The Perils & Pearls of Polyamory

by  Janet Kira Lessin

 lOVING MORE MAGAZINE #23                           Aeterna Saltatus - Eternal Dance - Andrew Gonzales


Looking at the miracle of a pearl we see how a grain of dirt and the irritation it causes stimulates a natural response whereby in the process of protecting itself, the oyster creates a jewel of incredible beauty.

    While in the midst of learning the art of relationships, it seems almost impossible to see how polyamory’s dirt: jealousy, insecurity, fear, lack of communication skill and a myriad of other perils can be the stimulus for our personal evolution creating the pearls that await us. But it’s true. Perhaps my path may best illustrate this.

     I was a "mistake" when I was created. While in the womb my mother was deathly ill, tortured with her own guilt as she was unsure that she really wanted me. When I was born, my poor confused, schizophrenic mother alternately adored me then repeatedly tried to kill me. My Pleaser was born as a protection method to insure my survival. Having to focus on Mother and her needs and learning how to effectively pacify her violent part, I perfected the art of accommodation, even at my own expense.

     My models of relating were my parents; two people who said they loved one another, yet rarely talked nor showed affection. My Father loved me, but he was emotionally unavailable as he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being a veteran of WWII.

     Neither Mother nor Father were ever diagnosed nor helped. We all just lived with it, and the repercussions of such a life.

    I took these early patterns into my intimate relationships. In my teens and twenties, I tended to play victim. I externalized and blamed, making the other partners the villain. Trying to escape my dysfunctional family, I married very young; at age 16. It was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

     My first husband suffering from his own childhood of physical abuse, beat me and cheated on me, had sex with other women (and denied it) and abandoned me. Our interactions consisted of either he being in my face in rage or abandoning me completely. When I look back on these days what truly amazes me is not that the abuse was happening, but that the little girl I was back then put up with it.

     I repeated that pattern of recreating my dynamics with my parents in my succeeding relationships in varying degrees for most of my life. Victim was my life’s theme. With each succeeding relationship and reinforcement, my primary subpersonality became Pleaser and I identified with her and thought she was me. I was always the sweet little innocent girl who didn’t make waves and was so soft-spoken and sweet, I bordered on the angelic.

     My second husband, a true knight in shining armor, rescued me from disaster. After our initial passion, Jim progressively abandoned me as he was a workaholic. I was so lonely my emotional distress was severely affecting my health and I became physically ill.

     Meanwhile, in my search for some form of intimate connection I fell into my computer and discovered a fascinating new invention called the internet. That was 1991.

     I met a married man who lived 5000 miles from me which eventually led to an affair and the end of the monogamous chapter of my life. After two "failed" marriages spanning 24 years of my life, I figured there had to be a better way of relating than the painful marriages I had endured that seemed to offer little happiness.

    And thus began the collection of my pearls.

Pearl 1: I deeply love more than one in an intimate, passionate fashion. When I fell in love with Evan, I did not stop loving my husband, Jim. What an incredible personal revolution.

Pearl 2: It is every bit as wrong to be the victim as the victimizer. As my life progressed I realized that the dynamics of dyads seem to foster my dysfunctional relating, allowing for no external system of checks and balances. With each succeeding relationship, my partner and I eventually became blind to our system as we moved further into our drama; our co-creation in a subconscious effort to reprogram and heal ourselves from our childhood wounds and the hurts from relationships before our current one.

Pearl 3: By shifting my physical location I could change my entire perspective and open my life to greater joy. When I moved from PA to HI, I realized my cultural conditioning and restrictive society I was living in was repressive and I was literally suffocating and dying. My distress had manifested itself in the form of lung disease and I was dying. Moving was perceived by my family as an extremely selfish thing for me to do, as my parents were elderly and needed me. I was in a no win situation. By learning what I wanted and giving myself permission to follow those wants, I began to distinguish who I really was from Pleaser, who had so dominated my subconscious. I began to develop an aware ego, or center and find me.

Pearl 4: There are no fairy godmothers or knights in shining armor. Evan couldn’t rescue me anymore than Jim could. I have to do it myself.

Pearl 5: Polyamory may not feel any better than monogamy. When I moved from Pennsylvania to Hawaii, I began exploring various structures involving multiple partners. I became enormously uncomfortable as I couldn’t escape my own dysfunctions by disappearing into many relations as I now had more to bust me on my stuff.

Pearl 6: Always be honest.  I played mistress in Hawaii with Evan for two years. At times the wife knew we were seeing each other and other times she didn’t. It didn’t feel good for any of us and I felt guilty and my inner critic really beat me up.

