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Switching: Role Ambiguity Or A New Power Exchange Orientation?

I discussed in my last post, "Could It Be.........Happiness?" that I feel as though I don't understand who it is that I am evolving to become. There was a lengthy time during which I was very fearful of this development. I mourned my previous identity forged over 6 decades of life, and the very comfortingly solid basis it provided me in my life. It was real, and included a very powerfully sensual erotic orientation as a Dominant as well as a similarly controlling approach to most aspects of everyday life. Then the tsunami of events from October 2010 through the first half of 2011 flattened almost everything that I had known in terms of who I am. I am only recently finally coming to feel that I can willingly live again and be glad to get on with my life and my loves.

I have progressed from mourning the loss of my past to relishing my present, and feeling some genuine excitement to see what my future can and will hold for me/us. I feel that my relationships with t and sue have recovered to a good extent from the endless do-loop of strife, recrimination, regret, and depression I think we all waded through much of the last year and a half. It is good for all of us to genuinely enjoy being with each other again and not face new encounters with the quandary of whether or not to dread what might transpire between us.

This feels a bit like Rip Van Winkle awakening after his long sleep. I have reawakened to find that what I do feel is "me" feels different than I ever have before in a variety of rather essential ways. Not the least of these is my orientation to Dominance, or even simply Topping, in SM play.

I have, since my earliest memories of erotic feelings, wanted to spank others. As I moved on through my childhood at the appropriate age, my desire to partner with others around spanking, differentiated into a desire for me to spank women exclusively. That was the driving force in my expression of sensual/erotic orientation throughout the remainder of my adult life. When I became active in the BDSM lifestyle play, I did bottom occasionally primarily to develop increased empathy and a resulting ratcheting up of my sadistic pleasure. It was generally true though that at least 99% of the time I was an unrepentantly and ruthlessly sadistic Dominant/Top. There was no ambiguity about this or any sort of wavering in who I was in this regard.

Now there is this new reality. I am still obsessed with adult consensual spanking. I still am taken with women's bottoms and still want to spank most women I encounter just as I always did. But too suddenly I get a really gushy sort of very warm feeling about wanting to bottom with women and specifically wanting to be spanked by women. I have a huge sense of eroticism about feeling the power of women. I particularly am excited by my sense of the power of my two:) They are both mature, bright, strong women, and I get really weak kneed and excited (yes actually turned on) at the prospect of their kind of taking me in hand and spanking me.

I feel some real I think it is embarrassment....with my feeling this way. While I was always able to be very accepting and non judgemental of switches in the lifestyle, I was sure that was not me. Just as I believe male homophobia has roots in guys who have bisexual or gay feelings that they are repressing, I think bias against switches is rooted in power exchange role ambiguity. I was so sure of who I was. I knew switching was a valid orientation too....and I knew it was not my orientation. Now I awaken to find my god, I think I am a switch. No that statement is dishonest and reflects my denial. I awaken to find I am a switch. Damn!!!!

My intellect tells me this is interesting, and fun, and a source of new opportunity to explore new realities and relationship nuances. My feelings tell me this is not who I am. I am a man. I am Dominant. I am not one of those people. I am ME!!!! It is just that ME is suddenly M/me?

We are all feeling our way through this and I suspect we are in the very beginning stages of a new dynamic between us. I have played more at this with sue. She is a very competent Top and is very experienced in manipulating authority effectively. Over her 22 years of teaching she is known to never have been "shanghaied" by any bad kid, or bad class of kids...even those that all her predecessors have found to be incorrigible. Her particular skill is the rehabilitation and (metaphorical seduction) of "bad boys." I find that whole reality with her incredibly exciting.

She is willing to do whatever to please me, yet this is not at all anything she ever wanted as a primary dynamic in our relationship. On the other hand she loves me, is thrilled at the resurgence of our infatuation and our intimacy, and willing to support me as I need. On the other hand this creates emotional challenges for her that I am not sure I even understand, and that I will allow her to describe if she chooses to.

T and I have played a couple of times and her relative sadistic intensity (my ambiguity in all this is leaving me a very wimpy whiny bottom) has led to my not wanting to go there too frequently.

