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Poly Means Many: in response to The Guardian

Poly Means Many: there are many aspects of Polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found on Poly Means Many. This month we chose to respond to a piece in The Guardian.

This week, the Guardian published an article by Emer O’Toole on the subject of polyamory. It was an interesting read and in it, Emer gave the stories of several of her friends who were polyamorous. I really liked the structure of the article, and the stories, showing that poly really does mean many – many stories and many ways of structuring relationships and lives.

In the spirit of the article, here is my story.

The natural

I started going out with my first real boyfriend when I was 17. And about 7 months later, he broke up with me for reasons that I did not at that point understand. I later found out that one of the main reasons he has broken up with me was because he had met and kissed another girl. He was feeling guilty about this but also didn’t want to hurt me and so didn’t tell me. When I found out about the other girl, I was heartbroken. I felt hurt that you wouldn’t trust me to tell me what had happened, and that he didn’t feel able to tell me and trust that I would respond appropriately.  I guess this was my first clue that I wouldn’t be doing relationships in a conventional way.

My next relationship of any length was with a wonderful man I am privileged to now call one of my best friends. He was in a vulnerable place emotionally at the time, and therefore despite the obvious feelings we had for one another, we never officially called ourselves a relationship. I knew that at any time, either of us could meet someone else, or find ourselves in different circumstances, and that they could take priority over what we had together.

The new circumstances arrived, and I moved to Sheffield. In my first year here, I started a relationship with a married couple. It was the first relationship I had had with a woman, and it was so much fun to play with the two of them.

I still didn’t have a name for these flexible relationships I was having. There was still very definitely an assumption that at some point I would find the one and then all of this experimentation would be just that. A period of exploration at the beginning of my life as an overture and prelude to the main event – marriage and 2.4 children.

And then I met Tom. Well, more accurately I met up with Tom again. Tom had been one of the first people I met when I came to Sheffield, and we had started a relationship within the first week of knowing one another by virtue of being two thirds of a threesome. Also he let me drive his Mini. Which is a swift way to a girls heart if ever there was one!

By the time Tom and I got back together, he had figured out that he was polyamorous, had a word for it, and knew that for him, any relationship of significance needed to be a polyamorous one. As soon as he explains the principles to me, I knew that I had found my home. All of my past relationships suddenly seemed to make a lot more sense.

For this reason, polyamory has always seemed, at least for me, to be an orientation. A relationship orientation, if you will.

That conversation, between Tom and I, in which he explained polyamory, will be 10 years ago this July. I am so grateful to the work of everyone who has gone before us, to those who have battled for individuality, and who have shared information that has helped me to know myself and love my loves so much better.

So, how about you? What is your polyamorous story?

March shop and craft update!

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I couldn’t do a February update as I was busy with a custom order, which I can now tell you about! This is (before washing) the second of two skeins of light fingering weight yarn I was commissioned to do.

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The final thickness and length were both super satisfying. I beat my previous record for length from 100g by 100m! It was a real challenge to get the yarn as fine as I wanted it, but the recipient is thankfully happy with it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they make with it!

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Because of having to concentrate so closely on the commissioned project, I decided to have some fun with my next few skeins, and have been playing around!

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This pink was a JOY to spin! I didn’t concentrate too much on making it any particular thickness, and did a very simple and lazy 2ply with it by balling it using my wool winder, then taking the outer and inner ends and plying them together.

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Apparently my resting WPI for merino is 16wpi, and again, I was very pleased with the length I got.

IMG_20150318_113747I stuck this up on the shop today, after managing to get some pretty good pics of it. (Shop link, pink merino yarn)

The next thing I got my teeth into was something completely new! I’d noticed a pleasing synchrony of colours in my stash between some merino tops and a couple of machine yarns, so decided to try doing some thick and thin spinning and combine the different elements to make things interesting.

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Obviously I also put some sparkles in there because Why Would You Not! (Merino top thick and thin, plied with acrylic green and sparkles)

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These two also seemed to go together quite well. (Merino and silk, plied with cotton)

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And the yarn I ended up with from this I’m also really happy with.

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I had some of the merino single left, but not enough to sell. I made a 2ply with it, using the same method as the pink above, and I’m going to try using it as a contrast yarn to finish off a top I’ve had half-knitted for about 18 months! I’ll let you know how I get on with that!

Apart from all the spinning, I took apart an old poncho and am reusing the yarn to make a big baggy cardigan, and after finding some very bright odds and ends of sock yarn in my spring cleaning, am working on the most eye-bleedingly bright socks you ever did see! I can’t wait to wear them!

Also, just for fun, I played around with some nail polish! See you next month!

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Poly Means Many: Time Management

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts will be found at www.polymeansmany.com . This month, our topic is “Time Management”.

