All posts by Rant

Rant is an experienced Dominant involved in the San Francisco Bay Area BDSM scene. He may occasionally also answer to Tirade.

masochism from the Top perspective

I am not a Sadist.

I’ve said that before, and I honestly can’t see how it is likely to change any time in the foreseeable future.

I am also not a masochist.

That isn’t something that I’ve admitted to, but it something that most people tend to assume.  I mean, who ever heard of a masochistic Dom?

They do exist, of course, and I think it might even have been an accurate description for me when I first started to practice as a Dominant.  I had just left a submissive role, after all.  In the beginning of my training I felt like I deserved the pain, that I needed it to make me be who I was supposed to be, but by the end of my training, I no longer felt like I deserved or needed it, but I was determined to face it, and overcome it, no matter what the cost.

Before my car accident, I liked pain.  I still do, sometimes.  One of the issues that I have remaining from the injuries that I sustained then is that I have frequent upper back pain and this often radiates out from the cluster of nerves/muscles that are problematic for me in the center of my upper back, between the shoulder blades, and impacts my shoulders and neck.  When this happens, one of the only things that I can do to combat it is hook myself up to a TENS unit.

If you don’t know what a TENS unit it, TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and the way it works is that you attach electrodes to your skin and then those to a machine that regulates a series of electrical pulses that causes your muscles to twitch.  The sensation itself is not usually painful, but when the muscles under the contacts are already seizing (as is often the case with my back) the feeling can get to be pretty intense.  However, at the end of a timed session, the muscles will be able to relax more than they had prior to the electrical stimulation, and so, I get some relief.

Prior to my car accident, I’d always avoided electro-torture devices.  It was a soft limit of mine.  I didn’t have any information on them apart from word of mouth and misinformation.  I’d been told that it felt like being electrocuted, or that it made one feel nauseated or induced a jelly-like feeling in the muscles.  All of this is bullshit.

In physical therapy after my car accident, the TENS unit was employed quite a lot, and while I both enjoyed the sensation that it invoked and the relief that I had after a session, the biggest gain I think I was able to get from it was the knowledge of what it is really like.  This led me to move on and explore violet wands and other BDSM-specific methods of electro-torture, but it also reawakened the parts of myself that I can recall opening up when I was actually a masochist.

In the intervening time between when I would have described myself as a masochist and when I was reawakened to these thoughts I did quite a bit of research on what makes a masochist a masochist.  I had the perfect platform from which to conduct my research, after all.  As a Dominant, with clients and partners that were masochists in addition to being submissive, I had the perfect opportunity to ask questions, to experiment with different types of pain, different techniques, different sensations… and while I retained the desire to conduct sensation play scenes, I lost the drive to create pain in others.  It’s not that I never feel the urge to hit someone, but it’s a rare thing nowadays.

I asked people, “why are you a masochist,” and not surprisingly, the answer was most often, “I don’t know, I just am.”  But every so often, I would get an answer that was different, and I’ve come to the largely unscientific conclusion that people are masochists for one of two reasons:

  1. Something happened in their lives to cause them to have extremely low self esteem and they feel like they deserve the punishment.  When they receive pain, it allows them to feel the catharsis of paying a debt.  They feel like the pain is the only thing that frees them from the mental torment that they almost always endure surrounding the things for which they feel undeserving or guilty.  They accept the pain as atonement, and the almost religious conversion from pain to elation is palpable, and when you see this type of masochist in scene, you can tell that he is truly flying.
  2. They view it as a challenge.  They feel every ounce of pain, it never gets converted to another type of sensation, but that only intensifies their desire to take on more and more.  They do this for themselves, because they always take the hard path, they feel like they are duty bound to push forward and make it to the next level, or they do it for someone else.  They know that their Dominant Sadist is deriving pleasure from their pain, and that makes them want to take on more, or they feel the energy of the people around them and they want to push even further, to show them all that they can endure anything.

Of these two, I certainly think that the first group have an easier road in the short term, but the second group can bear the long term visible signs with more ease and tend to view them as badges of honor.

At various points in my life, I think I’ve been both of these two. In the beginning, I was ashamed of so much of my life, and I felt, as part of the course of my daily life, that I had to hide it and pretend that it never happened.  The only time I felt like I could be free was when those thoughts were pushed out of my head by pain or booze or the sex drive or something like that.  I was a hedonist and an extremist and to this day I am shocked and amazed that I didn’t end up being hooked on heroin or something similar.  Once my Dominant nature started to come through though, I viewed it as a challenge that must be overcome.  I was better than my Top, and I was going to prove it by forcing her to back down before I did.

As a Dominant, who is not a Sadist, I’ve dealt with both types of masochists, and they must be approached in very different manners.  But in general, and perhaps because I’m not a Sadist, I don’t really enjoy inflicting pain on either type.  If I’m going to be involved in a scene that involves pain, I’d actually much rather do so with someone who is NOT a masochist, and perhaps this is a thing unique to me, but when I’m in scene, I don’t really want to be competing with someone, and there have been a few times when I felt like my bottom was trying to “win the scene,” in some way.  And for the other perspective, while I do enjoy the control aspects of things, and I am always hyper-aware of the physical and emotional states of my bottom, I would very much hate to be wrong and slip past the point where she should have used her safeword and didn’t.

Both of the masochist archetypes that I refer to have their own pitfalls and things to be careful for, but while the motives may be different, the end results are often the same.

