Researching This Relationship Stuff

This is just a quick note mainly because I wanted to share two fantastic resources I’ve come upon in the last six months. If you’re like me and you’ve been frustrated by certain relationship phenomena (and I don’t limit this to romantic relationships, this definitely applies to friendships, working relationships, etc., too) and by messaging on sites like this or apps or whatever, then these might be exactly what you’re looking for.

The first is a marriage seminar by Mark Gungor, which can be viewed in full here. Now, please note that I am not recommending this because I think everyone is or should be married; it’s just that this was some of the most solid teaching I have ever gotten on relationships, and best of all he humorously explains and helps navigate the differences between men and women. Trust me, this is worth the watch just for the laughs. Gungor also has a YouTube channel with several other videos on relationships, dating, etc., which I’m still working through.

The second is Matthew Hussey, a YouTuber who gives dating advice to women. I was not looking for this at all, I tend to roll my eyes whenever I see ‘dating advice’ because it’s usually some re-hashed generic twaddle – *cough cough* Cosmo *cough* Buzzfeed – nor do I have any idea why YouTube managed to suggest this to me considering my recent viewing has consisted of Philip DeFranco, The Colbert Show, and Buffy clips (feeling nostalgic). But Hussey kept showing up in my recommendations and oh my gosh do the last thousand conversations I’ve had with guys online and off suddenly make so much more sense now. Also if you’ve ever been annoyed (as I have) with the small-talk, low-effort conversations that consist of “Hey” and an insinuation that they’re bored but expect you to carry the conversation and entertain them (and they get super offended when you point this out), I highly recommend Hussey’s suggestions for responses. Again, I’m working through his videos, but so far it’s explained so. frickin. much.

I’m psyched about these because while I initially chose to take time off of looking for a BDSM partner and being in a relationship to make sure I had plenty of distance, time to reflect, to make sure I’m adequately handling my life and my lovely self, now I’m getting some genuinely helpful insights into past frustrations and disappointments. I can see where I made a lot of mistakes, well-intentioned but still falling far short of a solution. I can see how I tried to fix things in relationships by giving more rather than learning how to ask for what I needed, how I over-invested hoping it would inspire interest from the other person, how I rationalised being in toxic relationships because I genuinely did not think the abuse was ‘on purpose’ and responded based on their reasons rather than my reality. I’m just starting to think seriously about placing ads again and resuming an active search, but I am loving getting to learn all this. It isn’t that I didn’t have some great info before, I’ve done past blogs (on getDare at least) on the fantastic advice I’ve gotten from friends there, I had a phenomenal first Dom and mentor; but I also see how much I am still learning, and would not be surprised if there isn’t oodles more (it’s Monday, my brain went with ‘oodles’).

So on that note, does anyone out there have any recommendations for such resources? Books, authors, speakers, bloggers, articles, or your own stories/advice would be most welcome :o) I want to immerse myself in this as much as possible, so please and thank you, and I love your faces ❤


Loving Autumn

Oh boy. This is why I try to avoid saying ‘I’ll post more often’ or ‘I’ll be posting more soon’, etc. What a gap.

Life has been very busy. Sometimes good busy, sometimes not so much, but it’s been a good summer and start to Autumn (yes, meteorologically it is Autumn) and I’ve learned and experienced so much and am just so bloody excited that I had to carve out some time to blog a bit.

Mostly, mostly, what I’ve been learning is how to further apply what I’ve already learned. That I need to love myself, how to accept myself, how to continually deal with the interruptions and distractions and discouragements that attempt to dissuade me from loving myself properly, and how to pursue feeding my soul well with consistency. It’s very much an ongoing process. Over the summer, I was extremely inconsistent when it came to doing Bible study, and I know better! But, as was hashed out with a wonderful visit with a friend today, we have to practice this stuff or we fall into old habits. That’s what I’m battling currently – the old habits and the silly thoughts and lies that try to nudge me into indulgence rather than good self care that I genuinely need.

I’ve gotten to share some of what I’ve learned with two very good friends, and learned that we’ve all basically been going through the same thing, albeit at slightly different times and paces. It’s been such an encouragement and we’ve shared resources, and it’s brought even more clarity to my own experience.

I had a lovely visit home in the summer, got to visit with a family member more personally than I’ve ever gotten to before, and it was fantastic. Through this, I got a hold of this video:   Now, Mark Gungor here is giving a marriage seminar, actually four sessions which is why it’s so freaking long, but! this was so incredibly insightful for a variety of relationships, including my work relationships. And he’s hilarious, this can be watched just for the laughs, honestly. But what I love most is it provided a far better teaching on relationships than I have gotten in church thus far. I love my church, I’ve loved all the churches I’ve gone to/been brought up in, but to be honest a lot of the teaching women in particular receive in the church on relationships is crap. It’s either wrong or not well-balanced and it leads to some issues. Anyways, this. This was awesome. And explained not only some more nuances of my personality (I’m a ‘Peace’ person – that’s session three, I think) but also some of why I stayed so long in the very-not-good-emotionally-abusive relationship a while back, and it gave me some things to work on just on my own outside of any romantic relationships to learn how to just be a better version of myself before I consider entering into anything else. Which makes me just thrilled to bits. I love good teaching. Love it, love it, love it.

The women’s Bible study I started attending last year has started up again, and I’m so excited for the study and to get to be with these women and work through these things together. We’re doing another Priscilla Shirer study, called Breathe, and it’s about having ‘margins’ in your life based on the doctrine of the Sabbath. As with all the other studies, this is so timely.

I’ve begun making some margins in my life; actually began last year with realising boundaries are healthy and necessary for sanity. I’ve been pretty good so far with my work, sticking to a reasonable schedule, revising my policies so they don’t put a lot of undue stress on me, closed a few loopholes and dropped (kindly) some clients who were definitely not acting like the people Mr. Rogers knew we could be. And, best of all, I’ve worked fairly far ahead with my work so that I should be just dealing with a few incidental things outside of my work hours, thus freeing up time for other projects. Like that thesis, which will. get. writ.

Which I won’t get into right now. But what I will get into is that I got to see some family members this summer I haven’t seen in a long time, and it just filled my heart so very, very much. I’m already planning a road trip/tenting trip to visit them and various friends, because I realised I can include some introvert time in my holiday better this way :oD Takes me a while, but I’m learning!

And now, my plans for the year. Work is largely under control; I have a bit more to catch up on soon, and then incidentals, but the bulk of my ‘homework’ is done. My volunteer projects at the church do not feel like work; they are right in my comfort zone in terms of me loving what I get to do, while stretching me in terms of experience; and I get to spend time with people that are extremely good influences and sources of encouragement. I’m going to be careful with doing more, but I’m pretty excited. Bible study is back in play; now it’s about consistency. I’m eating better; now I need to get off my ass and actually be physically active. I also want to read more, and to give myself permission to read more (maybe sounds silly, but this is an issue with me; I am still learning to give myself permission to do the things my soul needs even when there’s a pending ‘to do’ list). My relationships seem to be in pretty good shape, with my family, with friends. I need to be more consistent with prayer, because I need it, not out of obligation. I know this but I get distracted. I am letting chats and messages go when I’m busy, and while I don’t like making people wait, it’s been good. Really, really good. And I return when I know I can respond well and not pass on stress. My house is rather chaotic, so I’m going to deal with some of that (trying to not do the unreasonable to do list thing anymore) today. And piano. Somewhere in there I want to practice piano decently, because I know it de-stresses me and fills me up and brings me joy.

