She wasn’t even alive, and yet the fox still managed to have a profound impact in my life. She had been hit by a car attempting to cross a highway, her life coming to an end in a glare of headlights, her skull reduced to splinters, her brain to pulp. Her lifeless body lay on the narrow shoulder, as oblivious to the passing drivers as they were to her – just another piece of roadkill. All of them except for me. I saw that flash of red fur ahead and made a mental note. It would be 24 hours before I would be able to return to the spot and by then, she might be gone, or decomposed too badly, or god knows what else. But I knew I would come back anyway. She was important to me. Well, more to the point, important to someone who is important to me.
I live a rather unconventional life. I happened to see this fox on my way into Brisbane to house-sit for a woman I have had a very tumultuous relationship with. Not only do I describe myself as predominantly preferring women, I am also polyamorous, meaning monogamy doesn’t fit for me and I prefer multiple relationships at the same time. Walking this path has been fraught with challenges and hurt feelings, but also incredibly fulfilling and wonderful. Self-doubt has plagued me, fear has rendered me paralysed, and I have traversed some very dark places inside my head. Yet I still remember the love I am working to create in my life – and someone did once say that anything worth having isn’t easy to find. That doesn’t mean I haven’t fought the sentiment. I felt as though somehow, if I was ‘good enough’, I would be able to sail through life with ease. Of course, I had to give up this craziness before I destroyed myself with it. I was forced to learn that having multiple relationships simultaneously was never going to be easy in a world trained to cast out the unconventional – no matter how much others might love the idea of polyamory, the reality is that it goes against everything we are conditioned to believe from childhood about relationships. (Thank you, Disney.) I have discovered all new depths to what people will do with their freedom of action – including acting out of fear, acting completely irrationally…basically acting crazy. It’s been a hurdle for me – to get over my own fears of not being good enough or strong enough to deal with other people’s fears. I am enough and I can support the people I love through whatever they go through without taking on responsibility for things that have nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. This is what I am training myself to do with the support of a therapist and GP, and this support has given me back my sense of power in my own life, and also a way out of the darkness inside my head.
It hasn’t been easy for my beautiful partner to walk this road with me. Even though when we met we both described ourselves as polyamorous, even that philosophical similarity proved difficult to navigate in reality.
My house-sitting assignment was for a woman I was instantly attracted to from the moment we met. Though older than I am, I proceeded to flirt, though not too much, happier to sit with a friendship and secret crush than be rejected entirely. Turns out I didn’t have to make the first move…she made it, and she also happened to be polyamorous. Sounds too perfect, right? Little did I know, I was about to open a Pandora’s box of shit between my partner and me. Yes, I do use the term partner for the woman I live with, share a bed with, share future plans with. She is essentially number one. Knowing this is supposed to provide comfort when more than two people are involved in a relationship. In hindsight, considering my partner also deals with depression demons, I doubt anything could have provided her comfort. Seeing her so disempowered, so upset, so angry (the adjective list goes on) broke my heart and frustrated me simultaneously. How, why was creating this so hard? Something we had both supposedly wanted? Difficult times for us both. The only reason our relationship survived was communication. I’m not saying the communication was always rational or conducted calmly, but it always existed. I suppose I’m not giving myself enough credit for the fact I didn’t give up and leave.
Ultimately, this first attempt didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I learned the time has to be right for these things. I learned no matter how hard I want something, the complexity of it increases with the number of people involved. I’m still with my partner. I continue to be attracted to my beautiful friend, and she continues to be attracted to me – but she is unwilling to be involved with me for fear of loving me then losing me should my partner decide she can’t truly accept the poly life. Not the nicest place I’ve been in my life, having someone I love so close and yet so far – but this is the place I am, and it certainly could be worse.
I am unwilling to give up on my partner and unwilling to give up on my dream of multiple loving relationships. I want so much to show her how I cherish, adore and love her, in a way that really means something to her. She and I both work with animals – myself in research, while she is in her final year of an animal science degree. She mentioned to me once that what she wanted most was to be able to post-mortem a fox, to learn about so beautiful an animal without one having to be killed for the purpose. I stopped on the side of that highway, to pick up a dead fox to bring home for the woman I love, because though not a gift anyone else would ever be able to understand, it was my way of sharing my love so clearly that she could touch it.
Prue Kearney: “What i love in life: I have an amazing girlfriend, just her now, whom I love and adore pouring my love all over. Favourite thing is going out on the motorbikes with her; though mine goes faster, hers in much cooler. I spend a lot of time reading, nothing beats being rolled in a doona with a book. The rest of the time i sit and finish writing a thesis, in the company of my green-cheeked conure, Clarice Starling. Or out in the uni goat paddock hanging out with the goats, all the ladies will be having kiddies soon! What i do with my time Agricultural scientist working and studying with the University of Queensland. Im completing the final year of my PhD in goat parasitology, and i adore goats, my future will involve a goat farm of some kind. In the meantime, students from all kinds of degrees from veterinary technology to wildlife scince, have me teaching them about animal anatomy & physiology. The rest of the time my attention is on human beings; it really matters to me that each and every human being has a voice and gets heard. Im working with a new group with QCOSS called Emerging Voices to impact policy making on some really important social areas; youth homelessness, family violence to name two. I even coach with an organisation training people to live their life powerfully, and a life they love. I’m always working for a world where people have what they need, to live a fulfilling life that they have power and choice in.”