I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the nature of love over the course of my life. Everyone seems to experience the expression of love in a slightly different way, and apart from being a place to rant about my discomfort with the state of the world, exploring the topics of love and limerence was part of my motivation for starting this site.
English is a very descriptive language.. it actually has more words than any other language, by a large margin, but I think that we sometimes miss with the focus for where we put those words, and that has some pretty dramatic implications for the way that the minds of native English speakers work as compared to everyone else in the world…
I tend to steal the Greek words when I talk about love – they had at least seven different forms. Of course, because Latin is very dependent on Greek and English is very dependent on Latin, these words are often the roots of the words that we use in English anyway:
eros: this is the Greek word for ‘romantic love’ – but also lust – and as such is the most overused of these words. Eros was specifically a word about sex though – it was, after all, the name of the Greek god of fertility. It was actually a frightening concept for them because it involves a sense of a ‘loss of control’ – which is commonly seen in art from and inspired by the period, including the very famous story of Cupid and Psyche wherein Cupid himself becomes overwhelmed by eros and tragedy ensues. Using modern English words, the Greek concept of eros was probably far closer to limerence than love or even lust.
philia: this is what we might call ‘brotherly love’ – but it meant a great deal more to the Greeks – this is the word I use to refer to my chosen family. To the Greeks, this was far preferable to eros. This is the love that leads one to make sacrifices for others. This is the love felt between soldiers on the same line – the kind of bond that remains in place no matter what barriers of space and time lie between the people for whom this bond exists, but the Greeks understood that even philia did not necessarily mean that both people in such a bond would be equally bonded. I may be willing to sacrifice almost anything for you, but that does not necessarily mean that you would for me — that does not negate my own feelings of philia towards you.
storge: this is a special form of love that parents have for their children. It’s akin to the above, but recognized to be a special case because there are ways in which you modify your own expectations and behavior for your children that you are unlikely to do for anyone else, even your romantic love(s). This is really the only form of love that the Greeks thought had to be shared between both parties – because it was of an instinctual nature, beyond the view of the self.
ludus: this is what we might call ‘affection’ – it’s the love that children have for each other, or the physical aspects of love that are not carnal in nature – hugs, dancing, playing. In our Western society, we tend to reserve expressions of this only for people with whom there are taboos involved that prevent sexual expression, which kind of perverts and cheapens it, if you ask me.
pragma: this is what I might call ‘patient love’ – it’s the love that you build over a long time with someone, that allows you to overlook small character flaws or acute events of an unpleasant nature and still keep a pristine mental image of the person that you care for. This is ‘mature love’ – or what we expect most romantic relationships to settle into once eros has taken leave and you have a chance to return to your senses.
agape: this is also a pretty commonly stolen word, often misused because we don’t think like the Greeks did… this is ‘hippie love’ – or ‘love for everyone’ and sometimes referred to as ‘brotherly love’ as well, but in the “society is full of my brothers” sort of way, rather than, “I would die for that man,” sort of way. This is really meant to be more like the Theravada concept of metta. I fear greatly the expunging of agape from the minds of people, but that does seem to be the way the world is moving – division is the rule of the day, not love.
philautia: self-love… to be held in direct opposition to narcissism – this is the concept that all expressions of love for anyone are really just manifestations of your mind recognizing in other people things which you value in yourself – if there is nothing that you value in yourself, you cannot love anyone at all.
And all of this information is useful, but kind of secondary to the point that I’m trying to make, which is that when I say, “I love you” to someone – I may mean that I feel any or all of the above things in differing measures, and the phrase may not mean the same thing to everyone to whom I speak it – just as it doesn’t always mean the same thing when I hear it from different people.
For some people, love is a jealous thing – it is possessive… if I say “I love you” to someone, and I mean in a romantic sort of way, society tells me that I’m not supposed to say that to anyone else – but that doesn’t stop me from feeling it, and because I’m polyamorous, it doesn’t stop me from acting on it either, but that may not address the feelings of the person involved with me, and sometimes that can cause friction.
I don’t have a silver bullet here – jealousy is a very normal thing to feel, and there is no way to magically stop it if that is what you feel, but surprisingly I’ve also found that the converse of jealousy is often almost as important to some people’s feelings of love. I have had partners who, while telling me of their interactions with other people, have wanted me to feel jealous and when I do not exhibit that kind of reaction, they begin to doubt the truth behind my statements of love. If I am not jealous of them being with someone else, how can I really love them? And yet, I do.
Love is one of those dangerous and chaotic things that makes our lives in this universe worth living, and yet it is also the one thing that has consistently laid me low when a relationship ends. I don’t think I will ever completely understand its power or be able to control it, and perhaps that is why it is so compelling for everyone and the subject of so many works of art and media.
Hopefully by communicating about it, by understanding that there are different facets to it and how those things are each individual spectra of emotion, we can find a way to live beside it.
There is a reason why every pantheon of gods contains at least one, if not several, deities who are personifications of this powerful force in our lives. Love is every bit as powerful as the sea or the wind or fire, perhaps even the Sun itself, and I consider myself fortunate to be its acolyte.
Continuing in my series of audible blog posts, here is me reading one of my oldest, and probably most fundamental (about me) posts of the blog.
I hope that you enjoy.
The original post can be found here, and the text that I read is reproduced below.
You may have some questions about how it’s possible that I, admittedly a Dom, possibly a control freak, could possibly live without attachment. It seems antithetical to the very mantle which I’ve just taken up, does it not? I mean, the essence of Domination is control, and my own personal road to happiness was rocky and uncertain until I embraced that mindset for myself again and accepted my Dominant nature. How could those two things possibly coexist in the same person?
Perhaps they are not as incompatible as they might at first seem…
Ever since I first read Leaves of Grass in high school, this has been a favorite passage of mine, from Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Even as a teenager, I understood and related to those words as part of the complex structure that makes up me and I have used them as a balm over the years to quiet my worried mind.
