For me, it was Anton Yelchin

We lost a lot of our heroes, idols, role models, and artists this year. For many people, a David Bowie, a Harper Lee, an Alan Rickman, a Muhammad Ali, or a Carrie Fisher might have been the person they could look to in an isolating world and feel less alone.

Did you know Alan Rickman didn’t have his breakthrough role as an actor until he was a year older than I am now? There were many times when my late husband, who felt he’d reached his peak in college, looked to Alan Rickman and his story as a beacon of hope that there might be more ahead than behind him.

For so many people, these artists were more than just famous people. They were hope in human form.

Some of those losses hit some people harder than others. The one that really sort of threw me for a loop – the one that really had me reeling this past June was Anton Yelchin.

He was young and talented. He was at the start of what might have been an incredible career doing the thing he loved to do, and everything was falling into place….

And a freak…and I mean super freak accident took his life at 27.

It was a very shocking reminder of the lesson that had already cemented itself into my bones the morning my husband passed away at 52 from an accidental overdose of prescribed medication.

You really never fucking know.

A night or two after Anton Yelchin died, I had a nightmare. I don’t want to get into the details, but suffice it to say I woke up in a panic thinking I’d lost another love of my life way too early. It was horrible, and it shook my otherwise stalwart optimism about the future.

This year, my grandfather finally succumbed to old age. He made it to the end of the game – two grown children, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren – all happy, healthy, successful. He was the embodiment of the American Dream. He immigrated to the United States with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket, a wife and two children, and grabbed hold of every opportunity he could to make it work.

I wasn’t devastated when he passed away. Sure, it was sad, but it was also peaceful. He accomplished everything he’d set out to accomplish, and in the end, died painlessly and peacefully in bed with his wife and children at his side.

Different from my mom’s cousin, who also passed away earlier this year in his 60s after a battle with cancer, or my husband who’s struggle with addiction and depression had already taken his mind and spirit from me long before it took his body.

But Anton Yelchin….

That one hurt in unexpected ways. Because it could be any of us. Any time.

The thought of despair crosses my mind in those times, and I think about trying to protect myself from life; but I don’t do that. Nearly every time I’ve gotten behind the wheel since Anton Yelchin passed away, especially in inclement weather, I think about whether or not that might be the time I’m destined to go.

And then I stuff down the anxiety and keep moving forward. ‘Cause I got shit to do and people to love, and when my time inevitably comes, I don’t want to have wasted too much of it worrying.

You know….I lost my original point along the way for this post, but I do like where it ended up. I was going to say that for some people these losses hit so hard that they truly are in mourning. Real people with real feelings are suffering a tremendous loss in Carrie Fisher because of what she meant to them and how she helped them cope in a sometimes very scary world.

I saw it when David Bowie passed, as well as Prince, and to an extent Alan Rickman as well. Those deaths did not affect me in monumental ways, but I saw how many people were devastated as they reminisced on social media what these larger-than-life icons meant in their very real, comparatively less gargantuan lives.

My husband was a drug addict who suffered from severe mental illness and chronic physical pain that forced him to put his life at risk every day by either taking opioid medication so he could cope with living or suffer so intolerably he’d wish for death. I wonder how he might have reacted to this news. I’m certain he would have been devastated – far more than I, because he’d have seen her as a kindred spirit in some ways.

My experiences influence my reaction, as others’ experiences influence theirs. A little kindness has not, to my knowledge, ever killed anybody. Perhaps now is not the time to pick fights in the posts where people are sharing their pain about a loss that means something very personal to them.

Can you help me? (Or: Why I’ll never allow a television in my bedroom again)

It’s not surprising that he’s crept into my thoughts more during the past week. I learned how to Christmas with him in my life. Doesn’t help that google likes to remind me what happened “on this day” X years ago. Anything more than 3 years usually includes memories of the time that my label was “wife.”

This morning, as I have been for nearly all the mornings during this holiday break, I woke up way too early. The light coming from outside my bedroom window was still dark enough that I couldn’t find my phone on the bed without feeling around for it.

