TW/CN: Abuse/IPV/manipulation

I’m letting the title stand as my trigger warning here because I’m going to be writing about some things that have happened over the past month and years. I was in an abusive relationship. It didn’t get physically abusive, but toward the end I was afraid that it might. I need to write about it. It might come out disjointed. I’ll probably talk about my remaining partners’ experiences and feelings as I know them, too. Mostly, I just want anyone who reads this to know and have really fair warning that I’m going to be talking about this experience–for my own health and sanity if nothing else. And I’m a little afraid that said partner will actually come read this and say things or .. I don’t know. I have fears I don’t want to give expression to, I guess.

Anyway.

Continue reading

Permission and Danger

A few weeks ago, I read this blog post and then messaged my wife: “This seems so dangerous to me.”

She read it and then replied, “What about this seems dangerous to you?”

And indeed, it’s something that shouldn’t probably seem dangerous. For those who didn’t click through (though really, you should, the story is well worth the read), the story is (at its simplest) about a younger man learning from his older friend not to ask permission to do what he wants with his life.

To me, that screams DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

I realized, while reading that post, that I have spent my whole life asking permission to do everything. Often my ‘asking permission’ comes across as ‘just doing what I want,’ but in actuality I’m asking: is it okay? Is it okay if I go to grad school now? Is it okay if I go to this grad school? May I go to this program? What about this, or this, or this?

Some of the permission-asking makes some sense. I have a wife, and now a lover and a boyfriend, and so there are others whose considerations must be taken. My wife, in particular, bears legal and financial burdens with me. My wife and boyfriend, in particular, move with me. So if I am thinking about attending a school across the country, then I should be discussing that with them.

But that’s the crux, I think. I don’t merely discuss. I ask. I don’t ‘just do.’ I ask.

At various points in my life, I have found myself marveling at people who ‘just do’ things–from going to stores to moving across countries. How do they do that? I wonder. How do they just do that? Until reading that blog post, I never realized that my underlying question was, Whose permission do they have?

Likely, they only have their own permission, as adult human beings.

I could stand to give myself permission more often, I think. I wish I could figure out how to make it seem less dangerous.

Experiencing Depression

One of my favorite Vloggers, Laci Green, did a pretty personal vlog on her channel, Sex+, about her own experience with depression. It’s worth a watch:

She’s right when she says depression is isolating, just like TheBloggess is right when she says that depression is a lying bastard.

It’s hard to remember, in the thick of it.

For me, this most recent experience of depression has existed as a series of dips along a continuum. I can’t remember when I first felt myself falling into the hole…it’s been a really long time. I’ve been here for a really long time. Sometimes, the hole is deeper and darker than other times, and I feel like it’s so dark I can’t see the way out. I have suicidal ideation. I feel like no matter how hard a light shines, it cannot pierce the darkness. And then…somehow…because I make myself talk to Eren or Zyn, because I make myself move away from my brain long enough and focus into movies for six hours instead of staring into the heartache of racism and sexism/misogyny and transphobia and heteronormativity and monosexism, of staring into all the ways I’ve failed to be perfect….

Somehow, I come out of the deeper pits.

I’m still in the gray, though. I get a little higher some days, and some days I remember what it was like when I felt like I could touch the sky, what it felt like when the wind brushed my skin and sunlight poured in.

I think part of this is that so many days, I have trouble even moving. I would like to get out more. Heat exhausts me, and we’re being slammed with heat waves. Sometimes reaching down hurts. Sometimes walking hurts.

And I am riddled insecurities–that I read so much and post so many readings that my friends are annoyed, that I ‘love’ or ‘like’ too many things on various social networking sites, that I clog my friends’ feeds.

It makes it difficult to do what I’d like to do with this blog–more in-depth posting, less personal posting. I need to dig into things, and keep up with my academic things for that. Instead, I’m listless, and reading so much to run away from my brain, and then feeling empathic pain from much of my chosen reading, and then doing neither the digging in nor the posting.

I’m trying to remember to be compassionate with myself. My wife is certainly compassionate with me. I’m trying to remember that not everyone is completely irritated with my lack of ability to do anything, or disappointed in me.

I’m trying to figure out if there are triggers for some of these deeper pits. I think there are, for some of them. Some of them seem (for now) unavoidable. Others mystify me for now.

