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Finding Hope within the Shadows: Reclaiming Authenticity

This isn’t like my other posts, but I hope you’ll stick with me as I put together the pieces of the puzzle that has been my life for the past 40 years. This will be a very long post, but one that I hope brings some hope in the wake of current events.

Targeted because of truth

I have always been an expressive woman. I tend to dominate conversations because I can usually find some connection to the topic, the person or the theme. I make my point of view known by weaving in the threads of my life with the topics at hand. I’m a classic ENFP and love connecting individuals to the bigger picture through narrative.

As such, I had an online journal where I attempted to do just that. And of course, because I’m me, I focused on sexuality, politics and real-life storytelling. It was a display of sexual confidence, but also sexual healing.

Eleven years ago that blog was exposed by a republican website seeking to make its bones with political gossip. They effectively outed me as bisexual, kinky and poly. Friday the 13 of October 2006.

It was my own damn fault I told myself. I got careless with the security settings. I was revealing too much about my own life, family. I put everything and everyone at risk. For what?! for sex? For authenticity? For my truth? My truth was dangerous to my family, my career and my psyche.

The blog that outed me had no problem using my journal and photos to speculate wildly about my sex life, so within two hours, I became a liability to my employer and I resigned. I could no longer do my job because my credibility had been ruined, not because I was honest and transparent about my life, but because I was a slut and proud of it.  I didn’t speak up.  I felt such shame, such repugnant regret for my hubris that I hid out, taking low-level jobs, deliberately staying off of anyone’s radar, feeling undeserving of anything more.

I acquiesced, sacrificingauthenticity for security.

The poison well of toxic masculinity

As I took time away, getting progressively more isolated, alone and depressed, my anxiety flourished. We couldn’t watch the news. I screened every call. I got used to never having enough, never being enough, never feeling deserving. And when I would take one triumphant step forward another obstacle would hurtle toward me. It was kind of like a brutal game of dodgeball where I was also taking friendly fire from trusted friends, family, and partners. My perimeter of safety contracted and filled with a toxic dose of self-doubt resulting in a few suicide attempts that I don’t discuss. I knew my view was distorted, but I was so deflated, so traumatized, I could no longer even trust myself.This darkness has led me down several different paths of healing. But there was a recurring theme in that healing: my sexuality never fully came back to the voracious lust that it had once been. It’s not that I don’t have an exciting or fulfilling sex life, but that I felt like that previous life had all been a dream. My consent had been violated in a deeper way than I had ever identified now was in a constant state of hypervigilance.

I had no choice but to illuminate the patterns that were starting to emerge. The influence of an early childhood sexual assault, continual pressure for Much of the sexual history and identity I had been so anxious to get back to had been heavily influenced by some distinct experiences with men who had taken their lack of power out on me. A poisoned well of pride.

While a handful of men from my childhood and adolescence infected me with poison from that well, far more benefitted from the impact it had on me. They didn’t care that it would poison my thoughts about myself. They didn’t care that they were inflicting sexual assault, harassment, and exploitation that would carry a current of trauma in my life. They didn’t care that their actions were wrong and criminal. They felt desire and they felt entitled to have their shot, no matter what price I would personally pay. They normalized the abuse and dismissal of my consent with the constancy of it. What might my life had been without that?

I adapted to survive

Shining the light on this part of my life has been the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Tearing apart my sexual experience and examining my lopsided relationship with consent has thrown everything I believe about myself into question. Where I once thought I was sexually liberated and commanded respect for how I approached sexuality, I realized how often my consent had been coerced, how often I succumbed to the intimidation or perceived threats of harm. It wasn’t the whole of my history or even the majority of it, but those distinct moments shaped me and what I should expect from men.But in examining this, I had to also acknowledge that I survived. Not because anyone else came to my rescue. I survived because of me.After I was raped, I developed abilities that I used to protect myself.  I used limited acquiescence for reconnaissance. I learned how to read them before they could read me. I learned how to touch a raw nerve to get them to back off or show their true colors sooner.  I developed closer female friendships and learned how to use our stories as examples so that other survivors would know they weren’t alone. I was able to speak up, safeword if needed and fight back.

Ten years later (last year – October 2016), my life was finally starting to shift for the better. I was ready to start emerging from the coccoon. Trusting others was still a minefield, but I’m better at trusting my knowledge, my intuition, my sacredness, my value. I’ve faced a lot of the scariest parts of myself, some of the scariest situations and have emerged stronger than I expected. By walking through my own darkness, allowing myself to recover threads of resilience, I started to love this new wholeness of me.

The personal is political

Around the same time I chose to cast aside my self-doubt and shame, the infamous “Grab ‘em by the pussy” comment came out.  Despite my political expertise, I was struck that Donald Trump had the audacity to defend it. The people around him had the audacity to defend it. The news became a too real personalization of rape culture.

