September 22nd, 2011
One of the first times I answered “the heath question” before playing with someone, that’s what I said. I’m not fragile, but I am broken. I have RA, so I have fussy joints. Hubby has a badly injured back. He has had surgery twice in the last two years. Toy has a myriad of problems, treatable and mysterious. And we all get injured, ill or just plain exhausted. So, what then? What do you do when your play partner, your loved one, is not feeling up to snuff?
He once asked me if I could be happy not being suspended by him for a whole year (at the time he was suspending me three nights a week), and suggested that such could be the case some day due to health. Now, I have not gone a full year between suspensions, but often it is months. And yes, I’m still quite happy with him. It isn’t about what we do together, but more about being together.
There is a lot of service in my submission to him, so taking care of him when he’s not feeling well comes naturally. I’m not really the maternal type, but fetching food, giving massages, just sitting and stroking his hair, all feel good to me. Hubby and I are making time to take care of each other more now, too. We plan out our date nights, but sometimes, one or both of us is feeling rough, and we just take care of one another in the same way.
Toy has a unique way of taking care of the sick. She likes to be the Get-Well Fairy and goes to the store and drops of little bags of whatever is needed or wanted. She likes to help people out, and even remembers to let us help her when she’s ill, too. She does ask for help when she really needs it, but sometimes we have to push past her reflexive “I got this, guys.”
So, this is all good and nice and happy. What about the parts I don’t do so well? This is two-fold for me. One, I don’t take care of myself. Two, I over-protect those I love. So, let’s take these in backwards order because the one leads into the other.
Over-protectiveness. If someone is not quite up to their full health, or feeling tired or sore, I assume the role of care taker. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it also means I don’t ask them for anything I might want. I feel that their health is more important and it would be selfish to ask for anything. This happens a lot on Wednesdays. If he comes in late from work and looking worn out or complaining of headache or pain, I won’t ask to play, even if it has been on my mind all day. I don’t want to push him if he’s not up to it, I don’t want him to feel bad for saying no, or make himself feel worse by saying yes. I’m taking away his ability to make that decision for himself by not asking. Bad me. There’s a bit more baggage around that one than just health issues, but that’s not today’s topic.
So, that also leads into not taking care of myself. Just because the desire mentioned above is a want instead of a need (I hesitate to call anything defined as play or sex a need), doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have it. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask for it. I don’t often ask for things I want, because, I tell myself, I don’t really Need them. I put those I care about first, my assumed responsibilities second, and myself third. It’s why I stopped Tai Chi and Yoga, it’s one of the reasons why I can’t get back into kneeling regularly. Those things all came to be “about me.” I’m doing them for myself, so they aren’t as important as the things I’m doing for others.* The only thing that over-rules that is exhaustion. I do veg on the couch when I’m too tired to do anything else, until I fall asleep. With taking on a second job recently, exhaustion is winning out more, and the second job is taking all the time usually reserved for “my things.” Only illness and injury slowed me down this week and did not provide for productive “me time,” and I took extra shifts to make up the missed days. So much to do, it’s hard to find the proper balance.
*As I reread this, I decided some extra discussion was, perhaps needed, to define how this ritual came to be “about me.” Roughly a year and a half ago, he asked me to kneel for him, to get up to thirty minutes a day and to reflect on our relationship during this time. Tai Chi and Yoga became part of this ritual to take care of myself, to be healthy for him. I wrote a post about this just a few weeks ago, about what I could do to reclaim this habit. However, the changes in our relationship, and the problems I had with the kneeling, and my efforts to overcome them, have cast this ritual in a different light. Yes, once upon a time, he asked me to do it. But it no longer feels like a part of our exchange. It is something I do to center myself, or to take care of myself. Not something I do for him. And so, when I fail to do it, it’s just one more thing I don’t do for myself because I don’t have or make the time after everything else I put first.
February 17th, 2011
My Four Mistakes
1. I did not wear a skirt when I went over to his house last Tuesday. In fact, I wore jeans. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I did not wear a skirt, as I had agreed to do, and failing a skirt, shorts, in his presence. This was a promise I made to him, quite a long time ago. And this was the second time I had broken that promise. Both times, I had excuses and distractions, but that does not change the facts. He asked me to wear skirts or shorts so that he could have easier access to things he might want. I agreed to wear skirts and shorts for him, to always be available for that access. It became a sign of my submission to him. Being ready and available to please him at any time. To forget, no matter what the reason, to not be aware enough of myself and my promise, is unacceptable. It is disrespectful of our bond and my gift of submission to him.
