Service and Ritual

August 29th, 2013

I attended a class last night on service and ritual and, as good classes do, it got me thinking. I carelessly commented, after, that ‘we have no rituals.’ He quickly corrected me, handing me his bottle as he did, which I instantly balanced on my palm. I struggled to clarify my meaning, acknowledging that he was correct, but I was referring to ‘something we do every time I see him.’ We don’t really do protocol, mostly because I haven’t asked for any. There are things I always wear for him: my skirts/dresses and my rubberbands. But, we stay away from formality and protocol for the most part. The ritual of serving him a drink from the palm of my hand is the only thing I would call an exception.

The class focus, however, wasn’t necessarily about that, though. There was a bit about creating rituals, and there was a lot of the use of the word. Which is why it got stuck in my brain. But the parts that I took away from the class, were about service. A stage performer and instructor, the presenter talked a lot about mindfulness and awareness of your task. Being aware of your body, your eyes, your movements, your attitude, and your top. She talked about knowing your motivation, and goals, for every act of service.

I found these things speaking to me. I do serve him his drinks on an open palm, but unless it is hot, heavy, or very full, I usually pay little mind to the act. If I am not just serving it, but holding it between sips, I am find I am more attentive to the task, because it is not ‘here you go, and done.’ But that’s not an excuse, just an observation. It is a simple thing, but it is one that makes him happy. A little more attention and mindfulness could serve me well.

His boots. One of my favorite forms of service to him is taking care of his boots. I guess you could say that this is a ritual, though it has quite a bit of variance. Sometimes I share the task with another, sometimes they are on his feet, sometimes not, sometimes I have taken them to a meeting or to my own apartment. But, when he is wearing them, there is a bit of formality, in that I kneel or sit at his feet in a submissive posture while I complete the task. I am very mindful, in this situation, too. I want to not just clean his boots, but also make him feel good. The goals are two-fold when he wears them. When he is not, I lose the formality, but it is still an act of service where the goal is to please him, and take care of him. I feel like I do stay fairly mindful, whether he is present or not, this is one task that takes my full attention.

Other acts of service, things I do because he asks, or because they are needed. Domestic services, group organizational services, editing services. All these are places where I could bring more mindfulness of not just why I do them, but how I do them. The why is usually straightforward – because he asked, and because I want to please him, help him, and reduce his stress load. Keeping these things in mind could help when I’m feeling stressed out about doing something(usually the group organization). The how could be improved as well, by just being more aware of myself while I am completing the task.

All in all, a very interesting class, which has left me with many good things to think, and act on.

Share

Broken Not Fragile

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.

Share

Recreating a Ritual

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.

Share

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.



Share

Service

August 12th, 2010

He asked for an evening of service.

I began to plan. What types of things could I do for him? What would he enjoy? What would be most useful? He cautioned me to not get too specific, to have a general idea, and remember that things do not always go as planned. (Sometimes it feels like they do not Ever go as planned.)

This was easier, making general plans of service. I would be visiting at his, so I took each area of the house and came up with an offer of service, depending on where he wanted to be and what he wanted to do. Lawn work and gardening for outside. Organizing and cleaning for the basement. Dishes and cooking for the kitchen. Cup holder, foot stool, foot rubber and/or story teller for the living room. Oral pleasure for the bedroom.

Not having a structured plan, but simply offers made the evening go more smoothly than it might have otherwise. Work ran long, we got together late, and he spent some time reminding me that I cannot jump over the steps right in front of me to get to ones I think he wants instead. I did, however, get to serve him. I helped him a bit in the kitchen and I rubbed his feet in the living room. Most importantly, I got to spend time with him, but it got me thinking about service and what that means to me.

In the second post I ever made, Serving Him, I talked about him labeling me a service sub, my struggle with that label, and my acceptance of it through the joy of serving him. Last November, I wrote about Service Space – the warm fuzzy happy space I am in when I am serving and giving to others. In April, I wrote about including service in my Ritual to come out of object space.

What does service mean to me now? Why do I do it? How does it make me feel? Who do I serve? When do I serve? (Yes, I wanted to see if I could get all the question words in.)

One side of my service is serving in exchange for what I have been given. I was once thanked for taking care of him, and I simply responded, he takes care of me. I serve him because I am grateful for all that he does for me, and sometimes in gratitude for a specific thing/scene he has done for me. At work, I serve our customers in exchange for being paid. At the club, I am a Service Top in exchange for the chance to learn, teach, share and be part of the crew.

On the other side, serving makes me feel useful, gives me a purpose, a goal to achieve. I enjoy doing for others, and generally put a higher priority on that than on doing for myself. I was brought up to help others, to be a caretaker. The people in my life are very important to me, and if I can make things a little easier for them, or make them a little happier, by serving, then I feel fulfilled.

Share

Ritual

April 1st, 2010

Ritual: Any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

This week, I was asked to create a purging ritual that accepts the scene for what it was to myself as object and free myself as girlfriend from any feelings of guilt that might have been created in my object state. The purpose of creating this ritual is to create a space where I can be free to have drop and deal with my emotional reactions while I am still with him, so that when I go back to my other partners, I am whole and fully functional on the levels where I operate with them. It is vital that I am able to be wife and girlfriend to my partners and that I do not come back to them broken. That could damage those relationships and create animosity between my partners.

I looked at what other rituals I have, and came up specifically with my ritual around suspension scenes with him. Afterward, there is always a moment where I thank him, and we hug, making a mental and physical connection. Then, I always sit down with the rope and coil it up for him and put it away. I provide this service in exchange for the scene. This lead me to creating a ritual of Gratitude, Service and Connection.

Specifically, it plays out in my head thus: Thank you for taking care of me, how may I take care of you? He makes a request, from a simple glass of water, to a back rub, to helping him with another scene. This provides me a chance to give back to him for all that he has given me. As well as creates space for me to react to and process the scene we just had, and if there are emotions I need to deal with, if there is drop, then he is right there to help me through it. Ending with physical connection, a touch, a hug, a kiss. I often find that physical connection with my partner is the best way to recover from drop. A tangible expression of our love for each other. It is, after all, love that makes this possible. I would not and could not give up this much control to someone if there was not a loving and caring relationship as a foundation.

I have another ritual that I perform for him. Daily, I run through my Tai Chi forms, a short set of Yoga positions and then I kneel for half an hour. I use this time to relax, find peace and meditate. Sometimes there is something he has specifically asked me to think about, other times, I simply reflect on recent conversations or scenes. This is a ritual I do for him, to take care of my body to better serve him, and to practice a kneeling position for him. It gives me time during my day to think about him, a connection to him on days when I may not see him in person. This is a ritual that was created out of requests he made of me.

The purging ritual is different. He asked me to create it myself, after we discussed why it was necessary and what it needed to accomplish. He could not tell me what I needed to do to come fully out of object space, create opportunity to experience drop and then finish the transition to girlfriend space. I had to think about what my needs are, and how I react to things and what works for me. It is my responsibility to ask for what I need, to be healthy emotionally, mentally and physically. The ritual as created, meets the needs of acknowledgment, contribution and connection. It gives us time and space to deal with reactions to the scene and gives me a more smooth transition from one space to the other.

Share