Needs, Wants, Emotions and Logic

November 3rd, 2011

I don’t know what to post about this week. One of my best friends suggested monkeys. I’m not all that into animals, and monkeys tend to be into scat play, as well. So, I’m just gonna ramble a bit. Whirligig, whirligig, spin spin spin. OpenOffice tells me that’s how it’s spelled. Wants and needs, where’s the line? Emotion is to reactions as logic is to solutions.

Needs. There are physical needs: food, water, clothing, shelter, air. There are emotional needs: love, self-worth, respect, and happiness. Then things get a little muddy. Or perhaps they already were, as meeting those emotional needs can mean a lot of different things. And I tend to get a little muddier around happiness, though I put it on the list. Happiness is nonnegotiable, in the long term, but is unrealistic to expect every moment of every day. Things go wrong, arguments happen, mistakes get made, people get hurt, tragedies occur. But when all these needs are being met, including happiness, it’s hard to feel like life is all that rough.

Then there are the six basic human needs that they talk about in the kool-aid circles, let’s see if I can remember them: Certainty, Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth, and Contribution. I only forgot significance. And, according to Mr. Robbins, everyone puts very different value on these six things. Personally, certainty is the top of my list, followed by connection(love). The rest jockey for position regularly, with significance generally(but not always) coming in last in the broad scheme of things. They say opposites attract, so you know, with certainty at the top of my list, I’m attracted to people for whom variety tops the list. I couldn’t say for certain it is the Very top for all of them, but it certainly seems to rate high.

The ones I rate lower, I tend to feel cross over the line from need to want for me. But it’s that line that gets a bit fuzzy for me. I want to learn new things and grow, but do I need to? They say if you stop learning, you’re dead, but active growth often gets put on the back burner for me. I want to contribute to the world through my writing, but I don’t need to. I appreciate every private message saying how people enjoy my blog or got something out of it, and every comment that gets posted, but if it was really a need, wouldn’t I put more work into it? Significance is trickier. As long as I am important to the people who love me, do I really need to be important to anyone else? Given what I enjoy doing, and what my family do for a living, I’d say staying off the national or world stage is probably best for everyone. Variety. It’s true that I enjoy new things, that I like a lot of different kinks, that I’ve often had two or three partners. So, I certainly enjoy variety, to an extent. But I’m not someone who goes to a big event with a dance card, or is looking for many partners. I don’t want a stable, I just want all my needs and most of my wants met.

So, what about certainty and connection. Well, connection basically means love, and I’ve already listed that at the top. An absolute need. Certainty is what drives me crazy. Look no further for emotional break down than for me to not know what is going on or what to expect. Now, I don’t mind a bit of spontaneity, I enjoy unplanned scenes. But if I don’t know where I’m sleeping on a night, I get a little antsy. If I don’t know how bills are getting paid, I freak out. If a new shiny appears and I don’t know her intentions, or his, I get all wibbly-wobbly. (OpenOffice doesn’t know how to spell that one.) If I’m told something might happen, maybe, but I don’t know what, I get all nervous and jumpy. I like plans. I like lists. I like schedules. And yes, sometimes it’s really hot to be grabbed and dragged off at a moment’s notice for some unplanned, but much needed stress relief.

So what about that line? Needs – Wants. If I have all the physical needs, and emotional needs, and certainty met – is everything else just cream on the top? How do I judge happiness being met? Play makes me happy, not playing doesn’t necessarily make me unhappy. But not playing for a long time can. Or not playing when I really, really want to can. But then, I control my reactions (usually), so if all else is good, not playing shouldn’t make me unhappy. There’s always tomorrow, tends to be my rational to achieve that. Private time with him and hubby makes me happy. Not having that private time on a particular day is disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. Spending time is always happy, but that doesn’t make not spending time a necessary sad. I think I’ve lost my point in here somewhere. I’m trying to sort out whether play, time and private time fall under needs or wants. Given their relationship to happiness. Which isn’t only direct, they also affect the health of the relationship, which is a source of happiness. They are all ways in which affection and love are expressed, but a lack of one does not equate to a lack of love. Most often it is a lack of time, or opportunity. So, they are not necessarily needs in and of themselves, but are wants which fulfill both the needs of connection/love and happiness.

