Quote Quest & KOTW – Erotic Photography

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”

~Aaron Siskind, from Quote Quest

This week’s Kink of the Week and Quote Quest come at a time when I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about photography, both erotic and not. On the erotic side, I’ve been looking through my Fetlife prof-ile after I have had discussions with prospective play partners in which several of my pictures came up. I haven’t looked back on the photos from those six years I spent with W since, well, since he’s been gone. There are several more current ones from my relationship with my previous kink partner, but nothing like the volume that W took. For him, erotic photography really was a fetish. I talked in the past specifically about W’s fascination with photography, and my own conflicted feelings about same, here in “The Story of Pictures”, and peppered my blog with my thoughts and feelings about it. His photography shaped our play and our relationship in so many ways.

Today though, I am looking at the topic not from within its immediacy – what it’s like to see myself that way in the aftermath of the scene – but almost like a kaleidoscope, picture on picture scrolling back through the past, through my life, through my life with him. He really believed that if you didn’t capture it on film, it would be lost to memory, and it seems this has born out – until I saw the pictures again, I had forgotten so much of what we had done! It’s still bittersweet to look through them, but more sweet than bitter after all this time.

There’s something else that I am struck by in a particularly sweet-but–also-almost-painful-way: seeing myself reflected in these images I remember not only what we did, but who I was – who we were. I see what he made of me, and who I became in that relationship, the depth and the breadth of our kink connection, but also of our love, and who I was in his eyes. That woman that he loved so well is beautiful and fierce, and, in the end, unconquerable.

I miss that woman.

QuoteQuest

Endings, & Self-Care

As the “hiatus” with my kink partner looks more and more like it’s an “ending,” I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care, and trying to practice it as much as I am capable of doing. Sometimes, no amount of self-care helps, and there’s just the tears, the self-recriminations, the anxiety, the what-if’s. It’s hard to walk around my house and not think about him being here, sitting at the harvest table, with me in my bedroom, showing him all that I’ve accomplished over these past months in making my house a home. It hurts like a toothache – unending, always in the back of my mind until a sharp pain brings it to the fore. But…as time goes by the pain is dulling, dulling just to an ache. Maybe, someday, it won’t even hurt anymore at all. It’ll be like I got that tooth pulled, and just every once in awhile my heart will dip into the empty hole, probing the phantom ache. I don’t know. Meanwhile, self-care looks like this:

  • Not drinking too much. I have had a tendency to drown the ache in my heart – or try to. It never works for long. So I’ve been making a concerted effort not to drink so much while we go through this.
  • Exercising regularly. This is a challenge when all I want to do is curl up in a ball on the sofa and cry, but I have been moderately successful at making myself do a run when it gets to be too much. Running really does help clear my head, though sometimes the tears still come and then I am running, blinded by tears, and hoping no one sees me.
  • Keeping up with housework. This is a weird one. But when I organize and clean, it helps alleviate the tight ball of ache in my chest, and wandering around a clean, orderly house also helps.
  • Doing my crafts and working in the yard. Always my go-to when my head is too full and my heart is heavy. Making a beautiful piece of art, decorating my house with favorite photographs, growing flowers and herbs has always been part of me, and turning to these activities when my heart is heavy or my anxieties are ratcheting skyward usually helps.
  • Self-love. This is a harder one, as my orgasms were (and still are) so tied to him & the fantasies he spun for me. He had control of my sex for almost six years, and when we went on hiatus, that didn’t end for me. He discarded his responsibility for them without a backward glance, but my heart and my cunt stayed his. I’ve been trying to pleasure myself at least once a day this past week, when I realized that things might be heading to an end rather than just a temporary break, but it’s been…well, an act of determination each time, rather than pleasure. And act of will, which isn’t the best way to approach it. But I have to find a way to unhitch my orgasms from him, and this seems the only way to do it.
  • Therapy. I’ve been seeing a therapist since we started this, and it helps to have someone to parse all this out with. At times I wonder if she is sick of me moaning about my father’s, brother’s and sister’s deaths, Warren’s death, and now what feels like the impending death of this relationship, but I guess that’s her job, poor thing. I’ve wanted to quit a few times, but have stuck with it. I do believe it is an act of self-care to continue.
  • Dating. How is that an act of self-care? Sometimes I am not sure it is. Dating – no matter how lovely the people are that I date – is hard. So much easier to be around someone that knows you inside and out, that you don’t have to be “on” for. But the truth of the matter is that he didn’t always know me inside and out, nor I him – we had to date to learn each other, as I have to do with anyone new. But as an introvert, it can be a challenge. But dating – as hard as it is – is fun, too, and affirming. I feel alive and exciting and attractive – and attracted – again when I’m doing it. It reminds me there was love and kink before my kink partner, and there will be love and kink again.
  • Playing with others. This is important too, because that, also, was so deeply tied to him that I have wondered if I could enjoy it with anyone else. I have discovered that I can, and I intend to explore that more. Owning these things about myself will only make me stronger.
  • Being gentle with myself. This is perhaps the most difficult task of all, because being gentle or kind to myself feels like excusing myself, absolving myself, of all the ways I messed up throughout the past 6 years – hell, my whole life – and I am not good at forgiveness when it comes to my failings. But I am trying (therapy helps.) Being gentle with myself also means letting myself cry when I need to cry, and letting myself be happy or enjoy the moment – whatever the moment is – when it is available to me. This last is harder than letting myself cry, oddly enough. I had a lovely day at our Botanical Gardens on a first date last weekend, and was able to enjoy and stay in the moment, for the most part. But there is still part of me that says, how can you be smiling, how can you be happy, when your heart is breaking?
  • Spending time with friends and family. I’ve made a concerted effort to honor my time commitments with friends and family. So often it would be easier to just stay home and hide. But I feel better after time spent with them (even if sometimes time with my aging parents is fraught with other anxieties.) But my world had more or less closed down to my kink partner and Ad (as I am wont to do) even as I realized it wasn’t healthy. It really is what I do: I don’t need that much stimulation in my life, or so I think. But I have realized that was an error, especially in this relationship. And so I am trying to unlearn my hermiting habits and take advantage of the wide circle of friends, family, and playmates that I have, deepening and broadening our relationships, if I can, and giving more of myself in doing so.
  • Appreciating my nesting partner. What more can I say? Showering him with gratitude and love for all that he is and does, for all that he has brought to my life, for always being there, steady, loving, stalwart and generous of heart – it’s an act of self-care, because remembering how loved I am is important, and remembering how much I love him even more so.

tell me about: sexual health – masturbation

I wonder why masturbation became such a shameful activity? It’s healthy, good for mind and body, is a simple way to inject pleasure into one’s life, and doesn’t need anyone else or anything but yourself to accomplish. (Well, most times it doesn’t need anything – some folks do need or prefer mechanical or other physical aids to get themselves to orgasm. I’m one of them. I can make myself come with my fingers, but it’s so much easier with a vibrator, and one vibrator-style in particular – a Hitachi-type – so I almost always use it, with or without various other toys.) But I – like so many other people – am filled with embarrassment and shame about masturbating – even though I find it super sexy and hot when others do it! The topic is even hard for me to write about (which is why I am writing about it.)

What is also challenging for me is getting into the mental space to have a self-pleasuring session. Without a dominant in my life telling me to do so, masturbation takes a back seat to everything else, and I often don’t think of it until I can’t sleep at night (another benefit t of masturbating – it can be a sleep aid.) This use of masturbation would probably be the one I would do, dominant or no, but unfortunately I’ve swallowed the “feel shame for masturbating” kool-aide, and so can’t bring myself to do so next to my sleeping partner. So now, living with Ad, I seldom use masturbating to help me sleep. I even talked to him about it (red-faced, embarrassed, trying to adult and failing), and asked him if it would bother him if I did. He of course said no – but I still can’t bring myself to go there. So I get up and go to my bedroom, but by that time I’ve woken fully up, and lost the half-asleep-jerk-myself-off-into-full-sleep mental space.

