Thursday, March 26, 2015

Having a voice

For the past couple of days I have had a friend staying with me. She was diagnosed with bi-polar back in college days, but as I see it, her obsessive-compulsiveness is also a very distinctive part of her personality. Frankly, she's been talking my ear off, really quite manic at the moment, since she has messed up her medication and taken double strength of one drug and none of the other. Amongst this she has drunk her fair share of wine and I lost count of how many coffees she has had. I could feel my headache worsening by the second; my shoulders grow stiff. I could feel my whole psyche start to break down yesterday.

She just says whatever comes into her head. She just says the most inappropriate things. But, in amongst all that she has a wisdom and a clarity of thought that I have come to respect. She asks the most penetrating questions and makes the most lucid observations that I can find myself starting to psychologically fall apart, to feel fragile; as if someone noticed, through acute observational skills, that I've been in a pretty hard spot for quite a while now. It's disarming to realize that she can penetrate my 'armour'. Still, I'm too sensible to 'spill my guts'. Lord knows she has told me the most ghastly secrets of other people in the past few days. I had no idea people lived as they do!

'Your husband is volatile, isn't he?' she said as I drove her to lunch.

"Well...yes...he is."

"Ever physically volatile?" she wanted to know, the silence penetrating the two feet between us.


"It must have been difficult at times. He'd want his way..."

I wanted to be truthful without saying too much such that she'd have a bone to chew.

"He is strong willed. Sometimes I have just agreed with him, for simplicity sake, even if that meant we did things with which I didn't agree at all. I didn't feel there was a choice."

"But, that's a conditioned response," she shot back. "Would you allow him to walk you over a cliff, or into bankruptcy court?"

Once again, the conversation had gone down a burrow that wasn't safe or comfortable.

There is no way to get inside a marriage; no way to describe how two people operate that is going to be entirely satisfactory to someone else; no way to explain that empathy and blind faith has led the way for me, rightly or wrongly. I still believe I did what I could, when I could.

Yet, I took her point. I needed to be strong enough to voice my opinions. I needed to withstand whatever bluster was going to come my way when my opinion didn't suit him.

I so want to be led and follow along. I hate conflict. But, it is so important to have a voice, to express opinions, even when they are unwanted or in opposition to one's life mate. My friend is right about that. I am working on it...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ms. Bronte and her power

In Year 9 at school my English teacher was an intimidating, learned, snobbish English woman with grey hair tied up in a French roll. She wore her black flowing academic cape at all times and, being tall and lean, she looked down on us with what appeared to me to be considerable disdain.

The first thing she asked us to do at the beginning of that year with her was to write down the books that we had been reading in the past few months.

'The titles will tell me something important about each of you.'

I understood what she meant. She was sorting us into categories - those worthy of her great intellect and those destined to disinterest her; those who would go on to study English Literature and those who would not.

I wondered what she would make of me. I had been reading Jane Eyre, yet again, Wuthering Heights, of course, and short stories from Reader's Digest, mostly romance stories, as I recall. It was so obvious from my list that I was a hopeless romantic, deeply entrenched in reading stories of gripping intensity about love.

I was a sucker for Mr Rochester. His aloofness and apparent disinterest in the orphan Jane Eyre didn't put me off a bit. I somehow understood at the cellular level that he loved her, although his words made it difficult to really know that on an intellectual level. Indeed, the love for her had to be felt. I could watch the closing scene of the film endless times, the discreet way that these feelings were portrayed by each other for one another. There's not a doubt that the story affected the rest of my life and that in some way I looked to create for myself this sort of scenario which I saw as a very deep and desirable love to have and to receive.

Sometimes, I return to novels such as Portrait of a Lady, an old favourite. I'm particularly partial to Chekhov's short story Lady with the Dog. I'll happily read more current novels where love is a focus, Burial Rites, The Marriage Plot, The Interestings. Michael Faudet's collect of poetry Dirty Pretty Things is tantalising.

One of my earliest 'power exchange' type fantasies (although I had no idea of the concept in a formal sense) was that I worked as an assistant to a English Department Professor. He would ask me to do research for his papers and lectures. He was fond of me, impressed with me, secretly wondered how he would do without me, but he expressed none of these thoughts openly. It was up to me to know of his feelings towards me without any words being said.

