1000: Even deeper than I thought I’d go

I began blogging on FetLife (a kinky social media site) close to three years ago. Today I reached the milestone of my 1000th post there (many of which began crossing over to this blog about a year ago). That’s the context you need to have the post make sense.  Carry on. 


When I first started writing on Fet, it was in the wake of heartbreak and renewed hope. When my writings first started getting noticed on fet, it was in the wake of even more heartbreak and lost hope.

The more I exposed my pain and vulnerability, the more tenderly I was received. It was a light in a dark tunnel, and I followed it through.

But there came a time when I realized I was perhaps exposing too much. I don’t exactly recall how I came to this conclusion – but, it was (at first) a suggestion made by someone else.

That someone turned out not to be compatible for friendship, but nonetheless – their suggestion remained present in my mind. I was able, eventually, to recognize there were some unfortunate consequences to my oversharing, but they ran deeper than the ones I’d been warned about.

I’m not having a good day.

In fact, I’ve not had a good couple of days.

Relax: I can handle it. It’s okay for me to have bad days. But, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so low. I am experiencing emotional doomsday feelings where my mind travels to the worst places, and drag up memories of the most helpless moments of my life. I am also experiencing physical manifestations of the anxiety that has been dragged upward – the choke-sobbing fits and the acidic ache in my chest and knotted pains in my belly that won’t seem to pass.

I feel, at any moment, like I could give in to the bubbling emotions just beneath the surface and go into a full blown anxiety attack. And for teetering moments at that edge, I almost want to do it – if only so I can let it all out and find myself in a state of dulled emotional capacity on the other side.

Though it has been some time since I’ve been in this state, it is one with which I am familiar. Reverse back a few years, and this is a shadow of what I used to experience on a near weekly, if not daily, basis.

I know what this is.

I also know why it’s here. Not just the obvious catalyst for its arrival, nor even the underlying essential motivations, but deeper down to the fathoms of my existential being, – the stuff I think most people don’t access on a regular basis – I do. I’ve got my number.

1,000 posts ago I’d have shared those details. I’d have given you, the anonymous reader, all of the data: the catalyst, the motivations. I might have, by the end of the essay, drawn a line toward my existential conclusion.

And the reason I’d have done that? I’d have painted you a word-picture of my pitiful state for the purpose of gaining your tender support. It’s a form of manipulation, but not in a nefarious way. After all, writing and story-telling of any kind is a form of emotional manipulation.

So yes, I’d have explained the who, what, when, where, and why of my despair and swam in the soothing elixir of your concern.

It’s what I needed then. But, over time, I became dependent on it. It became a crutch without which my emotional limp would heal but never reach maximum strength.

Now, 1000 posts later, you’re not so anonymous. I know who many of you are on some level.

I also have, for perhaps the first time in my life, an understanding of who I am independent of my relationship to anybody else, (including family, friends, lovers, husbands, stepchildren, or colleagues).

I exist as a person on my own. The people in my life closest to me that inspire love and affection provide an enrichment that I’d never want to take for granted, nor mistake for the emotional equivalence of oxygen.

What’s this got to do with my bad day?

Well, that’s just it. It’s my bad day. I know why it’s here and what caused it, and I’m well aware that it will be fleeting.

So, while I feel the urge to tell you all about it – to dive into the details of the why and how I’m feeling the way I feel – I also now know that the resulting concerned feedback does not help to achieve my purpose.

I just want to share. I just want to to share my truth. I want to illuminate that even one with a charmed life can sometimes struggle – not for the purpose of eliciting your pity, but in an attempt to narrow the chasms that sometimes separate us.

We all suffer, in varying degrees and for different reasons – but we all suffer.

I don’t want to feel separated from humanity. My current (and admittedly temporary) state of despair should not serve to isolate me when, in fact, it has so much potential (and history) of doing the exact opposite.

I want to tell you that you’re not alone, because – in doing so – I remind myself that I am not either.

Tourists in Dropland

Those of us who’ve spent some time in the kink/BDSM world are eventually educated on the concept of “drop.” Google “BDSM drop” and you’ll get over 770,000 mostly relevant results.

After an extreme experience, there’s a period of time that last hours or days, or depending on the longevity or intensity of the experience – longer, of feeling mildly down, fatigued, and maybe a little self-loathing.

Our friends out there in the non-kinky world don’t really have a frame of reference for this concept; and these are nothing if not extreme times.

