Contact Info --

Email us --

Our Other Blogs --
We are three adults living in a polyamorous triad family. The content here is intended for an adult audience. If you are not an adult, please leave now.



This place is changing -- and I'm sure that is not news to anyone who has been following along.

We are different with each other, and learning to be different for ourselves.  The collar that I once wore so proudly hasn't been out of its basket on my night table in months.  In the beginning, that bothered me, but it has come to be just a fact -- and that feels OK.  I sometimes look at the impressions of the cutting that hang on our bedroom wall, and feel the ever present itch of those scars in my flesh -- and ponder what it might come to mean to wear His initials on my back if we are no longer Master and slave, or Owner and property, or whatever it was that the marks connoted when He first made them.  But for right now, I feel comfortable that He and I will always be SOMETHING  to each other.  I have no idea what the shape of our relationship will be as we learn and grow and change, but I am no longer terrified that we will come to be strangers.  We will be "us," and it feels like the labels and the protocols and the structures may not be so important.  Or maybe I am projecting too far out.  I just don't know.

I do know that continuing to hope to be able to come here and write about power exchange and D/s the way I once did is a frustrating and fruitless wishing for what was, and that doing that keeps me from looking fully at what is.  We were like that, and it was meaningful and real and powerful WHEN it was the right thing for us.  It isn't that anymore.  We are making something new and it is, as yet, too new and unformed to even be able to name it.  We will have to simply watch and wait.

I have, on more than one occasion, wondered if I should take this blog down and just go off to live my quiet, simple, plain life.  I can't imagine that I'll ever be or feel "vanilla" in my bones, but maybe it is just a matter of waiting long enough.  Maybe after 6 months or 7 months or a year, all of that kinky stuff will just fade off into warm, fuzzy, glowing memories of my youth.  I can say that and, as I watch myself react to it, I am amazed at how calm I feel about it.  It isn't that scary.

So, here sits the blog that has chronicled every move and every step and every emotion and every shift.  I feel like something happens for me when I can write here.  One of my "anonymous" fans accuses me of being possessed of a towering ego (well, that's what the anonymous would write if he/she had that much literary capacity), and probably that is accurate.  This blog has been about me, mostly.  Because of this place, I've "met" people from around the country and around the globe, and they have come to feel like friends and confidants.  I have not always been a good friend, but I do value those relationships and I want them to continue -- at least I'd like that to happen.  Who knows what those on the other end of the "relationship" might come to feel about it, especially if this becomes the "World's Most Boring Blog."  That too, will perhaps become clear in time.  I only know that I want this outlet to remain for the days when I may need to still pour out words.  In the beginning, there was hardly anyone to read the words I wrote -- and it was alright.  If things would go back to that, I think I'd be more ok with that than having no outlet at all for the words.

Nothing earth-shaking in all of that.  It is just the truth about my thinking tonight.  I guess part of me wants to "let people off the hook."  Telling the truth about the state of our relationship seems the kindest and fairest thing I can do at this moment.



We Are Home

Two more very long travel days have brought us safely home -- and our simple little homes look very good to us tonight. 

It was good to get away.  It was good to have some time to just be together.  It was great fun to laugh and play and visit the Denver zoo with my wonderful grandson -- and his parents.  It was good to have lunch with my daughter, to see her and know that, even in the midst of her own troubles and difficulties, she keeps learning and growing and trying to figure it all out for herself.  It was good to follow the road from east to west and back again, acquiring a fresh appreciation for the place that is "ours" with each increasingly green-tinted mile. 

Tonight, we are tired, tucked in waiting for a spring snow storm, watching our Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sweet Sixteen, munching on a delivered pizza, and just glad to be.  Our cats are snuggled close, purring sweetly, and life seems good. 


Relationship DYNAMIC

Morningstar recently pointed to the phenomenon of major breaks that sometime occur in the context of our BDSM relationships, and asked the pretty direct and essential question (the one we tend, generally, to avoid):

I have to wonder IF this BDSM lifestyle is something that most of the population can maintain for any length of time. 

Certainly, our family has gone through a really difficult stretch during which we've questioned just about everything about our lives and our beliefs and our interactions with each other.  We've been rocked to our foundations (and there have been those ubiquitous although, thankfully, few nay-sayers among our readership who have cheered our ever wobble).  We are still here, still standing, and still together. 

Our overtly power-driven BDSM M/s DYNAMIC has, in fact, been largely dormant as we've directed our attentions and energies to the demands of surviving, and healing.  The classically, play-based, fun, fantasy oriented, and yes, sexy parts of BDSM have just not been part of our lives for these last months.

We've had a lot of heavy and intense work to do, and serious matters to attend to.  We've been engaged with professionals regarding mental health, physical health, relational issues, legal issues, financial issues.  We've all had to confront the various bits and pieces of our lives and habits that contributed to and supported our family's addictive breakdown.  It has been a challenging time.

I tossed a tablecloth over the toy rack a few weeks back.  It was a way to protect myself from having to see them all hanging there on the wall each morning when I first opened my eyes.  I covered them up and hid them-- but I could not bring myself to put them away.  I have simply not been able to convince myself that we will never be into "that kind" of BDSM play again.  Things have, surely, changed.  We are not the same as we were.  We'll never be the same again.  We are and will be different for having traveled this particular path together.  That is the fact of having lived this long and experienced what we have.

