Shade Bio

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Mockingbird's Advice

My Otherbeasts! How I've missed you. How about some more poetry?


Mockingbird, mocking bird,
Why, why, do you tease me so?
I want to fly too,
Fly away with you.
To somewhere green and warm,
Somewhere without a storm.
I don’t want to be cold.
Hold me, tightly, just hold.
Weather the black storm with me,
Stay through the dark clouds and rain.
Feathers, scales, ruffle as we huddle in the tree.
Nest with me, stay with me now, even through the pain.

The golden rays of the sun surmise,
They dance joyously around my lips,
They play at the corners of your eyes.
I want to drink that light with small sips.

I would chase away your Vulpine Ghosts,
You could banish my Demons’ Delight,
As we serenade something so close,
White-hot brightness would shut out The Night.

The Mockingbird’s song is cheerful.
I wonder if she’s mocking me,
For being foolish and fanciful,
As the leaves fall softly from her tree.

Or is her song mournful and sad,
Echoing a cadence she once heard?
The Oak, where she perches, is glad,
For her company which needs no word;
And while standing silent, strong, clad,
The Oak weeps and sheds before this bird,
Making room for the new green shoots of spring.
This cycle of rebirth is what she sings,
And with that sung, the Mockingbird takes wing.

Constantly dying and being born again,
Forever soaring and forever learning.
A Phoenix that’s consumed by fire to begin,
Ends yet retains the wisdom to live discerning.

Your impish grin draws me in,
And it makes me feel again.
Something inside stirs within,
I can't ignore this one whim,

Your bright, discerning eyes, like hot coal,
Bore a searing hole right to my soul.
In my mind you deal my crucifixion,
A snake's tongue will spew vilification.

The Mockingbird chatters once more,
Of the Oak that burns steadily,
Burns hot and long, embers at the core,
Of my own fire consuming me,

She sings and she’s no liar,
She twitters of what I yearn,
If you want to feel the fire,
It had better be worth the burn.

Is it serendipitous expression?
I have so much to lose, so much pain,
This fire is relentless, full of question.
But possibly so much more to gain.

Surrender to heat and fire.
Just let go, let yourself burn.
Cultivate a fresh desire,
From ashes rise and return.

After fire, scorching,
After cleansing rain,
Watch regrowth, new being,
Ascend and retain.

You will defeat,
Embrace the heat.





© Stacey L. Staudt, February 2010, Revised April 2010.


Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Food For the Soul

A good day to you, my lovely little Otherbeasts. If I could hug you I would. A bit of creative writing to soothe myself and maybe even you.

I've done it since I was a little girl. Play with my food. Always. At the end of every meal I'd sit and pulverize the little pieces of food that were left on my plate. I'd make shapes, build things; bottom line: I'd entertain myself. That's been one of my best qualities. Not playing with food, but rather finding pleasure and entertainment in the small things, letting them settle in my mind for my rampant imagination to peruse through. It always kept me from being bored.

     I found myself doing it again tonight. Playing with my food. I became lost in my effort to massacre the little pieces of pink salmon scattered on my plate. I'd jab the end of one silver prong into the meaty flesh and watch it break. Then I realized my mind had finally escaped. Escaped, even if momentarily, from the darkness that had flooded it's cells for hours and days on end.

      I stared at my plate. A pool of amber olive oil had coagulated in the very center. It had separated itself from the vinaigrette and formed one lone circle. I stuck my fork in the middle of it, watching the oil adhere itself to the metal, desperate to connect with something. I swished my fork and sent the oil scattering in a number of directions. Now, many miniature circles dotted the alabaster plate. I laughed cynically. How representational this was of my life; correction, recent life. How that I had felt like I was scattered in a million tiny pieces, isolated, now lost with nothing to reconnect to. I then became obsessed with trying to pull the oil back together, my mind making a ridiculous link that this was somehow some form of representational symbolism in my subconscious. I was trying to pull the pieces of my life back together. Trying to reconnect the pieces of my heart.

     There is one downside of finding the joy in small things. Now, all of the small things I'd noted and took delight in popped out at the oddest moments in my day, catching me off guard and blindsiding me. Then again, I suppose I can blame myself for that. Give me an object. Any object. I can make a series of related connections that ultimately, winds up right back to a bittersweet memory. That's how my days are, so how can I not possibly think about it. I want to scream at my brain, shut up, SHUT UP. It won't listen. I can't quiet the thoughts it produces, the memories it plays back over and over in my mind.

     When someone walks out of your life, they leave. Not only do they leave, they leave behind. Let me explain. They leave behind all sort of little things; they leave them behind in your apartment, in your car...they leave them behind in your mind. I don't need pictures, not with a memory like mine. So, how can you possibly ever forget if you've got reminders? The way someone smiles at you and you realize they've got the same familiar dimple. Or the way someone curls their toes when they drive. It's the small things that trigger an onslaught of these memories.

     My plate is lifted from the table and I snap back to reality. My mind escaped, if only momentarily, for a millisecond, only to return to the toiling that had become so familiar. See? I had done it again. Connected something random, which connected to something else, that linked to something else, that brought the darkness washing back in.

