Category: Relationships


remapping the keys

Things happen when you’ve got a long-distance relationship. Those big lulls between seeing each other make changes so gradual as to be invisible and yet after such a time, when you finally do crash into one another again, those gradual invisible changes become stark as black and white.

It’s disconcerting. Shocking, even. Especially when you’re still in contact with each other every day one way or another. You like to think that you change gradually together, and you do, but sometimes those changes aren’t ones that can be experienced across long distances. So coming together after so long and finding those changes, well, sometimes it’s beautiful and wonderful, and sometimes it’s like the universe clocked you one square in the chin.

The great lie about long term relationships is that you’ll never feel insecure. The reason it’s a great lie is because there’s nothing further from the truth: you’ll feel insecure all the time. All the fucking time. The difference is in what you do with the insecurity, in what you can do with the insecurity. I mean, there’s always the option of panic, freaking out, shitting the relationship bed, running so fast you leave little cartoon-dust-clouds behind you in the opposite direction. For some people that’s a coping strategy. T and I, however, prefer to talk.

First, you gotta talk though.

Sometimes a shock like that is too much to talk about right away. Sometimes when all you’ve got is a week together you want to soak up all the good and just be in denial about the bad until you’re far apart again and all you can do is talk. The problem with this approach is that this kind of insecurity has this insidious way of seeping into the good. It’s inky and murky and it contaminates everything it touches and it leaves what would otherwise be a totally energizing encounter unsatisfying. You want to be filled but you get shorted by over half a tank.

We did get to talk in person, eventually, and not without many tears. I wasn’t at liberty to spend a proper night trying to work things out, though I wheedled and cajoled and cried trying to do so. I don’t often twist under the limits my husband sets, and don’t often resent the permission he doesn’t give. Thankfully he and I found a place where we could agree even though it left me a little kid digging my toe into the dirt, frustrated to all hell that I didn’t get my way. I don’t often press him like that either; he was exasperated with me and it showed. He usually contains his frustration with me better and doesn’t explode at me with hurtful jabs about how I want to abandon him so I can “fuck it out” with my boyfriend despite having already had a week with him.

I hated being in that spot, truly torn. I love them both and I want to give them both what’s best for the respective relationships and a time does come when sometimes, you have to choose. It helps that I know my husband tried as hard as he could to accommodate. It helps that there were apologies on all sides. It helps that he gave me what he did: one night, despite his exhaustion, to cuddle with T and try and work out what we could with whispers.

I think the take-away lesson from all of this is that when insecurity rears its head, much as we might really want to push it aside and ignore it so we can experience the good feelings, that kind of denial is ultimately not healthy or helpful. It left me feeling hollow after the experience and it seemed to leave T in a worse place than he would have been if we’d just talked about it in the first place. It’s so much harder to have tearful discussions when we can’t hold each other.

It helps that I know that we’ll work through it, and that I know T is confident about that fact as well. It helps that we’ve weathered insecurity before and are excellent communicators and are both very certain that we can navigate this in a healthy way that leaves us ultimately stronger. It’s hard though, being so far. Insecurity comes up not infrequently, and I believe a lot of it is because of the time we spend apart. I always feel worse for having to do the reassuring when I can’t touch him. Those teary talks, much as they’re not fun to have, always leave me feeling more connected than before. It’s that connection I crave, far more than orgasms, far more than sex.

When I don’t get that connection but I get the sex, I feel like I’ve eaten nothing but candy and no solid food. It feels somehow wrong and sick and I hate that feeling. Nothing stains like that feeling, the dirty-and-wrong feeling, the feeling like despite the fact that by all metrics the sex we’re having is really really great and the togetherness we’re having is comfortable and warm, that there’s something missing and it’s something truly fundamental and it’s just gone. The worst, the absolute worst is not knowing where that feeling came from and being terrified, just terrified, that maybe the connection went somewhere and it’s never gonna be seen again.

Isn’t that just the most tragic kind of comedy? Both of us just dying inside, but trying so hard to keep on a brave face for the other person somehow takes priority over cutting yourself open and letting the pain spill out? Because it’s messy? Because we’re worrying about what’s inside our own heads and completely forgetting that there’s this whole other person here who we can confide in, who we trust more than ourselves sometimes? That trying to avoid that conversation wrecked things more than having the conversation in the first place ever would have? After the fact it just makes me shake my head. For all our talk, we forgot to be authentic.

We were afraid we forgot the steps to the dance, and that we couldn’t dance anymore, and totally forgot that the most important thing is to let the music move us.

Let’s try not to forget again.

on radio silence

I need to write. I need to write like an addict needs a fix and I don’t understand why I have resisted it for so long. Things roll around inside my head and they get more murky and harder to understand. I’ve tried to segregate my life into tiny pieces of myself and write about just those tiny pieces, but it’s a lot like trying to build a whole outfit out of only a spool of thread. Eventually I run out of thread and I’ve only just begun but there’s so much else I can’t say for fear of breaking out of this self-enforced subject segregation.

No more.

I am happiest when I am writing. I self-examine more, I am gentler with myself, my mood is better and my relationships are more healthy. Maybe the self-segregation is a bad thing (to a certain extent, I can see certain subjects staying segregated) and this means that I should write more often than I don’t. It’s been two and a half years since he began his adventure and things crashed and burned and I found meaning in it and so did he. It might mean we’re destined for bigger and better things but the only way to tell is to live the future.

I read the past (I’ve documented it spottily) and in the last four and a half years I’ve found another love. Ten years in a primary relationship and this summer it’ll be five with my other lover. Dan Savage asks, why do most people assume all non-monogamous relationships will fail? Because I can’t speak up. Because despite the fact that when I bring my lovely T to thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s house, and my father refers to him as my ‘surrogate husband’, I still can’t find my ovaries and be honest about it with most people.

The honest truth is that my husband and I are perfect for each other in so, so many ways. He is open minded and loving, and doesn’t take me too seriously. He encourages the best in me, disapproves of the worst (but is supportive in helping me change it,) and doesn’t let me take myself too seriously. He is silly and cute and loving and cheers me up when I am sad. He doesn’t take me for granted (mostly) and appreciates that I don’t take him for granted (mostly).

