Pain – the nonconsensual kind

Three years ago I was in a car accident.

I was the last car in a line of cars trying to merge from one freeway to another when a guy in Ford Econoline E350 work van was driving along, texting on his cell phone and not paying attention to where he was going.

I was at a dead stop.

He was going 55 miles per hour (that was the CHP estimate, he was probably going faster…) and not looking in front of him.

I saw him coming at me in the rear view mirror.

I saw the back window buckle first.  It sort of got pushed up from the bottom and then it popped.

It’s kind of amazing how your perception of time changes in a moment like that…

I felt the shards of glass hit the back of my neck at about the same time I was aware of being pushed into the car in front of me and then the back of my seat collapsed, fell back, and was pushed up again by the hybrid system battery pack being forced through the seat behind me and pushing the car seat (empty – thank whatever gods there may be) into the back of my seat.

Then I became aware of the noise.

Somehow, the van careened off of the back corner of my vehicle and struck or was struck by a car in the lane to the left of me.  It was that car that t-boned me on the driver’s door.

I was flung forward against my seat belt at an angle and then bounced back to hit the post between the front and back seat with my head.

I don’t remember anything after that for what I’m told was about 35 minutes.

I regained consciousness with paramedics asking me if I could move my arms and legs and whether or not my neck and back hurt.

“Yes,” was my answer to all of the above.

I was proud of my succinctness, and amused but the whole situation.

The next thing I remember is one firefighter talking to another,

“Be careful there, this thing has side airbags.”

“It does?”

“Yeah, I don’t know why they didn’t go off, but you don’t want it breaking your arm if it decides to go off now.”

They decided the only course of action available to them was to cut the doors off and take out the post between the front and back seat.

I didn’t much care, I was just sort of floating there in space and time, aware of most of what was happening, but not really involved.

They tore the car apart, cut the seat belt off of me, cut my shirt off as well (it was wedged in something, I think..) and secured me to a board to carry to the ambulance.

The ride in the ambulance to the trauma center was interesting, but not really worth relating.   You imagine it being a smooth ride at high speed, but it was really mostly stop and very little go.

I had no idea how badly I was injured.  I am lucky to be alive.  I am grateful, every day, that my kids were not in the car with me at the time.  I had recurring nightmares about that for over a year.  I still occasionally do.

I have constant pain from my injuries.  I have not had a day completely free of pain since then, but most of the time it’s pretty manageable.

I broke my collarbone, cracked one of the vertebrae in my neck, broke three ribs, cracked my skull, got knocked unconscious for about half an hour, and suffered tremendous intra-muscular scarring as a result of tensing up right before the impact.

The bones have all healed by now, the soft-tissue and psychological damage remains though.

My car was totaled.  I was out of work for four months.  When I finally did go back, I had to take a different job that was closer to home because I couldn’t handle the commute.  I wasn’t able to pick my kids up for a year.

I’m a different person now.

I have some physical tics.  My back feels like it’s always tense, and that my spine needs to pop.  This causes me to lurch my shoulders and twist my back and neck several times an hour, and much of the time I’m not even aware that I’m doing it.

I get grumpy a lot.  I snap at people for things that don’t merit it sometimes.  Constant pain, even if it’s low-grade and manageable, wears on you like nothing I’ve experienced before.

I was addicted to opiates.

I kicked them, but I’ll always be dependent on over the counter drugs, TENS treatments, physical therapy, or something else in that vein.

I exist in a constant state of conscious suppression of my pain and the emotions that fall in its wake.

Usually, I can ignore it.  I can push past it.  I can act and appear as if it’s not bothering me, but it’s always there.

Patience is one of my super-powers, and without it, I’m certain that I’d be an angry and useless person.  I manage to live mostly in grace and love, and I am grateful for whatever it is within me that makes that possible.

I am stronger than I ever believed I could be, and I’m getting stronger every day.

Today isn’t a good day.  I have a lot of pain, and I’ve retreated into my own mind more than I normally have to, but I am still here, and I’m going to be here tomorrow.

There are people who love me.

There is one who is Devoted to me, and she made me dinner and sits here beside me, wanting to take my pain for me, and though I’m not a Sadist, sometimes I wish I could lend it to her for awhile.

I am fortunate.  I am strong.  I am alive.  I am Adored.

I am Rant.

Fear is the Mind Killer

I have trouble trusting people.

I’m going to write about trusting people, but what I’m really writing about is fear.

I don’t think he intended it to catch on as it did, but Frank Herbert nailed it when he put down the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. When it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

I have trouble trusting people because I am afraid.

I trust the wrong people, I trust people with the wrong things, and I don’t trust some of the people that I should with enough..

I deal with emotions differently from most people, but I still feel things.  I have love, I have happiness, I have hurt, I have anger, and I have fear.  I crave love and happiness, I deal with hurt, I address anger, but fear that is the thing that gets me.  Fear paralyses me.

If I can turn fear into anger, I can sit behind my fortress walls and calculate your devastation.  If I can turn fear into hurt, I can cry over it and be done with it in time.  If I can turn fear into happiness, well, I’ve just been on a roller coaster, and that’s pretty awesome.

If I could turn fear into love though… that would be the epiphany to rule my life.

I thought I did.. twice.

I gave my fears to a man who called himself Jubal and he showed me a family.  My own family was broken and my faith was shattered and I had no power to fix it, but I needed that feeling of belonging and he and his followers supplied it for me.  I thought I was a part of something, but in reality, I was objectified and used like any other object, to be tossed aside once I hit my expiration date.  Jubal took away my fears for a time, taking ownership of them as he took ownership of me, without my knowledge or consent about what was being done.  He gave me more things to fear in the end, not less.

I submitted to Simone and I thought that I was turning fear into love, but her betrayal was the hay hook that twisted into my gut and pulled my insides out, metaphorically speaking.  Her tutelage did not come without some benefits, and I cherish the experience she gave me as part of what has made me who I am today, but where she took some fears away, she replaced them with others, and it has taken me quite some time to get clear of those.

In each of these cases, I thought the path to turning fear into love lay at the hands of someone else.  I suspect that this forms the core of many D/s relationships.  I’m not convinced that I was wrong, but I’m not convinced that I was right either.  What I do know is that D/s will ultimately fail without absolute trust and transparency, and those things are difficult when fear is in play.

There are various people in my life that I have no choice in trusting, or that I trust with things to one degree or another, but I may still keep some secrets from.  I dislike secrets, but I’ve come to learn that sometimes keeping secrets protects the person that I’m keeping them from, and the burden of that secret becomes mine to bear.  For this reason I now avoid things that lead to a need to keep secrets at all.

Intimacy is built on trust, and can only be fully realized with someone that you trust completely, someone from whom you hide nothing – this is about transparency more than truth.

I have had my trust broken, as we all have, many times.  This is the thing that I find hardest to let go of, and it is the single largest source of anxiety and depression for me.  I worry about my trust being broken, I worry about my trust being used to take advantage of me, I worry about confiding something in someone and having it used against me by someone else, and when these things happen, because they have all happened to me, I am crushed.  Over and over again.

I think this might be the core reason why I prefer polyamory to monogamy, but that is a treatise for another day.

I spend an inordinate amount of my personal resources worried about a breach of my trust.  Because I tend to carefully choose who I trust and with what I trust them, this is something that happens rarely and something that I should not devote so much thought and energy towards, but I do, and it does happen.

It happened again yesterday.

Yesterday was a weird day.

I was coming down off of an amazing Sunday evening with my partner at a fancy hotel and fancy restaurant, where I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people who are deeply into the local scene and also – and much more importantly, in my opinion – incredibly intelligent and good conversationalists.  My partner and I had the fortune of being upgraded to a two bedroom suite, and since it was just the two of us, we invited a friend to come and use the second bedroom and make herself at home while we were away at dinner.  She’s been unhappy with her living arrangements, so the thought of a clean bed and bath all to herself was something that made her very happy, and I am always a fan of anything that can bring joy to others.

So – I’m coming down off of that great experience, and yesterday morning I also got to briefly see another good friend (who my partner and I will be having dinner with this evening) and everything seemed good with the world.

Then I learned that Robin Williams was dead from an apparent suicide.   He struggled with depression and the other myriad of problems that follow in its wake.  I liked the view of Robin Williams that I saw – I think almost everyone did – and I identified with his struggles to an extent.

I’ve long held that fame is the ultimate mind-fuck, and I don’t know that demon, and I’m glad that I don’t, but I had compassion for him, and his passing, especially in the manner in which it occurred, affected me more than I would have expected it to.

