I recently realized the deep and meaningful importance of my poly network, a.k.a. my pod.
You see, I had a cough that sent me to the hospital, coughing up blood. Doctors diagnosed it as a form of lung cancer.
I spent nine days in the hospital in total. I underwent about as many procedures, including the removal of the entire upper lobe of my right lung.
During that time, I had more visitors than I could count. My boyfriends spread word through the pod, and they showed up in droves to support and comfort me. They brought food and games and colored lights to make my hospital room cheery. They walked with me on my doctor-ordered exercise walks (even shambling Silent-Hill style through an abandoned wing of the hospital).
And those closest to me worked out a shift system of staying by my side to ensure that I was never alone. With so many people caring for me, each of them was able to get more rest and comfort away from the hospital. Nobody had to spend all nine days with me. Often they were all there, but, especially at night, a hospital is an uncomfortable place. With several people in rotation, all my closest support was able to get the rest they needed to take good care of me.
And then I came home from the hospital, on so many drugs I couldn't think straight and hardly able to move from the tremendously invasive surgery I'd undergone. For days I couldn't leave my apartment, and for days after that I could only leave if I was accompanied by someone else.
And still the pod was there. They ran errands to get supplies and medicine (I am forever indebted especially to my friend David for his tireless and prompt support in those first days). They drove me to get groceries. They came to cowork with me so I wouldn't be alone (I work from home). Even from afar, they checked on me and made sure I had everything I needed. They understood that sometimes what I needed was just company, and they provided that too.
And there were so many of them, I was able to spread my need over plenty of people so that I didn't wear anybody out. Nobody got caregiver fatigue from having to cater to me every day. Nobody had to be repeatedly interrupted from their daily tasks to get me medicine and groceries and cat food. Everyone did something, even something small, so that no one had to do everything.
This is the importance of my community. This community exists because of our shared connections and our shared experience of non-mainstream love. We don't all share partners with each other, of course. Many of the people in my network are simply friends, not lovers or metamours. But we're all linked by this one thing we have in common: we all have so much love we simply can't contain it.
And I got to see, firsthand, the expression of that love. This is poly. Yes, it's late-night makeouts at parties with people you've just met, and waving goodbye to your boyfriend as he goes on a first date, and holding hands with your two partners as you walk down the street. But it's also your friends showing up at your door with a bottle of painkillers, and eight visitors in your 15x15-foot hospital room, and four people risking tuberculosis infection (this really happened) to be with you. It's your loved ones taking care of each other to make sure they can all take care of you (don't think I don't know that you were all texting each other to check in!). It's countless people adjusting their lives to be sure you're okay and letting you know they're thankful you made it through your ordeal.
I am certain my health crisis was easier to deal with because of my pod. I am confident I am healing faster and better because of their support. I know I am loved, not just by my partners, but by a huge network of people.
This is poly. This is what abundant love looks like. This is real love.