Tonight I am going out for a Supermoon party. A private party, full of weirdoes and deviants, much flesh and PVC and leather on display, furries led around on leashes, adult babies in pink bibs, the traditional Domly game of “my flogger’s bigger than your flogger”. Bad Annani will be let out of her box. Much excitement. Bad Annani doesn’t get out to play all that often any more.
A party like this would, in the not-too-distant past, have been a completely normal weekend activity. I was part of the clique that hosts these parties; now I’m lucky to even get an invite. In the not-too-distant past, a party like this would have barely raised a “meh” on the Monday morning weekend review, unless something extraordinary happened at it. “Meh” because it is a planned event, and everyone knows the best times happen with no planning and no warning. A noteworthy weekend would have been finding myself in a hotel room at 5am with my friend-with-benefits, a merchant banker, the merchant banker’s boss’ 17-year-old son, half the stock of the local sex toy emporium and enough illicit substances to justify a whole team of police officers dressed in black kicking in the door. That would be a weekend which would have me sitting at my desk on Monday with a small smirk, hiding my hangover and comedown, and thinking, “Yep, that was an interesting weekend.”
The thing is… in this not-too-distant past, that would have been my identity. Had someone asked me to sum up exactly who I was, I would have said, “I’m a woman who sits at her desk like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, thinking deliciously about the scandalous evening the night before.”
Now I am a woman who hosts dinner parties for her couple friends. I go to pub quizzes. I have drinks with the girls after work. I tend the garden in the weekends. I have discussions with my partner about which duvet cover will look best in our shared bedroom. Yes, yes, sometimes I go to BDSM parties and sometimes my lovely boyfriend will tie me, blindfold me and cane my breasts. But these things are no longer What I Do. They’re no longer the large part of my identity.
I don’t know who I am any more.
In this not-too-distant past, I was pretty happy with my life. I’d shake my head in quiet amazement at the weird and wonderful situations I’d find myself in sometimes. I expected that if I kept walking these lines, I might really find myself in danger. I expected that I’d be single forever and I was happy about that – I could just keep going where my whims took me.
But I met my boyfriend and I fell in love and I love him more than I loved the things I was doing. So when he said he couldn’t do non-monogamy, I agreed to monogamy. I said goodbye to my friends-with-benefits and fuckbuddies, and I said goodbye to the nights of following my whims. I thought it’d be hard, but in reality it’s been easy. I love my boyfriend, I have agreed on monogamy with him, and so monogamy is easy. I’ve not been tempted to stray, not even after wild offers from former lovers (which isn’t to say that I don’t occasionally think wistfully about what might have been had I still been single).
I think the problem is that I phrased it all wrong in my head. Identity isn’t exactly what we do. We are many things, some of them expressed, some of them not. I still consider myself to be a non-monogamous person. I am just behaving monogamously because that’s the sort of relationship I’m in. I still consider myself slutty, even though my slutty behaviours are confined between me and my love. I’m most certainly still submissive – I submit to my boyfriend in large and small ways every day, even if elaborate scenes are a little rarer.
But although I feel a sense of loss for that part of who I was, I’m starting to realise that thinking of myself only as that scandalous woman with a knowing smile was really selling myself short. I have to remind myself that I’m still who I always was, and those parts of me I adored are all still there. It’s just that other parts of who I’ve always been are coming to the fore now – dare I say it, softer, gentler parts. The aspects of my identity which are capable of loving, of embracing service submission, of quietness and solitude*, of – yes – domesticity (don’t flinch as you type that, Annani!). As contemptuous as old me is, trying out a new recipe while friends sit at the dinner table drinking wine and we discuss the latest political scandal – it gives me a sense of peace and rightness that a hundred nights of fucking strangers and snorting drugs never did.
* It sounds weird to say that I’m capable of solitude now that I live with a partner. But so much of what I did previously was motivated by my inability to sit quietly with myself – I always itched to do something, anything.