Another World

Listening to Antony and the Johnsons “Another World” on repeat.

I feel like writing for the first time in a long time. I’ve been keeping a private journal and perhaps sometime I’ll share bits of it here for you all. Sometimes I feel as though I can’t write if I’m not going to be able to tie up a post or idea with a nice ribbon for you, my readers. Yet, both here and in the rest of my life, I’m learning to accept the unfinished, knotted, dribbling on of ideas that more accurately represents lived experience. So here’s a bit of that for those who’ve missed me.

I am deeply in love with Feathers. It feels like it came out of nowhere. He’s always been very special to me, but I had no intention of going this deep with him. I suppose that’s the magic of this lifestyle; when you let go of well-laid plans or expectations on the development of a relationship and instead allow it to evolve naturally, the results can be a surprise.

We are practically living together, spending 6 or sometimes 7 nights a week together. As it turns out, we each have some very real mental illnesses and personal struggles. But, it seems, they compliment one another’s in a way that is working. For now anyway. I’ve gotten used to the idea that the only answer I need to have is for now and the immediate future. On a practical level, he has taken on all the shopping and cooking and I have taken on all the laundry and cleaning. We went through extensive talks about this “trade”, not wanting either of us to eventually resent the other. So far so good. So good, in fact, that I’ve lost 10 lbs just because he is regularly feeding me healthy food.

On an emotional level, the exchange is not that simple. And perhaps viewing a relationship as one big barter doesn’t make sense. Or maybe it’s the most logical thing a person can do. In any case, with all this shared time, my PTSD and his ADHD cannot be masked. He has been unbelievably patient, kind and caring for me and I believe I have been the same to him.

We have something of an ethos for our relationship. We want to be a good thing in one another’s lives, we want to help one another reach the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: flourishing. It all sounds very nice and balanced and dreamy.. and it is.. but it’s also tough work. Creating this unique relationship, this bubble for us, all while being conscious every step of the way is challenging. But we’re doing it. And I have truly never felt so supported by a partner in my life.

I have this feeling all of the time that he truly wants me to thrive, whatever that looks like. I am back to old hobbies. I am writing again. I am finding my way and even though I’m doing it alongside him, I don’t feel that I have to give up myself to be with him the way I did, at times, with Spouse. He really doesn’t seem to see me as an extension of himself and so his investment in my behaving a certain way is quite low. So I feel free.

Also. The sex is blowing my mind. It didn’t start out that way either, it’s grown as our intimacy has grown. It’s very playful, even though that sometimes means serious. Costumes and toys and some role play. I’m relatively uptight day to day, so to have this adult playground bedroom space has been so wonderful.

Essentially, I’m just trying to soak up every minute of this time. Being newly in love and designing the shape of things together is enthralling and I don’t want to miss a thing. I knew I could never fall in love the way I did with Spouse again. This is different. It’s not as reckless and it involves navigating more baggage. It’s more careful and perhaps braver. Because this time we both know more about what could happen and we’re doing our best to stay open to it anyway.

I imagine you’re wondering if we’re still open.

Yes, we’re still open. I suppose I could imagine periods of monogamy again, but I’m certainly not needing that now and maybe I never will. Storyteller has come back into my life, which is a story that needs its own post. And he has a woman he sometimes sleeps with trying to make plans with him. Neither of us is consciously looking for new partners though. For now, what we have is pretty all-encompassing.

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Meeting Her

I met Feathers’ former primary partner. They were together 5 years.. same time span Spouse and I were together. They are still trying to navigate what their relationship looks like now. I hadn’t intended to meet her when I did. I was attending a work showcase of his and he didn’t think she’d come due to recent fighting. But then she did.

I feel horribly in that I got a head’s up that she was there but she didn’t. Meeting her was super brief, she left almost immediately. It was strange, meeting this person that I’ve heard so much about. And as unhelpful as comparison is in this world, it’s also somewhat unavoidable. She is shorter and more fit than me, covered in tattoos and seems to kind of hate the world. Although I can be a bitch, I’m usually relatively friendly, smiley and sociable.

This difference between us has been noted by Feathers many times. He jokes that I am not his typical type and occasionally when I’m particularly kind or supportive he has a hard time understanding that. He told me once that he feels like an abused dog who doesn’t know how to accept love and kindness, but that there is hope for rehabilitation. I don’t know how much of that is from this relationship, but it was hard to hear.

