Empty Your Cup

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The following is an essay I wrote for a college course last year. These concepts are deeply rooted in asian culture and beliefs, in Hinduism and Buddhism and Zen. I hope the concepts are of interest! Endnotes and works cited are included.

 

Empty Your Cup

 

One of the concepts presented in our study is the idea of the beginner’s mind. I have a great deal of experience with this personally thanks to the decade I spent studying a martial art called Shao-Lin Kempo. This is a form of Kung Fu in which I hold a black belt. With roots in both China and Japan, this art is closely tied to many Hindu and Buddhist principles. When I began my journey in this art, I had advanced equestrian knowledge and skill. Looking back, I am amazed I was able to be so successful in anything without first learning to empty my cup.

The beginner’s mind is explained with a simple metaphor. Imagine sitting down for tea with a Master, who pours tea into your cup. After it is full to the brim, the Master continues pouring tea and you watch as it overflows. When you ask the Master why he does this, he responds that your mind is like this cup. It is so full already, how can you possibly hold any more? Before the Master can begin to teach you, you must empty your cup. Let go of what you know and what you think you know. Once you have let go of presumptions, knowledge, pride in accomplishments, and all else that fills your cup, you have achieved the beginner’s mind. Now you present yourself to the Master ready to learn without any prejudice. This is an important element in Zen[1] that is universally useful in our lives.

We live in a highly individualistic, competitive society. American’s lives center around outdoing one another and appearing to know all there is to be known. This concept of been-there-done-that is the basis for what is called the expert’s mind.[2] The common misconception that once we’ve experienced something a single time, we can gain nothing further from it is the trap of having an expert’s mind. It results in narrow mindedness, causing us to shut others out and strengthen walls that divide us rather than build bridges to connect us to one another. In doing so it makes room for prejudice, discrimination, fanaticism and oppression.[3] Now, claiming that this can all be avoided by one simple concept is extraordinary. Luckily, with the beginner’s mind, avoiding these pitfalls of society seems not only easy, but also obvious and necessary for one’s own well being. Believing that knowing a characteristic (such as age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or hobbies) allows us to know what type of person another is and whether or not they are our kind of people[4] is a slippery slope perpetuated by the expert’s mind. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.[5] If we instead approach life and people with a beginner’s mind, we are excited to learn anything and everything. We present unlimited intellectual curiosity, constantly asking questions such as: Why? How? When? Where?[6] Thus the superiority of a beginner’s mind is made clear, as judgment is absent, being replaced by compassion and empathy.

It must be admitted that, although simple to explain, the beginner’s mind is not a simple concept in practice. We must pursue it without any attachment to our end goal, nor to its own origins, nor even to the practice itself. To attain a beginner’s mind, we must be free from possessing anything and accept that everything is in flowing change. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form; one thing flows into another and cannot be grasped.[7] The loss of balance causes change, yet the whole of being, the universe, life itself, remains in perfect harmony. While that which we were dies upon the loss of balance, thanks to change being thrust upon us, we also develop ourselves and are able to grow because of this. Everything around us is constantly losing its balance, changing.[8] The apparent permanence of objects in our lives is merely a deception, caused by our inability to view the true nature that underlies all. Here again, it seems obvious the advantages of a beginner’s mind, for it opens our eyes to the big picture rather than narrowing our gaze upon that which we may find unwelcome. The beginner’s mind grants us freedom from the chains of experience, the numbness and inability to appreciate the complexness and freshness of existence. This is neither meant to degrade technical prowess nor committed inquiry, but rather to guide us from the lure of expertise in every moment. Then, when offering forgiveness is unimaginable, when our curiosity dwindles, when we proclaim, “I’m not that kind of person”,[9] this is when we must set aside our expert’s mind, so strongly entrenched in each of us, and call forth the righteous perspective, the wise understanding, of our beginner’s mind.

It should be noted that being an expert is not mutually exclusive of having a beginner’s mind. In fact, mastery of the beginner’s mind can only propel one in the right direction toward mastery of any subject. An expert is always a beginner, because expertise constantly opens up new worlds. It is the near irresolvability of their venture that provides experts their drive to reveal new perspectives and discover uncharted ideas.[10] Attaining a beginner’s mind can be as long a road as one would expect to achieve mastery of any other subject. After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is little by little. Much like learning a foreign language, you must practice it over and over in order to master it. As we do so, we become aware of the fact that to be sincere and put forth our full effort in each moment is enough, for this is where nirvana exists.[11] Mastery is not required; much as Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path teaches us, elements such as correct intention, effort, mindfulness and contemplation allow us to face life objectively, while living kindly and cultivating inner peace.[12] The expression of this concept taught in Shao-Lin Kempo is one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand. It takes one hundred attempts to simply remember material one is learning. It takes one thousand repetitions to begin to be able to complete the material with some level of developed skill. It takes ten thousand repetitions to achieve mastery of the material; at which point you begin again. For as we know, to be an expert is to be a beginner.

