December 17th, 2011
Finished The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, after my post last week. Book two of our suggested reading. I knew it was going to be a koolaid book, I just wasn’t sure how much koolaid, or what flavor. (Quick aside: Koolaid – in reference to the suicide cult that drank koolaid because their leader told them it would take them to a better place, currently used to describe a rose-colored glasses, unrealistically optimistic view of the world.) Now, most of the koolaid I’ve been exposed to in the last few years is not bad, on the surface. They have good things to say, good things to think about, and even good things to guide your life by. It just becomes koolaid to me, when they go over the top. When they tell me my life will be Perfect, Ideal, or just plain Wonderful – if Only I’ll just do what they say, because it’s so Easy. The Four Agreements is no different (well, he at least, doesn’t say it will be easy). The agreements are good ideas, he just takes it a little too over the top for me.
The first is “be impeccable with your word.” Which he casts as meaning, to not blame or judge with your words, and I simplified in my own mind as not to be negative. Don’t say mean things to people, don’t say mean things to yourself. Don’t gossip. All around, to focus on having only positive thoughts, words and actions.
The second to “not taken anything personally” is the collary. If you’re not being negative, then don’t take on the negativity of others. But he also goes so far as to say, not to take their compliments personally either. The opinions of others, positive or negative, he says, should not matter to us, we are only who we think we are, and nothing more or less.
The third is “don’t make assumptions.” About anything. Basically, don’t have expectations, and you won’t be disappointed. But also, don’t assume you know why someone did something, or what they are going to do. In this section, he encourages you to ask questions, so that you have fact and not assumptions.
And the fourth is “always do your best.” Also a good idea in life. He takes the time to point out that your best on one day may not be the same as your best the next day or the day before. That your best is always changing, but is always the goal.
Now, none of these ideas is bad on the surface. Nor are any of them new. Though, I do have an immediate problem with social creatures not accepting praise and encouragement from others, but the idea behind it is sound. And if the book had been a pamphlet, clearly and cleanly explaining these four things, I would have been happy and good. It went far beyond that and lost me in its rose-colored world in each and every chapter.
No, I’m not being impeccable with my word now. I think that there are bad things in this world and they should be labeled bad. I think that we should protect one another and keep each other safe. I’m not saying this is a bad book and people shouldn’t read it. I’m just saying that the premises spoke to me, but the rest of it did not. I think that not taking on the unfounded negativity of others is good, but that constructive criticism ought to be listened to. I think assumptions are a part of life and we make the best conclusions we can. Yes, often we ought to ask more questions, and I will try harder to do so, but it’s not always possible. Do my best. Yep, that one I can get behind, and remembering that my best changes day to day is not hard for me. Getting my bosses to understand that, however is another story.
The ideas are good, but the suggestion that my life will be heaven if only I do these things, well, heaven is a lot of things to a lot of people, and in my world, life on earth will never be heaven. I have a great life, great friends, great family. But heaven is a completely different concept to me than what I could ever have here.
(Yes, readers, there will be a kinky post again soon, just dealing with some relationship stuff.)
October 13th, 2011
Last night’s class was on Humiliation Play. After, toy asked me about it. Said she was alright with teasing, but not the harder stuff, and was that what I liked? I fumbled around a bit, talking about last year, what went right and what went wrong in my head. And I think I only vaguely answered her question as my mind ran through a lot of things. So, I thought I’d try to pull it all together here, and form a more coherent opinion of my relationship with Humiliation Play.
Humiliation is on my Hard Limits list. It is not something I will even consider with most people. It can be emotional, harsh and potentially damaging. At its lightest, it can simply cause an anger response that is not generally conducive to that type of scene. At its harshest, it can leave you in a puddle for days or weeks. During the class last night, some of the examples were simple, but a lot of them were harsh enough to make some of the attendees wonder what they had signed up for.
We talked about several different types of play last night. Mental humiliation. Physical humiliation. Positive, arousing experiences. Negative, tearing down experiences. It all depends on your interests, turn-ons, and goals. Personally, my interests run the gamut, but weigh more heavily to the physical and positive side. Mental, and negative humiliation interest me as well, but only in certain frames of mind, and can be very tetchy to even attempt.
