Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dominance and Submission

I spent the better part of the last 15 or so years practicing a form of erotic sexuality based on a power based, dominance and submission model.  I tried, as sincerely as I could, to live the submissive part of that balance for all of these years, and so I think I have some basis from which to speak plainly.  I do not believe that it is truly possible to live a purely D/s dynamic day in and day out; day after day after day; for any significant period of time.  NOT.  POSSIBLE.

I know that many try.  I know that many absolutely believe that they are doing that exact thing, and I understand that those who are in the midst of making that attempt will not appreciate my declaration here.  So be it.  But I believe, based on long experience, and painfully learned lessons, that it is an unsustainable relationship model.

The perfect D/s relationship that I wanted for myself, that so many of my peers in the lifestyle have wanted for themselves, depends on a coming together of two perfect types in perfect harmony and balance.  It requires a "perfect" dominant:  strong, responsible, confident, wise, focused, and intuitive.  It also demands the "perfect" submissive:  strong, responsible, confident, wise, focused, and intuitive.  These two perfect opposite numbers have to find one another, recognize one another, and enter into relationship with one another.  That relationship has to be exactly balanced in terms of tastes, desires, capacities, and a host of other factors.  There can be no room in the perfect D/s relationship for complications.  No marital complications, no children, no aging parents, no demanding careers, no health concerns, no psychiatric wobbly places.  None of that.  The balance is too delicate to allow for any of the vagaries of life.

Fifty Shades of Gray, and all of the other BDSM-based fantasy writing that one finds, wherever one finds it, is just that -- fantasy.  The stories are not about real people, living real lives.  They are make believe stories fetched up out of the dreams of lonely girls and disappointed world over all the centuries behind us.

So.  My advice to anyone who might ask for it, and I am pretty sure that no one ever will, is this:  play sex games with whoever you choose to play them with.  Negotiate scenes.  Draw up contracts.  Walk along the razor's edge, and experience the undeniable thrill of breaking all the rules.  Fall head over heals in love with the whole idea of being adored and treasured and "made" into someone else's idea of perfection.  Don't however forget that you are responsible for your own safety and happiness.  Play and have fun, but take care of yourself.  Love deeply and passionately, but demand and insist that love be reciprocated.  It is  only fair and sensible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Religious Hypocrites

There were two young women in the news this past weekend; both dying with terminal brain tumors.

One, Lauren Hill (19 year old), wished to play one basketball game with the college team that would have been hers had she not become ill.  That game happened on Sunday with a crowd of 10,000 in attendance, cheering her on.

The other, Brittany Maynard (29 years old), wished to end her life before cancer ended it for her in the most horrible way imaginable.  That end came on Saturday when, surrounded by her family, she took the medication prescribed for her by a physician under Oregon's "death with dignity" law.

I honor both brave young women and their choices.  I grieve with and for their families.  The sadness of their stories is almost unbearable.  But that is not what troubles me tonight.

I am, tonight, angered and frustrated by what has streamed across my Facebook feed from those who claim to be good Christians, and I seem to be connected to a fair number of them.  Today, they have, almost all of them, chosen to label Lauren as "right and good and brave," and to simultaneously label Brittany as "wrong and bad and selfish."  Christians!  How dare they?  Really!

I can understand if a person holds to a belief that taking one's own life is sinful.  I get that such a person, consistent with their own values and beliefs, would choose to live each and every day right down to the very last suffering, struggling, painful, howling breath.  I understand that such a one, might choose to put themselves and their loved ones through the brutal march to the bitter end.  If that is your belief and your faith, then I grant you that.  I will not say "nay."  However, I insist that those "Christians" who believe as they might, grant those who do not share their faith and their belief the right to choose their own path.  There are options and other ways to be and believe, and those ways are not, de facto, wrong and bad.  To stand up, in a public forum, and Facebook is that, and publicly denounce the painful and difficult choices made by a dying young woman is the worst kind of hypocrisy by the worst kind of hypocrite.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reclaiming My Edges

I spent years suppressing my "no;"  silencing my voice; denying my power; and attempting to submerge my self into the demands of another.  I was not forced to any of that.  I chose it willingly, and believed, with all my heart, that doing those things would lead to my ultimate happiness and security.

