Friday, March 27, 2015

Retreat? No. Not This Time

    Last night I put myself through a brutal three hour workout. That in and of itself is not unusual. Not unusual at all. I was lonely, and angry with myself for being lonely, and needed to burn that anger and loneliness into the stratosphere with sweat and pain. That is not unusual either. I know I choose to live alone, and live a secluded life. So the loneliness really is on me.
    I do try, really. I put myself out there, meet new people, seek play partners. That is not difficult. I tell myself that satisfying the physical is enough. Brief interludes of  adult companionship, played out on a level playing field with spoken contract, rules, and expectations firmly in place. It is spoken aloud that these are not exclusive relationships, quite the opposite in fact. Not exclusive, though that is not my nature, being hardwired to be monogamous, so exclusivity on my end is a given. No risk of a broken heart, for mine has been broken too hard and too often. That is what I tell myself. But the risk is there. Social media helps fan the flames of discontent and sadness. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It is too easy to see why plans are changed, or weekends are unavailable. Too easy to see friends confessing love and adoration for their chosen partners. Too easy to see as they search for more. Too easy to see plans being made, other promises to other people. I can lie to myself, but I won't. I can tell myself that there are other reasons for silence, emails left hanging without response, texts unanswered. But I won't lie to myself, not anymore. Lies, even to myself, are a sure road to devastation on one level or another.
    This is what sparked my anger last night. Anger at myself. No one else. No one else is lying to me, and that is a pleasant change. But I don't know that I am strong enough to face honesty. I don't know how strong is the armor carefully constructed around my heart. Not strong enough. Because I want to lie to myself, tell myself that there is love and romance out there for me. Something beyond friendship based on mutual desire and kink. I want to think that somewhere in the world is someone who will love me, want me, choose me. Choose Me. Someone who will choose me above all else. It is a silly, romantic notion that has managed to hold onto a tiny corner of my heart all these years. That silly notion that someone, someday will decide that I am The One. That deranged notion that someday I will find love. And it makes me angry that I let myself still believe this, since time and again I am proven wrong. Angry, tearful, lonely.
    This morning the anger is gone, with sore muscles to remind me of the intensity of my night. There is residual loneliness though. A residue that clings like a light coating of ash that seeps into every crevice, and can never seem to be completely swept away. So what is there to be done? Retreat from the world once again in a vain attempt to protect myself from pain? No, pain is just pain. At least that is the one lie I still allow myself. Retreat? No. Not this time. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Weird Country

    It is no secret that I struggle with my demons. They ride my back even in the best of times. True, there are times when my riders are light and unobtrusive. Other times they are the weight of the world. I have kept them starved and lightweight as best I can, but they have been feeding off of my stress and insecurities through the winter. I have begun to really feel their presence and attempts at regaining control. I fight them though. I get the bit in my teeth and refuse to relinquish control, but it is a losing battle. They saw at the reins until my mouth is sore and bloodied. They whisper hurtful things in my ear, attacking my self-esteem, my creativity, my sense of self, and optimism. They are so adept at finding the tiniest of chinks in my armor and inserting their clawed fingers, wriggling them in until they hit flesh and nerves. Little bastards, always looking for those vicious opportunities.
    This winter has been weird country for me. In the past I have had a job to keep me focused and on track, even as it has seemed to contribute by way of stress and sleep deprivation. Now, without the daily, Monday through Friday Grind I am adrift and floundering a bit. I am such a creature of habit and routine that when there is no schedule I seem incapable of truly taking advantage. On the plus side, I am sleeping enough, finally. But I feel as if I am squandering valuable time. Yes, I am staying busy, getting shit done, training twice daily, cooking epic meals for myself, meeting new friends, making a few pretty things to garner some cash. Despite the sleep, despite the training, despite the nutrition, I am still slipping deeper into that grey zone I am all too familiar with.
    Days flirting with the abyss, seeing the grey morass swirling around my feet. Hearing the sibilant hissing of my demons as they attempt to assert their dominance. Days such as these require just the gentlest of prods to send me teetering over the edge. There have been numerous such gentle prods over the last few weeks. Nothing cataclysmic or devastating, but more like the drip of water that wears away stone. I try to meet each little disappointment head on, instead I seem to take it on the chin. The last few days have seen me wanting to slink off to my room, crawl under my down comforter, turn off the light, curl into a little ball, and cry silently into my pillow. Despite new friendships I am feeling isolated, alone and lonely. I hate it when I let myself feel lonely. But I can't even tell you how often I have been alone and lonely in a crowd of people, and honestly, that is far worse than solitude.
     So, as usual, I sit at my keyboard, analyzing and dissecting, trying to bore down into the heart of the matter. Hoping, wishing to find the cause, the root, the blight at the heart of it all. Vivisection of me for all the world to see. Does it help? No, not really. Too often I have typed with a steady drip of tears spattering the backs of my hands even as I peck out a steady stream of insanity. Fortunately, those days are mostly past, but they still loom up out of the darkness for a surprise visit. Now, today, I am trying with every fiber of my being to get myself in check, silence the demons that seem hellbent on pushing me back over that familiar edge. It is a trip I have taken often enough that I recognize the path, and fight as best I can not to be dragged back down it again. I know I have the skills and weapons to put up a memorable fight, but g'damn I am tired of this constant battle. Once more into the breach, boys.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Alpha