And one weird note before I end this rambling update. I am so loving Autumn this year. Which is strange, because it has been my least favourite season. I loved Spring, because at least the snow would melt and Summer would be on its way. Summer was a favourite because I got to see family and take breaks from things and I love the heat. Winter I love because snow is pretty and Christmas!!!!!!!!! But Autumn was when everything turned brown and died, and the big spiders came into my house, and all these stresses came back with school and such, and I would move away from my family and feel lonely. But this year, maybe I’m not so susceptible to stress because I’m taking care of myself a little better, and my Mom is close so I feel less lonely, and now I think of Autumn as cozy and pretty and a time for pumpkins, cider, sharing all the yummy and soul-filling things we have with people we love, and dressing up. Plus, the rain has returned finally, and I love the rain. I’m remembering how last year the rain made me feel Christmassy because I now associate it with the advent of winter. All of this has me feeling filled up and blessed, and while I know that I have so much to learn and to practice and to grow in, I can see how far God has brought me just since a year ago when I was in a notably dark place. I have a lot of gratitude and awe in my heart right now, and whether it lasts or not I’m enjoying it now ❤

Rambling Catharsis

Does exactly what it says on the tin. I am so not offended if you skim this.

I am catching my breath from a good cry and taking off my nail polish. Buckle up for another chapter of ‘Belle is feeling a lot of feelings and identifying them is going to be a very long process.’

Today my Dom asked me if everything was okay, and I articulated what I’ve been wrestling with in more definite terms. I told him that I felt like our relationship wasn’t working. I’ve been discouraged and frustrated and just generally down, which is exhausting, because our schedules have been mutually exclusive, and I don’t do well at all with a lack of time spent together. I have felt disconnected from him, increasingly, for a while. We talked for a while and in the end we parted ways.

It was amicable, sad of course, but okay. I had a bit of a cry earlier because I really hate having hurt him. It’s one thing for me to have promised myself that I will never stay in a relationship where my needs are consistently not being met, or where I feel that unsettled melancholy where something is off, where I am disconnected, where things just don’t sit well with me and I’m shoving down feelings because I want to ‘give things a chance’. It’s quite another to enforce such a promise, and more than anything I hate having caused someone else pain. But I know it’s for the best, and I know it wouldn’t be good or right or fair to continue when feelings are not mutual and the relationship just isn’t working.

And then I came home from work. Did a few chores. Ate some supper. Messed around on Tumblr because this is my one night off for the next while, watched some Breaking Bad. Expected myself to nap after a week of extroverting, but nada. Which was weird.

Then I started thinking. And then I started crying.

For a little while I felt rather relieved, because I’ve been struggling with this for a while, and it’s just nice to let go of the situation that causes the need that is very difficult to fulfill on my own. There is something a bit…freeing, to be honest, about not being submitted to someone who is not helping that situation. I want to be clear that my former dom was and is a lovely, wonderful, decent person and I have a great deal of respect and care for him; he did nothing wrong, we just didn’t work out. But it’s still freeing when I as a submissive no longer have to follow the rules that were in place and end up feeling frustrated and lonely.

Hence my nail polish removal. I’ve been keeping my nails painted for months for him, and taking it off just feels a bit like reclaiming myself. I needed that. I needed to cry, and then to start enacting some self care and begin pulling myself together. Because I’m feeling more than relief and guilt.

So I have a cup of tea, my good tea, my very expensive green tea that tastes ‘like buttered spinach’, and I’m writing. Because I need to think. I’m still not sure that everything I’m thinking about the relationship is going to go on here, because I do want to respect privacy and some things just shouldn’t be posted for the whole world to read. But thinking is good.

I don’t think I realised how much it hurt. I don’t think I let myself feel how much it hurt, is perhaps more accurate, not until it was all over. I kept telling myself that things were nowhere near like my last relationship (and thank God for that – this was a beautifully drama-free relationship, with a very honest, level, positive-beyond-all-belief person), there were no emotional breakdowns, no days spent sick because of stress, no genuinely insane events, and he certainly wasn’t doing any of this on purpose. So I dealt with some drop, it happens. So we were unable to do more than engage in small talk, it happens. Then it was more like, so I haven’t gotten much-needed cuddles in over a week, I’ll be okay, I can take care of myself. So we haven’t played together in almost five weeks, life is about more than that. So it feels almost awkward when we hug because I feel like we’re almost strangers and have to get re-used to this person…

I’m not blaming him. He really is one of the best people I’ve ever met. I just…I’m still me. I still need someone who has time for me in his life. I still need daily cuddles. I still need consistent, full conversation or the connection wanes. And it is rather miserable when the other person feels this incredible connection and the other doesn’t. I felt like I was betraying him or not trying hard enough or expecting too much or I don’t even know. I’ve been busy too, my schedule is consistent but in phases, and I keep myself occupied, particularly when I’m struggling with situations like that and it’s just easier to keep myself distracted and remain functioning. Our lives didn’t fit – mutually exclusive schedules.

Then I keep thinking about Love Languages. I know that mine is time. Quality time spent together. Which is why the mutually exclusive schedules were a source of misery for me (not that he was unaffected either, but he certainly seemed to bear it better). He has a different love language, which is great, and I like to think I spoke it well. I hope so, he deserved to feel that way. I don’t think, though, that I realised how much it bothered me. It felt kind of one-sided again. Which was like my last relationship. I had a dream a few nights ago where it was my former dom but I identified him as my ex, the one from the very toxic relationship. Which was very strange, they are remarkably different people, it’s one of my favourite things about my former dom, and I have never, ever thought that he was like my ex to the extent that this kind of a dream would make sense. But it was so vivid that it stuck with me, and I’ve been puzzling over it. Then during surprise-emotional-response #2 I realised things became one-sided again. I felt like I learned quickly how to please my former dom, what he liked, what produced the desired positive feedback (although I do think that there is one particular area that is not my strong suit which does mean a lot to him, but not delving because that’s personal and this is not the place). But I felt like things were not reciprocated. Genuine effort was made, and I know that my mind and personality are not always easy to navigate and a definite learning period is required. But I think it bothered me that we didn’t just fall in step with one another at the same time. Then the busyness happened, and all progress was halted, and then it felt like we were taking steps backward because the intimacy floundered, and I pushed all of this down until tonight. And I pushed them down because I felt like I didn’t have a legitimate reason to fully feel what I felt; like because I’d been through worse or because he meant well and is a really decent, lovely person, that my emotions lacked validity and therefore did not need to be granted experiential existence.

Now I have feelings. Fantastic.

I don’t think he did anything wrong. I think that we just didn’t match as well as we wanted to. We didn’t work out. It happens. And I’m the one who broke it off, and I genuinely think and feel that it was the right thing to do. But here’s the kicker.

I still have all these emotions to process. I’m still sad because I miss getting to talk to someone every day. Because there was some intimacy and it meant a lot to me, he meant a lot to me. Because I hate having caused him pain. Because I had high hopes, I really, really wanted everything to work out. I know he did too. Because I’m a little mad at myself for not talking about this sooner, although I’m not sure that would have changed anything. I know I’m mad at myself for convincing myself that this relationship was the one God was directing me to and as such it must work, because I had this idea that I had to choose someone from those who responded to my ad (this, by the way, is lesson number one for me from this relationship, and as such I am not placing an ad again).

I think, and here feel the need to emphasise the intense subjectivity of this entire blog – there are two sides to every story, and my experience and current befuddled emotions are definitely not an authoritative account of the relationship or the character of my former dom – that I felt unloved. Not in a romantic sense, just in an affectionate, caring-for sense. Because for me, I feel loved and cared for when someone spends time with me. When there are cuddles. When that happens so consistently that I know 95% of the time how long I will be waiting for the next conversation opportunity, when I can share the things of my day and get to know this lovely person, where we can be wrapped up in each other’s minds and company for a while. Without that, it is brutally hard for me to enter into that submissive space; I still obey, that’s conscious choice, but I don’t feel the cozy freedom of submission, I don’t feel the comforting intimacy, and this is perhaps a bit of why drop happened. I didn’t feel heard or taken seriously either because I thought, and I could absolutely be remarkably wrong here, that I had been clear about how important these needs were for me and the effect being without them has. I am very glad, still, that he felt this wonderful connection and that I got to make him feel the way he did; but until tonight, I don’t think I realised how much it bothered me, how unfair it felt, that I didn’t feel it too.

