Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It Is Mostly in My Mind

We still play at spanking sometimes.

It is a different sort of experience than it was once.  I have more options, and way more control.  If I say "no," then everything comes to a halt, and we each go back to our corners.  There is not much discussion, and if it disappoints him, or frustrates him, or makes him wish for something different, then I don't ever hear about it.  He just quits, and we go on about our more ordinary, vanilla life together.

That means that, if there is going to be spanking play that actually goes anywhere much, the burden for making that happen falls on me.  I have to get to it, and stay with it, and find a way to be in the moment enough to follow the trail through the pain and fear to whatever good might lie on the other side of that sometimes formidable barrier.  And I have to do it without much in the way of help or support from him.

Spanking, for me, has always been about my mindset.  What I experience in the midst of a spanking session is determined, in large part, by where my head is.  I have to give it up, and go with it.  If I get caught up in any sort of emotional weighing or measuring or bargaining or calculating or wanting or demanding...  then I can pretty much guarantee that the spanking will overwhelm me, and result in a sense of anger and betrayal.  Nothing good can come from any of that.

Most often, I find that I do better with some sort of fairly rhythmic, mantra-ish mental chant that keeps me in the moment, and prevents me from swirling out into all the mental chatter.  Over the years, I have used a lot of different sort of mental chants to ride through the tough places in a spanking:
"Yours always and all ways"
"I love you, Sir"
"I am just a butt"
"One two three four five six seven eight"

At different times in different ways, each of those have helped me along the path to processing and eroticizing the pain of a spanking.

Now though, I find that my mind goes to the unseen, unknown others that loom on the horizon... the spankos that have or will be part of his spanking experience.  They are more willing, more sturdy, more pure in some sense than I am, and he is able to take a chance with them that he won't take with me.  I understand the need that drives the move to connect with them, and I endorse the general idea of it all.  It is not, however, a reality without its emotional challenges.  At the beginning of a spanking, when I am most tentative, most vulnerable, it is hard to be in a mental place of wondering if he is actually with me, or is really practicing for his encounters with those others.  Is what is happening about me?  About us?  Or am I just a stand in?  It is hard.

And so the session on Sunday morning started off a little rough.  I felt that he launched right in to more high end play than I was prepared for, with no real warm up.  It made me angry.  Frustrated.  I wanted him to help me, and I was immediately fussy.  Of course, the minute I expressed that, he got defensive, and began to pull away.  I knew right away, that if I didn't figure it out, he would end the session, and I would lose the opportunity.  And I wanted a chance to "get there."

So, I dropped back into position, determined to tough it out, see it through.  And then I hit upon the magic mindset that made it work for me.  I put the nameless, faceless others around the edge of the room.  Silent witnesses to what was happening.  And in my mind?  The mantra that worked to carry me along on the crest of the pain?

"Watch and learn, Motherfuckers!"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thoughts on Dominance and Submission

I spent a good number of years living in the "one down" position in a BDSM erotic power exchange.  Before that, I'd spent even more years wishing that I could find that sort of relationship dynamic.  Even as I held tightly to my strong feminist philosophy and political views, I wanted a different sort of reality for my own intimate world... a paradox that I came to accept without any sense of needing to reconcile or resolve the divergence.

I found comfort, security, and sometime even joy in living that life choice.  I remember those days with fondness.  Now that it is gone, no longer part of my life, I look back and find I have no regrets about the time I spent in that place.

But it is gone.  I am not, any longer, a submissive.  I do not practice submission.  I do not think about myself in those terms anymore.  The dynamic was created between my partner and me.  It was a joint effort.  While there are those who believe that a submissive can exist apart from the dominant opposite number, I do not.

Submission is a responsive expression of erotic potential.  It arises in the presence of a trusted dominant force; a partner who calls it forth.  I do think that some of us are "wired" to make that sort of response under the correct conditions, but being inclined that way is only part of what needs to happen to bring it all into being.  Without an active, conscious, deliberate and willing partner, there is truly nothing to submit to, and hence no real submission.  I know.  I have tried:  carried out all the motions, made all the moves, dreamed all the dreams.  It isn't the same thing.  I don't know what it is, but I know it isn't submission.