My personal journey to get to where I am in life now has been interesting, but I am finally and quite possibly for the first time in my life, happy.
I’ve studied many religions, practiced several, sought wisdom in self-help books and the writings of others. I have been through individual therapy, group therapy, couples’ therapy, and psychiatric assistance. I have used drugs, both natural and synthetic, prescribed for me or found through illicit channels. I have done yoga, exercise, meditation, hypnosis, and attempted to express myself in art. I have retreated into virtual worlds and even made my own. I have worked as a video game programmer, for a private investigator, and even as a sex worker. I have cleaved to my family and ostracized myself from them. I have told the fortunes of others and cast rods to divine my own future. I have been married, twice. I have had several intimate relationships and lots and lots of sex. I have driven fast cars and ridden running horses. I have tried almost everything that anyone has ever suggested to me as a way to become enlightened, to lift my dark spirit and to try to find happiness. It does not surprise me at all, today, that none of those things worked for me.
I am a Dominant. I am an atheist. I am a pacifist. I am a father and a guide and a feminist. I am worthy of being loved and I love myself. I am calm.
Throughout all of those experiences that I detail above I fought my inner self. I denied my feelings and persecuted myself, borrowing the Catholic guilt that I was raised with to hold my own desires at bay… I told myself that the me who desired to Dominate was wrong. That each person is his own individual and it was wrong for me to want to have that authority over another. I found myself submitting to others, not in the BDSM sense, but in a very real-world sense, all of the time. I did not have the confidence to stand up for my feelings because they were wrong. I hated myself for those horrible thoughts that I had about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
How did I resolve that with letting go?
I stepped away from myself and looked at the dynamic.
I let go of my self hatred. I let go of the assumed societal restrictions on permitted thoughts and desires and I accepted myself and my ‘dark’ side. I have no desire to hurt anyone, quite the opposite, actually. I have no desire to injure anyone, I have no desire to inflict unwanted pain, but there is also the pain that reminds you that you are alive and the pain the brings with it the intense emotional release that I got when I submitted to Simone. There is such a thing as an embrace of pain that frees you from other pains.
I was molested as a young man. It was no one in my family, and indeed, they still don’t know that it occurred and if this ever gets linked back to me and placed in front of them a great many uncomfortable discussions will likely result, but it happened and it turned me into a brooding, angry, anti-social young man for a long time. Simone’s compassionate brutality helped me to face my demons and reclaim for me the things that were taken from me. Some of them, anyway.
I Dominate those that give themselves to me willingly. I will not accept submission from someone who is incapable of understanding what they are doing and I will not attempt to hold anyone who does not wish to be with me any longer or even those who can no longer benefit from doing so, whether they choose to see it or not.
This is a very scary thing.
Strong is the impulse to hold on, to claim a lover as mine and mine alone, but I know that I cannot be all things to all people, and no one person can be all things to me. To truly open my heart, I must accept that now, in this time, at this place, this person is trusting me with herself and the joy that brings me is incomprehensible. The joy that I feel when given that trust and that submission cannot be measured, and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling that way, just as there is nothing wrong with her for wanting to give herself to me in such a way. These are maladaptive behaviors, perhaps. They may be remnants of a primitive psychology, or they may simply be facets of a larger gem, I don’t know, but I want to know, and I will never give up exploring, and yet for now, right now, accepting is good enough.
Yes, I get off on having a pretty girl sit at my feet and lean on my leg and look up at me through long eyelashes with doe eyes and say, “yes, Sir.” If I believed in any gods, I would invoke them now to prove the conviction behind my thought. Once I thought that this made me a monster. Once I thought that this meant that there is something wrong with me, but there is not.
I am a kind Master, and a brutal lover, and a king of my own domain, and the confidence that I have to be these things, and to love myself for them comes from letting go of everything, even those lovers and that domain itself, because wherever I am, it is with me, and whoever they be, I am loved. And I am happy.
Lately writing has been hard… in fact, accomplishing much of anything at all has been a great deal more difficult lately than it would normally be thanks to the status of the world around us, and I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.
But I also know that I want to share more than I have been able to, so I’m going to do something a little different for me. I’m going to record an old post in audio and let you hear what I sound like.
Here is me reading my own piece, Kneel for me. I’ve reproduced the text below as well, so that you can follow along as I read if you like.
I hope you enjoy.
Kneel for me.
Meet my gaze and hold it. Do not look away.
I know it is not easy. Nothing worthwhile is.
Cry for me. Not because you are sad, not because you have lost, not because you are missing someone dear, but because I am asking you to.
Open your heart for me. Pour the blood of your emotion on the floor at my feet and let me sink into its depth.
Sing your song of sorrow until it fills my soul and covers the rough parts, smooths out the edges, fills the gaps of my emotional canvas.
Cry for me. Not because you need to, but because I need for you to.
Lift your heart and mind and soul to the sky and let my love surround you. This is a place of safety and security, you are in my Protection and nothing in the world can harm you right now.
Rage for me. Not because you need to purge the poisonous vapors of mistrust and envy from your mind, but because I feed on your ire.
Scream for me. Not because your voice needs to escape your throat. Not because you have broken through the wall of your pain and anger and the primal need for screaming catharsis is pulling apart the walls of your soul, but because I want you to.
And then do all of these things again for the reasons I told you not to before.
I will hold your heart close and keep it safe while you channel the dark things away and I will eat them for you.
And then, when you are ready, I will return your heart to you, clean, shiny, and new.
And any time you need to, I will be here, and you can…
My last post was about my currently very uncertain health condition and it was written at a time when I was very scared for my own continued existence, not to mention my ability to keep walking and writing. Immediately after I posted it, I started to receive emails from readers with concerns and well-wishes, and it helped immensely to improve my outlook in general.
Firstly – a heartfelt Thank You to all of the people who have sent in their messages of support or offers of assistance. I am extremely fortunate to have such a large network of people who care about me.