My experience with depression is much like what I think (without re-reading) this blog post probably reads like: a lot jumbled, as my mind tries to skitter away from things I need to examine in order to repair myself. I have at least e-mailed a therapist.

I am hopeful for more and better posting as I find my way out of the depth and gloom.

Mental & Chronic Illness & Sex & Poly; Trigger Warnings should abound

Taking a cue from both TheBloggess and my own life currently, I will address mental and chronic illness and sex and love.

TheBloggess challenged:

HOW HAS MENTAL ILLNESS AFFECTED YOU PERSONALLY?  WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT THAT MIGHT HELP OTHERS?

My answers:

I didn’t start to define myself as chronically ill until a couple of months ago. The term floated in and out of my consciousness a few times–my migraines has been worsening over the last few years, to the point that I had more migraines than days without–but I resisted. I’ve done the same with terms like depression and anxiety–embracing them as descriptors sometimes and rejecting them at others.

I deal with depression and anxiety, with migraines, high blood pressure, and early-onset arthritis. Sometimes these things feed into one another. The migraines apparently caused the high blood pressure, which caused more migraines, and so on. Being made to stay in bed upped both my depression and anxiety. I think the arthritis wanted to come hang out with my early gray hair (that showed up in my teens!), but stuck around to pile on with the migraine party (it settled in my neck).

For me, depression has come in waves. There have been points in my life when I’ve been fine. There have been other points when I have been paralyzed, almost, from the inside out. I’m in one of those points now. I find it difficult to actually leave my apartment. I can think about it, I can make plans to do it–but the actual doing terrifies me sometimes. Depression and anxiety lie: they tell me that even my closest friends sneer at me, think terrible things of me, hate me–even though those same friends have never been anything but happy to see me, kind and loving and full of laughter and support.  And when I drop one thing, I often feel like I’ve dropped everything–even when that’s not true. It can lead to me dropping everything, though. And that can very easily, very quickly spiral into the deepest, darkest pit.

I’m fortunate that I have the community I do around me. I didn’t realize it when I started building it, but I have been working toward what polyamorous comic KimchiCuddles calls Kitchen Table Poly:

SAMSUNG CSC

I have a fantastic wife. I have a fantastic boyfriend/Daddy. I have a fantastic lover. My wife has a wonderful girlfriend, and another flirty friend who is dating one of our best friends–someone we consider part of our polycule as a chosen sibling, because we’ve been friends that long and that closely.

I have learned that when the darkest darkness shows up, I not only can but also should call my wife home from work. I have only done that once–but she came, and that was enough, and she held me. I have learned that a cat’s purr is magic, and that it can be recreated online for free. I have learned that crying can be healing, and that sitting in the sunlight–just sitting, even for 20 minutes, even if I’m in my pajamas with my hair unbrushed–really can help. I have learned to just walk away from Facebook, politics, e-mail when they start to overwhelm–and I’ve learned to say when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Every area of my life has been affected by both my mental and chronic illnesses. Where I used to deal with my depression and social anxiety by talking with people online/having lots of sex online, I have for the past year or two had almost zero energy for either. I’ve had very little social interaction with anyone not living with me, which has severely limited my world. I’m incredibly grateful to the few people who take the time out of their lives to reach out to me on social media or e-mail (though the phone ringing still scares the bejeezus out of me), even when I’m avoiding those platforms for other things. I’m grateful to the people who find me on Skype, who will come find me in my chosen MMO when I have the energy to get into it. I’m thankful for the days I can load the dishwasher, for the patience of my wife and boyfriend/Daddy as I find myself in a really disabled spot, and of my lover as he has to figure me out from a distance.

When I started to get some energy back, I found out that I couldn’t always have online sex with my long-distance lover–because of the arthritis in my neck. Or, more accurately, I could–but it would result in days of pain afterward in my shoulder. Using my dominant arm/hand means pain for days, even for masturbation. My wife, wonder that she is, offered to help in that department, but I pointed out that a) she’s not always home/awake when lover and I might want to play and b) it’s not necessarily fair to all involved to make her be involved in such a way–though it was very sweet of her to offer. This has been a huge adjustment for my lover and I to make. It can be very very frustrating to want and be unable.

