taiWelcome! I’m Tai Scarlet Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a somatic sexuality educator, occultist, professional harlot, and gender & relationships coach. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

I identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and my pronouns are they/them or any neutral pronouns. I spend a lot of my time studying sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, the body, queer theory, depth psychology, archetypes, mythology, erotic neurobiology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers.
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Stream of Consciousness Life Thoughts

Instead of attempting to do a catch-up post before I write the “real” post by trying to recap all the things that have happened since the last time so many ages ago that I posted on here, I just need to write. I’ve been doing so much writing the last few years, but so little personal writing. Grad school has sucked up all my writing time and now that I’m writing my thesis I’m going a little bit insane. I am having a difficult time getting words down on the page, however, and I’m hoping that a bit of a free write will assist with that.

I’m struggling. As always, it seems. I have had so many epiphanies and breakthroughs and beginnings of changing long-ingrained patterns, but it never seems like it is enough. And I suppose it will never be enough, because if it was I would have nothing else to work on or nowhere else to grow. I would like a breather, however. Can’t there just be a time with a bit of a relaxing, settling down, and not working on any major shit? No? Okay.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, even just in the last year. I used to be terrified of, well, just about everything. Of myself. Of other people. Of getting what I want. Of my own power. I’ve been on a path of discovering and rediscovering my own personal power and shedding those things that have been in the way of my embracing and expressing it. My pathways were clogged for so long, and finally some bits of my own light are able to come through them and shine out of them. Still not all of them are clear, and others are gathering new gunk, but that is one of the continual processes.

Golden Dawn spiritual work, grad school, my father’s death, relationship changes, explorations in polyamory, coming into my own as a Hierophant and High Priestess, all these things have shifted and changed me internally to the point of sometimes I actually realize how strong and competent I am. Other times I am still frightened of the world and my part in it. I’m still insecure. I’m still socially anxious, self-deprecating, and uncertain of myself a lot of the time. I have worked on and healed a lot of wounds and changed old patterns for the better, but I still fall into the old pit of depression sometimes.

Aside from the stress of school and relationships, however, I am arguably the most content and least depressed that I have ever been, or at least for as long as I can remember. I am doing my work in the world, and sometimes failing at it. I am at least moving toward my work in real and tangible ways, and getting better at what I do.

I am not as enlightened or close to my ideal self as I would like to be, but I’m at least working on it. That is something. I’m grateful for the chance to be getting this really ridiculous self-designed degree in a subject that doesn’t even seem realistic or plausible to the majority of the world. I realize the privilege in that and am astounded by it. I think I’m calling it Sacred Erotic Psychology now, though even that isn’t quite right. It’s gone though a bunch of different iterations.

Relationships are consistently a struggle right around the end of the quarter. It’s like all the stress likes to get saved up until right at the end. So that’s fun. Onyx and I have had some rough patches in the last few months specifically, though we always go through alternating rough and smooth times, as is the nature of long-term relationships it seems. We had a period of really great connecting after a major shake-up in our relationship due to a rather major breaking of our agreements just before the end of last quarter. We both have come to a lot of insights of our own patterns in relationships and the patterns in our relationship with each other that we need and want to break. It has been really useful and there have been lots of growing pains. The period of connecting was really lovely and some of the best moments of our relationship in recent memory, but that too was broken and we’re now in a slightly awkward phase again. Yet not as awkward as a lot of the last year has been, so I don’t know. Only now there is a limited amount of time and energy available to really get back to smooth due to thesis writing.

So. Thesis. Yes. I need to be writing about the theoretical orientations that are foundational to my thesis, as well as historical background related to the body that informs my thesis, and the beginnings of articulating my own theoretical synthesis as well as my praxis approach. It’s a lot.

My current thesis statement/elevator speech is this: I am articulating how I as a practitioner can present eroticism as an embodied experience of love that promotes and nurtures intra-, inter-, and trans-personal connections. By integrating our embodied and mythological experience of our minds, hearts, and body/genitals though the process of identifying the disconnected parts needing to be integrated and using a variety of psychological and bodywork techniques to foster mutually beneficial relationships between ourselves and these parts we move toward experiencing and expressing our Whole Erotic Self through embodied sovereignty. This is important because loving connection and embodied erotic experiences can advance our own developmental learning, enhance our quality of life, and benefit the earth.

