My creative guru Bob has started a weekly podcast with his cohort, Beth. Which is awesome because he lives in Colorado and I’m in Arizona. He is the type of friend I used to talk with at least five times a day- the guy I recited Mr. Show dialogue with. The one I drove around in circles with, doing nothing but listening to the same song five times in a row. I miss not just him, but that moment in my life. The weekly podcast serves as a time machine back to that era, even if the transport is only one way.
I listened to episode 2 today, an interview with Mistress Djuna, a former dominatrix.
Both Beth and Mistress Djuna have smooth, silky radio voices- the kind that glide over your eardrums and soothe your ruffled listening feathers. I don’t know why, but I was reminded of that SNL “Delicious Dish” skit with Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer. Perhaps it was the way Beth and Mistress Djuna were talking about domination, striptease, and tantric love making. It came across as a couple of hippies saving the world with their vaginas. I have a tendency to imagine my own dialogue in conversation, and it went something like this:
“Today, I’ve brought in these handcuffs I knitted from my own pubic hair.”
“They feel wonderful on my wrists, but I’d like to add a dab of my own blend of lubricant, fashioned from kale I grew in my organic garden.”
You might already be catching on to the second inclination flooding my brain- the natural urge for women to feel catty toward other women. Someone else was making funny with my guru! Granted, Bob and I haven’t lived in the same state in nearly a decade. I haven’t talked with him on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis in many years, but I still felt some sort of creative ownership over his conversations. I am his funny gal pal- not smooth, silky-voiced Beth.
This got me thinking about my natural tendency towards jealousy, but also about what you don’t know about people you talk to every day.
Awhile back, I was hanging out with some girlfriends during a Mom’s Night Out. I casually mentioned something about my ex, who I shared an open relationship with for the better part of eight years. I don’t hide this fact, but I don’t advertise it either. If it comes up naturally, I don’t shy from the conversation, but I don’t have it tattooed on my forehead either- because let’s face it, that would be a terrible tattoo and I have enough of those.
My friend did little to hide her shock. “Oh my god. I had no idea. That’s fascinating.” When judged by my appearance, I believe most people label me as a quirky, artsy hippie mom- but the Mom label is definitely there, and most people feel a bit uncomfortable in thinking of a mom with a past, even though we all have them.
I wouldn’t say I became a polyamorist completely by my own choice, but I also wasn’t forced into the decision. I was young, impressionable, and eager to be loved. I probably should have known the life was not for me from some of my earliest experiences.
Even though we were in an open relationship, I quickly coupled up with a secondary boyfriend. The language is a bit complex. A swinger is a person most commonly defined as in a relationship, but having flings on the side- just sex, no attachment. A polyamorist has multiple long term relationships, but isn’t keen to frivolous sex. I landed somewhere in the middle. I had two steady boyfriends, but also had the freedom to have sex with other people so long as I was honest about it. Sounds kind of great in theory, but in practice it was a lot more work, drama and tension than I had bargained for.
Today, feeling that jealousy surge through my body, I was reminded of the first time my boyfriend strayed from the relationship. Not the one who introduced me to the open lifestyle- the second boyfriend, the one I had brought in. I know, confusing- one of the pitfalls of the lifestyles, dependency on flow charts.
We had all went to a party the evening prior, at Bob’s house no less. I was tired and left early. Jake had stayed behind. I teased him before leaving, mentioning that Tina was making eyes at him- one of those double-edged jokes that’s like “haha, she’s into you. Seriously- don’t fuck her.”
Jake called me the next day, and I asked how the rest of the party was. You can guess what he told me.
As I heard the words through the receiver of the phone, I literally felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. When I say literally, I mean it. It is the most animalistic instinct I have ever felt. Had Tina been standing in front of me at that moment, I would have pounced on her and earned my nickname, Kat.
The open relationship taught me the importance of trusting your feelings. We have emotions for a reason. When I felt jealousy, there was good cause- Tina was in fact making the moves on my guy. The philosophy of the open relationship, at least the one I was in, was that I should overcome those feelings. In actuality, I am much happier with a mono y mono relationship. Maybe I should be big enough to get past my jealousy, but life is short and I just want to be happy. I don’t need to enter into philosophical debate about it.
As much as I believe in trusting your instincts, there are times where they are just plain silly, like getting jealous over your former best friend’s new radio personality girl friend. As women, why do we feel this innate cattiness, this primal need to be the chosen in all respects, at all cost? My ex would have launched into a lengthy discussion on the genetic makeup of males and females- the need for females to attract a superior mate to provide seed to their eggs, and the male’s propensity to sire as many children as possible. Blah blah- one of the major benefits of leaving that relationship is I no longer have to engage in that discussion.
Let’s just agree that it’s stupid. This innate competition we feel as women, to size up and compare ourselves to all other women- it just leaves us all feeling bad. Because no matter how fun, witty, thin, and pretty I am, there is always someone better. The more I compare, the uglier I get.
When I was a polyamorist, I spent a lot of time pushing down my feelings- saying I wasn’t jealous when I was, agreeing to things I wasn’t ok with. But that relationship did show me that while you may not have control over your feelings, you do have control over how you react to them. How insane was it to feel any jealousy over my friend having fun on a podcast? When I dug a little deeper, I knew that I wasn’t jealous of Beth. I was envious that Bob was still engaging in wild, creative ideas and I missed being a part of that. It could have made me sad, but admitting that actually made me feel better. When I saw it for what it was, I could look at my own accomplishments and how happy they make me. I have room to be genuinely pleased for him, instead of secretly comparing.
God, isn’t it strange to be a woman sometimes? I seriously doubt any dude listening to that podcast had all of those thoughts from an hour of recorded ramblings. Maybe it has nothing to do with being a women- I might just be insane.