Silence can be a gift. It can also be a tragedy.
In her book When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams tells of a gift bequeathed to her from her dying mother: a shelf full of journals that her mother had faithfully kept for years and years. When Terry finally had the courage to open them after her mother’s death, she discovered that each journal was completely blank. Her mother had given Terry a startling record of her most precious gift: her silence.
How does one make a transition from one lifestyle to another? Especially from a lifestyle that is socially acceptable to one that is not? I have recently come to the conclusion that polyamory is a more workable approach to life than monogamy. One of the things that appeals to me about polyamory is the idea that you can live your life honestly. In a purportedly monogamous lifestyle, many people still have relationships with other people outside of their marriage, but in cases where those relationships exceed the expectations of the marriage, deception becomes a central feature of the relationship. Some people have affairs. Even in cases where a physical affair isn’t undertaken, many couples engage in what have become known as emotional affairs. In my mind, though, deception plays at least as large a role as infidelity in causing damage to the relationship.
So the idea of being able to be completely honest and open about relationships is extremely appealing to me. Instead of hiding that a certain person is an important part of my life, I want to be able to acknowledge that part of my life. Girlfriend is important to me. I love her. I want other people in my life to know what a positive influence she is. I want to share my happiness with others. Yet I have been discovering that instead of people finding joy in my ability to be honest, the only way that they can relate to what is going on in my life is to equate it to cheating.
I love words. I’m an avid reader, and I appreciate works from authors who understand the power of words. I enjoy writing, and I know that sometimes the difference between a bland sentence and a powerful sentence can be a simple matter of finding just the right word. I don’t claim, however, to know a lot of words or even the nuances of the ones I do know, and thus I am always seeking to expand my vocabulary and my understanding of word meanings. I carry a dictionary app on my phone, and I refer to it often, probably to the consternation of those people in whose presence I practice this arguably antisocial habit.
So yes. I love words. I love to learn them. I love to use them correctly. It isn’t often, however, that learning a new word completely changes your life. Yet that is what happened to me. It was October of last year. I stumbled upon a word I had never seen before. And my life hasn’t been the same since. The word? Polyamory.