posted by Giselle Renarde
|A laser canon zapping the school? Maybe?|
When I was in Grade 6, book reports were due every other Friday. We each had a small "cahier" (workbook) labelled "comptes-rendus" (book reports), and in it we'd write up a blurb about the book--the plot, the characters, whether or not we enjoyed it, that sort of thing. We also had to draw a picture to illustrate a scene that best caught our imagination.
One Thursday evening, I realized... uh-oh... my compte-rendu is due tomorrow. Instead of reading a book really fast and writing up a quick report like I'd done a fortnight prior (I read and reviewed a joke book--I kid you not), I decided... hey... there's no way my teacher has read every book in existence, right? Why don't I make one up?
And that's what I did. I invented a book. I made up a title, made up the characters, made up the plot. Everything.
Luckily, for my first post here at Oh Get a Grip, I don't have to do that. Not that I would, as an adult. Let's hope I've learned a little something from past indescretions. Even if they earned me an A+. Not that I'm bragging...
The book that is the current apple of my eye is Tristan Taormino's "Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships."
It's a real book. I didn't make it up. See?
And thank goodness Opening Up is real, because it needs to exist. I bought the book as a poly-minded person who happens not to lead a very poly life. If you know me, you know I have one girlfriend (I refer to her as Sweet, online). Neither of us is really in the market for additions to our couplehood at the moment, but we're not opposed to the idea of sharing our lives with others... in the future... if we wanted to. It's a not-right-now-but-maybe-someday sort of thing.
Why did I buy a copy of Opening Up? Well, I've never been a fan of monogamy as a concept. I don't have a problem with people making an informed decision to be with one person and only one person til death do us part, but I don't feel like people have a good sense of their options. That's why there's so much cheating in the world--much more than the general population admits to. I know things. I was mistress to a married man for ten years of my life. A lot of people feel trapped in marriage, and don't want to divorce for whatever reason.
It's easy to demonize the unfaithful, but what's the alternative to adultery? Well, read Tristan's book. There are plenty of models for open relationship, and she addresses them with knowledge and deft. I particularly appreciate that she doesn't focus solely on poly for the purpose of sexual variety, but that she broadens the scope and includes platonic models, which I particularly appreciate.
Opening Up is not a book about finding new people to sleep with. Well, that's part of it, inasmuch as sex part of many relationships, but more than that, it's a book about mindfulness--about being self-aware, being sensitive to partners' emotions, and addressing our own adverse feelings when they pop up.
In fact, one of the main reasons I bought a copy of Opening Up was that I had a suspicion it would address jealousy. And it does. There's a whole chapter on jealousy. Tristan even breaks it down into components:
Jealousy is really an umbrella term for a constellation of feelings including envy, competitiveness, insecurity, inadequacy, possessiveness, fear of abandonment, feeling unloved, and feeling left out. (Opening Up, pg 156)
For me, though I'm not nearly as jealous as I was in my younger years, the green-eyed monster still rears its head in every relationship. Actually, I've realized that, even in my mid-thirties, I still feel a multitude of child-like jealousy-related emotions with respect to family members (ie. feeling jealous that my mother invited my sister on a vacation, but didn't invite me). Jealousy and other strong emotions might be more at the surface of open relationships, but they are present, for most people, even beyond romantic relationships.
Since I started reading Opening Up, I've noticed more mindfulness and recognition of emotions, and I find I'm better at dealing with the feelings in Tristan's jealousy constellation. For that reason alone, I would recommend Opening Up to anyone.
I would further recommend it because there's so much misunderstanding and lack of respect for the poly mindset. Even when I was in Grade 6 and faking book reports, it already seemed strange to me that two people could get married, but three or four couldn't. Maybe I'm somehow predisposed to appreciating open relationships, but for people who want to learn more, Opening Up is an absolute must-read.