By Sharon Dalzell |
I wanted to offer my point of view after Todd wrote a piece about our relationship. I met a sixteen year old Todd back in the eighties. We felt an immediate connection regardless of the twenty one year age difference, we seemed kindred spirits. We discovered an ongoing friendship lasting over thirty years. We meditated together and found many altered states together without drugs. We swam in the big waves of risky conversation.
Todd and I both wanted to understand and get closer to the truth. I sought answers to questions I’ve had since I was four years old. “What is going on here?” was my question. Todd had similar questions. “What is the restlessness that drives us to the next discovery? And why does truth seem so elusive in spite of being as honest as possible. The desire for clarity united me with Todd in a mutual affection and interest in “truth, freedom and affection that we valued above many other things like money, property and prestige. Our growing platonic friendship included these conversations among many other friends with different points of view. This friendship we enjoyed for ten years. Then we went from affectionate friendship to intimate sexual friendship after I left a twenty-eight year marriage.
In 1994 Todd underwent some sort of change in India that I could feel acutely. It seemed some sort of awakening. At this time I asked him to be lovers with me and he accepted my invitation. Our mutual love and desire for truth and freedom became clearer as I began to understand non-identification with mind. I felt fascinated and captivated at the change in him. How was he able to remain free of his mind’s demands and free from conclusions based on the past?
Our relationship began open with no commitment and that is how it remains. We invite others who might be interested in affection in the midst of desire for truth. We share joy without limiting it to fears of not getting what we want or losing what we have. Not that those fears don’t exist, but those fears do not control or limit our choices. That is why this openly sexual loving friendship extends beyond the horizon of expectations.
The term neti neti means not this and not that. I have experienced neti neti in this relationship with Todd as a vehicle for my clarity. I don’t know if I am able to make you the reader understand but let’s try. I will come back to neti neti.
This long lasting friendship moved through many intense changes and places of confusion that resolved into more clarity. Clarity has always been what I’ve really been after, more than clinging to any passing event. I used to define myself by my upbringing, but what I do now is so far beyond my past it requires, a better definition, perhaps a negative definition. Definitions don’t change but we do. The problem is trying to share with others because they tend to define Todd and I according to cultural ideas. For example Todd and I might be seen by others only within the confines of polyamory. That conclusion is a mistake.
Now for neti neti, I am not his wife, I am not his primary partner, I am not his business partner, I am not his stand by or his stand in, not his owner, not his possession, I am not his to define nor defined by him (nor anyone else.) I am autonomous and enjoying an intimate friendship, while it exists, with this different sort of man. Neither of us have a limit on who we love either as friends or lovers. There is no hierarchy among us or our lovers. There is a desire not to cause harm.
I love women and want them to have such freedom in their life too. I am not competing with other women, I am not a foe, I am not playing a role, I’m not perfect, I’m not obligated to obey my feelings or those of others. I’m not denying my feelings. I’m not peddling a lifestyle but I do invite clarity. That’s why I chose the work I do. I am not a good girl, I choose how to be, free-standing, free-falling and free flying even in the midst of uncertainty. We happen to live in a shared household but this home we purchased doesn’t define me or us either. We invited a friend to recover from surgery here and she has been here ever since. That is one small example of how spontaneous this our life can be.
In an age of image, to take a snapshot of what this relationship is in any moment and define it as such is to miss the much larger picture. Life is offering so much more than what could be contained in such a snapshot.
Edit: Grammar 12/03/2016