Friday, August 6, 2010

The Pagan Serial Monogamist’s Manifesto

Finally, here is another “cry from the stream of consciousness”. Apparently, there’s a lot of flotsam and jetsam in that stream and it takes a while for one thing to run clear. But, one finally has. I feel that I could blog about little things day in and day out, but one needs to build up steam for a truly good rant… blog, I mean blog. And, after all, I have to make such a visit worth it, no?

So, today’s topic, boys and girls, is polyamory. No, I’m not going to give you a how-to guide; in fact, just the opposite. It seems that, in this day and age, there is actually *more* pressure to be polyamorous than is, by any stretch, reasonable. In the Pagan community, there are so many polyamorous people that the implication is that one who is not so, is not truly Pagan. This is both ridiculous and erroneous. It also saddens me – as one who sought so long to find fellow Wiccans and to seek community and fellowship amongst like-minded peers, only to find this onerous pressure at every turn. I cannot define how many times I have been asked how “serious” my ten-year marriage (with an infant) is only to be greeted with disbelief and not-so-subtle disdain when I answer that it is very serious and we’re only interested in each other.

I am, granted, a serial monogamist, but I am monogamous and I feel no desire to be, or explore, anything else. I also resent the implication that I am not a fully committed Pagan because I do not pursue the ideals of polyamory and –to top it all off- I do not even have the decency to be homosexual. Yep, I am straight and wedded to a single, wonderful man. Apparently, what was once “the norm” has now branded me a freak and even in a subculture, I am not subcultural enough.

I am strong and secure in my own choices and I know myself well enough to know that this is not the path for me, and no, it is not because I am “afraid to explore it”. As a Wiccan, who follows a path of self-responsibility (remember that oh-so-overlooked aspect of our faith?), it is my duty to know myself, to understand myself and to support myself. And I do so - I am straight and monogamous and I am proud to be so. This is what the Goddess made me and I will not insult Her choices by pretending otherwise.

But what of new Seekers? What of people just seeking us out to learn our Mysteries? If they, at every turn, encounter only the polyamorous, they will assume that it is some unwritten guideline of the Pagan religions and we will lose many fine minds and hearts in the course of it. We are supposed to be open and free and it seems that we can only be “open and free” if we defy every rule of our modern society. And let me tell you, right now, honey – that is backwards. Backwards? Yes, BACKWARDS!

How can it be so you might ask, as well you might. Because if one shapes oneself according to a rule, even in defiance or opposition to that rule, one is letting that rule dictate their behavior and shape who they ultimately become. That is not being free; it is not being who one truly is and that is how it is backward. We are never to let others dictate our path – and if we follow the opposite path simply to prove that we are on a different path, we are still allowing another to shape our choices. Society at large gives us conflicting signals but the main expectation is that one be straight and committed to a single relationship. And so, those of us who have decided to not follow society’s rules and determine our own Fates, feel as if we must rebel on every point, just to prove the point. But it is not so. We need to determine our own paths, free (there’s that word again) of outside influences and shape ourselves according to our own choices and not in slavish reaction to someone else’s. Even if that someone else seems to be every single person around you.

Polyamory has been presented as an ideal to be pursued, a “higher” form of love and life and to fall short of it is to not fully express one’s sexuality and spirituality.** Not so. Simply not so. This is akin to saying that heterosexuality is the “proper” form of attraction and commitment. No one way is the One Right Way. If it is an expression of life and love that one seeks, then they need to do so with an honest and open heart because it is within them to do so, not because they have been led to believe it is expected. One needs to discover what they are and simply be that. And there needs to be no pressure placed on anyone else. Even if that pressure comes in a subtle, quiet, simple expectation of how one should behave, it is pressure. Do not expect, accept. Let the person show you who they are, do not have expectations as to who you think they should be. That is being Free, as we are Charged, and it also fulfills the unspoken corollary of that Charge – allow others to be Free.

What follows are personal observations and opinions only. Feel free to ignore them completely, adopt them fully, pick them to pieces or rant about how amazingly insightful/insipid they are in your own blog :)

I must admit that I do not believe that many are truly suited to the polyamorous lifestyle they purport and/or pursue. If one cannot commit to a single relationship, then one cannot commit to several. Indeed, it seems that not committing to a relationship fully is the impetus for polyamory. If no single person can fulfill all of another’s needs, then one will naturally need to pursue other relationships to find, and provide, that fulfillment. But that is a built-in escape hatch. Instead of being a call for communication and commitment, to present the conundrum to one’s partner and work out a solution, one is free to go find another person that fulfills that particular need. One is, by the very nature of polyamory, not sharing oneself fully with any of one’s partners because those partners can’t be expected to “fulfill every need”, so there is no reason to turn to them, to work on it, to figure it out and to move forward together. So by this very set-up one cannot commit all of themselves to any single relationship, let alone multiple ones because a part of one is always held in reserve, the part that one believes has needs that their current partner(s) cannot fulfill.

As an aside, how can one fully commit to a partner if one is always on the lookout for the next partner? If another sexual relationship is always an option how can one commit fully to their current relationship(s) because they are not focused fully on their current partner(s) and their current relationship(s). A part of them is always looking out for the next relationship and is not fully present within the current one(s).

For the most part, human beings are jealous and possessive. It is an admirable ideal to seek to move past such traits but many should not because it is part of who they are and must be accepted and understood. Trying to move past it for those people will cause immeasurable damage to their psyche and untold amounts of heartache. From my own personal observations, I have seen very few who are truly cut out to love and be loved in a polyamorous situation. Many purport to be so, but once that “special one” comes along, suddenly they are polyamorous in name only. Is it a phase? Did they misunderstand their makeup and come to see their own true nature? I honestly do not know, but I do know that I have seen, again and again, polyamorous folks finding their one, true love and suddenly polyamory is no longer so appealing.

I have met those who can love and allow themselves to be loved in an amorphous, freely flowing in-and-out exchange of love between themselves and multiple partners. But this takes an extraordinary self-awareness of one who has the proper makeup for it, and even then, they are solitary creatures, self-possessed to an extraordinary degree without a true need for the companionship of others, simply a desire to share such camaraderie.

Perhaps that is the ideal to be pursued, to be so entirely whole in oneself, to be truly loved while completely “by oneself alone” and in that state be able to experience external love as simply an expression and reflection of the enormous love that already exists within one’s true soul. And while that is a wonderful ideal, we are not all there, we are not all open to it and many of those who live this lifestyle do not fully embody the necessary nature for it.

Is it a path we will all learn to follow one day as we come to experience love in deeper, more-encompassing ways? I don’t know. I have not the tiniest clue. I do know that it is not me, it is not within me in this present incarnation and I refuse to harm myself by trying to be just one more thing that I am not.

I want other straight, monogamous Pagans to know that they are not alone. We have our paths as others have theirs. Know your own Path, let the Goddess lead you, let no other dictate what one should or should not be, in any arena. Shape yourself according to your own choices. You are free.


****For those non-Pagans among you - just so you know, both sexuality and spirituality are expressions of life, two sides of the same coin whereas one does not exist without the other. Pagans do not see a conflict.