The Human Experience Part II

Worthiness of Love

My friend invited me to an Al Anon meeting last week, and I strongly considered going, not because of my own problems (I’m in denial, just let me have that) but because I figured it would be nice for me to offer some emotional support. He’s in love with a recovering alcoholic, and I try not pass judgment about the situation because is that really my place? But I definitely pass judgment about it, despite my best efforts. Mostly I feel like my friend is an amazing, generous, kind hearted person who deserves better than that, but I think I’m starting to suspect that telling people they “deserve better” is a bit of a trap. Sure, it’s great that I’m trying to pump up my friend’s self esteem so that he doesn’t find himself caught in a situation that will ultimately unravel or demean him. I never want my friends to settle just because they’re lonely or bored. That’s not why it’s a trap. It’s also not a trap to always want more out of life – we should always want something better for ourselves; a better job, a better house, a better car. There’s something noble about striving to make your own life and ideally by extension the world better, but there’s something pathological about never being satisfied. And when it comes to people – well, the people you love can never be equated to buying a better car or asking for a raise or moving up in life. People are not commodities or trophies that we show off as a way to express our status in society. People are…well, they’re people, and they should be treated as such. Our personal relationships shouldn’t be treated like commodities – we can’t trade in old models just because they’re dinged up or a bit scratched. It’s just the crazy nature of love. Seeking out romantic partners or even friends shouldn’t be equivalent to hiring new employees. When did dating become like a job interview? How come people have to have certain qualifications in order to be worthy of love? If you love someone, then you love someone. So-called character flaws that are actually just circumstances of life such as struggling with addiction, financial insecurity, mental illness, and health issues shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone from being in your life. Attraction shouldn’t center around a check list of verified traits. Goodness, the ability to love, generosity, emotional availability – those things aren’t defined by your ability to conform to society’s expectations of what a normal, well adjusted adult should look like.

Personally, I like the people in my life to be flawed. I like them to be aware of it and open about it. I like them to be (on some level) at peace with it. Because that’s how I am. I’m a deeply flawed person. In so many ways that I’d rather not list on the Internet right now. But I’d rather be with people who accept themselves and others as they are, rather than expecting them to live up to the impossible Instagram vision of what we’re supposed to be. This idea that we should be growing linearly into some ideal human being is unrealistic and impractical. It’s suffocating. It’s crushing. It’s also not very fun.

The Human Experience

Jealousy

He slept with someone else. He told me of his own volition, but I suspected as much. Not because I’m a cynic but more because I understand how this works. I take the information in with aplomb because I always feel it’s better in the long term to take bad news with grace. Although, after a few moments of reflection, I realize: I’m jealous. But not in the way I’m used to being jealous. Which is probably why it took me so long to realize that I was feeling jealousy. Generally in situations like this, I’m not treated with the respect that I always want. Historically, I always find out that my so-called boyfriends are cheating on me through word of mouth, which is, of course, enraging, and that always inspires some sort of fit of hysteria and self destructive revenge seeking. However, in this situation, it’s a bit different. We’re not monogamous, nor do I think either of us were aiming for that. Although, in a flash, the thought crosses my mind: did I miss my opportunity? Should I have locked it down? Do I want monogamy? Answer: nah. Sure, I’m not actively pursuing other partners right now because there’s a lot going on and I feel satisfied with the current state of my life, but I like to keep my options open. The label of monogamy is just so…burdensome. It’s very heavy, and also as someone who has been in that alternative sexual lifestyle for quite some time now, I know better than that. Which isn’t to say that I have too much guilt about my previously slutty ways to feel like I deserve monogamy – it’s more that after eschewing monogamy for so long, I know that if I wanted monogamy, I would recognize that desire overwhelmingly. And what I recognize is: I want to be asked to be in a monogamous relationship, not the other way around. I’m just not phased by it. Maybe I will be eventually, but not today. I’m also not phased by the fact that he slept with someone else, but I’m still jealous. Which is great! I’m actually pretty pleased with myself and my ability to address this bit of jealousy. It’s not unbearable. It’s not crushing me. It’s just there, and I don’t really know what to do with it. Honestly, I think my jealousy is really cute. It’s an endearing kind of jealousy. It’s sweet. Back when I used to be tough, I never would have allowed myself to be jealous. I didn’t really like being that emotionally involved with my sexual partners, so the fact that I’m jealous means that I actually care. Which is a relief – I fucked so many people that I didn’t care about over the years, and I wasn’t a better person for it. I guess it turns out I enjoy caring about the people I sleep with. I’d like to be the type of person who cares about her sexual partners. Who expresses her emotions like an adult. Who accepts that people and situations and relationships and emotions can change over time. I think that’s very cool.

