Saying i Won’t

25 Mar

Yesterday, i told my “you gotta get back on the horse” story.  For sure, that was a lesson i learned well, not just that day, but all through my growing up.  My mother didn’t accept “i can’t.”  She just didn’t.  “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” could have been her motto.

And that was a good thing.  That’s part of how i developed the competence that MoR says i have too much of for my own good.   Part of what made me a survivor.

In a very sweet email the other day, MoR said, among other things, that i, “never say can’t,” and “never say die,” – he says i “keep chugging along.”   And of course he’s right.  Yes.  i do.

Probably we all do, we subs…

You know, Where-i-Work is a little bit crazy sometimes.  {Yes, that might be an understatement.  And i don’t mean our clients.}  Sometimes, it seems like we’re  playing a huge game of twister.  One minute, we’ve gotten everything more or less under control – and then they spin the wheel again.

“Right foot on red,” they say.

And we’re all struggling to move our right foot.  Um, feet.  Whatever.

You may notice there aren’t any red spaces in the picture to put your right foot on.  When that happens, i send someone out for red paint, and we figure out which ones to paint red.  i feel a little like Alice in Wonderland, never sure if there were already supposed to be red spaces or if everyone else is rushing out to buy paint too.

And i’m good at it, directing and suggesting and coming up with plans on how to do it, how to make things work.  Frigging competent. 

A few years ago, someone pointed out to me that maybe that’s not always helpful.  That maybe i’m just enabling a broken system to limp on.  That maybe the system needs to break down, maybe i need to say, “No, we can’t do that, won’t even try to make that work.”

It was a novel concept for me.  My brain froze ~ i tried to process it.


It could be better to say we can’t make something work?  Can’t find a way to deal with it, cope with it, manage it, make frigging lemonade with it?  

That’s some kind of sacrilege!

It was years ago they said that, and i still stumble over the idea from time to time.   The possiblity that “i think i can” isn’t always the best attitude in every circumstance.

That sometimes, “Hell, no, i’m not getting back on that horse!” is a better response.

i still won’t say “i can’t.”  In my world, “i can’t” is reserved for “flying without an airplane,” or “spinning straw into gold.”  Everything else that we’re not gonna do is “i won’t.”

And i’d rather say “i won’t” then “i can’t.”  Can’t implies  weakness, and a challenge for me ~ but of course i can! 

“i won’t” is the other half of strength ~ a whole different experience.

JM, the amazing analyst, says that in the second half of life we learn the opposite side of the lessons we learned in the first half.   So if i spent 50 years learning to be competent, now i need to learn to let go of being competent all the time, to seek help, to say, “i won’t.”  If i were already good at saying “i can’t” and seeking help, then i would need to find my own competence.

So where am i going with this post?  i have no idea.  i just felt an urge to write it, so here it is.

i think i need to write some  fantasies tomorrow, before my libido completely atrophies.  Between Sin’s story she wrote for her Master, which was uber-hot, and yesthankyousir, who’s also been starting some fires at her place, i should be able to find some inspiration.  Something to jump start my own heat.

Stay tuned…

12 Responses to “Saying i Won’t”

  1. ahiddenslave March 25, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Very interesting post aisha…I was reading another post yesterday about learning and psychology written by Sir J, and it reminded me , along with your post of a book I read many years ago called “Children’s minds” by Margaret Donaldson, which talks about teaching children to fail. Without failing how do we learn to succeed? How do we learn to solve a problem and face the prospect of not being able to do what we thought we could?
    Being a “can do” person gets a lot done…having that “I can’t” tucked back far in your mind is almost something we are programmed to exclude from our thinking…”I will try” is what I fall back on when everything goes wrong. Being competent is exhausting sometimes.

    • aisha March 25, 2011 at 7:57 am #

      Dear HS – Omigosh, yes, being competent can be exhausting! i wish i’d had lessons on how to fail when i was young, i got caught in the whole “you gotta be perfect” trap, and have been struggling with it ever since. You know, less now,cause after 30 or 40 years of working on it, it does get easier. But i still fight it.

  2. anovelthought March 25, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    My Dom hates “I can’t”. He’d hate “I won’t” even more.

    • aisha March 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      @anovelthought –

      Omigosh – I read your response from my car, and literally laughed outloud. It’s the perfect response. You’re absolutely right – not just your Dom – no Dom wants to hear “i can’t” and “i won’t” is totally out of the question.