     It's funny how people come into our lives when we're at our absolute worst and they're left with having to suck the scum from the bottom of the empty barrel that is our heart.  They waltz in very suddenly and seem to lift the smog that clouds our vision. They plant a tiny seed of hope deep in the pit of our bellies and lovingly water it. Now whether or not it flowers is up to ourselves entirely, but they definitely contribute to the partial growth of that seed.  Regardless of the residual dark, ominous clouds that loom in our being, dampening our hearts, we can't help but feel that slightest bit of sunshine trying to peek in from behind the clouds. In turn, that little bit of sunshine and that little bit of watering and care starts to nourish the seed, coaxing it into rooting and growing. Time begins to soften the lingering pain and it also allows that seed of hope to root, which eventually leads to it becoming a beautiful tree filled with fragrant blooms of sweet promise.

     By the time that little seed has grown into a tree, the memories and the darkness have faded, giving way to new beginnings, new friends and a new life. The limbs branch out and help fill in the holes something or someone left. It's enduring the growth process that is ultimately the hardest part. If we focus on plugging away and going through the motions, knowing that in the end we will be able to look upon this magnificent new growth with awe and happiness, it helps ease the time in between.

     So, now when I play with my food, which I will inevitably do at every meal, I do not think of the hurtful past or the bittersweet memories. Instead,  it allows me to daydream about my future, wonderful new friends, to wonder at the new things in store, and to marvel at the new road I am now traveling on with it's bright new beginnings rising over the horizon.

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Monday, August 27, 2012

BDSM: A Normal Person's Guide

Hello Cherished Otherbeasts!

BDSM: A Normal Person's Journey
(The only thing that's normal is that there is no such thing as normal.)

Stay with me here. What if I were to describe a relationship to you using this paragraph,
"Two people in a relationship utilizing communication, trust, and respect to strengthen their bond through tenderness, attentiveness, and kindness. This in turn spices up their romantic life, satisfies their needs, and they enjoy the company of one another much more immensely."

Sounds pretty ideal, right? Sounds like a great relationship. Would you believe I'm talking about BDSM? No? Well, news for you: I am talking about BDSM.

Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, "BDSM?! People just beat each other, how is that normal, much less pleasurable!" And you probably see lots of leather, chains, and whips in your mind right now. Well, hold on there Vanilla, I'm gonna open the doors wide open on this culture for you.

In fact, a lot of folks engage in BDSM in some form or fashion everyday. Ever brought a toy into the bedroom? Maybe a feather tickler or some fuzzy handcuffs?

 Well, my friend that's a form of BDSM. You might be thinking, "How?!" Well, handcuffs force the wearer to be submissive to the other partner. That's one of the things that the S in BDSM stands for. Not to worry, you're not a freak! No matter how strong the trust is with partners, it's normal to still have feelings of disbelief or even feelings that you can’t believe you like something perverted, kinky or dirty. Your own doubts can bring about fear, sadness and loneliness. You could even question why you are into BDSM to begin with. Again, very normal.

First, it isn't just people beating each other for the hell of it. BDSM stands for: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (a combined acronym often used as a catchall for anything in the kink scene). Yes, those words conjure up a startling array of images such as ball gags, crying women, handcuffs, and straps...

 (If this is what you're thinking, you're dead wrong.)

However, most BDSM relationships are tender, respectful, and even romantic. In order to be in one you must, MUST, trust the person. Respect is also integral to BDSM. The reason so many people are engaging in this "fetish" is because it offers a fabulous release of endorphins. Endorphins = Happiness.

When neither trust or respect is adhered to in a BDSM relationship, then it just becomes torture or rape. If you don't have a tender, attentive partner then BDSM turns into a horrible nightmare. Without proper techniques such as "After Care," the time after a BDSM scene or play session in which the participants calm down, discuss the previous events and their personal reactions to them, and slowly come back in touch with reality. BDSM often involves an endorphin high and very intense experience, and failure to engage in proper aftercare can lead to "subdrop" as these return to more everyday levels.

("Sub Drop" can come in many different forms. Sub Drop is the emotional and physical affects of the release and drop of endorphins in the body after a play session.  Most of what you read online are the physical aspects; the fatigue, sadness, aches and pains and recovery from marks. There is a more intense side of Sub Drop that gets very little attention because for each person it is different and describing how to recover can take many forms. If not cared for, you could go into depression just from one play session. The endorphins and other hormones released during play leave your body in such a way that it takes time to rebuild the balance of hormones in your system. You could feel like you have a hang over or partied too hard the night before, you could feel lost and depressed for hours or days. You may just want to sleep it off. These are the more extreme forms of Drop. Some people recover in a matter of hours, but others could exhibit signs of Sub Drop for weeks after an intense session. (Source and Citation: Click.))
Now when you think of whips, that's a form of impact play and part of sensation play, dealing with impact such as whips, riding crops, paddles, floggers, etc. A lot of these toys are "soft" meaning not to inflict pain, but rather to excite and stimulate the skin and senses.

The "hard" toys are ones mean to issue "good pain" ( Good pain and bad pain refer to perception of pain as pleasant vs. unpleasant. Sensations that non-practitioners imagine to be painful are instead perceived and described by BDSM practitioners as pleasurable or a good form of pain, in much the way that muscles after a workout at the gym may be sore, but in a good way. The transition of perception from "bad pain" to "good pain" may require a warm up beforehand.) Toys meant to cause "bad pain" are ALWAYS used consensually and agreed upon by both participants before a session ever begins.

