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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

what's right, right now

To say that there's been a plethora of thought-provoking writing showing up on BDSM-lifestyle-oriented weblogs of late would risk being an understatement. Even a list of the articles and their authors that have seriously caught my attention recently would make this a long post. There have been many issues I've been caused to contemplate at length. There have been many topics I've wanted to write about... not because I felt my thoughts thereon were particularly profound, but mostly because writing helps me to clarify, to crystallize my own thinking.

One of the most important (to me) things to come out of all this recent reflection is an even deeper appreciation for the fact that there's no ONE TRUE WAY to live this lifestyle.

Within the last week or so I've read accounts of things done and things said that seemed simply wrong to me, things that evoked very strong negative reactions in me despite the fact that I try to pride myself on being tolerant and accepting. Thankfully, I withheld comment initially. It was soon easy for me to see strong parallels between what I was feeling and what my beloved L recently described in a post on her blog. I'm thankful now that I refrained from commenting on some of these things initially. After allowing myself a few days to digest it all, and frequently to read commentary from both parties in many instances, I once again see with clarity that there are *things* which are not wrong, not malum en se, simply because they are not right for L and me (at least not right now).

In the early months of our relationship, L and I talked a fair amount about how the various labels (e.g., top/dominant/master, bottom/submissive/slave, etc.) applied to us and would be defined by us. In a recent post Patrick effectively summarized the gist of our mutual opinion when he wrote:

If you spank or whip someone, or tie them up and do whatever kink comes to mind, that doesn't make you a dominant, but a top. If you have these things done to you, that doesn't make you a submissive, but instead a bottom. There's nothing wrong with being a top or a bottom, by any means, but dominance and submission extends beyond the kinky stuff and out into life. Topping and bottoming is about kink and play only. Dominance and submission is about the exchange of personal power within peoples' lives.

When I first met L, she was a self-described bottom. I believed very early on that I saw within her a true submissive, and in the weeks and months that have followed she's come to realize much more of her real self. As I began my active involvement in the lifestyle, I discovered immediately that I enjoyed topping, but always felt that the greater fulfillment for me lay in the exercise of dominance beyond the time spent playing. During our time together I've surprised myself a bit by how much more pleasure I now take from play. What has especially enriched my life, however, is the exercise (sometimes subtle, sometimes less-than-subtle) of dominance in our life outside of play.

My definition of myself is not related to either the toys that I can proficiently use on L, or to the names I call her. Her definition of herself arises from neither what tools she likes to be hit with, nor what she wants to be called. Our perceptions of ourselves individually, and each of the other, are based upon what feels right to us. Pretty damned subjective, yes. External observers might declare that we have it all wrong, but we don't live our life for anyone other than us.

There are things we don't do and don't say which seem to be active components of the interpersonal dynamics of other D/s couples. One day they may be for us, but not right now. A minor example: I don't call L my "slut" or my "whore," even in play. I know both of us well enough that it would not sound or feel right to either of us. But, what can I say... it definitely works for other couples, in what is the proper context for them.

I wonder, though, about couples who are just beginning to explore, who are experimenting to see what if any elements of this lifestyle will be natural and enriching to their relationship. When these people read about exchanges of this sort in the writings of obviously intelligent and experienced D/s couples, will they assume that calling one's partner a slut is an integral part of "being dominant"?? Certainly some will find that it intensifies things, takes them to a new level, etc. On the other hand, for some who go rushing down that road without sufficient communication in advance it may well be hurtful (if not harmful).

Please understand that I mean in no way to condemn what does work for others. What I'm trying to say is that I hope everyone will give thought to doing as L and I are doing. By that I don't mean emulating our style of play or manner of speaking. What I do mean is that we are trying to find ONLY what is the "one true way" for us. We do this with a whole lot of (not always easy, but honest) communication and a mutual willingness to grow and to learn new things about ourselves. And we do this upon a foundation of mutual respect and trust that is built up, layer upon layer, as we live each new day together.

What's right for us right now changes. We play in ways now that we didn't a few months ago. There are lots of times when L now finds sincere pleasure in calling me "Master," when not too terribly long ago "Sir" was a major struggle. We've expanded our horizons sexually as well. She thoroughly enjoys things now which even one month ago made her virtually shudder to think of. [Note: I'll probably be discussing some of that as soon as I'm not afraid of causing her death by some sort of blushing-induced aneurysm!] We live. We love. We learn. We grow. Sometimes it seems there's a step back with every two or three steps forward, but from where we are on the journey right now the future looks very bright.

Well, it's getting late. Work comes too early tomorrow, and I'm resigning myself to the fact that this post is "typical John" ...rather long, and rather rambling. I haven't written here in a few days in large part because there were just so many different things on my mind. I'm hoping that in the next few days more of them will find their way out of the quagmire of my mind and onto this weblog. If you've lasted this long, thanks for your perseverance.

posted by John | 11:41 PM [permalink]


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