Zazen, the practice of seated meditation[13], is the corner stone of Zen practice as well as a porthole through which one can develop the beginner’s mind. To begin, the student sits down in the lotus position. This consists of placing the left foot on the right thigh, and the right foot on the left thigh. The lotus position expresses the oneness of duality: not two, not one. With legs crossed in this fashion, they become one despite the fact that there is one right leg and one left leg. Similarly, it is incorrect to think of the mind and body as two, but it is equally wrong to think of them as one. The mind and the body are both one and two; just as each of us are both dependent and independent.[14] While practicing zazen, all that exists is the movement of breathing. It is important the student not be absentminded, but also equally important not to focus on the finite self. The student must rather focus on the infinite self, that which is shared by everything. This is the point at which the student must overcome the dualistic nature intrinsic in “mine” and “yours”, “you” and “I”, “this” and “that”. This is the true experience of life; that which transcends time and space.[15] By focusing on their breathing, the student seeks control of their mind. This is neither meant to force the mind to be empty, nor to force the mind’s concentration on a single idea or thought. Rather, it is to not be disturbed by the images in one’s mind; to let them come, and to let them go. Then they will be under control.[16] With time, your thinking will stop of its own accord. If the student tries to stop thinking, that denotes being bothered by it. The student should not be bothered by anything. While it appears thoughts are coming from your mind, they are actually only the waves of your mind. When you are not bothered by the waves, eventually they become calmer and calmer.[17] The difficulties experienced throughout this process should not be resented, for they only served to enrich your practice of zazen.[18]

“If you continue this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.”[19] Achieving and maintaining a beginner’s mind opens doors in any venture, including in those everyday interactions we don’t even notice occurring. Understanding the connection between all things and living with an open, curious, judgment free mind builds bridges which break down the wall of ego deceiving us into believing we are individuals, unaffected by the pain of others. When we view the world through a beginner’s mind, we begin to see the depth surrounding us where previously we saw only shells. It’s amazing how much we miss by assuming we already know what’s there. The beginner’s mind is perhaps the most powerful asset any of us will ever attain.

 

Bibliography

Kaufman, Peter. “The Beginner’s Mind”. Everyday Sociology Blog. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. Web. 3 March 2013.

Lentine, Genine. “The Expert’s Mind”. San Francisco Zen Center.San Francisco Zen Center, 2010. Web. 3 March 2013.

Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991. Print.

Suzuki, Shunryu. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. New York: Weatherhill, Inc., 1995. Print.

 

[1] Suzuki, Pages 21-22

[2] Kaufman, Paragraph 5

[3] Kaufman, Paragraph 5-6

[4] Kaufman, Paragraph 5

[5] Suzuki, Page 21

[6] Kaufman, Paragraph 3

[7] Suzuki, Page 138

[8] Suzuki, Pages 31-32

[9] Lentine, Paragraph 4-6

[10] Lentine, Paragraph 9

[11] Suzuki, Page 46

[12] Molloy, Page 136

[13] Molloy, Page 166

[14] Suzuki, Page 25

[15] Suzuki, Page 29

[16] Suzuki, Page 32

[17] Suzuki, Page 34

[18] Suzuki, Page 36

[19] Suzuki, Page 46

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Playing With Fire

Below are two companion essays I wrote (and submitted!) in high school about my relationship with V (http://wp.me/s4jKhN-consent). These were both written in the fall of 2007, so I do hope ya’ll will forgive any immaturity in the writing. The assignment for the initial essay was to write a “descriptive essay”; the assignment for the second was to write a “narrative essay”.

 

Lost Love

 

I’ve never felt anything in the world like this before. When I am with this amazing man, I can’t see anything around me; the entire world fades away and all I see is him. I don’t know how I survived without him for so long or how I could ever do so again. The mere thought of him gets my heart racing and a nervous excitement nearly overwhelms me. Standing here with me, suddenly he is no longer an obsessive thought but a tangible presence for me to embrace and adore. But as I look into his soft, loving eyes, I know that this is truly the last time – it is time to say goodbye. My enchantment in finally seeing him is overshadowed by a sense of impending doom. Although this man whom I long for and dream about is here beside me, I am already beginning to feel the pain of our separation looming over us.