The first type can fail to safeword, which is a dangerous thing for a Dominant.  They will let you drive them well beyond their physical capacity to deal with, and they can become injured in the process.  In fact, to properly address their needs, they need to get as close to the failure point as they can, and the headspace that they’re in does not let them see that barrier coming.  The only way to address this, as the Top, is to frequently check in with them, ask them specific questions, sometimes even asking them a specific question about the immediate environment, external to their own bodies, so that they have to come back to ground level for a bit.  Something like, “What color is the floor?” is often enough.  A simple question like that will cause them to become aware of their environment again.  Even if they already know the answer without having to look (though they probably will have to look if they are in an altered head-space) it forces them to think about the floor, which is not a part of their experience right now.

The second type has to be pushed.  It’s what they need most, and they’re going to fight you back for it.  This could take the form of insulting you – telling you that you can’t hit them hard enough, or perhaps that you’re hitting them too hard.  They are very aware, almost hyper-aware, of the safeword, and they will resist using it as long as possible, perhaps even trying to force you to stop before they get there, as a sort of challenge back at you.  Although I’ve never heard of anyone actually thinking this, I can imagine that there are some who would view it as a game, almost as an Alpha contest, to see if they can get you to quit first.  That is no less dangerous than failing to see the safe point pass and not reacting to it for the group described above, but competitive nature will eventually fail, where the first group just doesn’t have anything to react to, so their bodies have to fail first, every time.

This is not to say that it’s impossible for a person to willingly put themselves into injury because they refuse to break down – in fact, that is exactly the sort of thing that I worry about.

I dislike Topping true masochists because when you have a bottom who exhibits behaviors like these, you can never be fully sure that she is going to properly use her safeword, and when I feel like I don’t have a safeword to rely upon, I feel like I’m not in control, and control is why I Top.  I don’t want to give up control, almost ever, in almost any situation, and most certainly not when I should be at pinnacle of my ability to exert control.  I Top because I like it, and when I’m not in control, I’m not even really sure that I’m Top anymore.

Does that make any sense?

Sometimes I’m not sure, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time on these subjects.

I’m not sure what this post is either – I seem to have quite a few of those lately – but I’m still Rant.

Rant off.

Interview with a racist

This post is not even peripherally related to BDSM, but if you have been following along or you know me at all you will see how it is something that I care about, so it kind of fits.  For those of you who were hoping for a juicy story about pain and suffering or another rant about feminism, or even an instructive piece about how shibari can be employed to give an under-the-clothes reminder that is even more intimate than a collar, you might be a little disappointed.  But if want to hear about my weird day today, follow along and be entertained and just a bit frightened.

So – I was in a car accident a few years back.  I’ve mostly healed, but I still have a hard time sitting for long periods of time.  This has led me to the habit of taking a walk in the afternoon every day when it’s not raining outside, and today it’s not raining.

There is a popular cafe downstairs in the building where I work.  It’s right next door to a very popular local and independent bookstore, and pretty close to the Stanford campus as well as lots of businesses, so it’s pretty busy pretty much all of the time.  My walk was well after the lunch rush, and the tables come out onto the common area in front of the building, so there is really no way I cannot walk through the cafe to get to the elevators to go up to my office.

Today as I was passing through, I saw two young men, probably college students, of indeterminate ethnicity take a seat at an empty table next to a table with an older Caucasian woman.  They were being slightly effeminate, and a little bit boisterous, but by no means over-the-top in their behavior.  They were not dressed in rainbow colors and they were not displaying any flags that I could see, but their presence was obviously quite disturbing to the woman at the table next to them.  She put a very intense look of disgust on her face, gathered up her things, and moved to a table three tables distant.

I saw this whole thing go down as I was merely walking through, and had no intent of doing anything in the cafe at all, but I got this mental worm embedded in my head and wondered to myself – is she upset because they’re loud, or is she reacting to their apparent sexuality, or is it their race that has her upset?

Ordinarily, I’d file it away as yet another case of Peninsula old-money conservatism and just keep on going, but for some reason today I decided that I wanted to know what was going on, so I went over to her table, took the seat across from her, and said, “Pardon me, ma’am, but I can’t help but notice that you seemed uncomfortable with those young men over there and felt the need to move away from them, do you mind if I ask why?”

She looked at me over the rim of her reading glasses in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen since my English teacher would do the same thing to me in high school when I was being a smartass.  But eventually she let out a long sigh and answered me.

I wish I had been recording what she said, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to start recording things on my phone, and I didn’t have anything on which to take notes, so I’m relating what she said as best I can, from memory.  I have a very good memory though…

“Well, see, here’s the thing.  The damned gay Mexicans are ruining this country.  Those two are just another part of the problem.  They should be deported back to wherever they came from and leave all of us good folks alone.  I can’t even enjoy my book here anymore without having to hear their squealing and watch them paw each other in public, it’s obscene!”

I should mention at this point that I do not believe that either of the young men in question are of Mexican descent.  I can’t be certain, but they looked more Fillipino to me, not that it matters in the least.  They were acting slightly effeminate and were definitely well dressed, but they could just as easily be metrosexual hipsters as homosexuals; I have no idea.  I was positioned to be able to see them while she spoke at me (as opposed to to me) and I never once saw them touch each other, let alone paw each other.  They were talking in a rather animated fashion, and I could not quite make out what they were saying, but it did not seem to me that they were squealing about cocksucking or anything so interesting – I think they might have been talking about baseball…

“I remember when this area was actually nice,” she continued.  This is Menlo Park, California we’re talking about here.. it’s one of the most affluent communities in the country, and therefore the world.  “People here used to be the right kind of people you know? Like you and me.”  The emphasis was hers.  I felt like I wanted to say something about being the “right kind of people” myself, but before I could get a word in, she was off on her tirade again.