My partner was out of touch for most of the day, having her own things to deal with, and then was dealing with some extreme work-related stress of her own, so we haven’t had a chance yet to talk about my day yesterday and my struggles as I’m moving through today, but I know that we will, and that brings some comfort to me.  Missing her is getting harder as time moves on, and that scares me too.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

But these things are all minor in contrast to the knife that hit my heart late last night.

I’m a parent.  If you read my About Me page, this is no surprise, but I have custody of my kids half of the time.  In the summer, this can be difficult because they don’t have school, but I still have to work.  This week they are staying with my mom, which is hard enough because I don’t get to see them during the week like I normally do, and I have some issues of trust with both of my parents, but especially with my father.

Before your imagination goes nuts, know that my kids are fine.  They are safe and happy and as far as I can tell, they are completely oblivious to my trust issues.

So – my parents are divorced.  They divorced when I was a freshman in undergrad and chose to hide this fact from me for months – basically until my fees came due (which they had told me that they would pay for me so that I could focus on school) and I called home to ask about them.  That’s when I learned that they would not be making good on their promise to me.  I actually knew about the separation and divorce filing long before they told me, because my sister was still at home at the time, distraught with the news, and reached out to me.  She swore me to secrecy on the point though, stating that they had told her they didn’t want me to know until after my finals.. we fail on communications as a family.

Anyway – the loss of their funding was a tough blow to bear, because while I’d held summer jobs since before I was old enough to drive, I had never been responsible for supporting myself entirely until that moment and it was scary.  But much worse than that, in the ensuing chaos of the separation and divorce and more, my father did something for which I still have not forgiven him, and I’m not sure that I ever will.  He took out student loans in my name – which I had no knowledge of – and kept the money for himself.  I found out about these when I matriculated and was asked to pay them off – a delayed financial blow that caused me extreme personal hardship when I could least afford it.  He refuses to acknowledge that he did this to this day, and has never made any effort at restitution, even attacking me for making the accusation despite confronting him with the paperwork.  So – for that and a plethora of other reasons, my father and I do not get along.

The largest part of this is mine, and I’ll own that.  I don’t trust him.  I don’t trust him to keep his word on anything – he has failed me too many times in the past.  I don’t trust him to even look after himself.  I have not seen him sober in ten years, maybe more.  But he is remarried and has a whole new family of codependent dysfunction, and it is everything he thrives on.  I would be happy for him if it wasn’t so toxic.

My mom is an alcoholic as well.  A high functioning one, perhaps, and generally she has a good heart and makes the right decisions as long as money is not involved, most of the time.  I had some difficulty in trusting her to be the responsible party for caring for my kids for an entire week because of her substance abuse problem, but she is splitting the time with my sister and she promised not to drink while she was the sole caretaker for them – a policy that I keep for myself as well.

My sister is crippled with anxiety and depression.  Where I stare into the abyss and wonder, she is still battling the call.  She is on a myriad of treatment plans, and I know she has a good heart, but she makes some of the worst decisions.. I wish I could empathize with her better to understand her motives sometimes, but I am none of the things that she is.  I am not female, I am not the second child, and I was not actually there when my parents dissolved their relationship.

I love my mom.  I love my sister.  I might love my father – I’m not so sure on that point, but I have always held to the belief that my children have a right to know him, so whenever he remembers that they exist, I try to make it possible for them to see him, but I always control the interaction because I do not trust the man.  I feel like he would look me in the eye, tell me that he loves me, and then literally stab me in the back if there was something in it for him.  I mean that I believe he would literally put a knife in me if there was something in it for him.  I truly think that he is a genuine sociopath, and not just for how he has treated me, but in witnessing his dealings with others for whom he is supposed to care.

So when I received a text message from my mother after 10:00pm last night asking me to call her, I responded quickly.

She had obviously been drinking.  She was not slurring her speech, and she was probably not even aware that she was under the influence, but she talked at me for nearly an hour, going over the same series of events again and again, informing me about how my sister had taken my kids to the park with my father and his new wife (of about 7 years now) without having consulted me on the issue first and lamenting the fact that she was in the middle of all of this.

My mother has never remarried.  She has not even really dated anyone since my father left.  She still – after more than 20 years – fosters a great deal of bitterness towards him and, by extension, his new wife, so I know that a great deal of the motivation behind her drinking and calling me was those feelings that she has not resolved.  She has always thrived on drama, and I think she actually needs it to feel anything at all.  I told her numerous times that I didn’t want her to do anything and that she was only in the middle of things between me and my father because she was putting herself there.  This is not the first time I’ve told her this, and I repeated myself four times again on the phone last night.

This morning, I received a number of irate text messages from my sister telling me all of the things that my mother accused her of after our conversation last night, despite the fact that I told my mother specifically that I would talk to my sister and that I did not want her to say anything to her.

Again… my family fails at communication.

I know that by 22:00 my kids were safely asleep and that even in her influenced state my mother could and would have called 911 if there was some catastrophe that were to emerge in the middle of the night, an event that is highly improbable anyway.  She was almost certainly coherent enough to parent, though probably not legal to drive.

But here I am, confronted by my familial failure at communications and betrayal on multiple fronts, and my first impulse was to hop in the car and retrieve my kids for the rest of the week – work be damned.

My mom should not have been drinking, and she should not have called me to try to pull me into all of this drama.

My sister should not have allowed my father to join them without asking me about it first (I would likely have said yes – provided she agreed to my ground rules – but can I trust her with those now?)

My father should not have solicited my sister to meet with my kids without consulting me about it first, directly.  He knows this, but he hasn’t contacted me in any form in over a year now, not even to talk to them, or to send them birthday cards, or anything like that.

Each of these things, individually, is a breach of my trust.

Each of these things, individually, is a cause for me to fear.

All together, I was nearly overwhelmed and I nearly did jump into the car to go retrieve them.  I’m not altogether certain that I won’t tonight.

And yet…

My kids were never really in any danger.  They are still young, just 6 and 8, but they are old enough to recognize bad situations and mostly to avoid them.  I’ve made certain that they both know my address and phone number, and that they know how to dial both a landline and a cell phone.  They know that they can call me at any time and I will drop everything to get them.

My sister did not leave them under the care of my father – I think that despite her desire to appease him and the secrecy through which she has lived her entire life that she knows if she were to do such a thing that I would find out and when I did find out that it would mean an end to her privilege of seeing my kids entirely.

My father is a coward – as all sociopaths are – and he does not have the courage to even just pick up the phone and ask me about spending time with them because I do not bend to his will like the rest of the sycophants that he surrounds himself with, so this may be the only chance he has to see them until I next decide to reach out, which will be lengthened due to this event, but I always do come around – because I am forever trusting the wrong people with the wrong things and I still occasionally trust him with my emotions.

My kids are fine.  They are having fun and they are not in danger.

My sister and I will have a chat and I’ll talk to her about transparency in the same way that I have done with submissives in the past – not because she is a submissive but because the only thing she understands and takes seriously from me is authority.  My father and I will have a chat and I will explain to him once more that I don’t trust him but that I believe my kids have a right to know their grandfather and I will never deny him the opportunity to see them when it can be arranged, but that he does not get to spend time with them when I am not around.  My mother and I will have a chat where I will explain to her that I want to handle my own relationships with my sister and father and that her counsel is appreciated but her meddling is not.

And nothing will change with any of them.

But maybe I will change.  A little bit.

Last year I would already be back home with my kids after having run off in the middle of the night to retrieve them and probably having some very stern words with my mother.  They would feel like they had done something wrong, and no amount of explanation on my part would completely remove the stain from this experience for them.  It would be a horrific thing for everyone involved.

Last year I would have written off my father completely one more time and written off my sister as well, putting months between any contact with them at all.

Today.. I’m sitting with my thoughts, and trying to let the fear pass over me and through me.

I know the facts and they speak to one course of action.  The mindful course of action is to address the problems I see with a level head and let my kids remain there for the rest of the week where they are having fun and have activities planned and would not be stuck inside while I work from home, feeling like they had done something to deserve being punished.

I know my feelings and they are overwhelmed by fear.  Fear would have me act in a manner which will hurt everyone – myself included.  And though I may be able to turn my fear to anger if I act on that path, and sit high and mighty in my fortress of righteousness, the severed relationships and the message that would give my children would be harmful.

I am going to try something new.

