Polyamory writer and activist Louisa Leontiades has published a piece on the Huffington Post called The Hell of Monogamy. In it, she describes her own experiences trying to force herself to fit a model of relationship that wasn’t a good match for her.
This essay got me thinking about my own past, and how it is I have never faced trying to squeeze into a monogamous relationship. I’ve known for as long as I can remember that monogamy didn’t feel natural to me, and I’ve never been in a monogamous relationship. Somehow, I managed to wriggle away from the social expectations of conventional relationships, so I’ve never had the experience of ending up trapped in a relationship straitjacket that didn’t fit.
Part of that might be down to awesome parenting. I was blessed with a mother who recognized early on that I was an unconventional child, and who encouraged me to explore the things that made me happy.
And part of it, paradoxically, might be the fact that I was privileged by a childhood spent growing up alienated and alone in rural Nebraska.
When I was young, we lived in the rural Midwest. I spent my formative years about five miles outside a tiny town called Venango, Nebraska, that was (and is) little more than a small collection of grain elevators on a strategic road near the Colorado border. My middle-school class had eight people in it, which was the largest class the school had seen in many years; the class one grade behind me had one student. (I traveled through Venango when I moved out to Portland, and I learned that the school had closed down more than fifteen years ago for lack of students.)
Needless to say, I fit in with my classmates like a rabbit in a cage of wolverines. The kids around me were interested in cars and football; I spent my time building model rockets. (Did you know that for less than a hundred bucks, you can build a rocket that’s supersonic before it’s five feet off the ground? Isn’t that cool?)
I would never have guessed it then, but growing up in such a profoundly alienating environment equipped me with a solid foundation of don’t-give-a-damn that has served me well later in life. I never fit in as a kid, so I never felt the need to fit in as a teenager or an adult. I didn’t value the same things my fellow middle-school students did, so I never felt compelled to value the same things as the people around me as a teenager or an adult.
For that, I am immeasurably grateful. With all the things I’ve experienced, I’ve never been through the hell of trying to squash myself down into a box that wasn’t the right shape for me.
My website on polyamory and this book are important to me. They contain a lot of lessons that have been hard in the learning; when I first started writing about polyamory, I wanted to write the things I wish my younger self had known.
More than that, I would like to reach people who still feel alienated–people who are trying to squash themselves into boxes that don’t fit them. In a perfect world, that is a hell nobody would have to face.