Fear of a Loving Planet
(June 1996, through October 10, 1996)

Almost as soon as I found out about alt.polycon, I began to worry that I wouldn't "fit in" there. This wasn't a particularly new worry: I had plenty of opportunities to feel left out as a mixed-race kid growing up in a nearly all-white community. I also never felt like I belonged in my adoptive family; the quintessential adoption experience may be the "bastard moments" which show us that we weren't born into our adoptive families like other folks. But I refuse to let that unhappy, lonely kid inside of me run my life, and I've developed several successful strategies to move beyond his protective shyness. What I really had to overcome before attending alt.polycon was my fear of love.

I'd always had strong feelings in my relationships with folks, and I started admitting my love for them directly in recent years. However, I'd never really thought about whether I might be polyamorous ("[having] many loves"). Instead, I called myself nonmonogamous and found it an adequate description in spite of the knowledge that defining myself by what I'm not is inherently disempowering. Basically, I liked framing my behavior in the sexual terms which weren't threatening to me instead of the emotional terms which were. It also made others uncomfortable, and might have encouraged the unconventional thinking I'd like to see more of. And it emphasized the differences between myself and others, thereby maintaining a distance that was reassuring to me no matter how unhappy I've been because of it because I thought I lived in an unloving world.

I could blame this misperception on the "primal wound" adoptees allegedly suffer when we're separated from our birth mothers, but I've known too many well-adjusted adoptees for me to think we're all inherently broken. Or I could blame it on early instability: the State's records indicate that I went through four foster homes in my first nine months and quit eating. But I've done enough personal growth and development work to know that the past only affects me as much as I allow it.

And the ugly truth is that I kinda liked being unlovable: it provided me with an excuse for my behavior whenever a relationship started having problems (as every relationship does) while allowing that little kid inside me feel that he was good at something: being right. Of course, a lot of this only became clear in retrospect; at the time, I only knew that I had to start exploring whether I might be polyamorous as well as nonmonogamous. It was immediately obvious to me that I am.

In fact, it was embarrassingly obvious: I expect to know myself better. However, I share a certain emotional caution with my birth mother as shown by our inability to talk about certain feelings until recently, even though we met in 1989 and have kept in fairly close contact. And I never liked thinking about the emotional truth behind Chy's half-joking comments that I was a co-husband with the guy she wound up marrying. I was also afraid to reflect on my emotions in several relationships with folks who got me all aflame even though we'd never had sex; it seemed much safer not to think about that. But I try not to duck away from confrontations once they bite me on the nose; I certainly confront other people a lot, and I like what comes out of it for me when I'm confronted by others.

In this case, I started thinking about my romance with former lover named Michelle, who looked me up a few years earlier for some strictly emotional support when her marriage broke up so I called her the night before I left for alt.polycon. We had a pretty good chat and got caught up with each others' lives, and we've since gotten together to hang out, make friendship bracelets, cuddle, and (literally) sleep together. Which was very nice, and showed me yet another way to make love.

Go to Part 5: (Flying Out to) Minneapolis

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