Monday, June 18, 2018

My definition of Intimacy

Since our most recent holiday in the States I've been ruminating about intimacy and what a feeling of intimacy might really be like, and be about.

I have no idea how other people feel about intimacy but for me it isn't necessarily about being sexual. I have, in moments, experienced deep intimacy through sex. I remember them distinctly because they are not at all everyday experiences.

Don't get me wrong. Many sexual experiences are wonderful, and some are even liberating, but not necessarily intimate. That is to say, they don't raise me up to a dimension that is in the upper hemisphere of experiences.

If you were to ask me, well, which sexual experiences have raised you up to another dimension, my honest answer would be those where a deep, soulful need of mine was fulfilled, even if just for seconds. Those seconds stay in my mind, and can be recalled immediately at any time, on any day.

I could speak to you of the time I was bound and spanked well beyond my limits. That he did not stop as he saw me pulling and pushing at the ropes around my wrists and ankles made that for me, both in the moment and long after in my mind, one of the most intimate experiences of my life.

Such experiences fulfill needs for me over which I have no control. I could go without, of course. Doesn't someone imprisoned in  a situation go without? They don't necessarily wither and die when their needs are not fulfilled. Then again, they don't flourish either. The need for human intimacy, for love and fellowship, remains. The need to be known and understood sits there under the surface.

It was on this past holiday (vacation) that I realized that I also have a need of intimacy in a non-sexual way. It happened one other time for me, that that need was fulfilled, and maybe that time sat in my deep memory banks willing me forward. I am not sure.

It was quite simple really. My husband suggested a hike to a waterfall that would be a challenge for me since I was suffering a bit of altitude sickness and my fitness isn't at his fitness level. I immediately agreed to the challenge and the next morning we set off.

It wasn't long into the hike that I realized this was a significant challenge. It was one of those hikes where you walk upwards, turn a corner and find you have to walk up an even steeper rocky path. Multiple this hundreds of times and you might see why at a particular moment, maybe half an hour from the waterfall, I found myself wording, 'I don't know what to say'.

My husband assured me we didn't need to keep going, that we could turn around and go back. But, once I had taken several breaths the thought of failing, of giving up, became a repugnant thought to me. I do wonder, if in that moment, I was chasing a feeling of intimacy that I hoped might ensue if I finished the hike. I had no way of knowing how I would feel at journey's end but I just knew I had to find out.

When I caught site of the waterfall, all I felt was relief. I just didn't know where to put myself. I suspect he had the same thought and he had me follow him closer to the waterfall. With a final burst of effort I climbed up a rock with him, very close now to the waterfall; so close that we had the spray of the waterfall on our faces.

Finally, I had arrived. I could sit and soak it in. I was very quiet. I watched the water thundering down the rocks, listened to it, and I felt cool, but warm inside. I felt so happy to be here and to be having this experience.

'Turn around,' my husband whispered. 'Look back at the town. You walked all this way.'

If you looked way back, as far as the eye could see, in the very far distance was a square of green , in the center of my vision. On either side were majestic, rugged rock and tall trees. And, then I turned around again, to see the cool water at the other end. I was sitting in what I think is referred to as a 'box canyon', but at that moment, and maybe any moment, the canyon could be quite simply referred to as 'Paradise'. It was so beautiful, so pristine; so wild.

That's when it happened. I reached for my husband, hugged him, climbed up behind him so that my legs were around, and I hugged him tight around the waist. My heart pulsated with eternal feelings of love for him, always there but not always available to me.  He hugged me back. I could feel his sense of love for me coming back at me, into me. In these moments, we were 'one'.

There are simply no words to explain the welling of emotion in my being in those moments, perhaps like bubbles that rise up in a champagne bottle when uncorked. I overflowed with gratitude for the experience, for being alive on this day in a canyon in Colorado, far away from civilization.

What I loved about the whole experience was his tenderness towards me to make this possible. He knew, without me saying a word, that I wanted to make the distance. He knew it would be hard, but he facilitated this for me. When I needed to stop, he stopped. When I needed water, he got out the water bottle. When I needed to voice my doubts, just that once, he offered to go back, but more out of the fact that he knew that's all I needed, to say it, and then buckle down.

He praised me. He held my hand. And, sometimes, when I said that I felt more motivated when he walked ahead of me, he did that. He was patient. He was kind. He facilitated my success.

When I think about moments of intimacy in a power exchange, a BDSM situation, it's just the same. Well, not quite the same. If you suggested to me that the spanking or some other sensation could stop, I'd be too bamboozled by that. Maybe not. It might be the same, ensure I buckle down for the ride. I do so hate being giving options in such moments. But, you know what I mean; it's the same approach, facilitating success, by whatever means, tapping into my need to succeed, to stay the course. That's incredibly intimate to me.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Life has been very good to me lately which is why a burst of anxiety came as a bit of a surprise. I was particularly tired going to bed last night. Since returning from overseas I've been running around like the Everready Bunny and tiredness befell me hard. I slept for a little over four hours and then I was wide awake. Not just wide awake in the usual way, I was experiencing that feeling I get from time to time where it feels like something is under my skin agitating me.

