Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lessons

The secret to living a good life is to remain open to learning and to look for learning wherever and whenever it presents itself. That isn't as easy as it sounds but if we take the time necessary to reflect and evaluate we can often find the silver lining inside the gray cloud. Rather than blame either ourselves or our partners when a scene fails, it is much more helpful to take a deep breath and try to understand what went wrong and why. By doing so we may not turn a bad experience around but we will at least be better equipped to avoid a similar fate at a later date.


So it is that I share with you last Sunday night's scene. First a little background: I had been talking with this guy (I'll call him Reggie) for some four months about complete surrender to me as a slave, something that he admitted he wanted very much. I found him especially attractive, somewhat experienced, and very likeable. It was also a plus that he lived in Chicago. Unfortunately, he also demonstrated a good deal of hesitation, to the point of what seemed a great deal of fear, even paranoia. I did my best to earn his trust.


Our negotiations stumbled along for all those months and over time I was able to discern, and he admit to, several of the factors which held back any play between us. For his part he sporadically contacted me with emails and instant messages (IM) that affirmed his continued interest.


Last Sunday afternoon he sent me an IM to which I responded and which led to a phone conversation of some length. It was during that chat that I learned much more about the sources of his hesitation and agreed to a number of limits that I thought would make him more comfortable in arranging a first meeting. That phone call ended with no agreement to play.


Later in the evening he contacted me again, this time with more explicit IMs of an erotic nature. I called him a second time (if memory serves me correctly), agreed to a list of limits and told him that when he was ready, I would be too. I also discovered that he was free for the whole week and would even consider coming over to spend the week in service. The last round of IMs went like this:


Reggie: OK. Every so often I get carried away by thoughts… so forgive if I persist.


Jack: As long as you persist I have a chance of getting what I want from you.


Reggie: Indeed Sir. Wish arms were cuffed behind me and I was on floor eating this food I have like an animal now.


Jack: You have to make the first move. Unless you want me to kidnap you.


Reggie: I know. Never been kidnapped… but I do not think it necessary.


Jack: And I seek your voluntary surrender


Reggie: Of course Sir. Trust me, it is a struggle. [then 50 minutes later he continues] I am shaking. Cannot eat. I could be kneeling all night, cuffed, gagged, awaiting the morn.


Jack: You're right.


Reggie: Forced to piss in this food, eat every bite. Then made to endure a night of bondage. I am sorry. It is just the easy way to engage the fantasy.


Jack: Then you won't mind if I don't engage back in the same way. I prefer to make my fantasies as real as I can.


Reggie: I understand. But what I describe appeals to you as well I believe?


Jack: [no response]


Reggie: I can take a taxi Sir


Jack: Then do it.


Reggie: What are your instructions?


Jack: Just show up. Bring work clothes, medications, toothbrush


Reggie: Address?


I gave it to him. He arrived with his take-out dinner in a bag. We went into the dungeon. I ordered him to strip. I bound him in a kneeling position, poured his food into a dog dish, made him piss into it, and ordered him to eat. He did and I watched. After some time (10 minutes? 15?) he said it wasn't working. I unbound him, we agreed it was "nobody's fault" and he went home.


Make no bones about it. I was disappointed. I greatly prefer scenes that go well. As you can see, so much for that fantasy.


How, I pondered, could it have been different? What went wrong?


First off, I am of the firm conviction, though there are certainly times when I honestly don't feel the conviction, that "wrong" is not the right word to use. Scenes don't go wrong. They go the way they go, although they don't always go the way we want them to. "Ah," to quote someone, "there's the rub."


So introspective, thinks-too-much, Jack is left pondering whatever lessons this sad evening held. It's important to learn those lessons or we are destined to replay the behavior over and over. My practice is to ask myself a simple question, one without unfortunately a simple answer, i.e., "How do I have to change so this doesn't happen again?" 


In other words "What do I have to learn?" Lessons marked with an asterisk are hardly new. They are repeated lessons and, since I don't always follow my own advice, an indication that I am a slow learner. Here, in no certain order, is what my scene with Reggie taught me:


"Hold'em or fold'em.*"


It was a blessing that the scene only lasted a few minutes and that Reggie was aware enough to end it. In fact, I should have "folded" long before I ever invited him. My error was not in talking to him but in inviting him. He wasn't ready and, obviously, neither was I.


