It was the beginning of second grade. My mother had signed me up for an after-school program, which I was highly dubious about and expressed little enthusiasm for. I think I cried and stomped my foot a lot the first day I had to go. But the arts and crafts drew me in, and I loved my after-school teachers. I would end up attending that program until I was in my early teens.
This is where I met him – I’ll call him the Writer. He was a strange, quirky boy, with odd habits and beliefs. He had an amazing imagination and read voraciously. We got along quite well.
We saw each other daily after school. He taught me how to play chess, including the four-move checkmate I remember as the Blitzkrieg. I drew pictures and concocted drawing games for us and the other after-school kids to play. He wrote short stories – dark, strange stories that often fell into the category of horror or detective thriller. We pored over video game magazines that he brought in; took turns at beating levels and bosses on my black and white Gameboy. We may or may not have reenacted character moves from Mortal Kombat on the playground.
There was a certain period of time wherein our friendship solidified and strengthened. Sometimes, we would simply walk around the school track, just the two of us, talking about nothing at all. Yet we never saw each other outside of the school grounds, never went over to each other’s houses.
So, as we grew older and outgrew that after-school program, we saw less and less of each other, unless we happened to be in the same class for a certain subject. What had seemed like such a close friendship suddenly became awkward and uncertain. The Writer had his friends, and I had mine. There was no overlap, despite the fact that we were both social outliers.
Had I been better informed and more self-aware at the time, I may have realized earlier that we were both kinky. At least, all my memories of the Writer lead me to believe he was (is?) very, very kinky. Besides his short stories involving naked, writhing women in caves, there was a natural power dynamic underlying our early relationship – except that I was often the one chasing him around the playground, trying to catch him and pin him down.
I would have also realized that our mutual awkwardness were telltale signs of the crushes we had on each other, rather than signs of a faltering connection.
Now, almost a decade later, I can’t help but wonder where life has taken the Writer and whether he has had any kinky relationships. We are still tenuously connected – in that we are friends on a few social networks – and it is exactly these sorts of connections that keep me from deleting my social media accounts altogether. We’ve even corresponded once or twice, tossing around ideas of a creative collaboration with his words and my artwork. Nothing’s come of those brief exchanges yet, but lately he has been on my mind again.
I wonder if I should ping him again – perhaps when I am next back on the East Coast, where he still lives. I wonder if I should even attempt to meet up with him, to see if he is at all the person I remember him to be. I wonder if I would be disappointed by our meeting, or if perhaps I’d see a familiar, mischievous glint in his eye and feel some of that old chemistry again.
Given how busy my life already is these days, it seems foolish to even be thinking of this. But, given that the Writer is my longest-standing crush, it seems sad to leave such a cliffhanger in my past. Either something might still spark between us, and at the very least I’d regain a lost friendship, or we will both have changed and branched off in completely different life directions as to be incompatible, even as friends. But, whatever the case, at least there might be some resolution to this chapter of my life.
So, I haven’t written anything about Paradise – here, at least. Privately, I’ve typed up over 44 pages in a journal describing my latest trip to Seattle.
I wish I could say my fears over how Paradise would turn out were for naught, and that I had a grand time being kinky out in the sun and making mischief. It ended up being a difficult week, for a number of reasons. Things definitely took a downward turn, for instance, when I woke up my first morning at Paradise with a UTI.
It’s been 22 days now since I asked for, and received, a cutting from Phoenix. When I approached her that Saturday morning, I was feeling lost, powerless, and maybe just a little crazy. It was reminiscent of how I often felt as a teenager. It’s a terrible state of being.
I’ve “blamed” my decision to ask for the cutting on impulsivity and the need for catharsis. With a little more hindsight, I think it would be more accurate to say now that I needed to take back control – of something. I needed to do something drastic that would leave a permanent impression. A reminder.
Just a little over a year ago, I cut my hair seven inches shorter for that same set of reasons. Control. Action. Change.
That’s not to say catharsis didn’t play a role in the process. I did get some level of release during the cutting. The excruciating pain of having my skin cut open, over and over again, gave me permission to grieve in a way that I couldn’t otherwise. It was an outlet for all my baser emotions. I cursed, screamed, cried, and howled. I did not try to moderate the volume of my voice. I did not care that others could see me crying. I let all of my filters go during that hour.
Phoenix told me afterwards that I would continue to feel the effects of the cutting for weeks, that that was only the beginning. The process of release takes a long time. And it’s true. 22 days later, and I still feel the reverberations of that day echoing through me. Although the cutting has long since healed and the skin is no longer sensitive, its presence on my left shoulder is as strong as it was at Paradise. And, though it sometimes makes me sad to remember the circumstances surrounding it, I don’t regret having this flying fish as a constant companion on my back. It seems like a silly sentiment to admit, but I feel that it has grown with me, like a close friend.