“And I remember when the Mexicans knew their place too!  The only time you would see them is if they were mowing a lawn or going to church, and I bet those gays don’t even go to church, you know, because even the Catholics don’t like ‘em.  And now we even have them in my church! It’s so I don’t even want to go anymore.”

Again, I was about to say something, and she launches into it again.

“Well, except for Margie, who watches my grandkids and helps clean my daughter’s house, she’s good people, Christian, you know.  I’m sure that she wouldn’t let her son be gay.”

I think I was actually sitting there with my mouth open at this point.  This woman was a caricature of a person that I didn’t think existed anymore.  Perhaps I’m too sheltered in my little utopian bubble of acceptance and inclusion, but this woman had no trouble at all spewing vitriol at me, a complete stranger, just because we have the same skin tone.  I wasn’t really sure what to say at this point, and rather regretting sitting down to speak with her at all.

“And that’s not even the worst of it,” she continued.  “They live in all of those new apartments and they get special deals because they’re not white and all the young white kids like my daughter who live in the same complex have to pay three times as much just because she’s white.  It’s not fair!  It’s reverse discrimination is what it is.  Obama is ruining this country and I hope they shoot him before he gets voted out.”

I won’t even go into the factual inaccuracies of that statement, I was pretty well flabbergasted that I was hearing an apparently educated and generally affluent woman condone assassinating a sitting President.  There have been rumors floating about ‘the coming race war’ since the Civil War, but it’s things like this that make me wonder if it might not become reality, and that’s a scary thing.  Mind you, I have not said a word since asking her the initial question yet.

At this point, I was almost afraid to try to say anything, but I waited a few moments, and then when she didn’t launch into another rant, I broke my silence.

“How do you know that I’m not gay?” I asked.

She had the good sense to look at least a little bit embarrassed at this point, but she quickly turned it around and gave me a hard stare, “Well, at least you’re white, and I don’t believe you’re gay anyway, you don’t have the look.”

“I don’t have the look?”

“No, I can tell.”

“You can? Just like you can tell that those young men are Mexican?”

“Well, they might be a different kind of Mexican, maybe they’re from Venezuela, that would be even worse, they might be supporters of that guy, whatshisname..”

“Hugo Chavez,” I supplied.

“Yeah, him.  He’s a communist.”

“He’s dead.”

“Good. That’s a start.”

“Ma’am, I’m going to leave now.  Have a wonderful afternoon.”

“You’re not really gay are you?”

“As far as you are concerned, I am.” I said, though I felt a little bit guilty about the lie almost directly afterwards, but I wanted to shake her confidence in her world view.  It didn’t work.

“Traitor,” she said to my back as I walked to elevator and went back to work.

What a weird day…

It’s been several hours now since that event, and I wonder what I could have, or should have done differently.  I wonder if I should have tried to persuade her to be more tolerant, or if I should have attacked her right back, but I think that perhaps what I did was the best I could have.. I was polite, I let her speak, I didn’t interrupt, but I let her know that I disagreed.  At least, I meant to, but I’m not really sure that I did.

I was off balance the whole time.  These are things that I simply don’t deal with anymore since I’ve ostracized myself from my father and his side of the family.  I feel true compassion for all of the LGBT people in other, less accepting parts of this country and the world in general, who have to put up with this shit on a daily basis.

I’m not sure how to classify this entry, but I’m still Rant.

Rant off.

Existential Crises

When I was 15 years old, I confronted my first existential crisis. It was not my only one, and it is unlikely to be my last, but as far as crises go, it was pretty profound.

This wasn’t a depressive event, and though I did undergo moments of melancholy when I was a teenager, and this particular event caused me to re-examine almost every aspect of my life, I would not learn what the word depression really meant for another two decades.

You see, I was always a bit more mature and thoughtful than I should have been as a kid and still as a teenager. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family and we went to Church every Sunday. I went to CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes twice a week after school all through elementary school. In Junior High School I was part of the Church’s Youth Group. I was a leader there. I was a ‘perfect’ child. I never received anything less than an ‘A’ in my classes, I was respectful to my elders, I always practiced my piano, I was in team sports (soccer and baseball until Junior High, then I switched to track in the spring, and in High school I added wrestling for the winter,) I was in student government, I was involved in student service groups, I was a Lieutenant Governor in Key Club, I was Editor-in-Chief of the High School newspaper, I was even lead in the school play…

Much of that was actually after the event that I am about to describe, but it’s still descriptive of how I led my life at that time. I was larger than life. I had everything going for me that a person could hope to have at that point in my life. I got my first paying job at the age of 12 (though it wasn’t strictly legal.. I was doing contract technical writing for Broderbund software with a false SSN and an assumed name… people were so much more trusting back then) and by the time I was 16, I’d saved enough money to buy a car, and I did. When I was 16 I got a part time job writing software and I was suddenly cash flow positive in a very big way. I could pay for my gas and car insurance and still have enough left over to be a stupid teenager.

But I wasn’t.

I was an ‘old soul,’ according to my mom.

I identified strongly with the persona of Yama, the Vedic god of Death. He was old before he was young, and so was I. The fact that I even knew who Yama was at the age of 15, growing up in a rural community and a Catholic family in the pre-Internet era is something of an anomaly itself, in retrospect, but that’s not the the thrust of what I’m after here. It would, however, come to color the events that caused me to change so drastically from the Christian Beaver Cleaver overachiever that I was and become something new and different.

