‘My husband told me he wasn’t upset, and suggested a ‘different’ kind of marriage. She ignited a fire within me. My mind was closed to the idea I could love more than one person. I worried I’d upset my children.’

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“I believe in true, unconditional love, and I do not put limits on love. Instead, I allow love to be expansive. While I’m currently living a happy life, it’s safe to say it’s also an unconventional life.

Have you ever met someone and your souls just kind of sigh and say, ‘Oh, there you are?’ For me, that moment happened on an otherwise ordinary day in January two years ago. What started out as such a normal errand changed my life forever. I walked into a beauty supply store to buy shampoo and met an amazing woman who I instantly knew would be part of my life. When we spoke, it was like we had known each other for years. I wasn’t sure how, or why this happened, but I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. This unexpected conversation with a beautiful soul flowed as naturally as breathing. I was coming undone before I even had a chance to realize it.

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

Then, just as I was starting to wonder if she was just great at her job, or a generally friendly person, she gave me her number. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I walked back out into the cold, but I honestly didn’t even feel the chill. I was so lost in my thoughts of her, wondering if we were flirting, if she was gay, or if maybe I just made a new best friend. Having just recently celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary with my husband, my life was pretty typical for a thirty-something, suburban mom.

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

That chance meeting turned my world upside down, and expanded my world, mind, and heart all at the same time. I always had an attraction to women, but other than a couple of secret encounters in my younger days, I never pursued a relationship with a woman. I am also very attracted to men and am so deeply in love with my husband that I never thought to question those past desires. I never really chose to identify as gay or straight. I just chose to be the kind of happy I was raised to want.

I spent a large portion of my adult life involved in the Pentecostal church. Religion always taught me that love is only acceptable between a man and a woman and that we marry one person forever. As a result, I lived my life in a very small, safe box, making my happiness fit inside those four walls. I spent many years afraid to live too big, or too loud, or to stand out from all the other God-fearing people around me. I wanted to fit in that box so badly that I strived to make my seemingly perfect marriage and family something to be admired.

I was at a place in my life where I cared more about appearances than I did actual happiness. I was burnt out, my husband was exhausted, and our friend circle was shallow and fake. When I met her, I realized I wanted to get to know someone who was unlike anyone else around me. She would not have fit in at church or my PTO meetings. Here’s why: she didn’t care what other people thought. She was not judgmental or impressed by things that don’t really matter, like appearances. She wanted to know my secrets and my dreams. She wanted to talk about uncomfortable things, and she made me feel safe to be myself.

I introduced her to my husband pretty quickly. I still had no idea where my relationship with her was going or what we were doing. At the same time, she had ignited a fire within me that glowed so brightly my husband had to approach me and let me know that he thought we may have deeper feelings for one another than just friends. He was right, and it is impossible to even tell you when it had shifted. It was like a storm after a drought. He told me that he wasn’t upset, and suggested that maybe we could talk about having a different kind of marriage.

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

It all seemed so outlandish to me at first, and I love him with every fiber of my being, even though I was the one who met someone that sparked new feelings inside me. I was terrified of doing anything that might cause trouble in our marriage. My mind was almost closed off to the idea that I could truly love more than one person. This idea that love is an emotion that can and should only be felt between two people was so ingrained in me. I couldn’t fathom sharing love with anyone besides my husband. I thought I would be shunned by everyone around me. I worried I would upset my children. Worse yet, I feared being punished by God.

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

I did a lot of soul searching over those next few months. Even though we were all still in the closet, my girlfriend began spending time with our family and some of our friends. I just told everyone she was my best friend for a long time. We realized that we were all truly happy sharing our lives. I was, in fact, irrevocably in love with two people. We all love and respect one another. I didn’t just step outside of the box that religion kept me in for many years, I stripped all the preprogramed ideas out of my head. Once I opened my mind and my heart to both of them, I realized that while my happiness may not look like everyone else’s happiness, it is real! It is priceless, it is uniquely mine, and I would not trade a second of it for anything else in the world.

As a polyamorous family, we deal with all the same complications people in monogamous relationships deal with. We also have a few challenges that are more specific to nonmonogamy. However, if you strip away all the rest, our relationship is based on consent, family, consideration of each other, open communication, respect, and honesty. We all ‘came out’ as polyamorous in October. While that rocked my quiet, conservative, religious little southern town, I don’t regret it.

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

My children are happy, and they are loved. Not only by their traditional mother and father figure, but they have an extra parent to love them now too. My oldest son, who is 19 said, ‘Mom, my generation is very different from yours. We are all really openminded, and if you’re happy and you’re all good, then I’m happy and I’m good!’ That gave me so much hope that the world really is a better place for my children than it was for me growing up.

Our love, and our joy, was just too beautiful to be hidden in a closet anymore. When we came out, we did it very publicly. I blogged about it and I shared that blog post on social media. Yes, that is as scary as it sounds. I bared my soul for the world, but I wouldn’t go back and do it any other way. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that we all received. I have found out who my true friends are, and I’ve made so many new ones! We have all gained much more than we lost. Dozens of people reached out to me through social media about their polyamorous relationships. I have become a secret keeper for friends and strangers alike. Most of these people are desperately looking for examples of healthy non-monogamous relationships because there aren’t many public examples.

Often people in relationships like ours keep them private out of fear for their reputations, careers, and children. I want to stand in my truth though, not only for myself, but also for everyone living in fear. I want to be an example of a healthy, happy, unconventional family filled with love. I hope to help normalize polyamory and demystify it, especially in areas like where I live.

Through this experience we have begun to embrace all different types of love, religion, and lifestyles. We are unconventional and we love in a way that pushes boundaries and extends beyond our family, Nonmonogamy is not dangerous. It’s just different. Everyone has the capacity to love limitlessly. The only limit to the heart is the mind. My husband is still my best friend. I’m just lucky enough to have more than one best friend, and I choose to fall in love over and over again every day.”

Courtesy of Jennifer Vaughn

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jennifer Vaughn of Alabama, and originally appeared on Scary Mommy. You can follow her journey on her website here and Facebook here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this:

‘I woke up next to my beloved husband with our 3 children across the hall, and realized I am no longer straight.’

‘I married the man of my dreams, created a family, and realized after 9 years we weren’t able to pray the gay away.’

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