Monday, April 29, 2013

Shame Can Go Fuck Itself

Yesterday I went for a hike with my BFF Angelface. Even though he’s a lil’ bit deaf, he is still the best listener I know. In fact, having to kind of holler my stories makes our walks/two-person support group sessions even more cathartic. I’m amazed at how unwavering he is in his support. It’s funny how saying my self-doubts aloud to some folks just makes me realize how silly they are. I feel so lucky to have that kind of friendships. It was such a beautiful day. We saw baby geese and a downy woodpecker. We smelled all manner of flowering trees and scrolled through every nuance of our inner lives.

And yet, even though he listened so kindly and perfectly, I still felt ashamed for telling him all of the stuff that’s happened lately. I got home and felt so guilty even though he’d given me absolutely no reason to.

Partly I guess I’m just ready to move on to the next (hopefully much more awesome) set of stories, but I think it’s more than that. Even though I’ve done every single thing to fight the Man-induced compulsion to shut up, I still feel guilty for talking about it, even to my best friend. I can hear those chiming admonitions about “privacy” that ran through that stupid thread and even though we are not in touch in any way, I can still feel The Man judging me because I didn’t “move on” as fast as he’d have liked.

And I do still feel embarrassed for how much of myself I wasted on him, how much, okay, probably something like love I felt for somebody to whom I essentially did not exist. I hate the way his idea of me is still in my body and heart, to the point where I feel guilty about sharing a story with my friend.

My BFF, my wife, and my other close friends have given me so much care and support, and honestly I really do owe them better stories. And I want the shame to be out of me somehow—no matter how many times they TELL me that it wasn’t my fault, etc, I won’t be able to really move forward until I believe it, all the way down deep. This has been my lifetime struggle, and I hope somehow I’m getting closer.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Haunty Despite a Lovefest Day

The past couple of days have been quite happymaking. I’ve been feeling all loving and fulfilled at work in spite of (because of?) the immanent threat of layoffs. Last night, I spent the evening with friends watching fantastically-soundtracked burlesque. And today, I had the bestbest time with Sweetie—we slept in until 11, had strawberry waffles, read a stack of magazines, and had soft, gentle sexytimes that filled my heart all up. On TOP of all that, we went to the library and Whole Foods and then sat in the park reading our books and eating sushi, fresh bread, and fancy chocolates. The park was full of happy couples and birdsong and the sound of stringed instruments was wafting over from a nearby museum. The air smelled like lilacs and sun.

But when we got home from our date, we laid down for a nice spring snooze and for some reason, all that stuff from a few weeks ago came back. The Man still creeps out my mind sometimes, even though I’d gladly have the whole thing Eternal Sunshined out. The creepiness comes and it makes my sense of well-being seem unreal. I remembered the mean, condescending, self-capitalized things that his friends said to me, his smarmy lack of accountability, and my worry (which Sweetie disagrees with) that I may not be welcome in our regular dungeon anymore.

As I write this in my living room, they’re there setting up the furniture for my favorite monthly party and I miss it so much. I miss the feeling of waiting for someone else to get naked so that I wouldn’t be the first one. (I’m always the first one.) I love watching the crew work together to get the furniture up, claiming a bench, drinking wine out of a plastic cup, lending my Hello Kitty tape to anyone who needs it. I miss the feeling of connection to the other girls as we prepare for our respective (and collective) adventures. I miss watching my pals have a good time while we have our own.

Yet despite all of that warm feeling, I have an apprehension about all of it. I told Sweetie earlier today (I TRULY have to work on my pillow talk skills) that I worry that putting myself in ANY sexy situation might be putting myself in harm’s way, like somehow staying connected to the kink side of myself will put me on the road to more blame, more hurt, more exploitation. I know that that isn’t rational or true, that my sexed-up self is worthy and good and that I didn’t deserve what happened, but it’s hard to shake the urge to go all the way inside, to be deeply defensive, to close up rather than risk being seen again the way that he saw me, or failed to see me.

What sticks with me most about the situation with The Man is that to him, on some fundamental level, I wasn’t even there. One of the defenses he gave on the online thread was that it wasn’t scene invasion because he’d invited the other lady in. That scared me more than anything else, because he wasn’t just discounting my limits and everything we negotiated, he wasn’t seeing me as a factor AT ALL. When they stood around talking shit after I’d asked him to tell her to leave, it didn’t feel like he was ignoring me, it felt like I wasn’t a me at all.

I realize that I’ve just admitted to being haunted by an internet discussion thread, that getting up from a lovely snooze with my wife to write about a long-past jackass was a poor life choice, considering how lucky and blessed I am and how much there is to look forward to.

