Tag Archives: psychology

Second Interlude: The Ravings of an Insomniac

It’s just after 3 am where I am, and I am – obviously – not sleeping.

Insomnia is one of the side effects of the work that I’m doing to purge my demons.  Of course, insomnia has been something that has plagued me for most of my life – reaching back to these very same events that I am trying to relate here.

It’s almost certainly appropriate that the song I’m listening to as I write this is My Demons, by Starset.

I had planned to write something different here, but something within needs to get out now, so here I am.

I’ve been to see many counselors and healers of various different specialties.  I’ve been on drugs, both the prescribed-for-you kind, and the self-medicating variety.  I’ve meditated and even cast spells in an effort to push the memories away, but they will     not     die.

I know that every event in my life has contributed to make me who I am today, and for the most part, I am proud of that man, so I do not express the opinion lightly that despite that pride, and even against the chance that I am now a better person than I would otherwise have been, I wish I could undo certain things from my past.

I have striven to make amends for all of my past mistakes, and I am content with what I have been able to accomplish in that regard. Those are not the things of which I speak.  I would have that younger me not endure the things the he did…  and I feel terribly selfish for thinking that.

It’s not just possible, but likely, that without the experiences that I have had, that I would not be nearly so compassionate, kind, or thoughtful.  Without the suffering, I would likely not have learned empathy to the extent which I have.  Without the years of bitterness and resentment, I would not have built a stronger character that can weather hardship without becoming spiteful.  Without my relationship failures, I would not have been introduced to BDSM, I would not have had children, and I would not have started this blog.

I know that my reach is not vast and that this is an insignificant piece of a vastly larger construct, which is, itself, infinitesimally smaller against the vastness of the universe itself.  What I do or don’t do does not change the course of things much.  However, as a result of this blog, I’ve met some of the very best people from all over the world.  I’ve made durable, lasting, loving friendships that I treasure.  I’ve been told more than once that my message and compassion have saved a life.

And I would wish all of that away if I could.

Sometimes I wonder if the demons are me.

I feel weak.  Most of the images that I would wish away are not even real.  At least, that is what I tell myself, as I hide behind my bastion of science that does not allow for such things to exist.  But either way, most of the images that I would wish away, changing the course of time, are not even real.  So I am weak, and to be rid of these unreal, troubling images, I would undo all of it.

One of my psychologists was very interested to know about my views on religion, and asked me to question my own adherence to atheism, pointing out that because one cannot prove that God does not exist, atheism is as much a matter of faith as Christianity.

I made a pithy remark about the tenuous existence of a God whose existence depended on the logical fallacy of proving a negative, but there was no real passion behind it, and I realized that whether she was right about atheism being a matter of faith or not in general, it didn’t matter at all, because for me, it was.

I had to believe that there was no such thing as God, because if there was, then the things that I took part in were real. I had to believe that the supernatural was impossible, because if it was possible, then the things that I saw were true.

I have always been a firm believer that observable events always have rational explanations, even if sometimes those explanations are not something that we understand just yet.  But for a time, even that definition was too permissive.  That might mean that the things I witnessed were real, just not something I could understand, and that is an even more terrifying idea.

I’m in nowhere near so fragile a place now, and writing things here does help.

I know that my experiences were drug induced – poisons, really.   That is all the rational explanation I need.  It fits.  And with the exception of the occasional late-night bout of insomnia, I really am dealing with it much better now, on my own path.  I know that I will soon be to a point where I can get past the hold these things have on me, where I can use the experiences that I had to help others heal, and I know that the journey is worth the sacrifice, but sometimes I wish that younger me, the one who was curious and bold, would not have had to be broken first, and that I didn’t sometimes become him again in my dreams.

 

 

My Personal Journey : Part 3

Part 3:  Power corrupts

I am going to stop making promises about how far I will get with this story in each installment – since I quite obviously have more to say on some of these topics as I commit them to the page than I initially thought.  So – from now on, I’ll just keep adding parts of my story to the journey as it unfolds.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that this post took me awhile to get up because of the effects that writing it had on me.  I began by writing about the change of power dynamics in the Lodge, and how that affected me both then and now, but as part of writing that, I began to relate in some detail one of the rituals that I was always the center of attention for, and as I was writing it, I started to re-experience the feelings that I had, and I had to stop.  I have cut most of that, but I’ve left what I can, for now.

One could be excused for thinking that the feelings that bothered me so much were feelings of victimization or exploitation, but that’s not what really bothered me.  I felt megalomaniacal, with delusions of grandeur.  I’ve been having some small amount of difficulty in keeping these feelings from bleeding over into my day-to-day life. , but I think I’ve managed to normalize things at this point.  I am somewhere in the middle of where I want to be: warm and open, honest and bold – and where I was: cold and closed, aloof and narcissistic.  I’m not as open and warm as I was just a few weeks ago, but neither am I as aloof and unconcerned as I was twenty years ago.

But to get back to the story…

My interactions with Joe’s extended family and a few others from the neighboring communities started to have a profound effect on my view of myself as a man over the next couple of years.  I will refer to this extended group of followers from now on as the Lodge (since that was how we referred to ourselves).

My interactions with the Lodge began to take on more and more ritually significant roles, and either by fate or happenstance, this coincided with my own realizations concerning my atypical neurology and how I interacted with the world.  This would prove to have a profound effect on who I became and the decisions that I would make for the next decade.

However, in order to understand how this happened, it is first necessary to explain something about the central concept at the core of our beliefs – the Thelemic concept of True Will.

I could probably write a book on that subject alone, but to provide just a small bit of context so that this makes sense, I will relate the two meanings that the concept of True Will carries.

Firstly, the meaning given to the outer order and the world at large – and the only official definition – is basically this: every person has a ‘best path’ – or True Will – for them to live in this life, and as long as you stay on that path, you will be happy and things will be easy for you.  All of the things that are stressing you out now are things that are happening because you are not aligned with your True Will.  This concept goes a bit further and early induction rituals involve contacting your own personal Holy Guardian Angel to help reveal your True Will, but basically you are told that there are different voices within that speak to you about what you should do, representing different facets of a cognitive being that connects us all, and you need to be able to filter out the voices that do not belong to you and that once you do that, everything will be perfect for you.

Secondarily, there was the meaning given to the inner circle.  This may have been unique to our Lodge and my future interactions with members of the more official Ordo Templi Orientis would indicate that they do not generally acknowledge any other interpretation of True Will.  Whether this facet was a perversion unique to Frater Jubal (for he did claim to have secrets) or a more widespread ‘inner doctrine’ I do not know, but the gist of this facet of True Will is this:  as long as you are aligned with your True Will, you can do no wrong.

That is a very simple statement to encompass a much broader range of things, but that was the justification for every evil thing done by Joe or myself or any other member of the inner circle of the Lodge.  If I am acting on my Will, what I am doing is absolutely – even Divinely – right.

Tying destiny and will together like this is insidious.

And then Joe did something that I’m certain every other Thelemite would balk at – he told me that I had the power to read others’ True Will.

According to everything that I had read, this should not be possible.  One’s own True Will should only be revealed through a few specific rituals or ordeals.  But Joe called me an Ascendant Being and told everyone that I had the ability to read their True Will, putting me in the position of being the Lodge fortune teller, for the most part.

In retrospect, I see it as a cunning move on his part.  He thought he could control me, and he saw the opportunity to use a smart, observant kid to gain even more control over his flock.

I actually have no idea if this was his true motive or not, but it certainly makes a great deal of sense.  By not claiming the power for himself, Joe was being falsely humble, and by telling the members of the Lodge that I had the ability to read their True Will, and then ‘guiding’ me to do so in such a way as to get everyone to do what he wanted them to, Joe was able to elevate himself – and me – from teacher/priest to demigod.  Suddenly, if you had too much difficulty with the initiation rites (which was a very common problem for new acolytes), you had another option – you could just ask me.

