T is for TRUST

“Tiger Scratches”, from a delicious and fun pre-negotiated scene where I got to say “yes” to straight razor cuts happily, and feeling safe. Photo by Jon Gunnar

Lately I have been feeling growth uncurl within me. A number of “I want tos” and “I wish I coulds” have been calling. I am ready, I think… Gulp. I read an article, imagine a scenario, pen a response… I want these things. Yes, I do.

This matters because all my life wanting has felt very unsafe to me.

Trust is an elusive imp playing tricks on what we think we want, pitting our desires against the gut’s “mmm… I don’t think so, no”… We learn to push this imp away our whole lives, listening to those around us who we feel pressured by. We learn to say “yes” when it feels like biting off more than we can chew. It’s hard to swallow, the experiences we motion ourselves through, after negotiations like these. Trust deteriorates in time, and we don’t know where we are anymore, what is good, or what we do because we think we’re supposed to. It takes time for us to learn to listen better to our guts, to our trust imps, in this life full of advertisements about what we’re supposed to want.

I do not really love sex. Perhaps this is because my first sexual experience happened at age 4, and it was a coercive, threatening, and manipulative situation which robbed me of my trust in friendship and trust for my own feelings of attraction. Maybe it’s because I was punished directly after escaping the situation, and so I carry this eternal kneejerk reaction to sexual attraction of distrust. Relationship negotiation holds within it a visceral fear that I’ll get in trouble if I pursue the thing I think I want… I get quiet and go even further away when people get angry or frustrated during sex, I glaze over when people make demands, and it’s been hard for most of my sexual history for me to stay present. I feel generally unsafe around other people’s perfectly natural desires for sex. I don’t want this though. For a lot of years I just did what other people wanted, or I measured the success of my relationships based around how regularly “it” was done, because I didn’t know how to actually connect during sex. Sex felt like a game I didn’t understand, a game I was always behind on the rules about, and I did what I thought I was supposed to because I couldn’t find my own desire for sex most of the time.

I’m glad I’m not there anymore (entirely). For me the key to trust and opening up was learning to say “no” and having my “no” respected and celebrated by those around me.

I was at a sex party once, and the theme was “asking for what you want”. Everyone came to the party prepared to practice asking for what they wanted — nothing was off the table. When everyone arrived we started our opening circle, we all had a turn introducing ourselves and revealing our first “ask” to the group. Mine was this:

I want to practice saying no. Would anyone be willing to spend some time propositioning me about various activities so I can practice saying no to them?

At the time it seemed kind of silly and counterproductive to (at a sex party) ask people to let me reject them. However, I have to say, this was one of the most healing and brilliant experiences I’ve ever had. That night’s exercise launched me into years of being able to practice my nos, so that I can actually now locate my maybes and yeses.

It was so hard to do, it turned out I needed a coach. I was approached by a few people at the party who wanted to play. They asked questions, to which I was supposed to say “no”, or “no, thank you”. It turned out I was impossibly bad at just saying no.

Them: Karin, may I kiss you?

Me: Oh, I love kissing, but maybe not right now?

Them: Well, can I pour hot wax all over your body?

Me: Wait, no fair, I love that activity! Um, maybe another time, not right now…

And so it went, with my “I’m really sorry I have to say no right now”, “well maybe later, it’s not personal, I just can’t right now”, or “that sounds interesting but I don’t think I can right now”, and so on…” Every “no” I gave was actually a maybe (?) or in reality, it was a “not-no”. I was finding it emotionally and psychologically extremely hard to pause, find my actual “no”, and simply say it while looking in the faces of my friends — friends who actively wanted me to say no!

I don’t think I’m the only person like this. I believe it’s a pretty normal response from a lot of people. I might even go as far as to say it’s probably exceedingly common among people who have experienced sexual trauma, from AFAB people in general, and I assume it’s a well practiced response from other minority people too. I think the art of “not no-ing” is heavily enculturated in our society. Part of what not no-ing is, is positioning yourself passively around a larger animal that might hurt you. Compliance is self-preservation. We hope to ease away from a situation while appearing compliant when we “not no”.

Simply put, I couldn’t put my foot down firmly because I was afraid to. Deep deep down, even in this safe space surrounded by encouraging friends I was terrified of saying no. I had one friend, let’s call her Jane, who was amazing that night. She kept asking the same question over and over again until I simply said “no” or “no, thank you”. After every qualification I made she shook her head and re-asked:

Jane: May I go down on you?

Me: That sounds really nice, but not now…

Jane: No, try again. May I go down on you Karin?

Me: No thank you, but not because I don’t like the idea of it…

Jane: May I go down on you Karin?

Me: Um, no, but ask me again sometime?

Jane: May I go down on you Karin?

Me: … … … (deep breath, crying a little, terrified) … … No. Thanks.