When I look into his deep brown eyes, I see the world before me. Everything I am, all that I could ever want or need is here, in him. He gently takes hold of my hand. Looking down, I see our fingers intertwined and feel that he is reaching out and embracing not just my hand, but my very being, my soul even. He has become such a part of me, and I of him, that I could no sooner separate from him than I would detach an arm or a leg. I cannot imagine me without him ever again; experiencing the absence of his touch, his smell, his presence; it would be no less than torture! This horrible, wretched day must be no more than a nightmare, a reflection of the deepest fears of my unconscious mind. We are a part of each other, for I have given my heart to him freely and knowingly, aware of the consequences and gladly accepting them in return for his love. I have never experienced a love of this magnitude before; I had hardly even imagined it possible! Surely we must be meant to be together for all of time. This perfect man of mine, this perfect love, how can we just end it, just say goodbye?

While my attention is still focused on our hands, I feel him take a step closer to me. I want to look up at him again, to take comfort in the way he looks at me, but find that I can’t. I’m plagued by despair, lacking the strength to look again into his bright, familiar eyes which I must soon leave behind and try to forget. Our bodies are so close now, almost touching. My breath catches in my chest. His presence has such a grip on me I feel I can hardly think or move, as though I no longer have control over myself. While I still firmly grasp his left hand – almost as though it was a lifeline, an unwavering connection to him – he lifts his right to my face, brushing it lightly against my cheek. This intimate gesture nearly makes my heart burst as I feel his soft touch against my skin. As though I have gained strength simply from this slight contact, I look once again into his beautiful face. He smiles down at me and I want nothing more than to freeze us in this perfect moment for the rest of time, to be with him forever. He moves his hand up and brushes the hair out of my face, gently placing it behind my ear. The tenderness in his eyes is breathtaking, and I can see that he cares every bit as much as I do. He lifts his hands and puts them lightly in my hair. While still gazing at me as though he can see into my very soul, he moves closer, finally kissing me. My eyes close as I feel his soft lips on mine. I snake my arms around him, holding him tight. Time begins to slip away and I could spend eternity in this single perfect moment.

We separate, and as I look at him I realize that he is more beautiful to me in this moment than ever before. He is looking at me as though I am everything he has ever sought in his life, as though he has found the world in my eyes as I have in his. Looking at him, I can see that he loves me, and I realize that no other man will ever look at me the way he is at this very moment. He breaks this placid silence and I hear his low, confident voice quietly tell me, “You are beautiful.” My heart melts at his gentle words. My knees lose the last of their strength, and I feel such an incredible need for him. Just when I feel that surely I am about to fall, he wraps his arms around me, pulling me in tight and holding me in his strong arms.

He begins to gently stroke my back while still holding me close. I feel him breathing, slowly and softly, his chest rising and falling against me. As he continues to hold me tight, I gradually become aware of his heartbeat. Quiet but strong, I am lulled by its gentle rhythm. I could almost fall asleep in his arms, all the tension and anxiety have faded completely. At last I feel at peace, comfortable and relaxed, and above all, happy. The pain of losing him is momentarily pushed from my mind, and I am at ease in his gentle embrace.

Holding hands, we turn our backs on the beauty that has surrounded us and depart. I momentarily allow him to fall into the back of my mind while I admire this perfect day. As the sun shines warmly on us and a soft breeze whispers in our ears, we walk across a carpet of green. The birds serenade us from their perches and the squirrels play in the trees. This place is flawless, surreal almost. It personifies our feelings and perfectly expresses the splendor and intensity of our affection.

This beautiful scenery is not enough to distract me from him for long, and my mind begins to stumble down the winding road that holds the memories of our relationship. Perfectly imperfect, together against all odds; star-crossed lovers, as Shakespeare would say. Every moment we had together was cherished. We reveled in the sheer wonder of each other and our love. Perhaps we weren’t meant to be together; unquestionably the world was against us. But we stole away together every chance we got, and are now closer than anyone could ever know. We shared a secret world, and wouldn’t have wished it any other way.

