Week One: Where You Live
Every other line of this prompt stood out for me so it was hard to pick a place to “start”.
“We all stand at the corner of so many identities.”
You know what expression has always made me nauseous? Different hats for different people. Meaning: you play a different version of yourself depending on who you’re around. That sounds like a lot to keep track of, and the recipe for a fucking personality disorder.
The only thing I can do anymore is be myself, all the time. Which is interesting because “myself” changes a lot…..especially lately. Through all of these changes it’s curious to see who’s stuck around (hardly anyone) and who’s drifted away (pretty much everyone). I’m realizing more and more that we, as humans, use each other a lot. I was only useful to these people because I represented a certain something for them. And now that it’s changed, they don’t have a need for me anymore.
I feel like, at 32, I’m officially morphing into a legitimate adult. I’m shedding, things are changing, I want different things, I care about different things.
I feel like once I’m through this transition, things will settle and I’ll find my community again. But for now – it’s a lonely metamorphosis.
I used to be obsessed with natural birth. I worked as a birth doula and felt it was my civic duty to inform every woman I came across what she was capable of and what her options were. I genuinely felt that the best way for most women to give birth, barring high risk factors, was at home. And I genuinely judged those who didn’t, especially when they knew they could.
Now? I haven’t been to a birth in five fucking years. I could give a shit where anyone gives birth and I don’t even really want to talk about it anymore. Epidurals? Fuck yeah. It’s 2017. If someone doesn’t want to feel every last bit of birth, what the fuck do I care? And who am I or anyone to say that will interfere with anything? Home birth? Awesome! It’s 2017 and it’s legal in most states now, as is midwifery care. Midwives are licensed, well trained and highly competent. Why not have a home birth if that’s what you want. As Dave Matthews famously said, he loved having his babies at home because he knew where the beer was. Bottom line? Give birth wherever the fuck YOU want and check your judgement at the door.
I’ve lost most of my friends in the birth community because, if I’m not attending births flying the natural birth flag high, then I’m challenging everything that they stand for. And who wants that?
I used to be the face of budget travel. I was Miss No Excuses. I figured if I was broke as shit and I could set up my life and priorities so that I could travel Europe for months at a time, then so could anyone – and they “should”. I went every summer, proud of how little money I spent and how much I could make happen even given my less than abundant circumstances.
Now? Fuck budget travel. I don’t want to stay in hostels and eat grocery store food and take buses everywhere. I want nice hotels, the fanciest Airbnb listing, chauffeured town cars, Michelin starred restaurants, private tour guides, nights at the theater.
I have lots of people who are “inspired” by my traveling adventures and friends who can’t get enough of it. But now that I’m saying I want more, they curiously want nothing to do with me. Now that I’m not traveling this summer, we have nothing to talk about. Now that I no longer serve as their inspiration, I have nothing to offer.
I used to be the fucking cheerleader for quitting your job and thinking outside of the box of the American Dream: 2.5 kids, a spouse, a mortgage, a paycheck, a retirement account. I quit my well-paying corporate job and majorly downsized so that I could focus on building my online business, creating passive streams of income, and not have my time beholden to anyone but me.
Now? I really could give a fuck what people do because in the end we all have to find our own way in our own time. And fucking entrepreneurship? It ain’t for the fucking weak. I used to think everyone could and should do it, but now I know better. I’ve been at for five years and even though I’m yet to hit my first (of many) rungs of success, I’m still at it every day. My brain has officially been rewired and while I struggle to pay my rent most months, it’s not even in my wheelhouse to get a “regular” job. I just don’t even operate like that anymore. There’s no Plan B. It’s this, balls deep, all the way. But I get it. I see how terrifying it is – the thought of leaving your job, your comfortable, predictable situation. And this whole making your own dreams come true thing is not for the faint of heart. It’s for a very particular type of person, but the world thrives on diversity, so that’s okay. There’s not one formula to apply to all of us.