In each of those conversations that I outlined above, I am going to try to start my conversations with love.  It will be most difficult with my father, but I am going to try.

Because, more than anyone else I’ve mentioned here, I love my kids, and I want the best for them, and when I use my logical mind, I can see clearly what that should be.  I just need to get out of the way.

I am Rant, and this was a growth opportunity seized.

 

The Darkness Inside

I have sometimes asked for topic suggestions and questions as starters for posts on this blog, but I don’t solicit feedback for things before I publish them.  There is no editing done by anyone other than me, and I while I will correct typos or passages that are unclear, I don’t edit posts after they’ve been posted, so not all of my posts are perfect, just like I’m not perfect, even if I might sometimes want people who read my writings to think I am.

This is an example of my imperfection.

My partner read my most recent post and she had two constructive comments that stick out with me.  The first thing she said was, “I didn’t expect it to be gendered.”  I was a little surprised by this, not because she’s wrong – it is quite obviously a gendered piece – but because I didn’t really intend for it to be that way when I began writing.  Desperation looks just as bad on women as it does men, or on those who don’t closely identify with either of those gender phenotypes.  But I am a cisgendered heterosexual male, and as much as I strongly believe in the value of any and all gender identifications, I find it very difficult to write from the perspective of someone whose struggles I do not know.  Because of this, the piece probably lost a lot of the power that it could have had.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, she stated that I don’t often put much of myself into my writing, and that it can come across as a bit preachy.   I don’t necessarily mind being thought of as preachy, but when I’m not identifying closely enough with the subject material, I’m doing myself a disservice, so I’m going to do the big scary thing here and open up to the world a little, right now.

About five years ago, I nearly killed myself.

There is within me a deep darkness that shows up every once in a while, ever since I was a teenager.  I have a family history of depression and bipolarism, and whether this is something that would have come out for me if I had not been molested, I do not know, but it is about that time that things started to change for me.

Most of the time I can stare into the abyss and come back, none the worse for the wear, but once it nearly claimed me.

In the years since this incident, I have learned a great deal about myself, and I do not believe that I am really in any danger of going this deep again, but it’s something that I am ever-vigilant about, and I’ve set traps for myself to avoid spiraling too far away.  I am far too smart for my own good sometimes.

I was depressed beyond depression…  I felt hopeless, I wanted a way to stop the pain, and I saw no way to get free of the things that trapped me in that existence.

I took out extra life insurance.  It’s shockingly easy and cheap to get $2 million in life insurance for a healthy, non-smoker at age 34.  I made sure that the plan had a double indemnity for workplace accidents.

I made a plan.

I’m a control freak at times, and I wanted to sure, absolutely sure, that when I did it that I would be gone, not a vegetable in long term care, not maimed and living with physical pain to match my emotional state, and I wanted to be sure that no one I knew would ever know that it was my choice to end my life.  It would look like an accident.  I would leave no note.

I did dry runs of the plan.  I could have actually taken my life at any of those times.  Three times, I did this.  I was ready to do it.

And then my daughter told me that she loved me and she missed me because I had to work late, and my resolve shattered.

I looked back over the months of planning that I’d done and the effort that was involved and I knew that I needed help.

I told my wife (ex-wife now, but I was married at the time).

She didn’t understand.  She thought I was attention seeking, which is exactly the opposite of what I was doing, but it didn’t matter.  In telling her, I’d destroyed my chances for success, and I had to continue down the path of getting help, because my plan was destroyed.  Now she would know.  Now the life insurance company would know, and I’d leave my family with nothing but pain.

I was somehow, miraculously, able to summon the strength to get help on my own.  To this day, I still don’t know how I did it.

I found a psychiatrist.  I made an appointment.  I went to the appointment.

My brain has a chemical imbalance, she told me.

My anhedonia was just a symptom.  My feelings of hopelessness were just symptoms of this problem with the chemicals in my brain.

Here, take these pills, and you’ll feel better, she says.

I took them.

I did not feel better.

Weeks later, I still felt terribly depressed, hopeless, in pain all the time – and this was before I had any physical reasons to feel pain.  Apart from the overwhelming miasma of disharmony that surrounded me, I was completely healthy.

Nothing and no one gave me joy.  Even my children annoyed me and made me feel trapped and alone and responsible for things that I felt were beyond my ability to handle.  I was deeply mired in feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I could do nothing right, nothing I did was ever enough, and no one wanted to be around me.

The truth was, of course, slightly different.  I actually was being shunned a bit by family and friends because I was so far down that I made people uncomfortable just by being around.  They wanted to help and felt helpless to do so, and after a few attempts to cheer me up, they eventually gave up.

My ostracization was complete.  So I came up with a new plan.

That’s right.  I was on SSRIs, I was in behavioral and cognitive therapy with a psychiatrist and a separate therapist.  I was writing about my feelings and thoughts daily.  I was doing everything that you are supposed to do in those types of situations, and it was not enough.  My psychiatrist even put me on MAOIs for a time, hoping that would kick my brain back into ‘normal’ mode.  I was beginning to accept that this was the new normal for me.  And in the midst of all of this, I still had suicidal ideation.  I still wanted to kill myself.  And I came up with a brand new plan for how to do it, and I was hiding the thoughts and plans from my therapists.

At this point, I really should have gone to the hospital.  I should have enrolled in some kind of managed care facility.  I was not safe to be with myself.  I have probably never come closer to dying.

My plan required that I purchase some new equipment, so I did.  When one of the people I was buying this stuff from asked me what I needed it for, I responded, “Oh, I’m going to kill myself.”  She laughed at me and sold it to me anyway, without further comment.

No – I did not buy a gun for this, though I certainly could have.

I wrote a note this time – since it was going to be obvious from the method that I was intending to employ that it was a suicide – but I never sent it.  To this day, it remains a draft item in my gmail account.  I keep it as a reminder of how close I came.

Somehow though, I managed to snap out of it.

I stopped everything, and I managed to step out of my misery and look at myself from the outside.

Perhaps it was an accumulation of drugs in my system that finally set me right, or perhaps there was some other trigger that remains invisible to me, but for whatever reason, I stepped outside of myself and looked back and said, “what the fuck is wrong with you?  You have everything you want and more than you need.   People love you, and what you are contemplating doing is the most petty, selfish, and hurtful thing that you could possibly do to those people.  Sort yourself out.”

And so I did.  Somehow.

I stepped back from the precipice, and I started the process of letting go of expectation, of letting go of the images that I’d overlaid on the world.

When I was in high school, I was unstoppable.  I was athletic, I was brilliant, I was gorgeous, and people followed me around like some kind of rock star or demigod.  In college this continued for a time, and then I went through a bit of a transitional period.  I looked into the abyss for a time as my first marriage ended, but I embraced the darkness inside and became something new.  This time, that did not seem to be an option, so it pulled me further down, but eventually I came to realize that the goals that I had set for myself then were just that, goals – and while I can and should always strive to meet my goals, it is not an indictment of my character when I fail to do so.  So I wasn’t a millionaire.  So what?

I was mortified that I was looking back on my high school days as ‘the best days of my life,’ just exactly like the elders of my home town told me that I would.  I was better than them, wasn’t I?

And I am.  I just needed to let go.

Always afraid of failing or falling, I kept a tight rein on what I did and said and planned and thought.  I tried to take control of everything, and while I succeed in controlling much, no one can control every aspect of his life, and I am no exception.

I let go.  I did not let go of my life like I was thinking in those moments where I stared into the abyss, but I let go of all the things that were pushing me towards the edge.

And then the most amazing things started to happen… oh sure, I had setbacks still, and I still do, but I started to look at the world as if it didn’t owe me anything and that everything I had was a gift.  The abyss has no hold over me any longer.  I still have this darkness inside, and it still must come out from time to time, and I even feel compelled to stare into the abyss from time to time, but I can look and wonder rather than despair.

I am blessed.  I am privileged.  I am powerful.

I am Rant.

Desperate is the Death of Sexy

Sex is a funny thing.  When you’re not getting it, it seems like the best thing in the world.  When you get plenty of it, it’s still pretty fucking wonderful, and when you are having as much as you want, with one partner or ten, people can usually tell.  I’m not sure exactly why, but people who are regularly having sex – not just any sex, but good sex – tend to stand out.

Actually – I’m pretty sure I do know why… it’s all about confidence.

There are several ways to describe the unconfident person, and desperate is often an accurate description.

Desperate is the Death of Sexy.

