Falling Back in Love: a Romance with Rope

It’s weird to think that I had “a relationship” with rope, but it feels like it. I fell in love with rope the way I do with people; intensely, overwhelmingly, obsessively, make-it-my-world kind of love. I practiced at least once a day for about five months, I thought about it constantly, I talked about it often, I loved how it felt to my brain and my skin, I wanted more of it, always.

But then out of no where, just like with human loves, I stopped, I switched off.

Not that I stopped loving it, but the intensity had vanished. I stopped practicing. Even thinking about doing rope made me feel anxious and guilty; I wanted to avoid it and distance myself from it. And this made me feel worse, because rope was a thing I loved; I didn’t want to feel weird and conflicted about it. So I forced myself to tie a few times; each time felt…lacking. Strange. Like I was just going through the motions. Like I was trying to make myself care about a thing that I just wanted space from.

A white leg, bent at the knee and tied tightly with green rope. The rope runs three times down the leg.I was passionate about it for just as long as and in the same ways as I normally experience NRE (perhaps standing for New Rope Energy, in this case), then once that passed I had the same visceral response of wanting it to stay away from me.

This was an eventful year for me – I had relationships and friendships end (and others begin), a major surgery which took longer than expected to heal from, drastic employment changes, I traveled 16+ times (most of which were 1.5 weeks or more at a time), adopted another cat, and more.

I was extremely busy, and for a while, rope was something that grounded me. It helped me relax and center on myself when I was traveling or overwhelmed (I tied myself up in at least nine of the cities I traveled to!). It helped to focus and challenge me to learn more skills through different knots, learning which variation of a tie I preferred and why, trying self suspensions and partial suspensions, and so much more. It calmed my brain and helped me feel connected to some people I care about, even when far away from them.

And I think that was my first problem.

Rope, while it was something I picked up for me, became closely linked in my head with two other people. I thought about them in the same sentence as rope, when I was tying, when I bundled and cared for my rope. This wasn’t a bad thing when everything was going well, but when both of these important connections hit big stumbling blocks at the same time, I stopped rigging. It had become so linked to these two other people that it started to make me feel sad and alone, like I felt when I thought about them in general. I didn’t want to feel conflicted with every double column I tie because I don’t know how to explain to someone that their undelivered promise hurts me, or to be reminded that I’m being taken for granted and not prioritized in a way that really hurts. That’s not helpful. And that’s definitely not a safe place for my head to be at if I’m going to put rope on someone else’s body. I didn’t want to associate those feelings with rope itself so I simply stopped, which I didn’t realize would make things worse.

I never wanted rope to be about anyone but myself. It’s supposed to be a thing that I do because it makes me feel fantastic and calm and powerful; the purpose of my self-tying should not be about pleasing anyone but me. As much as I love the two people I associate rope with, it’s not supposed to be about them, nor do I want it to be.

Green rope tied in a lark's head double coloum around two bars in a railing. in the distance you can see a large tree in front of a red garage. The railing bars and the rope frame the garage and tree perfectly.Honestly, I didn’t know how to get back to a place where it’s about me again, where it’s calming and grounding and peaceful. I needed to take time to figure out how to fall back in love with it instead of calling it quits and abandoning ship like I have a habit of doing, but it’s hard. Being honest about it helps, so does time. I’m trying to slowly make myself pick it up again and do some rigging, without beating myself up that the motions that once came naturally now make my fingers fumble. I’m trying to look at new ways of challenging myself through rope, so I’ll develop new experiences and memories, rather than just repeat the old ones. I think it’s helping, but it’s hard to tell.

Rope needs to be reclaimed for me if I want to continue pursuing it – which I do. It’s easy to love something for the joy it brings to those you treasure; focusing on your own body and changing ability and giving that the same kind of devotion is much harder.

This has been in my drafts for a while, fully written, waiting for me to be ready. This week I picked up again, ran it back and forth through my hands, and then practiced my columns. It felt nostalgic, and it felt like time.

I got my rope from Twisted Monk in exchange for this article.

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