On the other hand, we remain in some very basic parts of our day to day lives, exactly as we have always been.  I still do a whole variety of things for Him, and He still expects them to be done -- not so much in the sense of "requirement" or "demand," but more as a matter of course.  It is the way it is.  Too, we have, in the last bit of time, begun to flirt with one another and tease a bit about the SM side of our relatedness.  That is feeling fragile, tentative, delicate, and exploratory... but it is, nevertheless, there, and I am glad for it.

In the end, I think that the question is really not about BDSM relationships at all.  I think it is simply about relationships in general:  Is it possible for one fallible and frail human to enter into and maintain any sort of long term viable relationship with another human -- or are we just too volatile and unpredictable to make it work?

I think that we can make life-long relationships that work.  Call me naive.  Label me a dreamer -- a Pollyanna.  I think that we can hang on and hang in and grow and learn and start again -- over and over and over.  I believe in the power of love and the strength of a promise, and I will forever assert that we can make it work if we just refuse to quit. 

What is the future?  I do not know.  Cannot know.  None of us can.  We can only choose to love with our best selves in this moment, for this day.  Our BDSM relationships are no better and no worse than any other.  All those scary looking whips and paddles do nothing at all to keep life's vagaries away from our doors.  We make our relationships last, for the long haul, by being the people we have promised to be -- on the days when love lifts us up soaring AND on the days when we slog through the muck unable to see the sun.



We are Here!

What a looooong ride that is! Geesh..... 21 hours in the car. But a grand and glorious payout.....Sue's smile when she holds her grandson.

And here I sit, in a hotel lobby, typing and staring out the window at Sue's beloved mountains.

We spent the afternoon, yesterday, with Sue's son, grandson, 2 of the 3 cats, 2 dogs (one of whom is a Swiss MONSTER-SIZED DOG!). Tom and I just laughed and smiled the entire time. We came back to our hotel room for a nap when "Z" took his, and then all of us met up at a restaurant called "Sweet Tomato". A salad buffet with pizza, pasta and soups. Rather tasty, I must say. After dinner, Tom and Sue went back to "Z"s place and played until all were exhausted. Tom said that the grandson had warmed up considerably and was wallowing around on the floor with "Grandma" all evening long. I was feeling crummy so I just stayed in the room for the evening.

I am down having breakfast, cleaning out crap emails, reading my KINDLE and giving them time in the room to do whatever they want to do without me sitting there watching.

This has been a great break for the Clan. We are rested and together. Hard to say that after that tough drive, we are "rested" but after the past few months, we are. Tom is more relaxed and that gives Sue and me a great deal of peace. We are laughing together, as we have not in months. We are more comfortable in our collective skins.

Well, they just arrived for breakfast, and I want to share the time with them, so I am off.

Later today, we are having lunch with Sue's daughter and then taking "Z" and family to the Denver Zoo.

Later all,


1200 Miles

It is 1200 miles from Cincinnati to Denver.  We've covered just about 1000 of those, and we are coming close to the end of our outbound drive.  This whole day has been a slog across Kansas.  Blech!  We are tired, but good.  Enjoying (mostly) our time with one another, and the chance to be together without any sort of obligations except to our own agenda.  That is a good thing.

Today is Tom's 62 day of sobriety, and He has begun to tease again, laugh again, be just a bit devilish with the two of us again.  It is a relief and a wonder to us all.  We do feel as if we've awakened in a new and strange country that we do not really recognize, but it seems potentially good.  We're not naive -- it is clear there's a lot to learn and plenty of work to do, but we are definitely better than we were in November, or December, or January... 

In a few hours, we'll be with my son and his wife.  We'll be with that grandbaby.  We'll be IN Colorado...  It is the home that no longer really seems like home, but it still feels good to be here again -- just for a little while...  A couple of days and we'll be headed home again.  But for now, we'll just be here enjoying. 



We Get To Go To Denver!




Yeah...I know.....You get it....the Clan is on the road, heading to Denver. A break from school for Sue, a break from IOP for Tom and a break from work for me. We are all, finally, taking a vacation together. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. I am beside myself, giddy. I will be like that little pig-kid on the commercial, hanging out the windows and sunroof yelling "Weeee!!! Weeeeeee!!!"

We have all been worried about this. Tom has not been in a good place for several days. Sue has been exhausted and frustrated. And I have been spanning the breach and saying prayers to the Universe to help me heal my family. But we have had 2 really GOOD days. Tom seems good...good in a solid way, not wobbly. And when he is good, we are all better, stronger, saner.

And now I get to meet the grand baby! If you all remember, the last 2 trips they made to Denver, I had to work. I have met Sue's grandson via emailed pictures and videos. I have sent goodies to this little man and have been dying to meet him in person. And of course, I will get to spend time with Sue's son, daughter-in-law, daughter and all of their numerous critters.

We are driving. Two day's to get there, two days there, and two days to get home. I am leaving my house cluttered and the floors undone because, dammit, I AM ON VACATION! I can clean when we get home.

We will leave extra food and water for the cats. Both have survived being home alone while we have taken off. And I can tell Pranzer Clawz knows we are leaving, because he is especially "needy". Needs to lay on my, not beside me. Is following me all over the house. Slept close last night. I will leave a piece of laundry on the bed, so he has something that smells like me and he will ignore me mightily when I return. But he will be fine and so will Princess Callie Tu-Tu.