I wasn’t alone in recognizing that this event retriggered most survivors of sexual assault. All the work I had done to regain my strength, confidence and sexual joy was smashed right back down with a deluge from that poisoned well of toxic masculinity. This sudden onslaught of smug entitlement, fueled by open victim blaming and lame justifications for criminal behavior has brought back all of the memories of every other lonely, angry man who decided he was entitled to whatever he wanted from my body.

The personal is political now. This Presidency has been an eerie real life example of the abuse many of us have suffered in our personal lives.

Abuse relies on an insidious spiral of control and power. It starts as small boundary-pushing, floating test balloons to see where we’re willing to tolerate their foolishness (questioning Obama’s citizenship, Mexicans are rapists and murderers). If they can get close enough, they can start to condition us (“lock her up”), feed us lies (“fake news”) so that we don’t believe what previously trusted sources would have told us. (No more links to Trump after this). They continue the isolation and they prevent us from asking for help (pissing off our allies), screen our visitors (ICE raids and travel ban), control our money (health care costs will rise). They openly mock us (disabled reporter impression), they make a big personal issue out of an innocent gesture (Take a Knee), control our bodies (birth control), they make us dependent on their help (Puerto Rico vs Houston vs California), they expect to receive better treatment than us (unjustified costs of protection and travel for administration). And when they know they’ve gone too far, they give the hearts and flowers usually with the delivery of a back handed compliment (“very fine people”).

Alone, powerless, you endure it the best you can because you’re just hoping someone will notice and come save the day. 

This entitlement and power hungry structure is not just confined to Trump. Much like the poison that infected my own sense of self, it permeates our culture. Harvey Weinstein exposes just how poisonous our culture is. How truth is stifled through intimidation. How mind-boggling common it is for this behavior to persist, not just in Hollywood, but everywhere. The courage that I have seen this week has been extraordinary. The more we speak our truth, the closer we come to freedom and justice for us all.

Freedom is Found in Authenticity.

This weekend Professor Marston and the Wonder Women was released on the same day as the day I was outed. What was so remarkable and inspiring for me in this movie is that it celebrated all of the things that I was outed for: bisexuality, polyamory, and kink. The problem is not that we are different, it is that others feel entitled to project their vulgar interpretations on us, to taint authenticity with judgment, fear and shame.

To see this triad fight through prophecies and internalized shame was a beautiful affirmation of what I have fought to regain for myself. To watch them submit to the authenticity of their love and prioritize their intimate connection over the compliance society expected is exactly the message we need right now. Living a lie just won’t work, not when those lies are used to subdue others into compliance. We must take the plunge into authenticity with our whole heart and soul, despite what the outside world convinces us to believe.

This especially is true when faced with harmful patterns of abuse and control.

Owning our own story, declaring ourselves to the world matters in the current environment. Being visible matters. Representation matters. Your truth matters. Your consent to live and experience life on your terms also matters. And in the reckless, power hungry, abusive patterns of men like Trump and Weinstein and the unfathomable number of other powerful men like them, speaking your truth matters.

Wonder Woman was the hero I looked up to as a young girl. In seeing some of the origins of her creator and the inspiring women who inspired her, I am more and more convinced that she is the symbol of the power that we need right now in our national narrative. So many women share a common experience, have found our truth stifled for too long, that we are speaking up, speaking louder and refusing to drink the poison fed to us by toxic masculinity. She stands for relentless truth, compassionate justice and unwavering alignment with her authentic self.

And what is encouraging isn’t just that women are speaking up, but men too. We’re making room for more of us to be heard and to hold more people accountable as we wake up to admitting our own truth. A truth that cascades into our selves and starts to washout the poison, healing the toxicity left behind in the wake of our too common traumas.

The golden lasso of awareness is starting to wrap itself around the body of the American politic – accountability demanded by those whose power has been most stifled and stunted: Women and marginalized communities. The powers that be are scared, lashing out and doubling down on their abuses.

But we are reaching the tipping point where the cost of silence is no longer a price we’re willing to pay. Putting pressure on America to confront itself: its racism, misogyny, rape culture, violence worship, cycles of poverty and inequality, and devastating patterns of environmental abuse and injustice. We are shining a light on the monsters the lurk deep within the American psyche.

It’s time for us to face our collective shadow, to recover the threads of our connective community that have been torn apart by hatred and oppression. To find inspiration in the collective light of our resilience and strength. Only in confronting the deepest truths within, pulling forth the authentic power of our true selves, will we realize the freedom, equality and respect we each deserve.

Fight on, my friends. We are in this together.