He’s also been lovely enough to realize that there’s no limited amount of love in my heart; that giving love to another doesn’t mean he gets any less. As wonderful as he is, there are things he isn’t: romantic, sappy, a supplicant at my altar. He is better at doing than listening and wants to fix the problems I want to talk about when I talk about them; sometimes I want someone to just listen and hold me and tell me I’m wonderful even when I’ve fucked up royally.

I tried to put it to the husband (who still, in this monogamish arrangement, does not understand why I would seek out other relationships when one is ‘complicated enough’) this way: sometimes I want things that he isn’t. Either he isn’t able to give them to me, or he isn’t going to want to give them to me, or he just isn’t going to really understand why I want them in the first place. Instead of pining away for things he isn’t and asking him to fake it and being disappointed when he does, I enjoy him for who he is and what he gives me and don’t pick away at the tiny holes in the relationship until they become great festering wounds. No relationship is perfect and there is no ‘one’. I believe that very strongly. There was a time when I called my husband Perfect with a capital P and he denied this very strongly; he had more clarity than my dazzled eyes could have at the time. He knows he’s not perfect and now that we’ve been together ten years (ten years!) I can acknowledge myself that he isn’t perfect and I’m not perfect and neither is our relationship. Those tiny holes don’t mean the whole relationship is a sham. The tiny holes, if anything, mean we’re different people and we have a way to breathe when we’re wrapped up in each other.

There is no comparison of quality or amount of love or prowess as a lover or any other insecurity one could think to name. My lovers are simply different. Master/husband is one person. T is another. They occupy somewhat different (but also overlapping) roles in my life and not only do they enrich my own private life with each of them, they each enrich the relationship I have with the other. It’s this big Venn diagram of love in a sense; I don’t think most poly-negative people would ever fathom how good it is for my primary relationship to have someone else who loves me with his own intensity, acting as a cheerleader for my relationship with my husband. How could an other want anything less than to have me all to himself? How could he be anything but a threat to the primary relationship? How could it be that he isn’t somehow out to sabotage my marriage so that he can monopolize my love?

It’s up to him to explain how or why he feels the way he does. The best I understand it is that he sees how happy my husband makes me and he loves me enough to want to see me be as happy as possible. He respects me enough to know that my husband is the life partner I have chosen, for a myriad of reasons. Speaking as the person on the other side of this arrangement, I can only say that I am very happy to have someone to love for love’s sake, who loves me back for love’s sake. Two people whose goals are basically to make each other as happy as they possibly can for as long as they possibly can (and time is often limited); it creates a wonderful positive feedback loop that fortifies me in times of difficulty and supplements my happiness in times of joy. It is truly nothing but a good thing. It lets me love my husband better and in a purified form, and seeing my love reflected back at me does double duty. The reflection is a mirror held up to what kind of a person he sees me as. I get a chance to see myself in another person’s eyes. It reminds me not to take myself for granted either.

I trusted you to them, my love.

They took you and they flayed you, they forged you in pain and sweat and vomit and suffering, they told you who you had to be. You are noble, you took it and you made it into your own. You let them hurt you and I stood back, and you said trust you, and I did.

I trusted them.

You emerged, skinnier and lithe with strength. Your spirit was clear and pure and you were, as you said you would be, still you. You had more patience, a strange compliment to give one of the most patient people I know.

Too patient.

They broke my trust. They mistreated you. They gave you to hungry wolves who tore their pound of flesh from you with their teeth and left you broken and hurting. I couldn’t protect you, my protector.

You wanted this so bad and so you took it. You were patient, ever patient, calmly and cleanly patient. It’s been almost a year now since I first heard you utter the words where you asked yourself aloud whether you wanted to keep giving them your flesh if all they would ever do is take it from you.

A year of threats and suffering, a year of fear and anxiety, a year of abuse and emotional torment. It’s taking its toll. We are both worse for the wear, and while you are ever putting up a brave face, I can see it in you.

I have given up hope. I have given up faith. I drank their kool-aid and swilled it happily, but their words are not the same as their actions.

You have more integrity in your little finger than the mangy carnivores that left you bleeding like this.

I have been unsure about almost everything up to this point, but I am not unsure about the relief that it brought on me to hear what you were planning. To hear this may end, for real may end. Something new may come and what’s to come only fate can show, but something different and altogether not full of this false hope. They can take away my honeymoon, they can take away the clothes, at the end of the day it isn’t an identity, it’s not who you are in your core.

They can’t take you away from me and they can’t take me away from you.

I have your love and I’m lucky for it and they can’t take that away.

I feel a fool for having believed their rhetoric and I can only imagine how you feel, after having given them your blood. You gave up on so many things, sacrificed for them, and in return you get nothing except experiencing firsthand what they are capable of.

I don’t want to wish ill on anyone but at the same time the part of my heart that lusts for vengeance hopes that they will reap what they have sown.

We will move on, and be better for it.

One of my frustrations when it comes to living an “alternative lifestyle” (excuse me while I vomit a bit in my mouth) is when my life and its “style” gets misrepresented. Polyamory is no less victim to this than bisexuality is.

There are individuals in my circle of friends who’ve managed to cock-up poly for others around them, and I find this profoundly sad. Poly has been something that’s allowed me to experience more love in my life, that has allowed me to explore deeper connections and friendships and to follow my heart when it leads me towards a greater intimacy. It works for us, and by ‘us’ I mean my Master and I, primarily because of our open and frank communication with one another, because of our deliberate and gentle honesty. There’s a lot of love in this arrangement, and it’s the love that makes it work.

Meanwhile, I hear stories of other people who go about their business and call it poly. It makes me sad, if not angry at times, because what these charlatans do reflects on everyone who lives a poly lifestyle. There seems to be a fair amount of confusion seeded by these peoples’ activities, and much as I’m the last person to decry the sluttish side of life, when people are being misled, it makes it hard for me to not want to scream at someone.

Poly was something that happened very organically to me. I had a relationship with a person who said if I wanted something, I could ask for it, and we’d see what we could work out. He’s a very nontraditional man that way, iconoclastic even, in that he doesn’t subscribe to the construct of the relationship as always and forever 100% monogamous, a-men. The ironic thing about this is that of the pair of us, he’s the monogamous one. Not that he’d turn down an opportunity presented to him, more just that he doesn’t seem to develop feelings for others in the same way that I do.

