This is the point where I tell you something strange. It gets complicated from now on in, here be dragons, I'm afraid. What you have to bear in mind as you read through this is quite how much history is involved. This is the culmination of a relationship that has been on and off for over twelve years. It spans my first enjoyable sexual encounter to the present day. It's the back story to my sexual evolution, and in a way to my life.
Ten and I are having dinner on our second day in Berlin. I decided that this would be a perfect point to have that usually dreaded "relationship conversation". Except I wasn't dreading it. I was quite looking forward to it, to talking over dinner about how we can make this work and bring in to land the circling love affair we've been having, Turn the odd hotel room fling, text message barrages and letters from cities around the UK into something we could build a life on. For the first time in a while, I'm actually excited.
Usually these conversations are instigated by me and usually they end in break-ups. I feel like I'm forever dragging a reluctant lover into admitting that they really don't want to do more than continue down the tracks of an interminable series of casual fucks. Harsh but true, I find relationships without futures difficult. They can be, theoretically, enjoyable in themselves, but the longer they go on beyond one or two play dates the harder it gets. I start to care, to feel deeply, to want to make them part of my life. Casual lovers stop being casual in a very short space of time. And I have to make a decision to carry on and risk getting hurt, or to stop.
It has been a very long time since Ten and I have been "casual". I make a joke about him being the love of my life, and yet, in a way, he is. I have loved him for longer than anyone else. For all of my adult life, nearly. We have had long gaps of not talking, infrequent moments of contact. But over twelve years, or so. We became a storyline, a romance: a chance meeting that lasted. And lasted. He has always been my most supportive lover, keen to please, lavishing in attention and praise. Like all the things I love, I want to make the most out of them. I'm prepared to work hard at this one, I know it will be difficult, but I want to at least try.
And I thought he did too.
"We love each other, but we're not in love, are we?"
Oh. Sucker punch.
I was in no way ready for that, and it catches me off guard, I hold my breath like I'm waiting for the pebbles bouncing down the cliff to subside in the hopes the avalanche never comes. This wasn't the way this conversation was supposed to go. I wait for him to continue, with the sense of dread rising and all the usual noises come out over commitment, worries about kink and non-monogamy, it's not you it's me. Well, shit. Here we are again, then. Another one biting the dust. But this one was especially bad because I wasn't expecting this at all.
We talk. I tell him that this wasn't the conversation I thought we would have. He stares at me as if I have gone mad, as if there was no way that I could have not known. And yet, how could I? I feel as if I had been promised something only to have it melt away, but for the life of me I cannot remember when he made those promises. I panic, internally. I have a dreadful habit of hoping for more than can possible be achievable, of building castles in the air on the vaguest of potentials. And I've done it again. I've let myself want more, desire more and ultimately need more than I am going to get. I've fallen upon my own sword.
I excuse myself and go to the bathroom. I stare in the mirror. I want to check I look the same because inside I am now completely different. Eyeliner cat eyes and scruffy blonde hair stare back. A light flush about the cheeks from the warmth of the restaurant and the warmth of the alcohol I've drunk. My mouth is a straight line. I am still me, to look at. My chest is an acid-swirling pit. I might cry. I might be sick. I might just stand here and do nothing at all. A combination of resignation, upset, sadness and anger rolls around beneath my rib cage. I have nowhere to put it all. We have two more days together before the flight. I swallow, hard. Physically forcing every single feeling down into a cold, hard little ball. Marbles in my stomach. I walk back upstairs, deliberately slowly, forcing composure. I will not lose face in public. I'd at least like to finish the meal and return to the hotel where I can dissect this in private.
I bring the dinner conversation to a close, keeping it light and leaving aside my objections and my sorrows. I order a strong cocktail and the bill. I pay. We walk back in intermittent silence, it's cold enough to hide emotions under the blanket of night and freezing wind. I don't want to say too much, I don't want to betray myself or the strength of my upset. Because somehow that would feel like losing even more than I already have. The one crutch I'm leaning on is my own outward strength, my dominance over his submission. But I can feel it crumbling as the realisation of what has been said sinks in. D/s relies on a power exchange. One party takes, the other gives. It's a see-saw of sexuality, and is all about balance.