A few weeks later she came to his (they used to live together and so she still has some stuff there and they adopted his dog together) and we all had a drink together. She seems smart and free and certainly has that badass thing going for her. In some ways, I see them together. In others, it’s hard for me to understand. I wonder if people think that about Spouse and I. 5 years is a long time, especially in your 20s.

I have interesting feelings towards her. I think she’s kinda cool and hip and she seems really tough. But I also know some ways she has hurt Feathers and so I feel protective. There is also the factor of jealousy. Intellectually, I’m not worried about this at all. If they decide to be romantic or sexual again, I know I can handle it. It may change the relationship I have with him, but I can also handle that. But I still don’t like it. But I know that giving him the freedom to sort out that relationship any way he needs to is the most loving thing I can do for him. So I’ll do it.

Cosplay

Y’all. My newest sexual adventure is maybe my favorite thing yet.

I am a huge fan of lingerie. I really get off on dressing a certain way for a partner. I like to see the look in their eyes when they see me in this way that they designed or that is designed for their pleasure. Some people don’t seem to care much for this part of sex, and some are too shy about their preferences (for whatever reason) to articulate what they want to see, even if I’ve asked. So sometimes it ends up being a trial and error thing.

When dressing for my self, I prefer a classic, all-black pinup look. Lacy thigh highs and a garter belt, perhaps a lacy bra and silk nighty or dressing gown, or some combination of these things. A while back I put on a variation on this outfit for Feathers, but I added shoes. The shoes are a pair I use for pole dancing as well, they’re these strappy black heels with gold accents. Very sexy. In my opinion. Feathers was certainly into the effort, but was clearly not so into the shoes.

I took them off, a bit embarrassed and we proceeded to have a lovely sexual encounter. (more on sex with Feathers soon, it’s a one of a kind experience) But afterward I decide to figure out more about the shoe thing. Feathers never bullshits me and he’s never cruel, so I always feel completely safe being honest about what I’m feeling. I said something like “I feel insecure that you were not into my sexy shoes. I need to know that you found my whole outfit and me very sexy just then”. I have learned to be extremely blunt in these situations. When you spend years being rebuffed when trying to have sex with your spouse, you get a little sensitive about this kind of thing.  Especially someone you care about. Had one of my casual guys not been into the shoes, I wouldn’t have thought twice. But I have some really heavy feels invested in Feathers now, and so I needed to get to the bottom of this perceived slight.

Once I articulated my fear and what I needed from him, he took about twenty seconds to fully comprehend it and gather himself. Then he gently pulled me back into bed and assured me he finds me extremely sexy. He told me my entire bit about dressing up for him was very charming and sexy and he loved it. He confirmed that the shoes weren’t exactly his thing (nbd next to these other reassurances). Because Feathers is always honest and clear with me, I believed every word and it only took this short assurance and some physical affection to brush off what could have been a really hurtful action, given my baggage.

That’s all to say that trial and error is not so simple for everyone. It’s especially tricky because what works with one partner, may not do it for another. Sexual compatibility, like relationships in general, is so much about fit. There is not an equation that makes it work or not work. I have had boring sex with beautiful men and bad sex with men I thought I loved. Feathers and I had had these discussions a bit, but it has become clear to me that he is less used to discussing these things than I.

Don’t get me wrong, he is GGG, for sure. But he has not been doing a concentrated sexual exploration trip the last year the way I have. So things that work between us have been slowly emerging, and what a fun process that has been. The newest development has been a game changer for us.

I’m at his house the other night and we’re a little drunk on whisky and feeling silly. I always feel safe being silly with Feathers. He seems to really like the goofy side of me, and I know I can show it to him without fear that he will no longer take me seriously elsewhere. I decide to show him a pic of my latest panic attack purchase (sometimes I buy stupid shit whilst having panic attacks). This time it was a $10 lacy body suit I bought on amazon. Kinda trashy, pretty sexy, very funny. I showed him a picture of me in it and he said “I have a raccoon suit”.

