Reading John Dryden the other day, I was reminded that I am not the first person in history to have had a deeply dysfunctional relationship.  And that is some consolation.

Fair Iris I love and hourly I die,
But not for a lip nor a languishing eye:
She’s fickle and false, and there I agree;
For I am as false and as fickle as she:
We neither believe what either can say;
And, neither believing, we neither betray.

‘Tis civil to swear and say things, of course;
We mean not the taking for better or worse.
When present we love, when absent agree;
I think not of Iris, nor Iris of me:
The legend of love no couple can find
So easy to part, or so equally join’d.

by Leonard Cohen

I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In my secret life.

I smile when I’m angry.
I cheat and I lie.
I do what I have to do
To get by.
But I know what is wrong,
And I know what is right.
And I’d die for the truth
In my secret life.

Hold on, hold on, my brother.
My sister, hold on tight.
I finally got my orders.
I’ll be marching through the morning,
Marching through the night,
Moving cross the borders
Of my secret life.

Looked through the paper.
Makes you want to cry.
Nobody cares if the people
Live or die.
And the dealer wants you thinking
That it’s either black or white.
Thank God it’s not that simple
In my secret life.

I bite my lip.
I buy what I’m told:
From the latest hit,
To the wisdom of old.
But I’m always alone.
And my heart is like ice.
And it’s crowded and cold
In my secret life.

I’m getting on with my life, and so much is going well.

But I miss him so much, and it seems like half the things that happen haven’t really happened unless he knows about them.

Just the way it goes, I know, and time wounds all heels.

First-rate portraits by Noah Kalina.

Things between Robbie and me have finally come to what seems like a genuine end, right in time for the most ridiculously hyped romantic holiday of the year.  But I’m not feeling sad now.  Instead, I’m feeling like I ought to give thanks.

When Robbie was here over Thanksgiving, we broke up.  We had agreed to spend the week he was here being good to each other and talking, lovingly, about whether we could see ourselves sorting out the major obstacles to our being a couple.  And we did that.  We had a wonderful time, the best time we’d had in months.  We were affectionate and good to each other.  We identified our problems and for many of them, we found solutions.  But by the end of the trip, we’d both started to feel glum about our prospects, and finally, Robbie decided that it was time for us to part.  We said goodbye at the airport, lovingly and well.  And he asked me to spend the next few weeks thinking about all the things between us that were good, rather than recalling all our problems.

I did that then, to some extent, but mainly I put my energies into talking him into getting back together.  We did make up enough for the New Year’s visit, which was pretty disastrous.  And now I find us broken up, again because of Robbie’s decisiveness.  (I think he is probably doing the correct thing for both of us, for which I am not-so-secretly grateful to him.)  This time has been harder, with much more nastiness and hurt than we had at Thanksgiving.

But while we haven’t had the loving conversations, the laughter, the bittersweet tears, and the breathtaking breakup sex that we had over Thanksgiving, I am still trying to think of the good things about us.  It’s actually pretty easy to do.  There are many things I regret about our relationship–including my behavior for much of it–but there are things I will always cherish, and it’s worth putting some of them down, so I don’t forget them.

1.  We laughed, so very much.  I look back at the pages of this blog and I see so many things that were funny, and I realize I’ve captured perhaps .00001% of Robbie’s humor.  When he wanted to be, which was very often, he was lightness and whimsy and joy.  As I’ve said before, his smile was like the sun to me and being part of his circle of laughter was just golden.

2.  I learned what it means to open up to someone, to really share your whole self with him, and to dare to show him all of you.  It took well over a year, but I finally gave Robbie a chance to see the real me, and vice versa.  And that was a wonderful feeling.

3.  I learned what it meant to be loved.  Robbie loved me more than anyone else has.  He not only told me but showed me, again and again.  He followed through on his words at considerable cost to himself, repeatedly.  What was better was that I loved him back as fiercely and as loyally, to the extent that I could.  We helped each other through  many extraordinarily crappy events–some self-inflicted, others wildly and utterly unpredictable.  I was there when his father died, and I took care of two horses, two dogs, and a very rickety house while he and his family buried their dad.  I poured my heart and soul (and a whole lot of sweat) into his garden.  I gave him endless back rubs.  He moved me across the country, packing my boxes himself, and waited for me in hospitals after two life-threatening accidents.  He petted me and held me and cooked for me and pleased me.  We were partners, and we did for each other, and that was good.

