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So I had a lovely evening at a friend’s birthday party yesterday. Around about 7pm (iirc) the usual shift-change happened, as the folks with young kids headed home and the folks with no kids (or with no kids with them) hung out a little longer in an all-grown-ups space, and I got to chatting with a few people about kink and polyamoury, and navigating that stuff.
 
Strictly speaking, I’m not new to polyamoury. I’ve been identifying as non-monogamous for about eight years. But for seven of those years (and once again, alas) I’ve been “the most monogamous poly person I know” (and possibly shooting myself in the foot as a result of saying as much… woops). Dating one person at a time, even if said people have been dating lots of others in addition to me.
 
I recently came up with the metaphore of Floating Docks to describe how I understand “relationship status”:
So, in my head, there’s a stable, floating dock called “casual pals” and a stable, floating dock called “close friends” and a stable, floating dock called “long term romantic partners” and… there isn’t really anything else. All of these docks are connected. They’re all landing points on a continuum of (a) available/expected time, energy and attention AND (b) emotional & physical/sexual intimacy. But these floating docks are connected by long, semi-submerged and very precarious-feeling chains. Not walk-ways, not linked-together chains of floating docks, just chains.
 
So if I’m in some sort of relationship with someone – which, if I’ve hung out with you more than once? We have some kind of relationship – I feel very unstable and anxious if that relationship isn’t one that (based on how we name each other, but also – very much so – on how we interact together) lands squarely and securely on one of my (very few) floating dock options.
 
This blows.
 
I mean, it’s great to finally have words and metaphors to put around how I conceptualize relationshps. But it blows because I have so few options. Like: It would be really great if I could build myself a metaphorical floating dock between “casual pal” and “super besty” so that folks who wanted to hang out with me at an emotional-intimacy level that was somewhere between “We hang out in big groups a few times a year” and “I am where you stay if you suddenly get divorced” weren’t stuck either out in the cold, so to speak, or being overwhelmed with more intimacy than they wanted. When I look at the (long, loooooooooong) space between “close friends” and “long-term romantic partners”, though, it gets even worse.
I would really, really like it if I had a few alternatives to “We’re in this For Ever” when it came to romantic and/or sexual relationships. I’d love a “friends with benefits / play-partners” dock and a “long-term lovers-as-opposed-to-partners” dock, both of-which would allow for long-term relationships that didn’t require huge outputs of time, energy and attention in order to be sustained or maintained. I might also (maybe) enjoy “summer fling” or “quick-and-dirty hook-up” docks that would allow for deeply emotionally-and-sexually intimate connections that were heavily bound/bordered by time limits.
 
And currently? Currently, I have none of those docks.
 
It’s a problem. It’s a problem that leads me to avoid asking for play-dates or scenes or even coffee “too often” for fear of getting more attached than I, or they, might want to be, and it’s a problem that leads me to pushing for relationships that are more emotionally-invested than they, or I, can reasonably sustain under a given set of circumstances.
It’s messed up, is what I’m saying.
 
I once asked my wife how she (having numerous sweethearts + being Ace + having lots of friends whom she loves) differentiates between “primary” sweetheartships, close/loving friendships, and “secondary” sweetheartships, and what she said was that it all depends on where the energy is going at any given time. She doesn’t try to force it, effectively, but just lets relationships be what they’re going to be.
 
I have no idea how that even works.
 
I mean, it’s possible that this is just because I’m (a) lazy, (b) needy, and (c) kind of an introvert/home-body who has to Make myself get out of the house on the regular, but I feel like (or fret that), if I were to just let the energy go where it’s going to go… I would basically be a shut-in with no social life of any kind what-so-ever. Audra Williams writes about how friendships (and other types of relationships, honestly) require (mutual) effort and maintenance to grow and thrive. Which is a no-brainer. But I find myself, these days, wondering “Okay. How much effort and maintenance, in which areas, will result in the growth and thriving of (a) a romantic relationship, (b) a casual lover-ship, (c) a one-on-one buddy-ship, (d) a cherishing friendship… vs how much (or how little, for that matter), in which areas, will result in an intentional casual, small-doses/big-groups friendship or occasional/one-off intimate encounter that doesn’t accidentally(?) end up on a relationship escalator.
 
A long (loooooooooong) time ago, I made the mistake (“mistake”) of going on my first-ever Real Date with someone I had zero interest in. Because I didn’t want to be “rude” or “mean” and because I thought “Whatever. It’s just a date. He’ll get it out of his system and leave me alone”. Which, duh, didn’t happen. So, being in my late teens and having no concept of even unhealthy boundaries, I made the decision then and there that I would never again date anyone I couldn’t see myself marrying.
For real.
 