Secondly – while I still do not know the nature of the numbness and tingling and lack of sensation that I am still continuing to feel, the symptoms have lessened in some places and changed in others to be more consistent with an injury rather than any sort of dangerous degenerative disorder, so while I am not certain of anything yet, the probability that I am facing something that will kill me seems to be reduced along with my fear.
I am not out of the woods just yet, and I have many more appointments with specialists yet to come, but the prognosis is a lot more hopeful and the likelihood of a full (or nearly full) recovery is much higher, which has left me feeling a lot more positive about things in general.
I may yet be facing a potentially dangerous surgery, but for some reason that is a lot easier to face than some unknown demyelinating disorder, which was the original tentative diagnosis.
Thank you to everyone who has chosen to be a part of my life – you are the reason that my life continues to be as awesome as it is.
“Well, we think that it’s equally likely that you have some sort of transient condition that we don’t fully understand that will resolve itself on its own, or that you have one of these six syndromes with similar symptoms, five of which are degenerative, untreatable, and fatal within a year.”
This is not the sort of thing that you want to hear from your doctor… but it is exactly what I heard when I took myself to the emergency room with some numbness in my extremities two weeks ago. I have to admit, it’s kind of been fucking with me since then and I am good and fully scared.
I have fallen a bit behind on my posts and in answering emails lately – and this is the reason why – I do apologize. I am trying to get caught up again beginning today.
I’ve never experienced having a doctor tell me something like “there’s a 50% chance that you’ll be dead within a year” before, and I have to say, it’s not one of my favorite things.
It does sort of put a lot of things into perspective though…
I’ve known for some time that I would not likely have a terribly long life span. I’ve got a family history of heart disease, mental disorders, and hypertension. I have been involved in several auto accidents (none of which I was found to be at fault for) – at least one of which resulted in serious long-term injuries that still bother me almost daily and are a cause for chronic pain, and all of these things are known to reduce lifespan. I figured it would be unlikely that I would live to see 80, but I was okay with that. I’ve seen what my grandmother (who is now 98) has gone through in recent years, and her quality of life is not very good. In fact, for the past two years, every time I’ve seen her, she has said at least once that she is ready to and even wants to die. “No one should have to live like this…” she has said more than once.
However – and this is a pretty big thing – I never even considered the possibility that I wouldn’t live into my 70’s or better, and that should still be decades away. Being told that there is a 50% chance that I might not live to see another birthday after this year was a pretty big blow – one which I am still processing.
I had a will, of course – it would be pretty irresponsible for any parent not to – but it hadn’t been updated in a while, so I’ve done that. I made sure that the beneficiaries for my insurance policies were properly set, and I had to change my emergency contact information as well. That was pretty rough too. I had had my emergency contact set to be my former partner who broke up with me earlier this year. I even had her listed as a 10% beneficiary for my life insurance policy – I don’t remember doing that, but it’s perfectly in line with something that I might do. At the time, I wanted to gift her with enough money to pay off her student loans if I should happen to expire accidentally while we were together. Now – I don’t even want her at my funeral.
My current partners are all trying to be supportive, but there is really nothing that they can do – nor is there anything I can do except to sit in my discomfort and wait for something to change. This is a very difficult place to be. I am doing my very best to take everything in stride and to be hopeful – by telling me that there is an equal chance that it is something that they don’t understand or something on the list of scary-ass-shit, my doctors were basically telling me that they have no idea what is going on or how to treat me. That is frightening, but if I can alter the narrative a bit and just cling to the notion that they don’t know what is wrong, it is slightly less terrifying. Slightly…
It’s really hard to say “my life is awesome” when you’re living with something like this hanging over your head, but it is still true. I am loved by many and I know that my passing will be mourned, but I am still hopeful that they won’t have to mourn my passing for decades yet to come. I will admit to stress eating and making bad decisions based on the idea that “either I’m fine and this won’t really hurt me, or I’m dying anyway and should enjoy the time I have left.” I suppose I am still a hedonist at heart.
I have confronted my mortality once again, and I really don’t like it, but I am happy in general with the life that I’ve led, the people that I’ve chosen to keep in my life, and the contributions that I have made. I would really like another century or two of healthy and happy life, but if my card gets pulled tonight, I’d feel as if my impact on the universe has been a net positive, and I can live with that for now – and hopefully for much, much longer as well.
I recently posted about myself again, and it continues a pattern that has been reinforced since I first started writing here.
My posts to this blog seem to generate interest in a few different forms.
Sometimes, people find what I write about interesting or informative and they either want to ask a question or have a comment and will comment on the post directly here on the blog. Most of the time this happens when I am writing either informative or erotic pieces.
But sometimes, people find what I write about emotionally impactful, and I get email directly.
Often – more often than not, thankfully – these are positive things. I get messages from people all of the time telling me that I have made a positive impact on their life because I shared something difficult or I exposed something that they could relate to in a way that made their own experiences easier to understand or more acceptable somehow. I’ve been told that I have been directly or indirectly responsible for saving peoples’ lives. That alone is some heavy stuff, but it’s good – I can feel good about the fact that I am helping people, and I can feel good about the example that I try to set for how I live my life.
But sometimes… people find what I write about emotionally challenging in some less positive ways.
I also get a lot of hate mail. Not as much as I used to, actually, but I recently gave these people more ammunition to use in an attempt to hurt me with my diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder and some of the other things that I have recently said and done as part of my life in the BDSM scene – and some of the things that I’m getting emails about are related to things that I have not even revealed on this blog – which ratchets up the fear a notch or three.
This means that I am getting hate mail to my blog from someone who knows me personally.
Even when it’s only an email, or its just someone filling in my Contact Me form, it is difficult to see messages where people tell me to kill myself.
It is difficult to read that someone thinks I have so little value as a person that I would be doing the world a favor by removing myself from it.
It is scary as fuck to read that someone knows the city I live in and would take any opportunity they had to beat the shit out of me or that they might show up at my house and set it on fire.
