37 year old Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a long time lover of many. Having grown up with family acceptance and involvement in a "commune" and having been involved in two separate triad relationships and still forcing herself to committ to a monogomous (failed) marriage, Rhianon has finally begun to accept her own needs, wants and desires. Focusing on the communication and honesty necessary to navigate the shadows and the required humor needed when one begins to explore her deepest being; Rhianon Leto shares her experiences as she travels the many paths of self discovery. Come along and join Rhianon as she explores the whys, whos, wheres and politics of polylife.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Just When I Thought I Knew It All...

In the past few months I have learned a few (more) things through trial and error, and have chosen to take such lessons to heart and share them. It seems there are issues that I have considered for many years and thought that I had a thorough understanding of my conclusions, however life seems to be presenting supplementary information and fresh options. This past month my adventures have led me to ponder my beliefs and my outlook on love.

Do I really know what love is? I think I do, I thought I did, I want to. I have loved so much and so often that I wonder if I am just confused or if I really am that selfless...or is it that selfish? Is this journey, to the center of me, bringing me closer to others or pushing me away from them?

I used to think that love is that caring feeling that you have for someone that makes you put their welfare, their wants, their needs first. I used to think that love was the out of control feeling that you get when you look in someone's eyes, that weak-kneed thing that happens when they whisper your name. I used to think that love was the thing that happened when you spent every minute together blissfully content and when you spent every minute apart miserable and thinking of the next moment you could be together. I used to think that love was having someone who will care about everything you do. I used to think that if something bad happens the only person that you would want to be with, the only person who could comfort you, would be the one you loved and that the person you loved would only want you in the same situation. I used to believe that you would never hurt someone you loved and that they would never hurt you. I used to believe that you HAD TO pick one person and love that person forever and if you picked the wrong one then you probably wouldn't ever get another real chance.

I am learning that love just may possibly be all of that and none of that and so much more.

I am learning that it is possible that love means I am just as important to myself, as the one I love is. That I won't make sacrifices that will make me resent the person I love, that when I love someone I should remember that I loved me first.

I am learning that it is possible that the weak-kneed thing, the out of control feeling, is passion. And passion can last a short time or a life time. But love is more a comfortable feeling, one that steadies me, one that makes me stronger.

I am learning that it is possible that I shouldn't spend every minute with someone, thinking about someone. That's not love, that's obsession. That's desperation and insecurity. I need to spend me time and I need to allow others that time too.

I am learning that it is possible that I don't have to have a lot in common with someone I love but that it helps fill the moments in which life is boring. I just have to respect what they do, what they want to do and expect the same thing from them.

I am learning that it is possible that if someone isn't there for me when I need them to be that doesn't mean they don't love me. We each have a life that goes on despite personal chaos and catastrophe. I have learned that if someone doesn't turn to me in times of need, it's probably not about me. It doesn't mean that they are rejecting me but that they are dealing with some internal struggle and thoughts of me just haven't been part of the equation.

I have learned that I have the right to want someone to be there for me but not the right to demand that they are. I have learned that if someone isn't there for me enough (in my opinion) that's a sign that things might not work out.

I am learning that it is possible that all people hurt each other sometimes, regardless of love or hate – regardless of whether they intend to or not. It is not usually the moments in which we cause each other pain that count but the moments directly afterwards. Do we run, do we gear up for battle, do we give up or do we join hands and sweep up the broken dishes and together make a plan for how to do it better next time. Do we forgive and learn together?

I am learning that it is possible that I can love one person or I can love a million. The heart is infinite and can hold as many or as few as I believe that it can. I can love for a moment and I can love for a lifetime. I have learned that sometimes I am simply not permitted a life time and that sometimes loving means choosing to spend my life away from a person I love.

I am learning that it is possible that everyone loves differently and that my ideas and experiences may not work for others. I am learning that it is possible that the only advice I seem to understand is advice that is given to me by experience.

I have learned the hard way that I should never be sorry to have loved, to have given everything I have and to have received the world in return, even if only for a moment for that moment I had is more than many ever will.

This may not seem as if I am talking about polyamory, but ultimately I am. I am having life altering experiences right now that are occurring because I am exploring and discovering the part of me that is polyamorous. I am dissecting my life, my heart, my mind and my soul. I am taking each observation and laying it out on a slide and viewing it through a microscope fashioned from my experiences, with eyes that hold snapshots of my grief and my joy, and then I am sharing with you what I see. Like any scientist, I am giving you mostly theory and supposition. What I believe I am learning may not hold water in your opinion. And that is ok with me, I have only just begun this quest.

I used to think that love would light the way down my path, I have learned however that I need to stop dreaming and get my butt to the store for a flashlight and some batteries before I continue on my journey…

Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Rhianon Leto (aka lightningbttfly) ; February 09, 2007


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