The intra-sentence capitalization there is a bit hokey, perhaps, but the emphasis is warranted.

Nothing moves you from ‘dark and mysterious’ to ‘lonely and pathetic’ faster than the simple realization on the part of the observer that you are not, in fact, mysterious, but that you are, instead, merely pathetic and some of my more timid friends are in awe of my ability to stay in the ‘dark and mysterious’ camp without having to resort to the ‘douchebag’ camp tactics.

I’m here to tell you that it is entirely possible to be both kind and sexy.  Contrary to the current conventional wisdom, you do not have to be an asshole to get girls to like you.  In fact, you just have to not be a pushover and you have to ask for what you want.  I’m not the most attractive man in the world, but I have no trouble whatsoever in finding sex partners because I am confident, intelligent, kind, and patient.  And by patient, I don’t mean that you stalk the poor woman for four months and hope that she’ll relent and have pity sex with you – the fact that that ever works is a serious detriment to us all, but that’s another rant entirely…

Somewhere in the twentieth century, Western society started to view women as people.  This is an amazing and long overdue accomplishment.  Someday, perhaps we will get to the point where we view women as equals as well, but that is something that I’ve harped on to various degrees in previous posts and won’t get into again here.

Anyway – the reason for mentioning the above is that prior to about a hundred and fifty years or so ago, there wasn’t much of a concept in Western society of consent as being important to the act of having sex.   Women were quite literally the property of their fathers or husbands and it was up to those men to decide when the women in question were allowed to have sex and with whom.   Women were viewed either as assets or liabilities, but never as people.  They were something to be sold away or bargained with.  And once the woman in question was of ‘breeding age’ she would be disposed of by her father and taken possession of by her husband who would then gain exclusive access to her, sexually and in every other way as well.

Fucking barbarian viewpoints if you ask me…

Anyway… somehow we managed to pull our asses out of such depravity and recognize that women have a right to control access to their own bodies.  This gave them the right to say ‘no’ and they often did, because out-of-wedlock children are still viewed with a stigma attached, it’s a very difficult thing for a woman to raise children on her own, and for the first time women were being given a choice about whether or not this was something they wanted to do.

When the birth control pill hit the streets we had a brief period where sex was viewed as something that could be experienced for pleasure alone and without all of the consequences that were commonly part of that equation before.  Women were actually, finally, and for the first time ever, able to choose to have sex for the sake of pleasure alone – something that men have enjoyed since the dawn of time.  The era of ‘free love’ was born and because the impetus was on women to go on the pill – a choice which they alone were empowered to make, reversing the power dynamic on a fundamental human drive for the first time ever – they became the de-facto gatekeepers of sex.

This put the choices that led to ‘consequence free’ sex into the hands of women alone.  Of course, this isn’t completely true – condoms have been around for much longer than the pill – but they require some forethought and for some reason which I cannot understand, are anathema to a lot of people’s enjoyment of sex.

So – the common belief evolved that men always want sex and that it is up to the woman to decide when and where this occurs because the preparation for this is her responsibility.   This is a naive viewpoint, but let’s let it slide for now…

This is a pretty new paradigm shift, but it is at least a couple of generations old now, and pretty firmly entrenched.  When the AIDS epidemic killed ‘free love,’ the changes to the way society views women and sex were already firmly in place, so sex became a lot scarier, and women started to say ‘no’ more often.  This is relaxing a bit now that HIV is treatable, and thus no longer a death sentence, and because infection rates have dropped in most of the world other than sub-Saharan Africa, but it is something that still plagues the minds of those in their 30’s and low 40’s.

So, now women had multiple good reasons to say, ‘no’ more often, and for the first time, the fact that they were saying ‘no’ mattered.

Guys in my generation were raised to respect this.

This is a good thing.

But society is a very poor teacher.  In order for the message to carry through all facets of society, it must be delivered as bluntly as possible and the consequences for failing to meet with expectations must be severe.  The end result was that the message, as delivered, was somewhat emasculating.  It came with the worldview that said, basically, “you can have sex with a woman only if she ‘gives it up to you.’”

This is a dangerous and harmful idea.

Firstly – this makes the assumption, once again, that men want sex with anyone and all of the time.  Secondly – this makes the assumption that women are reluctant to have sex in general, and that you will only succeed in getting into her panties by performing some kind of heroic act for which she is so grateful that she decides to go against her normal nature and allow you to have sex with her.  Implicit in this assumption is that women don’t want to be having sex normally.  And lastly, this also includes the assumption that sex is a taboo topic that should not be discussed openly, and that hurts everyone involved.  My general rule in life is that if I can’t talk about it openly, I should probably not be doing it.

Women like sex every bit as much as men.  Especially with patient, kind, and confident men.  Their tastes with the actual experiences differ considerably from woman to woman, but this is true of men as well.  Some women like to be called dirty names, some are totally turned off by the very thought of that.  Some women like to have their hair pulled or their asses slapped, but others respond only to gentle touch.  It behooves one to learn about what she likes before you start trying to push her into unknown territory.

In my experience, once you earn a woman’s trust (and I’m sure the same goes for men) she’ll be willing to at least try anything you ask her to do.  So if you have a particular kink that she doesn’t share, be patient, be kind, and be confident.  She’ll probably come around, and if she doesn’t you can address that once you know that you’ve at least given it the best possible chance for success.  But if you lose your cool, or you whine at not getting what you want, you can be guaranteed that she won’t even consider it.  She’ll lose respect for you, and if you ever even got into her panties, you probably never will again.  Once the respect is gone, it is extremely difficult to get back.. not impossible, but difficult, and the longer it goes on that way, the harder that climb back uphill becomes.

So – gentlemen of the interwebs – this is my advice to you:  Be calm, be sure, ask for what you want, and respect what she likes.  If you can do those things, you have a much better chance of not only getting what you want, but of getting it often and with enthusiasm.  It doesn’t really matter what you look like, how much money you make, or really any other of the myriad of criteria that society tells you are important.  Of course, it never hurts to be a billionaire Adonis type, but even if you are one, you’re going to get much less actual action if you act like a whiney toad than if you hold your head high, believe that you are valuable, and ask for what you want.

Desperation is the Death of Sexy, and I’m determined to bring Sexy back.

Was this a rant? I’m not sure.

Either way, I am Rant.

Rant off.

Question: What is ‘subdrop’?

A reader recently pointed out to me in email that in my Finding subspace post, I talk about subdrop but don’t define it.  I even go so far as to say that it will be the subject of a future post, but then there is no such post – yet.

Well, I’ll tackle the questions here then : What is subdrop?  How would I know if it was happening to me?  What causes it?  How can I avoid it?

First – What is subdrop?

As with everything in the BDSM world, these are terms that mean different things to different people in different circles and experience levels.  I don’t know where the term ‘subdrop’ originated, but when I was first introduced to it, it was within the context and from the point of view of someone in the Los Angeles BDSM scene at the end of the 1990s.

The Los Angeles scene at that time was defined by extremes.  Play was very rough, people’s egos were very large, status was very important, and drugs and alcohol were prevalent in order to make things even more extreme.  I suspect it’s much the same way now, but I have no firsthand knowledge.  I’m always a bit fascinated by how the scene differs from city to city, but that’s a topic for another day…

Personally, I think that mixing drugs and alcohol with BDSM scenes is extremely dangerous.  Having a drink or two to cut the edge off things is generally regarded as safe, but that is a hazy line to try to draw, especially since alcohol reduces inhibitions.  It makes you exactly the opposite of what you should be when you are impaired.  It makes you bold when you should be meek, it makes you sure when you should question, and it makes you take risks when you should be cautious.  When you couple those reduced inhibitions with cocaine, which was very prevalent in the scene in the late 90’s and you get some really bad things happening.

Tops would not realize how much force they were using because they didn’t feel normal, subs would take more than they should because they were impaired, or in the worst cases, subs would become non-responsive and Tops would fail to note the signs and assume that no reaction meant they should redouble their efforts.

I’m not aware of any permanent injuries taking place, but there were several people that just disappeared from the community after a bad scene.

But I digress… the point of this was that the definition for subdrop was given to me in the context of the ‘come down’ from a cocaine high.

I only did cocaine once.  I steadfastly avoided drugs for the most part in that part of my life.  I am too much of a control freak to do otherwise, but while I did not enjoy the high as much as I was told I would, I certainly got to experience the crash.

I’ve also experienced subdrop myself, and I can say that there are a great many similarities.

