puzzlepieces

Musings about life and my journey

My Lameness at Blogging

I’ve really sucked about writing here lately.  Mostly, it’s because I don’t have any drama.  I’m not confused about anything, I’m not angry about anything, I’m in no need of any major processing, so I haven’t been driven to write.

Occasionally, I spout some nonsense on Fetlife.  If you’re a member, you can read it here: https://fetlife.com/users/461014/posts .

 

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From the Other Side

It has made me sad lately to see the frustration of some people I have come to see as friends as they try to implement power exchange into their relationships.  These are couples who have been together a long time and one or the other has decided that they need this sort of dynamic in some way.  For the most part, I see that their partners are willing to go along for the ride, but these couples are finding themselves deep in something that a) is unfamiliar territory, i.e. their experience/understanding of BDSM is based on erotic novels and films and b)goes against everything their relationship was originally based on.

Coming from the other direction – in which my relationship is quite new and with its foundations in M/s, I have no advice or words to offer them.  I don’t know how to integrate this dynamic into an existing relationship.  I do know that sometimes I read their posts and am envious of the history they have with each other.  I wish that Master and I had found each other earlier and had all of these memories and stories and even children together.

Alas, that’s now how it worked out.  But here I am, and I’m happier and more content, more comfortable, more sure of myself and my relationship than I have ever been. 

Master suggested that it may be that, although others cannot/did not/have not seen it, I needed this deeply.  Few, if any, understand the depth with which I needed this.  Even I didn’t know how deeply I needed it, or how deep I needed to go into it.  I am in deep.  I’m a fucking slave!  I’ve turned over the final word in ALL decisions to someone else.  ALL decisions.  I cannot orgasm without his permission.  I have a hard time allowing myself to go to the bathroom when he is not around to grant permission.  I do not make a purchase without his permission.  I do nothing that does not have his explicit or tacit consent (tacit, as in we have talked explicitly about how much decision making power I have in certain circumstances).

I’ve found it so easy that it is befuddling.

It’s because  I *did* need this.  I needed this dynamic to complete me.  Also, I have always, in retrospect, been a slave without a master.  My kids grew up thinking that I was the boss in the house because I did everything.  They knew that I was the one to go to if they needed something to get done.  I was driven by a need to serve, but the lack of direction from the one I was serving (the ex) caused frustration and resentment.  Had he said, “Do this,” I would have, happily.  Instead, he said he was going to do things, and then didn’t follow through, forcing me to pick up the pieces. 

As my relationship with Master goes on, I’m sure we’ll bicker on occasion.  However, unlike my married friends who are working to implement a power exchange into their existing relationship and find themselves fighting about it, the arguments that Master and I have will be about vanilla things, I’m sure.  Even those occasions, though, will be few because he IS in charge.  He HAS the final word.  Not just in the bedroom but in everything.  I knew that going into this.  I have no right to argue with his decision, given that that is what I signed up for, what I need.  The fact that we VERY openly and honestly and FULLY discussed and agreed upon the basic format of the relationship beforehand is what makes it so easy.

This is how couples existed throughout history – until very recently, in fact.  Some have made “1950s Household” a kink, when for every generation before mine, this was just how life was. 

It does not make me a second class citizen.  It does not mean that I have no power in the relationship, or that I have no say. He wants to know what will make me happy, what I want, what I need.  My role in this relationship is crucial.  He provides the structure, the framework; it’s my job to give it shape and detail.  I cannot be content with who I am without him, nor can he be content with who he is without me.

I want to be able to give advice to my friends because I know how beautiful and satisfying a relationship based on power exchange can be, but I can’t.  I can only remind them of the importance of communication, of clear purpose, of shared ideals.  I can only show them that giving up control – really giving up control – does not mean giving up oneself or minimalizing one’s importance. I can demonstrate that there is no *right* way, only the way that works for them.  And, I can express my own envy for what they have – their history, their memories, their stories,– for while they wait and work toward what I have, I wait and work toward what they have.

And both have an important place in a loving and successful relationship.

