Saturday, January 24, 2015

ABCDEFG...This is what it means to me.

Some of you may remember a show that used to be on t.v. called “Cheers.” I used to watch it years ago...(I won't say how young I was, but I was..young!). There was a character they all called “Coach,” and what I liked about his character was that he was a sweet guy. No pretenses. He called a spade a spade, and was also somewhat naive. He often didn't get things like dirty jokes, and I liked his innocence. 

During one episode, one of the characters refers to a guy she's dating as “some PhD from M.I.T.!” and Coach says something to the effect, “Well for crying out loud, if you can't say it in front of me, don't say it!” 

It made me laugh, and I remembered that show in a recent discussion I had about the various D/S labels. 

DD? D/S? M/S? HOH? TiH? TPE? I sometimes find myself frustrated with the labeling. 

In a recent e-mail conversation with a D/S writer, my own dynamic came up. She politely suggested that what Jason and I have is more along the lines of M/S than D/S. This had me mulling things over, as she wasn't the first one to suggest this. 

So I thought it over, and I talked it out with Jason. The first time someone suggested I was not a submissive but a slave, I was pretty disturbed, honestly. It wasn't that I felt judged...but I wondered...do I really desire that level of servitude? What exactly is this that we're getting into? Never would Jason consider himself a Master. In fact, it was quite a while before he was even comfortable with the terms “Dom” and “Submissive.” I'll never forget that conversation I had with him about being a slave. 

I was kneeling before him and he pulled me close. “You're not my slave,” he said. “Yes, you're mine. You belong to me. But I also belong to you.” 

Belonging to each other...yes. I liked that. He went on to explain that to him, our dynamic is about mutual self-giving. He focuses his efforts on meeting my needs, and I focus my efforts on meeting his. And as I came to learn more about different dynamics, I started to gain a greater appreciate for what they are. 

I've also come to understand that I was wrong about M/S. And I've done my best to do away with the prejudices I'd formed.

I explained, in the discussion with this D/S author that yes, Jason and I do some things that most would consider somewhere over in the M/S realm. I am collared. Jason has told me that what he's aiming for with me...his ultimate goal...is my immediate obedience in all areas, and at all times. I do have to ask for permission for many things. I'm not allowed to deviate from the daily plan we agree on in the morning without permission. I have rules regarding my dress, and my food. 

But there are areas where we wouldn't fall into traditional M/S. We're still raising a family, and that is our primary focus. We are very serious about our D/S dynamic, and work hard at keeping it discreet but ever-present, but we simply cannot focus the time and energy a hardcore M/S dynamic would entail. And although we do very much enjoy Power Exchange, and our dynamic is indeed 24/7, neither of us has an interest in any acts of humiliation. 

So I suggested to Jason...and to this author I was writing to...that instead of putting labels on things, for the purposes of discussion and exploration, we make a simple distinction between roles-based and rules-based. 

“Yes,” Jason said, nodding his head. “Yes, that's exactly it. I completely agree.” 

Does it really matter if someone is collared? Does it matter if I kneel, or the next Submissive I know has a bedtime, or that one Dom requires completely sexual submission at all times, or that one submissive may not be required to have safety rules, or even that some dynamics are more about bedroom submission than a real-life power exchange? I don't think it does. Does it matter that one couple has a contract, and another maybe just one expectation of a rule, that another may require a submissive's obedience but spanking isn't an agreed-upon punishment? Does it matter that one couple enjoys heavy bdsm? 

What truly matters is that a couple finds what works for them. There is no one-size-fits all in this lifestyle. There are far too many variables, and each dynamic impacts two people. Everyone has hard limits. Different personalities, past experiences, comfort zones, and end goals all affect how a dynamic plays out. Even practical matters such as long-distance relationships, physical limitations, and time constraints impact a dynamic.

There are some who enjoy being spanked in the bedroom for fun, but have no desire to relinquish authority, and there are some who dislike the idea of being in authority.  There are some who embrace a roles-based dynamic but choose to have the roles based on a matter of honor, not subject to enforcement with punishment. There are some who have no desire for a roles-based understanding, but work happily as a couple with authority granted to one partner, with an expectation of obedience and consequences. And there are some with an all-encompassing, 24/7, total power exchange agreement. 

So with all this in mind... I propose that we do away with labels, and instead embrace individuality.

What do you think, readers? Is it better to draw distinctions between different levels of power exchange? Or is it better to lift the labels, as I'm proposing, in an effort to discourage a “one size fits all” mentality?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Transparency

I didn't feel right. Something was wrong. 

I spent some time trying to understand why I felt off, because I don't like feeling off. I wasn't at peace. Something deep within me was troubled. 

It's been a challenging few weeks, trying to ease back into our routine after being sick. Things are returning back to normal, but I'm not there yet. 

When Jason first returned to work, I kept finding myself doing things I'm not allowed to do, because my focus was off. I caught myself walking out of the room with the burner on (a big no-no), raising my voice to my kids (also not allowed), not paying attention while I was driving (a major infraction). My focus was off. I wasn't on my game. 

He understood I wasn't myself, and Jason does occasionally extend mercy. But one of the reasons he's so good at what he does, is that he's very consistent. He's very firm. There's a balance to domming well, just as there's a balance to submitting. He has to balance patience, understanding, and kindness, with consistency and firmness. It's what makes this work, though. 

What's the balance in submitting? To me, there are many things that hang in the balance, but for us, with our dynamic, it's maintaining complete honesty while still obeying implicitly. Bringing my feelings to him, while still accepting all that he wants me to do. Being the strong, capable, opinionated woman he loves, while still granting him complete authority over every single area of my life. Maybe that's a topic for another day. 

I know that part of why I'm feeling off is that I was seriously punished this week. I made a mistake, didn't do what I was supposed to, and put my family in danger. I hate when I do things like this – like the times I've left the stove on, or forgotten to buckle my baby in the car – because I love my family. I hate thinking my thoughtlessness could harm one of them. I also dislike feeling incompetent. But I know making these mistakes is because I'm doing so many things, I don't often slow down and think before I act. Jason has trained me to do this, for the most part. But sometimes, my focus is off. My focus was very much off this week. 

His job is to bring me back into focus. 

I was out with friends when my phone buzzed. Jason. 

You and I have a problem. Do you know what that problem is, or do you need me to tell you?

My heart began pounding. I could tell immediately he wasn't joking. I wracked my brain, trying to think of anything that I could've forgotten. What had he asked me to do? Had I gotten a speeding ticket in the mail? Had I left my hair straightener on? 

I excused myself and messaged that I didn't know. He took his time replying, and the wait was grueling. Finally, he replied, I broke a major safety violation by not paying attention in the kitchen before I left. 

I sent him an apology. Feeling nauseous and ready to cry – I knew I was facing very serious punishment – I went home. 

I had to wait to face the consequences. He told me not to mope, and I tried not to, but I'm not always sure what to do with myself when I'm waiting to be punished. I felt sick to my stomach and uneasy. I tried to distract myself, but it didn't work very well. Finally, we had privacy, and he was ready for me. 

That moment – that moment right before I face the music, when his face is set in stone and I know there's absolutely nothing to do but accept my consequences – in some ways, I think it's the hardest part of the punishment. He's not going to listen when I ask him to stop, and I know there's a good chance I will. Punishment means it's beyond my tolerance; serious punishment is so far beyond my tolerance, I can hardly stand it. He's not going to let me get away if fight or flight kicks in and I squirm away from him or twist. I'll do my best. I'll try not to protest. I'll try to lie and take it. But I know it's unlikely I'll be able to. He'll hold me down until he's done his job.

But I know he will probably hold me when I cry when it's all done. I can't help it. I always cry when I'm punished. There have been times when he's sent me to bed with no aftercare, as part of the punishment – but I don't remember the last time that's happened. He mostly wants to set us to rights again. He calls it “bringing me back.” It all depends on the offense, my state of mind, and his. 

He punished me. It was, as I knew it would be, long and hard. He lectured, and spanked, and I did squirm, and he did hold me down. 

But I did not cry. 

When we first began, I didn't cry. Even punishment spankings satisfied a need I had to feel his dominance, and even though they were effective, they didn't bring about the emotional response they do now. But over time, as he met all the needs I had, my desire to please him grew. I no longer needed punishment to fill my desire to be dommed. I still needed to be punished when necessary, but punishment filled a different desire – the need to be disciplined. 

As my desire to please him grew, my emotional reaction to punishment changed. I cried when I was punished. It became the norm. Now, most of the time, even a verbal correction from him expressing his displeasure causes me to tear up. 

But I didn't cry when I was punished this week. 

Part of me wanted to cry. Although I dislike crying, there's a release I get when I do. But I couldn't. I didn't like that I couldn't. 

The next day, I woke up early, as I always do. I sat alone, drinking my coffee and thinking about the day ahead, the painful reminder of the punishment the night before evident when I sat down. I thought about why I didn't cry. I knew I was tapping it down, putting it in that deep place within, that place of self-protection. It wasn't just one thing, but many. 

This month marks the one year anniversary of my dad's death. 

This week, a friend lost her mother. Going to the wake brought it all back. I was pushing it down, not wanting to feel it, not wanting to go back to that place of loss and vulnerability. I had my wall up. 

And even though I submitted to being punished, and I apologized, and he forgave me, my wall was still up. 




I have a very good friend, a real life friend who lives nearby, who knows everything. She's a good sounding board, as she knows both me and Jason, and she knows me very well. I told her how I was feeling, and she pointed out what I already knew, but still needed to hear. 

“You need to tell him. This isn't good. You need him to help you through this.” 

I knew she was right, but I knew it would hurt. I felt myself balling up, taking my feelings and drawing inward. It's why I find it so hard to lie over his lap to be punished. The instinctive desire is to protect myself -- not just from the pain of a spanking, but the emotional pain that comes from being punished. I didn't want to hurt. I didn't want to feel. It was all there, on the edge, but I kept batting it away. It was easier to look at the calendar and detach myself, make myself think it was just another day. It was easier to pay my respects to my friend, tell her I was sorry, without tapping into my own grief. It was easier to lie over his lap and be punished than to put down my wall and cry when he was done. 

I try not to write in absolutes when I blog. We all have our own journeys, and I don't want to presume anything. But I can say this one thing absolutely. 

It is impossible to draw all feelings internally, resist vulnerability, and still submit. Submission requires transparency, or it will not work. 

I knew what I had to do. 

I went to Jason before he left for work. I told him briefly how I was feeling. He told me he understood, but  we only had so much time, and our day had already begun. He told me to focus on the task at hand. Focus on my rules. He rarely spanks me the morning after I've been punished, but he did before he left, reminding me he was in charge, making sure I didn't forget what I needed to do every time I sat down. 

I focused every bit of my energy on obeying. Every bit of my energy on doing what he told me. And although I knew I was still tapping it all down, I knew I had to focus. I focused with all I had. 

Finally, he came home from work and we had a really wonderful night together. But I still felt...off. I had the powerful, indescribable feeling of wanting to crawl into him. My friend calls it wanting to “climb in their skin.” It's a hard feeling to describe, and it comes from different places. Sometimes I feel it after I've been punished. Sometimes I feel it when we've been apart, or haven't had time together.

I feel it when I need him. 

I needed him. 

We watched tv together, and I was so tired. He instructed me to get ready for bed. “Go, now,” he said. “Go get ready.” And I felt the comforting feeling of his dominance as I obeyed. And as I obeyed, I fought the desire to run back to bed and throw myself into his arms, because the desire for him was so strong. But I did what I was told. When I came back to bed, he was reading. 

“May I lay down with you?”

“Of course you may,” he said. I lay with my head on his shoulder. I let myself feel him. I am so incredibly attracted to him, and being allowed in such close proximity causes my heart to pound. I adore him. 

But it wasn't close enough. I felt like I was on the outside still, not where I needed to be. 

“I need you tonight,” I said. 

“I know you do,” he said. 

“I have so much to say,” I whispered. “But I don't want to talk.” 

He put down what he was doing and drew me closer. 

“I know,” he whispered. “You don't have to.” 

I wrapped myself around him, wanting to be closer, held tighter. Protected. And we lay there in the dark, in silence. We didn't talk. His arms around me, I let myself feel how strong he is. I listened to his steady breathing, and felt the power of his hands on me, as I traced my finger along the scruff of his beard. I felt warm, and secure, and I could feel my defenses breaking down. I rested my hand on his hip as he held me.

One arm holding me tight against his body, he reached his other hand out and pulled my head under his chin. He held me like that, and I felt the strength of his hand on the nape of my neck. It was what I needed. That last feeling of being completely wrapped up in his arms, the warmth of his skin on my cheek, him holding me as close to him as possible. 

The last of my reserves broke down, and the moment I finally felt it – the moment I felt safe, and understood – I wept. 

I cried for my dad. I cried for my friend, who lost her mother. I cried the tears I hadn't shed when he punished me. I didn't say anything, as he held me even closer. I didn't need to.

“Shhh,” he said. “It's alright, baby.” 

I was back. Back in my place of transparency, back to feeling what I needed to. Back where he could see all of me. Back to where I belonged.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rituals

Rituals.

I never really knew I was someone who enjoyed rituals. But I am.

As the years have passed, I've found that I adore traditions. We've developed many traditions with our family. Traditions with birthdays, and holidays, and certain times of the year. These traditions bring joy, as they remind us of other joyous times we've had together, and they give us something to look forward to.

And I think most of us at least have routines. Flipping the coffeemaker on in the morning, taking a morning run, eating dinner as a family together on Sunday.

Jason and I have formed our own rituals. Well, he's the leader, so he's the one who's spearheaded our rituals, but I'm an eager participant.

Several years ago, he bought me a Pandora bracelet. I do love jewelry, and I wanted one of those so badly. I loved that you can buy significant beads for it, and I wanted to remember what each one stood for. It was our ten-year anniversary when he bought that for me. He made babysitting arrangements, and took me to one of the fanciest restaurants I've ever been to. He surprised me, as he'd had my engagement ring (that I couldn't wear anymore, because it didn't fit me after having babies) re-sized. He asked me to marry him all over again, as he slipped the ring back on my finger.

And then he gave me my bracelet. Silver, with delicate pink and silver beads that spelled out “I Love You,” and a ten-year anniversary charm. I loved that bracelet. But it didn't take on the significance it now has until we embraced d/s.

The first Christmas after he made me his submissive, he bought me a d/s charm. I keep it on the underside of my wrist, and when people ask to look at the charms on my bracelet, I discreetly keep that one hidden. You have to look very very closely to see the wording on it, and it would cause some questions. It leaves no doubt that I am Jason's. Most people I know in real life don't know I'm a submissive, of course, so it's best to keep it private. But I love it. When he gave it to me, it made me cry.

After he gave me the charm, he made a rule that I'm not allowed to put the bracelet on by myself. He has to be the one to put it on me. And so the ritual was born.

Every single morning, I go to him. On weekdays, I bring him his coffee at a certain time, but on weekends it's a little later. We talk about our day. And when we're ready to get up and start our day, he has me kneel. Every morning, he asks me, “What are your rules?” and he takes me through them.

Now, we have a general understanding. There is no contract, or rules written down. The general idea is, I'm to be obedient to him in all ways, and make safe choices. So even though there's no “rule” for certain things, I know what is expected. Still, he goes over my rules. It goes something like this.

I'm kneeling, his hand under my chin, making eye contact, “What are your safety rules?”

