Sunday, September 23, 2018

Feast or famine

Apologies for the delayed blog. I got home late from work Saturday morning and I'm trying to meet another deadline. The newest page of the Koko comic did make it on time! Which brings me to this week's blog topic: Time.

Tammy in this week's page. 

One of the biggest challenges I face in my life is time management. Professionally, academically or in my personal relationships. There just never seems to be enough time in the day for me to accomplish everything that I want to do. Sometimes, I just wish that I had some sort of life-hack like in the Sims were I would have infinite energy and money so I could devote all of my time to my relationships and my hobbies instead of wasting time at work or sleeping.

But this is real life. Time marches on. The world is there and it certainly isn't waiting for you. It becomes a balancing act. You have to allot time for the things you have to do- I mean, the things that you need to do to survive. You have to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. There is no real way around those three things. You can try to override one need for another but your body will rebel against you. You can be so hungry that you can't sleep. You can only hold your bladder so long before you should leave your bed. And the human mind can only tolerate so much sleep deprivation before it starts shutting down.

Since those things are unavoidable needs, you have to factor them into your day or else. People joke about being, "hangry", angry because they are hungry. But it's true. If you're body is not getting the things it needs, it impacts your mental wellbeing. People that are tired, tend to be grouchy.

Then there is the time you need to factor into your day for the things that you are required to do as an adult. If you have to work full-time, you have to factor in time for getting dressed, hygiene, your commute to and from work, and then your time at work doing professional things. You have deadlines and times for when you have to be places. You are a shackled by time. You make the decision about whether you can skip lunch to work on a project or if you can get by eating at your desk. You'll sometimes sacrifice a decent meal for snacks to get things done faster.

Then when you get home from work, you have to figure out what else you have to do. If you have a dog, like I do, I get to change my clothes and take the dog for a walk. It has to happen or else the dog will mess in the house, then it's one more thing to clean up. Then I have to try to balance time with my husband and any coursework or hobbies I might have. Do I have time to blog? DO I have time to work on my book? Do I have time to watch tv? Can I manage doing assigned reading for college while watching things with my husband?  Will Shep be satisfied with the shared time or do I need to take the time out to devote more specific focused time?

I don't feel like I have enough time but the truth is, that I have enough time as I give myself. If something is important, I will make the time in my schedule for it and then adjust my workflow around it to compensate. Time with my husband is important to me so I will make the time and then lose sleep to meet a homework deadline or I will tackle homework in a dead time at work.  I am grateful that I have great communication with Shep about how I devote my time.  If my schedule doesn't mesh up with Shep's, it means we're not doing focused couple things together all the time but that's okay too. Our relationship is strong enough that we appreciate what time we do get to have together even if it isn't technically, a "date". 

I have the freedom to work on what I need to or want to. And when I am free, or want to spend time, I can just let him know and we can do it. If he's unsure of what I'm doing, he'll just ask and we'll find the time. I think I get the most time with him in conversation when we are walking the dogs or driving somewhere for groceries. It's important to me to make the time in my day for all the things I need to do but I can't do everything in a day. So I try to spread it out.

When I am between classes, the opposite seems to happen. I don't know how to structure my time because I am not under a  deadline. And I feel unproductive so I make work for myself. I am glad for Google calendar since it helps me structure my time. So it brings up the question of how to fit another person into my already busy schedule. If it's important, I will make the time. Having a short conversation via text while doing something else is less of an investment than going out for coffee. If I know something is coming up, I can adjust my workflow or adjust my sleep (or lack thereof). But it means timing is everything. Communication is also important to set expectations for any relationship.

Will your partner be satisfied to only see you for X amount of time? Do you need to go on X dates to feel validated? How often do you need to physically be in the same room? You will never know unless you have that conversation.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


This week has been mentally exhausting for me. My hours have been shifting around so I haven't been sleeping well but it's made it harder to get my thoughts straight to settle down enough to properly write.  The comic gives me a chance to filter a specific narrative or concept into a visual form which is great but some of the memories that accompany certain scenes are hard to face again.

Tammy in this week's comic. Fantasy fulfillment?