I’m starting to see it again today – the fatigue. There is a constant onslaught of news, and it’s not good news. For many who had previously lived a relatively neutral existence (read: those with significant, albeit unrecognized privilege) this is the first time that they’ve been on the business end of a series of emotional wallops for which they were completely unprepared.

Even the ones who raised the alarms during the election are now starting to fade – to say they just can’t anymore. Not one more thing.

But we don’t have a national safeword, and I have a feeling the Tyrannical Tweeter isn’t one for aftercare.

It was someone on a kinky social networking site I frequent who first identified it for me. He posted a status update after the Women’s March suggesting that many of his friends seemed to be suffering from March drop, then followed up with a comment on one of my posts with the point that his “vanilla” friends (not my preferred terminology for the non-kinky) didn’t understand what was happening to them.

But, we do.

I was chatting with another friend this evening and he made a very astute observation: “We live in the extremes, they don’t. So protest drop is gonna be bad.” He went on to say “We’re the locals in drop-land. They’re tourists.”

I sat in the parking lot outside of my office building for an hour today, scrolling through the day’s twitter updates and facebook posts. It was an hour of informed consent to the harshness of a very cruel and very scary reality to which I was willfully submitting myself. It wasn’t until I looked up and noticed how dark it had gotten that I looked at the time.

Just like how an hour in an intense rope scene can fly by, only with fewer orgasms.

Right now, I’m sitting cross-legged on my bed. My brother’s phone number is still written in sharpie across my ankle, where I’d scrawled it yesterday on my way to the Los Angeles International Airport.

I regard this marking similarly to the marks I receive in the course of play, only this is a little different. As I’m not an enormous fan of bruises for bruises sake, I accept them as a consequence of the type of play I enjoy with my consenting partner.

This was different. And yet, not so different.

It is a visible, lasting reminder of an extreme shared experience. Only instead of being in a dimly-lit room with my loving partner, I was one of tens of thousands assembled in peaceful protest of the Angry Mango’s latest Executive Order.

Recognizing the feeling, I went in search of connection to those with whom I’d shared this awesome, powerful experience – only to find that many of them have gone rather quiet on social media today.

I wish I could just go on facebook and explain “drop” to them. Those who intersect with kink have already figured it out. As soon as you say “drop,” they go “Oh shit. Yes. Time for some self-care.”

Me? I like bubble baths.

Anyway, it’s not as easy a concept to convey to the unkinkformed. Less easy if I’m attempting to protect them from having a little too much information about my sexual preferences. (Sexual is not the best word to use there. It’s not necessarily about sex, but like “vanilla,” it gets the point across quickly.)

I’m starting to get a few more twitter followers now who’ve added me in the last week or so when I’ve been a bit more of an “activist” type than a “sex blogger” type, so maybe this post will help a little.

But to the rest of them…I don’t know.

I want to find the words to explain it to them. To help them understand that taking a break to go see a movie, to make love, watch funny cat videos, or to have a bubble bath with an old-fashioned is not the same as going into a “news coma” and willfully turning a blind eye to a world that needs you by hiding in an impenetrable bubble.

We absolutely have to keep doing the things we enjoy, and finding ways to express love, compassion and care for ourselves and each other. That’s what fuels us to keep going. It’s what brings back the equilibrium that helps us stay in this resistance for the long haul.

That’s how you fight drop.

Find a little peace tonight. Your voice makes a difference, it absolutely does….but screaming until you go hoarse will silence you for too long. We need to pace ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves.

Even our heroes sometimes take a moment to stop and smell the falafel.

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.

Where your friends call home

Content warning: Suicide & Depression*

*This all happened yesterday.  The friend I speak about in this post has been found alive, and has made a decision to get help.  We’re all very relieved and supportive.  I’m leaving this post the way I wrote it before we knew for sure.


A friend posted his suicide note to facebook a few hours ago. The support and concern is pouring in through the comments, with family and friends and the local police department doing what they can to look for him.

But there’s a few other things showing up in the comments.

Nobody seems to know where he lived. They had the city (he lives in the same city I do) and a previous address further southwest, but nobody knew where he lived or where he stayed.

That seems very isolating to me. Last month, when I got sick with a fever, I had four people offer to come over and take care of me. Four people who know exactly where I live – three of whom know how to let themselves into my house without my being there.

