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We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.



Copyrighted image used with permission.  Find original work at: ({{Information |Description=Dolmen of Menga, Antequera, Spain. |Source=my own work |Date=July 21, 2008 |Author=Juan de Vojníkov |Permission=Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 |other_versions= }} {{cc-by-sa-3.0}} Category:Dolmen de Menga )

My therapist tells me that I serve as a "pillar" in our family.  Ever since she told me that, a couple of months ago, I've poked at the idea, the image, in my mind.  I've not been entirely easy with it.  It feels like it fits in some ways, but I am not convinced that I am "up to the job" of being a PILLAR.

I've wondered what, exactly, it might mean to be the pillar of the  family.  I think I know some of what my therapist meant to imply or suggest by the image, and still I keep coming back to the questions -- "If this is my role in this family, how am I supposed to do it?  What is it that I am supposed to do?  Can I really do it at all?  Do I even WANT to do it?   

As I've looked around at the idea (what did we do before there was Google?), most of what I've found is grounded in religious thought -- as in pillar of the community, or pillar of the church.  I've read a couple of sermons on the subject of "pillar people," but they just didn't offer me much that helped me make sense of this for myself.  I read, and still found myself wandering around, muttering about it in my head.

Then I stumbled across some business leadership sites that talked about Pillar Wisdom as a tool for those engaged in leading organizations.  Pillar Leadership methodology hinges on a set of characteristics and traits that managers and leaders can bring to bear on the work of supporting, developing, and carrying their companies forward.

  • Self-control (self-awareness, managing emotions, stress management, ethics, resilience, rationality)
  • Excellence (conscientiousness, attention to detail, competitiveness, empathy)
  • Strategy (innovation, motivation, originality, openness to change, rule consciousness, critical thinking)
  • Decision-making (analytical thinking, problem solving, knowledge, intuition, decisiveness, assertiveness, innovation)
  • Communication (listening skills, social skills, discernment, self-assurance, instincts)
  • Collaboration (relationships, empathy, independence, self-reliance, agreeableness)
  • Execution (achievement, management, motivation, competitiveness)

So, I can look at that list, and I can see some of the attributes that might be part of what the therapist perceived when she gifted me with that "PILLAR" label.  I think I do live according to a personal ethical code.  I think I am pretty resilient.  I can be competitive.  I am sometimes empathetic.  In my lifetime, I've had to be self-reliant, self-aware, and self-assured.  I am a critical and analytical thinker, and I value my ability to use my knowledge and instincts to solve problems, make decisions, and discern the truth of a situation.  Living as I have for the last number of years, I've learned to be open to change, learned to be conscious of rules and expectations, learned to be attentive to details, and learned to be conscientious.  Those things are part and parcel of who I am; they make up my character and they shape my presentation in the world.  I can see it...  The idea of being "the pillar" isn't exactly easy or comfortable, but it isn't as far away from my understanding of who I am as I thought it might be.

I think my uneasiness about this "architecturally" based description of my role in our family stems from my attachment to my former perceptions of how He and I relate.  I was very enamored of the deliberate and defined power dynamic we had, and somehow the image of the strong, sturdy, essential, assertive pillar feels very contrary to that.  In fact, it is contrary to that.  If the only viable way for us to manipulate the power balance between us is for me to be passive, dependent, and weak, then it could be argued that we've made a transition away from THAT power exchange to something that is "other than."  I am stretching to be able to accommodate the notion that my role is to be strong and assertive, and that it is precisely because I am capable of filling that role, that my service in that capacity is valuable.  And so I go round and round and round -- talking to myself, feeling confused, wondering what it all means.

I think it is just a matter of allowing my self-perception to catch up to the changed reality.  I need to learn to wear the mantle of powerful structural member.  I am sure it would be easier if the parallel that my therapist drew evoked for me some sort of soft, compliant, sheltering, comfortable, open and yielding architectural element:  corbel, cornice, cupola, dormer, eave, fanlight, parapet, pediment, lintel, doorway, arch, foyer, closet, cellar, attic, roof, chimney, porch...  I am sure it is just me, in my highly visual mode, seeing that solid, monolithic cloumn, and wanting to not have to shoulder the responsibility of holding up the whole world.



