“Oh, shit. It’s going to be one of those days,” I said to mimi this morning in the car on the way to work.
I saw his face in his side-view mirror. He was definitely looking at me. I quickly flashed back to what I’d been doing for the past several minutes at that stoplight. Nothing embarrassing. I took a quick glance up at my rearview. Yes. I looked good. I looked at him again. Handsome. Very handsome.
*We pull over two blocks later, and talk for several minutes before he asks me on a date. He’s tall, works in finance, and loves cats. I spend the rest of the day catching butterflies with my internal organs.*
Imagination is a beautiful thing.
They’d been skirting around it for well over a year. The sexual tension had been growing between them, but the timing (as timing often is) had just been off. When they met, he was just out of a relationship. Then when he was ready she was in one. Then when she was out of it his mother had taken ill. Then when that had passed it was something, then another thing.
Through it all, they’d remained close friends. He felt drawn to her as she did to him. She’d watch him at play and it would terrify and intrigue her.
She’d joke, “For someone who says he’s not a sadist, you sure do play the role well.”
He’d shrug. “That’s what they want.”
She knew that she wouldn’t be enough for him. She was too green, too inexperienced, too *tame* to satisfy his needs. And the carousel of women…he never seemed to really get attached to any of them. They’d come and go from his life like bees on flowers. Hovering around for a bit and moving on to the next one.
So when she felt her lips go numb as he watched him with someone else, or when he pulled his shirt off over his head at the beach, or when he simply smiled that smile, her logic brain would kick in and shut it down.
It would never work.
He watched her more intently when she wasn’t paying attention. Her face in profile was already so beautiful, but when he’d catch sight of her looking directly at him with…those eyes…he couldn’t stand it. He’d drown himself in other distractions and convinced himself it was better for everyone.
He’d just broken up with Greta when they’d met. It took him so long to get over that betrayal that he’d built a wall around his heart – a wall of charm and wit and strength and absolutely no trace of vulnerability.
Except when she looked at him. He couldn’t hide it then, and though she never acknowledged it out loud, he thought for sure she could sense it. She was kind that way.
Too kind. Too good. Too pure.
He didn’t deserve her light. She didn’t deserve his darkness.
The night of her bad scene, she called him first. He dropped his date off at her car and made a beeline for her apartment, where he found her huddled on the floor by the sofa. The sight of her in such a state ignited a rage that burned to his very core.
“What happened? What did he do?”
“I …no, he didn’t,” suddenly she felt like she’d been overreacting.
He dropped down to his knees beside her and put his arm around her, pressing her face against his chest. “Please tell me what happened.” He closed his eyes, breathing deeply, trying to stay calm.
“I just…I wanted to be *more*….”, she sputtered through choked back sobs. “I wanted to be able to take more. So you could….” her voice trailed off as she realized how ridiculous it sounded.
He could feel his heartbeat echoing in his ears. So he could what? What was she talking about?
He pulled her into a tight hug and pulled her away so he could look at her tear stained face. Watery lashes and smeared mascara framed the deep hue of her eyes as she looked back. She was searching his face. For what?
He realized, he’d been searching hers.
He leaned in and kissed her. Softly. After over a year, he’d finally the courage to do what he’d thought about doing since the moment he saw her – timid and wide-eyed at the dungeon party so long ago.
She sniffled. He’d kissed her. She wasn’t wrong. He felt something. But no, he needed it. How many times had she seen him with others. He needed to give the pain and she had tried tonight. Tried to be strong enough, but she couldn’t take it.
She looked away again, and her skin jolted when he placed a finger under her chin to lift it back up toward him.
He was looking right at her. She’d seen flickers before, but he always masked them so well she thought them imagined. There it was. His passion. His desire. His vulnerability.
She wanted him, so badly. She’d been wanting him the whole time. Gathering all the courage she could muster, she looked up at him one last time.
“Can you do this without having to hurt me?”
The question struck him to his core. The wall had shown her only one facet of his ability to connect with people. She thought him a sadist. She couldn’t possibly understand how very deeply that affected him.
Or how very deeply she’d affected him. He stared at her lips, her eyes, her cheekbones. He took in the whole of her face and saw the beauty in her soul that she’d never tried to hide. He’d just been looking the other way.
Consciously he let down his guard. He’d risk it, for her. With tears welling up in his own dark eyes, he nodded gently, then asked, “Can you?”
This would have been my comment on a FetLife blog but it got long, so I turned it into my own post. The gist of it was that we all attended a wedding that was very religious (and we are not).
See, I was at that wedding also. Crashing the wedding, actually. Nobody there knew me except the friends I was visiting that weekend..