People keep telling him he’s loved and appreciated, and I don’t doubt it…but it makes me sad to think that there’s not one out of over 100 people who have commented by now that know exactly where he lives.

The other thing was…well, a lack of comprehension. And this …this sense that a lot of the comments were taking his pain and making it about themselves.

He mentions in his note that he’s in a great deal of unresolved physical pain. In addition to the mental and emotional anguish, he’s suffering severe, chronic, physical pain.

I remember what that was like for my late husband. He spoke of suicide often, more in the abstract. He admitted to thinking about it. He admitted to wishing the pain would just stop and the feeling that the only way to end it was to end everything.

And in the comments of this note, people kept speaking to the emotional pain he’s in. The “you’re not as alone as you think you are” part, which is true – he’s not. But they don’t address or seem to acknowledge that even if he felt utterly loved (as he is) that he would still face every day with so much pain that can’t be managed safely because of his addictions.

And they keep talking about how much his loss would hurt them as if their pain is greater than the echo chamber of pain he’s experiencing in his mind. A clang and clatter so loud that he’s considering suicide as the only way to silence it.

I just…I guess I want to put out there that I get that. I would want him to know that I acknowledge that. That I see him and his pain and still selfishly want him to stay with us.

Right now on facebook I have many friends who are doing the 22 Pushups campaign. The 22 days of 22 pushups to raise awareness about veteran suicide. I heard there was gong to be a public vigil this weekend where veterans would be marching back and forth over a bridge for 24 hours straight to raise awareness of the issue.

I see all the people saying they are praying for my friend Kevin.

It’s all good. The pushups and the marching and the praying. It’s a form of acknowledging that there is a problem that we want addressed and resolved.

And I just wonder how much of it might be resolved…

…if friends reached out to friends before shit hits the fan?

I posted a status update earlier today. In honor of my friend Kevin, think about reaching out to a friend that’s had it rough that you haven’t spoken with in a while.

It just so happens that such a friend did reach out to me today. I’m glad she did. I’m glad to be someone she feels like she can talk to, even though months pass between conversations.

I’m glad she felt that when shit started getting close to the fan, she could call on me.

But here’s the thing…

Even though I’ve only met her a couple times and she lives in another state entirely – I know her address, and she knows mine.

I guess I keep coming back to that.

Learning to love without solutions: further insights from a recovering codependent

Many years ago, I had a friend, Brian, who went through therapy and was able to accept that he had codependent tendencies. With his therapist, he began to set boundaries, and by talking about it with his friends, he kept cementing the new value-set in his brain.

Problem was, Brian turned into a bit of a cold-hearted prick in the process. Having to keep reinforcing those boundaries made them stronger and stronger until he went in the complete opposite direction and stopped caring for anybody, ever.

By then, I had been made aware of my own codependent tendencies through my own therapy sessions. What I hadn’t done yet was accept them as a problem. I thought it was still possible to be healthily codependent, and didn’t want to change. I certainly didn’t want to turn into what Brian was turning into.

It’s not easy, you know? For me, rules are comfortable. Black and white. Yes and No. Stop and Go. But reality? It was easy for me to say, for example, “I will never again date someone who suffers from depression.”

And yet….

I have. More than once, since Tony.

It’s a boundary I tried to set because I knew where my personal boundaries are weakest. I want to help people. I’m a problem solver. And depression isn’t a problem that can be “solved,” it’s more like a condition that gets “managed.” I’ve learned a lot over the past few years on where and when to set that boundary and now have allowed myself to get close to people with depression again without falling back into my default responses anymore.

I care for them, and when I start to feel responsible for their feelings, I know it’s time to take a step back and remember that it’s not my job to “fix” anything. My job is to be a good person who cares. That is all.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to stay on either side of that line – codependent or cold and distant, but to locate the healthy boundary and camp out there is sometimes more challenging.

Based on the definition I’ve seen on “empaths,” I’d say I’m probably somewhere on that spectrum, though I’m not woo-woo enough to say so with much certainty. I feel people’s feelings like they’re my own. It’s great when they’re happy, and it’s distressing when they’re sad.

There are going to be times when I have to step away and turn up the emotional A/C. I might go silent for a little while, or not ask things like “how are you?” It’s not that I don’t want to know, it’s that I’m feeling a little bit vulnerable myself and think if the answer is “I’m not well,” it’s going to turn into one of those things where I’m going to absorb those feelings and try to “solve” them.

