“But I’m afraid of being alone.”
How many unhappy relationships have I stayed in because that thought danced around in my head? All of them, really.
That sentence kept me pinned to the spot with co-dependence. Apologizing for taking up space in a relationship that was supposed to me making me happy and fulfilled. I was making sacrifices and excuses to stay when everything inside of me screamed that I should go. It was obvious that we would both be happier if I stopped trying so hard and walked away.
Logic always wins out in the end; it’s just a matter of how long it takes me to listen. To pet my heart down and let it know that regardless of the good times, the amazing sex, the hopes for the future, that it was time to let go. The only person I could change is myself and the change I needed was to not be with someone that was hurting me.
Because face it, heart, when is the last time we were ever alone? Look around at the wealth of friends, the rope community, the opportunities to have adventures and love that you’ve been ignoring in the name of we-need-to-work-on-this-relationship. All of these people coming into clear focus and welcoming you with open arms. They’ve always been there and they want you back now that you’re free and willing to pay attention to them again. Friends are good like that.
So that first Friday, two days after telling my latest long term but untenable love good bye, I ran in the direction of friends and rope to attend a guerilla rope event. Something I’ve wanted to be involved in but unable to make time for. Friday was always our date night, our rare time together in which we would almost always hibernate in his apartment, decadently binging on food, wine, and each other’s bodies, as if we indulged in pleasure and one another enough we could forget our troubles. Anything exciting and intimate enough to forestall the next hard talk or argument.
I needed distraction this first no-longer-date-night, the first night since becoming single that I expected to feel desperately alone. Instead I felt free, like I had finally done something I should have been brave enough for a year ago. Heading to the meet up site I had a skip in my step, I felt light, my face lit up to see fellow rope geeks. They drew me in to hug and catch up on one another’s lives until we walked in the direction of the waterfront together. I wasn’t alone or lonely.
Instead of feeling empty or broken, as I walked in this crowd of people I know and trust I felt like I was in the right place and doing the right thing for the first time in recent memory. Sure my ex had taught me plenty about intimacy, loving my body, new kinks, and letting go of reality. I don’t regret our time together but it was never meant to be a forever connection, by holding on to it months past its expiration date, we’d turned something sexy into something ugly. Yet his was the first break up I’ve had that didn’t make me feel broken. I was feeling more alive, feeling all the opportunities suddenly available, feeling enthralled by the possibility of one day finding someone who was an easier fit.
On the esplanade my friend R approached me with a silly smile which I returned, even with my aching heart his grin and excitement was contagious. “Can I tie you to that?”
He points at a floating vertical beam in the walkway that points 10 or 15 feet into the sky, it’s rusty and wider around that my arm span. It’s industrial and rough, perfect. “Of course!” I do an excited little leap and clap, full of childlike thrill.
We’ve been orbiting one another for over a year, never able to find time at the same time, story of my life over the last couple years. That ends today; we’re both present and willing.
“Yay!” He come-hithers me towards his rope bags, negotiating quickly before pinning my arms in the small of my back.
A year ago I couldn’t let anyone tie or hold my arms like this. A left over trigger from my rope-rape made it too traumatic. My ex helped me through that, giving me the space and opportunity to work through it. So often the intensity of our sexual adventures became therapeutic until at the peak of our good times we were having the best sex I’ve ever experienced. Often it felt like we were the same creature, we were so connected. And it’s because he came into my life that I can enjoy R binding me now.
I breathe happily into the smooth but firm hemp rope wrapping around me, pinning me in. Even in the summer heat this bondage hug is divine. So is the feel of R’s arms around me, pulling me to his chest to tug at the lines around my breasts, perfecting them. There’s nothing sexual about this—fully clothed, in public, his wife watching and taking photos—and yet it’s sensual and loving. The being held, cared for, paid special attention; all the things I’m missing and needing right then.
The box tie chest harness complete, R helps me up to the pole, sidled in between it and the railing keeping us from the water. He ties the harness to the pole, pulling my back against the rusty metal, thrusting my hips forward for balance. Next my ankles are bound together then to the pole so I’m balancing on my heels.
As I stand there, a pawn for his ropey game, I watch the sun blaze on the horizon, glowing orange over the downtown Portland skyline where industrial buildings rub shoulders with brand new high rises. Life hasn’t been easy since I moved to the West coast and yet I love it here, this city that feel like home, this beautiful and ridiculous city.
R stands next to me, just barely breaking our physical contact and we look out over the water. “This is the best sunset I’ve ever watched!” And I mean it without hyperbole. I grin like a fool at him. He agrees.
Around us the rest of our crew binds one another to the railing and other beams in various ways under the amused watch of by standers that keep asking, “What are you doing?” or “Why rope?”
Soon I feel R wrapping another rope around my waist to pull my hips closer to the railing, emphasizing the discomfort and restriction of the tie. I giggle because I’m enjoying this so thoroughly, my ex isn’t even in my head and I’m shocked at how much fun I’m having, how free my mind is. And I realize R is just the first of many people who I will enjoy time with in this new era of life.
I’m not alone.e