(image found at http://xkcd.com/137/)
There's been some stuff that I've been wanting to write about lately, but I've held myself back because I'm afraid. I'm afraid of rejection, afraid of judgment, afraid that I might offend those readers whom I call friends so deeply that they will turn away and never come back. I've been toying with the idea of writing it anyway, because really, this is my space to be free and be myself without judgment, and the moment I censor myself because of some imagined consequences at the hands of probable judges, well… I might as well just stop writing altogether.
I do know that some of the things I have to write will be unsavory for certain members of the conservative Christian crowd that I used to run with, and that's fine. Different strokes for different folks, you know? But it's the thought of those conservatives that fills me with such dread, as I know that such a community can be rather… unforgiving in nature, and I don't want to bring that kind of wrath down upon myself. I also don't want to make myself the target of some kind of evangelistic campaign designed to "win me back to the truth" or "bring me to the light" somehow. The choices that I've made have been very deliberate and thoughtful, not hasty compromises made in the throes of passion or despair.
I don't feel like I'm being true to myself, editing out important bits of my life and personality this way. With this in mind, I have decided to write. Stumbling upon this cartoon earlier this evening just underscored my conviction and reinforced my thoughts. I still wish to take the convictions and repugnances of others into consideration, however, such as the toning down of the language that I often use, substituting swear words and epithets for other phrases. My plan is to speak in broad strokes about what I wish, and if I feel the need to go into detail I'll save it for a separate post, so readers can decide if they want to read that particular entry or not.
Why all this hesitation, all this caution, you ask? To put it simply, I'm an active member of the BDSM culture and community where I live, and I apply the kinks and fetishes I am interested in to my lifestyle on a regular basis. No, Corey and I aren't having sex on a very regular basis anymore, simply due to illness constraints and stress problems, but I can say in all honesty that kink isn't just about sex. That is, it doesn't have to be. It can be, or it can be completely removed from lust and intercourse. You really have to be involved to understand. But yes-- I like leather and lashes and corsets and ropes. All of that good old taboo stuff. There is a huge wide world of kink and fetishes within BDSM, of course. There's no way one could possibly be interested in or involved in everything. What I appreciate most about the culture is its emphasis on Safe, Sane, and Consensual, or alternately phrased, Risk Aware Consensual Kink.
What I would ask is that anyone who is finding themselves repulsed or immediately huffy and judgmental, do some research. There are a million and one websites that explain the basics and the theory without being pornographic, and who knows but that the information may prove of use in the future? Just because a person looks "vanilla" (not involved with kink) doesn't mean they are. Most of us keep up a very good front, afraid to come out of the closet for fear of losing jobs, friends, family relationships… There is a lot of stigma, and a lot of misinformation. That's part of the reason why I want to be open and honest about this; to dislodge and refute stereotypes and negative associations.
The reason I bring this up at all is because it's how I celebrated my birthday. The group in Yuma that I'm a part of has monthly "munches", which are vanilla gatherings where we get together and eat, hang out, and just generally have a fun time together. We also have monthly play parties where we get together and do just what the name implies-- we play, as groups, couples, or individuals. I've attended several parties but I've never had the opportunity to engage in any play before, as one of the rules imposed on me is that I'm not allowed to play unless Drogo is in attendance and gives me permission. His days off were changed to include the day the play party was held, and he came with and gave me permission to engage in some play. He said, "It's your birthday; go have some fun," all indulgent-like. It was cute. I was ecstatic. But I will write a separate post about the party and how it went, what I did, etc. for anyone who wishes to read it. Most of the time, at that party and at all the others, my time is spent hanging out with a plate of food and chatting with my friends. Just like any other party. We really are like any other people, except that our mutual hobbies are considered alternative, or even "bad". (Hence the secrecy.)
Another thing I've been wanting to write about but holding back on is my spiritual journey. If you've read some stuff from the early days of my blog, you may know that I was struggling along in a particularly conservative branch of Protestantism known as Seventh Day Adventist. I have absolutely nothing against the Adventist church, as I was essentially born and raised SDA and have a great number of fond memories throughout my life associated with it. A large amount of the people I hold near and dear to my heart are active SDA members, and I spent 3 or 4 years working as a missionary for the church here in the States. That being said, some of the attitudes and actions of members and leaders in the church really damaged me in profound ways, and some of the beliefs held by the church and by the members crippled me in ways that have been difficult to undo.
