I’ve been playing around with photography again for the first time in years. It feels good to pick my camera back up and, even if I’m rusty as hell, it’s coming back (and let’s face it, I only ever half-knew what I was doing anyway). So, it’s part remembering and part learning.
I got back into it partially because I wanted to get shots of self-tying and I disliked that I always had to depend on someone else to be there to take the picture (and hope that something good came out of it). The reality is, I hate relying on other people for anything. This was part of the catalyst that got me into rope in the first place: not wanting to rely on other people to tie me.
So I’ve started self-shooting because I didn’t like being dependent on others to photograph me, and I started self-tying because I didn’t like being dependent on other people to tie me, and I… do a lot of things because I don’t like being dependent on other people to do them for me. With me.
I took a picture earlier (one where I was self-tying, masturbating, and self-photographing simultaneously) and felt the convergence of these things come out in a singular image. It’s not a bad picture, all things considered, but it exists because I am too stubborn to acknowledge things like sometimes when I tie, I need to get off and it’s nice seeing what I look like objectively through pictures and all of the different components of this picture exist because I found ways to give myself the things I want instead of articulating them.
And it’s not wholly a bad thing. It’s good that I can find a way to meet the needs I have, when I have them, without putting stress and pressure on others. It means that I can want things instead of need them. It gives me a different kind of freedom, one where I can try new and different things when there are other people around, build up strength and endurance without having a regular tying partner close by, figure out my own language around rope and how I relate to it. These are all good things.
I have to recognize that, as good as it is that I can find a way to meet my own needs, it’s still a tactic to avoid vulnerability. Independence is good; independence as an avoidance tactic is something to reconsider. Because it’s all well and good that I can find a way to do the things to myself that I want to do. But I’m doing it with a split mind: part of me focusing on doing the thing, the other half trying to enjoy the thing. I’m missing the connection aspect with another person. The sensation of accepting certain kinds of pain. The feeling of sinking into sensation. The vulnerability of asking or doing.
I’m glad that I’ve been learning how to self-tie. I’m glad that I’m picking up a camera again and being brave enough to stand in front of it. I’m glad that I am learning to give myself permission to do the things I want. I have no intention of stopping any of these things.
But I have to acknowledge that I’m missing something critical in all of this: I’m missing the inherent vulnerability that comes when I am unsure and uncertain of something and I am learning to do it in front of another person. I am missing the parts where connection and chemistry impact what my body can hold and take and carry. I am giving myself an outlet but I have to remember that I cannot do everything myself. There are times when I want things, and part of what I want comes from doing it with someone else.
I want to learn to stand in front of other people’s cameras with some level of grace. I want to be in other people’s rope and push and challenge myself in those ties as well. I want to recognize that sometimes- not always, but sometimes- the feeling of rope is sexual for me. I think it’s good that these things have come together in such a concise way, but there is a level of independence that carries a bit too far into rejecting the kinds of intimacy and vulnerability that I actually really love.
Just because I can do it for myself doesn’t always mean that I should. Or that that’s what I need. Sometimes I sink into my identity as a switch a little too hard and self-top when I should allow others access to my own desires. I self-top a lot. It’s how I navigate my way through complicated feelings about submission, how I handle wanting certain kinds of pain, how I meet needs and desires without asking too much of the people around me, how I choke my way through kinds of writing that are hard.
It’s a blessing, but it’s also a crutch. It means I don’t have to ask for things, even when I want them, even when what I want is specifically dependent on another person (for connection, chemistry, intimacy, whatever; the interaction between two people that you can’t get on your own). There is a lot of things that are good about self-tying, self-shooting, self… whatever.
As long as I remember that there is more than just what I am technically able give to myself.