So – this is my personal definition of subdrop, based on my own experiences and through the filters which I have developed in which to see these things.

Subdrop is the state of physical, emotional, and psychological withdrawal from an intense interaction with another person.

My definition is simple enough to allow for more than the typical ‘in scene’ views of subdrop, but also requires that there be at least two personalities involved.

I think it’s entirely possible for a submissive to experience subdrop simply from being away from her Dom, whether there was a recent scene or not.  She comes to depend on that personality – that buoying force that helps to keep her on an even keel, and when that is missing, it’s very possible to fall down into the dark places where one feels unsupported, into chaos even.

Subdrop can have many symptoms – in extreme cases it can even involve flu-like symptoms.  The ability of the body to heal itself or make itself sick is well established through literally hundreds of years of study on the placebo effect.  This is not limited to merely taking a sugar pill and feeling better when you have a headache.. there are much more intense reactions that are possible and that happen all of the time.

Subdrop is almost always accompanied by some amount of depression, lethargy, and anxiety.  One person might feel nauseated, another might get headaches, it can be very much like short term withdrawal, and in a sense, it is.

Subdrop can surprise you as well.  The expectation of someone new who has heard about it but not experienced it will be that it is something that is going to hit right away, once the the scene is over, but this is not necessarily always the case.  Sometimes you can still be riding the high out of the scene and even into the next day or two and then subdrop will kick in and pull your feet out from under you.  No amount of aftercare immediately following your scene can prepare you for that.

My partner just remarked to me after reading the first draft of this post that I might want to mention the above situation with delayed onset subdrop, and that when she tops someone new she always mentions to them that she will be checking in and available over the next 72 hours in case they have any issues.  I think this is an excellent practice, and I wish I’d thought to mention it myself.  She is a very wise and experienced partner, and I’m very lucky to have her.

In a BDSM scene, or in a D/s relationship, we establish extremely intense relationships that play exceedingly hard on our emotional and psychological state.  While I’m not aware of any research that has been done on subdrop specifically, it has been shown through other studies on psychological reactions that a person can induce a dopamine response in their own brain from nothing other than thought.  I am, unfortunately, thinking mostly about a study on religious fervor and how really believing in something can make you feel the presence of God.

I’m an atheist, but I did once have faith – true faith – and I know that the intensity of some of the experiences that I have had through BDSM are every bit as intense if not more so because they are accompanied by physical activities.  One has to wonder if the self-mutilation that is often incurred in ‘primitive’ religions is not due to same kind of physical/psychological fervor.

In any case, the intensity of the things that we do and the drug-like effects of being in subspace combine to make for a very powerful intoxicant.  Is it any surprise, then, that these deleterious effects may follow once the stimulus is removed?  Of course, one must not put too much stock into apparent patterns without understanding the scientific processes beneath, and I’m afraid that not much study has been done there (yet… perhaps I should ask for volunteers? For Science!) so we run the risk of magical thinking.

So – with a little bit of hand waving and pseudoscience I’ve arrested the issues of what subdrop is, why I think it happens (this is the pseudoscience bit.. I shall endeavor to provide more rigor in a future post), how you can identify if it is happening to you, but not yet what you can do to prevent it.

The problem there is, I don’t actually think you can.

You can mitigate the problems that are caused by it.  You can be sure to administer appropriate aftercare, and that has the largest benefit in my experience.  Going through withdrawal with a sitter is so much easier than by yourself – the psychological impact alone is massive – but you still have to go through it.  The best thing you can do is plan for it.  Like with any drug, know that there is going to be a hangover effect and plan to deal with it.  Plan for aftercare – whatever that means to you – and plan to be down and out for a bit.  Drink plenty of water, cry if you need to, sit with your emotions if you have to, but resist the urge to wallow.

Take care of yourself.

If you are topping someone, set aside time to take care of your bottom.

If you are in a D/s relationship and you have to be away from your partner for an extended period, plan to spend extra time with them before and after the schism.

If you are a bottom, realize that your top may actually need aftercare as well.

Be mindful, be compassionate, be self aware and subdrop is not such a big deal, and it might not even affect you at all.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.

 

Postscript: For the first time, I’m going to ask you, my readers, for feedback.  I don’t necessarily want to know what you think about this post (though I welcome that feedback as well) but I want to collect subdrop experiences.  Have you experienced subdrop?  What did it feel like?  How did it happen?  Did you engage in proper aftercare?  Please let me know either in the comments, or through the Contact Me page, or email me at rant@domrant.com.

If I get enough responses to be statistically significant, I will publish the results in a later post and perhaps we can get some real data on the subject.

A Call For Leadership

I’ve received a few emails from readers (but surprisingly few visible comments…) about my posts, but my last post on The Feminist Dom seems to have gathered more attention than average.

I suspect that this is due to the current and ongoing focus on the #yesallwomen hashtag and discussion, but since I have neither a facebook nor twitter account, I’m not privy to a great deal of that information.  What I do hear is either picked up by the mainstream media, relayed through friends, or things that I see on fetlife (which is the one ‘social network’ of which I am, nominally, a part.)

The comments to my post have been universally positive, but there was at least one call to action – a reader (I don’t know what gender this person chooses to identify with, so I’ll use the colloquial ‘their’ despite it being grammatically incorrect – forgive me) has stated that in their opinion, I do not go far enough.  I make a bold statement about my beliefs and why I hold them, but it falls short of the force of Will that normally accompanies one of my Rants, and it is not explicit enough to be a call to action.  I have a duty to do more than that, and in my life in meat-space I do, but I can still do more here (and on fetlife as well) so I shall.

 

I am a Dom.  In my case this works for me because I have certain personality traits that facilitate me taking on that role – it is those traits that make me successful and that allow my submissive partner to feel willing to submit to me.  I have never taken the title of Alpha, or even claimed to be a ‘Type-A’ personality, but the truth of the matter is that I have many of the qualities that people look for in a leader.  If you are being true to your own nature and that leads you to take on the role of Dominant, then you do too, and it is directly to you that I am speaking now.

We are almost all the leaders of our peer groups – perhaps in both vanilla and BDSM worlds.

Some of us are the leaders of our communities.

Some of us are leaders in professional organizations.

Some of us are leaders in the workplace.

Some of us are parents.

Some of us are leaders in other contexts as well, but one truth remains even if none of these apply.

All of us, regardless of roles, regardless of gender identification, regardless of personal power – all of us are a role model to someone and there are people who will observe our behavior and incorporate it into what is and is not acceptable in their own minds.

The perpetrators of the vast majority of violence against women or against transgendered people or against any non-dominant group are men.  They’re not all Dominant men, and they’re not all social outliers, most of them are normal in almost every way.  In fact, this is part of the problem.  It is because society as a whole has divorced gender – specifically the male gender – from the problems of repression and gender violence (not all of which is physically violent) that we are in such a state.  It is because we don’t hold men accountable for our own actions.  We laugh things like catcalling off as isolated incidents by ‘other men’ but I’ve met self-proclaimed feminist men who will still ogle women and may even go so far as to say something stupid like ‘Daaayumm’ when they see a woman they find particularly attractive.

There are men who are now trying to ‘opt out’ of the #yesallwomen discussion by saying that it’s is #notallmen who perpetrate these things.  To a certain extent that is true, but like my original Feminist Dom post, it does not go far enough, and to make matters worse, it shifts the blame to the women making the claims.

Victim blaming is evil.

There is more that I could say on that particular trend, but the above line is succinct and sufficient for anyone who is actually rationally part of this discussion.

Sure, I have personally never catcalled at a woman.  I have never groped someone who I wasn’t very sure wanted me to.  I routinely turn down sex when I feel like the person I’m with is not able to give consent.  And yet, I know that in my past I’ve let comments like the illustration above slide without comment, and I need to stop doing that.  Comments like that, those types of actions, they are all hurtful behavior and they need to stop.

That behavior is part of the problem.

Glossing over that behavior is a much larger part of the problem.

One of my favorite movies is The Boondock Saints.  There is a great line at the beginning of the film, when the monsignor is giving his invocation at the beginning of mass and he says, “…we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.

This is where I get personal.

You.  Whoever it is that is reading this right now.  If you are a male Dom, I am specifically calling you out, but you if you identify as a sub or a switch or something else entirely, you are not immune to this either.  This is not because I do not think that women are capable of fighting their own fight, but because for too long we have made it their fight to carry, it never should have been their fight to begin with.  We men are responsible for our own behavior, but I am calling on you to act and to go even further than that.

Do not be a bystander.

Do not perpetuate the oppression that is holding down more than half of our society and making them feel unsafe, unloved, or unwelcome.

If you are playing poker and one of your buddies makes a comment like, “Dayum.. did you see Kim Kardashian’s ass in that dress? I’d tap that.” do not let it stand.  Do not laugh it off, do not agree, do not just let it slide.  That is an inappropriate thing to say and you know it.  What if he was making that comment about your sister, or your daughter?  I omit wife here because I know that would actually turn some of you kinky fuckers on, but that’s not the point and you know it – so don’t do that either.  Don’t dodge an important issue and attempt to deflect with humor.  Yes – that is why humor works – it allows us the ability to talk about things that are otherwise socially unacceptable and it has filled a very important role in its ability to do that since the dawn of civilization but we are on the cusp now.  We can now take this back and actually make a difference.

If we, the leaders in the male community, take this cause up and act with integrity and mindfulness we can change things.

#yesallwomen is not solely a women’s issue.  It’s not even really a people’s issue; it’s a men’s issue.  It is us, the men, who need to step up and make the asinine comments that our brothers have been making since the dawn of time unacceptable.  These are status-raising comments now and that is totally upside down and backwards.  A bigot should not be rewarded for his bigotry.  If we, men, leaders, Doms, stand up and make it known that this type of bullshit will not stand, if we remove and reverse the status-raising effects of these comments that put others down, if we instead make it so that everybody knows that those types of comments are unacceptable and that they lower your status, then we have the power to change this behavior.

We are the leaders of our community and now is the time to act.

The iron is hot and we have the opportunity.

This is a first for me in this blog or any forum at all.

This is a call to action.

This is a call for Leadership.

I am Rant.

Lead with me.

 

The Feminist Dom

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength,

who makes enormous demands on me,

who does not doubt my courage or my toughness,

who does not believe me naive or innocent,

who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

-anais nin

You see this quote all over the Internet.  Even though I cannot pronounce her name to save my life, I believe Anais Nin to be a genius of the highest caliber.

I make the claim here in the About Me page, but I have also had a profile at various times on one of the more popular dating sites where I make the same claim, and so I get asked a great deal:  “How can you be both a Dom and a feminist?”

This is usually followed with more questions closely on it’s heels.. more specific questions like: “How can you believe that it is okay to punish a woman for (failing to properly prepare your food//forgetting to call you Sir/Master/Daddy//being bratty//letting your drink go empty//eating the wrong things//etc…) and DARE to call yourself a feminist?!”

The answer to those questions lie in the quote above.

I take on the role that I do for two reasons:

1)  I enjoy it.  It fulfils me in a way that nothing else ever has.  I crave devotion.  I don’t fully understand this, but it is what satisfies me.  I am every bit as devoted to those who are devoted to me – perhaps moreso in some cases – but perhaps I am a bit of a narcissist for wanting this.. in any case, it’s true, and to deny it would be insincere.

2)  The woman for whom I play this role requires it of me.  She needs someone to fill that role for her every bit as much as I need to do it for her.  She wants someone who will make enormous demands of her, someone who does not doubt her courage, someone who pushes her boundaries and pushes her to be what she wants to be, she wants a man who will demand that she live up to her promises and who will punish her when she does not.

The service mindset is not a complicated one, and it’s far more universal than one might think..

This is taken slightly out of context, but it’s an interesting quote from a somewhat surprising source:

“Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy”

One would not be remiss to attribute that quote to someone who was known for giving his life in the service of others, and while Mohandas Gandhi did give his life in the service of others, it is his resistance to oppression for which he is most known.  How can one who loves service so deeply also be so strong in his opposition to oppression?

This is the logical fallacy that most people fall prey to when they think about the D/s paradigm.

Service and submission take strength and trust.  It is rare that the convergence of personalities allows for complete submission, but when it occurs, it is powerful stuff.

Many are those who will tell you that in a D/s relationship it is the submissive that really has control.  This is of course, total bullshit.  In a properly balanced D/s relationship, both partners share equally in the power exchange.  They both have the same right to walk away at any time, they both have the right to negotiate for what they want, but ultimately this always ends in the Dominant partner having more power than the submissive because that is what they both want.  The submissive is never in control and does not want to be.  However, this power is a gift from the submissive partner to the Dominant one, and the moment that either one of you forgets that, the dynamic is lopsided and doomed to fail.

I am a feminist, but that does not mean that I believe that women are exactly equal in all things.  Women are exactly equal in most things, and they are better at some things, and there are wonderful and amazing things that they can do that I will never understand or experience.  I celebrate those differences, and I hold fast to my own.  I believe that every person, regardless of birth gender, gender identity, desire, ambition, or anything else that might be used to label them, has the right to live the life that they want to live and to ignore, refute, or resist any attempts to cause them to do otherwise.

I am a feminist because I self-identify as one, because I do not sit idly back and allow the gender politics of the Internet or discussions that occur in meatspace while I am nearby to skew towards discriminatory policies towards women – or anyone for that matter, because I may be Dominant towards submissive women in my life, but I seek to break the dominance that society has put in place for men, and for caucasian men specifically.  I am quite aware of my position of privilege and I did nothing to deserve it other than being born who and where I was.  I believe that the rights and privileges that I have should be made available to everyone.  I let respect guide me.

More than anything, that is the essence of this ideal for me – I let respect guide me, I maintain mindfulness and an awareness of my own space and position, I do not seek to dominate those that do not wish it of me.  I endeavor to always do no harm, protect those that need protection, and advance the cause of those who are not privy to the position of authority that I have for being born a white male in America.  Honor, respect, and integrity are important to me.

This was not quite a rant, but it represents something I feel strongly about.

I am Rant.

Rant off.

Owning the object of your affection

It’s been awhile since I’ve made an entry and to those of you who had become accustomed to frequent updates, I apologize and will see that things get back on track in short order.   My life became pretty interesting for a couple of weeks there and I had to focus my energy elsewhere, but things seem to be normalizing now.

This is going to be a bit more of a personal entry than I’ve been making, with the possible exception of the Distillation of Rant entry.

That entry was about life and limerence.  This blog’s mission has been stated as to provide the views of one Dom (namely, me) on life, love, and limerence.  So far, I’ve avoided love.

Oddly, when I started this blog, just about two months ago, I believed myself incapable of feeling love again in the traditional sense of eros.

Most people who are likely to read this blog are probably familiar with the ancient Greek concepts of eros and agape.  If not, I’ll provide a grossly oversimplified definition and then urge you to do some research of your own.

The Greeks believed in two forms of love – other cultures have had more or less, but generally these two types are pervasive.

Eros is romantic love.  This is what you feel in the pit of your stomach when you’re around the object of your affection.  This is the thing that makes it feel like your heart has skipped a beat, like your mind has fled your body, and you’re mired in the depths of some kind of sticky, warm, comfortable trap from which you don’t want to escape.   When we speak of matters of the heart, this is what we’re talking about more often than not.  Often this gets equated to ‘lust’ in English, but that’s not quite right… it’s deeper and more fulfilling than lust.  And quite a bit more dangerous.

Agape is ‘brotherly’ or ‘familial’ love.  This is what you feel when you think about your children, your parents, your close friends, but also your romantic partner — if you find yourself in a relationship rather than an arrangement.  This is characterized more by loss than presence.  Whereas with eros, you feel it deeply when you are in the presence of your love, with agape you are more likely to notice its absence when you are away from the object of your affection.

Of course, there is a lot of bleed-through with these concepts.  It’s nearly impossible to feel eros without some agape seeping through, and it’s often the case that those for whom we feel agape (when not so prevented by taboo, and even sometimes when it is) will be the object for which we feel eros from time to time, if not consistently.

Semantics sorted, we’re left with a modicum of understanding about what this ‘love’ thing is, at least in Rant’s mind.

So – for possibly the first time in Rant’s life, he finds himself in love.

Please forgive that brief and annoying use of the third person to describe myself, but those concepts are so foreign to how I perceived the world a scant few months ago that I find it difficult to express in any other way, but here’s the defining statement for you: I believe that I have found the love of my life.

This is problematic for me for a few reasons, but those problems mask their own solutions, and they are a path to a deeper understanding, one that allows neither of us the luxury of seeing ourselves as soft or breakable, but something that strengthens us both immeasurably, together and separately.

