You may imagine that I'm having group sex all the time as I'm traveling with my husband and three (give or take) polyamorous lovers through Europe. In fact we'd like to imagine that we're having more sex than we are. But even the best laid plans are still just plans to get laid. The reality of navigating through 3 foreign speaking countries with dietary restrictions, jealousy issues, relationships in transition, and a 4 year old boy can take a toll on how sexy one feels by the end of the day.
Even though we've let our "love levels" run down at times, we still have had an impeccable practice of openness and honesty. Each one of us has been willing to speak their truth as it arises. And so it is in that spirit that I write this blog about some of the challenges of our non-residential poly living experiment.
Since I have already posted 10 mini video blogs about our life-changing time at Zegg Sommercamp, I will start this story in Berlin, when Michael, Devin (age 4), Adam, our New York Shawna and I stayed in a beautiful custom built home with a sexy and playful photographer who warmly welcomed our jet-lagged lovers Jennifer and James by creating a huge homemade vegetarian feast. During those 4 nights we toured the city, visited art exhibits, drank espresso, danced barefoot, hiked by moonlight, and modeled nude for photos. There was much flirtation and sensual play, but we were too tired on most nights to make love. The emotional undercurrent was that Michael was exhausted from watching Devin, Jenn had a argument about poly with her husband on the way to the airport, and James was insecure that his sexual attraction was unrequited by me as I was emotionally untangling from a year-long relationship with his brother. All this process was contained by the household of our hosts who are actively undergoing divorce.
Michael and Devin left a day early for the Italian Alps. Jennifer, James and I said goodbye to our beloved lovers from Zegg and frantically fled the city nearly missing our plane to Milano. A 4 hour drive to the Mountains turned into a fiasco because of a broken GPS system. The cruel British accent continuously sent us into corn fields and we were not able to find a local map. When we finally reached the our Bed and Breakfast in the breathtaking cliffs of the Alps near Austria, our hostess was kind enough to cater to our gluten free and/or vegan diets.
During the days we explored castles, cafes, pastures and vistas. The challenge was always traveling in group, and wanting to squeeze in so much activity into each day. Each night at dinner we share from our heart, both our highlights and our challenges while continuously interrupted by questions about rockets and race cars. One highlight was when we got tipsy on free homemade grappa and enjoyed a spontaneous massage/snuggle party. Our lowlights were wide discrepancies in temperature preferences, sleeping arrangements, driving habits, and limitations in dietary options.
After three nights of magical lighting storms, we were ready to head south for warmer weather in the Italian Riviera. We were struck by the surreal spattering of sexy disco bars and bouncy children's rides throughout the strip. The warm shallow beaches were crawling with speedos and hairy armpits but we were disappointed (and a bit embarrassed) to discover that toplessness had long since gone out of style.
It was on the beach, in the sweltering heat after days of sleepless nights that James revealed the depth of his disappointment for not having a more intimate connection with me. He admitted to having built up expectations of how connected we would be on the trip. He also took responsibility for his pattern of minimizing his process because he didn't want to detract energy from the group. Since we were all operating from extreme sleep depravation with virtually no time to process on our own, he was considering ending his trip early. Of course, we would support whatever he needed to do to take care of himself, I told him, but I was personally devastated by the thought of losing his companionship. In attempts to avoid my own disappointment I offered my famous combination of inappropriate humor and manipulation: "If you leave now you'll cause irreparable psychological damage to my little boy who will need years of therapy to work out his abandonment issues." Through laughter and tears we took an honest look at what wasn't working in our relationship and agreed it was time to transitioning our 'erotic friendship' into a more platonic heart-centered connection.
We gathered for a "family meeting" over vegetarian pizza and salad dinner. James did his best to share his struggles while being continuously interrupted every time Devin wanted a French fry. Collectively, we agreed to do any/everything we could to accommodate his needs for more sleep, protein, and intimacy in hopes of helping him find center and stay on the trip. After a group massage, a restful nap and a supportive Skype conversation with his brother, James seemed to swiftly shift back to center.
Often times when one person in relationship is broke down the other tries to hold it together to support them. So when I felt like he was safely out of crisis, I allowed my own inevitable meltdown. I woke up angry and I spent most the day crying. I judged him for not feeling safe enough to share the intensity of his internal process. I felt betrayed and afraid he wouldn't ask for what he really wanted from me and the relationship because he puts everyone else's needs in front of his own. My heart was further confused by my transference of feelings from my recent break up with his brother. But after deeper inquiry, my greatest fear was losing my best friend.
For the last leg of the trip, we rented a swanky apartment overlooking a canal in Paris. Externally, we were site seeing, holding hands, appreciating art, sipping espressos, and enjoying the public transit system in the world's most romantic city. Internally, Michael was sexually frustrated, Jen was jealous of her husband's sleeping with other lovers in San Diego, and I was still sad about my shifting relationship. James's insecurity and struggles continued to the point where he wanting to leave again.
And then something Magical happened. Jen's bisexual husband arrived with his insatiable libido and alchemized a breakthrough for the entire group. I'll save the next chapter of our Great European Poly Adventure for my next blog, but I'll tease you a bit by saying there is no lack of sex in that story.
The conclusion of James's last 4 days in Paris were bittersweet. We held an urgent family meeting (over pizza and salad again) where many hurt feelings were shared. For greater sustainability James suggested we balance social time with autonomous alone time and more sleep. This is when I insisted that the answer to almost all breakdowns is ritual, magic and better time management. We finally created a schedule for meal times, day care, and especially built in special time for processing. (I also suggested we structure time for sex, but alas the group wanted this to be spontaneous.)
It only took one hour of practicing Zegg Forum per day, we were able to clear lifetimes worth of monogamous programing and cultivate a web of truth, love, and possibility. After more negotiation, James and I arranged to spend the last few nights in bed together sharing sensuality. Our specific boundaries were no deep kissing or sex. Still, our bodies know how to further a conversation, beyond all words and concepts. That night, by the moans and singing bedsprings of our lovers in the next room, James plugged his heart into the negative pole in my yoni and we generated a current that illuminated every shadow that had came up throughout the trip. By the morning light, I could see the shift in his eyes as he procured a beautiful feast for the family. He described the experience as having had his heart crack open. What I see, is a beautiful young man in love and in his power.