Well, that was a bad idea.
And also: I’m currently (happily – woot!) married, and trying to find ways to navigate polyamoury without automatically aiming for some kind of Future wherein My Date quickly (or slowly) becomes part of my Poly Family and we eventually all live together in some sort of urban-farming eco-village-like compound that everyone returns to (sort of like the Mother Ship, except intimately tied to the cycles of our bioregion because also: I’m a huge Pagan), no matter how many months they spend traveling the world in any given year.
…Not that I’ve planned this all out or anything. >.>

 
So, yeah. I would like to know how to build myself some more Floating Docks so that I can feel comfortable and stable and safe having relationships with people that are “more than friends” but aren’t (and may never be) “permanent ‘blending finances and living arrangements’ relationships” either.
 
Any suggestions on how to go about doing this? Because presently I’m just overthinking everyting and not getting very far.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So, below, is a fairly large excerpt from this other post I wrote for Urban Meliad as part of the New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (if you’re a Woo Person, you may want to give it a go yourself). Given the subject matter, I thought it was appropriate to post it over here, as well.
As a heads up, I’m talking a little bit about dissociative things I do in (some) sexual situations but I’m not getting into discussions or depictions of sexual trauma. Also, I talk a bunch about tarot cards which might be a little out of left-field here, but is context-appropriate for the way I’m doing the Experiment over at Urban Meliad.
Onwards!
 
 
The first time I looked at the Osho Zen depiction of the Queen of Cups (Receptivity), what I saw in her double-helix-stemmed lotus blossom body was the Chalace (Brittish Traditional Wiccan style, in case you missed the metaphor). I keep thinking about the message to Slow Down from back in early April, and about not being as in my body as I thought I was and, maybe it’s because of the afore-mentioned sex-and-money rabbit hole, but I kind of feel like the Hard Thing I’ve been putting off is sex, specifically bottoming in sexual situations. (It’s something I can do, and something that I can enjoy a LOT… but I’m also really out of practice, and the last few times I’ve tried it, things have not ended well. I’ve wound up clinging to my various partners asking them over and over “Are you safe? Are you okay?” – a dissociative Thing where it’s pretty easy to spot what I’m really asking. FML.
I’m fucking tired of it!
 
So I did a Hard Thing the other night, and asked for something sexually specific from someone specific. And the someone specific said Yes.
 
Which you’d think would have been it for the hard part, but you would be wrong!
Turns out, there’s a whole other Hard Part that I didn’t even know was there!
 
So. Working this out:
Brené Brown writes (in The Gifts of Imperfection, iirc) that Joy is one of the most vulnerable feelings out there, and that because of this, people (i.e.: ME) are quick to numb out joy with things like Preemptive Tragedy or by setting up a permanent campsite in the Slaugh of Despond (perpetual, pre-emptive disappointment).
 
Slogging through the internal landscape of what I think I am, and am not, Supposed To feel:
I’m not supposed to want things
OR
I AM supposed to “want things” but only in-so-far as I’m able to psychically predict what other people want to me to want, which I an then present to them like it was all my idea OR Wanting specific things is greedy, and makes you a burden/bother, and you should know better than to be like that
OR
You can WANT things all you like, but actually ASKING for them is heaping social pressure on someone else to do what you want, whether they want to or not, so you might as well just tattoo “rapist” on your forehead and get it over with, you horrible, horrible, self-centred, demanding jerk
 
…Slogging through that stuff is hard. Getting the words out of my mouth is hard. But, for me at least (and in a situation where there was at least a 50% chance of getting a Yes in the first place), it was even harder to get through what came after.
 
The Hard Thing, it turns out, is stopping myself from slamming my own fist down on hope and joy by telling myself All The Stories – stories like:
They’re just saying yes to be ‘nice’ to you, they don’t really want to do this and you should just let them off the hook before you screw this up even worse;
OR
Okay, you’ve asked, and they’ve said yes. Now what happens if you freeze up and reneg on the deal? What happens then, huh? You’ll have Led Them On and then Let Them Down, that’s what! Maybe you should just call the whole thing off before you screw this up even worse.
 
The hard part is staying open, and it took recognizing the feeling as one I’d had before (over a year ago actually, back when C first said they were interested in me and I spent a train-ride home from Toronto wanting to sob my eyes out because I was so full of hope that was trying so hard to turn into despair) for me to figure out what was happening.
Maybe if (when?) I feel that feeling again, I’ll be able to recognize it and tell myself: “Wait! This isn’t something that you have to squash! Stay hopeful! Stay open! This is already going somewhere good!”
 
Staying open felt like being filled up to overflowing (with something really positive), feeling a little overwhelmed and like I needed to dial things back or else Something Would Go Wrong… But it didn’t, in and of itself, feel bad. And staying emotionally open had some er… pleasant side-effects on the physical front? Yay?:-)
 
I think that feeling – brim-full and possibly overflowing, but able to accept that more is coming – is the Queen of Cups Feeling.
 
I read something in Healing Sex (which I’d forgotten I’d bought years ago and in-which I’d already made a bunch of notes) the other day, about how as you push through barriers, you are going to feel all the uncomfortable, crappy feelings all over again, and you’re going to have to figure out which of those uncomfortable (emotional and/or phsyical) sensations are crappy-and-triggering because you don’t like them, versus which ones are uncomfortable but actually okay (like: If you try to stop yourself from getting turned on because of bad experiences or feelings around getting turned on during a Bad Situation, it’s okay to continue with a Good Situation, even if you are trying not to get turned on, and you might be able to let yourself get turned on in those Good Situations eventually). This reminds me a little of that.
 
Learning (or remembering?) how to discern which Intense Feelings mean “stop” versus which ones mean “keep going”, rather than treating all of them as “This is Too Intense! ACK!” is… kind of a big deal? I feel kind of like I’ve had a penny-drop moment, albeit probably one that’s going to involve a lot of practicing before it becomes something I can do without having to talk myself thorugh it on a concious level. (Although talking myself through “stay hopeful, stay open” in the emotional sense is actually a mega-tonne easier than talking myself through “stay in your body, don’t over-think everything” in the physical sense has ever, ever been, possibly for obivous reasons).
 
I have a chunk of rose quartz tucked into my bra, near my heart. I have Plans for this, but one of them is a little bit of self-glamoury to keep some love-for-me close at hand when I need it.
Touching on the Two of Cups again [EDIT: this is the tarot card I chose to represent this prompt over at UM for a bunch of reasons which you can read all about in the original. /EDIT], the Mary-El version, as Beth Maiden puts it, depicts the “[…J]oy of emotional connection, the sublimity of blending energies[…]”. Of offering and accepting and receiving and offering back; of feeding each other.
I want to do this with my partner(s).
I want to build on this and keep opening.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.

My year-at-a-glance horoscope for (big shock) the year my Saturn Return began said “Scorpios can stay in a bad situation longer than is healthy for anyone” (or words to that effect).
 
I think I’ve only (sort of) initiated a break-up once in my life, and it was kind of by accident. I’d been trying to tell my then-boyfriend that I needed him to shape up and contribute financially to the household (hahaha, in retrospect this was so unlikely to happen it was a joke I even asked, but hey) and, well, that wound up being the end of the relationship. Now, something like a decade-and-a-half later, I find myself contemplating a more-recent breakup (The Archivist and I stopped dating at the end of January). Maybe it’s because I’m hitting that particular stage in post-breakup grieving where I get pissed off, or maybe it’s for some other reason, but I find myself thinking a lot about how much of that (long-distance) relationship I spent feeling exhausted, anxious, lonely, frustrated, or otherwise in the Seriously Unhappy end of the emotional nebula.
It’s not their fault. They were giving me everything they could (and, as such, were probably feeling a lot of similar things, a lot of the time). I just needed more than what they could give me[1].
 
Which is what brings me to my titular question: How Do You Know When To Quit?
 
If you’ve been here for very long (or know me in person), you know that I’ve had very little dating experience. Like: Six people. Two of whom I full-on married, and two more of-whom didn’t make it past the 3-month mark. I’m still just starting to learn the patterns of my own romantic Healing Process (e.g.: I’m at the familiar, slightly heart-achy, slightly embarassing stage where I think about how “five years from now”, after we’ve both done a lot of Emotional Growing and got our business in a bit more of a heap, maybe we could be lovers/confidants/neighbours/partners (pick a stand-in for “close”) again, and not fuck it up so much. Note: This has yet to actually happen – though I’m on fairly friendly, if “acquaintancy”, terms with the guy I think of as “my first boyfriend” – but you never know) and my data sample is pretty scant when it comes to trying to figure out My Patterns.
None the less, that thing from my horoscope rings pretty true for me.
 
You know all that Brené Brown stuff I’ve been reading? The stuff where, if it feels like someone is hurting you because they are understepping, rather than overstepping some line, somewhere, it’s still an issue about Boundaries?
I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around that one, but I think I’m starting to get it. Not grok it, by any stretch, but get it.
 
And yet.
But.
 
Because, so often, those situations feel circumstantial. She’s not emotionally available because she’s trying to do DIY therapy. He’s not making time for me specifically, because he’s out of town for the summer and can only come in for one day at a time. They’re not around as much as I’d like because they’re trying to find their feet in a new city. She’s not interested in sex because she’s exhausted from working two jobs.
…Sometimes that stuff is true. Sometimes that stuff is true, but there’s other stuff going on that they’re not telling you about, or that they can’t yet name. Sometimes that stuff (the circumstantiality of it) isn’t true at all, and they’re never going to smarten up and treat you as well as you treat them, make as much time for you as you make for them, love you the way you love them, want you the way you want them. Sometimes they are just not that into you, and sometimes they’re totally into you but… they still can’t give you what you need.
 
So. How do you know?
 
I was talking (elsewhere) about how “relationships, even when they go through sucky periods, are only hard when they are not what you want them to be”.
…And I’m still not sure how to discern that. How to catch it when those clouds aren’t just a passing storm, a temporary grey period, but a situation that you can’t Process or Self-Care your way out of?
 
Brené Brown – among numerous other people – basically says that when someone’s behaviour is not meting your needs:
1) You have to actually use your words and make sure you’ve stated your needs out loud to the person in question. (I can do this bit. I’m graceless about it, halting and stumbling and sometimes needing to try a few different ways of saying it before I actually hit on The Thing that I actually need, but I can say that stuff out loud).
AND
2) You have to leave if they say no.
 
Which is maybe over-stating things a little bit, but that’s what it boils down to. You can’t force someone to turn their “no” into a “yes”. That’s not on. Which means either (a) you change what you need[2] so that you don’t need The Thing, (b) you accept that the price of admission for having a relationship (or whatever kind) with Person X is that The Thing is not going to happen, and you will need to get The Thing via some other avenue[3], or (c) you do not have a relationship – or at least you don’t have that kind of a relationship – with Person X[4].
 
And it feels like such an ultimatum. “Do what I want or I’m leaving you!”
 
Maybe it’s just because I have big ol’ fear-of-abandmonent Issues, so this tactic feels like the nuclear option from where I’m standing. Like: How could you threaten someone you care about with The Worst Thing In The World???
Or maybe it’s the bone-deep suspicion that if I actually pulled that on someone who was already not ponying up on the kind words, quality time, or caring actions fronts, they would be like “Fine. G’bye.” Either because they don’t have the energy to play That Game, or because they’d really rather just get rid of me and I’ve just presented them with a way to not be the Bad Guy while doing it.
Maybe it’s because I have a ridiculous degree of Scarcity Mentality going on when it comes to Love And Belonging, and some part of me really does believe that I have to take what I can get when someone I’m nuts about has – for some inexplicable reason – decided that they want to be with me at all. (Yeah, I know.😛 I’m working on it).
Regardless, it seems like a Horrible Idea. The kind of thing that’s doomed to failure and regret and wondering how you could have been so stupid as to let them go or push them away.
 
And I need to stop feeling like that.
 
I keep thinking – wrongly, I know – that if I could just stop caring about people I care about then I could have relationships (well, no, not really) and they would never hurt. Or – maybe more accurately? Maybe not? – that, with enough practice, you just get used to functioning and getting things done through small but constant injuries, the way you do when you work in a kitchen or a workshop and just get used to burns and nicks on your hands and forearms.
 
How do you know when to quit? Even if you do know how.
 
My first queer relationship was one hurdle after the next and, yes, I was prepared to stick it out for years (that mythical five years, as it happens, though she broke up with me after a year-and-a-half), even though I was miserable more and more of the time and my girlfriend was unreliable and, frankly, mean to me quite frequently.
My second queer relationship? Reader, I married her. And we have had some BIG bumps in the time we’ve been together, but our relationship is also solid and still working.
My third queer relationship just (well, “just”) ended.
 
Do you know it’s time to quit because you’ve said “Hey, this Thing keeps happening. How can we deal with that?” and the answer has been “Let’s break up”, and you officially know that they can’t (or won’t, depending) do the Big Scary of fumbling and talking and trying again? And, if that’s the case, does that even count as you doing the quitting?
 
Do you know it’s time to quit because you’ve said “I need The Thing” in half a dozen different ways, and the answering actions have been consistently Not The Thing?
 
I think maybe you (I?) know it’s time to quit when you are consistently more unhappy in that relationship than you are happy in it… I just don’t know what the time-line is for that. How long do you let something run to see if it gets better, if the Crisis Machine of someone else’s life will let up enough that she or he or they have the emotional energy to turn towards you and try to collaboratively fix The Thing, or if it’s just… time to pull back, pull away, even though it hurts.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] …And didn’t neccessarily know many of the underlying needs my wants were pointing to, or standing in for – which is kind of a key thing that I may revisit in a later, more generalized post.
 
