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.
Who Are You Tellin’?
So here we are, nestled safely in the most surprising little town and no one knows where we are! And the question becomes, who needs to know where we are? And even better yet, who needs to know what we are?
This is a tough topic for me. My family was “different” when I was a child, I was a “different” sort of person growing up, I am used to being different and have always been ok with that. I am used to being very open with my life except when it might affect my children. Like me or not but you have to respect my honesty! With this type of openness comes consequences, ones that I have always dealt with. But now the consequences are bigger than just me. These decisions could affect our children, where we live, how we live, our jobs and our families. I don’t think I really realized how much discrimination there could be over one person loving another (or two).
Slowly but surely we are talking to people and find mostly acceptance. We are also learning how to “keep secrets”, which is something we don’t want to do and would never ask our children to do. This is something we have to do and it makes me sad.
My family has always been very open and not part of the “norm”. My grandmother was a member of the very first motorcycle gang, there are several people in my family who have lived and/or still live on a commune, and then there are a few members who don’t seem to have the need for partners or sex (which I find the weirdest of all but ok!) My only concern in telling them was that they would be worried that I was going to get myself into a bad relationship, once again I might add, and they don’t need to worry about me. That and that my new loves might not be able to see the beauty of my family amongst all the craziness. So although it was awkward, telling my family was not a big deal. They were welcoming to my loves and their children and set in showing off their wacky ways.
My loves had a rougher time. One set of parents, perfectly normal or so it appeared, had some surprising news of their own to share. After the initial shocks wore off however, they were very open to the idea of our lives together. The other set still doesn’t know. I struggle with this decision. There is concern that their reactions would be too large for our family to handle. If my children were changing their lives I would want to know and would be very upset if they felt the need to hide anything from me. But then again, I am not a normal parent either. I hesitate to go into detail here because it is not my story to share.
Then we have to decide about friends. Luckily our real friends already knew of our interests in this type of Lovestyle. They were happy that we found someone(s) to bond with. A few acquaintances have chosen to step back, simply stating that they were confused by our choices but that was ok to us. No big loss. We have gotten many questions, some rude, some curious. There are people that have tried to convince one or another of us that what we are doing is wrong and we “deserve better”. We have even had a few friends who want to know “how to get in on this”. There were also two specific couples that I personally knew that have finally admitted they are also Poly and have been but didn’t know the word for it. They have found courage in our love and chosen to accept themselves and begin exploring what this means for them. Overall telling our friends was rather successful.
The first few times that we were out together we were being rather open with Public Displays of Affection. It was nice to be able to do this with them and sometimes fun to laugh about reactions. We were not too worried about how other people thought of us. Having said that, this really only applied to strangers. We were careful not to kiss in the front yard or be affectionate anywhere there may be kids that go to school with our kids or somewhere people from work might shop, etc. We quickly found out that the reactions we weren’t worried about were not really an issue. There was however an unexpected reaction that we were hard pressed to deal with.
Suddenly men and some women seemed to think that it was ok to just be really crude and/or forward with us ladies, as if we were open to such advances just because we were Poly. We were both extremely offended. It was as if we were suddenly unworthy of respect and courtesy just because of our Lovestyle choices. We really had to think this one through. I came up with an analogy that seemed to fit ~ if a woman is big breasted and men treat her differently (or women for that matter) then it is not her fault and that is wrong. However if that same woman is constantly wearing low cut blouses and talking about her …ummm…assets, then she should expect some level of ‘reaction’ from the general population. We’ve decided that PDAs for us, is like wearing a low cut shirt and if the general reaction makes us uncomfortable then maybe we should cover up. Needless to say, we now limit PDAs.
As for our neighbors, we tend to keep our private lives inside where it’s private. We say hi and are friendly but you never know how people will feel about anything. We don’t want our children to be the “shhh….those are the kids from that family” kids. We don’t want teachers, other parents or worst of all, other kids discriminating in ways that will harm our own children’s development. And of course there is always the threat of someone who knows better than you, who wants to “do the right thing”, that will call Social Services or whatever other agency they feel is appropriate to “protect the children”. While we are fairly confident that nothing could come of that, we have a clean and safe home in which the children are nurtured and cared for, you never know what someone will do on any given day.
Our jobs are tricky for some of us and not so tricky for others. A few of us have multiple jobs. One employer thinks it’s crazy (in a good way) and the employee gets extra respect points for pulling it off, one employer is a friend and is accepting but wary, we have two that simply don’t know but probably wouldn’t care and one employer that doesn’t care what you do in private as long as you recognize that you are representing “the company” when in public and has a morality clause to back it up. For the most part we have chosen to remain silent at work.
This is very hard for me. I am very much in love and want to share that with anyone who will listen! We have plans and dreams and family activities that I want to talk about. When someone tells me about their new house, I want to tell them about mine, etc. I am learning more and more about how to get myself out of a conversation, how to omit words from explanations. I am a talker who can’t talk! I can’t wait for the day in which I can change careers and this will no longer be an issue.
I do struggle with the whole “not telling” concept. And I know there will be times when people “find out” – it happened recently at a work function when someone knew and someone didn’t. Luckily for me it didn’t cause a problem but it very much could have. We know the time will come when the children tell the wrong person “I have two mommies” and we hope that people will just assume that they are the children of two lesbian women or that they won’t be bothered or even better yet they send home an indiscreet note “Hey we are three Too – wanna come over for a barbeque?!” (Ok well I am an optimist what can I say!) We are prepared for defense in any case.
In a world filled with such anger and violence, such despair and hopelessness it is sad to me that anyone would look at any type of love, love that is wholly good and harms none, and say that it is wrong. It scares me that I have to hope that I am perceived as a lesbian rather than what I really am just because society has begun to begrudgingly accept there are lesbian women who will raise children regardless of what they think but my situation has not gotten that hard won “just leave them alone there is nothing you can do anyway” status yet.. When so many children are latch key children, unwanted, uncared for and unloved I don’t understand how anyone can condemn a Lovestyle that ensures that children are always cared for, always loved ~ where there is always someone there to let them in, give them a snack, read them a bedtime story. In a world where people so often live the end of their lives alone and forgotten, why would anyone take away a persons chance at having a tender touch once the rest of the world has thrown them away.
I think of these things and I know that I have so much more to do on this journey.
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) ; July 09, 2007
folks have read this article.