I volunteered an example last night of physical humiliation. I offered up a memory of holding his flashlight in my mouth and drooling all down it, and being forced to do so and let the drool form a puddle on the floor. I have a thing about messy bodily fluids, especially my own. And not only was I being dehumanized into a lamp to serve a purpose he wanted, I was also forced to drool all over the place because the noise of me trying to prevent such was “more annoying to him than the drool.” I like being used for useful purposes. I am turned on by serving him, whether actively and mentally, or physically as a tool. My faced burned with embarrassment at being told to quick sucking in the drool, and then being teased about the pool on the floor, but I had been doing what he told me to do, following instructions, and being useful, so I was happy.
I’ve had other scenes of being used, in various different ways. Being told I’m only good for that thing, or being made to say it myself. Being degraded for my “only use” being that single purpose, or for liking what was being done. Called names that related to the activity, being forced to call myself those names. In other times, in other spaces, those things would and have bothered me, but deep in that type of headspace, it just turns me on more and more.
The other side of humiliation play, I don’t get into so much. It’s harder, harsher, and more dangerous. It gets more personal, more deeply mental, more emotional. It digs deep into your brain and your self and can leave lasting marks if not done very carefully. Even the above stuff, can do that, but, for me, this is so much touchier. There are two reasons I will go to the dark side. One, I need to work on a personal issue. I want it shoved in my face and for him to make me stare unblinkingly at it until I can really see it. Two, I want to be crushed. I want a release so deep and satisfying, that nothing else will do. I’m not entirely sure the first reason is an entirely healthy reason to do humiliation play, but it makes sense to me.
The trick with both of these, is planning. Both parties knowing what is wanted or needed, and being prepared for it, mentally, physically, and time wise. By that last I mean, neither of these are quick scenes, and both are going to require a decent amount of aftercare, most likely on both sides. As for mentally, triggers are especially important to identify, and discuss before (possibly during) and after. In the first, going after something specific, is likely to have its own triggers, you have to be prepared for them to be pulled. In the second, there might be triggers you want to avoid, or triggers that are okay to hit to get the desired result. Communication is very important, but even with the best, be aware that you might stumble across hidden triggers, and know how you are both going to handle them.
I mentioned aftercare just above, but it is important in any kind of humiliation scene, even one that was completely arousing and enjoyable. We talked last night about the importance of knowing what you need for aftercare, both top and bottom. Last year, we created a ritual that was supposed to be our aftercare. The intention was to get rid of any negativity from the scene and transition back to reality. It had all the elements we thought were needed, and we worked to remember to do it every time. But somewhere in the mix, it wasn’t always enough. There were other things going on, I’m not trying to simplify what happened, but part of it was that I was not always successfully making the transition. It wasn’t enough aftercare to get me out of that headspace and into normal. I needed more. Point here being, figure that out. If you aren’t coming fully out of the scene (the presenters pointed out last night that a warning sign of this can be hyper-focus on a negative detail of the scene), figure out why. Figure out what else you need. Make sure you get it. Don’t feel like you’re overly needy or being a burden. If you are going to play this way, you have to take care of yourself, and your partner. Broken toys are not fun to play with.
September 1st, 2011
I fight with my own brain a lot. I’ve got stories in there, from childhood, that are false. I’ve got societal conditioning that I judge myself by. I have emotions arguing with logic. I have a care taker warring with selfishness. And I have a tendency to obsess and over think and over analyze when left to my own devices.
Last fall, I set myself to writing 500 words every day. Eventually, it just became circular and unhelpful. I was not processing, I was just rehashing over and over. I starting having that problem in my daily meditations earlier this summer. I was dwelling on things, over analyzing, and focusing on any problem instead of doing something about it because I was stuck there on my knees for half an hour. That’s how I felt, stuck.
So, I stopped doing it every day. I lost the original intent, the good, and could only see what I had turned it into. I was afraid to kneel. Afraid to let my mind focus that sharply on myself, because I had gone into self-critical mode too often. I got busy with more hours at work, and editing projects, and and and. Finding more and more excuses not to take a half an hour a day on my knees.
This bothered me. I shouldn’t use the past tense. I’m still doing it. And it really bothers me. I was afraid he would ask me. And one day, a few weeks ago, he did. And I told him I wasn’t doing it as often as I should. And it took me a few days to be able to verbalize why. And that bothered me even more.
He asked me to kneel for him, all those months ago. To kneel for him, to think about our relationship, and to have a time every day to feel a connection with him, even on days where I did not get to see or talk to him. Kneeling, for me, has always been a sign of my submission, it’s what I told him I enjoyed, and why he set it as my daily ritual. I still crave it.