He proceeded to go to his closet and pull out A SEXY RACCOON SUIT, complete with faux fur legging, tail and hood with ears. I am honestly not even surprised by this. I immediately put it on and start posing on his bed in it. The skirt is so short, my pussy and ass are hanging out (the original owner, I can only guess, is Feather’s former primary, a girl a bit smaller than I). I demand he takes some pictures. For me, this is everything. Feathers is bizarre and so of course he is into what’s known as cosplay (costume play). Also, he of course OWNS a sexy raccoon suit. I find out later multiple women have worn it over the years. We send pictures to my girlfriends, who are all mildly obsessed with this man in my life. They get a good laugh out of it.

I go to get more whisky from the other room even though his roommates are home and we all have a great laugh about it. I would do just about anything to make Feathers laugh. Though it seems just being myself does it. The encounter ends with some of the most intense sex he and I have shared yet. It doesn’t occur to me until later that it’s kind of like sharing a sex toy with someone, wearing this suit that other women have worn. Ick. But I am thrilled he’s let me in on this predilection of his and I am more than happy to oblige. But now, I am compiling my own suit.

I have gotten to the bottom of what’s compelling about this for him. He likes the tail and the ears. He LOVES thigh highs, this I already knew. And the corset idea is very sexy to him, though he was very worried I would be uncomfortable in a corset, so which I responded “super not the point darling”. I am so excited about this new avenue in our sexual relationship. He clearly has a thing for this and I LOVE DRESSING UP FOR MEN. But raccoons are kind of gross and I don’t want to wear a used suit again, so I’m developing an outfit of a sexy fox, using this photo for inspiration.

As it turns out, you can buy butt plugs that are attached to tails. I have wanted to invest in a butt plug for a while now, so I’m stoked for an excuse. I bought a matching tail and ears on etsy and am on the hunt for the rest of the outfit. It’s funny, this is the kind of sexual thing that probably would have freaked me out in the past. But now, it’s like “why not?”.

Feathers is away on a backpacking trip and I’m surprised how much I am missing him. He doesn’t have cell service and I just miss talking to him. Putting together this costume has been a fun distraction. I’ll report back with the result. I told him he’d return to a sexy little fox!

Identity

I’ve always fancied myself independent. I’ve sold myself a narrative about a woman who has always and will always do exactly what she wants. It’s not completely untrue.. but it’s also not completely true.

In my teen years, personal definition was about my small bubble. I at once adhered to the homogeny around me and bucked against it. But everything I did and every way in which I understood myself was in relation to the culture in which I was raised; a predominantly white, upper middle class, Conservative, Patriarchal, Mormon community. I was at once a part of it and its biggest critic. But it was all I knew.

Then came young adulthood, where I did some BIG things and made some BIG decisions. I publicly and angrily left Mormonism. I played with sex and drugs. I was sexually assaulted. I traveled. I went to college (on and off). I began to define myself not only in terms of my immediate community, but the world more broadly. Community meant much more than what my physical neighbors did or thought. Politics, belief systems, societal, socioeconomic and community hierarchies were all I saw and cared about. I married in a way that felt radical. I embraced feminism and grew a loud voice. I also built an identity around a profession that stroked my ego in a way that now makes me nauseous.

Then came adulthood. I quit the job that gave me purpose. I left the husband that gave me some parts of my identity. I found myself in a new city with a lot of questions and zero answers. I’ve spent the last year and half extricating myself from the life my young adult self built.

And now it’s time to rebuild with only one consideration: what is it that I truly care about and how will I live my life in accordance with that?

The problem is that question has a different answer all the time. Or maybe, more accurately, this question has many different answers. Here’s a short list just to get myself going:

  • Relationships. I value the people in my life highly. If I do nothing else with my life but cultivate deep and fulfilling relationships, friendly, romantic and everywhere in between, that will feel like a life well spent. I value treating these people with respect, honesty, kindness and selflessness. I feel more valuable and important on the phone late one night with a friend in the midst of a panic attack than at any other time, perhaps.
  • Community. I value being a contributing part of a community. Even more deeply, I value creating communities. I get so much pleasure from connecting folks, especially women to one another in a way that helps all of them.
  • Creation. Creating space and writing and ideas is where it’s at. I feel most fulfilled and calm when I spend time creating. Of course I want to create things that others find interesting/useful, but I think that can’t be the only impetus for creation.

Some things I have derived value from that I would not like to continue deriving value from:

  • Status. I was married to a physician. I was at the top of my career. While status feels nice, it isn’t ultimately fulfilling because it doesn’t seem to really get at who you are as a human being.
  • Beauty. I’m a pretty person and it has nothing to do with my experience of myself or the world. The only thing it really does is make it a little easier for me to get what I want from the people around me. A fact that I am not proud of. The emphasis on it also contributes to a lot of self doubt, self-loathing and hours and hours of wasted mental energy.
  • Fame. I have a mild obsession with being known. I’m not exactly sure what this is about but I don’t like it and I don’t think it will make me fulfilled. I’ve had tastes of it in different contexts. Enough to know that it doesn’t last long and it’s very painful to chase.
  • Fortune.  It’s nice to be able to pay your bills and then buy nice clothes and go on a trip. But it isn’t the key to lifelong fulfillment.

As I’m writing this I’m realizing something simple. The more I want my life to look a certain way, the more unhappy I am.

I guess what I’m getting at in this very indulgent post is that I think maybe I am more free and independent now than ever in my life and I want to be extremely intentional about what that looks like.

 

 

He’s Magic

Last night Feathers put me to bed by describing a walking tour of a park near his house. He's an arbor enthusiast and so he described the tress in the park in great detail; were his favorite and what they looked like, whether or not they were healthy, and how old they probably were. As someone with PTSD, the minutes just before falling asleep are some of the scariest. The darkness sets in and the fear of the nightmares you may face fill your mind. Most people with ptsd tell themselves elaborate stories during this time, imaging other worlds and experiences – I'm no different. At different times various lovers have read me poetry before bed, but Feathers taking me on a walking tour was the most peaceful way to drift off I've yet experienced.

We've been spending a lot of time together lately. Feathers and his primary partner split recently so he's just had more time for me. I don't know a lot about the specifics of the end of their relationship and I prefer it that way. He and I both agree it doesn't make sense for me to be his primary emotional support in that arena. He's definitely hurting though. They were together about 5 years and they do still care deeply for one another. Something I can relate to completely.

So although I'm sorry to see him hurting, our relationship has been able to grow deeper in the last few weeks and that has been beautiful.

When I'm with him, I laugh so much. At him, with him, at myself. It's sarcasm, but it's also deep wit, creativity and playfulness. But the laughing is at the absurdity of life. He, more than many, has a grasp of the way things can change quickly and the range of ways people can behave. I think it's this that allows me to be so honest with him. I truly never feel judged. In fact, if he read this blog, he would be unsurprised. And there are things I don't even dare share here that I have shared with him.

Early on in our relationship he expressed that it's difficult for him when people want to manufacture intimacy by sharing too much too soon, relying on physical intimacy, or the like. I'm very thankful for the pace that set in our relationship because now it seems that the trust and intimacy is starting to grow in an authentic way.

We are beginning to let one another further into each other's lives, meeting friends and all that. It's nice in that the ultimate goal is no longer necessarily monogamy and cohabitation and ultimate combination of lives. This is really allowing us to test out the ways in which we can and want to live in relation to one another and adjust as needed.

There have been a few catches and hard convos but not many. And not because there aren't differences or things but because above all, Feathers is a stellar communicator. Even if what he is communicating is that he's unavailable to communicate. There is consistency in the way we deal with one another and that is very calming. Not to say it's sameness, it's not. It changes and varies and looks different ways depending on each of us, but I never have to wonder if he still wants to spend time with me. And that didn't have to be a conversation. I expect there will be other things and there are ways in which I already anticipate we would not want to combine our lives. But I'm really and truly ok with that.

I feel lucky each time I get to spend time with him. The other evening he worked in his studio and I lounged there too, cross stitching and choosing music. It's these types of times that stand out to me in any relationship. The quiet times. The boring times. It isn't the nights out or the anniversaries. It's the nights in, just existing together. The time well spent in one another's company.

And each time I get a peak into the way his mind works with a joke about space and black holes or a little speech about an obscure author from the sixties, I want more. He's very similar to Spouse in this way. One difference being, he doesn't expect me to care about his far reaching interests and ability to retain information. It's a part of him, but not from where he draws his entire sense of self. This makes it easier to enjoy. I can also acknowledge that we have only been seeing one another for about 6 months and not all that many time each week or month, and so there is some NRE carrying us. But all the same, I would be lying if I didn't say: he's magic.