My experiences on the topic of time management are so deeply intertwined with my experiences of disability that I don’t think I can write about them separately.

With all polyamorous relationships the fundamental questions of time management are, what do you want to spend your time doing? What is important to you? Who is important to you? What do you need to feel fulfilled? What you need to feel loved? What is it that feeds you and makes you feel satisfied? What common thread runs through the days that end in contentment?

While I would love to say that my family and I have figured this out, we really haven’t. According to our shared google calendar we have date nights set up every week to make sure each couple touches base on a regular schedule. However since moving into the same house together the schedule has fallen apart a bit. Despite the fact that it’s almost three years ago we still haven’t worked out the kinks.

This has been, in no small part, as a result of my worsening disabilities. Since we moved in together, my disabilities have got much worse. I’ve always been the person in the family who is most attached to scheduling and who finds it easiest to maintain diaries. As my chronic fatigue has got worse, more and more of our home lives have become about working around my limitations, and filling in the gaps for the things that I can no longer do. In many respects, this is so much easier for a multi partner family then it would be for a monogamous family. In fact, back in 2011 when I last had a major relapse, my husband found it much more difficult to care for me on his own then he has recently with the support of our two partners.

The challenge, then, is for us to find time to grow and nurture our relationships around the onerous daily requirements of caring for someone who is very sick. Especially when the person who is very sick is also the person who would normally keep track of diaries and schedules, and make sure that things like date night don’t get forgotten in the day to day.

Back, therefore, to those fundamental questions. What is important to you? What do you need out of a relationship? What you need to feel loved?

For me, the most important thing that makes me feel loved, is physical contact. Not necessarily sexual contact, although that’s very nice, but being hugged and physically close to people. To be held and made to feel that I am worthy of their attention. As an extrovert in a relationship with three introverts, this can sometimes be difficult to obtain! Also, if someone spends a lot of time washing your dirty clothes, bringing you food in bed, and generally doing all the tiny things most people do for themselves, it can feel selfish to ask them to spend to yet more time on you, this time fulfilling your relationship needs as well as basic care. But while care is important, it’s just as important to spend time remembering why you agreed to do the care in the first place. For me, it’s also important to know that I give my partners more than just daily tasks and obligations, to know, and put aside time to remind ourselves, that I can make them laugh and smile too.

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January Shop and Craft Update

One of my resolutions for 2015 is to add two things to my Etsy shop each month, and to blog about it when I do, to spare my poor darling partners from at least some of my yarn based enthusiasm.

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Above is the last month’s work on the wheel. I know that to most people for whom spinning is a job, this isn’t much, but I’m really proud of it, and I think that I’ve got a sustainable work rate, given my current level of ability.

Now, on to the geeky stuff!

Recently, a friend and I visited Wingham Wool Work in Yorkshire. If you’re a spinner and you ever have the chance to go, take it! Here are some pics to show you some of the reasons why they have earned a reputation as one of the best fibre wholesalers in the UK.

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These photos show one of the back sheds in which there are more shades of merino/silk blend than I may ever be able to spin. (Although I am tempted to try.)

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This view shows the wall of samples in this shed. I’ve been trying them randomly, but I think I might need a more systematic approach. Alphabetical? Top to bottom? Colour wheel?

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The natural wool shed! There are so many different breeds in here! When I’m feeling brave, I’m going to start experimenting with putting this lot together with lots and lots of dye!

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And, last one of the shop, here is my fabulous partner in yarn, Sy.

Alas, I can’t show you what I’m working on at the moment as it’s a secret commission, although I will be putting up lots of pictures when I can as it’s a lovely project.

Please check out my shop over on FLK shop on Etsy. I’ve done a bit of a refresh today and added the skeins from the top of this post. Get them before they go!

Letter to @theGreenParty

Oh my gods the Green Party. You idiots! You blithering idiots, you shower of cunts! How dare you? How Very Fucking Dare You?!

It took me years to trust you enough to join. YEARS. Years and the fact that I personally knew people involved in the party who appeared to not be the blithering idiots you have shown yourselves to be over the last two weeks.

What were you thinking? This is shitty shitty politics, a politics of the past, and a politics I thought you were mature enough not to engage in.

Idiots!

So, about 6 months ago, I joined the Green Party as a member. I’d been talking to other members for a while, including Peter Garbutt, the Sheffield Hallam parliamentary candidate against Nick Clegg in May.

There were many reasons for me actually joining, but mostly it was because it had been about a year since I’d seen any press release of theirs that I hadn’t agreed with, because they were discussing dropping their opposition to nuclear power, and because they appeared to be making a big deal of the fact that they wanted a basic income.

Our current economic structures are fucked, let’s not kid ourselves about that. They do not work, and they especially do not work for those dependant on the state. They also perpetuate and enhance the problem of there being fewer and fewer jobs for the working class, and thus they also increase over time the number of people who are dependant on the state.