SharpSweetBella Cheat Sheet

This is what was originally meant to be in the Essential Bella Rosa page and probably will still make it there. But I thought I would add a cheat sheet to names, places, and concepts that I talk about frequently here:

Who’s BellaRosa?

I actually went through and updated some of my booking info which tells more about me as a professional educator, but you can probably get a good sense of who I am from the blog posts themselves.

But on a more personal level, I am:

  • almost 40
  • half Mexican/half Scottish -Irish? (who knows)  – I pass for white, but identify more with my Mexican family
  • bisexual+ (I am attracted to a wide variety of genders and gender expressions)
  • Lawyer – although working in a more social work setting
  • Spiritual seeker – and quite serious about it
  • Geek: Browncoat, Whovian, Trekkie, SPNFamily, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., So Say We All (not in that order)
  • Switchy edge player: Little Princess / Goddess
  • Raised Catholic – many rituals still matter deeply to me, but the doctrine no longer fits me
  • Homegrown in Colorado, daughter of Pride City 
  • Sagittarian

As for the name, Bella Rosa, it is a name that was given to me by one of my first poly husbands. I keep it to honor my roots even if the relationship has reached its end.

SharpSweetBella is an older name – Husband once wrote a poem for me where he called me his Jocasta, sharp and sweet. So when I resurrected from the ashes of being outed and I was searching for a new identity, I loved that image of sharp & sweet, apt descriptors who I am as a woman. So I added Bella to it and the rest is what you see here.

Who’s Who

My two leather brothers on the far ends of the photo. Warrior is 2nd on the left. The other two men are my extended leather family


There’s honestly a lot of people in my life who really matter to me, but few of them that I’ll mention publicly because they have become important enough to be part of my life story. Here is a smattering of some of the current ones I might mention by name:

  • Husband: You can find the Origin Story here  – Married for 15 years, together for 18 years. Comic book writer (title forthcoming), father of my two teenage sons. Funniest impromptu lyricist I know.
  • Warrior: My spiritual spouse. We don’t live together, but have always felt destined in our love for each other. Deep and passionate, we are like a tidal wave of fire when together.
  • Blush: Local female partner who has primary relationships with two men and a kid of her own. We share a love of Kushiel’s Legacy, witchy spiritual things and lounging naked in the hot springs together in the fall.
  • Navy Boy: Old lover from college that I fell in love with despite our No-Strings-Attached agreement. He went off to the Navy and couldn’t avoid me for long and is now pursuing his dreams of finishing his degree so he can travel the world helping people.
  • The Priest: One of my oldest and most loyal of LiveJournal friends (turned long distance lover). He and I share a Catholic background that we’ve integrated into our entire dynamic that ranges from taboo lust to sharing Disney World geekery. But the most prominent dynamic we have is as Goddess and Priest. He guards my spiritual temple and helps me keep my boundaries as I grow in my own power. 
  • Leather Family: I could probably put a lot of the Denver Queer Leather community in this category, but when I mention it here I usually mean my two (now three) primary gay leather brothers, the team behind Exile Fetish Ball (which I helped with for a time).  We’ve been through some shit together and through it all they have taken care of me, put their necks on the line for me and given me an abundance of support. And we have our arguments and have had a few major conflicts that have required us to hold each other accountable. But love is love and these men are my brothers no matter what. 
  • Pretty Boy: A local subby guy I’ve played with a few times who is moving away just as I am starting to get comfortable with my role as a Dominant. 
  • Trooper: a new potential partner from home. In all fairness, I was friends with his wife first. But through that connection I got to know him and find all the areas of commonality we share. A new exploration. I have no idea where it will go, but feeling surges of NRE again for the first time. 
  • Druid: Not a real person, but more of an archetypal figure from my life, from my earliest and oldest soul memories. It’s an image that has been a guide for me over the past several years. I hope someday to find a person that fits this influential type of energy in my life. 

Most of the time I am not specific about who I’m talking about because I exist to offer the lesson from my exploits, not the gory and potentially invasive details. Unless I have consent from someone to discuss our intimacies here, I will only vaguely allude to or loosely describe a situation, especially the newer it is. And sadly, while I can be a flirt, I don’t often have availability or energy for active dating, so I don’t have many salacious stories to share. 


Living at the Crossroads 

A lot of who I am and what I discuss in this blog is a personal perspective of living at the crossroads of so many identities, communities and experiences. When I can be, I try to be clear about who I am, but more often than not, I’m floating midway between a ton of different identities, fluid and free. And following me, reading me and understanding me relies on a certain acceptance of the empty spanse between the exhale and inhale.  The thrill of exploration that pushes past the fears of stepping past our comfort zone, where nothing is just black or white but is arrayed in a technicolor range of possibility. 

I am not comfortable with doling out blind advice  only because each dynamic is unique and powerful and I will not presume to know more about your life and experience than you. 