Then we get down into specifics. Specific types of play, or time, or private time. Specific types of affection and attention. Those are certainly wants. None of them is specifically a need. They are, again, ways to get needs filled, and we often say “I needed that,” but I’d say they are strictly on the want side of the equation. We are referring to the emotional need that got filled by the action when we say we needed it. So, it seems, by my rambling, that for me, the more general a thing, the more of a need it is, and the more specific, the more it lands in want territory.

Toy commented to me she’d been advised to feel her emotions before solving problems. I agreed with this statement. Often, I react emotionally to things, and on the surface, I think the problem is one thing, but as I’m reacting and talking about how I’m feeling, I dig deeper and find the real problem. If I try to solve the problem at first reaction, often I end up trying to solve the wrong problem, or even one that doesn’t really exist. So, I’m learning to ride through the emotions, often getting him to help me dig into them, so I can find out what’s really bothering me and deal with it. A brown leaf, when cut off, doesn’t fix a poisoned root.

The other half of that, is if I ride through the emotions, feel them all and let them rise and fall. After it is done, then I can be logical and find solutions. Nothing drives me more crazy than when I’m reacting and being emotional, and he throws logic at me. I’m often not ready to be logical, yet. Though, sometimes, it’s enough to snap me past the emotions to the point of logic. Other times, I just need to cry, let it out, get all the emotional baggage out from behind my eyes and between my shoulders, or I’m just going to be useless and run in circles. Emotions are good for finding problems, logic is good for solving them.

 

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Within Ourselves

June 10th, 2011

My academic pursuit this month, otherwise known as “I’m tired of packing project,” (unfortunately, yesterday, when I got tired, of packing I fell asleep instead of posting) is The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, which I posted about the first time I read it. This week, I read Part 1: Within Ourselves, and took down quotes I found pertinent or important to me. So, I thought I’d make this week’s post a discussion of those quotes. I divided them into five categories: Sex, Poly, Social Programming, Communication and Internal Struggles.

Let’s start with Social Programming. This group is about overcoming our social programming so we can live the life we want to live and be true to oneself. “Our programming is changeable.” “You are already whole.” “ Great sluts are made, not born.” “People… free of shame, would trust their own sense of right and wrong.” (pp. 6, 34, 59, 71) So, what do all these quotes mean to me?

I grew up in a religiously based household, taught ‘how things ought to be’ from a young age. One husband, one wife, kids, and pets. Sex inside marriage only. And no kinky stuff. So, the first quote, of programming being changeable. I don’t have to live with the programming my parents gave me. It worked for them, but it does not have to be mine as well. If it doesn’t work for me, then I can change it to fit myself. The third quote goes along with that. It takes work to overcome social programming, to make myself into what I want to be. I cannot just assume I have all the skills and understanding to live the way I want to live. I have to learn and grow and create my life.

The second quote. Being whole. Society likes to push marriage and kids onto us. You aren’t a grown up, until you’re married. You aren’t fulfilling your purpose until you have kids. And on and on. Not everyone wants to be married, not everyone wants to have kids. There is nothing wrong with either of these things. You are a whole person, in and of yourself, without the need for a relationship or offspring to validate your existence.

The final quote, came from Wilhelm Reich’s speeches to young Communists in Germany in 1936. He was speaking against free expression and sexuality, because this would prevent an authoritarian government. I think it is a good point, though. Without social programming telling us that what we feel is wrong and dirty, we would be free to trust our own judgment, our own selves, about what was good and right for us, and what was wrong. That would certainly reduce our unnecessary guilt and self-recriminations.

So, on that note, let’s move on to Internal Struggles, a lot of which come from Social Programming. “Each person owns her own feelings. No one ‘makes’ me feel jealous, or insecure – the person who makes me feel that way is me.” “Knowing, loving and respecting yourself is an absolute prerequisite to knowing, loving and respecting someone else.” “You must speak truth, first to yourself, then to those around you.” “Shame, and beliefs we were taught that our bodies, desires and sex are dirty and wrong, make it very hard to develop a healthy self-esteem.” “Do remember: your sexiness is about how you feel, not how you look.” (pp. 65, 67, 67, 93, 94)

To live this life, I have had to look inside me, to consider myself and my truth a lot more than I ever did before. I have to take responsibility for myself, my feelings, and my actions, something that in today’s society it seems to be more popular to blame others for. Yes, things people say or do upset me, but it is me choosing to react that way. Me choosing to let it bother me. Me choosing whether to talk to them about it, or brood silently. My choice to let negativity fester or toss it out into the light to die. To be in control of my emotions and my reactions, I have to know myself, love myself and respect myself enough to look for the truth in myself. I have to figure out what’s really going on inside me, so I can share it with those that matter.

