Breathing through change

There’s a website I used to go to every single day. In Chrome, when you frequent certain sites, it will keep eight of them on your home screen when you open the web browser. This particular website used to battle out the first position with my work email inbox and Facebook. Sometimes, a little commentator voice would go off in my head, keeping track of the ranking. “Well, it looks like Facebook has pulled ahead of Work and The Other Website. Perhaps you should be doing more work, or visiting The Other Website more! Nope! Facebook has stayed in the lead for two days now! Way to waste time!”

But generally, The Other Website would win. And seeing it there everyday was a reminder. A glorious cluster of colorful pixels that reminded me of something good that touched my core. That I had wanted for so long. That safe space was created, and it was a click away, cutting through hundreds of miles.

However. Due to life, this website had been slipping in the ranking for the past few months as I less and less frequently went to it. One day last week…for the first time ever, I opened the browser and it just…wasn’t there. I burst into tears like a proper adult who’s heart had cracked.

My phone has forgotten some words I used on a regular basis, too. When I first realized that, there were more tears. There’s been a lot of crying lately. Also a lot of change. And more to come, likely. Well, definitely. Life is always changing. Always evolving. Even now, the situations above with the website and my phone…those are also still evolving.

But additionally, there’s been a fuckton of other shifting over the past few months, too. I can’t keep track of it all, sometimes.

It just…hurts. And it’s not just the website or the words or any one change…but moreso what they represent. Communication is good, though. Because it means that I can express some of this and there might be hope for things. I’ve had to process a lot to find my way to the words so I can communicate to those around me.

Back when I was a water fitness instructor, one of the things they drilled into us was to remind our students to breathe. People who are learning something new, or concentrating, or exercising will often hold their breath and that’s…less than optimal for a workout. Also, fainting on land is one thing. It gets way more complicated real quick if they go down in the water. So at least three or four times during my classes, I would remind people to breathe. Thankfully, no one went under on my watch.

Which is funny, because half the time I was reminding them to breathe, I was also reminding myself.

It’s even more hysterical when you factor in the fact that I’m a trained singer and while I’ve been breathing into my diaphragm for nearly 30 years, I still have issues with breath control. With lots of preparation, I can sustain long notes or a good vibrato, but it takes a lot of concentration. You’d think after so many years singing, it would be easier.

Earlier this year, I was loaned Urban Tantra, a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I’m about four chapters in and frozen…it’s the chapter on breathing. Different kinds of tantric breath. My brain just…shuts down. I don’t know why.

Earlier this year, I turned 40. A kind numerology expert gave me a reading as a present and one of the key elements she saw was that I had to focus on breathing and movement.

It’s like this is a theme for me or something.

Clearly, when there are so many changes swirling around me, I should be breathing more. Deeper. Deliberately. I know it. Reminders are all around me. On my playlist, Pearl Jam, Scarlet Sails, and Hedwig tell me. I’ve got friends who remind me. And still, it’s so fucking hard. My body just keeps wanting to curl into a protective ball, not breathe too much, or say too much, and hope that the hurt, the confusion, the feeling of constantly walking in a field of landmines will just go away.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way in real life. There’s too much shit to do.

So I’ve spent nearly two decades, and especially the last five years, trying to unlearn and undo these impulses. I’ve forced myself to interact more, though a diagnosed anxiety disorder also makes this challenging. But when it comes to certain things, like music, or sex, or D/s, or writing…I still sometimes hold my breath, retreat, and just hope that the changes I feel won’t be as bad as they seem. That not yet another thing or person or dynamic that I love will be taken away from me, or leave, or fade.

Recently, my best friend took me to Santa Fe for my 40th birthday. It was an incredible experience but I found myself overwhelmed a lot, which has been happening a whole bunch lately. Visiting new places, the architecture, the art, the altitude, the aromas, the energy, the music, the people, the travel, the changes to routine, all co-mingling with the life shit that was already in my brain before I went.

But. For the first time in a long time, I was able to get through most of the overwhelming by breathing in Santa Fe. Deep, deliberate breaths – in through the nose, out through the mouth. My therapist said it might’ve been a little easier with the drier air. She said the humidity in this area can sometimes make it more difficult to breathe with intention. Not impossible, just challenging. So the best I can do is be aware of it. Try extra hard to breathe better, more frequently, more fully. It doesn’t make the changes directly easier…but it sure as hell is helping me open up to them and embrace the unknown a little.

