Sometimes I don’t realize what I’m missing until I have it. Experiencing The Composer‘s pride & delights in my achievements brought to the fore of my thoughts today the fact that my previous dominants seemed very much to focus on making certain my achievements were put into “proper perspective.” Underscoring that I was no better than the other people in their lives, to make sure that I was reduced enough as to not be perceived as a threat to these other women. After a lifetime of being told I was gifted, talented, special, of working against some pretty skewed odds as a Black girl in the USA, the idea of being reminded that I was “not any better than anyone else” hit me at a root level I’m still unraveling and excavating. I am sure I will unearth more layers as I explore this old ache.
As someone who is submissive, not only in terms of power-exchange relationships but also quite sexually submissive, I field a lot of questions about what that means.
“So, do you just, like, lie there?”
“You don’t care what happens to you in bed?”
“Will you just do whatever they tell you?”
“I assume you have to be spineless to be a sub.”
“Awesome. I command you to suck my dick.”
Well. No, No, Maybe, hell no, and after you suck mine.
He leaned in close, his voice like raw silk, his breath in my ear, my breath catching in my throat as he whispered “You’ve been teasing me all night, haven’t you?”This man, a stranger who hadn’t taken strange liberties up until that point, held me transfixed with his voice alone, so intimate, so close only I could hear, even in the midst of a bar full of people. That whisper, inaudible as it was to the outside world, awakened a world inside myself of which I’d only seen scant, fleeting glimpses.Even within ourselves, we have voices that whisper. Desires subsumed, emotions over-analyzed, harsh judgments passed. I am not alone in having recesses in my heart and soul that whisper to me. Sometimes seductively, the whisper of a dark thought pulls you in. I am not alone in feeling conflict even as the temptation lures, fear is a choke-collar that catches you up short. If you are human, you have felt this pull.But what do you do about it? Do you shut out those desires and carry on, pressured by what is “normal” and “right” into giving up pieces of who you really are? And what is the price to be paid for that compliance?
I know quite a bit about appetites. I have some that surprise me in their violence, and others that embarrass me in their gluttonousness. My appetite for oblivion slid me about as far as someone can go before the tipping point into lethal alcoholism. And my sexual appetites are ones I control for fear of making some Very Poor Choices. Strangely enough, when I’ve had my Joyous Slut Phases in the past, they were NOT associated with the heavier drinking phases. I preferred to be alert enough to take care of business should things go south. Stinging irony that the sexual assault I experienced at the hands of an abusive, selfish fuckhead was several years into my sobriety. So it goes.
I know about myself that I have a great deal of power, force and energy that is well and truly buried. Mostly because I have had this fear, since childhood, that releasing those could be dangerous. To myself, to those around me. Once I decided to explore BDSM, I was determined to be logical in my approach. I didn’t want my appetites to lead me down a garden path the end of which I could not see, and find myself burned up or burned out on the other end. And I didn’t want to accidentally set loose all of the energy and power at my disposal if it couldn’t be properly contained and directed. And I was concerned that I might feed the hunger only to find it hungrier, and stranded without further foods.
I’m not often asked to play. I don’t wanna dive into the reasons for that, because I have a Demon who loves to chew idly on the deepest recesses of my guts by idly speculating it is because I’m a fat dowdy blowhard that no one really wants, anyway.
Most of the time I don’t believe her.
SO! When someone DOES invite me to trip the kink fantastic, and I feel a good sort of connection to them, and I haven’t heard any Bad Shit about their skills, and none of my Rumbly Inside Voices are suddenly on alert, even for “No Apparent Reason,” I’ll say yes. A little bit ago, I was hanging out in one of the informal lounge areas at Kinko De Mayo, a really fun event in Ohio. I was unwinding from having presented a class, and was shooting the shit with another presenter. I’d met Cannon a few times in the past, and in the past few years he was cropping up as someone with a passion to learn and teach about rope. In the course of our conversation one of his partners, Tifereth joined us. They both mentioned that the other person in their family, Fen, sent her salutations and was bummed she wasn’t able to make the event. We talked about the rigors of presenting, news and notes from around the scene, some juicy gossip, and we even told on ourselves, when it came to hard-won lessons and “Fucking Opportunities for Growth” that, despite occasionally inducing winces, ultimately mold us into who we are. I was privately impressed at the degree of humility Cannon displayed in sharing about some of his own “Growth Ops,” as he did so with a candor and self-effacing humor that, frankly? I don’t observe in many dominant type people. It was refreshing to see that, and to hear of the credit he paid his partners in facilitating his growth as a dominant.