And it is so not his fault. We both had high hopes. We both wanted to give our relationship a good chance, and I think we did. Which is why I don’t quite think it was a mistake, and I’m not overly mad at myself (still somewhat, but that’s par for the course). We simply didn’t work out. He did nothing wrong; he is a fantastic person and oh my gosh, when he finds the woman who is meant to be his submissive and partner they are going to experience this incredible relationship that is going to make all of this pale in comparison. Objectively, he’s awesome and I’m lucky to have gotten to know him and be with him. I know too, though, I’m not that woman.

I feel lonely and discouraged too a bit. I don’t want to be alone again. I miss getting to submit like I got to before, I miss getting to experience that deep submission and intimacy. I miss the freedom and catharsis and affection of a relationship like that. I don’t want to be in a relationship just to be in a relationship, and I am okay being alone. And given how little time we were able to be together the last while, I already felt lonely – there’s just something about being alone now, it feels…melancholy. I know it’ll pass, I’m okay being my own person, and I know I can be satisfied with it. I read on Tumblr a while back this post about how someone dreamed of being the single aunt who never married and traveled all over the world and brought back crazy, fun gifts for everyone. I could totally be that aunt. I’d also take everyone to Disney World and have an acreage/hobby farm/animal rescue, and I’d have to find the perfect people to take care of the animals while I’m away, but I could totally do that.

So this is my processing and self-care. Step one was crying. Step two was a step into being an un-submitted submissive and actively removing my obedience to a rule (for whatever reason, it’s something that when my former D/s relationships have ended, each under quite different circumstances, it helps me stand back up on my own two feet). Step three was writing and processing. Step four was accepting that I feel a mess of things, and that it is okay. It’s okay to be alone. Life is still so, so good. God is good. Oh is God good. And on that note, I know I’m not really alone. Timely messages and reconnecting with old friends is not something I think was accidental today, and it helped shut up that grey voice that only talked about loneliness. A sincere thank you for that help ❤

I'm not really sure what to do next. I don't know if this is normal, and I don't exactly have someone I can ask (so by all means if you have comments I welcome them) who's been through this as a submissive, but like when my other relationships ended I feel this kind of 'I don't know what I'm doing' sensation. Aimless, maybe. My routine is disrupted, could be as simple as that. I have a long to do list, as always, and I will do some things on it to see if that gets the ball rolling. I know I want to write more, because I need this, and now that I'm letting myself feel things again (good grief, speaking of patterns I need to stop already) the writing certainly comes more easily. And self care. Lots and lots of genuine self care. I already got rid of the cookie dough indulgence because that was definitely not helpful (I swear it just fed the aforementioned grey voice), and I'm deliberately taking care of me. I want to rejoin the gD community, because I really miss the blog section and being engaged in discussion with the lovely minds there, not to mention I have a massive set of FL articles to catch up on.

God is good.

And if this far, wow. Kudos for surviving that rambling mess of 2300+ words. Now to title this beast…

Putting Lessons to Good Use

I’ve been rather down lately. Not always and not dramatically – I’ve been through far worse. But I have noticed a continuing decline in my motivation, which is remarkably unhelpful right now. I am running two businesses, behind in what I need to do for both at the moment, behind in my volunteer work, my house needs a good clean…my laundry’s done and I had a full night’s sleep, that’s about all I’m caught up on. I’m still trying to get to my thesis, and several other summer projects. And I’m just…sluggish. It’s like being in drop sometimes. I know the cause, or at least some of the cause, and I made myself open up about that to the relevant parties and hopefully that will help.

But I also know that because my ‘to do’ list is so long that when I try to ‘big picture’ it and view everything, plan out my whole week, and then muck up one day, or even just try to get myself up and going because I have to get this stuff done today or the rest of my week will be rushed and awful…I overwhelm myself. Horribly. And then I want to crawl into bed and watch Breaking Bad and eat chips. Not good.

So after slipping into the indulgence cycle again, I’m pulling myself out of it. I made myself go for a walk last night, and that helped. I was tired when I got home and went to bed, and while I stayed in bed this morning too long, the full night’s sleep is a win. I prioritised Bible study better today, and I have got to start my day with that, my soul needs it, my mind needs it. I made sure I had coffee for work. And best of all, I have brought myself back to focusing on one thing at a time. That’s the whole point of a list, I don’t have to keep everything in my head, just the one thing I’m in the process of crossing off.

This has helped me feel less overwhelmed, and I am rewarding myself with reasonable rewards (not an entire season of Breaking Bad while eating chips and doing nothing else, for instance) whenever I finish one thing. And now I am cleaning my kitchen and going to bake up a storm. I have three recipes, minimum, I want to try to get done tonight. Four, if I can manage the freezer space. It’s part of my business, but it’s also a good stress release/meditation method for me. So my self-care currently looks like comfy clothes, several hours of baking, with 90s hits and a viewing of Space Jam – I don’t know why I am drawn to the 90s right now, but I’ve been craving it a fair bit lately. Might be a bit homesick, actually.

I need to do yoga today, I can feel my tension levels wreaking havoc on my back and shoulders (I actually experienced two back spasms this week, and that’s probably not a good sign). I need to eat real food, which is going to go in the oven while I mix up some cupcakes. I am in the process of drinking my water. And a shower. Heating up the apartment by having the oven on will actually help with that, because a cool shower afterward is wonderful.

I am attempting to achieve some balance. Last time I wrote, it was all about letting things go, and I swung that pendulum much too far and now need to get myself going properly. Another walk or something endorphin-inducing is probably in order too (not that, already tried that, to the point of making myself sore). I need to rearrange my priorities some too, I think. I’m struggling too much to get to what I need to do, and not getting to what I want to do long-term. So I’m making myself be accountable for my choices; choosing to lay in bed and watch TV is a choice, not that how I feel is not real or relevant, but I can watch TV and bake at the same time and actually take care of myself and cope with those emotions. I’ve also found that giving myself ‘a talking to’, scolding myself, reminding myself of everything I have to do, trying to essentially scare and/or stress myself into action is not helpful. I’ve been reading a bit on high-functioning anxiety, and while I don’t want to self-diagnose (read plenty on that too), I think I ought to at least heed some of the principles. Pressure, stress, fear…these things make me seek escape, usually in TV/movies or in naps, and it’s not a solution. So one thing at a time. Just that one. One step. Like Kimmy Schmidt says: “ten seconds at a time”.

I’ve been through worse, which means I can get through this. I can win this round. But I still have to give myself what I need to do it. And then actually do it. It still amazes me that there is this disconnect, and I see it in people I work with all the time, and at present quite vividly in myself. This disconnect where we seem to think that giving ourselves time means just chilling until we feel ready to do whatever needs doing. But that’s not entirely accurate. I have given myself time in some cases, but used that time to think something through, evaluate my emotions, allow my mind to adjust to the situation. I didn’t ignore the situation entirely and come back around when it felt ‘good’. It’s the same thing with playing piano – giving myself the time I need doesn’t mean not touching it ever, it means giving myself the practice time, so I can think, practice, explore, and learn. It’s the same thing here. I need time, but I need used time. I also need physical care, and to do the things that will help my mind, help me cope with the emotions rather than letting them dictate the rest of my life. My emotions are too easily influenced by circumstances to get to be in charge like that :/

Okay, enough rambling. I’ll just end with saying I hope everyone is well and that you all are giving yourselves what you need. You deserve it ❤

Letting Go: A Super-Speedy Blog

I haven’t written in…a ridiculously long time. And it’s not for lack of desire or attempts to make the time, life has just been extremely full. I have so many things I want to write about, finish writing about, try to write about, just get them out of my head so it’s a bit less chaotic up there, but things have only calmed down to just shy of breakneck pace, so this is going to have to do for tonight.