Not bad, right?

Stained

I want to open you
to yourself.
Show you the beauty that lies within,
Help you fill the void inside you,
That empty place
that can be full.

I want to crack you open
like a pomegranate,
Taste your bittersweet juices
Until my fingers are
stained with you.

I will lift you up to
the mirror of my soul,
Reflect you back to yourself
So you can see all that you can be.

I will not heal you,
That is your work,
But I will point you to the key
So you can heal yourself.

Re-Collaring

It was nothing strict or formal or fancy, we’ve never really been any of those things. We just talked.

We talked about how we got to collaring in the first place five years ago: when it happened, where it happened. We talked about the past five years and highlights of our relationship. We talked about how we got back to collaring and the changes that have taken place over the past year especially but over all our time together.

He told me he is proud to own me. I told him I am proud to be owned by him. And I am.

The hard cool steel slid around my neck and he screwed it in place. I have not taken it off since, nor do I plan to for as long as possible (probably not until the next time we fly, to be practical). It’s heavy and the weight of it constantly reminds me of his ownership. I love being reminded.

He used me then, emphasizing his ownership, dragging me into the bedroom by my hair and fucking me until we were both exhausted and spent. We cuddled and murmured our “I love you”s and talked more about the symbolism of the collar. He said he loves the way it looks. I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve come so far in the last five years. Both of us have changed so incredibly much, I would go so far as to say we just got more alike over the years, even more perfect of a fit. We’ve both settled so happily into these roles, as well, in a way I always dreamed that we would but always wondered if it was possible. Now I know it is. He’s amazing.

My new collar is a custom made 3/8 inch thick stealth collar from Ring of Steel. It has an onyx inlaid in the center and two garnets on either side for five gems in total. It’s so us, so perfect, and exactly what I wanted. He’s exactly what I wanted.

Collars

Five years ago on November 19th Onyx collared me for the first time. We were in my apartment in Ashland, Oregon at the time. He lived in Salt Lake City and was visiting for the weekend.

We had been together long distance for only about five months when Onyx collared me the first time. He’s bought me a few different leather collars over the years, most of them have deteriorated in some way due to 24/7 wear. Currently I wear a heart-shaped necklace that he bought for me for the holidays in 2007 as my collar.

So much has happened since this collar was bought, not to mention since he first collared me, especially with our D/s dynamics, that I have been longing for a new collar. I wanted a permanent collar, one that would stand up to 24/7 wear. I began looking around at collars, not mindful of the anniversary that was coming up. We have been talking about getting me a metal collar with gems for years1 and I found a different style than we were looking at all those years ago, but a better style. We finally have it in our possession. It arrived in the mail today.

Since I have to wait to wear it until the 19th you have to wait to see it until the 19th. Though some of you have seen it already (cheaters).

I wanted something sturdy, something he could use to choke me with if he so chooses2, and something that could be locked. I got all of those things. It also has onyx and garnet gems inlaid in it, just like we were wanting years ago.

In some ways I feel like we’re finally getting to the place where we wanted to be all those years ago, the relationship we both wanted to have that we just couldn’t get to. I think a lot of that was me, though we both had hangups before. We’re at such a solid place now it’s almost ridiculous.

I’m not sure what he has planned for the (re-)collaring on this November the 19th, though I plan on asking him. It was so accidental3 that I brought up wanting a new collar in time for us to get it right around our collaring anniversary. I’m looking forward not just to wearing the collar but for all it will represent: the rebirth of our relationship after breaking up last winter and finding each other again; his ownership of me and the different flavor our D/s-O/p has taken; our love and our bond which is now stronger than ever, transmuted from leather to steel.

For as long as I can remember I’ve seen collars as important and binding. As binding as a wedding ring, if not moreso, and far more preferable to me4. His is the only collar I’ve ever accepted, and this relationship is the longest I’ve been in. I’m excited to show this renewed commitment to him and our relationship.

  1. the conversation in that post happened before the November 19th visit in 2005 []
  2. since we do a lot of breath play this does not seem like too much of a request, though will definitely be risky, but we will examine the risks []
  3. or at least I was not consciously aware of the collaring anniversary until I looked it up []
  4. I am just not that big on marriage for various reasons []

Non-Monogamy Map

New from Franklin Veaux who also brought us the Human Sexuality Map (which you can buy posters of, and I totally did) is the Map of Non-Monogamy which is, I believe, still a bit of a work-in-progress, but is fascinating and detailed. Sometimes the arrows are a bit difficult to follow.

