What Are Your Limits?

This line is the, “What’s your sign?” of the BDSM community.

When I started out in the kink lifestyle, I had a fairly long list of hard limits, but toward the end of my involvement in the community, my list had whittled down to just four things: no kids, no animals, no permanent marks, no scat. From the conversations I’ve had, these are pretty typical hard limits.

Sometimes people would also say, “no death,” which I thought should go without saying. As if someone might respond, “You’re not into death? Bummer! That’s totally my thing! I like to murder the person I’m dating. Guess it’s not going to work out between us. Let me know if you ever change your mind.” Or during a play session someone might think, Well, she never said death was a hard limit, so I guess she’s cool with it if I kill her. I figured if I ever had the misfortune of meeting a murderous fiend off the internet, he’d probably kill me regardless of if death was on my hard limits list or not. Not everyone I met in the BDSM lifestyle was… shall we say, the brightest bulb in the box, though.

The fact that my hard limits list was so short was emblematic of my unhealthy boundaries. I thought so little of myself that I would have let a guy do almost anything to me in exchange for a little attention.

These days I’m taking much better care of myself. My boundaries still need some work, but they are getting there. If someone were to ask me now what my hard limits are, in addition to the sparse list mentioned above, I’d add: no sex outside of an exclusive relationship, no objectification, no lies, no disrespect.

What are your hard limits and/or healthy boundaries?

Old Eggs


I had dinner last night with a couple of old friends. One friend, Polly, was all abuzz with news of her new beau. Seems Polly and her fella are on the fast track, full steam ahead to Marriage City. He hasn’t formally proposed yet, but they are living together and already shopping for wedding venues. She told us to expect an announcement soon and to keep October open. Polly’s relationship with her guy is younger than my blog, btw. When asked why the hurry, Polly pointed to her lower abdomen and said, “because these puppies aren’t getting any younger. I need to be pregnant by this time next year.” Ohh! So that’s why… Matzel Tov?

So exactly how old are these old friend’s old eggs? Less than six months older than my old eggs, as a mater of fact. Thanks for reminding me, P! I try not to think about this ticking clock stuff, but maybe she’s got a point. My eggs and I better get a move-on. Haste makes waste! I should be on Match.com right now looking for the first half-way suitable sperm donor I can find, marry him, push out 2.5 kids, then worry about all that other silly compatibility stuff later. Right?

Wait. I would like to be happily married some day with a kid or two, I really would. What are the chances, though, if I went Polly’s route that I would have the happily part? I think about what my Aunt Liz said, that there is no worse loneliness than the loneliness inside of a bad relationship. For the record, I haven’t met Polly’s boyfriend/unofficial fianc√© yet. He could be Polly’s perfect life partner, for all I know. When she was talking about him, though, all I heard was, “red flag, red flag, red flag.” I learned a long time ago that having an opinion, particularly when it comes to someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend, doesn’t mean I need to voice it; so I kept my mouth shut. How often is, “I HATE your new boyfriend!” or “Make sure you get a pre-nup!” ever well received, anyway?

What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t think it’s wise (for me, at least) to force an artificial timeline. I surrender to my higher power. He’s in control of this matter, not me. Someday he’ll probably see fit to lead me toward a healthy partner. Maybe he’ll do this while I’m still young enough to conceive naturally. Maybe not, though. Maybe his plan is for me to adopt, or something else entirely. All I need to worry about right now is getting healthy. The rest will come when it’s time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Saying Goodbye

I found a few new pictures of HC online. They were taken a couple of weeks ago, at a work event. The pictures are the first ones I’ve found that have been taken since I last saw him, eight months ago. He looks like shit. His skin is gray, his eyes sunken, his face is gaunt and saggy. He appears to have lost a lot of weight, and he was already a skinny guy. I want to believe that this is just a bad pic. He’s in terrible lighting, maybe. But there are five pictures, not one and everyone else in the pictures looks fine.

In the latest ads he’s posted on craigslist, he says he is “blowing clouds,” “partying with Tina,” or “looking to party and play.” These are all references to doing crystal meth (thanks, urbandictionary.com). When I was seeing him, I knew he was a stoner. We talked about drugs. He told me he’d never tried anything harder than a pain pill. He’d lied about everything else, so that was obviously a lie too. Maybe he was doing crystal meth when I was seeing him. Maybe that’s why he was so into me, because he was high as shit.

