Your Own Little World

October 10th, 2013

I saw this meme on Facebook today. And, while it is all good advice, the fourth one hit home with me today, in several ways.

Make peace with your past
so it won’t screw up the present.

What others think of you
is none of your business.

Time heals almost everything,
give it time.

Don’t compare your life to others.
And don’t judge them. You have no idea
what their journey is all about.

Stop thinking too much
it’s alright not to know the answers. They will
come to you when you least expect it.

No one is in charge of your happiness,
except you.

Don’t compare your life to others. That hit the hardest. It is really easy to do. Society does it all the time. You have to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (you know, I’ve never tried to write that one down, how do you pluralize Jones…), whoever they are. ‘You should be more like your brother, sister, cousin, friend, husband, wife, that guy over there.’ ‘Why isn’t my life more like hers?’ ‘Why don’t I have what she has?’ ‘Why does she have all the luck?’ You are you, you aren’t someone else, you can’t have someone else’s life. You have your own life, and it simply doesn’t compare.

And don’t judge them. The above also comes with a flip-side. ‘I’m glad I’m not them.’ ‘Why does she have to be like that?’ ‘How can he live like that?’ I find myself judging people, and I have to take a step back. I have to remind myself that I don’t know what they are going through. I don’t know what brought them to this point. I don’t know anything about them or their life.

You have no idea what their journey is all about. And they don’t know what your journey is either. They won’t understand you, in the same way you don’t understand them. There is no way you know what a stranger is going through, and friends don’t know everything in your life. Even lovers don’t live inside your head and your skin. In the general scheme of things, no one is with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week for your entire life. We all create our own realities, and it is impossible to know someone else’s reality.

Then I looked at the whole list from a poly perspective. And it all fit quite well into poly thinking, too.

Make peace with your past, so it won’t screw up your present. Nothing is more frustrating to a new partner, than continuous talk about an ex partner, except being compared to that ex partner. Make peace with your relationships when they end, so they don’t haunt your future relationship.

What others think of you is none of your business. This is a hard one, because we care about what our friends and family think. And when they are supportive, it is great. But when they disapprove, it can be devastating. If you are happy, and you are being who you are, it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks.

Time heals almost everything, give it time. This one is hard for people, especially after a break-up. Don’t push. Give yourself time to heal. Give everyone else time to heal. Then give it a little more time. So much extra damage can be done if you push while feelings and nerves are still raw.

Don’t compare yourself to others. And don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Especially important in polycules. Don’t compare yourself or your relationship to another in the group. You are not them, your relationship is not theirs, your path was not theirs. You may think you know everything that is going on, but see above. Your reality is no one else’s.

Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it. Guilty. I think too much all the time. That’s why I took up meditation. To stop the wheels, and let the answers come in their own time. It is also why I don’t feel bad emailing an answer a day or two after a question was asked. It is okay to not know how you feel about something and ask for some time to think about it. Do remember to let them know when the answer comes.

No one is in charge of your happiness, except you. (I changed the line-breaks on this one above, the original meme had it broken up to say only ‘No one is in charge’ on the first line, which is not the point of the sentence.) If you are unhappy, it is your responsibility to act, to make a change, to talk to your partner. And I don’t mean tell your polycule and expect them to fix it. It is your happiness, not theirs. They could make changes that help you, if it is within their power and purview. But it is your responsibility, not theirs, to make choices about your happiness.

Food for though tonight, to go with the massive hibachi dinner I had with my polycule.

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Reality is Better than Fantasy

November 4th, 2012

This story starts with an elderly gentleman buying Fifty Shades Darker from me yesterday. He told me that he really liked the first book. I told him that others had said the books each are better than the previous. He gave me a disbelieving look/sound, and said that the last one is called Freed, how could that be better than the other two? I checked myself from going too deeply into it, and said, that while I had not read the books, “freed” didn’t necessarily mean the relationship ended. He nodded, but I don’t think he understood what I was trying to say. No, I don’t really want to know if the relationship ends in the third book, and they get “free” of each other. But I do think it’s important to understand that freedom inside your relationship and inside your kink, is a great reality, regardless of whatever fantasy you’ve built up in your head.