As the conversation hopped and sprinted and meandered, eventually, as it should, to rope, I mentioned how I’d had a rather disappointing moment during a negotiation to play. Due to a rotator cuff issue, I am not able to assume the Tried-And-True “takate-kote” position favored by…well….Almost. Every. Rigger. Who does Japanese-style rope bondage when creating a base for a rope scene. When I mentioned I can’t maintain it safely/comfortably for more than a few minutes, that Rigger said “Oh, well we can’t do rope then. That’s the basis for my ties.” and decided we’d not incorporate rope into the scene. Mind you, I have been rigged hundreds of times without that particular tie, but the fact that this rigger dismissed me as a potential rope bottom because of my limitation broke my heart a little.
Cannon lit up. “I’ve been working on a tie…” he began, with that look I do so love to see in a fellow pervert. That mix of pure deviousness and childlike glee. “…a tie that specifically avoids that position. I would love to share that with you, if you’d be interested in doing a scene with me.”
On a bad day, it is achingly evocative, stunningly accurate, and capable of processing, it seems, every moment in my life in one breathtaking, eviscerating Technicolor swoop at the most inopportune moments.
And the trains-of-thought it pulls…well. Seemingly random and yet cripplingly logical, I can go from listening to a favorite song to having the rise and fall of an old school R&B jam shove me through a pane of crystalline recall to sitting in the schoolyard in High School, sneaking a Camel Light and pounding a Jolt Cola to being yanked forward 25 years and breathing ache, dizzy with sadness over the loss of a relationship to roiling back before the previous memory, even, wondering whatever happened to Spencer, the boy I had a terrible crush on who thought I was funny and great to hang out with but really only had eyes for my friend Alice to a brutal whiplash of recalling the last time I felt at peace sitting at the feet of someone whose whim was my will and who I desired only to serve.
And then the song is over and I’m left with the emotional loose-leggedness experienced when stepping from a moving walkway back onto ground that behaves itself without mild deceleration trauma at the dénouement.
And then? On a good day? I’ll do it again. Listen to that song, read that old blog post, pull apart stories of my own life and experience so that I can offer them as “Talking Points” and “teaching moments” when I teach or lecture on kink.
Some people think it is “brave” to share so much detail about myself, my life, my journey. Others push me away with ear-clasping eye-covering, mouth slapping three-monkey style shrieks of “TMI!!!” when I reveal the darker, sticker, messier stuff. Some people see me so bent by the prism of their own perception that the life they see me leading has several degrees of separation from the life I see myself leading.
And so it goes.
The turning toward spring cannot come fast enough for me. This winter was dark; not only in the wild imbalance between the nocturnal stretches and the brevity of daylight, but also in terms of emotional overcast. But the days are incrementally, slowly, lengthening back into warmth and light, and I am slowly thawing out as well.
Weeks of dismay, and pain, and frustration in the wake of some surprising, disappointing truths about the Leather community are finally coalescing into resolve. No small thanks to the friends who pulled together and the strangers who stepped up to the plate. As I get my bearings in the wake of feeling my foundations shift a bit, I realize that I have, slowly, quietly, gathered around me amazing people. That I have, somehow, stayed sober for almost six years. That I am, regardless of my scatterbrained recklessness, managing to make a life where I am doing what I want to do, and on my terms.
Some anonymous person asked me the following on Formspring…and I felt more like talking to them rather than writing about it.
Admitting my submissive side is one of the hardest things that’s happened to me. I don’t know what to think or do with myself anymore. I wonder if it’s a result of past sexual abuse I thought I had sorted out. think I’m depressed . Do you have any advice?
I hope it helps…hang in there.
You are Beautiful as you are.
“The Taming of the Shrew” is a problematic show. The main plotline revolving, as it does, around a woman being forced into an arranged marriage to an apparent loony who then proceeds to beat and starve her into submission. Literally.
There is another plotline but that shit is boring and I don’t give a motherfuck about Bianca. Fuck that ho.
I’ve seen “Shrew” done many times. Most memorably while I was working at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and we produced it for the Delacorte summer season. Morgan Freeman and Tracy Ullman played the raucous couple. I was interested to learn that the show was controversial even back in the day, and of course Katerina’s final speech is still debated. Was she truly broken? Sarcastic? Complicit with Pertruchio in order to secure the loot on offer from the “gentleman’s” bet about which wife would be most obedient when the assembled husbands demand their obedience?
This is all debatable. But dammit. I really wanna star in that play!
As often happens my brain revs up to impossible speeds just as I’m going to sleep. I am certain that this is because “normal working hours” are at odds with the hours in which I work best. I am NOT. Bloody. Diurnal. If the average person has an 8-hour window within which they can best rock the mike, mine is sure as fuck not 9-5. I’m at the height of focus at the 6PM-2AM shift. I loved working graveyard, back in the day.
