“A woman who knows what she brings to the table is not afraid to eat alone.”
It appears I have chosen “panties” as my theme for this year’s February Photofest.
All right, more than one. And yes, it seems like every time I come back I say, “hey, I’ve been gone awhile, but I’m trying to come back!” And then I never really do. Call it a lack of inspiration…the pandemic…the breakup…a loss of my sense of self as a kinky person, as a sexual person. Or laziness or fear or… I don’t know what, or why. I guess the thing to do is to stop trying to analyze it and just…do it.
Or don’t. That’s also acceptable.
I’d been thinking about doing a 2021 retrospective. To try to sum up all the things that happened over the year, gain some perspective on them, move beyond them. But damn, it was such a shitty year in so many ways. Not just for me and mine, but for the world. I am so over raking through all of it in my head. I got over that shit, damn it. I don’t need to stab myself in the heart anymore.
I have finally reached a place where I am not stabbing myself in the heart all the time. Yeah, regrets poke at me occasionally, but…there are many – many – times that I think, “I’m glad it’s over.” I’m glad I am free of the angst of six difficult years. I am glad for what I learned from it, and for who I have become in the aftermath – and I won’t ever regret loving him, or all the fun and high-jinx we got up to – but, at least the last two years, maybe three, all that was wrong overshadowed the rest.
I don’t blame him – or her – or me, for that matter, for what happened to us. We were all complicit in our own ways. I wish I’d known…well so much more. But I guess that is what experiences are for, to teach us, if we will learn.
So, the year has passed, and here we all are. New beginnings, and all that.
Here’s some fun stuff that happened toward the end of last year, Adam’s birthday, actually, and I think when I was just starting to know that I was going to be okay, I was going to survive my broken heart. I was going to be okay, even if I didn’t find someone new (although I did, quite by accident, but that’s another tale.) But this weekend happened to be the one that I said to myself, “I can do this.” It’s also the weekend that I “got my kink back.”
The border between the US and Canada had finally opened, and my Canadian Top, M, had come down to visit me. He stayed with us for two weeks, and I got to have someone share my bedroom with me (we built the house with a master bedroom and a separate “kinky” bedroom, for me.) Only V had been in it before, and…it had always been his and my bedroom in my mind, though he’d only stayed here three times before we broke up. But it left me feeling…conflicted…about the space. I love my bedroom, but I couldn’t sleep alone in it anymore. (I am a restless sleeper and had often started out in the big bedroom with Adam only to decamp to my room when I was unable to go back to sleep after awakening.) But when we broke up, it hurt to be in that room, imagining the last night we’d stayed there together, when I had thought we were just taking a break…only to break up completely 3 months later.
(Sometimes I wonder – was that his intent all along? Was he just too cowardly to make a clean break? But that’s the bitterness coming out. I have to believe he was as conflicted and confused as he purported to be, as I was, and intended that we would come back from that time away healthier in mind and spirit, with a desire to forge a stronger, healthier relationship. Of course there is also a part of me that recognizes and reminds myself that a “stronger, healthier” relationship wasn’t possible, for so many reasons – reasons that ultimately made me glad that it ended.)
But I digress.
M was here, and we shared the bedroom, and it helped banish the ghosts that V had left behind.
One of the weekends while he was here was Ad’s birthday. Adam and I had had a wonderful week away about a month earlier, that ended in an impromptu stay in Louisville, in which – because it was impromptu – we were unable to do the two things that I had wanted to do there: watch live racing at Churchill Downs and do a couple distillery tours. So, with M here (who I knew also enjoyed horse racing) we went back to Louisville and celebrated in style, going to the races, doing distillery tours, having amazing food, and – because I’m me, and a trip away always has to = kink in some form – a lovely kink session with the two of them.
The setup: I offered (sweet, giving woman that I am) to take Ad’s bday spankings. To accomplish this, I suggested that each of us choose 5 implements from my extensive collection of ass-beating toys. We all did.
And then, after a heart-pounding and amazingly exciting day at the races…
And after some interesting distillery tours…
We ended up back at the AirBnB with me half naked and them with implements of destruction in their hands (I know, shocking.) Here’s the fun part: they offered to only do part of Adam’s fifty-six whacks with each implement – totaling fifty-six – but I said, no! Fifty-six whacks with EACH one…not adding up the total in my head because, well, I’m me… 15×56 in other words. And I had to count each one.
And much hilarity ensued.
