Monday, August 1, 2016

4th Trimester Boot Camp

Okay I’ve technically never been through a DD Boot Camp, but it sure feels like we are having one now. I was worried about this while I was still pregnant- the excessive amount of emotion and stress with a new baby makes the potential for discipline endless. By this point Bruce and I are actually nearing the end of the fourth trimester, but Bruce has just been given a huge added responsibility at work right as my extended maternity leave has finally ended. Caring for a baby is intense enough! Adding two careers with a ridiculous workload is a recipe for disaster to say the least.

To adequately describe our recent experience I feel I need to provide a bit of background on the way we do things: There are basically two types of spankings that happen in our house. The first type are more formal spankings in that there is a degree of ceremony to them; they happen at the end of the night, I am always instructed to get ready by undressing and waiting on the bed, and they usually last for at least twenty strikes. By now he can tell when I’ve had enough, and with these he takes me past this point so that my loss of control in the situation is undeniable. If I’m surrendering myself appropriately this usually brings me to tears, the good cleansing kind, and intimacy follows. While these spankings are a good deal more painful than I had imagined, these are the type of spankings that I expected when we first signed on for this lifestyle. I should add that when they happen as the result of a specific offense (rather than accumulated minor disrespect) the whole process is even more painful. Still, these types of spankings usually end with both of us feeling resolved, renewed, and fulfilled.

The other type of spanking leaves me feeling quite the opposite of fulfilled, although it still serves a purpose. These happen right in the moment; Bruce suddenly and sometimes angrily steers me into the bedroom, I receive several REALLY hard strikes while he calmly lectures about whatever just happened, and then he hugs me and tells me I’m forgiven and loved. At this point I am not allowed to try to discuss any further or it’s back into position I go, so this is his way of effectively halting a discussion that he feels needs stopped (trust me, “we’re done talking about this” unfortunately just doesn’t cut it). I can always go to him the following day if I am still unresolved, but I admit I rarely feel the need to after the heat of the moment has passed. Still, it is hard to describe how frustrated and unheard I feel when these types of spankings occur. This is the deadly serious part of DD for us, as it really tests my capacity to trust him and submit- to be perfectly honest I typically react with tearful anger or hurt, but I at least usually manage to clench my jaw and keep my mouth shut, at least for the time being. I truly and thoroughly hate everything about these types of spankings, but as I often forget this is not just about my needs. This is about Bruce’s needs as well, and sometimes he needs to stop me in my tracks, even if doing so is upsetting to me. This is the quality I admire most in his role as head of the house: when we began DD he took my request to relinquish control very seriously; the first time I made a suggestion he said something like “Whoa. You can’t have it both ways- you either want me to be in control or you don’t.” He couldn’t be more right. It would be far too easy to allow the control in the relationship to remain exactly where it began, under the pretense of offering suggestions, giving too much feedback, making requests, etc. I’m not saying these things can’t coexist with a true power shift, I just know that I personally am not altruistic enough to make it happen. It is a curious thing to truly witness your own control in a situation gradually disappear- although stronger and deeper, it is similar to relinquishing control during a physical punishment in that it is beautiful, terrifying, and exhilarating all at once. Which returns me to my boot camp theme…

In the past week or two, trying to sustain a precious, tiny life while juggling the responsibilities of being a good worker, daughter, friend, and wife have left me with very little energy to control my frustrations. I’m undoubtedly much better than I used to be but, as Bruce accurately put it, I’ve “backslid quite a bit in the submission department.” In fact there have been four nights in the past two-plus weeks that I have not received a formal type of spanking at the end of the night. Wow do they hurt worse when layered on top of a similar spanking the previous night! But through it all, what a comfort to have him draw closer to me in my ugliest moments. It’s like saying “I’m not giving up on you; I know you can be better than this so I’m going to try to help you get there.” Just as I try to grant him grace when he is too tired or stressed to be effectively dominant, he grants me grace (by coming towards me rather than withdrawing) when I am too tired or stressed to be submissive. Of course this only works if we extend grace regardless of whether or not we’ll get it in return, and there definitely are times where one or both of us are left hanging. But thankfully these past few weeks have not been one of those times. And so, I’ve been spanked most evenings lately. Usually it is for the different ways my submissiveness has been lacking, but sometimes it’s for stress relief in reminding me who’s in charge. In fact I’m pretty sure one or two of those times have occurred to relieve Bruce’s stress as much or even more than mine!

