There are some experiences that cannot be given away. They can be described and embellished with carefully chosen words. They can be visible. They can be analyzed in an endless neural loop or drugged into dullness.

I can be vulnerable and tear down all the walls. I can stand stark naked in full view, free fall into intimacy.

You can offer empathy, make me feel truly heard. You can want to carry this for me, take it away, engineer my happiness.

And I’ll tell you that it’s mine. It cannot be given away, even if I wanted to. These moments of doubt and aching. The fears and questions. The rise and fall of dopamine as life pushes my neurological buttons.

I sit with it. I don’t ask you to take any of it away. In fact, don’t you dare try. It belongs deep inside me, even when it sucks the air from my lungs.

Tonight I befriend it, unwilling to let it pass gently into a lorazepam-induced calm. I ask it questions, seek its wisdom. It feels profoundly important that it live and be given its space until it chooses to loosen its grasp on my chest.

It lets me argue both sides without playing devil’s advocate. It knows the tension between competing desires and doesn’t force me to make impossible choices. It lets me love passionately and feel grief and loss, slicing away at my every pretense.

It’s not about you, not one bit of it. This is me at my most selfish and most honest. Here I find that I can become strong and decisive, knowing that just because I feel like this doesn’t mean I am lessened by becoming someone I don’t want to be.

Tonight I will feel this thing, and in the light of tomorrow’s day, you will remain my friend. You will be safe here, we will connect. I will likely drip poetry about the internal events of this moment. I will not hide any of it from you. And it will still be mine, never yours to pick up.

We will walk next to each other into some new crazy corner of life. Maybe you’ll make friends with your anxiety, too. Maybe you’ll learn to breath into the moment and it will die a quick death. Maybe emerging into a life with more openness and honesty will tame it and it will be less antagonistic. I don’t have the answers, but promise to allow you your journey. When you ask me to take your hand, I will.

Most of my youth was spent mis-trusting my gut. I was raised in the evangelical purity culture, and was taught that my body would betray me with sin – it was not to be trusted.

Decisions were difficult for me as I had to seek the approval of every person I respected (or feared) before I could feel confident in making them. Later in life, big decisions came only after years of heart-wrenching deliberation turned to desperation when a situation had spiraled far outside my control.

Even as I gained independence from the constraints of my youth, the need to overanalyze has been a mainstay in my decision-making processes. “I never stumble into anything,” I like to brag.

Tonight I wrestled hard with some big, career-related decisions. They were more personal than most people would understand, and in the past I would have been immobilized by the anxiety of having to make such a decision without a minimum of months or years of allowing myself to be miserable. These things have been on my mind for a few months now, and I’ve been wavering between two difficult paths. Tonight it came to a head and I no longer had the strength for the internal struggle. I am choosing the path that allows me to best take care of myself.

My story tonight is not about the choices I made, but about how I am learning to trust my gut. It is building an impressive track record.

A few years back (nearly 4 now, can you believe it Naga?) I found myself celebrating the “flipping the switch” into a full-time D/s relationship with the man who has become my partner in every sense of the word. I’d only played with kink and power dynamics to that point and I had not a clue what I was getting into. But it just… fit. And tonight as I was a crying and rambling mess, Naga patiently listened, held me, waited for me to ask for his input, then simply said “I don’t want you to keep feeling like shit all the time.” My gut has been spot on with him, every step of the way – from sharing a bed as fuck buddies to sharing our lives with a growing inseparability to eloping and now building a life that is full of love and messes and laughter and some mind-blowing fucking.

Last January, we made the decision to move to the next state over. It took a few hours of conversation, but immediately it felt right. We moved a few months later and haven’t regretted a day of it. The new town fits our personalities and needs so much better than where I’d spent the previous decade and a half.

Just a few weeks back I had tea with someone I’d exchanged a few messages with. We had several hours of conversation that night, and I don’t think we’ve stopped since. Tonight when he heard I was having a rough go of it, he stopped on his way home just to give me a hug and a bit of a pep talk. I’m choosing to trust my gut with him, too.

Even when my decisions over the last few years resulted in the eventual heartache of loss or the stress of the practicalities of life, trusting myself has brought beauty with each of those experiences. My body, which has served me so well in my more… recreational… pastimes, has also served to tell me of things I might otherwise have missed.

Reconciling myself to the physical body I spent so much of my youth estranged from has been a slow path. But the path has brought me breathtaking orgasms. And cherished lovers and epic friends. It knows a lot more than it lets on, this body of mine.

