Ruminations

I was in therapy last week, talking about various events in a busy couple of weeks, and how I’m keeping on top of some things, and how other things are knocking at me, and otherwise having a mental and emotional check-up.

As anyone who’s worked their way through counselling can tell you, it’s hard work that spares no blushes when everything clicks – and your relationship with your therapist can be as intimate when it comes to knowing each other as a long term partner. They learn what makes you tick, your tells, your buttons, and at their best when to back off and let you do the heavy digging.

That’s certainly the relationship I have with my counsellor – leading to more than one conversation where we’ve talked about her being as much my partner as either Lady M or lady s when it comes to our therapeutic relationship.

One of the things we explored was my sexuality, and in no small part how the attack so long ago has impacted on how I’ve expressed it over the years. The conversation veered between romantic and platonic connections past and present, and while contemplating it, I said the following (slightly paraphrased):

“For years I’ve not been comfortable showing or talking about myself, let alone exploring what it means to be me. Fear has been with me literally for decades, mixed up in the memories of the assault, but it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been able to start to reconcile things in my head.

Over the last couple of years I’ve met and got to know such a wide range of people at kink events and general social occasions that it’s helped me to start to separate the pain and violence of the attack from the sexual aspect and honestly come to be more comfortable in who I am and how my attractions manifest.

It’s my partners, metamours, and friends that have surrounded me with love and accepted me as I start to let go. I’m still having hard times, by more and more I’m just getting irritated and angry about them than being overwhelmed.”

Now, we talked about a lot else and the above is mildly edited for brevity, swearing, and other material that I’m either not going to talk about or that is irrelevant right now.

When I finally stopped talking, my counsellor gave me a picture to consider and think on, based on what is been saying – telling me that it matched the mental image she had of me while I talked.

The picture, if you hadn’t guessed, is the lion in the picture in this blog entry. It has a lot of resonance for me – and for my partners for various aspects they have experienced of me.

There’s all sorts of symbolism of fierceness, nobility, pride (and indeed Pride), polyamory (multiple lionesses tolerating me), and protectiveness. There’s a lot more to unpack, and I’ll probably have a whole string of blogs as I pick over the various meanings, projections, and inferences that I bring to it.

So that’s what I’m quietly ruminating over at the moment

Cosplay Confidence

I think one of the great skills I’ve learned through attending conventions and dressing up in silly costumes has been to leverage my customer service skills and old stagecraft from performances at school to strike poses and appear confident in public in those costumes. This in turn has bolstered my confidence at work with knowing I can wear sometimes ridiculous outfits and have people admire them.

What it doesn’t do, and I still have great difficulty with, is managing the socialising side of things. In large part I think this comes from imposter syndrome and that dreadful temptation to take people’s social media representation at face value. I’m dreadful at remembering names or being confident in having conversations at times. If I let it, this fosters huge feelings of isolation as I see other people interacting and making plans.

But then I remember that I have a great number of people who I quietly just know and get on with enjoying things with. They’re not the showiest, they’re actually capable of deeper connection and empathy, and who always have time for me.

It’s just a measure of my own baggage that I don’t feel I deserve it, or that people are just tolerating me. Adult brain knows it is false, and also celebrates not embracing shallow showiness, but it is still a head siren call to resist.

Lady M reminds me that the quiet strength and conviction, and no small measure of stubbornness are signs of the strength that she admires. In other ways, so too does lady s. The chorus is strengthened by my counsellor, and by coworkers who prize my ability to tell and sell people unpopular news without flinching, and not alienate them in the process.

I wouldn’t wish the twists and turns of my path here on anyone, and I’m proud of who I am, even if the black dog disagrees. My hobbies, upbringing, lifestyle, and hard work have tempered my confidence and presence. If that inspires or gives strength to other people that’s a grand thing too – whether that’s in cosplaying, work, or the quiet of their lives.

Capitalisation matters

The sharper-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve started referring to lady s in lowercase as opposed to the Capitalisation that I use for everyone else if I talk about them: Lady M, for example. This is not a slur, or a mistake – in fact it was discussed and agreed explicitly with lady s before I started doing it.