He promises me that one day we will be together again, even if we have to run away from the world. But for now, it’s goodbye. We walk silently away, hand in hand. I had so hoped not to cry, but the hot tears well up and, one by one, begin to trickle down my cheeks. The cruel world has finally won, and our time together is over. What the future holds, neither of us can know. But we can hope, and think of each other with all the love and tenderness that has marked our time together. Just because we are separated does not mean that we will ever stop caring. I take some comfort in this thought as we depart.

While watching him drive away, my heart finally breaks. I cry harder than I can ever remember crying, standing rooted to the spot for what feels like an eternity. I can no longer hold myself up, finally collapsing on the ground, crying alone. My love, the man of my dreams, is to be mine no more.

 

Playing With Fire

 

Everyone knows that if you play with fire, eventually you get burned. No matter how hard you may try to evade it, it is inevitable. And the longer you hazard the chance, the more severe the burn. I have spent the majority of this year playing with fire, all because I fell in love with the wrong guy. When all of your instincts tell you that something is wrong, and everyone around you knows that you are in way over your head, how can you just say, “Well, shit, I guess this is over”? Love sucks you in and once it has you in its clutches, there is no escape. When I look into his eyes there is nothing else in the world that matters, and all my doubts and guilt dissolve. I can never seem to walk away, no matter how hard I try. So I keep dancing his delicate dance with the fire that can so easily destroy my life.

It all started innocently enough, just one person adding another to her friend’s list on the notorious MySpace. Now I understand why it has such a bad reputation. What began as an innocent flirtation, a small flame teasing its way into existence, quickly swelled into a consuming wildfire spreading out of control and dominating every aspect of both our lives. Seventeen-year-old girls don’t get to fall in love with twenty-four-year-old men who are husbands and fathers. And even more importantly, adult men who are married and have a child don’t fall in love with seventeen-year-old girls.

There is a reason passion is described as a flame. It burns and grows inside people haphazardly and swiftly becomes beyond control. It is unpredictable like the flame, and once it begins it develops a life of its own. Unfortunately we cannot choose whom we fall in love with or how hard we fall; I never had any chance of turning away from my feelings for him. I knew that I was doomed when I got the e-mail saying simply, “I like you too.”

I made him tell me three more times before I believe that he was saying what I was hearing. I was terrified that he would say it was a mistake and he only meant that he liked me as a friend, but at the same time part of me was praying that he would do so, quickly, so that I could forget about what this meant lie ahead.

People often assume that teenagers are sneaky and can get away with a lot, but that certainly isn’t the case in my life. My parents know exactly where I am and what I’m doing at all times. No doubt you can imagine the difficulties I encountered in trying to have a relationship my parents know nothing about. Not to mention one that was illegal.

We were intoxicated by each other. And what you learn in health class about your judgment being the first thing to go, well it’s true. We were both fully aware of how wrong it was, we just didn’t care. All that mattered was that we got to see each other, got to feel that high one more time. When we were together we lost our minds, went completely crazy. When I looked into his eyes, I could see the fire. I never saw that look except for during our secret rendezvous.

The problem with this type of relationship is how to end it. We were not only lovers, we were close friends who depended on each other for support. I believe we have ended our relationship three times to date, and at the moment are still close friends. But that keeps leading us back to that burning desire to be together, and our will wears thin over time. We fall so easily back into our old habits, weak and fallible as we are. Are we in love, or are we just intoxicated? I try to answer that question every day. And if we are in love, does it matter? I don’t know.

But for now, we are friends. He is one of the most important people in the world to me, and his friendship is my anchor during the worst of times. We depend on each other for so much that drawing the line is nearly impossible. It is only made more difficult by the fact that neither of us wants to draw the line. So we continue to talk and be the most intimate of friends as our relationship lurches from one extreme to the other – or, at least, it feels extreme to us.

The Origin of Fear

I’ve had horrible nightmares for as long as I can remember. As a small child I would wake up frozen in fear, barely breathing, not able to convince myself to get out of bed to find my mom so she could make me feel better. Back then, I would dream of masked men breaking in to our house in the night and robbing us. Even though my bedroom was on the second story, I dreamed they would come in to the house directly through my window. I still remember how vivid that dream was.

I never watched many cartoons, and thinking about it now that might have its roots in my nightmares as well. For years as a young child I had a recurring dream about a cartoon witch and a cauldron. She never hurt me in the dream, but she was going to. She would taunt me and tell me about all the terrible things she was going to do to me (like the evil character often does in childrens storybooks), and the worst part was that I was trapped. The room I was in with the witch was closet sized, with no light other than from the fire below the cauldron, and I was always huddled in the corner as far away from the witch as possible. But there was no door. No window. No way out. I could fight, scream, cry, beg; no matter what I did or said, I couldn’t hide and I couldn’t escape the witch. Who wanted to hurt me.

