5 Reasons I Like Pain Play

You absolutely don’t have to like pain to do BDSM. There are plenty of kinky things you can do that don’t involve pain play at all! I don’t have a particularly high pain threshold, but I do like a little bit of ouch with my kink.

Just for fun, I wanted to share a few reasons why.

I like a challenge

Not always, but sometimes I enjoy being pushed close to my limit with pain play. I enjoy the challenge and the sense of accomplishment.

It’s a bit like pushing yourself through the last half-mile of a particularly intense run, only a lot more fun. (I fucking hate running. Pain play scenes are my answer to marathons!)

I like taking pain for someone else

Ultimately, my sexual partners only hurt me in bed because I want them to. (Otherwise, that would be abuse!) But I also enjoy the feeling of taking something to please a dominant partner. That fulfills my service submissive side.

It gets me out of my head

One of the reasons I like sex in general and kink more specifically is because it pulls me out of my head. As a writer, an anxious person, and an overthinker, I am very in my head much of the time. Just the right level of sexy pain can quiet down all the noise in my brain and it’s fucking blissful.

It gets me into a submissive headspace

Physical sensations can help us get into a particular mental zone, and pain inflicted by a dominant partner is one of the best ways to get me into a submissive headspace.

I think this is connected to the above point about getting out of my head. It makes my mind go quiet and helps me tap into feelings of submission and vulnerability.

I literally don’t know, I just do

Sometimes kinks just are what they are. There isn’t always a strong reason I can identify why I like a particular sensation. It just… feels good, gets me wet, and gets me off.

And sometimes that’s enough!

If you’re into pain play, do these reasons speak to you? If not, what questions do you have about the combination of pain and pleasure?

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Things That Matter More to Me Than Looks

I won’t pretend that looks are completely unimportant to me in a relationship. There does need to be a level of physical attraction – I need to be physically into my partners and have them be physically into me. But looks only get you so far and they’re so much less important than a great many other things.

I have met people I was physically attracted to, only to have that attraction greatly diminish or completely switch off due to some other trait in the person. At least a couple of crushes have been snuffed out when the hot person turned out to be an asshole.

So here are a few things that are ultimately way more important than looks.

Kindness

When it comes to dating someone or having them as a close person in my life, this is probably the single most important attribute they can possess. If someone isn’t kind, I’m unlikely to want to get close to them.

Even if I’m not immediately physically attracted to someone, kindness is one of the most reliable indicators that attraction could grow.

Things in Common

Obviously, no two people have everything in common. And separate interests and activities can be healthy in a relationship. But if we don’t have enough in common that we can share at least some hobbies and enjoy doing some things together, that’s unlikely to be a good fit for anything more than a very casual fling.

Matching Goals for the Relationship

I’ve been in relationships before where we wanted wildly different things out of it, and this is its own special kind of hell. While some things are open for negotiation, our core hopes and goals for the relationship should match. If one person wants a very serious, entangled relationship and the other wants friendship with casual sex, that’s likely to lead to resentment and frustration on both sides.

Compatible Kinks

Sex is important! If I’m going to have a romantic relationship with someone, chances are that sex and kink are going to be a part of it. That means that compatible kinks matter.

Again, no two people will have 100% crossover. Kinks and preferences are far too unique and nuanced for that. But there needs to be a pretty significant overlap for things to work.

I’m primarily a submissive, so while I enjoy dating switches, dating someone who wanted to bottom a lot of the time wouldn’t work for me. Likewise, dating someone whose main kink is my hard limit is unlikely to end well for either of us.

Similar Politics

Some people believe you can have very different or even opposite politics and still have a relationship. I do not believe that. I need someone whose politics are broadly aligned with mine if we’re going to be partners, lovers, or even close friends.

We don’t need to agree on everything. I think nuanced discussion and learning things from each other can be a wonderful part of a trusting relationship. But realistically, no-one who is right of centre is ever going to be a good match for me. We need to be on the same page about the important stuff.

What matters more to you than looks? Let me know in the comments.

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I wrote this piece as part of Quote Quest, a weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

Edge Play: How to Safely Experiment with Darker Kinks

“Don’t worry about the darkness in my soul. It ignites me like an embered coal.”
– Anon

I’ve written before about the darkness we all have within us somewhere, and the ways in which I feel it is important to honour the dark parts of ourselves rather than running from them. I believe that consensual kink is one of the places that we can safely revel in our darkness in a controlled and safe way.

I’m deliberately not defining what a “dark kink” is here, because it’s different for everyone. One person’s hardcore edge play is another person’s average Friday night. If you’re playing around your edges, you’re doing edge play, and this advice will be useful to you.

Ensure your partner is enthusiastic about going there with you

Consent is always vital, of course. But it takes on a new level when you’re experimenting with your edges or your darkness. Edge play is inherently risky – even if there’s limited physical danger, it’s entirely possible for someone to end up triggered or traumatised.

This applies to Tops, too, by the way. Tops get to give or withhold consent just as much as bottoms do – and Tops can also be traumatised by engaging in something that they’re not fully consenting to or something that goes wrong.

Practice RACK

Risk-aware consensual kink, or RACK, acknowledges that we cannot eliminate all risks inherent in sex and BDSM. But we can take steps to understand and mitigate them.

So if you’re going to try something edgy, take the time to understand the physical, mental, and emotional risks in what you want to do. Once you understand them, put

By the way: when you start doing this, you might decide the reality is too risky and you’d like to keep this kink as fantasy-only, for now or forever. That’s fine too – you get to pull the plug at any stage.

Have an aftercare plan

Don’t try edge play or a kink that’s straying into darker territory for you the night before a big meeting or an early start or a long drive. Ideally, if you’re going to experiment with edgier kinks, it’s best to do so when you’ll have plenty of time to recover, take things very easy, and take care of yourself.

Talk to your partner about an aftercare plan ahead of time. Ensure they’re fully briefed on what you’re likely to need and willing to provide it – and willing to adapt on the fly if the reality turns out to be slightly different.

A good aftercare plan might involve a long sleep, time to cuddle and debrief with your partner, and your favourite snacks within easy reach. Remember that drop from an intense scene can hit several days later, so plan how you’ll handle it if that happens.

Take it slowly

It’s always better to come away from a scene still wanting more than to come away upset or traumatised because you went too far. Remember that there will always be a next time.

Take things slowly, check in often, and don’t try to do everything all at once. If you’re experimenting with a new kink that’s edgy for you, maybe start out just by reading some erotica together or doing some dirty talk around it. When you do start playing, only go as far as feels good… and try to stop before you hit the “shit, we went too far” point.

Get some advice and do your research

Almost any kinky thing you want to do, I guarantee that someone else has already done it and probably created a tutorial on it. So do your research, learn as much as you can, and if possible get some advice from an expert. Many local kink clubs and swing venues hold tutorials on how to do various kinky activities safely (outside of pandemic times, obviously) – and you can also find endless resources online.

Other people’s experiences can’t prepare you for every single eventuality, but they can give you more context, help you think through how you’d handle various scenarios, and show you some of the common pitfalls to be aware of.

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4 New Years Resolutions Not to Make for 2021

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Make it a good one.”
– Brad Paisley

Well, friends, here we are! 2020 is finally over, and not a moment too soon. This is my first post of 2021, and so I thought it would be good to look at the popular-but-divisive topic of new years resolutions.

I’m generally not a big fan of “resolutions” – they’ve always felt like a lot of pressure, very “all-or-nothing.” Not to mention that January is the most depressing month of the year.

With that said, I do like taking the time during the new year period to look back over the last year, take stock of where I am and how I’m doing, and commit or recommit to my goals. My new year present to myself was an Ink and Volt Goal Planner and a bunch of fun, colourful stickers to use in it, and I spent a fun and satisfying few hours working out how to get where I want to go this year.

Whether you love resolutions or hate them, here are four that I think you absolutely SHOULDN’T make this year.

Go on a diet

Diets, of the type that start on January 1 and have weight loss as their driving goal, are unlikely to succeed. That’s because they tend to be punishing, starvation-based, and unsustainable. They’re also based on forcing our bodies to conform to an ideal that is patriarchal, oppressive, and not even possible for most people.