Vulnerability: the Self-Vivisection of Music, Submission, and Love

“You know….you clearly don’t know what it takes for me to be bold.”
-from the song “I Found a Boat” by Scarlet Sails

Holy fuck, I sang on the boardwalk Sunday night. In front of people. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I mean, some part of me knew it would eventually happen, but I wasn’t certain it was going to be this past Sunday.

See, I’ve been talking with a friend about performing; they invited me to join them on the boards since they have a busking license. A few months ago, I asked them if they would learn the guitar part of a song for me that I really feel the need to sing and hear every damn day. I’m trying to learn it on guitar, but it’s slow going, so I was hoping they could help me get out there. So we set up time to rehearse for this past Sunday. Spent some time singing the harmonies together on a song they wanted to sing lead on, a few times over, and I played some stuff for them, and we worked on the song I asked them to learn. It was great. It was beyond great. It was something I’d dreamed about for decades…singing and playing with another musician in this way.

And then they asked if I wanted to go out and busk. Like…right then. That day.

The “sure” that flew out of my mouth surprised both of us, apparently. It seems I just….had found a pocket of courage and decided to run with it. I’ve wanted this for so long. To sing in front of people like this.

Now, some of you who know me might be all like, “but you’re a burlesque dancer who sings!” Or, “but you’ve been in choirs and musicals!”

And you’re absolutely right. However, there’s always a kind of character involved. Always someone else. And even when I was myself, like in choirs, I was still…part of the choir. Which isn’t me, right? It’s a group. I can blend in. Even when I’ve done solos…I was a bundle of nervous…but, it’s still with the choir. I know, I know…it’s weird.

There are just so many facades; this way, I don’t have to actually, fully be vulnerable. Because obviously, the world would end. Or at least that’s what my fears and anxieties scream at me. I mean, the actual world we all live in wouldn’t end. Cause, duh. No matter how illogical my fears are, I know that the world does not revolve around me.

But my world, the world where I have people in my life that I care about, things I enjoy doing, (or people whom I enjoy doing and things that I care about…y’know six of one…)…it feels like it would all come crashing down. I battle Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. I also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, as well as clinical depression. On top of all that, I’m an introvert.

They’re all managed. Mostly. But management is not a cure. It doesn’t all just magically go away. I’ve worked my ass off for over two decades to learn, to grow, to manage, to adapt, to push myself outside of comfort zones and try to open up.

However, there’s still an underlying, paralyzing fear that all the people I care about would leave if they knew what I really felt. The crippling fear and panic I deal with every day that I try to bury under all the layers of socially acceptable I slather on. The smiles, the banter, the glamour, all like a duck trying to swim so smoothly on the surface, but hiding the frantic feet churning water as fast as possible to stay ahead of everything, seek out every possible threat, protect myself in all the ways I learned when I was a kid.

The thing is…I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to hide from pain. Or fear. Or, basically who I am and the things I am passionate about. I wanted to face it all head on. I’ve learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the persistence to keep going, Do The Thing, even when you’re shaking and terrified. I’ve worked for years, on therapist’s couches, in cars on long drives talking with people I trust, over the course of hours and days in solitude crying and processing, and in so many other ways, to keep opening myself up. Over and over. Some things are easier than other to talk about, act on, be. I am very comfortable being a creative, polyamorous, kinky, pansexual gray ace.

However, I’ve realized there are three basic things that strip that all comfort away from me: submission, music, and love.

Writing, art, dance, and creativity in general are ways I peel off certain layers, but submission, music, and love are the ones that cut to the quick, tap a vein, and various other metaphors that try to explain how I feel like I’m cracking open my chest and leaving all my gooey innards on display in some weird self-vivisection. Making the parts that people don’t see completely vulnerable. The parts I try to hide, because life has taught me when you let people see those things, it hurts. They laugh, they leave, or…they let you know that it doesn’t matter to them. That is probably the one that hurts the most. The indifference. It sounds stupid to admit…but I want to matter. I want to be valued. And at certain times, in certain ways, with a few people…desired.

Submission is one of the quickest ways to, appropriately, bring me to my proverbial knees. Some people have made the mistake of thinking that submission is weakness. Which is bullshit. Submission is absolutely not weakness. It’s been said before, by multiple people in many places, but I will say it again: You cannot take power away from the powerless. There is a core of strength and solidity to submission that is anything but weak. There is also tremendous vulnerability in submission.