There were a few moments that affected me during the experience. As we sat down in our chairs on the grassy field under the sun (it was really effing hot), I realized this would be the first wedding I was attending since my husband passed away.
Instantly, my brain started having a conversation with itself:
It’s going to be okay. You don’t know these people, you are not emotionally invested in them, and it’s going to be a religious wedding, so you’re not going to feel a connection with any of it.
The first moment that affected me was when I saw the bride walking toward the field holding her mother’s hand while the rest of the wedding party was still making their way down the aisle.
I’ve been her. I remember that feeling. So many months of planning after years of dreaming…and those were the final moments that led up to the culmination of all of it.
I squeezed my mother’s hand. I took deep breaths. I tried to hold back the urge to laugh but the smile on my face couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than unbridled joy at what was about to happen.
Oh wait, that wasn’t me. That was the bride I knew nothing about and had no connection with. I choked back the ball of emotion that came up to my throat and reminded myself that I am not emotionally invested in these people.
Then the pastor started in on his schtick. I’ve not been to a lot of religious, non-Jewish ceremonies. When he got to the part where he was talking about how the bride was born to be submissive to her husband and she came out of a rib, but not his head because she wasn’t meant to rule over him and not his foot because ..something about trampling….but from his rib, to be at his side as equals (as long as she submitted to him), my eyebrow was raised so high I think I might have earned airline mileage points.
I really liked the part where God made the groom a selfless giver and charged him with using that selfless giving spirit, but God gave her a fire, and a fire is most beautiful when it is controlled and put to use.
I dug my fingers into my thigh.
Here’s the thing. I looked at their faces. The bride and groom. They were both so happy. I’m fast forwarding to the end but that first kiss was a damned fine first kiss. And if they want to believe that they’re in a polyamorous relationship with God, that’s fine with me.
But a lot of what was coming out of the pastor’s mouth sounded a lot like what I read here on Fetlife, and all I could think was, “Well, did they negotiate this? Does she have a safe word? If he’s the selfless giving one and she’s the one with the fire then what if those roles are reversed in their dynamic?”
But I let it go. I’m not emotionally invested in these people.
And then the vows. They were not the exact same wording as the ones I took with Tony, but the gist was the same. Mine included promising to change the toilet paper roll when I used the last of it, even when there’s just one square left (that is totally usable, by the way). And his included the promise to tickle my back whenever I asked for it. There was also something about “until the polar ice caps melt and the building we’re standing in now becomes a sanctuary for penguins.”
That was our version of the ‘Til death do us part’ part.
Yeah, that part affected me again.
I looked away. We were surrounded by these big green things…trees? I think that’s what they’re called. Trees and mountains and greenery and nature everywhere. I couldn’t see any asphalt anywhere.
It was beautiful. Except for the part where we were melting and needed hydration, it was one of the most peaceful moments I’ve had in weeks. I realized that the last of my drop from last week was gone.
I kept my vows, without being completely aware of what I was signing myself up for – years of depression and drug abuse and hoarding and unemployment. Yeah, i stuck it out through sickness and poorer and in bad times.
It wasn’t God or religion or duty or witnesses that kept me around through all that. It was love.
I kept my vows. Maybe they will, too.
I attended my first Log Show over the weekend. There were lumberjacks. Can’t help it. They were so cute. I am totally gonna borrow one for an imaginary romp.
It was a large crowd. Of drunk people. The type of drunk people that attend the Annual Log Show – the biggest event in a small town. I was weaving my way through them, looking for the bathroom facilities and hoping they wouldn’t be porta-potties. I hate those things almost as much as I hate airplane restrooms.
A giant blow-up soccer ball landed on my head, followed by the spray of a water balloon landing inches beside me. Disoriented, I turned to see what had struck me and ran right into him.
He was tall. Built. He was wearing a black t-shirt that stretched over his well-formed biceps and suspenders holding up his jeans. I recognized him as one of the cute lumberjacks competing in the log show.
“Pardon, me,” he said, as he held me steady with his large hands on each of my arms.
I looked up. No, further up. He was tall. Attractive, very.
I was wearing sunglasses. Like Cyclops from X-Men, they’re more for the protection of everyone else than to block out the sun. Especially when I’m wearing blue.
He was still holding me. He probably could have let go a few seconds ago….but he was still holding me.
“Thank you,” I said.
“You alright?” he removed his hands and lifted one up to remove his baseball cap and run his fingers through his short, dark hair.
“Yeah. I was just looking for the restroom.”
