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Why Does it Have to Be?

Rhonda asked/commented:

"Why does it have to be that silence equates to "superior judgements"?
Why can't it be that if there is a loss for words, or that if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything? 
I just don't get the judgementalism that's going on here. Honestly. Kaya wasn't talking about you .you made it personal. Then a shit storm happened. Personally I think you invited her angry response because you made something that wasn't remotely about you...about you.

Really, there are two parts to that bit, so let me address the two parts independently of one another.

The answer to the first question is really simple in my mind.  The notion that someone who has been supported in her own struggles over the years; who has on numerous occasions reached out in pain and anguish and confusion, to ask others around the blog universe for words of encouragement -- and received that encouragement from me and from others, finds NO WORDS to offer in return is pitiable.  One does not have to be eloquent or even wise to offer a kind word to someone who is hurting.  "Hugs," does not take much effort, and it conveys a simple standing with one who hurts.  In my opinion, it isn't difficult.  If others have held you up in your times of need, then there is a simple, decent, human move that passes on that act of kindness to others in their turn.  

The second question / comment is more complex, and since you asked, Rhonda, I will attempt to explain it so that it is clear enough for you to understand.

While it is Kaya's contention, and one that you obviously accept at face value, that nothing that she wrote was "about me," the fact is that she made a very definitive and specific declaration about the nature of slavery in general:  

"Did you hear ... the one about the slave who dominated herself with any success?
Oh. Me, neither. Because it doesn’t fucking happen."
Now, I will grant that that pronouncement does not single me, or anyone else, out by name.  It does, however, quite specifically declare that no slave EVER successfully "dominates herself."  I disagree, and I will keep on confronting that sort of dismissive attitude toward those who do not DO their power exchange relationships according to Kaya's ideas of what is and is not the right way.  The truth is that she cannot have it both ways; she can't declare that it is only about her while simultaneously putting out declarative statements that categorically dismiss the choices made by those who differ -- who do it in ways that she cannot comprehend.  To claim that she's only writing about her while she makes broad, sweeping generalizations is just silly.  She is far too bright to believe that nonsense.
And...  Yes.  I am willing to own my own judgement about this particular us / them sort of uber-slave showboating.  Here's my take on the "no one is really a slave when there is not active, visible, discernible, describable, recognizable Dominance happening" notion within the D/s lifestyle.  In my experience (see how I did that?), the requirements and expectations of my power exchange relationship were made clear in the very early days, a very long time ago now.  I know what those expectations and requirements are, and I do my very best to live up to that.  It is what I promised.  It does not require any sort of external reinforcement -- no rules, punishments, protocols, tasks, mantras, etc.  Those things could be part of the dynamic, but they are not necessary.  Given that, I know from personal experience, that living in that kind of slave dynamic can be a real challenge.  There is not a lot of "hot" coming from that sort of slavery -- nothing that rings my bells or curls my toes or lights my fire.  When I read about those who require MORE, I understand the desire behind that, but I can't help but wonder who is dominating who in those relationships.  When the nominal dominant is working hard to supply the inputs that keep the slave feeling "slavey," then that dominant is being driven by the slave's demand.  That is not a model of dominance that I understand or recognize.  I think it is a very widely practiced model, but it simply doesn't make sense to me.
So, Rhonda, I do take exception to Kaya's sense of entitlement in this instance.  Her belief that she knows what is, or is not, true D/s or true M/s is myopic at best and arrogant at worst.  I do realize that I am probably the only one in the multitude of readers at her blog to hold that view; the lone voice to point out that the Empress has no clothes, but there it is.  Too, I know I have stirred up what you characterize as a "shit storm."  So be it.  Clearly there is no relationship between the two of us.  That is fine.  She is nothing more than a blog site to me -- one out of probably hundreds or thousands out there.  I have no need or desire to continue marching in the army of Kaya's minions.  I have, for some dozen years, done this my own way.  That is likely to continue.  Feel free to not look.


Yes. My Feelings are Hurt.

Well here I am.  Another day.  Another exchange with Kaya.  She is clear that her feelings aren't hurt, but suggests that it seems that mine, "might be."

