Friday, November 13, 2015

Risking the Hostile Stare

A very long time ago, friends held a collaring ceremony in my home (, using a modified version of the John Ball hymm, "The Summons," as part of the ceremony.  I am occasionally reminded about the event because the song comes up in a fairly regular rotation at the all school masses that I attend with my Catholic school students each week.  I generally take note, and privately label it as "kinky" with an inward smile.

Today, though, I heard the same music and the same lyrics, and was suddenly struck by this line:
Will you risk the hostile stare
Should your life attract or scare?

 I do think that there is, inherent to living in an alternative relationship model, the potential for those "hostile stares" when people notice that you don't adhere to the social norms.  That type of hostile stare is expected, and it doesn't surprise or particularly bother me.  People don't understand our polyamorous lifestyle, and it tends to scare the willies out of regular monogamously oriented types.  In the poly community, we encounter the hostile stares because "our kind" of poly is not as wide open and gender fluid as is the norm.  So, within that community, the hostile stares come from people who figure that if you are not up for full on poly-fuckery, then you aren't genuinely poly at all.

So be it.  We have, for many years now, done this thing that we do according to our own lights, and pretty much everyone has, at one point or another, been convinced we are doing it all wrong.

But, this morning, hearing that lyric, I felt an almost visceral response as I recalled the widespread recoil that happened around the BDSM blogging world when our family confronted issues of addiction and codependence five years ago.  Our lives had attracted plenty of folks.  We'd shared broadly and intensely about our journey.  If any of what we had together was scary to people, it was the sort of scary that drove their curiosity and hunger to know more and more and even more.

And then things got hard.  Really hard.  And ugly.  And painful.  And very, very, very scary.  And that's when the stares turned hostile.  With very few exceptions, people who had claimed to be "friends" turned tail and ran.  Or, worse, they stayed and lobbed judgmental, superior, self-satisfied comments our way.  Hostility ran rampant.

Because...  While kink has that delicious kind of exciting scary quality, the difficult business of holding on to a loved one through a nasty, scary, life-threatening illness like addiction is not at all exciting or titillating.  It is just miserable and hard and lonely.  It pulls the whole family system into the darkness.  And, as we learned, there is not anything at all sexy about being there, living there, healing there, and finding the strength to go on and live and love from there.

The hostile stares came from people who knew they were better than us.  The hostile stares came from people who felt we'd gotten what we deserved.  The hostile stares came from people who genuinely wished us ill.  The hostile stares came from people who somehow believed that we had disappointed them.  Did we RISK those hostile stares?  Did we invite the invective that was heaped on our heads and hearts?  What did we present to the world, and what was the attraction?  In what ways did we create that sense of fear?

I don't know the answers to all of those questions.  I do know that we survived, healed, and grew.  We are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment