Faberi, my boyfriend and former master, diagnosed me the other day with contentedness. I badly wanted to argue, but his evidence was compelling and thorough and I simply couldn’t find any reasonable refutations. I fear he is right–I think I might be content.
Our culture extolls the virtues of contentedness; we look self-deprecatingly on our consumerism and read the words of sages: claims that happiness comes from learning to be content with what we have, to appreciate and be thankful for our blessings. That pursuit of fame and prestige and wealth is hollow and empty. Contentedness, though, is a promised elixir of happiness.
Learning coping strategies for not getting what you want and expecting not to get what you want in most cases and for the rest of your life can be very useful. I grew up gay in the south in the nineties; I was in to the ideas of a man owning and using multiple other men as slaves by the time I came out to my best friend in middle school and tried to convince him to enslave me (which didn’t work, but we stayed best friends and just didn’t talk about it and he never outed me). So by that point I was already looking at any relationship I wanted being hated by all of the society I lived in. It would be a felony offense for me to have sex with any man I met or interacted with sexually for the next five or six years, despite yearning desperately to do so. I feel like my childhood was my opportunity to hone not getting what I want in to an art form.
I have always had borderline contentedness. I blame my childhood, as I do for so many of my traits: I never really learned how to compromise. I have no idea how to ‘let go;’ when you give up part of what you want to get some of what you want I never learned how to stop wanting the part I’m not getting. Instead whenever the compromise came up I simply remember what I’m not getting, get frustrated, and lose interest in what I do get. This ranges from the logical–such as compromising on climate control at a midway point, so that rather than getting a comfortable temperature you just get a different uncomfortable temperature–to the irrational, such as going to a restaurant with food I’m ok with rather than what I’m in the mood for. I just never learned how to get over it. Instead, I got very, very used to not getting what I want, and learned how to suppress my objections and hide my unhappiness.
I never wanted a nine-to-five job; I always hated working and loved playing video games and daydreaming. But I had learned that the world was against me and so get-rich-quick schemes would certainly never work for me. Throughout my childhood my dad was an ascending star at work, from entry-level engineer to senior management of a multinational, multi-billion dollar publicly traded company; the idea of that sort of incredibly slow and tedious progress pained me. By the time he could afford to retire and do anything he was already old.
But it was all I thought I could do, so I practiced my art of accepting that I don’t get what I want and went to college, got a degree, and got a nine-to-five job. I even got a vanilla boyfriend and tried eschewing polyamory and kink. When people called me successful as I tread in my father’s footsteps up the bottom rungs of a wage-slavery ladder I nodded and smiled, even as the voice in my head laughed bitterly and contemptuously at being congratulated on my enormous failure. When I got my own loan on my own home by age twenty-two and made more on my own than the median household income it was easy to be content. I had a boyfriend and friends and family that loved me. It was just the best I could do. It wasn’t what I wanted my life to be, but it was the best I could do. For a while, in college, I was even pretty happy with my appearance; see exhibit A.
But time wounds all heals, and I soon enough failed to work out or eat well. I wanted over and over to break out of suburbia and write a trading program or start a rental business; anything to escape the tedium of my day job. But I came home and played video games, for some reason. I read D&D manuals and fantasized about living in a world of strictly understood magic anyone with intelligence could master, and about living forever and achieving wealth and power. I just dreamt instead of doing anything. I was content; I have trained myself too well that I won’t get what I want. My ability not to fight people, not to try and upend the life I had built with people I love was too developed. I had become placid, overweight and lethargic.
I made paltry efforts to compromise with my partner to try and engage in kink; I tried to make myself work on a trading algorithm. I tried to make myself go to the gym. Instead I came home from work, went out to dinner with my boyfriend, and played video games. Eventually, yearning for more, I saw a counsellor; I couldn’t not seek changes. I pushed my partner until we moved downtown; but I wasn’t done pushing and he wasn’t ready or able to change as much as I needed. We broke up after seven years of a sometimes-open, vanilla, single-partner relationship.
The next few months were rough; I had had depression for at least the end of our relationship and probably a good portion besides. I was content, but my failure to achieve my goals brought me low self-esteem. About a month after breaking up I decided to explore submission; within a few months I was committed to serving Faberi, and had started a strict diet, was seeing a personal trainer at the gym, and was staying chaste, collared and otherwise nude at home, omitting use of all furniture but my bed.
I once again began to like how I looked (exhibit b); as before when I was in shape I had grown distant from my friends, seeing them only once every few weeks, and had few social obligations. I was making no meaningful progress in my professional life, but at least some of what I wanted for myself was being done. Over time, though, as my relationship with Faberi deepened, things inevitably changed. My value to him was in our emotional connection and friendship; we spent more and more time gaming or co-domming boys and less and less focused on my submission. Eventually I grew resentful of being told to do anything; I didn’t really feel like a submissive, didn’t feel like his inferior, and didn’t feel like I was getting the sensation of control and inferiority I needed to be submissive. After some discussions I transitioned to his boyfriend rather than his slave and co-dommed the rest of his pack.
I’d once again become content, placid; I still wasn’t where I wanted in life in terms of my career, nor honestly in terms of kink, as I had always wished either to have or to be a live-in slave subject to strict discipline, expectations and control. And in time I lost the progress I had made physically.
Recently I was talking to Faberi about my dissatisfaction with these things; and I am forced to agree with him that my problem now is that I am content. I have boyfriends and boys I love, who love me; my job isn’t intolerable; I have nothing to push me except myself, and I’m too placid and good at accepting I don’t get what I want to be fired up about it. Maybe it’s time for me to talk to him about being submissive again; maybe it’s time for me to find a way to dom myself. Maybe a counsellor can help.
I’m content and it’s killing me.