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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.


If You Comment -- Things to Consider

As usual, whenever we get back out into the deep, powerful, challenging work of living our lives (and sharing that in this forum), we have run afoul of the small minority of people who choose to comment while demonstrating a total lack of comprehension about what is and is not appropriate, polite, reasonable, or civilized within that context.  Most often, when that circumstance occurs, we are left to wonder what gets into these people, what can they possibly be thinking?  Rarely does that thought process get made clear -- apart from the pretty common assertion that this is a "public" site and therefore we should expect and accept that people have some sort of "right" to say whatever they want.  This time, though, we are given a lengthy, literate, and detailed essay on the motivations and thought processes of one of those "anonymous" commenters.  Reading her latest comment, I was just fascinated by the ideas and beliefs that get all wrapped up in the comments made here.  I really think there are lessons that we might all take away from the words "Miranda" left behind in our comment box.

I want to believe that most people want to help; want to find some way to make things easier or better; want to offer something of value.  It is terribly hard to sit with someone who is hurting, and just be there with them in their pain.  Being thrust into the role of witness, without the power or wherewithal to DO anything is not simply uncomfortable, it is frustrating.  So, the very human impulse is to try to fix it (whatever "it" might be).  There is, I imagine, something that borders on "compulsion" to find words to say what needs to be said to save the person on the other side of the computer screen; to rescue the fellow human dangling at the end of the words we read.  We all do it, to one degree or another -- the trick is to remember what we are about as decent persons, avoiding the precipice that takes us down into judgement and criticism and negativity.

Here are a few things to consider (as I see it) based on false steps / erroneous beliefs outlined in "Miranda's" comment earlier today:

...we feel like we know you. But ... we don't really ... we put ourselves and our own histories into your story. 

This is really important.  I write about my life here.  We write our stories in bits and pieces, all of us.  We've done it for a long, long time.  I can't imagine that there are many who have the time, inclination, or patience to go back through the archives and read the whole story.  However, even if a reader were willing to do that excavation into the story we've been weaving here for so many years, they would still only have snapshots of what and who we are.  There is no way to convey all the minutes, or all the thoughts, or all the interactions that would flesh out the picture for a reader.  You do not know me, and I don't know you (at least in the majority of cases).  We've never met.  We are not neighbors or colleagues, and to the degree that we consider ourselves friends, it is mostly an "online relationship," and likely to never include long, cozy, friendly chats over a nice cup of tea.  We are not close, and we are surely not the same.  We don't have that kind of access to one another.  The other part of that is that we are not simply mirrors for one another.  My life does not and should not be the looking glass that you use to measure or manage your own life.  So, don't make Miranda's mistake ... do not try to use me to mirror your history back to you.  Do not assume that you know what I'm doing ... and why.  

... it's hard for readers who only get bits and pieces of your lives ...

This is hard.  I continually struggle to maintain the balance between what we might share here, and what we really ought to keep to ourselves.  I know, from experience, that this blog does best; thrives even, when I write regularly and at some depth about what is happening in my own personal world.  But I am a busy person.  I have obligations inside of the family, and I maintain a demanding professional career.  I do not have time to give readers ALL of my life -- even if I were so inclined.  The picking and choosing of topics and subjects can vary depending on my moods, and the stresses of my days.  Readers will never have more than bits and pieces.

We read ... and we get angry ... we write to give ... support

Read.  Understand.  Keep a leash on all those emotional responses.  Strong feelings about what is, about who is right and who is not.  If, out of an abundance of sympathy and generosity, you find you want to offer support, consider how you might be supportive without taking sides; without declaring a "good guy" and a "bad guy."  Supporting me "against" Tom does not make things better.  It is not, honestly, supportive.  It undermines the very basis of my life.  So be careful.  I don't need rescuing.

A blog feels like a dialogue rather than a private journal. But it’s not ...

It is not a "dialogue."  Not classically.  It is more than a private journal for most of us, but it is not a dialogue.  What you find  here is private, personal, and terribly desperately intimate.  Be gentle.

... And would I be less anonymous if I made up a name to sign these comments?

Yes!  You are going to be more welcome here if you introduce yourself, and tell us how we might recognize you when we see you again.  Not all anonymous visitors are obnoxious and ill-mannered, but nearly 100% of all obnoxious and ill-mannered blog visitors are also "anonymous.  I know that what you choose to call yourself online will, most likely, be a pseudonym; a handy way of facilitating the social discourse while still protecting what should be protected.  

So there you have it.  I've ranted about anonymous commenters before, but I've seldom had the opportunity or space to help people get ready to participate here and elsewhere around the circle in ways that are positive and supportive.  Maybe the simplest way to think about that thing you are just dying to say -- if the situation were reversed, and you were the one in turmoil and pain, would you find your advice to be helpful?  If not, maybe the better thing would be to listen further, ask an honest question, offer something kind. 




  1. Hi Swan,
    I agree with most of what you've said here. And it makes so much sense when you say it.

    But I want to add one thing and that's how sad you sounded on your blog that day, and how much that might make people feel like they had to say something, anything, to you to "help". That desire to help is real, and well intentioned and sometimes misdirected.

    I think too, that in the "story" we read here, sometimes there are sides.

    Not sure where I'm going with this, except to say that I think we all wanted to help. And sometimes we're clumsy in that, or misjudge what will help. My apologies if sometimes I've added to the problem.


  2. I'm glad you are writing here again although your tone is so very sad.
    I have no words of wisdom or advice but hope you all can move forward in some way to heal and forgive one another and yourselves for being loving and human at the same time.


  3. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Thank you for your generous response to my earlier response. I am going to add one more link in the chain, simply to clarify that when I said "we put ourselves and our own histories into your story" I was not advocating this as a reading strategy. Rather, I was just acknowledging that people often read stories through the lens of their own experiences. I think this is particularly true in this very odd genre: talking about what many people (not me) would consider a non-mainstream topic (euphemism) online. Of course I realize I don't know you. And I don't really want your story to be mine. But I don't think, as a reader, I (or anyone else) can understand what you are saying unless we have something in our own story to connect it to. (I think this is generally true of any kind of story, not just those about sex or whatever it is you write about these days!)

    I also, though, acknowledge that taking sides isn't a response that helps you, and so I will try not to do that again. I really admire the candor with which you detail your lives for anyone in the world to read about. I don't think I could do that. though I realize this begs the question of why I am so fascinated by reading it.


    PS And I have read your whole blog, the one that preceded it, and even the one about the gastric bypass. I take stories seriously, and I don't want to start in the middle!


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