Firstly, our relationship is steeped in the BDSM world.  Our friends routinely beat, bleed, berate, and fuck each other, sometimes where we can bear witness, and neither of us is a stranger to that sort of activity.  Blood and I are not the best of friends, and I’ve already mentioned my difficulties with humiliation, but physicality rarely bothers me – I am a very physical/tactile person.  I get off on tying girls down and smacking them with my hands or tools or shocking the hell out of them with my violet wand.  I bite.  I choke.  I enjoy sex when it is both soft and slow as well as rough and tumble, but there is little that gets me harder more quickly than my hand on the throat of a woman who has given herself to me, and little that does it for me as much as my hand coiled and firmly grasping the hair at the back of her head as I hold her down and fuck her with every bit of force I can put into it…

But can I do that to the one I love?  Can I watch someone else do that to the one I love?  I’m a protective person by nature – I will go to extreme lengths to protect and ensure the welfare of those I care about.  The dichotomy that this sets up in my mind when I think about someone delivering pain to the one I love, knowing that she has asked for and desires this, balanced against my desire to prevent it… it is interesting.  I’ve allowed her to play with others, and my love for her and confidence in her devotion to me allows me to experience true compersion, but the desire to protect and keep safe is always there in the back of my mind.

Devotion is my kink, and because she loves me every bit as much as I love her, the devotion I feel from her is worship, truly.   The call of one who shows me the trappings of devotion is normally quite strong, but when I see love and devotion coming from the same set of eyes, something in my heart breaks.  When my love commits an act that is disrespectful, our agreement, our understanding, our roles require that I correct that action.  To do any less than that would be disrespectful in kind, not just to her, but to myself and to us together.. so even though those puppy-dog eyes make my heart melt, I must follow through.  I have raised my hand to her in punishment rarely, only once that I can think of, and the punishment of all punishments – being sent to the corner – has been employed once as well.  But she is a good girl and I am a patient Master.

This is a process.

This is a deepening of our devotion to each other.  And despite what the dynamic would lead one to believe, despite the fact that my love is owned and collared by me, despite the fact that she has submitted to me and become my property, the partnership that we have formed together is stronger and more powerful than any other I’ve ever experienced.

Relationships are hard.  They require patience and work and devotion.

Did I mention that devotion is my kink?

I am Rant, and I am the big serious.

And I has a happy.

I hope this wasn’t too much of a departure, but I had to broadcast it.

Rant off.

Finding subspace

A friend recently asked me to write on two closely related topics: foreplay as it applies to a BDSM scene, and tips for training a newbie submissive from the perspective of a Dominant.

“How are those things related?” you might be tempted to ask…  Well, I’m about to tell you – as I describe the first of these topics and relate it to BDSM specifically.

In vanilla sex, foreplay is useful to ensure that both (all?) participants are physically, emotionally, and psychologically ready for the activity of sex itself.  Granted, this is more often than not given lip service and not really enacted with any vigor or skill, resulting in less than adequate experiences for everyone involved, especially the more submissive partner.  In the vanilla sense, I say ‘submissive’ here to mean the generally less active partner – the one less likely to initiate sexual contact.  For the initiator, his resolve is already firm, his libido is already activated, and foreplay probably seems like an unnecessary waste of time.

We do the same thing in the BDSM world, but we call it warm up instead, and while foreplay may be nice in the vanilla world, warm up in the BDSM world is essential.  Without it, you are putting your submissive at risk of injury in one or more of these arenas.  Nay, that is not quite strong enough… without warm up before enacting the more brutal parts of a scene, if your scene involves physical pain or torture, you will injure her.  Her bruises may heal and she may never let you know the damage to her trust that you caused, but those injuries will linger, and ultimately they will destroy your happiness.  Don’t let that happen to you, and don’t let that happen to the one you protect.

Warm up is a much more appropriate way to describe it than foreplay, even in the vanilla world,  and it may entail many of the same things, depending on the participants and scene.  BDSM scenes are not limited to sexual activities, and indeed may not even include any…  What you are trying to do is not limited to making sure that the submissive is ready for sex and turned on, but you’re also preparing her body physically for the activities at hand, her mind for the assault to her ego that is likely to occur, and her emotions for the departure from normalcy that she is about to encounter.

It has been proven that a submissive who is prepared for punishment will actually undergo changes in her body: more fluid will come to the surface of her skin, her pulse will drop (as opposed to speeding up in someone who is actually scared,) she will breathe deeper and more slowly, more oxygen will get into her blood and therefore to her brain, and often her perceptions of her environment will change, sometimes quite dramatically, sometimes even to the point of hallucinatory detachment or idealization.

This is far more than simple foreplay can possibly accomplish, and we even have a name for this: subspace.  For many submissives – this is the primary draw of submitting.  They are uninterested in the service aspects of it, they literally get high from the activity itself.

Subspace is where the submissive goes when in scene.  It is not a physical place, but it does affect her body in a physical way.  It is not an emotional space, but it does provide for emotional stability.  It is not a psychological space, but it provides for psychological compartmentalization.

There are many paths to subspace.  Warm up is not usually enough to get you there on its own.  Usually finding subspace is something that isn’t achieved until firmly in scene, but the transition can be jarring, or even missed, if you don’t ensure proper warm up has occurred.  I’ve known Doms who devote little or no time to warm up and go straight into scene.  This can work for some people, some of the time, but the one time that you miss it, you cross the line from safe, sane, and consensual and fall into abuse.  For me, it’s simply not worth the risk.

When I am training a submissive, or even when I am interacting with an experienced one, I will watch her.  I want to see her fail to meet my gaze.  I want to see her look down at my feet when I stare into her eyes.  I want to see her round her shoulders and bend her neck towards me.  I want to see her kneel or bow or even just place her forehead into my chest.  I want to hear the meekness in her voice when she addresses me as Sir.  These are not sacrosanct indicators of finding the edges of subspace, and they aren’t even inviolate indicators of submission, but they’re a step in the right direction.

These steps can take hours.  They can begin before you’re together though, and they can wind around vanilla activities.  I am a big fan of eating something, perhaps a full meal, but at least something light, before beginning a scene.  The food energy will help with the physical and mental strain, and the meal itself can provide a bonding opportunity and a place for mental interactions, witty banter, and innuendo – and as any submissive will tell you, the mind is the most important part of her that you can own, for sex or play or any other activity.  Alcohol is not a good idea here though.  It may take off the edge, but it can also lead to physical and psychological changes in both you and your submissive that you should be wary of.  I may drink with partners, but I will never engage in pain play when even the slightest bit intoxicated.

Admittedly, setting aside time for food and drink is not always possible, but there are other ways to encourage the path to subspace.

I watch my submissive, identify her specific submissive behaviors, and then I encourage these things.  I stroke my submissive’s hair.  I talk softly to her.  I remind her of my protection and her safety.  I pet her head and body.   As I can feel her trust building in me, I will be more and more physical.  I will grab her hair.  I will bite her neck, her ear, her shoulder.  I’ll fondle her tits and ass through her clothes, or reach underneath them.  I’ll kiss her, or I’ll grab the sides of her face and force her to meet my eyes, to see the burning desire that lies just underneath.  But these actions, like all actions taken in scene, must adhere to the limits established beforehand.  For some, kissing is out, for others, biting might be, but no matter what the limits, there should be something that you can do here.  If there is not, you probably need to find a different play partner.

I ease her into a place of trust and devotion and when I have that devotion, I am a veritable god.

From this point forward, I am in complete control and we are in scene.  I may grab her by the throat and force her down, I may slap her ass with my hand or a flogger or a crop or a cane.  But I will usually make it explicit through word or action or both that we’re about to begin.  Just that simple vocal recognition is often enough to cause a seasoned submissive to drop into subspace for me.  A newbie could require more care.

If I am not absolutely sure that we are ready, I might ask “are you ready?” and even when I get, “Yes, Sir,” in response, I know that is not quite sufficient. The cue has to be a command – at least for me it does.  Any command here will do: “take off your clothes,” “kneel for me,” “we’re going to begin now,” are all appropriate and can all serve well here.

Excepting the striking, I tend to use most, if not all of the above for foreplay as well as warm up.  In fact, much to my shock and glee, I was recently engaged in simple kinky sex with a submissive and she went rather deep into subspace without any pain of any kind at all.

That is the exception, however, and from this point forward it can still vary widely as to when, how, how deep, or even if a submissive will drop into subspace.

