Riding the Wonkavator Instead of the Relationship Escalator
Ms_Sarah_Bellum is a friend of the blog who chose to not use her real name and teaches in kink, polyamory, and other communities, with a focus on safety and consent. You can find a charity of her choice leading and ending the standard link soup at the end of this post.
Society tells us that relationships are a success when two people, monogamous to one another keep going... until one dies. You ride the escalator and it's a one way ride. Meeting, connection, dating, exclusively dating, monogamy, moving in/nesting/marriage, children, grandchildren, death. This is success and if you differ along your path, it's not a success. The thing is, how often do you see couples together for years looking as though they are going through the motions? They can't talk openly. Dead inside. Maybe they're exclusive, but are they committed? Are they growing as human beings? Is that what makes you special to someone? Some quite enjoy the ride and have long, happy lives together ending when one of them dies. Others feel limited and restrained.
A big part of my journey has to do with the fact that I rode the ride for 15 years. I had the white picket fence, "the one", the fairy tale. I played by the rules and did what I thought I "should" do. We loved each other, but it ended for reasons I couldn't control. And then he died. As with many, my longest escalator ride "failed", but did it? Did we not have many wonderful years together? Did I not grow? Did we not create some amazing human beings?
I had my traditional ride and it was an experience, but I see the pitfalls and the truth, my truth anyway. No matter what happens, at the end of the day (and at the end of our lives), what matters is the love and connections. The love I've had for other partners is no less real or legitimate or important because it wasn't on the life partner path. Not everyone is meant to be that person or is suited for that role and not everyone you think will be a good life partner turns out to be that. Sometimes too, you find connections where days turn to months, months turn to years, and years turn to decades. One day at a time. Situations where being together is a choice you keep wanting to make. Besides, not everyone wants to ride the escalator. Perhaps they don't want children, they don't want to live with a partner, are solo poly, or just in some way do not want to or feel as though they have to ascribe to the dominant cultural paradigms of relationship models. Can they not love and connect? Is there not space for that?
I think there is.
As I find myself continuing to deepen in the feelings of my current relationship and I explore others, I know it's not necessarily always easy. It can be hard to open up knowing that the ride may not necessarily go where our culture says it should go, but I do my best to keep moving forward with an open heart. Even if it often resembles something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
So thanks to everyone over the years who has ridden the Wonkavator with me. It may not be a predictable ride that just goes up and down, but it does some amazing things. Even though there's a certain ease with monogamy, it's hard to put the genie back in the bottle once it's out. Your brain shifts knowing that you alone are ultimately responsible for your own happiness and that guarantees from other people, though well intended, can be useless in the face of, to bluntly put it, being both mortal and fickle beings.
Willy Wonka: This is the great glass Wonkavator.
Grandpa Joe: It's an elevator.
Willy Wonka: No, it's a Wonkavator. An elevator can only go up and down, but the Wonkavator can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways...
Charlie Bucket: And frontways?
Willy Wonka: ...and squareways, and front ways, and any other ways that you can think of. It can take you to any room in the whole factory just by pressing one of these buttons. Any of these buttons. Just press a button, and zing! You're off.
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