I've blogged much recently about my emotional, physical, and spiritual (thought I still hate the S word) growth. Maybe it's because I thought I was done growing and changing in any significant fashion. After all, four(ish) years ago, Marilyn and I opened our marriage as a result of needing to fulfill unfulfillable needs in our marriage. (Namely fucking people we weren't married to.)
That first year after opening up was a time of tremendous growth and change. I explored, worked on, and partially defeated jealousy. (I say partially because can you ever REALLY defeat jealousy? It still rears its ugly green head occasionally.) I gained the skill of compersion, something I'd never before heard of. As someone who can empathize, I felt that was really the be all/end all of supporting people when awesome things happen to them and not necessarily to me. I learned about my body, my sexuality, my feelings, my ideas.
I started a podcast. Because I had some dumbass idea that people would want to listen to the rantings of a first year swinger. (And for some reason they did, and never really asked “what makes you think you know what's up?”)
After that, things settled rather nicely. I grew into poly, sure. Changing my perceptions of what non-monogamy had to offer as well as what I could handle, and what I craved in life. So I suppose I shouldn't minimize that. It is a big change after all, moving from group sex to loving multiple people (And still having that occasional group sex). But I didn't really move from anything to anything, did I? I just added new things to my repertoire.
So circling around to the geekery of the title then. Leveling up. First, as I'm quite sure we have people in our audience (both listening and reading) who only tolerate our occasional dalliances with Dr Who, our obsession with Captain Jack Harkness, quoting Ghostbusters and other levels of high potency geekdom, I ought to explain. In role playing games (board based, brain based, and screen based) you begin with a character that has some skills and weaponry, and you accumulate more and more as you continue to play, so that your character at the end of the game is tremendously more powerful than when you began. (You know, like Link starting every game sans sword, only able to pick up pots to look for Rupees. [Yep, tolerate THAT!]) Some could look at the above and say “Why, that's like life! Building strength and skills…” To which I reply, in my best Eddie Murphy plays an old white Jewish man voice: “Ah ha! Ah ha!”
We do level up in life. All the time in fact. As we go through college we develop skills. If we work out we build strength. As we communicate and move through relationships we change emotionally. We all hope and strive to not level down, though we know it's inevitable. But perhaps, if we level up enough, if we learn and grow and change enough, we'll achieve something amazing. We'll…I dunno…win?
I feel like I'm leveling up. Because with all of the above change description, I still remained rather shy and reserved when it came to new people. When it came to saying yes. When it came to taking a risk.
It's strange to feel like that's going away. That in the past month alone I've said yes to several things I wouldn't have previously. I've begun to make things happen in multiple arenas. I've allowed the worlds of Swingset and the “real world” to grow even closer. And I've let go of a lot of the walls I used to build.
“There must have been a door there in the wall, where I came in!” laments Pink, after building a wall so high he could not escape it. I found the door. I stepped back through. I'm shedding the skin of neurosis and panic that used to surround me. No, not all at once, but it's surely happening.
With every potential relationship I used to slide them into categories. It's what caused me to feel that in order to focus on one poly relationship I had to end the other, way back after one month of being POLY. But I don't. Because there's a strange thing happening. Relationships are simply becoming what they are. (That's a lovely bunch of nonsense isn't it?) They're filling the space they need. They're growing and changing on their own. Too often I tried to manipulate them to fit, to change, to cram them into the box where they didn't belong.
So when I was asked what I was looking for recently by a potential, I simply told her that we'll let things be what they are. If they're swing, they'll swing, if they're poly, we'll romance, if they're friendly, we'll hang out, and if they're incompatible there's no hard feelings and we'll shuffle off to Buffalo. I couldn't believe I'd said such things. I couldn't believe I was OKAY with such things. To not categorize, to not plan, to not fret, to not doubt, to not agonize over “What if she doesn't like me?” or “What if I'm not good enough?” or even slide on down the road to worrying about what'll happen when I introduce her to my other relationships, swing playmates, friends, family? Christ! My brain was a noisy place not so long ago. A place where I'd turn away from anything with potential simply because I was concerned with where it might lead, and I was writing the script for the end before it'd even begun.
On a first date, less than a month ago, the girl I was with gave me +50 Confidence Points. Then +50 Experience Points. (There may have been some sexy points in there as well, but that's irrelevant to this discussion.) The forces inside me are conspiring. Conspiring to birth a new version of Cooper Beckett. Cooper 2.0 was born into swinging. C2.5 introduced poly. Cooper 3.0, man, I'm changing faster than even I can keep up. Wait until you see the new skills and accessories!