Life is slowly, slowly, ever so slowly becoming something that you might call "normal". For a certain value of "normal" I suppose. I've moved house, settling into a routine with Ganymede (more on that in another post) and am beginning to find time to see friends and go to parties.
I had a lot of fun creating a small BDSM performance of the Masque Of The Red Death for Dandy's themed birthday party last weekend. What do you get the man who has everything? A hand-made slice of blood soaked, tongue in cheek (tongue in cheeks) kinky live art. I love doing stage shows, particularly those that have a storyline to them. For this one I re-wrote the story and committed sections of the original prose to memory - I liked the cadence and feel of a lot of the language and didn't want to paraphrase. I used pre-briefed friends in the audience to act as a dumb show: laying out the events in the tale whilst I spoke and then gave the whole thing a kinky twist.
Blush was a marvellous victim, upon whom I demonstrated - for the enjoyment of all - the symptoms of the Red Death. Stripped naked with red wax dripping from a lit candle onto her flesh represented the blood pouring from the skin. Dandy, crowned and led to the stage where he could sit on a throne was the Prince and I had a number of courtiers to fawn upon him. The audience were also the guests at the Masquerade and together with the courtiers we encouraged them to dance, drink and generally get into the debauched spirit of the whole thing. I was very flattered by the reception and made a mental note to add a bit more art to future performances.
In public, things have been very good. In private, perhaps less so.
Of late I've been feeling a little sub-par in my own dominance. Play with Ganymede has been patchy. Don't get me wrong, the sex is amazing and the kinky sex particularly so, especially where sexual service, bondage or sensory deprivation (or all three) is concerned. Anything involving fucking is bordering on some of the best sex I've ever had.
But "pure" play is much more miss than hit. And that's where the dominant worries come in. We've tried some things that have not quite worked or have just resulted in feelings of upset, discomfort of "meh." None of which are ideal outcomes, particularly as a dominant of a new submissive, and a new to BDSM submissive. I am responsible, for him, that's part of the power exchange. I get his service, I take on responsibility or power, if you will. I consider myself to be part mentor, part tutor, part provider of horrible, wonderful things and his enjoyment of all things kink is mediated through me. I decided what, when, how and who we play with.
So when things don't work out I often feel as if it is my fault - my fault for not knowing him well enough, for not controlling the situation enough, or for just not reading him right. I'm not worried about us, or about our relationship. We're very well matched and well connected. What I'm concerned about is whether my idea of dominance is based on my experiences as a submissive - in short, I'm delivering the dominance that I enjoyed. Which makes sense, as my goal is to give him the sort of satisfaction that I experienced when I was submissive. And I want that satisfaction for myself, as a dominant. And recently, I haven't been feeling that way. If I'm not giving "good" dominance then I feel as if I've failed.
But what have I "failed" at? We've tried things and they haven't worked. There was no real way of knowing in advance whether they would or wouldn't. Some of the things I like, he will never like because we are not the same. And replicating other relationships with new people is never a good idea. It's difficult though, because your first dominant, your first D/s relationship sets the scene, as it were. It gives you your first thrills and contexts for how to have a different sort of sexual relationship. And these ideas and actions become ingrained, with time. That's part of how D/s works, how S&M play works - we substitute for sexuality.
Logically, there are no hard and fast rules about what a D/s relationship "should" look like, or what people "should" do when they are involved in those relationships. Yet we all have in our minds an image of what a D/s relationship is, what people do. There's part of me that feels that without doing those things I'm somehow being less of a dominant to him, giving him less of the type of play that he might expect. Breaking out of these patterns is proving harder than I'd imagined, especially with someone new. I would have thought that a partner without preconceptions would be ideal, a tabula rasa on which for me to make my mark. However, I'm finding that because a lot is new to him, there's a lot to try, and a lot to fail at, because he doesn't have experience or context. And that means more for me, and more pressure I'm putting on myself, to deliver better scenes to compensate for the failed ones.
And that's without even thinking about the emotional side.
When scenes that break down because he's not enjoying himself or it's getting awkward, then I feel terrible. It's like an anti-orgasm: entirely the opposite of the kind of satisfaction, pride and confidence I get from a good stage performance. I feel annoyed, frustrated and guilty. My dominance is part of me, it feeds my sense of self. If I don't think I'm a good dominant, I feel unhappy just as if I was struggling at work, or having arguments with my friends or family.
Nothing in life is without a resolution, and communication is a big part of making this issue go away. Getting him to talk about his feelings is proving a bit of a challenge, but on the other hand I've never struggled talking about mine, and sharing them is a good start. I'm going to try and revisit some of our earlier, extensive emails and lists of red, amber, green activities and see if we can re-build a new dynamic that fits better with the things we now know we both enjoy and we can look to explore or expand upon other kinds of play that we might not have tried yet.