Both of these youthful nightmares faded over time, only to be replaced with far more realistic horrors. Not too long ago I dreamed that H and I were in a war zone. Full automatic weapons, think WWI trench type warfare. There were dead soldiers everywhere, and our troops were losing. Badly. Worse than the dead though were the wounded. Obviously I paid more attention to those war movies Mom’s husband liked when I was growing up than I wished. The injuries suffered by the soldiers were gruesome. I find I’m unable, despite my intentions, to describe it. Soon, H, myself, and a small group of soldiers are boxed in. I look up into the face of the closest enemy solider as he rises his rifle. I know I’m about to die. But first, before I can even blink, the enemy solider aims and H and fires. I look at him and watch him die, knowing any second I will follow him. That’s when I woke up.

This dream was new. I’ve never had war nightmares in the past. If it was just the war, I’d say I prefer this type of horror to what I usually dream. But the trauma of watching H die next to me still hasn’t completely left my mind. It’s difficult to think about, even fully awake and cognizant that it was just a dream. What I’ve more commonly dreamt about, for many years, is being raped. Not in a rape -fantasy hold me down while I say no but actually I want it kind of way. That would hardly meet my definition of a nightmare. I dream about being abducted, brutalized, tortured, maimed, in endless agony. That’s the other thing about my nightmares, I almost never wake from them. The war dream was a noteworthy aberration from my norm in that way as well. More often, once it starts it will continue, sometimes morphing into different scenes with similar content, and not stop until I’m woken by external stimuli.

I’ve been thinking about my nightmares for a while. They come and go. When I’m lucky, I can go up to a few months without any. When I’m not so lucky, I have them every night. I know that stress is a factor, but I also know they aren’t caused by that alone. Last year, I’d gone months without any nightmares. When did they return? The night H and I fought about my inviting J to hang out. Coincidence? I think not. But other times they have sought me out when I wasn’t on emotional overload, nor under a great deal of other strain. I’ve been trying to remember when I first dreamed of being raped, was it before or after E? I’m not certain, but I seem to recall it started several years before him. Which begs the question I typically attempt to avoid considering: Why?

I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record, but my childhood is something that I usually don’t talk about. I try not to even think about it when at all possible. But, it’s difficult to argue that my childhood is irrelevant in this instance. I never believed I was loved when I was young. I never felt like I had a family. I never felt safe. I never felt protected. My Mom and her husband L could have been worse. Mostly due to the efforts of my Mom I had many advantages my peers did not. We never had a lot of money, but we always had enough. Neither Mom nor L every beat me or molested me. I never went hungry, or was homeless. Neither Mom nor L did illegal drugs or even smoke pot. I knew Mom would never kick me out; no matter what happened, she would always put a roof over my head if I needed it. Most of my peers in the small town I grew up in dealt with at least one of these or more during their childhood. In my town, I was one of the lucky ones. Middle class was out of reach for most everyone I knew. Yet, I still was never at home. Never happy.

Mom and L didn’t have a good marriage within my memory. L had terminal health issues that began when I was 2 years old, and their marriage declined with L’s health. There’s a lot more to L, but that will have to wait for another time. Due to his health, L didn’t work. So, Mom always had to work to provide for our family. L stayed home with us. He and I were very close when I was young. L was a pathological liar and dedicated manipulator. I was too young to know not to trust him. I believed all of the lies he told me, about my Mom and practically every other person I ever met. Family, friends, all of them were out to get him. Being the devoted daughter I was, that meant it was him and me against the world. L was so derogatory, I actually believed my Mom didn’t love me. For close to ten years of my childhood. Biologically, L is my father. But I will never refer to him as anything other than my Mom’s ex-husband again. He did not act like a father or a dad, he didn’t protect me, he didn’t put me first, he didn’t meet even my most basic needs for someone to trust and depend on. L never even bothered to try to be a good parent.

