Solastalgia, the word for that.
Solis's picture

Do you long for the lost days when a leather collar & warm spot beside his chair were your harbor, a refuge against the day? There’s a word for that.

Solastalgia. (Though I might argue for "Solistalgia.") The pain of recognizing that A Place is gone.

Places are important to us because patterns are important to us. We need to believe that there’s order in our world, that we know what’s coming next and so we can prepare for it. Think about visiting a haunted house at Halloween. You know, in advance, that (a) people are going to jump out at you and (b) it’s all perfectly safe. But you don’t know when, from which direction, how often or in what form. What happens? Your heart races, your nerves are on edge, you jump at every creak, you scream and shriek and clutch one another. The most ancient part of your brain, the amygdala, takes over and you react in terror. It’s unpredictable, and that makes you feel viscerally unsafe.
The great psychology Albert Maslow thought that safety was one of our two most powerful needs, and safety is intimately tied to patterns and predictability. One psychologist wrote:

With his physical needs relatively satisfied, the individual’s safety needs take over and dominate his behavior. These needs have to do with man’s yearning for a predictable, orderly world in which inconsistency is under control, the familiar frequent, and the unfamiliar rare. This need for consistency, if not satisfied leads to feelings of doubt and shame.

But some scientists think Maslow got it wrong: safety comes first, not second, in the universe of our needs. A Chinese research team, writing in the journal Neural Plasticity argues:

“Safety first,” we say these words almost every day, but we all take this for granted for what Maslow proposed in his famous theory of Hierarchy of Needs: safety needs come second to physiological needs. Here we propose that safety needs come before physiological needs. Safety needs are more fundamental than physiological needs. Safety worrying is the major reason for mental disorders, such as anxiety, phobia, depression, and PTSD.

How does a sub feel when she kneels in front of her keyboard at the appointed hour, logs on, and He’s not there? she waits. If He doesn’t arrive, what happens to her appetite? Her breathing? Trying to make sense of it, she replays the last session. Had she spoken out of turn? Was His tone unusual? Had she missed something between the lines? Was He growing tired of her? she texts. Silence. Now pieces begin to fit, darkly, together.

Places are the focus of our patterns. You go to the corner pub to relax, belly up at the same spot, breathe the malty air, listen to the sports talk, drain a pint … and feel right. As a child, you go the grandma’s house for the weekend. There’s your bed in the little room at the end of the hall. It smells right. A small hot meal at the kitchen table, the sound of grandma’s bustling about, grandpa’s grumble, a bit of beef in dark gravy, cold milk, your easy smile … it feels right, and you slept like the dead. When you need to sort things out, there’s a trail you walk through open woods, down a gentle incline, accompanied only by the occasional snap of a twig, a birdcall you’ve heard a thousand times, and your own thoughts. As you walk, things begin to sort out, the weight seems less and the woods? They just feel right.

How does a sub feel when she passes That Corner? To others, a corner identical to any other. But she knows how many tears she has left on that wallpaper. she knows the shame. The time, butt naked, nose touching the cold surface. she remembers what led her there, and what dark and despairing places her mind went while her body stayed. she knows it is A Place.

We don’t sleep well in hotel rooms, even very nice ones. But we do sleep well at grandma’s, even if a year … or years … pass between visits.

Students do more poorly on tests if they’re required to sit in a different part of the classroom, and much worse if they must take the test in an entirely different room.

Places matter.

Solastalgia. The pain of recognizing that a special place is gone. It was coined about a decade ago by an Australian philosopher, to describe the aching you get when a place of refuge - your safe harbor or renewing spring - is going, or gone. Imagine walking into grandma's house the day after her passing and smelling that last bit of baking, a ghostly echo in the air. You listen for the clatter in the kitchen that was always there, and then it hits you.

Clinical psychologists use it now, often to describe people haunted by environmental change: You wonder if your grand[filtered word] will even experience crunching through a snowy fields and racing down a snow-covered hillside, if they’ll be able to roll in a meadow or enjoy games outdoors in mid-summer. More and more, we’re haunted by the loss of Places: the glacier they visited as a kid is gone, the park they walked is closed, the creek is dry, the tadpoles dead. Or, perhaps, their collar languishes in the back of an underwear drawer, symbol of a different environmental change.

What’s to do done? What can be done?

A lot.