Universal basic income is not a fix for this. It will not dismantle those broken structures. They still need to be replaced, but in the meantime, basic income can plug the gaps, and keep people from dying.

And there is a growing recognition of the idea, and a growing political will for it.

Trying to grow that will and raise the visible number of people who support that idea was a huge part of my decision to join the Green Party.

And now they are dropping it as a part of their manifesto. They are hedging their bets and operating on the old assumptions that somehow compromise is the way to gain electoral and political success.

It will not. My politics are not the politics of compromise. I will not let myself be allied to spineless policy that changes at the whiff of broader electoral success. The whole reason for the Green Surge (TM) was that people were attracted to the principles. To something that wasn’t the same. To something that might perhaps be new. To a party that appeared to not only be genuinely left wing, but also willing to stay that way despite the temptation to seek the middle ground.

I am profoundly disappointed, and have cancelled my membership.

And that’s not even touching on the whole transphobic parliamentary candidate and donor to the party Rupert Read, who is apparently totally fine to stay a member, donor and candidate while defending people who LITERALLY WANT TRANS WOMEN TO DIE AND DISAPPEAR. Seriously, the Party’s response to his comments was derisible.

In summary:

PS: This post is written with sincere apologies to my Poly Means Many colleagues, for whom I should have written and didn’t. 

IAPT are shit

Content warning: violation of boundaries, medics being shit.

For the uninitiated, IAPT is supposed to mean Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

There are so many reasons that IAPT are shit, it seems churlish to complain about only a few of them, but still.

IAPT have really outdone themselves with their latest letter to me.

Background: I have a condition called Non Epileptic Attack Disorder (NEAD), the primary treatment for which is psychotherapy. I have been referred to and had many sessions with a specialist psychotherapist, but the treatment has not yet stopped my seizures.

I was referred to my local IAPT back in the summer because my relationship with my psychotherapist has reached a difficult point which we can’t get past together, in part because we see the world very differently on a small but crucial detail, but mostly because although I have made significant progress over the last few years, I am still essentially a bull in the china shop of my own emotions, and I have some significant work to do before I am ready to take the next step with the (expensive, resource-heavy, very emotionally draining) psychotherapy.

The first IAPT person I saw made me cry for an hour, ignored everything I said and treated me like an idiot. So the latest person I spoke to was already my second time around this block.

We had two phone calls. Each long. Each tiring. And by the end of the second one, it was clear that she couldn’t help me any more than the first one, even if she was nicer about it.

But, during the course of these phone calls, I disclosed quite a lot of stuff to her. A couple of these things are ones that a lot of people know, but that I’ve been working really hard over many years to keep out of my general notes, and to only disclose to people who keep separate notes, ie, psychological staff.

The fact that I’m kinky.

The fact that a member of my family sexually abused me when I was young. 

Last night, I discovered that both these facts are just right there in the letter the IAPT therapist has written to my GP. They’re in my notes. My general practice notes.

It took me 10 years to get rid of the mistake in my notes that said I’d had meningitis as a child when I didn’t. I’m never going to be able to get rid of this.

And after all that, they’ve not even got anything useful to offer me.

Fuck you, IAPT. Fuck you very much.

What does oxygen smell like?

I have terrible taste in music, and it’s honestly not much I think about on a day to day basis. Although making music has always been something I enjoy, I’ve never written my own, and it’s always been the mechanics of making a good noise and appropriately interpreting someone else’s work that has interested me.

So, generally, I don’t pay too much attention to listening to music in detail.

It helps (or not) that I have a terrible memory for lyrics (I forgot half the words to one of the songs in my grade 8 singing exam. I’d been practising it for 6 months at that point) and that I find it very difficult to remember song names, artists, composers, any of that. So, before I had Spotify that I could synchronise across all my devices and very easily discover and save music, I pretty much listened to the same stuff I got on mix CDs from pretty boys in 6th form. (Paul Kizintas, you have so much to answer for.)

All this means that, until recently, I didn’t really play around with what I was listening to, and didn’t really notice.

And then I figured out Spotify radio and how to actually find new music. And a whole world of awesome new artists opened up. I listened to FKA Twigs and loved it. And that led me to AlunaGeorge. Then I found Chvrches and understood why everyone had been going crazy about them. Tegan and Sara made me dance in the kitchen. London Grammar kept me company while I read on Christmas day. Lorde!

Then today, I just put on an album which I’ve always quite liked to have on in the background whilst I potter around,  American Slang by The Gaslight Anthem. And it hit me in the face. This is a MALE voice. It’s a MAN singing. I’d never noticed the gender of the singer before, except when listening to pieces in the western classical tradition that I either have or want to sing myself.

Looking at the rest of my music, how did I not notice what a sausage-fest it was?

What does oxygen smell like?

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