Which is another thing that I am letting go :o)

For the last week in particular, I have to set a lot of things aside and simply…let them go. There are only so many hours in the day. Some of those hours I have to spend sleeping, eating, drinking enough water, doing yoga to avoid being in physical pain, working, showering, doing laundry, talking to the people I don’t want to totally alienate, doing Bible study and praying so I don’t lose my mind, etc. And sometimes there isn’t much time left after that, and there’s been a lot less lately. I am a private tutor and I teach September to June, so the end of the year is finishing up and I’ve had that to deal with. Then I decided to offer summer lessons as well, so I’ve also been doing prep for this, doing interviews with new clients, managing my website, getting materials together, and so forth. Then my Mom and I (mostly me, she’s not as much of a fan of the whole experience so I’ve taken the reigns this year) sell baking and various other handmade items at farmer’s markets over the summer, and I’ve been doing the prep for that over the last few months, with of course a huge chunk of it ‘coming due’ this week. Thank goodness a) for my Mom because I would never have been able to do this without her and b) that some of that prep included baking which is a fantastic stress relief for me.

But oh my lanta. My stress level has been…intense. I’ve had some days where I felt like I was doing three things at once, minimum, all day. I was running on about 4-5 hours of sleep a night for a few days, and I know a lot of people can pull that off, but I am not one of them. When I started getting sick I smartened up. I have so many ideas for what I want to do with my students next year and I want to get started on it, but I just don’t have time right now. So I’ve had to let that go for the time being. I want to update my contract for the Fall. Again, letting it go. I want to reorganise my records, design a registration form, stockpile and write some resources, and letting that go. I want to research and make different recipes for markets, but I only have a little freezer at the top of my refrigerator, so definitely have to let that go for now. I want to make about 8,000 other crafts to try to sell because they’re just so darn cute/pretty/fun/challenging/photogenic, I want to start a baking blog, I want to get into our Christmas stock and fix some and totally change other items, but letting it go. I want to plan my trip home in August, letting it go.

Then I have the aforementioned new clients to deal with. Always an interesting process. They’re lovely people, but they’re still learning how to take me seriously and actually read the emails and contract I sent to them. My instinct is usually to accommodate people, squeeze people into the schedule for makeup lessons, end up driving (I teach in four different cities, at my students’ homes – yeah, it can be a bit of a nightmare) way out of my way because they want to be the exception to the stipulation to the scheduling deadline…and I just can’t freaking do it without wanting to burst into tears at the end of the day. So I’m letting that go. I have been very careful to say that I will see if I can work them in for a makeup lesson when they get their dates to me, but I’m not reserving times on the off-chance they’ll take them. Same with the people who ‘want to book’ but haven’t actually gotten their shit together to tell me when they want to book. I’m not reserving time and shorting myself needed income (I have rent, travel expenses, basic living expenses, and student loans to deal with) in case they decide they want the spot. I’m not doing it. I’m not prioritising people who will not prioritise lessons or contacting me.

Sorry for that mini rant, it’s been a month.

I’ve turned my phone off a few days. I took Monday for myself (although I still had to go do errands and deal with people and traffic) which helped some. I also turned on my vacation reply on my email for a few days so I didn’t feel guilty about not messaging people back right away. I am letting go of getting together with friends until I get markets underway. I am letting go of catching up on ministry stuff at my church for this week because it’s not pressing. I’m letting go of cleaning my house, it will survive one week. I’m also letting go of getting report cards done and the rewards for my students purchased and delivered until later this weekend. The clients who email me with silly questions that are clearly covered on my website have gotten links emailed to them with a polite and kind note, but I have not delved into individual explanations because they take time and I already wrote it out once. I have also not taken on extra projects for the next few weeks because it’s such a busy season for me; I would love to help, but literally am constrained by the nature of time. I have also asked for help, specifically my Mom, and she’s been so wonderful, and that…that was a big ‘letting go’ thing for me. Took me way longer than it should have to learn that lesson.

And tomorrow. Tomorrow I start markets, with my lovely mother’s help. And I’m pretty much ready. Next week can be a catch up/finish up week. And that’s okay. Because I’m only one person, a human being, who is innately finite. I am prioritising what has to be done now, my relationship with my Dom, my relationship with my Mom and brother, and my Dad if I can get a hold of him on Saturday, as well as my health. I will get to everything, just not right now. And the person who has emailed me 11 times to change their schedule, they can wait. The pile of clean laundry can be ironed/sprayed/thrown back in the dryer and folded later. I have three weeks off in the summer during which I can prep for Fall lessons, so that can wait too. The stack of books I want and feel I should read, they can wait. The thesis that has drug on way longer than it should have, it can wait. Not going to make that one wait long because yikes. As soon as my two businesses (good grief, what is wrong with me) are settled, thesis is top priority.

Letting go was really hard at first. I have about four different lists, which is down from the twelve lists I had on my computer, phone, fridge, and notebook, and I still feel this constant desire to make worksheets and read articles I’ve saved. But when I was trying to do everything and cram everything in, I almost felt like I couldn’t think. There will be time, I keep telling myself; it just isn’t the right time yet. At the very least, I feel like I can breathe. It’s kind of wonderful, just being responsible for myself and letting myself be helped. Like I said, I can breathe. And there’s probably some lessons here that should reach a lot further than just through this week but I am letting go of reflecting on that right now.

Time to cross off a few more things on the to do list. There will be time for writing next week :o)

Wonderfulness, Stress, and Living on Bread Alone…

…not necessarily in that order.

Dear Diary,

I am rubbish at consistently writing here. In part, I think it’s because I haven’t felt I’ve had much to say, or much that I wanted to say in blog/journal form. Mainly, I think I’ve felt that I haven’t needed this, not like when I started at least. I don’t mean that I have all this figured out, as I will detail later, just that the need to process and vent and take care of myself isn’t so pressing because I’m not dealing with such…extreme circumstances regarding my closest relationships. It doesn’t feel so dire, not quite so life and death. Which is good. Less drama is a good thing. Being able to breathe is a good thing.

But I have had a rather intense round of stress in the last few weeks, which has highlighted that I do really well taking care of myself after and during periods of suffering. Yet when things are pretty level, pretty calm, I skimp. Which is dumb. I keep having to re-take this lesson and I’m starting to annoy myself. But more on that later.

I had car troubles which was so not a bill I needed. I’m attempting to set up summer employment (I teach, which is lovely with summers off, but at the same time… income-less months are not always grand), and still not sure if it’s going to work out and I would just like to know already. I am trying to juggle work, volunteering with my church, projects with my Mom, family commitments, and doing a deep clean and reorganisation of my apartment. And then got to spend a weekend at the garage with the car.

I have this special category of stressors, that are common things but can just derail everything for me: car issues and budget issues. It’s going to work out, but oy, it’s gonna be tight.

Depending on what happens with the summer employment. Getting it could be better, but that will depend on how things go. Could be awful. Not getting it might be better. As long as no major expenses are incurred. Sometimes I think God poises me on these particular edges because I am being a stubborn student and He has had enough.

I also have lacked my regular introvert recovery time. A few weekends ago, I was spending my time at the garage and at the very, very loud coffee shop surrounded by people. Then the next weekend I had one day off, then spent day two visiting a friend and attending a family dinner, both of which were lovely. Then work stresses and soooo many schedule changes in between (I would like to go on record stating that BC’s ‘spring break’ of two weeks in March where there is no school and people go on holidays in the middle of the bloody semester – these are not, by the way, university students I refer to; they actually deserve a break and would use it to work – is absolute shite and I hate it, literally hate it, with a passion. I am such a joy to be around this time of year). Then this last weekend included my main day off being spent with family, which was again lovely, but I’d hit my limit on Thursday. Friday was painful.