    20/20 hindsight, older and wiser, time lending perspective. Call it what you will, but I have learned a valuable lesson over the last few years. Consider what to all eyes appears to be the Alpha Male: physically strong, swaggering, playing rough games, full of bravado and stories of exploits long past. These men want the world to see them as the strong, intimidating Alphas they think they are. I used to believe this. And yet even as I believed I still saw the chinks in their macho armor. Yes, strong and loud in the company of others of their ilk, but timid and indecisive in the real world. They have to tell you they are dominant, but they can't prove it with actions.
    This last year has taught me a different perspective. There is "alpha" and then there is dominant. The so-called alpha wishes he were dominant, and maybe within his small circle he is. But take him outside of his comfort zone and the only way he can prove his dominance is with unnecessary volume and acts of physical prowess. Yes, there is strength, but it is not dominance. I knew this, in my heart of hearts.
    But it was only recently, with a single sentence, that the whole concept fully gelled in my mind, "I won't be topped by anyone." This may not mean much to most people, but I knew the truth behind this simple statement. It is not about physical prowess, displays of physical strength, intimidating and bullying those that are smaller or weaker, loud stories oft repeated of past glories, arrogance. Those are the acts of a wannabe, a pretender to the throne, the sheep in wolf's clothing. I have learned that dominance has nothing to do with physical size and strength, but of inner confidence and power. Control and understanding, intelligence and discipline, honor and loyalty, pride and respect, self control and self respect. Tops and bottoms, Dominants and submissives. Simple words, complex relationships.
    It is interesting what you learn, stepping outside of the comfort zone. Amazing what you get when you understand yourself, accept who you are, and communicate openly with one who can appreciate who I am in my heart. It only took me a lifetime to find acceptance and understanding for who I truly am. And along with acceptance I found true respect, honesty, courtesy, and trust.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pruning Apple Trees

    I was pruning my old apple trees today and it struck me just how much the task is  great analogy for my life. Up on a ladder, precariously perched, wrenching muscles as I try to cut branches too thick for my tools, hair tangled in branches, getting poked in the eye. Honestly, I don't really know what I'm doing. I am totally winging it. Lopping, hacking, cutting away dead limbs, thinning out the excess. Trying to get to healthy growth. Hoping that maybe I am not doing more harm than good. No way of knowing if this will bear fruit, or not. Balancing on the "this is not a step" step, leaning too far out, straining, the voice in my skull screaming at me that I am going to fall and break myself. The dogs are milling about below, and I know that if I fall they are the only ones who will notice. And what good will they do as I lay broken and berating myself for my own stupidity? They will jump on my head, drool, slobber, and generally make nuisances of themselves. But none of them knows how to call for help. "What is it, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?" Nope, not my lunkheads. Then, if I manage to not fall off the ladder and split my skull, very likely I will step off and into dog shit, trip over the cut branches, and fall face down in the mud.
    Then the sun flares in my eyes, and I feel a soft breeze on my cheek. The calm solitude of my life washes over me for a moment, erasing cares and loneliness. I know that even if I don't get many apples, I will get a lot of blossoms. The bees will be happy. I guess I can be content with that.

