Because I know I have a few in my friends list, this here’s a trigger warning for my fellow widow(er)s. There’s a thing at the end. I call it out, so you can skip over it and still get the rest of this post just fine.
“How does one let go?” I was asked. It was probably asked of me because I do it. I let go easily and frequently during play. I’m gonna try to define “letting go” here, ’cause later on in this writing I realize it would be helpful.
“Letting go” for me means releasing control to some one else. Not just physically, but in a way, mentally and emotionally as well. Whether it’s accessing subspace, rope space, orgasms, or (as I’ll touch on in a bit) something much more deeply emotional – it all shares a similar quality. My brain stops thinking. I stop living in my head and I start living in sensation. It’s like entering a primal state where instinct takes over and my only responsibility is “obey” and “experience.” Thinking go bye bye.
So, how do I let go? The simple answer for me is trust. Remember, I only submit to people I trust. I only submit to the people I’d be willing to call at 3am when my car breaks down in a not-so-nice part of town. I only submit to people it’s safe for me to let go with.
I have bottomed for people I don’t let go with. When I’m serving as a bottom for someone who is learning new skills like rope or spanking, I go into a different head space. Phi stays in control of that head space because I need to communicate more frequently and assertively. “Yes, that is good,” or “No, not there…that’s okay, just don’t do that again,” or “You can go a little harder than that…” or “Hey, that’s about as hard as you can go with that,” or “Put that motherfucking cane away before I shove it up your pee-hole, fuckface.”
That last one usually comes out sounding more like “Uh-uh. No canes.”
It’s far more rare that I play with someone experienced that I’ve just met. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s very, very rare. I usually make them “audition” for me, meaning I hold off on agreeing or disagreeing to playing with them until I’ve watched them play with someone else. I need to know their style. I need to know their temperament. They don’t always know they’re auditioning. I watched all my regular play partners play with someone else before they played with me. I don’t think they’re all aware that it was intentional.
My negotiations are….well, let’s just say I know what I like and don’t like and I’m not afraid to express it. I don’t want to control the scene, I just want to control what is and (more importantly) is not allowed to happen within the scene. I’m trying to get better at asking for more specific things I want to do, though I am already comfortable with asking for the varying intensity levels I want to reach.
So, unless I can trust that someone is going to respect my limits, there’s no fucking way I’m letting them top me. Period. End of story.
And I can let go in one capacity and not another with the same person. With my ex – I trusted him completely (silly girl) when it was online. I could subspace out with the sound of his voice and I was the most obedient little long-distance subbie you ever did see. (As an aside and complete tangent, it was always pretty easy for me to let go in an online setting ’cause …duh. I’m alone in my room. My safeword is shut the fucking computer down. They can’t actually make me do something that’s a hard limit.)
But all of my ex’s practical experience was online. He’d had very little to almost no experience in the real world and when he came out, the letting go thing was more difficult. I knew I had to keep an eye out for my own limits and safety because he was still learning. He pushed too hard a few times.
It’s because of him that “Do. Not. Hit. My. Feet.” is punctuated that way on my List of Limits and Requirements. Hitting my feet is a hard limit now. Tying them, by the way, is not.
Another point I want to make is that the trust doesn’t extend only to feeling like I won’t be murdered or mistreated in-scene. It means trusting that the top is going to give me adequate care after the scene. I’m not usually a droppy bottom, (though it happens from time to time), but I know what I need for aftercare. I should stop calling it that and call it “continual care.”
Because I play primarily with friends who are frequent partners, I hear from them almost daily, and if not – then very near daily. I know that my tops will be my friends even when I stop bottoming for them (which will happen ’cause, seriously…I’m eventually going to be in a relationship again). I know that if I’m feeling down at any time, I can contact any of them and not feel like I’m being a burden.