Our family needs this time alone desperately. We need the time to reconnect. We need the time away from all of the professionals, volunteers, classes, therapies, and well-meaning people who haven't a clue. My fervent hope is that we will come back stronger and good and together in a way we haven't been for months.

You all know our story with the herons. Well, we have not seen a heron on our pond so far this year, and they are usually back in early March. Oh, we saw one fly over last week, but nobody landed.....Yesterday, we all got home from our various jobs and appointments and were sitting around talking about our days.....and 'lo and behold......a heron landed across the pond. It looked right at our condos, as if to say "Well, you are still here and so am I. All is well."

And, today, all IS well. We are packing and planning and getting ready to see Sue's beloved mountains and family. I couldn't be happier.



Sunday again?

This week has been easier on me. I am not as overwhelmingly heartbroken. I am not crying at the drop of a hat. I am using less tissues. I am not fighting the "NEED" to run to Mom's house to touch her stuff and stand in her bedroom, sniffing her bottle of perfume. Tom went with me to the probate attorney, we have dealt with this lawyer before when setting up the POA documents for Mom. Both Tom and the attorney get along well, and I am SO thankful Tom was there, because I would have been confused and lost without him.

Insert public service announcement here: DO A DAMNED WILL AND GET YOUR DOCUMENTS TOGETHER. I struggled to find everything I needed for the attorney. I thought Mom was organized, but I am still finding stuff. I had to track down and reorder stuff for Sue to do Mom's taxes. And I still don't know what her retirement from the bank means for us. They won't disclose anything on the phone. But they have asked for Mom's and Dad's death certificates and information on my brother and myself. Maybe there will be a surprise, but I am trying not to hope for anything.

Home is a bit better. The egg shells are gone, most of the time. I was surprised to acknowledge the fact that I was always on edge and wanting to hide when Tom was drinking excessively. And felt guilty all the time about leaving Sue to deal with it. Living in the 2 condos, I could come to my side and be away from everything. I am ashamed that I left everything on Sue's shoulders when things got ugly. The "Goodbye Letter" was hard on all of us, especially Tom. He is depressed much of the time. Sue and I worry that we are not helping in a meaningful way. He has trouble dealing with tough days and I guess that is understandable. When you have been drinking as long as he has, there have not been many days that he dealt with his feelings sober. It is hard to learn how to deal with sadness, depression, and basic bad days when you're raw and alcohol-free.

This will be our last week of intensive rehab. I am looking forward to having our Wed and Thurs evenings back. Sue and I will move to 2 hours a month and Tom will reduce from 3-3 hour classes per week to 1-3 hour class a week. I will probably try to find an Al-Anon meeting to try. I say this with great trepidation, as my previous 2 tries Sucked the Big Wazoo. But, Tom goes to 2 meetings a week plus classes, I should be able to find an Al-Anon class that I can choke down for 1 hour a week. If I have to check out several, there has to be one that will work, right?

Work is still overwhelming, as I am working a minimum of 48 hours a week. I can work more if I want, but right now the 48 is plenty. This may be my life for quite a while. The people in the department say the team has been on mandatory OT for over 10 years, so I don't expect that to change. But I enjoy the work and the people around me, so that makes a difference.

We all need a break. I have the week of March 21st off and it is Sue's school's Spring Break. Tom as been told by rehab and half of probation that he can go out of state. He still needs to get the OK from the other part of probation. If everything falls in place, the 3 of us are heading to Denver. I have never met Sue's grandson and because of work, I have had to miss the last 2 vacations to Sue's Mountains. I hope it all works out. I am trying hard to not get my hopes up because we REALLY NEED a break and I don't want to be disappointed.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and we would all be better and happier and healthier. I want us to all get a break and have something really good happen for us. I know, many think "good" is already happening, but I want something that we ALL agree is a "good thing".

Be gentle with yourselves.


My "Goodbye Letter"

This next Thursday I will conclude my 6 week intensive outpatient rehabilitation program regarding my alcoholism. The program ends with a ritual reading of one's "Goodbye Letter to Alcohol" (or whatever other addiction they might have.) I have undertaken this afternoon to try to get my thoughts down about this. I have found the exercise heart-rendingly traumatic. So many here have held onto us and supported us and assailed us as we have gone through this revolution in my / our lives, I thought perhaps some of you might be interested to read this.

Thank you again for all the support and caring so many here have lavished on us as we have struggled through this.

The following is "My Goodbye Letter"

Alcohol, you have been my continuous comrade, my ally, my curse, the object of my love, the cue for me to feel adult, to feel powerful, to feel rebellious, to feel lustful, to feel proud, to be grown up, to have fun, to feel alive, to celebrate, to be a parent, to be a lover, to be an executive, to be a potent political advocate, to be a leader, to be a speaker, to be FUN, to be experimental, to be a sophisticated gourmet, to make friends, to feel superior, to feel useful, to feel accepted, to feel masculine. Most of all , you were a partner I had fervently wanted to live with forever, to grow old with, to be the source of my knowing I am a man, a human, a valued being, who lives a life of joy, love, power, sex, intimacy, and boundless energy.

I now find this aspiration, this love which is quite entirely intertwined in my soul, cannot continue to be as it is. Evolving our relationship from one of continual intercourse, daily ingestion, a constant ritualized choreography of my joy at being alive, must evolve to a new phase that I have no option but to accept if I am to live, love, play, and have peace with society. I thought I was strong enough, free enough, wise enough to make “us” work. I was wrong. I’ve failed miserably just as I did in my career, in my parenting, in my financial life, and in my ability to even live a life free of the criminal justice system.

