Making friends with my monster

25 May

This week I was talking with someone who suggested that I might be overthinking things on this blog. About that, there is no doubt. I overthink everything.

But I’m doing this thing right now where I’m trying to practice radical acceptance, of myself and of others. This sounds sort of woo-woo, but what it means is that, when I see something about myself that I don’t like, instead of beating myself up about it, I try to sit with it, understand it, give it a hug. When someone else does something I don’t like, I don’t try to pretend it doesn’t bother me, but I also try not to take it too personally. Both of these things are really hard to do, and I “fail” all the time. But it’s a very good process for me to go through. It’s been extraordinarily helpful in embracing my sexuality.

And I think I need to apply this acceptance to the overthinking, as well, as ridiculously circular and meta as that may be. The analysis may seem overwrought and torturous, but it’s actually quite freeing for me.

The way I explained it to this person was this: imagine you’re a little kid who thinks there’s a monster in your closet. If your mom just said, “there’s no monster, go back to sleep!” then you wouldn’t be able to sleep. You’d lie awake and worry about the monster, and the longer you lay there, the bigger and scarier it would get. But if she brought you over to the closet, turned on the light, and showed you that the only things in your closet were clothes and toys, then you’d be ok. You could sleep, knowing that nothing was going to hurt you.

I think that what I’m doing on this blog is kinda like that. There actually was a creature in my closet, but it wasn’t a monster after all! Or maybe it’s one of those Jim Henson monsters – a bit weird and maybe it seems sort of grotesque, but it’s not going to hurt me and it really just wants to be my friend. However, in order to be its friend, I need to turn on the closet light and really look at it for a while.

So for instance, I wrote that post about whether or not I identified as “submissive.” I’ve been thinking of myself that way for a while, but it still felt weird and uncomfortable to say. Now, I honestly don’t think labels are all that important, even in the context of kinky dating, because everyone attaches such different meanings to them. But the fact that this word – a word that I did think referred to me – made me uncomfortable seemed important. So I wrote a post where I took the word, and turned it over in my hand, and tried to examine all the ways it made me feel uncomfortable. And having done that, I was able to say, “well, you know, these things do make me feel a bit squicky, but even despite that, the word ‘submissive’ does still feel like an accurate word to describe myself.” And that brings me a step closer to becoming friends with the creature.

Of course, you can take this too far. You can spend so much time examining the creature that you forget the purpose of the exercise, which was to make friends with it. (And, uh, go out and have fun, sexy adventures with it? This metaphor just got a little weird.) But I think as long as you keep your eyes on the goal, which for me is the ability to be myself and express my sexuality without shame, it can be a really good exercise.

3 Responses to “Making friends with my monster”

  1. SapioSlut May 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM #

    Love the analogy! It is far cuter than my “I must articulate” explaination. When I write and work to express what is going on my head is a cognisant fashion it means that whatever the feeling and/or vague understanding I’ve been experiencing becomes more defined. In being defined it becomes finite. An example is fear; when fear is just in my head and a feeling it is easy to be overwhelmed by it or have it bias my responses to anything else. In writing about the fear it becomes named, distinct, contained. It puts it in a box. I can close the lid or climb inside if I need to.

    • feministsub May 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM #

      Thanks! It’s a helpful way for me to think about it.

      “When I write and work to express what is going on my head is a cognisant fashion it means that whatever the feeling and/or vague understanding I’ve been experiencing becomes more defined. In being defined it becomes finite.”

      I know what you mean. Instead of being this amorphous mass of fear and worry, it’s something you can hold in your hand decide what you want to do with it. I don’t think things stay finite, but I find it’s easier to deal with big, complex issues when I break them down into little pieces.

  2. RogueBambi May 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM #

    I’m so with you on this! Some people play, say, ice-hockey. Some people handle things by learning them by making and trying. Some people, meaning you and me, need to understand every aspect of something to learn it.

    That’s why I’m writing Past the Hurt too. It all started, when I realised, that what we were doing in bed, the things that made me crazy with lust but always later made me really uncomfortable and even upset, had a name I could use. That other people were doing the same things and having the same fights with themselves. The label has helped me talk about it, learn about it, meet people who have some same inclinations and finally accept that it’s not hurting anyone and I’m not enforcing harmful gender stereotypes or societal sexual constructions.

    Labels are all we got. It’s not all there is and it doesn’t really explain anything, but at least it’s not this big, misty air of guilt and self-loathing.

    And yeah, I too love your analogy! That’s what it’s felt like.

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