We talked recently about negative, difficult emotions that you will feel your own personal version of at some point in your life. And our podcasts the last two weeks talked about Jealousy and Compersion, two emotions that get placed next to each other as the thing you should be trying to banish and the thing you should be trying to feel, as a person in a polyamorous network.
I have a different proposition to make today. You should be striving to be vulnerable enough with each partner that you can trust them to handle knowing you have those hard emotions, and in turn being a trustworthy enough partner to all of your partners that they can be so vulnerable with you. Compersion and jealousy have nothing to do with it. The only thing the number of partners either of you have has to do with that is if you’re respecting boundaries around telling other partners things you share. Period. Maybe once in a while a negative feeling comes from fears around not feeling compersion; or feeling jealousy (who am I kidding, I’ve cried on my partner because I must not be good at polyamory because I’m jealous more times than I care to enumerate here) - but in and of itself the concept is walking through each others’ darkness together, not any nature of that darkness.
We hold space for each other. We are good partners even when our partners aren’t ready for us to be. I wrote a post on how I’m slow to let people in. I’m not ready for good partners early. This scares people. They think they aren’t good partners sometimes. They especially think this because I throw all my effort into doing all of the same for them. As I mentioned in the recent post on shadow work, I’m trying to break this pattern, and be a little less attacked by Brené Brown’s work on trust and vulnerability. I’m not there yet. But, do as I say, and as I’m trying, okay, guys? Trust the intention.
Our partners are stronger than we give them credit for. We generally assume we are “too much.” Our dark feelings are either not dark and are righteous anger or are “bad” and “too much” and something we need to “get rid of.” When it’s all those latter, our partners are here for us. We should be able to say, “I feel ashamed of having this feeling but I want to talk about it. Can we?” and if we bring it that way our partners will hear us. They are on our team. And if right now we’re only there with some people it should be secrets taken to their graves. It should be a note that is eaten or burned. It is gone when they talk to anyone else. And if it can’t be, they need to admit it and the simmer that never comes to a boil of full vulnerability may be where I stay, depending who and how. And I’ll admit that I’m not a great person for that in some categories and where it goes in them. Happy news goes places. I can’t hold happy news or surprises from “the public” although I can from “the surprisee.”
Back to my point. (I’m having a bad day for points.) Your partner can try to help hold your darkness as long as you try to help hold theirs. We all have some. And we all have worse days. And they’re seldom all on the same day, and when they are, they’re the sort of thing every friend you have descends on you, like a death in the family. But you’re strong enough to hear when your partner has a dark feeling if they tell you instead of shout it; and they are for you, too. You might not be able to do anything but both sit with it today and wait for someone to go to therapy or have an idea; but they know and they didn’t rip your head off; or you know and you didn’t theirs, and now everyone is better off already.