There have been very few people in my life with whom I resonated in any way as a submissive. For various life reasons, my submission is beyond back-burnered. I’m grateful for all the experiences and the people I have resonated with, as my submission is something I guard very closely and wound up shutting down for a few years because it just hurt too much and I also battled some serious “I’m a terrible submissive so why bother?” demons. I’m especially grateful for the people who helped bring my submissive out of hiding. There was a brilliant combination of some gentle coaxing, some distinct challenges issued, some blunt truth, and a hefty dose of magic involved and all that has given me the courage to be open to the rare times I do get to be submissive and also hold out hope that one day I will have opportunities to be submissive more regularly.

When it comes to love, you’d think I’d be more…skilled and less scared in regards to it, being polyamorous for over 15 years. But no. There’s still true terror. I continually push myself past it, as best I can, but it’s always there. I’m realizing lately that there is part of me that struggles to feel worthy of the people I love. Like…I think they’re wonderful. But why would they want me? Also, it’s fucking hard to admit that I…have desires. That I want things. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they are, and then once I do….communicating them is terrifying. It’s one part being an adult and being prepared to hear “no” because that’s always a possibility and one should know how to hear that maturely, and one part, “omg, what if they want that, too?!” I mean, it should be awesome if they want the same thing, right? But then my brain goes, do they really want it? Why do they really want it? If they wanted it, why didn’t they say something? It all boils down to a baseline fear of do they really want me? And if signs are pointing to yes…why do they want me? Followed by, but sure and then they’re going to leave. There are some people who’ve come into my life that I constantly have to shout down the jackass parts of my brain about. I might’ve written a little about it here. Constant process, learning to love myself.

And then there’s music.

Dear *insert dieties here*, music. They say that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, but for me, the most powerful is music. A certain song can throw me backward 20 years. When I find myself falling in love with someone, I go on a quest for music (and sometimes the music gets delivered right to me, which is AWESOME) to help me understand what this particular type of love means to me. I also look to music to help me process most emotions or to amplify certain emotions. I’m forever grateful to people who’ve introduced me to types of music or certain groups/performers that I hadn’t experienced before. There are certain singers/bands that will always be entwined with specific people because they’re the ones that exposed me to that music. My best friend has said that I experience the world through music and I think it’s true. It’s my first filter. I often think in song lyrics. They’re flying around almost always in my head. Music is infused in all I do.

And when I write my own stuff, and sing it…it’s…it’s like stripping away everything and flashing the world with my soul. It’s immediate. Visceral. I can’t hide behind the covers, a computer screen, nor sprint for the nearest door. I mean, I guess I could run and hide. But if I’m committed staying there and singing…it means I’m actively choosing to stay and be seen. It’s one of the purest forms of sharing. It’s so raw.

Sometimes it feels obscene to be that raw. Like, surely there are propriety laws or at least common social mores to observe. Someone is going to accuse me of, like, corrupting minors or breaking a law, right?

And because the Universe works in mysterious wonderful ways and helps to keep you on the path of opening up when you decide to, I found this poem on a friend’s FB earlier this week when I started writing this post. I now need to look up the works of Nayyirah Waheed.

Aaaaaand speaking of the Universe and its mysterious wonderful ways, also as I was in the process of writing this, I was reintroduced to this quote:

“Most people believe vulnerability to be weakness, but really vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves, are we willing to show up and be seen?”
– Brene Brown

Sounds similar to what I had said above about not being able to take power from the powerless and how submission is not weakness, either. It’s all connected. And at least for me, in my heart…music, submission, and love are points of vulnerability. Opportunities for courage. Offering another fucking opportunity for growth.

And man, this year has been one of grieving, change, and growth. I sometimes can’t keep up with all the emotions/experiences and being an empath on top of it makes it even more challenging. I’ve also been traveling a lot lately, and it’s difficult to be traveling with people I care about and not always be sure what to do with all the conflicting things that I’m trying to process. The past and the present and the future all swirling together. There have been many tears and only a few answers so far, and I get so frustrated with myself when I can’t control the damn tears.

Vulnerability means that I can’t always close myself back up the way I used to. It means sitting with the grief and uncertainty and insecurity and figuring out how to proceed. Sometimes it fucking sucks. Sometimes, though, it means other things. Like creating music with someone you respect, trust, and care about and just…being seen. When it’s that, it’s fucking awesome.

Sunday was fucking awesome.

