Last year, we published an article by one of our readers titled “I was in a committed relationship with two people—and then I got pregnant.” Even though many of our readers were unfamiliar with polyamory, the article was surprisingly universal—after all, who isn’t trying to figure out this whole love, relationships, and family thing? After the enormous response we got from our readers, we asked Lizzie Leis to write a follow-up, about what it’s like to suddenly have your love life in the spotlight.
When I first wrote about my life for HelloGiggles, I wanted share our experience as a different type of family because not only was it an incredible experience welcoming our first child into the world, but I have never heard the journey into parenthood from an openly polyamorous family like ours. It isn’t exactly the type of family that you come across every day. But I wanted to show that families come in all different forms, and our daughter is just lucky enough to have two moms and a dad living in the same house taking care of her. I wrote it thinking that I could share it with our family, friends, and maybe a few other people would come across it and learn something about us. I never expected it to take off the way it did. It went viral overnight, and our lives changed because of it.
I have never really been that technologically savvy when it comes to social media. Occasionally I would maybe post something funny on twitter and my two Twitter followers Mike or Rosie, would tweet that out. After my article went live, I remember hearing my phone vibrate throughout the night and thinking that I had just forgot to respond to a text from my mom, but it was Twitter, which I hadn’t used in probably about a month. I went from 2 followers to about 2,000 within the span of a few hours of my article being published. I was getting messages from people all over the world. I was shocked at how far it had reached.
I remember one message from someone who spoke about how they had a family similar to ours but had not shared the fact that they were polyamorous with their families. They were able to share my article with their family members in order to tell them that they had a polyamorous family of their own. I had messages from people who told me that they had always felt as if something or someone had been missing in their life, but they couldn’t articulate it until they read my article.
I was overwhelmed by all of the positivity and amazing stories that were shared with me. There were people from all walks of life, all sexual orientations, all genders, all religions, from all over the world that began to share with me their stories and let me into a part of their lives because I let them into a part of mine. An article that I wrote helped someone come out to their family, bringing them together and helping them live their life proudly. I have always dreamed that I would touch peoples lives, but I never expected this to have such an impact on so many people throughout the world.
As my article began to circulate throughout social media, I began to get even more attention and coverage, opening the door for the critics to come through the cracks. I began to make the mistake of reading the comments on other posts that news sites like put up about my article. There were some people who would say that they did not agree with my life but wished us the best. But then there were people who used the comments to criticize my family and my character. It even got to the point that I received some threats publicly on social media.
The things that people had said, some without even reading the article, were shocking. How could people who didn’t know me at all have so much hate for my little, loving family? I started to feel horrible. I started to believe some of the horrendous things that were being said about me. I tried venting to someone about what was going on and I was told that I “brought it on myself” by letting the world in on our family. I felt myself being consumed by words from strangers whom I’d never meet.
I’ve always struggled with anxiety disorders and depression ever since I was younger, and usually I am able to tell when they are setting in and try to pull myself back into reality, but this time was harder than those before. I ended up finally opening up to my partners, Kevin and Sarah, about some more of my negative feelings and how the comments were beginning to affect me. They had both taken a few of the comments to heart and by talking about it, we were able to talk each other down off of that ledge. It bonded us together closer than we were before, and strengthened our relationship. It made me even more grateful for my two partners than I could have ever imagined.
All too often people are so quick to say horrible things behind the safety of their computer screen, but they don’t take into account that the other screen they’re directing their words at has another person behind it. I will never understand the urge that some people have to wish ill on someone they barely know. They choose to cast stones at my family and I but when they look in the mirror, can they truly say that they have lived a life better than everyone else? Can they say that they are better than we are, just because they follow certain teachings of certain religious beliefs, or certain societal standards? No one person is better than the other, no way of life is better than the other, and just because we live a different life than you, does not mean that my life is any less significant than yours. All lives matter and all forms of families are beautiful.
I felt as though because I was someone who was now a small representative of the polyamorous community, I had to put on a very strong front as to not deter anyone from being open and happy with their own lives. I owed it to not only myself, but them to keep going strong and fight back. On Twitter, when I began replying to the negative comments, the wave of support I got in return was amazing. I began speaking to internet responders more and more, joking back and forth about Star Wars, music, and sports. We found common ground.
I never expected to get the amount of attention that we did. I’ve had offers to appear on television shows, offers to write a book about our family, offers to star in our own reality show, among many other opportunities beginning to knock on our door all because of a few words I wrote about our journey into parenthood. I am so incredibly thankful that I have had this opportunity to share a bit of my life with everyone.
I really don’t think our lives can ever be normal after this, but if there is anything that my little poly-family and I are good at, it is creating our own normal.Throughout all of the negativity, my family grew in strength. It made me realize that I not only have the perfect people to have a family with, I have the perfect people to take on the world with. It brought our relationship to the next level. So much so that this Christmas that I asked Sarah to be my wife and she accepted my proposal. I know that no matter what, as long as I have my beautiful daughter, my loving husband and my incredible fiancée, we can conquer anything that comes our way. We are a family, and nothing will ever change that.
[Image via author]