I have come increasingly to become dangerous to my family, to those whom I love and cherish most, when I embed you in my brain. I have come increasingly to behave so insanely, when you and I meld, that I am embarrassed, ashamed, and at risk. I have spent two weeks of the 61st year of my life incarcerated as a result of my taking you into my body. I have been locked up in jail without clothes, without toilet paper, without soap, without bedding, without the food I require to be healthy because of my surgically altered physiology, without the medications I need to be well, without legal help, hauled around in the snow in my bare feet, barely clothed, in chains and dragged into court, where I was treated as though I was a public menace, and as a subhuman life form. I now have two convictions that make it impossible for me to ever again have any of the professional positions I have had previously. I have caused the two people I love more than anything in my life,
life-threatening physical danger, pain, terror, and harm. I have had them flea in the night in the middle of winter to be safe from my raging violence. They have had to become violent with me to protect themselves and me, from me. They have twice called the police, knowing that I needed psychiatric care and intervention, and knowing that in my community one does not receive psychiatric care but, rather, police and judicial abuse and neglect when police intervene. They had no other options remaining for them to protect themselves, and me, from me.

I have no desire to divorce myself from you, but I have no way to continue my life, or to love my family, or to even have my family, unless I do. This is not because they are imposing their will over my choices, or my joy, but because they cannot live, love, work, and play with me, or anyone, if they cannot have even basic safety and security. They cannot be loved by me if I unpredictably move in and out of fits of suicidal and or homicidal rage.

For decades (4.7 of them precisely) I managed to collaborate with you, and I felt huge joy and power in our daily union. Now I lack the power to live, if we continue as we have.

It is not that you will not still have a hold on my soul. It is clear that the rest of my life will be spent in fellowship conclaves with groups of others who have had to move beyond direct union with you. It is clear that your power is great enough over me, over us, that we can only manage to avoid merging with you daily, by living our lives in reaction to your continual absence, and loss, and reminding ourselves how devastating the consequences are that we will experience if this day, any day, we ever have you in us, with us, beside us. So we rely on magical powers and rituals to divert ourselves from the ashes our lives will become if we continue with you, as in the Zen Buddhist Upaya the loving father relied on his golden cart and giant gold oxen to save his lost children from the conflagration that would have consumed them in a horrible firey death.

I am lost now. I don’t know who I am without you. I do not choose to be without you. I have no choice. I am powerless, defeated, and worthless, but I do not have the courage to die this way, or the sadism to inflict myself further on those I love, as I am when I become one with you.

This is supposed to be a “Goodbye Letter.” It isn’t one. It is clear that the only way forward for me is to live my life in continual opposition to the attraction I feel for you, so that I may survive and not sacrifice the human loves that I hold dearer than even the love I have for myself.

So, I will be seeing you around, pretty continually, not alone very often anymore, and never again as my united ally, my life mate, my fellow celebrant. I have a whole network of new allies, who will be with me as I confront you in the future, who are as dedicated as I now am, to living their lives in disunion with you. Too, you will never again get to make me insane. When I do that again, it will be entirely my own doing.


I am Feeling ...

The "family" component of Intensive Outpatient Treatment has meant that T and I have attended two 3-hour sessions a week since the program's beginning.  Wednesday night is an educational session that the three of us attend together, and Thursday night is a more group therapy styled session in which she and I participate.   This week we will complete the 6th and final week and transition into what is termed "continuing care." 

That Thursday session always begins with a "meditation" taken from the pages of Melody Beattie's book, The Language of Letting Go, and then a "check in" during which each group member states how they are feeling -- "I am feeling _______________________________."  On Thursday evening, I was feeling sad

The group process is to allow people to state those feelings without any sort of explanation or question.  The words that describe feelings are simply left to stand as themselves.  So, we went around the circle and launched off into discussion of this and that.  I sat, listening, with my heart feeling heavy, working to not cry.  It was toward the end when the facilitator turned to me to ask what my sadness was about and did I want to say more about that...

It is a vanilla venue.  They've worked themselves around to accommodate what they can see of our unusual family configuration, but we've not shared details, and we have NOT shared the BDSM side of our lives.  My sadness was very much wrapped up in my own sense of grieving and loss related to that dynamic as a seemingly necessary part of this recovery process.  So, I said something vague about knowing that the requisite acceptance of "powerlessness" erodes the very foundation of our intimate and interpersonal dynamic, that our family is largely based on a very deliberate and conscious manipulation of the power between us -- and that I was beginning to understand that this part of who we have always been together was over.  I may have babbled something incomprehensible (to them) about having chosen this for myself after a long, bad marriage; having lived it for the last almost ten years; and feeling heartbroken about its loss.  I know that what I said made no sense to anyone there (except T), and I also know that there isn't a thing anyone could do about any of that -- even if they HAD understood the nuances.  Someone did offer that what may lie ahead could turn out to be positive and "better,"  and I can hear that but it doesn't feel good.