I’ve never been involved with a drug addict (I’ve never heard of anyone using crystal meth recreationally) I’m not involved with one now either (I have to remind myself that he hasn’t been in my life for eight months). I have no interest in ever having sexual or romantic involvement with him again. I’m disturbed that I was ever involved with someone so sick and that I’m still so fixated on him.

As much as he lied to me, and hurt me, I’ve never tagged his posts with the “asshole” tag that pretty much every other guy I write about gets. He’s the sickest man I’ve ever been obsessed with, but he’s not an asshole.

I look at those pictures, and those craigslist ads, and I worry about him. Then I remind myself that he is not mine to worry about. He has a spouse, children, parents, and siblings; four categories of people I have none of. They can worry about him. I need to save my worries for myself and leave this poor man alone.

It’s not healthy to keep a connection alive to a relationship that was so insignificant. Although I said goodbye to him months ago, I’m finally ready to say goodbye to the fixation. It’s time. Goodbye HC. Take care. I’ll pray for you.

Leigh and The Fun House

A few years back, I had just ended a relationship, of sorts, with Anthony. I was still obsessively hung up on him and hoping we would reconcile so I wasn’t ready to start dating again. I was, however, quite ready to start having sex again. I turned to my old friend/foe craigslist.

At the time, I was very into the dominant daddy/submissive little girl roleplay dynamic so I searched for “daddy” under m4w in casual encounters. I had plenty of choices. I don’t remember what the text of Leigh’s ad said, but I do remember he posted a charming picture of his penis.

I met Leigh the next day for coffee. He was a few years younger than me and a recent college grad from a fancy private school. Leigh was very good looking and seemed normal enough. He told me where he lived and I knew the apartment building. It was a nice place. He also brought his adorable puppy with him, a black lab. All of this made me feel safe.

Since there were no red flags (and since he was hot) I agreed to meet Leigh at his place the following evening. His place was nice, and he also had a cat. I usually have pretty good instincts that tell me when I’m in danger, but the fact that Leigh was an animal lover with two pets (he also claimed to be a vegetarian) perhaps gave me a false sense of security. Wrong or not, when I picture a serial killer, I don’t see a vegetarian with pets.

We had a couple of glasses of wine and then started making out on his couch. He took off my clothes, put a blindfold on me and then led me to his bedroom, where we proceeded to have sex. At some point he also tied my hands behind my back. I met him knowing we were going to engage in D/s play, so the blindfold and the restraints, while maybe not a good idea, were inline with what we had discussed before hooking up.

The sex was good. Maybe a little too good. I asked if he was wearing a condom. He assured me he was. It didn’t feel like it, though. I began to get a little paranoid that this guy who I’d just met was fucking me without a condom. I asked him again and he got mad at me, said I wasn’t being a good sub.

Eventually he untied my hands and flipped me on my back. Bad sub that I was, I took the opportunity to remove the blindfold. Surprise, surprise. Not only was this stranger who I had just met on craigslist inside of me without a condom, he was also holding a video camera.

My immediate impulse was to knock the camera out of his hands, which I did. Then I demanded that he erase what he had filmed. This asshole had the nerve to get pissed at me, claiming I had broken his camera (I hadn’t). He then attempted some smoke and mirrors bullshit while he fiddled around with the camera, claiming to delete the video, which I still don’t think he actually did. He also was pissed that I had “ruined” his film. He apparently was planning the big reveal for a more dramatic moment. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I’d had a throw down with a sex partner over a camera. You can read about the first time here.

At this point, I was in a situation that any sexually adventurous young woman could have gotten into. I had met Leigh in public, felt safe with him, and agreed to go to his apartment the next day. I had even let a friend know where I was and texted the address to her before I went. I’d been responsible enough and there were no warning signs that this guy was a creep. Here’s what separates a “normal” sexually adventurous young woman from me, a sex and love addict with unhealthy boundaries: I didn’t get the hell out of there. I stayed and continued fucking him (but made him put on a condom).

He was pretty rough, which I was into, but he was also into slapping me in the face, which I wasn’t into. He slapped me so hard that the next day little purple spots, broken blood vessels, decorated my eyelids.

