So, it seems I have finally managed to produce a Friday update, and on a Friday, no less! Things have reached a point where my online presence can be (hopefully!) a bit less scattered, and I can get back into writing on some kind of regular schedule. Drawing, I hope, shall follow – there are a couple of pencil drafts for an image for this post, but none of them have been inked or coloured yet. If you’re really good, I might work them up and post them next week regardless.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Shona, Adele and I have moved in together. We’ve been gravitating towards this, and in fact merging into it, over the preceding months, but during the weekend before last Shona finally vacated her flat, and we’re looking for a place which has enough bedrooms for all of us to have one, and enough space that none of our stuff needs to be in boxes which are stacked ceiling-high, or crammed under all the available beds. While things have been, by necessity, a bit cramped, having all three of us living under one roof (officially) has had a surprisingly pronounced emotional impact, and made me think about a few things in a new light.
My living situation has been getting progressively easier to cope with, and progressively less damaging, for a good few years now, with a very few exceptions. I remember very vividly the cold, plummeting feeling in my stomach the day before I first moved in with a partner, when I realised that I was making a terrible mistake, and that I was not the only person who was going to be hurt by it. I went through with it anyway, partially because I was too stubborn to admit that I had been wrong, but largely because she had come from a very long way away, and her stuff was already mixed with mine in my mother’s house, waiting for the moving van to arrive. Predictably enough, the relationship only lasted a few months beyond that point. I have many more stories along these lines, but the point I am trying to make is that I am still unused to the sensation of moving in with a partner and not having grave misgivings – the only other experience I have of it, in truth, was when Adele and I moved in together last December. Within the first month of every relationship I have ever had (barring my current ones), I have had a pretty good idea as to why we are likely to break up, and as to how long it is likely to take. I do not claim that the absence of this feeling means that my current triad is certain to last forever, but I know that any problems which do arise will not be the result of manufacturing faults, so to speak, and I find that immeasurably comforting. It feels wonderful to be free of the ice-skating-uphill feeling of staying in a relationship that you know has a limited lifespan.
It still feels strange to be living in a place where my actions are so unrestricted – I have been fighting hard since I was a teenager to overcome what used to be a crippling shyness about all things sexual, kinky, or gender-related, and each successive jump for freedom has resulted in its own periods of panic, doubt, and overcompensation. I have been living, in no particular order, in my places of work (which complicates matters no end), with housemates who were offended by the slightest mention of any of the above topics, in houses so overcrowded as to ensure that there was no privacy, peace of mind, or freedom of action for any of the occupants, and with people who were convinced that I was not trying hard enough to stop being repressed (resulting, of course, in my desire for privacy being disregarded as weakness, and my attempts to express myself openly being dismissed as insufficient.) These situations were separated, and frequently characterised, by periods of very poor mental health, which makes the task of summoning the necessary self-confidence, enthusiasm, and creativity frankly impossible. All in all, this fresh period of freedom could not have come at a better time.
Another thing which has surprised me, is that polyamory has quietly and calmly become normalised in my head, while I wasn’t looking. After a rocky introduction to the practice, it took a long time for me to become well enough acclimatised that I could internalise the answers to the standard criticisms and objections against any poly lifestyle. I no longer feel challenged or unsettled when I happen across any of the usual suspects, either online or in person. At some point over the last winter, “Oh god, what if they’re right?” has turned into “Oh, this again.” Partially, I think, because we are out to the vast majority of our friends, and I am out to my family, I have recently become able to appreciate the privilege of feeling slightly shocked when I remember that polyamory is not (yet) universally accepted as a valid life choice, and that the way we live is in any controversial. It’s kind of shocking, actually, and that just makes it more obvious to me how far I have come. After the initial surge of joy and awe, and after the period of feeling defensive and worried, comfort and confidence feel like just about the best thing ever, and having all of our stuff together under one roof has made it feel somehow more real.
All of which is remarkably positive, given that the other circumstances in our lives have been, frankly, less than ideal of late. The flat is (as you might imagine) a little cluttered right now, we’re still all dealing with the aftermath of the family emergency which heralded the beginning of this disrupted update schedule, we’re house-hunting, and as such having to deal with London letting agents on a daily basis (not for the faint-hearted), a nice man is due to saw off one of my legs in a few months (he has promised to screw it back on again afterwards, but I am naturally suspicious of this claim), and the cat may never forgive me. The very fact that we have all been able to keep settling in, keep becoming more comfortable, and keep recovering from all that went before, is testimony to the value of a safe, unrestricted home environment. Given that (like both of my partners) I’ve spent a lot of my life trying not to take up any space, not to be any trouble, and to essentially be happy where I’m put, the therapeutic value of a normalising environment never fails to astonish me.