It’s a Throwback Thursday twofer today! Here’s a post, originally written on 6/8/2012 for SpiritualBDSM.com . . .
It’s said that all power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. So, with that in mind, how does a dominant avoid the corruption and personal decay that can accompany the wielding of power?
Well, as a beginning, it’s an absolute necessity to know thine enemy. So, it’s essential, at least in my slightly less than perfectly humble opinion, that dominants study and understand the human tendency towards becoming narcissistic.
If everywhere you look you find faults in others, but you fail to see the very same human tendencies and behaviors in yourself, you are either perfect (I’ve never met this individual and don’t expect that I ever will) or you are a narcissist.
|Narcissus by Caravaggio (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome)
This essay’s title was originally proposed by columnist Mike Royko as a potential motto for Chicago. Ubi Est Mea is Latin, the phrase translates to mean “where’s mine”, an apt description not only of that city’s machine politics, but also as a phrase that very well describes the basic attitude of a narcissist.
At times in my life I have been surrounded by narcissism, so much so that I almost began believing that such behavior was actually the norm. It’s not a pretty way to look at life, so I’m thankful to have been rescued by a wonderful and thoughtful woman who you, my dear reader, know as Serafina.
To define narcissism for the purposes of today’s essay, we’ll head on over to Wikipedia, where we read:
Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, “narcissism” usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group’s relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, “narcissism” often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.
So let’s be clear, there’s a certain amount of narcissism we all need to properly survive in this world, essentially that’s the measure of self love that we must have in order to make healthy choices for ourselves. Beyond that point, however, as a person becomes almost entirely focused on self, it becomes a disorder.
When involved in any sort of a relationship with a narcissist, (be it familial, platonic friendship, or romantic love) it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, as individuals overwhelmed by narcissistic desires are very good at manipulating people and situations in order to fulfill their own desires. It took me years to break patterns of behavior I’d adopted in order to survive while surrounded by narcissists. And, in some ways, it’s still a struggle for me today, everyday, to break the chains that held me down.
I’m convinced that my ex-wife, the woman I call Blissful Torment here at the SpiritualBDSM blog, was a narcissist in the classic sense. To further explain what I mean in saying that, I’ll again revert to the ubiquitous Wikipedia:
The word narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus “lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour”.
My former partner was a beautiful woman, and she knew it. She never tired of mirrors, and she loved staring at her own reflection as she went about nightly rituals involving herself, things like brushing or curling her own hair.
Now please don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with having a healthy sense of self worth and self love, and there’s nothing wrong with caring for one’s appearance either. The act wasn’t wrong in and of itself, but it did serve as an important clue I might have caught and recognized in terms of her relationships with others.
I might have caught on when Ms Torment told me of her past relationships with men. Her theory was that most men used and abused women sexually, so she became determined to turn the tables. She set out to use men for sex as she pleased, with little or no regard for their feelings or emotions.
She told me that I was different, and I convinced myself despite all evidence to the contrary, that I really was going to be different enough from most other men, that I’d elicit real change in her behavior. Little did I know at that time, how difficult it can be to avoid being trapped in narcissism’s web of destruction.
|I found this picture of a cheating Ms Torment (circa the 1990’s) on tumblr about a year ago.
The sleeping bag, pillow and wife I recognize as being mine at the time the photo was shot, but the semen of multiple men which covers her face and chest, quite obviously, was not.
Supposedly, the reason for Ms Torment’s attitude towards men, was a part of her personal past. At a young age, she and a brother had discovered pictures of her father engaged in a series of intimate acts with a series of different women, none of them her Mom. She confided in me that it was the most devastating thing she’d ever experienced. Isn’t it ironic that she turned around and did the exact same thing to me?
Sadly, it was something I should have expected, because in the end, that’s how narcissists work, they tend live a “consequences be damned” lifestyle, and they leave a wide swath of destruction in their wake. When you hitch up with one, it can be a fun filled ride, but make no mistake, sooner or later you’ll end up in that destructive wake yourself, unless of course you start cutting your own . . .
With that in mind, I write this essay today to publicly acknowledge that during the time I found myself sharing a bed, a home, and a life with a narcissist, I too fell into destructive patterns which caused harm to the feelings of others. It was all too easy . . .
You see, at the end of her life, my Mother was also very much a narcissist. And, it’s Serafina’s observation, that Mom actively encouraged narcissistic behavior among the women in my life. I suppose it was a sort of divide and conquer theory, as she probably figured it was easier to use my wife’s behavior to influence and control me than to try to do so herself.