Pearl 7: I need to be included. I lived in what may be described as an "open marriage" for 4 years with a boyfriend where he didn’t meet my partners and I didn’t meet his, yet we knew about the others. That hurt. I felt lonely and abandoned. I punished myself with my new self-imposed rules of polyamory that I "shouldn’t" be jealous, and I felt horrible. I found that I like to discuss our adventures and learned the hard way that some people don’t care to know what the other has done. I am far too curious for that to work for me. When I don’t know, my abandonment issues come up and I find myself feeling quite jealous when I’m not there. As a result, I’ve learned to cut myself a break and honor where I am in the moment. My personal growth does not have to be huge steps which will only shut myself down. Baby steps are just fine.

Pearl 8: Despite how it looks, mirrors can be a blessing. We attract people who enact our inchoate, underdeveloped, suppressed, despised or otherwise disowned aspects, inner voices, shadow subselves and hated habits. We see in those we attract what we like least about ourselves. These "mirrors, reflect parts of us we need to accept, honor and enjoy n order to feel whole. In a polyamorous lifestyle, we have many mirrors to reflect back our many worts. We get a chance, with multiple lovers, to burn our karma on a polyamorous pyre.

     By this time, I was gathering enough pearls to make quite a necklace.

     Three years ago, I met and married Dr. Sasha Lessin, a poly practitioner of 30 years. For a while I thought all my dreams had come true; my prayers answered. In reality, being involved with one of the most poly men on the planet put me on the emotional fast track. Sasha--involved in several tantric, polyamorous love nests across the country--had numerous lovers. Since he had just spent a year on the road visiting them, most of them reciprocated and arrived on our door within those first three months of our relationship. Their non-verbalized expectations, either of me or of Sasha, required me to not be jealous. Oh boy, big trouble. At that point, the dam broke lose and I reacted adversely to just about everything. I felt jealous, hurt, insecure, abandoned, afraid, terrified and once quiet little angelic Janet began to cry, scream, yell and throw fits.

Pearl 9: Relax. Slow down. Breathe.

Pearl 10: I am absolutely, positively the worst candidate for community. I need my privacy. I get cranky from too much confusion and interaction. I need my own space.

Pearl 11: I like having a husband. I don’t share very well.  Nine months into my marriage with Sasha all hell broke lose. We had opened up our community to another couple. The man, Sam, thought he was a poly expert since he had lived 15 years in a large poly community in New Zealand. I felt he was a "poly Nazi." His melodramatic wife was subject to temper tantrums. I had vetoed them from the start yet Sasha wanted them. Sasha and I had developed financial problems which destabilized us and we had moved into an intense negative bonding pattern where we frequently fought. Sasha felt those poly "experts" could help. This brew was an unstable mixture bound to explode.

    The other couple convinced Sasha that I was his main problem and threatened to leave if I didn’t stop crying, quarreling and being upset. One thing led to another and soon I found myself on a plane; banished, alone and living on another island.

     I had now found myself in my life’s darkest hour. Having survived my extremely painful existence, I had at last earned my reward and found my greatest love, my deepest soul connection and twin flame. Now Sasha and I were finished, forever. We would never touch again. I was truly alone. I had never felt so sad in my entire life.

Pearl 12: Love is.  Somewhere in the midst of my greatest pain, I came to a realization that despite the fact of all that was happening, I loved Sasha. I may never see him again, yet that did not change what I felt. I love Sasha. I knew in that moment that I loved him, forever, always and completely, unconditionally, no matter what else happened. I knew that I have love and I have this incredible ability to love and that love is with me always and forever and that no one can ever take that away from me.

    As awful as this felt, if I had not dared to venture into this incredibly difficult and frightening poly path, I would never have realized this most precious pearl of all. By knowing love and experiencing love outside of myself, I grew to realize that the love was really not "out there" or "in them" but that the greatest love of all is right here, always with me, inside me and it IS me.

    Our love was too strong to allow us to part. Stubborn thing, love is. Sometimes, despite all reasoning and logic, love seems to prevail. Sasha and I couldn’t leave each other and thus we gradual found the way back home to one another.

    Somewhere during my struggles I evolved and realized that could no longer blame the other and the world and had to take responsibility for my life, my issues and my actions. Here I thought I was "safe" having married one of the world’s greatest shrinks as surely he would be able to deal with my issues. Reality is, he’s human too.

    Despite all this clarity, I still have the tendency time and again to revert to blame. Reality is, I am very difficult to live with and I have only to blame my own inner triad: me, myself and I.

    When I think about it, my poly life has perhaps been even more stressful than my monogamous one. In monogamy I could at least remain in some fictional world of denial and dysfunction. Polyamory somehow is more real, alive and in my face.