Yes.  Right.  Exactly right.  My feeling are hurt.  By the silence in these last years.  By the utter and complete absence.  By the refusal to make even a single gesture of support or sustenance or empathy.  That has hurt.

Because.  I've been around a long time, and I've offered what I hoped were friendly and supportive words on more than one occasion -- ups and downs with her kids and her relationship.  I've tried to be gentle and unobtrusive, but I've been there.

I've got that there is no entitlement here.  I know we live in different worlds and have different lives.  I know that we don't live near one another.  I know that my way is different than her way.  We aren't REALLY friends.  I know.

And it still hurt.  Hurts.

The circle is not that big.  I don't correspond with everyone, and I don't keep up with everyone's day to day comings and goings, but if we've crossed paths, I'm going to be around.  If I feel as if we've connected somehow, I'm going to notice when you struggle.  I'm probably not going to reach out for every single bump, but I will reach out.

Three and a half years ago, my world fell apart around me.  OUR world fell apart around all of us.  I know that the issues we confronted were terribly difficult.  Believe me, I really do know that.  I was there.  I know it has been a very, very long road, and if you got tired of waiting for us to come out from under the pile of debris, I was right there with you.  I understand that perhaps it was hard on a lot of days to know what to say.  I've had that experience -- when the pain is so raw and the fear is so palpable that words do not begin to express what I want to say.  It is hard.

Some of you figured it out.  Sent hugs.  Cheered our up days and sat with us in our down moments.  If you did that for me, for us, you have my forever gratitude.  If you did not; if you backed away and made your silent, superior judgments; I noticed.  And, yes.  I hurt.



Tree Analogies

I have a long history of poking at the puffed up, self-important denizens of the blogosphere.  I don’t often do it, but I do it.  There is just something about the sound that I can hear in my mind when people start to pontificate and/or spout nonsense.  I’m no expert at this thing we all try to do.  I’ve had some soaring high points and some devastating crashes.  Probably, I should have garnered some bits of understanding from all of that, but honestly, I am pretty darned sure that, if I were given the chance to do it all again, I would.  Don’t look here for expertise.  Ever.

Knowing what I know about what I do not know, I am, perhaps, hyper-sensitive when others present themselves as knowing how it all works, or having the secrets to success.  That sort of thing just perks my antennae up and sets them quivering.  

So, yeah.  I threw down with Kaya.  THE Kaya.  Just as I once did with Patti, and in a less flamboyant way with Sara, I called “bullshit.”  Predictably, she came roaring back, insisting that “she is only talking about HER relationship (never mind that what she actually wrote surely SOUNDS like she’s got it figured out for the whole bunch of us).  I’m not at all concerned that her feelings are hurt here.  It has been a long time since I believed that kaya actually cared about me or my life, and she confirms that, stating:  “I don’t care. Truly. Not to sound callous but I have enough trouble keeping my own relationship running. I don’t have the energy to worry about yours.” (italics are mine.)

Interesting. Except that, she then goes on to a very odd little riff about being a “plant,” that seems to clearly indicate that she really does “care:”
“A plant is going to wilt if you don’t water it, no matter how badly it wants to stay perky. I suppose one could berate the plant for wilting, for all the good that will do. It’s still gonna wilt.
You could determine the plant is not worthy of being a plant because it wilts- but it’s still gonna wilt.
You could decide the plant was an uppity cunt of a plant for needing to be watered- but it’s still gonna wilt.
You could mock the plant for being sad that it has no water- and it’s *still* going to wilt.
Maybe you’re just a prickly cactus that doesn’t need water and I? I am a ficus.”
Sort of funny, that.  Kaya does have that amazing funny way about her.  It can be endearing.  No wonder so many, including me, find her writing compelling.  Yes.  Me.  I read her regularly.  I’ve done it for years.  Knowing that she “doesn’t care,” and does not value that long-standing readership, I still read.  After all, there are plenty of writers that put out words I appreciate with whom I have no one-to-one relationship.  So…