I was wrong.  Denying the essential truths of my own heart and spirit did not make me happier, safer, more secure.  The one that I loved did not love me more because of my efforts, however successful, to hide who I was.  In the end I hurt myself and contributed to his own harmful behaviors.  I did that.

I have had to learn to do things differently; to see things differently.  I have had to begin the work to reclaim my voice; to say "yes" or "no" when I truly mean "yes" or "no."  It has not been easy.

I have had to take a deep breath, on more than one occasion, and say what is, rather than what it is that I judge he may want to hear.  I have had to insist on my own dignity and worth.  I have begun to insist that I be treated with kindness and respect and basic politeness, just as I expect to treat him.  I have needed to learn what I want and then ask for those things, and I have had to learn to see that asking as right and healthy and good -- not selfish or manipulative or any other sort of negative label that I might previously applied to my own wants and needs.

That has been my journey in these years.  Mine.  All the changes that I am making in my own self and in my own beliefs and in my own life are the natural outcome of what has been my path.  Do not try to take my stuff on and make it your own.  I am not prescribing for anyone.  I am not saying that any one way of doing relationships is right or wrong.  For each of us, there is only our own way.  That "way" is the composite of every single thing that has happened to us through all the days of our lives leading to this moment in time.  Where I am; where you are; where each and everyone of us finds ourselves on this day -- that place is precisely where we SHOULD be right now.  Your way is good for you, as mine is for me.

I am intrigued by the place where I find myself, just as I once was intrigued by the pathway that I followed, willingly and joyfully, into erotic slavery.  I loved that part of my journey, and I have grieved the loss of that part of my life.  But this part is what is now, and it has its own charms.  I sit when I want to sit and sleep when I want to sleep.  I speak up when I perceive things as unfair and I insist on my place in my world.  And that is, for now, good for me.

I had lost my edges.  I had let my sharp places be worn down and smoothed away.  I am reclaiming my edges.  I will be sharp and smooth when and how I feel sharp or smooth.  I am good here, still in love, still alive, still learning and growing and being the best I know how to be this day.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

No Justifications

In Kant's ethics the term "person" is not merely descriptive but normative.  Persons are ends in themselves and sources of value in their own right...  People don't need justifications.  They're people and that's enough.  ~~ Rebecca Goldstein; The Mind-Body Problem 

I am, slowly, working my way through the deep stack of books (both fiction and non-fiction) by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein that I bought at the beginning of the summer.  Her writing is dense and richly textured.  There are no throwaway passages.  It requires dedication and attention to be reading her work.  I am always limited in the time available for leisure reading, and that is even more true during the school year when, as teacher, much of my reading is in preparation for my classes each day.  I can't imagine that, at the rate I am going, I will finish Goldstein's catalog anytime soon.  It is taking me about 2 months per each book, so that puts me out in the range of another year and a half, give or take a bit.  It's OK.  I'm in no rush.  Reading her books is a bit like a long, meandering, ever-deepening chat with a good friend.  It can take as long as it takes.

The quote here is from the very end of her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem.  I like it very much.  The story revolves around what she refers to as the "mattering map;" the internal calculation that many of us make pretty regularly about how we measure up in comparison to everyone else.  The question that plagues us as self-proclaimed "wise men" (homo sapiens) -- who matters in this context, and am I counted among them? She comes, in the end to this conclusion, drawn on Kant, that it is enough to be people.  Just that.

I found that thought comforting and enlightening.  Having spent most of the last dozen years in some sort of frenetic, self-imposed worry about where I stood on the mattering map of my own life, it feels really good to have the knowledge that I matter.  I matter, not because of how I stack up in some sort of contest against all the others that I can see, but simply because I am a person.  That is enough.  Enough.