If you want to lose weight, I’m not going to tell you not to. Our relationships with our bodies are very personal, and only you know what’s right for you. But whether you want to gain, lose, maintain, or ignore the number on the scale entirely, focus on eating foods that make you feel good and moving your body in a way that feels nourishing and joyful.

Just don’t go on a new years diet. Please.

Get a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner

The reason I think “get into a relationship” is a new years resolution to avoid is this: it’s not entirely within your control. Naturally, you can do things that make it more likely you’ll meet your dream person or people (more on that in a minute.) But so many factors – whether the people you fancy are available, whether they fancy you back, whether your wants and needs are compatible – aren’t within your direct control. Not to mention, you know, the ongoing pandemic that is making dating challenging at best.

If you want to date more, or meet more new people, set that as your goal instead! These are perfectly fine goals that are actually within your control. You can get on the dating apps, dust off that old OKCupid profile, join a group or club for one of your interests (maybe virtually right now…) or ask your friends to facilitate introductions to any of their friends they think you’d hit it off with.

But resolutions like “by December 31, 2021, I will have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner” is a recipe for pressure, frustration, and resentment. None of which actually lead to conducive dating.

Be more positive

There is little I find more eye-rollingly infuriating than toxic positivity, except possibly toxic positivity that comes from a place of unexamined privilege (and is presented in easily-digestible, pseudo-motivational quotes attached to pretty pictures on Instagram.)

I’m not saying we should all be relentlessly negative, of course. That doesn’t help or serve anyone. But I’m a big proponent of the power of appropriate and well-placed negativity.

2020 pretty much sucked. Not entirely, of course. Some good things – some great things – happened. But when there’s a pandemic raging, your government is killing people with their actions or inactions, you’ve lost your job, you can’t see your family and friends, and your mental health is tanking… well, the last thing I want to hear in that instance is “positive thinking is the cure to all your woes!” No it isn’t. The cure for our woes would be a competent government, mass vaccination, adequate and accessible mental health care, and necessities provided for everyone. (I’ll write a whole post on this soon.)

Instead of making resolutions like “be more positive”, what would happen if you decided to honour all your emotions this year? Feel both your sadness and your joy. Allow anger in and sit with it. There’s no such thing as a bad emotion – what matters is how we act on them. Sometimes, negativity is appropriate. Sometimes it’s okay to say “yeah everything is pretty much shit right now.”

Say yes

This is another of those pseudo-deep life advice things: say yes to everything! Embrace opportunity! It sounds great, except… it isn’t.

I’ve gone through phases of saying yes to pretty much everything people asked of me, both the fun and the not-so-fun. You know what happened? I ended up burned out and pissed off.

Saying yes to blowing off work to spend the day in bed with your partner might be great, or it might lead to serious professional repercussions. Saying yes to a spontaneous trip might be a fun adventure, or it might spell disaster for your finances. And saying yes to dessert when you don’t really want it might lead to you enjoying a tasty slice of cake, or it might end up with a sugar crash that leaves you feeling like crap.

Instead, consider your decisions carefully. Say yes when you really want to say yes and when it’s a good decision for you. Otherwise? Learn how to say no more often and more freely.

“No” doesn’t mean you’re closed off to opportunity, a bad friend or partner or employee, or not spontaneous enough. “No” means that you prioritise yourself, know where your boundaries are, and hold them without apology. And I think that’s far more beautiful and beneficial than agreeing to everything until you feel completely out of control.

Are you making or breaking up with resolutions this year?

Let me know why you love resolutions or why you hate them – and any that you’re determined to never make again!

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I’m Not Looking Forward to Christmas

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
– Garrison Keillor

My feelings about Christmas have fluctuated over the years. Please bear in mind that I am an ex-Pagan who now identifies as an atheist. So I’m approaching Christmas through the lens of the cultural phenomenon rather than the religious observance.

When I was little, I was – like many children – fully into the magic and sparkle of Christmas. In my late teens and early 20s, it became a nuisance that dragged me away from university (where I was far happier than I had ever been anywhere else.) For five years, it was also the time that my then-partner fucked off out of the country for 2-4 weeks at a time (sometimes longer), leaving me behind and increasingly resentful.

