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.
April 21st, 2011
A friend wrote last month how she is finally learning to trust her body, through kink. I have been at odds with my body since I was sixteen, almost half my life now. I fight it, I ignore it, I push it. But to trust it? I’d rather challenge it and defy it. She wrote she is no longer a mind in a body but a mind that is a body. I like that idea, and so I’m going to start a rambling exploration of my mind and body tonight.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years in bondage, and in rope suspension. One of the first things he taught me was that I have to listen to my body. That I have to communicate to him what it is telling me. Where there was pain, pinching or discomfort. His suspensions were not meant to be painful, the ropes were there to support, not to hurt. This was a bit of a mind switch for me, because the other’s bondage was often painful, was often part of our sado-masochistic play. I had to listen to my body and trust what it told me. I had to be able to judge when I was done, tell him when I needed to come down. I could push myself only so far. And yes, I often tested those limits, pushed myself just a little further than I maybe should have, challenged myself to just one more swing, or just one more spin. I had to trust my body, but I also put trust in my mind’s ability to recover when I pushed just a little more.
If it hurts, don’t do it. It hurts when I do this. Don’t do that. Pain is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong. But I’m a masochist. I enjoy the intense sensation of pain and the effects it has on the body and mind, when it is pain I am choosing to experience. I kneel for half an hour in meditation, some days it hurts, but I usually ignore the pain and push through. I ignore the body’s cry for relief. I play in ways that cause pain, that cause a fight or flight response, and I ignore the body’s protests. My mind overrules my body. My pleasure overrides my pain. But isn’t this trusting, too? Trusting that even though my nerves scream, my body can take it. Trusting that after, I’ll be okay. I ignore the usual signals, and trust that real damage is not occurring, that my body is not as fragile as some might think.
Is it trust? Or just defiance?
I trust my mind within this body. I trust myself to know my limits. I trust myself to judge when it is too much. I trust myself to beg off or say no. I trust myself to know my body. And I trust my partners enough to crumble and fall.
I trust my mind, but do I truly trust my body? I listen to it, I respond to what it tells me. But I often feel like a mind trapped in a body, unable to feel the way I want to feel, unable to do everything I want to do. I trust that it will not break. I push it and challenge it, and I hope that it will not fail me. And sometimes it does, but more often than not, it doesn’t. In kink, anyway. It fails me, day to day, simple things like opening and reaching, but it rarely fails me in play. It limits me in play, for sure, depending on the day, but when I choose an appropriate activity, it holds up, it withstands, it survives, usually as long as I want and need it to.
So, do I trust my body? I do. It frustrates me and I defy it, but ultimately, I trust it. What other choice do I have? It’s my body and it gives me such pleasure to balance out the pain. It does what I need it to do, if not always what I want it to do. And the better I treat it, the better it does. RA is not who I am, just a thing I am dealing with. Trust is earned and my body has put in the work.
April 7th, 2011
I’m having a bad day. Work was fine, the cat didn’t attack me, the weather was gorgeous, no one got hurt or is deathly ill in my immediate life(though, for my good friends who do have that in their lives, I’m incredibly sorry and wish I could be there for them more than I currently am). I didn’t break the car or lose my phone or have drama explode. Nothing changed today. But I’m having a bad day.
It happens time to time. My body fights me. My immune system attacks (mostly) my joints. I have pain and swelling in various bits and pieces depending on the day, week, month, year. I used to take a lot of drugs. A couple years ago, about the time I started this blog, I was getting worse and my doc upped my injections. I snapped, I was tired of the drugs. Tired of the chemicals, tired of getting worse. I changed my diet. Massively. It didn’t cure me, like I hoped it would. But it controls it about as well as the drugs did.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I blame the flares on not sticking as strictly to the diet as I should. On not eating raw enough. On not eating alkaline enough. But then I also have two books with opposing opinions on what is and what is not alkalizing. On stress. On empathetic pain, sometimes. I take a naproxen every now and then. If I have a really bad flare, I take a couple prednisone. Rationalizing that one or two pills a week is better than four a day and two shots a week.
I haven’t been to my rheumatologist in a over a year at this point due to money and insurance concerns and the fact I’ve stopped taking the drugs. I’ve still got spare pain killers left from the refills I did a year and a half ago. Probably, they say they should be thrown out by now, but that’s not the point.
I’m having a bad day. My wrist hurts, my elbow is buggered, my ankle’s achey, and my shoulders are cranky. None of it’s debilitating, but it was all worse this morning before I took a naproxen. I knelt tonight, made it to 28 minutes before I got up, and was in tears a short while later. Not tears of physical pain. Physical pain hardly ever makes me cry by itself.
I’m a masochist. A pain slut. I enjoy pain, I get off on it. No, Midori would say, I get off on intense sensation. No one enjoys stubbing their toe accidentally. It’s the pain I can’t control that made today bad. It’s the frustration that got me up from kneeling before 30 minutes because I wanted to stop the pain I could stop, because I couldn’t stop the other pains. And honestly, some days, that’s what keeps me there the whole 30 minutes, because I’ve chosen to be there.
It’s why I’m a masochist. I enjoy control, I get off on power exchange. I get off on giving someone else the power to cause me pain. I get off on allowing myself to feel pain because I choose it. I get off on the adrenaline and the endorphins, too. But on a bad day, I want to get off by choosing pain instead of pain choosing me.