Polyamory offers a simple allure: love freely and wildly. At least, this is what it was to me. But if my heart beats to a rhythm of a 24 hour clock then there is only so much romance to give. I realize, in our world of hyper connection, internet friends and all that is 7 billion plus people on our planet, it is, obviously impossible to connect with every single one. Yet, these limitations are still somehow not acknowledged in our mass interweaving. You can become more than you are, an image or representation or celebrity (in my case, meme) but that does not mean that the relationship goes both ways (obviously). Yet, we’re often hurt when our attempts to connect in the real world go unnoticed, when someone struggles to keep tracks of names or faces. We have small worlds and people. People with a thousand facebook friends and people with 10. I worry about a world too small, where unhealthy habits can harbor unchecked and people get hurt by each other by a too dependent interdependance. I’ve been hurt by small webs. My rigid Christian brainwashing told me that my universe would one day be my spouses, and sexually and romantically that would be all I could have.
So I spread myself too thin. I tried to be the opposite of a small world. If love was an ocean I skipped across the surface. I left a train of 40 odd lovers in the realm of one sexual encounter to 10. For a long time, while breaking out of the mold that held me, I didn’t know how to relate to people through any way except sex but sorted the world into categories of allowed to have sex with (men) and not allowed to have sex with (women). None of this was via desire, all was through expectation and I let my love whip through the world unchecked. Then with my queer awakening, I had guilt for my sexual desires towards men, as if they negated my queerness, not yet knowing I was on the cusp of gender.
For a while, this was freedom. Short and overlapping three month flings of polyamory, losing touch with a relationship that lasted two years. Realizing in the aftermath of my psychosis that we had lost all strings to each other (which was ok, and for me, not that heartbreaking – it was cold and unaware, the way I slipped away, because I was not yet whole in myself).
And so, with all the grazing the surface of love I ended up getting hurt, by a few who took that love and my secret yet probably obvious yet still unnoticed desperation for love in return and broke it. I wouldn’t have been in those situations if not desperate, but that doesn’t excuse what happened there. In the aftermath of my assaults, I calmed down my polyamory, let these deep stings linger and watched parts of my life fall apart. I held onto the few tethers I had to reality and solidified my understanding of my gender and sexuality, so I could re-approach love wisely and without compromise (as many people did not realize their affections and expressions of desire came with caveat that they loved something that was not me, a love I would not feel).
A lot of people fell in love with the idea of me, the girl I was who wasn’t Paint. They fell in love with the way she could skip across oceans leaving deep etchings in their hearts, or at least, stains of cum on their shorts. But I realized this across all kinds of venues, romantic or not, sexual or not, that people connected with a version of me that was not me, merely their perceptions and it was like I was a mirror they looked into to see what they expected and I was on the other side screaming. I realized this deeply when I was working at a coffee shop, connecting and making eye contact with hundreds of people a day, many of whom, enough it would seem, did not actually see me. It would be fun, to feel the energy exchanged between us in interactions but that energy went to an entity on the surface of my skin and never penetrated me to my core. It was painful, to love, to want love, to see, to not be seen; to create happiness, but not be a part of it.
My suicidal smile only followed me from home to work when I heard a misplaced joke. I had strategically moved myself in with a straight-edge and mildly sex repulsed roommate because it was stave me off these harmful love focused strategies which had proven more often than not to harm me. I honored the space that was my home yet debated leaving my body on the floor for the landlord to find after we were to move out. It was knowing the grief that would cause my roommate that kept me afloat for that moment. I told myself, to put away those thoughts for another year, that I could think about it again if I really needed. But just give myself a year to figure what it is to no longer be other peoples broken mirror.
So we’re a good way through that year now, and coming to terms with our expectations of the world and love has been a big part of whats helping me most recently. I let go of my ethics around food to focus on survival, and it’s been a year of keeping my love authentic and coming to terms with our finite flesh modules. We can love and ache so deeply, yet finding out how to nurture love in a ever-complexing network of humanity seems scarce sometimes. We push our hearts to much, we only have so many cares to give. And for some of us, we’ve prioritized the status quo that enables certain connections. I realize now that deep and intense loving connections do not exist everywhere and access to learning what that looks like is difficult if you do not know what you are looking for, or if all have specific limitations of how we want that love to look, missing opportunities for true connections due to our conditioning.
I once believed that I could love the whole world better; not realizing the world I was needing to love was my own.