In preparation for this piece, I masturbated yesterday in the middle of the day. Even home alone, though, I had to go up into my bedroom, shut the door and get under the covers. Ridiculous for a grown woman! But that’s how deeply the feeling of shame and embarrassment runs in me. I tried again last night, in desperation when I couldn’t sleep, but couldn’t get to an orgasm. It was frustrating and ultimately more unsatisfying than if I had not tried at all. I really needed my kink-partner- on-hiatus’s words in my ear, his nasty stories in my mind, his instruction and direction, to get me there.

I remember some delightful sessions where my kink partner and I played with that shame – he was very good at those games, ordering me to masturbate in deliberately humiliating places and ways, and it was defininitely not the effort it is to get to orgasm the way it is now, when I do it without his direction. A lot of my mental kink is playing with those edges, those things that feel taboo, and he used those spaces a lot in our psychological play. I miss those games with him, acutely. I wonder if he misses them too?

I thought about doing a “daily” masturbation session for this piece, each time with a different toy, and reporting on them, but I am not sure I could commit to it. For one thing, I’d have to do it during the day if I wanted privacy, or tell Ad what I was doing and go off into my bedroom of an evening, and that feels embarrassing – the kind of embarrassing that doesn’t get me off (shame games don’t work with he and I because we don’t have that dynamic.) And because he is not in a sexual space right now, that notion is even more fraught with anxiety for me (what does he think, is he sad I’m not sharing it with him) – not a good place from whence to start a sexy session.

But maybe I should do it anyway to normalize it? Okay, so he’s not in a place where he wants sexual activity, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being sexual (this goes for my kink partner’s headspace as well) so maybe I need to take back that space for myself. I dunno. Sounds all gung-ho and strong, modern woman, but the reality is what I’ve said up there – it just doesn’t work very well without being directed to it.

Anyway, in anticipation of maybe trying to do a “once a day, different toy,” marathon, I thought I’d get an establishing shot – here’s my sex toy stash! If it happens, I won’t be reporting on it daily (way too much pressure that I know I’d never make good on!) but I might do “round-up” posts. Keep an eye out for them – and let me know if any of these look particularly interesting – that might help get me over the “hump” late at night when I need something extra to get there!

kink of the week – love me some leather

The Canadian has requested that I do a scene write-up for the scene that I had in which I received these lovely marks. I figured it would be a fine write-up for leather as well, since all of these marks were made with leather implements.

I had spent the weekend with a couple who are friends of mine, and with whom I have played before. But much more than just play, they are beloved friends, and care for me as much as I do them. They had asked me what kind of weekend I wanted: friends only, boating, dinner, drinks, play? They know about The Hiatus and they did not want to push or to even suggest anything, not knowing where my head – and heart – was at.

“I really, really need to play,” I said. It had been months, and though I had had a couple other opportunities, they were not with people that I felt such a bond with. I wanted to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel appreciated – all while getting my ass beat.

And I did. We got back after being on the boat all day and having a sunset dinner and I laid out all the toys I had brought with me (they told me to bring toys I wanted to play with, that I felt comfortable with.) Then I laid down over this soft-sided coffee table, and then, first one, M, the husband, and then V, his wife, took turns. Floggers to warm up, crops to tease, paddles to punctuate. They would build up to a point and then back down, in tandem, back and forth. And then M took out his belt. That’s what got my butt so red. I LOVE a leather belt. In fact I had asked W several times to just get a variety of belts and do a whole scene of belting me. We never did, though I imagine in time we would have. So this was very satisfying. And mostly they stayed on my ass, which was good.

But then I knew I needed more. “Please,” I said, the jambock, on my thighs.” I needed the intensity of the heavy-cored, leather-braided implement.

There was no hesitation. V had M scoot around onto the ottoman we were using and pulled me up between his thighs so he could control me, and she took the jambock – and eventually, the dragontail – to my thighs. I had bruising for days, and a couple places where the dragontail had split the skin.

