As you read this I am en route to a wedding in Pennsylvania. It’s the wedding of a family member and thus I will be seeing a lot of family, as well as friends of family who have known me since childhood. A couple of weeks ago my mother told me that in a conversation with her female cousins (they all meet up yearly for a day at the beach, it’s adorable) she had told them that she thought I was looking forward to fielding questions along the lines of “How is your boyfriend?” so I could answer with something akin to “Which one?”. Then she explained polyamory to the group… that part isn’t really relevant to this post, but it’s cool enough that I really wanted to include it.
The thing is my mom wasn’t quite right. First off, I would never answer that way as I despise the snark-tacular practice of ignoring what is actually going on in front of you in the name of a “witty” quip. I would probably just say “he’s doing great!” and move on. This isn’t because I hide my relationship status from my family. On the contrary, coming as it did in the wake of my father’s death and my extremely liberating divorce, my transition from “sexually unsatisfied married woman” to “nonmongamous professional sex talker” was never a source of drama. Seriously. When my mom met my second partner (she had already met one the year before) her only response to me was “Wow, beards are really a thing for you, huh?” (it’s true, they are!) I believe that having this website was a big part of that. Before I openly ventured back out into the dating world, my mom (my first regular reader) read posts about my nonmonogamous status as well as posts that served to educate my readers and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Basically, my mom picked up what I was putting down right off the bat and it made it so that I never had to hide.
“…my family has spent a lot of time seeing me neither happy nor healthy so they don’t have much interest in getting angry that I’m too loved”
I’m very fortunate. I know lots of folks hide their nonmongamous status or the fact that they write about sex (or, in many cases, both) from the world and live in fear of being found out lest they are judged, ostracized, or even face repercussions like the loss of child custody. I have never had to deal with this. I think this is largely the result of my family being open-minded and adaptable, especially after a bunch of pretty tough years. I know that sounds weird but a lot of “This is the way things should be!!” was washed away in the waves of “life is too damn short” that came with the deaths of both of my maternal grandparents and my dad. Additionally, this topic often reminds me of something that I read years ago; it was an article talking about children of blended families and one of the mothers quoted in it said “we want what, I think, all parents want: children who are happy, healthy, and loved” Honestly, I think that after facing down my depression and recurring physical injuries, my family has spent a lot of time seeing me neither happy nor healthy so they don’t have much interest in getting angry that I’m too loved. They spent years watching me barely keep it together as I tried desperately to be many things I was not and now it feels like they understand that living openly as who I really am is far healthier. They’ve spent years watching me struggle to find my way and so seeing me land on something that I enjoy, that gives me purpose, that I’m good at, and that makes me happier than I ever thought I could professionally be is thrilling and they aren’t inclined to be mad that the thing I landed on is talking about sex. On the contrary, my profession has started leaking over to my family who now discuss their feelings more openly. One of my favorite stories involves one of my family members saying to another, mid-argument- “I feel like you are doing that thing Jo talks about where you aren’t letting me have my feelings”
I don’t pretend my family has it all figured out, we certainly don’t, but knowing that they love their nonmongamous daughter who hangs wine racks of dildos on her walls as much as they loved the same daughter when she was married and reporting to a regular job every day is pretty amazing. Feeling like my family would love me the same if I spent my time in a Brisbane Brothel or a New Jersey nunnery allows me to feel secure enough to talk about sex on the internet and occasionally forget that that can be a risky proposition. Knowing my family has my back whether I have one boyfriend or a whole roster makes me feel safe because I know I’ll never have to cling to an unhealthy relationship out of a desperate need for support.
I recognize both that I am extremely lucky to have my family and that what my family gives me is what I wish for everyone in my situation. I guess what I’m saying is I really love and appreciate my family. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedding to go celebrate!
This post was sponsored by Cleos on Nile. All opinions are my own.