I got to the point for a while where I got into the habit of never asking “how are you?” It put some of my friends off. They thought I didn’t care. I do care, but….

My old pattern was something like this:

Phi: How are you?
Friend: Eh. Not so great.
Phi: What’s wrong?
Friend: (explains the problem)
Phi: (tries to solve it)
Friend: (pivots and turns the problem into a different problem)
Phi: (tries to solve it)
Friend: (pivots again and turns the problem into a different problem)
Phi: (starts to get frustrated because it feels like this person just wants to be upset)
Friend: (feels even worse because phi is now frustrated with them and they feel worthless)

In order to break that pattern, I stopped asking “how are you?” for a while. A long while. And I fell out of practice of reminding people that I really do care about how they are. I drew the imaginary line from “I’m not doing great” to “please give me advice on how to solve it.” Today, I try to only offer advice when it’s explicitly asked for, but sometimes that old behavior comes out. I frequently have to remind myself that someone admitting that they’re not feeling great is not an automatic request for advice.

You’d think that would be a really basic concept to comprehend, but for me it wasn’t. And it’s still something I struggle with from time to time.

But, just like it’s not my responsibility to solve other people’s problems, it is not other people’s responsibility to mitigate their feelings around me. I have to learn to shield myself and focus on healthy reactions to everyday situations.

I want people to trust that I care for them and understand why I can’t let myself feel responsible for their happiness, and I want those same people not to feel responsible for mine. I’ve worked hard to overcome some of those patterns, and I’m strong enough (and honest enough) to recognize when I need to take a step back.

It’s usually when my reaction to someone else’s distress falls along the lines of “how did I fail? or “what did I do wrong?” or “How can I fix it?” that I know it’s time to reset the tent back a little further from the line.

There are many people in my life, past and present, that struggle with varying levels of anxiety and depression. This isn’t about any one of them in particular. It’s about me. It’s about recognizing that I can care, and I can be present without losing myself in the process.

I don’t have to go all Brian on them.

Vignettes in Perspective

I cried at a silly love poem yesterday in which a Dom loved his Brat with all her bratty ways.

There are reasons why things like that trigger me.

Here are some of them:

_____

Conversation with my Husband:

“I can’t remember the last time we had sex.”

“It wasn’t that long ago.”

“It hasn’t happened since before my last birthday. That was six months ago.”

“No, it hasn’t been that long.”

“It has.”

“Maybe this weekend.”

“You said that last weekend.”

“I’m a failure as a husband.”

“You’re a wonderful husband. But it makes me feel like you don’t want me.”

“Of course I want you. You’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever known.”

“Then why don’t you ever want to touch me?”

“I love you. I love you so much. I know you’ll leave me some day.”

“I’m never going to leave you. Never. I just want to feel wanted.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You won’t ever be without me.”

Tags: dead bedroom, neglect, emotional manipulation, depression, communication, marriage, sex, codependency

_______

With the first guy I rebounded with after Husband passed away: 

“Are you going to be there?”

“I wouldn’t miss it. I’ll be there.”

“I know sometimes you don’t feel up for it, but I’d really love for you to be there.”

“I’ll be there. Nothing could keep me from being there.”

Tags: neglect, lies, depression, broken promises, rebound romance, grief, needy, clingy, disappointment

______
The day I knew it was over with that guy:

“Where is he?”

“He’s probably not coming.”

“Has he called?”

“Nope.”

“It’s your birthday.”

“Yeah.”

Tags: neglect, sadness, friendship, breakup

________

With the second man I’ve ever loved – the one who shattered my heart:

“Say it.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Say it.”

“Please don’t make me.”

“Say it, now.”

“I love you.”

“I don’t know how to respond to that.”

“You don’t love me.”

“I don’t know what love is. I don’t know if I love you or not. But I’ll promise you this – no matter what, I will always be your friend.”

“Then just acknowledge my feelings. Tell me you know.”

“Okay.”

“I love you, Sir.”

“I know.”

Tags: emotional masochism, doormat, BDSM, love, emotions, vulnerability, fear, communication, long distance relationship, star wars

______

“I want to talk to you about something.”

“What’s up?”

“How would you feel if I took on a second sub?”

“Online?”

“Yeah, just online only.”

“I guess that’s fine. I love you, but you’re on the other side of the planet. If you need more than I can give you, I don’t want to stop you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Just promise me one thing….”