 One extremely important aspect of any sort of play is having a "safety word." This is a word that is uncommon and would not be used in everyday conversations, such as "Oklahoma" in order to be used by either participant - particularly the submissive - if there is an emergency or if something is wrong or a threshold of uncomfortability or pain has been reached.

I never intended to get into the BDSM scene and I still consider myself pretty vanilla but the original intention was a one-time session for the purposes of alleviating guilt. I had been in a three year relationship and despite me being a total schmuck by cheating on the man and lying to him, he never - not once - became angry with me, yelled at me, or called me names. He literally killed me with kindness through the entire breakup and I was carrying around this massive weight caused by guilt. You see, if he had gotten angry, verbally lambasted me, and called me every name in the book, I could have have shrugged it off with, "Whatever, he's a jerk showing his true colors." But no, he remained so civil, so kind, never issuing any sort of "punishment" for my actions that it drove me to the brink of insanity. I had this need to get the guilt out of my system and it was then that a friend of several years suggested at a physical expression of the inner pain I was feeling - I know it sounds twisted but hear me out. It was then that I discovered that my friend had been in the BDSM scene for over a decade and was a practiced Dom (a person who exercises control - contrast with submissive).

Initially, I was hesitant because I considered myself very decent and proper; I wasn't some sort of pervert or freak that had kinks... that was for weirdos. I ruminated on the subject quite a bit, waffling to and fro when it dawned on my that there just wasn't any other way to relieve my burden of guilt. Now despite me being conservative, I have an open mind, and so I figured I would try it once - I had nothing to lose and only happiness to gain. My friend - we'll call him V - explained everything to me in full details: what the boundaries were, what the safety words were, how it was going to be carried out, what to expect, how I would feel, etc. It was a very good thing that I had such a knowledgeable person at my disposal - to whom I would soon be at the mercy of - but the biggest crux of this was that I trusted and respected him.

In the BDSM scene collars are used several ways but the main one is to distinguish the roles - if you're wearing a collar you're usually the Submissive. Collars are also used as signs of "ownership," but that's a whole other ball game. The collar is also used to convey when the "scene" is beginning and remains on throughout the session until it's over and the collar is removed; it's a way of reminding a person that they are not the ones in control of a situation and that what is taking place is a mutual agreement, in a safe environment, and to separate it from everyday life. Yes, I did wear a collar so that I could distinguish the scene from "real life" and let myself go; one of the hardest things for me to do was relinquish control but I needed this catharsis. Another part of giving up control was having my wrists in restraints above my head whilst standing.
This was never intended as a sexual act, and it never became one, there was absolutely no eroticism in it. V used Impact Play on me - floggers, crops, whips, switches - and always monitored my skin; if one area became to sensitive or inflamed he would gauge my reaction and move to a different area of my body. Through out the scene I was asked very often if I was all right, if I was feeling fine, and that everything was okay - this is why having an experienced person is so integral for the right outcome - V always checked my skin and my emotions. Before we had entered the scene I requested that while he was employing Impact Play that I needed him to verbally abuse me, call me every rotten name in the book, and really say some nasty things that would hurt anyone's feelings.  He obliged and did just that.

I would say I help up pretty well - there must have been a lot of guilt I had been holding on to - and the session was quite a long one but V knew what he was looking for. He made sure I wasn't going into "sub space" (where emotions shut off and pain becomes ignored) and probed to find the chink in my armor that would produce emotional reactions. Once he found that soft spot, it was only a matter of time before my emotions caved in, I began to sob, and my body sank into relief against the wrist restraints. Once V saw this reaction he immediately took off the restraints but left the collar on so that I wouldn't emotionally shut down (I had explained to him my situation with having DID and a kill switch), he then pulled me into his arms where I sobbed for at least 15 minutes. That was the hardest I've ever cried in my entire life - not because I was in pain - but because he had broken down the walls I had built up and a flood of emotion was finally being let go. The sobs wracked my body, I was choking on air in between swallows and tears, and it gradually subsided to just tears streaming down my face. V held me the entire time, comforting me, reassuring me, making sure I was physically okay. It was one of the most tender things I've felt, especially being in the extraordinarily vulnerable state I was in. Though the markings on my skin looked bad, not a single one left a scar.

After the tears stopped and V's shirt was soaking wet, he pulled me back to talk about out session: any residual feelings I might have had, discuss the previous events and my personal reactions to them, and to slowly come back in touch with reality. Once that state was achieved, the collar came off and we were right back to being equals. The drive home was a painful one as my body was sore and I was emotionally drained, but I was exhilarated - I felt free - all the weight had lifted from my heart and it was like I could finally breathe again. I didn't just feel free, I was free.

And that's my story on how I first became exposed to the BDSM scene. From there I explored a little into it but nothing really interested me and so that's where my story stops. However, it certainly shouldn't be where yours stops. The BDSM scene isn't as nefarious as you think it is, and it actually requires everything - and possibly more - than a "normal" relationship does.