To be kneeling again…only kneeling again…

The subject of kneeling has been a difficult thing for me. For as long as I’ve been in the scene, which is getting close to twenty years now, I’ve wanted to learn kneeling positions but for various reasons, such as the timing or interests of partners not lining up except once, it’s not been a Thing. For that one time it did, it was like a light shone from inside of me. A light I had almost forgotten existed. I also began to find that meditating on my knees was a thing that brought me great peace and clarity. When I first started, I also began to find that I could kneel for longer as I practiced.

However, bodies are funny things. Sometimes, they can’t do the things they used to be able to do. I don’t know if I fucked it up or if it’s a product of getting older, or both, but somewhere along the lines a few months ago, my right knee began telling me that kneeling wasn’t such a good idea anymore. I tried many things. Adjusting positions. For the Gorean positions I was practicing, the ones involving being on both my hands and knees were better, but still had some issues, especially for more than five or ten minutes. I tried adjusting the positions, but that still only helped for short term. Eventually, it became something I couldn’t sustain.

This sadness this has caused hurt so badly that took my breath away. I’ve literally found it hard to center myself via breathing and meditating because my body wants so badly to be on my knees. Wants…so many things that that means.

And yet…we can’t always have what we want.

But.

A few weekends ago at TES Fest, I was in a scene. At various parts, down on my knees. It was like the sun had finally come out. (The impact and endorphins helped a lot, too) I tried so hard not to get overwhelmed with the fear of how fleeting it was. Tried not to hold on to it too tightly and just embrace where I was in the moment, because there were other things going on, too. But I was so grateful. After the scene was over, I tried not to get lost in the fact that it was over. That I wasn’t sure when I wound be on my knees again. Not sure how possible it was going to be for many reasons. Since life has been relatively busy, I managed to put it aside for awhile.

Then my best friend took me to Santa Fe this past weekend for my 40th birthday. On our last day there, we were treated to a 90 minute session at 10,000 Waves, a spa that is known for it’s soaking tubs, both private and public. Our treat was a private suite with two teacup soaking tubs.

Do you know what’s incredibly possible and a helluva lot less painful in a warm, 2′ deep teacup soaking tub?

Kneeling.

Do you know what I did for the majority of the time I was in that tub, as soon as I realized this?

Knelt.

At first, I cried. I tried not to make it all sobbing, because y’know, there with my best friend and we’re supposed to be having a relaxing experience. But once I got some of the tears quietly out, I threw all the gratitude I had out into the universe and felt everything in me relax. I meditated, I asked the universe for guidance with a lot of the difficulties I’m currently having with D/s, relationships, life. I opened myself up and felt the pain of not knowing how often I’d be able to kneel but also being so grateful that I could do it at all.

Once that all flowed through me, as I concentrated on just breathing and letting whatever I felt happen, I got…giddy. And started to draft a filk of “Human Again” from Beauty and the Beast. I don’t know if I’m the first, but seriously, after a while, all I could think was “To be kneeling again, only kneeling again, when my body once more feels at ease. I’ll be where I belong, dear god, it’s been so long since I’ve felt so much like me…”

There’s more, but it’s not quite finished. Gotta work on that.

Right now, though, I’m just so glad I got that out, that I had these two experiences to show me that things can change, and they might end, but there are still possibilities I never expected. The core is still there in me, regardless of if I’m on my knees are not. Now I just have to figure out how to tap into it more.

Punishment/Corrections: Why I Feel They’re Useful

The other day, I had a brief chat with a lovely friend also in the scene (henceforth in this post they shall be known as LFAITS) and this happened:

LFAITS: Does it make me a brat if I did something wrong, feel awful about it, but am “looking forward” to the punishment? Like not the pain, just that I am being held accountable? Is that weird?

ME: Slightly. But I think that sometimes it’s understandable to look forward to punishment, as long as you’re not regularly acting out to get punished. Not weird at all. Being held accountable is incredibly…useful. It helps you understand and feel safe and secure in your place in the relationship. It helps build trust, that there will be follow through and your partner(s) words and orders and actions mean something. It enforces care because they are taking time to make it happen and hold you accountable. It’s incredibly fucking important, actually, I think.

LFAITS: Our D/s is super casual…so I look forward to the serious times.

ME: Oh wow. I think I might write on this. Do you mind me anonymously quoting you?

ME: Oh, I hear that, too.

LFAITS: I don’t mind at all

Got me thinking about punishment and corrections and how I also technically “enjoy” them. I don’t derive pleasure from them, but it makes me feel loved and cared for when there are consequences to reinforce that I made a bad decision, acted poorly, or simply willfully disobeyed. (The latter doesn’t happen often at all, but it has been known to happen once or twice.)