This made me indispensable,  and Joe continued to groom me to ascend to leadership positions within the Lodge.

This break from previous teachings actually caused a few people to leave, but those who remained were even more loyal and bound to us.

Ultimately though, this would prove to be the linchpin that gave way and allowed me to escape the Lodge.

As I grew older and more confident in my abilities (and while there was always a part of me that knew that something wasn’t quite right, I was, for the most part, a believer at this point) I began to disagree with Joe.

I can still vividly remember the argument that he and I had after I had read someone’s Will and gave a different pronouncement than Joe had pre-suggested to me that I should tell her.

It was a direct challenge to his authority, and he began as you might expect, by distancing himself from me and pronouncing that I had strayed from the path, appealing to the Lodge to oust me, for the most part.

It worked too – but only because I let it, and realizing that has been one of the biggest events of my life.

He made certain that our argument was very public, and while Joe was a very smart man, he was outclassed in this fight.  He said that I had lost my way and that I would need to do penance to find my way again.  This was not the first time that he suggested that I would need to do penance, but it is the first time that I disagreed.  I took Joe’s own words that he had previously lavished upon me when I was a more timid, more compliant acolyte.  I stopped speaking to Joe, even though he was the one in front of me – I started speaking to be heard – and I said that as an Ascendant Being, my mastery of Will was complete, and that as an avatar of the Lightbringer, I was the only being capable of discerning the Truth, and that, indeed, Joe had lost his way.

The last part is almost certainly actually true, but I no longer cared.  I was about to leave for college and I was beginning to see things for what they truly were – a dangerous cult built around some stolen ideas and a charismatic personality.  I was happy to let that argument be the last interaction that we had before I moved hundreds of miles away.

It wasn’t until much later that I would begin to understand the actual value of the things that I was taught and to use the gifts that Joe had helped me to hone in reading people as a way to gain personal power, and even later than that before I realized that to be such a creature would be to lose myself completely.

When I was 18, I graduated from high school as Salutatorian and left behind my small rural home town.  I would spend a few days back in my parent’s home during that first year away, but after that, I would limit the amount of time that I spent in the area, even to the point of seeking poorly thought-out plans to ensure that I wouldn’t have to return.

One of those would result in an early and inappropriate marriage – and the other would result in sex work and my first introduction to BDSM.

I’m nowhere near done yet…

  • Rant

backlash and progress

Combatting misogyny could be my full time job, but I am glad that it is not.

The United States are currently going through a bit of a re-shuffle with regards to national identity, which is pretty obvious to everyone on the world stage.  We’re kind of like your neighbors who are constantly fighting with each other and you’re never quite sure whether or not to call the cops and report potential domestic abuse.

Just to be clear – if you hear something that you think might be domestic abuse, you should call it in.

I kind of wish someone could call the cops to get us out of our current set of problems.

Anyway – the issue that I want to talk about is the spate of recent revelations in the media about men in positions of power acting badly towards women.

The list of influential men being accused of sexual misconduct seems to grow every day, and my suspicion is that it will continue to do so for some time – at least until the backlash comes.

It seems like every politicized event in US current events eventually results in a backlash.  We’re already seeing some of it with these sexual misconduct allegations – a lot of powerful men who fear reprisals of their own are being silent for the moment, but I predict that they’ll gather around whoever has the audacity to stand up and make the claim that this is reverse discrimination or something else just as silly.

Firstly – this is not an example of reverse discrimination.  Women are not forming mobs and lynching men.  In fact, they’re not even really calling for the lynching of the men who are actually responsible for acting like perverts, which would be mob justice, but still not discrimination.  In most cases, they’re merely coming forward to tell their stories and not calling for any action at all.

Now, I do think that actions should be taken in most of these cases.  However, we’re losing sight of the most important part of what is happening.

In case you missed it – my opinion is that the most important part of this is that women are beginning to come forward and tell their stories.

This is important, because until recently they haven’t felt safe enough to do so, and that represents a huge failure on our part as men who care for women and as a society in general.  We must capitalize on the opportunity that this is affording us.  We must do what we can to prevent the backlash and keep this forward progress.  We must empower every person to tell their story so that we can all learn and grow – together.