All I can do is share where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, what I’ve noticed in myself and the lessons I’ve drawn from those experiences. I don’t expect everyone to resonate with that, and that’s perfectly fine.  

Thank you for reading. I’m so very grateful!
For those who want to read about the adventures of a HotWife check out Juliet’s Busy Weekend at:  

Check out Isabelle’s post about Sex Blogging Liberation 

Wonder Woman: My first feminist icon

We all have our heroes. The people we look up to and who give us inspiration when times are tough. All of us have a mix of personal, professional, real & fictional heroes that are part of our lives. And this week one of my first heroes hits the big screen to fill the void of women’s voices in superhero fandom. In honor of Wonder Woman finally getting her own movie (and at that it appears a movie worthy of such an icon) consider this an ode, a love letter of all the reasons why this particular icon is my first and my favorite.

WonderWoman - DC

Origin Stories

I’ve been a fan of Wonder Woman for as long as I can remember, dating back to at least 4 years old.  Back then we had comics and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. I was too young back then to pay much attention to the story line, to know the patriarchal evils she was truly fighting. All I knew in those early years is that she was a woman who was beautiful, powerful, honest and looked a lot like me with her dark hair and light skin.  She was the earliest pop culture example of the type of woman I wanted to grow up to be.

Wonder Woman also fits in to some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories.

I was raised by mostly the Mexican half of my family both in tradition and in frequency and depth of connection. Every summer I would usually spend a week with my grandparents in a small rural community north of Denver. During the day I’d go to my grandma’s prayer group with her or join my grandpa at the library. At night, I’d get to play dress up after dinner and the evening news. Sometimes grandma and I would play cops & robbers or I’d dress up like a queen and we’d have a tea party.

But the fondest memory i will always have is when my grandpa, a tough, well-read and witty state patrolman, made me a golden lasso, a crown and bracelets just like my beloved Wonder Woman. He had spent the day cutting out the forms from cardboard and painting them to match Wonder Woman’s costume from the TV show which I would watch religiously on syndication every afternoon.  When dinner was over and the dishes had been done, he came upstairs and presented me with my very own Wonder Woman gear to wear for that night’s dress up.  It is still one of the best gifts I have ever received and one I wish I had been able to keep to show my kids.

Dawning Awareness & Adolescence

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I identify as a geek. I grew up on comic books, Star Trek and Star Wars. I was a child of the 80’s where our popular culture started moving from B-movie sci-fi to a more pronounced market for nerddom. Dungeons & Dragons, Goonies, Thundercats and Revenge of the Nerds gave us a language to start uniting our nerd culture. Technology was about to make it much easier to find our people, to find communities of people who enjoy the same things as we do.

This was also the time that I was just starting to wake up to sex. I was an early bloomer (I grew out of training bras by 5th grade). And as the boys teased me and girls started to exclude me and make me the butt of their jokes, I clung to my traditions of sci-fi, comics and fantasy. I hollowed out a place for myself locked between childhood and adulthood. A place where I acted out fantasies with my Jem dolls, where the Misfits were sly seductresses tempting our heroes into sin. A place where I imagined Q could make me do anything he wished.

 

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Panel art from Issue 296 of Wonder Woman called “Mind Games”. Cover Artists: Ernie Colan, Frank Giacoia / Writer: Dan Mishkin (Plot by Roy Thomas) / Pencils: Gene Colan / Inker: Frank McLaughlin / Letterer: Ben Oda / Colourist: Carl Gafford / Editor: Marv Wolfman / Story Title: Mind Games! [Info & panel from Amazon Archives]

But even here, Wonder Woman still had an influence. It only took a few comics to realize that there is a trend of her always getting tied up. One comic in particular, Issue 296 (“Mind Games”), features General Electric forcing Wonder Woman to play along with a mind control video game. And oh god, this image still gets to me.  The force by which the villain is trying to control her and yet, she still overcomes and is able to reject his desire to enslave her to his will. And yet, that force, the bondage, the temporary overpowering of someone’s will was the first time I remember ever being turned on.

 

shttp://www.amazonarchives.com/ww296.htm

 

Days 3-5: Nice Things & Indulgences #bodposfeb

I honestly haven’t been avoiding these challenges, but when Warrior has a long weekend at our house I have a hard time finding the mental space to write. And as he and I negotiate whether he’s moving in after his divorce, these are the things that keep me hesitant. 

Anyway, all of that is to say that these challenges have been on my mind this weekend but I haven’t gotten around to writing them. 

So…

Day 3: Write 3 nice things about your body. 

This one is definitely one of the hardest for me. My body is a source of significant angst for me and it’s hard for me to admire myself or to ignore the faults for the beauty of this vessel. So, for this one I had to imagine what I might say to a lover or a friend in giving them a compliment or gushing about what I love about them. 

