Tag Archives: relationships

Doms are people too

I have been putting this post off for a very long time.  Over the course of the couple years that I’ve had this blog, I have received a number of emails from submissives who want to know if a particular pattern of behavior on the part of their chosen Dominants is abusive or if they have done something wrong or something similar to those lines.  I’ve seen it several times, in slightly different permutations, from several different sources, so I want to make it clear that I’m not singling out any particular email that I may have received recently as the source of this piece.

The question is usually of this form:

“I <used my safeword / cried / didn’t want to do something> and now my Dom is acting cold and distant with me.  Did I do something wrong, or is he being abusive?”

The last portion of the question there is sometimes missing, or slightly perturbed, as in “was he abusing me all along and I just now realize it?” etc…

I almost never have enough information from the email that poses this question to make any sort of determination along those lines, but I do always try to be helpful.

One thing that I think a lot of people miss is that D/s relationships are still relationships and relationships are hard.  Dominants are people too, with our own problems, emotional baggage, and deep histories which sometimes include shame and remorse or things that we just wish we’d had the presence of mind to handle differently at the time.

I don’t have a panacea here.  Some of these situations may be actual abuse.  There is certainly a period of NRE that can mask things that are truly bad, but aside from that, if you normally have a communicative relationship where you can talk about things and express your desire to each other, then incidents like this may just be part and parcel of relationships, though they manifest themselves in strange ways in this particular context.

To offer any advice in this context is a bit controversial, if not entirely ill advised… but this is a persistent question I get, so there is clearly a need for information that is not otherwise being met and I will do my best to address the issue.

The key thing to remember here is that a D/s relationship is still a relationship, and as with all relationships, be they romantic, professional, familial, or something that falls outside of all of those buckets, communication is the most important thing into which you can invest time and energy.

How can you tell if it’s really abuse?  That’s not really an easy thing, but generally if you’re talking about a single incident in what is otherwise a good relationship, I would give your partner the benefit of the doubt – he may just be having a bad day, or you may have hit one of his triggers.  However, if something that makes you uncomfortable repeats, there may be an issue, and this is where you may have to force the point and really talk about it.  Even if it is just a single incident, you need to talk about it, but a pattern of behavior is almost always a deeper issue than a single incident.

If you don’t have the sort of relationship where you can talk about these things, then you have deeper problems.  Aftercare is typically the place where you would talk about these things.  Don’t wait weeks or even days to talk about something that went wrong – talk about it right after it happens, find out where the problem came from, let him know that there is a problem (because he might not even realize it,) and do something to either correct or avoid it for the next time.

I fear that I’ve rambled a bit in this post… the point that I’m trying to get across is that Doms are people too – we have bad days, we have emotional triggers, and sometimes something will happen that causes us to have an abnormal reaction.  There have been times when I’ve hit a trigger of my own that causes me to emotionally retreat without even realizing it.  Usually I can come back around and see things for what they are if I’m given enough time, but in almost all of those cases, a few words or questions from my sub would have brought me there a lot more quickly.

A single bad experience may be bad enough to chuck out the whole affair, but probably isn’t unless things aren’t that good to begin with.  A pattern of bad behavior though – that’s something else, and that’s something that you should not continually put up with.

 

Enemies

“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.

 

A long time coming

It has been a very long time since I’ve posted here. I’m sure many of you thought I had abandoned the blog, and effectively I had, but that was never my intent.

I’ve been very busy lately with work and life issues, working on a side project of my own, and playing video games to distract myself, and while I’ve written the starts of several posts at this point, I never managed to press ‘Publish’ because I was discontent with the results.

I’m not gone, and I am beginning a process of refocusing my life and how I live it.

I’ve been complacent in too many areas of my life lately. I’ve been making progress on some things, but for most, I’ve let them slide and just allowed myself to live with things as they are. I resolve to stop that (again) and to take a more active role in my own destiny.

Funny, isn’t it? The big, bad Dom-type was drifting. Isn’t that supposed to be the last thing that a D-type would do?

Each person’s Dominance is unique, and each is a journey. My own journey has taken many turns over the course of the past couple of years – most of which I did not anticipate.

This is a source of tremendous anxiety for me.

I do not fetishize control, but Control is the thing that lets me be a Dom in this world. Control is the thing that reinforces my power, that gives life to my Will. Control is the thing that allows me to tame the chaos of my mind and live a successful life.