In the process, my hand found the handle of my vibrator. I’d fallen asleep last night before making use of it. I thought perhaps a nice, slow morning orgasm would relax me enough into another hour of sleep.

I peeled off my underwear and pulled the sheet up over my shoulders to keep the chill out before I got started. As I do, I let my mind wander through the Greatest Hits – the handful of fantasy situations I imagine when I’m just trying to get straight to the orgasm without so much meandering along the way.

I lightly grazed my hand over the sheet and felt the little jolt of sensation when it traveled over my pert nipples. I smiled, thinking about recent events that involved my nipples and my lover’s warm kiss.

But then, it happened. The sound of my own voice, in my head…

Can you help me?

Instantly my mind shifted from this happy place by remembering her. The she that was me before he died.

“Can you help me?” as I lay in bed beside my loving husband with my vibrator pressed up against my clit and his hands clutching the video game controller.

The orgasm evading me as I tried to call up the feelings of being desired while he focused all his attention on smoking pot, taking Ambien, and watching documentaries.

“Can you help me?” I’d ask in my small voice, laced with yearning and unmet hunger and the wanting of the slightest bit of attention.

And he would sigh. Hold the controller with one hand while reaching over to grope my breasts with the other.

With my eyes closed, I could pretend he was actually looking at me while he did it.

The orgasm would come. I’d drop the vibrator. And, without a word, he’d pick the controller back up and carry on with his game, or the documentary, or the bong hit I’d interrupted with my request.

Can you help me?

It dawned on me, not for the first time – but for the first time in a long time, that for nearly three years, that was the entirety of my sex life. That was how we “did it.” That was as much as I could get in terms of active participation from my husband in my orgasm.

It pained him, by the way. He knew that he wasn’t giving me what I needed. He knew I wanted more, and more often. But tired. Pain. Depressed. High. Busy.

There was always some excuse to mask the complete lack of desire he had – not just for me, but for anything. The drugs and the pain killed it all.

The best he could muster was a healthy grope on one of my breasts. It was really all he could do for me.

I flashed back into my present tense. I set the vibrator down. I was never going to get there thinking of that. I went back and read some of my texts from yesterday evening from my lover. That’s not my life anymore. She is not me anymore.

But yeah, for a few minutes this morning, I felt really, really sorry for her.

A Tale of Two Women

I recently made the acquaintance of a young woman at an introductory rope event. She’d watched the instructor perform an exercise by tying a single column tie around my wrist and then spending the next two minutes wrapping the rope around me without knots. The purpose of the exercise was to allow for more free-form and feeling in the tie, rather than the strict following of a specific pattern. After some encouragement, the young woman agreed to try doing it herself. I was offered up as the bottom for her to work with.

This young woman was what a very high percentage of the population would call “hot.” I couldn’t describe her to you in detail now if I tried, but to say that she had long straight hair, a young, lithe figure, and big soulful eyes. She was a very attractive person.

She could not stop apologizing.

For everything. From the moment she began tying the single column tie on my wrist until the timer went off after 2 minutes it was a constant sea of “I’m sorry. Sorry. Oh. Sorry.” After two or three times of telling her she had nothing to be sorry about I gave up.

I could tell she was really bright. Like, there was plenty going on underneath the remarkably pretty surface, but it was masked so much by insecurity. I asked her why she wanted to learn to tie, thinking if I could understand her motivation, I might be able to adapt my bottoming technique to make it easier for her to achieve her goal.

Her answer was that she just liked to learn things.

Of all the reasons I’ve heard riggers talk about why they tie, that’d previously not been one of them. There are elements of control, connection, creativity, exploration, expression…. but not just “I wanted to learn for the sake of learning.”

It’s not a wrong answer by any means, but I realized that as a bottom, there was nothing more I could do for her. She could as easily have the experience by tying the leg of a dining room chair, and she’d be less likely to continually apologize to it.

This was a little while back now, and over the few weeks that followed that evening, I thought of her a few times. Truth be told, I think of her in terms of “girl” because she so didn’t yet embody what “woman” means to me.

What made me think of her today was a different woman.