Hello again! I know, it’s been a really long time. It’s been a long, hard summer, in so many ways. I’ve sat here and tried to write so many times, but have dissolved into tears, or just been too numb to make words, or too angry, or just despondent. I’ve run the gamut of grief over the loss of my relationship with V – six years of friendship, of loving, of D/s, of all-the-kink, of highs and lows – swept away in an instant. I’ve been through denial, made negotiations in my head, raged at myself, at him, at the situation. I’ve cried until I had no more tears left, and then cried some more.
What I haven’t done is contact him again after he said goodbye, though it’s a daily test. We’re still friends on Facebook, but I manage my consumption of social media judiciously, so I am not faced with seeing how wonderful his life is without me, how easily he’s moved on and how effortlessly he has discarded our relationship. I want him to be happy – I haven’t stopped loving him – but when making himself happy has resulted in so much sorrow for me, it’s not something I need to bear witness to on a daily basis. I’ve learned about establishing boundaries for my mental and emotional wellbeing – and about adhering to them. And…I’ve started to move on, finally.
For awhile after he left, I dated and played with and sought out partners to fill the void. I missed our D/s and the connection it forged. It was a constant ache, that loss. It had been such a constant in my life, and had gone so deep, for both of us – or so I had believed. He claims now that it hadn’t been that way for him, that the need and desire for D/s was just a symptom of his ADHD/OCD/traumatized mind. I can’t deny him his experience, all I can say is that it seemed real to me, and it hurts deeply to know that it was all, in his words, “manufactured,” by a mind that was/is unable to access his own feelings. Hearing him say he can’t say he loves me, or anyone, and doesn’t know if he ever has, was pretty fucking brutal after hearing it every day for almost six years; after feeling it every day of those six years, as well as the steady connection of our D/s.
I’m getting over it, moment by moment.
I still miss our morning and afternoon phone calls, I miss debating ideas with him and I miss playing Words With Friends and the Train Game with him. I miss loving him and being loved by him.
But, as the tagline says, there’s always an “after,” isn’t there? And here I am, now, in the aftermath. And I’m okay. I have survived, and I am ready to move on. And moving on in part means reclaiming this space and making it mine once again. The reasons I stopped writing are as varied as the reasons I stopped running – reasons I didn’t fully understand until I sat down here to write again. Yes, sorrow from my relationship ending, but also a sense of…disenfranchisement?…with this space. Part of it was a feeling of shame for having used this space in a way that hurt someone I cared deeply for, resulting in the loss of that relationship. But there was also the residual feeling that sharing myself here – and the need to do so – was somehow shameful. I’d never felt that before, and it’s taken me a long time to work through it. I still am, frankly. As with running with a playlist in my ears that reminded me of him, this space has a lot of echoes of our relationship, so it bears treading lightly. But also like with running, I can change the playlist and find joy in running, and in being here, again.
So where does that leave me? I go back and forth. Some days I want nothing more than to spill my guts here, to write about inconsequential things or consequential, to cry in these pages when my heart still aches for him or to congratulate myself when I see myself moving on. Some days it feels hard to face the changes in my world, and talking about it only makes it worse; other times I am sure it will help to bare my soul as I have done so often in the past.
Back and forth.
I do know that I feel less and less ache as time goes on, and think about him – wishing things were different or that we had one more chance – less and less. But it’s still there, the desire to reconnect, to see him and talk to him again.
I resist the pull.
I go back and forth with what I want my new life – life without him – to look like, as well. Days are that I am sure I will never want a D/s relationship again. I have friends that I can turn to to scratch the most basic of my BDSM itches, and at times that feels like enough. Other times, just fulfilling the physical needs is not enough, and I long for more, for deeper, connection. But at least my first thought upon awakening isn’t of him, nor my last thought before sleep. I still do wake in the middle of the night and miss feeling him curled around my body, though; the smell of his skin, his scratchy face brushing against mine, the way our kinky thoughts and words fueled each other. I miss knowing he was there, at the other end of the phone in a text message.
I guess this is the way it feels to have your heart broken, to love someone who no longer loves you. How very different this ache is from losing someone to death.
Last night I went to a play party with my friend T, and we had an amazing scene. Funny, before that moment I’d been thinking, “Maybe I’m over this kink stuff.” Ha – not even close. She and I have such good energy, and I have lovely sore spots and bruises to remember it by.
