September 17, 2009
I wear a collar, every day. It looks like a very pretty necklace and most people have no idea what it means to me. Which is fair, since I don’t know if I could honestly explain what it means to me either. Several years ago, I read a book about open relationships and knew it was the path I wanted to walk. A few years later, I learned about kink or bdsm (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) and found the ideas to be equally appealing. The journey from concept to execution was a long one and cost me a wife, a best friend, and a large lesbian community. I guess any journey for self-awareness is going to have its ups and downs.
So, my collar. When I started, I was hungry for all experiences– experiences I had expected to stay secret dreams I never spoke about. The details of those experiences are unimportant. The need behind them, to fit myself into a structure of relationship and behavior system that I found (and find) compelling, is hard to describe. It’s wrapped up in my personality and my sexual being. It is an essential part of who I am and how I move through this world.
And I never expected, really, to be able to fit it into my life. When my fiancee and I moved in together, our relationship was primarily based on a “play” relationship. One where we explored our mutual desires for dominance, submission and so forth. Finding the best way to incorporate that into a day-to-day existence that included children and jobs was tricky. Moving in with his family added complexity, until we found ourselves minimally engaged. Add to that the recent drama we experienced with people in the bdsm community, we had pretty much given up.
Wearing a collar in the kink community is similar to wearing a wedding or engagement ring in the straight world. It means a special level of commitment and connection between partners. It demands another level of respect and consideration. We had tried weekends in that dynamic, none of which had been anything but dismal experiences for all involved. My lover had only had one other partner he had entered into a long-term collared relationship with and that story is too long (and depressing) to retell. Our level of reticence cannot be overstated.
A few months ago, we were at a weekend bdsm event — one at which we remembered how amazing the whole open relationship/play world can be when you engage with the right people for you– and he said, I found something I want to get you. We wandered through the vendor room, me expecting to see a corset or jacket he thought would look good on me. Instead we stopped at a jeweler and he pulled out the collar and said, here it is. I don’t know where the idea came from. I don’t know why. Suddenly, it felt like the most natural thing in the world that our relationship be in this place at this time.
We are still working out what it means to us and how to share that. Somehow, though, the most irrational, spontaneous choice we could have made has been just right.
September 10, 2009
I don’t really miss the church. It was right for me when I was there and when it no longer fit, I was really angry and hurt. I couldn’t understand how god could reveal the one true religion in our time and it not be quite big enough to include me. When I first left, it was like an amputation of my heart … I knew the people that I loved who were still mormon pitied me at best, judged me at worst. Maybe it was compassion– hindsight gives a different kind of clarity. Maybe underneath the emotions that tore at me, there was an understanding that leaving anything so all encompassing is a journey of pain and discovery.
Sometimes I miss the feeling of community I found there. I found again with the lesbians. It’s a tribal connection that speaks to our herd animal selves. Based on a shared life experience or value system, it is a whole-life investment that only breaks when you discover yourself unable to meet the minimum requirement. What was funny was I didn’t leave because I believed the gospel was untrue. I just came to know that god loved me for who and what I was. And while I have sinned in my life, falling in love with a woman and building a relationship with her is not among those sins. And god would never deny his daughter a place to rest and heal in the midst of that kind of painful emotional growth.
So maybe I was angry for awhile. And it didn’t matter. I kept what I loved from the church — the importance of family and community, a love for the simple things in life, a value for hard work and discipline– it’s not a short list. And when I am full of joy — after a late night of dancing at the lesbian club or a sex party with close friends — I often burst into song, singing the hymns I once sang with my closest friends at Brigham Young University as a student. People get confused, or they laugh, thinking I am mocking the church or myself. But really, those songs will always be about joy and family for me and they will always be on the tip of my heart. Nothing can take that from me or diminish the sacred experience that it is.