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Art of Asking

No answers required

I think the main problem in life is that we don’t ask enough questions for the sake of asking questions and contemplating on life like the Ancient Greek philosophers supposedly did. I don’t really know if they have to be honest but I am referring to the well- established argument that Sophist were teachers of rhetoric and educators of the rich whereas the real philosophers a la Socrates were philosophising for the sake of it. Because they loved wisdom and they could afford not to work. It is not the historical reality of the beginnings of the Western philosophy but rather the beauty of such an act that is motivating me to reproduce the art of asking for the sake of asking. Hence I will ask questions in this blog, in the way that I feel that questions should be asked. And I will try to answer them, so that the lines of argumentation I use can be followed by others in their own art of questioning. 

Hospitals and Death as a Possibility

Reflections on life in the physical proximity of death

I went to the hospital today. A friend of mine, D. was hospitalised on two days ago. She wrote to me yesterday and I visited her as soon as I could. She asked me to buy her some shaving materials and chewing gum. She later told me that it was because she could not eat. She was puking anything that was in her stomach. I don’t know the details of her illness but she will have surgery tomorrow. When I went to the hospital, she was with the doctors and I had to wait for about an hour in the cafeteria, which was when I thought about death as a possibility.

You see, I am afraid of hospitals. I have never been hospitalised myself (knock on wood) but I have been around hospitals a lot growing up. My grandparents on my Dad’s side, both had Alzheimer’s and my grandpa was in a hospital/mental institution since I was 9 or 10 My grandma was hospitalised some years after the death of my grandpa, when I was 15. She died when I was not even 18. So every other weekend, we spent some quality time in mental institutions. Meanwhile my other grandpa, Mom’s dad, got the Parkinson’s disease. He was better in terms of mental health. All through the first year of high school, I visited my grandpa on a weekly basis. My grandma insisted on taking care of him herself. I was not really doing much except for sitting around, chatting and being all granddaughter-y. He died at the end of the year. I was in Germany all summer and he was in the same hospital as my other grandpa. He died some days after I came back and we could say our goodbyes. I don’t remember crying all that much in their funerals. I think death was a better place for them then those hospitals or the last years of their lives, they had to live through. It is still hard for me to see them in the old pictures with me as a kid. It hurts in a way that I cannot really understand. I am sad for them, for the end they had to go through and for all the memories we had but we all forgot. I was too little to remember them in their full health and they were too ill to remember me in the end. I would like to think that they still had some positive feelings from seeing me though.

Worse thing is, I remember feeling cold. I remember hospital visits feeling dutiful and not necessarily desirable. Not that anyone would want to go to a hospital but I remember forcing myself through the visits. I remember some anger but I am not really sure if I am projecting that because I now think I must have been angry at the world for this unfairness. I think I was partly angry though. I was sad we had to go through this and my uncles, both living abroad and their families could be untouched by the whole situation. It is one thing to see them once every year, another to live with them or visit them on regular basis. Maybe it was the cold through the jealousy of not having to know. I was maybe really jealous of my cousins. I was resenting my family for not moving out of Istanbul when they could. I remember crying the most once when we came back from the States and I was praying that I would not have to live another day in Turkey. I was ten.

I am kind of an escapist person. If I can avoid sadness and fear, I prefer to do so, rather than facing it. But I also think it kind stays with me when I avoid it that way. It is accumulated, like water in a dam that is awaiting the concrete to weaken.

My concrete weakened today. I let the sadness in and it hurts. But it also makes me think. I do a lot of thinking anyways but today, my thoughts are not in a good place. Yet they are in a powerful one. I think of death, which is something I rarely do. I do not think death as a concept puts things into a perspective for me. We know that death is certain and inevitable. However it is not the knowledge of death that counts but rather the feeling of it. It is death as a possibility that makes death a feeling for me. It makes be profoundly sad and vulnerable. Luckily, I rarely feel that death is possible. I might have been born a little too much on the positive high of LSD to let death in in everyday life. But today, I am not. Today, death kicks my walls.

