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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.


Pussy Torture

Not like that.

It is that bike thing...  I love my new bike.  Love it.  I love the feeling I get when I'm cruising around under my own power.  I like it when the sun is shining and the air is fresh and cool.  It is wonderful.

Our unusually warm weather has made it possible for us to get some riding done -- even in these February days. There's just this one problem.  Now that my shoulder is healed up, I am able to ride longer.  Or, I would be able to ride longer if I could figure out what to do when I can't stand the "pussy torture" any more.  At about an hour, the girl parts are starting to scream, and I am convinced that I have oozing blisters in places that we don't want to talk about...

The bike is equipped with a high quality saddle that has lots of padding.  It is supposed to be super comfortable.  I hate to think what super uncomfortable saddles must be like!

I have fancy bike shorts and some sort of friction reducing cream stuff called "Chamois Butter," but neither one seems to help.

I am going to adjust the tilt on the saddle.  Maybe more back-tilt will help take some of the pressure off.  I just don't know.  Failing that, it may be time to go on the hunt for a more female-friendly bicycle seat -- because this kind of pussy torture isn't doing it for me.

Sue (swan)


What is Essential in Our Natures?

leopard cannot change its spots.  One can't change one's essential nature.  

Convince me otherwise.  Go ahead.

Sue (swan)


The Myth of The Quick Fix

I've just finished reading Unlearn Vanilla Marriage, by Richard Woods.  It is, mostly, a treatise on the various reasons for conflict and trouble inside of the institution of marriage.  Woods has some rough edges, and he also has a real "thing" for the self-help industry, and Dr. Phil McGraw in particular.  He doesn't mince words.  Most of the book is an anti-traditional marriage diatribe, and there is very little actual discussion of the "negotiated non-monogamy" that he seems to be in favor of.  Still it is clear, as I read it, that although he talks about a variety of "alternative" lifestyles, his experience is with the practice of swinging.

Frankly, it was a slog, and I skipped a lot of it.  Toward the end, though, I was struck by one statement that I think we don't make often enough:

"I don't want to paint too rosy of a picture...In order to be in a successful marriage (relationship) that incorporates negotiated non-monogamy, the relationship would have to be strong to begin with...Swinging, or any variant lifestyle..., is not a solution to a failing relationship..."

It made me think of all the times I've read someone, new to the lifestyle, who has just discovered spanking (or some other exotic and / or exciting alternative sexual/erotic orientation).  On a regular basis, those new to the lifestyle revel in the excitement and energy that is engendered by "this thing we do," and often those caught in a dull, dysfunctional, dying relationship get convinced that they have found some new kind of magic that can fix everything.

I fell into that exact fallacy a very, very long time ago.  I'd lived over two decades in a marriage that was broken.  I stayed for all kinds of reasons ... I'd made "sacred" vows; I had young/adolescent children; he was "good" to me -- not abusive; I wasn't sure he was competent to make it on his own; and even though things were sometimes hard (even miserable) I figured I was learning life lessons.  I didn't trust him; never counted on him; didn't believe in him; felt sexually frustrated and personally stuck.  Ours was not a failing relationship. It was failed, and he and I stayed mostly because we did not know how to do anything else.

In the last couple of years, I did what so many did in those days -- typed "spanking" into an Internet search, and found a whole new, bright, shiny world of kinky people and ideas.  I managed to talk him into going along with it all for a bit, and we experienced that newbie flush of excitement that feels like it really might make everything better and good.  It buoyed us for awhile; a year or maybe a bit more, but it didn't last -- couldn't last.

Swinging, BDSM, Polyamory, Open Marriage...  These and other alternatives are ways to structure a healthy, vibrant relationship.  They are not substitutes for the hard and necessary work of learning to communicate clearly, be emotionally available and vulnerable, speak and act with truth, listen with compassion and openness, and build trust.

Sometimes I think we turn away from the comings and goings in our community.  People who we once knew; maybe people who once blogged; maybe people we've met in person -- many of them stay around for a year or two or maybe three and then vanish.  There have been so many of those over the years, I doubt I could name even a fraction of them, but I feel their absence still.  I wonder how many of them came into the life with big dreams and starry eyes, only to smash into the hard realities of living in intimate relationship?  I wonder if there might have been anything we, collectively, could have said about the foundations of relationships that might have helped at least a few of them to sustain their relationships through whatever bumps?

This isn't magic.  There can be magic, but this is work.  It requires attention and effort and energy and devotion and perseverance and tenacity and awareness and intent.  No matter how exciting that first spanking might turn out to be, our lifestyle choices do not fix what might be broken.  Only we can do that.

Sue (swan)


Feminist Politics

I have watched the political hyjinks around the Republican Presidential primary season with an odd mixture of exuberant amusement and utter horror.

After all, this bunch is just funny.

I am a lifelong Democrat, born and bred -- and likely far more liberal leaning than my parents ever contemplated.  I believe that government ought to take care of the poor and vulnerable; the elderly and those without any voice.  I am not a free market fan.  True some things are well served by allowing the marketplace to balance demand and set prices, but there are a very great many places where supply and demand does not do the right thing:  healthcare, education, energy policy (to name just a few).  Too, as will surprise no one who has read here for anytime at all, I am a card carrying (literally) feminist.  I think that people ought to have all the same rights regardless of their sex, and I think it is a continuing shame that our constitution still deprives women of equal rights.  I have worked for decades now to make a world better and safer for those young folks who will come after me -- my own daughter and my granddaughters, but for their brothers, too.  A fairer, more equal world would be a better place for us all.