      Once I quit laughing, I really had to think about how the things I said here connect with your succinct observation. I don’t know if this is going to sound right, but here goes:

      For myself, if I thought something needed to be done, the “I can do it” was an automatic reaction, so it was a new idea to weigh out whether or not I wanted to do it, or whether or not the costs of doing it were worth the benefits.

      I think that with a Dom, the Dom is sort of supposed to do that weighing out before he tells us to do something. So if my {imaginary at the moment} Dom tells me to do something, presumably he’s already thought it through and feels confident that I can do it and that it’s worth doing, right? And presumably i’ve already decided that pleasing him is worth making tremendous effort for, right?

      So in a way, i guess it applies differently to D/s interactions, my Dom is the one who does the weighing out for me. When he tells me to do things, if he doesn’t have my best interests in mind too, then he’s not doing his job as Dom. Isn’t part of the idea that we can rely on them to push when they need to and not when they don’t?

      That’s what I think anyhow. Thanks for giving me something to think about!


  3. Donna March 25, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Maybe a lesson you learned along with “can do” is that no one else can be trusted to do and so you must do it all and that makes you a good girl. It’s a feeling of power and control to be the one who solves the problems.

    This issue has been (and continues to be) one of my biggest struggles as a sub, to freely and completely hand over that power and control to someone else, not just sexually, but in speech and action and in my heart.

    It took years for me to accept that my true nature is to be submissive and it is the artificial “must always be strong” and “must muster on” attitude that is a false front. I learned as a young woman to play the strong female very well, but the cost is high. It’s like being an actor who can never step out of a role. It’s not really who I am and serves neither my Dom nor me in a healthy or positive way.


    • aisha March 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm #


      Interesting thoughts – I’ve been pondering it today. For me, I don’t feel like my strength and ability to survive and hang in there are a false persona, but they’re only part of who I am. There’s also a part of me that wants to let go of all that and submit and obey and please. I’ve had trouble finding someone who accepts both parts of me.

      My second (last) husband was at his best when I was a hot mess emotionally. When we married, I was just coming to terms with my mother’s dementia, and he was wonderful. But he loved me best when i was most broken, and I couldn’t stay broken for him.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts…


  4. nilla March 25, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    wow, this was *powerful* for me.

    One of the hardest lessons i learned was a few years..okay maybe more than a few years, 10 or so, ago.

    i was a director of a church school program. Someone had committed to teach that Sunday. And didn’t show. i wound up ‘pinch hitting’ the class that day, which turned out okay but left me steaming mad.

    yes, i get mad.

    later, the person told me that the date hadn’t worked and they were overcommitted…and yada yada….

    and i learned then that saying “no” was of critical importance. it was a lightbulb moment for me, for her.

    i said “next time i ask you to teach, and you feel that way, don’t say ‘yes’ to me…just say ‘no.’ No explaining needed.

    That experience taught me an important lesson…the ability to say no.

    And i agree with you, aisha….to let something fail without trying to fix it is anathema to me. Maybe coz i’m the “tool gal” at our house…but fixing things is what i do.

    to stand and watch it fail, fall, or fold?

    don’t do that too well.


    • aisha March 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

      Thanks, ‘Nilla – I love that story. I may borrow it. “I have a friend who tells the story about the time…” It has a ring to it, doesn’t it? So yes, that’s it.

      I’m not so good at standing and watching something fail either, but I’ve found some ways to manage other than just struggling to do whatever with no resources or extra support. And “Can-do Aisha” is alway hovering around anyhow, going, “Me! Me! Call on me!”

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,


  5. angel March 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Interesting idea…i wont…the other side of empowerment. Often, we think of “i won’t” in terms of a negative.

    We Type A people can be counted on to not get sick at sea. We s-types often work in fields that require this skill (nursing, teaching, mental health) set. i could easily mount an argument that, as a whole, these fields are broken and corrupt.
    But when you need a good teacher, doctor, therapist it only matters to you that the one in front of you is competent, decent, honorable.
    You don’t really want the one who is watching the system fail you or your loved ones. Not when its their hour of need.

    The problem with a broken system is that the broken system does not care how many spokes in the wheel are damaged and defunct. The system does not care if the wheel wobbles. It only cares that the wheel keeps rolling. Enough new people who have not gotten jaded yet keep the wheel rolling. This is the reason for the high turnover rates.