See, what if she dies? She is so young, just a little bit older than me. I am not ok with that, not with her dying. But what would it matter if I am ok or not? Can I do anything against it? No. This is the first time, I am visiting someone in a hospital alone and this is the first friend of mine that is hospitalised. And I am angry. Most of my angers turn into sadness and so does this one. Life feels short and fragile and human bodies so vulnerable. And she is such a strong person both in physical and mental sense. And I think of her alone in the hospital. No-one visited her before me and she had been sitting in her hospital room in some pain and some medication highs, not knowing what her problem is; whether or not she would be operated on.

Uncertainty.

I think it is what I fear the most: uncertainty. I am not cut out for insecurities and for not knowing. I need insurances and stability, as much as there can be and especially now. And I need that from myself. You see, we are in the end alone in a hospital room with people speaking in tongues we do not understand. We can try to rely on visitors but at the end of the day, the visiting hours are only till 19. We need to create our own certainties and clarities and to grab a hold of ourselves, albeit without forgetting that we might need people.

It is not the toughness towards ourselves that should make us become the support we need in life; it is our love and care. Because we can and we should care about ourselves. I am not so sure if I do though. You see, I let myself down recently. I keep questioning every once in a while, if I love myself enough. I feel like I lack certain things which I expect to find out there somewhere among strangers.

I need emotional support from others and I give it to them yet I do not give to myself. I am nice to others and caring in many meaningful ways but not to myself recently and probably never have been to the level that I should be. I am careless about myself and that is probably the core of most of my sadnesses. It is not about not ever needing anyone and being super powerful constantly. It is about needing one’s self for support. Trusting one’s self that the support one needs can come from within. Even if it feels at times like it cannot, knowing that you can be there for yourself when death feels like a possibility or when uncertainties kick in. Because we can only be certain of one thing; we are inherently alone and that is not sad because it is in our lonelinesses that we find the strength and support ourselves and each other.

Pain Exchange or Is Pain Easy?

One way in which one can one distinguish between pain and suffering to understand different forms of exchange

When I first read Barkas’s FetLife entry on pain being easy, I felt like I needed to respond to that for myself. This is not necessarily an answer to him but I am using his piece as an entry point to my own analysis of physical pain. Needless to mention, I refer to the pain one willingly receives from a second person within the limits of safety and consent.

Pain is not easy in the traditional sense. It is not easy, precisely because it is a mental process as much as a physical one. Easy is maybe the wrong word in this context because, as I will come to this point in the conclusion, pain can be easier for some people than other feelings/sensations/emotions exchanged within the spectrum of BDSM experiences. But that does not mean pain or as a matter of fact any experience can be in absolute terms easy in this spectrum. It is always a question of relativity, whether in terms of comparing two experiences or a similar experience for two people.

I am a masochist and it might be the only definition, I fully identify with independent of outside(r) influences in the BDSM scene. I enjoy almost all forms of pain, even the one I can inflict on myself by putting pressure on the wounds from my recent motorbike accident. I use it to calm myself down and to centre my thoughts. But I also do similar stuff just because I feel like it. I used to enjoy moving my tongue on the operation cuts on my gums, right after my implants were placed.

In most play setting when I am bottoming, I like being hurt; preferably till I cannot and then some more, to push the limits of my body with pain. It takes a toll that softer play setting would not but the pain I like is not without consequences. Yet it is the pain, I crave most of the time. I get levels of excitement from sheer pain that I do not get from anything else. I would, as long as I feel safe with the person and know that it is their wish to exchange pain, play with them on a pain based setting. It is almost natural to me to demo-bottom for some new ouchy toy or to play with people who come up with phantasies that no matter how crazy they sound, will get me hurt in the end. When I am tied up and suspended in stressful position, the pain (as well as the stress) I feel, although a different one from the impact pain, is for me a fulfilling sensory experience. (Better if I end up in a futumomo and get whipped before being brought down.)