See, when I hit my limit I am struggling so much to process what I need to that any interruption, any person talking to me, my phone giving me alerts, popups in the browser, loud noise, or my current favourites: the person on the radio is saying inane things and won’t get to the point, or the singer isn’t getting to the point of their song fast enough. My brain instantly tells me it needs to stop because it cannot be handled. I am overloaded and exhausted, and I have zero patience left. All I want is to get. out. Get home. Try to shut everything off. Take a nap. Eat something. Just make the world shut up. Meanwhile, I am trying so hard to pretend to be friendly and kind and gracious when that is soooo not what I am feeling inside. And these lovely people don’t deserve this, because it’s not their fault; not exclusively, at least, it’s everyone combined and me just needing a lot of refueling. But I do my best to speak and act well because I firmly believe that regardless of how I feel I am still responsible for how I treat people. But I have to watch my tone, because it comes out as perpetually impatient and harsh because I just want to get it done, and my face. I can keep my mouth shut, but apparently I have facial expressions I’m not entirely aware of.

Thank God I smartened up on Saturday.

I actually, and this is miraculous, got up early. Of my own free will. Well, I strongly suspect the Holy Spirit is changing my heart there because nine times out of ten I will sleep until the last possible second. But Saturday I got up early at 6:30ish, chatted with someone lovely a little, did Bible study, had tea, let my brain wake up, and then headed to my Mom’s. And I was good. I still enjoyed my caffeine for the day, but I was capable of being a nice person for most of the day. I was relieved when I could leave; certain people just don’t move at my pace, and some things were being frustrating and I really did not need more frustration, but overall it went well.

I know that’s because I started my day decently. So now, of course, I have proof of this, I know better… and I have to actually follow through. Because if I don’t, God’s going to look at me with one eyebrow raised.

I went to church today, that was good. I debated going back for a quick meeting tonight and finally decided no, I need to protect my introvert time because it could be another long week. On a happy note, I get Easter off. So if I can just make it two more weeks, then oh I am going to get to go to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, and in between I can literally lock myself in my house and turn my phone off and speak to no one for hours and hours at a time. It’s going to be beautiful.

So lesson learned. Hopefully. Self-care cannot and should not (duh) be ignored. ‘Man cannot live on bread alone’. I was watching an old episode of Stephen Colbert on The Late Show and he quoted this, and it just clicked. I’ve been trying to live on bread alone. I’ve been trying to catch up on everything from when my car was in the shop, and some things before then, I’ve been trying to deal with the bare necessities. But somewhere in there I forgot this one particular necessity. My self-care cannot be considered a luxury, because when I do that I make it optional. It cannot be left out of the budget, so to speak. So hopefully, again, lesson learned.

On a much happier note, my day yesterday ended in the best way. I’ve been in ‘search mode’ for about a month and a half now; I posted ads on a few sites looking for a formal D/s relationship, and have been spending a lot of time getting to know people who responded. And I have met some incredible people and been quite blessed through our conversations. One in particular has been so lovely. He is one of the most positive, encouraging, and understanding people I have ever met; he has a good heart and I am continually impressed by his character. We share so many of the same interests and beliefs and desires, which is fantastic. And last night he asked me if I would be his Babygirl, and I said yes ❤ So, I have a Daddy. And he is wonderful. And it’s officially been over 24 hours and I am still tearing up about it, he’s made me so happy. I am excited and just… thrilled. And at peace. Which is really lovely to feel.

I’m not going to say more than this right now because I am quite careful about what I post regarding my personal relationships, as they are so precious to me. Right now I am simply basking. And smiling a lot. And enjoying my re-exploration of D/s after over a year’s hiatus, essentially.

God is good. Now for some Bible study, because I’m going to do this self-care thing right.



So I Haven’t Written in a While…

Dear Diary,

It’s been kind of a crazy two weeks.

First, there is the massive influx of messages that tends to happen with the listing of an ad on FetLife and getDare. This meant a lot of extroversion for me, and I think that while I was quite ready and excited about a new relationship, I was perhaps not so ready to do that much extroverting every day. There were a few times I had to walk away from the computer, turn off the phone, go do something that had nothing to do with anyone else, and just breathe. Because oh my gosh. I can only remind people that being called pet names and terms of endearment from someone I am not in a relationship with so many times before my discomfort levels make me want to either burst into tears or scream.

But for the most part, it has been lovely getting to know people (which is an ongoing process). I had a few domly doms and trolls, with some very lame attempts at negging, and just some poor judgement calls. Most people, though, have been fantastic. Gradually, very gradually, I’m getting the messages down to a manageable number. I’ve paused a few conversations with friends/acquaintances for sanity’s sake, and once I recover will resume them.

Which brings me to last weekend. I had a car mishap, I’m going to call it, which resulted in a very late night where my Mom and her husband came and rescued me (for which I am deeply grateful; I am so, so, so glad that they moved out here, because it is really nice to not have to deal with some of this on my own), one day of car repairs and a bill I so did not need right now, and then a second day of the regular maintenance which took about three hours longer than it was supposed to, which meant that my day off was spent in a very loud coffee shop and in an equally loud garage, dealing with people and not getting the introvert rest that I usually spend my Saturdays providing myself. This last week has been…trying. My stress levels are better, but still quite high. I keep catching myself clenching my teeth today, which is a sign that I need to stop talking to people for a while because my mind is just too loud and I need time to think and process and breathe in relative silence. Higher stress levels last weekend and early this week led to some relatively minor but still not fun health situations, after I was sick the week before, so that’s been a delight. I am behind on almost everything I planned to do last weekend, which also stresses me, so this week I’ve been trying to catch up so I can cram the rest of last weekend into this weekend along with what I need to do this weekend.

I am trying to get things set up so I can work at some farmer’s markets this summer, and honestly I’m more than a little scared about it. I don’t want to apply because apparently I have this fear of failure that’s cropped up in the last while, but I’m going to apply because I think I should at least try. I’m not entirely sure if this is what God wants me to do or if it’s a huge mistake and I’m trying to cling to my own plans rather than listening to Him. So I have prayed that God will confirm it via acceptance into the markets if He wants me to do this, and so if I don’t get in then I am going to conclude that God’s not cool with it. And I think I’d be fine either way, as long as I’m doing what God wants me to do. This is always my frustration and fear with discernment. I’m fine with biblical interpretation, I know what the Bible teaches, I have no issue talking to people I trust in the church and getting their input, and I get some answers from God when I pray. But things like this…I just don’t know. And I can’t wait to apply or I won’t get in for sure, and I don’t want to use ‘waiting on God’ as an excuse to not apply and not get in.

My place is in chaos because I’ve been focusing on messages and work and church projects, which are all good but the chaos stresses me. So step one is going to be getting that under control this weekend. Step two is going to be dealing with the market applications, and I know I’m going to feel better when that’s not hanging over me.

And I can’t even plan things out beyond that right now. I have taxes to deal with, more work stuff, prep for Bible study (most of which I can get done this weekend, I think), prep for markets in several areas, baking to plan, a summer trip home to plan, school to deal with, my computer needs to be organised, I have about 67,000 books to read…

But I can’t figure everything out right now. I think that maybe, and I stress the maybe here, God is raising my stress levels for a reason. I keep praying for Him to allow me to experience Him, to know Him better, to grow my faith. Well. Without God, none of this is going to go well. So I am starting with the basics I know I need in self-care. I am trying (I still loathe mornings, so it’s a struggle) to start my day with Bible study and prayer; at the very least, I pray, and study when I have time during my more ‘awake’ hours. When I get frustrated with the constant extroversion, I do yoga when I’m at home, I drink tea or go for a walk when I’m out, and if I’m at work I pray. That very simple ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy on me’ prayer makes a world of difference. And I have piano to practice this weekend, which I am excited about. So between that self care (which will include very specific and limited times with my phone on and my chat logged in), I’m going to reign in this chaos and deal with some of the stressful things. Just do it. Nike knows what they’re talking about.

