be more worthy of my time than the wispy attempts at foreplay or the vacuous objectification I get online. I know I’m not the only one.
And while it’s scary as fuck to be so exposed in this space, I know it’s the right thing for me to do right now. That I need to keep talking, to be seen and heard. To be vulnerable and open where others can’t. To hold light and space until they’re ready.
I can’t do this unless I prove to myself that I’m more than the story that brought me here. I’m more than the Outing or the rape. I’m more than bad parenting choices and missed deadlines. I’m more than my story that up until now has been reinforcing my feeling that I’m not worthy. It’s kept me from speaking up for my truth. It’s kept me from reaching for my joy. And I am ready for a new story, no matter how foolish I look or what I encounter along the way.
That is acceptance because growth is never elegant or easy. So, at the end of the day, this blog is lovingly rebooting our ideas about relationships, sex and love. It’s about my stories of my stumbling blocks and what has and hasn’t worked for me. Foolish and embarrassing, but it will always be my truth.
And that is worthy.
I have always been a Colorado Girl at heart. I grew up in a moderate sized town that all the time feels much smaller than its borders might seem. Everyone back home is connected. Strangers are looked on with pitiful suspicion and yet the residents constantly complain about the rich culture they have.
I will always be from here. I will always have crisp, cool mountain streams flowing deep in my veins. I’m perhaps as Mountain Mex as you get. And this weekend I spent the night at our cabin about an hour or so outside of Denver. I’m drafting this as I sit on the porch, Husband making dinner, meditation music in the background, kid is giggling to himself as he reads a comic book. I can hear the distant grumble of a motorcycle but know it won’t ever come past this place. I feel the freshness of the mountain air and I spent 10 minutes just watching clouds and their ever evolving shapes.
I am finally, fully at peace.
Connecting with the earth, grounding myself by climbing up some small boulders and meditating while facing Longs Peak. I was so utterly and fiercely at peace in that moment. Rest finally has started to set in. The kind of rest that only another Colorado Goddess would understand.
What I have been avoiding the past few months is the wisdom of rest, of obeying the cycles of the earth. I’ve always disobeyed sleep–“sleepiness is weakness of character”–and I barely eat regularly. I don’t like routine, I rebel against a set routine. But I can and do honor cycles.
My period started on Thursday. And so did the emotional fallout of what was triggered in me by the eclipse. I broke down into sobs on the way home that night. Overwhelmed and envious of those who can so easily engage in the carnal desires that used to be my realm of expertise. I always tend to resent and resist the ebb and flow of my own body, of my own spirit, of my own needs until finally nature wins out.
I talk a lot about the transformations that I have felt over the past few years, but the one that is still faltering is my ability to allow a relationship to flourish into what it should be sexually and emotionally. I have been out if he habit for so long that I start to overthink things, worry about not falling into the same traps I have before. I choose to wait it out, make them wait until my trust is finally ready. I never fully allow myself the ability to just give in to the tides of the moment. Not only must I always be the responsible adult, I also must never make a mistake.
Resistance of my nature
Over the past several years I have convinced myself that I am undesirable or that if I am desired it’s because I’m skilled at adapting myself to what others need me to be. And when I find those who do desire me physically, I construct walls because I believe that if they experience physical attraction to me, they may have trouble with the spiritual connections I desire.
Thus, I’ve grown very tentative in my romantic potentials, always staying only distantly engaged because I don’t trust myself and I don’t trust their desire. It’s not just men, I apply this hesitation to women as well. I have wonderful and beautiful people in my life, but I have always questioned my worthiness of that love and attention. I shut it down, deflect it, only minimally engage with it because I don’t want to do something wrong to be found unworthy.
But when I’m here, in the mountains, I’m clear. I’m grounded. I’m confident. I’m secure. Time moves more slowly. My spirit feels aligned but as flexible as a new aspen tree. And I recognize myself again.