I should probably pause here to note that this is most definitely not the same thing as sub-drop.  Sub-drop is something else entirely, and not at all positive.  I’ll probably devote another entry to it at some point, but just don’t confuse the terms or people will look at you cross-eyed.  Dropping into subspace is good, sub-drop is bad.  Okay then…

Even when beginning your scene, especially if it is with someone new, it behooves one to start out slow.  This slow roll into the scene is what is going to help a new partner or a BDSM newbie ease herself into subspace.  In fact, this is what some Doms refer to when they talk about warm up.  They ignore all of the pre-activity nonsense that I am so keen on and just go straight to the main event, thinking that because their first strike is only at half strength that they are engaging in good warm up practices.

While I agree that this is important, I do not agree that it is sufficient.

My goal as Dominant is to create the best experience possible for all participants.  To some, this marks me a service Top and they think me weak.  I don’t really care.  I do what I do because it suits me, and because it gives me what I need.  I get off on devotion and subservience, not delivering pain.

As I begin to enact the scene, I watch my sub carefully.  I look for the signs of her being in subspace.  I slowly increase the stimulation as I see her move further and further into subspace until I’m sure that she is there.

I look for the altered breathing, the flushed skin, the glazed eyes, changes to the inflection of her voice or the tenor of her movements and moaning.

It takes some practice to recognize, but once I know she’s there, I know that I can do literally anything and it will be experienced in a positive light, so it is well worth pursuing.

Not everyone will agree with me on these points.  Not everyone finds it important to guide his submissive into subspace, and even I don’t find it necessary all of the time, but if you’re going to enact a scene, especially a brutal scene where pain is the primary intoxicant, it really is essential that you understand what you’re doing and how to help her get to where she needs to be in order to take the pain for you.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m happy to answer.

This was meant to educate, I hope you find it useful.

This was not a rant, but I am still Rant.

Rant off.

Rant: Safewords

When I was inducted into the BDSM world, one of the very first lessons I learned was on the use of a safeword.  For this reason, it surprised me to learn how infrequently these are actually used.  In some ways, this isn’t so bad.  Some groups/pairs have other negotiated ways to stop activities or scenes if they need to, and that is all well and good, but there is one important difference between some of those things and what I was taught a safeword was supposed to represent…

I don’t know if it was the 50 Shades books that made this popular, or if it was popular before they were released, but I hear a lot about the use of the words ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ as ‘safewords’.  While on its own, this is not a bad innovation, it seems to have come at the cost of damaging the protocol for how to treat safewords – at least, insofar as my understanding of them has gone.

The protocol I was taught is very simple:

* There is ONE and only one safeword.  It should be a word that you would not normally use in play and it should be deliberate – something that you wouldn’t utter on accident or that might be misinterpreted as another word, and not a single syllable – something you have to mean it when saying.  Anything else is intended as part of the scene.

Sometimes this can be difficult for me to accept, I’ll admit, especially in things like rape fantasy scenes… I sometimes react to ‘No’ even when I should not.  It is a limitation that I’ve been unable to completely overcome even after 15 years, but this protocol helps and without it, I would likely be unable to take part in such scenes at all.

* If your play restricts the ability to speak, another gesture/movement will be used to convey the same meaning – this gesture/movement should fall into the same category as the word above – something deliberate, something that can’t be mistaken for something else.

* Either person (or any person in scene) can use the safeword to stop the scene/play/activity at any time for any or no reason.

* Use of the safeword stops everything for everyone.  Action will be taken to immediately stop all activities, pull participants out of bondage, cutting bonds if necessary, and begin aftercare to establish a sphere of safety and comfort for all participants.

And that’s really all there is to it.

I cannot stress the importance of the concept of immediate stop here enough.  What we do can be dangerous.  Permanent nerve damage is possible, as is asphyxiation, severe physical trauma, even death.  However, much more difficult to quantify, but possibly much more lasting in terms of long term damage and the need for repair are the possible psychological trauma that can occur from what we do.  The physical nature of things requires obvious action when the safeword is called, unless you don’t know what you’re doing – in which case you should not be doing it! – you will be able to easily spot where the tension is wrong or where there is too much torque, or where the beating is in danger of causing nerve damage or things like that, but it is nearly impossible to spot the signs of psychological trauma, and the only reasonable thing to do is to always assume that is present.

I keep a set of EMT shears with me at every scene.  I would recommend that every Dom do the same, whether you are intending to enact a bondage scene or not – just have them with you.  They’re second only to condoms in importance of having nearby, in my opinion, and with a fluid bonded partner, much more important.  This is a good example of what you should have : link  – I’m not recommending these specifically, and there is no affiliate link in there, so I don’t get any kickback if you order them from that link – do your research, find a pair that you like, get those.

I actually have a full trauma kit in my home, as much for use in possible civil emergencies as for things that might go wrong in a scene (which, thank the gods, I have never needed for either case) but I don’t usually take the whole thing with me when I’m going somewhere else.  The EMT shears are non-negotiable though, even if it means I have to check a bag on a flight for which I could have otherwise avoided doing so.

I have never needed the trauma kit, but I HAVE needed the shears.  I did a bondage scene with rope once where my submissive called out the safeword that I had set for her, and I cut her out of some complicated knots as fast as I possibly could have and it still felt like too long.  I’ve used leather restraints with carabiners and hooks before, and while those do obviate some of the need to cut someone out (since releasing a carabiner is much faster than untying a knot) I would not have hesitated to cut right through the leather if I had to, and I’ve tested the shears to be certain that they can do just that.

Pulling my submissive out of that bondage scene and then holding her and telling her that she was safe and that I was there to take care of her now and that the scene was ended was an intensely emotional thing for me as well as her.  She claims that she has no lasting psychological trauma from the scene, but it could easily have gone that way.

And this brings me to the reasons why I am not fond of ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ as safeword/codes…

One – having two words adds confusion to something that can not really stand to be confusing.  

That is more colloquial English than I am used to using, but I want to make this point very clear: confusion is your enemy in a BDSM scene.  This is why I push on open communication and  negotiation hard.  Confusion will get people hurt.  If not physically, people will get hurt emotionally or psychologically.

Two – having an ‘almost safe’ word detracts from the power of the ‘safe’ word.

I am not a fan of this ‘new’ development at all.  I call it ‘new’ because there was no such concept when I first started in BDSM.

It is my duty as Dom to understand what is happening in the scene and to control it, and that includes making sure that my submissive is okay no matter whether she uses the safeword(s) or not.  I should understand that if my submissive is not comfortable that I am encroaching upon her limits and be careful.  I am more than happy to make her uncomfortable, but I never wish to injure her.  Walking that line is usually pretty clear to me, because I make an effort to understand my submissive and what her body language is like before I begin any physical or even psychological contact, but everyone makes mistakes.. and that is what the safeword is there to resolve.

Hearing ‘yellow’ and then transitioning to ‘red’ leaves the feeling that there may be yet another level above that, or invite the question, “did you really mean ‘red’ or are we still at ‘yellow’?”  In my opinion both of those scenarios are dangerous and uncalled for.

The responses that I’ve seen advocated for with ‘red’ even are to back off and reassess, which in my not-so-very-humble-opinion is not nearly enough.  When I’ve been called upon to play by those rules, I’ve tried to do so to the best of my ability, but I would really rather have heard ‘hurricane’ and dropped out of scene entirely and gone straight to aftercare.

This is where this instructional message turns into a rant.

If I am your Dominant, I do not want to injure you.

I will hurt you.

I will bring you right up to the breaking point and show you how deep your own well goes.

I will push myself every bit as hard as I push you to achieve these goals.

I crave nothing more than the trust and worship and catharsis that comes from knowing that I can push you as hard as I think you can take, as hard as I myself can take, because that safety net is there – the safeword.

I have known couples that claim a safeword is not useful, or, even worse, say that use of a safeword is somehow not “real BDSM”.  That a slave who uses a safeword is not really a slave and that they have no place in these things.

That is an ignorant and dangerous position to take, and frankly those people scare the shit out of me, and I’m honestly not scared by much.

I need to be able to trust you to know your own limits, and I need to be able to know that I can push those in a safe, sane, and consensual manner.

If you take away my safeword, I cannot do that.

And yes, I have used a safeword as a Dominant.  I find that it provides a more complete catharsis and begins aftercare in a more distinct manner than simply pulling away and saying something like, “you’ve had enough.”  That is a condescending and unnecessarily brutal way to end a scene.

I care too much to not care about safewords.

This is my opinion.  This is not a call to action.

This is a rant…

Rant off.

one Dom's views on life, love, and limerence