Some of these stories are horrible to listen to.  Some of them are just plain weird, and as a self-proclaimed pervert of the highest order, for me to say that is … something.  But no matter whether they are hard to hear or weird or even just ordinary (I’ll leave that word there for a moment…) the fact is that women are finally feeling like the social narrative will permit them to come forward and speak about the things that they have had to endure.  It is long past time that we take such things seriously.

Do I think that every man who has had allegations of sexual misconduct come out is guilty of those things?  No, I do not.  I think that a small percentage of the stories that are coming out are falsified, but I think that is a rare exception rather than the rule as many of these men would like you to believe and as men have insisted is the case since society began to view women as people.

Despite a more receptive climate than in the past, I think it would be a massive stretch of the truth to say that society is open to such things yet.  There is still a strong stigma associated with coming forward with allegations of this type, and the women who do so are courageous and in many cases, desperate.

Part of the blacklash story is that these things happened decades ago and it is not fair to the accused to have to defend their actions from such a long time ago.  There is some small amount of merit to that argument – but only because human memory is fallible.  It is very likely that the facts of an event that happened years or decades ago will become distorted in the memory of those who were involved over time.  This is a proven concept in modern psychology practice – human perception is fallible, and it changes over time.  This is one of the reasons why crimes often have statutes of limitations.

That being said, I think every single case should be investigated – even those that happened 40 years ago.  I think where there is sufficient proof of misconduct that there need to be serious consequences for those involved.  This is how progress is made.  These consequences may only be a loss of social capital in some cases, but in some cases, that may be sufficient.  If you take a man who abuses his power and remove that power from him, he may not be able to continue his abusive practices, or he may learn that his actions – while tolerated in the time when he committed them – were never really acceptable and will be tolerated no longer.

Ignorance of the law is not seen as an excuse for committing a crime, and while I look at the things that some of these men are accused of and wonder how it is possible that they ever felt justified in some of these things, I can kind of see the argument that opinions on what is acceptable have changed over time.  I can maybe see where posing for a photo with your hands someplace they ought not be without consent could be mistaken for humor – because much of the purpose of humor is to make the unbearable, bearable – but I don’t know how anyone ever felt like nonconsensually locking a woman in your office while you jack off is anything but creepy and sad.

Empathy is the thing that would have prevented all of these problems.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are interacting with.  Try to understand her motives and fears and then think about what you are about to do.  Just because you might think it would be awesome for a woman to lock you in her office and masturbate while you sit there trapped does not mean that she will feel the same way.   You have to not only put yourself in her place, but you have to put yourself in her mind.

The fact that she is on the other side of the desk means that the right thing for you to do is to go out of your way to be respectful, honest, and engaged.  You have all of the power – don’t abuse it.

Pain and when the fight is over

In October of 2011, I was in a terrible car accident that almost killed me.  I was at a dead stop on the highway and a driver in a work van was not paying attention and struck me at full speed – probably close to 75 miles per hour.

I was physically broken by that accident.  Emergency responders had to cut the door off of my car to get me out.  I was concussed, suffered a minor skull fracture, a fractured clavicle, three fractured ribs, an avulsion fracture of my cervical spine, and countless soft tissue injuries, the scar tissue from which still causes me pain today, almost every day.

I can still count the number of pain-free days that I have had since October 2011 on two hands.

But I don’t have to be pain free to function, and I’ve developed a staggering tolerance for pain.

Recently I was in a conflict where I broke my jaw (hence the photo in my entry from earlier this month) and I walked around with a broken jaw for more than a week before I realized that it was broken.  Sure, it hurt, but nothing more than I go through almost every day.

Physical pain and I have been traveling companions for a long time now.

I am only now beginning to realize that emotional pain and I have been traveling companions for most of my life.