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Quiet

I’ve been quiet here lately, I know.  Come to think of it, I’ve been pretty quiet everywhere:  here, Fet, Lit, and even in the “real world.” I just haven’t had anything to say. Rather, I haven’t felt like I needed to process aloud what I was thinking, nor have I felt like I needed to proclaim from the rooftops what I’ve been going through.  I haven’t even really felt the need to snark.

I’ve wrapped my head around my life.  I know my place – all my places:  in my relationship, my family, my job, my friendships.  More than ever before, I know who I am, and I’m good with it.

So I’m quiet.

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Finite Events and My New Normal

One of the great things about my vocation is that there is always an end in sight.  When I start to get sick of a group of kids?  I can tell myself that the semester is only 18 weeks long and that it will be over soon.  Then there’s the summer, when, theoretically, I can spend two months decompressing from ALL of the kids I am sick of. *laugh*

I like to break my world up into finite events – time periods that I know I can manage.  Sometimes I live by the old AA adage of “One day at a time.”  Sometimes I can only manage, “Just one more 90 minute class, then I can go home and reset.”  Sometimes, though, I have to keep the time frame in the back of my mind, but don’t actively count how much time is left because counting down just frustrates me and causes me to poop out at the finish line.  During the brief, partial season I ran track during my freshman year in high school (what was I THINKING?  I only run when someone’s chasing me with a knife!) my coach told me not to focus on the finish line, but to run THROUGH it.  That’s what I need to do sometimes – let myself be surprised when the end happens.  But I know that there IS an end, and therefore, I know I can reach it.

For four long – LOOOOOOONG – years, I have not been allowed to drive.  There were times where I counted the number of months left.  A few times, I was teased with the belief that I might have my license reinstated and I counted down and made tentative plans about when that happened.  It didn’t, which caused extreme frustration and some minor depression.  It’s funny, though, what we get used to, and how easily we do.  Now I’m looking at getting that license back for sure in… *counts*  just over a month, and I admit I feel a little… anxious about it.  It’s going to throw everything that I’m used to totally out of whack.  I will miss my rides to work with my colleague and neighbor – and I will miss the interesting friendship we have developed through this.  I suspect that I will find that I rarely HAVE to drive, since I’ve gotten so used to planning ahead and taking care of any errands very efficiently.  Even now, since Master lives nearby and is able and willing to chauffeur me around, we don’t often need to make excess stops for my needs.  If we do make such a stop, it’s because we CAN, not because we HAVE to.  I’ve learned to shop online or do without, in a lot of cases – or to stop at the bank when someone I’m with happens to be going that way.  I’ve just grown accustomed to it.  It’s normal for me.

With Master living close by, we’ve established a pattern in our lives. For the first week or so that he lived in town, he spent weekend afternoon and evenings at my place, and we spent the weekend at his.   I guess I assumed that that would be the pattern.  But, now he picks me up from work each day and drops me off at my apartment.  Then he goes home.  At first, this was hard:  I wanted to spend ALL of my time off of work with him.  It is what it is, though, and I’m getting to be okay with it.  It allows me to take care of the duties I have that are *not* to him – but to my family and my home.  It allows me to show myself that I *can* follow his directions and meet his expectations of “taking care of my shit” without him hovering over me all the time.

A work-week, though, is another of those finite events, and this pattern allows me to see that light at the end of the tunnel – gives me something to look forward to, because my weekends are entirely devoted to him.

I’ve settled into this pattern rather comfortably – it’s what my friend called my “new normal.” (copyright: whatnot)

Of course, the problem with these distinct periods of time is that they come to and end.  Like my driving issue, when they end, I need to get used to an entirely new plan – a NEW new normal.

With just over 6 weeks left to go in this school year, just as I get really relaxed in THIS normal, it’s going to change.  But, given that it will allow me more time and energy to spend with Master?  I think I’ll be able to adjust. *smile*

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Translating the Magic Words

Lately I’ve come across a lot of discussions about words that seem to have some magical meaning in BDSM.  Many of them are not in the vocabulary of my relationship, and some that are in mine are not in the vocabulary of others. 

