I practice a type of poly that I tend to call tribal. As long as I can remember, Hubby and I have adopted people into our family: some as siblings, some as lovers and other as close friends. Over the last few years, our tribe has grown. Hubby and his girlfriend have brought home people. And recently, I realized that Guy and I have adopted many of his friends into the tribal polyfamily as well.
The male part of the couple I was dating described the situation’ “Like you're in the right place at the right time with the right people and you feel good. And you feel more expansive than you normally feel. And you feel connected.” Though he was speaking of his sense of a higher power, an experience of divinity, I think it works as well for what I feel regarding my tribe.
My tribal family is important to me. Family is about belonging and love. A place where one does not need to wear the masks of everyday life, but can be oneself without a fear of being judged. My friends, my family, are the people that I can turn to in times of trouble just as easily as I am able to share my joys. We help each other to grow; to achieve our full potential; to become the people that we want to be. And some of them, I fuck.
I can't imagine not being able to hang out with Hubby and Guy and their partners. I am choosing to share my entire life with these people. By all socializing together, I can spend more time with them, than if I had to see them individually.
Though occasionally things come up where only one partner is allowed and that makes things difficult. For me, the idea of not being someone’s first choice stings. It conjures up memories of not being picked for groups or teams in grade school; whether it was kickball or a science partner, I was always left feeling as if I wasn’t good enough. But rationally I know, that just because I may not have been first choice for a certain event, does not mean he (or she) loves me any less, or that I will not be first choice for something else.
I recently found out that my aversion to choices is shared by Guy. I went to lunch with him and his new girl friend. As the waitress led us to a booth, I almost asked for a table, but was too curious as to how this scene would play out. It went pretty much how I had imagined in my minds eye, she sat on one side of the booth and I on the other fully expecting him to sit down next to her. Guy paused, his eyes darting back and forth, unwilling to make a choice. I rolled my eyes and moved next to his new girlfriend alleviating the need for a decision. I would have much preferred to sit across from both of them as it is easier for me to face people when we are conversing. But Guy has tried to be considerate of my feelings in regards to introducing this person into our lives, so it was the least I could do.
Later I mentioned to him that I had been amused by the look on his face when confronted with the situation. We spoke of choices. I told him that I know that in some situations I wouldn’t be his first choice. He said he didn’t like it when I spoke like that; it pained him to hear. But since he didn’t disagree, I assume I spoke the truth.
There have been times lately that dark thoughts have crept into my brain: my insecurities with regards to Guy having a new girlfriend (even though she fits into the tribe quite well); or feeling like I am in the way when Hubby needs alone time with his girlfriend. I am sure that dark thoughts attack everyone from time to time. In my case, they get me to doubt my conviction to polyamory. Why is it that sometimes I feel compersion and sometimes I just feel sad about being left out? Why would my partner do something with (or for) a different girlfriend that he hasn’t with (or for) me? Why I am left home with the kids, while they get to go out and do something that I would like to do?
Sometimes there are answers to these questions, but most of the times there are not. But in voicing them to someone, I begin to remember that although they are valid concerns, everyone plays a different role in our lives. None of us are expendable and none are loved less (just in different ways).
So when those dark thoughts turn my thinking upside down, I am grateful for my polyfamily. There is always someone that I can count on for support; to show me how much I am loved and valued; to help beat the dark thoughts back. Because in essence, isn’t that what family is for?