Are people still talking about Spike Lee’s remake of She’s Gotta Have It which recently aired on Netflix? Cool! I didn’t want to rush to an assessment, so I was sure to watch the full first season. Now I’mma throw in my … Continue reading
The idea of having the freedom to openly love more than one person, without all the hiding, lying, and risky behavior attached to “cheating”, appeals to more people than you know. Yet, regardless of our assumption that we are a free and evolving society, having “many loves”—openly and honestly—is still very much a taboo.
Well, maybe that’s changing. With popular TV shows playing around with the topic of polyamory and mainstream media outlets releasing article after article about swinging this, and open marriage that, it seems the lovestyle has gained some general acceptance.
But do people really know what it is? There still seems to be an awful lot of people out there who confuse polyamory with cheating, open relationships with swinging, polygamy with polyandry, and who assume polyamory is always only (or primarily) about sex.
Since the topic is piquing curiosity, and since it is one which elicits visceral reactions, from disgust to shock and awe- in other words, since the discussion is getting really good- I figured I’d jump in with my two cents. First, I got some definitions that might help the uninitiated establish a fundamental understanding. The first one is “Taboo”
Taboo: (adj) proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable; prohibited; forbidden; banned; can also describe something that is separated/set apart as sacred; forbidden for general use; sacrosanct. (from dictionary.com)
(Notice how the seemingly opposite “unacceptable” and “sacrosanct” are included in the definition of the same word? That’s not a mistake or an oxymoron.)
This is the information age, folks, where knowledge is more accessible than it has ever been. So, if you’re curious, enjoy, ask questions, do your own research, and jump into the discussion yourself. But please, make yourself look good and try to know what you’re talking about first. I’m learning everyday, and it’s fascinating!
RELATIONSHIP GOALS? #Compersion
I am so excited to be a part of Enchant TV’s fundraising campaign for Compersion, Season 2! Join in with your support.
“The Enchant TV Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign is raising funds to complete another dynamic season of the provocative drama, Compersion. Compersion follows one couple’s journey from monogamy to polyamory, and takes an intimate look on how we see and value romantic partnerships. With an already successful Season 1, this inclusive-diverse production helmed by writer, director, and producer Jackie Stone is seeking funds to make another dynamic Season. Check out the first season of Compersion for free on YouTube at the link below.” -The Enchant TV
If you haven’t seen it, you just need to get with it. Like, comment, share, support the arts and evolving thought and all that jazz and throw a little dough their way so they can get Season 2 poppin! (There is a quite voracious and ever-expanding group of folks who are chomping at the bit for the next season, btw. Don’t let us down—some of us bite.)
Check out the series here: (YouTube) bit.ly/TheEnchantTV
Contribute here: (Indiegogo) bit.ly/Compersion2
Engage and have fun here:
Ever heard this song by Kelly Clarkson?
I’m well acquainted with it. Very recently, I had a part-time job in a furniture store where the soundtrack included this heartfelt number. And every time that sad, pathetic piano music started up, I wanted to run into the manager’s office and kick the stereo. Many… many times.
See, the chorus of the song never sat right with me
“Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt
Because of you, I am afraid.”
Some no good man did something that left her hurt and afraid. (That’s happened to every woman on the planet, right?) And, at least for the duration of this song, she was simply hurt and afraid and whining. No resolution. No power. Just pathetic and blaming him, whoever he was, for her damage.
Whenever I think of this song, I’m reminded of all those pathetic quotes and memes that people are constantly sharing on Facebook about how many “haters” they have, how they’re “cutting people off” who no longer serve them,
or how they’ve been hurt a million times and are still standing.
To whomever I have hurt, misused, lied to, “hated on”, cursed out, or
misunderstood in a time of struggle,
I’ve been a hater.
I’m hating on some people right now.
I’d like to do some of the things I see others doing but don’t know how
and that pisses me off.
And make no mistake, we’ve all done something to hurt someone. But no, everybody’s a victim. Everybody’s damaged goods. And too many people want to stay that way. They’d rather keep pointing outward instead of looking within. It’s the blame game that keeps us hurting and attracting more of the very things that hurt us, because we focus on pain as if pain is a noble pursuit, as if being a martyr is preferable to having no one to blame.