After moving back to the Southwest from the Northwest, where I lived for several years, I engaged in about a year and a half of study as to whether the basic tenets of Christianity and the authenticity of the Bible were real concepts that I could trust and build my belief system upon. I didn't find it to be so. When I stopped trying to make Christianity my worldview, life started making more sense. I began recovering from the depression that gripped me with suicidal force and pulled me into a blackness so thick that I could feel nothing else, nothing but crushing despair and agony. I laugh a little bitterly to myself when I think that I have a "reverse testimony"; that is, I'm the opposite of the people that stand up and tell how they were tormented and miserable and did all kinds of things and couldn't find happiness or true satisfaction in life until they "found Jesus", and once they became Christians and got saved then they had happiness and peace and life made sense for the first time. For me, I was tormented and miserable and couldn't find happiness or true satisfaction until I walked away from Christianity. Finally, finally, for what seemed the first time in my life, I had peace. I was happy. And I felt guilty, because from infancy up I had been taught that the SDA church had "the Truth", and if I walked away from that I would be lost forever. I worried that maybe it actually was true, and I was going to be lost for walking away… but I couldn't bring myself to go back, to resign myself to a life of such deep unhappiness and emptiness. Not now that I'd finally started liking who I was, seeing worth in myself and seeing beauty in the life around me and before me.
I've come to the place over these past 2 years where I will now call myself an agnostic atheist. My belief is that deities are the creations of mankind, a projection, a metaphor, something we need to survive mentally and emotionally as beings of higher intelligence. Don't quiz me on facts and details-- I'm still figuring all this out, and I was never a good apologeticist, no matter what side of things I stood on. I've always had leanings toward paganism, though-- Wicca or NeoPaganism and all that, or maybe some of the New Age beliefs. As I've been doing research lately, though, I have found that even Wicca is too "religious" for me. Again, I don't believe in actual, literal deities, and Wicca calls upon the God and the Goddess as literal beings. No, I'm more interested in earth based religions that acknowledge the energy and the life forces in the world around us, in the universe we reside in, and that seeks to reach out and redirect those forces with my own will. I think that the rituals have some kind of scientific effect that we don't understand yet, and so the results are attributed to "magick". A great deal of what is done now, without a second thought, could and likely would have been labeled magick a few centuries ago, much less thousands of years ago. If you went back to 12 A.D. and had a Bic lighter in your hand, do you think the people around you would recognize the interaction of friction and heat and fuel? Nope. You'd be a wizard, a sorcerer, a speaker for the gods.
Anyway, that's where I'm at now. I feel a large sense of relief to have written all that, but I also feel a nervous quivering throughout me as I contemplate pressing the "Publish" button. What if I lose my friends? What if my bestie doesn't wanna be my bestie anymore? *sigh* But then I guess… this part of me is still there, whether I speak about it or not. If I lose friends or family or whatever over this, well… them only accepting part of me isn't enough. That's not real acceptance, nor is it real love. It's just a test I must brave, I suppose.
That in mind… there's no way I'd ever reveal any of this to my grandparents, though. My grampa and I recently got into a very heated disagreement regarding Adventists who keep the Old Testament feasts. I know several people who do, and did myself at one point in time. My point was that they are living up to what they believe is what God wants them to do. Grampa got angry because they're WRONG, doesn't matter if they believe they're right or not, and they need to give up their sin and come back to the truth of God, yadda yadda yadda. He came to me and apologized afterward, admitting that he was being very closed-minded and cruel and it wasn't okay. I appreciated that very much. But if I were ever to tell him that I'm a pagan atheist BDSMer who is heteroflexible? Yeah. He'd probably never speak to me again. I've noticed that as people age they tend to become very inflexible, closed, and narrow minded. Their way or the high way, you know? Maybe it's just older Christians, or older Adventists in particular. I mean, they've spent so long having the idea pounded into them that only SDA's have the Truth, everyone else is wrong, and that a good SDA will tell them they're wrong so that they're not eternally lost. Otherwise it's on your head if they're "lost" and you didn't tell 'em, you know? Just another reason I left. I was sick of the gut sickening feeling I'd get when I walked into a grocery store or a gas station and felt like had to pass out tracts and witness or else I wasn't living up to my commitment as a Christian, and that maybe I'd let an opportunity pass that was the person's last. You know, like they'd die in a car accident right afterward on their way home or something. I hated that pressure. I still exult in my freedom as I walk into the grocery store and know that I don't have to interact with a single damn person if I don't want to, and usually I don't.
As my friend and I were discussing earlier, things change and people change right along with them. I am a very different person than I was just a year ago, or even a few months for that matter! I feel like springtime, like a bud poised on the edge of blooming at any second, like I'm finally growing after a season of being stumped and stunted and I'm coming into my potential at last. It's a great feeling. I'm learning and expanding in so many ways, and I just want to keep going. Everything inside me feels clean and happy, despite being sick, despite my life having taken such a drastic left turn. No, things aren't perfect, and there's still stress on me and in our household due to various things (bills, illness, general relationship stuff that happens to everyone), but I know that I'm already a richly developed woman and that the trend will continue. Honestly? I feel like I'm my own friend for the first time, and I'm actually glad to know me. I'm proud of myself. Isn't that the craziest thing?