A wonderful side effect of this lifestyle I have chosen, has been a much better body image and self-esteem. I grew up hiding my body, wearing baggy shirts and jeans year round. Boys hardly every looked at me before college, and I never gave them a reason to. One day in high school, my mother must have been having a bad day, because she told me I was fat. I took this to mean she thought I was ugly and unattractive. Just one stray comment and I held onto it for years. I didn’t believe that I weighed too much, but unattractive, absolutely.

Then I started dating, but I was still hiding in my clothes. Boys were interested in me, some told me I was attractive. But I didn’t believe them. I started having sex and doing kinky things. Boys didn’t run screaming from my body. That seemed like a good thing. My dad once told me I should get sexy underwear so I’d feel better about myself. That was strange. Dated some more, here and there and around the world. Still hiding. Got married, continued to hide, though I got cuter clothes from hubby and his mom. Other men were still attracted to me. That was strange to me. Why would they look at me? Talk to me sure, I’m bright and fun, but look at me?

We swung a bit and then became poly. We joined a few groups, and started going to events. I got more and more compliments, and people appreciating my body, my energy, my sexiness. I was encouraged to wear cuter (and shorter) outfits. I gained confidence in not just my body, but myself. The community is full of so many people of different body types, and people are attracted to them all. People are attracted to skin, to body parts, to men, to women, to everything and everyone. I learned that you don’t have to be perfect, or a certain size, shape, or height. You just have to comfortable and happy in your own skin. If you feel sexy(and sometimes even when you don’t), you are sexy.

Next, let’s explore Poly. “We tend to like our lives complicated, with lots of stuff going on to keep us interested and engaged.” “Is there some virtue in being difficult?” “The human capacity for sex and love and intimacy is far greater than most people think.” “What rewards can you foresee that will compensate you for doing the hard work of learning to be secure in a world of shifting relationships?” “I don’t have to fulfill every single thing my partner needs or wants.” “Faithfulness is about honoring your commitments and respecting your friends and lovers.” “You don’t have to force anyone into a mold that doesn’t fit: all you have to do is enjoy how you do fit together, and let go of the rest.” (pp. 7, 29, 36, 59, 59, 63, 73)

I’ll start at the top. Complicated lives. I’ve always kept busy. Band, theater, gaming, volunteering, writing, working, studying. My love life was often complicated, even before I came out as poly. I spent time with multiple guys, or with guys who had girlfriends elsewhere, or with different guys in different countries. I flirted online a lot, with men, women and couples. The first time hubby proposed to me, he was already engaged to someone else. I love order and organizing, but my life has always been fairly complicated. It’s not that I’m easy, I have standards, but I agree with Dossie and Catherine, why be intentionally difficult?

Our capacity for love and intimacy is huge. We love family, friends, lovers, pets, people we see on TV, even characters in books or shows. All in different ways, perhaps, but that’s a lot of love, and we always have more for new people coming into our lives. Why should romantic love be different? If everyone is honest and respectful, then, to me, everyone is being faithful. I always did like the song from Kiss Me, Kate with the chorus “Always true to you baby, in my fashion. I’m always true to you baby, in my way.”

Then we get to the rewards for all this learning and growing into the people we want to be. And the remaining two quotes answer that one. In poly, thanks to poly, I don’t have to try and be everything, and do everything, and fit into a mold of the “perfect partner.” I can be me, and they can be themselves, and we find out what needs we can fulfill for each other, and enjoy those things together.