  1. I love how soft and silver my hair is. I have good hair days more often than not and I love my silver streaks, even the silver poking out at the roots. I love that it’s given more texture and depth to my hair. I still love the streaks of red, the patches of black. But silver actually has made me look younger. 
  2. How can anyone not enjoy my breasts? I mean they aren’t perky and taut, but they are soft and infinitely touchable. Even my gay leather brothers love snuggling close because of them. And for the lovers who pay attention the right kind of teasing, the right kind of play can induce orgasms. 
  3. I also really love my eyes. I want my eyes to communicate what may be difficult for me to find words to encompass. They change color and turn a bright sea green when I cry. While others prefer my smile, I like my eyes better. 

Day4: write three nice things about you that aren’t physical

Umm…that might be harder because while my body is superficial, there’s a shred more objectivity. I can compare against others (“Why yes, we agree that your boobs are rather extraordinary compared to a, b and c!”) and I can piggyback onto the components bestowed upon me. But internal stuff, well, I could think that I’m nice and kind, but am I really

Retweeted from VoluptusHedone (@VHedone)

But I guess that’s true point of this exercise–to say something candidly nice about ourselves without the safety net of knowing whether it’s true. It’s about embracing that it’s true for us. 

  1. I value my spirituality. I care deeply for my calling in life, for the meaningful connection to ritual and symbolism. I feel called to serve a more divine purpose in life, to serve as the hands of the goddess, to be devoted to the service of humanity and to give of all of my talents, all of myself to this calling. 
  2. Of all my talents, I have an inane gift for acceptance. I’m not easily scared by the darkness of others. I give love through my unconditional acceptance of who someone really is in their soul. I try to abandon judgment and shame but my acceptance doesn’t always mean approval, it is just a loving embrace of their path and their humanity and the vulnerability and trust they’ve placed in me. 
  3. I likewise find my greatest courage comes in moments when I am at my most vulnerable. I am always willing to risk being seen especially if it might help someone else find their own courage or light. I am willing to face my fears, to use my voice, to connect to others, to wade through darkness even if I make a fucking fool out of myself because the risk of staying hidden becomes larger with each passing day. Visibility is vulnerability. And I am secretly so proud of myself each time I can show trust in the compassion of others. 

Day 5: Treat yourself to a food you love. 

Every Sunday Husband and I have been sitting down for lunch to plan out our menus for the week. Today I had a huge craving for G&B’s Fish n Chips. Half order of prawns, chips, a side of curry sauce and a Bloody Mary. It is quickly becoming my favorite part about Sundays. They now know my order too! 

Dusk 

Tonight is about my truth. My whole self out on display, unedited and unfiltered (let’s call it mildly filtered to be safe). This is the part where I start writing and don’t look back.

It feels like fall here these past couple of days. Cool thunderstorms and mild nights. The sounds of crickets during dusk reminds me of growing up in Pueblo. Nights like this were state fair nights, where I could hear the sounds of the midway join with the crank and bounce of low riders up ass up into the air. We lived half a mile away, so the sounds would keep me up at night just like Christmas. We would walk to the corner at starlight and watch the fireworks that would go off at the end of the rodeo. The whole block would watch. And I’d hear the crickets chirp between the bangs of launching rockets. 
It meant summer was over. 
And what a summer this has been. National tragedies like Orlando and the shooting deaths of black men by the men in blue sworn to protect them. In a year already punctuated by the deaths of our heroes and fallen comrades in authenticity, we are at a turning point. Where we go from here will matter so much more. 


Tonight I am sitting on the back step inside the house. Smoking and drinking a glass of wine. My wine cup is stupidly simple because it’s sturdy and makes me feel luxurious in a down-home, could-give-a-fuck way. I picked 4 of these up at Ross or something for like $2 each. But I love it. It’s corny and vintage and it’s all mine. 

I really like the idea that things belong to me. Help define me. Are a part of my identity. So why do I choose polyamory? Because it’s more like a feeling that this person belongs in my life not that they are possessions that I hoard. They contribute to who I am. They have a thread of importance that stays with me throughout my life. That pieces of us will always reside in each other. 
Even when that hurts like hell. 

I’m exchanging messages with Husband about what kind of pizza he wants. I’ve given up on cooking today. I had a kid therapy appointment and an EMDR session for myself. Hence the smoking. And the wine, I guess. 