Onto another fantasy. Interrogation. I mention it here and there, I write fantasy ones. I get worried that I’ll never get an interrogation scene. I talk about why not. But this morning, it occurred to me that it’s a fantasy that doesn’t mesh with my reality. I don’t really want an interrogation scene. I mean, sure, it’s fun to fantasize about, and write about, but what is it really? A stranger trying to torture information out of me, without a care for me, my safety, my sanity or anything but getting that information. Again, a sexy fantasy, of complete loss of control.

But where’s the reality, what is it that I really want out of such a scene? What I really want and enjoy in extreme scenes, is the challenge, the push, the seeing how far I can go. I recently read a summary of a biography written by a woman with dwarfism. It was a teacher that first called her a dwarf and asked her what she could and couldn’t do. The summary says she has spent the rest of her life pushing herself to do more and more. I was diagnosed with RA in HS, but in college, when I saw the fencing club, I decided to do it. So what if I couldn’t straighten my right arm, or if my left knee didn’t bend or straighten fully? I would push myself to do what I wanted to do. My kink is similar, I love to push myself, to see how far I can go, what I can do, in spite of assumed physical or mental limits. Most importantly, I love doing so with him, because he loves me, cares about me, but is also willing to push me further than I think I can go. A lot further. And still knows how and when to stop. Not some random fantasy stranger who I don’t know and wouldn’t play with in any case. Reality is much better than fantasy.

There was a third part to this topic, but I’ve lost it in the football game. 😉

 

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Great Expectations

August 30th, 2012

While sitting in the theater, waiting for Avenue Q to start, hubby turned and asked me about expectations. Hubby felt that my boyfriend and I had a good handle on setting expectations and asked how we did it. Or more specifically, how He had done it with me. I jokingly said that when you tell a girl for a year and a half that you are a sexually satisfied man, and then start dating her, expectations start out pretty low. In all seriousness, though, he and I usually played three times a week during most of the year prior to dating, and had already started conversations on expectations and happiness.

One of those conversations began with him asking me if I could be happy without him suspending me for a whole year. I had passed through most of my newbie sub-frenzy by that point, so I could actually consider the question. It took a little back and forth before I understood the intent of the question. It wasn’t about him denying me what I wanted, it was about expectation crashing with reality. What if he got hurt (which happened)? What if we lost our suspension point (which has happened repeatedly)? What if I got hurt? The real question was did my happiness depend on suspension, or could I be happy without it? This started the thought process in my brain that expectations have to mesh with the reality of the situation.

Another set of conversations we had was him asking me if I Deserved to be suspended. At the time it felt like a trick question, given the dynamics we were involved in. But it was really about suspension not being a think I could deserve or earn. It was a gift, given because he wanted to. Not because I deserve it or expect it. Giving affection only because it is expected or only when someone has “earned” it can lead to abusive situations. For me, affection must be given because both parties want to give it. But beware putting expectations on what defines affection.

Back to the question that I started with. When he asked if I could be happy without suspension, he wasn’t asking if I would be happy not seeing him for a year, simply without one form of play. In our relationship, I expect to see him fairly regularly and I expect affection. Sometimes that means a hug, sometimes a text message, sometimes a flogging and sometimes it means dinner and a movie. When it’s been a long day, it can simply means his arm around me while he falls asleep. He shows me affection in whatever way he is able, mentally, physically and emotionally. As I do him.

Another way we have set expectations in our relationship was to write them down. In our contract with toy, we wrote out what all the expectations were. What we all did before play, what types of play there would be, and what could preempt or prevent play. It was very clear what we could all expect, and even then there were surprises.