Men, In General

There he goes, out the door, yet again. Down the street, into his car, and to the airport, where he is going to board a plane fly far away from me. I can’t help but sigh, because I’m supposed to miss him, but in moments like these, which are still tense with our mutual discomfort – it’s not coming to me.

I’m struggling with trying to remember how I got here in the first place. I’m afraid that if I replay those first few memories of us that those memories will become warped and faded. Yet I cling to them because without them I’ll utterly crumble, and then he’ll be gone forever. I try to paste those first kisses and bright smiles over today’s argument, which is still tossing around in the front of my mind and gripping at my heart with a grimace on my face.

I can’t believe he’s left me here. It’s easy for my mind to wander, to think about all the other men, both real and imagined, who never would have done this. Although, I wonder – is this inevitable? I haven’t dated any of them exclusively for a year. Are arguments just natural? Well, of course arguments are natural, but this feeling is so strange, so unwanted. My fairy tale impression of what love is supposed to look like does not accommodate sour feelings, abandonment, discord. Although, the logical part of me that hasn’t been entirely fooled by Disneyland charades of romance knows: yes, we argue. We’re just supposed to get through it.

It’s hard to think about how we’re going to get through when he’s far away and I’m sitting here, stewing. It’s hard to see the other side, to predict whether or not the other side will take us back to lilting moments of sex and romance or if this is just the beginning of the end. What if he resents me forever? What if this is how it will always be, until it ends? What if he disappoints me until I can’t take it anymore? It’s easy to fixate on that. It’s not even that I’m a pessimist – quite the opposite, actually. But deep in my heart, buried beneath my insecurities, is the sneaking suspicion that he is not the one and this was a waste of my time.

It’s a fluke. I tell myself it’s a fluke. I try to rewind to better times, to when my head and heart were filled with dreams of us against the world, together forever, a family, a happy home, a future of fantasies come true. Or was I naive. Or am I being too hard on myself. I’m trying to be realistic, but what is reality anyways? Oh, I could dive down that rabbit hole for hours, days, if only it would distract me from the fact that things have gotten hard, and I don’t want them to be hard. Being in love is supposed to be easy.

But fuck that – I know better than that. Believing that this is supposed to be easy is just another trap. It’s an excuse to exit as soon as possible. I know that all my friends want me to be with the perfect man, but that’s cruel of them because the perfect man doesn’t exist. There will always be moments of pain in relationships – those moments should just be balanced out by the joy of loving someone else. Of course he’s imperfect. He’s allowed to be imperfect. To be moody, unstable, hypocritical. I don’t know who put this idea in my head that he has to be ideal all the time. To hold him to that standard is ruthless.

However, as I am constantly reminded: where is the line? At what point is my dignity diminishing because I let him treat me like this. Because I let him say these things to me. Because I let him leave me here like this. How much am I supposed to fight before it’s too much for him?

I just want something to believe in. To cling to. To hold onto. Something that will make me feel safe in the night, even when he’s gone and I’m all alone. He doesn’t have to be perfect, he just has to be good. I don’t know how to tell this to him yet again without it sounding like a chore or a nag because that’s what all this fighting has done to us – the force of my love can’t break through the din of our discontent.