All the while I’m deciding not to worry that my menstrual cycle is off or address the jealousy I feel at the birth of a friend’s baby. I’m a monster, I know. But I put off hanging another baby until I “addressed my health issues” and with my youngest now 12 years old I feel like I missed my chance. 
My cat, Starbuck (or her psuedonym: Princess Fuzzy) is peeing in her box right next to me. It’s disgusting and oddly cute because of how much she trusts me. I don’t sleep well without her nearby me, so I guess you could say I trust her too.
The boys (Husband, Warrior and DistractaMonkey) are watching the Major League Lacrosse championships. I stepped away because I found myself yellin at the tv and fuck me, I’m not one of those moms. 

So, I smoke, write on my tiny screen, and drink. And think about all the ways in which I am totally not ever going to turn into my mom. 

 

Joy in a bottle

A few weeks ago I talked briefly about being in the midst of an early personal spring. Whenever I have break-throughs like this, sudden realizations of patterns and purpose, I want nothing more than to capture that feeling, bottle it, keep it safe.

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I keep wanting to capture these feelings, because I don’t want to be without that joy of discovery for very long. I don’t want to fall back into old patterns of self-doubt and disappointment about my life and especially my path. It would be so much easier if I could just bottle it and hang onto it for those moments when I’m down and out, succumbing to the darkness of the overwork and drowning in the sorrow of feeling stuck.

But that defeats the point of having those emotions in the first place. The point isn’t so much to capture as it is for it to make the hard work, the suffering, the darkness all worth it. It provides more motivation to keep moving forward, to slow down the progressive bad habits that have kept us stuck in the first place.

Today I found myself longing to capture that joy again. After a long conversation with the person I consider to be my soul sister, I had such a strong sense of clarity that even Warrior talked about how inspiring it was to see it.

I kept trying to capture it, to not lose it. Especially because it’s a day off for me and I don’t want the stressors of work tomorrow to interfere with the enormous job I have ahead of me. But that worry of losing it interfered with my ability to actually feel it.  It took me out of the moment of joy and into an immediate space of worry and dread.

So tonight, I’m making a conscious effort to just be present in this moment and this sensation within. Enlightenment won’t make a difference if I don’t fully embrace it when it shows up.

 

 

 

Scared to date

love-keyboard--large-msg-127265293321

So, it is says anything about the gravity of this topic, this subject line has been sitting here since October of 2011.

Hello. My name is Bella. I’m polyamorous and I’m afraid to date.

Hello Bella

Is there a support group for people like me? I have been polyamorous for almost 9 years now and for the past 4 years I have been afraid to date. I have been avoiding discussing why for a very long time, but like most things if I don’t just delve in and say it publicly, it will never get parsed out and thus never truly change.

Read the rest of this entry

Afraid of Abundance

ImageA while back I had started a blog called “Love Priestess”.  It was a name I came up with shortly after I was outed because I felt my particular message, my calling in the world was better served from the perspective of a Priestess of Love.  Back then my partners and I were actively engaged in what we called a Love Movement.  Even though all of us have gone our separate ways, I believe with my whole heart that we each are pursuing that movement in our own particular ways.  Yet, my way has always been a bit unclear to me.  Love Priestess fit at the time, but I haven’t been grasping the full potential of what it can be and more importantly who I can be.

I am blessed in so many ways.  In particular I have a knack for romantic and intimate interpersonal relationships.  They have always come easy to me.  I’ve never been in a position where I’m “looking for love” or “waiting for the One”.  I have blessed that those opportunities have always shown up on my doorstep rather magnificently.  And each experience, each lover, each blessed being in my experience has been beneficial to my life.  Even the ones who have hurt me.  Each person I’ve encountered, each person I’ve shared myself with, including these partners who created this Love Movement together, has had an impact on my life.  And if anything my life has been characterized by the relative ease I’ve had in embracing transformational shifts in relationship dynamics.  A really fancy way of saying I flowed so easily with relationships that I always counted it as my most abundant blessing.

But something changed about 3 or 4 years ago that kept me from fully embracing the abundance that was being offered even in this relatively easy part of my personal life.  I used to attribute it to any number of factors and triggers from being hurt by a messy break-up or “growing up” or gaining weight or whatever seemed to excuse my feelings of sadness and disconnectedness. I was no longer welcoming of that abundance of joy, pleasure and shared oneness.   And even though I’ve blamed everything and everyone (especially myself for that), I couldn’t really get down to what was at the root of it all.

As some of you know I’m in the process of studying for the bar exam in my state.  I have my law degree and I want my license.  Yesterday, while on the phone with my husband I realized what I want to do to once I have my license and how I want to craft my life and my career.  It’s actually not that far off from Love Movement as we might think.  I have always wanted to change the world, but I finally have a way of making it happen…and forging a new path for law, policy, relationships, conflict, and acceptance of self.  I haven’t fully fleshed out the idea yet, but I know in my heart that it’s what I’m meant to do.

But to do it, I’m going to have to consent to be in the spotlight.

