A Scarlet Letter



indigo-signature-bannerA letter written to a friend on tumblr.

Dear Scarlet,

You are such a comfort, in the way that only a true friend can be. You offer me just enough vision of hope and of magic that each time you write I feel all at once peace and the tremulous possibility of a universe whose every star is held aloft by meaning.

I struggle to know what it is we do, to describe how we live, this life of spankings, scoldings, secrets and love. I want to know what its name is, I want to define it and tie it down so I may study it. But I cannot find the name for what we do.

I suspect you will tell me that the word does not matter and then, you will tell me in a whisper like incantation that it is words that we use to make the world around us real, that every syllable is a spell.

Growing up I dreamed of this life. I would find a strong, dominant, spanky kind of man whose arms were thick and whose mind was nimble. We would fall in love, we would struggle and fight but then find our feet and a rhythm that allowed us to waltz.

cave5It is not like that.

My God, it is like a battle zone but we love one another. Sometimes there are limbs every where and we lie panting and staring at each other on the floor- and not in a good way. Other times we do the same and it is wonderful, we find ourselves in the midst of destruction, we rebuild using what remains standing in the ruins.

But still, I have decided I want to find a word for what we do. I want to start there, to start again. Grown ups falling in love should define some terms (and maybe sign a treaty sealed with wax.)

So here are the words we could use …

This thing we do– too vague and cutsie. It is what we say in (kinky) company when we do not want to exclude anyone. It is so keen not to offend that it offers no parameters, and no declaration of intent. It is a weak, lily-livered word when used by two people to describe what they do. It also takes too long to say, and when you use its initials it takes even longer. It is the set menu at the Chinese restaurant, no one gets what they like but at least you avoid interminable conversations about the meal. Well, I like talking about it, I like clarity and if I can’t have some pak choi just what is the point? cave6

A traditional life style– well, I like the way this sounds because it makes me think one day I will know what a hydrangea is, that I will whip up dinner at twenty minutes notice for his work colleagues and that maybe I will turn into Doris Day. And then I realise that I can look up a hydrangea on google, he is just as likely to cook for my wok colleagues as I am for his and that I only really want to be Doris Day in the song with the lesbian overtones in Calamity Jane which I think misses the point somewhat.  I am not traditional, I think I’d like to be but I am writing this in a coffee shop on a lap top I bought with my own money and I like that. I like my job, I like my freedom. I like traditional as long as it fits into my modern lifestyle and sods off when I need to get my car sorted out and don’t want to be patronised or cheated  by some bloke who thinks it is 1955 and the little lady won’t mind an extra £150 on the bill.

cave4Taken in Hand– I do love this site and the people on it are often as kind and thoughtful as anyone anywhere. It is just I don’t always want to be taken in hand. I want to be challenged, set free and mentored to be my very best self. And also I think this life style requires a lot of the dominant partner. It asks him (or her) to have tremendous capacity for personal growth and self control. We both alter and that is why this name does not fit well with me.

Domestic Discipline– I can clean a ruddy sink and so can DJ. I don’t want this to live a small life or to be domesticated and I think it is so much more than discipline. It is mentoring, it is love, it is confidence (on both sides) to challenge ourselves and each other to be our very best selves. I can keep a house tidy but I am really, really good at paying someone else to keep a house tidy- almost like I was born to do it.  I am very often not in the house. I am very often in the big outside world and I like it there.

cave2I have been reading recently (about twenty minutes before I started writing this) about the history of magic in England- it is a much better book than it sounds. In the early chapters caves are referred to as the earliest places felt to be magical, they were the natural cathedrals, mosques and temples of our ancestors. Writing this I am thinking again of caves but of Plato (who is popping up with vigorous regularity in the various books I am reading at the moment- clearly I should invest in a copy of Cosmopolitan in order to challenge my brain less.)  It is only now that I can see what Plato and these talks of caves are whispering to me for.

I know you know all about Plato’s cave but I am going over it again for my own edification.

The allegory of the cave describes people who have lived all their lives chained to the wall of a  cave facing the blank wall within. Behind them is a large fire (they do not burn, all health and safety concerns are taken into consideration) and in front of the fire but behind the people, various objects pass. These objects cast shadows on the wall and the chained people watch these shadows and discuss them. These shadows are all they know of reality. They never see a dog, they see the shadow of a dog and so their description of a dog is that of a shadow but they never know this.

I watch the TV and I see these shadows. I see the shadows in culture and in every part of media that envelops me. I see the shadows of women in political forums, I see the shadows of men fumbling through adverts and through news articles. I am subsumed by knowledge of shadows of reality. Women are not what we are told they are. I am not the woman I read about in the words of people trying to create the world around me. DJ is not the man I see in magazines or on television – he is more complex than any of them.

I think, the way DJ and I live is turning from the cave and trying, like the old philosophers did, to see reality. We have to ignore all the lies of society and of the adverts and think hard about who we are and what we want.

That is why it is so hard. The reality of me is part Doris Day, part worker, part thinker, part child, part woman and so on and so on. I have so many layers of values given to me by society that they are hard to spot let alone to rid myself of. These words,  ‘TTWD’, ‘Domestic Discipline’, ‘Taken in Hand’, are all useful and wonderful but keep me entrapped in my cave visions. They offer me someone else’s visions of what I should be or could be. They do the same to DJ.

My submission is to DJ and to truth. My femininity and his masculinity are for us to discover and unveil. The stories I read in books about how to discover my inner woman, how to be a good submissive, how to care for my man- they are all illusion. I wish they were not. I wish I could go to a book shop and find the answers to how to do this incredibly hard and infinitely rewarding life.

No books can help me, they are not canon. But I am lucky enough to have friends like Scarlet and a lover like DJ and a brain of my very own. You have the your own resources, people you trust and a brain of your own.  We are all very lucky.

9 Responses to “A Scarlet Letter”

  1. 1 MrJ

    May be the old question “what relationship are we in” indeed cannot be answered straightforwardly – but rather needs an answer as dynamic as interactions between tow people, embedded in society. When these two do not just respond to what is around them, but explore, shape, ignore, scrutinize it, that is a sign of a truly deep relationship.

    Oh – and I appreciate the well-deserved tribute to scarlet.

  2. I too have tried to put words to our relationship. It simply will not do. The moment you stop looking for blueprints and the right label, is also when you stop existing and start leading your own life. Know it, love it, live it, so to speak.

  3. 3 DJ

    An interesting question and one I too have tried to tackle in the past. Thanks Indigo. 🙂


  4. 4 Lily

    I think that we give things names as a way of understanding and controlling them. But I think that MrJ is right. The only thing certain in life is change.

    And I would add, that I appreciate Scarlet, too.

  5. I read your posts early every Wednesday morning, but this one I reading very late on Thursday, on my way home from traveling. What a warm and lovely thing — to see my name and feel the embrace of your friendship. We will always find Magic and meaning together. Xo, scarlet

    • 7 DJ

      Thanks Scarlet 🙂

      Sorry to have taken so long to catch-up with this comment.

      More soon…

  6. 8 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    The best description I’ve seen of this is “a complicated psychological game”. True, it’s not totally descriptive, or even really definitive, but it does point to the underlying dynamic, which is that, deep down, there’s more to it than just the physical act of spanking. Thanks for raising the question, Indigo.

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