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Saving Ourselves -- Part 1

I feel like we've been through it in this last year or so, and I feel as if we've learned somethings in the process.  Maybe some of what we've discovered, and some of what we are discovering, can help someone else someday.

Because -- one thing that we found, in the midst of our own crisis, was that there was little or no information out here in cyberspace about what to do.  Looking around, making Internet searches, one finds that the best wisdom in our "village" is that, when our non-traditional types of relationships hit rocky places, there are only two choices:  put up with whatever IS, however bad it might get -- or quit and walk away.

Partly, that awful dichotomy is derived from the fact of our alternative lifestyles.   It is nearly impossible, when we hit relationship snags, to find the kinds of resources that vanilla couples can call upon -- good kink friendly therapists, marriage counselors, financial advisors, lawyers, medical professionals, and clergy are few and far between and difficult to find.  Too often, we find that those who might help us if we were more "normal," simply decide that whatever our problem is -- the biggest problem we have is related to our lifestyle.  Not much help there.

We were lucky to have a remarkable group of good people who rallied to us right here at this blog, and held us up.  Many of those people wrote thoughtful and kind comments here, and many of them wrote to us privately, offering care and support and sometimes advice and guidance.  It is true that some, who had long been part of our circle, dropped out of sight as things grew ugly.  They clearly opted out of the whole scene; perhaps deciding that we were inherently "bad" people, or maybe just feeling unequal to the task of cheering us through the mess in which we found ourselves.  I believe that some number of those who have fallen silent simply do not know what they can offer -- that the larger question for us all is this:  "How do we really help, and what can we really offer of any substance, to those in our community who encounter relationship trouble?"

With that set of assumptions in mind, I am starting, with this post, a series of pieces that will (I hope) lay out some practical tips and strategies for repairing , reinventing, and rebuilding our relationships when we find ourselves on the calmer side of a major struggle.  I know that, sometimes, things end dramatically, definitively, and decisively.  In that event, there is likely no repairing or rebuilding or reinventing to be done.  But I am very aware that we came perilously close to losing everything just because we didn't know what else we might do after we'd washed up on the beach of relational shipwreck.  Our inherent stubbornness saved us.  Perhaps, as we wander our way through this part of our lives, we can leave some markers along the trail we're following -- and maybe someday, that will signpost the way for others who might walk in our footsteps.  We're not experts, and we've not got any sort of professional credentials, so take it for what it is worth.  What you will read, in this series, like everything else that you read at this blog, is just our story -- plain and simple.

I plan to base the things I'll write about all of this around a set of principles taken from the work of Mark Gregston.  His real expertise is in the area of relationships between parents and teenagers, so the focus is not the same -- but then almost no one focuses on OUR kind of relationships.  Gregston offers a set of ten tips for repairing and rebuilding relationships, and I think they work for us, too:

  • Spend time together, one on one…
  • Share challenging experiences…
  • Look for opportunities for discussion…
  • Listen more and answer less…
  • Develop a sense of humor…
  • Play together….
  • Remember the past and believe in the future…
  • Establish boundaries…
  • Practice selfless confrontation…
  • Correct and discipline, even when it makes you uncomfortable…

We are, ourselves, in the midst of learning our way along through this.  Some of those things, we've gotten well into and are feeling pretty comfortable with.  Others?  Not so much.  So, I will pick my way along through those "tips," speaking to them in no particular order, starting with playing together...

Experts recognize that, from earliest infancy, play is the primary way children learn.  Children play because it is fun. The heart of play is pleasure, and with pleasure comes the powerful incentive to repeat the activity. With repetition comes mastery. And mastery brings a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Children engage in different types and stages of play depending on their personal development and their indivudual needs.  Their play may be solitary, parallel, associative, or cooperative, varying in terms of the levels of interaction, complexity, and organization.  

Through play children learn about concepts, how to group and classify objects, how to make sense of things and events, and how to solve problems. Play requires a child to make choices, direct activities, and make plans to reach a goal.  It is through play that children gain social and emotional skills such as waiting,
negotiating, taking turns, cooperation, compromise, sharing and expressing emotions.

We are not children, but we are finding that one of the most productive ways for us to interact these days is from a playful stance.  We have, largely, put most forms of BDSM play on hold for now.  Mostly, that is because of His surgical recovery, and has nothing to do with our relationship struggles.  To be sure, there is some tension and uncertainty between us about how we will ultimately come to engage in that kind of play, but we have grown increasingly easy with each other about other kinds of teasing and lighthearted banter.  We touch -- tickle, scratch, swat each other playfully.  We joke and giggle together, and it delights us both.  Sometimes, we just sit and watch the antics of the cat, and enjoy the lightness of it all.

It is good.  We had, over time, come to live in a world that was dreadful and dire and dark.  Everything had gotten serious for us.  There was very little that was fun or joyful, and how sad is that?  We'd gotten to be very grown up, I guess -- so grown up that we were nearly dead from the weight of all that seriousness.  And, in the final analysis, none of our grown up intensity could save us from the rush of our self-made calamity.

So, that's the first tip:  Play.  Laugh.  Enjoy.  Stop being so damned serious.  Yes, there are responsibilities and obligations and duties and all of that, but when all of life becomes a long list of "should's" and "must's" and "ought to's" it leaves no room for spontaneity and joy and lightness.  "All work and no play," the nursery rhyme admonishes us, "makes Jack a dull boy."  We've found a bit of sparkle left in our days and nights -- and we are not missing all that drab and dull grownup business.



  1. I am going to thoroughly enjoy reading this series...

    I firmly believe in play - I believe in the saying "we don't stop playing because we grow old........ we grow old because we stop playing"

  2. Me too, what Morningstar said.
    Looking forward to more.
    Agree that we get old because we stop playing.
    And am so glad you've found yourself here, on the other side, content enough to just live each moment and each day as it comes to you. So very glad.


  3. I'm definitely one of those who fell silent partly because I didn't know what I could offer by way of support, and partly because I've been pretty quiet everywhere since HWMBA's been away. I have continued to read though, and have always kept you all in my thoughts and prayers.

    love and hugs xxx

  4. I remember the first, tentative playfulness after our darkest times. Like rain in the desert! It broke through the tension and allowed us to regain our humanity rather than acting like a couple of robots.

  5. morningstar and tapestry -- I hope you will still be "looking forward" to reading this when I get around to numbers 7, 8, 9... :-)

    elle -- I understand that move toward "quiet." I've done it myself. I think that, for some of us, the move is the same one we might make in a public dungeon, or a play party -- seeing something that makes us uncomfortable, we simply turn and walk away...

    Meow -- thank you. I think we've lived through the "robot" stage, and are slowly coming back to life and love. It is good to know that others have survived.


  6. "Our inherent stubbornness saved us."

    An important statement, that.
    A refusal to give up.
    Even when "common sense" might seem to say you should.

    I'm quite familiar with that one.

    Thanks for this series. Should be very thought-provoking. As you always are.



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