She slips from me as my consciousness dawns through the fog of sleep. I can’t recall her face now, even moments later. I’d dreamt of the fight to keep her, to win her, to make her mine. And of the heat in the shower when I claimed her body, feverishly, possessively. Everything was hurried, pursued by some threat that hung over us. That foreboding heightened our needs – mine to pursue her, hers to resist, ours to finally drain every drop of togetherness from our moments together. There were threats at each turn, but they seemed so removed – We were an Us! And what compares to Us?

The night long ago receded into morning, even as I slept far later than my mother would’ve approved of. Naga wakes me to chatter about his morning (which has been going on for hours now). He tells me of banter with online friends, of work he’s done and finances he’s managed. He strokes my hair as I listen, respecting that I am still unwinding myself from the tendrils of sleep. He has brought me tea and the togetherness that is the foundation of our days.

I dream about passion most nights. Sometimes it’s torn-clothing, bruises-and-bite-marks sex. Sometimes it’s soul-searching confession under the light of hazy, yellow moon. Often it’s pursued or threatened. But it’s all about the depths of who I am touching the depths of another. It’s art, it’s the thrumming baseline, it’s delirium.

Naga and I are building a life. Real and true. It’s full of the world of the mundane – “mundania” as he calls it. The groceries, the doctors’ appointments, the gunk that needs cleaned out of the shower – these are not the things of fantasy.

I used to think of mundania as an intrusion into the bliss of sexual passion, a dulling of the erotica I wish we could live. Recently, I was reading a femdom novella – lovely prose with utterly “perfect” characters having ideal interactions, and as with all good fantasy, entirely devoid of shower gunk – and it got me thinking about the place that mundania has come to have in my D/s. Life has been piling on the “messy” the last year or so – non-ideal, uncontrollable, emotional.

The temptation is there to live in the future – when the family situation changes, when the financial situation changes, when I get the carpet steamer run in the playroom – then we’ll get some “real” play in! That’s when the passion will happen!

Poppycock. The passion lives in the nowness of our day-to-day.

Naga is faithful to me in the little things – from the way I want my laundry hung to the way he considers my wants when managing our schedules – and I need this quite fundamentally to connect with him in other, deeper ways.

As Naga grappled with the uncertainty of medical diagnostic limbo, he sought shelter in my authority over his days. It has been his obedience and faithfulness in the details that has held me together through our crusade to move his mom out of our home in and back to her own. We do the laundry. We make dinner. We talk about All The Things, great and small. We are bound by these moments, vulnerable to one another, stronger together, fully invested. The full chaos of our lives pursues and threatens us, but daily the depth of who I am touches the depth of who he is. And it’s art. It’s the thrumming baseline. It’s delirium.

Straight out the gate, the power and the energy now unfettered and driving hard toward the first turn, sweat glistening on well-trained, equine muscles.

The rumble of speed as metal pushes into the resistance, the wings changing shape to use the laws of physics against themselves, the moment flight is achieved.

Oblivious to any block grasping to slow him, he runs toward the line, the touchdown, the victory.

Oh how we celebrate these moments, flying headlong with abandon into that thing we crave! It is a sweet, satisfying joy to be more curious than cautious.

My first few decades were spent in careful self-restraint, sexually and otherwise. After separating from my first husband, I threw myself into full-scale sluttery. There was so much I had long denied myself, and I wanted to gorge on it all. I needed to know the taste of pussy, the smell and feel of many cocks. I wanted my lusts to flow into that of others, like the convergence of many rivers. I wanted to hear tales of perversion from every kind of pervert I could find. I wanted to live awash in the glow of my own wetness and flushed cheeks.

And I succeeded. In the first year, I lost count of my partners after about 15. I met people at my place, or theirs. Sometimes I had dinner with them first, but sometimes neither of us felt the need for the pretense.

It was good.

In hindsight, I was lucky. I have no horror stories of consent violations or dangerous situations. I have a few tales of bad folks who were kind enough to weed themselves out of my life before they became much of a problem, and only one short-term stalkerish type.

It lasted nearly two years, but I came out of it with two long term relationships I’m still in, including my husband Naga. I also came out of it with memories of evenings spent listening to the rain and John Lee Hooker amidst sweaty fucking, of dinner and bondagesex, of hot tubs and outdoor sex noise, of “please hurt me” being an honored and safe thing to ask, of countless dirty texts and chats, of giving and taking control.

In our victim-blaming culture, we often vilify those who are more curious than cautious. We harbor the desire to lecture newcomers about Who and What to Avoid, how to Be Safe. We want to point them to all the horror stories and make them understand This.Could.Be.You. Our own hard-learned lessons make us feel sagely, wise. Our scars and battle-wounds compel us to warn, to protect.

Always there are better and worse choices. We bear responsibility for our choices. We take risks. Hopefully we learn as we go.