To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I have chosen a skirt to keep in the car at all times. It is shorter than my usual skirts, but still appropriate for wear around other people and in vanilla settings. It is a skirt I don’t mind wearing, but it is not my preferred skirt, so it will allow me to keep my promise, and remind me to be fully conscious of my choice of clothing.
2. I did not text him when I got home last Thursday. More excuses that do not matter. I know it is the rule, and it has a very solid basis in history, both his own personal history, and in our personal history. He wants to know I have gotten home safely, and I have agreed to let him know that. There are even nights when I haven’t been with him that I text to let him know I’ve gotten home safely so he does not worry. I often ask others to do the same and have recently started teaching our Toy this habit as well. I often get on Hubby’s case to let me know where he is at and I understand the worry, though not with the keenness his past has sharpened it to. Driving anywhere is always taking a risk that something might happen along the way.
To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will let go of the various things that caused excuses in my brain. Daylight or early evening is not an exception. Not playing is not an exception. Whenever I leave his presence, I will let him know when I have arrived at my destination, regardless of situation, time or place.
3. I did not follow a direct order. He told me to take off her pants and I hesitated and hemmed and hawed and used her as an excuse. He even said I was getting in trouble the more I hesitated, and I did not act. He told her I was getting in trouble, and I was still negotiating the order with her. Eventually, when a solution seemed to be reached, I did take her away and get her changed out of her pants, but I still did not take them off myself. I was acting as a buffer to her comfort levels, instead of doing as I was told.
To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will remember that she is responsible for herself, and while it is our agreement to protect her, I am also to do as I am told. She has full capability to take care of herself and stand up for herself, I must allow her to do so and not do it for her.
4. I took the cuffs off her without permission. No excuses, no demurring, I did not have permission to remove the cuffs he instructed me to put on her only minutes before. He had, in effect, put them in place, and I removed them. Putting them back on correctly makes no never mind, I took them off without asking. He bound her and I undid that. She is our toy, but the bondage, in that instance, was to him.
To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will be more aware of what I am doing for myself, for us, and what I am doing on his behalf. I will be more aware of the bonds of bondage and respectful of undoing them. I will be mindful of asking to undo things he has done, or asking to stop doing something he has begun.
Punishment and Service
I speak above about how I am going to avoid making these mistakes in future. But that is for me, that is my process. For him, I must not only correct my behavior, but also make up for these mistakes. It sets my mind running, thinking of what to offer him for these infractions. I have warring feelings of guilt and a desire to please. I know he likes to receive service, but I feel a selfish want to be punished. There are also complications of health, situation and timing, and our new toy to consider. I also do enjoy the punishment fitting the crime.
It took me a while to break the cycle of feeling pain must be involved or offered. It took him being blunt and throwing it in my face for me to realize that I had to stop. Sometimes punishments include pain, but in this case, it was not on the table. My masochism was not to be fed, my guilt was not to be relieved through physical catharsis. To truly make up for my mistakes, I need to be selfless and offer service to him, not ask him to do something for me.
I also got spun around on writing as penance. I would write about my mistakes and read it aloud to remind myself not to repeat them again. But this is hardly punishment for a writer, this is what I do. And it doesn’t really work all that well, as may be evidenced by my repeated attempts last year to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Writing, as he pointed out, is good for reflection, but does not punish or correct mistakes. It does help me to make plans though, and that is good, but not what I need to offer to him.
And so I began again, for a third time, to think of service to offer him. To think of things he would like, that I could do for him, that would match up to the mistakes I made. Things I could do with Toy’s assistance, as well, because two of them involved her, and perhaps it would help her, as well as entertain him. Things that would not interrupt our evenings, but enhance them.
We are still negotiating the final details, but I have found my path again, with his guidance.
October 21st, 2009
I saw the strap swinging out of the corner of my eye. I looked, was it really there? Was it really the suspension strap? Oh gods, please say yes. I rushed out to see them with the extension ladder, putting up the clamp and strap. He asked me to get the rest of the gear and I bounced all the way back to the tub and brought out the rest. We hooked up the ring and then decided to move it over a little more. He put it more centered and then added the paper airplane that goes with the rig always. I grabbed the ring and began spinning gleefully. He laughed and took the pulleys off my shoulder and I spun even more. Then I swung, my feet slipping on the floor, back and forth on the ring, from hands out of practice, and my smile grew even wider. He took a few swings himself, let the bouncers have a pull and then tied it off to wait. There would be Flying tonight.