I’m mildly bummed/surprised that there are no examples of the overlap of “BDSM Play & D/s Non-monogamy” with “Polyamorous relationships” in a similar manner to “This is my wife, her boyfriend, my boyfriend, and our girlfriend. Her husband will be joining us later.” But, of course, he can’t please everyone and there is already a ton of options up there and, no doubt, many more that aren’t represented. Like the Human Sexuality Map it’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty awesome.

Click the image above for a larger view.

There Is No Settling Down Without Settling For

I found this via twitter the other day and it struck me, so I wanted to share it and my thoughts on it. This isn’t a new video, it was posted in February of 2009, but it’s new to me and may be new to you. It’s Dan Savage talking about his idea of “The Price of Admission” for long-term relationships and how the best types of relationships are ones that make you better. Watch, enjoy, and see my thoughts under.

This is something Onyx and I have talked about quite a lot, and it’s not a new concept in many ways, but I do think that he is telling it in a way that is just well thought out and excellent. This idea of The Price of Admission really makes sense. With all our happily ever afters we grow up believing that there is some sort of perfect person out there who will fill a piece of ourselves we didn’t know we were missing. Those who grew up cynics like me never really had that fantasy, but I know plenty of people who did. I can’t say I was completely above it either, but being polyamorous definitely helps in that regard as well.

I think it’s part of my poly outlook that compensates partially for this one perfect person trope, since that’s part of the reason I am poly. I don’t believe that one person can complete another, I believe we are complete beings already but that we are all also intertwined and need each other for other reasons, but not in order to be complete. On that line, I do believe that any individual needs more than one interaction, whether or not that is sexual or romantic is another story, but I’m open to the possibility of sexual and romantic partnerships other than the one I have with Onyx, though I’m not actively seeking one right now.

Poly tangent aside and back to The Price of Admission. The PoA is really something everyone does in every kind of long-term relationship, friendships included. We ignore the little things that bug us (as much as we can) and focus on the things we love about the other person. If you are constantly looking for perfection in everyone else most likely you won’t have any friends and you will be a hypocrite. No one is perfect, but I do think that two people can be perfect for each other and fit together well.

I love his theory about the growth that can be inspired by long-term relationships, as I think it is really true and has definitely been proven true in my relationship with Onyx. Through encouraging the person/people you are with to be that lie they wish they were, the person they present in the beginning of courtship when they are trying to woo you as best they can you are then encouraging them to growth and to become that better person. Everyone does this, not just lovers but also friends, and it doesn’t always have to be a lie necessarily, we all have different personae that are still us even if they are ones ignoring the flaws.

It comes out similar to many cliches I’m sure we’ve all heard, such as real friends know everything about you but still like you anyway or there’s no perfect person only those perfect for you. Like Dan says, the most successful long-term relationships are ones in which you don’t just put up with the things that irritate you about your partner, but you actually accept them and make room for them in your relationship.

Blind Spots

I’m not sure if I’m doing a wise thing here, and the fact that I’ve not really shared it with Onyx is probably an indication of how not smart it is. I just have a blind spot when it comes to him. I’m not sure what to call him on here, though he might not mind his real name since it’s a pretty common one. I’m not sure he knows about this blog anyway. I am so torn.

He contacted me on Facebook after not speaking for two and a half years. He knew the date, I didn’t. We give great back and forth. There hasn’t been any fighting yet, or bickering. We used to bicker all the time, like old marrieds who had gotten into a rut and just pushed each other the wrong way. We did that.

I loved him once. I met him around the same time I met Onyx, also online. We would call each other up and make sweet dirty music together, and it was good. I just called him for the first time in two and a half years.

It’s strange, though we used to talk on the phone all the time, I was nervous. I remembered his voice and my breath did that cliche thing of catching in my throat before I could speak. He has far too much power over me. He knows how to play my heartstrings just right, whether intentionally or not.

The ball was and has been in my court. There is no promise for anything except talking. I don’t intend to start anything sexual with him, but I want to see how he has changed and grown. My curiosity is getting the better of me, because he seems less severe in some ways. I wonder how he and I will get along now. I wonder if there is more between us than the memory of what we used to have. I know that I still have love for him inside me, and it is more powerful than I was anticipating.