I don't know that I have described this at all well, but then I don't claim to understand it.

It is part of this new identity I am becoming and thus that our relationship is becoming.

Thank you for all the kind and supportive comments to my last attempt to express where I am.

All the best,


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

(Now if only I had some clue what the hell my dreams are:)


Could It Be..........Happiness???!!!!!

I have felt for a while that I should write something here to try to express what I have been experiencing lately to our friends, and to my loves. I have avoided doing that each time I have approached the keyboard fearing that somehow, were I to capture what I am new and so fragile...somehow it might evaporate, and leave me with the emptiness, sadness, anger and shame that was my life for the last 18 months or so. Today I am going to risk it.

First perhaps in the minds of some who have followed our passage, I am today sober for my 429th consecutive day. The wild change is that I assert this fact feeling no deprivation, or anger, or diminution of my quality of life. I feel great...better than I have maybe ever in my adulthood.

The ending of my alcohol rehabilitation aftercare program, and a recent decision by the court to terminate the remainder of my probation have been a great help in my coming to this point. Those two factors have permitted me to freely stop participation in Alcoholics Anonymous. AA and rehab (while it is clear they are huge assets in the lives of many recovering addicts) have kept me focused on what I have come to think of as an alcohol-centric life. Since I was fourteen my life centered around when I was going to get to drink again...when I was going to get to "be happy" again (i. e., buzzed or loaded), and when I was going to be able to forget some terrifically painful experiences in my past. I was not aware I was self-medicating. I thought I was simply celebrating the joy of being alive. I was mistaken. Alcohol is no longer a major theme of my life or even a minor quatrain. It doesn't enter into my life from day to day.

AA and rehab support groups kept me focused on alcohol as a "cunning, baffling, powerful" kryptonite that was always lurking out there to try to ensnare me and ruin my life and even kill me. It caused me to spend several hours a week obsessing on alcohol....albeit alcohol's absence in my life. It made my life "alcohol centric" without drinking, just with the constant reminder of its power over me. I am not sure if I am powerful now with regard to my drinking. I know I have no desire to drink and I feel really healthy. I don't want to spend the hundreds of dollars each month I spent drinking. I don't want to feel as I did then. I don't want to behave as I came to when I drank, particularly since my gastric bypass surgery. I am enjoying life more now than before, and I really just don't often even consider drinking. Writing this paragraph is more than I have thought about alcohol in the weeks since I have no longer attended AA/aftercare.

Too I am freed from the cultish religiosity that is central and, I think, sadly seminal to AA. I could not buy into that at any level. It is sad that an extended grass roots support community which has such potential for good as has AA, sqaunders so much of its potential for good exploiting addicts whose lives are in crisis to achieve a cheap evangelical religious conversion. This is not at all to diminish the lives AA saves, or the gratitude I feel to AA members who did nothing but try to help me in anyway they could, and who have become abiding freinds. AA is about leading a life that is centered on alcohol and, yet, not drinking. I am, at this point, about leading a life in which alcohol is a memory.......perhaps an occasional afterthought. I am certain some may become angry with me for expressing this perspecitve. Imagine that a heretic!

I don't dislike alcohol. I don't judge others who drink. I am not troubled to be around it. If there was ever a man who has no trouble with alcohol, it is I. I have loved the stuff since I was 14 and lived for it and with it until January 18, 2011. I am glad many find joy in it. I no longer do. I have lots of great drinking stories and memories to tell. I also have a few horrific stories related to alcohol as well, especially in my last days of drinking.

I have an absolutely new love relationship with the two most wonderful women. Amazingly they are my teresa and sue. It is as if I have this great new poly relationship with the two women who I would most want to have it with, and with whom I have a wonderful sense of history and a degree of knowledge and awareness that is greater than I have ever had with any other loves..... and, yet, it is new. I am amazed.

