taura_g: (Puppy!)
This Post is now public.   Please feel free to share with others.  I would like to spread the conversation.

I will start with saying that I am trying to start a conversation and not criticize.  The Poly 201
panel was probably the best I have been to yet.  It dealt with more of the real world issues that
are not necessarily Poly but because it happens to a Poly person there are more facets to the issues
than if it was just occurring around a "normal" relationship.

But there were some gaps in the conversation--time constraints as well as lack of relevant experience
on the panel that has me processing quite a bit more than I usually do with panels.  The first of two
that were particularly vexing was the response to "what happens when someone is dealing with a long-term
illness or even someone dying".

The tl;dr answer that was given: The community is really good in crisis with support and casseroles.

The community really is very good with crisis just as many communities are.  In moments of crisis, people
come together instantly to try to help, to support and to make their presence known.  But the question
wasn't about immediate crisis.  It was about long term illness or someone dying.

This is another story.  When things go on long term, the larger community moves on to another event or
another crisis.  A smaller circle of friends will try to continue the help and support, but as things drag
on for a longer and longer period of time, it can become more and more difficult to recruit help.

The person who posed the topic later mentioned that they felt like if you aren't dating/sleeping/involved with
someone (anymore or at all-my addition not theirs) the feeling is it's an imposition to ask.  I can't argue with
that too much with my personal experience.  Whenever I put out general requests for help during Aries' X00th
hospital stay it was exceedingly for anyone other than the closest of friends or people who he was involved with
to respond.

Then there is the other edge of that sword.  He was in the hospital the increasingly common medical reasons, for
his bipolar or for his addiction--and I would get judged for any number of things from just taking time for
myself to not leaving him for good.  A spouse gets judged for going on dates when their primary is sick and yet
the help that would make caretaker self-care easier often falls by the wayside.

For the record, I'm not making accusations or trying to make anyone feel defensive.  No one is really built to deal
with long term crises.  We are not taught to take care of ourselves very well, never mind to care for others.  It
seems there are the people who go overboard and the people who just don't know how to help.  I am not blaming
anyone for these problems.  I am trying to draw attention to the deficit in the conversation and the difference
between crisis in short term and long term.

Awareness of a problem is the first step to discussion and possible solution.

Date: 2014-01-21 03:30 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] ricevermicelli.livejournal.com
Thank you for raising this. I feel quite raw about this issue, and am not ready to speak my mind until my thoughts are somewhat more in order, but it's good to see it not just drop.

Thank you.

Date: 2014-01-21 03:44 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] taura-g.livejournal.com
For bringing the topic up. I haven't even begun to add my thoughts from the other side of my husband's death... I think it is a valuable conversation that needs to continue.

Date: 2014-01-21 03:35 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] surrealestate.livejournal.com
I think this is a useful topic to discuss but I'm not sure what the connection is specifically to poly, as opposed to a general community issue. Do you think you could elaborate on that aspect? (I wasn't at the panel.)

FTR, I can't take any of this personally since I didn't know you then and never saw any of those requests. I came to the funeral as a community member (and in particular to support Lori, who didn't want to be there alone and also needed a ride).

Date: 2014-01-21 04:05 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] ricevermicelli.livejournal.com
I raised it at the panel, and to me there are a few issues. These are not necessarily representative of anyone else's issues.

- In the standard-issue monogamous relationship model, there is a script, and a formal legal process for saying that you are in the kind of relationship that is intended to be a support structure for all the crap life can throw at you. If my husband were to leave me because I have no breasts anymore, the entire world would think I was pretty damn justified in being heartbroken and thinking he was a big jerk. But my non-cohabitating secondary and I probably did not discuss terms for that situation. My husband and I didn't discuss terms for it either, it was covered under some blanket language in the marriage vows, and the details are discussed only as they become actual. There is no script for determining how much sickness (or health) is bearable in many poly relationships, and there is certainly no script if the answer to that question is not "all of it."

- What if you don't have a primary? If you have a non-(insert preferred term for "important enough" here) relationship with someone whose shit has just hit the fan, how do you determine what your ability to contribute to the situation is? And if your ability is insufficient, is there a way to bow out without being a jerk?

- How do you deal with polyphobia (aka: you or your partner being judged to be an adulterous weasel) when one partner is going through a long-term illness?

- How do you deal with situations that majorly effect your sexual self in a community where so many relationships are founded on potential sexual involvement? How many casseroles can you ask for before you have to clarify your level of emotional and sexual interest and availability? Can you still ask for casseroles if the levels involved are nil?

Question:

Date: 2014-01-21 03:46 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] taura-g.livejournal.com
I've been thinking of making this post public or maybe posting in one of the Poly communities.

Would you be OK with this?

Re: Question:

Date: 2014-01-21 03:47 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] ricevermicelli.livejournal.com
Yes, that's fine.

That is a panel blurb

Date: 2014-01-21 08:12 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] drwex
drwex: (Default)
If you are amenable in the proper time I would propose that we try to structure a full discussion around "Poly when the shit hit the fan" using your questions as qualifiers for panelists.

