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.

What I've Learned

I've learned a lot from expanding my mind, my belief system, my life, my loves, my family. I've learned from losing a part of that family and then rebuilding what we had left into something new, something beautiful. I could spend days expounding upon lessons learned, but when I really break it down, it boils down to seven things. Seven simple things that altered my life, expanded my mind, healed my soul...

1. Love without reserve, blindly, because of and in spite of, defying logic, pushing your own boundaries, forging new conventions, molding, creating, fighting. Don't ask why--love someone just because they are.

2. Care for your own. This requires more than love and more than the basics of feeding and clothing and sheltering. Caring is patience, duty, and perseverance. It is sometimes inconvenient and not always pleasant--at the same time altruistic and selfish and resentful.

3. Accept, fight, surrender. On the surface, these may seem contradictory. How does one accept and fight at the same time? What exactly is the difference between surrender and acceptance? Honestly, I'm still struggling to distinguish the finer points of balance here myself. I know that I may never reach complete understanding, and I know it's going to take a lifetime of practice. This is about learning my own limits--about knowing when to accept what, until yesterday, would have been unacceptable. It's about knowing what you want to fight for, when and where and with what weapon. Surrender is what I still have to work on the hardest. Surrender requires such a release of will, such total faith. However, surrender has given me something very important: dignity.

4. Build a home. Building a home is not to be mistaken for keeping a house. Most anyone can keep a house. You can hire a maid to keep your house. Building a home is something much broader; it encompasses mood, thought, creativity, and love. You know your home by your senses. You taste it, smell it, hear it, feel it, and see it. A house accepts, but a home welcomes. A house shelters, but a home nurtures.

5. Laugh, dance. Self-explanatory, sure, but far far far from simple. So many times it's not easy to laugh; tears are more appropriate or even more convenient, but if you don't fight that overwhelming feeling, then your lips may forget how to move, and your vocal chords may lose the ability to make the sound of joy coming from your very soul. So laugh often. Laugh softly, and laugh loud. Laugh alone or surrounded by people. Just laugh. And dance. Let the joy that laughter has engendered in your soul bubble forth, and dance. Dance with music. Dance without music to your own personal rhythm. Dance alone. Dance close, pressing against your partner. Dance with your eyes closed. Just dance.

6. Never forget. Don't forget what you've learned, but even more importantly, don't ever forget who you are. Love yourself. Care for yourself. Accept yourself.

7. Never say never. Never ever. Deny and denial will haunt you. Put limits on yourself and you'll never surpass them. You never know what you're going to do under any given circumstance. You'll surprise yourself. Good! Allow it.

PolyAnna; June 2, 2005

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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