I've worked my way along through the last few days, and the sense of sadness and devastation has receded a very small bit.  Maybe I've moved to something like resignation.  I'm supposed to be working the damn "steps" too.  That has meant that I've had to "admit my powerlessness over Him and His use of alcohol," come to "believe in some power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity," and "turn my life and will over to whatever the hell that is."  I'm also supposed to do some sort of "fearless and searching moral inventory" and admit my defects of character.  I've got the powerlessness thing.  There isn't a thing I can do to control or direct any of this.  He will do whatever He does, and more to the point, life will do just as it always has -- carrying us all along in the current.  What I might want or hope for doesn't make one jot of difference to the force that is "LIFE."  It seems to me that once I really "get" that part, it takes care of the "higher power" question.  Life is way bigger than me.  Life doesn't give a hoot about me.  Life has whirled us along up until now and I see no likelihood that it is going to set us down gently at this point.  So, I give up.  Whatever comes, I'll do whatever it takes to live inside of that life. 

As for that moral inventory thing?  That's going to take some work.  If I have to go back to the moment that I have my earliest conscious memories, it's going to be a very long and mostly boring document.  If I'm supposed to look at "this part" of my life, the part where I've pretended to have power and pretended to give that power to someone else who (according to all the best wisdom in this business) then pretended to take that power and use it to fulfill us both -- I'm going to have to plead "guilty."  From the very earliest encounters with Tom on the listserve that was 1householddiscipline, I was enchanted and fascinated and drawn further and further into the dance.  He had (or seemed to have) what I had always wanted -- still want.  I'm sure that I refused to see what I should have seen along the way.  I am sure that I entered into enabling and codependency because I so wanted what I wanted.  I am sure that I was arrogant, believing that if I just loved Him enough and found some way to be good enough, I could change Him and cure Him and save Him -- and we could live happily ever after.  I've been hurt and angry and resentful on plenty of occasions, running the pitiful "if He loved me, He'd choose me" song over and over and over, and never ever acknowledging the true nature of what was really happening to Him or to us.  Even as I spouted off about "turning over control" and "submitting" I fought to take and hold all the control.  And of course, that is a battle that I couldn't win -- a win that I didn't deserve even if it had been in my grasp.  Just who did I think I was? 

And then I've been angry about it all (especially in these last months) -- contemplating ways to change it, move it, force it -- and yes, get even for it being the way it is.  I've considered moving out and moving away.  I've considered self-abuse and self-harm ("THAT will get His attention and make Him care").  I've told myself that it isn't fair that I should have to give up "what makes me happy and makes me feel good" just because He's "like this," and so I've thought maybe I'd just go out and do what He has done so often -- find another spanking partner.  In short, I've been a sulky, vengeful, petulant child.  Ick!  The only good news, if there can be any good news in all of this, is that most of those thoughts and imaginings have been fleeting and quiet, and I haven't been stupid enough to act on any of that craziness. 

There's more.  Plenty more, like my impatience and my lack of sufficient empathy and compassion for His hurt, fear, and confusion.  There's is my sense of  "entitlement" regarding some sort of future for He and I, and not just a future but a future that feels good and consistent with what we once thought we had.  Of course, I really do feel as if He is the one responsible for making that happen -- once He "recovers."  When I see it clearly like that, I am amazed He puts up with me at all.   

So.  I don't know.  I don't know what to expect.  I have no idea if there is a future for the three of us.  I don't know if He'll ever want the BDSM part of our lives again.  There is some fairly commonly accepted wisdom in this AA community that we've now become part of, that those in the first year of recovery should avoid establishing new intimate relationships -- because people in early recovery don't make great decisions.  Ours isn't a "new" relationship in the strictest sense.  Hell, we've been together a long time.  However, the relationship that might come about as we all "recover" and "heal" (if that is what we, in fact do) WILL be new and necessarily different.  I am convinced that I have to let go of my demands around that eventuality.  Whatever it is that I have been thinking I want, I need to stop trying to force that and let this be what it will be.  The fears that consume me when I consider the range of possibilities aren't helping me and they surely aren't helping Him.  There'll be time, when it IS time, to figure all of that out.  We did it once before, through a haze of alcohol.  We can do it again if we all come to a place of health and sanity and decide that we are, somehow, going to be "good" for each other. 



Fiddler on the Roof

He is recovering, and that means that changes are coming at Him and us at a furious pace.  It is dizzying and disconcerting and disorienting.  Nothing is the way it was, and what is now remains too new to seem familiar or even comprehensible. 
For me, things seem better than they were before.  Uncertain and unsettled, but not as scary or frustrating as they had become in the last months of His active drinking.  On the other hand, I am aware that the shape of the future; our roles; our dynamic; our way of being together is completely unformed and unpredictable at this stage.  

For Him?  It is hard for me to tell exactly what this all feels like to Him from moment to moment.  There are times when I think He can feel the differences; when He can sense His brain waking back up; when He gets some glimpse of how far out of touch He'd gotten with life and us and simple daily pleasures and pains.  Sometimes though, I know that this new reality is scary for Him.  He started drinking in His mid-teens, and His sense of who He is has always been colored by alcohol use.  He liked drinking and using alcohol was a part of His feeling powerful and sure of Himself -- in control.  Now, with about 7 weeks of sobriety, there are times when He really questions who He is; when He feels as if He'll never be in control of His life, or anything else ever again.  When the darkness overtakes Him, I find that I have no words to offer that are any comfort.  Again and again, I am reduced to the simple declaration, "I love You."  