When the sex was over, things started to get really weird. I was in his bathroom, sitting on the toilet, peeing, when all of the sudden he bursts in and just stands there, like an idiot. “Um, do you mind? I’m trying to pee.” He continued to stand there with a huge grin on his face. “What the fuck are you doing? Get out!” I screamed. No reaction. “Please leave!” I told him. Leigh leaned over and kissed me full, on the lips, then finally left. What a weirdo.

When I got out of the bathroom, I found Leigh standing over my purse, with my cell phone is his hands. He was going through my text messages. “Wow, you really have a lot of Daddies, you little slut!”

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Give me my phone back!”

Leigh went into grade school mode, holding the phone above my head, just out of my reach, laughing hysterically as he continued going through my texts. This was a grown man, a college graduate with his own apartment.

I was not in the mood for this childish bullshit. I went to find my shoes, so I could leave. But I couldn’t find them. This motherfucker had hidden my shoes. I used to do this same brilliant move to extend playtime with my cousins when I was five and it was time for them to go home. “Where did you put my shoes?” I asked, exhausted.

“Why would I put your shoes anywhere?” Um, because you’re a psycho, I thought.

We got into an argument with me searching his place, demanding that he give my shoes back, and him insisting that he hadn’t hidden them. The conclusion of this was him reaching under one of his couch cushions, and thrusting my shoes at me with a, “Here! They’re just where you left them!… under the couch cushion.”

At last, it was time to leave Leigh’s fun house. He walked me to my car and kissed me good night. He told me he’d had a nice time and wanted to see me again, acting like we’d just gone to dinner and a movie. I would have been sick enough to see him again, if he had ever called me. But he never did.

The Talk

When I was around 12 years old, my mom gave me a sex talk. This wasn’t our first sex talk. At that point I already knew the basic mechanics, but this was her more mature talk designed for my seventh grade ears.

“When you start dating, you need to be careful. You can never trust a boy because all he is thinking about is sex,” she began. At this point I had never even kissed a boy, but my thoughts were not at all virginal. I fantasized about having sex with Giovani Georgallis, the tall, athletic, impossibly good-looking boy in my class I was too shy to even make eye contact with; Christian Slater in Pump Up The Volume, Leonardo Dicarprio in Growing Pains, Axel Rose from Guns ‘N Roses, or whomever my celebrity crush de jour was.

“But Mom, some girls like sex too.”

“Sex does feel good for women, but it’s different. For women it is more about love and emotions. For men it’s just sex. Men are obsessed with sex. It’s all they think about.” I thought about how much I fantasized about Gio, Christian, Leonardo and Axel. I wasn’t just imagining them being my boyfriends, I was imagining them on top of me. I thought about this a lot. Was I obsessed with sex too?

“Maybe that’s how it was when you were growing up, but girls are different now. Plus, not every guy is like that.”

“These things don’t change. Trust me. They will say or do anything. Lie, cheat, steal just for sex. That is ALL they think about.”

I left this conversation with two things: women shouldn’t like sex or think about it as much as men, and never trust a man. Thanks Mom!

In her defense, this sex talk was way more than a lot of my friends got, and way more than the talk my Aunt Buffy gave me a year or two later when I was living with her: “If I ever, EVER find out you are having sex you are out of this house!” (hey, it kept me a virgin until a month before I moved away to college). I doubt my mom ever even got a sex talk from her mother, my ultra conservative, super Catholic grandma.

Pretty much ever guy I’ve been involved with has lied to me, so maybe mom was right on this point. Of course, one could make the argument that since I believed all men to be untrustworthy, I only ever picked untrustworthy men.

The part of this talk that really screwed me up was the notion that women are not supposed to be into sex so much. I am and always have been obsessed with sex. Even before I knew what sex was, I was humping banisters and thinking about some boy from school (or Han Solo, my earliest crush on a fictional character). Thanks to the messages I got from the women in my family, I was always convinced that I was some kind of pervert freak.

I can waste a day watching porn online and masturbating. Even now that I’m in a program to treat sex addiction, I’ve never met another woman who has admitted to this. It’s not exactly like I’m shouting this from the rooftops either, though.

In meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. If I share about my acting out behaviors, it’s mostly about the “love” addiction — spying on my qualifier, obsessing over him, etc. When I share about my sex addiction it’s in extremely vague terms. I don’t want to offend or trigger anyone with tales of my sluttishness, but another reason is that I don’t want to admit to a room full of people that I watch porn or masturbate. “Girls don’t do that!”

