To Literalize

21 Aug

After my last interactions with MoR, i was talking with JM, the amazing analyst, about what had happened.  You know, MoR and i do this dance where our conversation takes us ever spiraling upward into peaks of D/s that delight and thrill.  He keeps pushing me to agree to deeper submissive ~~ wait, that doesn’t work, deeper submissive heights?  


Ok, but you know what i mean, maybe.  By the time we end a conversation, i’m agreeing that i want to be his slave, and of course him branding me with his name is a logical next step.  i know i’ve talked about this before, but i go over and over it in my head, trying to understand it, so hang with me while i trace the pattern on more time.

i hold in my heart the connection between us.  i love MoR, and always will, i suppose.  He “gets me” in a way that few other people do.  And he does sweep me away into a passionate depth of desire to give, to please, to belong to.

In the cold light of the next day, he says, “But I can’t own you, I couldn’t provide you with health insurance.”

i say, “Well, and with my luck you’d brand my ass with your name and drop dead the next day.  Where would i be then?’

And we laugh a little.

The truth is many things.  We have this connection – and we live too far apart.  i know, that’s not a barrier to a LDR, but it is if i want touch, and someone to go to dinner and fundraisers and plays and munches with me.  

And it is too far if he doesn’t want to put the time and energy it would take into being connected with me.  So we’re talking intensely, i’m all hyped up ~ and he disappears.  For a few days.  i begin to get over him ~ figure he’s gone ~ and he’s back.

i can’t do it.  If he told me he was going to be out of touch…

Ok, never mind that’s not the path i want to go down. 

Here’s the thing.  So a few weeks ago,  he says he wants to come see me.  i’m delighted.  And youall know the story, we’re all good til i ask him a question.   So i say something like, “Well of course i’ll stay naked, well – unless there’s a fire, right?”

And he says, “No, even if there’s a fire, it would be good for the neighbors to see that you belong to me.”

And i know – i really know – this is a ridiculous conversation.  But now that he’s said that, i have to believe him, and i say, “no, i’m not being naked in front of the neighbors” and the whole thing falls apart and he’s not coming to visit.

Now – here at last – 521 words into this, i have something new to say.  

When i saw JM, the amazing analyst, a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about it.  He’s really good at helping me see the symbolic meaning of my relationship with MoR.  So when i tell him about the question part, he laughs and says, 

“So you literalized it.”


That’s not a bad thing, but it brings the relationship  crashing down from these lofty peaks of symbolism to the mundane and literal ~ a house fire and shocking the neighbors.   MoR does the same thing when he says he can’t provide me with insurance.

Do you see what i’m saying?  It wasn’t that the question reflected a lack of trust, although in a way it did, but that it literalized the exchange.

And isn’t that what we do in TTWD?  We take all this deep material of the psyche – archetypes and personas and our shadow side, we add some ideals and standards, mix with sexuality and passion,  and we incarnate them.  We give them body, make them “manifest and comprehensible.”   

There’s always a dynamic tension between the ideas and the incarnation of the ideas.  So ~ new relationship, she says, “yes, i want to be submissive to you.”  He says, “Would you do this?  What about this?  And this?’

She says, “yes, yes, yes,” and means it.  Absolutely means it.

He says, “Then do **this** now.”

She says, “O, wait a minute, um, i don’t know you that well yet…”

He has literalized it.  And done it in a way that doesn’t work for her, or that she wasn’t ready for.  

It must be dreadfully hard being a Dom.  Having to try to work one’s way through this mess of desires and fears and longing and lust…  but i digress.

It’s not just a matter of following through on what you say.   i think we work on articulating a vision, and then giving it life.  So ~ conversely ~

when Mr. No Panties announces it’s no panty day, that’s very literal.  In fact, given that we have no actual connection at this point, it’s purely literal.  Even if i don’t wear panties that day, there’s no basis of connection between us to give it meaning.

If i say, “yes, Sir,” and then don’t wear panties, there is a little more symbolic value, but not much.

Does that make sense?  We can sacrifice the literal for the symbolic, or we can ignore the symbolic and get caught up in the literal.