4.  I dealt with boatloads of my own crap.  I am a rotten, flawed, imperfect human, as most of us are.  Robbie used to joke that I thought of myself as “Priscilla Perfect,” and it was true.  When we met, I thought I could do no relationship wrong.  After four years, I have the dubious honor of being thankful for the fact that I know I can be a royal bitch: temperamental, reactive, angry, and sometimes punitive.  I don’t want to treat loved ones this way for the rest of my life, and I have miles to go.  At least I’ve started.

5.  I learned about being a good parent from him.  Robbie has kids, and despite what he fears at times, he has been a good father to his kids.  I want kids, and want to be a good parent.  He never refused my many and endless requests to talk about kids or what the right thing to do for kids would be in a given situation; never withheld the benefit of his experience; and never, ever acted like the answers were pat or simple.

6.  I grew up.  This was partly because we spent four years together, and partly because Robbie is older than I am.  When I met Robbie, I was working at a job that had me spending most of my day with teenagers.  I felt very young–I was in my mid-30s but had the mindset of a teen myself.  Now, I feel like an adult, in a good way.  I know I’m not going to live forever and that that means there are opportunities I need to seize now.  I also understand that the one driving the bus of my life is me; no one else is making the decisions, and I’m the only one responsible for the direction I take.  That’s a pretty good thing to know when pushing 40.

7.  Together, we found kink.  Robbie and I had the most deviant, most satisfying, most intimate, wildest, most passionate, most transcendent sex I’ve had in my life.  And he always did tongue-fuck better than anyone else I’ve known.

My take on us, for now, is this: We didn’t break up because we didn’t love each other.  We broke up because we are 600 miles away from each other with no way to relocate right now and different priorities in our respective lives.  That is a tough thing to have happen.  If I could feel it fully it would hurt terribly, and I know it will before it gets better.

But it is good to remember all the good things, all these things and more.  Thank you, my dear, for them.  Always–until the wheel turns round again for us.

. . . and peace.

Work by Victor Eredel, via Fubiz.

the eyes of true

No needle play for us, after all, last weekend.  The friends we invited over for dinner have a newborn–the baby is a month old–and barely have time for kink with each other, much less for kink with friends.  I’m not quite sure what we were thinking about the needle demonstration, but we had a lovely time with our friends, watching them enjoy their new arrival.

These friends have been with us through major thick and thin–with Robbie, especially, since they are closer to him than to me.  I think I’m ready to start writing about that thick and thin, about what some of the fights of the last year(s?) have been about.  It’s not pretty stuff, the past.  But what’s come out of it is better and better.

Eyes of True“, from Odilia Luzzi’s lovely photoblog, Dreams of Light.


I have written about 2 dozen drafts in my head the last few weeks, and several on paper or pixels.  As soon as I get a few strands of narrative going, the threads of real life take a new turn, my fine twist breaks, and I can’t connect any of the events I’ve been writing about to the present state of my affairs.  It happened again between the time I started this post, a couple days ago, and now, but I already picked out the illustrations for this one, and so this title is staying.

It has been impossible to write about what’s going on between me and Robbie over the last month, because it’s so hard to capture the rapidly-changing present.  One night on our past visit, Robbie and I would have a deep and much-needed, cathartic talk about what was going on with pain in our BDSM relationship, and I’d be mentally taking notes on the realization we’d reached when the talk would tank into sadness and separate sides of the bed.  Another night, I’d be seething for hours at the thought that he was going to leave me wet and frustrated on our last day together, until he came home at midnight from an unavoidable and important errand to make very tender and emotional love to me until the wee hours.  On a school night, even.  I left his house for home deeply in love but deeply pessimistic.

(There is so much to explain, and I have been not saying so much for so so long–here, and to him.  I don’t know where to start, and so if you want to read, bear with me or ask questions about what doesn’t make sense, and if it’s all too confusing or too raw, I apologize.  But I can’t keep all this bottled up and I can’t keep writing about us if I am not more honest and I can’t be dishonest about us anymore.)


Two weeks ago, we tried to figure out when we would get together this summer, and he could not tell me when he had time to see me.  Around that time, I read an article about babies and found myself sobbing.  Ten days ago, I told him that I had stopped being able to see a way for us to make a future together, and that though I loved him, I wanted a husband and a family and I needed to go look for those things before my clock had fully and finally ticked itself out.  (I am close, closer than most.  I am 37-and-a-half.)

Robbie dealt with all that with some equanimity.  I had told him before I even met him that I wanted a family, and we talked more about it the first weekend we met.

But then I actually met someone I wanted to date–a local Dom who asked me to play–and the emotional shit hit the fan.  Or perhaps that’s not fair to Robbie–I think he would have felt the emotional impact anyway.  But that event made it particularly strong.  And somehow in the middle of this we started talking.  A lot.