I’ve had to learn that for me, right now, solid plans are nearly a no-go. I’ve got plans to get my grandma to see her nephew in another state–something that’s been in the works for years now and needs to happen before she dies (she was diagnosed as terminally ill with cancer a year ago and is somehow, miraculously less cancer-cell-ridden now than she was then, though not cured)–and that’s the most solid plan I have made right now. Everything else is soft, because even with medication, I don’t know when the next migraine will come. The preventative helps–but leaves me exhausted. I can take one that will help kill the pain in 2-4 hours as well once the first signs of migraine show up–but will also leave me nauseated. Choices, choices. Either way, not great for plans. I’m re-learning how to live my life.

I have dreams–dreams that involve being able to hold down a solid schedule. I don’t know if those dreams will have to change. I had hoped to create an interfaith center focused on sexuality and gender, but that seems ever more distant a dream right now. I may need to stick to research, to papers, to hinge on books and independent academia–dicey at best. But then, all academia is a dicey prospect, whether attached to an institution or not.

At the very least, I have options. And I do have hopes, dreams. If I cannot do what I first intended, perhaps I can inspire others in that path. And perhaps I can still do it. Perhaps I will become stronger, I will get out of this current low point, I will strengthen my neck and shoulder somehow, I will find a drug that doesn’t tire/nauseate me, I will find good therapy. My lover will move here, my kitchen table poly will be stronger, my sex life will get better, my boyfriend/Daddy’s arms will always be there, my wife will always hold me. These are the things I hold onto.

But I didn’t want a Daddy

When I started exploring the world of kink, I adamantly denied wanting a Daddy. Freshly out of undergrad, I’d explored Philosophy of Woman and other such world-expanding courses (I grew up Fundamentalist Christian), and I was afraid having a Daddy would keep me or pull me back into an inescapable cesspit of patriarchal crap.

{I apologize now to all the Daddy/little pairings out there; really, to all the Big/little pairings out there, and Big/middle, and etc. I didn’t know as much then as I do now. And of course I don’t know as much now as I will ten more years from now.}

As I explored, I found myself wanting to submit and craving praise. I found a lot of people craving to dominate and to punish, for various reasons. And I found a lot of people who wanted to Daddy or Mommy me, and who also wanted to punish me. Additionally, almost all sources on Daddy Dominants I’ve come across have included some element of punishment/discipline as a ‘must’ for Daddies.

The thing is, I’m a self-punisher, somewhat like Rory Gilmore:

Punishing me would be redundant, and, given a particularly not-fun childhood, potentially harmful.

So I actively stayed as far away from Daddy/Mommy/Big types as I could, even as I looked for a Dominant.

When Zyn and I started dating, neither of us put ourselves into a kinky context. We joked that he was my experiment in vanilla. Over time, we began dabbling with exhibition/voyeurism, threesomes and moresomes online, etc.

When we kissed and I took a selfie of it for the first time, he lovingly called me a brat. Surprised and intrigued, I waited to see if I could provoke that reaction in other ways. It turned out that playful things would elicit such a reaction.

I’d never thought of myself in brat-like terms. The brats I knew of in the kink world did things like glittering their Dominants’ crops and sass-talking. If I did something like that, I would probably also cry while presenting whatever thing it was to my Dominant (not a crop–I’m not a masochist, but whatever thing) and already have a shiny new one on the way from Amazon Prime.

When he moved in, he began to ‘care’ for me more, for two reasons: 1) my chronic illness began ramping up; 2) his nature began to show through more. My spouse already took care of me to the extent that she could, but she was going through her own transition and desperately needed to take care of herself.

The more Zyn cared for me, the more  I began to tease him about being my Daddy, and the more he would laughingly call me brat. He told me he calls me that because he knows I’m not a brat.

In between the teasing, we discussed it. He doesn’t punish me, ever. It’s not in him to punish, and it’s not in me to be punished. He’s sparing in his words of praise, so when he hands them out they feel worth receiving. He remembers the treats–I love Toblerone and KitKats and My Little Pony. He started randomly buying me My Little Pony plushes, and when he can he buys little gifts (how he shows his love). On the roughest days, I want to curl up in his arms. To me, he feels like a safe wall of warm strength and calm, with big pillowy arms. I know he won’t lash out unreasonably. I know I can seek his advice and it will be well-reasoned.