Am I loving him or what he represents? I’ve always had an idealized version of him in my head, the person he could be if he could only stop being so caustic. The person he was when he was with me when we weren’t bickering. This isn’t something I can just leave alone, I have to see what happens, and I’m trying to be as cautious as I possibly can.

What A Year

One year ago I wrote an introduction to Marla. We had already been talking for a few weeks previous to that. In so many ways it doesn’t seem like it has been a year, but in others it seems like it should have been far longer. Everything happened so quickly, she was living with us less than six months after I first introduced her, and then everything split apart just a few months later.

She once asked me if I planned on writing a post to commemorate our anniversary. This isn’t what either of us had in mind.

In some ways it makes me extremely excited for what the next year will bring. Where will I be in March of 2011? What will be happening and what will I be thinking? How will my identities and thoughts and passions have changed and grown and evolved?

In some ways it makes me sad that I have not posted as much this past year as I wanted to or wish I had, but I also know that was a product of the situation. I just couldn’t write about what I was thinking and feeling, for various reasons. I was highly distracted. I know I write about her quite often, but it’s difficult not to write about someone who had such an extreme impact on every aspect of my life as she did.

I will be moving back to Seattle in five short days, hoping that the situation I am coming back to will encourage me to write rather than the opposite, though I also hope to be far more busy so I may have to finally learn how to prioritize (and judging by the half-dozen drafts I have open while writing this that may take a bit to do). I am a different person now than I was a year ago, in so many ways. I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring.

My life is a series of changes, a series of hits and misses, ghosts and corpses. I’ve lost a lot and gained what I’ve taken. This time next year I won’t be this girl anymore, I’ll be something new. I’ll be a new image, a new collage in the making. But no matter who I become next I will always remember the people I’ve been and all the pieces I’ve kept. – We the Living Photography [image]

What I Don’t Need

At some point before I’ve talked about relationship needs, that is the needs of the relationship, but in the last few months something that has been extremely important for me to realize has been a different sort of relationship need, that is, a lack of need.

When I was younger a relationship or, more accurately, the absence of and desire for a relationship was always the focal point of my life, with other things often working to fill the void I felt without a partner. I think part of the reason why I left theatre life is because I was so focused on the need to be in a relationship, the need for a partner, and I thought theatre would distract from that. The reason I have recently been able to come back to it is because of this new lack of a need.

The word “need” is thrown about so much even though so often it is impossible to accurately separate needs from wants when in the moment, one must step outside and analyze and discern in order to figure out what is really necessary and what is a passing fancy, and even that is difficult without hindseight. Luckily life is much like the philosopher Jagger sang1, and often these things work out on their own. Needs aren’t bad things by any means, so long as we can distinguish between need and want.

So often are we told that in order to be a complete and true person we must be in a couple, we are only part of a whole, and when we are told something over and over again it becomes like a need. We do not need others to fulfill or complete ourselves, though we often feel like we do because we are told that we do for various reasons. We are told we are incomplete without the perfect partner, not to mention marketing strategies which tell us we are not complete without some product or another, but that is a whole other post. The point is we need to be able to be happy and complete without external influences.

This isn’t to say that we don’t need relationships. After all, humans are social creatures, as the cliché tells us, and I’ve studied enough psychology and sociology to know that is basically true2. While love is part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs relationships in general aren’t the same as the idealized spend-all-of-your-time-together can’t-think-of-anyone-but-each-other completely emotionally dependent romantic relationships perpetuated by society. We grow up thinking that is what we need, to find someone to fill the void within ourselves, before realizing that no one can really fill that but ourselves.

Need indicates more than a desire. Saying that I need something is the same as saying that there is some fundamental part of me that requires something in order to survive, be complete, or be happy. I do need friends and relationships, but that doesn’t mean I need any one specific person. If that was true than no one would ever maintain friendships outside of romantic relationships.

Distinguishing the difference between the idealized relationship and a healthy independent relationship is something the triad taught me. While I knew in my head that it was best to have lives and friends and interests outside of the relationship I always had a difficult time engaging in anything like that aside from school. Once I graduated I lost my outside focus and my relationship with Onyx was strained ever since. He was also supporting me financially, he was basically providing me with the first three levels of my hierarchy of needs and neither of us was completely comfortable with that.

