A Different Kind of Post

I've been debating about whether or not to write this post for several weeks, but I've decided that I think it could be both really good for conversation and really good for me to write out.  So here it is.

After more than two years of being in a relationship that included discipline, I now find myself without it.  Without discipline and without the relationship, that is.  (And actually, I moved into my relationship with M from another one that incorporated discipline, so I guess that means it's been about three and a half years since I've been on my own in that sense.)  Aside from the normal gut-wrenching, soul-piercing pain that accompanies any break up, I'm also dealing with the loss of any practical
application of discipline in my life.  At this point I'm still dealing with a lot of the initial grief and the loss of discipline feels kind of minor.  But it's starting to raise its head in small ways.

I first noticed it in the lifting of the caffeine restriction.  M was always very concerned about my caffeine intake and had limited it to two units (glasses of iced tea, cans of pop) per day.  Now I can drink as much as I want.  Or rather, now I have to monitor it for myself.  And it's not that I mind being responsible for my own food consumption; I am, after all, a competent adult who is independent and fairly strong-willed.  Truthfully, I used to find that rule irritating–and comforting.  Irritating because it was a reminder that someone else had a say in my well-being, and comforting because it was a reminder that someone else had a
say in my well-being.

And then I noticed it when I had a fairly major deadline for work and procrastinated until the very last minute.  (I literally got up at 5:30 the morning it was due to finish it.)  M was very good about helping me set deadlines to protect myself and my sleep–and then enforcing them.  Of course I finished the project and it was fine and my boss didn't have any problems with it; I am, after all, a competent adult who works well under pressure and is responsible enough to meet deadlines.  But in the past knowing that someone else would hold me accountable for goals, that was both frustrating and comforting.  You get the picture.

That leads to the larger issue, since drinking iced tea and writing last-minute projects do not actually form a large piece of my consciousness or existence.  The larger issue is the loss of having a back up, of having someone
who would watch me and not let me self-destruct.  Of having real life consequences for real life actions.  And I miss that.

Four years ago, before I had my first relationship with discipline, I knew that I craved something but had no idea whether or not it was possible.  I debated with a spanko friend of mine: he was convinced that discipline could never work in the context of a real, long-term relationship; I wasn't sure if it could but knew I wanted to try.  A lot of those thoughts were fantasies and came straight out of fiction from Discipline and Desire (which I still love, by the way).  The fantasies where the dominant man is gentle and caring and loving and stern and the submissive woman is feisty and independent and strong-willed and yet still craves discipline.  The kind where he instinctively knows when she needs to be spanked and when she needs to be
snuggled, where discipline makes their relationship stronger and is never a source of tension.  The kind where he is always consistent and never has needs of his own.  In other words, the really fictitious kind.  But then I met M and we began to struggle through the real-life application of discipline in the context of our real-life relationship.  It wasn't always easy, but in some ways it worked better than I could have hoped.

I don't want to get into all the nitty gritty of my particular relationship, but I do want to talk about what it's like to go back to not having it now that I know it's possible.  Basically, it's tough.  It's only one aspect of the overall toughness, but it's there.  There's a deep part of me that aches for accountability and certainty and the physical pain that brings emotional pain to the surface so I can deal with it.  And now that I know what it's like, I yearn for it even more.

I'm certain I have friends who would be willing to establish a disciplinary relationship with me if I asked.  But I'm not emotionally ready for that, nor do I anticipate being ready in the near future.  The memory of what I had is far too close, and my discipline needs are far too intimate.  But it's something I will grieve intensely along with my other griefs–and something I wanted to offer up to this community for processing and thoughts.  After all, I can't possibly be the only one to whom this has happened (or will happen).  So I'm offering up my experience, for what it's worth.

15 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Post

  1. Dyke Grrl

    First, I just want to say that I am really sorry to hear about the pain you’re going through right now. It’s a hard thing to cope with.
    Something I’m thinking about is this: how do we figure out ways of creating discipline for ourselves? It feels like something that should be… natural, I guess. It’s something that, as competent, intelligent, mature adults, we should be able to do.
    Because of my particular issues, I’ve been reading a lot about parenting lately, in the hopes of figuring out ways of coping with my interior children (who aren’t always so inner as I might prefer). And one of the books suggests that parents should also have reward charts, and give themselves tangible rewards for getting things done that need to be done.
    One very hard part, being on one’s own, is figuring out how to satisfy that need to feel taken care of, protected, contained. And also, at least if you’re me, to limit the consequences/punishment for shortcomings to things that are “related, reasonable, and respectful.” (Those being the three R’s of effective discipline that I used to teach people in parenting classes.)
    I’m going to think some more about this, because you’ve raised some interesting issues, and I’d like to see what other people are thinking as well.