When do I walk away. When do I say enough. Where is the mathematical formula that I can plug my emotions into so I can make the best decisions for myself without abandoning something that has the potential to nurture me for the rest of my life time. How do I know. How can I avoid regrets. I already regret being mired in this indecision. I want to be strong, but I am feeble. Where is he when I need him the most.

Why won’t he tell me he loves me. I know he loves me, but knowing isn’t good enough. I need to hear it. All day, every day. I can never hear it enough. I can never feel it enough. Why doesn’t he feel buoyant when I tell him I love him? Why isn’t it good enough?

Time is my enemy as I wait for him to come back while my emotions slowly rot inside the cave of my stomach. I am a woman in decay against the forces of nature, yearning for something better but pitted against the twin demons of fear and the absolute unknowingness of being here, by myself, unsure of what to do next.

Staring Deep into the Eyes of the Demon Depression

I wanted to go to the museum, and instead he fell asleep. By the time I left in the middle of the afternoon, I wondered: will he leave the house at all today? I had been there for the last twenty four hours, and I had noticed that on that day, and also on most of the days I had been there, that we only ever left the house for one reason: to go to the store to buy liquor and sometimes food.

I gathered up the empty liquor bottles and put them in the trash before I left because I figured that was the least I could do. I wondered: does my presence enable this behavior, or does it make the pain more tolerable? I’ve started to sense that I’ve stumbled into a quagmire of alcoholic codependency, and while our time together is generally characterized by a tone of romance of sex, I’ve started to realize, after all these years, that maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong direction.

I am not thrilled about this revelation. Mostly because I know that I can’t handle this – not because I don’t want to, but because, well, has anybody ever smoothly handled this kind of situation? Is that even an option at this point? I know myself, and I know that despite the fact that my best efforts might futile, I’m still going to give it my best effort because if I walk away I’ll feel like I’ve failed the basic human concept of love. This is going to hurt. And not in that fun, kinky way that I let him drag me around by my hair and spank me when I’m bad. More in that deep, dark, soul trembling pain that comes from watching someone you love slowly yet irreparably deteriorate over time.

Lifestyle Observations

Gangsta Boo and I were downtown at some bar the other night. He was outside talking to the door guy, and I was inside talking to the bartender, whom I can only describe as one of my feminist trench mates. I was enjoying a cocktail, chatting away, when Gangsta Boo came in and with that deep, guttural growl of his said, “Come on, we’re leaving. Now.” I downed one last sip of my cocktail and hopped up when my friend said, “Woah, why is he talking to you like that?”

“Oh, it’s, uh…a dominant-submissive thing,” I said, feeling a bit flustered as I was torn between being obedient and realizing: oh, shit – the world might not be ready for this.

“Oh, okay,” my friend said as I dashed out the door.

It occurred to me as we made our way to the next bar that this might be…risky. Most recently, I’ve attached myself to the #metoo movement and even over the course of the last blog established myself as a feminist who was loosely associated with the slightly misandrist branch of feminism. It’s an image that I’ve reveled in; I like to remind people: I sued Charlie Hallowell! I’ve written lots of pieces about how to play dudes! I’m a man eater!

But something got lost in the shuffle, namely: my love of kink. Sure, everyone knows I love fucking – I put that out there on the Internet in a pretty intense way. I guess given my history of screaming on the Internet about every au courant feminist issue, it would make sense that people would assume that my sexuality is similar to many of my other feminist comrades, most of whom are dominant, strong willed, and forceful, or, to put it another way, a lot of them are dominatrices, sex workers, and alpha females.

