You Are Beloved - endeavors in relationship anarchy, experiments in language
A song starts playing as I write this. Unexpectedly, a tune I listened to while having mind blowing sex with a beloved. In fact, a great example of someone whom I could never shove in one of the boxes society presents me. I mean, I suppose lover would do. We were lovers, right? I guess while we were having sex, we were lovers. The day before we might have been something else. And the day after as well. Do lovers make love? Or do only partners make love? What's a partner anyway? To my gyno a partner is anyone I have sex with. To my past self it was someone more 'serious' than a girlfriend or boyfriend but less serious than a spouse or husband/wife. My head hurts already...
Let me backtrack a little. A couple of months ago I realized the term 'Relationship Anarchist' applied to me. Since then I have been largely done with using the usual labels for relationships. Basically I've simplified things. People I love are beloveds. I still have friends, acquaintances and family members. And I still use these terms, however sparingly. Basically I have been using whichever term seems most appropriate at the time. But terming those I love as beloveds has taken away the stress I used to go through when I would try to use a label to refer to my relationship to someone. I would often get caught up in feeling yucky about how I called someone my 'friend' who I actually had a very specific relationship with, compared to another 'friend'. It upset me because it never seemed to really capture things accurately and I would either feel dissatisfied or I would say: 'my friend who is like my collaborator friend who I only have a creative relationship with' or 'my friend who is also my ex-lover / ex-coworker' etc. This often felt like TMI or oversharing. So I used the word friend (or the closest descriptor) and felt all the expectations and societal norms that get lumped with the term come crashing around my relationship to that person.
1. a much loved person.
Using the term 'beloved' actually started as a challenge set by a beloved, to help me expand my comfort zones and experiment with language. I spoke about it a lot at first, because while it was something I wanted to do, I was nervous about how people would respond to me overturning more common ways of communicating the nature of a relationship. I've had beloveds ask me how my experiment with this word has been going. My answer is that it's been going great. I got a lot of feedback initially from people. I would ask 'what did you think when I just used the word beloved?' and the answers were interesting indeed. People projected all kinds of meanings onto the word. 'Oh someone who is a sexual partner of yours' 'It sounds like you're in a cult' 'It's old fashioned and serious' 'You will confuse people'. I found this more amusing than anything. The interesting thing was that VERY few people actually asked me what I meant. Of course there were lots of people who assumed it was 'just me being me' and had a rather accurate idea of how I used the word. But then there are still others who have no idea and just make up a meaning. Are they afraid to ask? I was worried someone might confront me in a rude way about it, get triggered or angry. So far that hasn't happened. I'm still waiting for it and perhaps a part of me would rather that...a rocky and heavy opening to a conversation around this topic, rather than assumptions about how I love.
Words have power. I feel yucky when I use words that don't quite fit because to me it so often undermines the truth of my relationships and gives them imagined properties that don't exist. Maybe you love your neighbour more than anyone, see your husband twice a year, your dog could be your soulmate and maybe the chipmunk that you've been feeding daily for 5 years is your best friend. It's really not that crazy. But of course if you're talking to someone on the street they think your neighbour is someone you ask for flour and who's car you jump start. Or maybe someone who bitches about you behind your back and leaves you mail about your trees being in their way. If you refer to your partner people will naturally imagine you living together or sharing most of your time together. If you're crying because of a dead chipmunk...well.
Now it might seem like this focus on language comes from some over-stated need to be understood. Of course if someone doesn't understand the connection you and your neighbour have, that's their problem! That's not what used to bother me the most. It was more that I felt like I was buying into an alternate reality with the words I used. I felt like my use of language made me complicit in creating a false hierarchy of those I love. Not only were my words putting one person above another (due to their overall meaning in general culture) but it wasn't even a mildly accurate hierarchy!
Sure, I'm closer to some people than others. But it might not be the way you imagine it. Using language in a new way gives me room to feel how I feel and
not be calling a dolphin a whale or a frog a toad. I don't hurt as much. I love dolphins AND whales. But if the world only gives me one word to use.. I feel sad because I'm doing both an injustice by calling them the same thing. I guess my way around it is to call them all animals. It's true. You have no idea now if they have feathers or fins. But that's not my problem. And you CAN always ask if it's that important to you.
Partially using the term beloved is political to me. It is a quick, repeated act that challenges the way our world compartmentalizes love. I stumbled upon this great little flow chart by QueerAnarchism on tumblr. Perhaps this may help you understand where I'm coming from.
Substitute the word 'friends' with 'beloved' in that bubble up there and this seems to capture the essence of things for me.
A point which QueerAnarchism made was that RA isn't about NOT labelling your relationships. They also addressed a whole bunch of other things about how RA is not NOT ' a new hip word for polyamory without hierarchy or commitmentless sex.' 'Polyamory and casual sex are both fine... but are no more moral or immoral than monogamy or sex in long term relationships.' 'Relationship anarchy is most definitely political and is most definitely anti-capitalist ... Relationship anarchy is not about polyamory and not about labelless sex.'
This might all be too much to understand.. I get it. It's a lot of stuff! For the moment, just know that if I refer to you as a beloved, it means exactly what the dictionary says.
And if you have any questions, please don't be afraid to get in touch. I'll answer the best I can.