So just imagine how the crazy Republicans look to someone like me.  Really.  Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney.  Not to mention the former candidates that have dropped out -- Jon Huntsman, Herbert Cain, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Perry.  Anti-abortion, anti-social security, anti-medicare/medicaid, defense of marriage, anti contraception, repeal  health care reform, protect the rich and ignore the poor, drill in the wilderness, and deny the science of climate change -- and stomp around the world bombing the heck out of anyone that looks or thinks differently than "we" do.  Did I get all of it?  Probably not, but you get the idea.  What a bunch of clowns!

The recent ruckus about required insurance coverage for contraception is the most amazing bit of Republican chicanery ever to be foisted on an unsuspecting public.  The difference, though, is that women are not as gullible or foolish as the Republican pols and their religious whack job handlers seem to think.  Even inside the Catholic Church, with its medieval, anti-female, patriarchal stance on birth control, most women use their minds to make choices for themselves and their families.  The number that gets bandied about says that 98% of CATHOLIC women have used birth control -- nevermind the Pope, the Bishops, and all the rest of the good old boys club.

It really doesn't impact me. I'm well past the time of needing contraception.  But I have a daughter and a daughter-in-law, and I have granddaughters.  I see, passing through my classroom, year after year, bright, talented young girls with futures as open as the skies.  Around me are young women, and their young men, struggling to make good lives for themselves and their children.  They deserve the right to make choices about that -- choices in keeping with their beliefs and their needs and the advice of their own personal physicians.

There was a time in human history when women were purely, universally chattel.  That remains the reality in some places in the world today.  But here?  It shouldn't be that way here.  The right to contraception is a healthcare issue.  It is cliched, I know, but if men got pregnant, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.  Belief is belief.  If you choose to believe that some all-knowing, all-seeing Divine is fussing about the eventual disposition of my (or anyone else's) ova, then I wish you well -- but I do not share your beliefs.  So leave me, and my reproductive parts and pieces alone.

Sue (swan)


OK. New Ideas.

When we woke up late yesterday morning, He was hungry.  For breakfast.  He was regretful sounding as He mentioned that He'd thought we might play, but the fact remained...  He wanted food.  We talked about the potential that we could play later; and we also acknowledged that we've often said that was what we would do -- and never actually gotten to it "later."  Hungry, however, is HUNGRY.

The day went on.  I did school work, and paperwork, and bills, and the other stuff that goes with Sunday.  We watched the Sunday complement of talking heads news programs.  He exercised.  The day went by, hour by hour, until finally, it was time for bed.  Predictably, we had not played.  All day.  Frustration and sadness and resentment and bewilderment all swirled around in my head until I had convinced myself that He didn't want to play with me, and that it was what I deserved, and after all, who could blame Him, and on and on and on...  Then, very late, probably 11:30 or so, He looked at me and asked, "Is it too late to play?"

Are You kidding me?  Too late?  Oh no... not too late at all.  I needed Him, wanted Him -- wanted us; and I did not care about what the numbers on the clock said.

We played in our accustomed way, with me over pillows, ass in the air -- and it was good.  Good for me.  I was into it.  I enjoyed it.  I reveled it.  And, at some point, fairly early on -- I chose to pursue the path that led to my own pleasure in it all.  I think He enjoyed it, too.  He tells me He did.  It's a real shift for me; a HUGE shift for me.

Here's the thing.  Everyone involved in this seems to be convinced that "slave" is off the table for me/Us.  He doesn't trust me enough to go there with me again.  In the light of events of the last two or three years, I can't argue that I'm in alignment with a "no limits" approach to our dynamic.  I could argue against that; propose a different interpretation of that, but what's the point?

 Years ago, when I had my hysterectomy, I went through a very long, dark period of fury over my radically altered sexuality.  It wasn't like it was before, and I was terribly frightened that what I'd had was gone forever.  I was bereft, angry, utterly lost in a morass of confusing feelings.  I had no idea how to recover what had been taken from me, and I was in a mood to blame everyone from my surgeon to Himself.  For weeks and months, my continual refrain was, "Why, why, why, why???"  He did everything He could to help me figure it out, but in the end when there were no "magic" fixes, He threw up His hands and declared that my sexual response was my responsibility (and yes, that left me mightily pissed off).  Turned out, though that He was right.  It took a really long time for me to begin to find the paths back to my own body; my own sexual release and pleasure.  In the end, I learned that I had to stop the internal chatter and focus on my own needs, my own drives, my own inner patterns and rhythms.  Doing that, I found my way back to something joyful and amazing -- and when I did, I found Him right there with me; rejoicing.

Now, here I am.  No longer "slave."  The last years of trying to do that were a spiraling misery.  I was less and less happy with that dynamic.  I had, many years ago, accepted a deliberately unbalanced power structure.  When I made that commitment, I was so sure, and so confident.  He and I played routinely and regularly; matching each other need for need -- appetite for appetite.  In time, though, His hunger outstripped my capacity to satisfy.  I felt that, deeply, as failure -- but knowing my failure did not give me what I needed to change the reality.  More and more, as we went along, I found that being "slave" meant that I was expected; required; to acquiesce to pain that gave me no pleasure, did not fulfill me, left me degraded and broken.  No matter how I squirmed and tried to think my way through it all, I could not be the "slave" He wanted -- the slave I wanted to be for Him.

So, now that is over.  I do not know what I am aside from that lifestyle label.  I remember that early in our lives together, I was His submissive and not "slave," and it was fine.  Perhaps it will be again in time.

For now, I am wondering if the path through this resembles the path out of the post-hysterectomy swamp.  Maybe my enjoyment of sadomasochistic play is, like my sexual response, my responsibility.  Maybe I just need to take back the responsibility for my own appetites, my own needs, my own pleasure.  Maybe if I find myself, under the lash, with freedom and joy -- He'll be there with me.  Maybe then, we'll be happy together again.

