Journeys, continued – Perceptions

I apologize in advance for anyone seeing this twice.  Yesterday, when I wrote this, was a high emotion day for me – as W calls it, a day of “free-floating” anxiety. I realized after I had initially posted this that much of what I was feeling was colored by that, and possibly distorted, so I wanted a chance to talk to W about these ideas first. One relationship-communication commitment W and I have made to each other is to never blindside the other, and I did not want to blindside him with a whole lot of emotional noise that may or may not have been based in reality. 
We talked, and today I am in a much more stable emotional space. He never denies me the right to my feelings, or says that they are wrong – instead, hearing his perspective on them allows me to be more objective and to see where my own “flotsam and jetsam” may be getting in the way of clear thinking.
Also, simply being allowed to go through this process with his support and love, even when it’s difficult for him, means the world to me.  This is a journey and a process that I choose to make, and he supports me 100% in it.
Today is a new day, a better day. I know I’ll get through this and be a better person for it on the other side.
So I had already had this working in my brain, as I have been working through these feelings/emotions that this new situation has generated, trying to sort out the flotsam from the jetsam, as it were; then I read Magenta’s comment, and several things became clear; or at least clear enough to muse about here, in this space, as opposed to just in my head, where I often mull things over for quite awhile before committing them to paper.
I want to preface the following with a disclaimer: these are my perceptions, and we all view things through the tinted, sometimes grimy lenses of our own experiences, hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities.  So although I put this all down here as though I have it all thought out, even as I write and re-read I am coming to a better understanding of what’s going on in my head and finding an understanding and acceptance of the situation that I hadn’t had before I started.
One of the things is this difference in what W and I get out of playing and what we want out of it, and of how playing with someone new fits into that. It’s a perception difference both in our understanding of the scenes themselves, and also in how those kinds of scenes will ultimately affect us (he and I) as play partners.
Early on W told me that, for him, playing with someone familiar means you lose something: an edge, that you have when you play with someone unknown to you. We have discussed this often, and, to some degree, I agree. There is danger – and thus, if you get off on that danger, excitement – in exploring an unknown someone. When that person becomes familiar to you, you lose that edge.
And, perhaps, the excitement as well.
Secondarily to that is something else he has said many times: that once you get to care for someone, you can’t do the intense kinds of play (or be as brutal, or as hard, or as humiliating or whatever) to that person, because they become more than just an object or something to play with – they become a person that you care about.  In addition to that, his level of comfort in those kinds of play – the sometimes emotionally risky play – goes down the more he feels is at risk: ie, because he is in relationship with someone, he has more to lose if something were to go wrong, so he is less willing to take that risk than he might with someone that he didn’t have an emotional connection to.  If something doesn’t work or goes bad in that situation (as they occasionally do, that’s why it is edgy, risky play) then you talk it over, deal with it, and go on your way. If you scene together again, great, if not, no big deal. But if the same thing happens to someone that you have a relationship with, or so his reasoning goes, it could destroy the relationship. Then he hasn’t just lost a play partner, but a lover, partner and friend.
Both of these things are absolutely counter to my perceptions of play and how it works from an emotional standpoint for me. I can understand both points, but they aren’t my reality, and it seems so limiting to me that at times I have a hard time understanding how he can be so attached to this way of thinking.
And sometimes, I feel like he is creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.
As I explained to Magenta, it is not that I don’t enjoy exploring,  discovering and experiencing new things. But it is the things that we are doing that are frightening/thrilling/exciting. The excitement is not that I am doing these things with someone new. In fact, experiencing a new kind of play with a stranger adds an extra layer of complexity and anxiety that takes away from whatever-it-is we are doing.  It diminishes my ability to be in the moment, sharing this exciting fun scary new thing with a person that I trust deeply and that I have a connection to. Having that connection allows me the freedom to explore and experience without reservation, because I don’t have to worry about him, what his skill level is, if he can read me well enough to know when enough is enough or when to push just that much farther, etc. I can just give myself over and be in the moment – I can stop thinking, analyzing, questioning and just be.  To use one of W’s analogies, it is like dancing with someone who you have danced with many times: you are in sync, moving together as one – connected. And when he decides to lead you into a new dance step, you follow, willingly and without fear that he is going to trip you or make you fall on your ass.