Basically, though, the punishment should somehow suite the person, infraction, and reason. Like, I can take lots of impact on my back, but I’m a total ass wuss. I don’t like spankings as part of D/s general play, unless there’s sexual stimulation or penetration involved. However, I know there are some people who love spankings just…as a spanking. Nope. Not me, thank you. But that makes it a very effective tool as a punishment for me, should there be a fitting reason to spank me. Other punishments or corrections I’ve been given are writing assignments, kneeling for a period of time, and sometimes kneeling while holding something, having things I enjoy taken away. I’m curious about emotional punishments, but with everything going on in my life right now, it’s likely better to wait to delve into anything like that. I think I was the best hydrated that I’ve ever been for months after I was made to kneel holding a glass of water because I had not properly hydrated during an event last year.

As far as being bratty, I personally don’t find it bratty to look forward to the serious times, especially when there’s a mostly casual dynamic. In the past, I’ve been collared in a 24/7 relationship and have also been in/am in more casual dynamics that were uncollared. And there have been/are some dynamics that were/are undefinable. But what it boils down to, for me, at least, is knowing that the person on the other end of the lead (tangible lead or not) is there. That we’re both actively involved. It makes me feel safer in the relationship and builds trust.

I remember one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in regards to this came when I was nannying a few years ago. There was, obviously, no D/s involved between me and the kids. But I observed that the two girls I was nannying would act out around their parents all the time. The parents would then lament that they couldn’t control their kids and regularly ask why I was able to get them to listen to me. What was my secret? They wanted to know. How did I do it?

Simple. I held the kid’s accountable. If I said that we wouldn’t go to the library for story time if they didn’t clean up their toys first, then we didn’t go to the library for story time if they didn’t clean up their toys. If I said that they were going to wind up in time out if they threw a tantrum about getting All The Things at the store when we were going for just milk, bread, and whateverthehellelseIsaidIneededtoget, then they got a time out. Their parents, however, gave in. Or brought them to the library anyway. There was no follow through. And when they did get punished, it happened really abruptly, in angry ways that just made the whole situation feel out of control. The kids didn’t learn anything but to try maybe not push quite so far, but that they could totally get away with way more with their parents than with me. I also said “no” and meant it. I didn’t say it angrily, nor in an upset way. It was matter of fact. Sometimes, I was apologetic, but it was still firm. They learned they couldn’t and shouldn’t push it…with me at least.

I feel like this lesson translates well into life and a D/s dynamic, specifically. Be clear about what you want and your expectations. If something happens that goes against them in a D/s way, then I think punishment/correction is warranted and I, too, have been known to “look forward” to being held accountable in that regard. It gets a little more complicated as adults, though, especially when I don’t think it’s realistic to think that there can be a clear, known punishment for every possible infraction. Sometimes Dom(me)s/Tops have to get creative. But just knowing that there will be a punishment/correction is incredibly important, as far as I’m concerned. I’m curious what others think and have experienced.

Kink Bucket List for 2017: Now w/ More Sex!

So last month, I wrote a Kink Bucket List for 2017. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that I really should’ve written a Kink & Sex Bucket List for 2017. Normally, the two are fairly separate for me, and rarely does kink mix with sex. Well. That is, not until the past year or two. I’m currently finding more experiences and people where the line is blurring in interesting ways and I want to explore that.

So! Here’s the updated list:

Scene: First flight* (So. MUCH. EXCITE.)

Get D/s notebook and start writing in it (already started doing that!)

Scene: Being hit with a belt* (So. Much. Fear.)

Read at least 4 5 books on kink sex this year. Current reading list goal:

  • Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas (already started. Fantastically inclusive book)
  • Radical Sex by Pat Califia
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski (I will finish it this time!)
  • Sex From Scratch by Sarah Mirk
  • Ecstasy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas

Scene: Artistic edgeplay

Learn/look into fire rose flogging

Make out more. Because I have discovered I really, really like making out.

Dear god, moar rope pls

Explore Tantric sex – already started reading Urban Tantra, and talking more about it with a few people.

Radical personal body acceptance including:

  • more photo shoots
  • more acceptance of the three parts of my body I have the most trouble loving
  • actively hone body self confidence and increase time spent with people who bolster that in me and themselves and others

Discover something new I want to try that’s not on my radar yet

Work on asking for what I want and am interested in sexually

Try out new dynamics that I’ve been curious about

Continue to adventure through anarchical poly

Explore dance kink

Scene: Interrogation

Scene: Whip play

***

If you have an interest in trying any of these things with me, private message me and let’s talk!

