It was an odd beginning.
I had spent the day in screaming rage, pacing in frustration, gesticulating broadly, trying to work my way through the seething tangle of emotions that a dying relationship had mired me in. Eventually, exhausted, I flung myself down on the couch, and he asked me if I wanted a hug. I don't remember how I responded - probably with a grunt and shrug - and he got up, moved to the other end of the couch, and put his arms around me, pulling me gently to rest my head on his shoulder.
When they got up to leave, he gathered me into another hug, holding on longer than friendship, just wanting me well and hale and whole again. As I stepped back, I thought about the feel of his body against mine, thought about long conversations swapping stories, discussions of religion, all the other things.
And, anxiously, with memories of a truly bad relationship that had started on the rebound to keep me sober, I started to flirt with him, a little, quietly, trying to feel out whether my reactions were attraction or not, exploring things quietly. When I got more serious, I made sure to get his partner's permission; she said, when I said I wanted to flirt some more, "Oh, please do. It might cheer him up."
He was mired in a complicated tangle of helpless depression; my early explorations had gone unnoticed entire. When I got more overt, I was not sure still if they were perceived; he can be hard to read at the best of times, and the wrenching low-affect of the consuming melancholia made sure the times were not the best.
One night, he kissed me, and we snuggled a while, and I crashed on his couch reasonably contented. When he brought me home the next day, after a reasonably pleasant gals'-day-out with his partner and some other friends, we talked about relationship histories, patterns, where we were coming from, what we were looking for. We agreed that a reasonably stable fling would be a nice thing for each of us, just something light and undemanding and friendly.
In the ensuing snogging, I dropped far enough submissive to be completely nonverbal. When he realised this, and realised that he did not have explicit consent for what he was inclined towards, he dragged me back out of that trance-state to ask.
I stumbled on words, and eventually found, "It probably would have been okay at the time, but I don't know about afterwards."
"Yeah, I thought that might be the case."
It was a thrilling, frightening experience, to go that deep with so little context; somewhere in the years we had known each other, in the comfort he had given me, in the stories we'd traded, we'd built a trust as well as a chemistry that let me simply drop into his arms. Perhaps if I'd thought about it at the time I'd have realised that the whole friends-with-benefits idea probably wasn't going to work out that way in the long-term.
We talked a great deal, working through things as up-front as we could. I talked about my assault experience and the flashbacks and traumas of that. We discussed limitations and agreements with our respective other partners, and spent several nights together, curled up skin-on-skin, hungry for flesh and holding, no matter how difficult, to our agreement to refrain from intercourse.
I asked, for when those agreements might be relaxed, that we not have sex without me having a whole night with him, to hold on, to take comfort in case the demons came for me - because the assault demons come strongest on first times with a new lover. In times of lust when I might have discarded that desire, he would murmur in my ear that he had promised me a night, and he would not go back on that; that was what I needed to be safe, and that was what I would have.
First declarations of love were made before we got to the fully vested 'benefits' part of the friends-with-benefits, an almost hissed triune, "I love you" followed with "What I tell you three times is true" that made him tilt his head back and close his eyes with the intensity of it.
When we got our night, he held me gently for a long time, feeling the fear rippling in me as the demons circled. I watched him, watched his eyes, full of love and concern and caretaking as he slowly tried to ease the fear, to let me relax, felt myself sliding into that altered state again, just a little, into a place where I could consciously choose to trust enough to work through the fear, unlock the chains of the trauma, and embrace. I saw the spark of joy in his eyes, dark and wild, when the fear left me, and we were able to be with each other without having to wrestle my old terrors.
Physicality was easy for us; so was that slip into that gentle cradled wild space that I so readily circled around with him, that twist into altered consciousness, mind suddenly expanded to fill an entire universe full of stars to match the hungry darklight I could see in him. We talked about kink, about sex, about relationships, about desire, about dreams and goals, about all these things, trying to find the place we could have in each other's lives.
One night, shaking with fear of rejection, I looked up at him and asked, softly enough to be bare more than a mumble, if he would be willing to have a d/s relationship with me.
It was a while later, when I was having one of my fits of anxiousness about having my sexuality and my preferences drive, shape, and command the form of the relationship, I asked him if he had ever considered anything like this before.
"It had never occurred to me."
15 February, 2009
It was an odd beginning.