About 8 years into our polyamory journey, I found myself really struggling. This is about the time that we switched from co-amory to a form of polyamory that had us dating separately. The first form of polyamory that we tried, co-amory, was really safe; we were doing it together, holding hands and jumping into the unknown together. So, there really wasn’t a lot to stress about, not a lot of fear. I would have a couple of blips every now and then, but nothing like what happened when we started to date separately.
I got the idea for this tool after looking back on my journals and my old tapes. I was an avid journaler; something i had learned to do as a kid, to dump all my crappy feelings. Then, Dan bought me a mini-tape recorder so that I could ‘journal’ while driving to and from work. I used the little hand-held recorder a lot and i went through many notebooks, writing every spare moment, trying to figure out my feelings.
One day I came across some of the tapes while cleaning out my car and decided to listen to them.. They were full of so much pain, anguish and fear; stories that my low self-esteem and fearful inner child was telling me. As i listened to the old tapes, literally and re-read the journals – i started asking myself why i was putting myself through so much anguish.
Why was polyamory causing all these negative emotions? I’d known that I was polyamorous for many years, since before i had language for it. I was absolutely positive that I wanted to live that way. I believed in the idea that I had enough love for more that one person. Yet, here i was struggling with jealousy, struggling with not feeling good enough, struggling with feeling unworthy, struggling with feeling weak, struggling with fear. It was so painful. And then it felt shameful because after all these years I was still struggling.
One day, I was talking with someone about this struggle and that I couldn’t believe I was still finding this so challenging. They asked me if I was noticing the dates on my journaling. Did I notice how much time there was between entries? Did I only write about the negative feelings or was I writing about the good stuff as well? Of course not. I had always journaled to get rid of the yucky stuff marching about in my head and heart.
I looked through my journals again and realized that it would be months between entries. Months of feeling ok in my world, so I didn’t have anything to process. Where were all those writings? Where was the joyful stuff? I had to have experienced good stuff, otherwise i wouldn’t have made it for as many years as i had. I’m not an emotional masochist.
So, i decided to shift my attitude and focus on the positive stuff. i bought a beautiful pink leather journal and promised myself that i’d only write down happy, joyous experiences in this journal. It’s my ‘compersion journal’ or my ‘joy journal. Every time i experienced something that made me happy, i’d write about it. This process helped turn my focus from the negative and shift it to the positive. I would actually start looking for and paying attention to the joyful moments in our polyamory journey.
This tool caused a major turning point for me when I was really struggling with poly and the emotional struggle of poly. Now when i have a rough moment, I have physical proof that happiness and joy has taken place during this journey.
The happy moments far outweigh the moments of struggle. I just needed to see it in writing to prove it to myself. We just tend to focus on the struggles more than the joy. It’s human nature or at least it’s my human nature.