Points of note, though:

1. Anything with an asterisk (*) is already ear-marked for specific people, so please don’t message about that. Let me get past the first time first and see how that goes.

2. Although I no longer identify as a demisexual, I still take a while to explore sexual connections.

3. Also, I want to seek out more opportunities to play with skills I already have. So if you’re interested in rose flogging, edge play, and sensation play, message me and let’s talk!

For Valentine’s Day, I’mma love myself.

Recently, I’ve been terrified I was failing everything in life. I’ve felt behind, buried beneath, and bassackwards.

Turns out, I have been failing spectacularly.

I’ve been failing myself.

I have been my own worst enemy, afraid of my body. I had a resurgence of sexiness last year, but it dwindled by the end of the year and vanished completely in the last two months or so. I’ve become afraid it would drive those I love away, as it felt like it had in the past. It doesn’t help that two partners in my life have told me that they were no longer sexually attracted to my body because of it’s size. The first time it happened was devastating. The combination of derision in that partners’ eyes, along with the words that shot from their mouth was something I’ve spent years battling. The second time it happened made my heart sink but I also was able to hold my head up and have a discussion about it. There were tears. A lot of tears. I went for a drive. Had a conversation with a dear friend who reminded me to love myself, first and foremost.

Then I also remembered a scene recently where I was petrified to take off my clothing. I was not ordered to. In fact, Sir told me to get down to the lowest form of undress that I felt comfortable with. But with another wonderful person’s help, I got to the point where I thought, “was I really going to protect myself by keeping my pants and bra on? And if my body was going to drive him away, wouldn’t I want to know that now? And why would I want to be with someone like that anyway?” Something stronger than my fear told me I could trust the situation, Sir, and the scene.

So, I stripped to my panties and got to my knees where I belonged.

The scene was amazing and brought me places I haven’t been in years. During aftercare, though, my brain kicked in again and I got scared. Sir made me talk through the shit my brain was telling me and the conversation we had went something like this:

Me: I’m not good enough.
Sir: Wrong.
Me: I’m not pretty enough.
Sir: Wrong.
Me: I’m not submissive enough.
Sir: Very wrong.
Me: I’m too fucked up for you.
Sir: *laughter* Nope.
Me: I’m too old.
Sir: Nope.

By the end of that conversation, I felt more centered and safe again. Later, though, it kept banging around in my head. Apparently, it didn’t fully resonate until I was able to internalize and believe the answers myself. It’s a daily fight to believe it. But I’m prepared to fight. I posted a pic about three weeks ago from a scene back in November at GKE: Classic. It’s taken me over two months to post it because of body image issues.

Also, I started writing this post three weeks ago when I posted that pic and it’s taken three revisions to finally not be afraid posting it.

For some reason, it’s easy for me to see that my friends and partners and metamours are gorgeous and glorious, regardless (or maybe because) of their color, size, gender presentation, hairness, religion or lack thereof, mental health issues, neural diversity, etc. I think variety is good, healthy, necessary. One of my favorite quotes is still from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves:

“Allah loves wondrous variety.”

If this is the case, why is it so fucking hard to apply this to myself? Especially since I’m poly and have multiple partners? One would think that that would be enough to correct my brain, like, “hey, you’ve got multiple partners of different types. Why you no think you pretty?”

Because it goes beyond beauty. Because it’s also sexiness. And sex. I mean, society in general still has a fucking hard time being okay with the fact that not just young, thin, straight, white cis people fuck. Old people do. Fat people do. People of all ethnicities and genders and all kinds of people do (except some ace spectrum people…I see you, too…technically am still one of you to a certain extent.).

And I’ve had a really, really hard time admitting that/when I want attention. That elusive feeling of being desired. When it starts coming up, I hide. Retreat. Say I don’t need anything. The few times makeout sessions happened recently in the last few months have been stupid fucking difficult for me because I don’t think that the other person really wanted it to happen, even with what seemed like enthusiastic consent. It kind of impedes things, especially that being desired thing, if I don’t believe or trust that the person on the other end actually desires me when they are actively showing me that they do.

See, as a submissive, I’ve always loved to please those I care for, both in nonsexual and sexual service (for those with whom I have that type of relationship). It means I tend to initiate things in established relationships. Or used to. And back when I identified as a lesbian a million years ago, I thought I was a stone butch. I’m currently pansexual, and realizing that it wasn’t so much that I solely preferred to please my partner and not have it reciprocated so much as, at some point, I got scared to accept attention, especially in the sexual sphere. I have a hard time believing and trusting anyone could be attracted to me. I tend to need to be hit with a clue by four before I’ll even consider that someone could be sexually interested in me.