If you think that being surrounded by a dedicated cadre of female narcissists was bad enough, consider that I also worked for a narcissist individual when I worked in government. It’s clear to me now in retrospect, that most elected officials are themselves narcissists. It’s an inherent flaw in our republican form of democracy. In a representative form of democracy, narcissists are the individuals most likely to be called to what we currently call “public office”.
Why are we surprised when politicians say one thing to get elected, then do something else upon taking office? To a narcissist, promises need only be kept if the consequences of breaking the trust are going to be greater than they wish to pay. Their word is only as good as their current inclination.
And that’s exactly how I got drawn into destructive practices and relationships. Because I cherished my former wife, far too many times I took her side in conflicts with friends, family, and other lovers. I was an active participant in the destruction left in her wake. By the time she was done, the only thing worth salvaging was my relationship with Serafina.
My ex told me once that she’d hate me forever for choosing Serafina over her, as this was perhaps the only important point where I’d stood my ground and told her she couldn’t simply do as she pleased. The relationship with Serafina was saved simply because I finally developed the moral turpitude to say to Ms Torment, “No, you can’t have your way this time, other people’s lives are at stake, enough is enough.”
As a dominant, falling into destructive behaviors can far too easy. After all, dominants tend to be “large and in charge,” and as a group we tend to be rather controlling, as that’s often our nature. As dominants, when we fail to stay balanced, we fall prey to “Top’s disease” which can be described as: “The tendency for dominants to develop a sense of infallibility or omnipotence.”
That definition brings me full circle back to the concept of narcissism. It is my personal belief that Top’s Disease is really just another descriptor, a synonym if you will, for a dominant who’s become increasingly narcissistic. When anyone, dominant or otherwise, reaches the point that they honestly believe in their own infallibility, they are headed down a path of destruction. It’s not pretty to live, or to watch . . .
It’s not just direction, leadership, and/or control that submissive’s truly crave, it’s also strength of character as well as responsibility. Sadly, responsibility is a trait that seems to be particularly lacking in individuals consumed by their own sense of self worth.
So, just as we may prescribe particular rituals for the wonderful submissives who give us the ability to exert our dominance, exercises which reinforce and reassure them in their submission, we must also find and practice appropriate rituals ourselves. We must continually develop and deploy strategies which keep ourselves grounded, sensible, and realistic in our own behaviors and expectations.
It’s been said that the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance. I’d like to posit that we must, as dominants, pay a similar price in return for the wonderful benefits we enjoy in our position of authority.
noun plural \ˌdra-mə-təs-pər-ˈsō-(ˌ)nē, ˌdrä-, –ˌnī\
: the characters or actors in a play, movie, etc.
There is no other way to describe the folks I hold near and dear to my heart, my friends and family, than to portray them as a “cast of characters”.
Of course I don’t mean to imply that we are all just playing roles, I don’t use the term “character” in that sense at all. I mean the word character like my mother used it, to describe a person who was exceptional, unusual, or flamboyant.
I think mom used it as a bit of a derogatory term. Obviously it has the exact opposite connotation to my eyes. I like characters. And, there’s no doubt I’ve got an exceptional cast at the moment. But, it might take a scorecard to keep track of them all. With that in mind, I’d like to give a quick outline of the dramatis personæ for Samadhi House.
The primary subject of the blog is myself and my immediate leather family. The blog is about them, and for them, at the same time . . .
- Michael Samadhi – Your Humble Narrator – Master of Serafina, Dominant of Sinnja. Lifestyle dominant, sadist, eccentric, writer, photographer, and (believe it or not) philanthropist.
- Serafina Samadhi – The Mostest Hostess, slave to Michael, submissive to AlphaBull. Serafina is a porcelain skinned beauty with dignity, class, and grace. She’s my beloved, my wife and my partner in all things.
- Sinnja – my recently collared submissive, our new love and best friend. Sinnja’s smart, sexy, sassy, and sweet. She’s got the biggest heart, a smile to melt my own heart, and eyes that entrance my soul. Now she’s mine!
Deserving to be mentioned in nearly the same breath . . .
- AlphaBull – my best male friend, an outstanding dominant, he joined us to assist for a few scenes as a part of Serafina’s training, and now has become family. A ruggedly handsome outdoorsman and craftsman, Alpha’s biggest fetish is the cuckold lifestyle. I’m currently encouraging Serafina and Alpha to find a single male they could cuckold together.