It all comes back to trust. I trust that my play partners care about me. I trust they enjoy playing with me and want to continue doing it. I trust that I add value to their lives the way they add value to mine. I trust that they care for my physical, emotional and mental well being that they’re willing to stand down from doing things that will put any of those at risk, even if they want to.
So when I’m with them, I can let go. I can space out. I can take more pain. I can orgasm on command. I can feel good.
It’s reciprocated. Because of AWESOME COMMUNICATION SKILLS, I know when they’re overwhelmed. I know when they need space. I care for their physical, emotional and mental well being as well, so if I know they’re injured or stressed out or overwhelmed, I tend to back down from asking them for time and let them know that they have my attention when if and when they need it.
And it can change with the same person. Maybe we have great chemistry after playing a couple times. Maybe one of those times I felt the aftercare was lacking. Next time, I probably won’t space out quite as easily. I’ll hold back for my own emotional safety until I know I can trust them again. One partner’s aftercare was lacking so much for me that I no longer have that person on my approved partner list. Even though our playtime was great, I don’t feel like he gave enough of a crap about me between play dates.
Some people have difficulty with letting go. I think it’s one of those things where if you’re too focused on “trying” to do it, it won’t happen. And if you’re someone who is used to having control, or someone who has had experiences that have caused you to put up your guard, then it is not so easy to just let go during a scene, even when you trust someone.
There are so many factors beside trust that can affect this ability. Your setting – are you in public? Are there people watching, or talking. Is the music wrong? Is it too loud? Too quiet? Your stress level – are you in the process of moving, having financial trouble, is there an ill family member, do you hate your job, are you facing legal issues, going through a relationship change? Your physical comfort – do you have injuries, are you in an uncomfortable position, is there an itch on your nose that you can’t reach? Did you forget to pee before the scene? Are you feeling bloated or gassy? Do you have a toothache? Is your underwear too tight? And, obviously, your comfort level with your top – how deep is your connection? Do you fully trust them? Do you feel safe, not just physically but emotionally in their care?
And finally, I don’t think “letting go” is limited to achieving subspace or having an orgasm or even being in anyway involved in BDSM. I’ve felt similar feelings of comfort and safety with dropping my guard in other ways as well.
Remember being a kid and having a nightmare and waking up scared? You go knock on your parents’ (or guardian’s) bedroom door to crawl into their bed with them. That feeling of being able to relax and fall asleep again because you’re safe again? It’s like that.
Skip this section if you’re concerned about the trigger warning:
That morning. Yes, that morning. I found him. I handled the 911 call. I handled the questioning. The notifying of the family. The responsibility of caring for his daughter through it and having to deliver the news to his mother. I didn’t cry the whole day. I stayed strong and upright the whole day. I was keenly aware that I was in shock. I was keenly aware that shock victims need to stay hydrated and warm so I put on a warm sweater and kept drinking sips of water all. fucking. day. long.
My parents came to pick me up from his mother’s house. I was still upright. I was still handling my shit. I was still in control.
The moment we left her apartment. When I left his mother and his daughter and his ex wife behind and I no longer had to be the strong one. When mommy and daddy were there and it was safe for me to finally do it: I let go.
I fell to the floor. I cried. I let myself feel. I stopped thinking and let myself just feel all the feelings. And these weren’t good ones, not like the ones I get when I let go with a play partner.
But the act of allowing myself to feel and trust that my basic needs were going to be handled by people who loved and cared for me was the same. Mom put me in the shower. Mom washed my hair for me. Dad made sure I ate something. Dad handled all the phone calls. I was in that head space for over a week and it was safe to be there because I knew they were in control.
That’s a very sad example of letting go, but I think it’s the most poignant one I can make.
Meh. I don’t wanna end it on a mopey note.
Just like the advice I gave on the podcast recently for being able to orgasm with a partner when it’s difficult for you – try to put less pressure on yourself to do it. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, just enjoy being turned on and feeling good. Don’t make it the goal and it might just happen. And if it doesn’t? At least you’re getting turned on and feeling good!