Christmas and I have come to an uneasy truce over the last couple of years. There are aspects of it I enjoy very much (sparkly lights! My ridiculous garish rainbow tree! Mince pies and brandy sauce!) and elements I do not care for (obscene expressions of capitalism on speed, most Christmas music, the cold.)

For the last few years, Mr CK and I have made our own – appropriately offbeat – traditions. Fortunately, my family are very chill about the whole thing, so we avoid expectations that we MUST go home on Christmas Day. As long as we all get together at some point over the holidays, we’re all happy.

This year, though? This year I just can’t.

2020 has been a trash fire for so many people in so many ways. And, though we’re now on the home stretch at last thanks to the long-awaited vaccine, I can’t imagine that at least the first part of 2021 is going to be much different.

I don’t feel celebratory. Honestly, I just feel fucking tired. I’ll be happy to raise a glass on new year’s eve and wish 2020 farewell, even if nothing will immediately change. But Christmas just feels like an obligation. Like something false and forced that will inevitably just remind me of everything I haven’t been able to do this year.

I’m sharing this to let you know that however you feel about the upcoming holidays, it’s okay. Whether you’re excited to celebrate, dreading it, or just can’t bring yourself to care, it’s all valid. There’s an enormous amount of cultural and social importance placed on Christmas. That can all feel like a lot of pressure even during good times. Which this year emphatically is not.

To vaguely tie this back to sex (since this is ostensibly a sex blog,) I’ll consider it a win if this year’s Christmas celebrations in the C&K house amount to a good fuck and a week of sleep.

How are you feeling about Christmas this year, loves?

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

How to Maintain Balance When Everything is On Fire

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein

Balance, however you define it, is important. But it’s also really hard when everything feels overwhelming. And oh my goodness, everything does feel overwhelming right now, doesn’t it?

As of right now, the UK is in what has been not-so-affectionately dubbed “Lockdown 2.0”. After completely failing to take care of my health in any reasonable way during Lockdown The First, I’m trying really hard to maintain balance and a modicum of self-care practice this time.

To that end, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips for staying balanced and grounded when things are hard everything is on fucking fire.

Rest

I put this first on the list because it’s by far the one I’m worst at. It can be so, so hard to switch off, unplug, and decide to do nothing for a while. But rest is absolutely vital. Without it, your health will suffer and you’ll hit burnout before you know it.

Here’s a hack that works for me: put time for yourself in your calendar, like a date you’d make with someone else, and stick to it. Then use that time to binge that Netflix show you’ve been saving, read for pleasure, take a bubble bath, or just take a nap/go to bed early.

Rest isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Eat something

When did you last eat? If it’s been more than a few hours or if you feel hungry right now, go and eat something! I recommend something with complex carbs and protein, rather than something that will give you a sugar high and then make you crash an hour later. But hey, if a sugary treat is what sounds good right now, have at it!

The trick is to listen to your body. It knows what it needs.

Move your body

I don’t mean “go out for a ten mile run” (though if that’s what makes you feel balanced and centered, knock yourself out.) Just move your body in whatever way feels good. That might look like hitting the gym and working up a sweat, or it might look like practicing some gentle yoga, or it might look like dancing to some music in your bedroom, or it might look like just doing a few stretches without even getting out of bed.

When I’m feeling sad or stressed out, I find getting on my yoga mat or having a play with my hula-hoop really helps me to regain and maintain balance.

Say no

If you’re feeling stressed, stretched, and overwhelmed, it might be because there are too many demands on your time and energy right now. Practice saying no.

If a client wants you to take on some extra work last minute? Sorry, no. Yet another Zoom happy hour? Pass if you don’t feel like it. Colleague wants you to pick up their shift? No can do!

If it doesn’t serve you or make you happy and it can possibly be avoided, just say no. Saying no firmly but politely doesn’t make you a jerk, it makes you a person with good boundaries.

Masturbate

I had to throw this one in the mix – this is supposed to be a sex blog, after all! Seriously though, masturbation is amazing. It not only feels good, it has so many benefits for your physical and mental health. Need to get out of your head and into your body for a while? Grab some porn or erotica and your favourite vibrator/stroker/hand, and give yourself some love.

