“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”  — Abraham Lincoln, sort of…

Abraham Lincoln actually did say that – but it’s a bit out of context.  He was responding to a woman who posited that he was not being hard enough on the newly conquered South.  She made the assertion that he should not be attempting to rebuild the South or to refer to southerners as he had – as men who were blinded by circumstance.  He was a learned man – though an autodidact – and he paraphrased the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.  What Lincoln said in response to her query was, “Why madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

And so he did.

I’m an extremely fortunate man.  I’ve said this before, and I say it often enough that I would not blame you for thinking that I am trying to convince myself of the truth of the statement through repetition, but it is true.

I’ve been stressed out, tired, grumpy, and unhappy lately.  When this happens to me, my desire is to turtle.  I want to shut out the rest of the world and just sort of lick my wounds until I feel ready to face reality again.  Of course, this manifests itself in even further enhanced grumpiness as every little incursion into my world even from those that I love is an invasion into my need for isolation.  I snap at my kids; I snap at my girlfriend; I snap at my colleagues.

I’ve been doing this all week, since I got back from my trip to the Middle East.

At first I could blame jet lag.  It was almost certainly a factor.  I wasn’t eating, my sleep was off, and I was just generally miserable.  But I think it goes deeper than that…

Everything in my life right now is in flux.  I just settled my accident case – though not satisfactorily – this is one instance where being a Caucasian male definitely works against me.  My project at work is being transferred away, and I’ve been wanting to find a new job for quite some time.

My back was aggravated by the air travel – I can’t sit for long periods of time without it causing my back problems – but it brought one thing into sharp focus.. job stress is FAR more harmful to my health and my back issues than even sitting on a plane in coach for 20 hours.

Job stress is killing me – possibly literally.

I like to think of myself as being reasonably grounded, as being Zen in places where others cannot be.  I like to try to react unemotionally but with empathy, or at least compassion.  I try to be rational in all things, and yet, in this instance, I am most un-rational.

I seem to have an expiration date when jobs are involved.   For the first six months or so in any new job, I am in love all over again.  Even if I’m doing something very similar, I have many new things to learn, new people to meet, new technologies to play with, and new experiences of nearly every type.  Eventually the newness wears off and I develop confident competence – I become an expert and I begin to take on leadership roles, and that works for another year or two.  I invariably come across and begin to resent those that are either not competent or who lack the ethic that I bring to task.  At first I silently compensate for these low performers, but eventually I begin to resent them, and that’s when the downward spiral begins.

In my current job, I’ve been spiraling for a bit more than a year now.  For awhile I was able to achieve some sort of emotional distance, but eventually even this failed me and I find myself where I am now, angry and feeling exploited.  I began to stop compensating for the lack of ability in my peers and rather than reacting as I expect, those further up the corporate totem pole bring their ire to me directly – the things that I was doing to compensate for the lack of ability or focus in others are no longer getting done, and despite the fact that these things were never my responsibility, the fact that I am now no longer doing them becomes my fault and my shortcoming.

The injustice of this only serves to further increase my anger and unhappiness.

And now, recent market changes have made it economically irresponsible for me to leave my job and seek employment elsewhere, so, as you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a bit trapped.

And what do I do when I feel trapped?

I pull in and react to the rest of the world with anger and resentment.

I could rail at the gods.  I could pull back and say to myself and the rest of the universe, “this is unfair! Why me?!”   I could blame others – the colleagues that I have been carrying, the management who is laying the blame at my feet, the Universe itself for being a cold, uncaring place.  I could lament my misfortune and no one would blame me for it.  My friends would support me, “you’re right, that’s unfair!  You deserve better.”  And I would be grateful for their support.

But that’s not the way out of this.

It’s in my nature to take charge of things.  It’s in my nature to automatically pitch in and take over when things are faltering.  It’s part of who I am to sacrifice my own time or my own desires in order to bring the team across the line.  And I do it, over and over again.  And I’m unlikely to stop – and even if I did, that wouldn’t make me happy.

The problem is that I can’t do it forever.  Not without developing resentment.  This is normal.  This is not a violation of Zen principles – to deny my own feelings would be turning a blind eye to the most important thing in my universe – Me.  And while martyrs get nice things written about them more often than not, martyrs also tend to die miserable deaths, and I’m not quite ready to lay down and die yet, so I need to take care of me.

