Posts Tagged ‘myself’

Kink, Asexuality, and Me

[My post for the March Carnival of Aces]

I’ve been kinky for literally as long as I remember. In preschool and kindergarden I was already having fantasies, telling myself stories as I fell asleep at night, having my toys keep other toys as ‘servants’ and practice corporal discipline, making myself a whip out of jewelry cord.

Kink and asexuality have been intertwined for me from the beginning too. When I was 12 or 13, I came across the first mention of maybe-I’m-not-alone for the former – an article on S&M on a website for adolescent girls I frequented. I remember thinking, ‘this is pretty much exactly like my stories, except that mine don’t have sex in them, and mine don’t have me in them’.

Coming into the two was also linked. After years of not knowing about my orientation – reading sexuality books while not knowing where I fit, thinking of this as another part of my general alienness, having the idea to ask a speaker my high school’s GSA brought in ‘what are other ways to tell if I’m gay or not, if I haven’t been attracted to anyone and therefore can’t use that’ (but not actually doing it) – I finally found the word and the concept ‘asexual’ on TV Tropes when I was 19. 

Following the link to AVEN, one of the first posts I made was about my kink – about how sometimes power dynamics and pain in movies and such aroused me, and sometimes I just really liked them, but it’s not about sex and I don’t want to be in a power dynamic relationship myself and are there any other people like this around.

There were. I got linked to Fetlife, which I proceeded to explore and eventually follow into my local community, got more stories of other’s experiences to help me in my efforts to figure all this out and conceptualize it and understand how it might work for me. 

I’m still working on that. I’m probably always going to be working on that, because it’s a huge world both out there and here in my own mind, ever-changing and with seemingly infinite variations. 

It’s taken me to a lot of cool places. I know much more about the kinds of things I like (role-play to take my stories into the real world, something I wrote about hesitantly in that first post and have had rather amazing times with since then; masochism both in and out of said role-play; and a whole world of things that, while not actually giving me kink-feelings, are quite a bit of fun anyway). 

I’ve thought about how these feelings work for people. Some people just like things, the same way they might like rollerblading or singing – for the physical or mental experiences, because it’s fun or intimate or stress relief or any number of other things. Some people have kink-feelings like I have kink-feelings – captivated by particular lines in books or scenes in movies, maybe (or maybe not) thinking of ways to bring it out of the page. Some people’s kink-feelings are sexual feelings. Some people’s aren’t. Some people’s vary. Some people have a kink drive and some don’t. Some people have both a sex drive and a kink drive, and some people have one subsuming the other, and some people don’t.

A lot of these people aren’t asexual. Clarisse Thorn wrote an article a bit back that this always makes me think of, where she wrote: 

“there are also unmistakable ways that BDSM feels different from sex. There is something, bodily, that is just plain different about BDSM, as opposed to sex. I often find myself thinking of “BDSM feelings” and “sexual feelings” as flowing down two parallel channels in my head … sometimes these channels intersect, but sometimes they’re far apart. The BDSM urge strikes me as deeply different, separate, from the sex urge.”

She quoted another person who said they felt like they don’t have the language for talking about these things that doesn’t use sexuality (and in fact then referred to the work the asexual community is doing in this regard).

I’ve definitely had this problem. When I reach for words to express my kink-feelings, all I find are words already tied to sexual-feelings, and that therefore never feel right – ‘hot’, ‘erotic’, ‘sexy’, ‘horny’. I have to make do with words like ‘interesting’, or phrases like ‘catches at my mind’, while wishing for the existence of some kind of parallel-but-seperate vocabulary I could use. 

Meanwhile, I work on conceptualizations of my own. I’ve told people that the way it seems to me, my kinkiness took over my empty sexuality wiring and now proceeds to run all the lights itself. The same things most +sexual people’s sexuality gives them – fantasies, interest in fanservice, desire – my kink gives to me instead, in its own way.

There’s still a lot of things to struggle with (or against). It’s hard for me to find material that would be my erotica, because most of what exists is all about sexual-feelings and/or sex, and that’s not what I like. I feel the lack of things to draw on when creating – most stories I see with power dynamics  also tie them in to sex or sexual-feelings, and in the absence of material to go to, it’s hard for me to conceptualize the things I like and want. I want people who share my interests, a corner community of my own I could go to. A community means more ideas, people sharing the things they have and making more inspiration and material and not having to invent it all yourself while knowing that’s really beyond your ability. I look at other communities, and wish a lot that I knew how to find that. 