We need both.  

We need to define the symbolic nature of the relationship, and we need to agree on how to make it literal.

So – Mick and Molly have a contract.  Based on that contract, as i understand it, Molly could whip Mick til he bleeds every day.  Or once a week.  {i know, i’m appalled that i even said that.  But i think she could, under the contract.}

Why doesn’t that happen?  Well, Molly’s not very sadistic.  Mick’s not too masochistic. Their shared vision of the relationship doesn’t include that behavior, even though, theoretically, and literally, she could do that.   

Sigh.  As i write about this, i feel like i’m trying to make my way through a deep fog.  i get a glimmer of clarity, think i see the path, and then wander blindly again.

Relationships are made and broken in the tension between the symbolic and literal definitions.  i guess that’s always true, whether the relationship is teacher/student, parent/child, boss/employee, therapist/client or Dom/sub.   You know, if i say i’m the “teacher,” that has symbolic value.  What do i mean by that, how does that play out?

 D/s relationships, i think, have more overtly symbolic material to work with and we are often more conscious of it.  We are more intentional in how we approach it, at least some of us are, some of the time

So i’m looking for your thoughts on this too ~ this idea of the symbolic value of our relationship having to be translated into the literal.  Does it make sense?  Mean anything?   How do you think it works?

And i haven’t forgotten The Major and His poor slut, waiting for Him to relieve her…  they’ll be back.

32 Responses to “To Literalize”

  1. Faithful August 21, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    aisha- *smiles* You know this hit home for me and I appreciate you writing about it and look forward to comments.

    your friend ~hugs~


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm #


      I know – your timing was perfect cause I’ve been writing this in my head for a week or two.

      Thanks – and hugs –


  2. vanillamomla August 21, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    deep-family reunion here today–no time to comment…tonight, later…promise–


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      @’Nilla –

      I have some idea what your vanilla life is like – I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts whenever…


  3. Mick August 21, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Yes we do have a contract. but before it was signed we also knew and trusted one another. We know that whatever rights we might literally have will not be tested in extremis.

    Altho I must say I probably exercised my switch privileges a little beyond Mistress’s expectations today.


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      @Mick –

      Right – exactly – so your contract spells out – or literalizes – what you all wanted structure around. Exactly.

      Can’t wait to hear about switch day!


  4. sin August 21, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I have a long long long answer on my blog (It’s almost a book!) cause I had thought about it back when you talked about MoR before.

    I also think that whether there is an actual contract or not, there’s sort of a contract, an understanding in each relationship of what is acceptable or not. And if you are outside that understood contract too often then the relationship will be troubled.

    Thanks for making me think Aisha! Oh and congrats on passing 50,000!


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks, Sin. Do you mind posting the link to that particular post over here?


      Sent from my iPhone

    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

      And i love your long, long answer on your blog – I have to go comment over there when I get through here.

      Yes, of course there is – the “understood” part of the contract. There has to be, or you would have to spell everything out. And yes, if the parameters of the contract don’t work for both of you, the relationship is gonna be difficult.

      Thank you, Sin – I was kind of thrilled to see I’d passed 50,000! Good grief, it seemed so far away, not so long ago.


  5. perfectlipserfectlips August 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    That is the irony of D/s (imho, as an outsider): there’s so much focus on making explicit the partners’ obligations to each other (e.g. Mick & Molly’s contract), but always — always, with human interaction — the implicit is more significant and more powerful than the explicit. In even the most trivial human interactions the explicit is just a pointer to what is explicit. So, in D/s, you need “hard limit”s, “safe word”s and other timeouts so you can make issues explicit pre-emptively or address them as they bubble up from the implicit.

    Can you establish hard limits and safe words with your visitor?

    • k August 21, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      I like that point re: implicit being meaningful..true.

    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm #


      Right, right, right!

      Ok, the difference, I think, with D/s is we’re aware of that, and we’re operating on both planes at the same time The explicit is what brings the implicit into the light of day, brings it out of the secret “shadow” so that it can be talked about.