For a time, I mourned that reality.  Missed the charge that was, for me, present in the power dance.  But mourning ends.  It must.  Life calls us onward, and we move a s we must.

So, now, I take care of the things I take care of.  I carry my share of the work.  I make the effort to be a good partner.  I do not however, hang on his every word.  I do not wait, breathlessly, to know what he might want or need.  I don't strive to anticipate what he might require.  He can take care of the things he wants as well as I can.  If he doesn't ask it, I don't feel like it is my job to do it or give it or produce it.  I don't keep score or balance accounts, but I do stay in a place of awareness of what is "fair" and equitable, and these days, I want there to be equitable sharing.  The thrill that compensated for the lack of fairness in my D/s relationship is not there, and without that, there is nothing at all to pay me back for the self-discipline and sacrifices that submission requires.

I don't know which way is better. These two relationship styles are different.  Different enough that there is not really any good place of comparison.  I imagine it looks pretty much the same from the outside, but it isn't.  I know it isn't.

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if he felt his own urges toward dominance surge back to life.  I wonder if he would choose me in that event?  I wonder if I would choose to try again?  I wonder if I could retrace the steps, find the path, bend that far?  I wonder...  and then I feel myself give a mental shrug, and go on.  It is an exercise in mental masturbation.  Nothing more.  You cannot step into the same stream twice.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Risking the Hostile Stare

A very long time ago, friends held a collaring ceremony in my home (http://theheronclan.blogspot.com/2013/09/bob-and-jans-collaring-song.html), using a modified version of the John Ball hymm, "The Summons," as part of the ceremony.  I am occasionally reminded about the event because the song comes up in a fairly regular rotation at the all school masses that I attend with my Catholic school students each week.  I generally take note, and privately label it as "kinky" with an inward smile.

Today, though, I heard the same music and the same lyrics, and was suddenly struck by this line:
Will you risk the hostile stare
Should your life attract or scare?

 I do think that there is, inherent to living in an alternative relationship model, the potential for those "hostile stares" when people notice that you don't adhere to the social norms.  That type of hostile stare is expected, and it doesn't surprise or particularly bother me.  People don't understand our polyamorous lifestyle, and it tends to scare the willies out of regular monogamously oriented types.  In the poly community, we encounter the hostile stares because "our kind" of poly is not as wide open and gender fluid as is the norm.  So, within that community, the hostile stares come from people who figure that if you are not up for full on poly-fuckery, then you aren't genuinely poly at all.

So be it.  We have, for many years now, done this thing that we do according to our own lights, and pretty much everyone has, at one point or another, been convinced we are doing it all wrong.

But, this morning, hearing that lyric, I felt an almost visceral response as I recalled the widespread recoil that happened around the BDSM blogging world when our family confronted issues of addiction and codependence five years ago.  Our lives had attracted plenty of folks.  We'd shared broadly and intensely about our journey.  If any of what we had together was scary to people, it was the sort of scary that drove their curiosity and hunger to know more and more and even more.

And then things got hard.  Really hard.  And ugly.  And painful.  And very, very, very scary.  And that's when the stares turned hostile.  With very few exceptions, people who had claimed to be "friends" turned tail and ran.  Or, worse, they stayed and lobbed judgmental, superior, self-satisfied comments our way.  Hostility ran rampant.

Because...  While kink has that delicious kind of exciting scary quality, the difficult business of holding on to a loved one through a nasty, scary, life-threatening illness like addiction is not at all exciting or titillating.  It is just miserable and hard and lonely.  It pulls the whole family system into the darkness.  And, as we learned, there is not anything at all sexy about being there, living there, healing there, and finding the strength to go on and live and love from there.

