Monday, June 16, 2008

The risks of being submissive

As you all know, I’ve been having a hard time lately. I don’t have to go over the litany of why. And for now things are looking better – the weather has relaxed, I found a new housemate, hormones have calmed for the moment. Oh, it’s true that the power is out again and we are under a 3-day water restriction due to a major water main break. But I was able to buy three big jugs of water and my nearby friends are outside of the emergency area so I’m not really worried.

But I AM starting to get a little concerned about the effect all my meltdowns may be having on the philosopher. No, he hasn’t actually said anything to make me think this, and maybe it’s just an expression of my insecurity and fear of rejection and all the other things that could also make him want to throw his hands up in exasperation. Or maybe it’s that I wouldn’t have wanted to be dealing with all my recent hyper-emotionalism.

The thing is, he has been making me feel safe. He makes me feel safe and small and young and taken care of. With the power of his words (occasionally augmented by our lovely toys, not to mention the smack of his hand, the thwack of his belt, and the brutal cut of the cane), he creates a masterpiece of mind manipulation, melting my brain, penetrating my soul, tearing my heart, exciting my fears, all to reach the goal of breaking me down until I dissolve into tears and he can gather me up and stroke my hair with his hand or his voice and welcome me back with the crooning refrain of “you’re my good kitten now…” (Of course it may take a week or so of long-distance teasing before we get to that point, but eventually we do get there.)

What I’ve suddenly started wondering is this. Looked at from a standard relationship point of view, it is certainly a situation to be cherished when the man you are involved with accepts you with all your weaknesses. Especially for me, having been the one who always did the caregiving, who was always understanding, who was always accepting, and who was rarely taken into consideration, having someone who is aware of the various stresses I’m under and who can somehow see past them while dependably almost singing “don’t cry, kitten…” in that delicious inflection he uses, or who imposes discipline and rubber band pseudo-canings to focus my mind and jump start it with little electric shocks of pain, or who gives me the gift of an orgasm so I can have a good sobbing cry and wash away the inner pain… this is an amazing thing. And I by no means take it for granted. Even if I am suddenly losing my way in overlong sentences.

But suddenly I’m worried. Could his encouraging my submissiveness be encouraging my neediness? Is there the chance it will become too much, too wearing, too annoying, when after all he is supposed to be focusing on his magnum opus? When will the balance be tipped so that his constant nurturing, rather than making him feel strong, will just exhaust him?

I’m used to taking care of myself. And for real crises, I do have a doctor and assorted chemicals. I love being taken care of, I love not having to pretend everything’s fine. But if it would benefit the greater good of the relationship, I’m also perfectly capable of being strong and stoic and focused on giving My Boyfriend the Grad Student all the support HE needs, and the focus HE needs, to finish the Damn Dissertation and get on with Life.

Either way, I need yet more reassurance (groan..) that things are ok, or new guidance and limits as to what kind of behaviour will be most satisfying and productive. (Oy. Even in trying to be strong and supportive, I end up being needy and submissive… is there any way out?)

At least the power has come back on.


Anonymous said...

dear oatmeal girl,

hang on. it's okay. think of all of the times that you *have* been the strong one. you've been there for the philosopher... you've helped him and you've stood by him. you *are* capable of putting aside your neediness if you have to, and you aren't regressing into protoplasm.

you're allowed to have needs, and if your philosopher is anything like my owner, he enjoys your needs. you're needy, you're helpless, you're vulnerable... that's just fodder for fantasy! it lets him play the role that he enjoys, the one where he is a hero, in charge, firm but loving. the one where he really can make things better.

with my owners, the only time my neediness wears on them is if i don't trust. if they start feeling like their hard work of caring for me is for naught because i'll stay distraught regardless. i need to trust them, and do what they say, and internalize their reassurances. i need to do exactly as they tell me. this is all that they need to feel fulfilled by their care of me instead of exhausted. well, that and my ongoing worship and devotion. :)

i think maybe you need to trust, or the two of you need to talk about whether it's safe to have that kind of trust. he needs to trust you too-- he has to trust that you will do as he says. and you have to trust that he will keep your best interests in mind, and that he will tell you if he wants something changed. i think that's essential to our letting go, right? and it's essential for his authority that he know you will obey.

don't worry. just communicate. your needs are NOT too much.

Paul said...

Oatmeal Girl, this is why a Master takes on a slave, or a Dom a sub, each fulfils the others needs, if this isn't happening than the relationship will fail.
Your Philosopher needs you just as much as you need Him.
You are the soil in which He grows, He is the soil in which you grow.
If you are a challenge, He needs that to strengthen Him, He stretches your limits, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, this is how you grow.
He needs you to need Him, it's not to much, in your heart you know this.
Warm hugs,

Amy said...

Oh boy, you sound so much like me, oatmeal girl! It's so hard sometimes to accept that, after a lifetime of being the strong one and the support for others, that someone actually WANTS you to need them. I still wrestle with it regularly. It's harder, I'm sure, with the distance between you, but your Philosopher sounds like a wonderful man. And persephone is right that you need to remember everything you give him too.


oatmeal girl said...

thanks to you all for your kind reassurance.

persephone, i just LOVE your reference to "regressing [or not] into protoplasm." i do think our trust levels are pretty high, though i'm so disgustingly insecure underneath that i do worry sometimes. but that is often based on my own fears, not on reality.

paul, we most definitely fill each other's needs, and we have definitely inspired each other to grow.

and yes, amy, especially after my wretched marital history, it continues to astound me the way he takes care of me, and accepts my weaknesses, and of course, i accept his as well.

i read him this post over the phone shortly after i put it up. and we are both responding to it as an issue outside of D/s. his response told me that i wasn't totally neurotic in being concerned. i can't remember his exact words at this point, but basically he praised me for my perceptive analysis, and said that he would keep an eye on things so we could head off any problem before it got out of hand.

i pulled myself together since then, through a variety of means, and feel i am maintaining a good balance of strength and melting submissiveness.

i do think that developing and maintaining any kind of relationship, especially one like ours with so many possible pitfalls, takes a lot of vigilance. we must ambush problems before they ambush us.

meanwhile, my hair is now long enough for little ponytails, which make me look (and feel) disgustingly cute and nowhere near that age that i see no need to say out loud since i have well over a half year till i must confront it...

thanks again for your support.