What is it to be "enough?"  It is calm in the face of all of life's ups and downs.  There is no retribution for having fallen short somehow.  I am not deficient in any aspect.  There are none who are better or worse.  We are all people.  That is enough.

It is enough to be exactly who I am.  Exactly where I am.  This age.  This position.  This place.  This relationship.  This set of skills and talents and lack of capacities.  I need not apologize.  I need not agonize.  I need not worry that someone who matters MORE will notice that I am only pretending to my place, and then I will be exposed for the fraud that I have always feared I might be.

It is enough to look the way I look, dress the way I dress, believe the way I believe, love the way I love, and live the way I live.  Being enough frees me in a way that I have never known.  I will not march to the drumbeat of the market culture.  I will not measure my wealth against anyone else's.  I will not gauge my skills and abilities and unique places in comparison to anyone else.  I will be the human person that I am, living my part in the great drama of the universe, and that will be enough.

I am...

Many of you who have followed me here have expressed some sort of concern about how I am, some hope that I am "well."  I understand the genesis of that concern and uncertainty.  The last number of years have been challenging to say the least.

We tend to ask that "how are you?" question as a social nicety, and I am aware that the polite question may not actually be a request for whatever the whole story amounts to these days.  There is a reason that we most often answer the inquiry with something innocuous:  I'm great.  Fine as frog fur!  Upright and taking nourishment.  Sometimes we even deflect with a question of our own:  "How are YOU?"  So, I want to be sensitive to the social niceties around this type of question.

The truth is that I am well enough.  I sometimes torment myself with the habituated wishing for something different in my life, but mostly I am clear that that is pretty silly nonsense.  I am not getting any younger, and there is no prince charming waiting in the wings for me.  I'd wish for that perfect dominant that would make my BDSM world complete, but I am 99% sure that there is no such person.  I tried to live that dream and I am convinced that it is really just a dream wherein we try to force ourselves and our partners into scripts that are not our own or theirs either for that matter.  So, apart from the occasional spanking when Tom is in the mood (and for a number of months that has meant about once a month), my adventures with BDSM are ended.  I could mourn that but it seems to me that I only have so many days ahead of me.  I don't want to waste them grieving for something that quite possibly never existed at all except in my fevered imaginings.

I am in pretty good health.  I weigh more than I should, and I am working to try and address that, but it is my choice and my plan and the results will be for me.  If it turns out that I am "more desirable as a woman" when I weigh 30 pounds less, then I'm good with that, but it isn't my motivator.  Not this time.  I am inclined to be sad.  Perhaps I have always tended to the depressive side of the scale.  I have no intention of doing anything about that.  Somedays I am sad, and somedays not.  It is what it is.  I'm done with the whole therapy and medications gambit.  This is me.  I still fight the battle with migraine headaches.  I have fired one headache specialist, and am awaiting an appointment with the only other one in town at the end of this month.  I am, as usual ahead of seeing a new doctor, a bit hopeful, but also clear that there are no magic pills for these things.  So.  We will see.

I still teach, and almost always I still love doing it.  This year, for the first time in all of my career, I have only science classes, and it is wonderful.  I love the discipline, and I enjoy opening the world up for young minds to know and appreciate.  It is a ton of logistical management with three different lab classes going simultaneously, but it is a lot of fun.  I still think that I fell , by accident, into one of the greatest schools anywhere, and I am thrilled to be a part of what happens there.  So work is my joy.

Our family is intact.  Changed.  No doubt.  I don't believe anymore, however, that the change is fundamental.  What we tried to build was not a valid reflection of who we all were.  We kidded ourselves and misled one another.  There was plenty of blame to go around, and we all indulged whatever taste we had for that nasty dish.  No more.  I'm neither blaming nor accepting blame.  Each of us have learned what there was to learn from this passage, I suspect.  Now, each one of us loves in the way we are able. Our life together is quiet and relatively peaceful.