This leads right into Communication, the most important thing, for me, in poly. “Consent – an active collaboration for the benefit, well-being and pleasure of all persons concerned.” “They may be shy in the seductive stages, and bolder once welcome has been secured. Women tend to want explicit permission, and for each specific act.” “Talk clearly and listen effectively.” “Being able to ask for and receive reassurance and support is extremely important.” “It’s vital to be able to give reassurance and support.” “Lots of hugging, touching, verbal affection, sincere flattery.” “You need to know how and when to say no.” “The historical censorship of discussion about sex has left us with another disability: the act of talking about sex… has become difficult and embarrassing.” “What you can’t talk about, you can hardly think about.” “Most of us have been struck dumb by the scariest communication task of all – asking for what we want.” “If you are not free to say ‘no,’ you can’t really say ‘yes.’” “You have a right to your limits and it is totally okay to say no to [anything] you don’t like or are not comfortable with.” (pp. 21-2, 49, 61, 61, 62, 62, 63, 95, 95, 101, 103, 106)

Several different subcategories here. Staring with general communication – being able to speak clearly as well as listen. I have learned, over the last few years, that what one person says and the other person hears, are not always the same thing. I have learned the importance of restating what I think the other person is trying to communicate, so he can agree, or try another way of explaining.

Being able to communicate needs and wants (as well as knowing the difference), and being able to hear the same from my partners has been vital to our relationships. I still have trouble taking about sex out loud, and am sometimes embarrassed to write about it. But we work together, and talk together, and we open with each other and I am more and more able to talk about it. It’s still not perfect, nothing ever is. But I am learning and growing, and overcoming the embarrassment and shame of my social programming.

Being able to ask for and receive reassurance and support, in any number of ways, can be hard. Why should I have doubts and need reassurance after all this time? Well, because I’m human, and imperfect and the little devil on my shoulder, or the little voice in my head gets too loud sometimes, and I need help shouting him down. And it has been very important to me, that my partners have been there to give me that. Even if all I need is a hug, or the words I love you, to calm me down, and even more so, when I’ve wanted a flogging or tight rope bondage.

Then there is consent. I like their definition: “an active collaboration for the benefit, well-being and pleasure of all persons concerned.” We want to have fun, be safe and healthy and work together for these things. Consent is for everyone, tops, bottoms, masters, slaves, doms, subs, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends. It is not just one person consenting to the other, it is both(or more) people consenting to each other. And being able to say no, is just as important as being able to say yes. You have to be able to say no, or yes doesn’t mean anything. There’s consensual non-consent, and there are no-limit slaves, but in the end, if you cannot ultimately turn and walk away, then you are not really consenting to be there.

On to happier topics – Sex. “Sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.” “We have never met anyone who has low self-esteem at the moment of orgasm.” “The existence of her clitoris was proof positive that God loved her.” “Sex is whatever the people engaging in it think it is… if you… feel sexual… that’s sex, for you.” “Sex is a healthy force in our lives.” “We like to think that all sensual stimulation is sexual, from a shared emotion to a shared orgasm.” “When sex becomes goal-oriented, we may focus on what gets us to orgasm to the exclusion of enjoying all the nifty sensations that come before (and, for that matter, after).” “Sexually successful people masturbate.” (pp. 4, 19, 27, 39. 40, 92, 96, 98)

We live in a culture of double standards. Sex sells – well, everything. But we are taught to avoid it, that it’s dangerous, that it’s only for marriage, that touching ourselves is disgusting. We are taught to be embarrassed by sexuality. But sex is wonderful, and it’s not just about intercourse, or orgasms. Being a kinky person, there are so many different ways that I find sensual and sexual pleasure. Being poly, hubby and I have a very strict definition of what sex is, in regards to our rules about who we can “have” it with. But that is about intercourse and sexual//reproductive health. We give and receive sensual and sexual stimulation with a lot of different people, in a lot of different ways, including our own selves. Intercourse is great, orgasms are great, but they are not the end all and be all of our sexual lives. We like things complicated, remember? I really enjoy the sex-positive nature of this book and the confidence it reminds me to have about myself and my desires in a culture that tells me I am wrong and disgusting in so many ways. I love my life, and I am happy with who I am.