“Ah,” he replied, putting his hat back on. “Was just heading there myself. I’ll show you.”
I smiled gratefully. “Great! Thanks!”
He led me through the crowd, occasionally returning offers of high fives and victory signs. He led me to the entrance of the women’s restroom (thankfully not porto-potties) and I thanked him and went inside.
Sitting on the toilet in the crowded restroom, I silently imagined all sorts of things I would do to that young man. I thought about how he’d feel under my hands, my lips – I imagined how he’d taste. Yeah. I came. I can do that. It’s a talent.
With a sigh, I finished up and reassembled myself. It’s a lovely fantasy, but I know one-night-stands are not really my style.
Washing my hands, I looked up in the mirror and put my sunglasses up on my head. Using my middle fingers, I wiped the smudged eyeliner from underneath my eyes, then ran my fingers through the water again.
When I stepped outside, he was waiting.
“Oh, hi…” I was surprised.
“Didn’t want you getting lost on your way back.”
Our eyes locked.
“Damn.” he said.
Shit. The eyes.
“You from around here?”
“Nope. From Los Angeles. Visiting friends this weekend.”
“Across the street.”
“Do you need to tell your friends you’re heading home?”
“Yeah, I’ll text them on the way.”
He tasted every bit as good as I imagined.
Please note. This was totally made the fuck up. I did not meet a lumberjack. I did meet a lumberjack clown, and he was nice, but not THAT nice.
Because I know I have a few in my friends list, this here’s a trigger warning for my fellow widow(er)s. There’s a thing at the end. I call it out, so you can skip over it and still get the rest of this post just fine.
“How does one let go?” I was asked. It was probably asked of me because I do it. I let go easily and frequently during play. I’m gonna try to define “letting go” here, ’cause later on in this writing I realize it would be helpful.
“Letting go” for me means releasing control to some one else. Not just physically, but in a way, mentally and emotionally as well. Whether it’s accessing subspace, rope space, orgasms, or (as I’ll touch on in a bit) something much more deeply emotional – it all shares a similar quality. My brain stops thinking. I stop living in my head and I start living in sensation. It’s like entering a primal state where instinct takes over and my only responsibility is “obey” and “experience.” Thinking go bye bye.
So, how do I let go? The simple answer for me is trust. Remember, I only submit to people I trust. I only submit to the people I’d be willing to call at 3am when my car breaks down in a not-so-nice part of town. I only submit to people it’s safe for me to let go with.
I have bottomed for people I don’t let go with. When I’m serving as a bottom for someone who is learning new skills like rope or spanking, I go into a different head space. Phi stays in control of that head space because I need to communicate more frequently and assertively. “Yes, that is good,” or “No, not there…that’s okay, just don’t do that again,” or “You can go a little harder than that…” or “Hey, that’s about as hard as you can go with that,” or “Put that motherfucking cane away before I shove it up your pee-hole, fuckface.”
That last one usually comes out sounding more like “Uh-uh. No canes.”
It’s far more rare that I play with someone experienced that I’ve just met. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s very, very rare. I usually make them “audition” for me, meaning I hold off on agreeing or disagreeing to playing with them until I’ve watched them play with someone else. I need to know their style. I need to know their temperament. They don’t always know they’re auditioning. I watched all my regular play partners play with someone else before they played with me. I don’t think they’re all aware that it was intentional.
My negotiations are….well, let’s just say I know what I like and don’t like and I’m not afraid to express it. I don’t want to control the scene, I just want to control what is and (more importantly) is not allowed to happen within the scene. I’m trying to get better at asking for more specific things I want to do, though I am already comfortable with asking for the varying intensity levels I want to reach.
So, unless I can trust that someone is going to respect my limits, there’s no fucking way I’m letting them top me. Period. End of story.
And I can let go in one capacity and not another with the same person. With my ex – I trusted him completely (silly girl) when it was online. I could subspace out with the sound of his voice and I was the most obedient little long-distance subbie you ever did see. (As an aside and complete tangent, it was always pretty easy for me to let go in an online setting ’cause …duh. I’m alone in my room. My safeword is shut the fucking computer down. They can’t actually make me do something that’s a hard limit.)
But all of my ex’s practical experience was online. He’d had very little to almost no experience in the real world and when he came out, the letting go thing was more difficult. I knew I had to keep an eye out for my own limits and safety because he was still learning. He pushed too hard a few times.
It’s because of him that “Do. Not. Hit. My. Feet.” is punctuated that way on my List of Limits and Requirements. Hitting my feet is a hard limit now. Tying them, by the way, is not.