There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of different reasons for involvement in the BDSM community from catharsis to eroticism to just having platonic fun. Your next door neighbor could be a "kink" but still go to church every single Sunday. The woman dressed conservatively in front of you at the checkout stand could be a Domme (woman who exercises control (see also Dominatrix). Often associated with a particular brand of traditional femininity) on the weekends, and that handsome executive you always see could be on FetLife this very minute. It's like Battlestar Galactica and Cylons you never can be too sure. Some people are very comfortable with letting their freak flag fly, but no one says you have to announce your preferences on national television; it's as public or as private as you decide it should be.
Like I said previously, if you've ever used fuzzy handcuffs, feather ticklers, or anything else in the bedroom that wasn't your body, you've explored the lighter side of BDSM. Yes, there are extreme people in the scene - just like any genre of interest it has light and heavy, say games for instance, you have someone that plays solitaire on occasion versus a gamer that spends 18 hours a day playing World of Warcraft - there are numerous shades of grey in between the black and white. I urge you to do your own research to see what interests you - always keeping in mind that there is nothing to be ashamed about (assuming it's legal) - and open your mind to a different stance on BDSM. Remember that not everything is sexual and a lot of "play partners" have very close and intimate relationships full of tender, loving care.

This could be your next step into spicing things up in the bedroom, discovering new things about yourself, and generally being more satisfied with your life. It isn't to be taken lightly though, really do your research and become knowledgeable on the topic if it interests you. There is nothing to be afraid of when you start exploring. Remember EVERYTHING should be communicated and discussed, and if you find a partner that is unwilling to do that then you have every right to find someone who can control themselves and not take advantage of your vulnerability whether you're male or female.

There are some fabulous references out there like:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_BDSM
  • http://www.nlacolumbus.com/global/smmyths.html
And fabulous communities like:
  • https://fetlife.com
  • http://www.bess-md.org/newcomers/faq.shtml
  • http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/bdsm

Remember, you can take it as fast or as slow as you want to, you are able to communicate what you are and what you're not okay with; the BDSM community is not a scary one, but it's an intimidating one at first. I know you may be thinking of the worst possible things right now that you've seen or heard of, but I suggest you throw out all that garbage and find out for yourself.
Always do your own research.

Now that you're not so "Vanilla," have fun exploring, opening your mind, and trying new things!

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tongues of Flame


And since it's Friday, a but of light reading: A short poem by me.

If I could speak in tongues of flame
My lips would burn forever and chime
With the hot sweetness of your name
And I'd take it with me through all time

I'd wander the world in search of you
I would remember who you are
I'd follow my memory of you
I'd find you no matter how far

In every life I'd touch your heart
I'd capture it gently just the same
In spirit you'd know from the start
In every dream of yours I'd remain

Through any distance and the cold rain
I would show you and I would explain
That I'd never forgotten your name
With sweet words spoken in tongues of flame.


Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How To Get Him To Propose

Hello Darling Otherbeasts! Happy one-day-closer-to-Friday Day!

How To Get Him To Propose: A Savvy Girl's Guide

Finally! A one-stop, all in one guide, chock full of all the information out there in existence, on how to get him to finally propose!

I have scoured the internet high and low, condensed about 12 pages worth of articles all saying the same thing and some different things, complied the most important and recurring themes, to bring you the patented tried and true methods on how to get your guy to propose. Think it's never going to happen? Tired of waiting? Want it to happen soon? Then your search is over! Read on, my fellow ring-longers.

