Adam Friedman represented the most untamed ecstasy and vicious heartbreak I had experienced in my brief human life.

A typhoon of seduction, he tore through my nascent ports of love and intimacy without mercy. And he shared far too many seductive characteristics with Kai for my comfort. My indiscretions with Adam had long haunted me, and I was beginning to wonder if my undeniable attraction to Kai was my penance. Or, that Kai was a karmic cautionary tale to warn me that successful, charismatic, intellectual, and intensely passionate men were my downfall. Men that stoked my radiant goddess hearth. Men not like my ex-husband: safe, even-keeled, friendly, dispassionate, and emotionally blocked.

It was for these reasons I chose Mark as my betrothed; he was safe. He wasn’t interested in exploring my emotional depths or penetrating through my hardened sensual exterior, and I never had to worry about what past wounding he would inadvertently unleash. But the cost of this choice came with time, stagnation, and mismatches in passion and a ravenous love of growth. In the end, my real wounding came from opening my body over and over to him without truly opening; losing all connection to my sensual hearth, its half-lit embers dying out long before our marriage’s finale.

I knew if I didn’t take action to face this demon, I would allow that fear and wounding to permeate every moment with Kai. I wasn’t about to let my own bullshit snuff out our potential for joy. I resolutely opened my whimsically butterfly-and-lavender adorned journal to a fresh page. titled it, “Why Kai is Not Adam” and sketched out two columns with one name in each. Comparative and contrasting words poured from my pen. For every dark characteristic of Adam, I countered with the radiant equivalent of Kai. Under Adam went words like “Manipulative, Sociopath, Domineering”, while across under Kai went “Attachment Parent, Philanthropic, Vulnerable”. I sat back and stared at my assessment.

My heart began to soften in profound realization. Kai wasn’t my cautionary tale. He was my redemption. A tear trickled down my face as I came to terms with the idea that Adam was a razor-sharp yet crucial stepping stone in this epic journey, a karmic relationship designed to exact a harsh lesson only teachable in this lifetime. I had thought Adam’s lesson was that I should be shamed for my act as accomplice in infidelity and that very Alpha, charismatic and sensual men would only spell heartbreak for me.

Perhaps the true lesson was that my voracious sensual goddess and delicate heart needed a true Alpha warrior to allow her to surrender into her power, not to submit into his. Not one who would be “faithful” in dogmatic standard narrative, but one who could still be devoted, dedicated, and loyal. Was devotion even possible in polyamory? I shook my head trying to divine the answer. But now, there no question in my mind that Kai’s incredibly present masculine energy was precisely what my radiant feminine needed to flourish, and I would have never known that had it not been for Adam’s emotional wrecking ball.

Hours later, my tribe was diving into grub at a warmly lit Princeton gastropub, rain softly pelting on the windows. I was deep into conversation with my two closest tribal sisters, Luna and Rachel. These two women were a my lighthouse in a year of marriage squalls, holding my trembling, unsure hands every step of the way toward and through my uncoupling. They were listening with rapt attention to my riveting account of my Ayahuasca experience, my “dance with the dark”. It felt liberating to share the profound awakening and downloads I’d received during that ordeal to openminded women who sincerely believed I’d encountered my source energy. But could I tell them…everything? Would they still love me if they knew just how far off the love reservation I was steering?

The answer came when my phone buzzed with an incoming message during dessert. It was Kai. “I’m driving back through Princeton this evening…tell me how I’m going to see you again,” he implored. My heart raced. Unprepared thoughts swirled through my head. I look exhausted and puffy! My hair hasn’t been defrizzed from this humidity! I’m wearing the same jeans as yesterday!! But most importantly…could my nervous system handle another round in the ring with Muhammed Kai this soon?

I replied, “Tell me where and when.”

“Really?? The Last Drop coffeehouse in Princeton. 7:30.” It defied logic how even his simplest text messages conveyed an irresistible sensual magnetism. Damn him. I checked the clock. 6:45pm. It was now or never; I was going to have to explain the reason for my sudden exit to someone. Rachel was my “accountability buddy” and soul sister; a radiant doula, reiki master and devoted mother of 3, she was an endless source of loving energy with an endearing Tri-State Area sass. But, she was very much in a traditionally committed relationship, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her looking at me any differently because of my unusual choice.

Luna however, I didn’t know as well yet. A stunning and brilliant Latina spitfire, she had a spirit that felt freer, less contained by convention. She was divorced and navigating finding her radiant love affair, and a vivacious storyteller. She divulged to me about a recent spiritual retreat she attended with a good girlfriend where they had spontaneously engaged in a passionate kiss. Hearing her describe her mind opening to a new sensation like this gave me a fresh confidence: I decided she would be my first confidante.

“Luna…there’s a part of the story I haven’t told you,” I confessed. Ears perking, she pressed me to continue. I relayed every minute detail of the last two weeks up to that moment and awaited her reprimand. It never came.

She only shook her head in amazement. “Ella…I am so proud of you, girl. So proud. Do you realize how fucking brave you are? This world is so fucked up in judging each other in how they should love. You are giving that world the finger right now, and I’m so happy for you.”  My jaw dropped in disbelief. She thinks I’m brave, and not bat shit crazy? Perhaps the judgements I was expecting from the outside world were really projections sourced from my own sinister fears and doubts.

The clock flashed 7:15pm. It was time for my second date with destiny. Luna sensed my hesitation.

“Ella, go. Now. Get the fuck out of here. And…,” she continued in a low, intense voice, “welcome to the world of the living.” My eyes welled up at Luna’s acceptance, her love, her encouragement. This was wildcrafted sisterhood, and I wasn’t going to deny her the chance to push me off this cliff. I embraced her, nearly squeezing the air out of her petite body. “Thank you, Luna,” I whispered, and darted out of the pub after hurriedly bidding goodbye to my puzzled tribe.

Minutes later, I parked my car outside the coffeeshop, steadied my nerves once again, and pushed inside.

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