Yesterday morning, those words simply made Him angry.  "Who is it that you love?" He demanded.  "Tell me about who I am.  How can you love someone that you do not know anything about?  Tell Me -- I have to know what it is that you love about the person I am now."  On and on He went, railing against the incomprehensible uncertainty of His present reality. 

I have no answers for Him.  I do not know what changes we will be faced with going forward.  I do not know the shape of His personal recovery journey -- just as I do not know, ultimately, what my own recovery will reveal.  I only know that, after all of this, after all we've faced together, I love Him -- will always love Him.  It sounds cliched, even to me -- fantastically romantically silly...  And, every time He and I do the awkward dance of exchanged endearments and questions about what those endearments really mean, I swear I can hear the voice of Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof, asking Golde -- "Do you love me?"



An Old Friend

In the very beginning of my blogging endeavors, back some six years or more, the earliest commenter at The Swan's Heart was Malcolm.  For a very long time, he was the only one to visit regularly and leave words of encouragement or wisdom or simple friendship.  Over the years, Malcolm has poked at me and prodded me.  Sometimes he has overstepped, at least in my view, and I've come roaring back at him.  He has remained a steadfast friend in this place.  Malcolm, if I've never said it, I am grateful for the time you have gifted to me over the years.

Most recently, in a comment on my "Magic" post, my friend Malcolm has written words that I imagine cost him some time and energy.  They are, as is the norm when he speaks to me, not entirely easy to hear/read, but they point to a deep part of my own personal set of struggles and fears for this part of the path, and so provide me with an opening to say what is true for me in this instant:

...Well, Sue, I have been reading your blog on and off for years. It's never been more interesting than it is these days, because we are now into real, universal problems. You have been allowing comments recently that are very critical, and I'm sure that's a good thing... Sue, your problems will never be solved by thinking. You have to become soft. To submit. To relinquish control. It's so ironic that I'm saying this to one whose who has devoted much of her life to submission! Now you have to submit to one who has much greater, infinitely greater, power than your Tom's personality. This "one" is none other than a vital part of yourself. You will not be betraying Tom by that ... I have come to realise that the Universe (God?) is friendly, will give me and has given me what I need if only I stop trying to direct the show ... You are trying to defend your habits of thought ... It's counterproductive to try to defend them or reconcile them with other systems. Habits of thought are just that, nothing of great importance that you need to keep...  just now it's what you don't understand that is causing you trouble. Your training in submission is not being used for the greater purpose it could fulfil.


That's a lot.  There's truth and wisdom in these words.  I am struggling with defending what I think against what feels like an assault.  I know that perception is not entirely accurate.  No one is "out to get me" or "out to get us."  The people that we are dealing with are doing the best they can too -- believing what they believe because it works (or has worked) at some level for them.

Malcolm pokes his finger into the place where I've claimed the description "submissive," and called me to account for the doing of it.  And that's an awful lot of my problem just now.  I do not know and cannot know what will remain of our D/s when all of this settles, and that scares me.  Master is so unsure of this new reality.  I can see His struggle with the step 1 admission of powerlessness -- how to reconcile being powerless with being Dominant; with being "Master?"  I feel like I have to let Him go into the hands of these "AA'ers" who claim to have the magic that can save Him and us, but I am terribly afraid that the "healing" they promise will leave us nothing at all of the life we once valued -- the dream I thought we shared.

So many people say to me, "just go to Al Anon," but I can't imagine that there are very many Al Anon meetings where I could lay out the contours of our dynamic and erotic orientations -- and get much in the way of understanding or "help."  No one is going to hold onto me while I cry my way through "maybe never being slave again..."  I just don't see it.  And while Malcolm suggests that it is now time to submit to something bigger than Tom, I can't picture that being an adequate replacement for what I think may be lost forever.  I cannot go back.  We cannot go back.  The life we had that was driven by alcohol wasn't good either.  I want to believe that there will be better things in the future; that something good and healthy can come out of all of this... 

It is all such a muddle.  I am so confused.  So afraid.  What if I don't do the right thing?  What is the right thing?  How will I know?  Who can help me?


In Response

Golly, I might not be the writer Swan is, but I can respond to some of the comments over her last post.

We are all in this for the long haul. We are trying to find a way, within AA, to make the system work. We are being told "God, as you know Him" and then told that doesn't really mean a religious "God".... our "God" can be the group, a coffee cup, whatever works for us. We usually keep our mouths shut about our spirituality, but when others in our groups express concerns, and their concerns are pushed aside, I feel, that person needs some support and to know that they are not alone in their concerns. Having the trainer treat us as if our concerns about the excessive religiosity are not important, is like someone telling me that I have no value as a person and maybe I should just "check out". After the trainer stomped out of the class and we went to break, almost the entire class came to me and said they felt just like we did, but it was either their first class, or they were too new to express their concerns. They wanted to know they appreciated my standing up. And one older woman came to me in the restroom and hugged me. She is not a very physical woman, appears closed off in class, but she just hugged me and said "I support you all the way, we feel exactly the same".

This is an intensive rehab program of 6 weeks. Tom goes 3 days/nights a week, 3 hours a day and Swan & I go 2 nights a week for 3 hours an evening. We do not have the luxury of walking away, we are all fighting for our survival as a family and trying to maintain the court's requirements. I work 50 hours a week and when I add 6 additional class hours as well as 1 AA/NA meeting weekly, I am exhausted by the weekend. Once this 6 weeks is over, Tom will go 2 hours a week to continuing care and Swan and I will go 2 hours a month for continuing care. Until we get to the "Continued Care" portion of this program, I do not see where I can reasonably fit any Al-Anon meetings in my life without jeopardizing my health.

