My Journey of Body Acceptance.

I’ve been trying to put words to this for a long time, at least a year, and honestly I’ve started and stopped more than any other writing I’ve ever done. I’ve been treading a line between trying to get my point across and not sounding whiney or judgemental, and because this topic is something you don’t hear about a lot, it’s been difficult, so I ask you to read on with an open mind.

There are a lot of things I was never taught about being a man as I grew up and matured. As a child I was raised by parents who were older than most, both chronologically, and mentally. My parents are Legit straight out of a 1950’s sitcom, innocent, judgemental and very strict. They use passive aggressive language and are constantly worried about “what others will think of us”. I was never close with my father. Even now as I am nearing my 40’s he still has no idea how to talk to me, and I am constantly compared to other men my age he associates with.

Which leads me to a recurring issue in my life – Body positivity.

Ever since I hit puberty I’ve been a big guy, I stopped growing at 5’9 and in high school I was a chubby 200lbs, where I stayed well into my mid 20’s. I didn’t do many sports other than martial arts, which was solely because I needed to stop getting beaten up. I was constantly compared to athletes and rich/popular kids, with the question: “don’t you want to be more like ‘so-and-so’?”. I grew up with undeveloped social skills and Poor nutrition, not from lack of money, but from food being used as “love”.

As I got older I started going to the gym after a health scare and managed to drop from 270 lbs to about 180, and then I contracted Bell’s Palsy and fell back into depression, and comfort food.

About this time, my girl and I made the choice to open our relationship up, So I did what I always do when something new happens in my life, I asked the advice of people I trusted who had knowledge of Poly and open relationships.

I talked to about 6 couples, people I trusted, and people I considered friends, and except for 1 pair, basically the advice I was given was “Well, the first thing and most important thing you need to do is lose some weight or no one will want you, if that’s not something you want to do, just be happy you have one person in your life that wants to touch your penis.”

Now, I have always struggled with Body image and self confidence because of my weight since the first time I asked out a girl and she laughed in my face and slapped me in front of half my graduating class. To say I was Crushed would be an understatement.

I’ve always Looked at my naked body with scorn and distaste, I fell into the trap of needing to look like a hollywood beefcake in order to attract partners, However I will say that I do understand some partners find my body type attractive, I love my girl, and she finds me sexy, and all of the other adjectives associated with it. At the time of our first date, I had no idea this would be the case though.

I digress.

Over the years I have been “trained” to expect rejection based on a multitude of things, from my body hair, to my weight, to my hobbies and interests. Because of this I always thought if I could just find that one insatiable slut (slut being used as a positive) that would just be forward enough with me I would end up becoming a completely different person. Self assured, confident, All of the things I perceive as problems would just change.

Let me tell you I was wrong.

When we opened our relationship, on top of the previously mentioned “advice”, I also read voraciously, and I think most would agree, in poly/open/swinging relationships a man definitely has a much harder time finding perspective partners, much more so in my case, as I had never successfully asked anyone out. Let me tell you, I got scared, Really scared, I thought I would lose my girl, who I love as much as I love breathing. My body image issues were what I pinned all my insecurities on, I again thought – if I could just get a 6 pack, or bigger biceps it would some how mask my lack of self confidence, or make up for (what I perceived as) sexual shortcomings.

I got Mad.

Anyone that tells you rage and spite aren’t great motivators hasn’t met me. I made a choice to get back in the gym, I caved and grew out my beard, and started working towards my “Perfect Physique”.

The rage and spite came from my own brain, and imagined perceptions, I thought my girl would find someone younger, more physically fit, bigger cock, better dressed, and I needed to worry about a female presenting partner providing things I had no chance of. On top of that I knew my social anxiety and body image issues would prevent me from approaching Attractive humans from a potential partner standpoint, so if I caught someones eye physically I hoped they would approach me, and I could not have to worry about initiating contact.

DO NOT DO THIS.

There are two Quotes that hold some value here before I continue that I would like to share:

“Always be happy, never be satisfied” – A vanilla friend

“Discipline always trumps motivation. Motivation is about emotion and too many times, we rely on emotion to raise our performance. Unfortunately, this can quickly wear you down and if you aren’t motivated, lead to lackluster or missed training sessions. Discipline doesn’t care how you feel, what the weather is or if you’ve had a bad day. Discipline will carry the strong. Discipline will drive success. Discipline doesn’t need a “hype” video or loud music.” – Jim Wendler.

Both of these Quotes are in the context of powerlifting/training, however I find a lot of that advice is relevant to much more.

