So....How Does This Work?
By Charity Benham
Do you ever have those moments where you pause, look around at the scene surrounding you, and ask the question “how exactly did I get here?”
Last night, at 1:45 am, I found myself sitting at The Goat. It was a seedy dive Karaoke Bar in Dallas, Texas. I’m sitting with Mel and our dear friends and documentarians Chad and Jess (who were incidentally losing their karaoke cherries). To my left, there is a table containing a heavily tatted white woman who would fit into any Portland bar sitting with a neatly dressed Hispanic gentleman in a button down shirt with heavy rimmed glasses, and a man in a t-shirt and shorts with an unruly beard. To my right, a 6’6” drag queen dressed in a clown mask wearing 6” platform heels, tight athletic shorts, and a t-shirt stating “Plan B Burlesque.” To his left, a woman nearly as tall wearing a tiara and covered in fake blood. The remainder of their troupe wore matching outfits, each with some type of horror prop. The clown goes up to sing and has an amazing voice and dances like a pro in those platforms. Mel and I are smiling broadly as we have one of those, “how did I end up here?” moments.
Two mornings ago I woke up at a random free camping spot on BLM property in the middle of rural Utah.
Yesterday morning I was posing with Jessica in an acro yoga position at Four Corners after eating a Navajo Taco (Indian fry bread with salsa, cheese, and lettuce).
We sang the shit out of our favorite songs at The Goat. Chad and Jess, who happen to be professional dancers and competition champions, dazzled the unsuspecting Dallas crowd with their slick moves. We made several new friends, danced, laughed, and asked ourselves, “how did we get here?”
Mel and I often ask ourselves this question, and the answer is simple but not easy. Openness. We remain open to experiences as they present themselves. If an experience turns out to be mediocre, it was still an experience. We have learned to say “yes.” We have learned to ask for what we want. We have learned to say “no.” We have learned to listen to our insides. We have learned to avoid useless and mindless regret and transform past mistakes it into present learning. Simply put, we have ended up here by practicing the art of taking responsibility and always turning towards openness. We work on our own shit without expecting others to work it out for us.
The question we repeatedly ask ourselves is only a slight variation of the question we’ve been asked multiple times by others.
“So…how does this work?”
Ever a shrink, I find myself wanting to answer this question with a question.
“How does what work?”
I imagine that the question actually cleverly masks other questions.
Where does everybody sleep?
Who pays for what?
How do you have sex?
If I want to play with one, do I have to play with all?
Do you fight?
Are there issues with jealousy?
Is this a “v” or a triangle?
What are your rules/agreements?
What’s up with the crazy matching outfits?
Etc etc etc.
By the way, anybody can ask these questions directly. We love to talk about our triad.
Our triad works because we are three individual, independent entities that work out our own shit. We certainly turn towards one another in times of stress. However, we strive to take emotional responsibility at all times. As a result, we have found the development of our relationship to be both simple and easy. We see it as three dyads plus a triad. It is four relationships, all with individual qualities. It works because we rely on communication rather than rules or agreements. We respect each other’s autonomy. We set boundaries when we need to. And we enjoy each other’s company. We feel deep compersion for one another. Oh…and we have the most connected and exploratory sexual relationship that I’ve ever experienced. We strive to move towards openness and connection.
I ended up singing karaoke with burlesque clowns in Dallas, Texas by remaining open to experiences as they came my way. I ended up in the audience the next night listening to my beloved share her story of evolution. The life I have now is the life that I have always wanted, and I’m thrilled to do my part to spread the gospel of sex positivity to the world.