Sue (swan)


I Do Not Know What to Call This

I keep hearing myself, in my head, talking to myself.  One of the things that I have been telling myself in the last few days is that "it feels like we have turned a corner."  Not literally.  The idiom means that if something or someone turns the corner, their situation starts to improve after a difficult period.  We have come through a very difficult period, and it feels like things are beginning to improve -- on a number of levels. 

That is good news.  Better is better.  It is.  I am convinced we have been carried along by powerful magic, pure un-redeemed stubbornness, remarkable good luck, and perhaps some friendly spirits.  I'm guessing that not one relationship in a hundred would have withstood the period of two or three years through which we've just passed -- and remained intact.   

So, here we are, having turned the corner.  Or seemingly so.  There is the odd sensation that I can no longer see what was.  It is behind me, around the corner, and out of sight.  All that remains is ahead of me.  What that is, I do not know.  This is such unfamiliar territory.  There are none of the familiar landmarks, and nothing that I recognize or could use by which to orient.  This side of the corner is utterly foreign.

He is feeling better and better, maybe even starting to feel good.  As that happens, He and I are beginning to circle around the resurgence of our D/s dynamic... and I am a mess.  I failed so utterly at being "slave."  Clearly, I am not up to the ideal of "no limits" slavery.  I have limits -- definite and incontrovertible, and when I am pushed, I will fight like a wild cat to protect myself in those places.  I still read around the BDSM blogging circle, and I can see where and how I fall short of the mark.  Everywhere I look, there you all are:  trusting, confident, softly submissive, sure of yourselves and sure of your dominant partners.  I tried that path; made a thorough-going mess of it, and now it is a fact that I am "in control" in our relationship to some degree.  The part of me that wants to be "good at this;" the part of me that wants to be "doing it right;" the part of me that values "success" is horrified at that truth.  I am ashamed at my weakness and inability to do what others seemingly do with ease and joy.  

My therapist tells me that there is some of my power that is mine alone; that it should never be given away; that I was foolish to ever believe that could be done safely.  No sensible person should give away all of their power to another.  She contends that, knowing that, I can choose deliberately and consciously how to share my power and create a relationship that works better than what was before.  It all sounds so rational; so sensible.  Sitting there, across from her, I can nod assent to those ideas.  Intellectually, they make perfect sense -- and then I leave and they sit inside of me like a stone.  To hear the life I dreamed of characterized in that fashion makes me feel small, foolish, diminished.  How can she be right (and I imagine she is "right"), and that make me feel so bereft?  

I am conflicted.  I love Him.  Still.  Always.  I want to be His.  Am His?  Don't know what that means.  I know where I will not go again.   I know what I will not tolerate ever again.  I imagine that requires some sort of "negotiation," and I have no idea how to do that with Him.  It sets off my famously convoluted capacity for asking "what if," and always brings me to the awful question:  "What if, after all, He doesn't want me anymore?"  

Then again, what if He does -- want me?  Still.

Sue (swan)


JFK, The Intern, Secrets, Shaming

Mimi Alford is a woman of nearly 69 years who, in telling the story of an 18-month affair with President John F. Kennedy when she was a 19-year-old intern, has unleashed a firestorm of scorn and judgement.   She intrigues me.  

I think it is easy to look at the actions, choices, and behaviors of the young Mimi with eyes that are attuned to today's world.  Doing that distorts our vision.  I am younger than Mimi, but I am not so young that I do not remember that time and that world.  There was no Internet, no Facebook, no Twitter.  There was nothing resembling today's hyperactive 24-hour cable news cycle.  Our fathers worked, and they often worked long hours.  Our mothers mostly stayed home, kept house, baked bread, raised children.  We were sheltered, naive, and innocent.  In those days before sex education in the schools and readily accessible Internet porn; in a world without X-rated movies or "wardrobe malfunctions" on prime-time television; many of us got our information about sex from the lingerie section of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.   The President was ...  The Most Powerful Man in The World, and JFK was, for so many of us who were young, much much larger than life; a mythical figure.  I was young still when he was assassinated; only 8 years old, but I remember being enchanted by the handsome President (the first that I was old enough to be aware of) who looked so much like my own daddy.  The energy and intellect and glamour of the Kennedy presidency was something magical, and even as a child, I fell under the spell of that "Camelot."

As often happens, history has shown us the clay feet of the President who was a heroic figure to so many of us who were young in those years.  He was such a confound -- a wounded war veteran who struggled with debilitating pain, and still enjoyed the athletic endeavors of his youth; a man of great grace and great intelligence who governed with care and measured reasonableness; a man with seemingly traditional Catholic religious beliefs and values who was a profligate womanizer.

But in those years?  Oh, he was spectacular.  I am not so old that I cannot imagine being 19, young and fresh, curious and open and untested, away from home and on my own for the first time...  I can conjure, for myself, the sense of breathlessness that must have come with being there in Washington, D.C.; in the White House; in the company of the President -- the handsome, strong, charming, articulate President of the United States.  I can feel the amazement that would have accompanied the knowledge that the President wanted "me."  I am pretty sure that, like Mimi, I'd have not said "no."  I am pretty sure I'd have been just as enchanted, just as enthralled, just as swept away on the tide.  It would have seemed like a fairy tale.  I'd have "loved" him too -- without question and with all my heart.

We can look back, from this vantage point, with our modern day sensibilities and our modern day values, and judge them both.  It is simply too hard to understand how very different that world was.  He was a powerful man, and he did what powerful men did.  She was a lovely, fresh, eager young woman, and she made the choices that she did in the face of a tsunami of cultural paradoxes.

