I’m spending the next few days with my family, back in the area where I grew up, far far away from Chicago. Just me on this trip: no wife, no partner, no girlfriend. Just me and a car and a bunch of people to visit. I’m glad that I was able to make the trip. Being many hundreds of miles away from them all means that I don’t get to spend the time with them that I would like, and being able to take a week and really get quality time with them is something that I really value.
Except that I’m not out to them as polyamorous. And I can’t come out to them on this trip because of boundaries with my wife, and not wanting to drop a bomb on folk when they’re still dealing with family deaths. So I am constantly self-editing.
I know that last sentence sounds a bit hyperbolic. I really wish that was the case. I thought it would be an interesting thought experiment to keep track of the number of times I had to keep myself from saying something poly in conversation. But it happened at such a frantic pace that I was unable to keep up after only a few hours.
I have a cousin that I am really close with, and I was able to wedge in a lunch with her yesterday. We were just kind of small talk chatting for a while, and she was asking me what was new, what I had been up to lately, what I’ve done since I’m not working full-time at the moment. Each of these three questions was just a fucking minefield.
- What’s new? Pride weekend was great! Poly barbecue! Jamie had everyone over to her house for the parade! My wife started dating a friend of mine! I finally did some poly activism stuff that I had put off! One of my wife’s friends might have a crush on me, and that’s kind of making me feel weird! I’ve helped my friend work through the first time she’s meeting her boyfriend’s girlfriend!
- What have I been up to lately? Jamie and I went to Summerfest in Milwaukee, and I saw a bunch of her friends that I met last year! My birthday party was great! All of the people I was seeing were there! It wasn’t weird at all! Jamie totally integrated with a chunk of my friends! We were already out, so we didn’t have to freak out the squares at all!
- What am I doing in my free time? I go to my girlfriend’s house and take a nap sometimes! My writing has taken a new and interesting turn into the world of poly blogging! I helped my girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend move a bunch of stuff!
I had to navigate my way around each one of these little flags in the ground, lest I accidentally say something weird. And it really sucked. In order to work out some of that frustration (and lay a good foundation for coming out later), I chucked my poly shaman under the bus during a conversation about babies, and started talking about issues in abstract. And when I got to her response of “I could never do that, I’m too jealous”, I dropped the topic and moved on from there.
It hasn’t been so bad with my parents just yet, but I expect there will be plenty of opportunity in the next few days for me to feel differently. And I’m going to go visit with a bunch more of my family today, where conversation will inevitably come back to relationships and babies and feelings, and I’ll be sitting on this big secret the whole time.
The last time I was here, my aunt said to me that she really appreciated the relationship we had where she felt that “we can tell each other anything”. I do feel that way about how we interact. I do want to tell her everything. I want to take the time to sit and explain it all in the most compassionate and vulnerable way that I can. I’m looking forward to the day I do that with my whole heart. I hope she won’t be mad at me for keeping this part of me from her for so long. I hope she gets it then.
I logged in here to type out my feelings from the last few days, and sitting in my reader was this article about coming out. When I’m sitting around self-editing later today, I am going to think about the points that she raises in that entry. What will I say to them when I do come out to them? How will I respond to their questions? How can I do it in such a way where they will feel like I’m understanding them, and their questions, and their feelings? I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking on that today.