So, what do we do then? What happens when expectations are not met? No matter how clear you think you have been, or how mutual you think your expectations are, you will still face disappointment occasionally. The important thing to do, of course, is to talk about it. What were my expectations? Were they the same as his expectations? What happened that caused them not to be met? Was it reasonable? Were the expectations reasonable to begin with? Was it just a special case that won’t happen again? How can we prevent this situation from repeating itself? Do the expectations need revised, or does one party need to be more conscious of meeting the expectation?

For me, another good conversation to stay on top of is wants and needs. My needs tend to be where I set my expectations, so I have to communicate that those things are needs. And I have to set reasonable expectations of where I’m going to get those needs filled. Being poly, they don’t all have to be filled by one person. Wants are things I would like to have, and I have to communicate them, too, else they won’t have a chance to be fulfilled. But the important thing to remember is that I cannot expect all my wants to be fulfilled all the time. Life isn’t that simple. But I can work on getting them filled through expressing them and making plans. And sometimes my needs aren’t met either, at which point we return to the previous paragraph of questions to have another look.

As always, the most important part of setting expectations has been clear communication. Second to that is acceptance that we are human and life isn’t perfect. Talk about your expectations. Unspoken expectations Cannot be met. Understand that life gets in the way, even of needs sometimes. Be flexible, accepting, and keep talking. And while you are talking, offer solutions. Once the problem has been stated, clarified and understood, move forward and find ways to avoid future disappointment from that source. During your conversations, if the other person has expectations that you cannot meet, have a conversation about why and about what can be done instead, or how to change that expectation. Expectations are a two-way street, both parties must be actively involved in setting, meeting and revising them. Everything changes, keep talking.

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Jealousy & Fear

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.

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The Writing on My Thighs

March 17th, 2011

What’s really there is that I have an awesome boyfriend who loves me, who trusts me, and who wants to continue our journey together, in life and in kink.

What’s really there is several new paths we are taking, one including an awesome woman who has decided to be our toy.

What’s really there is stressful work and health situations that are not who we are, but simply things we are doing and dealing with.

What’s really there is drama in our worlds and families that we need to deal with and solve together, supporting each other.

What’s really there is amazing opportunities for love and companionship and play and fun together, that I never would have thought possible five years ago.

 

These sentences are currently written on my thighs. I wrote them in a chat yesterday, and we decided I ought to write them on myself for a little while. “Until the message sinks in,” you might say. I need practice focusing on the positive. I need to not let the negative build up and build up, because “it’s just a little thing,” until it becomes a whirlwind of fear, doubt and crazy. I’m a writer, a good thing, but also bad. I write stories in my head, make assumptions, fill in the blanks. I live inside my head a little too much. I need to remember there are other people out there, often right beside me, who have the real answers, the actual truth of the matter, and sometimes, a far better grip on reality than the tangled mess I sometimes get myself into. Speculative fiction is awesome to write and sell and share, but reality is strange enough without me getting creative on it.

So, lesson of the week: Communicate!

How many times have I written about communication? And yet…

Things are far easier to deal with and discount and conquer when they are small. And nothing is too small to mention. A grain of sand creates a pearl, but a fleck of metal can blind you and a single spark can burn down a forest. He is good at noticing when something is wrong or off, but I am not always so good at realizing he is right. So, communication. Don’t dismiss it when he questions, really look and try to shake loose the thought that is keeping me off balance by hiding in the corner. Life is always crazy and busy and stressful, but letting things bottle and build up is only going to make things worse. Explosions are far more damaging than a firecracker. Just don’t hang on too tight, toss it up in the air and see what it looks like in the light.

 

I am loved. I am wanted. I am needed. I am worthy.

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Are You a Wildmage?

September 16th, 2010

I am a geek. He looked at me and asked if I get upset when my D&D character does something wrong or bad. I said of course not. He asked what is the difference? I said that was a character, a game. He pointed out that being object is just a role I choose to play, and a lightning bolt hit me in the head.