So.  I am good.  Fine.  Thank you all for caring.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I really do not feel my 59+ years.  I look in the mirror, and the face that looks back at me does not seem to me to be the face of "a woman of a certain age."  Clearly I don't look 30 anymore, but a lifetime of avoiding the sun because of my very fair skin has brought me to this point looking younger than I am.  At least, that is how I see it.

My knees, however, are a different story.  I have not been gentle on my knees.  I was a happy tomboy, and I was happiest out playing baseball and football with my brothers and the guys in my neighborhood.  I was 14 when I slipped on the grass, trying to avoid a tackle, and dislocated my knee.  Badly.  My dad, bless him, called for an ambulance and wouldn't let anyone touch me until they came.  I remember the orthopedic doc that reset the knee telling me that someday...  "Someday, you are going to regret this.  This knee will never be as strong as it was, and when you grow older, it is going to give you trouble."

And my genetic inheritance is one that practically guarantees a fair share of osteo-arthritis, if not the far more scary rheumatoid arthritis.

The fact is that I have crappy knees.  They are stiff.  They don't bend, and they never feel very sturdy.  I am always worried, especially when I am walking uphill or upstairs, that they will actually collapse and dump me on my ass.  I receive regular synvisc shots, and I also get cortisone injections.  The shots keep me pretty functional.  But it is still what it is.

Today, I walked my 6th grade science classes to a nearby park for a look at the issues related to our urban forest.  It is 1.31 miles each direction, over some pretty significant hilly terrain.  Add to that the mile or so of walking through the woods while we were there, and my knees are thumping tonight.

I'm an old lady.  I'll sit here and soak my feet and later I'll ice the knees.  I'll take some aleve and hopefully, by tomorrow, I'll be up and around again.

No matter what the mirror might say, it is clear that the knees don't like.  Go figure.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dreaming Me

Forty years ago, I was nearing my 20th birthday, and I was "in love."  At least, that is what I thought at the time.  Looking back, I realize that that 19-year-old girl-woman was in love with the idea of being in love, and in love with the idea of belonging to someone who cared, and most of all, in love with the idea of being safe.  Marrying that "knight in shining armor" wannabe was a huge mistake.  He was a good guy, but he wasn't equipped to love me to happiness or security or safety.

I toughed it out in that sad excuse for a marriage for some 25 years.  I bore two children to that man, and I raised those children into adulthood, all inside of that house that was never fully a home.  The guilt of that set of choices remains to this day, but I try not to indulge that.  Guilt is pretty much a useless emotion.  It doesn't do anything useful for them or for me.

As the marriage was drawing to an end, I fell "in love" again.  Having been a faithful and dutiful wife for all of my adult life, I had hardly any more experience in the world of life and love the second time around, and so... guess what?  I fell in love with the idea that THIS time, THIS love would make me happy; give me someone who cared; keep me safe; and finally give me that feeling of belonging somewhere.  Years did not equate to wisdom in my case.  Experience, had I had much of it, might have given me the understanding that I clearly still lacked.  Innocence and naivety are, perhaps, charming, but they sure as heck do not serve to equip a person for venturing out into the big wide world.

Now, I am approaching my 60th birthday.  Finally, I think I get it.  If I am going to be happy, I will need to figure that out for myself.  If I am going to belong to someone, that someone is going to have to be me.  If I am going to be safe enough to face the world without crippling fear, I am the only one who is going to stand in the breach and fend off the dragons, and villains, and soul-destroying predators.

I've spent a lifetime trying to win the love I've craved.  I've cared worked and struggled and watched the long lonely nights for love to come back to me in measure equal to what I've given.  I don't believe in that emotional economy anymore. It doesn't work.  No one ever feels obligated to return the favor.  No one ever accounts for what is given, and then begins to calculate what it would take to repay the debt.  People are simply animals, working to survive in the world, and they will take what is given and keep on walking their own paths with hardly a backward glance.

So.  Today I am promising myself to make myself happy.  I am promising that I will dream my own dreams.  I am promising that when I need to be cared for, and cared about, I will do the caring.  I'm tired of dreaming someone else.  It is time to begin dreaming me.