That’s what I mean when I say that poly was something that happened naturally, as if it was just a part of the way-I-am. I loved friends, I was close with friends, and sometimes, sometimes, I found myself aching to want to kiss them, hold them, to be closer and closer and closer. Obviously, this isn’t feasible in every situation the feelings arise in, and I feel it necessary to point out here that these feelings are a rare occurrence. That said, when they happen, it’s a powerful thing — and sometimes it’s extremely difficult to resist the urge to just taste, to brush lips over a forehead nonchalantly, and feel your heart beat just a little bit harder.

I didn’t always understand what it was that I was doing. My very loving and well-loved friends were willing to dance the dance with me, and there was joy in playing. I won’t pretend it was always butterflies and rainbows and hot breath on necks, but what joy there was was transcendent. Even the times when I couldn’t have what I wanted so deeply, the joy at just the wanting made it worth every minute. I wanted to experience this more, more. I wanted to explore and keep exploring.

Once upon a time, for the first time, the whole process happened backwards. Instead of falling in love first, a casual acquaintance indicated that she and her girl would be interested in such play. I say I did not know what I was doing because of the fact that I had failed to recognize by this point that it was the intimacy of close friendship and the vulnerability that comes with confiding your secrets and sins to each other which resulted in the love, which resulted in the delightful feelings underneath my sternum. So, imagine my surprise when I played with these girls and found it a hollow experience, ending with me knowing what it was that I wanted, only because I had failed to achieve it.

It’s with this background that I look at people self-identifying “poly” having casual sex with multiple partners and spotty safeguards. Their “relationships” leave people feeling hurt, used, alone, rejected, and insignificant. These are people engaging in casual sex under the umbrella of poly, and it leaves their sex partners feeling like what they want (ethical, loving, responsible, safe, comfortable, trusting non-monogamy) isn’t what polyamory is.

This is part of the reason why I wanted to spend more time writing about these relationships that I have. It dawned on me a short while ago, when the new lady was telling T about how what we have is what she always hoped that poly would be. This is really what it’s all about, and it’d be a darn shame not to share the joy with the world.

So many things, and so much time. I’ve got to stop doing this — leaving it months and months between posts when really the time that passes is a rich scenery of love.

Since the last time I updated on T, we’ve grown together in a different way. There isn’t any taking of each other granted anymore, or at least, far less than there was before. He doesn’t see me as something he only has when he doesn’t have a girlfriend. I don’t see him as mine-mine-mine, as something I can’t let go of if it were to ever come to that. In our understanding, we continue our dance, deepen our love for one another, and improve our level of intimacy.

There’s been a lot of stress at my home in the last several months. Things are uncertain, and Master is feeling the wobbliness of it all. If anything, Master has been trying to keep me stable while I try to give him love and reassurance and ensure that he has a nonthreatening lovely place to strip off all of his stress and shields and simply be loved. This uncertainty has my own heart beating a bit fast, with my tendency to worry unnecessarily. Things seem to be settling down and Master reassures me that I have no reason to worry. I’m trying, with difficulty, to not do so — T has helped me masterfully in this way. While Master is busy intensely applying himself to the stressor in an attempt to make it go away, he has trouble being soft and comforting and reassuring. He’s busy just concentrating on eating and getting enough sleep.

T, on the other hand, has always excelled at the emotional side of managing the kitten. I can cry, and he reassures me and helps me understand. We can talk through my craziness and worry and he is exceptional at talking me down. Lately, this means he’s been holding my hand while I hyperventilate about stress I can do nothing to control.

It feels like the last hiccup, where he left me for other girls, where he ended up getting burned and coming back, was a good thing. I feel like we’ve pruned away all the bad parts of the relationship — the aforementioned taking people for granted, the worry and self-censorship, the possessiveness. The love we have seems purer and less cautious, the tenderness more overt, the reassurances coming freer and very much in earnest. The sex has therefore gotten better — we have gotten better — as rather than looking inward at ourselves and trying to extract the maximum amount of pleasure from the moment, we spend more time trying to administer the most pleasure to the other person.

Lately, some most exciting things have come up. T has a lady that he would like to pursue. This lady seems to want to explore poly as well, which leaves us in a position where I do not have to give up my T to have T enjoy someone as a primary lover. I’m extremely excited by this not only because I get to keep my very dear friend as a lover, but because it means he’s liable to have some extreme happiness coming his way in the future. Nothing is for sure yet, of course, but I have my fingers crossed rather tightly as I hope for new and exciting things to come his way.

T found for himself a new girlfriend. She seemed exciting, full of promise and limerence, all of the things that he wanted it to be. He’s easing out of his shell of pain at having lost his most beloved, and I was happy for him that he seemed to be finding love.

These girls all had something in common, however. They all wanted monogamy. T didn’t take this request lightly; several trips out by himself, sleeping by himself, smoking, freezing in the spring cold, and thinking. Like Archimedes emerging from the bath, as I drove in to his city after a long separation, he delivered his decision. I fairly tore it out of him, I’ll admit. I had pleaded with the universe to provide, fantasized that everything would turn out as I’d wanted it to. I’d built up a dream inside my head of how it was going to be. T wasted no time in smashing it, as I asked him to.

So it was over the phone that he delivered to me the truth, that he couldn’t see himself turning down what appeared on its surface to be a perfectly functional relationship with what seemed to be a perfectly lovely woman, simply because she wasn’t willing to compromise for his polyamory. He told this to me in all gentleness. He said it with great concern and care. And though our relationship had been based on the known fact that I’d very soon be moving a six-hour drive away, though we had stipulated at the very beginning that anybody had to be able to end it at any time for any reason with no hard feelings, or it wouldn’t work, I was absolutely crushed.

In looking back, I understand fully why this happened. He made gentle comments at the time that we appeared to have become a little bit too attached. I took this as a heavy blow. I reacted irrationally. I took it personally. I was wounded in every possible place that my heart could think to be wounded. It means he doesn’t love me! It means he doesn’t want me anymore! It means he’s breaking up with me! It’s not him, it’s me!