There are a couple of former girlfriends / play partners who are still close friends who’ve been mentioned here before, and will probably earn mention again . . . .
- Cherub – a dear friend who I used to play with for the better part of the 1990’s. She’s an artist, healer, and writer. Someday we will collaborate together to write the great american novel.
- Lexxi – good friend and play partner for the last half of 2013. A complex lady with an intuitive sense for energy play, ultimately we found we did far better as friends than in any sort of relationship.
Then there are the folks I mentor / protect . . .
- Gatekeeper0613 – a good friend, my first student (along with his wife Dee), father, family man and business manager, he’s trying to learn the ropes while juggling heavy work and family responsibilities, at this point he’s really more friend than student, but I continue to list him as someone I mentor out of respect for the way the relationship began. Very loyal to and protective of Dee.
- Dione12 / Dee – a good friend, my first student (along with her husband Gatekeeper0613) who has, in return, helped me to explore and better understand my sadistic side. Our relationship has evolved from mentor/student, to play partners, and ultimately to being great friends. She’s a mother and career woman, as well as being able to flip hamburgers without any utensils.
- nova3434 / Stephen – A serious student of mastery – we see each other far less frequently than I wish, but his smile as well as his enthusiasm and dedication to kink are infectious.
- TheropeArtist / Shawn – A serious student of BDSM – we see each other less frequently than I wish, but his serious nature and studious manner are very rare in young dominants.
- dragonmoon1970 – The victim of a vindictive and vengeful former dominant, she was placed under my protection late last fall. A dear sweet lady who’s health has not been the best in the year we’ve known her.
And of course we have some wonderful close friends too, folks that could get called extended family:
- Lady Jennifer – there aren’t many Dommes on my Dramatis personæ, you won’t run across one again until the listing of my more casual friends, but Lady Jennifer is at the top of this list. As I’ve often said in her presence, I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit for Jennifer. She’s a hell of a lady who helped me double team Dee for my birthday last year in a scene some folks are still talking about.
- puppet – Lady Jennifer’s wonderful submissive man. He’s kind, intelligent, witty, funny, not to mention the fact that he giggles beautifully when Serafina occasionally has warmed him up for Jennifer.
- Dark Kitty – a dear lady friend of ours from California, a sweet submissive and a kind hearted lady who’s ass glows nicely for a good flogging!
Then there are a couple of kinksters we’ve met through Sinnja, as they are her family.
- shadowborn – Sinnja’s husband, who believe it or not has wished me well with his wife. I don’t know him well yet, but any man who writes me to wish me well in my relationship with his wife will make my list of friends. And that is one thing we do have in common for sure, we both love Sinnja enough to want her ultimate happiness. I just happen to think her ultimate happiness is to be found serving me, and it seems Lewis agrees, at least for the moment.
- addar – Believe it or not, he’s Sinnja’s oldest son. I met him for the first time at the munch where I first met Sinnja. He’s a really cool guy, has hit it off really well with Serafina. I consider him family too!
Then there are a pair of ex wives, one of whom get’s mentioned at least infrequently . . .
- BlissfulTorment / Bliss / Blissy– My partner for close to 20 years, my submissive for a decade, we were married from 1993 until 2009. A physically beautiful creature who was a lifeguard, personal trainer, and nude model, Blissy was also a narcissist. Ultimately I found she could not be trusted, and in the end, without trust there is no real love.
- Charley – My first wife, we were married for 3 years in the early 1980’s. I shared my first BDSM wedding night with Charlie, three days after my 18th birthday. A good woman, we were just married too young. I see her out at a restaurant once a year it seems, and we always exchange friendly smiles and kind words.
Finally, there are a number of more casual friends, folks we don’t see as often as we’d like, but are still an important part of our lives.
- _his_Owner / Mr_Ellen – a great person, wonderful presenter, very serious about the lifestyle, she’s the reason I have a suspension frame that was originally designed as a swing stand, we gave her our kitchen table in return.
- Sir_Eric – outstanding dominant and great all around guy, organizer of Kinkstock, dominant of Aly.
- Aly – great lady, submissive to Eric, fun, witty, and just a little bit bratty (sometimes more than a little!).
- Lady_E – another great lady, a local Pro-Domme who has hosted a couple of private parties we attended, I borrowed her airsoft rifles for an interrogation scene last November.
I’m almost positive I’ve missed folks who deserve to make the list, but that’s always something I can catch up on later if necessary. Some of these folks will likely become the “victims” of a more detailed individual write up. Lucky them, right?