You can apply the “friend” metaphor here, too. Because I can no longer serve as the person who makes it look easy. It’s not easy anymore, it’s hard. And I don’t want to struggle anymore – I want to be financially free and have it all. Somehow “struggle” and “go after your dreams” go hand in hand for most people, and now that I reject that story – we have nothing to talk about. All of the sudden I’ve proclaimed I want more out of life and it’s just fucking crickets.
I am and have always been very sexually open. I’ve always felt like it’s something that, as a society, we need to discuss much more freely. Sex: it’s how we all got here, it’s what makes the world go round, so why is sex and everything that has to do with it – menstruation, birth control, abortion, infidelity, non-monogamy, fetishes – off limits to talk about?
This sexual openess used to translate to the physical. I loved to hug and cuddle and kiss and I gravitated towards situations where that could be shared openly. My boyfriend and I have been “polyamorous” from the beginning six and a half years ago, and in the beginning – that too was more sexual.
Now? I’m still very much open sexually, but I have a deep reverence for my body and I don’t feel the need to share my physical self so freely anymore, it’s just not what does it for me now. It takes a lot for me to want to commune with someone else in that way, and most people don’t last long enough to get to that point. I’ve grown to loathe the label “polyamorous” because people immediately jump to the physical act of sex, but polyamory is so much more than that. For us now it is about emotional connections with people. It’s about people we could see sharing our life with. It’s about shared goals, inspirations, and priorities. If sexual compatibility comes on top of all that – awesome! But it’s not the ultimate goal.
We’ve started referring to ourselves as relationship anarchists because that seems much more fitting. No rules, no dictionary description. Just whatever feels right in the moment.
This has brought about a shift in friendships, too. Because now we’re not that easy, safely labeled polyamorous couple. You’ll actually have to get to know us now. You can’t peg us for this certain type of couple anymore. Because right now? Anything goes. And it’s amazing how uncomfortable that makes most people.
Denise – Wow. Thanks for sharing your transition. I too quit my job couple years ago and it is interesting to see who stayed and who went. Loved the word metamorphosis to describe the transition i can totally relate to that.
Daniel – I like how you work your way through the “masks” that you do not need any more and get to the authentic level for you that you do like luxury and hard work is there but not to be seen as special….then you get to such fine authentic ideas: “For us now it is about emotional connections with people. It’s about people we could see sharing our life with. It’s about shared goals, inspirations, and priorities”….describing yourselves as relationship anarchists seems like living in the moment….taking what’s really there and it’s exciting to read your process to this point and particularly that if people can’t peg you for a certain type of couple “it’s amazing how uncomfortable that makes most people”…..which completes what you started with that you can’t be living for other’s expectations of you…..quite a write here, Katie!
DeAnna – There is so much power in your writing. It is raw and honest. It’s so strong I feel like the words would reach up and form a middle finger if they could! Things are so much less clear and right and wrong as I get older too. Less judgement and purity.
Jena Schwartz “we all have to find our own way in our own time.”
Oh, becoming. Changing in our own time. I loved reading every word of this — it’s a privilege to read about your changes. And there is a vulnerability here, too. The inevitability of loss.
Reminded me of something I wrote about 5 years ago, about imaginal cells (the caterpillar basically turns to mush before its emergence as a butterfly):
Katie DiBenedetto Oh, I really loved this! The projecting our own fears thing is so rich for me right now. I’m like – just be who you are, you don’t have to be afraid of me or who I am. Who are you? Also I feel like I’m in the in-between-dissolved-into-goo stage and have been here soooooo long. So in taking that to mean that the transformation will be equal. Like. Ima be the most stunning fucking butterfly you’ve ever seen.
Janet – Thank you for sharing all of this. I spent many years in a place I called ‘Chrysalis soup’ — because the caterpillar has to essentially dissolve before the butterfly can take shape. It’s a very hard place to be, but worth it in the end.
Daniel – Janet this “Chrysalis soup” is quite an image, Janet, and very understandable—not getting the whatever (nutrition, maturation?) to move on and take shape, as you put it….