      That’s part of what I LOVE about D/s.

      As for limits and safe words with MoR (who’s not going to come see me afterall) my experience with him is that I wouldn’t actually even need them. He was the most gentle and loving of Doms. He would never have made me do what I asked him – I know that. Damn it.

      But. Once I asked him and he said yes, and I know he said it just because I asked, but I couldn’t back out of it then and agree to do it. Cause I wouldn’t.

      I know – I know – what the hell am I thinking?

      It’s complicated. We are both a bit stubborn perhaps.


      But thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate that.


    • perfectlips August 22, 2011 at 1:57 am #

      Sorry typo: “… the explicit is just a pointer to what is explicit….” should be “… the explicit is just a pointer to what is implicit.”


      • aisha August 22, 2011 at 4:33 am #

        @PL – I knew that… thanks!! aisha

  6. Donna August 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I am not sure I am on the right page here, but I think anyone of any persuasion has the ability to take us to an uncomfortable place, but that doesn’t mean they will. It’s that old situation of people thinking they must agree on every little thing before they marry. We would never be involved and eventually grow to love anyone if we set up every possible scenario and ran through it verbally.

    Setting up scene rules or contracts is a different thing and needs to be serious and face to face. Regular life things. Not so much. IMHO Doms and Masters seem to always go for the edge verbally and then come back toward middle ground instead of the opposite. Scares people off sometimes.


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Dear Donna,

      Yes, of course you’re right. And I think that MoR scares me. And I think I scare him.

      And i don’t think we’ll ever actually be together, but I sure do learn a lot from him.

      Thanks for the wisdom, and thanks for the hugs,


  7. k August 21, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Yes yes …. this is what I’ve struggled with and embraced and struggled with and cried over and felt deeply alive over…the literalization. Ultimately what seems most helpful is time. There’s a song that has a line “it takes a minute to fall in love, and a lifetime to know what love is”…I can easily substitute ‘submission’..

    Play D/s, much like casual vanilla dating, is of course different because there isn’t that literalization. And we all know when either person tries to literalize, its usually a mess.

    So submission actual relationship *luv*= amazing and a lot of work.

    Thanks aisha for going into the fogginess. Resonates deeply w me.



    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm #


      Cool! I’m so glad that it makes sense to you.

      Yes. And I think you’re right about play being so different. It’s so confusing sometimes…

      But yes – amazing and a lot of work

      Thank you for reflecting it back to me!


  8. sky August 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Thank you Aisha for such a thought provoking post. Even though I am new to D/s, a lot of this really resonated with me. Some things are still foggy for me LOL, but I hopefully with continued guidance, I will learn to see more clearly. Thank you for giving me more to ponder!

    Take care, Sky

    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm #


      You are more than welcome, I appreciate the feedback, and am glad that it resonates with you!



  9. vanillamom August 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    and yanno, despite my very full day, this post kept floating to the surface in my head…and i’m tired and kinda braindead now (i’m so peopled-out)…the one thing that does keep rising is that so much of *all* interaction is “understood”…the social mores i guess, that are drilled into us from childhood on….

    as you said to someone, you can’t dileneate every single “what if”…you’d go crazy if you tried. You can’t plan for every single contingency, be it a house fire, or the pizza guy going to the wrong house, or …a thousand different things….

    and that is the gulf where faith lives.

    If you haven’t developed that “faith-full-ness” with your partner, then …its not meant to be. And that may be just for the “now” while growing that faith in each other, or it may mean that the seeds will never take.

    Sometimes you have to jump off the cliff and trust …i did and i got lucky….but what i did won’t work for everyone.

    if only there was a way to plant those seeds with you and Mor without all that absolutism…you plant, you start to grow and then someone of you napalms the garden…

    and the only advice i have that you don’t need?

    is time.

    it will grow…or it will continue to be napalmed…and only time will tell.

    i love you, and now i’m taking my tired old ass to bed.


    • aisha August 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

      Dear ‘Nilla,

      My tired old ass needs to be in bed too – so i will just say yes, you’re exactly right.