But it’s fucking boring.

I’m a dichotomy and I contradict myself all the damned time. I have a consistent set of values and desires, but there are things in my mind that get in the way when I try to enact them sometimes.

Lately, my life has been largely out of my control, and that has been a source of tremendous anxiety for me – but also joy. While control allows me to accurately (for the most part) predict how the events of my life will unfold, it also completely removes the ability for anything to surprise me, and it can be exhausting to try to force things to fit when that is a state to which they do not naturally gravitate.

I’ve had literally weeks where I was almost paralyzed with fear concerning a couple of lawsuits in which I have been involved over the past several years. But I’ve also recently had moments where I was comfortable enough to completely let go and allow the Primal in me to come out – something that has not happened in a decade or more.

Just last night, I attended a kink event with my girlfriend and I made a horrible misjudgment. I think it’s fair to say that I know her better than anyone else, but I erred, and not in a small way.

There are those of you out there who read this and already think that I’m too soft to be a ‘True Dom’ – and this is going to reinforce those beliefs.

I fucked up.

I take responsibility for my lack of preparation, my lack of empathy, and my disturbingly effective emotional distancing coping techniques.

I entered into a highly emotional situation without the ability to access my own emotions or to empathize with my girlfriend, and I made a huge miscalculation.

And that is precisely the correct word to use here, for my actions were calculated and predicated on years of experience that I have and she does not. I embarrassed her in a public setting in front of people that she very much cares for how they view her by treating her as if she should have known things that I never showed her.

And so, the evening fell apart, and when things were at their bleakest, I did too. Spectacularly, and in a way that has not happened for more than decade.

I relived moments that I wish I could forget. I went to the place in my mind where control is fiction and I didn’t possess control even over my own body. I went so deep that I actually caused myself to vomit – no mean feat when I’d not eaten anything all day.

But there is catharsis in surrender – as any s-type can tell you – and as I once lived myself.

When I broke, she came to help me.

I cannot possibly overstate the significance of that to me.

The big, bad, Dom-type was quite literally a blubbering idiot in the corner, and his protective and nurturing and beautiful girlfriend and submissive-in-training took control for a moment and gave me the strength to allow my mind to find the coping mechanisms that evolved in me over the years and Control came back. Briefly, and without form, but it came back.

I wrote once before on this blog that I thought I had finally found the love of my life, but it turned out to be untrue.

I have been reluctant to make the same sorts of claims with this relationship, largely because I did not see it coming the last time, and I didn’t want to jinx this time, but after weathering the battle and experiences of last night, I think it’s safe to say that this is the most stable and mature and balanced relationship that I’ve ever had.

We struggle with D/s.

This is my fault, not hers. She wants it, and I have a very hard time presenting things to her because I do not want to insult her by treating her like she knows nothing, but in so doing, I do her a massive disservice. How can one learn if no one is willing to teach? Sure, books exist, resources are available on the ever-mighty Internet, and there are even classes that you can take, but ultimately, at the end of the day, our D/s is between us, and it’s not every Dom in the world that she needs to cater to, just me. And there is no manual for me on the Internet – the closest you’ll find is this blog, or the defunct one I wrote years and years ago – so how I can I expect her to know what to do if I don’t show her?

This is a journey. I don’t want the same type of D/s that I’ve had in the past, but I haven’t yet formulated what it is that I do want, and until I do that, we’re going to flounder.

So, this is where I cast off the worries of the lawsuits that have since been settled (and very recently – I literally just signed papers to settle one case on Thursday) and I recommit myself to my life, my love, my joy, my friends, my family, and my community.

More posts will be forthcoming.

I threw out the 500 words a day goal when my life became overwhelming a couple of months ago, but I’m reinstating it now.

If I have time to play video games, I have time to write.

NaNoWriMo will be taking a back seat to the other parts of my life this year, but my circle of friends is widening, and my relationship with the woman who I intend to keep for the rest of my life is only beginning to really solidify – despite months of growing and a nearly complete merging of our lives.

I love my girl. I hurt her, and I cast myself into Hell for doing so.

Punishment is always a part of D/s relationships, but last night we both punished ourselves to an extent that I could never replicate. The worst punishments always come from within, don’t they?

Rant is a name that I took when I started this, and it’s not a bad one. It’s short, easy to say and remember, and accurately reflects the mindset that I was in when I began this particular journey, but it doesn’t quite fit any more.