And all of that is by way of context.  What intrigues me most about Mimi Alford today is that she is clear that, whatever others may think about her, and however she is judged for her role in the long ago affair, she does not regret it.  When Meredith Vieira asked her what she would do differently, her answer is that she would have told her parents.  Nearly 50 years later, Mimi Alford does not see the affair, the sex, as harmful to her.  Rather, she recognizes that the great harm to her life was in the keeping of the secret.  That it was the sense of shame, and the need to hide and forget that cut her off from her authentic self and her life.

I am sure that the storm will beat against Mimi Alford until it wears itself out.  I am certain that many, maybe most, will call her names and vilify her for daring to tell her story at this late date.  I'd bet there'll be plenty who will doubt her veracity as her story is nearly impossible to corroborate.  Others will likely see her as a victim -- a vulnerable young woman exploited by a powerful man.  I hope she is strong enough to withstand all of that; strong enough to hold onto the truth of all of this:  that she made her own sexual choices, reveled in the whirl of sensuality that was lavished upon her at the pinnacle of power, and that those who shamed her into silence and forced her to keep the secret for so very long were wrong.

It is time for society, and all of us within it, to recognize that when adults consent to be sexual with one another, when they hurt no one else in the choosing, there is no shame to that -- and nothing to hide.




Our anonymous Louisville commenter responded to the last post with another comment and a question:

Yes, I am the one from Louisville, and I do apologize for my snarky tone. ... But I am trying to understand what it means to be truly dominant ... Is it generally true that in an extended relationship, such as a polyamorous marriage, that the dominant's happiness, health, choices are "all important"? When I read other blogs of people who seem to be in long-term committed relationships, it is generally phrased that the well-being of the family or the group, both dominant and submissives, are all important.  Obviously I have no understanding of who you or your family is ... if you can explain to me what, in your view, it means to be dominant and what role the happiness, health and choices of non-dominants should play in a polyamorous marriage, I would be grateful.

I imagine that the question was directed to Tom, although the phrasing is somewhat convoluted and confusing.  It might be that He will, at some point, choose to respond from His perspective -- or maybe not.  In any event, here is my take on the subject.

I want to begin with the characterization of our relationship as a "polyamorous marriage."  Tom and T are married.  WE are not married.  In absolute terms, there is no such thing as a "polyamorous marriage.  The laws and customs across the United States declare that marriage is "between one man and one woman."  In a very few places, the gender specificity of that has begun to shift, and gay and lesbian people are being granted the right to marry.  The law is, however, absolutely immovable with regard to the numerosity of marriage:  ONE and ONE.  Period.

We are polyamorous.  We love, with full knowledge and consent of all partners, in a non-traditional triad configuration.  The three of us are dedicated and committed to one another.  We love each other.  We do all of the ordinary and everyday things that most couples do together.  The only real difference is that we are three instead of two.  The unspoken potential that we may at some point include more within that circle is a fact.  We are not, however, nor can we hope to be, married under the current laws.

Another reality for us is that our relationships include elements that are rooted in BDSM.  We engage in power exchange dynamics.  What that means is that we intentionally shift the balance of personal power and choice between us in ways that meet our personal needs and inclinations.  Within that context, Tom identifies as Dominant, T identifies as submissive, and I identify as slave.  The struggles of the last year have given us cause to question what that means for all of us, and to evaluate what we might decide to do about that going forward.  Those questions are still, mostly, unanswered.  He has, lately, begun to entertain the idea that we need to form a new "covenant."  

As to the "central" question regarding the nature of dominance, that is (like so much in the lifestyle) very specific to the particular relationships.  Dominance is not a singular, easily definable thing.  The three of us never claim to be gurus, and so what I can speak to is the way it works in our family, and our relationships.  We have, for all of our years together, chosen to structure our lives around Tom.  He has been the root and core and guiding force of our family.  What He wanted, needed, liked -- all of this really did shape our days, and determine our direction.  His vision and His dreaming moved us forward.  That has not ever meant that T and I were unhappy or uncared for.  It did mean that we deferred to Him in just about everything.  That pleased Him, and it pleased the two of us.  

I suspect that the confusion (and sense of negative judgement) that our Louisville commenter expresses stems from the "dominant mystique" that is promulgated on the Interwebs.  Whether one reads material written by submissives or dominants, there is a tendency to draw the top half of the power exchange in glowing terms -- the knight in shining armor; larger than life.  From the submissive point of view, that is really a status thing:  a mostly unacknowledged "my dominant is better than your dominant" thing.  I don't know what drives the dominant types to participate in defining themselves as nearly perfect.  Maybe that is a "sales" pitch; or a form of arrogance; or just acceding to the cultural expectations.  Whatever energizes that, it creates all sorts of hyperbole.  Dominants, within the mythology of the lifestyle, are all wise, strong, confident, self-aware, self-controlled, empathetic, imaginative, inventive, caring, intuitive, understanding, mature, virile, handsome, inscrutable, emotionally stable, smart, on and on and on...  

We are, within the lifestyle community,  sometimes reluctant to state, clearly and unequivocably, that our dominant people are, first and always, people.  They have all the same quirks and oddities of other people.  Dominants put their pants on one leg at a time, just like mortal men.  Too, it is my belief that the dominant personality is inclined to a few characteristics that are less attractive than the usual litany.  Dominant types can be arrogant, selfish, critical, arbitrary, dictatorial, overbearing, bossy, domineering, and even mean sometimes.  They tend to want what they want, and that can build into a sense of entitlement.  Not always, of course, but the risk is real.  "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  

We Herons are not models to be emulated.  Our lives and our relationship should not be viewed as a model or a prescriptive for anyone else.  We are who we are, and we've made our share of stunningly awful mistakes.  Don't try this at home.  We got trapped in a web woven by addiction.  Typical of the course of alcoholism, things progressed from manageable in the beginning to not manageable at the end.  Each of us played our part.  He drank for years and years, and over time, He drank a lot.  T and I covered for the drinking in a whole variety of ways.  I never, ever confronted His alcohol use in any effective fashion.  I complained some, but He would growl and snarl, and I would back off.  I sat in on dozens and dozens of doctor appointments with Him, and listened mutely while He told them that He would have a "couple" of drinks a day.  I didn't have the courage to stand in the face of His anger and rage.  I did not anticipate the consequences of my cowardice.  My weakness did not serve Him well.  Addiction explains His actions, decisions, and choices. I have no excuses at all.