As a natural moderator/mediator, I’ve started doing a little translating in my head so that I can participate in these discussions or at least take something away from them.  By translating, I mean understanding what a particular word means in general and then finding an equivalent concept in my own relationship and life.  For example:

Safeword:  Broadly, this is a word that is called by a “bottom” to indicate that the activity needs to stop.  In theory, it’s supposed to be a word that will a) be easily remembered and retrieved when one is *not* exactly in one’s right mind, and b) not a word that one would normally say in the course of a session, i.e. one that is very obviously and specifically a safeword.  “Stop,” and “no” make lousy safewords because often they are used during sexual/sensual activities but really aren’t meant.  “Don’t, stop” and “Don’t stop” are difficult to distinguish when one is not verbally punctuating clearly.  *laugh*  Many folks use a stop light system – green (all is good), yellow (slow down/pause and let me catch my breath), and red (something’s wrong/this needs to stop NOW).

Lately, this concept has caused a bit of a buzz in the online discussion world.  People just aren’t doing safewords RIGHT! Me, included, because supposedly, as a slave, I’m not supposed to have one. Others have gotten rid of theirs in the course of a long term, primary relationship, and this has sent people up in arms.  It’s the ONLY thing that keeps a bottom SAFE.

Let me make a couple of points about this “magic word.”

1)  If a top wants to really hurt you, no magic word is going to stop them.

2)  What the safeword is is entirely up to the bottom/top.  Maybe they did choose “Stop” or “cramp” or “enough.”  Perhaps (as in the case of long-term, primary relationships) that safeword can be communicated nonverbally.

3) When the safewords are to be used does not have an absolute rule – except the one agreed upon by those participating. Some believe it can be used when one “does not want to” do something.  Others feel it’s only to be used when harm is imminent.

I have safewords that I’ve only used during one situation – one in which Master clearly stated he wanted me to use them.  That was a situation in which he was assessing – finding how hard I could be pushed regarding pain.  I don’t anticipate needing them again – unless some unforeseen trigger gets tweaked or something goes wrong.  He reads my body as well as I do, he knows my responses, where my tolerance is, my breathing, what my screams mean.  I would not freak out or feel unsafe if he “revoked” my safewords – there would still be the communication that we have at all times. 

In short, just because someone does *not* have a BDSM approved safeword does not mean that they do not have an established way of communicating that a scene needs to halt.

Under-consideration:  This, as a magic, BDSM word, refers to the stage when two people are learning about each other.  In the “vanilla” world, it’s called “dating.”  However, as Master just so eloquently put it, standing akimbo in the kitchen with a mock serious, furrowed brow look, “’Dating’ is mundane.  Masters don’t date.” (For those who don’t know Master, he’s a sarcastic man and he was KIDDING.)  Often, this “under-consideration” phase is a formalized thing (with it’s own collar, in some cases) that indicates that a D-type is “considering” whether or not the s-type is worthy of his Domliness.  Others think of this as a stage when the two are “considering” each other.  Others swear they didn’t bother with this stage at all.

Master and I fall closest to this last category in that we never declared that we were “considering” anything.  From the moment he first sent me a message we both started considering whether we could/would/wanted to be together.  And every moment since then, we’ve continued that. Just because he placed a collar around my neck did *not* end that “consideration” stage.  I know very well that I could at any time “consider” this relationship to be unsatisfactory and walk out, and that he could do the same.

In the “vanilla” world, this magical concept of “release” is called “breaking up.”

Negotiation:  In general kink terms, it’s a dialog between the D-type/top and s-type/bottom.  When it comes to playing casually, it would be setting the limits for a scene – an agreement by both about what is going to happen.  If it wasn’t negotiated beforehand, it should *not* happen in a scene.  A little more broadly, negotiation refers to those discussion between a D-type and an s-type before they “officially” decide to become a pair.  That discussion, again, would be a conversation (or series of) in which limits are established, but in this case, on a relationship level rather than an individual scene level.  It’s the process of establishing expectations for both parties.

Master and I didn’t do much formal negotiation.  We just had conversations.  He said, “This is who I am, this is what I am, this is what I’d expect you to try if we are going to be together.”  I replied, “Okay.”  Now, honestly, this has *nothing* to do with the fact that I am a slave and *supposedly* have no right to bargain – it was really simply because what he offered was exactly what I wanted and needed.