Today I had brunch with another friend and tonight Adam and are I seeing Alannis Morissette in concert for my birthday. I thought my birthday might be sad – an acknowledgment that I’d never celebrate another one with V – but it wasn’t, and hasn’t been.
There’s always an “after”.
This week’s Kink of the Week and Quote Quest come at a time when I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about photography, both erotic and not. On the erotic side, I’ve been looking through my Fetlife prof-ile after I have had discussions with prospective play partners in which several of my pictures came up. I haven’t looked back on the photos from those six years I spent with W since, well, since he’s been gone. There are several more current ones from my relationship with my previous kink partner, but nothing like the volume that W took. For him, erotic photography really was a fetish. I talked in the past specifically about W’s fascination with photography, and my own conflicted feelings about same, here in “The Story of Pictures”, and peppered my blog with my thoughts and feelings about it. His photography shaped our play and our relationship in so many ways.
Today though, I am looking at the topic not from within its immediacy – what it’s like to see myself that way in the aftermath of the scene – but almost like a kaleidoscope, picture on picture scrolling back through the past, through my life, through my life with him. He really believed that if you didn’t capture it on film, it would be lost to memory, and it seems this has born out – until I saw the pictures again, I had forgotten so much of what we had done! It’s still bittersweet to look through them, but more sweet than bitter after all this time.
There’s something else that I am struck by in a particularly sweet-but–also-almost-painful-way: seeing myself reflected in these images I remember not only what we did, but who I was – who we were. I see what he made of me, and who I became in that relationship, the depth and the breadth of our kink connection, but also of our love, and who I was in his eyes. That woman that he loved so well is beautiful and fierce, and, in the end, unconquerable.
I miss that woman.
This morning I woke – dare I say it – cheerful. Full of hope. Bouncy. Able to concentrate, with a sense of myself. My old self, my real self. I made Marco Polos for people, I made a to-do list for today that I am looking forward to completing (not just “doing the needful” as my kink-partner-on-hiatus used to call it when I felt overwhelmed, and he directed me to just take one step at a time, which is what I have been doing while in the throes of this depression.) I feel like there’s hope that I’ll actually be myself again, someday. Maybe someday soon? No, that’s too much to hope for. But someday.
My new medication is a real catch-22. It definitely helps, but the side effects (brain fog, inability to focus, feeling like I have ADHD, restlessness) are real deterrents, and have made me almost quit it countless times. I like doing the things I do (work, projects, crafts, maintain connections) and if the very medicine that brings me back to life also makes those things impossible, then what good is it? But I’ll stick with it through the end of next week (a full month) and then my doctor and I can assess the situation. She seems to think by then my body will have grown accustomed to the side effects, or I won’t have them, or something. We’ll see. If they give me back me, then maybe the side effects (if they are sporadic) will be worth it.
I have lots of socializing (small, controlled groups) planned. I’ve had my second vax, so I am feeling safer and more willing to be out in the world in general, but I’m still cautious, and – like yesterday – sometimes being “out there,” as opposed to being cooped up, is stressful and anxiety-producing. I had to go to the store yesterday, but left abruptly and without getting everything I needed because the world was too much. But hopefully that will not extend to this weekend – I am going to a friend’s for dinner, then we are going to a play party; tomorrow my sister and I make breakfast for my parent’s for Mother’s Day, then Ad and I are going to play pickle ball and get ice cream sundaes for my Mother’s Day celebration. Wednesday I have a hair appointment – only my second since the pandemic and boy do I need it! – and then next Saturday I have a date – an actual real-life date with a new-to-me boy! Details of that to follow, but yes, I am excited and nervous. And then, the Saturday after that, if all goes well, is another play party, with someone I have known for a long time, and with whom I have renewed a friendship – and hope to explore a play relationship with again.
Things with my kink-partner-on-hiatus are in a slightly better place than they were…(?) though I still don’t know where they will end up. But we are communicating in small, controlled ways, and he seems to be working through the issues that have plagued him. To say I think about him all the time would not be overstating things, however – I have had days flooded with tears missing him.
Okay I am off to start my to-do list before I am unable to focus enough to get anything done. I saw that the Kink of the Week’s theme this time is leather – I may have to write something sexy and kinky about the topic. Now wouldn’t that be a change! But then, everything changes, right?
CW: Depression, Suicidal ideation.
