“Don’t you DARE settle”, he said to me last night, his eyes suddenly fierce and locked on mine from across the table.
We were eating thin-crust pizza with some sort of sweet potato-goat cheese hipster toppings, along with some insanely delicious roasted brussel sprouts. We only had an hour left together and we were filling it with a lifetime’s worth of tender truths. Suddenly the energy shifted.
“Don’t you dare fucking compromise for anyone who isn’t open and awake. Who won’t share and invest fully in the entire process of you understanding and meeting your needs, wherever and with whomever they lie.”
“Don’t. Fucking. Settle.”
He repeated those words again. And then again. As if he knew, somehow, that I might one day need the reminder.
The intensity took me aback for just a moment. I nodded. Yes. And then my whole body unfolded into its own yes like it had been waiting for that exact message.
Don’t. Fucking. Settle.
Over and over I have written words of autonomy and sovereignty of self and body and relationship. I’ve written about naming and owning desires. I’ve written about taking holy ownership of your own knowing and claiming it fiercely and without compromise.
And over and over I have started relationships with people for whom a compromise of self was the cost of entry into the relationship.
This is not on them, of course. Not the fault of those to whom I made commitments. This is only on me.
Once upon a time a dear friend, one with a fair bit of fame and a willingness to speak hard truths, called me a fucking hypocrite over this exact thing. He wasn’t wrong. At the time it felt like a slap in the face and also the exact thing I needed to hear. It’s still taken me a long time to get right with myself on this one.
In the beginning, when I met someone that I was interested in, I would tell them who I was. How I work. How I love and want. How it’s all open and free and infinite inside of me. How my body and my heart don’t do well in boxes or chains. How every time I try, everything suffers. My ability to love. My ability to make art. How the very center of me turns inward on itself.
I would tell them, every time, that in order to love you fully, I need to feel free.
But then, I fall. I crave. I lean in. I get afraid. I do not want to lose. Not again. Not this wonderful person. Not this growing love. And so I compromise. I tuck the part of me that knows fully the ways and hows and whys of my love on a shelf and I go about the business of falling in love and building a relationship.
Here’s the problem though. I always circle back to the same place. The same knowing. The same certainty and truth of self.
I’m here to love wide open.
Fidelity isn’t challenging for me. And god knows, I have paid the price of my own integrity in such a way and at such a cost that I would never go there again. It isn’t that. It’s not about multiple partners for the thrill of it or the rush of newness or the charge of an illicit and forbidden affair.
I’m simply not built for monogamy, not the way it’s packaged and sold as the be-all-and-end-all definition of commitment. And trying to fit myself into a box I didn’t build and never meant to live inside has nearly taken me out, again and again.
“Don’t. Fucking. Settle”
He said those words with such ferocity because he sees me. Mirrors and knows me. Understands the cost of denying the self. Knows for himself the full power of stepping into the light.
Today I opened my Facebook memories to see a quote of my own. Timing being what it is, my own words mirrored his from last night.
“Decline any love
a compromise of spirit.
The love that will
feed your soul
and fuel your fire
is one that offers
full agency over your heart,
and your life.
your love is a gift,
a holy, sacred thing.”
I’ve told you before that I always write what I most need to know. And sometimes still, it takes me years beyond the writing to integrate the lesson.
But here I am. I’ve never been steadier in myself, in the naming of my needs, in the ways I am seeking to meet myself in the center of my desires. I’ve never cared less about your approval.
I’ve never wanted more to sink into deeply honest conversation with every last person who comes across my path. Never been more prepared to understand, name, and seek a life on my own terms.
I’ve got all the fucks to give and not a single one to spare on anyone who wants me to be any less than all of myself.
“All a closet is is a hard conversation” Ash Beckham
I shared that line with him last night, long after we’d set aside the food to lean deeper into the conversation. There are a million different ways to come out. We all have to do it eventually, one way or another.
No matter how much practice I get, each new truth I tell is entirely singular. Just like each connection, each love, each holy encounter of body and heart and soul.
And so, if there is a closet here, then this post is another coming out in an endless string of closets and coming outs that are the inevitable part of a life lived honestly and out loud.
I’m in a process of exploration and unfolding, discovering who I am and who I want to be in relationship. Leaning into the nuance and contrast between non-monogamy and poly-fidelity and solo-polyamory. Asking hard questions about what I want. Unwinding the binding of trauma and triggers. Allowing my connections to offer their own name and timeline and purpose.
I am calling in the deepest sort of nourishment and pleasure and medicine, even when that falls way outside the boundaries of what the world expects. Refusing for a single second longer to compromise what I know of who I am and how I love.
In order to love you fully, I need to feel free.
The time for settling is over. I’m ready to see what’s possible from here.
“Rebellion is when you look society in the face and say I understand who you want me to be, but I’m going to show you who I actually am.”
― Anthony Anaxagorou