I don't know if I answered the question asked.  I don't know if I've shed any light on these topics.  Maybe I'm just talking to myself.



Bye-Bye House

Well,it finally happened. My Mom's house sold today. It has been on the market for almost a year in the very depressed city of Dayton, Ohio. We started out at one price, lowered it 2 times and sold it for 2/3 of it's appraised value to a flipper. I have been sweating the next few months, worried I was going to have to dip into our personal funds to continue utilities, insurance, and taxes.....and today it sells.

I am of 2 minds over this. On one hand, thank God it sold! I can stop worrying about when the next bill will be paid. No more utilities, insurance, landscaping, taxes. No more worries that something will happen and I will have to find the monies to replace a roof, furnace, water heater, or plumbing. I can stop worrying that the house is empty and I am an hour away if something were to happen. All of these things are a huge load off my mind and our finances. is the house I grew up it. It was where my family was the happiest. We moved into that house the day JFK was killed. I was 6 and my brother was less than a year. I had Girl Scouts in that house and our troop's first camp-out in that backyard. I learned to cook in that kitchen and how to walk in heels down that hall. I kissed my first boy in that side yard and learned to drive from that driveway. I shaved my legs without permission and cut myself to the shinbone in that tub. I held my favorite brush as a microphone and sang with the Cowsills in that bedroom.

I have been just crushed since Tom called to say they accepted our counter-offer. It has been a year of changes for me/us. In my head this is a good thing. But in my heart it is devastating that I won't be able to "go home" again. On February 28th it will be gone. I will hold my memories close and miss it just the same.



When a Bomb Goes Off in Your Relationship

It's been a good weekend for us.  We played yesterday.  Pretty intensely.  More intensely than we have for a long while.  I dropped into subspace about midway through it all, and floated along on the endorphin cloud for the rest of the session.  Took me some time to come back up out of the fog, but when I did surface, I was feeling all warm and fuzzy -- and thrilled to be in that space.  It was warm here today (for February), and the sun was out in a gloriously blue sky day.  We took advantage and went for a bike ride.  Fun.  It is also my birthday.  I got new bike shorts, and they were duly and officially broken in (in conjunction with my birthday spanking) before we took off this afternoon.  Two good spankings in two days.  My butt is tender, but my head is easier than it has been for a very, very long time.  Too, in the spirit of His new found "switchiness,” I managed to give Him a pretty good spanking as well – because He actively campaigned for it.  LOL.

For many in this lifestyle community, that probably all seems pretty ho-hum, but for us, the interactions of this weekend are signposts along the road to healing and wellness.  We've been a mess.  There's no hiding the ugliness we've struggled with this year.  Our catastrophic crash into the legal and interpersonal traumas of alcohol addiction and recovery has been drawn starkly here for all to see.  We were not graceful, grateful, or gentle about any of it.  Some, but far from all, of what has transpired inside of our family this year has been written here -- and I am sure it has been uncomfortable and difficult reading.

What has been truly remarkable, as we've stumbled our way forward, is how many of our readers have been willing to sit with us in our pain and our anger and our confusion.  The strength and skill and gentleness poured out here for us have been breathtaking.  Of course, not everyone comes by to cheer us on.  We get the occasional negative and judgmental comment, like these from anonymous readers in Louisville, Kentucky and Raleigh, North Carolina:

 … Is this the meaning of "dominant"? It sounds a little more like "domineering" to me. …
…I too went through a year of this kind of crap…eventually I just felt annoyed…we have to be responsible for ourselves. And that is true for him as well as for you (though he doesn't, in my view, seem very willing to accept that.)

It is easy enough to understand how people can come to see things in that bitter and superior way.  After all, if you have been following the saga here, you have been witness to a bomb going off right in the middle of our decade-long relationship.  The very carefully constructed power exchange dynamic we had built together broke apart and the power flew out in every direction – hurting everyone.  You could argue about who built that bomb.  You could wonder about who lit the fuse.  The potential for blaming under these circumstances is almost endless.   It is also, in all practical terms, a waste of time.  It proves nothing; teaches nothing; changes nothing; and fixes nothing.  Those negative commenters?  They are concerned with figuring out who is to blame.  They desperately want to designate who was right and who was wrong.  They want to be able to point to the character flaws, the personal faults, the failures.  That makes it way easier to cope emotionally and intellectually, with this kind of horrible relational messiness.  It gives you a sense that you, yourself are immune to the same maladies.
We often see that in the lifestyle.  Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of seemingly good, solid relationships hit the rocks.  Something goes wrong and the power dynamic falls apart.  And what happens in that event?  Often, maybe too often, the parties throw up their hands, throw in the collar, and give it up.  People who, in the beginnings of creating their relationship, may have negotiated for months and drawn up formal contracts and ironed out every single niggling detail, fold up their tents and head for the hills at the first rumblings of trouble.  And, we who observe from the outside, rush to judgment, choose up sides, and cheer the dissolution.  How very sad.