I still don't know who I am now. I do know I am glad that I am, which is a huge improvement over much of the last year and a half. I am on a quest to redefine my identity. Much of what defined my sense of self is gone. I am no longer a son except to the memories of still relatively recently dead parents. My filial experience was key to who I was in the past. I am no longer a professional advocate, and agency administrator and political leader of a grass roots advocacy movement on behalf of people with disabilities as I was for 35 years of my life. That passage ended June 2010...and it defined me greatly until then. I am no longer a young man. I seem daily to realize how long ago the key events that influenced my life and character occurred, whether due to a historical report or the death of a celebrity. I am no longer a John Wayne-like self-made, hard drinking, indomitable tough guy. That persona was smashed and is gone. I know now it was a delusion anyway. I no longer am defined by my childhood traumas. My psychotherspist who has unrelentingly and gently nurtured, cajoled, and confronted me has enabled me to get past the huge anger and shame I had regarding the legal aspects of the intervention sue and t made into my out of control life, and the related PTSD, which turned out to be rooted in very real childhood trauma...all of which led to my self-medication. The resulting health is wonderful. My pathology defined me too though, so even that huge improvement is disorienting in terms of my identity

S0 as sue and t and I move forward now, again and anew, we have to feel our way along uncertain who it is I am, and how we are effected by other major simultaneous changes like the death of t's mother, all of us aging, and the passage of life in general

I don't know who I am, but I know I am having renewed excitement once again about adult consensual spanking and D/s. However this new interest in power exchange and sadomasochistic intimacy is characterized by my being much more my wanting experience from both ends of the power/sensual exchange continuum, and in the middle as well.

Things are much better than I imagined they could ever be again. Everything is not easy. We have financial challenges in our new defacto retirement. I am going to undergo a total knee replacement this June, but all in all my life and our lives collectively are better than I could ever imagine they would become with what we have passed through, and I suspect they will continue to improve exponentially if our increasingly aging bodies permit that.

Thank you so much to the dedicated friends who have shared their caring and support with us here whether in kind words or confronting us with realities we needed to face. You have all given us so much.

All the best,


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

How Do You All Do It?

I am continually amazed, humbled, and a bit intimidated by those of you who manage to post daily -- or even three, four, five times a week.  How do you do that?  I come here day after day.  Well, actually, I come here night after night, after a full day of teaching and fixing dinner and cleaning up dinner -- and when I get here, and look around, there you all are.  Most often, I am struck speechless.  Sometimes, I manage a few comments here and there, shake my head, and leave my own pages to languish in the backwater of  "old news."

I feel like there are things I could say; feel like I SHOULD say something -- and still there are no words.  It is odd really.  All through the months when we struggled and raged and fought and despaired, I could find a way to get to this place, now and then, and say what was.  Now things are better.  We are getting better.  We'll never be the same.  I know that.  We will be something new and unimagined, but we will be.  That is almost miraculous.

Some of the dilemma is that there is nothing big to report here on a daily basis.  Like the spring blossoms bursting out all around us here, the minute to minute, day to day changes are small, incremental, and not all that interesting.  It is the aggregate that is so amazing, and that aggregate doesn't make for very good daily blog fodder.  You would find yourself treated to posts that proclaimed:

"We snuggled today!"  " We laughed together."  "We had a conversation without a single recrimination."  "We sat and held hands."  "I got spanked."  "He got spanked."  "Both of us liked it."  That sort of stuff is magical for us, but I am imagining it is likely to generate yawns "out there."

So there we are, friends.  Our lives are, at present, quietly happy -- and getting better day by day.  We're not sure what to think about that, and we are nervous that it may not last.  Things here are good.  No excitement, and that is maybe the most "good" thing of all.



Did You Miss Me?

I've been away for the last week.
Spring break time at school, and once again we were able to squeeze in a trip west to visit with the "kids" and the grand kid.

The "kids" are, of course, not kids at all -- all well into their 30's and making their lives as they will -- as they do.

The trip is grueling.  Two long days of driving to get there -- about 19 hours total, across some of the most desolate and empty country on the continent.  We know all the places to stop; the places where we can get a decent meal and a halfway comfortable hotel room.  Still, even with all of that, we arrive exhausted.  The first night, we took some of our "on the road" snacking food down to the hotel breakfast room, and met my son and daughter in law for a late night "dinner."  Then it was off to bed for the three of us.