[2] I have yet to make this work, in spite of trying it in every relationship I’ve ever had.
 
[3] Not always an option. If you need consistency and reliability from all of your partners, the fact that Partner Q is solid as a rock is not going to make it any easier if Partner X is a big flake who never calls when he says he will. If you need all your friends to be up on the latest episode of Jessica Jones, or Orange Is The New Black, or whatever, and I don’t want to get a netflix account just to hang out with you, then I’m sorry, but we’re not going to be friends. (I’m sure you’re awesome).
 
[4] Not always an option. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and deal with the fact that your coworker participated in March For Life (I am so sorry) and you can’t just fire him for believing his uteris-enabled co-workers don’t have a right to bodily autonomy.

So, yesterday was Queering Power 2016.
It was, surprisingly, an easier day that QP usually is. Which isn’t to say it didn’t have its hard bits.
One of the workshops was on trauma-survival and kink and I was expecting that to be pretty hard. It… wasn’t. I mean, I had my knitting out and was basically listening with half an ear. I have to work at it to remember what people said in the small groups we broke into to talk about stuff. The main thing I remember about it was (a) getting colder and colder and colder during the workshop itself, and (b) This:
Apparently there’s a thing called “hyperarrousal”, which is a thing that happens (or can happen) when you’re Triggered. Hyperarrousal isn’t the same as “hypervigilance”, and it includes a whole bunch of things like a distorted sense of the passage of time, anxiety, irritability, & fatigue (among lots of others). It’s been described as a “chronic state of fight/flight/freeze”. (Particularly interesting to me is that decreased body temperature is – apparently – associated with PTSD. I’m cold ALL THE TIME – like, up to and including shivering in a hot room, under blankets – when I’m freaking out about something).
 
The things you learn.
 
The first workshop I went to was a Facilitated Discussion (we *love* those faciliated discussions in this crowd) about chronic illness – physical stuff or mental health stuff or both – and dominance. I talked a little bit about how (a) I have physical pain that doesn’t go away + a brain that tells me horrible, bullshit stories (that are so easy to believe), but that (b) my Owned Property is dealing with the same stuff, but several orders of magnitude worse than I’ve got it. In that situation, how much of this relationship, where she’s “supposed” to be taking care of me is really going to be like that? And what does that mean?
And, when the link between anxiety and vulnerability came up (again and again and again),the words I put around it were (paraphrasing here):
 

I’m not supposed to want. And I’m not supposed to need[1]. But, as someone’s owner, I am supposed to want. Actively and openly[2]. So what do I do here? The story I tell myself is that how this is Supposed To Go is that I pretend to want/demand only those things that my Person already wants to give/provide[3]. So when I have something I actually want, something that doesn’t fit the script I’m (secretly) assuming my Person is (secretly) following… It’s terrifying. Asking means admitting that I can’t just do it on my own. Because if I could thrive without X, or could provide X to myself without anyone’s help, I would already be doing it. Asking feels like danger. Like “this is me, putting my chips down, and asking”. And I feel so fucking powerless.

 
Which was hard, but good, to say out loud.
By the end of that workshop, I was having my usual reaction to having let myself be “seen”, which is equal parts “I need a hug”, “I need a good cry”, and “I need to remove myself from mixed company before I hit somebody non-consensually”. I don’t know if that’s a vulnerability hangover, or what, but there it is.
 
But the part of the day that was the hardest for me was the opening plenary.
The current Ms Leather Toronto, who ran the plenery, included an exercise that was done by a couple of volunteers… They could have been me and Ghost, but they weren’t. In spite of Ghost nudging me in the shoulder and trying to convince me to give it a go.
I didn’t want to.
 
The exercise was that the members of a given D/s dyad would take turns saying:
“I see the beauty of your [dominance/submission] in your [action/characteristic/etc]” + asking if the other person could accept that their beauty was seen and acknowledged. (Each person does this five times, and then they switch).
I did not want to do this. Not with an audience, and not with my wife. Not right then.
 
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to come up with five things, off the top of my head, and that my inability to do so would reflect badly on me (because I’m clearly not focusing on the good things that my Person brings to our dynamic) and also on her (because what does it MEAN if your owner can’t praise you for specifics??)
I was afraid that, if I could come up with five things in-which I could see Ghost beauty as a submissive, that I would pick the wrong things. That I would spot her beauuty in the ways that I spot it, but that I would totally miss some aspect of her submission that is super-central to her identity and that she needs to have recognized and valued. I was afraid that I would screw it up and/or let her down like that.
And I was afraid of – and overtly hostile towards – having to hear Good Things about myself. The point was that I would have been supposed to accept those things, those “I see your beauty as a dominant in [XYZ]” and… I wasn’t sure that I could. In fact, right at that moment, I was absolutely certain that I couldn’t. That I’d have reacted (or at least wanted to react) with a snarling “Stay away from me!” if someone had tried to show me that much praise.
It’s… telling.
I’m not sure what my shame was, right then, but letting someone be gentle with you, letting yourself absorb that kindness… it means taking off your armour. And I deeply, deeply didn’t want to be unguarded.
Telling, indeed.
 