The hostile stares came from people who knew they were better than us.  The hostile stares came from people who felt we'd gotten what we deserved.  The hostile stares came from people who genuinely wished us ill.  The hostile stares came from people who somehow believed that we had disappointed them.  Did we RISK those hostile stares?  Did we invite the invective that was heaped on our heads and hearts?  What did we present to the world, and what was the attraction?  In what ways did we create that sense of fear?

I don't know the answers to all of those questions.  I do know that we survived, healed, and grew.  We are here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Don't Care OR... Just Stop and Be Happy

Life, depending on how you look at it, can be hard sometimes.  OR...  If you just turn your head a touch, and look, you realize how really good it is to be alive.  I am, I have discovered, far too inclined to see life in the first sense, and not often enough in the second.  I am, it seems, forever wanting some undefined, nebulous thing which I do not currently have, and cannot seem to obtain.

Then I get all mopey and sad and dissatisfied.  I know it is all terribly unfair, and I know I am just not built for happiness, and I know that EVERYBODY ELSE drew the lucky hands... and got what I will never, ever be able to have.

It is such a crazy dance.  It comes from crazy, and it creates more crazy.  Because, here's the thing:  on a day when I have my head screwed on, I realize that my life is fine.  There is nothing at all to be unhappy about.  I am loved.  I love.  I am relatively well.  I have enough.  There are sweet, soft, gentle times sprinkled through all of the days, and it is not at all a bad thing.

The things that tend to make me unhappy are silly, unrealistic wishes:

  • wishing I could go back and not do the hysterectomy
  • wishing I could go back and not marry badly as I did
  • wishing I could go back and not fall into the patterns that led to crisis and destruction
  • wishing I could go back and not get to be so old
  • wishing I could not have migraine headaches
  • wishing there were more money and fewer worries
  • wishing I could find the perfect romance that would make my life full of roses and violin music
  • wishing I could retire now
  • wishing I could work until I am really ready to retire
  • wishing my kids lived closer
  • wishing I had the ability to travel to see my kids whenever I wanted
  • wishing there were more power dynamics in my relationship, but not so many that it would make me sad or mad

Wishing, wishing, wishing until the whole of my waking life is filled up with useless, endless, unproductive wishing for bits of nothing at all.  When it is all said and done, I am left exhausted and frightened and endlessly sad, with no idea where to go to change it at all.

Until today.

Today, sitting beside Tom, watching football, after a very nice morning and a good day together, I suddenly realized that HE is what I am wishing for.  THIS life is what I am wishing for.  The work I do is good and will suffice until I am really done -- whenever that may be.  And we will go on together to be who we are with one another.  There will undoubtedly be storms, but we've weathered those already, and will again.  It changes nothing.  My life is mine.  Fashioned as I have chosen to make it.  There will be times with more, and times with less, but it is all enough for me.  I choose, tonight and from here forward, to be grateful for this one moment in this one life that is uniquely mine.

Someone please, remind me when I get mired in the swamp again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Ones Who Do All the Hard Stuff

First, an update of sorts:

  • We are fine.  Maybe even good.  That is important to know.
  • He has begun to reach out to find other partners to spank.
  • The intent is for these connections to be strictly platonic; involving only spanking.
  • It is an opportunity for him to play with people at a more high-end level that I feel is beyond me these days.
  • I know about it all, and I am mostly fine with it.  For more about that "mostly" bit, you can read on.  I will try and explain.
  • There is some hope, from my perspective, that this is a development that signifies a level of healing for which I have waited years now.
  • I am also feeling hopeful that, in practicing some power-dynamics with people for whom there is no history, he will find his way into re-engaging in that part of our lives together.  A girl can hope.

There.  The facts as I know them.

Now, on to the mostly part of it all.  Because, of course, I am never able to just leave well enough alone.