The next day, we got up and walked for just a short while -- much less time than we usually spend doing that.  We met at the restaurant where my daughter is working, and then took off to play tourist in one of the close in mountain towns.  We had an interesting dinner at a place that my daughter in law's mother likes (don't even get me started), and headed back to the hotel very late.

Wednesday, we'd planned to go to the zoo.  The whole day felt like a battle.  Time seemed at a premium.  Everyone seemed to want what they wanted.  I felt caught in a web of conflicting demands.  On top of that, I found driving around the city I once knew so well ... a little daunting, and got myself pretty well lost on the way.  It was a beautiful day, but very sunny (in that bright, intense way that is so typical of the Rocky Mountain front range).  As the afternoon wore on, I began to work on a monster migraine so that, by the time we finished with the zoo and headed to dinner, I was less than charming.  Just worn out.

Thursday was better.  He and I walked early.  We linked up with the "kids" and took a picnic to the park where boy child had great fun playing on the playground equipment, and everyone was able to just relax and enjoy the lovely weather.

Friday morning dawned bright and clear and warm.  We packed the car and headed east again.  Tired even as we started out.  Some 10 hours later, as we dragged off the highway and into the hotel, it was hard to imagine the next day's drive...  The last day is always the hardest.  Another long day on the road.  Tired.  Nerves frayed.  Joints aching.  We made it about 9:30 last night, and we are home.

Like most travelers, we find coming home to be sweet.  Time away makes us appreciate the simple pleasures of home.  Tomorrow, school starts again.  The laundry is all done.  All my plans are made.  Papers are graded and ready to go.  I am as ready as can be.



New New Relationship Energy

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Perhaps love is the process of my gently leading you back to yourself.

He has taken, in the last handful of days, to saying that He believes that we are into New Relationship Energy  (NRE) again.  He then laughs a bit and quips, "New New Relationship Energy -- NNRE."  For those who may not be familiar with the term, NRE is a concept that is very common in the polyamory community, although I am not certain that it originates there or that it is confined to that multiple relationship style choice.  In simple terms, NRE is just the flush of good feeling and emotional energy that comes at the very beginning of a new romantic connection.  

I've never heard or seen anyone talk about NNRE as we are currently experiencing it, but then, I've known very few people who have walked through fire as we have in the last year and a half -- and come out the other side.  I do think we have come out the other side.  I am happy to share that information with our friends who have supported us through the turbulent months -- and I'll admit I am also glad to proclaim that to all those naysayers who predicted our downfall (those who were clear that "what goes around comes around").  

  • Where we were inclined to growl at each other, we now find softer and kinder tones.
  • Where we were angry and bitter, we enjoy a gentle joy and sense of peace.
  • Where we were suspicious of one another, we are slowly laying the foundations of trust.
  • Where there was loneliness, sadness, and frustration, we are feeling more connected, more comfortable, and more companionable.  

We are careful with each other.  We are less sure that we know what things mean -- and we ask when we are not sure.  We are more likely to say what we need; more likely to define what is and is not OK in the moment.  We once knew what we were out to be and do in our lives and in our relationships -- now we are moving along step by step as the relationship develops into what it chooses to be for itself.  