That one partners’ eyes come back to me and I’m thrown back, suddenly thinking, feeling this new person is going to wind up looking at me the same way, if they weren’t already. That my body is too big, my breasts are too weirdly small, and my double chin was eventually, if not right now, going to make them sneer at me. And even when I get past all this self-berating talk and difficulty from the past, I may or may not spend awhile asking if it’s real. And even then I may or may not spend a little longer thinking, “sure, okay. You like me now. But when is the other shoe gonna drop? When is the love in your eyes going to turn to disgust?” Might as well beat them to the punch, right? Tear myself down before anyone else can?

What? That’s served me ever so well.

*sigh*

Yeah, I don’t believe me either.

What I’m realizing is that I’ve spent so much time drawing my sense of value, worth, and sexiness based on what other people thought of me. In the relationship with the partner who chose an incredibly hurtful way to tell me they weren’t attracted to me anymore and why, sex had been falling off gradually and I felt like I had to beg (not in the good way) for any attention or interaction. That takes a toll. I think I kind of gave up. Decided I wasn’t worth it.

It took reading a post on Fet to make me understand how desperately I’d wanted someone(s) to be demonstratively, publicly proud of me so I could use it to try to constantly fight the feeling that anyone with me must be secretly ashamed of me and eventually going to leave me for someone younger and thinner and better.  That I’ve craved public displays of affection and dominance because my own self esteem says if it’s not happening, they don’t want it to happen because there’s something wrong with me. That I have a hard time talking about sex because I’m certain if it’s not happening or hasn’t happened in a long time, my body must be what’s wrong. And if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s clearly because they don’t want me. Not any number of other reasons, including, as I’ve recently been hit over the head with, hey…other people have fears and insecurities, too, and they may not want to push me or be sure that I’m attracted to them. These are not easy things to admit. But it’s not fair to try to use someone else to be a buffer or balm to things I have to deal with in myself.

So! I’ve recently tossed all those negative fucks out the window. I’mma love myself first.  I’m not going to draw my self worth from what someone else thinks of me. Or, I’m gonna endeavor not to. It is still a journey. My plan is to seek out people who want to explore and have fun with me and we’ll figure out what that means and what we do as we go along by talking directly to each other. It’ll be different with each person because we’re all unique people. I’m going to stop being my own worst goddamned enemy and running scared before I even get close to someone so they can’t hurt me first. I will hold my head up and rediscover my own fucking fuckableness.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. No matter who you’re with or not with or what kind of relationship style you’re in, may you find a center of love in yourself for yourself. As for me, life is kind enough to line up with these epiphanies I’ve been having and I’m spending Valentine’s Day night having dinner with a dear friend and picking up a vanity she’s giving me. If that’s not a message, I don’t know what is.

Relationship Evolution; or, I did not always poly like this.

Recently, I’ve been having a LOT of conversation about poly structure. With friends, with partners, with metamours. The title of this post was actually going to be a quote from one of those conversations, when talking about the oft-taboo subject of (dun, dun DUUUNNNNN) Veto Power. Currently, I have the philosophy and have expressed to my partners that there are only two situations where I feel Veto Power is appropriate and acceptable.

1. When the metamour is clearly abusive. This can be tricky because I’m not dating nor am I friends with any educationally certified people who can make this call. (If I am, I’m forgetting. Please remind me.) So it becomes a “this feels really fucked up and I don’t like it can we please talk about this” situation.

2. When the metamour is doing illegal things. Like, is clearly a criminal and influencing or involving your partner in those things. I’m not talking the kink line and WIIWD, but things like robbery. Or, hey. You’re dating the unabomber…stop that. (<- what the title of this post almost was.)

Otherwise…I don’t want to tell my partners what they can and can’t do with their bodies and hearts and I sure as fuck don’t want them telling me what I can and can’t do with mine. I make it clear that I like communication. Is there someone new on the horizon? Great! Lemme know. But then…that gets tricky.

What is “on the horizon”? I’ve run into this with a partner or two. What’s on my horizon is different from what’s on partner A’s horizon. As soon as I start feeling crushy feelings, like I want to actually flirt with someone, kiss someone, or play with them, that’s on my horizon. For partner A, that’s just Tuesday. So we talk about it. But I trust my partners to make choices for themselves and for us to find ways to feel special to each other and loved without having to assign a whole buncha labels or rules to it.