And regarding Al-Anon, I have issues about that too. My brother went through a recovery program 23 yrs ago. I helped as much as I could and attended 2 different Al-Anon meetings at 2 different locations. I found them to be a bunch of bitter, pissed off people who spent each meeting ranting and railing about their family member's drunken need to ruin THEIR lives. There was no education, there was no support - save the nods of agreement at each rant, there was nothing there that caused me to think it would help me help my brother's and my family's recovery. So you can see that I am taking the suggestions of Al-Anon with more than a single grain of salt.

I will try to find a meeting that works, because I am in this for all of us, but that will wait for at least a few more weeks. I need to get through the intensive part of recovery first.

And starting Tuesday, I start dealing with the probate issues of my Mom's estate. I have to say, I thought it would not be hard handling the legal aspects of Mom's death, but each and ever day sucks even more than the last. I go to her house every Sunday and do a little more, but it never seems to be enough.

For those of you who have been supportive of my family, I appreciate that support more than you can imagine. And for those of you who are not, I thank you to be more gentle with my family. We are all just doing the best we can.



They Have the Magic

It has been an interesting and intense week.  We've been to more classes and more meetings and more therapy sessions.  It is what we do.  In between, we try to do all the things that other people do -- meals and dishes and bills and trash and jobs and -- just life.  However, since our lives are currently consumed with the work of recovery, and make no mistake, it IS work, that is pretty much all there is for us to talk about here (unless of course, you are just dying to know how I mate socks).
We are, officially I suppose, 12-steppers.  There seems to be no other way to do this.  We've investigated a number of the alternatives, and to be honest, the cognitively based models don't offer what we need on a variety of counts.  That may not be true for others, but we are finding that, in spite of our misgivings and negative reactions, the 12 step model has something that we all seem to need.  We've found some meetings that feel pretty welcoming and hospitable -- one is actually a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, but the process is the same and THEY don't distinguish between drugs, so it works. 

The intensive outpatient program that we are attending has a family component, and T and I are spending our Wednesday and Thursday evenings in classes and "group" sessions there.  The counselor/facilitator, a woman named Kelly, is an avid, AA'er who responds to our concerns and discomforts regarding the "god" issue in pretty much the same judgmental voice as our most critical anonymous commenter does here on the God as We Understand post:  
"Your comments have the same tone that Tom's did before he admitted he was an alcoholic. It's so very rage against the machine-like.

Lots of people work the AA program and do not subscribe to the white bearded man in the sky.

I'm not sure you can see that right now. Tom has a disease and as his family of enablers, you are as well. Or perhaps you think that it is only him engaged in this dance?

The plan works if you work the plan. Lots of people recover and stay recovered and all of them subscribe to a higher power. Not all of them call it God."

... and then here in response to the Sunday Update  post:
"As long as the 3 of you can find so many reasons to reject the AA program, or any other cessation program, you will not have to face the painful prospect of changing the many, many attitudes and behaviors which have, in your case, resulted in this very serious problem.

Or you can choose to take what you like and leave the rest."

In fact, on Thursday evening, after T expressed her deep frustration at the continued and pervasive emphasis on God and Him, even as there continues to be an insistence that this program is NOT RELIGIOUS, Kelly put her hands over her ears, declared that the whole discussion was frustrating and made her head hurt, and stormed from the room.   We all just sat there, looking at one another, amazed.

So, I've been continuing to contemplate the set of conundrums posed by our situation:  
  • We clearly have a very real issue.  Alcoholism is an acknowledged problem for our family.
  • We have been unsuccessful in addressing the problem using all the resources and skills that we possess.
  • We need help and cannot do this by ourselves.
  • We have come to accept that this AA approach is the one that "feels" like it offers the best chance and hope for recovery, and recovery has become the thing we want.
  • To do AA is to "work the steps;" all of them, in order, to the best of our ability. 
  • That means we've got to get a grip on this business of the "higher power" that is so central to the process -- "God as we understand Him."

I don't know where the rest of the family is going to come down on all of that.  Clearly everybody is going to have to resolve the paradox of our non-religious world view and our simultaneous reliance on and submission to a "higher power" for themselves. Here's my attempt to accommodate this whole tangle for me:

I cannot get to the personified god thing.  My notion of the divine does not match up with the idea of "god as a person."  So, by definition, I am not going to be understanding "god" as "him."  For this to work for me, I am going to have to simply ignore that language and try not to let it grate on my nerves.

My understanding of the creative divine in the universe is grounded in some odd mix of pantheism and sub-atomic physics and a conviction that we are all creating the universe together in some sort of gigantic evolutionary endeavor of which we are only very vaguely aware.  My belief is that I am connected to and mingled with all the energies of all the "beings" who have ever existed or ever will exist anywhere in the universe.  Together with stars and spruce trees, buffalo and bumble bees, I am moving the universe into existence and then forward -- making the creation happen in every instant. 

The plodding and prosaic religiosity of AA trudges through my spiritual landscape like a Fuller Brush salesman in a shabby brown suit, and I find my impulse is to turn it away at the door.  Except that, as I have struggled to be present to this process in these weeks, I keep seeing the glimmers of something magical under the drab threads and tired visage.