Someone once said to me that she found it hard to hear me tell her that she’s easy to love.
I think I understand a little bit better now what that was about.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which is very likely The Patriarchy talking in my head, but is also something that I have huge, vast, awful amounts of shame around. Wanting means I’m Too Demanding, Too Much, Too Pushy. Needing means I’m a burden. Asking, unless I’m considerably more than 90% sure the answer will be Yes, is basically putting social pressure on someone else to do what I want them to do which, in some cases, equates to assault inside my head.
 
[2] My much-neglected-of-late Cultivating Entitlement tag is all about my struggles with this.
 
[3] As if a 24/7 d/s personal relationship was supposed to play out like a paid, time-bound session with a pro-domme wherein all feminization is “forced”, and where one is “punished” with exactly the thing that will get one off. My brain is weird.

Queer Fam… of Origin

A few years ago, when I was an outreach worker for a province-wide Q/T health organization, I got to spend an afternoon with my wife and a bunch of other out-of-town (mostly) adults hanging out in Renfrew County for the local queer youth support/social group’s Big Day Out. THere were safer sex workshops. There was a drag workshop. And there was a dance-party (at which a friend of mine paid the party a surprise visit in her Elvis Gear, thus putting the king in The King, and the kids went nuts and wanted pictures. It was a good time.
BUT (or, more accurately,AND): I met a youngster who needed to talk about Stuff with someone who wasn’t an immediate part of her microscopic dating pool. Long story short: We emailed, she told me about feeling like The Only Queer in the Family, I mentioned some statistical probabilitiess, and she wrote me back to tell me she’d asked her Dad and he’d pointed out the small but significant group of homos amongst her cousins.
“I’m not the only one!” her email crowed.
 
Sometimes it’s a surprise, is what I’m saying.
 
In my case… it wasn’t entirely a surprise.
We were all just really, reeeeeeeeeeeally clueless.
But it still kind of floors me when I’m visiting my (bio) aunt, my (married-in) aunt, my masculine-presenting cousin + her super-femme lady-love[1], and my Big Gay Honourary Uncle… because it’s like: I don’t have to flag! They all KNOW!
It’s like some part of my brain forgets that they’re my relatives, that one of them has known me since I was born, and most of the rest have known me since high-school, and all I see is a house full of hippie-ass creative queers (MAH PEOPLE!) whom I don’t see every day… and I suddenly want to be all “So, my wife and I went to this queer slow-dance thing last weekend…” while re-applying my hot-pink lipstick and talking-with-my-hands so much that my shoulders are getting in on the action.
I feel like those kids in Renfrew, going a little hay-wire just because there are Other Queers Around… even though 90% of who I hang out with, these days, are big ol’ homos.
It’s a bit bizzarre, to tell you the truth.
And yet.
I’m not the only one!
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Who totally gave me the Femme Dazzling Smile when she met me, because we do actually recognize each other, but I wasn’t expecting it, and it was really nice when she did it.😉

In My Body… Or Not

I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. When your body is your instrument, you need to be in it all the way. Now I work as a model, and being aware of my body as it exists in space, is a big part of the job. I have (relatively minor) back and joint pain that, for the most part, just doesn’t go away.
You would think that this would mean that it’s easy – maybe not always pleasant, but easy – for me to be In my body all the way.
I’ve actually prided myself on the assumption that I am In my body all the way, and that it’s easy for me to do, that it’s normal or second nature.
… And I realized about a month ago that this is not the case. Not really.
 
I realized that the part of my body that I occupy, that I think of as “me”, that I can be In without having to think about it or work at it is… not very much. It’s the part from my arm-pits up. Sometimes I go a little lower than that – although that might also just be an awareness of where my bra sits all the time? – but the part of me that I think of as “me” is… my arms and hands, my neck, my shoulderblades and traps (at least the tops of them), my shoulders, my neck, my face, my scalp, my head.
It explains a lot.
 
Like why I tend to Notice other people from about the same point up and don’t pay a tonne of attention to the rest until after I’ve decided “Oh, I think that person is pretty”.
Like why I like going down on my lovers to the degree that I do, and (okay, there’s more than one reason for this) it’s so much easier to have someone’s junk in my mouth than in my cunt.
Like why my lovers feel “so far away” when their hands/mouths/attention are focused below my waist.
Like why kissing is SO Amazing and is my favourite part of sex.
Like why wrapping my arms around someone feels so intimate.
 