This was all magnification, of course, and he was very careful to disperse any misconceptions that he could detect in his apartment with me wavering between anger and grief and sadness, the whole thing steeped in tears. He hugged and stroked and soothed as best he could. He still loves me, it’s just not the same when we’re not living together, when he’s looking at other women in the absence of living with a warm girl in his bed, when I live a figurative world away, when I’m suddenly suffused again with love, real love, true love, this love that I put on like warm socks, that I wrap around me like a fuzzy blanket, this love that is the way I imagine a strong narcotic must feel, even after this many years.

This is the kind of love that has ever made me want to put down the exogenous things that make me able to ignore all of my pain, that has made me want to pick up my problems and solve their puzzles with all their difficulty, to do the real psychological heavy lifting that even my adult parents are too weak to do. I know this like I know that breathing keeps me alive, like I know my heart pumps blood, like I know what pain feels like.

The truth is that T and I were something to each other during a very conveniently timed point in our lives. I was alone, absent my love, gone for six months being psychologically and physically beaten, and he, fresh from having his best beloved torn off of him, wound all raw and bleeding.

He took care of me at my most vulnerable, and I nursed his wounds at his most wounded. We did share a bond, indeed, there was something between us. But he’s right when he says that we became too attached; we both assumed that it would be like that forever.

It wasn’t going to be.

Once I could swallow the truth that we were never going to be what we were, that our attachment was situational, that the grief was going to come one way or another, and that the longer I delayed it the more painful it was going to be, I was able to let go. He was never mine in the first place, and I was grieving his absence as if he was, as if I didn’t have a beautiful blue-eyed man at home who loves me and knows it like he knows he is alive.

This attachment, that the Buddha points out is the source of pain, was what I had done. I had not intended to do it, and did it mindlessly. Now, mindfully, I had to let go of my attachment to this idea that T and I would be this perfect couple that lasted forever, the idea that coalesced out of soothed tears, when I was living frustrations in my relationship with Master, when I was terrified of the idea of him leaving for six months, when we were chafing at relationship imperfections, when I was afraid he would return as this changed creature full of vexation and cynicism and bitterness.

I had a comfortable landing pad in a period of emotional strain. And yes, I did wonder at times if T was really a better alternative to my Master, with T’s ability to comfort me, and Master’s stress and my stress snowballing into conflict, and me seeking refuge in T, and Master’s leaving-soon causing him to interpret my seeking refuge as avoiding him, it was bad scenes all around.

I think I became a little fixated on that attachment with T, to the point where, even when we moved away, even when living with Master (and Master living at work, training,) I was still fixated on T, still seeking my refuge. I was stressing myself out trying to be the ideal fiancée, the ideal proto-wife, the ideal sub, the ideal girlfriend, instead of being myself.

I grew to let go of T. We drifted apart for a little while, and it wasn’t really a sad thing. I think we needed our space to grow into our own, and I needed to really build my relationship with Master, to grow together as a couple. I fought against that a lot.

I have a lot of psychological demons, and I’ve spent a lot of time running from them. A lesser man would have left me by now, and it’s true when Master says if he didn’t love me, he wouldn’t be here. Not that putting up with my bullshit is all that epic a battle, but that this many years, this many hours, this kind of tears and listening and trying to grok when he so clearly isn’t on the same page I’m on, let alone the same book, he tries, oh, my, how he tries. That’s what makes all of the difference.

In T’s absence, I found myself at first not coping well, until Master very appropriately tuned me in. I sobbed. I was falling apart. I had nothing left. I didn’t know what to do or how to be. I have written about that breakdown elsewhere. About the very soul-deep discovery that what Master wanted was me, and how that was exactly what I didn’t want to give him, feeling it was the most heinous thing to give him in the world.

With this realization and working at telling him and showing him and sharing with him who I am, who I really am, not the façade that I put on for him, we’ve grown together in our intimacy. Things are better, more whole. I feel his love, this love that I didn’t think existed at all.

So T’s girlfriend turns out to be a crazy bitch, and we drift back together. We talk, over several drinks, late into the night. We lay out the groundwork. About how his withdrawal of consent had a little bit to do with the fact that he didn’t feel comfortable having be as a fuckbuddy, thinking that he was emotionally taking advantage of me. Now he’s realized how I’m a big girl, really, and I can make my own decisions; I don’t need him to decide it’s too painful for me to be his fuckbuddy. I’ll decide that on my own, thanks.

We’re amused, both of us, at how in laying the groundwork, we are dancing around one another’s boundaries, we are trying not to step on toes, we are so careful not to push. It’s indeed part of why we are so good together: how careful we are to not force things, to not push buttons, to ask permission instead of telling and to negotiate before jumping in feetfirst. So we dance, again, and negotiate new boundaries, and I find myself out in a camping trip, just me, and T.

At first I’m excited somewhat, but I remember our first encounter after renegotiating the boundaries and I find myself also somewhat anxious. I found things far less satsifying than I remember, and I chalk it up to no privacy, to not having explained things to his roommate-brother, to awkward, hasty ninja-sex in a too-cold room under unromantic pretenses.

I discover during this trip that what we had was somehow less than I remember. Magnified by emotion at the time, my feelings excoriated by the experience of being left alone and vulnerable, his spirit rubbed raw by the loss of his most beloved, his need to nurture and support soothed my fear of Master’s changed-nature and my own apprehension at moving far-far away. I remember this incredible closeness and this loving environment that had me seriously wondering whether Master was really the Right One, especially during a time when his stress and my stress had us fairly at each others’ throats.

I sought refuge in T and that didn’t help things with Master, but this is only something I can see when stress-free and not immersed in anxiety about the future. What seemed to be so perfect at the time actually had its own undercurrents of dissatisfaction, subtleties that I ignored because I had bigger things to worry about. The bigger things are gone, on this camping trip. All I have to focus on is ‘us’, myself and T, and how, while we are still ‘us’, there’s this sense that this is never, ever going to be … enough.

