I followed my curiosity into what would become one of the most surprising experiences in my life.
The wild calls to us like a far-off wolf pack and most of us have forgotten how to answer.
Wildness seems forbidden, inaccessible.
We are scared of the dark forests of our own depressions and ecstasies, of anyplace untamed and free … and yet we ache for freedom.
Our wild longings often come out sideways — at least they did for me.
After a decade of being saddled by picket fences, a fine marriage, taut physique, moderate career success, and an enviable collection of high-end shoes, my body and heart yearned for real unleashing.
Then, four years ago, I heard my desires howling.
Not knowing how to be wild, I headed to Amazon.com for ideas in book form, eventually landing on a topic light years away from my good girl tendencies: open marriage. Intrigued and intimacy-starved, I followed my curiosity into what would become one of the most surprising experiences in my life.
After devouring books about polyamory, open relating, and primordial urges, I sat my husband down to have the talk. I confessed my confusion, my desire for more sexual connections, and the overwhelming need for intimacy that felt impossible to cultivate completely within the sphere of only us.
He, also being slightly unsatisfied, eventually agreed to opening our relationship. We came up with our rules, eyed each other excitedly and with a bit of trepidation, and set off hoping to reclaim a few fragments of our lost souls.
Someone would have to "jump first" into this adventure, and that someone was me.
I started cracking open my heart, letting in little bits from the few men I welcomed into my arms.
For a little while, the theory of openness played out like the books said it would: I felt immense gratitude and newfound attraction for my husband for trusting me enough to set me free, even as he struggled to make any connections beyond ours. One morning after waking from an encounter, I was absolutely flooded with emotion; not toward the man in my bed, but toward my own husband.
It seemed to work. I looked like I had light beams pouring from my body. I was purified by my own discomfort, by the permission I gave myself to explore, by the ruthless honesty of terribly uncomfortable conversations I could no longer avoid.
And then, one day a few months later, this new wild life began to unravel.
It started with a profile photo from an online dating site that I joined as a joke.
His face appeared in my inbox and a lightning bolt shivered down my spine. I immediately knew I was in trouble. I said yes anyway.
He soon knew everything about me, my relationship, my toddler son, and all the complications and potential mess that came with saying yes to me. He said yes anyway.
After a slew of emails and a first date, I knew (but wasn't quite ready to face) a very inconvenient and uncomfortable truth. I actually did not want or need an open relationship.
I wanted intimate and committed partnership with a man who knew how to show up for himself and then for me. A man like the one I'd just connected with.
Even though we barely knew each other, meeting him showed me that these men actually existed. I couldn't unknow this delicious possibility. And within weeks, I knew it was impossible go back to my new-old life, even with its forbidden freedoms.
I was ready for a new level of wildness: the unknown territory of true intimacy. Being held in my darkest and lightest spaces. The ecstasy of soul sex, which for me could only be experienced in any depth with someone I fully invested in.
So, I leapt, extracting myself as gracefully as possible from a marriage I never intended to leave.
This was not the turn of events I expected, especially when I considered the distinct possibility that a relationship with this new tiger of a man may never be more than a catalytic event.
Still, I leapt.
My tiger man moved to Peru, following a lifelong dream to live and work in the Amazonian jungle. I moved into a small artistic apartment and started rebuilding a life of my own. My practice husband lost his job, moved in with his dad, and we worked through how to lovingly co-parent our son amidst chaos and upheaval.
The future became murky, terrifying, and more liberating than I thought possible.
Even though I'd never been comfortable with uncertainty and discomfort, I found my feet feel so solid on very shaky ground. Now, almost three years later, the future that has unfolded still surprises me every day.
My Tiger and I eventually married (three times, just for good measure), laying down roots in a new home together after his stint in Peru. We are expecting a child together. Big brother (and his dad) are genuinely excited for us.
Our future still marches out before us, cloaked in the unknown, but we face the darkness together — our wild souls knotted irrevocably and delectably into one.
Together we have built a golden life out of the ashes of what came before.
My open marriage gifted me with so much: I learned how to tell the truth, to stand up for my hunger, to be brave. Those few precious months were the doorway to my forbidden life: the life I couldn't have dared to believe in.
Above all, sexual openness led me to the most unexpected place of all: A deep investment and belief in intimate monogamy as a spiritual path.
Will everyone agree with my choices and ultimate realization? Probably not - life is an individual journey for each of us, so I will make no sweeping generalizations about the "right" way to have a relationship other than this:
Be honest, respect your own heart, and be brave enough to follow where it leads you.
It's not easy, painless, or guaranteed. But it will be worth it, I can promise you that.