When I was eight or nine, I made friends with a boy who was in my CCD classes. We went to Vacation Bible School together in the summer. It was only a day camp, but it was the first camp I’d ever been to, and the only one that I would attend until I finally went away for my one year of sleep away camp when I was a teenager, but that was after the Transformation.

This boy, who I will refer to as Charlie, though that was not really his name, was not my best friend, as I understood such things to be at that time, but he was a good friend. We would play with Transformer and Gobots together. He even had some of the cool Gundam toys, straight from Japan, that you couldn’t get in the States. I’m still not sure how he got them, but he would always let me play with the one that I liked best, so I didn’t really care.

Charlie was a year older than me, and at that age, that’s a big deal. He still liked to play with me and I thought that was cool. Charlie and I would have playdates (a word which means something very different to me now…) and we would meet before camp and before school, and even though he was a little strange and the other boys didn’t like him, he was my friend.

Charlie’s dad was gay, and I didn’t know what that meant, but it did mean that Charlie’s mom and dad no longer lived together and that Charlie’s dad wasn’t allowed to go to our Church. My parents told me that he was a bad man and that he did things that people are not supposed to do, and that is why God hated him and he wasn’t allowed in our Church. I thought that was wrong, because Charlie’s dad was very nice to me and he got the best toys for Charlie and I never saw him be mean to anyone or even say anything unkind, despite the fact that people were very unkind to him while he was not looking. I had always been told that kind of behavior was wrong, but for some reason, whatever it was that Charlie’s dad had done made it okay to be mean to him.

For a couple years this would go on, and I eventually came to understand what it meant to be gay and what the Church’s stance on this was and I was torn.

I was a true believer.

I believed that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and lived and preached and suffered and died on the Cross for our Sins and that was the only way that any of us would ever make it into Heaven.

Over time I lost touch with Charlie. The year of difference in our ages meant that he left our elementary school and moved on to Junior High before I did, and that year apart, coupled with my own struggles as I approached puberty (which I hit earlier than all of my peers) caused us to drift apart. I was becoming more aloof and socially ostracized as a result of my undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrome, but I was still every bit as much of an overachiever. I was still involved in Church Youth Group, and my Faith was becoming stronger and broader. I would stand toe-to-toe with my Atheist friends and debate them on the logic of Faith. I felt like I would win these arguments, but in retrospect I see the same fallacies in my arguments that I came to disdain.

I made my own path, and it was one of Righteous Indignation and I wore the Cloak of Faith and Righteousness in every act in which I engaged. I was a Paladin and I was going to march right up to the Gates of Hell and take the fight to Lucifer himself.

I still saw Charlie from time to time. He and his sister, who was of an age with and friends with my own younger sister, were friends, and he was in the Church Youth Group, though with split custody and his father’s excommunication (and yes, his father was excommunicated for being gay and having the audacity to donate money to the Church) he was not there every week. He and I were no longer close friends, but I never forgot that he was my friend, even if his father was doomed to spend Eternity in Hell for the things he chose to do (note that I no longer believe that he had a choice in the matter – this is reflective of my ignorance at the time – I was only a child, after all.)

I kept on my merry, ignorant path, and could see no reason why I would not remain so as long as I lived.

When I was 13, the Pastor for our Parish, Father Thomas, would retire. In his place, we were assigned Monsignor Heinz, an extremely intolerant and very powerful (within the Church) man who was tasked with ‘turning our backwater Church around.’

I had no idea that there was any trouble, but apparently our Parish had some of the lowest per-capita tithing of any Church in the Diocese. And not only that, but there were apparently some thinly disguised ‘disreputable elements’ in our Parish.

Monsignor Heinz would have none of that.

He conducted interviews with each family individually. He demanded to see tax returns. He set tithes of at least 20% for each family, and when people would complain that they could not afford such exorbitant tithes, he would send Parish accountants to help them file their taxes and make sure that the Church got it’s pound of flesh.

The secondary purpose of these family interviews was to root out the undesirable elements from the Parish.

My own family was found lacking. My father had not been tithing appropriately, and I was ashamed for this. But at least we were found to be morally sound (which I don’t really understand either, but that’s not the subject of this piece.)

Charlie’s family, however, was not. Charlie’s father was excommunicated, and Charlie himself was found to have gay tendencies and was told not to return to the Church.

This did not compute with me.

Charlie was not gay. (He was, and he is, but at the time, I could not comprehend this.) The Church made a mistake.

I didn’t have the normal social constraints that people around me did, so I confronted Monsignor Heinz about this. Charlie must not be expelled from the Church. Excommunicated or not, this would almost certainly mean that Charlie was being sent to Hell, all because Monsignor Heinz had a feeling about him, a feeling which I was certain was incorrect.

Charlie was a good person.

Charlie was my friend.

By this time I’d read The Bible cover to cover at least twice. This is a very unusual thing for a Catholic to do. Monsignor Heinz quoted Scripture at me, and I quoted contradicting Scripture right back at him. Eventually he started quoting things at me that I had not read.

Where was he getting this information? I had to know, so I shifted my arguments and started asking some very pointed questions. Suddenly, my curiosity and conviction were not the Scourge of the Devil, but they were a Path to the Light. Monsignor Heinz was convinced that I was Destined for the Seminary and would be a Beacon for the Faithful. He told me of the Apocrypha and for a short time my ire was deflected.

Ultimately, however, I could not Rationalize how someone as kind and good and pure as Charlie had to be sacrificed and sent to Hell, and someone like myself, who had begun to have some seriously impious urges concerning girls could be a Paragon of the Light.

I could not bring the two things together in my mind, and I realized that I was the Heretic. Charlie was good, the Church was hiding Secrets from people, and I was being driven to think and feel and act in ways that were un-Godly.