It’s fun! Don’t get me wrong. We enjoy ourselves and enjoy each other and do have a lot of fun playing around and take good care of one another. However, I find myself instead of stressed and being soothed with the balm of this comfortable presence, I’m now unable to ignore the fact that the sex is, at best, somewhat mediocre, the funnest part being able to watch him have fun, not necessarily the act of intercourse in and of itself. And he’s trying, in the process of foreplay, to tweak buttons that he knows are tweakable, but he’s doing the sexual equivalent of rolling his face on the keyboard to try and write poetry. He pinches because he knows I like pain, but he isn’t Master, and it doesn’t come in the context of pleasurable pain, it’s just pinching. He doesn’t know me like Master knows me. He can tease me to new heights using the tools available to him, but he can’t be Master and try and use Master’s tools. It just doesn’t work.

So here I am, standing back and staring at this exchange, going, this is it? This is what I was so crushed about losing? Which is only part of the equation, because I was crushed about losing so much more than that. I am just only now recognizing that the only thing I really did lose was that mediocre sex, because we’re still us, good friends, whether we are having sex or not. That said, we will never have the emotional bond that my husband and I have, we will not grow together emotionally in the same way that I will with Master, and he will not grow to know me in a way that a man who’s shared my bed and my body for eight years can.

And that’s what makes all the difference.

A gasp, and then I come up for air

We come together, our first night, no less than four times. It is desperate at times, frenzied. No slow, calculatedness to it. Pure lust, simple desire, enough power and passion in it to blow a house down.

My voice pleases him, its higher and higher pitches as he continues his assault. My dream comes true, that evening, as he has me dressed in cuffs. They are clipped, wrists to ankles, and he wraps tape around my head, creating a hasty bit-gag in my mouth. It is my bridle as he fucks me with wild abandon. The look on his face has changed, is no longer the whimsical happiness I am used to. His teeth are set in determination, bared with passion, his new muscles jumping as he yanks repeatedly on my body, riding me to his completion.

I am home.

It pleases him, this usage of my body. He giggles at following me into the shower, pointing out his red handprints on my ass. It’s a pleasant feeling, to be helpless, and it’s equally pleasant to be mounted and ridden without bridles and cuffs.

He delights in my new talents, in how well-trained I’ve become in his absence, that I can take all of him most effortlessly. I am shaking with my need, and he is pleased, fairly humming with his pleasure. We are learning too, our little cycles and silliness that we want to eradicate. He has come back trained in his own way, more ready to deal with these things, more willing to negotiate, to apologize, quicker to acknowledge his flaws, less easily frustrated with me, and all my frustrating little quirks.

Most of all, he’s come back. It’s the littlest things that I’ve missed, his silly faces and our in-jokes. I’ve missed antics and wrestling and play most of all.

There’s still adjustments, of course. His job takes up a majority of his time, and is extremely draining. I’m finding myself having to jostle for time. What time I get is precious, though, and he is better in his own ways. More vocal about his love. More appreciative. More thankful, in many ways.

Any love that I forgot about with him gone so long is being experienced anew. New love? Is woven in with the more familiar. And the mellowness is helping us develop ourselves more easily than we did before. Topics that were touchy, that result in tears, that could have been the topics of a fight, are instead the topics of serious discussions, weighty thoughts and weighty words but handled gently, instead of with frustration and anger.

This feels good. It feels like a future, like a life, like we are building on what we have, like there’s a strong foundation under my feet. I’m strong. And I’m finally alive.

As cliche as it sounds, it feels truest to me, right now.

I accidentally erased my text message cache with Master today, and my disappointment was immense. Gone are long conversations about the feel of my mouth on his cock, about what exactly he will do with me the moment he has me alone.

A visit around Canada day was not nearly enough, with my parents around and cramping my style (including arguing with him, loudly, when he introduced me to his friends as his wife. “You’re not married yet!” mother cries. And six-and-a-half years of dating and nearly three years of cohabiting are worth what, exactly?) and keeping us from what we do best. An hour to ourselves was not nearly enough time, though it was enough time for us to get up to a quickie and a short massage.

Mostly, it felt good to lay there, with him, and be held. I don’t have the same protected feeling when T holds me, as when my Master does. He is slender, but he moves with grace and power, and when he holds me, that power is focused on cradling me with gentleness. It makes me sigh inside, and writing about it brings tears to my eyes. I often cry when writing about him, and re-reading what I’ve written. The last letter he sent me made me cry, tears of longing, missing him, but I re-read it every now and then, when I want to feel that familiar bubble inside my chest, that tells me that I am loved more than I will ever truly understand.

I worry, as I am wont to do, that my love is not enough, or that I somehow do not love him as much as I should. (That word again.) The reality of the situation is that our love for each other is reflected back and forth so many times it is impossible to truly measure even the magnitude of it, least of which whether it is adequate.

He reassures me, soothing me in that way that I suspect he would soothe no-one else besides his own children, that my love for him is enough. I meditate on these thoughts, in keeping with my promise to try and take his love for me and hold it close, closer than I tend to hold my worry. I am learning to self-soothe, a task many people learned as young children. I am learning to repeat his words inside my head, in his beautiful voice, framed by his lips; that knowing that I am here, and that I love him, is enough. He is satisfied, he insists, as I fret about my perceived inadequacy. I am here, and I love him. That is enough.

I am missing him acutely now, officially in the part of our separation where we are apart the longest. It hardly feels as if the last time I saw him was almost exactly 31 days ago. It feels like far longer, and I have three weeks left to go.

Our separation has had the side effects of making us cherish each other more. Living together, a couple hardly discusses things like how they would love to snuggle in bed and breathe each others’ scent. After months and months apart, it’s practically all we do. I am going to have to be careful about who gets to touch my cell phone, however, as my cousin grabbed my phone from my hands to play with it just at the instant Master sends me a text message inviting me over to give him a shower and a blowjob.

Awkward.

A year ago I would have freaked, but now I just laugh and move on. Master has imparted many things upon me, including the wisdom to roll with the punches. His flexibility in sticky situations has always been a trait of his that I’d admired, and I recently had somebody compliment me on my own ability to keep on keeping on. It doesn’t seem like heroism (to me) to continue your life after it’s been shattered by tragedy, but apparently it appears heroic to others.