I will admit that I have a (slightly – or maybe not even slightly immodest) vision of us, healing and growing through this awful time, and leaving here in this place, a trail that others might someday follow.  I really think that there should be some kind of structure or mechanism for finding your way through the really hard places in our power-based relationships.  Our unusual family dynamics make it nearly impossible for us to take advantage of the typical supports available to mainline marriages – there isn’t a “marriage counselor” option for many of us in D/s relationships -- we don't always fit into the traditional view of couples or families.  Like so much of what we do in this realm, we have to create it for ourselves.  And that is a tall order, especially when you are in the midst of an intimate relational crisis; especially when the person you normally rely on to hold you up and keep you safe is desperately trying to stay alive themselves – and cannot help you.  I don’t propose to advise others, and I am not in any way qualified to act as counselor to those in distress, but I do think that our story (and the stories of others brave enough to speak truthfully of these things) might be a source of hope and solace to others – you can survive, you can heal, you can thrive again, you can LOVE again, do not give up.

We aren't all the way into safe territory yet.  We have tough times still.  But we also have some times that are better -- even good.  There are more good moments all the time; many more than there were a year ago, or six months ago.  Tonight feels hopeful.  That's all we ever get anyway.



Trust -- What is it Really? (edit)

Some of what “we” are dealing with these days touches on trust -- not all of it, but some.  I’ve written some about trust over the years.  I don’t know many submissive types who have not done that.  Long ago, at The Swan’s Heart blog, I asked:
Is trust something that is felt, or something that is done? Is it passive, or active?   A given, or a choice?
I am interested in trust as a practice one engages in moreso than I am in something that can be broken or damaged (as we are inclined to speak of trust). I don't worry that someone might break my "meditation" practice for instance. I want to know if I could get skilled enough in my practice of trust, that it would be that solid...

Now, that we are come to the place we are come to, I realize that it isn’t just about me trusting Him.  It is about Him trusting me – and He does not.  Trust me.  Or anyone much.  That is very difficult.  It hurts.  I dearly wish that I could make that go away -- and I know that it will take time to heal; if, in fact, it ever does heal at all.  In the meantime, I find myself wondering what there is to know about trust that might be helpful to me or to Him or to us in general.

There are a number of different ways to describe or define trust:
1)  Trust means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur.
As humans, we are naturally inclined to try to forecast what is coming at us from the mists of the yet to be future.  We seem to instinctively try to guess what will happen next. Trust, in this sense, is about predictability.  If we can predict, then we can prepare for possible threats, and also make plans to achieve our longer-term goals.

2)  Trust requires us to enter into an intimate exchange agreement, which may not be clearly defined, with someone we cannot know fully.   This "exchange" is the essential impetus behind most relationships.  It is the living and acting out of the "golden rule;" wherein we are admonished to do unto others as we would want them to do with us.  At its simplest, it is exchange of goods -- I'll trade you these bushels of grain for those chickens. Of course, there are many relational exchanges that are far more complicated and much less tangible.  A parent exchanges attention for obedience.  A business exchanges financial rewards for the efforts put forth by its employees.  It all works because we each value things differently.  Reciprocal exchange can bind us together.  The really neat thing about trust in exchange dynamics is that it is possible for something of value to be given by one party, even if the "payback" will be delayed -- for an hour, or a day, or a decade...  It allows for a wider range of flexibility and creativity when we do not have to continually calculate our capacity to "pay for" what we want or need in a relationship.

3) Trust means that we may be exposing ourselves in a way that allows for the possibility that the other could take advantage of our vulnerabilities -- but expecting that they will not do this.  Whatever safeguards we might try to build into our relationships, we cannot truly protect ourselves here.  Vulnerability is unequivocal.  If I allow my love close enough to learn how I can be hurt, I am at His mercy.  If my trust turns out to be misplaced, there is very little recourse.  I will be hurt.  That is the simple fact.  Knowing that, I trust with my partner that no such awfulness will actually come about.  

Liz Strauss at Successful Blog offers this with regard to trust:
Trust is a decision, a commitment, a pact and a bond that builds and connects. Trust is shared values. Trust empowers by the questions it removes.
Trust is brave and vulnerable. Trust is not sparing my feelings. Trust is the hard truth spoken gently.
Trust is knowing and believing, giving and receiving without hesitation. Trust is not wondering whether what I say is true, whether I will follow through, whether my thoughts and feelings will change when I’m talking to someone other. Trust is knowing you are safely invested and protected.
We can lose it before we have it or find it where we least expect it. Trust can be given, but not invented, stolen, or demanded.
Trust is a delicate sculpture we build through relationship, communication, thoughts, and behaviors. Once it’s shattered we can’t glue it back together. The only replacement is remaking the sculpture. Like wellness, generosity, or kindness, we’re most reminded of its value when it’s gone.
In the end trust is knowing you are the same when I’m not there … Trust is keeping promises, even the unspoken promises. 

That's a lot; a lot to ask and a lot to expect.  I think the really surprising thought, for me, in all of that is the collaborative nature of creating trust.  Inside of relationships like ours, we ought not to think that we have "trust in" or "trust for" our partner.  Rather, it is more accurate and more descriptive to contemplate that we build trust with a partner.  In a trusting relationship we sometimes lead and then, at other times, lean on each other -- and in either case, the outcome may not be clear.  Trust is really a gamble. 

In my earlier questioning about whether trust is a feeling or an action, there is the beginning of my understanding that it is really both things.  At an emotional level, to trust is to expose your vulnerabilities to another person believing they will not take advantage of you in your openness. Simultaneously, there is a logical deciding that moves us forward into creating a trusting bond with a partner.  When we assess the risks and calculate the potential advantages of believing in this person, we do so based on our experiences -- either with them or with the situation.  We choose to act with another in a ground of trust precisely because we have experienced trustworthiness and we have some level of faith in the consistent, loyal, intent and integrity that we know.

