Monday, November 28, 2016

Your Kink is Not My Kink, and I Am Not Okay

It probably shouldn't surprise any of my regular readers, and probably won't surprise the family members that occasionally troll this blog in an attempt to decipher some sort of theory of my trauma that explains how we got here without assuming responsibility for their role in it, but I'm into kinky shit. Specifically, I'm what they call a, what is it the kids are saying now?

A demiromantic, pansexual masochist trans slut. Or as I like to think of it, an Alpha Pain Slut. And I am a system, or in common terms, a multiple/plural/DID/whathaveyou. This is important because it complicates things.

Masochism and Submission

Now, the kink community has a lot of terms they like to throw around to describe and codify different kinks, and I'm generally OK with that because it lets you know what you are getting, but a lot of them either misunderstand what I am or they don't get that there are just some things I can't do or that I can't do the way they do them. As a result, there are always a few misunderstandings I have in a given group of a certain size, no matter who runs it.

The first one is masochist. To many, this means someone who enjoys pain. To people outside the kink community, it is often misunderstood to mean someone who always enjoys pain, even emotional pain, and who can't help themselves. Inside the kink community, it is understood that masochism is a trait that allows you to displace pain and that the reaction to the pain brings a mental clarity and release that allows you to feel pleasure from the pain. It is written about largely as a transformative experience, alongside submission, where you trust another person to help you find your release.

I do both. Specifically, I always do the first one, but if I can safely relax and actually drift into a place where I can trust a dominant to run me, I also gain the second. I have rarely been there, though, and part of the reason is because of the fact that I am a system. You see, on the interior, only one of us is a true masochist, and when she is asleep, the "always on" isn't always on. And, when she is front, meaning running the show, we have a history of having trouble speaking (until recently her vocabulary was 5 words, and before 2014 it didn't exist).

The result is that I have never actually submitted to anyone outside myself. I've subbed. I'm a sub slut. I can give myself over to damn near any top I want and let them work me over, but that's because I'm not submitting to them. I'm submitting to Lynn or to Clay, either of whom (or both of whom) will step in and lay waste to situations that go bad when Athena is not fit to decide for herself about consensual pain vs. nonconsensual pain. And I need that, because it's easy to lose myself in the momentary sensations of nonconsensual pain and to blame myself for what happens after when the psychological trauma hits. More about that in a different post.

So the up and down here is that I'm not looking for someone to get me off, in a really visceral way, when I turn myself over to a top/dom, what I'm looking for is for someone else to hit a cognitive and emotional reset button that is necessary for me to make rational decisions, because if we don't keep Athena regulated, then she starts making choices that hurt specifically to chase the urge. And she is synesthetic, so emotional hurt and verbal degradation works.

This is the part of the narrative where usually someone would go into how much they like verbal degradation, but the fact is that it is so much a part of the reason I have dissociation and flashbacks that I don't. If someone wants to call me a slut or treat me like a whore, I can find empowerment in those words, but actual degradation, calling me worthless and the like, it is too close. I can't feel the pain through the intrusion of remembered pain from other times and places, so I usually don't sign off on it. I like to get hurt, but I derive worth from that, especially because I have seen the looks of envy from other subs when I hold my hand over a candle and will myself not to move it until I have climaxed. I don't want to be degraded. I want to be celebrated.

Getting back on track, when I'm looking for someone to truly dominate me, I'm looking for someone who can essentially be trusted to take over for Clay. At the point where I can do that, I can afford to let Athena front on her own without worrying about her safety, and I wish I could describe to people who are singular psyches exactly what kind of release/rest/recovery it would allow us if both of the two people who must remain conscious for us to be safe in public were allowed to really rest. That hasn't happened yet, though, and a big part of the reason is because obedience is inherently unsafe, and Clay doesn't want to let us be unsafe.

Bondage and Discipline

The other side of my kink interface comes into play when you try to understand why obedience is problematic for us. You see, my past involves a lot of things that to this day, my relatives sit around and justify out loud to themselves as "just fine" and "discipline" and "part of rearing kids" that nonetheless resulted in my having pretty constant flashback episodes through most of my adult life, and that are also largely responsible for the fact that there is a system here to begin with. You see, Athena is six months younger than the body, and she is the oldest one of us that we know. Even Michael didn't really come into being until after I had a very bad flu as a toddler.