I didn’t think I was done when they stopped – then they stopped and I knew I had been done, I just hadn’t known it. I love it when a playpartner knows me that well. I curled into a ball at their feet and fairly purred for a half an hour, before standing gingerly, cleaning up my toys, and falling into bed.

As I mentioned, I love the feel of leather. Leather belts in particular bring an added emotional charge, but any kind of leather on my skin. Soft elkskin, hard leather straps, belts, tightly rolled crops, singletails, the falls of floggers. I don’t particularly like to wear leather, but I love to have it used on me. And I am grateful it was used on me that weekend so skillfully.

Everything Changes, Part Deux

This morning I woke – dare I say it – cheerful. Full of hope. Bouncy. Able to concentrate, with a sense of myself. My old self, my real self. I made Marco Polos for people, I made a to-do list for today that I am looking forward to completing (not just “doing the needful” as my kink-partner-on-hiatus used to call it when I felt overwhelmed, and he directed me to just take one step at a time, which is what I have been doing while in the throes of this depression.) I feel like there’s hope that I’ll actually be myself again, someday. Maybe someday soon? No, that’s too much to hope for. But someday.

My new medication is a real catch-22. It definitely helps, but the side effects (brain fog, inability to focus, feeling like I have ADHD, restlessness) are real deterrents, and have made me almost quit it countless times. I like doing the things I do (work, projects, crafts, maintain connections) and if the very medicine that brings me back to life also makes those things impossible, then what good is it? But I’ll stick with it through the end of next week (a full month) and then my doctor and I can assess the situation. She seems to think by then my body will have grown accustomed to the side effects, or I won’t have them, or something. We’ll see. If they give me back me, then maybe the side effects (if they are sporadic) will be worth it.

I have lots of socializing (small, controlled groups) planned. I’ve had my second vax, so I am feeling safer and more willing to be out in the world in general, but I’m still cautious, and – like yesterday – sometimes being “out there,” as opposed to being cooped up, is stressful and anxiety-producing. I had to go to the store yesterday, but left abruptly and without getting everything I needed because the world was too much. But hopefully that will not extend to this weekend – I am going to a friend’s for dinner, then we are going to a play party; tomorrow my sister and I make breakfast for my parent’s for Mother’s Day, then Ad and I are going to play pickle ball and get ice cream sundaes for my Mother’s Day celebration. Wednesday I have a hair appointment – only my second since the pandemic and boy do I need it! – and then next Saturday I have a date – an actual real-life date with a new-to-me boy! Details of that to follow, but yes, I am excited and nervous. And then, the Saturday after that, if all goes well, is another play party, with someone I have known for a long time, and with whom I have renewed a friendship – and hope to explore a play relationship with again.

Things with my kink-partner-on-hiatus are in a slightly better place than they were…(?) though I still don’t know where they will end up. But we are communicating in small, controlled ways, and he seems to be working through the issues that have plagued him. To say I think about him all the time would not be overstating things, however – I have had days flooded with tears missing him.

Okay I am off to start my to-do list before I am unable to focus enough to get anything done. I saw that the Kink of the Week’s theme this time is leather – I may have to write something sexy and kinky about the topic. Now wouldn’t that be a change! But then, everything changes, right?

Everything Changes

CW: Depression, Suicidal ideation.

I have never placed a “content warning” on my writing before, but times are what they are, and there are a lot of people suffering deeply, and I want to be sensitive to that. I am discussing my own, pervasive, depression in this piece, but if you want to skip all that and see a fun image, I have included one of those as well. Just scroll to the bottom past all the words…

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I have had to face the fact that I am depressed. Oh, this is not a new revelation, I have in fact been here, more or less, since the pandemic slammed its ugliness down on us a year-and-some ago, and have been in treatment with various doctors, anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants, a couple of therapists, meditation, lots of exercise. And I know there is another side to get to, I know it’s there, but right now, in this moment, I am hurting and so deeply, deeply sad. Tears are never far away; longing for days past is always there on the edge of my thoughts; so are thoughts that if I could just go to sleep and not wake up again it would all be better. The pain would go away.