  1. Ordalie10:44 PM

    I don't know if it was a technical problem or something deliberate but your last paragraph with the print getting smaller and smaller gives the impression that the pillar is being repeatedly hit on the head and slowly sinking.
    Or just my imagination, that's what I hope!

    By the way I love your new décor, it's so peaceful...

  2. pumpkin11:06 PM

    Just from years of reading you I can usually guess right away who is writing the post before seeing the signature at the end. This time I was wrong as I would have guessed it was T. She, at least from my very limited perspective, has always seemed to be the unwaivering pillar. So that's a great thing.... 2 pillars are more stable then one :)

  3. Anonymous6:49 AM

    I, too thought it was T writing before I saw the signature......and two pillars ARE less tippy than one ,,Karen

  4. First, I too thought it was T writing at first.
    Second, I thought how in your own ways, all 3 of you are pillars of support and strength for one another. Certainly there are times of give and take, ebb and flow. I don't know if your Therapist has taken into account how much you all 3 support one another, and have historically. Perhaps they are seeing the snapshot of this moment in time, when perhaps you are more pillar-like. But that is not to say you are the only pillar, and if you are right now, you likely won't always remain so. We humans are constantly in a state of flux, changing,fluid. We are not static. You will not be the only pillar long, if you truly are now.
    And that, my dear friend, should make it easier to accept this place you occupy, for right now.

  5. Impish14:02 PM

    Odd, I figured it was you. Maybe because I identify so strongly with you sometimes.
    I'm the pillar now in my family of origin despite what was so long ago. Now, as ill health, infirmity and age has required so much, I am the only one who will. I do what I must. I can be a pillar, but I don't want to. I'm tired, resentful, and wearing out.
    I do hope, and think yours is a healthier relationship. I hope you are not so alone.

  6. Ha, I knew it was Swan because there was a definition!

  7. swan, I am so grateful you are our pillar, and we both need you, especially me. There is no "teeter tottor" of relative power in our family wherein, if one member performs a role, the roles of the other two members are in some way diminished in relative status. Thank goodness we are all doing what we have had to in this last half year or so, not just survive in our changed economic circumstances, but to transition and thrive through the end of a serious disease state that we have lived in the grip of, seemingly forever, before this.

    Thirteen years ago I lived in Toledo. I worked for over 21 years there for an agency and for about a decade prior to becoming that agency's CEO, I was the "pillar" of that organization. I was the key to the agency's infrastructure. I made things "work". I developed a lot of the agency's resources. I forged a lot of the agency's alliances and collaborations usually working in tandem with the CEO. I had a number of key leadership roles. In many ways it was a wonderful position in that I could make major contributions, but I didn't have to be responsible for the most difficult and sometimes painful choices and decisions that had to be made for the agency to function and grow.
    Too, at times when the CEO was incapacitated, I performed her role.

    Your "pillarhood" in The Heron Clan is very much like this. Thank god for you and your love for us both. While I don't know yet who it is I am in transition to become, I feel confident that your role does not necessarily have to exclude the potential for a power structure in our family like we had in the past.

    I love you.

    Mine Always and All Ways,


    Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

  8. Impish15:47 PM

    Tom, what a wonderfully insightful, and hopeful comment. I'm so happy that you are doing well.

  9. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Does strong contradict submissive? I expect my slave to be strong, responsible, and capable, and I chose a slave that is capable of meeting those expectations. I expect her to use her strength to the betterment of herself, and of us, and I expect her to submit her strength and capabilities to my control. It is a strong and worthy master that can master a pillar. My house is stronger with one pillar that exhibits the characteristics you listed, than it would be with three slaves who lacked them.


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