If there was any kind of sense of us before we were six months old, it's lost in the mist. As is, what we have from before age 3 is quite fragmentary even if there is a lot of memory there, because the narrative sections are almost all remembered voices and the visuals are pretty much short clips and stills. Imagine having about seventy percent of the audio on a series of vine videos extracted from a movie (and making up only about 30 percent of the movie) and you can understand how we experienced early thinking from Athena and Michael. It's not enough to know a lot for certain, but it's enough to know who was there and who was not.

What you need to understand about our system is that we do subscribe to the fragments-and-trauma model of being a system, and we do ID as having Dissociative Identity Disorder. We don't necessarily think the two are the same, but since we are capable of having someone in front and not knowing who it is and having to watch them do things we can't control while remaining ignorant of the fact that they need to communicate with the rest of them, we view that as the DID. And we also happen to have at least 2 system members caused by trauma directly, as well as 1 that might be or might be said to be a voluntary genesis and another one that was definitely a voluntary genesis.

Anyway, the reason this is important is because in addition to being a true masochist, Athena is also what I describe as a Perfect Victim. That is to say that she is compliance trained and fully convinced that there is no one who will assist her because when she tries to resist it will be made out to be that she is the one causing trouble and whatever attention she draws will stack the odds against her. Never mind that isn't true, there's a reason why Clay can't let her out alone. I can know it's true without knowing it's true when I am her. That's the nature of the system I live with.

It's not that she doesn't want to do things and she does them anyway. It's that she can't tell if she wants to do them or not. The feeling of having her boundaries overridden and being hurt triggers pleasure immediately, not after some kind of processing or establishment of the space. She can not tell if she is consenting or not because her default mode is to always consent to everything because it reduces the chances of severe damage. And her pleasure from all forms of pain is deeply sexual, even if it is emotional or psychological pain.

I'm not making claims here. I'm just laying out the pieces of the narrative and letting patterns emerge. We have five I's. The oldest one was formed when we were an infant, and she becomes aroused by being used, even if it hurts. She also can't tell the difference between liking something and hating it because it all gives her the same feedback. And she didn't learn to talk until we were in our thirties.

I won't claim anything I can't remember. I just wanted to put the whole thing in one place and let you look at it.

The result of Athena's behavior is Michael in crisis mode, which eventually became Clay. Michael still exists, and Michael's crisis mode is still as dangerous as it ever was, because they has a tendency to decide they will "win" no matter what happens and to pursue escalation until there is no resistance. Clay is the less volatile version of that drive for dominance. In the years between Clay and Michael's genesis, we would constantly flail and fail to find a way to defend ourselves against even the most direct physical onslaught, such as biting from others, until we just... got calm... and found a hammer. Or a two by four.

When Clay came into being it was because we recognized the need to find a self that could feel that drive without escalating unless it was prudent, and who could fulfill some of the escalating demands that being designated as male was beginning to put on us. Clay's entire existence was designed to protect and manage, to be the one who kept our boundaries and to take advantage of whatever means was necessary to keep us safe. Sometimes, that made him indulge in toxic use of privileges. Mostly, it just made him want to blend in to the background, at least, after a point. There was a leadership phase that comes around again every so often, but while Clay is occasionally brilliant and actually so, in that he understands doing emotional work for those he leads, our system as a whole is unsuited to it, so we usually spiral out into burnout when we take it on.

The result is that Michael is essentially a brat now that they is controlled, and Clay is virtually incapable of surrendering to submission or absenting himself from consciousness, even if he does consent to let the rest of us be used by other tops. We long for the release of having someone take the kind of control Clay does and to live in it 24/7, because we live the interior dynamic 24/7. The problem is, knowing what we know about how far Athena can be pushed and living with the consequences of it, Clay is going to demand a high standard from anyone he leaves alone with Athena.

Occasionally, he leaves Lynn to watch over her and absents himself, but that is the extent of the trust so far, and it only happens in areas where we already feel comfortable about the fact that there are external monitors also watching. Even then, it is Clay reasserting himself and calling scene an overwhelming majority of the time, because if Lynn is holding Athena's head, Athena won't climax and the scene will run until it anticlimaxes.