We’ve been talking every day for an hour or two and spilling our guts.  Many of the times we talked over the past two years–many of which, in fact, were over email–seem like pale echoes of actual meaningful conversations, now that we are having the latter.  We’ve stopped the incessant fighting.  We are crying and telling each other we love the other and talking about really bad and painful stuff–and good stuff too–and we are so, so vulnerable.  And I did not expect any of this.

I wasn’t (consciously) breaking up with Robbie or dating other people in order to “get him back”; I expected Robbie to let me go without much difficulty because I thought he had already let me go.  And he believed, it turned out, that I had been going for some time, perhaps believed that I didn’t really want to try.

I don’t really know what else to say.  I just am still here and still in love with Robbie.  And I am reeling in good and bad ways from having spent a day playing with someone else.  And all of a sudden it seems that Robbie was right that life is not a dress rehearsal and that he and I are really very necessary to each other and we best stop making a hash of things because we just can’t afford that.  And also, because we don’t have to.

And maybe I can write some of the other two-dozen posts if I let out this rollercoasterish one, and if it all doesn’t have to make sense.  Because it’s not all adding up now but it’s closer to that than it has been in a long, long time, and mostly I don’t feel miserable when I think of Robbie anymore, I just feel full of love and happiness and that is pretty darn nice.

Cool drawings, including a few dominatrixes, by Swedish illustrator Klas Fahlen.  Check out his cute animation, from which I stole the tiny ones (click to make them grow).  Also: more Swedes where he came from, on the same site.


After I started dating Robbie, my social life fell off precipitously, from a rich round of dinners and drinks with friends to basically nada.  This wasn’t his fault, or even mine.  By unfortunate coincidence, five out of seven of my closest friends moved out of state a few months after Robbie and I met, and my work changed in a way that meant I was encountering far fewer people than I once had.

At the moment, I’m living with one of those two friends.  She has a very active social life, and for the moment at least, I’m being encouraged to tag along as she lives it.  In the last week I’ve gone to two women-only dinner parties and met eight new people.  Like someone who’s been in a cave for too long, I’m stunned and blinking at the light.  (And like anyone who’s been alone too long, I have a lot to unlearn.  Last night I caught myself pushing food onto my fork with my fingers–twice.)

In addition to being a sexual switch, I’m a social switch.  Most people think I’m an extrovert; inside, I feel like an introvert.  I spent years training myself to interact fluidly with other humans, and I feel I have lost the knack.  Still, at a dinner party full of women, one has to adapt fast.

This company of women is soothing right now.  They all talk about the same things–husbands, children, in-laws, houses–and since I have none of those things, I don’t feel on the spot.  I listen as stories of other lives flow over and around me, and wonder, idly and with remarkably little panic, whether I’ll ever experience the things they’re talking about.  A year or two ago the prospect of not being married, not having children would have filled me with hysteria.  Not now.  I may just be so stunned by life I can’t feel anything, but that’s fine by me.

I suppose it’s a bit like reading a novel, talking to these women–one of those well-written, contemporary, affirming tales of love and adversity.  For although all my dining companions have all been wealthy, they have not necessarily had easy lives–there are insane relatives, husbands or children with cancer, and the looming economic threat that shadows everyone these days.

But this is not what figures in their dinner conversation, and it’s not what I get out of it.  When I said, a few days back, that I felt vile, fat, and disgusting, I meant it.  I have not paid much attention to my appearance for some time.  Robbie lives in the country, where the main object in winter is to beat the cold rather than to pull together a “look”.  Under our existing agreement, my hair has needed neither cutting nor styling.  Makeup has been optional, and I have opted out.  It would be the usual “letting yourself go”, except it feels unusual somehow.  I can’t put my finger on how, today, so I won’t try.

In the wake of our disastrous weekends together in February and March, I did what any smart girl would do–I bought lipstick.  Being especially smart, I also bought eyeliner.  On alternate days, I even remember to dab some of this stuff on my face.  I seem to remember how to make myself up, which is handy.

My collar is gone, which hurts–it feels like a part of my body is gone, amputated.  On the other hand, this means I get to wear necklaces, and I have been adorning myself with long strands of beads, fascinated by how they look in the light.

I watch the women and look at their scrubbed faces and careful ensembles.  They let me into their circle.  I’m not sure if this is healing, and I am not sure if this is love.  The company of women can be a harsh place.  But right now, its surfaces and appearances, its brittle, glittering rules and customs, are as much as I can bear thinking about.


The unmistakable Audrey Kawasaki.

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