When we fuck up (and we will, because we are all human, and we all fuck up), owning it and being accountable is a wonderful strategy to personal growth, for maintaining relationships, for being a decent human being. If we can not, at the very least, say, “I did this” without pointing at the other person; If we cannot look solely at our own actions in order to grow and learn something; then we are not being accountable.
And that, of course, is our call. We each have to walk our own path, to be on our own journey, right?
Being accountable is not just a matter of nodding, agreeing that we fucked up. It means we also have to do the work to not fuck up in that vein again. Being accountable also means that we need to respect that no matter how sorry we are, no matter how much we learn and grow from the experience-we still cannot erase the harm or hurt I caused.
When we fuck up, and that fuck up impacts someone else-that someone else gets to make their own choices, and walk their own path. EVEN if we are sorry. EVEN if we never ever do the same thing again. Even if we apologize, own it, and work our ass off to fix it.
What I am telling you, is that when you fuck up, you might not be able to ‘fix’ the wrong you did. That the person you hurt or harmed might choose to not give you second chances, to not forgive and forget.
And that is absolutely their right.
We each have the right to choose what risks we take, to set our own boundaries, to either let someone into our hearts, our families, our spaces-or not.
Being accountable does not magically erase the shit I do, and it won’t erase the shit you do. Being accountable is something you do for YOU (or I do for me), so that we grow, learn and become closer to being that person we want to be, the person that can have that deep intimacy we crave, the person that most closely matches that ideal view of our self. It is not a tool we use to gain forgiveness. IT is not a weapon we use to shame others for not forgiving.
Forgiveness is not for anyone to demand, expect, or chide someone else into giving.
So no, when I hurt you, you are not expected to forgive me.
And no, when you hurt me, you are not entitled to my forgiveness.
And when it comes to BDSM, to S/m, I am less forgiving of those that really break my trust, than when outside of the community. Because here, in this fucked up, freak flag flying arena, trust really matters.
To be in this amazing, wonderful, sexy community where we can fuck the way we want, dress the way we want, love the way we want, and feel the way we feel is a truly intense gift. And like any other worth having experience it comes with it’s own risks.
To really experience that amazing rush of whatever it is that we do, we have to let our guard down a little (or a lot), which can leave us without our typical defenses to protect us. We have to trust those we bring our bodies to, to hold that power responsibly.
When we hurt someone, when we fuck up and break someone’s trust in the BDSM community it is a big fucking deal because without that trust how do we let our guard down and expose our most vulnerable places to one another? Without trust, how to we come out the other end of being beaten black and blue with a healthy sense of self? If we can’t trust each other enough to lay ourselves bare to each other, then we can’t have that intimacy that makes our scenes so fucking hot.
We’ve all been cheated on, lied to or mistreated. It sucks. We have all lied and did shitty things, and that sucks too.
But when you are lied to in a power exchange-even if it’s pick up play, you suddenly are in a place where your sacred joy is tainted. Where the spirit of what makes you FEEL the community around you is wounded.
When you come to someone, drop your defenses and lay your spirit bare to them, trusting them to hold that as precious-and they let you fly, then let you crash-they teach you to fear flight. They teach you to fear vulnerability.
So doubly no… when we break trust in a BDSM context, we should really be able to respect that the person we harmed does not have to forgive us.
Even if it was an accident.
Even if we didn’t mean to.
Even if we are terribly sorry.
Even if we own our responsibility in the wrongdoing we did.
Even if we show by word and deed that we did learn, that we grew, that we would NEVER do such a thing again.
Because regret does not heal broken wings. Because one persons personal growth will not fix a wounded spirit Because intentions do not lessen pain.
To those that are telling me that forgiving is the key to moving on, I get that for some people this is true, in some situations. Being able to look past a persons human faults and still hold them in positive regard is intensely rewarding in some situations. But there are also some things that for some people will be unforgivable. I am am whole enough, healthy enough that I am able to enjoy a long term, incredibly close relationship with my partner, and to have boundaries and some degree of self awareness-all without forgiving a very tiny few people for very large harms they caused me or my loved ones.
I have compassion for those who have done me wrong, even great wrongs, in that I can see the things that led them where they are, I can understand that they too have a story that includes pain and sorrow-just like the rest of us. But I do not need to ‘forgive’. I can let go of resentment, but still be angry that they chose to do what they did. It is healthy to be angry in some situations.
Regardless, the point was that forgiveness comes from within the person, and it cannot be forced, and we should not be shaming people for not forgiving persons who did them harm. It is personal, subjective and not for us to judge. Certainly not for the wrong doer to judge or demand.