Anti anxiety medication and poly

I was on Lexapro (an SSRI) for about a year for anxiety (related to body image and the fact that I started having panic attacks while driving and related to death)- coincidentally, the same year I was not posting on here. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, and it’s still not entirely clear to me what I want to say.

During the year I was on Lexapro, J started dating my best friend. I think I surprised everyone when I didn’t have any huge reaction or need for reassurances from J or her. It was relatively easy for me, which at the time I chalked up to the fact that because she is my best friend, I felt highly secure, respected, and heard, and confident in my ability to communicate with both her and J when things came up. I think these things are true, and now I am also wondering if being on meds gave me a boost in managing intrusive and obsessive thoughts related to jealous feelings. I went off of Lexapro in late September, hopeful that my year of medication had perhaps reset some of my brain chemistry. I went back on it a month ago after a really hard weekend of body image anxiety and some ramping up of anxiety related to poly stuff.

My fear is this: do I need to be on medication in order to be a “successful” poly partner? (Which also clearly begs the question- what does “successful” even mean?) It has given me an extra hand in managing my hard feelings- I still have hard feelings, but the thoughts are less intrusive and obsessive and I’m more calm even in the midst of having shit feelings. In the fall when I was off of them, I managed things just fine- I also, however, was in full blown NRE with my boifriend. NRE is like the highest dose of Lexapro I can imagine being on. Things were easy because I was loving the shit out of him and my life. Now that my relationship with him has cooled off a bit, and things have heated up between J and his person/my best friend, I’ve noticed an increase in my shit feelings. 

Now that I’m back on Lexapro, things are starting to feel more even again. I like it. Part of me is fine with the idea of being on it for my whole life (why should my relationships and life be so much harder if they don’t have to be?) and part of me hates that idea. 

I’m curious about the prevalence of anti anxiety mediation use among folks in poly/open relationships. I’d imagine it parallels use in the general population, and I would never suggest that poly people are more anxious. I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, and my feelings of jealousy were perhaps more intense when I was in monogamous relationships than they are now, and I’m also highly conscious of the fact that being part of marginalized communities increases one’s sense of otherness. Anxiety can heighten when you need to be more on guard about who is going to include you and exclude you, and if you’re constantly trying to navigate who knows all of you and who doesn’t. 

Calendaring

Can feel incredibly difficult at times. Here’s a little window:

“We have one night off together in the next two weeks? Can we have date night then? Or are your seeing your other person? If you can’t see her another night I’ll come home early a different night. I think I’ll see my other person Tuesday- can you come home early Wednesday? Oh wait, never mind- he has a kink night. Can we switch our night to Wednesday? Are you sure?”

I think we can all feel more irritated trying to schedule time with each other, rather than excited. Eventually, once the dust has settled and time is blocked on the calendar, I feel everyone in my little polycule relax into themselves and each other and time becomes a huge gift. We have space carved out just for us to to do whatever we want- talk, watch TV, exercise, fuck, shower, cuddle, walk the dogs, drink, hot tub, fight, make up, kiss, and love each other. 

Poly folks often joke that Google Calendar must have been created by someone poly, and I’d agree. It’s an invaluable tool (as long as it’s used effectively and well). I love being able to see my various date times scheduled, even if it’s just a day or two ahead of time. I feel secure and relaxed, knowing that spending time with me is important to my partners and that we value spending time together. It goes a ways in preventing scheduling conflict (again, as long as it’s used well) and hurt feelings.

Cheers to time management! And using a calendar! And love!

Unicornland & Other Great Media

Just came across this new 8 episode webseries, Unicornland, and watched all of it today. I highly recommend it: it centers around a single person’s experience of dating/having sex with couples, and over half the cast are people of color, trans, genderqueer, and people with disabilities.  There are moments of awkward, awesomeness, hilarity, and tenderness, and it is pretty astonishing to me how much the writer and producers packed in each episode (which lasts 2-7 minutes long). Check it out!

And, if you haven’t watched the short series “Easy” on Netflix- do that, too! The wide range sexuality and love experiences that show portrays is similarly great. And, there is one episode that features Orlando Bloom as part of a threesome- hot!!

And, recently, I finally watched the film “Throuple“- it’s quirky and cute and bittersweet, and includes a few solid interactions among the characters that address some common poly myths.

You Me Her” is a relatively new TV show that features a couple dating a third, set in Portland! I have only watched the first couple of episodes, but plan to watch more soon- I also recommend!

It’s so fun how media around open relationships, poly, and nonmonogamy has exploded in the last few years. If you aren’t familiar with the Poly in the Media blog, you should be! It inspires hope to see how often and in what capacity ethically open/nonmonogamous relationships are being described and showcased, and how the quality of that coverage is increasing.

Traveling as three: some things I learned

Talk before you leave about the following questions (super solid answers are not needed but the conversation should be started and some hypotheticals discussed):

  • What kind of 1:1 time does each dyad need and want? How much? Where? When? Will sex be involved?
  • What kinda of things does the third person need and want when the other dyad is having 1:1 time?
  • What are sleeping arrangements like?
  • What dynamic are we presenting (verbally, through body language, etc) to our family members that we are staying with and visiting? How much will we tell them? What is our story?
  • How will we address hurt feelings and miscommunication as various dyads and as a group of three?