Are you submissive? Yes. Are you an object? No.

The second should not have been a hard question, nor should it have had so many wide ranging implications, but it was and therefore it did. No, I did not think I was an object, but yes, I was trying to be one. Trying really damn hard to be one, and be a perfect one, without the error and failure that is inherent to being human. We knew I have a perfectionist streak. What we did not know, is that I had gotten lost in the intoxication of the fantasy, and had forgotten that object was a role, not a goal. I enjoy thinking for myself, making my own decisions, being a smart ass, loving, living, playing and serving. Object is one way to play and serve, but it is far too limited a role to wear all the time. I am so much more than that.

What problems was this causing?

Because I was not keeping the line drawn between fantasy and reality, I was not divorcing object’s actions from self. I was carrying baggage from our scenes back into my day to day life. I was carrying guilt and blame from play into reality. Instead of using our transition ritual in the way it was intended, to shed the trappings of object, I was gathering it all up to pile on self. Self gave way under the pressure a few weeks ago, and we had been scrambling to figure out what had caused it ever since.

Viewing object as a part of self instead of as a role to put on also led to problems with the transition into object space, as well. I had trouble identifying the boundaries between submissive and object. I had trouble communicating when I was going from one to the other. I thought of object as a deeper part of my submission, so one night, even though I felt objectified, I did not identify that as a need to begin object space.

Another problem was keeping my focus in object space. If we were in public, I would give him priority, but I was also still interacting with other people fairly normally. When I would turn to address him, I would not always have my object role firmly in mind, nor his as owner. I would drop Sir, or be thinking of him as boyfriend. This loss of focus and loss of role had the potential to cause hurt to us both.

What are solutions to these problems?

One solution to the problem of leaving object’s baggage with object, is in properly using the transitional ritual he had me create. Looking back at my post about the creation of the ritual, I was more focused on limiting drop from our scene. Limiting its effects on my other partners. He spoke of relieving girlfriend of any lingering guilt for object’s actions, but I don’t think I really understood that as well as I do now. The ritual I created worked for my needs then and it covers current needs as well. The gratitude not only serves to simply be grateful for what he gave to me in the scene, but can also serve to acknowledge it as just that, a scene. Service, which often was discussing the scene to help us both process, was intended to give me time to deal with the emotions and reactions to the scene in the immediate, so I did not carry them with me back out into the world. Connection, to reconnect with him as girlfriend and finish the transition out of the role of object, back to the reality of self.

The solution to the second problem is self awareness. Staying aware of my self even while transitioning. Being very aware of what it feels like and being able to communicate that clearly. I need to keep in mind that not only do I need to take on the role of object, but at the very same time, he needs to take on the role of owner. He can only do that if I clearly communicate with him. Owner/object does not work if both roles are not fully taken at the same time. We created verbal tools to do this, my saying Sir, and his confirming with me, or his asking the trigger question of Aren’t you under dressed? and my confirming with a Yes, Sir. If he is pushing me mentally or physically towards object space, it is up to me to let him know when I arrive. He cannot know my mind, and so I must. I must be aware and clear and able to communicate with him, before, during and after a scene.

Solving the third problem is something I have had a constant struggle with over the last seven months. I had it tackled for a while, having problems only with volume and clear speaking as opposed to staying in state. I think this is part of the same need for awareness, but in this case, not just awareness for myself, but for him as well. I have a responsibility to maintain my role as well as keeping his in mind. This is not a part I can equate to gaming, we rarely stay in character at the table, and I’ve had very little experience with LARP, but theater on the other hand works. I was in a lot of plays as a teenager, and while I never had a big part, it was always important to stay in character on stage, no matter what you were doing. You don’t address your fellow actors as your friends, but only as the character they are currently playing. Sir is the verbal tool here as well, a reminder of role in every sentence I speak. A requirement of the character I have chosen to play.

These are not the only problems, nor the only solutions, but they are a place to start.



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