That terrifies me.  I have this image in my head that in order to accomplish what I want to accomplish, what every cell in my body is demanding of me, I am going to have to allow the spotlight to shine on me.  Each time the spotlight has swung in my direction over the years I’ve run away, escaped and hidden in the shadows.  The shadows, the darkness is a safe place for me.  I shine brighter in the shadows.  But eventually if I want to create the transformation I want…and if I want to be able to do it my way, I am going to have to finally consent to remaining in the spotlight.

And the spotlight is where my abundance lives.  It is where the abundance that I once enjoyed in multiple relationships went to reside.  It’s been drawing me there.  The richness and fullness of my emotional, physical and mental life is waiting for me.  I only have to overcome my fear enough to enter that circle.  I have to be brave enough to let the light cascade down my body, exposing my soul and my life, my love and my vulnerability…because ultimately those are my strengths and that is how I can lead, can transform, can create.  While I will always be comfortable working with the shadows, I cannot and must not dwell there.

Instead, my work, indeed the world I want to live in requires me to step fully into the light and to be seen and heard, to learn from others and lend my aid to those still lurking in the background, held back by their fear, guilt and shame.

This is my Love Movement.

The Awakened Shall Trust

This morning I participated in an online “oneness” meditation with hundreds of other people from around the country.  While others had this immense feeling of well, oneness, and awakening, I felt something that has been virtually inaccessible to me for the past several years: my own light.  I get glimpses of it from time to time, it shines through brightly only to fade silently into the twilight of my own fears and anxieties. While I have been a healer to others over the years, able to see the invisible energy centers twirling and dancing within, I’ve never been able to see my own.  Until the meditation today. 

Today I sat in the silence of my own truth and was able to see why I’ve grown so distant from myself, why it has been so hard for me to trust…not just others, but in particular myself and my own skills.  Here is what I saw:  Read the rest of this entry

Creating our own drama

It’s been a while and there is so much to discuss (Prop. 8 decision, bar exam, queer kinksters of color, polyamory, scening, upstart fucktards who pretend to give a shit but are really masking their own insecurity and narcissism, etc).  But I’ve had a few epiphanies over the past few days and weeks that I think a few of you might be able to relate to, so I thought I would share. 

Most of you reading don’t know me quite well.  I often make that mistake when writing here.  I forget sometimes that this isn’t LiveJournal where strangers become friends through investing in and commenting to a piece of writing that they see in the safe space of “Friends Only”.  Here I’m utterly exposed (which should explain the lack of photos on this site—maybe I’ll add one just for some flair) and you have no context for why I’m saying the things I do or what I’ve gone through in my journey.  You only get scant pieces of the puzzle.  Some of you do know me, but not enough of you to be able to fully relate to my experiences or perspectives.  I’ve been very pampered on LiveJournal with a small little following (that once peaked at 500 followers) that were eager to gobble up the latest slice of drama that I had to dish out. Drama Diner Special of the Week.

So here is some context:  Once upon a time I was a dating a man in Texas. I was his first openly poly experience and he was my first stable poly experience.  He was the first man I ever called husband other than my actual husband.  It was a fantastic life, separated by way too much distance.  He had someone in his life that was a thorn in my side…sometimes more than that, more often less than that.  He had been dating her when we met and dropped her shortly after and now he is back with her after our relationship became flaming shards of the happiness we once knew. 

During my relationship with him I had gotten mad about something she said or did and she emailed me.  I don’t even remember the full content of what she wrote but the line that I do recall is “You create your own drama”.  It set me off faster than anything I had experienced before.  Next thing I knew I was raving through my office, unloading my anger and rage on every piece of paper and furniture I could find.

That’s how most of us react when we hear a truth about ourselves that we don’t like.  That’s how most of us react when it’s shoved in our face so unceremoniously.  It’s a shadowy side of denial.

Yes, I said truth.  I didn’t admit it at the time, but I….she….he…all of us create our own drama.  We choose to see the world a certain way through our own lens of experience.  We justify our version of this vision with the victimization we think we’ve endured.  It’s not that I create drama,  I would say to the imaginary version of her, if you’d stop bringing it to my  door there wouldn’t be any drama. Lookie there, me making myself the victim in all of that. In truth, I was indeed creating it or at the very least feeding it, in that particular scenario because I was intervening in a fight, argument or situation that frankly was none of my business and had nothing to do directly with me.  In other scenarios it was because I thought I was defending a loved one.  In others it’s because I wanted to make my opinion known (as if somehow my opinion is superior to anyone else’s).  And in others I was reacting with the first impulse that came into my head that I wasn’t making conscious choices that would benefit me in the long-run. 