The strain of trying to keep these things consistent in my head eventually broke my Faith.

If Charlie deserved Hell, then surely I deserved something much worse than that. I hated myself. I thought to myself: I will someday die, and when I do, what will my legacy be? I have accomplished nothing. I have lived in the shadow of others, reading the writings of men dead for centuries, and blindly accepting what they said, claiming their ideas as my own and extolling the virtues I was handed, with no free thought of my own. I was not a stupid kid – I did get straight A’s and that included A’s in classes like AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics… I knew the power of the Scientific Method, and I’d been turning a blind eye to it in the name of Faith for years. I was afraid to go against the Church because then I, too, would be Destined for Hell. My Faith was broken, and without that, without the love of Jesus, I would perish in a lake of fire, and yet…

And yet… without a testable hypothesis, and without a fair trial, how could I say for certain that any of these things were true. I had Occam’s Razor, and it cut the fabric right out of my Faith, and yet, I was not yet ready to accept the path of Atheism.

This made me easy prey for Jubal McReady and his gang, but that is a story for another day…

When I was 15, I lost my Faith in God and Jesus and the Trinity. I lost my path to Heaven. I Despaired over the fact that when I die, I’m gone. I will simply cease to exist. At first, this notion was terrifying to me. It caused me to lose sleep. I spent days where I could think of nothing else but the fact that the Universe is cruel and careless.

But today… today, this same thought brings me peace.

When I am gone, I will not have to bear any of this any longer. I will not have to try to be Zen. I will not have to try to live without expectation. Nor will I be a prisoner in some theme-park paradise or for better or worse, some Infernal realm of the Underworld. I will just be done. My work will be complete, and History will judge me as it does. I couldn’t care less. I won’t be here to see it.

This was something of a story and perhaps a bit of an admission.

I am Rant, and this is slice of me.

Rant off.

Hypocrite

I am a hypocrite.

Nearly everyone is a hypocrite, if you look close enough, or pay enough attention, but I have one issue on which I am a planet-sized hypocrite of the worst kind.

Forgiveness.

I preach forgiveness.

I literally proselytize the virtues of forgiveness.  I attempt to convert the unwashed masses to my own personal religion of sorts.  I tell anyone who will listen that the path to happiness can be found by forgiving others and letting go of your own expectations.  I tell people that you can walk the path to happiness by doing your best and then allowing whatever happens to happen without prejudice or expectation.  And as an example of this, I tend to point to myself.

I have all sorts of stresses in my life.  I’m a single parent, I have constant physical pain, I have a career that can be demanding at times, I live in one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and I have relationships with other people, so I am constantly affected by the things that affect them.  Compounded, it would be rather easy to allow these stresses to overwhelm me.  Each individual thing is something easy enough to cope with, but all together, the weight of this burden could crush me.  No one would fault me for wanting to wallow in it, and from time to time I have.

But that is not my hypocrisy.

I point at myself and I say, “I am happier now than I have been at any other time in my life, because I stay in the now and I don’t worry too much about tomorrow.  I plan, I am prepared to deal with eventualities, foreseeable and unforeseen, not because I worry about them, but because I have the basics covered and I believe in my own ability to deal with things as they occur.”

I give myself as an example to others, saying things like, “let go of your expectations and be present in the now and you will be happier for it.”

And yet… forgiveness…

I’ve mostly forgiven or forgotten things that affect me in life.  I’ve forgiven Simone for tossing me out.  I’ve forgiven my ex-wife for leaving me for another man.  Although I won’t ever forget it, I have forgiven the people that molested me as a teenager.  I have even forgiven my ex-wife’s boyfriend, the guy that she left me for and is still dating, though I did want to ask him for a very long time, “did you know that she was married when you fucked her?”  So… I guess there is a kernel of bitterness there still, but I’ve had a conversation with the man and I didn’t jump down his throat for it, so I think I can safely say that I’m mostly past all of that now.

But my father… him I have not forgiven.  I have not forgotten that he took advantage of me when I was most vulnerable, that he stole from me when I could least afford it, or that he has simply never been there for me except when it served his own narcissistic purposes.  That is my hypocrisy and that is the burden that I can never seem to unload.  And I would really like to…

Most of the time he won’t even admit that he has done anything wrong.  I don’t mean just as it pertains to my life, but in other aspects of his life as well.  He has done criminal things to his friends, he has manufactured issues in order to avoid other problems.  He lies, he cheats, and he steals.  And yet, he lives in total denial of it all, and perhaps that is the most galling thing.  If he would apologize to me, I would forgive him, but I should be able to forgive him without the apology, because I know it will never come.

I know, without a doubt, that the times that I get struck down, the times that I lose sight of my goals and get stuck in problems that I can’t let go, most of those things would disappear or at least be drastically diminished if I could let go of this one last thing… I know that I would be happier and I would be more capable of dealing with the setbacks and holding to my non-attachment practices, if I could just let go of this one. last. thing.

And yet…

And yet, I haven’t been able to do that yet.

I deal with my father when it is required of me.  I am civil to him, if a bit cold.  I make sure that my daughters know him and are involved in his life.  His birthday was this month, and I had them call him to wish him a Happy Birthday, nevermind the fact that he doesn’t do the same.  Without me reminding him about their birthdays, he would forget them completely, and he has, more often than not.  I got used to him forgetting mine, but the way he drifts into and out of my children’s lives bothers me.  It shouldn’t.  I should accept that is how he is, and I should just be grateful for the things that he does remember, but this bitterness will not budge.

And so, I am a hypocrite.

Perhaps someday I shall not be, but for now, I still can’t completely let go.

I am Rant, and maybe someday I will be everything I want to be, but for now, I do the best I can.

Rant off.

 

Five Hundred Words

Five hundred words.  That is my daily writing goal.

I used to be a rather prolific writer.  I enjoy writing, and it is a skill that definitely diminishes over time if left unused, so the fact that my life became chaotic and I pushed aside my daily goal to keep writing is something that bothers me.

So, much like I would do for a submissive in my care, I’ve set myself a task to write at least five hundred words a day.  It’s really not that much, but it does require that I actually sit down, empty my mind, and put something on the page.  That first step can be oh-so-difficult some days.

I’ve been in and out and at the periphery of the kink scene for a very long time.   One of the things that I have always thought to be true, though my understanding of what it means has changed with time, is that in order to be Master to someone else, you must first be Master of yourself.

That is a tall order, but how can I task a submissive with the things that I think will improve her life if I do not even have my own in order?  This has recently been a struggle of mine.  I’ve had some personal setbacks, and while I do always manage to correct them and find my true path again, I have spent a few days in the weeds, during which time I find that I am all but incapable of being the Dominant that I am needed to be, both for myself, and for my partner.

I don’t think I’ve spent more than three contiguous days in a state where I was not fully Master of myself, but these occurrences have happened with enough frequency lately that it is nearly half of the time for the last several weeks, and that is purely not acceptable.

Sure, I am human, and I am entitled, just as everyone else is, to have off days or to not always be in control of things, but as Master, I have a duty not only to myself, but to my submissive as well.  When my submissive partner is having trouble, a firm hand is usually what she needs to get back on course.  When I am in my right mind, I see this, and I act upon it, but when I am the one who needs the firm hand, and it has to come from within me, there I run into trouble.

So – I need something that will persist across that line, where I no longer feel in control and when I feel like I have to have direction put in front of me.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but the answer was always in front of me all along.  Writing forces me to sit quiet with my thoughts for a time, and commit them to paper.  When I am feeling most chaotic, I cannot do this of my own accord, unless I feel like I have a persistent demand that requires it of me.  And so….

I’ve tasked myself.

I will write 500 words a day, every day, whether they be in my blog here, as a post on fetlife, or in continuation of one of the several novels that I have started and not finished.

I am now at 565 words, and this piece has achieved my goal for today, and I will force myself to write something tomorrow, even if I don’t feel like it, because my Master ordered me to do so.

I am Rant, and I am Master to Myself.

Rant off.

 

Aggressive Days

Today I’m having what I describe as ‘an aggressive day.’

I’m getting over a cold and I am still slightly sick, so I think that’s probably got something to do with it, but I can’t be certain.  If I were feeling more contemplative, I’d remark on how it’s interesting that so much can happen in my body that affects my mind for which I have no control, but today I just want to choke someone.  Not necessarily in a bad way, and not necessarily in a sexual way either, I just want to put my hands on someone’s throat and squeeze until I feel better.

I used to think that this was evidence of the fact that I’m a monster.

Now, I’m certain that it is… *grin* – but I’m no longer concerned that being a monster is a bad thing.  Letting the monster loose is half of the reason I am involved in this lifestyle.  For too many years I pushed him down and kept him penned in.. it made me a very unhappy person to be denying a part of myself in such a way.

Aggression and passivity are often placed at separate sides of the same spectrum, but I know things to be infinitely more complex than that.

Is this aggressiveness of mine a factor in my choosing the Dominant lifestyle?  Absolutely, but it’s not sufficient, and I would once more caution any aspiring submissives in my audience that aggression is not a necessary or sufficient criterion for being a Dominant.

When I was a much younger man, these things would happen more frequently.  I suspect that it is something that is correlated with the levels of free testosterone that I have in my system, and there are several studies in recent years that would seem to indicate that testosterone levels in men begin to decline at age 35 and rapidly decrease over time.  But then again, I have also ingested a great deal more caffeine today than I am accustomed to, so that may be a factor as well. Regardless of physiological reasons for it, sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.. today, I’m having fun with it.

It’s a powerful feeling.

I walked to the store today to get a salad for lunch, and I was feeling aggressive, so I was projecting asshole with a chip on my shoulder as I walked.  People get out of my way; it’s amusing to watch.  I don’t have to say a thing and groups part so that I can split them.  I walked into a crosswalk and a van actually backed up to get out of my way.  Perhaps he was merely being polite or it might have just been my bright orange shirt, but I like to think that even he was affected by my body language and decided that the prudent course of action for him was to get out of my way.

As a Dominant, there is little that is quite as satisfying as having someone bend to my Will without even having to speak.

I feel like I can think faster, like I can cause the world to bend to me rather than me reacting to the world around me.  It’s a trick of perception, of course.. the universe doesn’t care about me in the least, but for those moments of delusion, it’s fun.

I am reminded of a client that I used to have.. she would not have described herself as a submissive, or even as kinky, but she really liked it when I would be aggressive with her, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She was a small woman, and she loved the fact that I’m a physically intimidating man at times.  I’m only six feet tall, so I’m not the biggest man in the world, but she was only five feet tall herself, and she might have weighed 90 lbs.  She didn’t like the implements of BDSM.  She was scared to death of floggers and whips, she did not enjoy being bound with ropes or restraints, but she loved it when I would pick her up and toss her around.  She actually liked to be thrown at the wall… we would spend the majority of our session with her charging me and I’d grapple her, choke her, hold her down, or pick her up bodily and toss her away from me, where she would hit the wall or the bed or couch and then get up and charge me again.  It was probably one of the more physically demanding things I would be called upon to do.

It was not clear to me, and probably not to her as well, which confuses me a bit, that it was always play.  At times it was light-hearted and fun.  She’d giggle as she charged me, and squeal when I would catch her and lift her over my head and toss her away.  But sometimes it would get rough.  She’d bite, hard, and I’d backhand her to get her teeth off of me, hard.  She’d have bruises at the end, and I would have bite marks that lasted for days.

She’s scream at me and tell me that I was weak and that I had a small cock and that she was going to kick my ass.  Humiliation is really not my bag, her telling me these things did nothing at all for me, but they sure got her fired up.  I’d respond by telling her to give it her best shot and that I was going to fuck her until she bled.  She’d run at me and I’d grab her by the throat and push her down or even lift her up in the classic comic-book move where the evil warlord is holding the protagonist up by the neck with one hand.  It was only because she was so small that I could do this at all and not for very long at that.  She would kick at me and flail at my arm with hers, and she could have broken my grip and got free at any point – it’s actually nearly impossible to hold a person in that position, but she didn’t want to.. she wanted to be held that way, it was a fantasy for her.

I’d grab her throat until she started to turn blue and then I’d respond with a quiet voice, “See, little girl?  You’re helpless and now I’m going to hold you down and fuck you until you break.”   And then I would hold her down and fuck her, with her saying, “Hurt me.  Harder. Please hurt me..”  over and over again before she came.

It was some of the kinkiest sex I’ve ever had, and yet, she would still maintain that she wasn’t the least bit kinky at all.  People are strange.

Today I would have given her a proper session, but I wasn’t always able to on command.  I used to get down on myself for this fact, and sometimes I still do.  I haven’t done anything nearly so intense with my current partner, and I know she wants me to, I just have to be in the right frame of mind and be feeling physically capable, which is something I have struggled with since my car accident.

But days like this are encouraging, and the pain today is not too strong, so I look forward to the next time schedules and moods intersect, and though my partner isn’t expecting it, I’m pretty sure that she’ll approve when it occurs.

Even if she doesn’t, it is my Will, and I am the big D in our relationship, so it will eventually happen.

Breaking things is sometimes fun, and fixing things is sometimes too.

Best though, is when you can do both at once.

I look forward to it.

I am Rant, but this was an admission and a story.

Rant off.

Radical Consent

I’ve just spent the majority of the past couple hours reading other people’s journal entries and notes and whatnot on a relatively popular kink social site, and one thing is abundantly clear… there are some gifted writers and smart people here, but these concepts that we’re tackling are hard to grasp, difficult to enumerate, perhaps even impossible to grok in a universal way.

There were several writings that struck a chord with me, but I’m going to pick on one in particular, because I both respect the author and think that he got a few things wrong.

I don’t know what makes me believe that adding my voice to the chorus will make a whit of difference, but here I embark upon that quest anyway.

Consent is one of the pillars upon which we build our community and trust.  Without consent, what we do is abuse.  This is an important statement, so please bear with me as I ask you to read it again, and be sure that you see there are no hedge words here: without consent, what we do is abuse.

I would never take it upon myself to invade a scene and put a stop to any actions that I saw taking place, even if, to me, they looked like abuse.  This is a conditioned response, and it was *not* something that came naturally to me.  This thing that we do is a highly ritualized and distinct universe from the reality that makes up day-to-day life for most people.

I have been witness to things that would make my blood boil and invite violence if the context from those actions was missing in my mind.  I can walk into a public dungeon and see things that if I saw them in a vanilla nightclub would warrant intervention, and I have.  But because I understand that the playplace I am at has house rules, and I accept that it is valid for me to assume that the people in scene have pre-negotiated their own terms, any intervention on my part is unwarranted, unwanted, and indeed harmful.

I have a great deal of respect for the writer of the piece I’m talking about — he goes by the name of Master James — and in his writing, he talks about consent, but he throws context out the window.  He lambastes the masses for failing to understand something that I have difficulty with even after more than a decade in this lifestyle, more if you count the years I spent at the periphery.  Our community is the only place I know of where people are able to give informed and radical consent.  Outside of the ivory tower, this is a much more muddled subject matter.

I have a contract with my partner.  She signed it willingly.  In fact, the task of writing the contract was a task that I delegated to her, because I wanted to be absolutely certain that her consent was informed, deliberate, and incontrovertible.  Not that the document itself has any legal standing, or that it cannot be changed (she was very insightful when she put the clause that allowed for modification of the contract into the contract itself) – but whether it has standing or not, whether it can be changed or not, it represents the pinnacle of consent.  It outlines the terms under which I can take action, the things that are expected of me, and most importantly, the things that I am not to approach.

Because of this, she is the only person in the world with whom I would have sex if she were intoxicated.  Because I have sober and persistent consent from her, I do not worry that she might not be able to consent to things for which we have previous history, but erring on the side of caution, I would not, even with her, attempt to push boundaries that we have not approached before when she is intoxicated.

This is all well and good in a perfect world, but the world is not perfect, not even in the highly idealized world in which we reside as kinksters.

However, this is the point where the illusion breaks down and Master James’s argument takes hold…

What if **I** am also intoxicated?

Now, I *am* a feminist, and I object to the term ‘radical feminist’ on the premise that the word ‘radical’ has become demonized and to apply it to a person is an attempt to discredit them by appellation, but I will admit that there are variances in the degree to which people cleave to this ideal, and since I am not a woman, I will never probably be as fully cognizant of the struggles of women as I should be, so I may not be as adherent to this ideal as I could be.