When we choose to build trust with a partner in a relationship, we give ourselves the chance to experience a whole range of feelings and emotions including companionship, friendship, love, comfort, safety, and peace of mind.  It is good to know that your mate has your back.  Conversely, when we are unable to make that choice to trust, for whatever reason, we preclude those warm and fuzzy, trusting feelings, and live instead in a state of fear, suspicion, vigilance, wariness, and loneliness.

Personally, I am tired of living in fear and loneliness.  I have wondered, through much of this last year and a half, how it could ever be possible for me to relax and let down my guard again given all that has occurred.  Particularly now, as we approach the end of formal alcohol rehab and compulsory AA attendance, I know that there is the potential for alcohol use to be reintroduced into our reality.  I cannot control that decision process; do not want to try to control it.  I do, however, intend to reserve the power to be safe in the event.  I can feel trusting and choose to let that feeling be the primary structural support of my, and our, relationship. That feels logical and rational to me, because it is consistent with what I want for myself; because it is true about who I am.  It may seem contradictory, but I am becoming comfortable with the notion that I can trust Him; love Him; exchange power with Him; all while knowing that, should it ever again be necessary, I will run away and hide until it is once again safe to come home.

Too, I think I need to be a lot less thin skinned.  He has still so much of the story that He needs to tell; He has so many feelings bundled and tangled up inside of Him; He feels compelled to list and count and revisit the various awful events of this passage.  I find it very difficult to simply listen to all of the things He says -- to hear what He believes laid out so starkly in opposition to my own experience of those same events.  I know, intellectually, that He is working things out for himself as He does all of the counting and re-counting and listing and telling.  What I hear, however, is blame -- and what I feel is frustration for the "aw shit" moment that wiped out all the good, perfect, fine and loving years that went before while simultaneously eliminating the hope that any good thing  could arise for us in the future.  I must trust Him to tell me the hard truths, and believe that He will do that as gently as He can.  Choosing to trust in that way might help me, and perhaps the act of compassionate listening on my part can help Him heal.

Someday, I want to be the one to whom His trust is given.  I wish that day were now, but I understand that I cannot require that giving.  I love Him, and I respect Him, and I will not try to trick Him into promising trust -- that would be akin to trying to steal it.  If or when it becomes possible for He and I to create a structure of trust between us, the work will be something we can both take on with willing hearts.  Too, I understand that He cannot "invent" trust that He does not feel or experience in His own heart.  Someday, maybe those feelings will arise organically and naturally from our shared daily lives.  That is what I want more than anything.

Our trust "sculpture" has absolutely been shattered.  We cling to the love we share, and I hope that love is sufficient to carry us along as we remake the sculpture.  We love in ways that are, I believe, remarkable.  With all our failings (stubbornness, arrogance, and all the rest), we are passionately in love.  We have battled and raged.  We have worn each other out.  We have wrestled with our own host of personal demons -- and mostly won the day.  Sometimes, when we simply have nothing left, we've fallen together and held on for dear life.  We are working to heal, and we will build something new.  What is gone is gone -- and I miss it terribly.  What is yet to be remains invisible from here.  I guess there is really nothing left to do but to "trudge the path of happy destiny" (as He insists on characterizing this whole ordeal).  That does not sound like a lot of fun, but whatever lies ahead of us on this road, I want to arrive there in time -- and I want Him there beside me when that happens.


P.S. -- A friend shared this link with me.  I think it adds to the conversation (or at least to my thinking):  


Where I Am (We Are) Now

I struggled a few seconds with whether or not to add the parenthetical "we are" in the above title. It now seems so presumptuous to assert that how "I am" is in some way a major indication of how "we are." Once my/our assumption was that my status was a major factor in our family status. After all, I was Dominant, and that meant my happiness, health, choices, were all important. They were the independent variables around which the rest of the family constellation orbited. Now they are of some significant interest, but only that....not really of importance, but certainly concerns. My status is not unlike the relative importance of a troubled child. If I am "good" then there is affection and deference for me. If I am not happy, then I am either ignored, told they hope I feel better someday, and/or sometimes castigated and our relationship's end is threatened.

I am so "in between" in every aspect of my life. I am now sober for my 380th consecutive day. I am not certain I will never have a glass of wine again or a brandy or even a drink. I am certain I will not today. I am certain I will never be able to drink and celebrate as I once did. Yeah that is right, I still have drinking and celebration conceptually linked. The AA'ers and rehab. folks I deal with would be much happier if I had celebration and alcohol in separate compartmentalized domains in my mind. There is nothing else I've found that feels like a celebration other than drinking. The greatest quality of my life previously was a sense that I celebrated being alive. I loved life and I pursued it. I devoured food (that ended with my gastric bypass surgery) I devoured drink (that obviously has not been the case lately, and I am still under court order that I would be imprisoned if I were to ever have so much as a drop), and I loved ravenously. My sexual appetite has dwindled to only a minor fraction of what it was before my alcohol abstinence. It is there but I can take it or leave it and there is little joy in it.