I have never placed a “content warning” on my writing before, but times are what they are, and there are a lot of people suffering deeply, and I want to be sensitive to that. I am discussing my own, pervasive, depression in this piece, but if you want to skip all that and see a fun image, I have included one of those as well. Just scroll to the bottom past all the words…
I have had to face the fact that I am depressed. Oh, this is not a new revelation, I have in fact been here, more or less, since the pandemic slammed its ugliness down on us a year-and-some ago, and have been in treatment with various doctors, anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants, a couple of therapists, meditation, lots of exercise. And I know there is another side to get to, I know it’s there, but right now, in this moment, I am hurting and so deeply, deeply sad. Tears are never far away; longing for days past is always there on the edge of my thoughts; so are thoughts that if I could just go to sleep and not wake up again it would all be better. The pain would go away.
I know there is good and happiness. I have felt good and happiness, even in the midst of this, but it all feels so…so ragged and fraught with the vestiges of this sadness that it somehow feels less real than the pain, than the suffering. That’s not true – happiness and love and joy are MORE real than this that I am feeling right now. This pain, this sadness, is ephemeral, and passing. Really, my meditation tells me that all is fleeting, and changing, and changeable, but I need to look to a future where things feel…okay again. Where I feel okay. I need to know that this sadness will ease.
I just have a hard time believing that it will at the moment.
So that is where I am right now – desperately holding on, trying to “look normal” – fake it till I make it. I feel trapped inside this spiral, but I have been here often enough before – when I was very young, later after my marriage ended, and again when Warren died – I have been through to the other side often enough to know that it exists. It really is not all pain and suffering. I really will persevere. But oh holy fuck it hurts betimes.
Here’s the cute picture I promised. The Canadian continues to give me gentle tasks to help ease me through my days. Monday was “red” day. I decided it was a good way to vacuum. Red glasses, red blouse, red lipstick, red tartan panties. You can’t see my red heels, unfortunately. But check out that red vacuum! That’s some fun right there.
I am my weight.
My bust size.
The number of calories I consume.
I am how many times a week I eat ice cream. I am how often I fail. I am how many times I’ve had to say I’m sorry because I’ve said something thoughtless or cruel. I’m the number of stories I’ve published and the number of books I have not. I am the number of classes I am away from a real degree. I am how much money I have in the bank and how much – too much – I spend on frivolous things.
You are none of those things. You are you, whole and complete, you don’t have holes inside of yourself where other people used to live. Your numbers don’t matter to me – you are curves and skin and beautiful inside and out and who cares if you are twenty years younger than me or ten years older. I’ve ceased counting the silver and grey hairs on my head because the number is too high, yours I don’t even notice.
Our affection, our love, our attraction and our friendship – at least from my end – don’t hinge on numbers.
I fully expect yours to. Because I am a number.
Whence does this dysmorphia come from?
A lot of it is fear. Fear as I grow older that I become less and less relevant, as a woman, as a human. My sex appeal falls away and I am no longer desirable – and damn it, I want to be desirable. But more than that, we are no longer seen as viable as we reach a certain age.
And then there is the fucking scale. I watch it with an intensity one should only reserve for watching a tennis ball crack back and forth across the net, never letting it out of my sight. I gained my pandemic 15…and then another 5. And now I am slowly clawing my way back to a number that feels acceptable to me – even though I know it will never be enough. There is no acceptable number to be when you are a number. When your whole sense of self worth lies in that little machine to tell you who you are. There is not enough movement, there are not enough exercises, there is no amount that I could starve myself to make that number acceptable. So, many times I just don’t try.
And then I do my weight training. Not to be a number, but because it feels good. Because at the end I don’t feel like a number, I feel powerful. And I take my run, not because it makes my number smaller, but because I feel lighter in other ways, I feel like I can soar, I can fly. And I do my yoga not because it will make these old joints twist and flex as they did twenty years ago, but because it opens my heart and grounds me in the here and now.
A here and now I am not just a number. I am a whole being.
It’s lovely to wake with the pale light of dawn brightening the window. Waking in the dark is awful (my worst pet peeve: the tyranny of Daylight Savings Time.) I always ask my nesting partner, A, to leave a light on or open the blinds when he leaves for work – I need the waking world to wake me.
Speaking of light and blinds and A – we’re all moved in to the new house! It’s even better than I had hoped – I absolutely love it. (I just read back through my sparse, sporadic posts this past year to see where I’d left off last I wrote, and apparently “just getting moved in” was where.) Now, 6 weeks later, we’re thoroughly settled. Haven’t got pictures on the walls yet, and my craft/exercise room (which has changed uses/themes several times in my head during the unpacking) has not been completely unpacked, but it’s getting there. And it’s been a pleasure to burrow in, to nest, to create a home there.