As far as I understand things, this is the argument that the feminists would make:

1) Alcohol and other intoxicants alter your inhibitions and cognitive abilities, making informed consent impossible.

2) Social pressures exist for women that take hold in the situation described in 1) above, and therefore, for a woman, even simple consent (as opposed to informed consent) is impossible for women even when only moderately intoxicated.

3) I am a man, and the dangers for me are significantly less than they are for a woman, so I should endeavor to err on the side of caution in all of these situations, and I should police my own actions.

On the face of it, I agree with all three points.

Point 1) is a simple fact, proven over and over again by numerous studies and real-world scenarios.  This is only reinforced further by the fact that the number one date-rape drug of all time always has been and will continue to be alcohol.

Point 2) is arguable, but you’d have to be something of a horse’s ass to make that argument.  There is no doubt in my mind that women have pressure put upon them from even before they reach sexual maturity to ‘put out’ for the boys – this is something that we can change, and changing perceptions like this is the reason I call myself a feminist.

Point 3) is also arguable, but again, it’s a reasonable argument to make.  As an atomic argument, I have nothing to say against it.  The first part of the statement is pure fact – sex is much more dangerous for women than it is for men.  There are STIs that are much easier for women to contract and for which the consequences are much more dire than they are for men, but even if that were not the case, unwanted pregnancy is a huge problem for a woman and significantly less so for the man.

If you take each of these individually, I would say that this represents a very strong argument.

However, the problem comes up with the intersection of points 1) and 3).

Sex is less dangerous for me, so I should err on the side of caution.  Roger, I’m with you there, totally on board, 100%, no problem.

Alcohol reduces inhibitions and impairs cognitive function.  This is every bit as much true for me as it is for her.  I have been taken advantage of when intoxicated.  I didn’t report it, because, well, that point 2) up there? there are societal pressures for us men as well…

But more importantly than my own experiences as a victim, when I am cognitively impaired and my inhibitions are reduced, remembering point 3) is potentially impossible for me, and I think it is not a broad generalization to apply that to any person.

Rape is a really ugly word.  Worse than ‘radical’ by a long shot.  The thing that many feminists are trying to do is to divorce the concept of intent from that of rape.  This is where I think the problem lies, and something that I disagree with, vehemently.

Rape is legally defined as the unlawful compelling of a person through force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

This is an overly narrow definition, not the least of which because it explicitly calls out sexual intercourse when I would classify a whole host of other sex acts as potential rape, but inherent to this definition is the concept of compelling someone to do something, and that requires intent.

If I don’t intend to rape you, I cannot rape you.  At least, not in the eyes of the law, and I’m pretty sure that intent should also be the litmus test that we use for applying that term outside of the law as well.

Intent can take on many forms.

If I am at a party and I see a girl who is alone and drinking a lot, and I encourage her to drink more with the idea that I will then take her back to my place and have sex with her, that is rape.

If I am in a long term relationship with you, but things are rocky and we haven’t had sex in a while and I keep refilling your wine glass because I know that you loosen up when you’ve had a bit to drink and I hope that I can then coerce you into having sex when we get home, that is also rape.

If I am at a bar and I’m flirting with a pretty girl who is matching me drink for drink and then she invites me back to her place to have sex and I go along, is that rape?

I don’t think it is, but I’m not sure, and if I wasn’t just as drunk as she was, I would have collected her contact information and NOT gone home with her, because of point 3) above, but I’m drunk, and I’m human, and she’s pretty and she invited me to her place…

Have I ever violated the consent of someone?  It pains me to say so, but I probably have.  Not all consent violations are rape though.

No one has ever told me that I have violated her consent.  Not once, not ever.  None of the actions of my youth resulted in my incarceration, or even arrest.  I have never lost a friend because we had sex and she later decided that she didn’t want to.  I have never cultivated a friendship on the hopes that one day in a moment of weakness she would sleep with me because that was what I really wanted from the beginning…

However… I have had one night stands.  The premeditated intent to have sex was never a factor in any of those one night stands.  Never have I ever set out at the beginning of the evening thinking, “I’m going to get laid tonight,” but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened.

Does this make me an evil person?  I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.

Have I ever had sex with someone, while drunk, that I would not have, had I been sober?

Of course I have… and you can bet your last dollar that it will probably happen again at least once before I can’t get it up any more, but I am a man, and those incidents were a lot less dangerous for me than they are for a woman.

Determining intent can be hard to do, even when you are making every effort to be honest with yourself, and in the end, adjudicating rape may end up much like Justice Stewart’s famous description of hard core porn versus art: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

In his well-written and thought out piece, Master James makes the connection between a woman’s inability to consent while inebriated with being a child, and that’s where I think he’s just dead wrong.  Women are facing more danger than men in these situations and that must be considered by any rational man.

Feminism goes beyond seeking equality between the sexes because they are inherently distinct and unequal.  No matter how much I would like to be able to do so, I can never conceive a child, and that is both a blessing and burden that I can never face.

Let us, as rational beings, make things equal where they are, and accommodate the things that are not, and this is one of the things that is not equal.

I will continue to do my best to hold to points 1), 2), and especially 3) above, but I will not always succeed perfectly, because these three things are not complementary and they are not even really points, but instead they are spectra, but I know who I am and what my motives are, and I sleep very well knowing that I do the best I can.

I believe that is all any feminist, ‘radical’ or not, would ask of me.

I guess I was in the mood to rant…

I am Rant, and I have opinions, but I’m not always right.

Rant off.

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.