As I said, obviously my childhood has to be considered when thinking about the root of my life long and increasingly severe nightmares. My feelings of inadequacy due to my relationship (or lack thereof) with my Mom and L, not ever feeling protected, never feeling like I had a safe, stable environment to retreat to, not feeling like I had a family, had other consequences as well. But again, that’s another story. The simple theory: I had and continue to have nightmares because of a difficult childhood. Even if this were indeed the case, how the hell do I fix it now? Believe me, if I could trade in my childhood for another I’d be sorely tempted. But none of us have that option. So simple theory, no idea how to fix the results. The complex theory: my childhood was at most a contributing factor to my nightmares, and other considerations impact or even cause them. Solution for the complex theory? I’m equally as clueless.

Here I sit, with two basic theories about where my nightmares come from, and no hypothesis to resolve them. Apparently keeping the topic in the back of my mind for over a year now, subtly tracking what elements of such as stress, anger, lack of sex, and others correlate with my nightmares seems to have gotten me nowhere. Yes, I’m clear that high levels of stress or emotionality causes an increase. However, even when I’m not stressed or highly emotional, the nightmares still come. Aside from the difficulty inherent in nightmares, I also find myself disturbed by the lengths to which my mind is capable of going to torment me. This can’t be normal. There must be something very wrong with me for my mind to do this. I hope it ends.

I have a lot more thoughts on fear, but it’s late and apparently discussing my nightmares was not nearly as independent a subject as I’d hoped. I hadn’t planned to write nearly so much. Thus, I will hold off on my further discussions of fear, knowing that this post will lay the foundation for more to come.

Walk Like a Cowboy

Apparently I’m in the mood for humor this evening. My last post made me laugh out loud. Okay, okay. The title really wasn’t that creative “Fifty Shades of Unimpressed”, but what can I say, I’m easily entertained. Now for the story.

When I was in college, I got curious. I contend with this state often (nearly as often as I contend with horniness, so that’s really something!); however this time my curiosity was not easily sated. What, pray tell, caught my attention? Piercings. I had some at the time, my navel, a couple sets in my ear lobes, I’d had my nose pierced (didn’t last long). I knew girls who had their nipples pierced, but mine are so sensitive I never was fond of the idea of piercing them. Naturally, this left getting my clitoral hood pierced! To be fair, I didn’t come up with this entirely on my own. A friend of mine, C, had a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and offered to give me a ride some time. I’d never been on a motorcycle and jumped at the chance. When going over basic safety, he asked me if I had my clit pierced. Come again? We were friends, but we weren’t that close! Apparently C had given a friend a ride once who basically orgasmed the entire ride curtesy of her clit piercing. So C simply asked that if you’ve got one, don’t wear it when he gives you a ride on his MC. Fair enough.

Naturally, I was fascinated by this idea. I started asking all the girls I knew that were in to tattoos, piercings, or just not super tight laced if they had their hood pierced, or knew anyone who did. I wanted to know how it feels during sex, or if it could really be felt at all. Okay, I was also dying to talk C into a MC ride to try that one out too 😉 Nobody knew! Nobody. Seriously!? Well, I was, obviously, left with only one way to discharge my curiosity. Do it myself. Then, have lots of sex…and talk C into a MC ride 😉

At the time, I had a close friend I practically lived with. T & I were in all the same classes and got along famously. She was also smokin’ hot and I was dying to put the moves on her. Never did 😦 Anyway, she was one of the girls I asked about it who didn’t know if it was good/great/mind-blowing/or no-big-deal. She helped me talk myself in to doing it. So we go to the piercing shop, I fork over my cash, and T and I head in to the piercing room. I take off everything below the waist and chill on the chair/table. T is all standing down by my feet gettin’ ready for the show and the piercer point blank tells her she’s here to hold my hand and help me get through it so go-stand-by-her-head NOT down here checkin’ out her kitty. T and I start laughing and I explain to the piecer T did not in fact come to hold my hand, but to watch. No bid deal. So I spread my legs, look down and the piecer and T have their heads all up in my undercarriage, along with one of these!

Image

Intimidating much!? Right. There. Yep. FUCK! I screamed. Twice. Apparently, the process (which, no, they don’t warn you before hand!) is that the gun pinches down on your skin once the piercer has it aligned, then after pinching down to hold your very sensitive skin still, moves on to step 2, actually piercing the skin. Cue scream #2. #1 was more of a yelp than a true scream, but #2 was the loudest I’ve ever screamed in my life. I was so embarrassed! I never thought I’d scream! I couldn’t stop apologizing to the piercer. Shocker, the waiting room was empty when I walked out. Who sits there, waiting to get pierced, hears the chick in the back screaming, and thinks to themselves, “This seems legit. I wanna get pierced here.” Nobody. Well, the piercer assures me it’s okay & that I did great. Eventually I convince myself to put my panties and jeans back on (really wasn’t a fan of that idea at the time).

