Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lessons of the past year

For many years, forever, there has been a fantasy running through my head; that there would be a man in my life who would instinctively and completely understand my need to fall under his wing in every way.

The roles in this fantasy have always been well defined and in order to hone down into that space the fantasies are often a little cruel, when in fact the role I play for him, and him for me, is anything but that; deeply loving, caring, sharing; adored and adoring. I think when we are young there is a sense of wide open space and infinite possibilities that allow for such a fantasy in a young girl's mind and for decades it refused to die. It not only survives, it thrives, even though I am in my sixties now.

It's no co-incidence that I took special note of the story of Jane Eyre as a child. Loving Mr Rochester and him loving her back was molded into the roles they played for one another. I remember feeling at great peace for Jane in the final scene, and deep peace within myself as she sat on the ground right by him, him on the seat patting her head (at least that is the way I remember the scene). It's romantic love that I attuned to even back then but also the themes of maturity versus youth, femininity versus masculinity, leader versus follower. Which is not to say that Jane didn't have a wisdom or an innate understanding of Mr Rochester that she brought to the table. I've always thought of Jane as instinctively attuned to Mr Rochester; his ways, his needs.

It's very hard to let go of such an enduring fantasy and for many years I tended to have a thought at the back of my mind -  if I can't have it all, then I'll do without. But, that thought broke down many times over as I came to see that I was attempting to annihilate out of my life my innate self. The kinky mind has been with me for longer than most of the people reading this has been alive. It's an enduring, soothing thought. It's an important part of my sexuality. It is my sexuality.

As a Caretaker type, meaning a person who can put others needs ahead of their own needs, self-care was a foreign thought.  I said recently to a small group of people - maybe 12 of us, a very safe small group - that it was only very recently, perhaps  the past twelve months or a little longer, that I have understood what self-love even meant. It's been a huge year of self discovery in that sense.

The most important lesson of the year has been that I can't wait for and shouldn't expect 'Mr Rochester' to save me; to tend to me; to lovingly dominate me. Wonderful when it comes along, but silly to wait; to pine for, to wish, to feel resentment and sorrow when there is that lack in my life.

It's a commitment to giving up the victim role, the persecutor role and the savior role. It's akin to saying 'It is what it is' and 'We are as we are'. It's looking at the situation and seeing if there is a new way to resolve the fact that we are in fact very different people; neither better or worse, good or bad; just people whose attention is drawn towards different areas of life. It's recognizing we are equals, with strengths and weaknesses, and seeing if we can accommodate that individuality within a more fun paradigm that includes both of us being fulfilled.

We are as we are, all of us, and there are measures I can take to soothe myself when his attention is steered in another direction; to feel whole; to connect in with my intrinsic self. It's not ideal; not really at all like the fantasy that has endured my whole life, but nonetheless it feels right to care for myself as best I can; to have no specific expectations. This leaves room, I anticipate, for experiences that will satisfy within certain scenarios.

Gratitude is so important in life and I have so much to be grateful for.  I think as we age we develop some wisdom about that. A new home, a new baby, a new dress are all wonderfully exciting things in life in the moment, but so too is a great cup of coffee, the moment when the rose blooms, a cool evening breeze after a hot day, the touch of lips meeting lips; the wagging tail of a dog. There are sweetnesses in life every day if we are attuned to them.

Someone I have come to know was having lunch with Ram Dass one day (what a fantasy that is!) many years ago when she said to him, 'Well, it looks like I won't be having children'. He more or less waved her off. 'Well, there's always something we want we don't get,' he said.  Or, words like that.

This stunned her a bit. It wasn't a small thing she wasn't getting, after all. And yet, she took the point. It's the human condition to have to suffer the loss, or never to have at all, that which we covet. Ask anyone and there will be something in this life desperately wanted but not got - a loving mother, the respect of a father, the admiration of a child, to be an actress or a painter, to work, to not work, to love, to be loved, to have a mentor, to be in print. We all have our thing.