Every day I fight against the way I have been my entire life to squeeze into a system that isn’t working and never did. My Mom has stories of literally walking me though morning as a kid, and yet finding me under the blankets with a book and a flashlight in the middle of the night.
Last few nights I have been flipping back and forth between thoughts about a solo show that is hammering on my brain…a story that I have to tell and it is becoming more important.
OK, fair enough.
The other day I was told “No, you’ll do it this way.” In my professional life.
And, Ganesha help me, I loved it.
Sure, at first, not so much. But within a few minutes I was strangely pleased. Smoothed out. Dare I say, perky, even.
I had a customer issue I needed to address, and it had been shuttled around for a bit. A number of people had their fingerprints on the e-trail for this problem, but I had to actually respond to the customer. This is something I do well, and I have in fact been given recognition, prizes, plaques and awards for this shit. I fucking RULE at customer service.
Yeah, shocking, I know.
So this fairly standard issue, addressing a customer complaint, was a piece of cake. I dusted off my high-falutin’ CorporateFuckYouHaveALovelyDay approach, dashed out an e-mail, and forwarded to one of the Powers That Be for approval.
And they said “No, I don’t want it this way.”
I sat, a bit frustrated because I am rather proud of my writing ability and my 20+ years working in Customer Service of one kind or another.
Then I realized that I wasn’t angry or even really that frustrated. That what I wanted was to receive the back-patting I felt I deserved for my not-inconsiderable skills.
After some lighthearted banter, I (only partially joking) pulled the “Well if you can do better, bring it! Let’s see whatcha got!” gambit. And then I waited for the re-write.
The new draft of the response to the customer had little to do with my initial response, which was not designed to leave much room for the complainant to continue their diatribe. It was far more personable, friendly, all that shit.
I made one or two tiny adjustments to make it sound at least a BIT like something I MIGHT say, and sent it off.
What the hell does this have to do with kink?
OK, I’m getting to that. STFU. Furthermore, as I work on kink-oriented websites (to get meta on that ass) anything work related IS, technically, kink related.
But that’s not my point.
My point is this: I have shifted my perspective a whole lot in the past 2+ years of sobriety. Things I never noticed before are thrown into sharp razor-slicing relief, and loom large as blue whales. And things that used to be crushing blows to my ego roll off of my back like so much dew on the head of a cygnet. But I only take criticism with calm, unruffled grace in a HANDFUL of situations.
- From a director I respect, while working in theater.
- From a dominant I respect while working in submission
- From a friend I respect when I KNOW they know me well and intimately.
In most other situations, criticism usually had to filter though defensive mechanisms more Byzantine than I am even capable of describing to you now.
So when I realized I’d accepted a criticism in a NEW way, and not had the hackles raised, and in fact feel calmed and pleased that I was able to see the value in the criticism without it having to diminish my self-worth, that is kind of amazing.
To further wonkify it, it felt…submissive. Yah OK so, what’s new? Work IS submission, right? Submission to the clock, to the almighty dolla bill, y’all, dolla bill y’all. But I had an additional little extra frisson in that I actually kind of enjoyed it. It felt good, to me, to be able to take that adjustment in stride, to remain on task. It mirrored other branches of submission.
I let go and managed, somehow in the relinquishing of my ego, just for a little bit there, to see that what I wanted, and my own pride in purpose, was perforce secondary to the larger vision, which wasn’t necessarily mine at the time. That type of release is something I am not often aware that I do when in a submissive mindset, because that IS one of the pillars of my submission. But for me, submitting is dissolving into a larger spiritual lattice. I am losing my focus on submitting to a person, in total and finding that I submit to my life itself. To what I do, and to what I do not do. To people who are in and around and throughout my life.
But not in a way that permits them to abuse me, not by a longshot. In fact, when I take stock, I feel more honored and loved and respected than I have in a long time.
But there is something to submitting to one’s own life.
I hear so many people talking, myself included, about “managing their lives.”
Increasingly this sounds like so much bullshit.
You can’t manage it. You can only ride it. Submit to it.
And in doing so, with the fight between me and destiny and pain slowly grinding to a standstill, the quiet is filled with some really strange and beautiful music.
I’m sure I won’t hit mental subspace each and every time I am smacked down for a decision that is at odds with the position of someone in authority over me, and that is OK.
Because even the occasional emotional smackdown is sufficient to help me to “get it.”
…and frankly, it doesn’t hurt to get the “correction” from someone wearing Engineer style motorcycle boots.