So, problem identified, solution desired. What do I do? I need to make a new commitment to the ritual. Start again, recreate the habit, and make the time for it. What else? I tried music, to focus my mind in a more positive way. This worked somewhat, but I need a better selection. I have tons of CDs in front of me, that shouldn’t be a problem, just a process. Okay, but that process could take time, and that could provide me with more excuses. How else can I make this time a positive experience and get past the negativity?
Here my mind gets a bit flippant. Think happy thoughts. List all the wonderful things about our relationship. Refuse to dwell on problems, there is plenty of time for that off my knees. Create a mantra to force away negative thoughts. When I was first building up to thirty minutes a day, it would get so intense that I would repeat “my pain for his pleasure” over and over until the time was up. It kept me going, even though pain was not the point of the exercise.
I think that’s the key, this is a positive ritual, it’s not about pain, negativity or problems. It’s about submission and a wonderful relationship, both of which I enjoy and value. There is plenty of bad in the world, but this is about the good in my incredible life. He used to send me off to kneel when I was flustered and frantic, and it would calm me. Creating a habit entering this ritual with a positive attitude will be even more valuable to me.
August 3rd, 2011
I was going to do the posts close together, but things keep getting busy. So, here’s the second post on The Ethical Slut, part II. This one focuses on Jealousy and Fear.
“No one can own another person.” (117) An important thing to remember, whether or not you are poly. You do not own your partner. (We aren’t talking about Master/slave ownership agreements here, that’s another discussion.) You are not responsible for their actions, and your every moment is not about each other. It would be a rather boring life for most of us to spend every waking moment with only one other person. There are jobs, and friends, and family and hobbies and a myriad of other things that are part of life. You share your life, poly or not, with many people, things and activities.
“Jealousy may be an expression of insecurity, of fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, feeling left out, feeling not good enough, or feeling inadequate.” (134) “[Jealousy] is a part of you, a way that you express fear and hurt.” (137) Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Everyone has jealousy at some point in their lives over something. It’s natural. And it can tell you when something is important to you. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t react to it.
“We imagine we know his thoughts, when in fact we are thinking about our fears.” (121) Our imaginations are great creators of fear. Sometimes, our imagination just leads us to silence or inaction. I can’t be that, he’ll say this. I can’t do that, she’ll think this. I can’t ask that, he’ll say no. How do we know? We don’t, we’re just projecting our fears onto our partner.
“You actually don’t know what your partner is doing. The images you see in your mind are the perfect reflection of your own fears.” (149) Our imagination gives us false impressions of what our partner is doing with others, or while out of our sight. We are afraid of what they are doing, afraid we’ll be hurt by it. “It helps to ask, “What am I afraid might happen?”” (131) We might imagine that the other person is better at it than we are. That they’ll enjoy it more with that other person. That we will pale in comparison. We might be afraid that he won’t want us anymore, or won’t want to do a certain thing with us anymore. We can really let our imaginations run away with us. That’s why communication is so important, before and after. So that we can stay in touch with the reality of a situation.
“What are the specific images that disturb me the most?” (148) It is important to figure out what triggers your fears, insecurities and jealousy the most. To identify major issues, so they can be named(often this, is enough to take the power away), discussed and perhaps disarmed. Or, if not disarmed, perhaps agreements can be made around them, to the benefit of all involved. No one wants to make their partners unhappy.
“Jealous might actually be envy.” (134) “When I’m not taking care of getting what I want, it’s easy to get jealous and think that someone else is getting what I am not.” (137) Are there things that you want that others appear to be getting? Are you asking for those things? Can you work out a way to have the experience you are missing so that you aren’t envious of the other person? It is important to take care of yourself, and your wants and needs. Don’t give jealousy any more footholds than it already has.
“Sometimes jealousy has at its root feelings of grief or loss.” (134) This goes back to economics of starvation, for me. Feeling like I’m losing something if someone else gets the same. Jealousy over fear of loss. I have to remind myself that someone else getting something does not take away from what I already have. And, it can even strengthen it.
“If you try to pretend that you are not jealous when you are, others will perceive you as dishonest, or worse yet, they may believe you, and see no need to support and protect you.” (138) “Denying your jealousy can lead you to act out harsh feelings in ways you will regret later.” (138) Expressing jealousy can be painful, but denying it can be damaging. It isn’t easy to admit you are feeling negatively about your partner, but letting negativity fester only makes things worse. If you can admit to it, you can then talk about it, and get through it. Together. A shared burden is easier to carry.
