December Darkness

There’s not much daylight these days. I wake up in the dark, work mostly in the dark, spend my time off work in the dark, predominantly. Generally speaking, it’s a hard job not to just want to sleep all the time every day until spring. I swear I’m built for hibernation.

Thing is, that’s not how capitalism works. Or the modern human society, for that matter. One must get up and do the things, even when the sun can’t be bothered to rise over the horizon, or hang out up in the sky for very long.

This year feels different, though, and it’s because of David. I haven’t written too much about him, either here or over on my twitter, but suffice to say, he’s keeping Daddy very, very happy. Even in the darkness. Especially in the darkness, in fact.

The Boy has challenged me to keep myself engaged with the world around me. He’s at my side, propping me up, reminding me that I’m worthy and lovely at nearly every turn. He keeps telling me and showing me how much he truly does care for me, and keeps me honest about how I perceive myself and treat myself from day to day.

I can honestly say I have never felt this complete before. I have a beautiful husband in Raymond, and a solid bond and connection with him that transcends any other relationship I have ever had. I have a beautiful Boyfriend in David, who is the spark and joy and light that is keeping this fire inside me lit, to be and become a better, stronger version of myself every single day.

I have my other members of my polyamorous gang (the other David, Rene, and Cody) who, while they are a bit more periphery in my life, still are my confidantes, my go-to guys, my leaning posts, my advice columnists, and lovers. There’s no more burning ache in my heart for more. Instead, there’s a desire to go deeper. To tend to the planted seeds, rather than expand the garden, is the objective now, and it feels like a good, massive shift in my driving force through this world. I am no longer SEEKING. I’m off the hookup apps. I’m not floating around in social spheres trying to catch the eye of someone I find attractive. I’m not engaging in conversations and flirtations with men from distant places in order to fill a gap in my heart and mind.

It might be the darkest month of the year, but there’s so much light in my heart and home; a solid glowing ember of pure, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted love that I have crafted and created for myself. While I spend a LOT of personal energy fretting and worrying over the machinations of it all, when I take a step back and really look at what I’ve built for myself and those I love, I’m actually quite proud of myself.

Living my truth, in all of its myriad of expressions, has got to be the biggest achievement of my life so far. No fiscal or personal gain has brought me more joy than the feeling of content in my heart.

Chosen Ones

For a number of years now, I’ve been actively disengaged from my biological family. They’re back east, in Maine, distant and apart from me and my life way over here in Oregon.

By choice.

By necessity.

In the last year, since starting therapy, I’ve been wrestling with the fact that my childhood, no matter how idyllic I’ve painted life on that 65-acre New England farm with rolling hills, fields, a river, and two trembling brooks, it was also full of deep, dark trauma.

I still need to plumb the depths of all of that, and come to more solid terms with it, as I heal and grow into the next half of my life. It’s because of that need in my own life, that I’ve actively and thoughtfully created my own Chosen Family here, in my actual life, where my own rubber meets the road. It’s why I keep those who share my DNA at a long-ass distance. We might share blood and bone, but we share nothing else.

I’m okay with that, after years and YEARS of feeling guilt and pressure to not be okay with being away.

This is the start of the holiday season, with it’s manufactured “come home” vibes, with all of the pressure to supply food and gifts to your family members, with the silly Hallmark holiday movies, nostalgia wrapped up in tinsel and Victorian decor, and all the rest. If this time of year brings you joy, and you have a solid, loving connection to those who raised you and brought you into this life, by all means, go hog wild, enjoy your thing, and share it wide and far. Even this old Hermit loves a bit of sparkle and joy in the deep darkness of winter.

But if you are like me, and you struggle with all of that, and hate the feelings that this time of year can generate inside you, I want to let you know that I’m here. Your Internet Dad is here, arms open wide, and willing to listen and comfort as you parse out how your feeling and how the winter holidays affect you.

The Chosen

I definitely challenge you to find your Chosen Family – those you keep close, that you lean on, that you think of on bright sunny lovely days, and want close on the darker, deeper, more challenging days. Even if you are close to your bio-family, it’s vital that you have some support outside of that framework. Perhaps, make it a resolution for yourself going forward. As an Old Man, I’m telling you, it matters. Deeply.

Continuing Education

I came out as Polyamorous in the early days of 2020, just before COVID-19 swept the face of the planet.