Also, negotiation never stops.  We just call it “communicating.”

 

These are just a few of the magic words that have popped up in discussion lately that have caused controversy.  The way I look at it, it’s not the concepts that folks are disagreeing about, it’s the vocabulary.  Somehow, many in the kink world feel that there is a need for special, fancy code words for ideas that are universal, and that if people don’t use those words the same way they do, then they’re WRONG.  Me?  I try to soak up all the information and viewpoints and figure out what it means to ME and MINE.  It helps me be rational and civil in responding in these discussions when I can make the concept relevant to me, rather than rejecting it because it’s not.

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Speaking Without Words

Going back to my “Love Languages,” I show my love through action/service as well as through words of affirmation.  I tend to expect to be shown love through those same words, and sometimes it’s a bit frustrating when I don’t hear them all the time. (Yes, Master, this is something I’ve been rolling around in my head for a few days and I planned to discuss, until my mental meanderings led me to a whole different answer).

Master tells me he loves me.  I *love* hearing that.  He calls me sweet names like, “baby,” “babygirl,” and “my love.”  I *love* that, too.  He will occasionally post something on FetLife about how much he cares for me.  But he’s not an overly verbally affectionate man, which has thrown me just a little.  I admit, I’m used to having men tell me I’m beautiful and sexy.  I’m used to having them rave about my intelligence, openly admire my sense of humor.  Master isn’t one of those men,  and I was going to talk to him about it, to communicate my need to feel affirmed through words.

But I just realized that I don’t necessarily need those words.  He shows me, instead.

When he holds my hair away from my face, looks at me and smiles;  when he gently runs his hand over my hip when I curl up next to him; when he does those things, he’s saying, “You’re so beautiful.” 

When his body reacts to my touch, he clearly says, “You’re sexy.” 

He shares his opinions with me and we have discussions.  In short, he’s telling me, “You’re smart and I respect your ideas.”

He laughs, telling me, “I love your sense of humor.”

His arms around me, his kisses, the fact that he’s here – having quit his job and sold his house to be with me just screams, “I love you.”

All those things I think I need to hear?  He’s saying them.  I just need to listen.

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Expectations

I spent an awful lot of my life underestimating myself and, as a result, not exceeding my own expectations.
–Jane Pauley 

This totally resonates with me.  For way too long, although I paid lip service to my greatness, I underestimated my own abilities and my own great qualities, and so I never achieved, let alone exceeded, what I expected of myself.

While searching for a quote about having high expectations and meeting them to put into this piece, I found a whole bunch about how we *shouldn’t* have expectations of others.  I think that’s silly.  I would stagnate if I and Master did not have high expectations for me.  My children’s and students’ lives would go nowhere if I did not have high expectations for them.

I have a student who has very little expected of him because of a pretty severe physical disability.  He has a lot of physical needs that we don’t have to address with most of our students, and previously, people have just found it easier to do things for him, rather that watch him struggle to do them himself.  My colleagues and I are BIG on pushing our kids to be independent and self-sufficient, and so we have pushed this particular young man to do a lot of things he’s never had to do at school.  We don’t make a big deal about it, we just provide him with the tools and tell him to do it.  And each time, he smirks at us, seemingly saying, “It’s about time someone let me do this myself,” and he does it.  Well.  None of realized how capable this young man is until we gave him some freedom and set some expectations for him.  Not only has he met those expectations, he’s far surpassed them – to the point that we are now discussing raising the bar significantly higher for him.  When I discussed this with him today, he glowed.  I have not seen him so animated or motivated all year, and it struck me full force that this kid WANTED someone to set some expectations for him, he WANTED us to push him.  And I could absolutely relate to him.

Master knew from day one that that is what I needed from him in this relationship.  We talk in the world of BDSM about “pushing limits” and “expanding boundaries” and many assume this refers to sexual activities.  Sure, that’s part of it, but when one enters into a relationship like mine, there’s so much more to it.  What I needed in my surrender was to trust him – more than I trust myself – to push ME.  To set expectations for my behavior that would enable me to see my full capability and to be the best person I could be.