“No speeding, or texting in the car, no calling out on my cell. Buckle the kids, remember my hair straightener, be careful with the stove, and lock the door...”

“What are your “be nice to other people” rules?”

“No swearing, no yelling at anyone.”

“And what are your “always” rules?”

“Always be respectful and obedient to you.”

I know my rules. There have been a handful of times he's simply smiled and said, “You know what I expect today.” But he does like me to repeat it. Sometimes, when I've broken a rule, before he's punished me, he'll ask, “What's your number one rule?”

After we go over my rules, he usually hugs me. Sometimes I put my head in his lap. He asks me for my list for the day, which I keep on an app on my phone. We're techies, and this works. I can send him a screenshot of my list at anytime. He approves (or denies lol), and moves things around to prioritize. He might ask me to pick something up at the store, and put that at the top of the list, and it's not uncommon for him to look at my list, say something like, “You have too many things here,” and take things off my list. I like that he does this.

And then he snaps my bracelet on. I wear a silver collar, a locking necklace he gave me last year, but that never comes off. Although I love it – and I think, even though it's controversial, I'll post about that one day – the bracelet seals things. When he snaps it on, it's like a daily physical reminder of my obedience to him.

Then he puts me over his knee. It's almost always a smaller spanking, with his hand, but if I'm needing more (as in, I'm hormonal and grumpy, or stressed, or he wants to remind me who's in charge), he may pull out the brush or take off his belt.

And off I go, with a stinging bottom, reminded of whom I belong to, what my place is, and what I need to do for the day.

I love this morning ritual. I wasn't sure if I wanted to call it a routine or a ritual, but I think ritual fits.The difference between the two is that a ritual has a feeling of the sacred about it. It's more than a simple routine. A routine may be something like how I brush my teeth, or how I do the laundry. A ritual has greater significance. Jason once told me he loves our ritual, as it makes him feel like he's doing his very best to make sure I'm taken care of in his absence.

However, this past week, we both got sick. Our entire family came down with the flu, and it wasn't fun. We're mostly over it now, though we have some lingering coughs, but the entire week was thrown off track.

We didn't do our ritual, not once. We were mostly doing things like sleeping, taking care of our kids, and watching tons of television. There were no to-do lists. There was no laying over his lap. No going over rules. No snapping on my bracelet. Although I missed the familiar heavy feel of the bracelet on my wrist...the thrill and peace I feel when laying over his lap...his finger under my chin, or my head in his lap...it was in the background, as taking care of myself and my family were of more importance.

We had a few whispered conversations at night, where he held me, and tucked me in, and I felt his constant presence, of course...but the morning ritual was absent.

Finally, I was well enough to go to the store and pick up a few things we needed. I went out, for the first time in as long as I can remember, without going over my rules. No bracelet on my wrist. It felt...off. I swerved on the road at one point, not paying attention, and although I hadn't broken a rule, I told Jason about it when I came home.

He nodded, and gave me The Look. He was sitting in his chair, and I sat on the small foot stool next to him. He reached one hand out and cupped my face. To my surprise, he asked me the question he asks me every single morning.

“What are your rules?”

And to my further surprise...I burst into tears.

“Why are you crying?” he asked, perplexed. “You're not in trouble. I'm not going to punish you.”

“I know,” I said, as I buried my face in his lap and sniffled. “I don't know why I'm crying.”

He asked me to finish going over my rules, and he kissed me. “You've missed this,” he said, and I nodded.

I did. Oh, how I missed it. I didn't even know how much I had missed it, until I had it again.

I thought about why I cried. I wasn't really sure, at first. But I think that the truth is, this all hits me harder than I think it does. What he does for me. Him, being my leader, and taking care of me. Yes, I write about it. But I don't think I fully realized the impact until it was missing.

It's so comforting to me, our daily ritual, the little things we have together. Little reminders of how he loves me better and more fully than I ever thought possible.

for the gentle moments of BDSM