"Know thyself.*"


I do know myself but my problem is that I too often forget who I am. Knowing who I am, I should be who I know I am. By compromising my dominant persona, I failed to act in the dominant manner that would have been authentic. Doing so, of course, meant that Reggie didn't get to have a scene with the dominant man he was seeking.


"Be ready or not."


Either it's time or it's not. There's no almost ready and to pretend that you are ready when you're not is to set yourself up to fail. I wasn't ready to insist on what I wanted. If I had, I might have gotten it, or if I didn't at least I wouldn't have gotten a failed scene. Better wait. No scene is better than one that only gives lessons and holds no fun for either partner.


"Know what motivates you at any given time."


I was negotiating to gain control, to have power. I was pre-occupied with the guy's fantasy and his looks, both of which distracted me and led me into a scene that was not the one either of us wanted. Honestly, having sex with him become more important than dominating him and since I failed (from the very beginning) to dominate him, we didn't have sex either. My secondary motivation (sex) trumped my primary motivation (control) and I got neither.


"Say No!*"


All of this could have been avoided with one simple word. But, of course, I didn't want to use it and so I had to learn the lesson the hard way.


"Are you listening?"


Great creativity, in the art room, the writing room, the business office, or the dungeon comes from listening to the quiet inner voice of inspiration. When we negotiate we must listen to more than just the words that a potential partner uses. We must listen to their quiet inner voice that shows itself in its actions, its body language, its vocal tone, and, yes, in what he or she says and doesn't say. Likewise we must listen to ourselves and make certain that what we hear ourselves vocalizing is what we hear our hearts telling us.


"Compromise carefully, very carefully."


It's not as if we can always get everything we want, because we can't. And a half a loaf can be better than none. On the other hand it is necessary that we heed what we agree to, lest, quite frankly, we throw out the essentials and are left with the frivolous.


"Apologize."


In the final analysis, the only saving action was to send Reggie an apology. I did so on Tuesday with this email:


"It has been weighing heavily on me that I owe you two apologies and so I am writing this email in order to do so. First, I apologize for asking you to come over to play on Sunday night. It is obvious now that neither of us was ready to do so. It was, to say the least, a premature invitation. 
Secondly, I apologize that I acquiesced to respecting your limits. I shouldn't have done so. Instead I should have done what I am doing now, i.e., tell you to re-read my profile and when you are ready to experience full surrender, let me know. The fact that I repeatedly compromised on what I was seeking meant that neither of us got what we sought. I hope you will accept my apologies and that there will be a time when you are ready to become the dungeon object you so obviously (and desperately) want to be."


"Fear sets us up for failure. To fear is to fail."


This lesson came in a book I was reading on Monday. When I read it I knew it applied to Sunday night. 


We all have fears. Most of them, though, are mere shadows and imagery that abides in our minds without substance or basis in fact. Reggie, for instance, suffers from the fear that several past unsatisfactory scenes will be repeated. He really can't trust me. There are many ways for him to overcome his fear of me, if he would but do them. The most important one here is to simple ask me for a list of references and call them to ascertain my trust-worthiness.


His not doing so meant he continued to fear me in the dungeon and therefore contributed to the scene's failure.


"There are few bad scenes."


What might be called a "bad scene" can be redeemed by what we learn and, of course, "There can always be a next time."


Learn something today and have a great week. Jack


You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Liberation

Here are some excerpts from a recent post. The writer had ended an M/s relationship “and one of the most revealing aspects of that termination was the feeling of liberation.” Liberating actions included “getting my hair cut,” “los[ing] weight,” and “start[ing] my own checking account.” She ended the post with “Anyone else want to share their liberation moment???”

            My reaction to the post was simple and direct. Ending any dysfunctional relationship is going to be liberating. I say that because the implication in the post was that an M/s relationship was not liberating. It is obvious that her relationship was restrictive and unhealthy. Therefore it seems that she was right to end it.

            What though can we expect from a relationship? What are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship of any kind?

            The answer is a rather long list but I will try to give some idea of its characteristics, though I certainly don’t mean to be declaring a definitive list, nor one that illustrates any kind of priority or weight for the given items in it. In actuality the most important “list” for a healthy relationship is the one that you create for yourself.

            Here, then, are some of the signs that indicate a relationship is healthy: honesty, openness, empowerment, liberation, authenticity, enjoyment, peace, affection, understanding, and stability.

            There are two thoughts that this list brings to mind. The first is that in defining each of the characteristics we will be expanding the list. For instance, empowerment includes the idea of mutual support, which in itself could easily be seen as another characteristic.