It will be interesting to see how that companionship grows, and whether the cutting will persist or fade away completely.
Years ago, I wrote a post, cheekily titled “Masturbaticon I“, wherein I reflected on how I began my sexual journey and learned about my own body and my sexuality. I never did follow up on that post the way I’d intended, but I’ve recently found myself thinking a lot about my childhood influences on my emergent kinkiness.
This was in part sparked by an interesting experience I had while behind the counter at Wicked Grounds a few days prior. A rather disorganized college student walked up to the register and requested an interview for a school project he was doing on bondage and bdsm. It was slow enough that I agreed. I could devote a separate post on the interview alone, but for now, the question he asked that prodded me towards childhood reflection was in regard to how kink develops in people. Were people who had been abused or sexually assaulted more likely to be kinky?
Yes, well. My answer was much longer than anything he wrote down, and I get the feeling he was only half-listening, but as far as my personal experience goes, I was certainly never victim to either of those things. If anything, I was raised more sheltered than most, in a relatively conservative white town.
Regardless of whether I was able to disabuse him of the misconception that kink is a product of childhood trauma, the question of how kink develops in people is an interesting one. I know people arrive at kink from many paths; not everyone can pinpoint specific memories from their youth as kink precursors. And this was a question I also heard while in Australia, from my college friends.
Personally, the more I explore and experiment my kinky side, the more I am reminded of events, thoughts, and fantasies from when I was quite young that were definitely not straight-laced. And I think a significant chunk of those kink precursors can be found in what I was reading and watching as a kid. Besides the normal diet of age-appropriate books like The Chronicles of Narnia and Redwall, I was also inhaling my library’s supply of science-fiction and fantasy books. And between the highly designed book covers depicting scantily clad heroes and heroines (often wearing leather boots!) and frequently erotic undertones of these two genres, I was undoubtedly creating some highly charged erotic connections to alternative sexualities, rituals, protocols, and power exchange.
Still, it didn’t have to be sex-related or fantastical for me to take interest. There was definitely already a predisposition for kink in me. I remember reading the Nancy Drew books, for instance, and feeling a mixture of excitement and fear whenever the protagonist was in trouble – say, caught and bound by the bad guy, awaiting her fate, or being threatened with a weapon after making a climactic discovery. This was also true for many cartoons I watched that centered around the hero-villain battle. I was fascinated, utterly fascinated, by villains. The more devious and vicious the antagonist, the more thrilled and mesmerized I was by the show – especially if there was any kind of personal history between the characters.
The trend grew with me, and in high school, I met Iago in my sophomore English class. This villain enthralled me, and I’ve probably inflated his character in my memory since reading Othello, but I still love the dark, sinister imagery that appears in my head when I think of him. Darkly charismatic, devious, completely consumed with vengeance yet cool as ice…
I never actually wanted to either emulate or meet an Iago in person, of course. It was the darkness that attracted me – me, the good girl, the quiet one, the nice one. Villains were my outlet, my connection to a darker, more primal side I never dared to explore myself… Villains always sought power and took it by force if they had to (often enjoyed taking it by force anyway), and that above all hit a nerve in me.
I’ve held all these feelings tightly in check for years. But, little by little, and partner by partner, I’m not only getting to reveal some of these desires, but also fulfill quite a few of them.
And there are many more layers waiting for me to explore in the years to come.
As much as I love reflecting – in long blog posts – on the bumps that I’ve hit while navigating my first poly relationship, sometimes it is simply my insistence, stubbornness, on solving everything myself and never seeking outside help that exacerbates things. I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with the concept of inviting another person into my head and to the table to help process my feelings.
Communication in this arena has thus been halting at best as I find ways to fight that blockage. Emails and blog entries allow me to reflect more carefully and make sure I get my thoughts out as clearly as I can, though admittedly physical and phone conversations have the benefit of immediate feedback and vocal support. I am not prone to blurting out what I’m feeling right away, and it often takes quite a few days of sorting through my feelings to even talk about them coherently.
The balance I have been fighting to achieve is how long to wait, in the time I am taking to figuring out how okay or not okay I am with some occurrence, before I mention anything.
Because, of course, while I am trying to be more open about my feelings, I also recognize that it’s not practical or realistic to always mention when I’m not feeling good about something. Sometimes it is about self-care and distracting myself until some brief episode of jealousy passes.
This leads me to wonder: what are some of the ways poly people employ self-care to get through those periods? Would anyone care to share?