I hear that statement in my Grandmother’s voice. One time when I was about 15 she walked in and I was lying on the couch watching tv. I had my hand down my pants scratching my crotch, Al Bundy style. Scratching only, I swear! But she thought I was doing something else.

“Don’t ever touch yourself there. Girls don’t do that!” I hadn’t yet figured out how to masturbate to completion so I hardly ever did it at that time. And if I did do it, it was behind a closed door and under heavy covers (God, and your dead relatives can’t see through covers). Still I was mortified that she would even think I was masturbating.

For the record, I think masturbation is totally healthy. And if you are someone who can watch porn in a moderate way, more power to you. I don’t think these behaviors are wrong. In fact neither one of them are even on my bottom-lines list (although porn might end up there on the next edit). I do think spending all day masturbating and watching porn is a problem, though.

As I was saying, in meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. A large percentage of the women there only identify as love addicts. In my judgier moments I think, why the fuck are you here then? But I know why they are there and they have just as much right to be there as I do.

My sponsor, a woman from my mother’s generation, is one of those women. She is nurturing, kind and so supportive. I am very grateful to have her. The only problem is I feel uncomfortable talking to her about the sex stuff. She just doesn’t get it and it is obvious how uncomfortable it makes her to talk about sex in even the most general of terms. I’d say she is probably a sexual anorexic, or in laymen’s terms, a prude.

I am currently recovering from/still going through a slip. I’m working on renewing my sobriety and recommitting to my bottom-lines. Today I was talking to my sponsor and going through my consequences inventory. I told her I had had phone sex. I didn’t want to tell her. I knew she’d be uncomfortable, but how can I go through this process without being honest about my behaviors?

I could hear that I’d made her ill at ease and instantly started minimizing. I’ve only done it once or twice (a lie), I’ve only done it with one guy (another lie). I also didn’t clarify that “phone sex” also meant “skype sex.” I told her that I think phone sex should be added to my bottom-lines list. She, of course, agreed. But she also asked me a question that was a little odd. She asked if I would want my daughter to be doing that. I said no, because I knew that’s what she was looking for. She said if I didn’t want my daughter doing it, then I shouldn’t be doing it myself.

The thing is though, if my 15-year-old daughter were having phone sex with a man, I would have a big problem with it. But I’m not 15, I’m 30. If my 30 year-old-daughter were having phone sex with someone, I wouldn’t care. It would be none of my business.

Asking me what I would want for my daughter made me think about my mom, my grandma, and my Aunt Buffy. They wouldn’t want me to have phone sex, but it’s because believe it to be morally wrong, not because it was making me feel bad.

I wouldn’t want my theoretical daughter, at any age, to be engaging in an activity that made her feel like shit, but I do want her to grow up with positive attitudes toward sex.

Since I’ve been identifying as a sex addict I’ve come across many people who get up in arms and want to argue that sex addiction isn’t a real thing. Most of these arguments seem to be rooted in semantics. To these people I say, who cares? If people are getting help for what they see to be a problem then why are you arguing about terminology? But a lot of people also think that “sex addicts” are just horny prudes that have been brainwashed by religious fanatics and anti-porn crusaders to think that healthy sexual expression is evil.

Sometimes I wonder if they are right. Maybe if I didn’t grow up with unhealthy messages about sex, I’d be a totally normal, well-adjusted adult.

Then I remember that those “girls don’t like sex” talks were the least of my childhood traumas. If that was all that ever happened in my childhood, I’d probably just be a horny girl with a guilt complex (aka a kinkster). My acting out went so much deeper than just being horny or just being kinky, though.

Even though I’m a sex addict in recovery I still consider myself sex positive. If I ever have a daughter, I don’t know what I’ll say in my talk, but I know it will be a lot better than the ones I got.

Shake It Out

Just a quick post to let you all know I’m still here, fighting against my demons. I’m mostly winning, but as the name of my blog suggests, I’m doing so imperfectly. I’m working on some longer posts that I will publish soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the video and the lyrics to¬†Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out.” The lyrics feel both apropos, at the moment, as I try to shake a devil off my back; and inspirational, as I try to remember that “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Note: The actual Florence and The Machine video won’t imbed so I am replacing it with a beautiful choral cover by the Capital Children’s Choir.

“Shake it Out” by Florence + The Machine

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so empty
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oh woah, oh woah…

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found a devil in me
Looking for heaven, found a devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah