After the bliss of a rope scene fades, maybe in an hour or two, maybe in a day or two, thoughts of all my shortcomings start rearing their ugly heads. I curse my lower back's inflexibility, feel ashamed about asking for adjustments, wish I had been able to stay in the rope longer, wish I had been more graceful or more attractive…just more. Better.
Maybe it's the rope drop talking. What goes up must come down, and maybe the self-doubt is on the other side of bliss on the pendulum's swing. Or maybe it's just my perfectionistic personality. Whatever the reason, I know my perception is warped. But warped or not, there it is, that dark cloud of self-doubt hovering relentlessly.
Surely other rope bottoms have felt this at some point. The question is, What can we do about it?
We could try to eliminate all the things we have the self-doubt about. For example, I could finally buy that darn contortionist DVD and seriously strive for more flexibility. I could lose those extra pounds and get more fit. I could find someone to do more rope bottoming “lab time” with to work on improving.
But something tells me I'd still feel not good enough. Because there's always room for improvement. If you eradicate those particular issues, others will just slide in to take their place. Because beating back self-doubt doesn't happen by letting it control you.
Of course, improvement can be a worthy idea, as long as our self-esteem isn't tied to the results—as long as we aren't attached to the outcome, which is a Zen concept and which is much easier said than done, for me anyway.
If “fixing” the issues won't make the self-doubt go away, what will?
Talking with the partner in the rope play seems like a good idea. But I'm loath to unleash all of my insecurities on someone I'm hoping will find me desirable enough to want to tie with again. Telling a rope top all the ways you think you fell short as a rope bottom…not so sexy I think. It could also make them think they did something wrong. Besides, I know my perception is warped and that the feelings will ease eventually. (Ease but not entirely disappear.)
Journaling helps a little. So does writing down one positive thought for every negative one, in two columns. For instance, in column A goes “stupid embarrassing inflexible lower back,” and in column B goes “was totally present.” But I tend to give more weight to the negative side, so that's not a complete solution.
What seems to help the most is talking with other rope bottoms, in person or online. Every time I've spoken or posted something about my mistakes, thoughts, or feelings, someone if not many someones has been right there saying, “Me too.” I think a lot of us feel like our issues and problems and insecurities as rope bottoms (or even just in general) are unique just to us. But I'm also pretty sure that no matter what it is, someone else can identify with it—and often can even offer wisdom or insight that helps.
That's one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the idea of a rope community, and in particular a rope bottoming community. This thing we do, there's no road map for it. You can't study rope bottoming in college or read reams of rope bottoming studies and manuals, because they don't exist. All we have is one another and our collective knowledge and experiences. And the more we can share that knowledge and those experiences, the more we can support one another, the better off we'll all be.
So what about you? What does your self-doubt look or sound like? How do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and know that you're not alone.