For now though, that’s a pretty good basic scorecard for the folks who want to keep track of the cast of characters that surrounds my life.
Dramatis personæ Samadhi
I met Serafina back in 2002. We hit it off immediately. Sparks flew. From the very first, the chemistry between us was perfect.
At the time, I was married to a gorgeous lady named BlissfulTorment. I’d been together with Bliss for about a dozen years at that point. As well as being my wife, Blissy was also my submissive. Bliss and I had been poly for almost our entire relationship, but personality and circumstance had always conspired to keep me from my dream of having a poly leather family.
Not long after we met Serafina, she was invited to join our leather family, to form a BDSM triad with the name Samadhi. It seemed there was no denying that the hand of fate had brought us together.
– – – – –
Circumstance denied me that apparent opportunity. Fate wasn’t as kind as we’d all assumed she would be.
As an increasing amount of care-giving responsibilities crept into our lives due to a sick relative. Bliss became less and less enamored of our potential future together. The passing of Blissy’s 30th birthday seemed to set off a sense of her own mortality. As the milestone came and went, it made her realize that the fulfillment of her own dreams was slowly fading away under a barrage of my Mother’s doctor appointments and hospital visits.
Eventually Bliss left. Serafina and I were left alone. Suffice it to say that the ensuing breakup wasn’t pretty either.
I’d endeavored to always make parting ways with past lovers a conciliatory thing. I don’t like burning bridges behind me to begin with, and if I’ve loved someone it’s pretty difficult to get me to the point where I’d wish them ill. Blissy decided to go with a scorched earth policy, it wasn’t just bridges that were burnt, it seemed that everything came out of the breakup in cinders.
Most of all, Serafina felt burnt.
Oh, please do not misunderstand, Serafina was overjoyed to be able to partner with me and become my wife. But, she felt very burned by the triad concept. For the first time in her life she’d opened herself up to the possibilities of love and pleasure with another woman. She had opened her heart only to have the women she was learning to love call her whore and homewrecker.
Serafina was devastated. The pain was so great, she doubted that her heart could ever be open again to such an arrangement. The breakup was so traumatic, Serafina was terribly afraid that to try again could cause our own relationship harm. She vowed to never take those kinds of risks with her heart again.
It seemed my dream had burnt to the ground.
– – – – –
I met Sinnja in 2013. We hit it off immediately. Sparks flew. From the very first, the chemistry between us was perfect.
At the time, I was married to a gorgeous lady named Serafina. I’d been together with Serafina for about a dozen years at that point. As well as being my wife, Serafina was also my submissive.
Not long after we met Sinnja, she was invited to join our leather family, with the intent that we would form a BDSM triad with the name Samadhi. It seemed there was no denying that the hand of fate had brought us together.
Perhaps the story sounds familiar?
On the surface, everything looks pretty similar. Well it is, and it isn’t.
– – – – –
I’ve learned a lot in the last dozen years, I’ve grown and matured dramatically. I’m still the same Michael Samadhi that Serafina met for the first time in O’Hare Airport as I picked her up from her flight here from Canada, but a lot of the rough edges are gone. I’ve been refined by the crucible of life.
Serafina, like a fine wine, has also improved with age. The innocent girl who didn’t really know what BDSM meant is now an “elder” in the community. Almost every day she gets an email, or a note at FetLife, from newbies wanting to know more about BDSM or poly.
My life has changed too. I no longer work in politics so I don’t feel much need to hide who I am or what I do. Serafina was introduced to everyone as our friend who was going through a tough divorce, we were portrayed as giving her support and comfort during that difficult time.
If necessary, would could present our relationship with Sinnja in the same light. But, with one or two minor exceptions, I simply don’t feel the need. What I do in my bedroom is my own business, I don’t feel the need to flaunt my sexual preferences before strangers, but I’m not going to hide who I am anymore either.
The other day when Sinnja came to visit, I was in the front yard practicing with my bullwhip when she arrived. We all hugged and kissed without regard for the potential prying eyes of my neighbors. If kissing a woman who’s not my wife on my own front lawn perhaps might shock the neighbors, I’m not going to give it much worry. If an obviously passionate extended hug between Sinnja and Serafina offends anyone’s sensibilities, they do have the option not to look, ya know . . .
Fate’s always an unknown, and it’s usually easier to see a clear path for others than it is our own. But, I’d like to think I’ll get it right this time. I’d like to think I’ve more come more than full circle.
my leather family comes more than full circle