My main requirement would be that the person(s) I am playing with are as interested in inflicting pain, as I am to receiving it – or in other words, that it is not service. I like seeing them get off of the pain exchange, just like I do. I like that it becomes almost impersonal. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not trying to say it does not matter whom I play with. If that was the case, I could as well use robots to hit me. (Do let me know of any affordable ones though) But pain exchange, in the way that I define/experience it, can become less personal than other forms of exchange. Precisely because the exchange is based on pain and not on power or control or some other more higher mental dimension. And for me receiving pain is a very individual process. I do not seek pain because of or for the person inflicting the pain, I seek it for the pain itself and for the mental spaces it takes me to. I have also met people who inflict pain for similar aspects. This is for me a very sensory or sensual form of play that is meeting the sadist partner on almost equal terms. I am not sure if it is the case for every one but for me pain can be exchanged without a strong power exchange. And it is very likely that this aspect of pain exchange makes pain easier for me.

Pain can, thus, be mainly sensory. Of course, it is only the case if you can enjoy it like this. It is not everybody’s piece of cake, just like many things are not my pieces of cake. I am fully aware that there are others who enjoy being hurt because their partner wants to hurt them. Not that they are forced to receive pain, but they might not be “naturally” or better without outside(r) influence seeking pain. However, I also believe that there are others who enjoy the more individual sensory experiences of pain.

Pain becomes harder for me, when it comes with a form of power exchange. It looses its individuality and some of its sensory aspects which are replaced by different kinds and levels of emotions. The same actions can mean different things when places in the context of a power exchange. It can no longer be an exchange on almost equal level. It does not mean that I want less/more pain when a power exchange is present. It just means that my experience of the same pain and my physical and emotional reactions to it change significantly.

My pain becomes suffering. The person inflicting the pain becomes more important because we are no longer just sharing the pain only. I am not entirely sure if all power exchanges should involve submissiveness but they involve a form of relinquishing control over the body and the mind. Pain becomes a part of that relinquishment. I am no longer experiencing the pain on its sensory level only but letting it in along with a loss of control and helplessness that influences the pain. The pain is no longer there for me to masochistically enjoy but primarily to suffer for my partner(s). It is hard to distinguish but I distinguished between receiving pain and suffering for the purposes of this text in a way to explain the power dimension. This does not mean that I do not suffer in the traditional sense from receiving pain (da, it hurts) but I am referring to a different form of suffering here. I am receiving pain for me as in the pain exchange but within the context of a power and/or control exchange, I am suffering for somebody else and for their pleasure upon their demand and within their desires. I enjoy both and all that is in-between very much, yet differently.

I am not sure what it is supposed to mean for me to let the suffering in. It is more personal and it is less likely that I would be willing to do that with that many people but I am uncertain why I do this with certain people and not with others. It means partly letting someone in in a deeper way than I would let someone in for the pain exchange. It does not mean that I love that person more or that it is a purely emotional process. It certainly means that I trust that person more and I can only hope that it means that they trust me more to ask to be let in in these ways to inflict and enjoy my suffering. I am not sure if it is a question of duration of the relationship or if it is the intimacy of it. It is probably all but mainly it is in the vibes.

Mom and Momming

Momming is a form of care I like receiving and giving. This is the short narrative of how I conceptualise it.

I did something one day before my Dad was coming to visit me in Berlin. I had not seen him since New Year’s. I did the thing I did because I knew I could no longer not do that and I firmly believe that the knowledge of my Dad’s imminent arrival helped me follow through with it. Earlier that week when I was struggling with making this decision and following through with it, I had a nice long Skype call with my parents. It was a very sunny day and I was sitting at the library between two sessions of the workshop I was attending. There was beautiful sunlight falling on me and I was in a good mood. The day before I had some coke and the drop was although not bad, eased by His -P.’s- presence. Yet it had somehow made it all even more clear that I had to go through with what I went through the week after. He was in my head the whole week, much like during that Skype call. I was distracted with the unavoidable and I was in a way binding my time. I had not said anything about him to my parents. Except for some passing mentions of this friend of mine. I also did not mention him during the Skype call.

Yet Mom knew. At least, it was what she told me when I was crying at the airport. Originally, she had not planned to come along with Dad because they did not want to leave Grandma alone at home. But after seeing me over Skype, she knew, only in the way that moms do, that I needed her. So she bought a last minute ticket. I was so very grateful. She did not say much later about her reasons either. Honestly, neither of us could tell how she knew. I thought later it was the power of my prayer. I started praying recently in Thailand. I had wished for something very specific, to find the strength within to go through with what I felt I had to with Him. The morning I did what I did, I did it knowingly that I found the strength I had wished for. Later in the evening, among other things, I wished for the strength to go through with my decision decently. Next day, Mom came.