Having finally gotten fed up with the jerk-around Home Depot has been giving me with regard to my appliances purchased the week before Thanksgiving and now delayed for delivery TWICE, I decided to show them my cards. I don’t like being one of those customers that threatens to cancel an order unless I mean it…

…so I went to Best Buy. There were two associates working in the appliance department, but one seemed rather newish and the other was handling three different customers at once. Once I stated my business, the newish one asked me if I could wait because it’d have to be be the other one (department manager, as it turns out) to help me.

I’ve already waited over a month with the Home Depot clowns, so I figured I could give Best Buy a little leeway here. When the department manager finally was able to help me, I was really floored, and very pleased, with her level of professionalism and knowledge about the products and procedures on how to price match my order. She knew her way around that Point of Sale system like I know my Doxy in the dark.

I couldn’t tell you how old she is. She mentioned having a granddaughter, but honestly, she looked way too young for that. I’d have pegged her at about my age.

She did not have the most fortunate genetics when it came to physical appearance. She was overweight with quite a bit of dark facial hair, oily skin, and stained teeth.

But this woman had confidence, at least in this environment. She was good at her job – even managed to upsell me on a dishwasher and cooktop while saving me money on the range hood. The whole time, she was answering questions from her colleagues on everything from how to swap the way the door swings open on a washing machine, to how high a pedestal had to be for a dryer, to how to run a price check for a warehouse only item. I began to relax and trust that my needs would be met and my wants would be addressed. She made me feel comfortable, like I was in good, capable hands.

It’s the way I want to feel when I’m being tied.

Bottom line – looks matter for shit when you want to feel safe. Or something like that.

Sometimes you can’t even judge a book by its table of contents

Earlier this morning I received a message on Facebook from my childhood best friend. She’d had some life changes and, despite our not being all that close for the past 20 years, she wanted to share the news with me.

She goes on to tell me that she’s polyamorous, dating one of our mutual high school acquaintances, and has a couple of girlfriends, to boot!

[insert shocked face emoji here]

We’ve been facebook friends since the advent of facebook, so I’ve kept up with her life and its successes. The husband, the kids, the dream job and all the stuff you’d expect from our class valedictorian; but….

THIS?

It makes you want to say things like “Small world!” or “OH EM GEE.”

I mean, of all the people in the world who I might have thought would “get” my situation, she’d not have been one of them. For many reasons that I won’t go into, but suffice it to say I thought she’d gone the way of the straight and narrow after high school and that was that.

In this case, I had enough knowledge of her to go past the cover. She was, at one point, my best friend. I could say something like OMG, you’re dating LL (not his name, not his initials)? and she’ll know exactly what I mean and she’d be the only one on the planet to know what I mean and if she’s reading this right now, she’s laughing.

Inside joke.

LIKE THE KIND THAT HAPPENS WAY PAST THE COVER OF THE BOOK.

This is friend I called during my walk home from losing my virginity at 14 and said “guess what happened!” and she answered “you lost your virginity!”

By the way, a few years later the same conversation happened in reverse.

And STILL when she said to me this time, “there’s something I want to share with you,” my initial thoughts were “you’re pregnant again, you’re getting a divorce and moving back to California, you’ve just won the Nobel prize for science, or you have six months to live.”

Like, the last thing I imagined I’d read next was “I’m polyamorous, and…”

I guess you really just never know about people until you really know about people.

I love it when the plot thickens.

Don’t you get jealous?

Usually when I tell people that my relationship is unconventional, they have one of two reactions:  curiosity or concern.  Nobody has really shunned me for it.  Some people have surprised me and shared that I’m not the first person they’ve met who’s been involved in a poly-type relationship.

By and large, the most frequent question I get asked when I explain that my partner has multiple partners is, “But don’t you get jealous?”

The way they’re asking the question, you might think they’re talking to someone who smokes two packs a day and asking, “But won’t you get cancer?”  OHMYGOD, NOT JEALOUSY! But jealousy isn’t a fatal emotion.  I mean, I suppose it can be if you let it unhinge you, but I don’t let a whole lot unhinge me in that fashion.

The answer is yes, sometimes I might get a little bit jealous.  Sometimes I get downright resentful.  It doesn’t happen very often, but jealousy is an emotion that is not foreign to me.

