This too shall pass.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month seven bloggers ALBJ, Delightfully Queer, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, Post Modern Sleaze, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin will write about their views on one of them. This month we’re talking about “loss”.
‘You can’t lose what you never had’, they say. And it’s true. Conversely, anything you can attach to, you will lose. The universe loves balance, and grief is simply the price we pay for love.
There are so many ways to lose someone. You can lose them physically – to death, to distance; you can lose them emotionally, or intellectually; you can lose them via narrative, via circumstance, via neglect and attention alike, but there really is only one ending to any story. There is death. Until then, our lives and love progress and entwine, it gets complicated and there’s loss. Every relationship ends in loss. So why is this a “Poly Means Many” topic at all?
Let’s step back. When you talk about loss, specifically about losing someone – what does it mean to have ‘had them’? More than anyone, perhaps, the polyamorous reject the notion of ‘possessing’ a person. Rather, that person is understood to have facets and desires that fall outside of any given relationship. Perhaps we ‘have’ that person via shared experiences, shared hopes, and we lose them when those hopes no longer align or we can, for whatever reason, no longer share our experiences.
Hope, experience, and the people they belong to are unique. Relationships between two people are irreplicable, irreplaceable. This is why we can sustain them in their multiples. For some it must seem like a relationship ending or existing over distance might be easier if you’ve another parter to fall back on but loss is loss, it does’t matter if you have someone else to go home to. A child doesn’t mourn the loss of a parent less if they’ve another still in their life. I miss the partner I see less often with a persistent dull ache completely unrelated to the joy of being such an involved part of my local partner and metamour’s lives.
I also miss my long-term ex, now abroad, with a pain I suspect is permanent. Time has eroded the sharper edges, but it sits in my heart as solid and as weighty as rock. Our relationship was a fairy tale, and the loss for me was two-fold. I mourned for him and with him I mourned the dream. The boy meets girl, big white wedding, house in the country, cat, dog, 2.4 children tale was no longer my future. I found poly, and with it a much realer more reasonable framework for love. A framework based on trust and respecting the individual, rather than fear and resultant possession. Still, I mourn(ed) for the life I wouldn’t have. The fairytale that was told and retold to me relentlessly, by book, bedtime story, film, society, every magazine I was ever sold, was not a story for me.
Yet it was only mourning the loss of that seemingly unquestionable framework that freed me to rebuild a structure that worked for me. It’s not seeing it for what it is that is the lesson (we can all see social constructs for what they are, simply mass convention all too often unquestioned) it is letting go of those that don’t work for us that’s the lesson.
“At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.”
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
How to let go? How to survive loss? How to heal an injured heart? No one can answer these things. We can barely share our stories. Language falls woefully short of the enormity of human experience and, really, when are we ever more human when we’re letting go?
“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
The greatest losses, though, aren’t seen until it’s too late. Every moment you spend not appreciating the things you have while you have them is a loss you will mourn for later. So, if you’re reading this in good health, with friends, family, loved ones you could pick up the phone and text right now, and you aren’t greatful to your core, that is loss.
Stop reading the internet. Go tell someone you love, that you love them.
Don’t hesitate. Regret is the biggest loss you’ll ever grieve for