I was bouncy and giddy as the club opened, pouncing all my friends with glee at the prospect of suspension later. They giggled and hugged me back, understanding my excitement. Things got going and the club started filling, and then he asked me to check on the hemp, make sure it was all in one tub, and then bring it out to our stage. I brought it out and we grinned at each other. It had been a long time, but there was no doubt, he was going to make me fly again.
I bounced, unable to contain my energy as he began to tie. He quizzed me here and there, and I was happy to note I had been imagining the tie correctly these past couple weeks in anticipation of this moment. When it was time to rig me to the ring, I lay on the mat, my feet still bouncing on the floor, grinning over at a few familiar faces in the crowd. Our photographer was snapping photos of the whole thing, but he seemed to catch me at moments when I was sinking into the rope, eyes closed and mind floating. I had to stop tapping my toes when he got to my ankles, my my fingers started tapping instead. Finally fully rigged it was time to go up.
He pulled me off the ground and my eyes flew open and I was in heaven. He got me hooked into the strap and with a couple quick adjustments we were ready. The slightly higher ring than usual actually helped get the rigging even and level. With the pulley tied out of the way, he grabbed my shoulders. Was I ready, oh I’d been ready all evening. We grinned at each other as he started to push, and then I was off, flying through the air, arms and legs spread wide, soaring high above everything.
It had been a long time since I’d been up, even longer since I’d been flying. But it all came back, the breathlessness, the glorious freedom, the total rush of it all. The energy was incredible, he was pushing me higher and higher, spinning and twirling me through the air. I can barely describe how good it felt, how grateful I felt, the energy flowing between us.
My stamina is not what it once was and I knew I wasn’t going to last much longer, but I asked to go for a spin. He happily obliged, twirling me faster and faster on the swivel. All the blood rushed to my head, harder that it had done in a very long time. But I wanted to go faster still. I forced my body to curl, and it actually made my head feel a little better, curled into my chest. Then I flattened out to try and slow, but it didn’t feel like it helped much at all. And then he was spinning me again, and I didn’t want it to stop. But when he went for a third round, I grabbed his arms and heard him laugh as I did stop myself.
He jumped back up, asking if I wanted another push, but I clung to him, getting my bearings and finally able to say I was done, my body would not forgive me if I pushed it any more that night. He quickly hooked the pulley up and had me down. I sank into the mats gasping for breath, not because I had forgotten to breathe, but because the energy was still raging through me and I was now on the ground in relative stillness. He quickly unrigged me from the ring and pulled me to my feet and I hugged him tight, so grateful, and needing to share the incredible energy he had given me. Finally able to take hold of the ring, he was able to untie me and pile up the ropes for me to take care of. When he was done, we hugged again, both relaxing down from the high of the scene, and still so very grateful.
He left me with the rope, to finish coming back to earth and take care of the hemp that had been holding my life by simple strands. I pulled it all to me, just feeling it in my hands for a few moments before sorting out the thinner lengths he’d used for my ankles. Starting with the big pieces, I ran them through my fingers, inspecting and feeling, enjoying the smell and the coarseness. Coiling and wrapping the rope and stacking it all together beside me, pausing occasionally to relax into myself.
I was nearly done, with just the little pieces left when one of the crowd could not stay away any longer. A girl came through the strapped off barrier and plopped down in front of me. She hadn’t seen the scene and wanted to know what I was doing, what the rope was for. So I explained the suspension and told her there were pictures in the back of other suspensions if she wanted to see what she missed. She picked up the rope I wasn’t working on and I motioned for her to put it down, barely not snatching it from her, I get more than a little protective of the rope, especially after a scene. She said she was just playing, coiled a little and then set it back down. When I picked it up to wrap it she told me her name and I told her mine and then she wandered off again. Finished cleaning up, I picked up all the coils and packed them away in the tub and then brought it back to our area to wait for the next scene.
I was buzzing with energy the rest of the night, eager to do my electric scenes, and very happy when he motioned me over be part of the second suspension as well. Remembering how her ties went made me very happy with myself. I grinned up at her as she flew, knowing she was feeling the same as I had earlier that night. There is nothing in this world like it.