If I wanted real, lasting change, I needed to be happy with my body – but not satisfied, because of that I needed long term discipline to effect real change. My motivation was exactly what I have detailed in the monolith that is this writing, but in order to be disciplined I needed a real tangible goal, (and honestly a less destructive and shallow one).

So that is where I am currently, I am learning to be happy with my body, and work on my long term aesthetic goals – I have managed to narrow it down. A six pack for me isn’t a realistic goal, I like burgers and scotch too much, I am not a nice person when I buckle down to eat/live like I would have to to achieve that. Instead My goal is to get a “Muscle Bear” look, and be physically strong enough to manhandle anyone I want. I’ve also started to try and stop placing my self worth on my physical and sexual appeal.

Now that you have read this, I offer some insight and advice. Men/male identifying humans are just as subject to body image issues as anyone else, but no one talks about it, it’s a form of weakness. We fall into the “social media” traps of perfection, and for some of us, it shakes us to the very core with no one to talk to or articulate our feelings to. There are many groups, websites and places to see this in action. We hurt, we have broken confidence because of it, and sometimes we need help building ourselves up.

Male Humans: Be who you are, be happy with how you look, and if you’re not – don’t change for the wrong reasons like I started, change because you WANT TO, if you try to change for others, you’re doomed to failure, and being trapped in an unhealthy spiral of pleasing people who do not know what a fucking rockstar you are. Do things that make you feel confident, don’t mistake others validation for confidence, it’s not, and not healthy.

Somewhere along the way I realized the things my girl said to me were my truth, not the lies my brain created trying to chase approval. All it takes is one person to see the things you don’t, and more often than not, you should listen to them, the positives they see are generally the truth.

Regards,

Syn

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Authority Transfer and Personal Style.

Over the years I have had a fair few people comment on how Dot and I don’t seem to be in an authority transfer…. I’ve heard various forms of horse shit: everything from she tops from the bottom, to We “play” at being power exchange.

Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t give a fuck what you think about our authority transfer, it functions well for us, AND we’ve managed almost 11 years together so we must be doing something right. However, it does give me an opportunity to explain somethings about myself as a Master.

Most importantly I am a Macro-manager, not a micromanager. What that means is if I give you a task, as long as you aren’t going against my morals or beliefs to get it done, I don’t care HOW you do it, I just want it done. For example, I don’t know a damn thing about women’s fashion, what I do know is that for certain events Jeans, Ugg’s and a scarf won’t cut it, So by all means, dress yourself for the occasion, ask my opinion on an outfit but don’t lay out your whole wardrobe for me to choose from. If I have something specific I want you to wear, I will tell you.

Similarly, if I want coffee, just bring me a coffee, I personally don’t need elaborate coffee service or you to kneel while presenting it, the faster I get my caffeine the safer it is for all involved.

I don’t believe in obvious or grand gestures of Dominance or submission. In our day to day the girl and I look like any other couple out in the muggle world. our rituals and protocols are damn near invisible. For example, when we are out for food or another public venue, the girl is free to go to the bathroom or leave my line of sight as long as she asks, but in order to get up from the table for the final time, I stand first and offer my hand, then she knows it is acceptable for her to get up and prepare to leave. To the average person I just look like I am being chivalrous, We have had a few older couple comment how rare it is to see such a “gentlemanly offer”. It is a near imperceptible display of control, but it speaks volumes about who is in charge. In addition, the girl will wait for permission or a subtle nod from me before eating, even if I am off in the bathroom when the food arrives.

The other part people seem to take issue with, is that I don’t involve myself in her outside relationships. My girl and I are both Poly, and Open. Because of this, she and I are free to explore outside relationships with the understanding that if OUR dynamic and stability are threatened we will have a conversation. Other than this, I don’t control who or how she has a relationship with. That’s just selfish and toxic. What sort of precedent would I be setting if any time she went to have sex with another partner I required her to call me to ask to orgasm? Or what to eat with them, or how to spend money on a date?

Lastly, many people seem to be under the mistaken impression that since I deliberately do not control certain things in my Authority transfer I am somehow less dominant over the girl. As a few examples – SHE controls the money for the house, I am bullshit with money and she’s waaaay smarter in that regard than I am. I like owning my own home, I would like this to continue, so the girl sets the budget, controls the bills and how we pay them, and I get a bit of a “allowance” at my own request. I let her Dictate also what she is capable of for play -she can tell me “not today please, Sir” and surprise – I listen. Dot is going through some changes and mild health concerns and can’t always handle what I am able to dish out, so SHE is in charge of telling me how she feels, what she can handle, and whether we are a go for play or not. Why? because I don’t want to break my toys in case I misread how she is feeling that day.