Oh! I am saying “there” – as though I’m not there – because <ahem> I am not. The grey light I mentioned? Is coming in through a high window above and behind my head, where I am laying under piles of blankets in a bedroom in the top of an A-Frame cabin in the Shenandoah National Forest in Virginia. Ad is snoring softly next to me, enjoying, no doubt, not having to be up before the sun.
Shortly after writing that A woke up and made us coffee and I climbed down the set of steep, narrow stairs to the main level of the cabin to sit here at the kitchen table, writing with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains rising above the not-yet-green trees. To get here we drove partway up Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and then meandered down through Shenandoah Valley, thence 9 miles down a little road barely wide enough for two cars, crisscrossing a stream that burbled beside us on one side and then the other, through some of the most picturesque, bucolic pastureland I’ve ever seen. The “driveway” to the cabin was a narrow dirt track half a mile into the woods of the owner’s private land, that borders – literally – the Shenandoah National Park. One of the park’s lesser-known waterfalls can be seen and heard from the screened porch upon which – if it wasn’t 39 degrees – I would be having my morning coffee. What an amazing setting! There was no popping down to the local convenience mart for the forgotten creamer for my coffee, though.
This trip was an impromptu get-away. “Hey Ad,” I said, two weeks ago, “the weekend after next wanna drive 12+ hours each way to hike for two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains?” He gave it about 20 seconds of thought. “Ayup,” he said. And here we are. And that is one of the many reasons I love him so.
I had thought about coming alone. I did that month alone on the Outer Banks and in the Smoky Mountains back in the winter and felt comfortable planning another solo trek, but he has literally not been anywhere except to work, move house and assist in his father’s caretaking since the pandemic began. A long weekend away from the world seemed like a good thing for us to do. And it has been! We travel well together, and to be honest, this place is a little isolated even for me. I am glad for his company, and not only because the wood stove and video player (no streaming services here and wonky, clunky internet) were daunting in the beginning.
I had a hiking adventure last weekend too, actually. My daughter and I rented an Airbnb in southern Missouri and spent two days hiking – one of them a 9-mile day – in search of the wild horses of Missouri we had heard about. I have been down that way several times in the past few years to see them and never run across them – she and I found one of the herds easily both days. But as magical as seeing them was, the highlight of that trip was returning home each night, curling up on the couch in front of the fire, and talking. She’s wise for her years, that one. Also, it’s a pure delight listening to her tell me of her adventures recording her podcast, Just a Little Detour, with her roommate, of being a new homeowner, and of her adventures with her new boyfriend. We also planned a lot of our September Yosemite trip, drank some wine and crocheted a lot.
I am so blessed to have a daughter that *wants* to take trips with me – and with whom a conversation about doing a hamstring stretch turning into a discussion of getting leg cramps during sex is not an unusual occurrence. “It’s your fault, Mama! It’s genetic!” she said, when we realized we both get the exact same cramp in the exact same way. I love that we can talk about sex and our bodies without feelings of shame or awkwardness. It was during that trip, actually, that she championed the menstrual cup and urged me to give it a try. I am not supposed to be *able* to bleed – ablation and menopause, ya’ll – but apparently Mother Nature believes 55 year-old-me should keep being fertile in spite of the doctor assuring me I was in menopause and could get rid of my IUD. “Huh,” she said. “I guess you’d better get back on birth control.”
I blame 2020.
In other news, my local kink partner and I are on a bit of a mutual – loving – hiatus, while he works through some stuff. The anxiety that sank its teeth into me at the beginning of the pandemic has never really let go, and though it’s fairly manageable (most days) trying to deal with things with him and my own stuff got to be pretty challenging – and visa versa – so we called a time out to give us both space to breathe. It is the right, healthy and loving thing to do for us both, but it comes with its own challenges. I miss him, I miss our daily chats, I miss texting with him during the day and his arms around me at the door when he visits, I miss his warm body in my bed, I miss sex, kinky play and the structure of our D/s – at times I miss it all desperately. But I have also felt that tight knot of anxiety I had been living with ease considerably. I hope that he has the space he needs to figure out the things he needs to figure out, and that we both come back from this healthier, happier and in a better place.
Okay, well, I am off to get some hiking in before I lose too much of the day.