    What do you think would happen next if your clients found out about who you are?
    Do you think a person can or should form a practice (kink aware) and let the community know they are a slave? What would happen to transference/counter-transference then?

    • aisha March 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      @Angel – Your observations on people within those broken systems are so on target – you clearly know this from the inside. And no, I can’t stand back and let the system fail in some ways – I need to make sure the clients get the best we have to offer.

      And sometimes I need to push back. Because you are sooo right – as long as we limp along, they’re ok with it. But- at least with the organizaton I work for – they need to be able to demonstrate some degree of doing the right thing. And some of it’s sincere and some of it’s for show.

      Either way, one thing I can do is to make sure I’m communicating clearly. So when they say, “Right foot, red circle,” I don’t go buy red paint anymore. I say, “Really? Cause we don’t have any red circles on our game board out here. Were youall gonna come paint, or did you want me too? Plus, what do you wanna do with all the purple circles we were covering?”

      That’s the least I can do.

      As for your other questions – which are great questions –

      1. I don’t know how my current clients would react. I think if it were possible, they’d pretend they didn’t know. I think it would make them uncomfortable, but at this point the only way they could find out would be if I ran into them at an event. So then they’d be there too, and – I don’t know.

      I don’t know what would happen if my employers found out. They certainly wouldn’t want to make it public, so – yeah, I don’t know.

      I would just as soon not find out, which is why I call myself aisha.

      2. I am starting a kink aware practice, and I don’t plan to tell any of my clients about my personal sex life. I wouldn’t tell them if I were vanilla, and I think the same standards apply. I don’t tell them I’m an abuse survivor, although I think some of them may assume that I am.

      Any time clients have access to personal information about me, it shifts the tranference/counter-transference issues. One of the reasons I don’t disclose that I’m an abuse survivor is that one reaction to that is: “I can’t tell you about me because you have problems in that area too so it might make you feel bad.”

      The flip side of that – if I’m not a survivor – is “I can’t talk to you cause you don’t know what it’s like.”

      Either way, the bottom line is that the client is trying to avoid talking about their own stuff by focusing on me, and that’s not helpful. So always – no matter the issue – the push is back to the client. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’ve experienced abuse – do they feel like I understand what their experience was? It doesn’t matter if I’m a slave, a Domme, or vanilla, do I make them feel understood and supported?

      Whew. Great questions. Thanks!


      PS I tried to get to your blog, and got a message that the internet couldnt’ find it. Would love to visit…

      • angel March 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

        This is the correct link.

        Personally, i found it very theraputic for my therapists to have a story or two to share relating thier own child abuse issues. i spent years convinced therapy would not help me and did not care to ever go down that road again.
        Forced into it, i went, but the fact that the group leaders choose to share made them human and went a long way in helping me trust.
        i think the way they delivered the information, making it clear they were not open to follow up questions about what they chose to share, kept the boundaries in proper place.

        i could see where the same thing could work in a kink aware setting. Not poignant vignets about your *sex life* per se, but i’m sure you could find a way to say you could relate.

        i was wondering how it would work if i obtained my Master’s degree and then wrote, aiming my work at the legal and mental health issues unique to our community.


      • aisha March 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

        @angel – Thanks for the link – I like your blog very much – although that seems like a weak understatement for such an intense blog.

        I can see that it would have been helpful to have your therapists come from behind the “professional expert” wall and share about themselves. I agree, it can be done really appropriately, and can be helpful – clearly it was for you. I’m glad you found some therapy that helped! I know sometimes we really, really don’t.

        Yeah, I think it could work the same way in a kink-aware practice. We’ll see how it works for me…

        Particulalry after reading your blog, I love the idea of you writing about legal and mental health issues in the bdsm community – with or without a Masters! I suspect you have a lot to say. But in terms of how it affects you professionally – which I guess is what you’re asking – I think it would work the same way.

        I know a nurse who does workshops and such for the kink community – she doesn’t hide it at all. She doesn’t reference her own play in the community, at least I don’t think she does, outside the community. Same thing with an lawyer I know. He’s very active in the community and very “out” in terms of using his real name and so on. At one extreme, look at Mollena, who makes her living in kink and is completely out.

        I don’t know where I’ll end up…

        Thanks again for your comments.


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