But let us continue to celebrate The Abandon. Let our wounds compel us to create safe places for others to Get Lost in their explorations.

To those who are driving hard into That Which Is New, be wise but do not be robbed by fear. Taste. Touch. Fuck.

Live this wide-open, spacious life.

Phenomenal Woman –by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I’m telling lies.

I say,

It’s in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It’s the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can’t touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can’t see.

I say,

It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

‘Cause I’m a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

Post-coital, every moment feels so fucking epic. Not in the diluted sense of noteworthy that the term “epic” has taken on in common usage. In the sense that time expands to encompass all of our life together. The sense that the warmth of your skin,  muscle, blood, fat, hair, at my fingertips is as close to the zen of just being as I’ve ever come.

In hindsight, I ought to have known I would find contentment in a dominant role in a relationship. The signs were there in my early interactions with boys. My best friend (until he moved away in fourth grade) was the boy next door. We lived in the country, and there weren’t many kids around our age.

I used to invent games for us to play, then expect quite imperiously that he and his younger brother play them with me. My favorite was one that, in my head, had an elaborate system of rules and punishments, but the way it was played out way more like hide-and-seek in the dark. I never had the courage to explain all the rules I wanted to play by. But always, I was the protagonist, the catcher of the one in flight, the rule-setter and rule-enforcer.

I think it was sometime after reading _My Side of the Mountain_ that I also made plans for the two of us to run away, where I would direct our life together. The afternoon I explained these plans to my friend he must have then explained them to his mother. The ensuing phone call between our parents ended my bright ideas of living independently, under my sole control. I was eight.

“Unfinished business,” he pronounces.

“But what do therapists know?” I think to myself, the first few times he says it.

But he keeps saying it. Sometimes using that phrase directly. Sometimes trying to steer toward that point without those words.

So I guess I have unfinished business. With her.

She’s the voice inside my head.

She’s still the person I justify my actions to. Even though I’m 35, and she died 5 months ago.

She’s still every worry about the future, every self-doubt, every overly-conscientious fear about doing the right thing.

She was my mother, from the time I was a few weeks old. Fully adopting me, heart and soul. She took all of me.

Until I was willing to be things she could no longer take.

I wear her jewelry now, as I inherited it all. It’s sparkly and expensive. It feels like her.

I hate the moments when I forget she’s gone, when I pick up the phone to call her. Those are the moments I feel her absence most acutely.

Sometimes I’m mad at her. I get mad that she didn’t let me know her. She held firm boundaries on our parent/child roles, and she never believed it appropriate for a child to see the more humanizing parts of a parent’s life. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, she held herself firmly in her role.

It was status quo – she hid herself from me. And all too well I learned her lesson of hiding myself, especially from those I love most, from those who would be most affected by my own weakness or vulnerability.

Maybe this is why I empathize so much with other people in closets, of whatever form, who hide themselves from loved ones.

Certainly this unfinished business is has something to do with my love for people who share their secrets with me. It’s why I experience intimacy most intensely when people are vulnerable with me, and why I love people who encourage me to push and pull every secret from the deepest parts of them.

My therapist knows I’m kinky, though I doubt he has any conception of what that looks like, or the role it plays in my happiness. I don’t think it’s something he’d be comfortable discussing.

But apparently I’ve got unfinished business.

The ways I’m going about building my life these days – the D/s, the open relationships, the kink, the search for intimacy in so many unconventional places – they’re part of how I’m working on all that unfinished business.

To those who don’t fit: You know who you are. Even when you fake it, tradition hangs off you like an over-sized shirt on an insecure teenager, the loose excess drowning her in the expectations of others. I was that girl, figure hidden, I didn’t fit. I was a foreigner, studying the local customs to imitate. But I am not what works for the masses.

To those who don’t think they have it figured out: If you’re a mess — Thank God. You’re in good company here.

To the ones with the questions, the need to know, the need to live it before you buy it, break it before you buy it: You’re my people.

To those who cannot drown out the sense of another path you must follow, to whom peer pressure never made much sense, to whom fidelity to self is the foundation of your being: You’re my people.

To all the square pegs in a round-hole world, who live an examined life and have come to appreciate contradiction as proof of life, who speak with conviction and self-honesty in the face of hypocrisy: You’re my people.

To those who are as uncomfortable with self-disclosure as they are with being anything less than sincere: You’re my people.

I speak to you from our shared solitude and autonomy. I speak with empathy and respect. I speak to your weakness, to your need to overwork the facts in your mind.

I sing with your secluded souls and rejoice in the pride of your self-expression. May you find satisfaction in the sufficiency of your being. May you find others who don’t need you to be like anyone but yourself.

You’re my people. And you’re fucking beautiful.