Now, I am by no means saying this is a how to, or even that people who follow more ritual driven protocols are in the wrong. Quite the contrary, I think that too many people focus on “popular” methods of authority transfer, and most think anything other than their style is somehow inherently wrong. I’m here to tell you that after many years of experimentation, and no small amount of fuck ups, that whatever works to reinforce your Dominance, submission and personal style is perfectly OK and acceptable as long as it’s consensual.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.

Regards,

Syn

Vulnerability: Owning my Shit.

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about Healthy vulnerability and what that means to different people, how we can be vulnerable with others, and boundaries when choosing to be vulnerable.

For myself something I have always struggled with is sexual expression and discussion in how it relates to me and my needs, wants and desires. There is a small voice in the back of my brain that adds shame, anxiety, and forces me to fight more than I should to express myself. We, as humans are sexual beings and in the sex positive spaces and conversations I find myself in, vulnerability in expressing these things are something I -need- to get comfortable with.

My thoughts on why this is necessary are hard to put in words, so this might sound a bit muddled.

Aside from my own needs to communicate (I talk ALOT in case anyone is surprised by this revelation), my nesting partner is someone I not only desire, but want to be vulnerable with – she has, over the years, helped me to become the best version of myself I have ever been. This alone deserves complete transparency, openness and implicit trust. Over the years she has helped me explore my sexuality, kinks, and done so with zero judgement, I detest the term, but for lack of a better one: she has been my safe space.

Sexual Compatibility and Ethical non monogamy is something else on my mind in this regard. Polyamory, and that we are in an open (albeit selective) relationship, opens so many doors that took me a long time to become comfortable enough to address…I understand that all Poly and ethical relationships don’t revolve around sex, but for me, a lot of my connectedness comes from sex, S&M and taking care of the people who I choose to spend time with, however that manifests. My Comfort with these sides of myself is important in pursuing these needs and wants, so that I can find people who will enrich my experiences, and in turn perhaps I can enrich thiers.

In my travels I’ve also done no small amount of self discussion and reflection on my sexual orientation, for years I defaulted to heterosexual. I was really unaware of Pansexuality, gay, and all the other stops along the sexuality spectrum. So I went searching and exploring. I can say with positivity that I am 99.5% straight, however it took a lot of exploring to be sure. I love women, I love their bodies – small, big, thin, muscular, athletic, curvy… Sexually they just do it for me. I should point out, that as un-PC as it sounds, male genitals are the hang up… I just don’t find they do anything for me.

The last part of tying it all together? I need to get more comfortable in asking or communicating what I want, and the narrative I have kept for far too long.

A few months ago I had a pretty heavy talk with a Sister of mine, in front of her partner (a Brother) and my girl. I felt comfortable for the first time in a while to have my little dark corners flooded with a spotlight. It was bad enough she had to grab me by the beard and force me to listen, but I did.

Really a lot of the things I have started exploring and trying to work on boils down to confidence, and cultivating a lack of fear. In the end I have been ruled by old patterns and habits that tell me I’m not attractive enough, or desirable, or not pursue something because I don’t offer as much as the next guy. I short change people and their thoughts by offhandedly dismissing compliments, and anyone that knows me can tell you that someone could say right to my face they find me attractive, and my brain will simply ignore it. I have worked actively in the last few months to change my thoughts, as well as my acceptance of these things, because it’s not fair to me, and not fair to others.

So why did I write this whole rambling mess?

Simply, put – because I need to work on these things, and I understand that without putting a voice to them and making them visible, then I will simply ignore them long term hoping they go away.

Vulnerability isn’t pretty but it does help build trust, both with others and yourself. So here it is, some of the things I need to work on, they have a voice now, they have Substance, and they will be easier to work on because I gave them that push into word rather than thought.

Regards,

Syn



Victim Support and Breaking Social Convention.

We talk a lot about predators and abusive/negative behaviors – how we should address them head on, how to support victims and how to deal with situations like this all the time. I often hear people touting the idea that we need to support victims of abuse, misgendering, racism and speak for those who do not (or cannot) defend themselves.

In Theory these are great ideas and sentiments and in a perfect world this is exactly what would happen too.

What I see more often than not is these people’s traumas and the events that caused them are used as a twisted form of social currency.

Before some people lose their shit, let me explain.

When I was raped many people chose not to believe my story, which, while horrible, isn’t relevant to where I’m going with this. What is Relevant is the people who “wanted” to believe me. I had ONE person who I confided in, they knew the whole truth because they made me feel that my anonymity would be protected, which I sorely needed at that time in my life. Now, when this person tried to warn others that my partner was abusive, a rapist, and frankly a shit human being, I sat and watched as people who were supposedly close to me make EVERY EXCUSE possible to not have to acknowledge that someone they know could possibly be these things.