I know there is good and happiness. I have felt good and happiness, even in the midst of this, but it all feels so…so ragged and fraught with the vestiges of this sadness that it somehow feels less real than the pain, than the suffering. That’s not true – happiness and love and joy are MORE real than this that I am feeling right now. This pain, this sadness, is ephemeral, and passing. Really, my meditation tells me that all is fleeting, and changing, and changeable, but I need to look to a future where things feel…okay again. Where I feel okay. I need to know that this sadness will ease.

I just have a hard time believing that it will at the moment.

So that is where I am right now – desperately holding on, trying to “look normal” – fake it till I make it. I feel trapped inside this spiral, but I have been here often enough before – when I was very young, later after my marriage ended, and again when Warren died – I have been through to the other side often enough to know that it exists. It really is not all pain and suffering. I really will persevere. But oh holy fuck it hurts betimes.

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Here’s the cute picture I promised. The Canadian continues to give me gentle tasks to help ease me through my days. Monday was “red” day. I decided it was a good way to vacuum. Red glasses, red blouse, red lipstick, red tartan panties. You can’t see my red heels, unfortunately. But check out that red vacuum! That’s some fun right there.

#sinfulsunday – sucking (in a good way)

The Canadian told me he had read an old blog post of mine, The Joy of Sucking Cock (which is, possibly not surprisingly, one of my most-read blog posts.)

Based on that, “Your task today,” he said, “is to demonstrate yourself sucking 6 different cocks – bio or not.” Now, I don’t have one bio cock I can demo on at the moment, but I have plenty of pretend ones. And look! My lipstick lessons came in good stead as well.

This also goes along well with this month’s theme: “I am…”

“I am a happy little cocksucker!”

My favorite is the bottom right. What’s yours?

Go checked out all the other Sunday Sinners, telling us about who they are!

a to z challenge – you are not a number

I am.

I am my weight.
My age.
My bust size.
The number of calories I consume.

I am how many times a week I eat ice cream. I am how often I fail. I am how many times I’ve had to say I’m sorry because I’ve said something thoughtless or cruel. I’m the number of stories I’ve published and the number of books I have not. I am the number of classes I am away from a real degree. I am how much money I have in the bank and how much – too much – I spend on frivolous things.

You are none of those things. You are you, whole and complete, you don’t have holes inside of yourself where other people used to live. Your numbers don’t matter to me – you are curves and skin and beautiful inside and out and who cares if you are twenty years younger than me or ten years older. I’ve ceased counting the silver and grey hairs on my head because the number is too high, yours I don’t even notice.

Our affection, our love, our attraction and our friendship – at least from my end – don’t hinge on numbers.

I fully expect yours to. Because I am a number.

Whence does this dysmorphia come from?

A lot of it is fear. Fear as I grow older that I become less and less relevant, as a woman, as a human. My sex appeal falls away and I am no longer desirable – and damn it, I want to be desirable. But more than that, we are no longer seen as viable as we reach a certain age.

And then there is the fucking scale. I watch it with an intensity one should only reserve for watching a tennis ball crack back and forth across the net, never letting it out of my sight. I gained my pandemic 15…and then another 5. And now I am slowly clawing my way back to a number that feels acceptable to me – even though I know it will never be enough. There is no acceptable number to be when you are a number. When your whole sense of self worth lies in that little machine to tell you who you are. There is not enough movement, there are not enough exercises, there is no amount that I could starve myself to make that number acceptable. So, many times I just don’t try.

And then I do my weight training. Not to be a number, but because it feels good. Because at the end I don’t feel like a number, I feel powerful. And I take my run, not because it makes my number smaller, but because I feel lighter in other ways, I feel like I can soar, I can fly. And I do my yoga not because it will make these old joints twist and flex as they did twenty years ago, but because it opens my heart and grounds me in the here and now.

A here and now I am not just a number. I am a whole being.