Here’s the thing: once I sat down and watched the video, I had a much better understanding of what Ms. Clarkson was trying to accomplish with this, actually beautiful, song. The story depicted in it is very similar to my own. It’s almost identical to the background story for Jane Luck, the decidedly unlucky heroine in my new novel Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure. The self-awareness laid out in the lyrics (whether she actually experienced this or simply is a conduit of expression for those who have) is a necessary part of the healing process. We have to understand the source of a problem in order to solve it.
But I think that’s where the blaming has to stop. Because once you peel back a few layers from the person you’re blaming, you’ll find that the pain they “caused” you could be traced to some pain that they blame someone else for. And on and on ad infinitum. And much of your pain may be stemming from your own interpretation of what was done, or your own assumptions about that person’s intentions–which could all be wrong.
The blows we inflict on each other can certainly be overwhelming. I guess the key is to not wallow in the pain, however difficult the journey to a better place may be.
And the next time you think some “haters” are out to get you, consider this: people like MLK had haters, Malcolm X had haters, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Malala Yousafzai had haters. Maybe you just have delusions of grandeur. Everybody’s not a martyr, and everybody doesn’t need to be.
you are surrounded by humans
yes, you are one of those humans
and we are all learning
I’on know what you been seein’, but in the days following the murder of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas 5, I’ve witnessed an exodus. My Facebook newsfeed has been full of optimism and self-determination in the form of advertising. That’s right—advertising. My friends, colleagues, and acquaintances have been buzzing about The Solution to the lasting problems that we have been forced to face in the past week. That solution is personal sovereignty through increased support of black-owned businesses.
Yep, personal sovereignty- that little phrase that sometimes gets the side-eye due to the fact that it often accompanies some calloused proclamation that the poor should simply pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do better (assuming they have boots). It’s used to taunt the systemically disadvantaged. It has often been used to create the perception that poor people—who often need a hand up despite working themselves into oblivion—are not taking control of their lives.
But when your cries for equality fall on deaf ears, when you get tired of attempting to reason with those who cannot reason, when you realize that you never should have wasted so much time begging others to view you as human—you understand that personal sovereignty is the only answer. You begin to understand that you have your own resources and that the things that you can produce are just as good or better than all the things you once pleaded for from someone else.
Economic autonomy allows for community stability and wealth-building. Period. When your dollar circulates through your community 5, 10, 20 times before leaving it, that’s 5, 10, 20 additional people who have benefited from that one dollar (Analogy courtesy of Dr. Boyce Watkins). Over time, that translates into more income for local businesses, more jobs, increased investment opportunities, higher property values, better education opportunities, less debt, less crime—the friggin list goes on and on!
For those of you who are a little unfamiliar, this is a conversation that has been going on in the black community for decades. Why IS our hair care industry dominated by Koreans? Why ARE there so many fast food restaurants and liquor stores in a half-mile radius in economically depressed areas? Why HAVE so many of the neighborhoods that we loved been developed while the original inhabitants have been displaced? It is because we ALLOWED the economies of these communities to be dominated by those who take those dollars to other communities after locking up for the night.
Community loyalty. They know a lil’ sum about that in Little Italy, Chinatown, Little Ukraine, Le Petit Senegal, and other ethnic enclaves around the country. That’s called common sense, responsibility, pride in heritage, taking care of home, minding your damn business. Awesomely, minding your own business leaves you less vulnerable to economic meltdowns, job insecurity, and the unfortunate discrimination that still plagues this nation.
I saw a great meme today (courtesy of WEBUYBLACK, a directory of black-owned product providers) which said: NO JUSTICE…. NO MONEY. And it appears that these sentiments will not be short-lived, because as of yesterday the black-owned Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta had 8000 new account signups. So, if you’re still mourning Rosewood or Black Wall Street and wonder why they were never rebuilt, may I remind you that it is a new age? Black Wall Street has gone digital.
The best thing about this exodus is that (while some “fasting” in the form of economic restraint may be in order) we don’t need a Moses to spend 40 days on a mountain to figure out our next move. We don’t need anybody to part the seas. We don’t have to beg and plead for any Pharaoh to let us go. All we have to do is take our cash and walk the hell out.
…”It means you’re my husband… but … I can have a boyfriend”…
WHAT THE $%*!?
As sophisticated a presentation of open marriage as Enchant TV has provided so far, I still found myself squirming when Keena made that statement in the first episode of Compersion.