  • Casually bring up marriage indirectly and impersonally.  You can mention one of your friends (or one of his) who recently got engaged; or comment on one of those infuriating "Every Kiss begins with Kay" commercials, example: "How sweet, I'd say yes too if I were in her shoes!" Don't have a serious conversation about getting engaged until you've at least casually and light-heartedly discussed it with him.  
  • Get his opinion on marriage. Some men are very blase about getting engaged - they're fine with it, but they'd also be fine without it. Remember, that ring around your finger is the noose around the neck of his "bachelor life." If this is the case, don't expect an enthusiastic response about getting engaged and accept that it's something he'd be doing mostly because you want to.
  •  Approach conversations about the future gently. If his response to your indirect approach is about as lively as his response to asking him to do the dishes, slowly start being more direct. Don't beat around the bush; guys don't pick up hints like women do, they practically need a frying pan to the head to take notice of something serious - it's black or it's white, grey does not exist - so try initiating conversations with, "If we get engaged." Watch his reaction. If he carries on with the conversation, great! If he avoids the subject, drop it for now. Remember, getting engaged may have been your dream since you were 7 years old and wanted to be a princess when you grew up but this may be a brand spanking new topic of conversation for him.
  • Calm his irrational fears. Men are often concerned with the idea that once they're engaged to a woman - even if it's you - that she'll magically change overnight somehow, either into the wicked witch of the east or worse: his mother. Perhaps he's feeling insecure and what he's doing with his life right now doesn't really match what he has in his head about what a potential fiance should be. If your relationship is solid and not suspect, it could be time to engage your creative brain for compromises. The legalities of marriage have him worried? What about getting a prenuptial agreement? What about having a ceremony, but not signing a marriage contract? If he can't afford a ring, can you live without one? If he doesn't want a big wedding, how about a weekend in Vegas?
  • Employ logic when talking of engagement. You're a savvy woman - it's why you're reading this - so if your guy is a logical thinker or a Capricorn, appeal to that part of his brain. Practical and legal benefits of engagements leading to marriage include putting your honey on your insurance plan, or visa versa, being eligible for more government benefits and filing joint income tax returns. Logic.
  • Avoid vicious cyclea. Aside of them being generally unhealthy, they really squash your chances at engagement: that one recurring argument. Somehow it just keeps rearing its ugly head. You argue about it, which makes him less inclined to marry you, which somehow (gee, I wonder) exacerbates the issue. This could be anything ranging from financial issues to dissatisfaction with sexual performance. Put your past behind you and leave it there.
  • Avoid repetition. It's quite likely that if you mentioned wanting to get married once, it's burned into his brain (not in a bad way). The more you bring it up and talk about it, the less he hears it.
  • Friends and family need not apply. You may think your friends are being helpful by casually slipping in engagement comments to him, but it will likely make him feel ganged up on. (How would you like it if his buddies constantly hinted to you about how much he likes getting his toenails clipped?) Let him come to the decision on his own, without the advice or urging of those in your life.
Those sound too run of the mill for you? 
Remember what an engagement is at its core: 
A Business Transaction.
  1. Don't Be Too Eager. You've still got options, ladycake, and if he can get the milk for free then why buy the cow? You could have your pick of any man, and he knows that, so don't let him forget it. Don't get stuck in a rut of comfort.
  2. Need Him. It's a proven fact that men love to feel needed; it's what drives them. Don't confuse needing him with desperation, there's a fine line. Make him feel needed. If he manages your joint finances, express your gratefulness. If he cooks for you, express your appreciation. Even if you can open that jar of pickles because you're an independent and strong woman, ask him to do it for you. Okay, enough with the cliches, part of needing him is being willing to share your own insecurities with him and needing him to understand them. Don’t hide your emotions or play with words. Tell him exactly how you feel. Tell him you feel like the relationship is not moving forward. No guy who really loves you would make you feel like you’re hanging by a thread all the time. And if he really does love you, he won’t be upset to hear that. Instead, he’ll say something that makes you feel better.
  3. Be The Woman He Fell In Love With. Regardless of how life changes around you, don't become someone he doesn't know. Remain true to yourself and always be the woman he fell in love with - sure, he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor every day when he comes home from work and the desire to nag is overwhelming - but how would 'early-relationship you' have reacted? Chances are that nagging wasn't involved. Don’t withhold something just to punish him. You’d be behaving like a child. Really, do you want him to propose to you happily or do you want to arm twist him, gag him and shove marital bliss down his throat?
  4. Take It Easy. You might love to gab with your girls over wedding magazines, photos of ice sculptures, wedding dresses, flowers and wedding cakes. Do this to him before a ring is on your finger (and even after it's on your finger) and he might run screaming in any direction but yours. He probably likes the idea of marrying you, but the specific tactics of a wedding can seem overwhelming; he's a guy. Save that talk for your girls. If you can’t stop panicking, tell your boyfriend how you really feel. Tell him you’re really happy with him and your life, but are afraid of the future because you have no idea what could happen. Additionally, tell him that your life seems too good to be true, like a happy bubble that may burst anytime. If he has any sense, he’ll know it’s time for him to make some assurances to you.
  5. Never Give an Ultimatum. First, it's just downright rude and mean. Second, most guys when prompted with, "Give me a ring or say goodbye," will choose the latter option. It’ll never work. On the other hand, it might just backfire and force him to harden his stance on not getting married just yet.
  6. Rejection Hurts. There are hundreds of possible reasons why your guy hasn't proposed, and fear of rejection is possibly one of the biggest ones. Eliminate this fear by making it clear you would say yes in a hypothetical situation. Okay, yes, men are bad at getting the hint but being too direct as in, "I expect you on one knee by midnight of December 31," is a bad idea.
  7. Men have to be mentally ready. Your man has to be mentally prepared to propose and move into the next stage of his life. No one can make up his mind for him, not you or anyone else. It’s a thought that will strike him like a bolt of lightening when he least expects it, and just like that, he’ll be ready to get married.
  8. Men wait for the right time. Men have a right time for everything in their life, at least most well organized men do. During one of your weekend conversations with him, find out what his goals in life are. Once you hear his dreams, it’ll help you understand his priorities and realize when his right time to get married is.
  9. He learns from his friends. Men think they can never be manipulated. But in reality, they’re constantly manipulated by people in their lives, discreetly or otherwise. Take a good look at his friends. Are they married? Do you know their opinions on marriage? If all his friends are single, big chances are, he won’t be ready for marriage too. He may love you, but he may not be ready just yet to love you as a wife. Good news if he has a friend or two married.
  10. Bad Reaction. If he retaliates badly, it only means he’s just not ready to commit no matter what you or anyone else says. A guy may truly love you, but he may not be interested in marriage. Can you deal with that? If you can’t handle that, and are really serious about getting married soon, it’s probably time to ask yourself if you’re with the right guy for you.

Okay, enough of that. 
Here's the most valuable information of all.

To be honest with you, despite all of this information and these tips and tricks, I have to give you my sincerest, heart-felt opinion. Yes, we can pine away dreaming of the day Mr. Right will finally pop the question, but wouldn't you enjoy it so much more if you knew it came from his heart, his brain, his soul, rather than yours? Because, lets face it ladies, how pleased would we truly be if for one second we knew that this was our idea and not his? How many times would you wonder, "Did he propose because he wanted to... or was it because I wanted him to?"

Seriously. Think about it. I know that desire to have a big shiny rock (or for most of us it would be just fine if it was a brass ring with a plastic bauble from the quarter machine) on your left ring finger is overwhelming at times; our friends are getting married, we think we're getting to old, our time is running out, "I don't want to get married when I'm thirty!" We have all been there. Shoot, I wanted to be married at 23, have kids at 28, and be on with my life... but here I sit, 29 years old, been engaged twice, and currently no ring on my finger (though I have the perfect man in my life despite his lack of popping the question abilities).