Create Places. Recognize the meaningful rituals of your day, and place them. Every dinner my son and I have shared, has been shared at the table. Big meals, small meals, rushed meals, holiday meals, it makes no difference. We clean a space, we set places but set aside electronics, we cook, we sit, we talk. Even if he runs into the house with a bag of fast food, he sets it on the table, I join him, we talk, he wolfs his food, says “I love you, dad,” and dashes off. And that’s okay. It’s what we do, and where we do it. It’s a Place for us.

Brethen, you keep telling her that she needs to learn her place, or that you’re going to teach her her place. Good. Rise to the challenge you’ve set for yourself to create meaningful Places in your relationships. Are you online together? Fine: use ritual (a conscious, distinctive, repeated pattern of behaviors) to build Place. The time, the physical place, the lighting, what she wears (or doesn’t) only and always when she is with You, what she must do before logging in, and after. And yourself, likewise. Don’t just show up, more or less on-time, more or less distracted.
Even Macchavelli, master of manipulation, bound himself to ritual. He read, daily, the works of people smarter than himself. But carefully and with intent: before settling in, he washed himself carefully, stripped off street clothes and pulled on a plush reading-gown, and entered his library in silence.

slaves, subs, and sluts, encourage patterns. Doms, being male, tend to be dense. (We're thoroughly delightful, often awe-inspiring but rather distracted.) Help them. Help yourselves.

Two questions, to focus any reflections:

1. do you have Places?

2. whether you do yet or not, what concrete thing could you do to create one?


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Ilsa Lund's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

Solis wrote:

"Time and ritual" create the zone of safety that affords her the confidence to demonstrate (and deepen) her submission in new and risky ways.

I think.

I think we can take some guidance from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The next day the little prince came back.

"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."

"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.

"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours."

Routines, rites, rituals... are all basically the same thing. They are something we can rely on and be happy/contented in. I know I felt very content in the dark, Macallan, R&J, hour of the night. Smile

Ilsa Lund's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

Rick.Blaine wrote:
I don´t have places but I have routines. My favorite one involves - in a perfect balance - Coltrane, Macallan, Romeo and Julieta. And the night.

Oh, come now, Love - what about your quincho? It is a place of deep connection with you and even if you move... it will always be your place (quite often shared, for which I thank you.)

Solis's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

"she will thrive in these places, created through time and ritual"

I wonder, sometimes, if the "time and ritual" piece is a particular challenge for Doms to understand? Might we be (unconsciously) looking for novelty and change, at the expense of the predictability (in the sense of "constancy and consistency") that allows a sub to blossom?

In teaching, we talk about the need to balance safety with risk: no sane person is willing to risk it all, so if I set up a situation where taking a particular risk (pressing her boundaries, growing a little), risks her losing everything, then she'll refuse to take the risk, press, grow. If she has faith in the relationship and knows that the worst case for screwing up a new assignment is a paddling (or some other awful-but-normal penalty), then she's likely to take the risk.

"Time and ritual" create the zone of safety that affords her the confidence to demonstrate (and deepen) her submission in new and risky ways.

I think.

Solis's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

A favorite chair, the faint smell of leather and cigars, a tumbler with a single ice cube and an inch of Macallan, Coltrane on sax ... all can be a Place if they're meaningful to you. If you find your soul's rest in the dark listening to jazz, that's a powerful start.

Rick.Blaine's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

I don´t have places but I have routines. My favorite one involves - in a perfect balance - Coltrane, Macallan, Romeo and Julieta. And the night.

Schrodingers submissive's picture

Re: Solastalgia, the word for that.

I appreciate the expanded view of "places" and I agree with you about their importance.

Places come to have tangible meaning and feelings associated with them. For the sub I would use at one's Master's feet; wearing a collar or at the end of a leash; in a corner; a particular place where one is bound; a particular place where one might be spanked, as needed. These are a few examples. These places go a great distance to create the headspace for submission, and they bring both comfort and excitement to the sub. They are a means of some level of control and dominance for the Master; so they serve both M & s if they are used regularly to foster that "place" they share... one as dominant and the other as submissive.

Additionally, rituals do a lot to create a "place". This includes set times; set days; phrases; poses/positions; perhaps a regular physical inspection of Master's property; perhaps regular or maintenance discipline - doing something together regularly binds the sub to her Master through the activity. She will look forward to the time, the place, the ritual, as all being part of and evidence of her submission. If she wants him, she wants to please him... So she will thrive in these places, created through time and ritual, increasing her efforts to be ever more pleasing to her Master.

"Rise to the challenge you’ve set for yourself to create meaningful Places in your relationships."

The pay-off ought to be incredibly rewarding to both M &s.

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