These writings contain my experiences and opinions. The opinions are personal in nature, not professional. I am not a professional; I have no degree. These are the insights I have gleaned from living four years in a polyamorous relationship.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Mine damn it!

Generally when a poly family is formed, people with previously established lives come together in a loving group. These people could be two already established couples, a single joining a couple, or many other configurations. The possibilities are endless. Whatever the configuration may be, the people involved usually come with the trappings of a past, and thereís not always physical room for all the trappings of all the people.

When a poly family forms, someone(s) usually gives up their home to move into anotherís home. There are many considerations here. Whose home is bigger? Whose home is closer to being paid for? Whose home is more economical? Closest to the best schools? Closest to work? Most central location to everyoneís family? On and on and on. The point is, I know very few people who have ever started over completely when establishing an extended family. I donít know anyone who has gotten both a brand new home and brand new things. Someone has to give up where they are living to move in with someone else, and generally the someone moving into an already established, furnished, and decorated home has to leave behind most everything from their previous life.

Now, I know that things are just things. I know that whatís more important than anything else is the people involved. I know that most things can be easily replaced. I know that things shouldnít matter. I also know that they do. When my family formed a triad, I moved to Florida. I moved into an established home. I packed all of my things and left them behind in a storage unit. I brought myself, my pets, my clothes, and my computer. It didnít matter. I didnít need any of that stuff. I was being carried on new relationship energy. All of that stuff was from my old life, a life that I was happy to be leaving.

A few years went by. I still didnít need any of my stuff. Our home was nicely furnished. We had towels and sheets and dishes and rugs. We had plants and pots and paintings. Yet, while I was perfectly aware of the fact that I didnít need any of my things, I had started to want them. It wasnít a desperate want, but it was a want nonetheless. I started to feel like nothing in the house was mine, that everywhere I looked was someone elseís history and none of my own. I felt a little misplaced and strangely enough, a little lonely. My family never did anything to make me feel that way; I just did. I wanted to look around and see something that was mine.

One more year went by, and I simply couldnít stand it anymore. I felt so displaced, and I yearned for anything that was mine. I tried to talk myself out of the feeling; I tried to tell myself that I wasnít being rational, but it ate at me nonetheless. Finally, we made a road trip back home. I carefully went through my things, and I picked the items with which I simply couldnít part. We wrapped and packaged and packed those items onto a U-Haul truck. I sold the rest in a garage sale, but we brought the important things back home.

Due to remodeling and hurricanes and any other number of things, once my things were here, they spent a long time out in our shed. Several weeks ago, however, they were finally integrated into the household. Now when I open the cabinets, I see my very favorite coffee mugs and the dishes that my mother spent three years collecting for me. When I look on our shelves, I see my favorite books and some of my nick-knacks. When I walk in the front door, Iím greeted by my china cabinet and a framed piece of original art Iíve had since I was a very young woman. These things are all mixed in with the things that were here when I moved in. There wasnít really room for all of this stuff, but we got rid of some thingsóa big chair, a dry sink, and a free standing chest. It was compromise all the way around.

So, when you decide to combine a household, be very aware of each otherís needs. Be aware that the people (persons) joining the household will likely feel pretty displaced and possibly even out of place. Keep in mind that everyone wants to see and hold onto at least a little bit of their own history. You may have to get rid of some of your old stuff in order to make room for some of the new, but in order to make everyone in the family welcome and comfortable, itís worth it. If you are the person moving into an already established household, then realize that you canít keep every single item from your past. Youíve got to choose, and choose wisely, what is important to you. You need to realize that everything you own wonít fit into a home thatís already been furnished and decorated.

Thereís give and take on both sides of this issue, and as trivial as it sounds, trust me, it eventually ends up being terribly important. Itís best to just address it at the very beginning than to wait for someone to feel out of place, unincorporated, and lonely. History is important. Everyone has one. Make an effort to combine those histories with love and respect.

PolyAnna; May 08, 2006

PolyAnna is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

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