I, however, am not that. I’m submissive. I’m aware that this might seem at odds with my otherwise strong, feminist facade. I just want to get spanked, fucked and told what to do, in the bedroom but apparently now also beyond it. I know, I know – it’s kinda weird because basically my kink is role playing a traditional, submissive wife role, which is antithetical to all the feminist bullshit I like to spout off all the time. But, you know what? I was raised in that culture. I was raised to be a wife, a home maker, a child rearer. Clearly, I have strayed pretty far from my roots, but that’s why I like submissive role play. It helps me cope with the guilt I feel over being an independent woman by allowing me to play out those things that I was always trained to do.

I realize that’s too much to explain to my friend as I’m walking out the door, and I also realize, oh, fuck, is this one of those problematic things that I do and now I’m going to try to act like it’s revolutionary? Yeah. It is. Pretty much every philosophy I have ever attached myself to has been radical and controversial on some level, and I guess now that feminism has become pretty pedestrian, I need a new thrill. I’ve always been into kink, basically for as long as I’ve been sexual (side note: I was raised Catholic, so that should explain it all). But in the era of #metoo, kink, with all its problematic violence and grotesque role playing, has been shoved to the back burner. Probably because #metoo has helped us better understand that a lot of the time kink is just the mask that abuse wears, but, hey! What about when kink is just kink? Can’t we get back to that?

Of course, there’s two sides to this story, and while I’m fluent in my emotions, it’s also worth mentioning: what about the other person? First off, I’ll admit: given my outspoken position on feminism, I’ve always found that my partners are uncomfortable with my yen for BDSM, be it explicit discomfort or a sense of confusion and insecurity about how to proceed when it comes to sexually domming a socially dominant woman. Most recently, I’ve had partners express unease around sleeping with me because they know that I sued my boss for sexual harassment. It’s annoying!

So, now that I have found a partner who is not only comfortable with BDSM but also really fucking good at it, I’ve found that a surprising new issue in the relationship is: what about him? Or, to put it another way, I’m starting to suspect that my master is…taking more of a risk than I am when we go lifestyle.

I guess I should contextualize this by saying that I feel very safe in my d/s relationship.

Also, having been a Bay Area denizen my whole life, I’ve floated around the SF BDSM scene, and several of my friends are pro dommes. That being said, I think we can all admit: the SF kink scene is pretty fucking white. Sure, it’s normalized in some parts of the city, but I’m not a city girl, and neither is master. We’re Oakland people, and, well, to make the stark contrast: Oakland is the home of Too $hort, and we all know what $hort’s about. Which is why, being in a relationship that is outside of the racial norm of the SF kink scene, I think we’re getting “the look” from some people. As stupid as this sounds, if you look like you’re from Oakland and you’re dragging some woman around, people assume it’s pimping not kink.

Which is why I think the world isn’t read for this. I’m living in North Berkeley, a historically white and cop-loving community, and when we go lifestyle in my neighborhood I’m struck by a sense of dread that has nothing to do with kink and more to do with the vicarious “don’t give these people a reason to call the cops” sentiment. That is not the thrill I’m seeking, and while I don’t feel like writing another 1500 words on my experiences in interracial relationships, let me put it this way: I’m familiar with racism, I’ve seen it before, I know I’ll never have that experience first hand, but, ultimately, this intersection of gender and violence and race is a lot more than I bargained for when I signed up to get choked and slapped during sex.

But that’s not going to stop us. It’s just too much fun! And, what can I say – I’ve always enjoyed doing outlandish stuff and seeing people’s reactions. This experience is just…well, the stakes are higher. I don’t think that taking this into the streets is going to be the next great social movement or have a deep moral impact on society, but, well, it’s a fucking fascinating conversation, isn’t it?

Wasted Youth

My youth is over. I realized this last night when Gangsta Boo & I were driving back from Jack In The Box, and he said, “I think I’m too fucked up to be driving.” I had been gripping my seat as we occasionally veered through the mostly empty streets of Berkeley. “If there were more cars out, we’d be in trouble,” he said.