I am revelling in these new found skills, skills I did not realize I had developed until I had to live without my Master. His traits keep popping up in me, in dealing with everything: other people, my own feelings of inadequacy, my abject fear of the future and the unknown. This move, where we pack our lives and move far away from everyone we’ve ever known, it is simply a grand adventure to him, a spot of fun, and he’d like to do it more than just once. Growing together, I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter where we move to — if he is there, it is my home.

I am shocked at my composure, honestly, and my ability to handle this. Relatively few teary moments, continuing to function in my life. We won’t get into how I didn’t sleep hardly for the first few months, to the point where my boss dragged me into his office to ask me what the hell was wrong with me that I looked so wrung out. We also won’t get into how I lost 30 pounds because without him there, my appetite fled entirely, causing me to go several days at times without eating, without noticing that I wasn’t eating. An acquaintance recently commented that she doesn’t know how I handle him being gone. I deliberately neglected to mention the spare boyfriend in my bed, but I did mention how I was handling him being gone: insomniac anorexic that I became.

I have since figured things out a little — sleep is better, and I gained back about 10 of the pounds I lost through the magical technology of actually ingesting food. I am no longer worrying about my inadequacy as a girlfriend and simply dreaming of the days we can spend together finally, imagining his hands on my body as they were the last time we were together, the look on his face, mouth slightly open, pupils dilated as wide as dinner plates, as we made love.

It’s the love that’s pulling me through, to be honest.

Every text message (as douchebaggy as it seems to communicate entirely via SMS, in a paramilitary slash high-stress medical shiftwork situation, it’s the only tool we have to communicate at times) where he stresses how he misses our bed, with me in it, how he misses my breath on the back of his neck, how he misses his Shower Assistant, and how I, unlike the other men he is presently living with, do not annoy the everliving fuck out of him, is another thread, cast in my general direction, and my job is to catch as many of them as possible and make them into a rope to hang on to for dear life.

Oh, it is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done.

But if only to realize exactly how much we love each other?

Worth it.

Precocious

That’s the word for me. To develop exceptionally early or exhibit mature qualities at an exceptionally early age.

I taught myself to read before kindergarten. I grasped cosmic concepts (the immutability of time, the certainty of death) before age 5. I was a generally strange kid who didn’t socialize well, from what I remember. And sex. Well, sex came entirely too early for me.

It wasn’t even my cousin telling me the plumbing of how it worked. (We were like eight and six, respectively.) It wasn’t even when my mom caught me playing with the Barbie dolls. I think it was when she found out I’d been playing “house” with the neighbor kid, and the not-minor freakout she had over this knowledge. Before third grade, I not only understood how sex worked, I understood that it was important to hide this kind of activity from my parents, lest they have a gigantic meltdown. No talk. Ever.

I’m never going to forget the way she asked me, stooping down to get in my face, in a confrontational manner. “Did you suck his dick?” she asked, browbeating me. “Did he jack off in your mouth?” I felt like a horrible, filthy, sick, perverted, twisted, disgusting person. I was eleven years old, eyeing older men, wondering at what an act of rape would be like, wondering at the experience of sex.

Because I couldn’t trust my parents, everything I ever learned about sex was something I learned from somewhere else. Pornographic magazines, the internet, the radio. I’ve talked before about how Sue Johanson is one of my personal heroes; I’m lucky to have had her while growing up. I’m lucky to have grown up riding public transit, where the government publicized links to places like sexualityandu.ca. I feasted on reliable and correct information, and used all the birth control correctly.

I was armed with a false sense of security, knowing what facts I needed to know to keep my body from being physically damaged. I was completely unaware of what place sex served in a healthy relationship, however, and so when my boyfriend-at-the-time started correcting me every time I said “If we have sex” to say “when we have sex,” I didn’t take it as the pressuring I should have. I didn’t see how he was trying to control my boundaries, by setting them for me verbally. I didn’t feel the profound sense of violation I’d feel now, knowing my boundaries. Boundaries had never been explained to me. I was a slut. Sluts don’t get told about putting up boundaries. I was wrecked anyway. I was sixteen. I was fucking a man nearly four years older than I was. My mother was convinced his relationship was based entirely around his ability to use me for sex. I believed otherwise.

The day she figured it out, or rather, the day she screamed about me fucking him, throwing it in my face, and I gave her an answer that wasn’t “fuck off,” … that’s a day I will never forget. There was tons of histrionic crying and hysterical screaming, shouting, threats, shows of violence, and emotional abuse. For the next six months, my mother froze me out of her life. I fantasized about suicide.

“I just don’t know how I’m going to tell my family that my daughter is a slut,” I remember her whispering, between sniffles and tears. I fantasized how my skull would fly apart from a self-inflicted shot to the head. I imagined dying slowly of a wasting disease, leaving home, becoming pale and cachectic and thin. I wondered what it would be like to die of a drug overdose. I was too scared to jump off a building. Guilt, guilt, guilt. My boyfriend was no help. He lived alone, and complained about my mother constantly. I ground my teeth down to painful stumps. He threatened suicide. At first I was scared, concerned for him, missed him, loved him. Later, the attention-seeking behaviour became exasperating. Then, came the Master.

My Master met my boyfriend and lived with him for a short time. I was pressured often to spend time with him, in compromising situations, often asking me to use my Master or my best friend as a pretext to borrow a vehicle and be afforded additional freedoms. At first I exploited this, and Master was given many opportunities to observe me with this strange man. I was depressed and sullen. Then came a night when I deliberately didn’t invite him along somewhere, because I knew he would try and make me have sex with him, and I had no interest in being effectively date-raped. It was at this time that I realized he didn’t respect my body, or what I wanted, or my boundaries. I began avoiding him in earnest, and the histrionic behaviour erupted in full. I didn’t break up with him, because I was terrified if I did, that he’d kill himself.

My Master, who by then had moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment, felt that this was an opportunity to act. I remember listening, horrified, as he detailed to me the list of things he observed while living with the man who would come to be known by many names besides his own. The behaviour obsessing around sex (and calendar marking to match.) The misogynistic comments. The sense of entitlement. The arrogance. The ignorance. I sobbed on the phone, after my boyfriend had yelled at me for lying to him to keep him from being able to have sex with me. He knew I was avoiding him, but I had no idea how to tell him I was terrified of him, that he made me feel unsafe. The Master stood up for me, tearing a strip off of this man on my behalf. The act was sealed when Master returned with the report of how guiltless, entitled, and arrogant the boyfriend had been when Master insisted he treat me as I deserved to be treated. “Are you going to talk to her, too?” he asked, as if my Master was my parent to mete out punishment on the boyfriend’s behalf. Instead, he told me the truth. Master saved me from a pitiful little man, rescuing me from a situation where I, and my precociousness, were being taken advantage of. I smiled for the first time in years.