This is still very weird and new to me. I didn’t always poly this way.

Similarly, I never thought I’d get to this place, but I am firmly ensconced in anarchical, non-hierarchical poly. What that means to me is that I don’t see lines between partners in terms of importance anymore. I just…love.

Yes, I have a husband. And yes, some people see that as a “primary” relationship. I tend to call it a nesting relationship, which still, in the poly community carries its own level of feeling of primariness. But I realized the other day that if I were not married now, I likely would never get married again. I mean, I can’t say for certain. But it’s not something that means the same things it meant to me when I got remarried. It doesn’t mean I want a divorce. But it means that I am feel far more autonomous than I ever expected to.

I get to choose what I do with my body and my heart. He gets to choose the same. I may not always like his or other partners’ choices in people. In fact, there was one metamour that hurt my brain. They weren’t abusive, or criminal, but they had such a different way of looking at the world that my head actually cocked to the side in confusion almost every time they came up in conversation because their actions or words made little to no sense to me. But this was NOT a situation where I thought Veto Power was appropriate.

This is especially weird and new to me. I definitely did not always poly this way.

My previous long term poly triad was built on a relationship with one person that lasted 12.5ish years (the first 2 of which were monogamous) and another that lasted the latter 10 of those 12.5ish. We practiced hierarchy and rules and labels galore. I thought this would make me safe. I thought this was how it was supposed to be. I thought this was how you poly. And when I talked with other friends, partners, and people and found there were other ways, those ways scared the shit out of me. “How can you possibly know you’re important and loved if you don’t have a ring? Or the ranking of primary? Or secondary? How do you know where you fit?”

Well. It took years, and having the primary (and in other relationships secondary) status, and the rings, and the promises of forever, and the rules, and having them all change over time to make me realize that none of it is a security blanket. None of it guarantees that you won’t grow apart. Or closer together. Or that you might find someone you want to spend a LOT of time with but, fucking hell, could never live with. Or that you want to live with but not see a whole helluva lot. Or gives the best cuddles ever but maybe you’re not that sexually compatible. Or any number of things that I couldn’t even foresee right now but that have happened. I’m also still trying to figure out how and when to use certain labels like “partner”. For me, it’s always been a dividing line between people I’m sexual with or playing with or feel romantically towards. Or some combination of all three. But reading Kimchi Cuddles a lot lately, and talking to other people who have different perspectives, maybe “partner” is more individualized than that. Still trying to figure that out.

But given all this questioning and examination, it became pretty damn clear that I had to work to find different types of security. Other ways to feel special and loved. And I had to trust my partners when they told me that they loved me and I was special to them.

(That last part take a LOT of work. I still battle not feeling good enough, or feeling disposable, or like there’s some cosmic joke and this isn’t real, or they couldn’t possibly be as into me as I am into them, or any number of THIS ENDS IN THE BAD KIND OF FIRE feelings.)

But sometimes…

Sometimes, when I finally run out of fucks to give and face all of those fears head on, I find a place of solace. Where I can go…okay. You’re pretty awesome and I care about. You say I’m pretty awesome and you care about me. I’m going to believe you. Because right now, right here, this feels good and I want to feel this good feeling and don’t wanna second guess it and torture myself with what ifs. Because what if any of them happen? Then I’ll deal. It’ll suck, but I’ll deal. But right now isn’t what if. Right now is what IS. And I prefer what is, even when it hurts or is complicated or messy. Even when it means talking incessantly about something until everyone understands. Especially then. I’ve learned so much about people and understanding in the last few days, let alone the last few years.

Somehow, I got to a place where I don’t think people complete me. But I love how we compliment each other. I don’t look for people to fill in my missing pieces. I look for adventure. And energy that goes well with mine. Sometimes, like the musical Rent says, baggage that goes well with mine because, let’s face it, that’s totally a thing. I want people in my life that help me grow and explore and discover life and I aim to be that kind of person, too.

This is how I’ve evolved in poly. I don’t have the one twue way. I know it won’t work for everyone, and that’s fine. Hell, poly doesn’t work for everyone. You do you. I’mma do me. And maybe, if our venn diagrams have the right overlap, we can do each other in some way, sometime. Or just be friends. That’s cool, too. There’s just so many different ways to relate to people and I find it endlessly fascinating. And I’m sure there will be more evolution. Not sure what that’s gonna look like, but I’m curious to find out.