So that’s it. That’s all I’ve got right now. I hope I’m doing what I’m supposed to. I’m still rather upset with myself over the car mishap and how I didn’t put more away when I could have and arrrrgghhh! But it is what it is, and I know that God is good and He is faithful, and I just need to trust Him.

I now realise that the reason I haven’t written is because I have nothing conclusatory to say. I’m smack in the middle of this story. I haven’t really learned anything new, I haven’t for sure figured out the lesson in all this, I am not in a super good place because oh my gosh the stress, I am still learning how to deal with all this… I’m not feeling so together this week. But God is still God. And I’m doing my best to make that my focus.


I’m A Little Bit Proud Of Myself

Dear Diary,

I haven’t written much lately, in part because I’ve been swamped with work and answering messages and generally trying to catch up projects, and in part because I haven’t felt like I had much to write about in the meantime. Things are going well, I had this fantastic day about a week ago where I realised I was quite ready to start considering entering into another relationship. I’ve been more consistent this week with prioritising Bible study and prayer than I have been in a long time, and it makes such a wonderful difference.

Currently, my brain is being handled with great care after all the extroversion over the last week. I have to pace myself better, or I am going to be in tears. So, taking lots of breaks today between the longer messages (which I love, but they’re tough when I feel like I’m running on empty) and doing the self-care things I know I need: prayer, Bible study, playing piano, organising/tidying my house, etc.

The best thing that happened today, however, is I realised that I actually can and will say no to a situation I know isn’t right for me. In my last relationship, I said yes to a lot of things I didn’t fully want. I said yes because I knew my significant other wanted them, I wanted to please him, I hoped that if I just gave a little more that he’d be in the right place to give me what I wanted so badly, and on and on, until after the relationship ended I realised three things.

First, that I gave up a lot of what I wanted, I gave up hoping for the things I wanted, and even the things I needed because of what my ex wanted, and I let him convince me it was not only okay, but right. When I started considering looking for a D/s relationship a little over a week ago, I got so incredibly excited that it reminded me of when I first began exploring this part of my life, and I was elated. I didn’t think it’d feel that way again, but I actually have hope that I can and will find the right person, and the person that I genuinely fit too.

Second, I realised that I was right, and I let my ex convince me I wasn’t. It was such an incredible relief to realise I was in fact right, I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t horrible at relationships, I wasn’t entirely out of touch with myself and lying to myself half the time. I was right. And I’m still unraveling some of that from time to time, but I feel so utterly free all the same.

Third, I realised that so much of what I wanted in the relationship, so much of what I treasured and loved, they were promises that were yet to be fulfilled. They were promises that got put off, set on the backburner, replaced, sometimes deleted entirely, for a long time. And I hung on, and I fought, and I was faithful, and I supported my ex as best I could, I was understanding, I was patient, I prayed my heart out, I was available whenever possible…and I set aside what I wanted for him, I set aside my own needs to meet his, and in the end all I had worth grieving over in that relationship was things that never even got to happen.

So I’ve been rather careful with myself in the first leg of this search, I’ve been keeping an eye on what I say and what I am willing to change my mind about. I keep going back to the list of things that I realised I wanted before my last relationship (during the course of which I gave up on hoping for most of those things) and reminding myself that I want these things for a reason, that I need these things within the relationship, and to be patient and trust myself, to trust what I learned about myself through my experiences.

But amidst all of this, I’ve been quite afraid that I will make the same mistakes. That I will like and even love this new person, whoever he may be (it’s only been a week, I’m not rushing this at all), so much that I let him dictate when I’m ready to say ‘I love you’, that I let him decide what kind of online interaction we have, that I let him decide what I am and am not comfortable doing. That I will end up in that same place, where I feel afraid to talk about how I feel for fear that I’m ‘wrong’ again, where I feel more alone in the relationship than I ever did out of it, that I feel constantly set aside and pushed out, and that I give up things that I love for someone who does not actively love me back. And Friday night, I realised how afraid I’ve been and spent a solid hour crying while I explained it to someone else. It was cathartic, but now I was even more wary of myself because I know that is a kind of weak point for me, that I am sometimes self-sacrificing in the wrong ways. And I firmly believe there are good ways, very good ways, in which one can be self-sacrificing, and I don’t want to stop doing those but I need to get a handle on my bad habits here.

At the very least I want to make whole new mistakes, not cycle through the old ones.

One person seemed to stand out for a few days. He was insightful, we appeared to be on the same page regarding many things, we could message at length and have wonderfully detailed discussions (which, for me, is a very good sign, and I was surprised it happened so quickly). Then through our conversations I realised he was looking for more of an offline relationship and has certain views regarding online relationships (which is what I want) which do not fit with my experiences or desires. And perhaps I will write on why I love and feel genuinely fulfilled through online relationships sometime, but I’m prattling on enough as it is.

Way back when I first began exploring D/s, I had this one incident where I submitted to someone I could not please; essentially, I tried to be someone I wasn’t to make him happy, and it was an awful experience, I wound up hurt in many ways, and I swore: never again. If I ever submitted to someone again, I would only do so as myself, I would only submit if being myself, as purely and fully as possible, was what pleased that person. That was the confirmation that led me to submit to my first Dom, who was fantastic and taught me more than I can ever thank him for. And when I realised that this new person, with whom I thought I was feeling the ‘click’, wanted something I was not ready to give, did not know how long it would take me to get ready, and had very different views regarding the nature of online relationships, I went back to that core concept: if I cannot be me, I am not the person he is looking for; correspondingly, he is not the person I am searching for.

As nicely and encouragingly as I could, I wrote him and told him what I thought, explained why, told him I thought he was wonderful and I knew he’d find someone who suited what he sought. He had said in his previous message that he would respect my decision, so I also offered to be friends, because we did converse well and shared some similar interests.

Then today I got an extremely long and emotional message from him, which I understand, I was a little disappointed too. But this message crossed some lines. He assumed the role of ‘Dom’ when I had not submitted to him. He told me to apologise to him and to reconsider. He told me that it was about him and his feelings, and not mine (he was half right). He accused me of making decisions for him and not giving him a chance to decide how he felt – and there I can understand his frustration, but at the same time this is my life and I know from experience, multiple experiences, that it’s absolutely miserable to be submitted to someone that I know I’m not pleasing, not to mention it causes some significant emotional damage. He accused me of using this as an excuse because I am afraid of being in a relationship with him, and that I haven’t allowed myself to be truly open to anyone in the last 2.5 years (he and I have been talking for five days, just so we’re clear about the strangeness of that conclusion).

Then he wrote this: “So I am going to do the very best dom/daddy thing I can for you and tell you that you are mistaken here. That I love you (figuratively, don’t know you well enough yet to say that) and that I think you should listen to me on this, because I think I’m right and if you honestly search yourself I think you’ll agree.”

And dammit, if that wasn’t something that sounded eerily like my last relationship, and I realised Wow, nope, I do not feel bad about ending this. Because I know I’m right, I have lived the difference between being in a relationship because it’s kind of what you want and being in a relationship because it’s exactly what you want.