This is not a rant. This is not a lesson. This is a confession and commitment.

I shall return. One small step at a time, I shall return.

Expectations and cutting the path

Expectations…

The root of all evil?

I would make the above a statement rather than a query, but this has been a year for change.

In two days, I’ll be 40 years old.

Given that the average life expectancy for men in this country is currently 72 years, and that I have both a family history of heart disease and a medical history of serious injury, including cranial fractures and multiple concussions, my own life expectancy is likely to be less than that, unless medicine advances to the point where those elements change, which is possible, possibly even likely, but it’s not something that I would bet money upon.

So – taking these things into consideration, it’s reasonable to assume that I’ve lived more than half of my life by this point.

This is the sort of thing that makes one look back over his life and wonder what might have happened differently.

This year has brought change, as every year does, but the end result is not unlike the beginning.

I end the year in much the same state that I began it, having picked up experiences, but tangible change still sits in the wings, waiting for something – I know not what.

Early in the year, I stumbled upon a young and brash new submissive who desperately wanted to push her way into the BDSM world, and I took her under my wing, trying to mold her, to prepare her for the experiences that she would encounter, to introduce her gradually to a world that she ended up jumping into with both feet and outgrowing my influence in short order.  I like to believe that my guidance made her transition easier than it might have been; I suppose only time will tell on that count.  But the world is a different place than it was when I was brought in to it, and her experiences at this point in many ways outstrip my own.

At nearly the same time, I shared a spark with Autumn from servingmaster.com and we melded minds on subjects far and wide.  She started me on the path that this blog has taken, committing my memories and experiences to an ever widening audience, which I suppose is a tangible change for the good, but in the face of what else happened, and then un-happened, this blog seems insignificant.  She and I remain friends and in contact, and I hope that she will remain my friend, supporter, and confidant for years to come, but our relationship has cooled and we both have busy lives.  The spark that ignited between us sits in the ether like the Mithras and is unlikely to ever completely die, but with no new fuel, its flame burns cold.

I reconnected with the woman who I expected to spend the rest of my life with and over the course of this year we had months of glorious joy, many adventures both big and small, and plans for things both near and far, but ultimately that ended not so very long ago.  Our lives were on different paths for longer than I realized, and when push came to shove, I got out of the way.  This is still fresh and new, and we don’t exactly share the same views of what went wrong and why it couldn’t be fixed, but that is normal in breakups, I think.  I sincerely hope that she finds everything that she wants from life, but ultimately, I was not the one to give it to her.

I have made other friends, touched other lives, had other romantic and play partners over the course of the year, not all of which ended the way I would have liked, some of which remain, and others still exist as smoldering embers sewn into the landscape, waiting to be stoked back to life.  There is one relationship here in particular whose ending I grieve still, but the circumstances of the time left me no other choice, or so I believed, in any case.

I enveloped myself in a new circle of friends, most of whom I severed contact with when my partner and I split.  Since they have known her for far longer than I, and are counted among her support structure, I may never interact with them again in any meaningful way, and that makes me sad, but is understood to be a part of life and love.

I am in roughly the same shape, physically, emotionally, and psychologically as I was when this year began.

The majority of my friends are not kinky, not in the scene, and don’t know about this blog or the aspects of my life that it illustrates.

This is not because I am ashamed, but because they have no curiosity about this part of my life.  They live in the vanilla world and find the concepts of nonmonogamy and risk aware consensual kink to be unfathomable, perhaps even disturbing. They are generally tolerant people – I do not generally get along well with those who are not – but they limit their own experiences and exposure by choice, and it is not my desire to force them from that.

My own social support system has contracted.

But I am not alone.

I am never alone.

I am, however, reduced from what I was at the high points of this year.

And I am not convinced that this is a bad thing.

The grief that I feel in each of these cases comes from expectations met and then dashed.

If there is a pervasive theme to this blog, and indeed to the way that I live my life now in a post-nearly-fatal-car-accident world, it is that.  I am happier and more successful when I can live my life without expectations.

When I was a teenager, I looked to the future.  The year 2000 was looming.  I would be 25 when the odometer of life rolled over.  That seemed like such a distant thing, and yet so close.  I was going to be successful by then.  I was going to be married, own my own home, be on the path towards greater things.  Expectations levied upon me by others for the most part, but that I took to be my own.  Expectations that were unrealistic and different from my actual desires, though I had no idea at the time what those might be.

