We are mere weeks away from the middle of March, when one year ago, we shuttered our kink groups for “a few weeks” and retreated to our home to work until this passed us by. In some ways it can be difficult to truly comprehend the length of time which has passed. In others, it seems like time has slowed to a crawl, leaving us with more than we know what to do with. Fun fact that recently occurred to me: we will all have celebrated a birthday in the midst of this pandemic by the time things begin their slow crawl back to normal. I will celebrate at least two by then, having had my first very early on in isolation.
It can be odd to think back upon how different my life is in this moment from the way it looked over a year ago.
My life in Kink was flourishing. We were attending our local dungeon at least twice a month to participate in scenes, either together, with others, or both. I was actively volunteering my time to assist with other monthly events, and my leatherworking events and production had found a nicely chugging rhythm which complimented my regular work. We’d found a balance and life was a content thing for us. My partner was getting to know someone new and she and I were becoming friends.
As spring break hit where I live, concerns grew here. I implemented a new policy for client illness, in an attempt to keep my high risk partner safe, finally moving to an online only style of meeting in my business. Many of my clients dismissed my concerns, letting me know they’d be back in a few weeks when things calmed down. I quietly knew it would be longer, but my sense of foreboding didn’t prepare me for what was to come at all. I worried a lot about money in ways I hadn’t before. I was fortunate that online shopping drove more business to my leatherworking, though that began to demand more of my time and attention, which put strain on my hands.
Anxiety took over where contentment had reigned. I had to take over any in-person interactions with others. Panic attacks after grocery store visits became the norm, as I avoided anyone without a mask, and shunned stores which did not require masking regulations to be enforced. Living in Texas, the compliance percentage was low those first few months, and I made do with a cotton mask made by a friend, drying out baby wipes to act as a filter inside of it. Somehow, we stayed safe.
When reopening businesses demanded my daughter begin coming into contact with clients again, my partner I and moved out entirely, sharing residential space with an elderly high-risk relative after disclosing the nature of my leatherworking. She said she didn’t want to know anything, but as the weeks passed and she watched me work, curiosity got the better of her, and I found myself explaining aspects of kink and impact to her. Those were conversations I certainly couldn’t have imagined. Even after masks began to be proven effective and we moved home, that closeness has remained. We send meals over to her and check in with her regularly to ensure she isn’t lonely.
These changes have forcefully molded my relationship. There are things my partner has had to rely more heavily on me for that still make me uncomfortable. Having moved from a schedule where he left in the morning for work and I got up and did leatherwork, then drove to my office to handle things there for a few hours before we both returned home around the same time, things look very different now. I am now required to prepare his breakfast and actually eat something while he begins work. I’m convinced I’ll never actually master his preference in the way his eggs are cooked.
Usually around that time my apprentice arrives, and the three of us settle into our respective duties in one large office area. My partner works his regular job, with his personal laptop available for when I have administrative questions about the leatherworking, his desk nudged up to the apprentice’s. The apprentice works on building up stock or on specifically chosen projects. Sometimes we put our heads together and start working on new designs. He and I volunteered for vaccine trials together, and schedule those appointments so we can ride together and hit up leather stores on the way back.
Our local dungeon is closed for large events, though still available for private rentals. We don’t get there very often, though. We went once in August of last year, once in October, and have plans to go again tonight. Having a full house means the spanking bench in our room hasn’t been used since it was finished, because I’m too noisy for him to be comfortable with that. Our kink is mostly limited to some biting, breath play and rough sex. It’s tough, because I feel like that part of me is really struggling to be fulfilled. Yes, we’ve talked about it. Unfortunately, life is being difficult about those things currently. There’s only so much we each can do. He isn’t getting as much sex as he’d like because it’s a struggle to work around my high anxiety levels and I’m not getting beaten as much as I’d like to because our house is full of people that contribute to my anxiety. It’s a circle.
We spend all of our time together. We’re lucky we like each other still. I’ve seen a lot of relationships fall apart from the stress that’s driving the world right now. We’re still solid as it gets, despite my mental health struggles.
What will things look like on the other side? I have no idea. To be honest, I’m afraid to look too much past tomorrow. I do my best to support our local dungeon and continue to communicate with my partner and my girlfriend, and keep moving forward into whatever the day brings.