Then this clinched it: “It has become more and more apparent that you do indeed need a dom. Not necessarily to tell you what to do, not my style, but to give you a swift kick in the ass and say pull out of your head and live your fucking life.:

I just stopped and enjoyed the moment. Because if I learned one thing, one solitary thing from my last relationship, it’s that I can have the most important person in my life putting me through this hellish rollercoaster of emotion and drama, and I can not only take care of myself but him too. I have realised that I can lose the relationship (referring here to my first D/s relationship) and feel utterly crushed 24/7, and I can not only survive but that I can continue living and being happy without a D/s relationship. I have learned that as much as I want to be submitted to someone, that as much as I treasure getting to express that part of me, that is absolutely part of my core self, I only get to genuinely do that with the right someone. And I have learned that I can be right when it comes to knowing myself, that I am not being unfair when I take my needs into account, and that if a relationship ends it is not the end of the world and I will be okay. I will be better than okay. I can be alone. I can be happy and be alone. I can be myself and alone. And I’m not afraid to be alone.

So no, I don’t need a dom. And I am living my life, and learning to live it better by the grace of God. If anything, I need God, because He’s the one who has led me through all this and never once failed me.

I wrote this person a reply, and I was polite but firm, I clarified things as best I could, and then I told him that I thought it best if this was the last message exchanged. I have a lot of wonderful friends, and there are plenty of people who respond to me respectfully, but this message did not fit either of those scenarios. And I’m a little bit proud of myself, because I said no, and I thought it through a second time, and I said no again. I did not bow to pressure, I did not let someone else talk me out of my conviction, I did not let myself start doubting that I knew what the right thing to do was.

And I feel that freedom again. I feel pretty good. I’ve continued talking with other people and getting to know them, and enjoyed it quite thoroughly today. I feel like I can trust myself a little more, like I made it through the first trial and have proven that I have perhaps learned a valuable lesson and am capable of applying it.

Finally, I am grateful that things didn’t go further, because that is not a situation that I think would end well otherwise. I don’t do well with people who cross lines at will, and who are not respectful of my decisions when they become emotional. I cannot and will not submit to that, and I feel quite strongly that I’m being watched out for.

So I continue, slow and steady. To the kitchen to enjoy my strawberry ice cream, because frankly I think I deserve a treat.

The Intrinsic Components of a Power Exchange Relations


I’m working through this week’s Bible study (bear with me  for this one paragraph, this really is about power exchange relationships), and learning about how one of the core purposes of prayer is to provide us with an opportunity to ask God for what we need. Now, this is not so we can tell God what we need, because if He really is all-knowing then He already knows. But rather, this is because when we go to Him and ask for what we need, and He shows His love and power and provides for us, then we get to experience Him, draw nearer to Him, know Him better, and trust Him more. God could simply give us what we need, but then we do not get to actively build that relationship with Him and come to know Him through our experience. So this got me thinking about my past relationships.

Early on in my relationship with my first formal Dom, I remember at least a few instances where my former Dom would give me certain instructions like ‘Be careful with the icyhot and make sure you don’t get it in your eyes,’ and I would respond by indicating, politely, that I already knew to be careful. I didn’t do this because I was trying to be sassy or because I felt he was being condescending; I just felt the need to show that I wasn’t a little child or clueless and I didn’t need to be told.

Because at that time, I felt my former Dom was telling me those things because he believed I needed to be told. I’ve since realised it wasn’t really about the specific instruction, but rather a show of his affectionate, caring domination over me. He was being protective. He was dedicating himself to my safety and ensuring that I had all the information I could possibly need and want in that situation to minimise the possibility of negative incidents that might detract from what he was giving me. Whether certain instructions were precisely needed or not was incidental; the purpose of those instructions was to express his abiding care for me and to give me an opportunity to experience that care.

Over time, I figured this out, albeit not so explicitly. I stopped feeling the need to assert my knowledge (in part because I knew he respected me and knew my abilities, and he made me feel safe just being me, without having to prove anything, which was incredible in and of itself), and I instead would reply ‘Yes Daddy, I will,’ and endeavour to honour his instructions and reminders. Even before I figured this out, he continually reminded me, helped me, guided me, not because he thought I was an idiot or helpless, but because he cared and he realised I needed to experience that care, actively, day in and day out. And gradually, my continual experience of that care led to the development of this phenomenal trust and intimacy developed between us. I savoured those commands, because I had all this experience of his care before, and I knew that whenever he gave me instructions, whenever he updated my training, whenever he told me to do anything, it was out of this deep, consistent, genuine care.  Of course, there were other things that we both did which fostered this, but I realise now how those commands, that attention to detail, the consistent care and instruction even when he could have assumed I knew well enough on my own, they made a world of difference in our dynamic.

In my second formal relationship, my responses became quite different when I felt I could not go to my significant other at the time. Not for lack of invitation or even willingness on his part, but because I saw how busy he was, how he was often preoccupied with his own struggles and difficulties. He always was dealing with something big, and I either didn’t want to intrude or didn’t think he’d be available. Sometimes I would go to him, and things would be okay for a little while, and then something would interrupt us again.

I have known for a long time that I can take care of myself, and I will. But in one of those relationships I was given the chance to develop intimacy and trust. I got to see that I mattered and that there was a space in my former Dom’s life and mind where I mattered. I learned that my physical and emotional safety was a priority. And it was not done through bossiness or arrogance or extra rules. It wasn’t done through whips or toys or stellar erotica either. It wasn’t done through degrading me, diminishing what I knew or what I was, nor through proving himself my superior in some way. It was done through this simple expression of his care. In perhaps unnecessary instructions, that became absolutely essential to our dynamic.

In my second relationship, I learned a great deal about myself. I learned to love myself. I learned to take care of myself. I learned to look for my own answers and not use someone else as a substitute for God, eventually to look to God myself. All of this has been invaluable, and I am forever grateful. But amidst all that, with all the time, energy, straining, fighting with myself, the determined bandaging of my wounds before attempting another round, we never quite developed that trust and intimacy that we both needed. That the relationship called for, and, if we had been able to form that first layer of trust and intimacy, that a D/s dynamic would have required. This was partly because, I firmly believe, the relationship was not meant to be, and I fully own that relationships go both ways and everything I ever did or said or neglected to do or say also shaped the relationship. I just see this…factor. Where he didn’t seem to have the opportunity, and sometimes the energy, to give me that kind of consistent care, and we never seemed to grow past a certain point. It is not that he did not care deeply for me, I know he did. But we never got past a certain stage of trust, we never got to develop the intimacy, and we never got to do much more than scratch the surface of D/s together.

I’m not writing this to rehash my relationships, but because today something clicked regarding the nature of domination and submission. The experience of domination, I am slowly realising, is not just in the giving of instruction, nor is the experience of submission just the obedience to that instruction. We tend to say things like trust and intimacy are the essential foundation of a power exchange dynamic; I wonder if that would be better nuanced if we said that trust and intimacy are the the very nature of a power exchange dynamic. That the faithfulness, the consistency, the very basic follow-through of a dominant-type and a submissive-type where they endeavour to keep their word even in the smallest things, where care is shown in simple ways but reliably so, that perhaps this is not the foundation on which the power exchange relationship is built, with all the rules and kinky things, the accessories, the scenes, the titles, the protocols, and everything else we see as pieces (or potential pieces, we get to mix and match) of a power exchange relationship. Perhaps this consistency and faithfulness, this reliability and genuine commitment and care, is the relationship itself.

Let me attempt to clarify this another way. If the exchange of power, of control, cannot happen without trust and intimacy then it follows that a genuine power exchange relationship must include trust and intimacy. Therefore, if we define a power exchange relationship (D/s, M/s, DD/lg, O/p, etc.) as a relationship in which the power of one is given over to the control of another, then it follows that as much as the exchange of power is part of the core nature of such a relationship so too are trust and intimacy. Not merely the means by which we get the power exchange, not the necessary hoops, not the process that comes before the fun stuff, but the very core nature of what a power exchange relationship is and requires in order to function well over an extended period of time.