When someone asks me, “But don’t you get jealous?” I think of it more like someone watching me walk out the door in a sleeveless dress in November and asking, “But won’t you get cold?”

I live in Southern California.  It rarely gets THAT cold, even in November, and if it does, I grab a sweater and put it on.

When I encounter jealousy within my relationship, the “sweater” is usually a product of some self-examination. For me, jealousy is usually related to some sort of insecurity or perceived “unfairess.”  But, like sunny Southern California, my relationship is pretty darned secure and fairness abounds; so it’s rare that those feelings manifest.

When I feel “jealous” I start asking myself “what’s causing this?”  I examine whether it’s actually “jealousy” (I want to claim something that somebody else has) or if I can deescalate it down to “envy” (I want to have a thing somebody else has without taking it away from them). Are these feelings sourced through the comparison trap? I know that for me, comparing is a no-no in this type of relationship, so if that’s where it’s coming from, it’s time to shut it down.

Sometimes I’m able to do just that: shut down those feelings as easily as I would have put on a sweater on a 68 degree day.  No harm, no foul.

But yeah, even in Southern California, we get actually cold days.  We even had a snow day once when I was in elementary school – so certainly there are going to be days that the jealousy can get the best of me.

So, what do I do?  What’s the equivalent of my polyamorous “wool coat, gloves, and scarf?”

Would you believe it’s communication?

What!?  Another damned poly post touting communication as a freakin’ solution to every problem!

Yeah.  Pretty much.  ‘Cause when it gets THAT cold outside, when we’re talking jealousy jacket weather, I tell my partner, “I’m feeling resentful. I don’t like it and it’s affecting my mood.”

And he says, “Gotcha.”

We talk about what’s bothering me. He validates my feelings. He lets me know that it’s okay to feel that way sometimes and that he totally understands why they’ve come up this time.

And then, usually, I get my period a day or two later and the cold weather passes.

Trust and responsibility in BDSM

In one of my early posts on Fetlife long ago, I wrote “It’s not that I’m lying when I tell you I’m okay; it’s that it isn’t until much later that I realize I was mistaken.”

This week, there have been a couple posts out and about that are debating the issue of …I guess it’s personal responsibility in a bottom to communicate truthfully to their top on matters of consent, limits, and negotiation.

On the one hand, you have two posts making the point that many bottoms may be failing in communicating their true limits out of the fear that they will be “disappointing” their tops; and another that argues that if this is too often the case then we are setting up a situation where a bottom can’t be taken at their word.

It made me think of that little thought from such a long time ago. That it’s not about “truth” and “lies” so much as it is about being really self-aware and confident that one’s top is not going to be disappointed when a limit has been reached; and likewise that one’s bottom is not going to put you in a position of harming them irreparably.

There is a difference between pre-scene negotiation and mid-scene check-ins, and I don’t think anybody has a problem understanding how an s-type might agree to or give consent once their mind has been altered and later regret it. If you do have trouble with that let me know and I’ll clarify in a separate post. That’s why collaborative negotiation ahead of time is really important; especially if the relationship is new.

But there’s something else I’ve been exposed to that helped me a LOT in my ability to set my limits and boundaries during the pre-scene negotiation as well as during mid-scene check-ins. I think I’ve written about it before (though I don’t remember when) and I know I’ve talked about it recently as a panelist for an S-type panel discussion as part of the BDSM 101 series.

It was “safeword training.” See, back when I went by the label of “submissive,” I was one of those submissives that would pressure herself – potentially past my personal limit – out of fear of disappointing my partner. There were many times that I’d end up heavily bruised; and, I am on record as not a fan of heavy bruising.

But I didn’t stop them. I didn’t want to disappoint them by not taking what they wanted to give me.

When I explained as much to a partner I’d been spending some time with, he did what he called “safeword training” with me, where he told me he was going to spank me five times and on the fifth, I was to call “yellow.” I did so, and was able to witness what his reaction would be to my calling “yellow” during a real scene.

Then he did it again, this time, ordering me to call “red.”

And so I did. And so I saw what his reaction would be if I were to do that during a scene.