Expectations must be handled carefully, though.  If you expect too much, you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated.  If you set the bar low, you’ll achieve what you set out to, but … so what?  As the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is credited with saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit the mark every time.”  But there’s no growth in that.

I want to grow.  I want to grow in myself, in my understanding of myself, in my abilities.  I want to grow in my relationship.  I want to watch my children and my students grow.  So, I revel in the expectations that Master has for me, and I set high expectations for the young people I am raising and work with.

The key is in being realistic.  I read lists of rules and expectations that some set down for their slaves and submissives and I cringe.  I couldn’t memorize a list of 50 rules, let alone follow them.  Master has made ONE rule for me (which is “Don’t bother Master with the trivial shit,”) and we’ve talked at great length about his expectations – which are also few, therefore attainable and can be easily expanded upon when meeting them becomes routine.  I am EXPECTED to take care of my work and do my job to the best of my ability.  I am EXPECTED to make sure that my son is always well cared for.  I am EXPECTED to wait for him to open doors for me.  I am EXPECTED to serve him before I serve myself.  I am EXPECTED to be polite and respectful to others.  I am EXPECTED to care for myself.  I am EXPECTED to ALWAYS communicate my needs and concerns to him.  I am EXPECTED to keep myself and my surroundings looking presentable.

These seem like simple expectations, and really, they are.  However, on my own, I often let one or more of those things slide – I underestimated myself, and thus, did not exceed my expectations.  Having Master clearly lay out the things he expects of me, and having internalized those things now, has allowed me to blossom.  I know I have – I see it, others see it.

I’m ready to take on more, I think, and I look forward to the day when my expectations for the young man I work with lead to his blooming and he tells me that he, too, is ready for more.

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BDSM 101

I read and participate in a lot of discussions on Fetlife.

And now my head hurts.

Listen up, folks, I’m going to give a lesson in BDSM 101.  Pay close attention; there will be a quiz afterwards, and if you don’t pass, you aren’t allowed in the elite club.

Rule #1

Do whatever the fuck works for you and your partner(s).  Call it whatever you want.  But for God’s sake, talk to each other and make sure you actually COMMUNICATE and agree on whatever the hell it is.

Rule #2 – #100

See rule #1.  Add “Don’t ever tell me how to do MY BDSM thing.”

I am so tired of questions about “How am I supposed to…” because every damn one of those questions can (and is) answered by 50 folks living real life power exchange relationships saying, “Talk to him.  Figure out what works for the two of you.”  THAT’S how you’re *supposed* to do it.  Not by my rules.  Not by the rules of the “Old Guard” (whatever the hell that is).  Not by ANYONE else’s rules.  I may not agree with your definition of “submission” or “Master” or “obedience.”  But guess what?  I’m also not living in your house and sleeping with your SO.  It’s YOUR relationship.  Not mine.

I have flown under the radar enough that I have not been attacked for way Master and I conduct our M/s relationship, but I have a friend who received hate mail telling her that she should just kill herself because she was a rotten slave.  The relationship she has with her husband/Master is one that I aspire to emulate.  He adores her – respects her, likes her, loves her to a degree that warms the cockles of my heart – he listens to her and trusts her judgment.  He writes frequently about how brilliant and capable she is and how lost he is when she is away.  She runs his household with such competence and ease that when she must leave for a few days to tend to a friend, he falls apart a little.  Why, then, do people say she’s a rotten slave?  Because she thinks for herself, because she has a wicked sense of humor, and because she is known and cherished enough by her Master that she can tease him and tell him that no one likes him or listens to him when she’s embarrassed by the sweet and loving things he writes about her.  Basically, because she and her Master have a relationship:  a loving, trusting, caring RELATIONSHIP.  She can  be bratty and mouthy and act like a spoiled child on occasion, but she runs his home far more efficiently than any CEO could, and when he says, “Log off and go to bed…” there’s no hint of an argument.  He’s the boss.  No questions.