Do you ever consider the people who do all the work, all the hard labor, that brings you the things that make your life good and easy and comfortable?  When you sit down to a nice meal, do you see any of those who tilled the soil, planted and nurtured, worried about the rain and the sun and the pests and the market prices?  Do you feel any solidarity with the ones who harvested the crop?  Do you hear the hum of the tires on the trucks and the trains that carried that food to market?  Do you have any sense of the investors who built and stocked and manned the stores where you purchased the groceries that adorn your table?  What about the people who supply the power to run the stove?  Or the ones who laid the pipes that carry fresh, clean water to your kitchen?

I am, at this moment, feeling strongly aligned with all of those who do all the hard stuff.  Who work and labor and go mostly unseen and unnoticed by all of those who benefit from their labors and their efforts.  Because...  I feel like I am in the position of those unseen ones who labor behind the shadows, doing all the dirty, drudge work, so that "we" can just kind of stroll into the local grocer, pick up whatever, and fix a nice meal without so much as a "thank you very much!"

I know that all these "new ones" who will wander in and out of here, getting spanked have no ill intent, and no idea about what they are tapping into.  They do not know or care about the years that have passed while the healing has happened; while I have waited and hoped and dreamed of once again having what they will now just show up and take as their due. I also know that it isn't a zero sum game, and I believe that their presence may, in fact, restore some of what has been lost.  I know all of that; believe all of that -- and still there is the niggling sense that they really SHOULD at least consider what it is that goes into giving them what they are taking out of here.  That is, of course, entirely unreasonable, and I can already feel it seeping away from my awareness.  Saying it here gets it out of the endless replay loop.  That can't be a bad thing.  If it quiets down in my head, I will get through this next leg of the journey with less fuss.  I am sure.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Time Has Passed

It has been years now; years since life was so radically altered.  So many seconds have passed since...  Well, truthfully, I don't even know the moment I should point to and say, "since then."  To be able to indicate the moment when it all began to change, I would have to identify the date and time when the dream exploded and it all started to crumble into a heap.  I can't do that.  I can tell you the dates when everything seemed to fall into spiraling crisis, but I think the destruction started a very long time before that.  The foundations were never solid, and the edifice that we tried to build could not stand.  Probably, it really doesn't matter when exactly the first crack appeared.  There were cracks.  That is enough to know about the beginning of the failure.

Now, though, time has passed, and we remain.  We have learned a variety of ways of living together in the rubble of what was.  I think, in some sense, we are healthier here in our rubble pile than we ever were in the castle in the sky.

I am approaching my 61st birthday.  So much of what was part and parcel of who I am in the world is now gone.   My past is only barely remembered.  The places I once knew.  The family I once had.  The people I once knew.  I am a long term transplant in this part of Ohio.  It feels familiar.  This is where I am.  I am no longer feeling pulled west.  That is no longer home.  In fact, the notion of home seems foreign to me.  To have a place where one undeniably belongs; that is a gift that only a few lucky souls ever really receive.  Not me. I have no home.  I have a place.  It offers shelter and a way to live.  I am not endangered here.  I clearly don't really belong in the spaces available here, but I am not obviously foreign either.

Time has changed so much.  They say that time heals, but I don't think it really does.  It allows the bleeding to be staunched, the scars to form, the new patterns and realities to become habitualized...  The wounding, however, remains.  For me, the grace is that I have come to accept most of it.  Not all, but most.  Like the losses that came with the hysterectomy, now almost a decade ago, I have become accustomed to the emptiness and the distance and the toned-down politeness of my life.  It is what I expect, and those other expectations have largely expired due to lack of any sort of sustenance.
I remember, early on, when I was still on fire, trying to do IT all right.  I felt there was a bargain in place within my relationship, and that if I held up my end sufficiently, there would be some sort of reciprocity -- a payback of sorts.  I talked at some length about it all to a domme friend of ours.  She told me, quite sternly, "You say you want to be a slave.  So slave."  I did not know what to do with that then.  The wants and the needs and the expectations were all still alive and kicking.  Now, at almost 61, most of that drive/demand has passed on.  I can take care of my own wants and needs for the most part, and I have very few illusions that anyone else really cares much.  And me?  Do I care, really?  Not enough to fight for it all.