Despite The Sun

   Thankfully the weather has been good, because I am definitely going through a rough patch. It always happens at this time of year, and I do all I can to head it off at the pass, but it doesn't take much to derail me. In this case, a very minor case of a broken heart. No, nothing dramatic, just the end of a friendship that was fun while it lasted. The downside comes about in the form of a constant, nagging question: Why am I never The One? In this particular case we both knew that we were not cut out to be partners, soulmates, or even a long term situation. We had been open and honest from the first moment, which is a new and wonderful experience for me. But having it come to an end, knowing he has moved on to someone that he deems a potential life partner, and possibly "The One" has left me just a little bereft. Why am I never The One? There is not a single relationship in my life that I can point to and say "of all the people in the world, he found me and fought to keep me." No one makes gallant efforts to woo me, and keep me. I am always that Girl on The Side, the girl to make merry with while waiting for someone more suitable. Second choice after being rejected by numero uno. The rebound. A stopgap measure. It makes me question my desirability, especially as I have gotten older. I've cried about it before, feeling left behind, not good enough, not the right fit. I don't cry about it anymore, those are wasted tears, Honestly, of those that have cast me aside, allowed me to drift away, or downright abused my love and loyalty, not a one of them deserved me. I know this. I know they were not the right fit, and could not have satisfied me. In the end, no matter how I might have tried, I would (or have) walked away. That knowledge doesn't make me any less lonely during the brief moments when I am too busy to feel lonely. Yes, Pity Party For One.
    I know this feeling will pass. My heart will take a day or two to stop aching. I have built my armor well, it is durable with nary a chink. Someday though, I would like a chance to set aside the armor. Let myself go unprotected. Feel the warm breezes of freedom on my soul. Let my heart wander free and off-leash. But not today. Not tomorrow. Possibly not ever.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday Health

