Social convention is just ridiculously powerful. I’ve been thinking for weeks that it’s not going to be easy to talk about going to Hawaii with Jed, because of how people (family, friends, neighbors, strangers) will likely judge it. And before that, it wasn’t easy to hold hands with my girlfriend Karina in public, or take her to the office Christmas party. (We went, but I was so nervous.)
Before that, there was all the anxiety about telling my parents that I was dating (instead of waiting to have an arranged marriage, like everyone else in my family up until that point), and dating a white boy at that. There was the way the Indian waiters glared at us in the early 90s, when Kevin and I went up to Devon for Indian food.
For the most part, the dating and the interracial dating and even the bisexuality are so much more socially acceptable now, and it’s just poly that still feels like a major social hurdle. Even there, people are not nearly as hostile about it now as they were a few decades ago; I had one casual acquaintance stand in the street once and yell at me, because somehow my being poly would lead to her husband feeling like he had permission to cheat on her. Like there was a massive social contract between the women of the world, and I was breaking it. That was weird.
It’s all funny, in a way, because I never set out to be scandalous. I just fell in love with the ‘wrong’ people, and everything else followed from there. So much of social convention is really about fear, parents and others being worried for you, worried that your unconventional choices will lead to instability and pain.
They talk about just wanting you to be ‘settled,’ which I used to bristle against as a teen, but now I can hear that with more compassion; ‘settled,’ means ‘happy in a long-lasting way,’ means ‘I won’t have to worry about you anymore, because I’ll know someone else is taking care of you, watching out for you.’
(Oh, if only there were really such assurances in this life…)
Someone a few months ago referred to my Facebook feed as ‘wholesome,’ and I laughed, startled, because they were right. As long as you have a certain angle of view, I am about as wholesome as they come. My house looks like a Norman Rockwell painting at Christmastime. I take a positive delight in community activities. This afternoon we’ll be baking banana bread with the children, Jed and Kevin and I, to package up and send out for belated holiday gifts.
May your unconventional ways find acceptance with your loved ones this holiday season.
If they’re not quite there yet, hang in there. Sometimes, time helps. The world is changing around us.
(And if not, there’s always your internet friends to help get you through the holidays…)