But I digress, the reason I'm wanting to give you my honest-to-God opinion is because I've been in the position of being unhappily engaged. I thought being engaged was the thing I wanted the most; I had been with this guy almost three years, kept seeing in my mind that ring on my finger, I even suggested just forgetting the ring altogether and going to Vegas, I was desperate to be engaged. Then it happened. He proposed. I had a large say in his proposing to me, and subsequently I doubted the entire situation. I had gotten what I wanted: I finally was engaged. But it brought a lot of things into sharp focus: I was engaged to the wrong man for me, and despite the perfect one carat diamond on my finger, I felt empty inside; like something was missing.

I have two examples for you:
A friend of mine, she's 25, still plenty young in years and beautiful, had been with her guy since high school - so lets say they'd been together 5 years - and she finally decided that she wasn't waiting anymore. She dropped hints, made suggestions, and then altogether got downright nasty and issued an ultimatum. The guy wasn't a deadbeat or anything, he was 25 years old, one year left of college to finish, and on his way to getting a decent job. Well, she got so fed up with his supposed "inability to commit," that she broke up with him. Upon looking back at the situation, realizing she might have acted a little bit rash, and tried to re-patch things with her guy, he was nowhere to be found. He jumped ship, ran away, left, and all without looking back. He didn't even return her phone calls. It was like he was glad to be out of that relationship. Now she has to invest (waste) another 18 to 24 months of dating a new man for the potential to get engaged? Who's to say he'll propose? Or worse, what if she threw away Mr. Right because his timing didn't suit her impatience? Interesting.

Conversely, I have another friend, also 25 years young and gorgeous, who had been with her guy since high school - so lets say they were together for 8 years - she knew that she loved this man, that he was perfect for her, and regardless of how many hints or suggestions she dropped, he would just not propose. He was finishing college, had a job, etc. However, regardless of the lack of proposal she hung in there... it had been 6 years into their relationship and she was still without a ring. I think she might have just given up hope (but more than likely she knew that regardless of marital status he was who she was going to be with for life). Suddenly, BAM, one day she had a big ol' shiny rock on her finger. A year later they were happily married, and a year after that they have a child on the way. Also interesting.

Men Are... Men
The thing is, men have a plan inside their mind, and they're going to follow it regardless of what we, as women folk, have in mind. It may be that they want to finish college first, get a steady job first, make sure they can feel like a provider before betting you half their stuff that they'll love you the rest of their life. Guys are guys. End of story. And if it comes down to it and we tell them to propose or get lost, chances are your guy will run for the hills.

My point is this: don't let your overwhelming desire to be engaged to be married overrun your common sense. Yes, it's hard to see all of your friends from high school getting engaged, getting married, and having babies (if that's your deepest desire). Remember that even though we're not in high school anymore, there's still a lot of peer pressure floating about saying, 'This is what you should be doing.' Then when you throw is societal pressure and your biological clock, my gosh, it turns into a ticking time bomb. It's hard to cope with the fact that you thought your life would be on a different path than it is - I think to myself very often, "This is not where I thought I would be 10 years ago." But the truth is that everything happens for a reason. Maybe it's a good thing I'm not married to the first schmuck that ever proposed that was in my original plan because if I was I'd probably have two or three children, he'd STILL be cheating on me, and I would be MISERABLE. Honestly, he was a rotten tomato... or a bad apple... take your pick, they're both fruits.

The Hardest Question
If you have a man in your life, be thankful that he's IN your life. If he does all the right things, says all the right things, treats you like a queen, he's faithful, and you can't imagine your life without him - then be happy. Don't let the thought of "If I only had a ring," interlope and rob you of your happiness. Look at Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, all these years they've been together, and no marriage. If that sounds ridiculous to you then I want you to take a step back and be objective and ask yourself a very hard question: What's your motivation for getting engaged? If it's anything other than, "Because I want to spend the rest of my life with him," you're doing it for all the wrong reasons. And even if your answer is because you want to spend the rest of your life with him, what is a ring on your finger going to prove? Can the ring guarantee commitment? (See Divorce Rates.) Can the ring guarantee loyalty? What does a ring say? Nothing. Not a damn thing.

So if your answer was you want to spend the rest of you life with him, loving him, being loved, being happy and fulfilled... what's stopping you?

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Personal Account

Hello my cherished Otherbeasts! Here's wishing you a happy week.

I've decided to write a personal testimony about Dissociative Identity Disorder because I feel like there aren't enough personal truths out there to help others. This is something I have never discussed with anyone I'm not close to, but I figured if it can help someone, then it's much better than keeping it hidden in silence and shadows.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is defined by Wikipedia as: "Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately control a person's behavior, and is accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness. [...] Dissociative symptoms range from common lapses in attention, becoming distracted by something else, and daydreaming, to pathological dissociative disorders.
(Source and Citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder)

Now then, the story of how I came to have DID is a very lengthy one but it doesn't involve being abused as a child (at least not by my own parents). But it does involve being abused in my early twenties; emotionally, psychologically, physically, verbally, and sexually. Long story short: First I was raped by a very trusted and close male friend (no longer my friend for obvious reasons) and second, I was unknowingly involved in a cult. Only after I managed to claw my way out with only my life did I realize it had been a cult and used every cult trick in the book. There. I said it.