      I swear I did NOT need to ask the question I asked – I KNOW that he wouldn’t have done what I asked about. But – once I asked and he said yes, he would, I was stuck. I couldn’t say I would do it, cause I wouldn’t . And he wouldn’t back down.

      Stubborn and stupid…me and him.


      It is what it is. And you’re exactly right, either it will become something – or it won’t. Like someone else said it’s not like I can control it.

      Good night, heart-sister,


  10. striving for peace August 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I think it’s important to keep one foot on the ground

    what’s interesting to me — is that you both seem to want to bring out the literal
    to pop the bubble


    but I’ll leave the analysis to you and JM

    the reality is — because I do think you two care about each other — I’m pretty sure that in case of fire – he would make sure you got out safe — and then give you his shirt so as not to shock the neightbors

    or to keep off the mosquitos
    or something


    • perfectlips August 22, 2011 at 2:02 am #

      > what’s interesting to me — is that
      > you both seem to want to bring out
      > the literal
      > to pop the bubble.


      How much of D/s is necessarily edge-play?


      • aisha August 22, 2011 at 4:32 am #


        Nice comment. Yeah, maybe it’s all edge play.

        Good grief, maybe this whole thing is edge play? I mean, with me and MoR?

        Laughing… thanks for planting that idea.


    • aisha August 22, 2011 at 4:30 am #

      Thanks for that astute observation, Sfp. And, I guess, for leaving the rest of the analysis to me and JM.

      And yes, in case of fire, I’m quite sure he would too. Damn it. So yeah, why’d I even ask?

      I had to. I’m just saying, I had to.

      Ok, enough of that. And really, I think I prefer one foot on the ground too… I’m just not always so good at keeping it firmly planted there.


  11. angel August 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    For whatever its worth…
    i think the literal has to have a chance to catch up to the symbolic.
    There are a million tiny rituals done in a million homes.
    Chances are, many of them go unnoticed, except to other people who also choose to create the same symbolism.

    When i eat dinner with daddy, i wait for him to tell me to eat.
    i do it in private, i do it in public. Its a literal gesture: i am waiting for nourishment based on symbolism: i am waiting for him to provide me with nourishment.
    Occasionally, he forgets i’m sitting there and waiting.
    The fact that i will wait means a lot to him.

    But, say, when we went for our first cup of coffee and he told me to wait, i would have not appreciated that. We had no foundation set.
    i have had many years of eating disorders and times food was withheld or forced upon me. This particular area of food could have been made into a major issue if i wanted to dissect every food-based interaction.

    Knowing my history, he pointed out that he would never withold or force foood on me. He could have been literal about it. He could have said that he would force me to eat or not eat. Because of the way he reacted in calmly reducing my food fears, i was able to let go of it.
    For a time of a few months, he was directly involved in everything i did or did not eat.
    The literal IS symbolic.
    Its all symbolism, my friend.
    You can use the literal as a symbol or you can fight it.
    In the end, i think, you have to know that the other person will win the fight while not putting you in duress.

  12. vanillamom August 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    @ angel….that was powerfully, effectively, and beautifully said.

    i’m so glad that your relationship has brought you such happy fulfilment, and the quiet joy i read in your words.

    @ aisha…she said it the best of all of us.


    • aisha August 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm #


      Yes, she did, didn’t she?


      I’m glad you’re my friend. And you’re going to be a wonderful therapist – gentle, insightful and wise.

      I’m better off for knowing you.



      • angel August 23, 2011 at 10:06 am #

        @ Nilla: You made me blush! i almost never blush!!

        @ Aisha: You made me tear up. Really. i think some of us were meant to cross paths in life and i am so glad that we did. 🙂

  13. Giggling Bunny August 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    It actually makes a lot of sense to me.

    I find myself getting caught up in that idea of “yes I will submit to you” and then they suggest something and I’m like NO I WONT DO THAT OMG!

    Kind of funny. I think though a part of it, at least for me, is that submission is so new and parts of me still cringe at giving up myself in different ways…..while part of me clearly relishes the idea.

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