I wrote last week about ending a relationship and on the comic blog I mentioned Dave and an abusive relationship. I haven't gotten the question about my decision to include it in the comic since it is an adult comic. It's porn, why include it at all if the business is presenting a sexual fantasy? It's storytelling but it's also a fragment of truth. It's a bit dark but I felt it was important to include, just like I felt it was important to describe the neglectful relationship preceding my marriage. I try to include an underlying truth in the narratives I create.

The stories I plan to tell in the comic have undercurrents of truth. You might have to truly know me to see what fragments of truth are glittering there under a patina of falsehood. It is a bit of fantasy fulfillment in the stories too. I want to present a narrative that is real. These people are real even if they aren't being fully presented as who they fully are.

It's why sexual fantasies are so powerful when executed correctly. You take a real thing and you take it a couple of steps too far and lose yourself in the untruth of it all. The things you wish had happened, that you want to be real. It can't be too far fetched, otherwise it's not a tangible fantasy.

For instance, a popular fantasy from my reading of Nancy Friday's "My Secret Garden" and "Forbidden Flowers" is an attractive authority figure pulling the woman aside to talk to her or to punish her (a spanking usually) and then gets too into it. The authority figure is lost in his passion for her and they have powerfully liberating sex. Or you and a co-worker are alone in the office and you have sex on the conference table or over your desk. Things that are a) risky, 2) forbidden, and 3) are based on somewhat real encounters.

I'm sure there is more literature about power exchange and submission that could be had at another time. It's a mindset. It's just one set of fantasies out of a multitude of fantasies. Not every fantasy is realistic or feasible. Not every kink can be mutually shared by another. I for one, am not a fan of physical violence in sexual situations which means I am not a sadist or a masochist. But that's someone else's kink. Some people get off on verbal abuse, not this girl.

Engaging in something like that can be liberating for the fetishist. I have found in my own interactions that many of abuse survivors have these violent fantasies that help them take their power back from the indignities and horrors they suffered, because if it's too much, they can end the encounter. This isn't true for everyone but many people discount the therapeutic aspects of sex with someone you trust and love. But many people aren't comfortable with telling the person that they are in a sexual relationship in what they fantasize about.

There is a sense of shame that people feel when it comes to expressing their sexual fantasies. A tangible fear that they will be judged and rejected. So people turn outside of their loving relationships to get the validation and acceptance that they need. They cheat because they cannot be sexually fulfilled in their normal relationship. So how can you head this off? How do you get comfortable talking about these kinks?

Everything starts with a conversation. It can be small. "Hey, I would really like to try having sex in a new position." or "hey, can we have sex with me in a costume?" Little things to test the waters. Or "hey, I love having sex with you but I want to try something different how do you feel if we do X?"

If you never ask you will never know what your partner might be willing to do or the heights of awesome sex you might be missing out on. =)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Ending a relationship

Koko <3 U! Entry 1 Page 5. Koko explaining.
This week's comic update will depict a particular relationship as a whole in about 5 panels. I will comment on that particular relationship on the comic blog directly but it brings up a good question, "When should you just give up on making a relationship work?"

There's no hard fast rules to this relationship thing since it is a very personal thing. What I might find acceptable behavior in my partners might not be okay in another relationship. For instance, some women think it is cheating for their partner to look at porn, sexy pictures of other women on the internet or looking at other women. The defense to it is that those pictures or videos aren't real. It's not the person engaging but some people argue that in their minds, the cheating has occurred, therefore, it is not allowed.
This is really disrespectful. He totally is being an asshole here.
I think pornography viewing is one of the biggest sticking points in most monogamous relationships. One partner is forbidden from watching porn or even masturbating because it is somehow cheating. If it was me and I was given such an ultimatum, I would consider getting out of that relationship. It's not that porn or masturbation is more important than my partner but because it's my partner dictating to me how I should be thinking, seeing, experiencing and doing. You cannot control where your mind wanders. If you give this person that power over you, what's next?

Do they start approving of who you are friends with? What you look at? Who you talk to? This is of course a worst case scenario but I have seen this sort of thing happen to my friends. One friend married a woman he met through WoW with a few children from another relationship but ended up not being to live with her since he was stationed overseas and she had to stay in the States to maintain her custody agreement for the kids. But he was forbidden from watching porn, or masturbating. He loved her and he agreed to it, but it did not stop her from yelling at him about what he was doing at any given point of the day. It was a seriously bad relationship. He found out later that he was paying for her ex's bills and he had paid off her debt but she was still racking up more.