I worry about compulsory sexuality – about events with fetish-wear requirements (haven’t run into any yet myself, fortunately, but I know they’re out there), or just about people looking at me oddly for my leggings and t-shirt and preference that said t-shirt stay on if possible. I recently had a very, very bad experience in a scene that can be partly traced back to my anxiety about not wanting sexual things where others might. 

But even as I struggle with these things, I’m glad and grateful for all the good things. For the people who came before me and were there to answer my AVEN post. For the other people working on words and conceptualizations and variety. For the wonderful experiences and thoughts and everything I’ve had, and everything that made that possible. 

These are some of the places I’ve been and am. These are two central, vital, and often intertwined parts of me. I’m quite curious to see what else they’ll show me. 

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Social Issues I Have

A note to anyone who I might really know and socialize with who might be reading this: None of this is about you. I don’t mean anything bad by it toward anyone. You’re all awesome and amazing and I know that and am grateful always. This is just me picking at my own head and putting the results in bullet points, because it helps me think.

Quick definitions:

Head (capitalized): This is the part of my unconscious mind that give me feelings. Not happy/sad/etc feelings, but ‘this is the way things are’ feelings, like ‘cheating on tests is not OK but having sex before marriage is fine’ or ‘the insides of sinks are dirty and you shouldn’t touch them’ or ‘everybody is staring at you’.

-Wrong (also capitalized): Things my Head tells me are Bad, capitalized to distinguish from things I ideologically believe are wrong.

Anxieties

These are the main things that are anxieties to me in social interactions- things that I ‘feel’ I must avoid, that my Head makes me worried about doing/causing and it is of primary importance that I not, situations that, my Head tells me, must never ever be the case. They overlap a lot, and I get two or all three of them together in many situations, but they’re distinct as issues, and I can get them separately too.

1) Imposing on people
This is a very big one, and has a few sub-items.

  • Initiating something another person doesn’t want.
    In practice, this means that I almost never initiate anything, from conversations on Skype, to topics in a conversation, to invitations to somewhere, to propositioning someone. This is also one of the ‘smoothest’ things- it is automatic, and often thoughtless. I see someone on Skype, and if it even occurs to me that I could initiate something, the next thought is ‘no, that wouldn’t be right’, and I won’t. (Invitation is the exception to this. If the event happening is already given, I can invite people, but I will be panicking and freaked out about it).
    There are basically two ways this can be countermanded. First, it can be something that I, due to a lot of social exposure, believe is generally acceptable. This means I’ll occasionally say something to silent people next to me in a line, or chime in to a group conversation if something on the open topic occurs to me. Second, it can be something that is completely reciprocal, and the person who I might initiate it with has repeatedly initiated with me. This is why I now feel comfortable asking one Skype friend I have to go to video instead of chat- going to video is exactly the same thing, regardless of who asks, and they have asked me enough times that my Head has accepted that this is a thing they’re good with.
    As a note, once someone else has initiated something, I will feel comfortable doing things I feel are ‘connected’- I can ‘lead into’ a topic I want to talk about from a relevant one, I’ll bring up new seriousness-equivalent things to talk about once someone else has started a conversation (but not things I feel are more serious/’deep’), I’ll suggest activities if someone asks for ideas, etc.
    As another note, I do, in fact, sometimes initiate things. This generally means that I feel more comfortable with the other person/people, have a higher level of wanting for the thing in question, have managed to convince myself it’s OK and/or important (for instance, I’ve recently been reading about how always being the initiator makes some people feel unliked or unwanted), etc. This can be enough to overcome the ‘don’t do it’/’but what if’ message from my Head, but I will still be very nervous.
  • Being overly demanding
    This is also very severe and pervasive. Sadly, in practice, it also basically translates to ‘asking for anything, ever’. Emotional support, reassurance, sounding-board-ness, a conversation I want to have, other driving desires of the social kind, listening, them telling me something (say, about how they’re feeling), some action, their time, birthday celebrations, etc- it’s hard for me to ask for, I feel bad after I do, I worry and can’t stop.
    This can be made worse by two factors: One, if I feel like they already do a lot for me. Two, if I feel like I don’t do enough for them to compensate. 
  • Imposing overly-intense feelings
    This means I worry about the possibility of showing more enthusiasm toward someone than they are comfortable with me having. I can want to write someone a letter about how amazing they are and how much I appreciate them, to tell someone how much they mean to me, etc, but I worry that to them that’ll be creepy or overly gushy, that they feel more casual toward me and my ‘extra’ is unwelcome.