I've noticed in times like this I have taken a rational outlook and look for reasons why I might be experiencing this physiological response. It is as if my mind won't accept it and so I need to find the reason why this is happening.

I did manage to get to sleep again finally but when I woke up the feeling of agitation was there again, even louder and more insistent that I pay attention to it. It makes me want to move and to move away from all human contact. It makes me want to seek out my own company, so that I can settle the anxious response down.

For the first time ever I googled this experience to learn what I already instinctively knew - this was a physical response to anxiety. In a way, this calmed me. I was assured that it didn't last, and that's right. It doesn't last too long, if you can just breathe through it.

Importantly, I have learned that these anxious moments, not necessarily resulting from any particular experience or emotion, simply come. There is no need for self-flagellation, or to involve anyone else, but simply to acknowledge that I am someone who experiences these unpleasant sensations from time to time. It's not a flaw of character, or even something that I need trouble myself about. It is simply my reality. Experiencing this sort of response to an unspecified anxiety is part of being me.

Just as my experience began without warning so too did it end mid morning of its own accord. I kept to myself for my own self care purposes but also to not involve anyone else in my distress. I went about my morning quietly, knowing that to do simple physical tasks calms the experience. I soothed myself by telling myself many times that I would be all right soon, that the crawling feeling under my skin, the dark mood, would soon lift, as it did.

People who are anxious don't ask for the anxiety, don't enjoy the anxiety and only make matters worse by being hard on themselves. I've made enormous inroads on my anxious disposition, enjoy a happy and full life and consider myself a fortunate person in all the important ways.

Still, the anxiety waltzes into my life without an invitation from time to time. It's unsettling and uncomfortable ,but it's my reality and I have no quarrel with it. As best I can I give it room. I've accepted it, happy to wave it goodbye rather than kicking it out the door.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sensibilities, again

Every era has changes such that older people bemoan the behavior of younger folk around them. In many ways my generation is the first for a long time to see such fundamental change in the culture. It's hard to grasp when, and why, the rule book was flung out to sea, leaving people quite directionless.

I'm not talking about matters such as same sex marriage legislation, or multicultural societies. I think sensible older people, in the main, are fair enough about 'the other' to applaud such changes.

What I refer to is sensibilities. I loathe how so many people have no sense of occasion in how they dress now; how going to the theater, to the city or to the beach, seem to suggest to them to wear the same few pieces of apparel. Who ever decided that was okay?

If musicians can spend a bomb on their instruments, invest in expensive loans for multiple music degrees, and then devote hundreds of hours learning precisely a beautiful repertoire for our listening pleasure, isn't it fair for us, the public, to dress up a little and make a celebratory occasion of it?

My husband and I were walking along a street in New York City recently quite unaware that our Airbnb host had recognized us on the street. He told us this when he met us for the first time as we were leaving the apartment.

'Did we really stand out that much?' my husband asked him.

He just smiled and looked down.

Yep. We stood out that much.

I think the South American countries still have strong sensibilities, which is very much to my taste. Recently, one son's girlfriend's mother arrived from Brazil and she brought with her gifts not just for her daughter and my son but for me and my daughter, which was so thoughtful. She had chosen for me a beautiful turquoise beaded necklace and earrings. Naturally, I made an enormous fuss and thanked her profusely.

Her daughter translated her words for me. 'I picked them out as if I was buying them for myself.'

Of course, I then perused the stores to find her some perfect Australian gifts to take back to Brazil, because that's what people should do; reciprocate feelings of deep affection in an appropriate way.

It didn't stop there. She insisted on cooking us the most scrumptious seafood dish typical to her region of Brazil, and she was forever doing things for my son and her daughter - ironing shirts and so on. She wanted to play Mother. Of course she did.

I do feel Starbucks has a lot to answer for because that was probably about the time that we went along with the lie that it was okay to drink out of paper cups, and not any paper cup but the most insanely large paper cup possible. If you go to Europe, or Australia or Japan you'll still be served a cup of coffee as if it means something, probably your only cup of coffee for the day. It will be served in a cup with a saucer. Imagine that. It's not a beverage to keep you 'up' during a manic day of frantic activity but a little break in your day. That's why it was called 'morning tea' and 'afternoon tea'. It was, in fact, an important ritual of the day.

We visited some old friends in Connecticut. Granted, I insisted they not go to any big effort on our behalf. But, when the takeway pizza was served on a paper plate, I noticed. And, when the box of store bought cookies for dessert was plonked down in the middle of the table, no side plate to be seen, I noticed. I'm not being prissy here. These were good friends we hadn't seen in 22 years. I didn't require a 5 course dinner but I did think we needed to create some semblance of occasion.

My concern is where does it go from here? Is anything at all going to matter in 25 years time? Are we going to be happy to just melt into the crowd in jeans and sneakers? Will there be much regard for beauty and occasion and the special moments of life?

We all know that dining rooms and fancy dinner sets are a thing of the past but what of having a family meal together where people can leisurely discuss the affairs of the day? If kids don't get a chance to share their thoughts over a meal, then when?

I'm all for a more fluid society but I think we might be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We do need some customs, and rituals. Dare I say it, I think we need to hold onto some expectations.