He persisted in that relationship because he loved her. He wanted to make it work. She tanked his bank account and started killing his credit score by taking credit out in his name. They were married, she had a power of attorney. He tried to resolve the problems, his "porn addiction" and went to counselling. She starting dating other people through WoW and he eventually found out. He wasn't allowed to look at videos and she was sleeping with other people behind his back. She had taken control over him and it took 4 years of this sort of manipulation for him to say that he had enough. He finally filed for divorce.

I give him a lot of credit, he really tried to make it work. I just think that after he found out about her using his money to float her deadbeat ex he should have started questioning. He was being used. But he endured it out of love. He is now trying to repair his life and his credit.

In a 2015 issue of Psychology Today an article titled, "Top 10 reasons why relationships Fail" trust issues was cited as the number 1 reason. This isn't the only reason to end a relationship but it is a good one.

If you cannot trust your partner or if you feel that your partner does not trust you, why are you in a relationship with them? But more so, have you attempted to communicate with your partner your feelings of mistrust? Do you feel like you can actually talk to them?

If you can't communicate with your partner, then you might be in trouble. There has to be mutual trust and a good line of communication. If you have never even tried, you might want to consider talking to them.

The porn ultimatum is just one example of a trust issue but that issue is also rooted in jealousy. The partner could be saying that they don't trust their other with porn because they are afraid that they will go out and cheat on them if they witness sexual scenarios that they might not be willing to indulge in. Or perhaps they feel like they are inadequate compared to the porn star or someone else. It could be a matter that the idea of their partner looking is telling them that THEY aren't GOOD ENOUGH. I would argue that the act of scoping out another person or flirting with another in front of your partner is rude and disrespectful if you haven't communicated with your partner.

I actually thought the scenario in Beyoncé's "If I were a boy" music video was a good example of a deliberate level of disrespect for a relationship. I thought it was an interesting way to handle the topic.

It is possible to cheat on your partner while being open or polyamorous. How you might ask? By lying to them or being disrespectful towards their feelings. I would argue that flirting with someone else without talking to your partner about it is wrong. There have to be some managed expectations. It can be as simple as, "Would you mind if I flirted with some people at this party that I was interested in pursuing?" This way, it gives both people a chance to state what their expectations are and gives one partner to opt out. It's okay to say "No. I don't want to see you hit on other people in front of me. It makes me feel a certain way." This way both people know what the expectations are, that they are at the party together as partners and will be going home together or that they will be together for only a part of the night and possibly leaving separately. Managing expectations will save everyone's feelings at the end of the day.

But I digress, I was talking about the when you should end a relationship.

There are some good times to consider calling it quits on a relationship. For me the following things would end a relationship for me, regardless of the strength of my feelings.

  • If my partner ever hit me outside of martial arts training, it'd be over and the police would be involved. Physical abuse is the easiest determination of whether my partner is trust worthy. If it is ever okay in a romantic relationship to hit me outside of me trying to hurt them, fuck no. I'd be done. I've seen what physically abusive relationships do to people. I might love that person but I am no one's punching bag.
  • If I don't feel like I can trust my partner. I mean, after all of the talking and such has come to a wall. If I think my partner is lying to me about something important like a drug addiction not something trivial like not washing their dishes. There is a lot of risk with emotionally and physically engaging with someone else. You are opening your life to them and if they can't respect you enough to be honest, then they aren't worth your time. 
  • If my partner does something that makes me feel unsafe. If I am worried for my personal well-being at any point of my interactions with them.. then I definitely don't need to be in a relationship. 
  • If I felt like I was being manipulated into doing something about my morals. There are certain lines that I feel shouldn't be crossed. Certain things that will never be okay in my book.
  • If I felt like my partner isn't actually interested in me. I have already lived this, I definitely know what it feels like to be discarded. If I ever feel that way again, I would rather end the relationship than keep trying to make it work. 
For me a relationship needs to have: mutual affection, trust, and honesty. If something is missing then why am I wasting my time and theirs? Please note that I did not mention physicality. It is possible to be in a loving relationship without a physical component but their has to be a mutual understanding between partners. Just my thoughts for this week! I hope it's helpful! 