Jane: (Looking me in the eyes) Thank you, Karin. I’m really glad you told me no.

(I’m still really emotional reading that.)

I wish I could say I was cured from that point onward, but I haven’t been. I do know a lot more about my feelings now, and I know how to slow down and listen to myself better. As a rule these days I pause after being asked for something sexual or sensual, I try to find my “no”, and I don’t say “yes” until I can imagine doing the activity and imagine (or feel) myself wanting to do it. If I can’t imagine doing the thing, or doing things leading up to the thing, I say “no”. If I can imagine doing it and enjoying it, I say “I’d like to try”, and sometimes also “I don’t know if I’m totally into the idea, but I’d like to see if I can get into it, so I’d like to check in a bunch while we try”. If I’m ecstatically into the idea of what’s proposed, I say, “yes, I’d love to!” Sometimes when I realize I’m not into a proposed idea, while I’m finding my “no”, I’ll think of something I want to try instead. In those moments I’ll say “No, I don’t want to ____, but I’d like to ____ if you’re interested in that instead?”. Honest negotiation is what ensues.

If I can’t trust your “no”, I can’t trust your “yes”. This is where I have learned to stand, and it’s a radically helpful idea to hold onto. It has helped me communicate more directly, clearly, and unapologetically about sex, BDSM, and my boundaries with people. After practicing it over the years it’s become more and more easy to communicate about (and even feel) my feelings. I’ve found a lot of people I’m negotiating with appreciate these conversations too. Most people are struggling on some level with social expectations or worse when it comes to sensuality and sexuality. When I am direct and lead with my boundaries and desires, I find other people often feel safer talking about what they do and do not want as well. I’ve been able to negotiate lovely and crazy-seeming things with people consensually and to great end because we negotiated by asking one another about what we don’t want, which then frees us to outline exactly what we each do want. This in turn leads us to more deeply trust each other and ourselves in the process.

Play On My Friends,
~ Creature (Crea)

If you like my blog, please check out my Patreon Page and support me. For one time donations click here: Support the Artist

~Thank you.

H is for HOMEWORK

Finishing this homework led to one of the sexiest events of my life…

I really enjoy homework. Homework is a creative prompt with which I aim to please my partner. Homework gives me permission to let go and get raunchy and overtly sexual, to be nurturing in a welcomed way, or be useful as set specifically forth by my lover. Homework can stretch my ideas about what I’m capable of, or help me get inspired by new situations I had never dreamed of. Homework definitely presses my “desire to please” buttons, which is a turn on for me too. As for giving homework, it gives me a chance to ask (or demand) what I want from a partner, knowing that they want and value my instruction. It gives me permission to want and practice asking. I delight in the gifts and updates my partner brings me, and each completed task feels like respect and love. Giving also presses my empathic buttons, and I get to enjoy constructing an experience that affects someone, to feel their desire for me as they jump through my hoops…

Some homework instructions I’ve been given, or have given others:

  • “Go to the hardware store, pick out the hardware needed to create hardpoints for our bed, then come to my work and lay them on the counter in front of you. Remain standing in front of them until I come over.”
  • “When you get up this morning, insert the Duotone balls and edge seven times. Text me asking to orgasm when you’ve gotten to that point. I might let you.”
  • “Write me about a fantasy of yours… Be careful what you wish for”
  • “Write: “I am a very naughty boy” after every hit you take, and number each entry. You had better have good penmanship.”
  • “Go into the bathroom and take a photo of “X” (X = toy I’m wearing, me topless, fingering myself, me bruising myself… any number of deviant or perverse things) and text it to me before returning to the party/dinner/roadtrip.”
  • “Write to me and tell me three things you’re interested in experiencing.”
  • “Show up to our date with toys.”
  • “I am not your “Mistress”, that title doesn’t suit Me. I expect you to show up to our dinner with a handwritten apology for both incorrectly assuming My title, and that you’re worthy of speaking it without My explicit instruction. You may address Me as Sir in your letter.”
  • “You need to take better care of yourself, make sure you take a bath today. Tell me about it when you’ve finished.”
  • Here are examples of my favorite homework assignments completed: the blogs Sports Bar Fantasy and Homework, and the photo above…

As fun as it seems homework can be hard to navigate though, and it takes commitment from both sides of the equation to pan out well. Homework can be hard to negotiate in a few ways, and easily become a game people fall out of playing or get stressed out over rather than turned on by. Creating the right amount of tension and finding the best types of tension in play in any relationship dynamic is hard, BDSM and kink games are no different. Here are some things to consider:

