Saturday, May 28, 2016

ANR Story: Got Milk?

Something very interesting happened to S the other day while he was at work, and when he came home and relayed the story to me, I found it to be very fascinating--and a bit thought-provoking, so I decided to share it with you. Think of this as "Saturday Story time with LMM". ;)

If you've been following my blog, then you'll know that S works in a very male-oriented environment, and his current job is normally classified as a "masculine" one. I won't go into great detail about his job, but I'll let you know that, just like his previous job, this one requires the wearing of a uniform. Because of this all-male environment, testosterone levels often run pretty high, and it isn't uncommon for the men to engage in a bit of shop talk throughout the day.

I was raised with brothers, growing up, one of my closest friends was a boy, and I've been married for a very long time, so I can honestly say that I know for certain that men, shall we say, talk and share, just as much as women do. And because they do, S knows a lot about his co-workers' personal lives--and they know quite a bit about his, too.

They just don't know all of it.

One of S' co-workers, a man named E, is the new father of a breastfed baby. While he is perfectly fine with baby having her breakfast, lunch, and dinner directly "from the tap", E admits that he personally steers clear from the milk--and the breasts from which it flows, which has begun to stifle the relationship that he shares with his wife.

While discussing his plight and frustration one afternoon, many of the other men commiserated with his current situation; none of them seemed to have a taste for breast milk, and one even went so far as to relay his own personal "accidental ingestion" tale, which concluded with the phrase: "And some even got in my mouth!"

It was then S' turn to chime in on the conversation, which he did by saying, "That's good stuff, my friend.  I love my wife's breast milk."

At first, his co-workers thought he was joking, and then, when they found out he wasn't, my brutally honest and blunt love, was forced to take the brunt of their jokes and ribbing, which, he, of course, did in stride. When S came home and told me about the exchange, it wasn't his co-workers' teasing and their faux yuck noises that gave me pause for thought--it was the curious questions that followed that made me think.

I began to wonder how many of those men were actually interested in breast milk and nursing (even if they didn't realize that ANR exists), and secretly wanted to try it, as opposed to the ones who were merely curious about the "kinky" thing that S has done with me.

It's happened to him before. Many times. The topic will turn to breastfeeding, the milk becomes a sort of colossal punch line to a tasteless joke (which I find so sad, because I can never see the hilarity in it, or understand how breast milk can be funny), and S is always there to set the record straight about the beauty of nursing. The comedy routine commences, the laugh track rolls...and then, privately, the serious questions commence. These are the inquiries that S answers with both confidence and confidentiality because, like so many others, he understands that need and desire for privacy and discretion, and, on the off-chance that these questions are a way for his co-workers to begin the journey into the lovely world of the adult nursing relationship, he wants them to understand that they will have someone to turn to. But it never goes much further than queries.

So, on Wednesday, while S and E were having lunch together, and talking sports and golf and fishing, the conversation took a very different turn when, out of the blue, E said, "So, S, you're a milk drinker, huh?"

Although it's very rare for S to be at a loss for words in any situation, he was, because he was so surprised by such a quick turn in the conversation. He admitted to me later that night, while telling me about the incident, that he was a bit unsure of just exactly what E was asking. When you are actively involved in a nursing relationship, and you hear the world milk, I think your mind often immediately turns to breasts. It's sort of as if breast milk is the only milk that exists--and matters. But because he was so taken aback, he replied in very typical and classic S fashion.

"Milk? Oh, yeah. Love it. I drink it every morning and drink it every night."

To which E replied, "Yeah. Me, too. Well, at night, anyway."

The whole incident left me to ask a lot of my own questions. Was that E's way of broaching the topic of adult nursing and opening a conversation with someone who, apparently, had often indulged in "sampling the goods", and could, obviously, be trusted, or was he merely making a bit of off-subject casual conversation?

I guess he could have been, but that question just didn't seem to fit, you know? There was no segue, no transition. One minute, they were discussing bogies and bass, and the next, he was asking about S' drinking preferences, and sharing a bit of his own.
I believe he was attempting to open the conversation about ANR in a casual and off-hand way, perhaps as a way to test the waters while unburdening himself of a secret that, to many, seems so terrible, but isn't such a shameful one after all, and when I told S this, he thought it over for a minute, and nodded.  He admitted that there was a part of him that had truly believed the same thing, but it was his own uncertainty that had kept him from pursuing the issue.

"So, why didn't you say more?" I asked. "Think about it. What a perfect way to open up the conversation about our lifestyle choice."

"I guess I could have," he replied. "But if that was E's way of bringing up nursing, I didn't want to embarrass him further by just jumping right in. I know that there's no shame in what we do, but maybe he doesn't know that yet."

And that part made perfect sense to me. The situation really wasn't about us. It was about him.

Sometimes, when you are a nursing couple, you find yourselves in a bit of a Catch 22 situation. While you want to provide support and understanding to others who are floundering and struggling a bit with their own personal lifestyle choice dilemma, you don't want to come across to them as presumptuous and pushy. Over the years, S and I have realized that as much as we want to share our joy in such an amazingly beautiful experience, ANR really is a difficult subject to bring up. That is one reason I began blogging about it--as a way to open up those lines of communication. Now that I have, I allow others to come to me, if they choose to, as a way to offer support and encouragement. I've found that even in very open, nursing-specific forums, people are sometimes leery and reluctant to freely discuss their lifestyle choice.

For a very long time, even as S and I were partaking in the glory of ANR, without realizing that there was an actual name for what we were doing, I thought we were the only ones who enjoyed nursing. Until one of our acquaintances let her own lifestyle choice accidentally "slip out" at a social function several years ago, which you can read about HERE, I didn't realize that S and I were so closely associated with another nursing couple. Looking back in retrospect, I think there were probably others, too, others like us, who believed they were alone on this magnificent journey.

Nobody wants to be viewed as different; nobody wants to be ostracized. It is in a human's nature to "fit in", even if this means being forced into a stifling and suffocating mold that has been created for you by a society that claims to be liberated and open-minded, but is, in reality, still quite judgmental in many ways. I believe it's even more difficult for men to come forward with their feelings on the issue of ANR for fear of being chastised and viewed as "soft" and "weak".

Will S ever find out if E is a secret ANR enthusiast? I don't know. After giving the incident even more thought, the Mister drew his own conclusions and came to a decision. He said, "If the subject ever gets brought up again, I'm going to say, 'my wife and I practice ANR', and allow the discussion to go from there. If it turns out that I'm wrong and E really isn't into nursing, what's the worst thing that can come out of it? He'll know that I am."

I think that's a wonderful way to look at it! Simply open the conversation, and allow events to take their course.

And, really, what more can anyone do?

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