Monday, September 3, 2018

A bit about jealousy

Update is up! Check out the newest page of the comic:

I wanted to talk a bit about jealousy today. Of my top 10 questions about the lifestyle, “How do you deal with jealousy?” is definitely one.

In polyamorous and even open relationships, jealousy can mean the end for a relationship. Academically, there are two distinct terms that are used regarding this particularly sensitive emotion - envy and jealousy. Envy is when you see someone else with someone that you feel you lack, be it an item, or positive trait or a person whose attention you desire. We covet what we don’t have. Jealousy is our gut feeling when we feel like what we have is being threatened. Someone wants your shiny because they want it and you want to keep it, protect it, and most times, you are willing to fight for it.

I have described fear as a serpent that coils around you and threatens to squeeze the life from you. To me, jealousy can also be that same serpent but ends up manifesting as a dragon. We fear we will lose someone we love to some valiant knight or supple young maiden. Sometimes, we would rather burn what we have than lose it someone else. Our fear of losing the thing we love often makes us hurt the object of our affection, and we lose it anyway.

And it makes us feel like shit. So how do we deal with it? How do we not feel jealous?

The short answer is that we don’t.

The long answer is that we address the things that make us feel like less worthy of retaining the love that we have and want.

Let’s cut out all of the bullshit.

Strip away the other people entirely. The person you think is a threat and even the person you love. Let’s just look at ourselves for a moment. No one can make you feel anyway that you don’t let them. So why do we feel this way?

This brings us back to envy. If you are afraid of losing someone to another person, why? If you come back with the answer that they are: younger, more attractive, or more affluent, then it means you are envious. The answer has more to do with you being insecure about yourself than anyone else, this feeling will not go away until you learn to love yourself.

Let’s go further. Do you trust that your relationship is strong enough to withstand the existence or presence of another person? If your answer is no, then you really should not be attempting polyamory or open or swinging. There has to be trust in your partner and faith in the strength of your relationship or else this will not work.

Jealousy is rooted in our fear and insecurities.

Fear comes in and tells us that we aren’t good enough, so we will lose everything we love. In the end that we will be alone. All of our hopes and dreams will be scattered like ashes on the wind.

It’s all a pile of bullshit, lies we nurse because we have been taught that we lose something by letting our partner have their freedom. Lies that tell us that by engaging in this sort of lifestyle that our relationships with our primary are not worthwhile or valuable because we are willing to do things apart from them.

In a normal monogamous relationship, do you do everything with that partner? I mean, everything? Do you both have exactly the same hobbies, interests, and friends? Do you fully engage in everything that they do? Is there some hour of the day that you aren’t with your partner?

Typically, people spend time apart even in a happy and fulfilling monogamous relationship. People have other friends, hobbies, and places of work. Being apart does not lessen the affection or devotion you have for your partner. Loving your family, children or friends does not diminish the love you have for your partner.

When I felt jealous or inadequate, I looked at myself and asked why? I found in myself that I was insecure about my looks. I felt like attention devoted to pursuing someone else was a threat to me. But I thought about it. Was it really? You have to invest time to have a relationship with anyone, especially a new one. When I realized that I was afraid of not getting the same quality time, we made it a point to not take out time together for granted and scheduled time for us as well as for other people.

We take our time together for granted since we love each other and live together. I found by talking we had different definitions of quality time that were only revealed because I talked to Shep about my insecurities. But once I did, I stopped feeling inadequate. I stopped feeling jealous for the most part. I have faith that at the end of the day my husband will always come home to me. It's been 17 years, I have not been disappointed yet. <3

So while those doubts may never go away, I don't have to let that fear, that doubt rule me or make my life hell. I acknowledge it and move on with my life. If I have a  question about how Shep is feeling about something or me, I ask. I can only work on the things that I can control. If I don't like my clothes, I can buy new ones. I feel out of shape, I can go do some push-ups or run. I can improve myself for myself. I can't do it for anyone but me. I have to love myself before anyone else can be expected to and even that is a developing process.