I have been raped twice and sexually assaulted more times than I care to count, and the same bullshit keeps popping up even 15 to 20 years later. What this all boils down to is “I WANT to believe, but I don’t like the people the supposed victim trusted or associates with so I will instead tear down any form of warning I become aware of rather than swallowing my pride and ASKING.”

People wonder WHY we don’t call out a lot of predators, racists, and serial abusers – it boils down to something simple: fear.

When someone who is privy to information you are not comes forward regarding these despicable things, I am not saying to not think critically and question. I am not saying to blindly believe – that opens up the ability to weaponize being a fake victim. What I AM suggesting is that these people might not come forward themselves for a couple of reasons.

The reason I have seen most lately is that generally victims will find stronger people they trust to confide in. They feel safe that their anonymity will be protected by these trusted friends.

However, when you attack those people for spreading lies, crying wolf or otherwise publicly verbally attack them – how do you think the victim they are protecting feels? Safe to come forward? Safe to share? Safe to publicly denounce the behavior and the person(s) who turned them into victims?

All of this arbitrarily based on political and social disagreements between members of the community we all agree should be made safer.

How do you know they haven’t made a promise to not name the perpetrators? Instead we’ll cry “GOSSIP!” “DRAMA!” and all manner of other bullshit words which (inadvertent or not) creates an environment of victim shaming and fear. So they stay quiet, and the visible ones take the brunt of the vitriol, and the cycle starts again.

I will admit, I am not innocent in this either, I have done the exact thing I JUST wrote about, and didn’t even consider it abnormal, to me, it’s just the way things were. Which considering my own past, was a really shitty way of going about things simply because I wasn’t prepared to examine my own shitty behavior and thought processes.

What I am proposing we ALL consider, is the fact that warnings are just that – warnings, think critically, ask questions. HOWEVER do not fail to think critically or ask questions of people who are socially anathema to you. We don’t always have to be unified, but if people have the best interest of their respective communities at heart, then giving the benefit of the doubt costs nothing, and could potentially lead to victims feeling safer to share their stories at large, and come forward more readily.

Regards,

Syn.

Home, Community, and Understanding.

“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” — Christian Morganstern

Coming home to a small town after a large event is an odd thing, if you’ve never been to one, I don’t know if I can rightly explain the sense of belonging, community, and togetherness.

One of the presenters at Wicked in the West had said when they leave an event they crawl back into their cave and are alone again until it is time to “peek out”. I didn’t really understand this until I had time to think about it, and now I understand completely.

For us, it’s hard to keep in touch with people: work, the gym, minimal time with my girl as it is – our random phone calls, talking back and forth on social media it’s all a way to keep connected. However, I must admit, I miss talks till all hours of the morning over scotch, hugs, and not feeling like an outsider because of my/our fetishes or play. Even the act of entertaining, which we love isn’t something we get to do often, if ever.

The great part about being who we are, is that we are out, we make very little (if any) distinctions between vanilla and kink life, because of that I’m known as the slightly “odd” friend. There are parts of our lives I can’t discuss in good conscience from authority transfer to S&M on a regular basis.  I’m at home with this, and truth be told, we are currently moving towards helping create a local community, or at least increasing the miniscule one we have.

For those of you in a larger community, I offer this suggestion.

Quit taking things for granted, quit complaining and start contributing. Sure, there are issues – predators, drama, personality conflicts, and good old fashion disagreements. Is there a perfect solution? Hell no, however, at the very least do your best to not make whatever the current issue is, worse.

Realize that you HAVE a community of like-minded individuals available to you, for munches, play parties, and learning opportunities to explore things YOU find important. Even if it’s only 4 or 5 people who get together and practice rope ties. Your micro-community is there to support one another, and find joy in things that others can’t (or won’t) understand.

Reach out to people, try and find common ground, morals and beliefs. Be compassionate, fair, and non-judgemental. Have boundaries, sure, but be welcoming, inclusive and kind.

Be a builder, be engaged, and be thankful you have a home where people understand you.

In Leather,

 

Syn

 

 

Wicked Trifecta – Or 2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad.

We just returned from Edmonton and the Wicked in the West conference. It was celebrating it’s 3rd year, and this was our second time attending.

Our second go ’round with wicked can be captured with a statement I thought of while in the car home. “Our first Wicked was like finding long lost family, this one was like coming home to them.”

I attended many of the classes that focused on the Journey of why we do what we do, how we got there and how to foster community. As per usual I learned a lot, about myself, my authority transfer, my Friends, and family. To each and every one of you, Thank you for having the hard discussions, letting us into your lives, and your transparency.