In D/s, the use of capitals is important for denoting negotiated power levels between partners. As I explained to someone recently when they were asking questions about “doms and subs”, you should always capitalise the reference to the person who has been given the control, and put in lower case the person who has surrendered it.

In writing about them this way, it then makes the dynamic roles obvious at a glance. Whether it is Dom/sub, Master/slave, Lord/lady, (or any other set of terms agreed between partners) you can be sure to avoid embarrassment or irritation.

These are terms and roles that are held very close to people’s hearts. Purely as a matter of not being an arse to people it’s best to acknowledge and respect that dynamic as best as possible in the same way that you might respect the terms husband and wife – and therefore the bond between them. To people in what’s called the Lifestyle, this dynamic is often treated as an analogue to marriage.

So as her Dom, lady s has said that this feels a better fit to the dynamic that we have. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this makes her weak however. As anyone who has met her will testify, she’s a vivacious, strong minded, independent and passionate woman – and her offering that strength to me is a constant source of amazement.

So now you know why I have my loves: Lady M and lady s, and why I refer to them as such. They are both strong and wonderful people who make my life immeasurably better.

Empty Bed

It’s my second night of having no one in my bed with me. Lady S is at home on the coast, and Lady M is up in town at the Women in Tech conference at the ExCel. She’s apparently a little bemused to be there without being surrounded by cosplayers.

There’s always mildly mixed emotions at times like this. On the one hand there’s the calming reassurance of snuggling up with one or more partners , drifting off while joking about the day or being soppy. On the other hand I have the whole bed to myself and have spent two evenings playing games, watching trashy films, reading and doodling in my own little world.

Being able to enjoy time on my own without my loved ones is healthy and important. I’m comfortable with silence. It gives me time to emotionally recharge for when I see them again.

I did consider going out to the pub, like we regularly used to for #Tuesday, but I honestly didn’t have the mental reserves to deal with noise, heat, and people – and so I opted for self care.

This is huge, not something I necessarily would have allowed myself a few years back. I miss my partners, but I’m enjoying the physical and emotional space too.

Little Christmas Kindnesses

We dropped in to see Lord B, my brother, and his family today to exchange Christmas gifts and catch up for the first time in ages. Given the general perception of antipathy from various relatives of late it was therefore very touching to see gifts addressed to all three of us, but also an active expectation that Lady S would be with us for the visit.

Sadly that wasn’t the case as she had family business of her own to attend to, but we did take photos to send to her.

Such an acceptance means a huge amount, and was genuinely moving. Thanks guys.

Nearly Christmas

I’ve been blogging in another place about my relationship with Lady S recently, and suddenly realised I’ve not put anything down here for a week or so – so it’s time for another quick round-up.

It is of course that time of year when families get together – and that has of course meant that Lady M and I are in one place, while Lady S is in another while our respective families swirl and bumble around. My parents have begun their grand tour among my siblings, so we took advantage of their staying nearby to drop in at their hotel and have a meal together – as well as pass on presents to be delivered to other people and of course the gifts meant for them. During that meal we broached the subject of introducing them to Lady S when we go to visit them up north in a couple of months time – and were met by surprised “Ooooh!”s and nods, which was far better than expected.

Lady S is, in turn, herding cats in her own family home – but at least her father already knows us so when we go over on Sunday for a Christmas meal there’s no similar bemusements on that front.

Would we all rather be together tomorrow? Yes – but there’s plenty of time for that to happen. We’re a year together – give or take a few days – so we’re getting adept at working rapidly round new twists and turns. For now, given the distance between us, we’re keeping as patient as we can be and appreciating the time together as keenly as possible.

All of which means that while we’re separated, we’re still dropping messages and keeping each other in mind. My own relationship with Lady S feels as if it is deepening, especially in the aftermath of a recent falling out and reconciliation that just underlined how much we meant to each other.

Every day with my partners brings new joys and insights, little moments of glee and bewilderment in equal measure – and if I’ve learned one thing this year it has been to trust in my partners’ compersion – their joy in seeing their partners happy in circumstances that people in other relationship models and circumstance may find extremely challenging. I’ve learned to trust that they accept me in all my weirdness, just as I accept them in all their complexities. What better time than Christmas to celebrate that love as we reach out to our families and share that joy with everyone?

