I was browsing through some old posts over on a A Poly Life and ran across this one. I don’t know if I ever linked to it from here, but even if I did, I think it deserves a place of its own here, since it involves BDSM dynamics (at least to a degree.) If you’ve already read it there, I apologize.
It also comes up because of some painful things that happened between W and I this past couple of days. I reacted recently in ways that I am deeply ashamed of. I said some harsh, thoughtless words and hurt him, and even though I was reacting out of my own sense of insecurity and hurt, that does not excuse my behavior, especially when what he needs is the care and nurturing of a loving, supportive partner, not temper-tantrums and recriminations.
I won’t excuse myself. In fact, “I hate myself,” I said. And I meant it.
“I love you,” he wrote back. “Please love yourself too.”
That shook me. Deeply, to the core, to tears. He forgave me; he loves me.
I am trying to forgive myself. To love myself anyway. After all, if he can still love me, in spite of what a rotten cunt I can be, shouldn’t I at least try to live up to that?
I am so imperfect in so many ways…but I am trying. To change what I can, to accept the things I cannot, to love myself in spite of those imperfections. The acceptance I talk about in the following piece is much more lighthearted, but it is part and parcel of the whole.
(From May 2011)
I had some interesting insights and discoveries into myself this past weekend. Nothing too deep or earth-shattering, but…interesting. W and I were discussing relationship dynamics. Specifically, 24/7 M/s or O/p relationships, as opposed to our own dynamic. I am sexually submissive to W, and that bleeds over, because of my personal mental/emotional makeup, into other areas of our relationship, and I do consider the relationship of the Owner/property category–he owns and controls my sex life. This dynamic is much deeper and more internalized for me than him, I think, again because of my particular emotional makeup, but he totally gets it. He said something very perceptive the other day. “I think if I’d been the kind of Top that wanted to control your life more, you would have responded to that and become more of a submissive in everyday life as well.” He’s exactly correct, I think–and in an interesting dichotomy, I think it is precisely because I am a submissive at heart that, rather than seeking out another relationship that would satisfy that need in me, instead I molded myself and my own desires to my Dominant’s. It is a testament both to my own self-awareness and to W’s relationship skills that we were able to recognize that I do need some balance between the two extremes, and he was able (and willing) to explore that dynamic on at least some levels more with me, in order to assure that those needs are met as well.
But I digress a bit. To continue on with my original point…
The reason that W and I aren’t in a more “traditional” M/s style relationship boils down, essentially, to one simple fact: neither of us wants to work that hard. We do this because it brings us pleasure, it makes us hot and it leads to some crazy hot sex.
Now, I understand that for many people, it is in the act of self-sacrifice, it is in doing something difficult, and doing it well, that they derive pleasure. For many people, it is the hard work that makes a thing worthwhile. I get that and respect that–immensely.
But that’s just not me. Furthermore, that trait informs not only my BDSM-relationship style, but also many, many other areas of my life, if not all of them. It wasn’t until W and I were talking about it that I put it all together tho, and made the connection.
It came about because we were trying to draw an analogy from vanilla life to WIITWD and the different dynamics. What we came up with is the comparison between an athlete that runs marathons and one that does 5k’s. Or, to personalize it, someone like me, that runs ~3 miles, max, and has no desire to run further, because after that, it gets hard, and I just don’t want to work that hard. I run because it is a pleasure, a joy, but once it starts hurting and getting to be a chore, once it becomes work–forget it. That’s why it is so hard to get myself to restart running consistently, because that first mile of every run sucks. I hate every minute of it. But if I can just get past that to the other side, the pure pleasure of feeling my body move, of feeling it do what it’s meant to do, of feeling, for that tiny amount of time, “athletic,” well, then it is no longer work. Or if it is, the cost/benefit ratio tilts heavily in favor of benefit, and I am willing to pay the cost.
But honestly, it takes a lot to tip the scales in that analysis, and to be blunt, most things that are hard or difficult or make me miserable in the doing of them just don’t have that big a benefit to warrant me doing them.
It’s easy to see how not living an M/s relationship 24/7 fits into that. Being a slave is hard, and more about sacrificing one’s own wants to another than engaging in it for one’s pleasure. But it wasn’t until I turned the idea over in my head that I recognized how many other places in my life this has had an impact.
For instance, school. I love to take classes. If I could afford it, I’d probably take a class every semester. But as deep as my love of learning goes, and as many college credits as I have, I’ve NEVER completed a degree. Not because I can’t, nor even because I don’t want to, but because, frankly, it’s a lot of work! There are classes I have to take that I just don’t want to. And frankly, sometimes even classes I enjoy get to be a drag after 3 months, so I stop going. But given the appropriate cost/benefit ratio, and yes…I’ll do it. For instance, that fucking math class. The benefit–a feeling of accomplishment in the face of adversity, the knowledge that W and Ad would be proud of me, and the knowledge that I would be setting a good example for my kids–became a huge benefit, enough, finally, to force me past my fear of failure, past my desire to take the easy way, and on to finally finishing the class.
That feeling of accomplishment–of forcing myself to do something I am afraid of–is actually quite a strong motivator on the “benefit” side of things, btw. It made me take a job as a waitress when I was so shy I could barely walk into a room alone. It made me hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, knowing that at the bottom was a scary-ass suspension bridge over the Colorado River that I’d have to walk over. It made me take a bus with 50 other women I didn’t know to Washington DC for the march for freedom of choice, and to stand up on that same bus and tell the story of the abortion I had chosen to have, something I had never told anyone else. It’s what made me start running in the first place, what made me climb the rock wall and to the top of the High Temple on our cruise. It led me to offer to take on countless jobs, including the one I am in now, without knowing I actually had the skills to cut it. It’s what drives me to explore the intersection between pain and pleasure, and why I seek out some of the more extreme corners of that kind of play at times.
On the other hand, the desire for pleasure, for experiencing joy, led me to choosing to end my marriage of 15 years. It led me to conquer my fear of being rejected and made me reach out to a stranger–W–on Fetlife. It’s led me to cut toxic people from my life and to choose to take my children on trips rather than to buy a new car. It’s allowed me to accept that maybe I won’t finish that novel (just too hard to do) but to accept the joy I find in writing here and on PoJ and in writing short stories.
On the other hand, this very trait has cost me at times as well. There is no amount of benefit that will ever make me a good wife, housekeeper or cook. I’m a loving partner and a great girlfriend, but domesticity just doesn’t do it for me.
I will probably never be able to afford to retire, because I spend money too freely on transient pleasures.
I will probably never really accomplish anything of true, lasting value or worth. That novel? Ain’t gonna happen. The half-marathon I want to do? Nope. Get a degree and get an important job? Not so much. I probably won’t become a world-famous blogger or be asked to speak at events or change the world in any large, lasting way.
I’m okay with all this. I am okay with the bad and the good.
I can accept these things about myself. I can live with–and love–me. Just as I am.