Ask for help

The idea that we are all supposed to be self-reliant is so, so toxic. You know what’s a sign of strength? Asking for help when you need it. So if you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Talk to your partner or a friend, call a helpline like Samaritans, make an appointment with your doctor or therapist. Whatever it is you need to help you ground and maintain balance, you can ask for it.

You don’t have to do this alone.

You’ve got this.

It’s going to be okay.

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It’s Different for Girls

A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she’s a tramp.”
– Joan Rivers

I thought I’d try something different today – this little poem is my contribution to this week’s Quote Quest, a meme by the gorgeous and talented LSB.

TW for sexism, references to sexual violence, slut shaming, body shaming.

It’s Different for Girls

“It’s different for girls,” they said.
Don’t go out late at night
Don’t take a different way home
Make sure your skirt’s not too short
Don’t be with a boy alone

Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t

“It’s different for girls,” we heard.
Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail
Don’t have a second beer
Carry your keys in your fingers
Nurture the gift of fear

Be afraid be afraid be afraid

“It’s different for girls,” they told us.
Cover your body, don’t be a slut
Keep an eye on your drink
Laugh politely (but not too loudly)
“You were asking for it, don’t you think?”

“It’s different for girls,” we learned
Your body is open for public discussion
So look pretty (but don’t be a slut)
Don’t you know men only like hairless virgins?
You’ll never get a boyfriend like that.

“Boys will be boys,” they told us.
When what they really meant was
“And you will be held responsible
So you’d better start getting used to it”.

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Loving Someone You’ve Loved Forever

“We had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
– Louis de Bernieres (from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin)

I won’t knock New Relationship Energy for a second. It’s fun and it’s wonderful. Who doesn’t love that part at the beginning of a new relationship, where you’re feeling each other out, learning each other’s bodies and minds, figuring out how you fit?

But for me, the best things in a relationship have always come with time. Things like learning how to move around each other in the kitchen as we make a meal together. Knowing exactly what treat to bring back from the store to make the other’s day a bit brighter. Hearing I love you in words like “drive safely” and “you need to rest“. A whole shared language of jokes, memories, experiences, trips, fights and resolutions, fucks, films, friends, and so much more.

And sex with someone I’ve loved forever? For me, that’s where the really good stuff is. When there’s no pressure to be perfect. No worries about what if we don’t fit, what if it doesn’t work, what if what if what if

No fear I won’t be good enough, because they’ve already seen me at my worst and they still love me. Knowing that if I don’t come, they won’t think my body is too finicky or complicated. Knowing that if a body makes an unsexy noise, we’ll laugh it off and carry on. Being 100% certain that if I say no, they’ll respect it and still love me. Not being scared to take my clothes off, because I know they find me hot, stretch marks and body hair and all.

All other things being equal, I’d far rather have sex with someone whose body I know. Someone who knows mine. The creativity that comes with keeping the lust and the spark alive over years. Morning sex when we’re still half asleep, afternoon sex when we’re both working from home, giggly sex when we’re just on the right side of tipsy, sex club sex when we’re getting off on showing off.

I’ve never understood people who think long-term relationships are boring, that forever love is unexciting, or that sex with someone you’ve loved for years has to be less passionate.

So yes, casual sex is fun and NRE is wonderful. Give me the breathless excitement of fucking someone for the first time. Give me the heart-skipping moment when one of us finally moves to kiss the other. Bring it on – I love that stuff. The ability to enjoy that stuff over and over, without hurting anyone, is part of why I’m polyamorous.

But more than that? Far more than that, give me waking up next to someone I’ve loved for years. Bodies that can keep rediscovering each other every time we come together, again and again and again for years. Give me the two puzzle pieces that know they fit together.

Give me roots that have grown together underground. In the face of all that, the pretty blossom is just decoration.

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5 Things I Used to Believe About Myself (That I Don’t Believe Any More)

I’m writing this as part of the Smutathon 2020 writing challenge in aid of Endometriosis UK. We’re coming to the end of hour number 10, with two more to go.