But here’s the thing—I’m still really hurt. I’m still hurt that he turned a nice (if ultimately mismatched) relationship into a cheap, meaningless, ugly scene for no reason except selfish carelessness. I’m hurt that he saw me as desperate and pathetic instead of seeing the good parts if me, a happy, pheromone-drunk girl who had a crush. I’m hurt that the venue owner lied to me about believing my story and that so many people were much more concerned about Fet Life’s terms of use than my own. I’m hurt that some random lady I never met wrote a tirade about what a whiny, spiteful baby she thought I was being. And I’m hurt that, though many strangers posted and wrote to lend their support and let me know I wasn’t alone, the people I’ve played next to for more than a year, who were exactly in the position to let people know I wasn’t some weird stereotype of a woman scorned, did not speak up. It hurts to think that anyone would believe that a grown-ass woman with a career and a family would put herself through all that just over a breakup. It hurts to know how deep misogyny runs.

Most of all, it hurts that I didn’t have to go through all that. I should have listened to my intuition. The man was fired from the zoo for yelling at the birds, for god’s sake. He was very thorough and out-in-the-open about ALL of the red flags, including the fact that his “Dos and Don’t list” asked for silence from his submissive. I ignored every red flag and every instinct I had that told me to just run.

I don’t know why I ignored everything that told me he wasn’t safe, except that I wanted to be flexible. I wanted to be open-minded. I wanted to show that I could compromise, and I ended up compromising everything. That’s how I ended up being not-there.

A lot has been written about the pleasure of submission being in the annihilation of the self, but I never want to feel that feeling of not being there again. It’s too much like death, and I am a really, really big fan of existing. On beautiful, perfect days like this, I still have to fight the annihilating influence of him, the fear that he was right to see me as nonexistent. There’s no easy way to convince myself that I’m actual, but every step toward pleasure and joy helps.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Song of the Week: The Magic Clap

Not that you want to hear the word "clap" on a sex-positive blog, but this is all that is right and good in the world:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jumping Out of My Skin a Little--A Good Sign.

For a little while I was worried that the post-The-Man depression was serious, but my mood has lifted quite a bit in the last few days. Even though I'm not quite ready to jump back into the dating pool just yet, I do feel enough oomph to wonder where my next flirt/kink/public nudity will come from. I thought briefly that that time of my life might be past, but, um, notsomuch.

After I blew the whistle on the Scary Party, I'm not sure if we'll be welcome at our regular dungeon--I mean, our dungeon owner is MUCH more sensible than the SP's, but I could see he might feel leery. I'm nowhere near ready to tackle that conversation, so that's out for now.

Wait, I just Googled "Beltane" and I think I figured it out. Huzzah.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fantasies of Lesbian Monogamy, Dreams of Men

I’ve been thinking a lot about those Fatal Attraction references that The Man made about me. I’ve never seen the movie, but I think maybe I identify more with the Michael Douglas character than with Glenn Close. I remember from somewhere (probably from an old episode of Siskel and Ebert) that (after focus groups demanded it) the story ends with the married couple safely back in bed, having vanquished the hostile outside force. In other words, the movie is an advertisement for monogamy, a cautionary tale that only nightmares lay outside the marriage bed.

(As a side note, I think that a lot of the couple-centric problems that outside partners run into (wall-building, rule-making, hierarchy, and a general atmosphere of fear) stem from the fact that the bunny-boiler trope is so pervasive that even honest attempts at non-monogamy evoke traces of her.)

Now that The Man and the Scary Party are behind me, it’s very tempting to wish that I could use the scariness of the experience to fortify myself for a life of monogamy—after all, Sweetie has nearly all of the things that I need in a partner, plus so much more: she is chivalrous, brave, smart, deeply loving, and as the icing on the cake, fantastic with knots. For the foreseeable future, until I learn how to actually listen to my intuition and treat myself as somebody valuable even in the midst of man-smell, I am only with her.

And yet, every morning this week, I’ve had the same dream: kissing a man. A real one, not the goth-boys-who-did-not-grow-up-to-be-goth-men than I’ve been drawn to lately. He is decisive, clear, desirous, and hot. Maybe he’s my own animus, or maybe he is real. Or both.

Likewise, when I look up porn (at least there’s not so much anhedonia this time), it’s always of the many-men-one-woman variety. There is the simple fact that I lovelovelove penises, even if my relationship with those who have them tends to be fraught.

Before the now-long-past thing with Bill, I believed in something simple. I thought I could find someone, make out, synch our calendars, fall in love. I thought that if I was open enough, my missing person would appear. It never occurred to me that I would be asked and tempted to give up my autonomy, my dignity, my voice. I don’t know what to make of this year, how much of it I’ll keep and how much I’ll shed, easy as deleting my Fet profile.

I still don’t know if what I want (two real, deep relationships, one with Sweetie and one with a man) is a real possibility or a dream to be let go. My need to be loved by a man is so warped by compromise and taboo that it seems like just a huge risk, but a life without it seems very sad. There aren’t any answers for it now, just a quiet, simplified life and a hope that someday soon I’ll feel well enough to socialize, that someday soon I’ll be on solid ground.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Horror: My Adventure in FetLife Rape Culture

I feel very alone in the world right now.