Just in the past two years, I’ve been working hard to peel back the layers of my mind and access the deep hurt that has been buried there.  I have developed emotional scars as well, and where I have learned to tune out the physical pain and walk on in the past 5 years since my car accident, I had also developed ways to tune out the emotional pain, I just didn’t realize it.

This is where things start to cycle back on themselves, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s helping me to function again, so I’m just going to live with it for now and examine the consequences later.

I can’t take my anxiety medication right now because of my closed jaw.  The capsules cannot be broken and there is no liquid variant available, so my psychiatrist gave me a different liquid medication instead.  It doesn’t really work for me, so I’ve just stopped taking the meds altogether.

This is dangerous, I know.

This is probably not the right way to go about things, I know.

But those wonderful drugs that opened my viewpoint to allow me to experience more of the emotional spectrum and to be more emotionally available to my partner.. they appear to be a crutch, and it’s possible that my already developed and natural coping mechanisms – while not ideal, perhaps – may actually be more effective in letting me live a somewhat normal life than the drugs have been.

I took them, and I went to counseling, all in an effort to save my relationship and fight for the one that I love.  But my counselor betrayed me and my girlfriend left me and now I’m physically broken again, emotionally vulnerable, and heartbroken in a way that I have never been before.  I rarely leave the house, and there are days when I do not speak to anyone.  Not one word.

But you know what – despite that.. despite the depressing canvas that I’m creating upon, despite the lack of medications, the lack of contact, the isolation from my family, the lack of any available friends, the severing of the best and worst relationship that I have ever had… despite all of this – I’m getting better.

I’m hardening again, and that may ultimately not be a good thing, but the funny thing is that I’m finding that the further I hold the world at bay, the easier it is to deal with.

I’ve cocooned the pain away, and it becomes easier and easier to deal with every day.

I was fighting hard for something that was probably hurting me more than helping.

The fight is over for now, and I have to find a new way to move forward in the world.  Oddly enough, pushing away the pain has led me to be more present and patient.  Or maybe it’s the lack of drugs that has restored my patient nature… either way, the fight is over, and I’m finding new ways to deal with the pain.

I am strong like the Oak.  Pretending to be a willow does not suit me.

 

  • Rant

Chemical Control

I am a Dom.  Sometimes I don’t act very Dom-like though, and for the past several months, I’ve been out of control and very rarely Dominant.

The essence of Dominance is Control – control of yourself, control of your environment, control of the scene, control of your submissive.  That is the order and hierarchy that the world should adhere to from the perspective of the Dom in me.  Rant’s rules, distilled to the control elements…

But lately, I have NOT been the one in control – the demons in my mind have been controlling me and therefore everything else in that chain – including my saint of a poor submissive girlfriend.  The fact that she stayed with me through all of this is something for which I shall always be grateful and never fully understand.

But let’s back up a bit…

I live in the United States.  California, to be exact, and the San Francisco Bay Area – which is more tolerant than other places in this country, but we still lag behind in a few areas and one of those is that there is still a stigma attached to mental disorder.  People still seem to think that if you are diagnosed as bipolar or depressed or with general anxiety disorder that there is something fundamentally wrong with you and, perhaps more insidiously, that there is something dangerous about you.

To a certain extent these fears have a basis in reality… as I have personally come to learn in the past several months. But more importantly, these sorts of preconceived notions can affect how one perceives such things, even when one has personal experience.

I have battled depression, and recently, anxiety as well.

I knew the demons of depression, and that was part of the problem with this most recent bout of anxiety.  Anxiety and depression look and feel very different, and yet they can cause a lot of the same sorts of symptoms and problems.

When I was controlled by depression, I wanted to kill myself.  I was overwhelmed with the world and I just couldn’t see any way past the horrible realization that everyone I loved would be better off without me dragging them down.  I was despondent and in pain and sometimes even just breathing seemed to be too much effort.  I wanted out and I could see no other way.

Fortunately for me, I was strong enough to recognize that suicide is ultimately an extremely selfish act, and I chose not to be so selfish and got help.  I pulled out of my depression and I thought that I was cured.