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The Power of a Name

May 6th, 2011

I’ve written about labels many times, but I have generally ignored names and titles between people. By that I mean, I ‘ve written about labeling oneself Dom or sub, but not about calling someone Master X or Slave Y. Last year, calling him Sir was a big thing, part of object space, part of the game. But I never really wrote about what using the word meant to me. Hubby is my Master, I call him that when we play, and he calls me slave or little one, but I’ve never written about that either. Words are very important to me. Names, they say, hold power. Labeling yourself something is one thing, being called that by someone else, another. We all know the power of our parent using our full name in anger, or our loved one using a pet name in joy. This week, there was a question about what I would be called on Monday nights, by toy and by him. And it sparked a lot of different thoughts in my brain. I’ll try to get them out onto this blog if I can.

A long time ago, in a country far away, I had a Daddy. But he was Daddy for nonsexual reasons, so I never called him Daddy in bed. I called him Sir. He called me a lot of things. Including a few I didn’t like. A few that upset me, made me feel like less of a human being. I did not tell him, I didn’t know how to tell him, I was afraid to tell him. So, I tried to ignore those words coming out of his mouth, but they still stung. Years later, the other used them, in the same types of situations. And I let him, and they didn’t hurt anymore. They reminded me of the time when they did, but the sting was no longer there. They were entertaining and useful and sexy when the other said them. Words can hurt, but it is all in how they are delivered and received.

My name is special to me. I like it, I like how it is spelled. I like that it came equally from both my parents. I do not use someone’s first name in casual conversation with that person. It feels strange to me, to do so. Using a first name, to me, puts significant impact into what I am saying. If I am talking to someone, they know I’m talking to them. I don’t need to say their name unless I am trying to get their attention or if I want to emphasize what I am saying. So, when someone already has my attention, and uses my name, what they are saying has more impact on me. I honestly don’t know if other people feel this way or not.

Then we come to how I refer to people I am playing with. Sir, to me, is the most natural title or name for a male I am submissive towards. It is what I call male customers at work, though I’ve had a few object to that (Don’t Sir me, I work for a living.) simply out of respect and not knowing their name. It is a term of respect, deeply ingrained in me. Last year we made it into a task I repeatedly failed at by requiring it in every sentence to him. I guess I wouldn’t do well in the military, but we already knew that. But even then, it was couched in terms of my respect for him.

We are returning to that now, with the contract. We will respectfully call him Sir. I find that when using Sir, I will say it far more often than I would have normally used his name. It holds my respect for him, but less of the power of his name. On which point, his name, during such times that we are calling him Sir, is a safeword. It does have power. The power to alter headspace. To denote something is wrong, and that we need him, not the Dominant he is being for us.

I call hubby Master, because that is what we chose to use. He likes that term and he is first in my life, above any other Dom or Top that may be part of my life. He is the one who takes care of me, day to day and the one I come home to. I am collared to him, married to him, and forever his. That is what calling him Master means to me.

I have never bottomed to a female and used any type of label or title. There are a few who I call by their chosen names: Domina or Mistress or Lady. But these are just like using their first names, not out of any sense of my respect for them, just an identifier of who they are.

Toy is the first bottom I’ve had a name for. It is her relationship to us, and a tool to help her stay in the headspace. It is a term that she enjoys hearing, and depending on inflection, can be very useful in getting a message across. I am still learning about what this means to her and to myself.

So, what about things people call me?

Toy calls me Miss. A counterpoint to Sir. But not all the way up to Mistress or Madame. I wasn’t comfortable with those. They felt too high, too strong. I’m just the little d, afterall. Miss, I like. It’s what we call young women. I am very young in this topping role, so I feel that it is still respectful, and it fits me.

Hubby calls me slave or little one. Slave is the counterpoint to Master. It is filled with all those same feelings of love, and care and forever. Little one, is a term of endearment that has been used by several men. I am not tiny, but I am rather small in comparison to a lot of my partners. Certainly, I’ve been shorter than all of them. It makes me feel protected and cared for.

Other names I have been called(again, not labels, but names): kajira, slut, whore. These last two being the names in question in paragraph two, and most often used by the other. Slut and whore were used sexually, to heighten a moment, for dirty talking or teasing. To push emotionally and mentally. Kajira was a term of endearment, around our mutual love and use of rope in our play and sex. It held all the sensations and attachment of rope at it’s core for us. I was not just a rope slut in those moments, but a slave to the rope. And it felt good.