It was perfect– an elegant packaging of a very complicated idea. Yet it felt sooooo uncomfortable. Why? Because, for all the thoughtfulness and maturity which typically saturates any serious discussion of open relating, that statement seemed dangerously oversimplified too. It seemed to play directly to the very fears and negative ideas that non-poly people tend to have about the idea. It made Keena seem like a simple, selfish, ungrateful, greedy bitch having a midlife crisis who wanted to “have her cake and eat it too”–at least, that’s what I was afraid others would think.
I was hoping that people (even those still on the fence about poly… or those balking from twenty yards behind the other side of said fence) would delay their criticisms just long enough to recognize the depth of conflict that Keena was experiencing. I don’t think such a conflict would exist if Keena and Joshua did not share a truly genuine love already. Yet she still needed more.
This is how I try to explain the concept to people who don’t get it: As a human being, you need food and you need water. Someone could feed you the highest quality, most delectable steak as often as you wanted or needed protein, iron, or vitamin B12, but you would still die without water. Your body needs a variety of substances to survive.
For people who benefit from open relationships, non-exclusivity meets a genuine need for variety and community–not just a desire to “have their cake and eat it too”.
But then again, what the hell is the point of having a cake if you can’t eat it too?!
You may have heard some rumors about which celebrity couples are/were supposedly in open relationships- Will and Jada, Brad and Angelina, Mo’nique and Sidney, Ossie and Ruby. Well, Mo’nique and Sidney have set the story on them straight.
If you’re late (like I was) and you still haven’t heard, to answer your question, yes they are. Huuuuuney, they talked all kinds of real shit in that January 11th episode of their podcast on Play.it. This was the first show in what is becoming a collection of (in my opinion) very intriguing topics.
Here are a just of the few points addressed in their explanation of how their open marriage works:
- The public’s rumors and concerns about Mo’nique’s “self-esteem”: Mo’nique says that it was easy for some to accept that certain celebrity couples might have open marriages because, the public thinks they’re “beautiful people”. But when it came to her and Sidney, they were thinking there’s no way this “fat, black woman” could be with a man like that without something else going on. The public assumed that she was willing to do any old thing to keep her man. Little did they know that the open marriage was her idea…
- E.G.O. = Expectations Gone Overboard: Mo’nique candidly admits that, in the beginning, she was selfish. Her attitude was, “I’m the one making the money. I can do whatever I want.” If she entertained other men, they would politely say “Hello” to Sidney in passing his room on the way to the hers. She could do her thing, but wasn’t so interested in letting him do his thing. Then Sidney was like, “Hol’ up now. An open relationship means we can BOTH see other people”. Mo’nique became more fully aware of the principle of *reciprocity* and realized that she needed to allow her partner the same freedom that she desired and enjoyed.
- “When you love a person, the last thing you wanna do is control them” says Sidney Hicks. He says he believes in allowing a woman to be who she is.
- Addressing the Relationship Police: “What happens when someone catches feelings?” a listener asks. Sidney says that the dynamics of the relationship are such that another party would be well aware of the fact that their home base is the first priority. [And I’ll add my humble opinion here: I would imagine that in some cases, catching feelings would be exactly the point. If you believe that love is infinite, you seek to enjoy the fullness that life has to offer, you’re letting go of the expectation of *ownership* in love, and you are truly committed to the community that you have constructed, your partners would overcome any fear of being left behind. The extra love would enhance the overall dynamic–as in that strip club example that Mo’nique so humorously speaks of.]
- “But Gaaaawd Said!”: Sidney politely agrees to disagree with those who have a particular view of marriage based on religious ideals. He asserts that, yes, they consider marriage to be sacred. They consider it so sacred that they believe marriage should compel people to be open and fully honest with one another about their desires.
Okay, okay. I won’t give away everything. I hope you’ll make your way over to their podcast, scroll on down to the January 11th episode entitled “Our Open Relationship” and see all that they have to say…even if you’re doing it in secret like I KNOW some of you will. As you open yourself to the possibility of expanding your honesty and perspective, maybe you won’t have to hide anymore…
As their tagline says, “A mind is like a parachute. It’s no good unless it’s open.”
Do you agree?
What is compersion? My understanding is that it is the opposite of jealousy. It is gaining a sense of happiness through witnessing another person’s happiness, particularly a lover’s…even if that happiness doesn’t directly involve you.