This one is inspired by this week’s Quote Quest prompt:

“Change your conception of yourself and you will automatically change the world in which you live. Do not try to change people; they are only messengers telling you who you are. Revalue yourself and they will confirm the change.”
– Neville Goddard

I’ve done a lot of work on changing my perception of myself over the last few years, particularly since leaving my abusive partner just over 5 years ago.

So here are some of the things I used to believe about myself but don’t believe any more.

I have a low sex drive

Turns out I DON’T have a low sex drive – if anything, my libido is on the higher side (depression notwithstanding). I just thought I had a low sex drive for a long time, because I was in relationships where I didn’t feel empowered own my sexuality.

The first two men I had long-term relationships with both conceptualised my sexuality as something they could – should – own. They both placed a high value on “purity” and “innocence”, expecting me to stay a timid, shy creature forever. They wanted my availability, but my actual desire was somewhere between “irrelevant” and “mildly distasteful”.

I don’t have a low libido at all. No – I just need to be with people who value it.

I can’t leave a relationship

This is probably the most toxic and harmful thing I used to believe about myself. I believed this one for years. Prided myself on it, even. However bad things got, I told myself, I wouldn’t be the one to leave.

Loyalty and commitments are values I hold very close to my heart and take very seriously. But loyalty and commitment have limits. Eventually, even the most devoted person will be pushed too far. It wasn’t actually a virtue to stay in a relationship with someone who continually harmed me. It was a symbol of a profound degredation of my personal boundaries and self esteem.

Now, I know that if I am not being treated well, I will leave. And as a result, I’m in healthier relationships.

I’m too difficult to love

This was another narrative my abuser put into my head. He convinced me that I was inherently difficult to love because of my mental illness, trauma, and – frankly – my reasonable and sane negative reactions to the ways he treated me.

Another part of the reason I stayed so long? Because he convinced me that no-one else would love me the way he did. That I was “poison” and “cursed” (his words) and that he was doing me a huge favour by putting up with me.

The reality? I’m no more difficult to love than anyone else. We all have our “stuff” and in any long-term, commited relationship it will sometimes feel challenging. But no-one is too difficult to love. Especially not due to things like illness or trauma.

I’m defined by my trauma

It would be a lie to say that my trauma hasn’t changed me. Of course it has. No-one can come out of a long-term abusive relationship unscathed. The fact is that I do not know who I would have been without that experience.

But that doesn’t mean I am defined by my trauma. It is a part of me, but it is not me. I’m many things, and a survivor is one of them – an important one. But not all there is. Not by a long shot.

I’m straight

Lol.

Yeah, this is something I really used to believe about myself at one time. Seems strange now.

If you haven’t donated to Smutathon 2020’s charity yet, please do so now! We’re into the last couple hours and we really need your support. (If you read this in the week or so following the event, the page will still be open).

The Me Who Never Met You

TW: abuse, suicidal ideation (in the past, am safe now)

There is a version of me who never met you.

In another life, I am whole. In another version of the story, the ending is different. Somewhere in that parallel universe, I am different.

In that life, I do not jump at nothing. I don’t have walls six feet thick around my heart. I don’t have nightmares about the goofy, charming smile I fell in love with, the smile that hides the monster that terrifies me. The monster I cannot tame with pleasing and placating and fucking and offering myself up as a sacrifice, even though I’ve tried.

In that life, I have not spent thousands of pounds on therapy just to stay alive. I have not been medicated and hysterical and within an inch of slashing my wrists alone in a random hotel room because of all the times you convinced me I was nothing.

The me that never met you might have had a chance to be alone for a while. That girl could have spent the best years of her youth travelling and learning and fucking and fucking up and spending all that energy on literally fucking anything else but trying in vain to meet your impossible standards.

The me who never met you might have kept more of her softness. Gentleness might have still come naturally to her, rather than being something unfamiliar and alien she had to relearn piece by piece. She might not have had to forge steel psychic armour just to survive.

There is a version of me who never met you. I wish I had been able to know her.

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This piece was (albeit loosely) inspired by this week’s Quote Quest. Want to join in? Go see what everyone else is writing and submit your own work, too! And as always, if this piece was meaningful to you, you can buy me a coffee.