'Good work', was the best I could expect, and a sharp reprimand for work not fully fleshed out was inevitable if I didn't turn over every stone on his behalf.

I revelled in this fantasy for years and years, just so comfortable in being the helpmate to a sophisticated, educated, able, older man.

From where might I have got such an idea...?

Such is the power of the remarkably well told story. Ah, Ms Charlotte Bronte, if you only knew what power you have held over me!

Friday, March 13, 2015

This moment

Something happened back at the beginning of February. I knew within two seconds that circumstances had changed forever, but the brain often needs time to process and accept. I knew immediately, but I wasn't ready to confront the fact, to face it, or to do anything about it until now.

I limped along, sometimes pretending that it wasn't true, playing along really. I guess we were both playing along; either that or it was all planned out on his part. I'll never know. We'd say 'hello' and sometimes just that until enough silence had passed that one of us said 'bye'. Sometimes we'd ask how the other was and the other would say 'very good', which was a lie, of course, but we played this charade several times over anyway.

On occasion, we pretended to be somewhat casual, chatty 'friends'. For a few days we talked about a novel, a bizarre thing for us to do really because the conversation didn't go very far at all, even though it is his favourite novel of all time. Neither of us could get into it. There was always that huge elephant in the digital room taking up so much darn space.

On another occasion he spoke a little of his day and his worries, but again, it wasn't our thing to do that. He'd always been plain talking about the fact that I surely didn't want to know about his boring work day and he didn't want to know about mine either.

I'm not sure if, after knowing my mind intimately for six years or so, he would be able to tell you the names of all my children or even the details of any one particular day of mine in those six years, a single detail of a necklace I wore or the colour of any particular dress. We didn't talk like that. He didn't show any interest in any of that or encourage me to ask those sort of questions of him. He wouldn't have answered them if I did. That's a fact, because I did, for some time, make an effort to know him as an all encompassing human being but he wanted no part of it.

 I heard an author say recently that he is always looking for the moment when things change for a character. Having brought the character to life, he still can't know when it is going to happen, so he has to be vigilant about detecting it when it comes along. Meg Wolitzer, author of 'The Interestings' doesn't see it quite that way. In fact, she doesn't leave it to the reader to interpret when things change for an important character. She tells the reader. It's New Year's Eve in New York City and Ash's brother has been arrested for the rape of Cathy, a member of their friendship group. They are back in Ash's room after the police refused to allow them to see Goodman. Even though she is late teens Ash's room is full of stuffed animals from her childhood.

'He's not technically even an animal at all,' Ethan said. 'But go lie down with all of them and get some sleep. I'll take care of you.' The words were said lightly but with feeling; he was signing on, this was the moment it happened, and Jules saw it but didn't know it.'

Of course, the moment of revelation, alteration or transformation doesn't just 'happen' out of the blue every time. Sometimes, it is just that time has to play out or someone has to be ready to make the next all important move. I want to skip over that move. I'll just say that when it came it was a 'STOP' light. It was impossible to ignore it, to go around it or under it. I had to confront it. I had to say to the elephant that the room was too bloody crowded and why was he here in the first place?

I waited a couple of hours. When I'm agitated I'm deeply agitated and I needed to calm down. But, nor did I want to wait until my brain started to come up with excuses as to why I shouldn't act, why I should ignore such a great, big sign. So, after a few hours I constructed a 'goodbye' letter which simply had two sentiments, two main paragraphs. First, I noted that I had realized that things had changed. Secondly, I expressed my sincere thanks for all he had done for me; for an extra special relationship. I sent him my love, because I do care for him. Why else would I allow someone to boss me and alter me and punish me? Anyone else I would have told to get dog-knotted years ago.

Of course, he didn't want that to be the final segment of the story at all. He wanted what he wanted and he said so in our final chat. If my root chakra is blocked and doesn't get enough nurturing from the soil nor adequate sun to allow it to grow healthily, then his has grown robustly like an out-of-control vine, bless him. He wanted satiation, he said, and although he was in fact, at that moment, no longer my mentor, and that was already made clear a few sentences earlier, he was happy to boss me.

Dominant men believe that they know best. They become God-like beings who see clearly what a woman must do. I understand this. I understand the sentiment and I understand that the sentiment comes from the heart. If only the blasted woman would listen and obey the instruction she'd be so much happier, they think. It's a noble thought, a generous thought and possibly even accurate. But, who is to say what is 'accurate'? Who is to say what is best, really?

