Over the past many months, there’s been something nagging at me in the back of my mind. A tidbit of something I’ve been revisiting, over and over, but haven’t been able to understand what it meant or what wasn’t fitting about it; it wasn’t gelling intellectually or emotionally for me – the idea of rules and consequences/punishment, and especially the idea of physical punishment.
I do have rules. In the very beginning, M devised them to center around things that we could do to make our relationship a priority. Things which we needed to focus on and be reminded to never take for granted. Others are simple preferences or homemade protocol that have come about naturally for us. Some of the rules have evolved a bit over time and we’ve added some too.
In all matters outside the realm of the rules, we operate under the premise that M exercises his authority as he sees fit. I honor him and his wishes and decisions – I follow. I need to, it’s who I am….but I do not blindly follow. I need to have a voice and M would never want me to lose mine. But, if he chooses to exercise his authority, whatever he decides I will follow. I just want to be a valued part of the process and I know that his decision will be one of care, one I can trust is in our best interests.
Although I willingly follow, I do sometimes make poor decisions. In fact, there’s been a pattern, if I look closely enough. If I’m unsure about an issue, if I’m having trouble figuring out how I feel about it and how to proceed, I find that I have tested his resolve in some way related to that issue. Not purposefully or premeditated and until recently, those behaviors have been fairly harmless, but there have been a few clusters of testing nonetheless. I’ve received a few consequences, usually in the form of denial or restriction, for rule infractions or for things that have crossed the line. On one occasion, many months ago, we tried physical punishment. For many reasons, at the time, it wasn’t a good fit. It just didn’t seem a match for the infraction and there were so many mixed feelings, we tabled it. On a couple of occasions, there was denial of play, which was not good for either of us. It felt like denial of intimacy…..and it felt like rejection to me. It was very difficult for M to feel that burden, to feel as if he were truly causing lasting pain and hurt.
Looking back, there’s been one rule that I’ve consistently pushed the limits on or broken. Hell, the rule was devised to limit me on this matter in the first place. My limit pushing has resulted in a few consequences, but not always consistently. I continuously beat myself up about it and I’ve gotten much better, but I kept doing it. Then, over the weekend, I went against his wishes on something that meant a great deal to him. Something related to that pervasive issue….only many rungs higher on the ladder.
I believe it took that infraction to bring the bigger issue to light – we’d both had mixed feelings about consequesnces and punishment, and more specifically physical punishment. On the one hand, it feels childish to need consequences and punishment. To need M to essentially help me regulate something that, as a capable, independent adult, I should be able to do on my own. Yet, I have this NEED for accountability, because I don’t easily forgive myself. In fact, I internally punish myself pretty severely. His holding me accountable and his follow through allow me to forgive me. And as crazy as it sounds even as I type it, his follow through reminds me he cares enough to help me. That I’m worth the effort. The other day, one of my dear friends said, “Our men have one of the hardest jobs there is – protecting us from ourselves.” That is so very true. M knows me so well, and he thrives on protecting me, sometimes even from myself.
I also believe, when it comes to the issue of consequences and punishment, we’ve spent the last year or so sort of feeling out the ropes. Trying things on for size, going instance by instance, until we’ve gotten comfortable – not just with the consequences or punishment, but in our individual parameters within the dynamic. How far reaching his control is going and to what extent I submit. I believe we needed to grow together and reach a level of comfort with those parameters, even as we evolve, in order to move forward.
And we have. The other day, of his own accord, M sat me down to discuss my wrong doing. As it turns out, all I wanted was to be heard and understood on the matter, but I should have asked before moving forward and going against his wishes. For the first time since this began, I hurt him when I made this choice. He was angry too. Yet, with love and care, he explained to me his point of view, as I sat in his arms. He caressed me as he spoke, he listened and heard me. He made sure we both understood one another and we expressed ourselves truly openly. I was remorseful; it hurt deeply to have hurt him. He forgave me…..and issued a consequence. And as he spoke to me about his forgiveness and explained to me my consequence, he also told me I was beautiful, that he didn’t love me any less, and that we’d move on and be just fine. But as he spoke, he became aroused. This man whom I love and trust with every ounce of my being, from the depths of his own being, expressed to me his love and desire to protect me, to see me happy and learn from my mistakes…..and this control he has and his ability to carry it out, the confidence he has in it, elicited this deeply primal response. All of him engaged, invested. I was so deeply affected by it, I can’t stop thinking about it.
Then later, without telling me ahead of time, he also carried out a physical punishment, one not paired with pleasure. Again, he carried it out with love and care. With forgiveness…..and conrol. He was alive in it. And I was alive in my submission, in my acceptance of his punishment. It was a truly humbling experience.
What I see from all of this, is that even amidst our ever-changing and evolving relationship, we have this feeling of comfort with one another. We are not reaching for some ideal or wishing to be a certain place. We don’t hope to have arrived nor are we waiting to gain some level of confidence. We are here. We are alive in it. Living it. It just is. We just are.
And it feels so good.