Another point I want to make is that the trust doesn’t extend only to feeling like I won’t be murdered or mistreated in-scene. It means trusting that the top is going to give me adequate care after the scene. I’m not usually a droppy bottom, (though it happens from time to time), but I know what I need for aftercare. I should stop calling it that and call it “continual care.”
Because I play primarily with friends who are frequent partners, I hear from them almost daily, and if not – then very near daily. I know that my tops will be my friends even when I stop bottoming for them (which will happen ’cause, seriously…I’m eventually going to be in a relationship again). I know that if I’m feeling down at any time, I can contact any of them and not feel like I’m being a burden.
It all comes back to trust. I trust that my play partners care about me. I trust they enjoy playing with me and want to continue doing it. I trust that I add value to their lives the way they add value to mine. I trust that they care for my physical, emotional and mental well being that they’re willing to stand down from doing things that will put any of those at risk, even if they want to.
So when I’m with them, I can let go. I can space out. I can take more pain. I can orgasm on command. I can feel good.
It’s reciprocated. Because of AWESOME COMMUNICATION SKILLS, I know when they’re overwhelmed. I know when they need space. I care for their physical, emotional and mental well being as well, so if I know they’re injured or stressed out or overwhelmed, I tend to back down from asking them for time and let them know that they have my attention when if and when they need it.
And it can change with the same person. Maybe we have great chemistry after playing a couple times. Maybe one of those times I felt the aftercare was lacking. Next time, I probably won’t space out quite as easily. I’ll hold back for my own emotional safety until I know I can trust them again. One partner’s aftercare was lacking so much for me that I no longer have that person on my approved partner list. Even though our playtime was great, I don’t feel like he gave enough of a crap about me between play dates.
Some people have difficulty with letting go. I think it’s one of those things where if you’re too focused on “trying” to do it, it won’t happen. And if you’re someone who is used to having control, or someone who has had experiences that have caused you to put up your guard, then it is not so easy to just let go during a scene, even when you trust someone.
There are so many factors beside trust that can affect this ability. Your setting – are you in public? Are there people watching, or talking. Is the music wrong? Is it too loud? Too quiet? Your stress level – are you in the process of moving, having financial trouble, is there an ill family member, do you hate your job, are you facing legal issues, going through a relationship change? Your physical comfort – do you have injuries, are you in an uncomfortable position, is there an itch on your nose that you can’t reach? Did you forget to pee before the scene? Are you feeling bloated or gassy? Do you have a toothache? Is your underwear too tight? And, obviously, your comfort level with your top – how deep is your connection? Do you fully trust them? Do you feel safe, not just physically but emotionally in their care?
And finally, I don’t think “letting go” is limited to achieving subspace or having an orgasm or even being in anyway involved in BDSM. I’ve felt similar feelings of comfort and safety with dropping my guard in other ways as well.
Remember being a kid and having a nightmare and waking up scared? You go knock on your parents’ (or guardian’s) bedroom door to crawl into their bed with them. That feeling of being able to relax and fall asleep again because you’re safe again? It’s like that.
Skip this section if you’re concerned about the trigger warning:
That morning. Yes, that morning. I found him. I handled the 911 call. I handled the questioning. The notifying of the family. The responsibility of caring for his daughter through it and having to deliver the news to his mother. I didn’t cry the whole day. I stayed strong and upright the whole day. I was keenly aware that I was in shock. I was keenly aware that shock victims need to stay hydrated and warm so I put on a warm sweater and kept drinking sips of water all. fucking. day. long.
My parents came to pick me up from his mother’s house. I was still upright. I was still handling my shit. I was still in control.
The moment we left her apartment. When I left his mother and his daughter and his ex wife behind and I no longer had to be the strong one. When mommy and daddy were there and it was safe for me to finally do it: I let go.
I fell to the floor. I cried. I let myself feel. I stopped thinking and let myself just feel all the feelings. And these weren’t good ones, not like the ones I get when I let go with a play partner.
But the act of allowing myself to feel and trust that my basic needs were going to be handled by people who loved and cared for me was the same. Mom put me in the shower. Mom washed my hair for me. Dad made sure I ate something. Dad handled all the phone calls. I was in that head space for over a week and it was safe to be there because I knew they were in control.
That’s a very sad example of letting go, but I think it’s the most poignant one I can make.
Meh. I don’t wanna end it on a mopey note.
Just like the advice I gave on the podcast recently for being able to orgasm with a partner when it’s difficult for you – try to put less pressure on yourself to do it. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, just enjoy being turned on and feeling good. Don’t make it the goal and it might just happen. And if it doesn’t? At least you’re getting turned on and feeling good!