Intimate Imaginings Part One – By the Fire

Note: I’ve been pondering what I want and need in romantic relationships lately. Due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s not currently safe to meet new partners. Thus, I’ve been returning to my researcher roots, reading literature about different relationship structures, and feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. I’m realizing that there is much I don’t know about my romantic self (Ex: I feel fairly romantically “monogamish,” but I’m not entirely how that may apply to future romantic relationships. In fact, my longest relationships so far have been non-monogamous and intimate but not specifically romantic). Thus, I’ve decided to write some brief fantasies that show situations (kinky, romantic, and loving) that I could picture myself possibly enjoying and finding fulfilling in the future. This is one such intimate imagining. [Content notes: erotic but not explicit; power exchange themes, queerness, domesticity, cuddling, communication, boot worship, and implied open relationship]

My partner and I lean into each other as we sit by the fire, watching a nature documentary and enjoying the light smell of spruce in the air. My left arm is around her shoulder. She’s caught my left hand in hers. It is happily captive. My right hand idly strokes the hair of the submissive sitting at our feet. He leans back heavily against our legs like a dog seeking pats. He only visits a couple of times a month, but when he’s here, he belongs to us. As he becomes one with the floor, his hands wander to brush against my combat boots. He pulls them away quickly but then looks up at me with a question.

Feeling my partner squeeze my hand affirmatively, I nod. Silent, my submissive shifts to his knees on the carpet and lowers his face to our feet. My partner pets him as I press between his shoulder blades with my other boot. I get a little lightheaded at the simultaneous sensation of my sub’s lips soft against my leather and my partner nestling against my side, brimming with affection as she drinks in my relaxation and unfurling wisps of arousal. The documentary plays on, the fire crackles, and my eyelids flutter closed. I feel warm, balanced, and at peace.

“Just as I Am” – Confessions of a Kinky Churchgoer

[Image description: Photo is of a cautious but curious calico cat that has just stepped through a doorway.]

Church felt weirdly relevant today. Not that church is ever irrelevant, but I kept making connections between this morning’s worship service and my personal life in ways I don’t always. You see, I’m currently negotiating a new power exchange (which I will hereafter refer to as #Subpocalypse2019), and it’s brought up a lot of difficult feelings. I’ve felt more overwhelmed, afraid, even desolate in the past couple of days than I have in months. Maybe that’s tuned me in more than usual. 

My sense that the service was speaking directly to my inner turmoil started with the Prayer of Confession: “We fear failures, and we cling to unquestioned habits […] Show us your way. Open our eyes to new ventures,” we prayed. I do fear failure in this new venture, one that’s appeared seemingly out of the blue. It will involve questioning my habits in unusual (and embarrassing) ways, as I make my life available for another to view. I felt like that prayer was for me. 

Other messages jumped out at me as the service continued, especially in the hymns. When I saw “Just as I am” in the service order, I looked up from my bulletin suspiciously. “Just as I am though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt…” the song goes. I could give or take some of the theology in that hymn, but the thought of just…being…and showing up as myself with all my fears feels especially poignant right now.

Fortunately, I have a supportive pod of people who are proud of me for showing up and have given me space to feel scared without judgment. My sub is excited to see me experience life on the other side of the D/s slash; he’s been giving me pep talks over the past few days and encouraging me when I’ve been tearful. I don’t know how much involvement God has in shaping personal relationships, but I think God understands my feelings and is proud of me too. 

The final hymn was “Here I Am, Lord.” That one’s just always a tear-jerker. It was a very special song to one of our members who died a couple of years ago. It illustrates his way of being so clearly. It’s a song about committing to mission even when you feel unprepared and vulnerable–it also imagines God as immensely loving and thus, vulnerable to hurt. 

Today’s service was about being courageous, vulnerable, and flexible in ministry to the world, but I hear it another way too: I hear a call to minister to myself. I hear a call to grow more loving to myself through the discomfort that submission brings. With the guidance and care of others, I am called to minister to myself “just as I am,” fearful and brave and loving. 

*Prayer is from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion, John Knox Press, 2013.