2) Doing something Wrong

This means exactly what it says. The list of things I could do Wrong is huge, and very context-dependent. In a social situation, I could enter a conversation where I’m not welcome, or raise a topic I shouldn’t, or leave abruptly, etc. In public writing, I could not be inclusive enough, or use the wrong tone or language, or talk about something in a way I shouldn’t, also etc. When I want to comfort someone who’s upset, I know there are actual lists of things to say and not to say, but I don’t remember them, and I can’t check against them and talk fluidly, and there’s so many of them to keep track of.

There are three interesting things about this issue. First, the way this works in my head is that it’s as though there’s a huge master list of Wrong things, and it is very important that I not do any of them, but I don’t get to see the list. So checking my actions for Wrongness is very hard, because a lot of the time I’m left thinking ‘was that wrong? Maybe? Yes? Um?’. Second, this is a zero-tolerance policy. There is not corresponding list of Right things. It doesn’t matter how well I’m doing in general. It is simply that all the Wrong things must never be done.

Third, reading advice on being better at being social is a problem for me because of this issue- reading the lists, to me, basically feels like seeing even more things I could possibly do wrong and need to worry about.

Also, this has two related, but emotionally different, ‘relatives’:

  • Situations where I’m at a loss and don’t know what to do, and worry through every option. This is stuff like, coming to a meeting of some sort for the first time, and not being sure where to go. Being supposed to meet some people, and them not being there. Being sent to buy something and not being able to find it (I’m over this one now, actually). Having to find out some information, and not knowing who and how to ask. Basically, in my Head, the response to every choice I might make sounds like ‘you idiot, why would ever think that was the thing to do, clearly you should have done {one of the other options} and you should have known that!’.
  • “Being silly”
    This is stuff like asking someone at the beginning of a conversation to tell me if I do something wrong, or making some sort of unusual/ not ‘normal’ request. The Head-response is basically ‘no one does that, that’s ridiculous, what on earth, you sound like a complete idiot’.

For all these things, the main ‘risk factor’ is not knowing how I should behave. Conversely, feeling like I do know the right way to behave makes me feel safe.

3) People being upset with me/mad at me/resentful

This overlaps a lot with the other two- very commonly the full worry is ‘I’ll do something wrong and they’ll be mad at me!- and specifically, it never shows up entirely alone. However, it has special points reflecting specifically to it.

First, I can feel this way about not doing something- not being available to talk to when someone wants to talk with me, having some casual reason to leave, needing to say I can’t talk because I’m busy, saying I don’t want to do something someone suggested. (Interestingly, this is one of the issues I do fight past quite a bit- I do do all of these things, I just also have the associated ‘oh no, but-‘ thoughts).
Second, the issue isn’t that people might be upset and tell me. The issue is that people might be upset and not tell me. If someone told me I was imposing on them, or had done something wrong, or hadn’t done something, I could apologize (or object, if I disagreed), we could talk about it, I would know what to avoid in the future. But the fear my Head gives me is that people won’t tell me, they’ll just be keeping it inside and getting more upset (which is already Bad by itself, to me), and one day they’ll get fed up and leave.

Relatedly I think this issue comes partly from the fact that I can think of pretty much no examples when someone has told me they were upset and why and all. So, reassuring myself with ‘if they were upset, they’d tell me’ is less effective, for lack of concrete proof.

Also, as a note, ‘resentful’ is generally identified with imposing, while ‘mad at’ is generally associated with being Wrong.

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As a final note: all of these worries are severe double standards. They tell me how I mustn’t act, but in no way relate to how I feel other people must. Other people doing things towards me that I get anxious about doing toward someone, but don’t intellectually find problematic, does not bother me at all.