The ideas about sex stuck, though. I was shocked when I was discovered to be having sex with Master, and my mother was amused rather than infuriated. I was convinced, down to my bones, she was going to kill me and gouge Master’s eyes out with her fingernails. With no explanation, she laughed instead. I learned nothing.

I still believed, as I had when growing up, that I was broken or tainted or unworthy in some way, because I was a slut. From being made fun of by my little brother for being a closet lesbian, getting caught using porn, slurs based on my more boyish appearance, my strangeness was polarized for some people. I hated myself. I wasn’t a virgin, I wasn’t thin, I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t stereotypically ‘hot’ (big-titted-narrow-waisted), I wasn’t popular… I didn’t even think I was particularly smart. I’m almost ashamed to say that my relationship with Master was not one of romance — I leapt out of a sick and sorrowed relationship, out of a fountain of emotional abuse, into him. I crawled up his leg, into his bed, and unloaded, piece by piece, my months and months of pent-up need for, and lack of, love.

Fortunately for me, Master was smarter than that. He insisted that that not be the direction things take, and caught me, carefully, and put me down. I tried to take advantage of him, sexually. He held me at arm’s length, until I stopped with the force, and he held me close, until he wanted to do more. He picked me up, bandaged my wounds, and didn’t let anything complicated develop until he felt comfortable with everything. He was gentle and careful, calculated and slow. For months and months, our sexual activity consisted of me crawling into his bed, naked, so we could nap together. I had no idea how to expand things, how to get what I want. I had no idea what I really wanted. We built a sexual relationship out of teenaged fumblings, and it’s taken a great deal of time to get comfortable talking about sex and about what feels good. I still feel guilty for asking for things (such as oral) despite many reassurances to the contrary. I still feel like an asshole when I tell him to stop because it hurts.

My precociousness and my armament of knowledge didn’t lead me into good choices, and I was unable to distinguish between sexual attraction and an actual relationship. I wasn’t protected by being shut out. I was unable to seek advice. What should have been a strength became a weakness. I grew into this idea that I should be this totally willing and submissive little thing, a real slut, with no desires of my own, since I was value-less after having lost my de facto virginity to the man before Master. My precociousness, my early development, should have been an opportunity to teach me how to wield the weapons at my disposal, how to protect myself. I was taught to ignore that part of me, and later, taught that it diminished my worth. “Who wants to marry a person who’s not a virgin?” asked my schoolmates, at Catholic school, and later at college. “Not me!” they’d chime. I’d remain silent, trying to shrink myself smaller.

The first person I had a healthy sexual relationship with was my Master… and it seemed the strangest thing, at the time. He insisted on the above — that I tell him to stop when it hurts, that I not have sex I don’t want to have, that I not do anything I don’t want to do. This seemed foreign to me at the time. I remember being stricken with a dermatitis or vestibulitis of some sort from having reacted to a particular brand of lube, and every act of sex was excruciating. Halfway through, Master noticed my pain, and I was sorely chastised for letting him hurt me like that for his own benefit. I have value? I was bewildered. This man I had known before Master, this man who was three-plus years older than Master, who was so much more experienced … he’d never made me feel as if I could ask for what I wanted, or refuse. He’d never made me feel valuable, sexy, beautiful. I had missed out on the best part of sex entirely.

I thought back to my sexual experiences prior … on the ex’s inflatable couch, being groped, knowing that within a time frame of hours he was going to take me to his room and try to have sex with me. Instead of acknowledging the feelings I had on the subject, how distasteful I found the idea, instead of refusing, I simply talked myself into it, trying to relax, detached, for when the inevitable moment came. I ignored my revulsion at the completion of the act, and tried to ignore him as much as possible while he was performing it. I was emotionally detached.

I think my mother’s idea was that she was protecting me, by making sure I knew nothing. Her idea backfired in the sense that I learned everything there was to know — factually — but nothing about what there was to know — functionally. I could tell you brand names of birth control pills, but nothing about intimacy. The solution my mother came up with was to pretend that intimacy wasn’t possible because of my age, my sluttiness. Or maybe she just forgot to mention it, what with all the talk of what a whore I was and asking me if I did it ‘so I could feel loved.’ I was never asked a single question about sex that didn’t sound like a personal attack before I’d even answered. I was terrified of her, but knew sex was as normal as breathing. I had to figure it out on my own, somehow.

I hear this type of thing is genetic — my grandmother developed early and so did many of my aunts. My child might end up being much like me, in this way, and I think about it all the time. How will I handle it? Will I have to explain to an eight year old or a six year old, one day, what sex is, without lying to her or making her feel as I did, as if she were a filthy valueless little thing? And if I don’t, if I indeed tell her (or him) the truth, how many people are going to come crashing down on me, thinking I’m setting my child up to be assaulted sexually? Truth be told, I had no concept of what sexual assault was until I was over the age of 18. Several of my friends had experienced it without realizing, this non-consensual-but-not-totally-forceful sex, myself included, without seeing that we were being taken advantage of, with no advice on how to protect ourselves from things besides pregnancy and disease.

I had no power to say ‘no’ and no idea of when I should say ‘no’ or why. It’s this that I feel it most necessary to correct. I had a significant decrease in my self-worth with the knowledge that I was a slut, and so have vowed to never make my child feel ashamed about their sexuality. It’s a huge part of me, and of my life, and trying to shut off that part of my personality, or not being allowed to experience it because I’ve been taught it’s ‘wrong,’ is one of the bigger travesties of my teenagedhood. It’s part of why I have felt it so important to write about sex, and my sex life, and my sexuality. I need to come to grips with this somehow, to jackhammer the idea out of my head that this is somehow wrong, or bad. Fortunately, I have Master, T, and my good friends around me. My children will grow up happier than I did. That’s a promise.