Here's the thing about me. I've been a bit of a coward about life. I've not truly believed in my own talents. My flaws and weaknesses, I have embraced, but I have never really believed in myself. At the age of 58 it is time that I did. It is time that I planted my two feet firmly on this Earth and said 'I am grounded, stable and standing on my own two feet'. Even more than that, 'I stand for my values, my truth and justice.' I may have been a sheep, contained in a pen, and, honestly, that worked for me, but to be corralled down the narrow wooden walkway to a destiny devised by someone else when I remain completely confused about which is the right path for me, is something that I cannot do. I cannot do what I cannot do. No. matter. what.

Nor am I going to go quietly into that good night. I don't deny that I still 'leak'; that I can be fine one minute and find that tears have escaped down my cheeks the next, but I will make my final years happy, productive and loving. I'll have adventures, do things I have never done before. I will be more than all right. I will thrive. I promise.

Here's another thing. Who I am today is made up of my experiences, none more important than the mentoring that took place over those six years. I remain aroused by SM activities and thoughts. I shall continue to be aroused by them every day into the future as well, because that's the erotic side of my brain that I can't switch off. It's a lifetime battery.

Two days ago my husband blew up at me. It had nothing to do with me really but was merely a moment of frustration with someone else. But, it upsets me and I sent him an email later in the day asking him to please try not to do that, that it leaves me upset all day. He wrote back and said he was very sorry and when he returned home it was with a beautiful bunch of  Asian lilies. I cried on his shoulder. It had been such an emotional few days.

He worked that evening well into the morning and feeling rather shattered by all that had gone down I wondered what I could possibly do to aid myself to sleep. For the first time in my adult life I remembered Teddy, my youngest son's bear that now sits on my bedroom chair. I gathered Teddy and fell asleep clutching him. I hadn't meant for my husband to see it, forgot it was there, and later he said to me, 'I see you had Teddy in bed last night.' 'Yes,' I said softly, because I was embarrassed and because I didn't want to explain all my distress.

This morning my husband had to leave the house early but he took me in his arms whilst still in bed and he said to me, 'I am sorry I have been a bad Owner.' I didn't say anything. I just hugged him back.

There's no poignant, clever thing to say about the future. I can only speak of this moment, right now, and right now, I'm standing on my own two feet, hopeful; always hopeful.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Solitary times

We were sitting together on the couch when my husband said to me, 'What would you do if I were to die?'

I thought about it and said, 'I'd probably look to get away for a while on my own. I'd probably travel to a big city, London probably, because I know I can manage London, and I'd walk a lot and go in and out of galleries and take the train to other places, little adventures.'

He listened quietly, which isn't a particular habit of his, so inclined is he to share his opinion.

'What would you do if I died?' I asked.

'I'd travel too but to a remote place, like South America maybe, and I'd go hiking high in the mountains on my own.'

That's the part about him that I missed as a 19 year old girl; that he is quite a solitary man in many ways. What I saw was someone that was able to chat away with so many people in college, who seemed at ease with himself and who could get on his motorbike and take off for an adventure at a moment's notice.

I was the solitary one, scared of my own shadow. I was the one looking to be taken on adventures, to places I didn't know about. He did take me places, in fact. We started our life together in the United States where his career became the centre of our lives. With no visa to work there myself I procured employment in the only legal way possible, to work for another country within the country, and that wasn't exactly a good career move but it was an eye-opener and I don't regret it.

One thing led to another, children were born, and the career never did get going. I have been what is commonly referred to these days as an 'enabler', and I'm aware that this suited me too. The desire to be a wife and mother was my greatest desire, what came before everything else. Until you have babies and pre-schoolers that you can scoop up and kiss and cuddle you can't imagine what a thrill that is; how much love there is in those relationships. Every instinct in my body told me to reach out for that.

I'm very fortunate that the children keep close to me; close to me in their hearts. My eldest son, (and for me the sun shines out of his ass) warmly accepted my invitation to come with me to a couple of talks in town after work soon, and after those we'll walk to a bistro and share an evening meal. I covet that time with him. I'm very lucky to have all that love in my life.