    Once again, my birthday has come and gone with little, really no fanfare. My birthday weekend also, unfortunately, coincides with Valentine's, giving me that extra little twist of the sucks-to-be-single-knife. I had held out hope that there might be a last minute invite for a rendezvous, a chance to dress to the nines in tall boots and short skirt, maybe have some sushi, but it didn't happen. Though I didn't log in to write a woe-is-me-I-am-so-lonely entry. Well, not really anyway. Okay maybe, just a little. I knew it was unlikely that anyone would surprise me with glorious Valentine's or birthday plans, so I made plans of my own. No, nothing glorious, glamorous, or covered in chocolate.
    Instead, for Valentine's Saturday I went on a 5 hour hike up in the Columbia Gorge, that was a real quad burner, and visually stunning as well. Birthday Sunday I went to my first group bicycle ride. called a Gravel Grinder. You guessed it, a long ride on gravel roads. Needless to say, a few miles in I decided that neither gravel nor group rides were my thing, so I turned around and went solo for 3 hours. I spent a glorious morning riding through the Spring-like weather, letting myself get nearly lost on narrow roads winding through rolling farmland. I have gotten quite good at Valentine's and birthdays alone, as long as I try to not think too deeply on just how alone that can make me feel. I had expected some sore muscles come Monday morning, but apparently I am even tougher than I think I am.
    Again, I am swerving near the brink of a pity party. About 10 years ago I made a vow to myself that I would be healthier on my birthday than I was on the previous birthday, year after year. This is a challenge that gets a bit tougher every year, as I inch towards being so ridiculously fit and healthy that I just about can't stand my own smug superiority. You should hear the conversations that go on inside my head, I can be a self-righteous little bitch to myself sometimes. Seriously though, once again I have managed to up my game. Four months ago I competed in a 250 kilometer triathlon. I swam and biked further than I ever had before, and I ran well after. No, I didn't get a qualifying time, but it was still an accomplishment I could not have done a year before. Now, today, I know that I could easily step out my door and do a half Ironman and just think of it as a strenuous workout. Yes, I'd be a bit sore for a few days, but nothing that would be debilitating. I have held onto a diligent strength workout throughout the winter and am a stronger swimmer, cyclist, and runner than I was a year ago. No, I'm not quite at the level I was in September, but I can get back there pretty quickly when I need to. I am 5 pounds lighter than I was last year at this time, though I am 7 pounds heavier than I was on race day. I am keeping decently lean, but not tweaking about it. I am eating even healthier than I was a year ago, remarkable as that may seem. So put physical health in the Plus Category.
    Mentally might be just a bit dodgy. It is February after all, one of the toughest months for me (see paragraph one for a partial explanation...). I am single again, or still, I'm not sure which really. Also, I am unemployed for the first time in almost 15 years, and then I chose to be a stay at home mom. Being unemployed is messing with my head just a little, I veer from enjoying the freedom and loving the chance to start a small sideline business, to having an absolute spaz attack over finances. Money is tight, and getting tighter, and that does not bode well for my mental health. On the flip side I am getting plenty of sleep for the first time in my life, as well as enjoying not having to deal with idiots out in the real world. So at this point my mental stability is kind of a crap shoot day to day, today being one of the less than stellar moments.
    So, final tally on Birthday Health: Physically fitter, leaner, nutritionally dialed in versus Mentally a bit of a lunatic. Since I am always a bit of a lunatic, I say that once again, the Birthday Health Challenge is a Win. Dear gods, what will I do for next year?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Business Not So Usual

    I have been officially unemployed now for 30 days. Holy shit! Really? Time flies when you don't have a routine. It has been weird, not having to set my alarm and spend the bulk of my day away from home toiling for someone else. I can't say I am making the most of it though, I have been sleeping more than I should, and spending far too much time goofing around online. Some of the goofing is actually market research for my self-employment. The past few evenings I have been working on my business proposal to the State to get hooked up with their Self Employment Assistance Program. I have hit a bit of a snag. Well, a conundrum actually. Originally I had planned on using my "vanilla" business idea of repurposing and refinishing furniture as the ideal plan to lob at the State. I don't doubt that I could make okay money at this, but it would be labor intensive, and the cost of bare materials could be high. But as I have been delving into the market research for my other, totally not vanilla, business idea, I have realized that it has the potential to be a decent money maker with minimal actual upfront costs. The idea? Fetish gear. Yes, hand tooled leather bondage gear. I have ample experience with leather work and leather tooling, and have been keenly searching for a line of marketable items, as well as a reasonably untapped market. What did I find? The thriving, underground Kink communities around the world. There is an entire world out there that most people are basically unaware of. I knew it was there, and have been wading the shallow end of the pool for a bit. It was a chance outing in Portland, and the last minute walk up Burnside and past Spartacus (a fetish wear store) that made the lightbulb go off in my brain. I had wanted to do tooled leather corsets but knew just how costly and time consuming they would be, so had shelved that idea. Walking past Spartacus I suddenly thought of hand tooled leather manacles, collars, ankle restraints, matched sets, the combinations are endless. It sent my mind into that frenzy of design that hits when I come up with an idea. I set things in motion, found an online community to start getting my name out there, doing market research, testing the waters so to speak. It took a while to finish the first prototype wrist restraints, and they are lovely. I need to perfect my technique a bit, streamline the process, tweak and tune. I posted pictures and have been getting amazing feedback, including a number of people wanting to know if I make them for sale. So far so good. Now comes the tough part, selling the idea to the State without it sounding quite so kinky. It is a fairly untapped market, the responses I have received are proving that to me. But how to tone it down? Make it a bit more "vanilla?" I will sleep on it. Hopefully it will come to me in a dream. But I think I am on the cusp of something rather awesome.