Monday, March 16, 2015

Grateful Surrender

Two and a half years into TTWD, punishment is kind of a rare thing. I remember when I first met a friend of mine – a friend I consider a mentor of sorts – she said something to me like “serious punishment is very rare, but he still finds reason to toss me over his knee all the time.” I think back on that now, as that's pretty much where we are now. 

Some of our rules are things that needed to become habit, as I know I've mentioned before. In most circumstances, the intuitive reaction I have is to obey Jason. It comes naturally to me now, though there are times it's still a bit uncomfortable. For example, Friday night we were at a party, just the two of us, in town, and I wanted a drink. I leaned over and asked permission, and got a response that denied me what I wanted but gave me specific guidelines as to what I could and could not indulge in. I wasn't happy with his response. I wanted to stomp my foot and drink whatever the hell I wanted. The will to do what I want to is still there. But I found it fairly easy to nod and obey him, despite my natural inclination to resist.

Most of the time, that's how it is. Most of the time, I find I'm very much in the habit of doing what he expects of me. Things like safety rules and basic obedience now come as naturally to me as any other habit, and it feels unnatural to do anything else. But there are some things that will quite honestly never go away. There are some things that, because I'm human and imperfect, will never truly vanish. And one of those human tendencies I still struggle with, and likely always will, at least to a certain extent, is my emotional response. 

The other day, I experienced one of those times. I had tried and tried and tried to keep my temper in check with one of my children. It was one of those days. I did everything Jason had asked of me. But I felt my anger rising, and I know now I should've removed myself from the situation, but I didn't. Finally, I snapped. I lost my temper and I yelled. And in the heat of the moment, I swore. I'm not allowed to yell, and I'm not allowed to swear. I knew seconds after the angry words left my lips that when Jason came home, I'd be over his knee.

At times, my natural response to doing something wrong is to find an excuse so I can avoid punishment. I was late! I was distracted and lost track of time! I didn't mean to say or do that! But I know that the benefit of this dynamic does not work unless I am brutally honest. I know that nothing short of humility and transparency will bring us where we want to be – for both me, and for Jason. So when the temptation to run from my mistakes hits me, I try to overcome that temptation, and own up to what I did. 

After I lost my temper, I took a calming breath, removed myself from the situation, and messaged Jason. I told him what happened, what led to my loss of temper, and how I handled it. He responded not by lecturing or scolding, but by encouraging me to pick myself up and do what needed to be done. So I did.

My punishment loomed over me. I knew there was no mercy on this one. I knew I'd violated an agreed-upon rule -- well, two. Feeling emotionally depleted, I picked up the phone and called Jason. I just wanted to hear his voice. But when I called him, he was too busy to talk (which is why I rarely call him at work), and I snapped at him as I hung up the phone. Seconds later, a message buzzed to me. 

Watch your attitude. 

Oh, seriously, I really needed to reign it in. Not only had I broken a rule, but I really didn't need to complicate the situation by violating yet another rule. Yikes. 

I apologized. I focused myself on what needed to be done around here. And when he came home, I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I get before he punishes me.

“I don't have any excuses,” I said. “I know what I did was wrong, and I know we have rules for this.” There would be no trying to talk my way out of it. 

It's hard to explain what was going on with me then. I did not want to be punished. I was nauseous over the thought of facing punishment. But at the same time, I knew I deserved it. So I mostly just tried to work up the courage to take what I knew was coming. When he punishes me, he punishes me soundly. How could a part of me not dread that? 

“Now, wait,” he said. “Before I punish you, I want to hear the whole story. Everything that happened. Tell me what led to you losing your temper.” It's very rare that I lose my temper, and I appreciated that he wanted to take the time to help me sort through it, so I could prevent it from happening again. So, we went upstairs alone, making sure we had privacy. I knelt before him and talked it all out, told him everything I'd done and why. I held nothing back. He sat and listened, as the emotions of the day spilled out, and I began to cry. 

“I see,” he said. He talked about how we'd prevent the situation from happening again. We discussed my calling him, why I did it, and how I responded. He reiterated that he expects me to be polite and respectful when I talk to him, and I nodded, still sniffling a bit. Then he stood, went to the implement drawer, and took out that rubber thing – it's like a rubber paddle, and I cringe when he takes it out because it bites deep and the sting lasts for days. He laid it on the bed, and then his hands went to his waist, as he removed his belt. I gulped. I don't remember the last time I've been punished with two implements. “We have rules in place for a reason, and you know I need to punish you. I want you over my lap, now.” 

I obeyed quickly, overcome with emotion as my belly hit his knee. Regret for having broken a rule. Security in being in my place of submission over his knee. Dread of the punishment I knew would hurt.  

Sternly, he asked me to tell him why I was being punished. I did. He spanked me, first his belt as more of a warm-up than anything, as it wasn't as bad as the belt could be, but when the rubber implement came into play, I could've crawled out of my skin. He held me down as I could hardly stand it, and he firmly punished me. I have no idea how long it lasted. All I know is that when he was done, I lay over his knee in complete surrender. He kept me there for a good long while. 

Aftercare comes and goes. Sometimes I need it, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes he thinks I deserve it, and sometimes he'd prefer the harsher punishment of sending me to bed to think about what I've done. But this time was different. He knew I'd done something I shouldn't, and he knew I deserved to be punished. But he also knew it was not easy for me. He knew I disliked what I'd done, and I was repentant. He knows how hard I've tried to be patient with my family, and respectful toward him. He knows the progress I've made. And he knew what a trying day I'd had. 

His hand over my bare skin, he caressed me, over and over again, as he told me he loved me and that he knew I'd do better. Sometimes I need stern. Sometimes he has nothing to give me but stern. But sometimes, it's more complicated than that. Sometimes, my needs are many and varied, and that night was one of those times. 

I lay over his knee in surrender, in my quiet place, accepting the consolation he now gave after punishment. And I cried. 

I cried because I dislike being punished. But there was more than sorrow in those tears. There was thankfulness, and a cleansing cry that released the emotions of the day and brought me back to my center. There was a quiet acceptance of his leadership, of his discipline, of his sternness and his understanding. There was the certainty of our partnership, the mutual self-giving we partake in every time we come together. 

We had commitments to attend to, so after a while, we went about doing what we needed to do. I had an outside obligation, and the entire time I was away from home, all I could think about was coming back to Jason. I felt the separation more keenly than I normally do. I wanted to run to him. I came home. The house was quiet, as our kids were asleep and he was sitting in his chair watching something on tv. I sat on a cushion by his feet and lay my head on his knee as I waited for him. 

We went to bed, and I didn't say much of anything. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say, just that I needed to be with him. But as he tucked me in by his side, I whispered a thank you. 

Thank for this. Thank you for helping me, for taking the time to understand, for teaching me and keeping me on track. Thank you for helping me heal, for keeping me calm, and for helping me move past my frailties. Thank you for listening, and for making me so precious to you. Thank you.