I recently read a quote of Brene Brown. 'Joy, collected over time, fuels resilience.' Like a habit of mind, when we go in search for joy, we collect it in abundance, and this builds resilience for the disappointments and sorrows in life.

As this year comes to an end I feel proud of lessons learned: a willingness and ability to take care of myself, when and if I must; pockets full of joy; resilience; promise that tomorrow will take care of itself.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Altered states

He called me into his office in which there was a bed where he could do procedures. We talked  only a moment or two. We both knew what was going to happen, in general terms, and there was no need for elaboration. I never want to know the details. I certainly don't want to look. Perhaps he asked me if I had any questions. If he did, I must have said no.

He asked me to lie down on the bed. I relaxed as best I could. Thankfully, I was soon able to attune my senses to the jazz music that was now gently twinkling out from an unseen speaker. Clever man to distract me from my own mind! I had had this procedure done once some years ago by a woman with an indelicate sensibility and it had left scars on my mind such that I was very afraid. I had focused on my breathing all the way across town in the Christmas traffic, which helped, but didn't stop my nerves from being on edge.

Lying there on my back he put a blanket across my middle. It wasn't to keep me warm and nor was it to cover me. I was wearing a summer dress just to the knee in preparation of providing access to the area that required treatment. No, I think it was to hold me in a sense, the way when I have my legs up the wall at the end of a yoga class the teacher will put a folded blanket on my heels. Weight settles a person, holds them in place.

He was in control now. He adeptly took some sort of strap and tied it around my left thigh, tight. He then put one around the right thigh in exactly the same way. On reflection, it is perhaps remarkable that this steadied me. Heavens knows what I would feel, or say, or do in the hands of someone who I felt was incompetent but I happily handed over control to him, felt comfortable and in reliable hands.

This is what I think it must feel like to be controlled by a Dominant or Top who knows, or gives the impression that he knows, exactly what he is doing. It is a perfectly normal thing for me to do and to feel, to give that control of my body over to someone who emits confidence, that they know what they are doing.

At first, I barely felt the injections, not stingy at all. I felt them penetrate my skin definitely, but he was so gentle about it that I managed to relax, to the point of a false sense of security. As the needles filled with the solution went deeper I found that I had to either focus on the music such that I isolated an instrument, the trumpet usually, and focus specifically on each note played, or else I just followed my breath, noticing the deep inhalation and then the slow exhalation .

Only once did I emit a sort of grunt, just a tiny bit of noise, the smallest of complaints. Perhaps I was letting him know that I was close to the edge.

'Let me know if it stings,' he said.

I have a tendency, perhaps everyone has a tendency to try to predict the end of discomfort and there reached a point where I thought it might be over. Yet I noticed, even in the moment, that I wasn't invested in that ending. I wasn't preempting anything and I was correct not to do so. He had located somewhere else he wanted to inject and I was quietly pleased in fact that he wanted to be thorough. I knew he would decide when it was over and this was a settling thought.

When he had finished with an injected site he would pull a little on my skin, in the gentlest of ways, perhaps just as a Dominant or Top might apply pain, and then pleasure. I remember thinking that, or something like that. It wasn't a time for logical thought, just feelings.

When he was finished he undid the straps and then he wrapped my legs in bandages. Later that evening just before bed when I undid the bandages I found cotton balls with specks of blood attached with light tape, perhaps a dozen of them. I wondered when that had happened, when he smoothed over my skin after each injection or whether he had done it all at once at the end.

Silly, isn't it, that I was wide awake and yet I have no knowledge of that part of the procedure. But in times when someone has control over us, we go into another space. If there is a procedure being performed, or magic, a sadomasochistic experience, our chances of remembering everything are very low. We are in an altered state.

It's a quiet space, that space inside our heads when thoughts settle and sensations come to the fore; when we notice the beating of our hearts, the breeze on our skin, the delight of a string of notes of a musical instrument, or the sound of a voice steadying us.