As is my wont, I was doing some research, trying to find out what "the experts" think about the concept of New Relationship Energy.  I thought that, if I could find out what it IS exactly, then I could use that information to help me see where we are headed.  I have SUCH control issues.  Still.  There is a lot of material written online about NRE, and most of it was pretty much what I expected -- and what I already knew.  This article (excerpted), however, offered insights that were broader and deeper than what I have seen before:
There is a phenomenon that occurs at the start of all romantic relationships,... in which the two people involved are so enamored with each other... It is commonly referred to as lust.  It is known as new relationship energy (NRE) and it is punctuated by self-disclosure, is managed by avoiding conflict at all costs, and requires emotional intelligence in order to assess, identify and manage effectively. ...  NRE is the fun part of new relationship...  - the heady rush of escalating emotional connection and the hot juiciness of a growing sexual attraction, with a person we are just beginning to know and want to know better, much better. ... Self-disclosure is the basis for the most intense relationships, especially those in which NRE is a result. ... Self-disclosure ... serves the purpose of forming camaraderie, finding common ground, and building trust. This, in turn, increases intimacy- a critical component of NRE. ... NRE is “the initial "molecular binding energy" which brings individuals together ... overcoming the fears, judgments, suspicions, vulnerabilities and irritations, which work against forming risky new connections ... There exists a component of reciprocity where “interplay is delicate, with the reactions of each person inextricably bound to the behavior of the other.” This can help to keep the partners on the same wave-length and can be “sustained when there is a certain balance of hope and uncertainty. The base for … hope is not in objective reality but reality as it is perceived. ... Healthy new relationships require not only self-disclosure but also a degree of emotional intelligence in order for them to last ... Emotional intelligence ...  means “recognizing emotions and acting on them in a reflective and rational manner”. ...  These skills assist individuals in having the patience and understanding to deal with life stress factors as they influence the partner, themselves and the relationship. ...  because new relationships are fragile and somewhat tenuous, conflict is much more difficult to manage; therefore avoidance is the most accepted method of resolution so that the relationship not only remains protected but also fair to both people involved. ... New relationship energy is a vital and real aspect of a relationship. And although it is experienced by people in all types of budding relationships from romantic to professional, it is most intense when it occurs between two people who are hopeful of becoming physically involved. It is characterized by warm, loving feelings, is upheld by best behavior and conflict avoidance, and can be extended, perhaps indefinitely, with the presence of simultaneous, mutual and healthy, emotional intelligence. ...

  • That would be us; involved in self-disclosure -- forming camaraderie, finding common ground, and building trust.
  • That would be us:  learning to engage in reciprocity where interplay is delicate with reactions of each person bound to the behavior of the other.
  • That would be us:  recognizing emotions and acting on them in a reflective and rational manner; having the patience and understanding to deal with life stress factors as they influence each one of us and our relationship.

Here, as the spring begins, as this oddly warm winter draws to a close, we are finding our lives again -- and we are, remarkably, still in love.  No, we are in love AGAIN.  The love we hold so gently between us is as new as the lengthening days, and as unexpected as the herons that are returned months ahead of what we would have expected.  We are in the early throes of New New Relationship Energy.  What an amazing turn of events.  

Sue (swan)


I Don't Want to Lose This

I am reading the most wonderful, sweet, painful, honest book...  The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.  I am just over half way through it, so no spoilers here...  But based on what I've read so far, I'd grab your arm and insist that you NEED to read this book.  And no, it is not kinky.  Just very, very good.  Today, I came across this declaration, and I do not want to lose track of it:

"I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."


Vanishing Pubes

I haven't really seen my pubic hair for probably a dozen years or more.  Very early in my explorations of BDSM, I began to shave my pubic hair -- because it was what everyone did in the lifestyle.  No one ever asked it of me; no one ever required it; there was nothing of dominance or submission in the doing.  It was simply one thing that I took on as a newbie because I thought it was a way to begin to fit in to something I very much wanted to be a part of.

So, for about a dozen years, I kept those parts of my anatomy shaved clean and relatively smooth.  I always imagined that, if I'd stop maintaining that routine, the hair would just grow back and within a few months or so, it would be the curly, springy, thick bushy thatch that I remembered.

Somewhere over the course of the last year and a half, I stopped shaving the pubic hair.  There was simply no reason to keep it up.  I finally understood that I could shave it or not shave it -- whatever suited me; and that was all of it.  Really, no one in the entire world cares about the state of my pubic hair-do.  Thus it has slowly grown back...


It is nothing at all like what I remembered.  It is thin, fine, straight, and sparse.  Apparently, the hormonal changes of menopause cause changes in hair growth.  Everywhere.  Thinner on the head.  Thinner on the pubes.  Heavier on the face.  Right.  One more curveball.  Not a crisis.  Not even a problem.  Just one of those places where the way things turn out seems -- I don't know:  perverse?  Yeah.  That.

Sue (swan)

March Q&A -- Michael Samadhi

(It's a philosophical question)

I don't know much about philosophy.