I can be prickly.  It is true.  So, maybe that characterization is fair at some level.  Although, coming from one who prides herself on her capacity for snark, I find it a bit disingenuous.  But never mind.  I actually think I am less like the cactus than like an ancient oak.  And so, I found myself thinking about that “tree” analogy as it relates to how one approaches the “bottom” side of the power-based relationship dynamic…

Take kaya’s ficus, for example:  Ficus plants range from large trees to woody shrubs to trailing vines. All grow best in medium to bright light, although they will tolerate low light for short periods.
Ficus varieties are often chosen by those who are just beginning to learn the art of bonsai.  They are easy to grow, however they are very tender, not hardy at all.  A ficus needs to be kept in a bright window, away from heat sources and cold drafts.  Big temperature fluctuations cause them to drop their leaves due to stress.  You have to manage the humidity around a ficus.  With bonsai, you may need to put a tray of water under the pot, but even then, the bonsai must be raised above the water line.  You can’t have the bonsai’s “feet” in the water!  The humidity tray needs to be kept topped up so that the moisture will rise up through the leaves of the tree.  Even then, it is advisable to mist your ficus with filtered water occasionally.  Water it regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.  These trees need to be re-potted every 2-3 years, and fertilized weekly throughout the entire active growth season.  A ficus is a lot of work.  Which, perhaps, was exactly kaya’s point in making the comparison between herself and this very high maintenance houseplant.
An oak, on the other hand, is a tree or shrub -- one of about 600 known species.  Oaks are found from cool temperate climates to the tropics in the Americas and in Asia.  Oak wood is very dense, very strong, and very hard.  It makes beautiful, durable lumber which has been prized for everything from shipbuilding to the crafting of fine furniture.
At the beginning of an oak's life, when an acorn first sprouts, most of its energy is spent on root development, with little growth above ground. The initial root is the taproot, which grows deep underground, seeking a dependable supply of water. Soon the taproot is surpassed by an extensive root system spreading horizontally. This lateral mass of roots will bring the tree moisture and nutrients for its lifetime. Most oak tree roots lie only 18 inches under the soil. They may spread, though, to occupy a space four to seven times the width of the tree's crown.  Oak trees have sturdy foundations.
The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance. Many nations use the oak as a symbol.  Even our U.S. military uses the oak leaf cluster to denote bravery and valor.
The Greeks held that the oak was the sacred tree of Zeus, and in Celtic polytheistic spirituality, the word for oak was part of the word for “druid,” an adjective for “strong” or “firm.”  The Indo-Europeans connected the oak tree with a god of thunder or lightning, and there have been scientific studies  that show that oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of the same height.  Maybe that explains my propensity for getting smacked by powerful forces…
Mistletoe grows in the high branches of oak trees too -- that parasitic plant that we all associate with kisses and love.
Oaks grow to be very large and very old.  The Jurupa Oak tree of California is thought to be the oldest living thing on the planet at some 13,000 years.
So, yeah.  Oak tree.  If we are going to choose up plants to stand in for who and how we are in our lives and our relationships, I will go with ancient oak.   


Sometimes I Just Want to Shake All the Self-Satisfied Ones

Participation in the realm of Internet BDSM chatter, whatever the venue, is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, it is undeniable that the Internet connects us all to one another.  I'd never have found my way into this life without the connections made online.  I've learned from online companions.  They've supported me and cheered for me and instructed me and helped me find my way.  More than once.  All of that is good.  None of that would have been possible if I'd been trying to make my way along in my geographically limited life.

However, I am unwilling to sing the praises of the online BDSM community without also noting that it can be a snake pit of judgmental, arrogant, nasty, endless jockeying for position.  The Dominant parts of our circle tend to be relatively quiet, generally, but the submissive parts of the equation just chatter endlessly, and we do love our Queen Bees.  Over the years, the mantle has passed from one to another to another, but always, there are one or two who hold court over vast throngs of admirers, and inevitably that position brings with it a sort of power to proclaim what is and what is not.  Ironic, that.