So here I am, going “Ohhh…” and wondering how to change that. How to be a whole-body experience all the time.
Suggestions welcome.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

More Precious

Sentiments aren’t diamonds.
“I love you” isn’t precious because it’s (kept) rare, held in reserve and dripped out a little at a time in order to keep it at a premium. It’s precious because it’s true.
And worthless when it isn’t.
How do you know it’s true?
Because it’s backed up by action.
 
“I love you” is answering the phone every time she calls after 1am and talking for an hour when I have to get up at six.
“I love you” is “What can I do to help?” and then doing that thing that will (hopefully) help.
“I love you” is meeting you at the airport or the train or the bus.
“I love you” is getting on the airplane, or the train, or the bus, even if I had to put it on my credit card and I don’t know when my next job will turn up.
“I love you” is rewriting all my recipes so he can eat them, it’s keeping the vegan margarine in the freezer or having a three-month supply of almond milk in tetra packs on the shelf for when he visits.
“I love you” is four hours on Google to find the right honey, then the next right honey, then the next.
“I love you” is falling asleep on her shoulder because she’s the safest place in the world.
“I love you” is pears from the super market.
“I love you” is learning how to not make my feelings your problem.
“I love you” is the way you light up when you see her.
“I love you” is a text message, when words are all the actions you can offer across so much time and space.
“I love you” is “Let’s get a cider and you can tell me what’s up with your husband/book/kids/job, because We Have An Arrangement”.
“I love you” is learning to recognize who’s Driving by the colour of their eyes.
“I love you” is running her a bath with epsom salts when her arthritis is acting up.
“I love you” is “Can I get you some groceries?”
“I love you” is “Groceries would be really helpful, right now, thank you”.
“I love you” is turning your living room into someone else’s art studio.
“I love you” is recognizing that something had to give, even if it sucks that it was me.
“I love you” is making sure they know they don’t have to be On all the time.
“I love you” is massaging her sore hands.
“I love you” is fixing their car (again).
“I love you” is lending them your car (again).
“I love you” is lungwort and lamia and wild ginger dug up and passed on by the arm-load.
“I love you” is doing the dishes.
“I love you” is finding the patience to get through another sobbing fit of “Nobody loves me!” when you’re sitting right there, supporting her through her anxiety and insecurity.
“I love you” is knowing when to back off[1].
“I love you” is every stitch in the patch or the darn.
“I love you” is letting me cry on her shoulder (again) about my ex.
“I love you” is repairing the spinning wheel.
“I love you” is a place to sleep when you’re an hour away and too tired to keep driving.
“I love you” is editing because you believe in her.
“I love you” is cleaning out the fridge, so she doesn’t have to.
“I love you” is the hours it takes to make that hat.
“I love you” is the struggle to write it down.
“I love you” is “I miss you but, yes, you should spend the night with [other partner]”.
“I love you” is building raised beds in the back yard.
“I love you” is rhubarb transplants from both of their fathers’ gardens.
“I love you” is helping you cull your closet.
“I love you” is home in an emergency.
“I love you” is a safe place to fall apart.
“I love you” is reading aloud.
“I love you” is listening.
“I love you” is finding the courage to say it out loud when you don’t know what the answer will be.
 
It doesn’t lose its sparkle if you say it.
 
 
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Kinda wish I was better at this one, and that it didn’t hurt so much.

My business is generally pleasurable.

Photo on 12-22-15 at 9.51 AM #3 My face whenever someone asks me this stupid fucking question.

Here’s another pet peeve of my email inbox: when a man (because it’s almost always a man) asks me if he should continue seeing this woman he’s been dating who just told him she has herpes. Sometimes the question is data-based, about what transmission statistics are real. Sometimes the question is esoteric, about whether or not he truly knew this woman in the first place. And sometimes it’s the classic entitled bullshit I face on Twitter all the time: I’m not a jerk for dumping someone who poses a risk to my health, right? Why on Earth would I knowingly choose to put myself in danger like that? Is she worth it?

I don’t know, man. Does your dick get hard around her? Is she nice?

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This post makes some excellent point. Go read it.

Vision Passion Action

This post was written by Danielle Landry. She teaches Mad People’s History as part-time instructor with the School of Disability Studies.

A drawing of a road side stand with the words "psychiatric help 5 cents" on top. Inside the stand there is a person with a blue text box. The bottom of the stand reads "The corporation is in"Ok, let’s talk.