“The way to unlearn jealousy is to be willing to experience it.” (139) “You can feel jealousy without acting on it.” (140) Like any other emotion, jealousy does not have to take over. You can feel it and see it and deal with it, without letting it control you. This can take practice though, and time. And you have to want to. You are in control of you, even when you feel out of control. Ask for help when you need it, and jealousy is nothing to be afraid of.
“You and your partners need to practice talking about jealousy.” (151) I’m not sure how to practice, but talking about jealousy is the best way I know to get through it. Getting your feelings out, having them acknowledged and supported, if not agreed with, and then having help getting through them, is a great feeling. But that’s the next blog post, Emotions and Validation.
September 24th, 2010
A day late, but hopefully not a dollar short, my dear readers. Yesterday, life and a missing power cord got in the way of my posting. It has been quite the roller coaster ride for me lately, but what would life be without some ups and downs? Today I’m going to ramble about my partners, communication and decompartmentalization, we’ll just have to see where that takes me.
This past weekend was a big event that I did not go to. Two of my partners did, with their other partners, and everyone had a blast. The trouble came, in my own mind, when Lover played with someone I did not approve of. He told me that afternoon that he was going to, I expressed some hesitation at the idea, but did not fully express my concerns or feelings. He had no idea, therefore, that I had any concerns or negative feelings. When he came back to me two days later, he was caught flat-footed by my angry, incoherent emotional state. This, eventually, a few days after that, brought us around to a discussion of my needs around his play partners. Our agreement has always been that he will listen to what I have to say, but I do not have veto power over him, none of his partners do, nor visa versa. I asked to modify that agreement, so that not only will he listen, but he will be sure to ask in advance with enough time for discussion, how I feel about an upcoming play partner. I needed time to process, get clear and feel heard before he played with this person. It also probably would have helped to know why he had chosen to play with her. We agreed that we would try to do this going forward. Communication can prevent a lot of unnecessary upset.
My weekend was about simple goals. After last week’s discoveries, I needed a way forward. Having large goals of communication and self awareness are good, but he pointed out that they are not quantifiable or immediately achievable. He wanted me to come up with things I could point to and say, look, I met that goal. Simple things, one step at a time. Friday, I stayed with be of service, I was available to him for whatever he needed or asked of me that evening. Saturday, I had more specific goals. I wore my latex skirt for him. I kept it shiny for him. I pleased him, was a body pillow for him and slept by his side. These were both girlfriend goals and submissive goals and they were all achievable and rewarding.
I have often written of keeping my partners separate, especially around play. Occasionally more than one will be at a play party or at the club, but generally, I am able to focus on one at a time, and I have taken steps to guard that. However, this week, those steps created a situation that caused upset on several fronts and I was forced to rethink my position. One particular division I had created, was now creating a public division, and I needed to think long and hard about whether that was appropriate. After discussions with all of my partners, I decided that it was time for me to change and grow. I decided to let go of the control I was holding so tightly to, and trust that we could all do what was best for everyone, while still meeting all of our own needs and wants.
It has been a a week of learning, growing and better communication. Not everything is sorted out, but the future looks bright and I am lucky to have this life and these men, all of whom are willing to work hard to solve problems and communicate clearly. Everyone knows how hard that can be. Writers do not all make the best verbal communicators, and they are all willing to accept, understand and help me with that.
December 3rd, 2009
I am fairly secure in what I do. I enjoy my play. I enjoy my darkness and my light. I have the highest self esteem of my entire life. As noted previously, I enjoy my marks and bruises. The thing is, though, that drop happens. To everyone.
I often get drop triggered by people expressing concern or upset. When I’m not looking, my brain twists these emotions into very negative thoughts. There must be something Wrong with me if That Person is concerned about what I have done. I am a Bad Person if they are disturbed by what I did. He is Mad at me because what I had did limited what he can do. None of these statements are true, but they stick in my head sometimes.
I come out of drop faster than I used to. I can recognize it as drop, I can remind myself that those thoughts are false. I remember the scene and how much fun it was, and how happy it made us both. I write about the scene and explore the joy of the experience. I also, whenever possible, talk to both the person involved and the person who triggered the drop. Sometimes this is the same person, but not always, and when it’s not, I also remind myself that they did not get to witness the scene and are only judging the aftermath, from their own limited point of view.
Also Chocolate. Chocolate always helps.
I seem to have more readers now. It’s about time to get comment conversations going. How do you deal with drop? What are your triggers?