In the end, each of us crafts the relationship that works for us and our partners.  We do remind each other of that fact pretty regularly, but then...  Someone is sure to come along on the cyber waves, and remind us that if it is not like "THIS," then it cannot possibly be "THAT."  Period.  End of sentence.  Doesn't fucking happen!

I am no longer in the business of passing on bits of wisdom.  I've proven to my own satisfaction that I've very little wisdom to pass along.  What I do is live the life I've got to the very best of my ability.  That is seldom elegant or romantic or sexy or graceful.  More often than not, it looks like the train wreck it is; a scramble to keep my head up and breathe and survive.

I can't tell you about the things that may work to keep your chosen dynamic working smoothly.  I don't have a clue about communication methods, contracts, protocols, rituals, rules, positions, mantras, punishments or any of the rest of it.  I don't know.

  • Most of my days, I work to do a few simple things:
  • breathe
  • be sweet
  • sound sweet
  • figure out what needs doing
  • do it
  • keep in mind what I have that is of value to me
  • remember that I don't have to impress anyone
  • keep trying
  • believe everyone I meet is doing the best they can
  • treasure the ones who have walked the path with me
  • use my time well
  • choose to stay in love
  • not make excuses
  • find a way
  • stay true to my word
  • be a better me than I was yesterday
  • try not to be stupid
  • try not to blame anyone, including me
  • show the people I love how much I love them
  • find the places and things and people that make me smile
  • and then smile
  • face problems
  • say thank you
  • fall down and get up
  • accept what comes
  • refuse to look back
And if, on any given day, I manage to check off a third of that list, I count it a day well spent.


Yesterday and Today

Yesterday I had the worst headache ever.  EVER.  At 1:30 AM, I woke up, knew I was in trouble, and took my medicine.  Nothing.  At 4:30 AM, I took a second pill.  Still nothing.
At 5:15 AM, when my alarm went off, I knew I couldn't possibly make it to school, much less teach.  I was nearly blind on one side.  I couldn't maintain my balance.  I was terribly nauseous.
I staggered to my computer to try and type some lesson plans, and email them to school.  I called and left what I am sure was a totally incoherent voice message explaining why I wasn't there.  I crawled back to bed, and tried not to whimper.
Tom called the doctor's office as soon as they opened.  I see a very good migraine specialist who works inside of a somewhat complex and non-responsive big health care organization.  He managed to wrangle them into trying to fit me into the schedule.  They told him they would call back.
I kept trying to sleep/not whimper.
I think it was about noon when they called and said they could see me at 3:40.  Across town almost 40 miles.  He didn't care.  He was driving me to the doctor.
He fed me some chicken soup which, thankfully, stayed down.
We made the trek across the city and arrived at the terribly brightly lit doctor's office.  I was bundled up in a hoodie and a ski band and great big bug eyed sun glasses -- looking like a pretty good Unibomber impersonator.
It was a long appointment.  A full exam, and the decision to give me nerve block injections.  The nerve block injects anesthetic into trigger points in the face, head, neck, and upper back.  The medication bathes the nerves that carry pain signals to the brain, and works to reduce inflammation and irritation.  If it works, it stops the headache very quickly.  It did.  Not an easy process.  I think there were a total of 18 shots, but when it was done I could hold my head up and open my eyes.
The doctor insisted that I have a CT scan today.
So that was scheduled, and again, Tom drove me there and waited while they did the scan and read the results.  Not until they were sure that the scan was normal was I allowed to leave.  All clear, and feeling way better.
Tomorrow, I will head back to work, hoping the nerve block works for a good long while (some people get months of relief).  We shall see.
He has taken very good care of me these two days.


I Live in Spite of This...

It is Saturday morning.  I look forward to the weekends all through my work week.  But, often, when the reality is upon me, I find my fantasizing is ill-founded.

This morning upon awakening, Tom first noted that his shoulder was stiff, then that he needed to go pee.  I giggled and said, that is the joy of aging:  the first moments of consciousness:  I ache, I need to pee...  To which he added, "and then you think 'Damn, I'm alive for another day.'"

And so it continues.  This is his reality.  Not mine.

I choose to remember Richard Dawkins' admonishment ...