Where by "we" I mean I'll figure out who's running the track next year but if you feel you have the energy to carry this ball I'm not trying to take ownership away. If that makes any sense...

Re: That is a panel blurb

Date: 2014-01-21 08:52 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] ricevermicelli.livejournal.com
I would be interested, but I would also be very wary of believing that these are the only questions.

Re: That is a panel blurb

Date: 2014-01-21 08:56 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] drwex
drwex: (Default)
Quite right. In my experience of proposing and getting panels in, what's useful is to have 1-3 defining questions so that people are clear on the core topic. People who are on the panel will bring their own additional questions so it's a balancing act to try and define a scope that is useful, can be worth 75 minutes, and can be organized in a way that makes everyone feel like they didn't just waste those minutes.

This year 3 of my 4 panels had good preparatory email discussions among the participants and I felt they went better for that.

Date: 2014-01-22 04:19 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] surrealestate.livejournal.com
Thanks for the reply. These are along the lines of what I was thinking when I started reading this post, but didn't seem to be what taura_g was getting at, but I probably misinterpreted and also lacked the context of the panel itself. (And also forgot that was what I was thinking by the time I finished reading the post. Yeesh.)

I also agree with wex that this itself would be an excellent basis for a panel.
Edited Date: 2014-01-22 04:21 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-21 04:41 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] marius23.livejournal.com
Thanks for asking the question. I don't have much to contribute at this point, but I am certainly reaching the age when these sorts of situations may come up all too frequently.

Date: 2014-01-21 04:45 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] rain-herself.livejournal.com
I think you raise a really good point. So much so that maybe this question is a 300-level one. :) Not to say that the panel's response was correct (I obviously wasn't there either), but that you rightly point out how incredibly complex and nuanced the issue of long-term care can be versus the relatively easy in-and-out involvement during an acute crisis.

It's kind of exciting, in a way, to me, that the poly community is young enough that this is a really open question. Who do we want to be? Do we want to expand the social norms in more ways than just sexually, and if so, can we create a communal framework for a heavier mutual involvement combined with the necessary self-care to make that work? There's a real opportunity here, I think, to expand the basic ideologies of poly to encompass non-standard community building protocols, either within our own local communities or the poly community at large.

I don't think we're going to solve it in a comment thread, but I think it's great that you're raising the question, because this problem is only going to become more and more relevant as we age and face the reality that our medical science is (for the moment) ahead of our ability to maintain quality of life for the whole lifespan. There are going to be a lot more long-term care situations, and that's going to require us to learn how to sustain our involvement past the crisis if we are to maintain our communities and their individual members.

Date: 2014-01-21 03:03 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] gosling.livejournal.com
I have lots and lots of (poorly articulated) thoughts on this brewing in my head. It seems a critically important discussion to have and keep having.

Date: 2014-01-21 04:24 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] trowa-barton.livejournal.com
I was just as surprised by the "casserole" comment/answer.
Honestly, I was the only person not happy with the Poly 201 panel.

Date: 2014-01-21 04:48 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] ricevermicelli.livejournal.com
Honestly, I was the only person not happy with the Poly 201 panel.

I wasn't exactly pleased either.
Edited Date: 2014-01-21 04:49 pm (UTC)

It was a start...

Date: 2014-01-21 06:11 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] taura-g.livejournal.com
To getting beyond just the Poly 101B type topics, but yes, there is a lot more that could have been discussed.

And I think there wasn't enough relevant experience on the panel to really address some of the types of issues people like you and I have faced.

Date: 2014-01-21 09:52 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] shades-of-nyx.livejournal.com
I didn't go to this panel, because I was skeptical that the really hard stuff would get discussed.
The real, genuine issues that I've faced when long term sh*t hit the fan hasn't been the stuff that *ever* gets talked about on a panel. I think we, as a community, are ashamed of where we fail. And, we totally fail at coping with certain things. Death is one of those things. Breakups of long term multi-adult families is another. And holy crap, don't get me started on money in multi-adult households!

Date: 2014-01-22 05:40 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] persis.livejournal.com
*pebble* I was not able to get to any panels, not even the poly ones. I think we should have this panel again, and even a poly 301, or something on death and dying in addition to the others. My own experience with long-term issues, whether they are long-term medical issues or end-of-life, are a drain. My own multiple-adult house hold has been wonderfully supportive, but I worry about my friends who do not have the live-in support structure I have. And what do we do when our support structure changes? In some ways, we have it better than the the non-poly world, and in some ways, we share the same concerns. (I have lost my mother in the last 1.5 years, adn worry that I may lose my father as well. His memory and mobility issues have me worried.) Thank you all for starting this conversation.
I feel it's super relevant right now, as it feels cancer has been practically targeting my community lately. I also feel you have more relevant experience on the topic than most of my close community.

I'd really like to see a public discussion about what are the right answers to this issue. I feel it would help me be better prepared to be a good community member.
I am thinking about holding a follow up discussion group here at my house for anyone who is interested in discussing it further.

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