This question does, however, remind me of the thing that we teach school children about good "news" reporting or writing.  A reporter, we tell the young ones, asks a set of questions:  

Questioning seems to be a uniquely human activity.  Consider:
  • Ants and termites and bees all recognize who is part of the hive or nest -- and who is not.
  • Birds know what to look for in nesting season, as do those animals who den through the winter.
  • Migratory birds and butterflies understand when to come and go; they do not need to ask.
  • Spawning salmon know where they are headed without any sort of map or GPS.
Only humans ask questions, and the most uniquely human of all the questions is that "why?"  Why did this happen to me?  Why didn't I get chosen?  Why are things like this, or not like that?  Anyone who has ever lived with a two-year-old child has likely encountered that very human, "Why? Why? Why? ..."

Those of us with BDSM orientations may find that we have even more occasion to ask "why?"  Why am I like this?  Why do I want/need/like/feel the things I do?  Why can't I be like the other people I see around me.  For so many of us, myself included, the path has led through a thicket of why's.  I guess that makes BDSM radically, seriously, sincerely human.

Sue (swan)


March Q&A -- weirdgirl

QUESTION -- You are throwing a dinner party for eight guests...who would you invite and why? (no temporal limitations - persons alive or dead)

I will assume this would be a dinner party here at our homes, and so I will assume that it will be the three of us entertaining guests here.  I couldn't possibly do a big dinner thing without my sister-heart.  She is the cooking-est woman I have ever met, and her stuff is yummy!  So!

Eight guests --

I'd invite my brother, Gregg.  He died some 21 years ago from complications of AIDS.  He was beautiful and funny and intense and brilliant and utterly charming.  He would have been my very handsome twin except for the fact that he was 5 years younger.  I miss him terribly, still.

I'd want Stephen Hawkings at the table.  Hawkings has the most interesting mind on the planet today.  Maybe that is because he is so limited by his illness that he spends much of his time inside his own mind thinking things, but I suspect he might have been pretty amazing even if he had not lived for so many years with ALS.

I'd invite Antonio Banderas.  He is simply the most gorgeous man on the planet.  With Antonio at the table there'd be no need for flowers or any other sort of decorative silliness.  

I'd want Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota and Cloister Walk.  She has a deep insight into the workings of the spirit, and a wonderful clarity of language.

I'd invite Jack Gladstone, one of my favorite musicians.  Gladstone is a singer and song-writer with a historical bent.  I first saw him perform in the glory of Glacier National Park, and I've loved his music ever since.  He comes from the Blackfeet people, and I'd love to spend a few hours talking with him.

I would invent President John F. Kennedy.  He is so central to the earliest history that I am personally aware of.  I know he was a hound-dog, and I do not care.  Maybe it would be most interesting for him to be able to be with people who knew that about him and were still interested in talking to him as a person.   

I'd invite my / our therapist.  If the rules allowed it, I imagine we might be good friends -- or at least interesting companions.  I'd like to know more about her and her life.  And I'd be interested to watch her interact with so many divergent minds.

Lastly, I'd invite Dylan M.  Dylan was a student in a class I taught many, many years ago.  His parents were divorced.  His dad was a druggie and a bum.  His mom was beautiful in a classic, porcelain sort of way.  Dylan adored her.  Early in his 8th grade year, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  The powers that be determined that Dylan should go and live with his "father."  He hated it.  Worried about his mom.  Struggled to just get through the days.  He was the first student that I can remember wanting to bring home with me.  It has been probably 20 years.  Dylan would be in his mid-30's.  I often think of him and wonder how he is.

That's my list.  What an interesting evening that would make.

Sue (swan)


Q&A Month

I understand that March is Q&A month.  That has been true over the years.  I've never participated in that blog community activity, and I am a little hesitant to open myself up to it this year...  However, I am also wishing to come back to some sort of more "natural" feeling connection to this place and the people who read here.  It feels like I've been fighting just to survive; just to breathe; just to hang on for a long time.  Maybe now that the storms have passed us by, it is possible to just relax and talk about the things that feel normal again (and yes, I do know that applying the word "normal" to all of us in the lifestyle is a bit of a reach -- but that is another story).

So.  Deep breath.  Ask.  I'll do my best to answer.

Sue (swan)