Let’s talk about how those two new workplace scenario commercials only reinforce the idea that it’s unsafe to talk about mental health to your boss or co-workers, instead of establishing that employers in Ontario actually have a duty to accommodate disabled workers, including those with psychiatric disabilities.

Let’s stop positioning disabled people as charity cases through a-nickel-for-every-text campaigns.

Let’s talk about the erosion of our social systems through corporate greed.

Let’s ask why Bell hasn’t instituted any programs to support its low-income customers, such as if they need a reprieve from paying their bills during a hospital stay.

Let’s talk about why it’s not okay that we have to rely on corporate sponsorship to sustain our mental health system. Let’s ask if corporate influence serves to…

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So, many years ago, fairly early on in my relationship with my now-wife, when I was trying to figure out if what I was feeling for her was Capital-L Love, I realized something about myself:
Most of my experiences of loving someone else have been deeply tied to the fear that they were going to leave. Insecure-Anxious Attachment Bonds R Us apparently goes deeper than I had thought. My Ghost was my first love relationship where I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner.
Which is not actually a true statement. Because I was afraid of losing her, quite frequently, and wrestled a LOT with fears around not being a good enough domme to keep her service-side happy, not being confident enough (in any arena) to earn her loyalty, not being secure enough, or compersion-y enough, to avoid trying her patience on the polyamoury front. All sorts of stuff.
But I was also fairly confident, on some level, that she would keep coming back.
Because she did keep coming back.
It was a pattern that kept repeating itself, and every time it did, it chipped away at that deep-seated fear, until one day I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not in the generalized fear-of-abandonment way, at any rate.
 
Great, right?
Totally!
 
Except that being free of that particular fear meant that I ran smack into another one, one that I hadn’t expected to even exist, let alone be something I’d have to contend with:
I was suddenly afraid (yep) that, if I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner, there wouldn’t be anything left of the Feelings I was feeling for her. I was shudderingly (and irrationally) terrified that my feelings of love for my partner would evaporate if I wasn’t coding them through the lens of “fear of loss”, and wondering if, were I to stop fearing being without her, would I then just not caer if she never contacted me again? If I wasn’t afraid that she would never come back, would I do the WORK of maintaining the relationship? Would I make phone calls and emails and dates and invitations if I wasn’t afraid of Never Seeing Her Again? And if I relaxed around that stuff… well, if I wasn’t doing it, who would?
Which kind of makes those layered fears into a bit of an Ouroboros, since underneath the fear-of-loss-of-fear is the fear/assumption that I’m the only member of a given diad who is going to put in the maintenance hours on that relationship. Which… is weird, and maybe foolish, and definitely not kind to my partners… and also an accurate representation of most (not all, thank the gods, but most) of my friendships and romances between the ages of ten and thirty, so… maybe not actually strange that I was feeling it.
 
All that being said, when I realized what I was dealing with, I let it go.
I let it go.
With Ghost, I let go of the feeling that I should be a shuddering ball of anxiety every time she went to see her other partner.
That didn’t mean that, as she accumulated more sweethearts, I didn’t routinely go through the same song-and-dance of actual (if unfounded) fear that I would be replaced or pushed to the side-lines. I totally did. But I stopped forcing myself to feel like crap when I didn’t actually feel that way.
 
So, Go Me. I overcame a Thing.
 
You can sense the “But…” lingering, can’t you?
 
Yeah.
 
In a twist that will surprise none of you, I find myself with my (relatively) new partner, going through the same silliness all over again. Tying myself up in knots over the suspicion (mostly my jerk brain talking through its usual scripts) that said partner might not care about me as much as: (a) she says she does / (b) her other partners / (c) I care about her / (d) pick something, I’m sure I’ve worried about it… and then, when faced with the (repeated, from numerous sources, human and otherwise) suggestion that I actually trust my partner (what a concept), running into the fear that, if I do that, if I stop freaking out about whether or not she cares about me… that I won’t care if she stops contacting me or, worse, that I won’t care if she disappears for a while, and then comes back to me.
It’s the same thing all over again. Even though I figured out I loved her ages ago, back before we started dating, when I caught myself thinking “I want you to be happy and safe”, and then realized what that meant. Even knowing what loving her actually feels like, I’m still goddamn dealing with this nonsense about how “Love feels like fear of abandonment. That’s how you know you’re in love”.
 
It’s fucking stupid, is what it is, and it irritates the heck out of me that this is an issue even when I know what love-without-that-fear feels like and can recognize it. But at least I caught it quickly (ish) this time. Here’s hoping that I can build on this knowledge in the new year as I try to stop my “scarcity thinking” on multiple fronts.
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.