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.