The easiest way to describe having DID is that there is a fissure in my personality. There is an alternate side of me that handles the "burdens" of life or the things that are a bit too heavy for me to handle. Essentially it's a beefed-up coping mechanism.

But first to clear up any misconceptions: no, I do not have a "split personality," I do not have "multiple personalities," I am not schizophrenic, I do not have borderline personality disorder, manic depressive disorder, and I am not manic depressive. I am aware when the alternate personality is in control, I do have lapses in memory but that could be attributed to my seizures.

Okay. That being said, you may have noticed that I mentioned that I am aware that an alternate personality is in control. Let me further define that for you and flesh it out a bit. That fissure or "crack" in my personality developed as a result of trauma. That portion of my personality that is still attached to the rest, but handles a different load, is assigned a name for an easier time of distinguishing me from that particular portion. That "crack" is referred to as "Shade." Yes, I'm a nerd and one of my handles on the internet is 'Cracked Mirror.'

Still fleshing out here, Shade is the one that hides in the shadows, she's like a bodyguard: ready at a moment's notice to take control of a situation and handle the emotional garbage that I cannot. When I said I am aware of the alter taking control it means this: I understand that I am acting differently, absorbing information differently, but it feels as if I am a passenger in a car - not actually driving or controlling the vehicle - but watching as it happens and just grasping onto the "Oh Shit Handle."

I don't lapse in and out of Shade's personality and never remember it, but I will admit that I have a hard time retaining memories of events that Shade was present for. When my alter does take over, all of my emotions go on lock down, all information is processed logically, and the resulting effect is a hollow, capricious, and very callous nature - I hear things coming out of my mouth but I can't stop myself from saying them or even checking them through a filter before they spew out - like I said, it's like being a passenger in a moving vehicle while it's on a collision course.

Before I knew what DID was or that I even had it, I had my own name for what would happen to me: I called it my "Kill Switch." It was like all the humanity I had in my being would disappear or cease to function and what was left was the raw, reptilian brain, and the instinctual creature with just basic core components. A thinking zombie of sorts.

I did not choose to have DID, I don't live in a fantasy world half of the time, it's not something I fake to get attention; I have deeply hurt the people I love the most with vicious words and have not been able to control it or stop myself from doing it - I have felt helpless at times. To be honest, I really wish I didn't have Dissociative Identity Disorder - it's hell on my family and friends - and it makes my life harder. But part of me is thankful for the powerful coping mechanism because I shudder to think of might have happened to my sanity or psyche had I not developed DID.

For those of you that watch Dexter on Showtime, when he refers to his "Dark Passenger" it's actually a very fitting description of what it's like to have DID:
"Within all of our minds, there lies a place we rarely come in contact with. A dormant entity lurks throughout our thoughts and emotions quietly unnoticed - however, there are those of us who perceive this Passenger and learn to accept it as a part of ourselves. Dexter Morgan is one of these perceivers. He has come to accept the fact that he shares his mind with another. Over the years Dexter has come to call this unknown entity his Dark Passenger. As in all things active, a hunger dwells within the Passenger. A hunger that drives its host to the near brink. It is only through the deeds of Dexter Morgan that this longing can be calmed, yet never filled. When the need to feed is at its extremes, the Passenger takes over. Heightened senses, a quick step, and a will to succeed are all traits that come when the Passenger takes control. Though we all have this darkness within, many of us will never stumble across it."
(Source and Citation: http://dexterwiki.wetpaint.com/page/The+Dark+Passenger)

Or maybe this works too:
“I just know there’s something dark in me and I hide it. I certainly don’t talk about it, but it’s there always, this Dark Passenger. And when he’s driving, I feel alive, half sick with the thrill of complete wrongness. I don’t fight him, I don’t want to. He’s all I’ve got. Nothing else could love me, not even… especially not me. Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me? Because lately there are these moments when I feel connected to something else… someone. It’s like the mask is slipping and things… people… who never mattered before are suddenly starting to matter. It scares the hell out of me.” - Dexter Morgan
(Source and Citation: http://www.extratv.com/2010/09/26/20-favorite-dexter-quotes/#dark_passenger)

Now don't you go and get the wrong idea, Dexter's a vigilante serial killer and while he has some good explanations, I'm not a sociopath or a psychopath. I don't murder people in cold blood, I won't even kill an insect - unless it's a spider, arachnids are just asking for it - and I am not crazy (my mother had me tested). Heck, when Dexter first came out on Showtime I wasn't even aware of the show until 2009 and when I started watching it, I went, "Hey! That sounds familiar! He has DID." Which, if you know anything about the show, (spoiler alert) he had a highly traumatic event occur early in his life that created a fissure in his personality. I am not Dexter Morgan (he's an extreme character based in fiction and adapted for the television screen: it has to be dramatic and entertaining or else no one would watch it).

I'm perfectly normal aside of the DID; I have an IQ of 154, my parents never divorced (they're still together 37 years later), I function quite well in society (though awkward at times), and I have a wide circle of friends. Shoot, I even have a boyfriend that I would take down the stars for - how and why he loves me is beyond my comprehension, but I am more than thankful to have him in my life. All in all I am pretty normal. Aside of having an autism spectrum disorder (Asperger's) at least I can pass for 'normal' in this crazy world.