For the Dominant/Top/Asker/Homework Giver: It’s important to remember that the Top in the homework game needs to be held accountable too. If the person providing homework doesn’t check the homework or respond when it’s complete, the bottom’s incentive to be a “good boy/girl/creature” starts to diffuse. If that happens too many times, your bottom may no longer feel like homework is fun, and it may start to feel less like foreplay and more like a thankless chore. This isn’t to say all homework must be fun, per se, though an eye to balance is always helpful in a heartening relationship. Part of what gives homework its appeal are fresh opportunities to please a partner, and ultimately the connection (or “treats”) one gets from their D-type for doing a good thing. When no one checks your homework or comments on it, or brings things to the next level as reward for a job well done (or not well done), what’s the point of doing it in the first place? The magic will begin to fizzle. Notice what homework your partner enjoys completing, is good at, is awful at, seems depressed or stressed out by, etc. It’s your prerogative to only give challenging, hard, stressful, unforgiving, depressing homework to your partner, but it’s also their prerogative to think you’re an asshole and stop playing with you. For best results consider how much homework someone has, and how that affects the rest of their life. There is a fine line between asking too little and too much. A good amount of tension can work well in this game and a Sadist who enjoys eliciting a manageable level of stress might use this knowledge to their benefit.

For the s-type/homework receiver: You must be willing to let your D-type know what is on your plate so that the game can be played in a way where what is asked of you continues to feel fulfilling/sexy/fun/flirtatious/the right kind of stressful/a turn on… Know what affects your ability to say “yes”, and be willing to draw necessary boundaries and say “no” when those boundaries are being violated. There is a big difference between homework which makes you creatively problem solve to get it done, and homework which threatens something you don’t want affected by a your sexual or kinky relationship. For instance, I am a very driven and focused worker. I have a lot of deadlines, and a large portion of my sense of self is derived from meeting my professional goals and a job well done. If I have a really busy day with very little time for myself, and a long list of things to do from my Dominant shows up with a deadline of that evening, I am probably going to be really stressed out — and not in a good way. I may not have time to accomplish all that is on the list and I’ll feel torn between my professional life and my partnership (which for me is an ultimate “not sexy” turmoil). If I have three rehearsals that day, two meetings, and I need to get a blog written, you better believe I’m not excited about a list of time consuming expectations due before dinner. In fact, I’ll probably get emotionally bent out of shape about it, or just feel tired and the opposite of playfully turned on and connected to my partner. I may feel they are being a domineering jerk who doesn’t respect my professionalism rather than my loving thoughtful Dominant trying to add some color and connection into my day. It is my job to let my partner know that I have these boundaries around my work life. It is my job to ask for a later deadline to get this homework done, or essentially safeword out of that tasklist. If I do charge into my day with that list in hand, the homework I accomplish will be under duress, shoddily done, or completed with resentment… No manner of “good boy” head patting at the end of the day will lift my spirits from not taking pride and deviant joy in doing my homework, or worse from having compromised my professional focus and personal values.

What types of circumstances are exciting for you to give under? What types of circumstances are undermining to the intent homework is trying to cultivate? What feelings do you want homework to inspire in you or in your partner? What feelings or circumstances do you not want to face while being asked to do homework? What kinds of homework turn you or your partner on? What types of homework are you ambivalent about? What types of homework do you loathe? What types of homework will you not do?… The more you know yourselves and the clearer you are with one another about what does and doesn’t work, the easier it will be to help each other know what to ask and what not to ask for a strong connection and desireable turnout. The more an s-type shares with their partner, the better a D-type will be able to read them and decide where and how to challenge as they see fit… What D-type doesn’t want that?

I hope you think up a million ways to play with one another, and send me the stories of your favorite challenges and homeworks along the way… To adult imaginations, finding the proper tension, and satisfying, perverted play!

Play On My Friends,
~ Karin

If you like my blog, please check out my Patreon Page and support me. For one time donations click here: Support the Artist

~Thank you.

BDSM Skillshare Classes, PRIDE, and Doing Something…

IMG_1128I’ve been talking for a long while about starting a BDSM skillshare class, and tonight is my first one!

Not only am I really excited about it, I view this work as something I can do that makes the world a safer and less repressed place for everyone. In light of all that’s been happening lately, from the badly behaving presidential debates, to PRIDE celebrations, and the tragedy this weekend in Orlando, I am grateful that I get to gather with like-minded and/or interested people tonight to celebrate and learn more about our curiosities and desires. Tonight’s topic is Consent, Negotiation, Communication, and Safety.

If you’re interested in coming, it’ll be happening monthly, so message me and I’ll invite you to the event. There is a vetting process, so if I don’t know you well enough we can set you up for an interview and you can possibly get into the next one…

Happy GLBT and Queer Pride month, folks. May all our ideas of self be safely explored ones, our skills be innumerable, and may the boogymen and stay further and further at bay.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

If you like my blog, please check out my Patreon Page and consider supporting me, or just click here: Support the Artist

~Thank you.

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