In this moment, with this freedom of sky and nature, I can feel my body begin to succumb to the subtle joys of stillness. I can feel myself begin to unwind, my mind less concerned with details and more concerned with falling into a rhythm within. I accept this gift for what it is. A moment of replenishment, a moment of resilience, a moment of radiance. No resistance necessary. It is about me choosing my own experiences and using the energy i gain from the mountains to manifest my core desires once again.
Permission to be free
I have done a lot of work in my professional life, work that due to the emotionally heavy nature of what I do, has taken a toll on me personally. No wonder I haven’t been willing to give myself over to sex with new people. Because my body knows what it needs and it isn’t the awkward passions of a night out, or the insubstantial promises of pleasure.
Pleasure, my true face of pleasure, is a vulnerable experience and I do not give that to just anyone. They must also be worthy of me.
Knowing that I can and do direct my experiences helps me find perspective in my sexual reluctance lately. I know exactly what I want and it isn’t some unknown who can’t be bothered to be present enough to see me for who I am. It isn’t the Twitter follower who ignores the rants I write or the bad days I’ve had and thinks I should spend my time flirting with them.
No, what I need is a lover. An honest to goodness soul nurturing lover, willing to give of himself or herself to fully feed me, and to be fed spiritually by me as well. I want someone I don’t have to fumble with and who is fully present in a erotically healing space together with me.
I just won’t settle. I won’t settle for bad casual sex. I won’t settle for rushed, entitled sex. I won’t be pressured into whiny, insecure sex. I choose the sex and the situations that are right for me.
And sometimes what is right for me is time by myself to think and feel. This weekend is right for me.
Today (Saturday) I have meditated, read a couple of chapters in a book about the many faces of the god and goddess, played a game with my family and felt my spirit nurtured with the passion for my home state. No Trump propaganda nonsense. No screaming Twitter tirades. No worry about the state of my house.No internet. No tv. Just music, books, crocheting and my writing. My family — Husband and the Kid — and my connection to the mountain.
I’m not one to get caught up in the craze of something. When tons of people are into a trend, I tend to step back. And while I hate to call the recent solar eclipse a trend, enough people were talking about it, enough people were desperate enough to find viewing spectacles and locations, that I tried to ignore that the great solar eclipse of 2017 was going to happen. I resisted and had decided by last week that I would not partake of the hype.
But it wasn’t just the hype that I was resisting. I was resisting the change that inevitably flows from experiences like this one. I was resisting the desperate urge to let go of my old self, my grudges, my anger, my horrible self-defeat.
For a long time now I’ve been talking about the Queen imagery and how it relates to where I am going in my life right now. For a long time now, I’ve been stopping short of inhabiting that role. That time came to an end during the eclipse.
I have been struggling to find the words to describe the strange sensations I felt before and during the eclipse. Struggling so much that I can’t seem to write anything else until I work through this issue.
It felt transcendent.
I didn’t look at the sun. After having looked at the miracle of the sun for several years before and after my trip to Medjugorje, that wasn’t what I needed to connect to. I needed to connect to the shadow that the eclipse would bring.
I looked everywhere but the sun. I chose during the eclipse to just be still, to be in the moment and to be observant of all around me.
I walked outside — no glasses, no plan. I wound up at my car on the roof of he garage. Opened the moonroof and played the I Am meditation track from Wayne Dyer. I listened and felt and set my intentions. And no, I never looked up.
Last week was one of the darkest weeks we’ve seen during this Trump presidency. It was demoralizing and exhausting for empaths attuned to feeling the mood of a room. By the time I got to Friday, my emotions and energy were all out of whack and were coming out in all directions.
First I felt anger –seething, hard to control anger at the world. Then I felt sorrow, heart-crushing sadness. Nightmares of my old car, fears manifesting tenfold. I stayed home from a planned trip to see Trooper on Sunday , which did me a lot of good because that’s when I started seeing the emotional outbursts for what they were – a need to finally let go of the past. To step away from my old self and embrace the new. By Monday, I was dizzy and lightheaded and slightly nauseous as well.