This was critical in my being able to accept the difference between what he wanted to do “to” me and what he wanted to do “with” me.

He wanted to give me a good experience that was not tainted with regret because I was too afraid to speak up for myself, and for what?

No top I’ve ever been with has actually wanted to harm me. None have ever truly wanted more from me than I would have been willing to give. That takes our scene into the “not fun” territory. And if it’s not fun for me, it’s sure as hell not gonna be fun for my top. Especially afterwards.

But I have played with inexperienced tops as an inexperienced bottom; and I have had tops who had no prior experience with me who have gone too far, and I didn’t stop them until too far had already been reached.

Did they have my consent to spank me? Yes. They did. But I didn’t specify to one that I required a warm-up before he went to town on my ass. And …well, the other accepted my consent after I was already inebriated, and left me passed out on the floor of the dungeon by myself after our scene. In fact, I remember enough of that night to recall that I approached him for the spanking, and not the other way around. He also never checked in with me again. (P.S. that was the last time I ever mixed drinking and kinking).

In the first example, I was self-aware enough to know I was not having a good time. In the second, the onset of that self awareness was quite delayed. Both times I let it happen for longer than I needed to because I was afraid of disappointing the top in question.

So. What to do? We can all write eighty-billion essays urging bottoms to speak up for themselves and to speak truthfully when they’re negotiating a scene for themselves; but remember – sometimes the opposite of truth isn’t a lie, but a lack of self-awareness.

And when someone who wears the label of “submissive” has agreed to something and then during said thing realizes they’re not really loving it – I guarantee you that MANY said submissives will try to grin and bear it because they don’t want to go back on their word and disappoint their tops.

Does that mean that the bulk of the responsibility falls to the top? You gotta question everything? You gotta take their consent with a grain of salt?

Not necessarily. It’s a power exchange. If you’re negotiating something new, or something edgier – try making sure your bottom understands that you won’t be disappointed if they ask you to slow it down because something doesn’t feel right. If you’re the bottom, make sure your top knows if there’s something on their list of things to do that you’re not entirely sure about.

You know….communicate.

And, before you play – make sure you know how you’ll react to a “red” or a “yellow.” Make sure your bottom knows what to expect from you if those words are called. If necessary, consider foregoing safewords and use ENGLISH (or whatever language you speak) to communicate during the early days of your playlationship.

“Ow ow….slow down, I need a minute” or “Oh holy shit STOP” are REALLY great words to use until you’ve gained a level of comfort with your partner where you are allowing them to push you a little further beyond your established boundaries.

Hell, I’ve been with my partner for over a year now and he LOVES to push me. There have been times when he’s about to do something and I cry out, “NO NO NO!” and he’ll pause, and look at me with a look of pure sadistic pleasure and ask, “No?”

It gives me a moment to pause and consider my answer carefully. It’s like my version of “yellow.”

Because my response is almost always, “Okay, yes,” but even when it’s not, I never feel like he’s disappointed in me.

Ever.

That’s why I am able to be 100% honest. And my honesty is why he’s able to push me further.

That’s the beauty of an exchange.

 


Photo credit: Renata Colette, rope by @MisterBacon, model…me 🙂

What smut looks like when I’m feeling grumpy

I knew what she wanted. I could tell, from the way she looked at me that she wanted me to take her and make her mine. She was dressed to impress, I’ll give her that. That pencil skirt showed off her curves. And when she leaned over to pick up her purse from the floor, I saw the holy grail of cleavage.

She wanted me to notice, and I did. I sure did.

I licked my lips and gathered the courage to go talk to her. Chicks like that dig confidence. I had to show her the kind of man I was. I had to show her that I’m the kind of man that can take control the way she craves it.

I took the stool right beside her and waved the bartender over.

“Scotch. Neat.” I ordered. Bartender rattled off some labels. I didn’t know the difference. I picked one that sounded familiar and pulled it off like I knew exactly what I was getting.

“Come here often?” I asked her. It was cheesy, but I could sell it. I’m charming as fuck.

She took one look at me…just one look…I swear….

And walked to the other side of the bar.

Fucking bitch.