So here I am. By way of counting my blessings I have my sue and t. That is a miracle after the last year and a half. How they have remained here with me through this is a huge gift and a miracle. We still have our home, our two condos. Despite my career loss, we have so far weathered the financial loss that my transition to de facto retirement and the catastrophic costs of the ensuing legal fees, fines, and treatment costs. We are pretty continuously living by a thread financially, but living we are. I feel healthier than I have in years. My weight continues to be (stunningly 156 pounds this morning) quite controlled at levels that are less than 50% of my weight March 23 2009 when I had my gastric bypass surgery. I generally exercise a good deal daily. This last week I have been achieving about 5.5 to 7.5 miles each day on the treadmill. I also bicycle when the weather permits, and or power walk, and am integrating some upper body exercise with the health rider into my routine. I am definitely the most fit I have ever been in my life as I approach my 63rd birthday. As I write this I am almost narcissistic about the pair of snug fitting Banana Republic 32 inch waist jeans I have on. I was bursting at the seams of 54 inch waist pants in March 2009, and was about to be forced to move up to 56 inch waist clothing. My diabetes diagnosis continues, as it always will, but I am in remission. My diagnoses of severe sleep apnea, hyperlypidemia, hypertension, meralgia parasthetica, spinal stenosis, have all been eliminated. My arthritis is very much improved due to the weight loss, exercise, and diabetes control. The major chronic pain issue I had due to my severely deteriorated arthritic shoulder was ended last June by the total reverse shoulder replacement surgery I underwent and subsequent successful rehabilitation. If everything stays on track my disfigured and painful left knee will be replaced this June. When that is complete and rehabilitated I will be the proud possessor or two titanium prosthetic knees and a titanium right shoulder. I will have significantly less pain than I have had and will be much more functional than I have been in decades. My life is improved in so many ways. If only I enjoyed it and wanted to wake up each day.

Three weeks from yesterday I will "graduate" from my alcohol rehab. program's aftercare weekly support group meetings. That having occurred, I will have completed all of the court ordered alcohol rehab. programming I have been coerced to undergo. It is possible, I am told, that that having occurred, and there having been no "incidents" during my now 51% completed probation, perhaps I might be released from the remainder of my probation without having to live with it until next January. That would be good, if for no other reason than saving the probation fees. All probation has really entailed for me is my going to appointments at which point I am shown to the clerk's window to pay my fees. There is no counseling, or case management, or anything that is in anyway constructively beneficial...........that would lead to any sort of positive outcome. As with all of the legal process we have been subjected to, it has all been about paying large sums of money to the courts, and attorneys for the privilege of having my life wrecked.

Anyway that is what life is. T has recovered from and is deeply engrossed in her rehab. from her rotator cuff surgery (which btw, has been way more difficult and painful than my much more extensive and invasive shoulder replacement........hopefully she will have greater range of motion as a result of all her pain and hard work.) Sue is struggling with an exacerbation of her migraine condition. We are taking her to a new doc Monday who specializes in headache treatment. He did his original work in Beijing of all places. Hopefully he has something in his armamentarium beyond the ever increasingly powerful (and therefore concomitantly disabling) drugs which have been hijacked from epilepsy or mood disorder treatment that Dr.'s we have seen so far have employed to disrupt her neural chemistry to prevent her headaches. It would be good in that she is suffering through about 20-25 headaches a month now. Likely her problem is living with me the biggest headache of all time. She has completed her PT for her shoulder impingement syndrome she suffered through this last fall and early winter and her on-going shoulder exercise seems to be steadily improving that without her having to have surgery. We really should be getting some sort of free gasoline stamps from our orthopedic surgeon and PT company:)

So I ramble on. Life is good in all these ways.

Just yesterday I completed the latest greatest therapeutic trick to treat PTSD................eye movement desensitization and reintegration (EMDR) treatment. It is a process that seems almost silly it is so simple. It seems to have been effective in getting me to release the previously ever present track in my consciousness, that was the police coming into our home, with me home alone passed out on the couch in the middle of the night, hand cuffing me and carrying me struggling from our home, only to realize when I got outside to the throngs of cops and emergency vehicles that they were accompanied by, it was t and sue who had brought them to get me and haul me to jail. That image and the attendant trauma, horror, sense of betrayal, fear, physical agony (my arthritic shoulder cuffed behind me and that arm use as a "handle" to carry me), and heart break it entailed has been a never-ending backdrop to my life since that event, no matter how I have tried to release it. EMDR seems to have allowed me to differentiate that event from my be able to say that was 15 months ago, and was terrible, but it is not now. I am not in pain now and I have no reason to feel that moment in my present reality....IT IS NOT REAL NOW! That seems to have allowed me to move on to deal with a plethora of on-going issues that were previously eclipsed from my consciousness. I have learned that living with PTSD is like living in the reality of a computer which has a back ground program, always running and consuming RAM, and never performing any useful task or perhaps even being evident in our immediate consciousness. It is always there eclipsing your present, sometimes painfully filling your consciousness, other times just coloring your life, but keeping you disabled, sad, in pain.

So that is now hopefully past. At least I can now intentionally conjure up that image and I can feel fine in the present as I recall it. It still is the worst moment of my life..............but it is not now...and I don't feel it as now. That is, as they say, "progress."

I want to start writing here again. This is a start. I feel badly in that I have these posts I want to write about where I am with my "recovery" process, A. A., our evolving relationship, my sexuality's evolution (I am becoming a spanking switch), our D/s, if such there is, politics, movies and literature I am enjoying (most recently "A Dangerous Method"..........a must see for anyone interested in the historical evolution of BDSM in our culture as well as the development of psychology and particularly psycho-therapy), and just how I try to struggle on day after day in this continual gray fog of life without joy or celebration that is alcohol recovery. I feel badly that I try to write them and this negative crap is what comes out of me.

Having rambled on incoherently for pages now I will pledge to be more coherent and disciplined in my future scribblings and maybe there will be something I have to offer that will be worth your reading, as opposed to my just catharting all over the screen here.

Thank you for all of you who have held on to us here and continued to love us all, or some of us, as we have made this, now year and a half long, passage through dealing with my drinking....or whatever this was, or is.


In life unlike chess, the game continues after check mate.