I take responsibility for the fact that I built my polyamorous relationships to be inter-dependent, to have a sense that what impacts my loves, affects me as well and vice versa.  But I think this was taking the idea of interdependence a bit too far. Too often my partners or I would literally take a statement made to one of us as a personal affront against all of us.  We all lost potential partners over this…over this insistence of creating our own drama or at the very least prolonging the already existing drama. 

But it’s not just when the “honor” of a loved one is at stake, we do it in our everyday lives.  We take it all personally usually because we’re either prone to seeing ourselves as the victim or we are insistent that we are not the villain.  We do it in such a variety of ways I’m sure we hardly notice it.  That guy who cut you off on the highway this morning, I’m sure you’re convinced he did it on purpose.  The bill collectors who won’t leave you alone have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you are overwhelmed with the amount of debt you have; they’re harassing you!  The friend who is upset with you for not calling on their birthday just needs to get over the fact that you’re just way too busy and important to be attentive to their needs.  I mean, like OMG, can you really believe how horribly mistreated and misunderstood you are?  And it’s you and only you, right?

See, everyday we make excuses for our behavior and thoughts.  We point fingers at the alarm clock that wouldn’t go off, at the boss who just doesn’t like you, at the overbearing mother who won’t respect boundaries (my personal go-to), at the ex who judges you for everything you say, at the kids who just don’t respect your authority.  It’s all excuses.  We constantly say how “drama-free” we want to be, but we rarely consider how often we are pulling ourselves into that drama, creating it from the ground up with our reactions and often over-reactions to things.  How sometimes we’re making excuses to cover up for our own fears and insecurities, our own mistakes and inadequacies.  We figure the world is going to judge us, so we judge them first. We impose our self-righteous rage on them before they can point out that we brought this upon ourselves.

Kids, we let drama get to us because it gives us the satisfaction of feeling like we are right. In this big, bad world of unfairness and inequity we are constantly subjected to people and situations that are out of our control. By giving in to drama and creating it we feel some power even in the midst of an acclaimed powerlessness. We can stomp our foot and stand our ground no matter how ridiculous the issue or insignificant the battle. And let’s face it, drama even when it’s self-imposed is exciting.  It brings up rage and anger, euphoria and competitiveness.  It gets the blood pumping and keeps us on our toes.  And when we get really good at creating it, we know just what buttons to push to make it a show-stopping worthy display.  And when someone isn’t bringing it to us, we resort to trolling our own lives to create it.  Regardless, it gives us a reason to check twitter every 10 minutes, to ignore the mundaneness of laundry and dishes and fills the space left when our favorite tv shows (like MadMen or Walking Dead) are on an extended hiatus.  It’s living on the edge: a maddening, harsh and wantonly critical precipice.

But there is a difference between feeling like you’re right and actually doing what’s right.  What happens when you realize that living on the edge isn’t what it’s cracked up to be?  What happens when you finally want to grow some roots into solid, soft soil? 

The past few weeks have been eye-opening about the bar exam.  If you want to really examine a drama of my own creation it is that one.  I have made every excuse in the world for why I didn’t pass back in 2003 and 2004.  And some of those excuses actually were self-critical judgements of my own decisions and lifestyle choices that created its own massive amount of drama.   When a former professor told me two months ago that I could pass the bar exam this year I started really examining what that might look like.  It’s not about luck. It’s not about whether I’m smart enough.  It’s about letting go of all of the drama I had and was continuing to create about it.  Being on the precipice of success and failure was no longer cutting it for me. 

I was presented with a choice. 

I could choose the same old life:  living paycheck to paycheck because my law degree makes me overqualified for most types of jobs and I’m simultaneously underqualified for other gigs. Or I could choose something different.  I could go through the hard process of figuring out where my problem areas are and I could get up and try again.  I could keep calling myself a failure or I could stand up and create my success.

We each have a choice.  We have a choice to step back from the edge, stop listening to the whispers in the wind, start to care only about those arguments and battles that truly have an impact on our passions and well-being and address those issues like adults.   All it takes is finally making choices that match our intentions of “no drama”.

Feeding into the larger drama machine only keeps you trapped in a world where there are only victims and villains.  Life isn’t a fairy tale.  There is not good vs. evil.  There is not a battle between the wicked queen and the innocent princess.  But our cultural story encourages each of us to view ourselves as the victim of our situation.  We even compete with each other to see who is most victimized and therefore most deserving a 2nd chance.  But what happens when we acknowledge that we are not just victim but villain as well.  What if this whole time we’ve been playing against ourselves?  What if we have been playing out this grand drama inside us so we can avoid facing those insecurities, doubts, fears and troubles that have grown from our experiences?   What if we are really sabotaging ourselves, our dreams, our relationships?  What might you be able to accomplish if you spent that time fixing the drama within yourself?

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