In the cases where we have been hurt, it was Clay who reasserted and physically removed us from the situation. And when we have finally broken abusive cycles and made changes by ending relationships, it was Clay who walked us out. And it was Clay and Michael, together, who have traditionally torn apart people who would try to control us without respecting our needs, from parents to poorly trained teachers and ableist bosses.

In my entire life, there have been exactly four people that Clay values enough to step back and submit willfully for, and two of them turned on us, one died, and one was and is a very valued mentor. Only two of them are people I've had intimate relationships with as well, both the ones who crossed us. That's part of what makes his insistence on running the inside like a dynamic comes from, is the sense that the only people it is safe to follow loyally and with willing sacrifice are the ones who don't try to get that far inside us.

The Rundown

All of this is really complicated, and it makes social relationships and interpersonal boundaries a mess. As I get older, I'm getting better about making sure that Clay identifies unhealthy dynamics and steps in, but the fact is that I am learning, and slowly. I will confess that I didn't really feel a strong pull to dismantle the old toxic scripts until about six years ago, and training an autistic to process social interaction in something close enough to real time to make protection and safety possible has been an uphill battle, but it has been what we needed.

Prior to that, the fact of Athena's desire was often enough to override Clays sense of safety. And when it wasn't, obligation to others and internalized ableism made it difficult for him to identify when he was choosing to do something because he wanted to help someone and when he was forced to, because the haze of Athena's processing obscured his own choices.

Learning to take control and to subvert her movement to front when she begins to get aroused from hurt has been a long process, and it is one that is still incomplete in many ways. What does all of this mean?
  • I'm never not the master, these days. I've never not been a slave.
  • Sometimes, making Athena take the hit has been the way to stay safest, so I have spent long periods of my life essentially feeding on my own abuse.
  • There is no start or stop to scene. There's just the parts that you're invited to join and the parts you're not.
  • It's not safe to assume I've changed my mind. The person you have a contract with is not the one you get to play with, and there's a reason for that.
  • When I tell you about my Little!, you better not mistake that for my being a Little, because you could wind up putting us in a place where we give you Athena and hide. Patterns.
  • When you cross my boundaries repeatedly and play games with making demands that shift goalposts or recasting my words, eventually we are tasked with the choice between destroying our relationship with you and giving you Athena (mind you, for verbal tasks this pretty much only works if she's writing, because her entire span of real time spoken conversation in her life happened last Friday).
    • Giving you Athena doesn't mean you will be happy, it just means giving you the person who will keep answering your questions when the rest of us have lost the ability to word.
    • If you take care of her by making it possible to give you something that will satisfy you, we can emerge relatively unscathed.
    • If you can not be happy with what she gives you, or if you change the expectation and focus of what you are asking, then she will keep trying until she burns out or until Clay wakes up.
    • If you have been given Athena to minimize damage and you do enough damage to wake Clay, whatever happens next will end our relationship.
    • Athena is never able to consent, but that doesn't mean I am not able to consent. Remember and respect the dynamic at all times. Learn to see Clay when he appears.
    • There are no social relationships outside of these dynamics for me. Whatever sense of social obligation and bonding you all experience, what I feel is a deep seated need to satisfy those I love through either service or maternalistic domination, and what pleasure I get out of interaction is experienced as either the calm and centered pleasure of control or the free-falling bliss that is allowing you to take me where you need me and put me to use.
    I understand that some of this is almost claiming to be a living myth within the kink community. As a system, I'm used to that in most communities. I also understand that most of this is not How It Works. It is, by definition, not Informed Risk. It is, loudly and on purpose, defying at least 2 out of 3 for Safe, Sane, and Consensual, and sometimes it shoots the moon.

    None of that matters though. Because this is me. It's not changing just because you're uncomfortable, and it's not going to be safe for me to be safe no matter what I do. That's the nature of my life. If it wasn't, we would not exist as we are in the first place.

    Your Kink Is Not My Kink, and I Am Not Okay.

    But you can make this okay if you choose.

    The Puzzlebox Collective