Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com
There’s a popular stereotype about poly folk, that our entire lives are dictated by diaries and Google Calendars as we dash from one date to the next, blocking out time to snatch a quick lunch here and there. While exaggerated, as it happens, good scheduling is an art which is necessary in being able to spend quality time with fellow humans who happen to have lives of their own.
The problem is, I’m crap at scheduling. Ever since I was little, I’ve had problems with organising myself. I lose things, I find it close to impossible to keep any space tidy for more than about a day, and I always find myself deciding “I’ll definitely remember that I planned to do this” and then file it away in the “plans” folder of my brain, which is about as well-organised as my desk (i.e. baffling mountains of stuff which I’m slightly frightened to disturb). Also, I can’t dance or sing and I’m really slow at picking up any physical skills, but that isn’t particularly pertinent to this post.
I developed coping mechanisms for these weird little things that my brain takes the slow route to doing. I learned not to lose things by giving things I didn’t want to lose a name. It’s much harder to lose Brian than it is to lose some nameless, faceless bunch of keys. I force myself to stay tidy. And I keep diaries meticulously documenting every plan I’ve ever made, which gets me to the right place at the right time.
Unfortunately, that’s all complicated by depression. Depression saps energy, and performing the elaborately choreographed dance to get my shit in order requires quite a lot of energy. And so, often, I find myself slipping again. I don’t write things down, and I forget I have plans and I double-book myself, and my laundry piles up and I can’t do anything about it because I’ve completely mislaid the washing powder and and and… you get the idea.
This, rather unfortunately, has more than a little impact on my relationships. Double-booking means I’ll find myself in the awkward situation wherein I need to work out who to cancel on, or give people time in a way which is unfair to them and me. And I feel terrible about that, which makes the depression worse and that kind of makes the dyspraxia worse and suddenly it becomes literally impossible not to walk into lampposts, so I end up doing that hollow depressed crylaugh at my own ludicrous mishaps.
The good news is, people seem to be overwhelmingly understanding of the fact that my entire brain and body seem to be out to get me half the time, and so it’s precisely the people who I feel I’ve let down who drag me out of my ruts. A few gentle reminders here and there, and the sense that nobody is expecting too much of me really helps. It turns out that people who want to spend time with me will find a way.
This knowledge empowers me to sort myself out and get my shit together again, and I do. Yes, the cycle happens again and again, but I’m surrounded by love and understanding which gives me a determination to keep on dancing the dance and mitigating my own borked brain.
I set out to write this post with the point in mind that the mechanics of the poly timekeeping that work for me are exactly the same as those which make functioning while dyspraxic work for me, but it seems to have turned out altogether more confessional than that. In the process of writing it, I realised just how much I owe to the amazing circle of amazing people that surround me: partners, friends, lovers, utterly undefined wonderfuls–it just wouldn’t work without their support.