Symptoms and Applicable Information:
Some more Wikipedia info on Dissociative Identity Disorder from previously cited link:
-"Others have suggested dissociation can be separated into two distinct forms, detachment and compartmentalization, the latter of which, involving a failure to control normally controllable processes or actions, is most evident in DID."

 -"DID includes "the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states" that alternate control of the individual's behavior, accompanied by the inability to recall personal information beyond what is expected through normal forgetfulness [...]"

- "The level of functioning can change from severely impaired to adequate. [...]"

- "Identities may be unaware of each other and compartmentalize knowledge and memories, resulting in chaotic personal lives. Individuals with DID may be reluctant to discuss symptoms due to associations with abuse, shame and fear. [...]"

- "The primary identity, which often has the patient's given name, tends to be "passive, dependent, guilty and depressed" with other personalities or "alters" being more active, aggressive or hostile, and often containing more complete memories. Most identities are of ordinary people, though fictional, mythical, celebrity and animal alters have also been reported."

- "What may be expressed as post traumatic stress disorder in adults may become DID when occurring in children, possibly due to their greater use of imagination as a form of coping. Possibly due to developmental changes and a more coherent sense of self past the age of six, the experience of extreme trauma may result in different, though also complex dissociative symptoms and identity disturbances."

- "DID must be distinguished from, or determined if comorbid with, a variety of disorders including mood disorders, psychosis, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, cognitive disorders, neurological disorders, epilepsy, somatoform disorder, factitious disorder, malingering, other dissociative disorders and trance states. Individuals faking or mimicking DID due to factitious disorder will exaggerate symptoms (particularly when observed), lie, blame bad behavior on symptoms and often show little distress regarding their apparent diagnosis. In contrast, genuine DID patients exhibit confusion, distress and shame regarding their symptoms and history."

- "[DID] was changed [from "multiple personality disorder"] for two reasons. First, to emphasize the main problem was not a multitude of personalities, but rather a lack of a single, unified identity and an emphasis on "the identies as centers of information processing". Second, the term "personality" is used to refer to "characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviors of the whole individual", while for a patient with DID, the switches between identities and behavior patterns is the personality. It is for this reason the DSM-IV-TR referred to "distinct identities or personality states" instead of personalities. The diagnostic criteria also changed to indicate that while the patient may name and personalize alters, they lack an independent, objective existence."

So, in conclusion, having DID is both a blessing and a curse (for more info read above paragraphs) but I'm doing better about controlling the "switches" and the "triggers." While I feel it is still too taboo and would make me extremely vulnerable to go into the gritty details of what caused my DID, I can share what I do know about it and what it's like to have it in order to help others and let them know that they aren't alone and that they aren't "crazy." Society likes to label people with disorders as outcasts or derelicts, which simply isn't nice.

As far as 'Dissociative' as it applies to me personally, I tend to disassociate from my emotions most often, the two most catalytic emotions being sadness and anger. Now, this isn't just a severe form where I "turn off" at the first sign of the emotion, no, I manage sadness and anger pretty well most of the time. If anger and sadness were rated on a scale as 1 being the least sad/angry and 10 being the most, I can only handle up to a 7 or an 8 - then, and only then, does my alter take control and I seemingly "shut down."

I'm not dead set that on the idea that I have DID, in fact, I'd rather I didn't have it, and because of that I'm open to other possibilities such as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Poor Emotional Self-Regulation: Emotional Suppression, or Depersonalization Disorder. However, DID seems to be what it is and I can only pray that it improves or goes away. I hope that this helps you or someone you know, provokes you to research possibilities, or even seek help... shoot even talking to someone about it may help. You're not alone.

The Truth About How I Came To Have Dissociative Identity Disorder (Click.)

Until Next Time,
<3 Shade

P.S. Below is a poem I wrote describing how it feels to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder and

Evasion With the Stone Mason

Evasion is the easiest thing to do,
It allows me not to think
Of all the times I've been hurt
And with evasion I can just sink

Into my own world of protection
That hardened outer shell
Enveloping the soft inner core
And shielding it from the hell

Of this world's cruelty
The chaos and the misery
That will bind and find
Every last soul and mind

Into a miasmatic atmosphere
Of pluralistic ignorance
Of pleonastic fools and fakers
Engaging in brute malevolence

From all this I seek blind refuge
Solitary recourse behind a dark mask
Valiant attempts at self deception
Leading me with Amontillado's Cask

Into the dark hollow alcove
Where I can hide and obfuscate
While my stone mason will toil
With building a thick wall to sate

The anguish and the despondency
That rips and claws at my heart
My caliginous architect at the parapet
Refusing to move or take it apart

Guarding with hollow stares
And a crepuscular expression
As I safely nestle in the retreat
Gazing up at the last impression

Of one last notch left in the wall
Light pouring through in a lone beam
My last aperture to the exterior
An insurmountable task it would seem

To possibly overcome and be released
Would require my own tears and hard work
To take down that impenetrable impediment
Brick by brick to expose soft skin

That would be at risk of ripping again
Vulnerability makes me apprehensive
Frightens me and unnerves me to the core
It's death hold and vice make me defensive

Until I can summon the courage and the will
That iron mason stands strong and sure
Allowing me to practice tactical evasion
Path of the least resistance will endure.
(c) Stacey L. Staudt