It is that connection I seek.  It is the feeling of exploring something that touches me deeply, with fear, or trepidation, or disgust or curiosity, that digs deep into me and turns me inside out, with someone I trust to take me there, to guide me, and to be there for me in the end. I could never, ever go the places I have gone with W if he had not earned my trust, admiration and respect the way he has.  Sure, he scared me when we first played, and in it’s way that was exciting…but this, this that we do has a lasting satisfaction that that first never could. That first scene was…the surface.  Anyone could do that. No one else can do what has come in the time since.
I can’t speak for W, but I intuit that, although he and I do have that connection and he appreciates it, in some ways what he is seeking is the exact opposite of that when he says he enjoys playing with someone knew. He enjoys not knowing her, not knowing what she’ll do, where she’ll go. It’s exciting trying to figure out what will make that person tick.  Kind of like a new conquest, you know?
So yeah, I get what he gets out of it. I really truly do.
But…to extrapolate further…(and because there is that second point, which, when added into the mix adds an entirely new layer to it)…if dancing with that new, exciting plaything is so exciting…then dancing with me…same old familiar me…is boring. I’m the old dance partner whose moves he knows (yawn.)
In my world, that would mean we discover new things together, dig deeper, go deeper in this connection, because this connection allows us to. Learn a new dance, right? Shake things up by throwing her up in the air when she’s expecting a dip…or, well, whatever dancing people do (obviously I don’t do much dancing.) But in his…well, in his, if caring for someone means he can’t take her to those places, he can’t do those things to her, can’t go deep, then…yes. I imagine she gets stale and old and uninteresting. The foxtrot would get pretty old after awhile.
I don’t believe it has to be that way. I want to go all those places with him, I want him to take me there. I don’t anyone else to, as a matter of fact. But if he can’t, or won’t…then what am I left with? If he truly believes that he can’t go there with me because he loves me, and in that belief, won’t go there, then is he right. He has made himself right.  (Self-fulfilling prophecy, natch?) If he could, if he would, then maybe I wouldn’t care so much about his need for the excitement of a new plaything. She’s something fun, but she’s not me. I know he isn’t going to stop loving me. This isn’t about fear of losing him.  This is about me getting my needs met, and him seeing me as a) someone who’s needs he can meet (because no matter what I say, he believes that even if I don’t admit it, I truly do want to play with the scary new just like he does); and b) as someone who he is willing to go there with.
I wanted him to love me so that I could allow him to do all these wonderful, fucked up things he wants to do to me. He loves me now and so he doesn’t want to, or can’t.
It’s a catch-22.
And that is why seeing him play with her – doing all those things that he used to do to me, but that he won’t do to me anymore – is something I just don’t think I can handle.
Edit: As I re-read this, I really do see the difference between what he and I have – our connection – and what he would do with a one-off or casual play partner. I really am okay with that, because I do know how deep it goes between us. I just think, what I need, is for him to find a way to feel okay with doing those things to me again, too.  It won’t feel the same – all new and sparkly and exciting – to him, but I’m okay with that. He can get his “new scary exciting” fix with someone else.  As long as he’s still willing to take me to the places I need to go as well. As long as he’s willing to stretch himself a bit – and maybe ride a different edge, take a bigger risk (in his mind), by taking me there, too.

One thought on “Journeys, continued – Perceptions

  1. This is a lovely post. Lovely because it’s honest and doesn’t really have any answers: it just sets out the questions (and does so very well).
    I think what makes this post so powerful is that it outlines the points of difference between the two of you in a way that makes it, hopefully, possible for you both to bridge those gap areas.
    It’s actually, in some ways, a core challenge in relationships. There are things that some of us simply can’t be or share with others. And so learning how to hold space with that reality and the feelings it brings up is important and hard.

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