            Likewise a couple could apply “empowerment” in two different ways. For one couple it might mean that they work together to accomplish a goal, while for another it might mean that “we’ll leave each other alone so that each of us has the peace, quiet, and time to accomplish our individual goals.” Patrick, for instance, often asks me to leave him alone so he can do something, since he hates to work with my looking over his shoulder.

            The second idea is that the list ought not to be used as a guide for ending a relationship. Instead it is meant as an aid in creating or improving a relationship. I say that because the interpretation and application of any one of these criteria is highly subjective. Too often we opt to end a relationship instead of improving it.

            On the other hand, the plain fact is that sometimes a relationship cannot be improved, therefore ending it is the only realistic outcome. That said, there are times when putting up with what you have is just a plain and simple necessity.

Honesty

            Honesty involves truth-telling. Ah hah! Even with that I am in a trap. For the truth is that some partners don’t want to know all the details of the other’s life. Still, I think that deception cuts off a part of oneself from the other and over time this separation leads the partners along individual paths culminating in the disintegration of the relationship.

            It is honest to agree not to discuss a topic. It is not honest to hide a topic because one doesn’t like the expected reaction the honesty will bring.

Openness

Akin to honesty, openness means that we are willing to share ourselves, our whole selves, with the other. It also means that we are willing to listen to the other with an open mind. It means that we can talk freely without fear of reprisal or ridicule and grant our partner the same kind of respect.

Empowerment

I firmly believe that the reason the author of Genesis wrote “It is not good for man to be alone” is that two people can accomplish so much more than one working alone. Some tasks in fact cannot be done alone and most are more enjoyable when done with a partner.

Empowerment means we aid the other in becoming all that he or she can be.

Authenticity

Empowerment primarily means that we aid the other in becoming authentic, that is to discover, realize, and live their true self-hood. We help each other arrive at our innate, fundamental, and essential integrity. Authenticity, in light of the often oppressive nature of society, is often difficult but it is the only true path to happiness.

Liberation

It is sad that the author who wrote the post above had to leave her relationship in order to become liberated. Relationships, by empowering authenticity, ought to liberate the real self. That is the most important liberation. A relationship that lacks liberation is one that needs work.

Enjoyment

As my friend Race Bannon writes, fun is important. Here we use the word enjoyment in its widest sense. Not only do we need to enjoy doing things together but there ought to be enjoyment in just being together. If we don’t find enjoyment in our relationship, then something probably needs to change.


Peace

            Simply put, the relationship should engender feelings of peace and security. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ups and downs and “for better and for worse.” It means that there a sense of contentment with one another, the ability to relax and be oneself, and generally agreement on the everyday ways we live.


Affection

            Face it, you have to like each other and feel an attraction to one another. Though there are many different ways to express affection, I think that each of us needs to remember to do so.

Understanding

            Relationships work because partners understand one another and can feel what the other feels.

Stability

            And lastly, like peace, the ups and downs of life are experienced because of external forces, not because the partners are ambivalent about each other. Stability assures us that the relationship can be depended upon and that one’s partner is dependable as well.

So what?

This is not an essay to challenge partners to evaluate their relationship as much as it is a challenge for people who expect to partner, or who are beginning to do so, to evaluate their own expectations for the relationship and to make their needs known one to another.

If this essay shines light on the need to improve your relationship, do so carefully and gently. Perhaps you might even be better off seeking professional help, rather than do it yourself.

For the liberated lady, if she follows these ideas before she enters her next relationship, she just might find herself liberated and coupled. Now there’s a good idea.

Have a great week.

Join me April 1-3 in Chicago for Sinsations In Leather. This three day event is worth every minute you spend there. I’m the keynoter… and am debuting a new workshop (not for the faint-hearted) about the Dark Side. I hope to see you there! You can find out more about the weekend at http://www.sinsationsinleather.com/

You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Reflection on Love & Life

A recent string of emails on one of the sites I cruise started with this:


“Sir, I could live my life with your rules as long as it was for life. I would want to have nothing more than you as my Lord and Master.” As usual I checked the guy’s profile and found he already had a master so I wrote back: “So who is the man you now call master?”


“Sir,” he answered. “He is a master I love very much but I know I will never be more than a part-time slave to him. I am OK with that most of the time. Then there are times when I long to really belong and know my place with a master, one who will never let me forget my place in life. The problem is I have fallen in love with master and still want more, not just part-time slavery.”


