Jankuary

a brick wall that has "JANKY" painted on it

Photo by Daquella Manera / CC BY

Janky:

(adjective) inferior quality; held in low social regard; old and dilapidated; refers almost exclusively to inanimate material objects, not to people

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The inaugural month of our return to poly life has come and gone.

It’s been fascinating and sometimes frustrating to note how often things feel different in theory than they do in practice. Still, we’ve been pushing through conflicts, insecurities, and hidden fears, and the discovered insights have proven invaluable. We have had some anxious nights since the reopen, together and alone, but I can honestly say that I love and trust Skyspook more than I knew I could, and the whole process has been instrumental in helping me with one of my greatest cognitive blind spots (see the Johari Window): That I have a hard time admitting when I’m struggling with something and that I’m worried of being perceived as weak or needy.

Just one example:

I spent one night sleepless, anxious, and disgusted by the double bind my own desires put me in – the love of threesomes, the harem fantasy, embracing my consummate sex monster-ness (monstrosity) and yet understanding how problematic such a thing is within a society rampant with patriarchal oppression , my own history of being (lazily and unsatisfyingly) objectified and used in such a manner by unscrupulous young men, and feeling disposable and interchangeable. I sobbed my eyes red and raw, confessing to a night owl friend that it had occurred to me in full technicolor the penis was amoral and greedy and that I felt like all men wanted to do was stab me to death with their penises, to obliterate me to feed their own desire.  Hot and terrible. I felt predated, empty, and inappropriately aroused. Gutted. This went on for hours, the maladaptive cognitions spiraling into helices, building structures upon one another. My anxiety crested and pulled me into a place where the nausea (my biggest symptom) had me completely at its mercy, and I vomited. My autonomic nervous system dumped out chemicals until I had no more. I managed 90 minutes of sleep and called off work, highly unusual for me.

And wrestling with all of this, I was slated to have a coffee date with a new young man in a mere 2 days. I told no one that it was my first solo internet date, not even Skyspook. I’d met women and couples with my ex-husband but never a man and never on my own. Most of my old poly web had been met through friends. This was completely new territory for me. I was worried it’d go terribly and terrified that it would go well.

***

I’ve also come to terms that my old defense mechanism for painful poly experiences was dissociation – I would completely check out, detach from wherever the hurt was coming from, deescalate my feelings from whatever object of affection was involved in the jealousy. It became a game of emotional whack-a-mole where I would love someone intensely, undyingly, until something happened that would make me feel insecure – and I would shift those feelings to another lover in my web. I didn’t even acknowledge the hurt. I’d just shadow step away from it to a place I perceived as safer.

It was a wonderfully effective and easy way of never feeling jealous.

The biggest accomplishment of this past month, however? I’ve figured out how to be poly without doing this, without checking out. My big secret is actually owning up to my twinges (of jealousy, envy, guilt, and/or fear) and expressing whatever concerns I have, right to the source, directly to the people involved. And doing this with all the nuance that I feel and without an expectation of anybody to change their behavior based on my feelings because (as Franklin Veaux has written) just because I’m hurt, doesn’t mean anybody has done anything wrong. It’s been a learning process with Skyspook figuring out how to share these uncomfortable territories – sometimes it’s emotional and difficult in the short term, but so far it always goes well in the long term.

And moving forward, I think if processing is something that partners can’t handle and we can’t negotiate a way to own our amygdala and id, our distinctively human failings, then we are probably not right for each other, and that’s okay. So far, so good.

I have named our first month (and change) Jankuary – the experience has been invaluable, but in a lot of ways, it was a practice match, a scrimmage. The score is zeroed; the scale is tared. I have a commitment to moving onward. Our scars are beautiful.

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