So, how do I get out of this, you ask?

I turn my enemies into friends.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I abhor my boss.  She’s incompetent, lazy, bigoted, and just plain mean at times.  She is not a leader, and in my opinion, does not deserve her position.  She is barely capable of holding on to it, and if I were willing to sacrifice my own position, I could certainly bring her down.  But I won’t do that.

I’m going to make her into my best friend.

I am going to do everything in my power to force her to succeed where she is floundering now.

I am going to change my world.

Now, while this is something of a personal epiphany that I’ve had, and while I’m arrogant enough to think that it might be worthy of reading, it’s really not got anything to do with the focus of this blog, which is BDSM specific – for the most part.

So, to bring things back into focus, I’ll extrapolate from D/s philosophy and put this into terms that almost make sense in that context.

I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall by trying to Dominate my boss and my colleagues.  I’ve been trying to expose – bluntly at times – how fucked they really are if they don’t do as I’ve been suggesting.  I held my head high, knowing that I didn’t create the situation in which they find themselves so thoroughly fucked – I just did nothing to prevent it.

And even though I know better – I tried to pretend that those two things are not the same thing.

Just as a lie of omission is still a lie – to allow something to occur through inaction when I could have prevented it is the same as causing it myself.

And so.. I was Dominating nothing.  I was allowing things to happen when I could have controlled them.  The proper thing to do for me – the proper thing to do to respect my own very nature – is not to get out of the way and let bad things happen, but to control them to create the best possible outcome that I can, and I was not doing that.  So – things were falling apart, and I have been extremely unhappy to watch it unfold.

You’d think that I’d have some sort of schadenfreude inspired glee at watching things fall apart, but really it’s just made me a mess.

No more.

I don’t care who gets credit for things happening as they should – I never really have.  So – I’m going to fix it, and in so doing, fix myself.


The Monster Inside

Firstly, before I begin this post, I need to apologize – dear readers.

I promised that I’d be more frequent with the updates, and then life got in the way again.  Even while I was not able to keep up on the blog posts, I have always been responsive to email requests from my readers, until this past week.  I’ve received a few emails that I was not able to respond to for almost a week, and for that I apologize.  I think I’ve responded to all of those that require a response, but if you sent me something that I failed to give an adequate response to, please re-send, I think I might have lost one or two in the process.

I should also apologize for the content of this post – it’s in keeping with blogs in general, but not precisely with the tenor of this blog in particular.  This is a personal piece that has almost nothing to do with my role as Dom…

As I write this, I’m sitting in an outdoor covered patio on a beach on the Mediterranean.  It’s overcast, but warm, and while it rained a bit earlier this morning, it doesn’t seem to be threatening rain now.

You’d think that this would make me happy, but really, I’m rather discontent.  I’m far away from the one that I love, in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and in the company of people that seem to not like me.  It’s the sort of thing that makes one angry and pensive – at least when that someone is me.

I miss my girl.

Lately, we’ve both been stressed to the max and it’s boiled over a few times into conflict, but even when things were their worst, this remains the most solid relationship that I’ve ever had – while I still have doubts about myself, and I still wonder how I had the good fortune to find her, I no longer have any doubts about us, and that is really about the only thing that is keeping me sane today.

Anger is just below the surface, and it’s undirected and undirectable (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but you know exactly what I mean by it, so leave off) and it’s become a terrible distraction.  If my girl were here, I could do something about it, but then again, if my girl were here, I would likely not have to…

I’ve spoken about my ‘Aggressive Days‘ before, and this would seem to be quite similar, but whereas I didn’t quite grasp all of the nuance involved in bringing me to this point when I first wrote that entry, I’ve had a bit of a personal revelation since then.  I thought at that time that part of the reason that I was unable to really let myself loose and open up my Primal side was because that wasn’t really part of who I am anymore, or maybe that I was growing too old and the chemistry of my body was different enough that I didn’t feel the same things as intensely as I did, but that’s not actually true.  I think I was just with the wrong girl.  Things have taken a much better turn now… but I want to talk about the past a bit, to where these things began – I think.