I am unbalanced. Off-kilter and we are out of sync. When we get back to the hotel, I brush aside his noises about sleeping on the floor or getting an early flight the next day. These are pointless sacrifices to an unappeasable god. They will make nothing better, and will only make me feel worse. I don't want him to go away. That's the entire point. I want him to stay. And the realisation of that need, that dependence upon him, and every dominant feeling I might have once had drains out of me like blood from a corpse. I feel small, sad, lonely and frightened. I don't know what to do. I curl up in a little ball on the bed and try not to cry. I remember the feelings I had for The Photographer, the way I wanted so badly for him to want me enough to make some concession in his life toward making me a part, and how this situation is a reflection of that. Another man, another country even, but the same feelings of rejection, of fear and of sorrow.
The switch in my head clicked. And it clicked in a bad way, for all the wrong reasons. The nasty neediness of submission flooded me, the bodily need for erosion, for destruction, to have someone take you over and do whatever they want to your body, to hurt it, to possess it, to match the emotional power that rejection causes. Hurt. Comfort. The things I wanted from him were things he could not provide, he's a submissive and an inexperienced one at that. The kind of violence I needed (desired, wanted?) was the kind he could not provide. Combined with his urge to please me we very quickly got into a difficult place. He became confused and rapidly upset by my physical responses - the "smallness" of it, the placid quiet, the doll-like behaviour.
It all sounds very dramatic, and it was. In common parlance it was pretty fucked up. BDSM can be fucked up, especially when the connection is intense and intimate. I was shocked by the strength of my own reaction, horrified even, and quite angry at myself. But I couldn't help it any more than I could have held the waves of the sea back from the shore. I didn't want to feel this way. I didn't want to react the way that I did. I wanted to be cool and unruffled and strip him naked and use him until I was done then fall asleep. To take what was left on offer to the fullest of my ability and to ignore the things I couldn't have. But you can't help the way you feel. You really can't.
In the end, it was his confusion and upset that brought me back from whatever mental hole I'd fallen into. There he was, that doe-eyed long limbed boy with nimble fingers and face full of concern. Not knowing what to say or to do to make me feel better. Something inside me receded back from where it came, in the depths of my mind. I took his hand and gave him his instructions to please and serve me.
I took not quite what I wanted, but I took what was there. And there was a satisfaction in it. In the barren nature of the use. He had no other purpose to me other than to lick my cunt until I came, to hold me until I fell asleep. Within the fantasy that brewed as his tongue lapped at my clit, I worked to erase him. To remove the person who might have spent his life with me, who warranted an emotional space in my heart, and into a tool and a slave. There was an element of talking myself through it, like building walls around the weaknesses I had just exposed, cementing up again the bits of me that wanted love, protection and someone to care for me. To do that to myself, I had to distance myself, to rise above the world of need and desire and become the cool dominant once more. Perhaps there were parts that were faked. Cobbled together, not quite all there. However, by the time I was tired enough to sleep I felt a little like myself once more. But harder.
Every tale has to have an ending. When the holiday draws to a close we needs must return to our normal lives, for whatever definition of normal we feel like using. I realised long ago that the relationship with Ten was different to any other relationship I'd had. The distance, the length of time we have known each other. However, ever the optimist, I had thought that our difficulties were merely logistics. Every relationship has challenges, and each one is different. Formalities of space and time which could be overcome with the will and desire to do so. And therein lies the problem, simple when written down, it's the same problem I've had before and the same problem that other people have had from me.
I don't want you like you want me.
Hard to swallow, those marbles. Slippery glass choking hazards and tightly crushed hopes. Yet swallow them we must for they are also seeds. And even as they sit in my belly, rattling against my sides and reminding me of the things I have loved and lost. I know that the damn things will grow again. Like pearls forming from irritant grains of sand within an oyster. Time will smooth them over until they look shiny, new and precious. I will find someone else, I will, without reason, want them more than they want me. And I will once again be crushed by my own failed expectations.
Until one day, hopefully, I won't.