It hurts to read that someone that I have personally interacted with believes that my way of life is so repugnant that I should subject myself to terrible, painful, torturous ways of killing myself, and that the lives of everyone that I love would be improved by removing the stain of my existence from their lives.
Recently, I’ve made calling cards. I’ve been trying to more closely engage with my community and to put myself out there a bit more for the good that I may be able to do as well as to increase my own exposure and possibly increase my reach. It’s never been a strong goal of mine to create a personal brand or chase fame on the internet, but the good things that I hear urge me to try to at least reach a bit further – until I hit the barriers that I am coming up against again now.
This becomes important because those calling cards are the first time that I have linked this blog to my fetlife profile (where there are pictures of my face) and my phone number – and only recently have I started to receive text messages and phone calls from people who are spewing hate as well.
Honestly, it makes me want to run away. It makes me want to pull up shop here, stop writing altogether and even to withdraw from my community. It makes me afraid to go outside sometimes. It makes me afraid to have my kids stay with me at my own house. And while I can rationalize away the fear and despair, I can never really get rid of them completely, and it weighs on me, heavily.
I have nightmares almost every night. These are the result of trauma from my youth more often than not – memories that I have suppressed trying to percolate back up into consciousness – so I know that these are not necessarily only because of this newly increased volume of hate that I am receiving each day, but I would be incredibly foolish if I didn’t consider that it is having an effect.
I don’t know who is making these threats and sending me so much hate – and while I could probably find out, I am terrified to learn the answers to those questions, terrified to learn that someone I love harbors such deep seated loathing for me and feels like they can only express it pseudo-anonymously and with such bile.
I do not always succeed in putting forth the best version of me, but I do try very hard, and I try very hard to be open to criticism and discussion about how I act and the ways in which I may have made you feel. And if you know me personally and I have somehow offended you, I would very much appreciate the chance to rationally discuss the things that have hurt you, but if you are just a hateful stalker who wants only to cause me harm, I can tell you that you have succeeded.
The hate that I feel seeps into my soul and makes everything seem bleak. It gets into everything that I think and everything that I do and it makes it almost impossible to concentrate or accomplish anything of substance. I try to counter it with love, and to an extent I succeed, but the fear never seems to completely disappear. I try to ignore it and focus on the other things that make my life the amazing thing that it is. I have amazing people in my life who love me and support me, and even those who no longer wish to be a part of my life, or those who I care about but cannot make fit into this chaos claim to love and want to support me, if but from a further distance – and I feel the same way about them. Much of the time I succeed, but sometimes the hate seeps back in like an oily stain that you can never quite remove from your favorite jeans.
I am Rant, and I am not going nowhere, but you have made me afraid. Bully for you.
Mistress Simone was confusing – at times she seemed entirely without compassion. I do not know the full details of her operation, and in retrospect, that is a very good thing, but I did catch glimpses from time to time – especially when she left town on one occasion after I’d been in place for a few months and I took it upon myself to look after what I could – in an ill-fated attempt to impress her. I do know that the weight of keeping things running smoothly got to her from time to time, and I do know that anxiety was one of her demons as well.
But sometimes, she was incredibly caring and empathetic. She seemed to always know what was going to happen before it did. She not only seemed to know the specific details of what would occur, but she seemed to always know how I would feel too. There was brief period of time where I entertained the notion that she could actually see into the future, but that wasn’t it at all, she was just a master of understanding the human condition, of reading the desires of people and finding ways to fulfill them. It was as skill that she attempted to impart on me – and one that I would like to think that I have become adept at myself.
On this particular occasion – I didn’t even know that I needed support, but Simone did, and she was there for me.
I had just met with my first client, Mary, (the details of which you can read about here, if you wish) and it had gone amazingly well. Subsequent meetings with other clients, and even with Mary herself, did not always go so well. I was very fortunate to have had the first time experience that I did – something which I suspect Simone had specifically engineered, but I do not know for certain, and as I said, Mistress Simone was often confusing.
I was confused to see Mistress Simone when she showed up at my door after I’d run around tidying and getting clean after Mary had left. I was certain that I’d done something wrong to earn her visit, but she had something else in mind.
She walked into my apartment, looking stunning as always, and not knowing what else to do, I dropped to my knees in front of her. She looked at me, but walked past me to go sit at on the edge of my bed and placed her hands to her sides at the edge and regarded me.
“Rant. You did nothing wrong. Stand up and come over here with me…”
I stood up and walked over to the base of the steps below where my bed was. Even sitting as she was, her head was level with mine as I stood below. Not knowing what else to do, I stood there at parade rest and regarded her. She was dressed more casually than I was used to seeing her, in a lengthy flowing skirt and a loose-fitting top. Normally, her clothing was tight, fitted perfectly, or she was wearing little more than underwear, but now she looked … ordinary. It was unsettling.
“How did it go?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer. I felt like it had gone very well, but was considerably less sure of that after being visited by Mistress Simone. I began to go over events in my mind, disassembling them and looking for all of the points of failure along the way. I was about to answer with a list of perceived faults, when Simone interrupted me.
“No, don’t answer now… It’s okay. Come, kneel at my feet, toy.”
I did as she asked, stepping up onto the platform where my bed rested, and knelt to the right side of her. She scooted over a bit to the right and centered herself around me, and then spread her legs and motioned for me to come closer, so I knee-walked until I was kneeling between her legs, and then she patted the inside of her thigh and I somehow knew that she wanted me to rest my head there, so I knelt lower, and then rested my head on her thigh as she began to pet my hair.