    Reply
  2. sparkle

    Iris, you and I have spoken on this subject a number of times. Or rather, you’ve talked about it and I’ve had very little helpful input to offer except my prayers and my sympathy and a warm hug. I can’t speak from experience here, nor do I want to have to try…
    Although you haven’t said so specifically, one thing that has struck me the last few weeks is how lonely you seem to be at times. I’m an expert at being lonely in a room full of people (even a room full of family, actually) so to that experience I can say that it will get better as you see it through. I don’t know your timeframe or what moments of grace you will encounter, or what stumbles you’ll have, but it will get better.

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  3. Jenna

    Iris, this really has to suck. I don’t have anything more helpful to say than that, other than that I’m sorry, and that you’re right — this HAS happened to other people, and will happen to more, and your being open about it is bound to help someone down the line…so good for you.
    DG, this: “Something I’m thinking about is this: how do we figure out ways of creating discipline for ourselves? It feels like something that should be… natural, I guess. It’s something that, as competent, intelligent, mature adults, we should be able to do” is something I think about a LOT too. I think for me, at least, there’s something in the idea that I CAN create it for myself, but it’s easier for me — and more desirable — to have it created for me. I can take care of myself, but I much prefer to be taken care of…and I don’t know if it’ll ever be easier for me to have the self discipline piece in place without a lot of work.

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  4. Iris

    Thank you, all three of you, for your support and kind words. Dyke Grrl, I too was struck by the part that Jenna commented on, the piece about creating our own discipline structures. I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed since the last time I didn’t have a disciplinarian in my life. The last time, I would look at lots of things and wish I had someone to help me change them–or even someone to change them for me. Having struggled through the ups and downs of discipline in a relationship, though, I have a better idea now of what I want to tackle on my own and what I really do want help/support/backup for. And I’m finding that most the latter are habits that are self-destructive and that I have a hard time stopping on my own. Maybe I really should create my own rewards chart! 🙂
    sparkle, thank you for naming the loneliness piece. I hadn’t quite labelled it as such in my own mind, but that’s pretty accurate. Of course, that feeds into much larger pieces than just the discipline, but losing my backup, protection, and companion has made me lonely.
    And Jenna, thanks for your comments. I *am* hoping that this opens up good conversation (either here or in people’s minds). If it’s just me whining about my life it’s not going to do any good. But if it gets someone thinking about another aspect or another potential aspect of what-we-do, then it’s worth it. And blessings on your own struggles between self-discipline and outside-discipline. 🙂

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  5. Janey

    Hi Iris
    I was moved by your writing this entry and have pondered the issue of having a ‘disciplinarian in my life’ too. When I met S it was a dream come true. However, he said right from the start
    that he wasn’t going to ‘make me’ lose weight, be more organised with work etc. That was my task. Things otherwise, he told me, could become oppressive. And much as I am tempted to push the boundaries, I think he has a point (for health reasons if nothing else!). Perhaps it is more the case of getting the balance right which is something to be grappled with in an on-going sort of way.
    I hope this makes some sense, I am probably chuntering!
    Hugs
    Janey XXX

    Reply
  6. Rob

    Dear Iris,
    I have been thinking about you and wondering what I could say that might help. Two things. First, accept that you are alone right now, and do some things to make you proud. If nothing else it is a distraction to set some goals, but it also will help to convince you that you are getting stronger every day. Secondly, my suggestion would be to be open to a new relationship with a kindred spirit, not necessarily a discipline relationship. Naturally you will be inclined to be attracted to someone who emits that aura, but just maybe by creating a loving and fun relationship first where you get to know and like one another first, and then add on the discipline side when you are both ready, you can feel more confident about why you are in this particular relationship with this particular person. The point I am trying to make is, perhaps a good discipline relationship is not unlike any other union of two people – with the discipline being an added component. I’m sure that good things will happen in time. Best wishes.

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  7. Natty

    “So I’m offering up my experience, for what it’s worth.”
    That’s very kind and brave of you, and you’re bringing us some important issues to think about.
    And you are so not chuntering, Janey! Last winter when I lost my spanking mojo, I lost my discipline mojo as well. The spanking mojo came back eventually but the discipline thing took a lot longer and in the interim I spent a lot of time thinking about how a lot of things I’ve tried to incorporate into a discipline regime in the past were things I ultimately had to work out on my own. You’re right that it’s a balance we constantly have to grapple with.
    I think we do actually discipline ourselves. Sure, we aren’t perfect. Nobody is. You got your project done, Iris. You didn’t self-destruct. I can definitely relate to the procrastinating to the last minute (oh, so relate to waking up early to finish/study…er..or not…LOL). But as you point out, you’re a competent, responsible adult and you don’t require somebody with a paddle to make you that.
    Yet not having somebody there is painful. It is a loss. It’s something that makes life sweeter and easier.
    Again, thanks for sharing with us, Iris. And many, many cyber hugs!