I think that, perhaps entirely by accident, Bill W. and Dr. Bob (the original and almost mythical authors of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship) grabbed onto a powerful bit of magic -- and I do absolutely mean MAGIC.  I think that they were ordinary enough fellows, caught in the trap of alcoholism, who had no idea about magic, and surely no sense of what it really was.  They were, I suspect, a spiritually unimaginative pair.  All they knew was that they had been saved by some "power greater than themselves," and given the times and the place (Akron, Ohio), they explained the phenomenon with the clumsiest of references to the most mundane religious practices of their day.  Their "magic" got distilled down into a confessional-sort-of-Rock-of-Ages-Bible-carrying-Businessman's-God, and there it has remained, forever frozen in the pages of their Big Book.  Today, if you push very hard, every single AA'er will ultimately resort to the response -- "if it isn't broke, don't try to fix it."  They all seem to have that glimmer of something so numinous that it defies description, but I have yet to find one willing to look at their burning bush straight on.  You would think that they are all afraid they'll be turned into toads.  Magic, indeed!

Consider the world of AA in the context of "magic:"

Definitionally, magic is the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces; (step 1 -- We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol) magic rites or incantations (Hi, My name is _________________, and I'm an alcoholic/addict -- Hi ___________________);  an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source (step 2 -- we came to understand that there was a power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity);  something that seems to cast a spell (coins and tokens given at milestone marks)

Magic is the claimed art of altering things by supernatural means (we turned our lives and our wills over to God as we understood Him).  There are two modern perspectives on the theory of magic.   The first sees magic as a result of a universal sympathy within the universe, where if something is done here a result happens somewhere else. The other view sees magic as a collaboration with spirits who cause the effect.  One category of magic is “sympathetic magic,” --  the thought that if a certain result follows a certain action, then that action must be responsible for the result. Therefore, if one is to perform this action again, the same result can again be expected (If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to obtain it, ...). Another primary type of magical thinking includes the principle of contagion. This principle suggests that once two objects come into contact with each other, they will continue to affect each other even after the contact between them has been broken (keep coming back -- it works if you work it AND read the big book, go to meeting).

Magical rituals are the precisely defined actions (including speech) used to work magic. The language used in ritual is archaic and out of the ordinary, which helps foster the proper mindset to believe in the ritual.  The purpose of ritual is to act as a focus and the effect will vary depending on the individual.  I've been amazed, attending AA meetings at the remarkable and ubiquitous ritualized formulas every single meeting follows: 
  • reading the steps, the traditions, the promises.
  • passing the hat for the universally understood dollar donation
  • reciting certain phrases from the Big Book in unison
  • the prohibition on "cross-talk"
  • the shared slogans and sayings -- one website that I found lists 400 such aphorisms

Magic often utilizes symbols that are thought to be intrinsically efficacious.  The performance of magic almost always involves the use of language.   Only certain words and phrases or words spoken in a specific context are considered to have magical power.  Magical language  is emotive and it converts words into symbols for emotions.  It constructs metaphors that establish symbols and link magical rituals to the world.  The language of magic is sacred, set and used for an entirely different purpose to that of ordinary life, and differentiated through word choice, grammar, style, or by the use of specific phrases or forms: prayers, spells, songs, blessings, or chants.  Another potential source of the power of words is their secrecy and exclusivity. 

Magical knowledge is usually passed down from one magician to another through family or apprenticeships.  Magical knowledge is often well guarded, as it is a valuable commodity to which each magician believes that he has a proprietary right.  Yet the possession of magical knowledge alone may be insufficient to grant magical power; often a person must also possess certain magical objects, traits or life experiences in order to be a magician.  In AA this acquisition of "magical" knowledge is embodied in the accumulation of days/weeks/months/years of sobriety.  Every practitioner knows his or her sobriety date and the duration of his or her sobriety.  When one attains a certain level of achievement, both in terms of the steps and in terms of the duration of practice, then it is the norm to undertake to sponsor others -- to help them gain in their own practice of sobriety.  And so the magic is passed on and the secrets are carefully divulged.   

Magic is powerful stuff.  Practiced by us, for us, and on us, it changes the world -- and that scares us half to death.  If we are the purveyors of spells and incantations, of charms and assorted wizardry, then we are also responsible.  We can do it.  We do do it.  It belongs entirely to us.  We come together, each with our own capacities and our own lacks, and work our magic.  Who knows precisely the outcome?  We only know what we can see.  We only experience what we live through.  Tom explained His current understanding of the "spiritual" aspect of all of this in a meeting last night, as "backing into it."  He said that He simply feels better when He participates in the fellowship of AA, and that He does not have that experience when He is in contact with the more cognitively based approaches to alcohol cessation.  There is magic afoot.  Wouldn't it be safer to put it all into the hands of some all-knowing "higher power?"  After all, are we not flawed and fallible -- and frankly, in need of some serious fixing?  How can we safely wield such power? 

Most often, I find that AA people suggest that they find the "higher power" is the group, the meeting, the rooms full of men and women working to become clean or sober and stay that way.  Whatever the force is that moves among them, they live in awe of it, grateful for its working in their lives, aware that, for them, it is a daily miracle.  Is it god?  Is it something else?  The answers come from people's own experience, couched in the language that makes the most sense to them.  It is whatever it is.  The magic works.