Mistress Simone’s skirt was split up the sides, which is something that I didn’t really notice until she sat and spread her legs, allowing her bare thighs to protrude from the sides, one of which my face was now pressed against as I tried to look up into her face and she pet my hair, which invariably caused my face to turn towards her body – and her pussy – instead. At first, I kept trying to crane my head up to look into her face as I lay there, my whole body tense with the weird angles required to accomplish such a thing. Once I started to say something, to ask my Mistress questions about what she wanted from me, what I should be doing, because to just be kneeling there, leaning against my bed and her thigh, having her pet my hair, was making me anxious. I felt like I had done something to displease her, I thought that I should be doing something differently…
Opening my mouth to speak the questions that were flooding my mind, I changed my posture slightly, and it became clear that despite her silence, Mistress Simone was watching me intently, because the moment that my mouth began to open, she shifted her hand from petting me, to wrap around my jaw and gently push my mouth back closed. When she moved her hand away for a moment, I began to open my mouth yet again, and she repeated the same action, with the same levels of both deliberation and tenderness. Once again, she moved her hand away, and when I did not try to open my mouth again, she resumed petting my hair. I still had no idea what to do, and my anxiety was making me restless. I shifted in my position on my knees, and when I moved, Mistress Simone’s hand would stop.
After several minutes of this – what seemed like an inordinately long period of time – I eventually reasoned that she wanted me to just relax and be there, kneeling loosely, head on her thigh, with her petting my hair. Eventually, I did just that, letting go of the tension, relaxing into my lean against the bed and her thigh, allowing myself to feel the comfort present in her strokes of my hair.
My breathing slowed, I could feel my body temperature dropping, and the anxiety that I had been holding on to – all afternoon at least, perhaps all day – finally began to flow out of me. I felt grounded for the first time in a long time, peaceful in a way that I had only experienced a few times in my life before, and those were all what one could only properly describe as ‘religious’ experiences. It may be the closest I ever really came to feeling in subspace myself, and perhaps it actually was, but it was fleeting, and replaced by the most unexpected of things for me at that time.
I began to cry.
I don’t mean that I sat silently as tears streamed down my face as I am oft wont to do today, nor that I was overcome by emotion to the degree that I commonly see in people when they try to hide their tears from me. This was crying of a primordial sort. A part of me broke in that moment, and I sobbed. Eventually, it became impossible to stay as I was, the sobs causing me to curl into a ball at Mistress Simone’s feet, uncomfortably straddling the top step up to my bed and the floor in front of it.
I don’t know for how long I cried, and I don’t know for how long Mistress Simone petted my hair and wouldn’t let me speak before I began to cry, but I was on the floor crying for what felt like a very long time. I could not control my body, and I must have looked a fright with tears and snot when I finally did look up again to note that Mistress Simone was no longer sitting on my bed. I pushed myself up to look around and noticed Mistress Simone in the kitchen area, working on something as I glanced over to the clock to see that about an hour and a half had passed since she arrived at my door – significantly longer than I was expecting to find, even though it had felt like a long time to me. In retrospect, I wonder if I didn’t fall asleep for a short time somewhere in between beginning to cry and looking to see Simone no longer above me.
I completed pushing myself up into a sitting position on the stairs where I could see well into the kitchen and my senses began to return to me. I cleaned the snot and tears from my face as best I could with my hands and the ends of my shirt and focused my attention the smell, sound, and sights from my kitchen.
Mistress Simone was in my kitchen, cooking. It was something that I never expected to see, and something that I would never see again. She looked over at me and smiled – which was also something that I did not often see from her.
“It’s funny how the smell of breakfast food always seems to bring the attention of the exhausted and the forlorn,” she said in my general direction as she was plating the eggs that she had just been cooking and putting the mixing bowl and pan in the sink for me to clean later.
She pushed the plate across the island towards me and indicated it with her hand as she said, “Rant. Eat. Please. You need the calories and comfort.”
I wordlessly rose to walk over to the place she indicated, pulling a bar stool over to sit on as I did so. I settled onto the chair and looked over at her, unsure of what I should be feeling, of whether or not I was doing the right things, worried that my emotional outburst was going to put me on the outs with her, thinking about three hundred different things all at once.
“Stop,” she said, reading the anguish on my face. “Just stop, Rant. You have done well today. You have done extremely well. I am pleased with you today, and I am certain that this will become easier for you with time.”
I instantly felt relief. I was still emotionally raw, and I still did not really understand what it was that I was feeling or why I was crying the way that I was, but I did at least know, in that moment, that I had not displeased her or somehow screwed up, and that was enough. The relief must have been obvious in my posture, face, and voice as I looked up again at Mistress Simone and asked her, “How did you know?”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly. Every person is a little bit different. What you just went through was an intense experience to cap more than a week of increasingly intense experiences, and it would be surprising if you didn’t show any weakness anywhere along the way.”
That word. Weakness. It took the wind right out of my sails again, and it was probably evident in my posture because it was immediately rebuked in compassionate, but certain terms, “Rant. Stop. You must not let every minor nit turn into a major upheaval. I gave you your kudos, and I will continue to do so for now, but while this episode was understandable and will be excused, you must not let yourself get carried so far away again, do you understand?”
“Now eat your eggs. I’m not much of a cook, and I can count the number of times I’ve cooked for a man – my husband included – on the fingers of one hand still, but you have performed very well and I am very proud of you and you deserve something special.”
“Thank you, Mistress,” I said with ecstasy as I began to dig in to my eggs. It was only then that I recognized that there was no other plate; that Mistress Simone had cooked for me in my own kitchen, and only for me. It was not that she intended to eat and was allowing me to have the surplus of her portion, she was doing this as a service to me, and it felt strange and wonderful all at once.
The eggs were not particularly good – simply scrambled with some salt and pepper, but the method in which they were delivered ensured that they were among the very best that I had ever had.
“These are delicious, Mistress,” I said, with complete honesty.
“I do expect flattery and devotion, pet, but I will not tolerate dishonesty – you are not being dishonest with me, are you, toy?” she asked me, with just a hint of a smirk.
“Oh, no! I swear, Mistress! I don’t even like eggs, and these are amazing!”
“You don’t like eggs, and yet, these are amazing?”
“It’s a good thing that you’re adorable, Rant, because sometimes the shit that comes out of your mouth is just completely unbelievable.”
“Nevermind. It is not important. I am pleased that you are enjoying them, and more pleased that you are eating them.”
“Please be sure to drink lots of water,” she said as she grabbed a glass and filled it from the tap to place in front of me, “and do not get used to this sort of treatment. I expected you to have an emotional reaction, and you did. I expected you to do well with Mary, and by her accounts, you did – though we will talk later about what you should and should not reveal to my clients. I expected you to be just as you are, and I was not disappointed.” She said the last with an air of finality to it that left me feeling a little off-balance.
“Thank you, Mistress,” was all I finally managed to get out, after what was probably too long a period of time to be comfortable for either of us.
At this, Mistress Simone gathered herself up, stood taller – though I had not noticed that she was not keeping her normal, extremely rigid posture until just this point – and looked me square in the eyes with the largely unemotional gaze to which I became accustomed.
“I will leave the dishes for you to do, Rant. I am glad that I was able to give you this time after your client today, but this is not likely to be something that can happen again. You will need to be able to be resilient and care for yourself moving forward. Do you understand, Rant?”
“Good,” she said as she walked to the door, grasping the handle and looking back at me before opening the door. “You really did do well today, toy. Keep this up, and I foresee a long and fruitful partnership.”
“Thank you, Mistress,” I beamed at her as she opened the door and disappeared behind it.
I sat there, on the barstool, in front of an empty plate and an empty water glass for quite some time, examining the thoughts and feelings and visuals that played themselves over and over again in my mind, wondering at the sort of partnership that Mistress Simone was speaking of, and wondering at my own emotions and whether or not I could continue to do this. But ultimately, I decided that I could – I could do anything – for her.
I still don’t really know what possessed me to do so, but I pulled all the bedding off of my bed and slept in it on the floor that night. I remember waking early in the morning hours, having forgotten to close the blinds the night before and with the glare of morning coming in. I remember feeling like I was completely alone in the world, with no one beside me apart from Simone – but in that moment, that felt right, comfortable, even good.
My schedule was clear for that day, but that would be the last day that I had to myself for a very long time afterwards.
What appears below the fold, after this entry (and now encapsulated as a part of it), is a piece of writing that I first posted to my fetlife account about five months ago.
In it, I recount a rather simple change in the way that I interact with the world. I literally changed one phrase that I commonly uttered to another phrase that had exactly the same meaning in my own mind, but where the words that I used to express it were different – in a rather fundamental way.
Think of this as the update that I hinted at with the original fetlife post – and a way for those of you who do not know me on fetlife to catch up to an important change in the ways that I perceive and interact with the world.
Six months ago, when my friends would ask me, “Rant – how are you doing?” my response would likely have been, “I’m alive.”
Six months ago, when my friends would remark on how well things appeared to be going for me, I would agree with them, but I would say, “Yeah, my life doesn’t suck.”
Six months ago, my trademark method of self-expression was to use understatement as a means of conveying my real feelings. If I were to ever say something like, “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye,” what I would really mean is, “It’s fucking amazing.”
It was an inside joke. It was a ‘clever’ way to express myself without overextending myself. I felt like those that really knew me would know the difference, and it would mean that I was somehow at least understood a little bit by a small number of people in a way that is not obvious to the uninitiated, and for some reason, that was important to me.
But, fuck, was it a limitation on how awesome my life could really get… and that was something that I completely failed to anticipate.
In the past several months, I’ve taken that narrative and completely rewritten it.
When my friends ask, “Rant – how are you doing?” I emphatically reply, “My life is awesome!” and I mean it.
When my friends remark on how well things are going for me, I don’t respond with, “Yeah, my life doesn’t suck.” Instead, I say, “Yeah, I know! My life is fucking amazing!” and I mean it.
Oh sure, I have off days. Today is kind of an off day. Life has been keeping me very busy, and while 90% of those things are wonderful (at least for me) and I would not trade places with anyone I know or even that I know of, not every day is perfect.
I wish I had more time to write.
I wish I could finish Part 8 of My Personal Journey (and Part 9, and 10, and however many more parts it will take to finish). I wish I had time to compose the follow-up to my piece on subspace that I’ve been tinkering with for years. I wish I had time to write general responses to some of the questions that I receive in email rather than just barely keeping up with responding within a week or so on an individual basis. I wish I had time to finish the novel that I have decided to complete and try to get published before the end of next year. But the things that keep me away from doing the things that I want to are just some of the most amazing and wonderful things I could ask for…
I am living a life of embarrassing riches in terms of love and joy. I have the respect and support of dozens of people in personal, romantic, and professional capacities. People want to be around me.
This is not exactly new – but my previous self-deprecating behavior was serving as a barrier to forming new connections and standing in the way of expanding or strengthening those that existed. My confidence and competence were always there, but my demeanor was standoffish or aloof or even anti-social and it was limiting me in ways that I didn’t even understand.
Words have power.
I’ve known this for a long time. I’m a writer, after all. And even before I could recognize that, I always had the capacity to be persuasive and elicit responses in the people with whom I would interact should I choose to make the effort – I just rarely did… and I have no idea why.
Perhaps I was afraid of rejection – that was certainly at least part of the problem. While I’ve always had reasonably high self esteem – years of social pressure to be like someone I am not turned me into a bitter and angry man at points of my life, and even when I thought I was out from under the weight of those things, when I thought that the stark depression that kept me holed up inside my house for days at a time was gone for good, I was still not realizing my potential because I was holding back. I was holding back with my actions, and I was holding back with my words, and I was holding back with my emotions.
Deciding to never hold anything back any longer and believing that I have the power to overcome any awful thing that life might throw at me, and then proving it to myself, over and over again, with everyday annoyances and life-shattering realizations, was the thing that opened the world to me.
I am living my on my terms now – and part of the reason for that was really just as simple as choosing more carefully the words that I say.
It’s been awhile since I’ve said it, but I am Rant.
This was neither a rant nor a story nor a lesson, and it may be ultimately nothing more than a piece of mildly masturbatory self-praise, but it is my truth for now, and my life is awesome.
What follows is the text of the original fetlife post. There are reasons why I won’t link from here to there, but I will likely repost this to fetlife as well and link there to here. Feel free to drop me an email if you’d like to understand the reasons why or if you’d just like to let me know that personal stories like this are something you actually care to read – or use the comment form below.
I will find a way to carve out more time for Part 8 soon – do not despair.
Until then – I remain…
My life does not suck.
It’s a mantra… almost a catch-phrase. It’s a common part of my personal vernacular, and it’s undoubtedly true. I use it to express pleasure.
But words have meaning, you know?
My life does not suck is the thing that I tell my friends when I am happy.
I say My life does not suck when I realize that the choices I have made have led me to a place, or a person, or an event where I feel at home.
But a friend recently pointed out to me that there is a kernel buried deep within that phrase – that it conveys doubt or uncertainty.
At first I blew him off – I don’t mean anything bad by the phrase, I see it as a refutation of a state that feels unpleasant. I see it as a positive affirmation of my choices and direction.
But words have meaning, you know?
Yesterday, before meditating, this was one of the last thoughts to pass through my mind. An offhand comment at a party where I had a hard time hearing over the din led to days of percolating thoughts and introspection.
I kind of love it when things like that happen.
They give me a chance to see the things that are hidden from my attention, but that have an effect on me, my presentation to the world, and even how I see myself at a subconscious level.
To say My life does not suck is the bare minimum above My life sucks.
Does this mean that I am afraid, most of the time, that my life does suck?
I do often feel misplaced, like I don’t fit anywhere, like no one will ever really understand me. This community accepts me, but still does not understand me. The moments when I feel like I belong are few and far between, but I fake it as best I can.
Am I contributing to that feeling with the words that I use, even if the meaning is completely distinct in my own mind?
I’m still not sure, but while my life does not suck, from now on I think I am going to say My life is awesome! instead – even when I am not feeling quite that strongly that it does.
We shall soon see what difference, if any, this makes…
These are the confessions of a powerful polyamorous slut.
I am happy. I am in complete control of my life and I cannot foresee anything that might change that. I feel competent to deal with anything that life can throw at me.
I have grown and changed every year of my life, and I have been proud of the man I am for some time now, but I still discover new things about myself and sometimes those things are significant.
Struck by this realization as I was, it slipped into place so easily that I recognize this as something that I have known for some time but masked from my own perception.
I am easy to love, but I am very challenging to be in love with.
I am open and caring and honest and innocent and eager and overwhelming and arrogant and selfish and demanding and safe and nurturing and horny and wicked and brutal and oh-so-fucking-smart, and I do not hold back on any of these things.
When I am in love with you, the world ceases to exist when you are in my presence. You become the focus of all of the attention I can bring to bear.
I will be open and caring and honest and innocent and eager and overwhelming and arrogant and selfish and demanding and safe and nurturing and horny and wicked and brutal to you.
I am happy, and if you were in love with me, you would be too.
But I am an unrepentant slut.
I am easy to love, because I love so very easily, and honestly, and completely.
And when you are in love with me, this will be challenging.
I will make you feel special, because you are special.
I will make you feel happy, because it is difficult to be unhappy around someone who is so very happy themselves. Misery loves company, but it hates competition.
I will make the things that you despise about yourself okay and I will make the things that you love about yourself super-powers.
I will focus all of my unbridled enthusiasm right at you and I’ll use it to mold you into what I desire.
I will convince you that you are the most important person in my universe, all the while telling you about how I feel the very same way about someone else in my past, present, or future.
Time itself will take on special properties when I am around.
And then I will leave.
Not forever. Not even for more than is necessary, but it will still be difficult. I will return, because this wasn’t an ending – there are no endings in my life anymore – but the distances of space and time will be painful.
You will remember that all of those things that I made you feel – I am making someone else feel some of the times that you are not around.
And it will all feel like a lie.
But nothing was false. Nothing was untrue. Everything that you felt was real, and continues to be real in my mind – forever.
I am easy to love because I love you already.
I am challenging to be in love with because I love openly, fearlessly, and it will not always be directed at you.
I have neglected, so far, to mention that at the same time that much of this was going on, I was in the process of developing an actual, mostly healthy relationship with a young lady with whom I was attending high school.Let’s call her Susan, just to keep things simple, but that was not her actual name, of course.
She was wonderful.In all likelihood, she still is wonderful.In other circumstances, it might have been a relationship that could have lasted.Our original plans were that it should, of course. We met when she moved across the country with her family at age 15 and started to attend my high school.She was one of two girls in the school who could keep up with me intellectually, and while she came from a Southern Baptist background, she was in a similar anti-Christian mood at the time and while I kept most of my involvement with the Lodge away from her, I felt like we were aligned in all of the ways that mattered to me at the time.Of course, my conception of what was important then was very different than it is today.
Living in a largely apathetic household and having a great deal of autonomy, I was free to pursue my relationship with Susan in any time that I was not already involved in some other activity (and there were a lot of those in those days.)We grew close quickly, and it soon became a focus for more and more of my attention.
She felt like she did not fit well in high school, so she graduated a year early and started college while I was still a high school senior.I almost followed her.Im retrospect, I am glad that I didn’t, but it might have removed me from the influence of the Lodge sooner, so it’s hard to know how things might have changed.But I stayed in high school and had an awesome senior year – with a few dark places, some of which I ended up seeking out, and some of which found me.
This next part gives me squicky feels too… Susan’s parents had money. They probably had more assets than I will ever acquire, and growing up on a horse ranch, I never wanted for space and things to keep my mind occupied, but I really had no idea how big the difference between ‘comfortable’ and ‘wealthy’ was until then.I hate to admit this now, and at the time I was wholly incapable of even seeing it, but I used them for their ability to influence people and make things easier through the application of money pressure.I did love Susan.I still love Susan, if I’m being honest, but I also used her and her family, and I do wonder if I would have been as interested in Susan if not for the fringe benefits of a relationship with her… not because any part of my feelings were disingenuous, but because I was not a very well-formed human just yet.