You see, I grew up being loved like that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Mom is perfect. She is special, just as anyone’s mom is. She cares about her kids and her family. She is a provider of many things. But this quality of her, knowing that she is needed without so many words, is not a commonplace trait. It is in her way of momming and I appreciate that probably more than any other trait of hers.

Funny enough, I think I have that trait. I know it is not of much worth when I say I have it and I do not claim that I have it to the level that Mom does but I have in the past found myself display that trait when I really love and care for someone. Today, I decided to call it momming.

It does not happen at every moment but sometimes I pick up this vibe that this person needs me to care for them. It happened once with Him. He called me one morning when I was sort of mad at Him from the night before. I did not hear His call. Half an hour later, we texted and He said that He called me to ask if we wanted to have breakfast together. I asked Him if something happened and He told me that everything is ok but He spent the night at a stranger’s house and that He does not remember them or how He got there. The friends He partied with left Him there after too much drinking. He blacked out. I knew then and there that He needed me. He did not have to write much and even though I was mad at Him, my concern for His wellbeing got the better of me. I invited Him over, knowing how much He dislikes His own place and aware that He would not be able to find the comfort He needed there. It was not niceness and I was really not expecting anything in return but to provide for a friend I cared about. In retrospect, I think it was the first moment, I acted selflessly for Him and the first moment I realised that I cared  about Him as much as I did. I am not sure how much of it he would confirm now but when He came over, I could see the distress in His face and in the way that he was holding his body. He even smelled off, like spoilt milk. Of course, I did not tell Him that. He lied on bed and asked me to cuddle Him, play with His hair and neck. He said it felt like home here. I am not sure if this was the first moment when He mentioned the word mom for me but he did later say that I was like a mom sometimes. I guess He was right but then again, I keep realising that it is a tendency I have that grows out of intimacy and care.

For the sake of honesty, I need to tell you that it felt hard for me in that moment to be cuddling Him. You see, He had cancelled our first play date and for reasons that are beyond the scope of this text, it had left me feeling like he took me for granted, which we later discussed. So cuddling Him, although within the limits of care, felt like it was crossing my emotional borders, which I failed to tell Him.

It is a funny feeling to see a grown man needing such seemingly insignificant things; some space, a bed, his neck hold, his hair pulled. It was a moment of not being able to adult or of adulting taking such a toll that one needs this form of care to get back on one’s feet. I think we all need that from time to time. I do. This is why I think I am capable of providing that. I started adulting alone very recently; only after I realised in October that my move to Berlin meant I left Istanbul for good. I had no longer a home or a Heimat and I had left my family behind. Not their love apparently but their physical presence. My chosen family/close friends or my net to fall back to were scattered around the world. I was alone.

He was not the only recipient of my momming, although I practised on Him the most. I have this dearest friend K. whom I once wrapped up in bed sheets like a burrito, because I knew he needed that after that early morning texting with his boyfriend back home when we left the club. It was when I listened to a voicemail left by one of my best friends, E. who was two continents away, that I knew she needed my advice in a deeper sense than she said. Although my physical presence was impossible at the time, I know that I could be with her in writing.

Yet this is one of the hardest feelings. It is hard for me to realise that I am capable of loving someone like this. It might be misunderstood or misused. Being able to give this care, makes me feel that I am special for the person capable of receiving it but I am so very afraid of providing this for the wrong person. One who would take it as granted and cast it away. I am so afraid of letting the wrong person in like this that emotional intimacy scares me. Yet I like being scared, almost masochistically, because only then you know if this person was worth it.

I felt at many different moments similar things for close friends. I cannot name all these moments and not all of them were of the same intensity and clarity. I am still learning. I am learning how to do momming better, not because it is something sexual, on the contrary, much like niceness, it is something I want to provide for my loved ones. Maybe not always to the same extend but surely when it is needed.