So, full circle, then. To what sparked this post. What, if anything, did I want him to call me during Monday playtime? I am terrible at naming characters in stories. In my erotica, I tend to write without names. I did not want to use names used by hubby or by the other. He had only ever used my name last year. Names from other venues had their own attachments. Toy had a few suggestions, but none of them felt quite right for us. In the end, he decided that for now, he would just use my name. As we have always done. As I am learning to do with Toy, he is able to do well, put the meaning behind his voice that he wants there by tone and inflection.

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BDSM Is Not Abuse

January 27th, 2011

One of the things on my mind when I was doing the Thirty Days of Kink meme was openness. There were two questions I linked to the same post about being open with my friends, but not with my family. Then the post about misconceptions – BDSM is not abuse. And my brain wandered off – wondering, is this why I don’t tell my family? Is this what I’m afraid to explain to them, afraid they just won’t understand? Afraid they’ll think I’m broken or, worse yet, that they did something wrong in raising me?

I make excuses – it’s my sex life, why would I talk to my family about the kind of sex I have? We don’t talk about such things. It’s where all my ideas about what’s “proper” or “appropriate” come from. Those words that The Ethical Slut talks about as social programming that limits us and makes us ashamed of ourselves. But what about poly? That’s my love life, that’s people who mean a lot to me. And it still falls into “inappropriate” and “improper” behavior. But people I care about is a topic of family discussion.

I think I’m wandering here. Reel it back in.

BDSM is not abuse. I posted that simply and without comment on the misconceptions day. There are so many ways that discussion can go. From how BDSM is about love and respect, to how to recognize abuse, to how to prevent abuse, to how some people just don’t understand other people’s needs and desires. To how some people’s kink is just not other people’s kink, to how some people’s kink is too extreme for other people. And on and on.

But the point in my head, when I started this post, was, is that what I’m afraid of? Is that what I don’t think I can explain to my god-fearing, bible-carrying family? You betcha. My dad once commented that a girl in college wanted him to spank her and he thought it was very odd of her and he sent her packing. I don’t know why he told me (and Hubby) that story, other than for something to say while we were traveling cross country on a family vacation, but I worried even then that I could never tell him the truth about myself.

I’ve seen a friend’s parents react very badly to the idea of their daughter being kinky. The dad did read a book on rope bondage and come to accept it as a sexual expression. But what about pain, how do you get vanilla folk to understand, or at least accept, that pain is a healthy expression of sexuality? There are kinky people who don’t fully understand the levels of pain I enjoy, but at least they’re accepting. Usually along the lines of, well, if it makes you happy.

Isn’t that what our parents want for us? That we be happy? Yes. But generally the want us to be happy within social norms, or whatever Their social norms are. Would my parents really deny me because my expressions of pleasure are different from theirs? Would they stop speaking to me because controlled pain in a life when uncontrolled pain in typical makes me feel better? Would they try and have me committed because I like a bit of electricity running through my body even when I’m not at a chiropractor? Probably not. But I still shrink from those conversations, afraid of disappointing them, or confusing them. Or that I am wrong about their capacity for acceptance.

Honestly, it’s my brother who I think would try to understand the least. And it’s poly that I think that my parents would be most upset with. I promised to my father and before my mother to be monogamous until death. I think extramarital relations would be the harder sell. I love my Hubby, and he loves me, but to forsake all others would not be true to ourselves. Love grows when it is shared.

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Day Twenty-Four – A Quality Partner

January 24th, 2011

What qualities do you look for in a partner?

Intelligence, Honesty, Compassion, Passion, Respect, Love

Intelligence – He doesn’t have to have college degrees falling off the walls, or be a scientist or lawyer. But he has to have a brain, and he has to use it.

Honesty – Lying will get you no where in my world. I do not deal with deceivers. I understand that we don’t always have all the facts. I understand we change our minds and that our feelings can change, too. But outright, bold faced, intentional lying is a deal breaker.

Compassion – He must care about other people.

Passion – Being excited about something in life. Having things he cares about deeply. Living life, not just surviving.

Respect – Respect for me and for other people.

Love – It does not make sense to spend my time and energy on someone who does not love me.

My 30 Days of Kink

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