Letting go is hard. You can do rituals and confessions, cathartic releases and therapy–but until we realize the hold that the past has on us, will we ever be able to say goodbye to it.
I’m scared. I’m scared of falling on my face and not living up to whatever impossible standards that I’ve set for myself. I’m scared of being wrong, being arrogant and selfish. I’m scared of the impacts that my actions have on others. I’m so scared I’m not good enough that even when I am, I find a way to sabotage my own success and recognition.
But I also know that my calling is shifting and that the Queen is a phase of who I am and who I am to become. I know that I can either let go and let the current take where it will or I will be forced to vacate this old self.
A moment of stillness and presence
I observed everything during the eclipse – my emotions, my breathing, the lack of bird chirping, the heavier shadow falling over the earth. The temperature shift and the utter quiet.
In that moment under crescent shaped shadows, I confronted my own darkness, the parts of me that are holding back from fulfillment and success. I must move forward, carrying only that which will serve me in my future adventures. Only by embracing my shadow can I fill my next role.
Indulgence is such a difficult concept for me and yet one that is so utterly familiar and available. I am very guarded about indulging myself – my fantasies, my pleasures, my dreams, my deepest depravities. The worst is deciding when to give into my impulses. Giving myself over to the fleeting desires of the moment. The heat of the moment. The flash of inspiration.
Always so afraid of the consequences that I would clamp down all opportunities to live in the moment. Shit needed to be planned and taken apart mentally and verbally before I would ever indulge. Worse were the times that I would shut myself down before I could ever indulge the rewards of a job well done — No, there was always more to do, more to accomplish before I was worthy. Read the rest of this entry
Last week I bought a new car. For most adults this can be an exciting, anxiety-producing, exhilarating and potentially intimidating experience. At least that is my response. It is a moment when I’m reminded of both the responsibilities and the pleasures of being a grown up. But more than that I realized how much our things have the power to anchor us to our past.
Right before Labor Day in 2006, we bought a 2004 Honda Pilot. I was in the prime of my life (and what I likewise feel was my sexual peak as well). I had been polyamorous for just over 2 years. I had a significant and engaged presence on LiveJournal. I was working in my dream job as a nonprofit lobbyist. I was partnered to two other men in addition to Husband.
A month later I had been outed and lost my job. I can’t adequately convey just how devastating that event was for our family. It wasn’t just that I lost my job and was unemployed for 8 months. It was the media calling my house and office to harass me into a statement that I refused to give. It was the violation of my personal and private thoughts and the public mockery of those thoughts. It was the exposure of my lifestyle without my consent or readiness. It was the depression that descended over the house that infected everyone I loved. It was the anxiety of turning on the news (Husband still can’t watch the local news). It was the imposition of not just judgment but the suggestion that my lifestyle made me an unsafe parent to my kids and a danger to everyone else’s kids.
A few days before I had been outed I attended a GOP fundraiser (yuk!) that had a hula theme (double yuk) in a big, fancy corporate office. I had to go as part of my job in order to get some face time with the republican gubernatorial candidate. It culminated with a Focus on the Family type republicans treating this fundraiser as an extended spring break with a very conservative lawmaker declaring from the podium after many innuendos and drinks that “Everyone gets lei’d” (triple yuk). So smugly amused was I that I grabbed an extra two cheap ass leis to remind me that even the most staunchly “family values” republican will gravitate toward a dirty mind if he thinks he is among his own tribe. Disgusted with the event, I left early and hung the leis around my rear view mirror.
Those leis have hung around my rear view mirror ever since. Like an albatross around my neck.
Owning that Pilot has been an exercise in healing my broken self. It took my shocked and shamed self home after I had been outed. It was the vehicle I tried using to commit suicide within a few months and a year later. Originally bought because we wanted something bigger for the 3rd child we never had, it also accumulated my broken dreams. No new kids, just transporting the children who likewise suffered consequences from my shame and self-hatred. That car saw it all. All the tears and heartache of broken relationships. All the anxiety and regret of a broken family. Too much shame.