My then-boyfriend-now-husband, Ray, and I were enjoying a beautiful weekend in Palm Springs, California, attending an annual bear event. I’d snagged a copy of ”Ethical Slut,” a book that had been both recommended to me, and I’d seen referenced many times in a variety of posts online, and had gotten through most of it by the time we arrived at our resort. Over the weekend, in quiet moments of the morning, or in the afternoon during a ”disco nap” siesta, I found myself buried deep in the pages under the warm southern California sun.

Everythign I was reading really, deeply resonated with me.

It wasn’t until after I’d spent a fantastic afternoon with René, and felt a deep flush of connection to him, that I drew Ray close, and decided to get his thoughts on this new identity that seemed to align with my biology in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Was he okay with being with me, if I were polyamorous? What kinds threats or challenges did he anticipate? How do I make sure that he never felt sidelined or left out?

To which he replied, without pause, ”Thom, yes, it’s fine. It’s who you are, and something I’ve suspected about you for a while now.”

Much like coming out of the actual gay closet, it turns out perhaps that I was the last one to become aware of who I was, while the entire world around me had spotted that part of me years ago. Coming out is like that a lot.

René and I began a lovely, beautiful, long-distance relationship. Ray, for his part, was thrilled to see me grow and explore this newly-identified side of me. I had so many questions, so many things I didn’t know. I spent a great deal of time reaching out to guys I already knew who were polyamorous with question after question after question.

In the time since accepting my polyamorous identity, I’ve gotten to know and love a number of men. Some have come into my life, and remained there, part of the little circle of guys I can lean on and be vulnerable with at a moment’s notice, who give little digital hand-squeezes when requested/desired, who remind me that I am worthy, and all the rest.

René is amazing. Just…amazing
David constantly teaches me to be present in moments and to feel the feels as they come.

Some guys have come, and gone, into and out of my life, as though I was a bit of a waypost, a stop over, an experience to be present for, and then let go. Those, in particular, have been some of the most challenging of relationships, especially the letting go part, for me and my old-school, New England-raised heart. The impermanence of relationships, to me, was a huge trigger for old trauma, as the adult child of divorced parents, and relaxing my embrace on the men who needed to move on really did take the stuffing right out of me. Twice now, I’ve had my heart decimated, through no fault of the other parties involved, but simply because of the way my mind and body react when they think they’re feeling old trauma again. It’s all weird. I’m in therapy, I promise. There’s a bit to unpack, and maybe I’ll save that for another post, at another time.

Jae, Jake, and Dylan all have had lessons to teach me as I learned the shape of my heart. Our connections have shifted, but they all remain near and dear to me.

In the therapy sessions I have had, I’ve come to a better place with regards to spotting when I’m reacting to an old trauma, or a new and present-day one. I’ve been able to discern when I’m acting co-dependent, and when I’m feeling genuine. I’m learning how to let go of my grip, and stop constantly seeking connection/validation. I’m an old dog, and these are new tricks, but I’m getting there.

And, as of today, I have a developing situation with a new connection that is shooting off some flares and sparks of potential.

Ray once said he really enjoyed watching me fall in love. It was, according to him, the best part of my polyamorous identity. I get giddy, I get silly, I tend to smile more and have a brighter outlook on my life in general. I’m a generally better person to be around when I’m also dealign with a swelling heart. While some of that is true, most of that sparkle came from the old feeling of euphoria I’d get as a boy, when the actions I took somehow soothed a moment over in the tumultuous relationship of my parents. Again, more on all of that in a different post, but suffice to say, I needed to parse that feeling of falling in love a bit, and learn some of the stages of emotional development that occur while a bonding his happening. The ”whoosh” of falling in love is intoxicating for sure, but it can lead a person to make rash choices in moments where some reflection and consideration are needed.

Which is where I am today.

Making rational and sane choices, and being much less of a fire hydrant with the Giddy Squish (an endearing term for all that treacle-sweetness that happens at the start of a shared mutual interest), and a little more sanguine about my feelings. For now, this mild reserve with my emotions still feels genuine and authentic, and has really allowed me to simmer over the ways I communicate the ways I’m feeling, and has helped me spot when I start devolving into that strange little co-dependent person that I was as a boy, who is hardwired to believe that so long as I’m needed, I’m loved.

Spotting the difference between ”need” and ”want” is a massive, massive leap forward for me.