I gave him my response: “I am certainly willing to consider enslaving you but only with the consent of your present master. I am not one to steal another's slave.”


And he replied “Thanks but it was stupid of me to think about it anyway. I care too much for my master. I was feeling pretty lonely and wanting more than just part time slavery. I am lucky to have what he gives me.”


There are several principles here that affect negotiations and our decisions as to how and what we negotiate. As I see it, they are holism, authenticity, honesty, the role of love, and the place of emotion in what it is that we do.


Holism


I am a strong advocate of moderation, balance, and centeredness. In order to maintain those qualities it’s important that we live holistic lives, which means that we need to keep the many factors of our humanity in mind as we evaluate how we will act. Too often we make decisions based on one or two criteria, unfortunately being mindless about other factors that may be equally important, albeit neglected.


For instance we might decide to do something based on short-term benefits, neglecting the long-term impact of our decision.


Authenticity


There are many courses of action that are open to each of us. One of the most important and difficult ones is “To thine own self be true.” I say this because knowing oneself is not an easy proposition. It takes wisdom and maturity to know who and what we are. Both of those qualities, unfortunately, take time, and lots of it, often measured in years and in mistakes.


Yet true happiness, it seems to me, demands that we be authentic, i.e., faithful to the selfhood found in and defined by our most inner selves, our essential selves.


Honesty


Having found that self, we then must live that selfhood honestly. First, we must be honest with ourselves, neither denying who and what we are nor trying to be someone we are not.


That, too, is difficult because society, in all its facets, usually has other plans for us. My parents, for instance, expected me to be happily married until death parted my ex-wife and me. My brother expects that I should better support myself, perhaps by writing about a subject that would be more lucrative than kink. My Dad always wanted me to find a better job, even though writing and teaching satisfied my real self much more than any other careers I could imagine for myself.


We live in a world that accepts pretense, masks, and white lies. Honesty often bears the price of estrangement, ostracism, ridicule, and isolation.


The role of love


My friend quoted above (the emails are edited for clarity) speaks about love.




I need to take care here, since I am struck by his use of the term and by the idea that love is a poorly-used word. Is it love that he feels or is it infatuation? Are his feelings for his master honest? If so, then why does he feel “pretty lonely and wanting more?” Why doesn’t love bring him joy and satisfaction? If nothing else why does he tell me about his dis-satisfaction when he should speak to the one he loves about it?


Ah, there’s the rub. Can he not be honest with his master? Does the relationship lack authenticity in some way? Does he settle for second best because getting what he thinks he wants is unattainable or too difficult?


Of course, the infatuation may not be with the master but with the idea of slavery. Perhaps he fools himself into thinking that full-time slavery will solve his problems. I can’t answer any of these questions but each of has the responsibility to consider such kinds of questions when and if they arise in our lives.


The place of emotion


Lastly, as my friends know, I can be an emotional person. I feel things strongly and am quick to acknowledge the emotions that I feel. Emotions bring us a whole different set of values and ways to perceive what is happening. I strongly feel that the emotional aspect of our lives have much value and need to be recognized.


Still I have to return to the idea of holism. Too often we make decisions that reflect our feelings at the time. When our feelings change, we are then left with decisions that are no longer acceptable. I am certainly susceptible to that, as my feelings can easily put me on a real roller-coasting ride.


I have found that recognizing the emotions I feel at a given time helps me to put my current feelings into their proper perspective. It is a matter of having a dialogue with oneself about the feelings of the moment and recognizing that it is a feeling of the moment and therefore one that can well change in another moment.


One of the things I often suggest is that in time of critical decision-making we keep a journal and in it note our feelings about the topic under consideration on a daily basis. As we document those feelings over the course of a month or so we can then go back and review the highs and lows of those feelings and arrive at a more balanced knowledge of how we actually feel about a situation, rather than how we might feel about it in a given moment.


In conclusion


It’s important that we reflect upon our thoughts and feelings, especially as they affect our actions. In doing so our lives become more balanced, more authentic, and therefore more satisfying. In any case, this process is meant to create in our kinky lives the one characteristic that is most important: fun. If it’s not fun, then we need to charge of our decision-making process so that we get the results we will enjoy, not the second-rate ones we think we have to settle for.


Have a great week, that is one where your life is authentic and your face has a smile on it. Jack


You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.