    Reply
  8. Dyke Grrl

    “I spent a lot of time thinking about how a lot of things I’ve tried to incorporate into a discipline regime in the past were things I ultimately had to work out on my own.”
    I think that, because of the nature of discipline in my relationship, this is something that’s been an integral part of the process. Because W still struggles with her own comfort about punishing me (even though we can both see that it works, it’s still somehow difficult to be all right with it), and because W just isn’t good at the organizational type things, or the follow-through type things, it means that I tend to be responsible for creating the structure in which we do discipline.
    And there are parts of me that definitely resent that I’m the one who has to do that, since what I WANT is to have someone be the grown-up and make all of the decisions. And when I’ve created the structure, and made the decisions about what does or doesn’t merit punishment (or reward), it’s hard for me to accept that W really MEANS it when she then helps. And since I sometimes feel like she’s only doing something because I told her to, then it doesn’t “count,” and so I tend to be incredibly resistant.
    It would be nice if things could just fall into place, without all of the endless negotiation, compromise, and processing that seems to be required in real life!!

    Reply
  9. Natty

    “It would be nice if things could just fall into place, without all of the endless negotiation, compromise, and processing that seems to be required in real life!!”
    Gawd, wouldn’t it just?! I’m coming to realize having a punishment kink is one long Sisyphean struggle. Rock goes up the hill; rock comes crashing back down. I’m comfortable with my kink; one more reason to be wary of it comes crashing back down on me.
    I mean, I know there’s that whole thing about the journey being as important as the destination, yada yada yada. But I just want the nice warm destination, ya know? 🙂

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  10. Mary

    I too am without my partner and the discipline provided. I have no wisdom to offer – only that I understood every word in your post right at my core. Good luck to you. Oh and if you need a friend to comiserate with – you can email, Mary

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  11. Mary

    I too am without my partner and the discipline provided. I have no wisdom to offer – only that I understood every word in your post right at my core. Good luck to you. Oh and if you need a friend to comiserate with – you can email, Mary

    Reply
  12. Amber

    This is sure sad, Iris, but I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and having a place in the higher design, usually to provide greater good in the future. At least sad things in my life and break-ups and such all eventually caused good things, and I mean long-term good, to happen later. Please try to not dwell on it too much and move on. I know this sounds mundane, but I’d sublimate by digging myself into my work or hobby and focusing on the success achieved in those domains. It really does numb the pain and eventually you’ll meet a person right for you, all in good time. When bad things happen, you take a deep breath and say, well, I can handle this and good things will come from this.

    Reply
  13. Iris

    Janey, I agree with Natty: you’re definitely not chuntering! (Though I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure what chuntering is, so perhaps my assertion isn’t as reassuring as it might be.) I also agree with you that finding the balance between self-discipline/seeking out discipline and externally-imposed discipline is both tricky and ongoing. Good luck creating your balance!
    Rob and Amber, thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement.
    Mary, I’m sorry to hear you’re in a similar situation. Many warm hugs to you too (and a reciprocal offer of e-support if you’d like it)!
    Natty, if it helps, I’m rolling my own boulder right beside you. :=)
    Dyke Grrl, you say the most thought-provoking things! “And since I sometimes feel like she’s only doing something because I told her to, then it doesn’t “count,” and so I tend to be incredibly resistant.” Been there! It took me a long time to realize that it didn’t matter how I was getting discipline; the point was that I was getting it! And sadly, like Natty’s rock and Janey’s balance, that realization never stayed realized. I had to keep coming to it over and over. The good news is that I think it gets a bit easier with each go-round. Mostly.

    Reply
  14. Janey

    Hi Iris
    Chuntering! Maybe that wasn’t the right word but I meant sort of rambling on. Anyway perhaps what Amber said about sublimation is sound advice. S once said (when I was feeling down) take some good strong coffee, a fine novel and maybe a square or two of 70% chocolate up to bed. A glass or two of Beaujolais (‘Nouveau’ if you have it) plus some favourite music also does the trick.
    Because you can’t always beat yourself up over things (no pun intended!)
    Love etc
    Janey XXX

    Reply
  15. Marie

    I have never posted here, but i have been lurking for a long time and your post struck a cord with me. I understand what you’re going through and how painful it is to recover (Do we ever really recover?)
    As far as filling in the gap while you are between relationships, I was wondering if perhaps you could use Punishment Book to give yourself some accountability. I know it’s no substitute for having a real life person, but I often find (in my own dd relationship) that i get a lot out of being accountable and not hiding my (endless) flaws. Some of my most stomach-flopping moments in my disciplinary relationship have come when I actually confess those things that I would really rather keep swept under the rug. It’s somehow liberating to say (with an incredibly dry mouth and lump in my stomach): “I was just charged $40 for that movie we rented a month ago. I kind of forgot to return it (who says there are no more late fees). Of course, there are no consequences (other than now owning a second-rate movie), but you may feel less alone and more accountable.
    Does this make any sense? Kind of a weird suggestion, I suppose. And maybe this is not the appropriate place to practice accountability. At any rate, now I am chuntering!

    Reply

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