I console myself with the knowledge that every human manipulates others, consciously or unconsciously, to get the things that we need or desire.I was not consciously manipulating Susan, but I can see in retrospect that I did end up manipulating her quite a bit.
I was not quite so self-aware then, and I was a much more selfish person in general.
Susan and I had a plan.She started school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and I planned to attend UC Santa Barbara (which is only about an hour away by car).We were both engineering undergrads, but our plans for grad school were divergent.She planned to pursue a JD (and ended up getting an MBA at the same time for good measure) and go into patent law or become inside corporate counsel for a technology company.I planned to go to medical school and pursue a career in biomechanics or biomedical engineering.While we were not actually modeling our lives after the Huxtables, it was a comparison that was often made.
But that is where things fell apart…
I used Susan and college as ways to help me get away from the Lodge and my family.Susan and I married at a ridiculously young age and at that point I just completely stopped attending any of my own family’s holidays or events and just started exclusively going to hers.I did not realize that I was actively rejecting my own family or that I was isolating myself so effectively.
Gradually, over time, my relationship with Susan started to fail.The most pronounced area in which this was problematic was over religion.Most couples fight over money, but we didn’t have that problem, so we found other things to be in conflict over.Susan went back to her Southern Baptist roots and even went so far as to be born again and baptized yet another time – in the swimming pool in our backyard, no less.She became more and more involved with her church, and that made me more and more uncomfortable.I started to spend more and more time away from home.School kept me busy, and even though I didn’t need the money, I started taking on side jobs to have an income stream of my own, even though her parents gave us everything that we could possibly need.
Our relationship finally broke.I can remember the incident that predicated it with crystal clarity.It was a summer evening, and the summer sun hung low in the sky, the LA area smog making for a gorgeous panoply of red, orange, purple, and pink hues in the sky.I arrived home in the early evening – and found Susan already at home, sitting on the sofa in the formal living room and crying.It looked as if she had been crying for some time, so I did what I do in situations where I find someone that I care about crying – I tried to console her.
My actions made her cry even harder and I was genuinely confused, but I just stayed where I was, arms around her, silently being in the moment with her and eventually her sobbing abated and she looked at me with big, blue eyes, bloodshot and teary, snot uncontrollably rolling out of her face, and she said to me, “I will miss you.”
I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, so in my customarily eloquent fashion, I said, “Huh?”
“I will miss you when you’re gone.”
“Am I going somewhere?”
“I mean when you die.”
“Well, yes, I would imagine so… but I don’t plan to do that any time soon.”
“No, I don’t mean that.I mean I am sad because when I die, I will go to Heaven, but you won’t be there.”
I was flabbergasted.Dumbfounded. And I sat there, dumbfounded, for some time.
Eventually this turned into a conversation about what it means to be ‘equally yoked under God’ and what happens to the souls of the unbelievers when we die.
I had already come to a very painful decision though – as soon as she said “…I am sad because when I die, I will go to Heaven, but you won’t be there” I could feel the decision being made.It was less of a conscious thing and more of a necessity.
It took getting through the rest of that conversation while I muddled around in the innards of my own mind for a bit – with much less facility than I have now – and was finally able to give voice to the decision that I had already made.
“I want a divorce.”
It felt like gutting myself to say those words.It was an agony unlike any that I had previously experienced, and it made me question the whole notion.If separating was going to be so painful, then maybe it shouldn’t happen?Maybe I was missing something?But no.I was just being affected by emotions in a context that I had no previous experience in… and it was truly awful.
I feel pain when every relationship ends, whether I am the one to initiate the break-up or not.I don’t think that is unusual at all, but having been the one to first say the words, I felt like I was in some way beholden to them.It makes so little sense that it is difficult to express in words, but I felt that I somehow owed the concept of divorce my attention.
We both did a great deal more crying that night, but she never fought me on it.She never tried to talk me out of it, never asked me to stay, never tried to win me back, all of which I expected, but was relieved to not have to deal with.We were separated the next day and our divorce was final as quickly as the courts could process it.
We maintained the same residence in name until our house sold, and then we split the proceeds evenly, however, I stopped living there almost immediately.I had no real money of my own and, being a full time student, I had very few ways to earn enough to actually live on.It was already well past the FAFSA deadline, so there was no way I could apply for additional loan money without paying usurious levels of interest, so I ended up couch surfing for a few weeks while I tried to figure out what was going on in my life.
For the first time I took a look at the trajectory of my life and I said, “how did I get here?”
I was on the path that everyone wishes they could be on – I had good grades, a handful of bachelor’s degrees and I was accepted to the Geffen School of Medicine – and had I stayed on that path, I would probably be a very different person today, but it was not a path that I set out on because I wanted to be a doctor or even because I wanted to work on human-computer interfaces (which was the only thing that really kept me interested anyway – I have no real interest in medicine.)I was on that path because it was the path that Susan’s parents wanted me to be on.I was on that path because it was the ‘logical’ thing to do given my intelligence and ability to assimilate information.I was there because it was expected of me.So I resolved to quit that too.
I still bounce back and forth between relief and regret with respect to that decision.Most of the time I’m content with things and I can be comfortable with my choice, but there are definitely times that I look at my bank balance and how expensive things around me are and I regret not making the choice to pursue a more traditionally lucrative career path, and there are definitely times when I look back with great relief on a decision that kept me from becoming a prisoner to a rather narrowly defined career path that I am nearly certain that I would find unfulfilling or challenging in all of the wrong ways.The challenges that I face now are more constructive, and I never have to tell anyone that their loved one is going to die.
Regardless of the motivations or causes behind the next chapter of my life, this was a seminal event.It put me in the vicinity of UCLA on the couches of friends for as long as they could stand me while I tried to salvage the pieces of my life and find a new path forward.
I didn’t drop out of school right away, but I did find a shitty job working as a server at The Cheesecake Factory in Brentwood, and that would prove to be a very important decision for reasons that will become apparent next time.