For me, it will remain an eternally unanswered question; why on earth would somebody not want the experience of letting go.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This day

 I have less connection with the past. I don't see this as a bad thing. I sometimes have momentary glimpses of my former self, glimpses that come to me, seemingly out of nowhere. I'll remember wearing a bathing suit at a younger age, when the children were young, and how I felt in a particular moment. I'll remember being even younger in a bathing suit at a public pool and the feeling of being so incredibly hungry after a day of non-stop swimming. I'll remember biting into food  and thinking nothing ever tasted as good as that fabricated meat roll that they served at the kiosk.

I remember, just now, feeling that I was pregnant for the first time and going to the doctor in the early afternoon of a work day and being told, yes, I was indeed pregnant. I remember the surge of joy. I was 28 years old.

In some ways the connection between my younger self and my current self is my children. I remember a flight attendant asking me if I had children and I said that my eldest was eight. I remembering wondering at that moment where eight years of my life had gone.

When he was born it was the most wondrous thing that ever happened to me. In fact, he wasn't a beautiful baby for a few weeks, since he was delivered with forceps due to the emergency that ensued in the hospital. But, I'd sing to him and coo to him as if he was the most magnificent baby that there had ever been in the history of the world. My mother recognized immediately that he looked squashed but I saw no imperfection at all and she didn't let on for many months that I had been in a dream space.

Fast forward to today and he is getting close to 33 years old. It still stumps me, where time goes. It is so interesting that he doesn't seem to have caught on that I have aged with him. That's nice really, that he sees me as eternally young.

In a way, and an important way, I am neither young nor old. It is a part of the meditative practice, I suspect, and a lot of spiritual reading, that I connect more and more to that part of me that has no characteristic that can be defined by age, or a changing body, or even a changing mind. I can't always connect to that part of me that is love itself, unconditional love, but more and more, I can.

Perhaps another way to put it is that I feel closer to a world, a life, a state, that one might call Acceptance, the suchness of things.

Certainly, I associate less and less with my thoughts. They come and go, of course, but I'm more inclined to notice them, rather than feel that they are mine. 'Oh, that's interesting,' is a thought I have quite regularly as the thought enters and plays out before it finishes and is replaced with another thought.

The hardest part of the day, and it has been this way for a long time, is first thing in the morning. I realized something this morning, that I often forget that this difficult part of the day can relate to allergies, sneezing and stiffness that relates to the weather. Over and over I have to remind myself that hay fever and the like induces an  agitated feeling that is best medicated.

Yet, it is more than that, I think. My husband is a night owl and in order to have him get as much sleep as possible I'll put off preparing for the day, having a shower and dressing. This works against me. I have to keep reminding myself that it is best to get up and get ready for the day; create momentum. We've talked about that and he encourages me to day what I need to do.

I'm very aware that there are less days ahead than those that have gone. I've very aware that those who were my age now when I was young are gone to God. Time takes us all. I don't think of this as a troublesome thought but I had a thought earlier, and noticed it, that I want to see my grandchildren. I want to meet them. I am hungry to meet them.

This is a thought, a thought about the future, a fear. We all have our fears, not that they do us much good, unless it is for purposes like getting out of the way of a speeding car and that sort of thing. I'm troubling myself about the future which will most likely have no relevance to my fearful thought.

I think there are times of life when we struggle for awareness at all, such as when I was young, and times like now when I feel a strong need to absorb all the change that is going on inside of me. Meditation practice for children is probably an excellent idea, but it wasn't part of my childhood. I suspected there was more, more than I could see at the time, but maybe all young children suspect that in some way.

Now, for me, it's not unlike a pulling away of people at the end of their lives who develop a deeper understanding of this life. I'm not pulling away from life as I've seen people do who are ready for life to end but rather I'm so awed by life that I need time to simply observe it. To this end, I feel a bit alone. I can't talk to anyone about this, quite simply, no-one. Where would I even start?