I achieved all of those things.  By the time I was 21, I had nearly all of those things.  I was married.  I owned my own home.  I was accepted into medical school, and I was on track for meeting, even exceeding, all of those expectations.

And I was miserable.

I was quite possibly the unhappiest I had ever been in my life up to that point.  I had everything that I was expected to have.  I had achieved most of it ahead of schedule.  I was always an overachiever, but none of it ever made me happy.

I ended things there.

I started over.

I went deep into the rabbit hole and learned a few things about myself.

I pulled myself back out and put myself back on what turned out to be a very similar path once more.  For a time I was high on life, I was living what I thought I wanted to be, I was meeting the expectations of others and I was a part of the functional cogwheel of society, producing, living in the suburbs, parenting, and trading my time for a paycheck.

And I was miserable.

I was even more miserable than before.

I was not the one to end that relationship, but it followed a similar trajectory.  I dove into the rabbit hole again, learned some more things about myself, and crawled out.  I wandered in the deep woods for awhile, but eventually I found a path, and I started walking it.

This time, the path was less trodden, it was thin in places, and it diverged from the main road in many ways, but it was still a path that others had taken, the expectations levied upon me were still not entirely my own.

This time, the choice to end things was largely my own once again.

I had a partner.

Our dynamic should have preserved my priority.  It should have let me cut the path, and had I been strong enough, it probably would have.  But I am still a product of this society, and I could not, would not, rigidly enforce my will, so the path diverged from where I wanted to go when I chose to allow the choice of direction to follow expectations not my own.

I take responsibility for those actions, but they were not my Will.

In order to remain true to my Will, I had to make the choice to be partnerless again.  To do otherwise would have required crushing the will of my partner, and that is something that I have always been unwilling to do.

I fight to hold the ideal of non attachment.  I fight to hold to the object of no expectations, but these are not tenable long term options.  If you walk where there is no path, you must cut it yourself, and that means that you will not find anyone else there to walk it with you.

But that is what I am trying to do now.

I don’t know if I will succeed.

I don’t know if I can succeed.

I know that my path will intersect others from time to time, so I’ll never be entirely alone, but I am learning that I need time alone, more than I thought I ever did before.  I need to cut my own path, and while others might follow along behind me, the decisions about where to cut and what directions to move in have to be mine alone.

I have relationships with people still.  People that I care about deeply, but I watch, and I cheer success, support setbacks, offer my own experiences, but I don’t follow.

I can’t know what lies ahead of me because no one has ever walked there before.  There are no guides to this trail because there is no trail to guide me upon.

I may be signing up for a very solitary existence in the long term, but that does not frighten me as it once did.

I may attract followers to walk the path that I cut, but I do not expect them.

I have less than half a life to complete at this point, and while I have made mistakes in the past, and I am guaranteed to make more in the future, I have faith in my ability to get through them.

I grow more open and honest with myself and those around me as I continue my journey.  I don’t say ‘as I walk this path’ any longer, because I’ve gone off the path.  I go where my Will points me, and I see nothing but obstacles in the way.  The smooth path is gone from my sight, and there will be trials, but I believe that I am strong enough to face them.

I will rekindle some relationships that were left to wither.

I will start some relationships that I have not made yet.

I will support relationships that are currently in place, but I will not hold on.

I will live my life without attachment or expectation, to the degree with which I am able, and I will not get down on myself for building attachments or having expectations when I do.  For while they always seem to lead to pain, sometimes the pain is worth it.

I will make goals and walk towards them, but if they vanish, I will keep walking, keep cutting the path myself.

I need time alone, but I need people in my life too.  I have my children.  I have my family.  I have those few friends who would take a bullet for me, just as I would for them, but those are always fewer in number than one might think, and levying expectations upon others is something that I specifically intend not to do.

I crave companions, but I do not require them.

I am perfectly capable of cutting this path alone and letting it close behind me if needs be.

If my wisdom is something that you seek, then you know where to find me.

You are welcome to walk this path with me, but make no mistake, this path is mine.

I am evolving.

I am grieving.

I am meeting the rise of the sun with alacrity and hope.  For that is what this time of the year is really about, and I was born at just the moment of Rebirth for the world.

And though grief comes from loss and loss comes from dashed expectations and I will continue to strive against holding those, I acknowledge that life goes on, and so shall I.

I am Rant.

New beginnings are in the wings, and they terrify and electrify me.