On Boundaries

Being a slut does not mean I have no boundaries. This is by far the easiest mistake to make. Most people hear ‘slut’ and they associate it with its traditional definition, sexual promiscuity. In this context, however, I use slut in its more modern sense, as a choice to have sex with whomever my partner and I decide is appropriate.

You’ll notice that in the original article the emphasis is placed on having sex with anyone one so chooses, regardless of pressures. My deviation from this definition is a thing they never taught us about in sex-ed class — Boundaries.

Boundaries are a set of rules laid out ahead of time, so that everyone remains comfortable. The list of rules is long, and some of them are implied. Every couple has its list of boundaries — whether openly discussed or not.

I am a slut. This means I have a high sexual appetite, and desire stimulation in ways aside from what society calls “normal” sexual outlets. I desire multiple people, of multiple sexes.

By far the biggest hurdle for me to get over in rebuilding my sexuality is the hurdle of other peoples’ expectations. It’s very easy for me to get hung up on ideas about what other people want my sex life to be. Monogamous, vanilla, vaginal, no-batteries-required, unaccessorized, on my back, in a bed, legs spread, like I should be. It’s that should word that I bristle at — that I’ve bristled at all my life. I don’t take kindly to people telling me how I should live my life.

So if they are not free to tell me how to have my private sex life with my private partners, why does multiplication in any degree give ‘them’ any more right to degrade my choices? So it’s two girls, instead of one man, or one man and one girl, or a man aside from my declared. So it’s a man aside from the one who took my virginity — if such a thing can truly be said, being as I’d broken my hymen myself from penetrative play long before I’d seen an erect penis.

By far the biggest misconception is that having sex with multiple partners automatically means that I am having sex without value, without emotional attachment, without the proverbial ‘strings’. That sex with everyone aside from my husband (and perhaps even my husband!) is emotionless, flat, a simple act of masturbation between two people.

Many people (with no research to back them up) will go on record stating things like ‘premarital orgasms ruin your ability to form lasting relationships‘.  The theory is based on the fact that every sexual encounter releases oxytocin, the hormone of attachment, which promotes strong feelings of interconnectedness between two people. Some Christians, particularly one Eric Keroack,  believe that multiple exposures to oxytocin dulls the body’s natural response to it — that eventually the attachment hormone gets worn out and stops making people feel attached to one another.

This theory sounds like it makes a lot of sense — we know this happens with other drugs in the human body. The part where this logic departs from common sense is the part where Mr. Keroack and other people trying to control your sex life tell you that your brain only becomes desensitized to pre-marital oxytocin; that oxytocin produced by the brain after marriage produces no desensitization at all. Mr. Keroack does not offer any evidence-based studies to back up his theory, but uses his credibility as an OB/GYN within the United States to push this piece of propaganda.

As there’s no evidence to back up this claim, and indeed, every claim against cohabitation and premarital sex, I am forced to reject my other teachings from the Christian church regarding sex, on the basis of lack of evidence. This includes: the sanctity of marriage, the entirety of the homosexual issue, the topic of birth control and abortive choices, monogamy, the woman’s place in a relationship, etcetera, and so on and so forth.

This will leave many people to believe I have no belief system in place to cause me to set down boundaries. Why don’t I fuck everyone I pass in the street, then, since I seem so unable to control myself?

For starters, because it would be disrespectful to my husband.

My belief system (or I should say, truly, our belief system, as we have constructed it together) is based on trust, respect, and intimacy. It has our relationship as the pinnacle in a large network of relationships. I describe him as my ‘primary‘ relationship, and primary he is — he is the first person I depend on. We have built our lives together so they intertwine, so that we are really one family unit, and I’m sure, as he is, that our friends think of us in this way.

It also means it’s his primary input I listen to when I want something to change. And nothing changes, without a discussion. There is no going out to prowl around and having late-night sex with an unnamed stranger and coming back to eat dinner at home — because it is outside of our boundaries.

A feminist or two would point out at this time that by allowing him to set my boundaries, they really aren’t ‘my’ boundaries. Talk like that gets us into a deep discussion into the natures of my BDSM relationship, and frankly, I’m not about ready to have that talk yet, so hold that thought, kittens.

Our boundaries do not include lines — of what is off-limits and what is not, for example — but rather, protocols for certain situations. Mostly, if I want somebody who isn’t my husband, I have to ask my husband, and then suitably convince him that this is not a passing crush — that I want to have a proper relationship with this person, and that they are suitably interested in having a proper relationship with me. Then there’s the screening to determine if this person is suitable to be trusted … after all, my husband is trusting them with his favourite toy. One does not loan out one’s favourite toy to just anybody.

So far, only one man has met these criteria. He’s at present asleep naked in my husband’s bed.

In talking about our boundaries we’ve learned so much about our relationship, and about each other. My ability to have penis-in-vagina sex with my secondary is a temporary arrangement — available to me at this time only because my husband is unavailable for six months, and on constant negotiation with my husband. I am pleased with this situation, and see my secondary for what he is — a gift, from my husband, someone sweet and warm to hold me at night and care for me, while he can not.

The unwritten rule is, then, that once he is back to envelop me in bed, the secondary boyfriend becomes less of a boyfriend, and more of just a friend. Being the open and honest people that we are, the secondary knows this — I dare say it makes our time together a little more precious, since we know that it’s limited.

There are other rules of course — mostly that there are several things reserved solely for the husband. As a slut who’s devoted herself to him, I cannot deny him these things. He has the privilege of keeping precious to him the little things he enjoys — unprotected sex, anal, and the ability to make me helpless, among a few things.

I laugh when it’s implied that someone like me must have a lack of value for sex within a relationship. I dated my secondary for eight months before being allowed intercourse with him — and I knew full well the entire time that intercourse might never happen. How many serial monogamists do that? That’s not even the relevant question — the relevant question is how many don’t? What boundaries exist there — are they even socially acceptable?

Ahh, how the lines blur when situations change, but this is the beauty of boundaries; that they are flexible and can be updated to follow the times… which is why I expect that my boundaries will be a topic of discussion on a fairly regular basis. Enough so that I think it gets its own category.

So there.