I immediately launched into a state of panic even though I knew we were just fine. It occurred to me that I must have a death wish because this is the second time in a week that we’ve been in this situation, and I’ve just let it happen. But all I could say was, “You shouldn’t be driving, this is really scary.”

Back in the day, I had no problem riding shot gun with a drunk driver. This was, of course, incredibly stupid, yet here I still am. A good friend of mine used to drive drunk every time he went out, and he’d give me rides places. Over time, I realized that this was bad, bad, bad. So I stopped because that sense of immorality has started to evade me. Or, maybe what I mean to say: my youth is over because my stupidity is waning.

This is very uninteresting to me. I kinda wanna sigh and roll my eyes. Sure, I am in no way excited by the idea of sleeping with multiple strangers every weekend or getting black out drunk all the time or spending all my money on sequined booty shorts that disintegrate after you wear them one time. But I guess I haven’t found a new thrill to supplant the old ones. Mortality is settling in, and I’m having trouble recreating that sense of endless possibility.

Instead, I’m sitting in the car, realizing that this could be it, and if this is it, then that’s it, and it’s all over. Even though I know we’ll get home fine, I’ve lost that sense of assurance that we’ll get home fine. The risks are ever increasing, the rewards remain the same.

Regular People

“Yeah, but you’re a regular person. I’ll never be a regular person.”

I’m peeling myself out of bed after waking up too late and fucking too long. I’m late for work, which isn’t surprising because I’m usually late for work when he’s around. It’s a bad habit I’ve developed – I’d rather be in his arms all week than working. Of course, I don’t know if I’d rather be in his arms and broke than working. I like to tell myself in moments of romance that, yes, of course I could be destitute so long as I had his love, but let’s be real – I’m never going to test that theory, and even though I’m running late, I’ll still show up to work today, and tomorrow, and the rest of the week, and the rest of the month.

This is what he means by “regular person.” I’m a regular person because I go to work despite all of that. I’m functional these days. I have a steady income. I’m not so bowled over by my own emotions that I can’t get out of bed. Part of me wants to bristle at his accusation that I am a “regular person,” but nowadays I can’t really argue with it. Sure, when we first met, he never would have dared call me a “regular person” because I worked sporadically and drank consistently and was wrecked most of the time. I’m not sure why I want to bristle at the accusation that I’m a regular person – I have always, always wanted to have a regular job and regular income because to me that seemed to equate to peace of mind. I’ve been trying to achieve this for my entire life.

But perhaps there’s something lonely about it. At least in this moment as the big, long divide of normalcy separates us even as we lie in each others’ arms. I’m a regular person. I have a regular job. I have a future. I have a career. I have opportunities. I have privilege. But I didn’t always have all of this, so as I look at him after he popped that revelation out of his mouth, I feel a pang of nostalgia. Perhaps because before I was a regular person, he and I were both misfits together. Fuck ups. Weirdos. We held each others’ hands as we marched through reality in all our weirdness. Now? Now he feels miles away, and I can’t reach out and grab his hand, and I can’t pull him into normalcy, and I can’t make him be a regular person.

I realize how dangerous this is because despite the fact that we’re both in our 30’s, he’s a man and I’m a woman. He can keep partying for another fifteen years and look exactly the same because, well, black don’t crack. Me? Three more nights of binge drinking and I’ll look 52. Which is why I had to become a regular person – being the freak of the week or a creep at night wasn’t going to look good for too much longer.

It’s not that I envy him. I don’t envy him at all. Of course I’d rather be a regular person. I’m lucky – I got to fuck off my 20’s being a slut and a lush, and now I blend in with everyone else. It’s more that…I feel wistful. These are the last days that we make sense together. Another five years down our separate paths, and we’ll be total strangers. We won’t recognize each other in five years. We’ll be so far apart. Which is probably why I’m hanging onto him for dear life – I want as much of him as I can have while I still can. Before the astute life choices of my 30’s supplant the wild fancies of my 20’s.