Tag Archive for Authenticity

Forgetting Where You Are

I am prone to forgetting many things I wish I remembered. I figure I am not alone in this. For me, it is not just frustrating but also interesting. How are things I remember different from the things I forget? What makes my little head cling to one thing while it tosses away something else like so much trash?

I remember the first time I kissed a boy. I remember the first time I had sex. I remember the first time I shaved my head. Is it that I remember these things because they were firsts? I don’t think that is it, at least not all of it. Consider that I don’t remember the first time I gave head.  Don’t remember the first time I rode a horse.  First might be some but is not all of the equation my head uses.

What about special? Is it that something is special and so I remember it? I still don’t think that is it. For example, I cannot remember one of my children’s birthday to save my life. I’ve actually had to sneak off to the file cabinet a few times and sneak a peek at her birth certificate to confirm. I remember the delivery, the process long and drawn out. I remember her smiles and her temper tantrums. I remember her big giant head that flopped about like a broken doll. I remember her, the essence of her, but her birth date…not so much. The other kids, no problem. I can rattle off their birthdays with ease. That one kid is also very special to me, but the date slips through my mental fingers.

I doubt I will ever understand how my brain picks things to keep and things to discard. The thing that I find really fascinating about remembering is when I know that some important bits of information are in there, upstairs in my gray squish, but they are not where they might be most handy. Left and right used to be like that all the time. Being dyslexic nothing is as annoying for me as having a teacher tell me for the thousandth time that a lower case letter D faces left and a lower case B faces right. Good fucking luck when you can’t remember which way is left. The weird thing about it was that I have a freckle on my right hand which a teacher once told me to look at to remember left from right. I did this check most of my life, physically turning over my right hand and looking at the freckle, but I always looked at my right hand first.  Somewhere in my brain was the knowledge of which hand was my right but without the act of looking at it, I couldn’t guess. Very weird.

Forgetting where I am at a given moment is sort of like that for me. There is an element of knowing but forgetting at the same time. I find myself at work doing a little goofy tap dance to cheer a co-worker forgetting entirely that I am at work and likely as not this is considered unprofessional. One morning, I came into my office and on my desk was a framed photo taken by one of my co-workers in which I have a sock on each hand. In the picture I am clearly having a little conversation with Mr. Sock and Mrs. Sock. The photo was a candid shot taken during a staff meeting. I forgot I was at work I suppose. Someone handed me two socks, and that was enough to make me lose all sense of formality. I was just being myself.

I have been in a graduate class and answered a legal ethics question posed by my professor with great clarity and confidence. When the professor asked me for my source, I just a clearly and confidently stated I had seen it on Law and Order. Needless to say, that was not what the professor considered a reliable source though we all got a good laugh out of it. I forgot I was in graduate school for a moment. I was just me.

When my Master and I attended a leather gathering not so long ago, a question was raised in the discussion about how important suffering was to the journey of a slave.  I raised my hand and answered that I didn’t think that suffering was a good plan for anyone since avoiding suffering is generally much more fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. I knew that all of the answers given before mine were in favor of suffering as a tool for growth. I knew I was the fish swimming the wrong way. Maybe I forgot my role as slave. Maybe I shouldn’t have disagreed with the flow of the conversation.  Perhaps I again forgot where I was and just continued being myself. My Master had raised his hand at the same time and when he responded after me his comment was nearly identical to mine. He felt just I did and we were fishes swimming together.

In the end, I think this sort of forgetting is my favorite.  Finding that I am always just regular old me is pretty nice. I am glad that I am forgetful enough of the expectations of the world around me to allow myself to blindly walk through my days just as I am. Sure, it gets you the occasional stare, or photo in your office, but it is worth it. The only cure I can think of is to be a ‘me’ that I am unashamed of so that every time I forget where I am, I am always right where I should be. Forgetting where you are is not a problem if you never forget who you are.

Review of “The Pain Journal”

This is a copy of a post made in early 2011 to The Pervert’s Library website run by Todd. I re-post it here for two reasons. First, because I think everyone should love Bob Flanagan as much as I do.  Second, because I feel it tells as much about me as it does about the book.

