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.

The Downside of Being Me

I have been out wandering it seems, got a bit off the beaten track and lost. It has been a hard time and it has been an enlightening time. But I step my feet back on this main road so much less alone than when I started. Although I had managed to follow a few dark roads, I never lost sight of my intended journey. For those of you that have patiently waited my return and for those of you just joining me, thank you.

Traveling through new territory is exciting. You make sure you have enough film, food to feed the animals, a sweater and anything else you could want to enhance the experience. We may make a small concession to “Murphy” and bring along a first aid kit, we might read about how to avoid dangerous situations but rarely do we plan on how to cope w/ disaster if it were to occur upon our most wonderful adventure. The good news is that most of us are stronger than we think and we survive despite our lack of preparation.

In the past six months, I have moved into a new home. Once again I am surrounded by little children. Wow! I had forgotten so much. I am a nurturing, pampering parent. This is a good and a bad thing. My children have no doubt they are loved and lovable but sometimes lack follow through or self motivation. My Spice are much more disciplined, there is a time for love and a time for responsibility. It takes a lot of work and steel to constantly follow through on this track. Combining two families (3 really if you included my daughter which we will get to…) that have such polar opposite views on parenting is a daunting undertaking just in and of itself. One parent says “Oh poor baby” and the other says “Suck it up” … you can see where that road leads.

I have also found myself on the losing side of a battle between my daughter and my Spice. Actually there is not a winning side. It is very hard because my children are used to being spoiled and taken care of and they see the disciple of my Spice as pettiness and mean spirited which is not the case at all. As my children are older and have minds of their own, which I have taught them to express freely, we have had quite the war in my home since this summer. Unfortunately for me my daughter has chosen to retreat and so she has moved out of my home, which was definitely not part of the plan, taking my grandson with her. My daughter and I have been extremely close and have survived much together. We are friends and have a very unique relationship because of the way and timing in which we were connected. Her retreat has affected me greatly.

I have also been struggling with health issues. It’s easy to ignore your health when you have so much going on but at some point your body will no longer allow you to ignore it. It shuts down and forces you to rest. This is hard on everyone. My issues are rather severe, although I don’t treat them that way, and many of the people around me are quite scared and this affects my interactions with each one. This also affects my ability to be available for those who need me and causes me to feel worse with each perceived failure on my part.

As with any event, we had a presumption of how events would unfold. This proved to be completely inaccurate and un-doable. I am a person who needs control and structure and the constant changes in our situation made my own internal situation volatile.

Unable to cope, I lost it. Completely lost it. This doesn’t happen to me. I am Molly Sunshine, often referred to as Mary Poppins, “the girl who is always smiling”. I found myself unable to move, frozen and overwhelmed and just really tired. One of the worst things that I could ever imagine happened, I was fired. Even typing that now gives me pause. It is unthinkable. And caused this unsinkable ship to drop even faster than the Titanic. I am the ROCK. I am the Alpha Parent who does all and cares for all and never has problems….this could not be happening to me. I am that energetic person that causes others to shake their heads and wonder “how does she do it”…Falling down was simply not an option.

And the more my loves tried to help the more I felt like a failure. I fell into a hole, one that I never saw coming and I kept making it bigger by trying to claw my way out on my own, steadfastly refusing the ladders and ropes that were being offered.

It was dark and lonely on my path and even I became concerned about that status of the sun, unsure it would ever light my way again. But as with most things, the darkness passed. Being the wonderfully fortunate person that I am, I survived to do it again! I can clearly see that I am not alone or helpless and I did learn some very valuable lessons during my downtime.

I learned that a relationship is a relationship. Being Poly, being able to love in the manner in which my heart thrives the best doesn’t change the fact that a relationship takes hard work on the part of everyone. There are compromises to be made and ideals that need to be revamped. A perfect situation does not equate to a perfect life. (duh right? … but you know in my excitement...)

I learned that your life cannot be dictated by your children, that in making sure that your children have their needs meet you must meet your own as well or no one has a chance at all.

I learned that you can be a rock and a marshmallow at the same time. And that there is no failure in that. A person needs a portion of both to be well rounded! (I am currently laughing at myself!)

And I have come to believe that even Mary Poppins had bad days when she didn’t want to get out of bed…when she wanted to shove the spoon up someone’s nose. It had to happen … it just did!

I have thought a lot about being Poly and depressed. Many of the folks that I talk to or know have similar stories. For some reason there seems to be a fair share of us Poly folk that have dealt with or do deal with depression, tragedy, abuse and neglect in parts of our lives. And I wonder just what it is that sets us off on our journey….

Reading blogs and articles and forums, chatting with my Poly friends I have learned that most of us have to deal with at least one person in our group who is chronically depressed. How do we do that without completely losing everything that we’ve worked for? I believe there needs to be so much more discussion about this in our community. When there are so many broken people bonding together shouldn’t that be something that we should notice? I have recently watched some folks that I respect and love be torn apart because there was an element of imperfection in one or more of the members. I know this isn’t unique to being Poly but it is just an aspect of relationships.

We all talk a lot about how our relationships are different from other people, maybe we really should start examining how much they are the same. If we are to survive, have long lasting Poly relationships (of which there are few I am told) then we all need to really look at how “normal” we really are and what we doing in our relationships that is right and/or wrong.

I have two beautiful people who love me, we have all made some serious mistakes in the past 8 months. We have exceeded expectations and failed to meet them as well. Our well laid plans were demolished, annihilated, shattered, mangled and mutilated…and yet we are still together and happy for the most part, regardless of the fact that we are still struggling to overcome some of the mistakes that we made in the beginning.

The one thing that stands out to me is that we all value commitment and we are able to forgive and move forward. The whole “being there through thick and thin” thing that seems to keep “normal” couples married for 50 years. And I chuckle at how a relationship so unusual is kept together because of the usual.

I wonder if it will be enough. When we get to the end of this road will we get there together? And I know there is a lot of hard work ahead.

This gives us all something to talk about as we move on down the road, hand in hand, looking for our next adventure together.

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) ; December 18, 2007


folks have read this article.