Coughs, Splutters and Christmas Preparations

Rather than struggle against the head cold that I’ve picked up from Lady S this weekend, I’ve been kind to myself and taken a couple of days off to rest up. Plenty of fluids, rest in bed and on the sofa, and hot toddies with whisky to sterilise the soreness at the back of my throat – and so far so good, I think I’m ready to go back to work in the morning.

Its now the final run up to Christmas – we’ve done all the shopping we can bear, and half buried our tree under presents for people. Now begins the dance of trying to get them all to the right people. I’ve mailed off a box of things to one couple; and we’ve arranged for the ex-Lady M and the Charleesi to come round on Boxing Day. We’ll be seeing some friends this weekend, and have arranged to visit Lady S and her family shortly before Christmas for a meal and day of silliness. My parents are visiting shortly before Christmas, so we’ll prevail on them to pass things on to siblings on their travels – and anyone else we’ll target after New Year I suspect.

To absolutely cap the day, we had a couple of Christmas cards arrive in the post. One of them was from Lord and Lady P and has the distinction of being the first card addressed to the whole triad. Lady S nearly fell out of her seat apparently when I sent her a photo of it and the message inside. It really is the little things that make all the difference.

It’s our first Christmas as a polycule, and very nearly our first anniversary together – and that’s a wonderful realisation to have – despite ups and downs, and the occasional frazzled nerve over distances, we’ve made a good start; and that’s really helping to keep the black dog at bay.

Okay, back in the room

The Inktober posts are resuming now that illness is rebuffed and we’ve survived the madness that was MCM Comiccon this weekend

Speaking of the Convention, it was huge fun, somehow aptly summed up by the image above – a great rush of geekery, humour, and catching up with friends. I’ll write more on it as my brain settles down, but the whole polycule was there, along with the cub at his first Con, and it’s been exhausting.

Anyway, back to the ink sketches…

Things The Cub Says: The Bag

So, the cub has a very strong sass-game, inherited from his mum, that combines with the natural sense of wonder at the world that a young lad has anyway to produce some amazing moments from time to time.

The backpack that he wears to school looks a bit like a cartoon monster. It’s a bright lime green, has big eyes and felt teeth along it’s fold down edge. At the beginning of term, Lady M taught him to treat it like The Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter. This involves gently stroking its spine (the top) before opening or closing the clasp. She even made the bag shuffle and roar while he wore it to emphasise that he needed to take care of it or it would fight back.

Fast forward to this morning and I get a message from Lady S that she has made a packed lunch for the cub, and try as she might she can’t get the bag to close. The cub walked up, took the bag off her, stroked it’s spine, and closed the bag without any problems.

He then looked her in the eye and said: “you don’t show this bag the love and respect it deserves.” He then added: “Jo knows how to treat my bag.”

To say that Lady S was a bit gobsmacked is an understatement. We have been teasing her on our group chat, saying we can’t imagine where he gets his sass from…

A week off: Portsmouth School Runs

We’re having a rare week all together and I have been rediscovering the joys of the school run as Lady S was a bit under the weather the last few days. (She is again this morning, but it’s self-inflicted today after a little too much wine last night at a meal for the whole polycule.)

I digress.

The cub has been discovering that I am not quite so easily wrapped around his finger, but that I am also more than happy to act completely daft at a moment’s notice.

So far we’ve convinced him that his monster-like school bag is related to the Monster Book Of Spells from Harry Potter, and needs it’s spine stroking before being opened. I have also taken to occasionally lumbering and loping like a silverback gorilla to speed him up in the mornings. It sounds daft, but it encourages him to catch up and try and tickle my tummy.

He’s a bright, inquisitive, energetic boy, who tries to push boundaries as much as any normal kid just starting at junior school – and his teachers are already singing his praises. He also has a rebellious streak a mile wide; and seems genuinely surprised when most of his attempts to subvert things like putting on shoes are met with my spotting them and teasing before he’s even finished starting.

We were talking last night about how we’ve all been pitching in this week – how it spreads the load and reduces stress to know that all of us are invested in helping raise and guide him.

I just didn’t expect, as the Charleesi starts her second year at university, to be brushing off the parenting skills again. Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?