“What’s that?”

“I get to be your favorite.”

“That will never be a problem.”

“I love you.”

“I know.”

Tags: poly, long distance relationships, broken promises, communication, emotions, regret, love, submission, idealism, emotional masochism, unrealistic expectations, doormat, codependency

_____

“I’m coming to meet you.”

“How long will you be here?”

“Three months is as long as I can legally stay.”

“I love you.”

“I know. Look. I can’t promise you I’m going to love you when I meet you.”

“I understand.”

“And I’m not sure if I’m comfortable having sex with you.”

“I understand. I love you, Sir.”

“I know.”

Tags: excitement, anticipation, fear, emotional masochism, unrealistic expectations, doormat.

_____

“She’s coming to visit here a week before I fly out to you.”

“Oh.”

“I’ll call you every day.”

“Okay.”

Tags: No he didn’t.

_____

“I have something to tell you.”

“What’s up?”

“I told her I loved her last night.”

“I’m happy for you.”

“You are?”

“Yes. Because now you know how love feels, and you’ll know if you love me too when you meet me.”

Tags: This is not going to end well

______

“I unpacked your suitcase.”

“Good girl.”

“You should have told me yourself.”

“What?”

“You left the open box of condoms in it.”

“Oh.”

Tags: That was fucked up.

______

“Why are you crying?”

“Because you’ve been here three days and you still don’t know how you feel about me. I think maybe you just don’t love me. I really thought you did. I felt like you did. But you love her. Not me. You’re living in my house, sharing my bed, and you go downstairs each night and tell her you love her. And all you can tell me is that you know.”

“You’re silly.”

“Let’s just go home.”

“I brought you here because I wanted to tell you somewhere special. I do love you. I’ve always loved you. I will never stop loving you. I loved you before I flew out here, and I knew it the moment I saw you at the airport.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

Tags: timing, vulnerability, emotional sadism, fear, catharsis, vindication, relief

_______

“I’m in pain. It’s really bad.”

“I need to drive her back to her car.”

“It’s REALLY bad. I don’t know if I should go to the hospital.”

“I need to drive her to her car and I’ll come right back.”

*30 minutes later*

“I’m sorry. I have to drive her all the way back home [350 miles away]. She’s distraught and she can’t drive herself.”

“I’m still in pain. The cramps are horrible, I think it’s going to kill me.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll get a bus or a flight home tomorrow.”

Tags: That wasn’t even the first time.

______

“I don’t feel comfortable being myself when she’s around. She gets uncomfortable when you kiss me. She doesn’t even like it when you look at me.”

“Don’t worry about her. I’ll handle her. You be yourself.”

“It won’t end well. She’ll throw a tantrum like she always does.”

“I told you I’ll handle it. You don’t have to worry about it.”

Tags: unrealistic expectations, communication, emotional manipulation, I told him so

_____

“Look, maybe just don’t be so touchy feely in public.”

“You told me I should be myself.”

“It makes her uncomfortable.”

“You said you would handle it.”

“You were grinding on me.”

“I WAS NOT GRINDING ON YOU. That’s not even a phrase you would ever use. You got that from her.”

“It doesn’t matter. You do as I say.”

“Apparently, I’m the only one who does.”

Tags: Straw, meet camel’s back.

_____

“It’s over. When you come back, your stuff will be packed.”

“Okay.”

“I can’t believe you’re choosing her over me.”

“It’s for your own good.”

“You never loved me.”

“I will always love you. I keep hurting you, and I can’t keep doing that to you.”

“Then why are you picking her? Because she’s more of a challenge? Because you have to work harder to get her to do what you want?”

“Maybe.”

“I gave you everything you wanted, and you held back everything I wanted. You wouldn’t even fuck me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be.”

“I am.”

Tags: I should have started letting go then.

______

“Hey. You called?”

“I hadn’t heard from you in a week. It’s Christmas. I thought you’d have reached out.”

“So, nothing is wrong?”

“It’s my first Christmas without him. I’m not doing well emotionally today.”

“You should reach out to your friends.”

“I thought you were my friend.”

“I’m tired. Going to bed.”

“Fuck you. Goodbye.”

Tags: broken promises, asshole behavior, last time we ever spoke.

_____

And I haven’t gotten to the recent stuff.

There’s a reason why I’ve spent the last few days choking back tears.

Because the good girl never wins.