When I was a teen boy, not quite a man, but thanks to an early puberty, looking every bit the part, I sort of … broke.

When I picked up the pieces that were left, I was not the same person – or rather, I was not just the same person, there was something else, something new, something that broke off from the main part of what I consider to be me.

The Monster.

One of my favorite novel series is called the Sandman Slim series, written by Richard Kadrey.  Incidentally, Mr. Kadrey is a San Francisco resident, respected fetish photographer, and at least peripherally connected to the same scene to which I am a part, but we’ve never crossed paths that I am aware.  If by some chance Mr. Kadrey or one of his acquaintances happens to be a reader of this blog, I’d very much like to buy him a beer and have a conversation.  I don’t completely relate to every aspect of his antihero protagonist Stark, but I do identify with him to an extent, and one thing that I certainly do understand is the problematic way that broken people (to apply the term loosely) like Stark, and to a lesser extent, myself, deal with other people and the world at large.  There are certainly times when I think that I belong in Hell myself, and there was a time when I was convinced that I should be, or that at the very least I should be isolated from society, so as to not cause any harm to those that I actually care for.

This is not because I like to be alone.  Sure – I need alone time, and I think everyone does, but nothing has gone so far to reinforce the point that I need people too as sitting here, surrounded by people that are in most ways alien to me.  They speak a language that sounds like nothing I can understand.  They live and move and wander around me as if I am not even here.  I sit here, surrounded by people, more alone than I have been in a long time.  I was at a grocery store yesterday to buy some basics, and I completed the entire trip, including purchasing a few sundries, without speaking a single word to anyone.

And so… here I sit.  Pensive.  Angry.  Lonely.  Longing.

And there is a part of me that is raging.  I don’t understand the things around me, and while I can still read the body language and emotional cues of the people I see, I cannot understand them, and that is making me tense.

I don’t do so well when I feel this way.

I grew up in fear.  I let myself be led astray by a man that I respected and he abused me in the worst way that he possibly could have.  I didn’t have any control over my own destiny, and when I managed to pull myself out of that particular situation, I got myself trapped in another.  I think that these things worked together to make me who I am today, and contributed to my need to control everything – including myself.  Which is why the need to channel the scared young man inside of me into physical and emotional actions.  It’s why I want to control every aspect of my life, and it’s why I want to exert control over others.

But my heart is still strong and I’m still a chivalrous man.

I’m beginning to accept and even embrace this side of me.   It’s always been something that scared me in the past.  It was a thing that scared others too.  Simone once told me that she was only in her life ever afraid of two men, her father and me, but she never told me why.  I think I know though.  I’ve always kept the monster caged, and I do again today, but he’s come out a couple of times recently, and I’ve not lost control.

There are two ways you can control a situation, and each has its place.  You can seize control.  You can force your will upon someone, and if you have enough power, you can get them to do what you want.  Or you can accept the burden of the situation.  You can allow yourself to be pulled in, and then with a strong will, you can guide the way to the resolution you desire.  This is not a manipulation, this is a sublimation.  You can give up control in order to get what you want… what you need.  These are the two sides of the D/s coin.  And they both need to be employed to make for a complete life.

In my present situation, I could attempt to seize control.  I could expend my personal power in a number of different ways and force those around me to act how I want them to.  It might even work, contextually.  I could hire an interpreter or guide.  I could only go places where I know that there are people that speak English.  I could only acknowledge the things here that are familiar.  But I choose not to.  I am immersing myself in the world here and now, and it’s quieting the monster.  I am experiencing new things and expanding my horizons, become bigger, better, stronger, more… but I do not think that I could do that by forcing the world to meet me where I am.

It has taken me a terribly long time, and perhaps in some ways my growth in this area was stunted, but I’m learning that extremes have their place, and it’s not sufficient to ride the middle line all the time.

I can let the monster loose when I need him, or when I want him, and I can still be the man I want to be.  I can let him take control when I want to, but I am always still there, watching, making sure that nothing untoward happens.

This is how I can love my girl, even as I choke her until she passes out, or slap her across the face as I fuck her.

Fuck, I miss her.

I’ll be back with her in a week.

I can hardly wait, but I know I am strong enough to manage it.