The Pain Journal

By Bob Flanagan
Published in 2000 by Smart Art Press

Let me begin this review by saying Bob Flanagan is my personal hero.  I am aware that this is sure to color my response to this book so I want to be upfront about that.  Now you, the reader, have been informed. I find myself rather confused as to how to write this review without it turning into a persuasive essay intended to draw the reader into their own personal aspiration to have Bob Flanagan become their hero. Fear not, I doubt that what draws me to him is in many folks.  Generally speaking, I am a bit bent.  That said, with no further ado, I will begin.

Bob Flanagan was an artist, masochist, and slave who had cystic fibrosis (CF).  He described the Pain Journal as “intended to be just a daily record, a minimum of a paragraph a day, and never meant to be read unedited by anyone but me.” His summery beats any I could write so there you have it.  The first entry is dated December 27, 1994 and the last December 16, 1995.  Bob died a few weeks later on January 4, 1996.  Though Bob became known best for his BDSM exhibitions, the pain detailed in the journal is mostly related to his CF and the dying process he goes through.

The journal is indeed a daily record of his thoughts, a simple chronicling of his day’s activities mostly.  Things like watching too much TV, feeling bored, losing his ability to orgasm, losing his desire to be sociable while at the same time missing contact with his friends. It is mundane for the most part yet within the entries you get more than you might expect.  He is authentic.

Authenticity is sort of a catchy phrase these days.  Lots of self help books tell us to be authentic, relationship guides insist on it as fundamental, and hipsters vet their idols on their perceived authenticity. We see being authentic as noble and expect to be able to receive it from others. Meanwhile we are ourselves cloaked internally and rarely even let ourselves be aware of what our own inner demons are up to.

We do not reveal ourselves to anyone, especially not ourselves.  How often do we wipe a booger under the front edge of our car seat and send an updating email to our lover?  Is it the norm to give voice at a dinner party to our predilection for wishing people in our lives dead so that we inherit money and can sleep late instead of going to work Monday mornings? Or that we fantasize about gang bangs and dogs and lust for power and freedom from being kind or nice or polite or even clean? No, we don’t even say these things in whispers to ourselves.  We are hidden and unknown.

In the lifestyle I choose to live, I am a slave like Bob. What is the life of a slave?  Exposure. It is belonging to another, fully.  Even the dark little twisted places.  Those places belong to the Master.  All is theirs. Nothing is hidden.  Bob is the slave of his wife Sheree Rose.  She tells him to write and so he does.  He writes all of it, the pretty, the boring, and the shameful.  It is all there, even his own musing about his internal thought editing as he wonders if he is trying to think ‘noble’ things so that he can write things people will admire once he dies.

It is his authenticity that makes him my hero.  I see his life as a model of authentic living.  The model of who and what I try to be as a slave and a woman. The Pain Journal is his real experience of coming to his own end.  If I can live my life even half as authentically as Bob, I will be proud of myself.

Perhaps the section of the book that touched me most though was not written by Bob.  Sheree Rose writes a short essay as the last chapter titled “In Semi-Sickness and in So Called Health, I’m Still in Love with You.” She tells of falling in love with Bob, their life together, and finally his death.  Then she shares an experience she had after Bob died where she felt he was haunting her due to their forever vows of love. An acquaintance tells her that these eternal vows will prevent her from ever finding happiness with another person.  She does not feel regret at having this affliction, instead she is “elated that Bob is still so close.” That is the love I hope I will always have for my husband and Master. He is truly my whole world and I wept as I read Sherri’s words because that is a fate I also aspire to. She loves him though he is dead and what could be more powerful than that.

I can’t promise you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I can’t promise that you will even get through it. It is, after all, an unedited personal journal written by a man who is dying and many times heavily medicated. But I do promise you that if you do read it, you will think differently about your own authenticity and how you choose to spend your days until you too come to your own end. It is worth your time.