When it became clear to me that nothing was going to change at the Scary Party (The owners had given me lip service about improving safety but The Man was kept as head of security) I decided to post my story on the local public Fet forums. When followed was a terrible experience that is in many ways more frightening than the original violation/harassment.

I don’t usually wade into internet discussions—I’ve never been awesome at filtering out feedback, so it’s just a recipe for hurt. But I knew I was going to feel guilty unless I did everything I could to warn people that this might happen to them if they go.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The owner announced that he never really took my story seriously because The Man broke up with me during the process of me reporting it. He told them I was making up details because I was heartbroken. They claimed to have been having an “investigation” but that really amounted to just finding ways to dismiss the story.

2. The Man is still claiming that I “consented” mid-scene and everyone seems to be accepting that, even though he was breaking pre-negotiated limits and breaking the party’s own rules. The creepiest part was when he said “She said she was enjoying it.” That doesn’t make it any more consensual!

3. The number of doms who run that party and are willing to attack me and try to keep me silent went up significantly. One woman yelled at me for “muddying the investigation” by saying what happened to me--shouldn’t my point of view have been part of the investigation in the first place?

4. More than one person read the post and decided that the real problem was me cross-posting.

5. Lots of people who told me it was my fault because I hadn’t called red. What is the point of negotiating if it’s okay for the dom to do whatever he wants anyway?  I said in the post that I wished I had called red, but that I was in subspace and my voice was (non-consensually) restricted. A few people said that he’d done wrong, but they were far outnumbered by people who told me to quit whining, just get used to it, it happens to everybody. It was mostly ladies yelling at me in this way.

6. The part that made me laugh the most was when The Man asked me what he could do to “make amends” Um, stop lying about what happened?

7. Even my “friend” who wrote to send me support made it clear that she had no quarrel with the venue itself.

8. Sweetie wrote the most beautiful post in my defense. I love her so much and I hope someday soon that I can be able to feel the warmth of my own home again.

Right now, it seems as though the entire local community is attacking me and telling me that my safety is not worth protecting. It seems like there is not a safe place anywhere in the world. People work so hard to protect the rights of predators, they argue so hard against anyone who tries to change things, it’s hard to imagine things ever getting better.

I wish that I would have had the sense to break up with him right away. I can’t explain why I didn’t, except that he seemed to understand what he’d done wrong and I liked him a lot. I wish I had just gotten myself home that night, reported the incident, and put myself to bed, but I didn’t. I tried to stay close to someone who’d showed me he didn’t think I was worthy of care. It doesn’t make me deserve what happened, but I hate that it wrecked my credibility and made it less likely that something would be done.

The amount of crazymaking doublethink that came from The Man and the rest of the posters makes me wonder if I’ll ever be able to participate publicly in kink again.

I did everything I could do. I stood up to dom after dom in those conversations. I overcame the desire to be a good girl that has kept me silent in the past. Maybe that’s enough to break the pattern, to keep me from putting myself in harm’s way again.

It’s a beautiful spring day. The leaves on the trees are budding and we have the whole weekend to ourselves. I am going to try to stay away from Fet’s black background, both literally and metaphorically. I deserved a safe place to play, to be as happy and cared for as anyone else there. Even if nobody else believes that, I do.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Send Good Wishes if You Heart Consent

I’m feeling really sad and scared right now. I feel like trying to change what happens at the Scary Venue has become kind of a creepy part-time job. The owner has been very kind and deliberate, acknowledging that his staff needs to be more respectful and that something has to be done to make the venue safer. He let me know that he met with The Man yesterday and is taking a few days to process before he decides what to do about him.

Imagining the conversation between them fills me with a deep sadness and dread. I know that The Man saw me as possessive and overly nervous, and I am afraid that he must’ve used that to somehow justify what happened. I am so afraid that it will be dismissed as a He Said/She Said situation, when really it’s a He Said/She Said/She Said situation where one of the Shes didn’t ask to play with the other. (and where it’s two doms’ word against one sub’s)

Obviously I know I just never have to go back to the party, but I just don’t know how I’ll handle it if they keep those two on their security staff—I honestly don’t know how I could go back to ANY local party if that happens. It all just seems like a huge power imbalance between the in-crowd and those who are new. I can’t stand the idea that what happened to me could be happening right next to me any time I’m playing out in the world. The whole thing gives me deep moral misgivings not just about engaging in BDSM, but about engaging with the world at all. How can I participate in a system that allows such scary power imbalances? How can I ever feel safe again?

I know that removing him from the staff or barring him from one party won’t take away the fear, hurt, and sense of loss that comes from his boneheaded behavior that night—what happened will have always happened. I know that only time and kindness to myself will heal what was broken.

Sweetie says I won’t have to withdraw all the way, that there’s no reason to give up other parties. She’s probably right that when this passes, I’ll be naked in a room full of friends soon enough, but for now, my world is narrowed to a little tunnel of fear, wondering what lies he told about that night, wondering if, in the end, I’ll count for anything.