“So…I figured I should just come in here and say something before I lost my nerve to say it…”
I sat down in the chair next to my boss’ desk, felt awkward for a second and then just bulldozed through it.
“Well, my family and I are going to be featured in a documentary next month about alternative lifestyles…namely, nonmonogamy. Wes and I each have long term partners outside of our marriage. They live with us. My boyfriend’s wife also lives with us. It doesn’t really have anything to do with work, but I figured it was about time that I came clean so that I didn’t have to hide my life anymore.”
He took it very well. It didn’t particularly seem to faze him in the least.
“Cool!” he said, “Seriously, if it makes you happy and doesn’t cause a problem at work, it doesn’t matter to me at all.”
I chatted for a bit about the documentary and how hilarious and sometimes stressful the process was, and then we talked a bit about some work projects, and I went on back to my desk.
A few minutes later I came out to two more coworkers with whom I have worked for years. The reception was similar. One was pretty quiet about it, but ultimately seems to be OK. The other had a ton of questions and I made it clear that no questions were off limits, that he could ask about whatever he wanted.
I went out to lunch today with another coworker and told her. She took it well too and was happy that I felt comfortable enough to open up to her about such things.
I live a charmed life.
Due to lack of funds and some scheduling conflicts, I was unable to attend this year’s Poly Living Weekend, organized by Loving More. I did go with Shaun for a little while to the closing ceremonies for it on Sunday though (and Wes and Jessie were there long enough to meet the organizer). Unfortunately, I was having a really bad weekend anxiety and depression-wise. There are very definite reasons for this…some less than ideal things occurred which threw me ultimately into a spiral. There will likely be a new Adventure in Therapy post coming soon as well. So, to anyone who met me and thought me cold and stand offish or an all around mess, I apologize and hope for future opportunities to meet you when I am in a better state of mind.
I would have completely regretted being there in my screwed up state, except one important thing happened: I was made aware how important being out is to a community such as this.
At one point, Robyn Trask, the head honcho over at Loving More, called Shaun and I out into the center of the room to tell everyone that we were some of the people who would be in the documentary (her family is also being featured). We got a round of applause and some comments from people thanking us for being willing to be out like that…to have our lives put on display so that people can know the awesomeness that is poly family. I hadn’t really realized what a relatively big deal the documentary might be and I hadn’t considered that it was somewhat special of us to agree to participate. Perhaps it’s that I blog a lot about my personal life or perhaps because I have grown up being on stage that I don’t always remember how hard it is to put yourself out there. Don’t get me wrong…I have been nervous about the documentary. The idea of the world seeing me on television talking about my relationships filled me with a lot of anxiety…but that was mostly because part of my life was still be led dishonestly. I knew that the airing of the show would out me here because I’m sure someone here will see it. I felt terrified of having that out of my control. My mind went to the worst places. I began to fear that I would lose my job: Gina fired for being peculiar. I don’t know why I thought that, but stranger things have happened I suppose. I went through with it anyway though because I knew that it was important. Visibility is important to movements and there is most certainly a polyamory movement in our midst…one that needs strong and confident voices and those who have the privilege to be able to share their lives with the public without fear.
Last November I went to a drug store to fill my first prescription for Zoloft. The pharmacy was next door to a Hair Cuttery. I looked at the Hair Cuttery and reflected on how long my hair was getting. Then I realized that the prescription signified the start of a new era in my life. I usually chop off my hair when such a bench mark is reached and this was no different. Just like that, I went in and told them to chop off 8 inches of hair. I went home and dyed it red and took my first pill, hoping for the best.
I make quick decisions like that sometimes. This morning while waiting for my train in the rain for a Monday at work, I had a moment of calm and clarity and decided that I was going to come out to my boss and some close coworkers about my polyamorous lifestyle. Nothing in particular happened to make me want to do this, though I expect that having a nasty bout with anxiety this weekend reminded me that things that are bad for my mental health, such as lying about the reality of my life at a place where I spend at least 40 hours a week, must be dealt with and discarded. Being dishonest about things in your life causes stress, even if you are not fully conscious of it and though I feel a little anxious and exhausted from my disclosures today, I also feel a general weight is being lifted from my shoulders.
Next month our family will be heading down to Atlanta for the Atlanta Poly Weekend and I am looking really forward to it. Not only will it be my birthday weekend (and we will likely be meeting a whole host of awesome fun people to celebrate my turning 32 with), but we might be semi-celebrities there, which might be pretty entertaining. But most importantly, I will be able to enjoy it as a fully integrated member of the community, someone living honestly and out as a polyamorous person…a person who would be so much worse off if the support system a polyamorous life has offered me were not here. I can speak knowing that I am not hiding anywhere anymore and that is a pretty nice birthday present to give myself.
It’s funny to think that being who you are takes such effort and so much courage. I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment where individuality was always encouraged but everyone has their limits. Everyone has things that they worry will bring negative judgment against them and it takes a lot to just say, “Oh fuck it. I know you’re going to judge me no matter what…you may as well judge me for the truth.” It has seemed absurd to me for a while that something like being intimately committed to more than one person is something that people will judge you negatively for, but I think that about a lot of things that people feel the need to hide in their closets. But I was scared here. I had to give myself a pep talk in order to walk into my boss’ office this morning. I had to give myself a bigger one to tell the next two people. But what good would I be if I wanted to encourage others who felt capable of being out to do it if I was too afraid to do it myself. I’ve never felt comfortable asking people to do something that I am not willing to do also…so, my activism had to start with my own behavior.
This won’t really change anything around here. The only thing it changes is that when I walk around, I am walking around knowing that I’m not hiding this. It has nothing to do with my job and won’t come into play often, but it matters that my steps will be a little lighter without all this weight making them heavy. I have this weird feeling like I can start really living now, like completely. I didn’t really realize that would be the result of this. It certainly help that people received the news well and here we are.
May you have a good life changing day soon too!