     Polyamory can end in divorce. One couple we know, married for 9 years are now reconstructing their relationship by getting a divorce and remaining business partners and friends. Another couple married for 10 years plus had a huge public party celebrating their divorce. She’s getting married to someone else next month. They too have decided to remain friends. Yet another long-time married couple are "married" once a week. Every Wednesday they are totally committed to one another for that day, with complete devotion for the duration of their interaction, then total autonomy in the interim with no questions asked till they meet again the following week.

    Frankly, it amazes me when people attempt this alone. I don’t know how anyone out there does any kind of relationships; monogamous or polyamorous without counseling seminars, workshops, or emersing themselves in a psychotherapeutic community.

Sasha and I have arrived at our bliss. What works well for us is inclusive loving, with each of us having a veto on one another's sexual involvement. All sexualloving takes place in each others' presence. Relating to other couples has to be right for each and every one of us, no small requirement, since we're bi, eccentric and intense and need all-round approbation with our lovers. We have discovered that tantric healing, regression therapy and reprogramming work. We’re now dating couples and singles committed to full-clearing as well as polyamory. It is a life-process. We now enjoy the ride.

    When loving others together, when we or someone we are dating becomes upset, we honor the upset whenever they occur and stop whatever’s going on, even sexual celebration, and focus our attention on the upset person. If we cannot resolved the upset in the present, we ask the destabilized person to return experientially to earlier times or even pastlife images of similar upsets that may be fueling her current upset.

     With each revelation we continue to gather the pearls. Now they are not only our own, but include our dear beloveds.

    One recent revelation I had regarding the perceived dichotomy (monogamy vs. polyamory) which creates the division, controversy, stress, seizing children, adversity and even sometimes violent reactions to polyamory, is how conflicted we feel when not coming to grips will the parts of ourselves which create our personal hells.

    My own personal struggle, "am I polyamorous, am I monogamous" has created a great deal of distress for myself.

     As I fell asleep the other day, I had a realization which I expressed to Sasha.

     I said, "Is it ok that I am monogamous? I mean, I really am. I am mono (one) gamous (married). I am married to one and I really have no desire to ever marry another. Yet, I truly am poly (many) amorous (love) as I love many and want to make love to them."

     He smiled and his eyes sparkled as he said "Of course!"

     And I fell asleep and had the greatest peace I’ve known in the longest time.

     All parts and voices are in us and valid .  We truly can at last give ourselves permission to have our cake and eat it too, then others may relax and find peace as well.

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     Investigate the possibilities of a polyamorous (more than one love) lifestyle.  Ask us how you can make more love in your life, relate from your highest self with your lovers and housemates, uplevel jealousy into compersion (joy at your lovers' joy), and give them each the attention, companionship, touch and sexual-loving they need.   We'll teach you empathetic active listening, imago healing, relationship imaging, Voice Dialogue centering, tantric activation and sex magic to your lovelife.

     Polyamory, loving more than one at the same time, is a relationship alternative probably preferable for everyone, all the time.  Polysexuality, however,  may be better for some people some of the time; and so, too, may all the other relationship possibilities--monogamy, singlehood, even celibacy.   What we advocate, above all, is CHOICE.   We want you to make discerning choices that serve you, that facilitate your personal growth and evolution and at the same time honor and respect the people you love and are committed to.

    You have relationship options--open marriage, pair-bonded inclusive relating, triads (man-woman-man, woman-man-woman, man-man-man, woman-woman-woman) polyfidelity, loving networks, group marriage, multi-generational line marriage, etc., with heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual alternatives within each of these categories.  Though you consult others, ultimately, you make your own choices, choices consonant with your stage of life, experience, needs at the time.

 

ALL CHAKRA TANTRA FOR THE POLYAMOROUS

RELEASE EMOTIONS IN POLYAMOROUS LOVING


The POLY ADVISORS - DR. SASHA & JANET LESSIN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS 
Why People Choose Polyamory


He Wants Sex More Than She


Can She Create Alchemy If She Lacks Chemistry with Him


Her Husband Loved Another Woman


Wife Attracted to Another Man


Fears Mate Will Prefer New Lover


He Threatens Exit When She Lovers Another

Fears Ostracism for Poly Orientation


Starting Triad


Cure Lovers' Sarcasm


Has Two Loves Obsesses on One


Her Encouragement Heals His Lovers


Living With Wife's New Lover

 

Send your questions or comments on 
this article or on polyamory to 
Dr. Sasha & Janet Lessin at 
polyamory@schooloftantra.com
.  
Say if you  want your answers by private email or, 
with  pseudonyms, in this poly advisors' page.

 

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