I have to also take a minute and recognize all of the WCPE and WCBB competitors, it takes a huge amount of courage to open yourself up and let people (in some cases relative strangers) put you under a microscope. Your commitment to sharing your passion, dynamic, and expertise is worthy of so much respect.

I have to confess, I do feel slightly guilty about not being able to meet as many new (to me) people as I would have liked. In the organized chaos of coming and going, play, and reconnecting with our western Brothers and Sisters, I felt a bit selfish for not being able to carve out more time.

Last year We attended with the intent of experiencing as much as we could at a Con far from home, meeting people, and learning from as many people as we could, this year for me, Wicked felt different in a few ways but no less game changing, and certainly caused no small amount of self reflection.

I learned the importance of family and being present with those we love for their milestones, Thank you for including me, and allowing me to share in your moment, and everything after.

I learned that I care little about judging pasts, but care deeply about how it helped turn them into humans I have taken to caring for a great deal in a short period of time. Thank you for your vulnerability, your wisdom and welcoming us as family. I will say it again – One day we’ll sit down and I will hopefully be able to share my past with you, so you will understand.

I learned the value of connective energy – from a few people, thank you for allowing me to share your energy, your joy and your catharsis through our scene (with one beautiful human) and being there for the others while you were having hooks thrown.

I learned the value of working on being a hedonist a little more, be in the moment, enjoy things for what they are. My head fuck things up a lot – and sometimes I need to listen to those that love me, and those that challenge those preconceptions I have. 10/10 would be less awkward. (Ok, I’m still going to be awkward, but I’m more OK with it now)

I learned the value of accepting a compliment at face value, I’m lucky to have friends in my life that see things more clearly than I do sometimes, and need to accept good council all the time, not just when it suits my comfort or narrative.

I learned I have things to do, and things I want to accomplish rather than just existing, I have found my way to continue to give back, I promise to try and live up to the idea of being a lynchpin because I think I understand now.

I learned that though I may not always agree with my Leather Family, We are still family, and I continue to be impressed, humbled and blessed to have you all in my life.

I learned the value of second impressions, especially when they are  close to chosen family sometimes the person you first meet, isn’t the same person the second time.

I learned that my girl is even more amazing than I thought, and although people may come and go, she is my constant, unwavering partner in life, love and so much more.

There are other lessons, other thoughts, and memories, but these are the ones I have been chewing over in my coconut the past week. I am sure as I unpack more I will have more learning, lessons and love to reflect on.

Thank you Nelson and imp for giving all of us a place to come home to every year and reunite, meet, and learn together. It’s a gift I can’t adequately thank you for, ever.

So that was part of my Wicked Family experience.

I learned.

I laughed.

I grew.

I was loved.

In Leather,

Jason/Syn

That Tiny Voice Gets Louder.

Conferences are interesting things.

Classes, people, Organized chaos, family, and friends, new and old.

For me these are just a few of the reasons I go to them. As a wise friend of mine said “That’s my favorite part of conferences, not the classes, the moments spent over a scotch or a meal, just visiting with people important to you.”

There’s the problem for me – My social anxiety lies to me a lot leading up to events like we have in just 9 days. Over the last year and a bit My (our) journey has put me in the path of some of the finest people I have ever met. hg

It’s hard to come back to the middle of nowhere and just sit it out until we can be reunited with Family and Friends again. Disconnection, and social anxiety sometimes has me questioning whether the connections I feel to people are real on their end too.

I’ve learned to write in order to express thoughts and emotions I can’t unpack inside my own head. This is both a good and bad thing though…. I write pretty clinically, I have a lot of time to think, measure, and decide how best to word or say something. It helps me see things in a different way, I can be a very spur of the moment and emotional/extroverted in person. You never really know whats going to come out of my mouth in pursuit of a laugh. After all, if you make ’em laugh, you have a way better chance of making them like you. Because of the disconnect between me as a person, and me as a writer – I absolutely suck at bridging the two together.

I see Dance card threads, people connecting, flirting, all the other stuff that happens around a gathering of us being imminent. It’s a piss off to be stuck between being excited, unable to express that, or involve myself in things I want to, Not to mention feel apart because my head is being an asshole.

Anxiety and awkwardness seem to be the norm for me, it’s less with my girl, but still there too, I’ve always struggled with it, it just seems amplified around conventions and the longer we go without seeing family and friends.

Some days I wish I could be more of a hedonist, more able to express things, and confident enough to do so.

Anxiety is a bitch.

It’s a tiny voice that gets louder some days.

It lies to you.