My Master makes coffee in the morning.  My Master cooks me dinner sometimes.  My Master listens to me and often takes my suggestions.  I have a safeword.  But, y’know what?  Master is boss.  When he gives a directive, it’s done.  The way he expects things to be done?  That’s how they’re done.  My body is his – I can’t (not MAY not, but CANNOT) orgasm without his command, I am uncomfortable about going to the bathroom when he’s not around for me to ask permission.  There is no question in my mind that he is Master and I am his slave – nor in his – and frankly, FUCK anyone who says otherwise.

So, now… about that quiz…

Oh, and by the way — there IS no elite club.  Enjoy your life, your love, your kink.

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Take Care of Me

I’ve often pondered the phrase, “take care of…”  We use it all the time:  my friend, years ago, who laughed at the thought of any man who tried to “take care of” me; me, when I tell Master that he “takes such good care of me.”  But what does that mean?  I’m not a dependent child who needs to be provided for.  I don’t need to be financially supported.  I don’t need to be constantly directed – micromanaged.

 

So what does it mean to “take care of” me?

  • Listen to me.  Often, when I get off of work, I just need to vent.  I’m passionate and excited about what I do, though it’s sometimes frustrating, and after work I need a chance to debrief.  I don’t care if you simply smile and nod, as long as you seem like you’re paying attention. When I have real concerns, though, really LISTEN to me.  I’m generally not irrational – I usually have some logic behind my issues – and when something is bothering me, I really need to be heard.  Sometimes you’ll be able to allay my fears with logic and rational evidence, sometimes not.  I just need you to hear.
  • Help me.  Logistically, I know I’m a burden.  Thank you for playing chauffeur.  You’re being there in that role helps me so much to tackle the tasks I need to in order to get to where I need to be in my life.
  • Love me.  And let me know that you do.  Which you do.  Those sweet, brief text exchanges set me up every day to have a wonderful day.
  • Push me.  Make me strive every day to be and do my best.  Encourage me to try to be more than I was yesterday.  You know that I keep my mind open to possibilities and that I’m not afraid of change (well, not much).
  • Cheer for me.  Share in my celebration of myself and who I am becoming.  Tell me you’re proud of me.
  • Teach me.  I’m pretty smart, but there’s so much I still don’t know.  I want to learn, I want to know.  Share your wisdom and your experience.
  • Let me do my thing.  Trust me.  You know I can do just about anything I set my mind to.  You know I’m smart and able.  Arbitrary rules and guidelines will just hinder my ability to be successful – will clip my wings, so to speak.  Let me fly and I’ll make you proud every time.

These are the ways Master “takes care of” me.  Maybe it’s not the type of care others need, but what he does works for me, and because of it, I’m becoming more amazing every day.

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Okay, I Can Do This

Ever since my little meltdown a few days ago when I was away from Master, I’ve worried about the moments I would spend apart from him.  Writing about it yesterday helped a little because it forced me to look at why I freaked out and how I could avoid it in the future.

Master brought me home yesterday evening and went back home.  Before he left, he said, “I’ll see you when I pick you up from work tomorrow.”  THAT little comment eased a lot of anxiety:  I *knew* when I would see him again.  The separation was finite and defined.

I knew that when I was away from Master, I was going to have to keep myself busy.  So I spent some time yesterday evening making a list of things I *could* do to keep my hands and mind busy.  When Master and I were doing our LDR thing, I had gotten away from some of my hobbies; I put those things on my list of things I could do.  I also listed little nooks and crannies in my apartment that I know could use a good sorting and cleaning.  I also wrote down a couple of other projects I could take on if I start feeling at loose ends.  Looking at this list, I have *no* option to ever say, “I’m bored.”  There’s a LOT of things I could do – and not all are tedious tasks.

I told Master about this list, and he added one important thing that I need to do if I start feeling antsy:  “Contact Master.”  It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I don’t have to manage everything on my own – not even myself.

So, today, Master picked me up from work and dropped me off at my apartment, he left me with a kiss and an “I love you,” and he trusted that I am going to be okay.

And I am.  I’m keeping occupied, keeping calm, and enjoying myself and my talents.

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