I didn’t realize how much I resented that car until it was time to clean it out to trade in. Getting totaled by hail was not just a freak Colorado accident, but a blessing: permission to release the old and embrace the new.
As I removed the leis – broken, dirty and filled with dust – it finally hit me how much these things, this simple, cheap and insignificant things had been anchoring me to my shame, my hurt and my disappointment.
In that moment I finally -felt- it. I finally believed I didn’t deserve the shame. I was finally able to see things clearly. I had been engaging in non-monogamous releationships far more ethically than the people who had been in the room in that fundraiser. A few had hit on me earlier in the year bragging about their “discretion” and offering to trade votes for sex (I declined). Others had been openly flirting and playing house on the weekends with their wife for campaign events. It’s an ugly, deceptive world that works hard to maintain an outward image of sober, chaste nobility. To have lost my job for being honest about myself when they get to rise higher and higher in the realm of the powerful and elite is a disappointing reality. Keeping those leis in my car was a constant reminder of how I would always be held to a different standard.
My new car represents my new life as an adult. It is exactly what I wanted. And more than that it is exactly what I needed. It will cost me, almost all of what my raise has given me, but it is representative of the new me. It is shameless, both in the features I want and the experiences attached to it. It isn’t attached to hopes of a bigger family, but in the happiness of the family we have. It isn’t laden with the sins of the past, but is directed at celebrating the present.
Overcoming shame is about owning our choices. It is about deciding that even if others disapprove of our choices that they are ours to make. My decision to be poly isn’t a source of shame, it’s a source of joy. My choice to write about my life isn’t a shameful plea for attention, but rooted in the hope that my life examples can serve a purpose for someone else. My choice to be a sexually free and spiritually liberated woman isn’t something to be ashamed of but something to be celebrated and honored.
This new car – I named it Phasma’s Rebel – represents where I am in this new chapter. It is permission to let go of the shames of the past and move forward with a determination to defy expectations, to rise above the shame and judgment imposed on me, and to move forward confident that this shame chapter of my life is finally complete and a new era is emerging.
I’m one of the newly named Xennial generation (1977 – 1983). I have been interacting with people online since adolescence. I grew up using chatrooms (Q-Link for the Commodore 128 and AOL with PC) with progressively increased private chats happening as the years went on. Back then we couldn’t (easily) send photos or use a cell phone to text, we arranged times to talk, often turning to phone sex after online chatting became more hot and personal. I was on this cusp generation that pioneered these emerging technologies, often at the mercy of the parents that allowed us access to them.
I’ve been doing this a long time–since 13 or 14 years old when we got our first equivalent of a modem. I had online access very early in my life that by the time everyone else was getting AOL, I was moving on to the next thing. And for as long as I’ve had access, I’ve had access to online flirting. So many sexual conversations, flirting online and over the phone. The currency of these exchanges relied on imagination. The more vivid descriptions, the more easily the sexual tension could build. I never kept track of how many of these conversations I had participated in over the years. How many men and the handful of women did I do this with? I’ll probably never know. But it was second nature to me. Witty, sexy, sultry banter was my thing.
The Shameful Barrier
I talk often about the accumulation of shame in my life and how inhibiting it can be. How intimidating it makes what was once second nature to me. I had stopped dating in 2009 for a variety of reasons: a new local relationship (Warrior) that took up much of my attention, a break-up with my Dallas poly husband where I felt like a failure at polyamory, residuals of being outed a few years before and a metamour whose insistence on one-way fluid bonding sent a clear judgment – that I’m somehow dirty. I was just so ashamed that I just cut off all possibilities, no matter how promising they were. No matter how much I wanted to progress with flirting and communication, it had been used against me so often that I always managed to sour the potential before it could ever take root.