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.

Love Letter

A necklace I made of my favorite symbol: the Sun, gold, and ever expanding knowledge.

You are the point in the center of a circle. Everything inside the circle is what you know.

The circle itself, the line drawn, is what you know you don’t know.

Everything outside of the circle is what you don’t know you don’t know…

As you grow the circle gets bigger. You know more, there’s more you’re aware of which you don’t understand, and still, the space outside that ever-growing circle of knowing is vast and infinite. And it’s still very much connected to you.

A circle with a point at it’s center. The symbol for gold and the Sun. This is my favorite symbol, I draw it on the wall in pretty much every home I live in and have for a long time. I like thinking about the space outside of my circle, that space which spreads across the plane of the wall to the ceiling and floor, into the next room, around and over the house, through my neighborhood, onward and outward into infinity… All these things I don’t know I don’t know. I take comfort in it, this understanding that I can be connected to everything yet still understand so little of what everything truly is. Looking at life this way, I can approach the world knowing that I’ll make mistakes. I might not know something important about how to interact with another person or situation, but that is to be expected at some level: I am allowed learning.

I am allowed learning. What a beautiful and important permission. One of the major reasons I’m committed to my exploration of sexuality and sensuality is that at one point in my childhood my ability to discover those things on my own terms and in my own time was taken away from me. I feel those wounds still. I know I react to the worlds of sexuality and sensuality with knee jerks at times, and those reactions were put in place long ago to protect me, but I don’t need all of them anymore. I know that there is more out there I want to be open to. There are things inside me I cannot begin to understand yet because I haven’t opened myself up to exploring them. Yet.

This is the most profound reason I love my friends so incredibly dearly. All of my open, caring, queer, curious, brave, struggling, articulate friends have given me pieces of what I didn’t know, and even what I didn’t know I didn’t know. They connect me to them, and in so also connect me more deeply to myself.

This is a love letter to the people in my life who have seen me and applauded my struggles and findings. This is a letter to those people who I see once in a blue moon, yet fall into their arms deeply and joyfully every time. This is a love letter to all of those people in my life who reflect back to me what I have helped them know. This is a love letter to people who laugh when I find out something new about myself, and who say they already knew it (there are many of you out there). This is a love letter to those people who keep asking me to try new things, who invite me to play, who don’t fault me for not being in the mood, who slow down when I get overwhelmed, who read books and watch instructional videos to learn the mechanics of acts we’re interested in, who share fantasies with me, who ask questions and get super nerdy with me about the answers, who research what happens when… This is a love letter to all those people who think that what makes us tick is worth exploring.

Thank you for existing. I need you on this journey, and like you maybe needing me, we’ll find things we didn’t know we didn’t know. We’ll face them connected, autonomously, and together.

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.

Actor Turned Director

Some of the tools I teach with…

I’ve been thinking about my fantasies a lot lately. I think I need to get a little black (and crimson?) book to write them down in… Fantasies are a beautiful stepping stone to scenario, and scenario is a gorgeous stop on the path to planning and play. I am thinking about fantasies because I want to play…

Who’s down for being mummified? Interrogated? Pierced, poked, slapped, hot waxed, led on a leash, stepped on, or wants my flesh therapeutically under their fingers? Anyone for being an ashtray? Pet? Gender bent? How about a power exchange role play? There are so many games which have been played on me that I am excited to flip the script about and Top or Dominate. My brain won’t stop ticking — it’s really quite amusing.

But what, Monsignor Karin?! Aren’t you a sub my boy? Yes! Well, I have been consistently for a number of years now… I’ve seeked out experiences and play from so many places, done extensive research on kinky things, taught classes and demo’d for workshops, helped partners, and I’ve been lucky (and occasionally unlucky) enough to play with a wide range of people doing inventive, nasty things to delight me. I think I’m ready to find some of my own playthings… Teaching has always brought me close to Dominance, I suppose. That role, Teacher, has kept me firmly in a place of Top with regularity for a few years. “Dominating” during class though is something I have divorced myself from the pleasure of… Recently I’ve had multiple experiences where the scales got tipped somehow. I found myself not just demonstrating “how to” but finding blurred lines and exciting new territory as the experience deepened (consensually) into scening and switch. Like my experiences moving from being an actor to Directing — I find incredible strength and pleasure from being able to communicate with my actors. I salivate while drawing out what is the best of theirs and pushing them to go a little further still, to find excellence before the end. I find I am empathic, understanding the feelings my own actor self might be experiencing in their process, riding the energy of the room as we unfold and find our scene. I leave excited about the connection and the work, happy to have helped… but more.

Something has opened in my heart recently. A desire to serve by lead. A readiness and a feeling of safety I haven’t felt before. An ease with my own self-worth, I think. It’s been this toy, tossed in the room, which I’ve been contemplating for awhile from the corner. I finally batted it about a bit… and then… then… well then, I got excited. Now I want to pounce some more.

It’s interesting that though I’ve considered (and loved) myself submissive, I’ve been intentionally building knowledge, opinions, experiences, connections, researching, teaching classes, and now finally a desire to move from sub, to sub who teaches, to sub who teaches and demos, to freshly blooming Dominant.

Does this mean I don’t want you to beat me up if we’ve got a good thing going?! HELL NO!!! Even therapists have therapists, teachers have teachers, and my sadistic ass didn’t get less masochistic… I don’t know that I’ll ever not want to be handled by a talented, loving, sadistic, hot-as-fuck D-type too… Even if the both of us, for a moment, maybe turn on you…

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.

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