I’ve always been neurologically atypical, but it never even occurred to me that I was suffering from anxiety.  I was stressed out and I couldn’t sleep and I was irritable and short to anger and couldn’t concentrate and had all of the other hallmarks of severe general anxiety disorder, but I was sure that I was “just a little stressed” or that once the current crisis abated that things would get back to normal in short order.

But that was masking the problem.  The current crisis always gave way to the next.  And that’s just how life is.  Life is not easy, and if you let every issue balloon out to the point of crisis, you will be fire-fighting all of the time.  There is no shortage of crises to be found anywhere nowadays.

I started fighting with my girlfriend – daily.  We fought about everything and nothing at all.  We spiraled into the same patterns, over and over again.

But never did it even occur to me that I was the problem.

Even that statement isn’t really fair – the problem wasn’t me, the problem was that I was unable to cope with the level of anxiety that I had in my life.   Once again, I was overwhelmed, but this time instead of forcing that inward and causing myself to be depressed, I pushed it out into the world around me, and I lashed out at the people I loved.  I shut out all emotions and I pushed everything and everyone away.

My girlfriend tried to get me to get help.  And I even went along with it, but I didn’t try very hard.  I saw a doctor and I told him what was going on in the broadest of terms and when he told me that I just needed to deal with it, I took that in stride and just figured that I was facing daily stress like we all do and that better time management or organization would help me.

But no amount of organization or time management can fix a broken mind.

As the anxiety got worse, my symptoms did as well.

I got delusional.

I stopped sleeping almost entirely.

I lost the ability to concentrate, even for minutes at a time.  If not for the reputation that I have developed at work, I would have been fired several times over for being behind in my duties or just plain failing to get things done, and the more I failed to get done, or the more behind I would get, the more anxious I would become.

I felt like I was failing at everything.

I can recall many conversations with my therapist or my girlfriend where I said, “I’m failing at everything,” but it was never enough to clue me into the real problem.

My friends and even my family would tell me that I needed to get help, but I was sure that I knew better.

“I know what depression feels like, and this is not that.” – I would tell them.  And I was right, but I was completely missing the point, it wasn’t depression that was sidelining me, it was something else entirely.

Of course, it took things getting really horrible before I actually took the steps that ameliorated the problem.  My body started objecting in the most amazing ways…

My blood pressure went off the charts…  I’d started dropping a lot of weight.  I was sweating like crazy – so much that even the skin on my palms was beginning to peel…  but even that was not enough.  I didn’t go back to a psychiatrist until I had a panic attack.

I was driving on surface streets and had a panic attack and failed to move when the light changed.  People in cars around me honked and leaned out their windows to yell at me and flip me off and I still couldn’t move.

Eventually I was able to begin breathing again and moved my car.  I got home and resolved right away that I needed chemical help for my anxiety.

I found a new doctor (who is pretty amazing, actually) and started a new treatment program and now, three weeks in, I am in control of myself once again.

The difference is as stark as day and night.

Just a few weeks ago, I doubt very much that I could have managed even to sit still long enough to read a blog post of this length, much less actually write it.

The last time I was taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, I was worried that I was going to be stuck on them for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t.

I may be on the new meds that I am taking now for years to come, but I don’t care one whit…. I am in control again, and it feels good.

Back at the helm.

I am Rant.

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.

 

Finding subspace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rant off.

The Zen Dom

Over the weekend I ran across this – Letting Go of Attachment – and I recognized in it a philosophy that I have been trying, not always with the greatest of success, to implement for my own life.

I have to wonder how Lori Deschene and Leo Babauta would feel about being linked to a site run by a BDSM Dom who named himself Rant and started this blog as a place to complain about what he saw as problems in a community that he had turned his back on, returned to, and found lacking… but the truth is that I find them to be inspiring, and in the very short time that I’ve been writing I’ve changed my outlook on so many things, just from putting the words out there and listening to the thoughts of others.

You may have some questions about how it’s possible that I, admittedly a Dom, possibly a control freak, could possibly hope to 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 these 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 those 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.

I am Rant.