What do T & I decide we should do with our afternoon and my freshly pierced self? Go shopping at the mall. Um, yeah. That was awesome planning. I was so terrified of bumping or rubbing my anything, I was unconsciously walking with my knees bent and my legs as far apart as I could manage. T, being the kind, caring friend she was, waited over an hour to finally tell me “You’re waking like a cowboy!” FML. Can’t a girl catch a break!? So: what was the outcome, you ask?

  • Oral Sex: awesome. Even a blind, deaf, idiot can’t miss your clit when you’re hood’s pierced. Yay!
  • Vaginal Sex: depends on the position. Sometimes it makes no difference, sometimes it’s really great 🙂
  • Anal Sex: surprise surprise, no difference.
  • Masturbation: here’s where I was most surprised. Vibrator on my clit piercing? OUCH! No-thank-you never-again! Non vibrating toys? All good. So, now I have to choose between having my clit piercing in OR using a vibrator. Sad :/ I guess a girl really can’t have it all!
  • MC Ride: nuthin 😦 biggest disappointment seeing as that was the inspiration in the first place. I have no idea how C’s friend was sitting on the MC to get her clit piercing to have contact with the vibrations from the MC, but I tried and was totally unsuccessful. Maybe C’s friend was faking it in an attempt to flirt with him? Guess I’ll never be sure.

Hope ya’ll find this story as entertaining as I do!

Consent

24 is just a number. To anyone else, there’s no reason for me to have been emotionally debilitated by that particular birthday. What most people don’t know is that I was once in love with a 24 year old man. I was 16. It gets better. V was married and had an eight year old daughter. Yeah, that was a great plan. I never thought it mattered, back then. Whatever (whoever) I wanted, I just took. V was my best (only) friend. He listened to me pour all my 16 year old angst and heartbreak out. He was only the second guy I ever slept with. He told me he loved me. I believed him, back then.

Here’s the thing, once I was 24, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The shoe’s finally on the other foot. Now, I’m horrified by the idea of even being attracted to, let alone sleeping with, a 16 year old! I feel used, and dirty, and worthless. I still do, when I think about it. Now I finally get why minors can’t consent. At 16, I was still so young. I was out of control. I needed guidance, protection. I (cliche warning!) truly didn’t have the emotional maturity to make the choices I was making, or handle the consequences of those decisions.   I feel so foolish looking back, V promised he was going to marry me. I believed that too. We were together for about a year and a half. The last time I saw him was shortly after my 18th birthday (yeah, I started dating E 5 days after the last time I saw V). The plan, according to V, was to back off our affair. To give him time to get a divorce (at the time, he’d been separated from his wife). Give V time to find a permanent place of his own. Give me time to grow up a little more. V swore when I turned 21, we’d be together again. Get married. Happily Ever After. Right.

So, I got involved with E. Emotionally vulnerable much? Yeah, I just wanted a rebound. Wish that’s all I’d gotten. Anyway, a few weeks later I find out V’s wife is pregnant. So, apparently not only did he move back in with her, he was fucking both of us. Awesome. Glad to know everything you ever told me was a lie. Hope the sex was worth it. Now the stage is set for everything E did to me. Everything I let him do. Everything I never said “no” to. Great memories. So, least favorite number? Gunna have to go with 24.

Hopefully one day things will get easier. I know I can’t forget, but maybe I can figure out how to let go, move on…

Telling H that I’m a Sub

Telling H about my submissive needs is not something I ever wanted to do. But, there are a lot of things I never wanted to tell H, and it all comes out in the end. I was going through a period of obsession. I was stressed at work, feeling unfulfilled in my off time, and not getting nearly enough sex. I was craving a chance to submit so badly I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I was irritable and withdrawn. This went on for months and got progressively worse, until H simply couldn’t accept my excuses any longer.

Boy was I unprepared for this conversation. I will go in to more detail perhaps another time, but long story short I was in an abusive relationship for about a year, which only ended when E decided to join the military. I still don’t know that I would’ve gotten out before he killed me otherwise. H knows some about this, but struggles to understand. It’s a topic I avoid if at all possible.