Then there’s the recent on-the-spot spankings. Too frequently lately I have been abruptly taken from what I am doing and steered into the bedroom for reacting poorly out of stress. He is right to spank me in these times, and it does help me re-center. But to be suddenly halted and physically corrected by the man I love, particularly when I am not yet in the correct frame of mind, this is unsettling on a good day. And then when Bruce is especially stressed as well it becomes even more so because there is less tenderness involved. Yes, I realize there is nothing tender about a discipline spanking. But when he is stressed himself his lecturing and aftercare is somehow more strained, for lack of a better term. These types of spankings have been happening a lot, particularly the ugly version where I check my tone but try to continue discussing once it’s over. This leads to a repeat trip over the bed or his knee, and more tearful frustration on my part. Frustration because I can’t say what I *think* I need to say. I’m embarrassed to admit that more than once he has unwaveringly repeated the process not once but twice before I finally got the message. Even more shamefully I admit that a few of those times I have only shut it down because I could not physically bear another spanking in such a short amount of time. It’s just that the more stressed I become the more I feel I need to be heard. But in truth I am really just complaining or vocalizing some aspect of a poor attitude.

Things got particularly ugly a few days ago when I felt that I was not getting enough help with the childcare. I felt an instant twinge of bitterness when the monitor indicated she was waking from her nap, and yet he didn’t budge. I went to tend to her, but the longer I did so without a word from him the bitterer I became. We always bathe her together, so when it was time to get her ready for bed I asked several times for him to come and help me. He repeatedly said he would be done shortly, but after fifteen minutes of waiting I was furious. So I did something I haven’t done since we’ve started DD: I yelled at him to stop and come help me. Not the kind of yelling you do when you are trying to communicate from another room, but the kind of yelling you do when you are angry. Wow did I overstep. He literally dropped what he was holding, came into the room, and smoothly took our daughter from my arms. As he kissed her gently he laid her in her crib and he actually said “Mommy’s not going to yell like that again baby. Daddy’s going to go help her calm down.” I suddenly felt ill as he grabbed me by the arm and led me into the bedroom, and by the time he firmly bent me over the bed I was really crying. He lectured quietly, but boy did he spank me hard. It only lasted for about fifteen strokes, but I’m certain he has never spanked me as hard as he did then. In fact our lexan paddle, made of bullet-resistant polycarbonate, actually broke. When it was over he reiterated his expectations, showed me the broken paddle, and said I would have to order another one before the end of the night. Once our little one was all settled in for the night he hugged me again and told me I was forgiven. Even though we had reconnected, I was emotionally exhausted by the end of the night.

I wish I could say that this turned things around, but it didn’t. Incredibly enough we had a full blown argument the next day (also something that hasn’t happened since before DD) which eventually did result in another harsh spanking. The accumulation of all of the recent spankings left me sorer than ever before, but this time it only served to make our interactions civil again; we were far from being on the same page, much less connected. We agreed to pray about it and I went on a long run to clear my head. We’ve finally come to a place in our marriage where we’ve learned to focus on our own mistakes and missteps while praying, so with God’s grace we were able to come back together and discuss things with clarity: we needed to appreciate each other better, to help each other through the craziness, and generally be less self-centered. The stress is still as present as ever, so I can’t say the punishments have ceased, but we are truly and fully connected again. And through it all, we are thankful for having this tool to streamline the process. In fact he was so enthusiastic about its effectiveness that I ended up having to order a looped cane as well as a duplicate paddle, mostly because he wants a quiet implement for when my MIL stays overnight once a week this Fall. He’s only lightly tested it out a couple of times, but last night during maintenance he experimentally/lightly used both alternatively, and this was incredibly painful. But I must say it’s been a great behavior deterrent, as I feel very motivated to avoid experiencing this on a more serious level.

So here we are. With the present craziness I am still struggling to be appropriately submissive, and Bruce is still struggling with consistency and even with controlling his temper. But we are learning. We are learning that we cannot expect our own needs to be met before we begin meeting the other’s needs. We are learning to extend grace first, and address our own concerns second. And this process is far smoother with DD than it ever could have been otherwise. More painful, yes, but way less lonely… Physical discomfort rather than emotional isolation? I’ll take that any day.