Advocates of open relating often cite compersion as one of the fundamental elements necessary to make such relationships work. In open relationships, sure there is jealousy. Yes, there are fears. But those who choose to enhance their relationships in this manner don’t see jealousy and fear as the end of the road. They seek to grow beyond them.
Those who have been truly successful at open relating understand something that many of us still have not fully grasped: that love is not limited, and that true love intends to set the beloved free to live a full, limitless life.
Have you heard about compersion? According to one HuffPost article, it is a principle that can be aptly applied in monogamous as well as polyamorous relationships. So even if open relating is not your thing, opening up to an idea that will allow you to more effectively align your thinking with your partner’s needs could be a big help. Don’t ya think?
I hope I haven’t completely scared you off with talk of open relating and the idea that you may want to at least consider releasing the death grip on that fear of being alone. Why not check out the first couple of episodes of “Compersion”, a new web series from Enchant TV on YouTube. I’ve been glued to the first two episodes so far, and I think they’re doing a great job of exploring this topic with a great deal of maturity and taste. I love how it juxtaposes the ordinariness of a typical couple’s life with the events surrounding their very extraordinary decision to open their marriage.
Stay tuned to Evolutions, and we can chop it up over the topic of compersion and this thoughtful new series. What do you think? Is compersion for you? In what areas of your life do you think it would be best applied?
I hate to break it to you, but, more than you may realize, your feelings and actions are being dictated by a brilliantly-designed machine. That machine produces and responds to stimuli at amazing rates and may sometimes even seem to trap you in a never-ending cycle of biological cause and effect. That machine is your brain, and here’s why it makes breaking up so hard to do.
Love is a drug. That’s right. They said Love is a drug, and they are correct. Love is physically and mentally addictive. It literally triggers the same addiction centers and produces some of the same responses in the brain as heroin. So that’s why the breakup feels like withdrawal–because it is. Chemicals are at the center of it all. Isn’t the mind-body connection amazing?
Opposites attract. I hear people say it all the time. I’ve said it myself. I can relate. Though my husband and I have some things in common, we also have quite a few fundamental characteristics that are opposite. Because of this, in many good ways we complement one another. It’s like a natural system of checks and balances within the family unit. Opposites indeed.
But are we really all that different? According to some spiritual thought derived from the Tantric and metaphysical traditions, like attracts like. In many ways, what shows up in our lives is an indication of ideas, beliefs, or expectations that we hold on some level. In essence, we attract what we are. And though you may sometimes seem very different from the one you love, the two of you very well may be two sides of the same coin.
I’m a big fan of Carl and Kenya Stevens, relationship coaches who believe that the purpose of relationships is growth. According to them, we begin to reap the rewards of our relationships when we understand that our “mates are our mirrors” and we do the work of developing our character as a result of the reflections we see. So, for example, if you attract a mate who has problems with honesty, you yourself may have some hidden difficulty with being honest with yourself or others. You may have a subconscious expectation of dishonesty from a partner. You may be a doormat who condones dishonesty on some level. Your ideas, beliefs, expectations act like energetic requests and the universe simply responds with your order. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather… you get it.
It’s in keeping with the idea that we truly are not separate from the world around us. Everything is connected, there are no (or there are at least very few) true dichotomies. Take Jesus and the Devil for instance. (I know that’s a loaded one, but take a walk with me for a minute just to test the logic.)
Christians believe that Jesus is the blessed sacrificial lamb, the one who has taken the blame for all of humanity’s sins and made it possible for us to be in good standing with God. This is “Good” – Side one of the coin.
However, Satan has also been the one upon whom humanity has symbolically heaped the blame for all of its “sins”. He is the horned one, the scapegoat. This is “Evil” – Side two…of the same coin. Opposites, but not really…
See, we have all this polarity in our lives, in our relationships, in our society. We love to cling to sides, favoring labels that pit one extreme against the other: gay v/s straight, religious v/s nonreligious, republican v/s democrat, rich v/s poor, victim v/s villain. Too often, we don’t take the time to acknowledge that there is a spectrum that exists in the middle of these binaries. Most importantly, we don’t realize that the shared life experiences of the gay and the straight, or the shared zeal of the religious and nonreligious, or the shared pain of the victim and the villain make them all two sides of the same coin. We’re really not all that separate. We’re really not all that different.
So which is it? Do opposites attract or does like attract like? Call me crazy but I think it’s both. Look into the mirror and find out why.
“You can’t hide from yourself. Everywhere you go, there you are.”