Ever since I have lived in Germany, I have been surrounded by contradictions. Story of my life, so to speak. I have been growing up since I was 8 years old in a country where I would have been killed about 70 years ago. As far as I know, my family had no relatives in Germany or other countries where Jews were murdered…Nevertheless our relatives and friends in Israel, Russia, USA etc. could not understand for a very long time why we came to Germany at all. To be honest, I never got it either. It has always felt like a great contradiction.
What I found even more contradictory was the fact that I was a “model Jew” at school. Whenever it was about Jewish traditions or customs, I was the contact person. Like I should have known all this. Honestly, I didn’t even dare admit I didn’t know. Even today I find it embarrassing when I can’t answer every question about Judaism. Like I’m a bad Jew.
So I’m very familiar with contradictory feelings and yet I’ve only recently noticed the connection to polyamorous relationships. Since I have lived poly/open, I have lived with thousands of contradictions. I’ve even been welcoming them since I knew they were there. Contradictions mean that you can feel and perceive different things at the same time. For example, I can feel insecure when my relationship person is dating someone. The feeling can tempt me into not wanting them to date the person, because that would remove the insecurity. At the same time I can be happy for my relationship person. So in a way I can feel both at the same time. For me this is a classic contradiction. I don’t see why I couldn’t do both at once.
Polyamory promotes contradiction, it is not a one-way street of emotions. Rather, it is a wide range of emotions, thoughts and feelings that can occur at the same time. I feel like I keep talking to people who just want to feel one thing. For example, they find it problematic if they cannot share the joy of their relationships on the subject of new dates, they feel jealous or if they do not always feel ready to be open to everything. I find that anything but problematic. Why wouldn’t it be okay to allow the contradiction? I think it can even be quite good to feel inner friction, which helps me to question my thoughts and promotes my inner dialogue. I’m kind of getting into a conversation with myself. I think as long as I don’t feel that I’m only feeling bad with contradictory feelings, I find them helpful.
I understand the need for clarity. Contradictions are not so welcome and often not easy to bear, I have the feeling that they rather create the need to create clarity quickly. I can relate to that very well, as you know I love structure and transparency. However, I somehow come to terms with the contradiction. They remind me that feelings can be multi-layered and complex – like jealousy. I find it a great enrichment to define things like jealousy on a larger scale, which makes them more tangible and somehow more acceptable. For example, if I have a very narrow definition of jealousy, such as jealousy = claim to possession, then jealousy deprives them of their possibilities, it makes them smaller, more one-sided, more negative than they should or could be. Jealousy is very contradictory for me and that is the beauty of it, because it can also have many positive and enriching aspects without ignoring or ignoring the toxic or negative aspects.
A few months ago Debora Antmann, queer feminist, activist, blogger and angry Jew, pleaded for more contradictions in Missy Magazine’s dossier on Antisemitism. She spoke about Jewish philosophers* and how we can learn from them. I felt caught, it was in my face all the time, without really realizing it. For years I read Jewish philosophers*, devoured the contradiction, it was right under my nose and yet I did not recognize it. Now it’s more present to me than ever.
Photo by Glen Noble on Unsplash