37 year old Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a long time lover of
many. Having grown up with family acceptance and involvement in a
"commune" and having been involved in two separate triad relationships
and still forcing herself to committ to a monogomous (failed) marriage,
Rhianon has finally begun to accept her own needs, wants and desires.
Focusing on the communication and honesty necessary to navigate the
shadows and the required humor needed when one begins to explore her
deepest being; Rhianon Leto shares her experiences as she travels the
many paths of self discovery. Come along and join Rhianon as she
explores the whys, whos, wheres and politics of polylife.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
You said what?!?!
So I am on my journey, traveling some mysterious path, and I have found myself bewildered and fascinated on this unexplored, extraordinary, all-consuming trail. I, who had thought I was prepared, who had all the recommended equipment, who had mapped out each step, who had dreamed of this journey since time unremembered; I was completely and utterly lost.
So busy have I been watching beauty unfold, immersing myself in the environment, cataloging all of the wonders that assault my senses that I have forgotten that beyond this path lies danger, waiting and watching …
Okay, so I exaggerate a little. My new life, my new family is nothing short of everything that I have ever wanted and dreamed of…and so much more. But as always I tend to imagine all of the good that comes with any situation, may even prepare for some of the things that might go wrong, but can never quite anticipate all the hard work that comes with the good times.
Not that I am not experiencing an overwhelming number of good things because I am. And I am learning that there are people who can walk with you through the hard times hand in hand and there are actually people who won’t just throw you through them or push you through them or leave you behind in the middle of them…I am. I am also learning, alas, as with most lessons in my life, that I still have so much left to learn.
I have always considered myself to be a good communicator. I speak clearly, convey my beliefs sincerely, and am able inspire others. I am seeing ever so quickly that my grand communication skills amount to very little in this very practical situation. And I realize how very little I have learned to communicate with those closest to me in my life. Communication has always been “talking” at others and allowing myself to be hurt when they didn’t “listen”. I don’t know if it’s growing older or growing in this new relationship or both; but I feel as if I have been missing a whole lot of meaningful moments.
Communication has become a discipline that must be examined, experienced and conquered. And so I have found myself, this writer of words, this speaker of truths, this philosopher of the spirit, I have found myself ~ for once ~ without words.
As any student with a desire to deeply immerse the self in a subject, I began researching and reading and seeking out information. I found many helpful pieces of information but the one thing that has become clear to me is that there is one truth that must exist in order for communication to be effective and meaningful. There must be trust. Trust is given as the foundation on which intimate communication can grow. Each step I take, each answer that I find, identifies trust as the one most important ingredient.
I have had to contemplate this thought. It seems simple, but then so does communication when we are talking in the abstract. To say how we feel, to be open and honest with our thoughts, this is the easy part. Trusting is the hard part, at least for me. And it is the hard part we never address when communication is used as a solution or as a beginning point.
I have learned in my lifetime that intimacy has nothing to do with sex. I have had sex too often but felt intimate only a few times in my life. I really examined the times I felt that I had true intimacy and I can see that the one thing that is a common factor in each of those relationships, is trust. Being able to see and to show what is hidden from most. Trust has been the truth that has allowed me to really be who I am, what I am.
Whose responsibility is it to trust then, to be trusted? It would be so easy to assign others as “untrustworthy” or “untrusting”. But how can I even know if other people are; if I am not trusting or trustworthy myself. And so I delve back into my darkest most intimate essence, ready to shine a little more light on me. I am convinced that I must determine my own trustworthiness.
Trusting myself ~ I have recently discovered that I tend to make decisions based on how I feel only later to realize that is not really how I feel. I know that I need to stop and really think before I jump. This extends to what I say. I often say things that I don’t mean, as a joke or in self defense or in a rush to move on. I must learn to avoid doing this. What I say is important to those I love, they believe it and hear it. I don’t want them to believe something that I didn’t mean.
Recently my girlfriend asked me a question that I didn’t like. What she was requesting made me feel threatened and abandoned. Rather than saying that though, I made an off hand remark that had lasting consequences and took much aggravation and energy to sort out. I need to know how I feel or ask for time to figure that out. My relationship is too important to get sidetracked in this way.
I have to trust myself to see the truth. I have so often lied to myself in order to see people as I want them to be rather than as they truly are. I need to look objectively and listen objectively and be aware that I am doing so. I need to stop worrying about being disappointed by others and start being thrilled by the beauty they truly possess.
Trusting Others ~ I need to trust others to hear what I have to say and to be capable of accepting what I have to say. I need to stop putting expectations of how others might react in front of what needs to be said or what I want to say. Often times I will make things worse by assuming how someone will react and using that as an excuse to avoid and uncomfortable topic.
I love my lovers, I want to spend every minute with them because they are good people and they are good to me. I know they believe in me and accept me despite my flaws and love me a little more just because of them. I need to remember that when I am assuming that they will judge me or reject me because of my words.
Trusting the Relationship – I have to trust that our relationship and the foundation that we have built upon is strong enough to handle my thoughts, my fears, my needs and my words. I need to trust that we are sharing honest and complete expectations.
I must make a commitment to do what I say I will do, to make my own expectations clear and to respect others word and expectations. Trust involves practice and constant reinforcement. Our relationship needs each of our efforts and dedication to build this trust, and I must trust that if I pull my weight others will too.
Being Trustworthy – Ultimately I need to ensure that I am being someone worthy of trust. I need to be willing to listen to others words and focus on what they mean and who the person is that is talking. My personal feelings get in the way of what I hear and I must find a way to put them aside, my feelings are different than someone else’s words. If someone cannot tell me how they feel without fear of my reaction, then why bother talking to me.
I need to share my own thoughts as honestly and sincerely as I can and I need to accept that others may need time to hear them. I also need to accept that just because someone hears my words, just because I am open that doesn’t make my listener obligated to agree with me. Asking questions and probing my opinions may simply be a way to discover their own feeling about my words. Disagreement with my words is not an attack on my integrity.
And so I am back on my path, once again on a road that I have mapped, a little wiser and a lot less knowing. And I am a little less afraid of the unknown, of what waits out there because I know that the two who have joined me on this journey are beside me, before me and behind me. and for now we are silent and contemplating our next words.
Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.
Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) ; June 20, 2007
folks have read this article.