Still, changes are afoot in my life. I can't deny that the breeze that wafts through my door is beckoning, insisting, that I begin to consider the final stage of my life. I spoke to some women older than me about it recently and they nodded, looked very serious and considerate and agreed, this was a transition I was going through. It would take time. I must be gentle with myself, they said.

My husband and I spent a long weekend at the holiday house just gone and we worked together transforming a part of the garden. As usual, I was dog's body, but that was fine because I could see he had got into this project and wanted to call it his own. He did a great job. When I wasn't needed I lay on the bed and read my book, 'The Interestings' by Meg Wolitzer. What a read!

I was dozing when he came into the room and I gathered myself to get him off to the tip (rubbish dump?) but he told me to stay there, to enjoy my nap. I was drifting in and out of sleep, allowing thoughts to come up, noticing them, perhaps trying just a little to sort them into some coherent form.

I could see through the window that a white yacht was slowly making its way down the lake. I was capturing little snippets of it through the pine trees as it meandered along. The breeze was light, the sun mellow and soft, and I luxuriated in the quietness and the gentleness of the afternoon. There was something very tender about the experience, almost 'other world'.

I've noticed that I am constantly seeking alone time right now, happy to walk the dog or go to an exercise class or shop for the food for the meals I make, but not much more. In some way, my mind seems to be asking, should I go quietly into that good night. Is this the way this story plays out? Tender, mellow times? Without a strategic brain, I cannot say. Nor am I in a position to make big decisions right now. I know this assuredly. Some time must pass. There's a little grieving to do. And, then? We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Soul mates

I've a tendency to view my submissive response as part of my desire for peace and serenity in my life.  Whether I am feeling dominance in a physical sense, or whether I am able to sink deep into a meditative trance I am blessed with an arresting of my overactive mind.

It becomes obvious when I am in need of one form of 'therapy' or another. Two Saturdays ago my husband performed a wonderful therapy session for me, providing me with a range of sensations that left me feeling 'objectified', cared for and closely connected to him. I like to feel some physical force, to be in no doubt that he is in control of me and what happens next. This enables me to give into his animalistic desires and to experience a floating feeling. The more he tells me that I am just a sexual object for his 'use', that I'm to do as told, that my holes need to be filled, stretched, fucked, plundered, the better.

Sex is a marvellous therapy but it certainly isn't the only therapy I use. I am blessed to be part of a group where one woman plays her crystal bowls for us for over an hour once every month, and this experience I consider sacred. She focused last time on the bowl that is symbolic of the heart - said that the group dynamic and energy led her back to it again and again - and I knew this instinctively during the meditation because I could feel my heart opening up and a huge wave of empathic feeling wash over me. When I first started going to the group about a year ago I was a little uncomfortable that everybody hugged me, but now I look for my hugs. They are very evolved people, especially the woman leading the group and I draw energy from them. Perhaps they draw energy from me too. I don't really know.

Today, I just knew when I woke that I needed to go to my Tuesday noon meditation group and sit with myself. I rushed through my tasks this morning so that I could get there and sit on my cushion amidst like-minded people. I'd read several days ago now that going to that meditative dark hole that we attempt to reach is like death and thus we should not fear death. The thought resonated with me and I have been using it ever since, finding great solace away from the noise and complexity of my life in that dark, death-like state. The meditation today was one of the best experiences I have had there for a long time, helped, I am sure, by a cooler day. I've passed out before in summer in a small, closed room of meditating people and it is not a fun experience.

I am firmly convinced that we see the world through our eyes and our eyes see according to what we feel inside. If we are unsettled we pick up on the flaws and difficulties and when we are settled we see the flaws and difficulties but they don't seem nearly as important or as close up.  We know we have the strength and resolve to deal with them quietly and calmly.

I've found it to be critical that I speak to or be in places silently with like minded people; people resolute in finding peace in their lives. It has been this way in the D/s/power exchange arena as well. I choose gentle people. One or two of them along the way have been sadists but that doesn't mean that they aren't gentle folk. I adore the feeling of being cared for. In those moments, in play or just thinking about them alone with my thoughts, I get a great welling of love in my soul which feels exactly like a soul to soul exchange. I think there are several pathways to a kind of heaven on earth. It could be riding a bike for 20 miles for some people for all I know. You just have to find the right one for you.