So, H sits me down and demands I explain what’s wrong. I use all my best excuses to no avail; H has heard them all too many time & too often in this case. By my own choice/personality, I never tell H no. I’ve mentioned this to him on a few occasions, but he didn’t really understand the significance. So, without any preparation at all, I suddenly have to try to explain my submissive needs and desire for a BDSM relationship to H.

I choke out everything I can think of to explain, and H tells me that sounds like abuse. Great. Now I get to talk about my favorite topic, E. I explained that if H topped me, I would know that I would always be able to stop him if I needed to. That I would know he would always respect my safe word, that he loves me and wants to fulfill my desires. No dice. H still thinks spanking me til I scream or forcing me to deep throat him with no warning, possibly no reciprocation, and maybe even when I’m not in the mood, sounds like abuse.

Next, I get to explain in agonizing detail exactly why what E did to me was abusive. How I didn’t have the right to say no. How I couldn’t make him stop for any reason. How afraid of him I was. How he never took care of me or my needs. How threatening E was. How he would literally abuse me until I was unconscious and never slow down in using me. How he isolated me and controlled every aspect of my life. How E allowed me no privacy, ever. How many times I gave up, resigned to the fact that this might very well be the time when he finally kills me; this will be the time I don’t get to walk out of this room.

I remember, years ago, a conversation about that became about E. I have a lot of trouble going to my annual exams because of the type of questions they ask. Have I ever been raped? Obviously, the simple answer is “no”. But how truthful is that? H told me, in no uncertain terms and at length, that I’d never been raped. I willingly went to see E, didn’t I? I never said “No” or “Stop” did I? Of course not. So, obviously, I wasn’t raped. I was stunned by H’s lack of empathy and understanding. Didn’t he realize saying “No” or “Stop” to E would’ve likely signed my death warrant? I was so stunned I didn’t even try to argue. I just accepted what he said silently, but it had haunted me ever since.

Now, after explaining (to the best of my unprepared ability) my submissive nature and needs, and explaining how H topping me would be nothing like E’s abuse, H finally understands. I reminded him of that conversation, and he apologized. Now he says I was raped. But, much like the invisible scars of what E did to me, I can’t banish the feelings of worthlessness, responsibility, and self-loathing H reinforced when he insisted, with such certainty, that I willingly accepted everything E ever did.

Somewhere in there, I also tried to explain how H would have control over me even though H would always have to respect my safe word if I used it, essentially meaning I as the sub hold all the control as H argued. Now, there’s a ton of validity to this, but discussing it with someone who is absolutely clueless about BDSM relationships isn’t going to clarify anything. So there I sit, having just relinquished one of my deepest secrets and having discussed in terrifying detail one some of the worst experiences of my life, all needy and vulnerable, and H is just arguing with me that what I’m saying I want is impossible. This is not going well. At all.

Great. So, my secret’s out. H knows I’m submissive. He asked some very good, very reasonable questions. Most of which I epically failed at attempting to answer. I was far too emotionally overwrought for this conversation, if I’m to be honest. I know he wants me to be happy and find our sex life fulfilling. Hello, that’s how we became swingers. It’s not that I enjoyed hiding this deeply imbedded part of myself from H, it’s just that I knew he wouldn’t understand. H proved me right.

I admit, he’s spanked me more often and harder while we’re having sex since this conversation a few months ago. But that’s been the only change. He doesn’t ask what I want, or what he can try. I think he’d be horrified by most of my fantasies. H certainly isn’t about to tie me down and spend an hour spanking me with various implements, making me scream and cry as foreplay. I’m afraid that he’s never going to meet these needs. That scares me. Also, thanks to my experiences with E, I’m terrified of trusting anyone else (such as the people we swing with) to top me. Even if I was brave enough to let someone other than my husband top me, I’m afraid this would take something valuable away from our relationship. I know some subs have Doms who are not their spouse, but is that truly as fulfilling as being a sub for your spouse? I don’t know.

I don’t know if, given time, H will learn to be a Dom. I know he likes having the control some times, but will he ever be able to force me to the depths of submission I need to feel complete and sated? I think it unlikely. Even if he can, even if he wants, to eventually become that, can I wait that long? What’s a sub to do?

Much as I anticipated, finally telling H about my submissiveness did not leave me feeling better about our relationship. I felt like I’d been kicked and pushed aside, left behind. I realize he didn’t do anything wrong, but I was (and still am to be honest) so demoralized but his inability to understand and his aggressive insistence that what I described wasn’t feasible, that I’m still trying to figure out how to recover now, months later. Where do I, where do we as a couple, go from here?