And try to keep the following in mind:

  • Traveling as a group of three likely means that 1:1 time is not inherently built in. At least on my trip, the default was that the three of us would be together. 
  • Traveling as three, instead of two, changes the dynamic in new and positive ways. Remember why you love having this other person around? Now you get to experience them in a new way.
  • This is an opportunity to test your coping and communication skills, and to test your sense of flexibility. Mantra: my relationship is a vehicle for personal growth.
  • You are invested in everyone’s happiness, needs, and wants. You have a right to voice your needs and wants and comfort levels, and you are responsible to hearing others’ as well.

Clearly, this was a new experience for all of us. There were some rough spots and some really great spots and I’m super grateful that we had the opportunity to experience something new and growth-inducing. 

Portland Poly Utopia

Portland has so many amazing resources for those of us interested in, dabbling in, and practicing various kinds of open relationships. This last weekend, I attended a couple of workshops in the second annual Polytopia, hosted by Sex Positive Portland. It was a pretty gorgeous reminder of the diversity in our community. (And I was reminded of similar thoughts I wrote several years ago here.)

Did you know that Portland boasts THREE lifestyle/swinger clubs now? Club Privata (formerly Club Sesso), The Velvet Rope, and Sanctuary which promotes itself as more of a queer lifestyle club (which is a huge breath of fresh air- I haven’t yet visited the club, but am really excited to. We know the owners and have huge confidence about the space and atmosphere). We also have Catalyst, which is a kinky sexy space (I also have not yet been there, but have plans!). SPEEC (Sex Positive Education & Event Center) hosts a community calendar, and I am continually shocked and grateful for how many sexy, kinky, and loving events (attended by so many sexy, kinky, and loving individuals) are happening in this city.

Just a thankful note for living in a place that welcomes and nurtures queer, poly, kinky, sexy people.

 

The Poly Bachelor(ette)

(FYI. I’m bored at work. And this is entertaining to me)

I recently started watching The Bachelor for the first time in my life, and it’s hysterically awful. A fantastic reverberation of mainstream ideas about love and romance. I love it for it’s terribleness.

And then I started thinking: where would this show go if the assumed foundation was polyamory instead of monogamy? There would be far less distress over choosing the “right” person and a focus on how many different relationships feed a person, and the highly intricate and mature communication that must take place. Different kinds of connections would be valued.

Instead of where we are right now (Nick and his final four potential The Ones, Vanessa, Rachel, Corinne, and Raven), in total heartache and deep competition, we might be somewhere a little happier, if maybe a little more boring…

Corinne enters Nick’s room, offering her sexual favors. Because Nick has been communicating transparently with the other women in his life about his attractions to Corinne, he feels comfortable proceeding with having sex with her. He know the other women will feel insecure but is ready to offer reassurances to all of them. He doesn’t see Corinne as his long term life partner, but values her as a strong and independent person in his life and is excited to continue to cultivate a creative and passionate relationship with her.

The next day, he enjoys an adventurous outing with Raven and can feel the sweetness building between the two of them. At dinner that night with Rachel, he is intellectually stimulated in a deep way and remembers the fiery spark that draws him to her. At breakfast the next day, he feels intensely vulnerable and emotional with Vanessa and it’s so therapeutic to be with her.

Maybe there isn’t The One here… maybe he has instead met several amazing partners. And he begins to negotiate needs and boundaries.

Vanessa refuses to be in a polyamorous relationship, which is her right. Nick is deeply disappointed that they are unable to meet one another’s needs, but feels hopeful for her that she will meet a deserving man interested in monogamy. Rachel is interested in something flexible and with a high degree of partnered commitment. Raven is more interested in running her business and likes the idea of having two adventurous vacations together a year. Corinne similarly wants to continue to grow and deepen their sexual relationship. All three woman talk together about fears and needs and desires. Nick hears them and they hear each other. And they move forward in a daring and bold life. 

I solved it! 🙌

My Framily

For the second time in my life, I am in a class requiring me to create a genogram- essentially a family tree that uses symbols to denote characteristics like gender identity, family ties, marriages, divorces, family secrets, miscarriages and abortions, pets, sexual orientation, mental health diagnoses, substance abuse, and any other applicable dynamics. In mine, I also include domestic violence, poly relationships, education, and geography.

A few years ago, I discussed creating a critical sexual genogram, which is a variation on the traditional method that I totally love.

The last time I made one for class, I created it based on family ties and marriages. This time, I decided to include my framily- those friends of mine who have, over time, become family to me. 

Especially right now, when the world seems like total shit, it is extremely strengthening and heartening to me to see, on paper, the people who rely on me and who I rely upon, who I trust and love and care about. Who I know are genuinely kind and compassionate people, who are all doing their best in their own ways, of making the world a better place.

I talked to my sister on the phone tonight, and she was asking me, How do I not let the stress I’m experiencing from all of The Shit get to me? There’s only so much I can do! I have to work and I can’t know everything about everything, and there’s so little in my control.

I feel you, sis. Making my genogram tonight was so helpful though- people matter. People doing their best to be kind MATTER. Small actions matter. It can be hard to remember that, especially when we have been watching such big, destructive things happening so quickly. Creating community, building authentic relationships, continually striving to be more compassionate and loving people- that all matters, and it does make a difference.

Cheers to small actions, kind deeds, and the people who make the world brighter. I love you all, FramBam. You help me keep the hope that things, eventually, will be better for everyone.