Spending time away from him really has done wonders for our relationship, for both of us. I’ve gotten to the point of embracing my autonomy and independence, enjoying time alone in a new way, which was truly necessary after the triad, which truly was a spend-all-of-your-time-together dependent romantic relationship. In addition to everything else I actually think rediscovering this independence has actually been a major catalyst for the rediscovery of my desire to be submissive for long periods of time rather than for short bursts during play. Now that I am not dependent on him my choice to be submissive is that much stronger. But I digress, that also is another post.

“I need you” now leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to be needed or to need anyone else, it puts too much pressure on the relationship. I would rather everyone involved was coming to the relationship from a place of want and desire, a place where the relationship is fun, voluntary, and exciting rather than necessary or required. Thus I am officially striking the phrase “I need you” or any derivative thereof from my romantic repertoire. I choose instead to employ phrases such as “I want you” or “I crave you” which are equally as powerful but are less dependent.

edit

Brought to my attention by the wonderful Kristi, Amanda Palmer’s cover of “I Want You, But I Don’t Need You” is fabulously in the exact same vein as my post above, and therefore needed to be embedded and shared. Not to mention it’s Amanda Palmer which automatically makes it that much more awesome.

  1. Referencing both the pilot episode of House and The Rolling Stones, of course. []
  2. I do have a degree in Psychology, which basically just allows me to go “hmm” when presented with any personal information about a person. []

Spiraling Forward

Well, I’m officially moving back to Seattle. I have a one-way ticket for March 17th.

This seemed like an impossibility at the end of November, the end of the triad, and part of me is surprised at the way things turned out, yet I’m also not surprised.

I still feel guilty for the way things ended, and I feel guilty for being with Onyx again when I was so sure that wasn’t going to happen. I allowed for it to happen, obviously, and I’m happy that we have come to a much better phase in our relationship, but I still have this gnawing sense of guilt. Why? Because I told Marla it wasn’t going to happen. I told her we would be with each other, I told her we would be together. I truly believed it at the time, but I spoke in absolutes not knowing what the future would hold.

I still miss her sometimes, lots of things remind me of her, and I wonder how it will be to go back to the apartment where the three of us lived. I wonder how long it will take before it takes on new light and I see it again as my home with Onyx and not where we three lived. I’m sure it will forever be both, but eventually the pang of longing will fade. I look back now and I see how we weren’t right for each other, I know what happened has been for the best, but that doesn’t mean the love I felt went away.

Things with Onyx are so different, so new, it’s almost like a completely new relationship in some ways, and our connection is now better than ever. We were both able to break down many of the walls between us after, in spite of, and because of what happened. We are connecting on a deeper level, I think, and in new ways.

Of course, reconnecting is bringing up old issues too, namely social, things I can just think about while I’m here and don’t have any way of fixing or doing anything about now. I’m worried about the way that we fit together in social situations, I tend to be quiet and even when engaging in a conversation I never seem to get a word in because I’m not a Conversation Top. I prefer quiet intimate settings to clubs or parties, but how does one get to the point of having a quiet intimate setting without knowing people first? I tend to feel left out and even, admittedly, anxious in social situations where I don’t know anyone, or even in social situations where I do know people just not well.

Sometimes I just wish I was more outgoing, but I’m not. I’m trying to change that as much as I can, but it’s not easy.

I’m also battling again with being a queer person in a heterosexual relationship. Maybe this shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it is. Sometimes I feel like I am betraying part of myself to be with him, which is an odd thing to say.

I worry about falling back into the rut that we did before, or that we are idealizing each other due to being apart and when we are back living together the changes that seem to have happened will disappear. I don’t know if this will happen, obviously, but I definitely don’t know for sure that it won’t. I am trying not to have that expectation, though, and not encourage it to happen, but I do wonder.

We are at a much better place than we ever have been before, and we have been making plans to do things that we have talked about for a while but not gotten around to. Hopefully we will be getting memberships to the CSPC in addition to planning on attending SEAF, Sex 2.0, Element 11, and generally getting more involved in the community in Seattle.

Onyx will be coming up here on Friday for a week to see the play I am in as well to spend time with me. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of relationship blah-blah-blahing lately on this blog, so hopefully soon I’ll get back to writing some sexy stuff after he’s here!