We are in upstate New York this weekend, sharing Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. My parents and a few of my other brothers and sisters will be arriving tomorrow; we are all going to my niece's wedding on Saturday. I missed seeing my mom on Thanksgiving, and I was wishing more of my siblings were here today, especially my brothers, because they are irreverent and liberal and just fun to hang out with. We tend to get very loud and boisterous at holidays.
Instead, my sister's house was mostly filled with my brother-in-law's sisters, their husbands and kids -- a lot of people I didn't know very well. They are all rather religious, there were a lot of crosses hanging around necks, and there were a lot of prayers being said. A long grace was said before dinner, and after dinner, it seemed, no one was going to get any dessert until evening prayers were recited.
It all seemed very foreign to me. Yet, it shouldn't have been. I was raised Catholic, and I was very Catholic for a long time. Then my life and beliefs took different twists and turns until I evolved into who I am today: a former churchgoer, not entirely a nonbeliever, but not a follower of any organized religion at the moment; a seeker. I tend to think of a Higher Power as "the ultimate love," a guiding force, a perfect ideal to strive for. I'm still working on a more refined definition, and I still haven't figured out if I believe any real guidance or aid comes from a Higher Power. Some days I think I receive lots of help from above. Other days, I take any fortuitous occurrence as pure coincidence.
I have a lot to thank my Catholic upbringing for. I'd say it played a big part (as did my father's punishments) in creating this kink in me. When I first started having sex at the ripe old age of 20, not waiting until marriage like I was supposed to, I was so guilty that I couldn't enjoy it.
I experimented with sex for a year or two, still unable to enjoy the act -- until I learned that if someone "forced" me to submit, I would have "no choice" in the matter -- and if I was also punished for my crime, I could feel absolved. No, it wasn't a perfect system; I knew deep down I was still a "bad girl" and was doing bad things. But it turned me on, I started to feel better about sex, and I started enjoying myself, rather than doing it just to please the man I was with, which happened a lot in the beginning.
Eventually, I think the punishment (and the fear involved) became the main turn-on for me. This could take different forms, not necessarily spanking, but spanking was usually part of the ritual. I'd been titillated (it was more of a nervous excitement) by spanking for a long time, yet had never, until this stage in my life, identified it as a sexual turn-on.
Over the years, my "Catholic guilt" reared its ugly head repeatedly. In my twenties I did two purges of the kinky magazines and videos I'd collected. The self-acceptance was a long time coming. I think I've finally come to that point. Still ... still ... even after all these years, and the friends I've come to know, and the many events I've gone to ... there's still this feeling that tends to come over me at a party or a club.
I look at all the people spanking each other and having fun going from one partner to another, from one room to another, sometimes doing scenes with multiple partners, and I think, "Is this wrong? Isn't this just self-centered hedonism and lust? And now I'm a married woman -- is any of this cheating? Should I really be doing this?"
Honestly, if there is a God looking down and judging our behavior, I don't think my participation in this world of ours will be looked at as a very big deal. Still, when one has spent years fearing what was presented as a punishing God, it's hard to suddenly say, "Hey, it's all good!"