By the same token, he never treats me as anything less than a person with a brain. He’s proud of my accomplishments and cannot wait for me to do more. He’s patient with me as I work through my illness(es) and mental issues. He’ll expect more from me as I get back on my feet.

At some point in my life, I might not need for our relationship to be like it is now. He might not, either. We’ve talked about that, too.

But for right now–I feel like he’s my Daddy. And he calls me his girl. And even without the punishment part, that works for us.

How I came to polyamory

I came to polyamory more slowly than I probably should have.

In undergrad, I took a Philosophy of Love course with my eventual spouse. Even before that course, I’d rejected the idea that there was only one true soul mate for each of us–because the world is large, because time is infinite (what if my true soul mate had been born in the 1500s? how screwed [or not] would I be?! and what about that poor sod?!), because there are so many ways to be happy with so many people…–and she had, too, for about the same reasons.

During the course, we talked, off and on, about what it would mean if she and I were to commit to one another forever, and whether we thought we’d always be monogamous and monamorous. We both agreed that we thought the idea unlikely, because neither of us could imagine one person fulfilling all our needs forever–because we would grow, because our selves would change, because of all those wonderful people out there.

Neither of us had ever heard of polyamory nor been really introduced to the concept of open marriages.

We got engaged anyway, happy that we were in agreement here and knowing that we’d always talk about these things whether such ever manifested in our lives.

Shortly after our engagement (or perhaps shortly before–I don’t remember the exact sequence), the chaplain fellow at my school took myself and another Theology-major classmate on a trip to visit the seminary from which she’d graduated. On the way there, she asked us very casually what we thought of ‘polyamory.’

I’d never heard the term, and I doubt my classmate had, either. I don’t remember what my classmate said in response. I remember thinking, Poly – many, amory – love, so that must mean many loves…. And then I said something like, “Well…it would take some pretty special people to be able to work out the jealousy factor, but I don’t see anything wrong with the idea.”

I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation went. In hindsight, I can see how I should have put together the word ‘polyamory’ with the concept my now-spouse and I had been discussing. I didn’t. Not for a couple of years anyway.

It wasn’t until after my spouse and I married (which was a full year after graduation, and that conversation had occurred during the January of my junior year) that I began to put that word together with our concept. And that happened because I met someone.

I wasn’t actively looking, and neither was my spouse. We were very happy with one another. But I did meet someone, and we talked and talked. He was funny and smart and kinky. I was in the beginning stages of exploring kink (and still am in a lot of ways, because I’m always exploring). And eventually, feelings developed.

So I talked about it with my spouse, and things developed, and though the relationship didn’t last long, it was fun and good.

There were a few more short-term partners and potential partners before I settled into another relationship. Around the same time, my spouse had also met someone. Both relationships lasted for a while–mine for three years, hers on and off for two–before we each found ourselves with only one another again.

There’s been a lot of ironing out of things for us–jealousy, rules, negotiations. At first, there were rules about talking about all partners, to help mitigate jealousy. But after a while we found less jealousy happening and more happiness for one another’s happiness (later we would learn the term ‘compersion’). We started out discussing every online flirtation, every online sexual encounter. Now we discuss those that seem more lasting, more likely to leave some sort of deep imprint, more likely to become real life sexual encounters.

Now, she has a long-distance long-term partner, and flirtations with others. Now, my long-term boyfriend/partner (who started out long-distance) lives with us, and I have another long-term, long-distance lover and a long-term, long-distance Dom. There have been some wrinkles to iron out with each of these–her partner wanting to tell me how to deal with my spouse’s depression issues, my boyfriend wanting me to commit to one penis policy, my lover and my Dom conflicting with one another in the beginning. But there have been so many more joys–my Dom guiding my explorations of Domminess with my lover; my lover and my spouse and my boyfriend and I gaming together; my spouse’s partner (my metamour–a new term I picked up recently) sending my spouse a gift card to buy feminine shoes to help with her transition and recommending excellent Indian recipes; my spouse and lover getting along so well that there’s at least slight attraction between them; my spouse and my boyfriend both kissing me at the same time on New Year’s.

I am so glad we listened to ourselves and explored together.

Previously posted on my FetLife profile.