I've made the choices that brought me here.  It is all on me.  I can't go back and change the story.  What lies ahead is exactly what lies behind.  Time has passed.  What time remains will pass as well, and this story will become just a memory.  Nothing more.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Trouble with Meetup

Image result for meetup
We have, over the last couple of years, tried several Meetup groups.  Meetup is a social networking site for groups of people who share common interests.  Leaders pay a fee, and then can set up a group to focus on just about anything that interests them.  We've spent time with an atheist group, a group of "alternative spirituality" types, a polyamory group, and most recently, a sex-positive group.  Sometimes we attend several gatherings over a period of time.  With other groups, it is one and done.  In general, our experiences with the various Meetup groups has been disappointing.  So, what is it that causes the reality of Meetups to fall so far short of the promise?

The first factor that impacts our experience of the Meetup experience is that we are OLD.  Whatever the stated purpose of the group, there is almost always an unstated purpose which is for young adults to find sexual/romantic partners.  We are clearly not there to hookup at the Meetup, and so we become significantly less interesting to the rest of the group.  I did, just last week, have a series of emails from a Meetup Troll.  His first email was pretty innocuous, asking, "what is a triad?"  I answered that we are polyamorous, and there are three of us.  So, we are not a couple, we are a triad.  Almost immediately, I got another email asking if we wanted to add a good man to the family.  Blech.  The move to treat Meetup like a meat market is strong.

Then there are the Meetup denizens themselves.  We have found that, while the goal is to provide a vehicle for social interaction, many of the individuals we've met lack basic social skills.  The events that we have attended are full of people who are painfully shy, can't hold up their end of a conversation, are frightened and terribly defensive, or, at the other end of the scale, are so full of ego that they have no use at all for other people.  The truth seems to be that people who can engage adequately with other people make friends without the intermediary function of a Meetup style vehicle.

Meetup provides the connection between individuals, but the necessary infrastructure for the actual face-to-face encounters is a tougher challenge.  Meetup groups need a place to actually meet up.  Here, at least, that happens most frequently in public venues like restaurants.  Since most restaurants charge extra for a private meeting room, and since most of the folks we have met want to keep the costs down (and we are all for that ourselves), gatherings tend to happen in big, open, noisy restaurants with the whole bunch seated around some large table configuration.  It doesn't lend itself to deep conversation, and really limits you to chatting casually with the people across the table and on either side of you.  If you really want to sit and talk, or discuss something in depth, then you need a quiet place to do that.  Tom tends to observe that most Meetup events are designed to prevent you from actually Meeting Up.

Meetup groups that survive very long; that develop a following or a core group, tend to grow inner circle cliques.  Once there are a few people who know one another in the center of the group, newcomers and occasional attendees can, quite naturally, find themselves on the outside of the circle.
We attended an event last night; a burlesque show at a local "concert" venue. The tickets were not inexpensive, and the parking in the area was very limited.  When we did finally find a lot with a space available, we had to pay $25 for the privilege.  Inside, the music was cranked up to deafening levels, and the only alternative to buying booze was overpriced bottled water.  Our shoes stuck to the floors and the restrooms ...  Well, never mind.  You do not want to know.  It was impossible to have a conversation.  We were seated on miserable, uncomfortable, metal folding chairs with a terrible view of the stage.  The event organizer turned out to be a young guy with minimal social skills who seemed to find it painful to talk to us.  Other members of the group took one look at the three of us, and clearly decided we were too old to bother with.  When the show actually started, it turned out that most of the "dancers" were of the opinion that they did not need any talent as long as they were willing to show their butts and shake their tits.  We left at intermission.

Probably, we are done with Meetups.  We keep thinking that maybe THIS time it will be better, but it never is.  We sometimes imagine a social group of interesting, bright, conversant friends with whom we could just be who we are.  Statistically, there have to be people like that out there, but perhaps they are as "undercover and in the closet" as we are.  In any case, wherever they may be, it seems clear that Meetups are not the places where we are going to find them.