i read Dr. Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying,the summer i turned 12. It was the only time we went to a library as a family, with everyone grabbing for knowledge, a way to understand, a pitiful hunger. Normally, it was only me who carried in two empty backpacks, eager to fill them up while my mother complained about how boring i was.
Over the years, i have thought about Stages of Grief and mused that it could be well applied to many paradigms beyond what we understand about coping with physical death. There are a lot of ways to experience death beyond a physical loss. We can mourn the death of a marriage, the death of hope, the death of the ideal version of ourselves.
i have said before that when we separate out something fundamental to who we are, we go through the same stages. They are:
1. Denial and Isolation
How many times as a slave do we circle around these steps? In particular, in regards to the intimacy of her Sadism and my masochism and feeling that hunger that never quite gets satiated. Because even if it comes, i may be waiting weeks and months until it happens again. Over time, my body has adapted in some ways, such as not being able to respond to pain in any way other than to interpret it as pain. For years, when i had frequent access to some form of S/m (“play”, discipline) my body responded like a well-trained animal. i was instantly on.
i’m never on anymore. And i have had to grieve that loss.
i have petty moments of Anger, when i feel that if she actually did want me to feel better and stop the fibro-flare, she would regularly (at least weekly) beat me. And then i feel shame because my mind doesn’t accept any feelings of anger toward her. i end up turning that inward at an intense speed.
i think i’ve been in a prolonged state of mild Depression and calm Acceptance. i just don’t care anymore. This has led me to consider that any time i’ve had to adapt to something i feel very deeply about, when i reach a point of understanding that it won’t change, i tell myself, “i don’t have to feel anything about that anymore.” Then i sort of seal that up so i can perform what is expected.
In my first relationship, which was also a Total Power Exchange, he liked to have little tests. One morning, we woke before dawn and i made his coffee, packed his lunch, laid out his clothes for work, made breakfast, and got the kids up. It was the same start as any other morning. When the kids ran for the bus, he smiled and told me he had the day off of work and had a surprise. As it turned out, the surprise was that he was taking me to a nudist retreat for the day. This was before i was involved in any form of the scene, before anyone had seen me nude other than for sundry reasons. Before i was comfortable in my skin or knew how to love myself. He knew it was a struggle for me, that i was intensely embarrassed, but he also knew i’d do it. My motivation was to pass his test, that i’d do what i was told to do, despite my own tremendous discomfort and internalized shame. i was also motivated because the alternative would have been a harsh punishment.
i have never again felt anything about taking my clothes off. i feel nothing about it, really. i figure people can look or not and that is their choice.
Sir Raven has pushed me through documenting my nudity, through photography and video. It’s not something i would have chosen for myself but she could post it all over the blog and i’d feel nothing about that. It’s not my body.
Acceptance may be necessary but i find a huge hole slaves fall into is conflating that with happiness. i’m required to have a pleasant demeanor ,not be happy. i don’t have to be happy about not getting needs met. i just have to accept it and i have done that. And i might have to do it several more times, bouncing my way thorough, because stages can happen in concert and don’t follow a discreet path. There might be new aspects to mourn or something that takes me off guard in the future.
It’s my job, i think, to find a way to be content with what is. Not happy. Content. It goes well with Acceptance. Trying to force myself to be happy can create an additional hurdle that does not need to exist. It puts a lot of pressure that simply does not have to be.
Acceptance and Contentment are good places to be, and require mindfulness to achieve. It’s where i spend the majority of my time, by choice and dedication to appreciating what i do have and experiencing daily gratitude.