And the more I think about the people that I have seen over the years building their relationships, growing closer, taking further steps into intimacy, learning to trust more and more, some to the point where they do not even feel the need to have limits so insanely, miraculously, beautifully intimate is their relationship, the more I think that yes, these are people who are consistently caring for one another, on good days and bad days, through thick and thin, not with big grand gestures but brick by brick, every chance they get.

The little things are the ones that matter the most.

Perhaps this is just me, maybe I’m overreaching (two relationships, count ’em, one, two), and perhaps this is something that has more emphasis in a DD/lg relationship (which I am more familiar with) than in other dynamics. I can certainly see how I am biased here in that consistency and people simply doing what they say they will do is of paramount importance to me, so I don’t want to impose this on anyone. I also realise I’ve focused more on domination than submission here, and I do not mean to imply submissive-types are not also responsible for earning trust and building intimacy through consistent care and genuine faithfulness and all that good stuff. It goes both ways, I just didn’t want to make this twice as long as it already is. This is a theory, and I lay it out here because I would so love and appreciate your thoughts on this. Does this resonate at all with your experience? Does this seem warranted or a stretch? Is this even helpful and worth discussing? If you disagree, why?


This Week’s Realisations

Dear Diary,

It’s been a kind of…up and down week. Not in an awful way, but I’ve been somewhat frustrated with myself. I’ve been feeling strongly for a while, a long while, that I really ought to be prioritising prayer and Bible study, quiet time where I wait on the Lord, far more than I do. Because I try to get everything else cleared out of the way, and sometimes that becomes an excuse to avoid, and then go to pray and study. Or I tell myself I’ll get up early to do it, and I suck at getting up in the morning. The object at rest would love to stay at rest.

So I’ve been inconsistent, feeling somewhat guilty and other times making excuses like my Thursdays are busy, and then Fridays I catch up on sleep, and then I’ll just watch one episode while I eat lunch, and then it snowballs from there. Saturday I have all day to study, and I often end up putting it off because I have an abundance of time. Until I have no time left, and Monday I’m rushing to cram in everything I meant to do all weekend. It drives me crazy but this has been my cycle, unless I have some commitment that I feel will directly affect someone else.

This last weekend things became worse. I started sleeping a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Friday I had some work. Saturday I was volunteering at my church in the evening, and so I wanted to have some time to myself before I had to spend part of my introvert-recovery day around people. I did not want to be around people. I was definitely wrung out from people from the rest of the week, and was hopefully I’d get to leave early (and I did). But I spent most of the day sleeping beforehand, even took my temperature because I thought it was weird I was so inclined to sleep. Then Sunday I had the usual church services, and then went home. Ended up napping for several hours. And my schedule was all out of whack, but it was definitely way more sleeping than I usually need, even with catchup from a busy week figured in.

It reminded me of how I felt a few years ago when I would spend the better part of the day in bed, usually asleep. School would be finished up for the year, I would be waiting for work to start, and I just…slept a lot. Too much. It scared me a little because I really do not want to cycle through that depression again. And it’s been so long since I felt that way, not having a defined stressor that made me inclined to nap for an hour here and there, but wanting to be asleep almost every chance I got… I thought maybe it was the weather, but that didn’t satisfy the dissonance I was experiencing. I thought maybe it was stress from people, that I was more affected by not having a full day off than I realised, but the timeline didn’t quite fit. Then I thought, briefly, it was because I was neglecting prayer and study. Regardless, I didn’t figure it out, I just tried to get myself in gear, and I did do better when I got up and started working on things like cleaning my kitchen, cooking, prepping for work, etc.

Tuesday night I spent a good chunk of time in Bible study, finally, and that helped too. The feeling was passing, definitely, but the memory of it still bothered me more than I cared to admit at the time. Then Wednesday I had planned on getting up earlier in the morning, as I had the first part of the day off, and finish Bible study for the week. And I hit the snooze button a few times, and reset my alarm, and eventually I think I just shut it off. Same cycle starting up again. Sometime in there, though, I had this dream. I am not the kind of person who thinks everything means something mystical, I am definitely not the kind of person who looks for meaning in all of the randomness of her brain processing things and amusing itself all night. But this dream struck a chord, so whether divine message or subconscious processing, I’m going with it.

I dreamt that I was in a hotel room, and the alarm went off, and I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I did get up, I realised my Mom had been waiting for me, and she was disappointed and rather sad, not in an accusatory or guilt-tripping kind of way at all, but sad that our time together was cut short. There were things she had hoped we could do together. And then I found it later in the dream that because I’d slept in and missed the checkout time, she had to pay extra for the hotel room. Later in the dream (skipping the stuff that’s foggy), I realised I’d better get working on my thesis, and my other term papers too (I have none right now, but dream ‘me’ did). My next thought was that I needed to go into my research mode, where I spend every spare moment reading and researching, taking notes, planning my papers, and then writing, editing, formatting, etc. I know this mode well, I’ve spent most of my adult life in university, and I love it. It’s exhausting sometimes, but I love getting to dig in, and I know the discipline and dedication it requires to do this well.

This was where I woke up, a bit disconcerted but not really sure why. Mildly annoyed with myself that I’d slept so much again. I got up and began getting ready, and slowly my thoughts sorted themselves out, particularly when I got back into my Bible study. I realised three things. First, that I need to stop spending my time asleep. Not just physical sleep, although I need to be careful of that (I love sleep, naps are beautiful, good sleep is healthy and important, but too much sleep can be a sign that something else is amiss in my life), but spiritual sleep. I keep going back to sleep. I keep putting off what I know I need to get up and do. I keep avoiding rather than doing and studying and seeking God. Which brings me to the second point, that this is the time, right now, when I need to get into study mode. And not just for my thesis, although that was definitely part of it (I have actually wondered if maybe I was pursuing something that wasn’t God’s will for me, that perhaps this was my plan and not God’s plan and perhaps I should drop it, that this was why I was unmotivated sometimes, but this was fantastic confirmation that no, this is where God wants me, this is important, this is where I’m supposed to be, and I’ll come back to this rabbit trail later). But for the prayer studies I’m supposed to be working on, all the Bible study stuff and devotions and the actual practice of prayer that I ought to be working on – it is not a coincidence that people keep recommending all these phenomenal studies to me and I keep getting these answers to things I have been asking about and praying about and seeking some halfway satisfactory answer for now. Here. In this church. Under my current pastors and the various other wonderful leaders and friends there.

And third, that there is a cost, a real cost, when I spend my time asleep. When I don’t do what I ought to do. I don’t write this in guilt, just…it’s a solid realisation that it isn’t just about me. It’s more than me pulling an all-nighter to catch up, there’s fallout that affects people around me. Not just my Mom, although if God wants to get my attention about how I’m affecting someone negatively and uses my Mom to drive that point home, I really don’t think there’s a more effective way for Him to do that. Which obviously, God would know. It’s not just my Mom. It’s my church. It’s the people I serve with. It’s people at work and school. My advisor, who is going to smack me for taking so long on this thesis, and has every right to. It’s my family and friends.

And then to top all this off, I think God allowed (not caused, but allowed) me to slip back into that old habit of too much sleep this weekend. I also had started turning to some distractions and substitutes for God, which I have since removed from my life (again). I wasn’t seeking Him, I was hoping for fulfillment of some kind where I knew from so much past experience that I would not get it. And I went right back to being mired in that kind of…out-of-touch place where I slept, and functioned more at night when almost no one was around, and I did little of substance, and just sort of drifted until I had to get up and go somewhere. I can’t even decently describe it, it’s kind of a Twilight Zone kind of feel, and it scares the hell out of me because I so do not want to be in that again.

So points have been driven home. I knew in my head that I needed to pray daily, I needed to spend time with God, I needed to draw near to Him, I needed to study diligently, I needed to prioritise my relationship with Him. And now I know it experientially, and I have some jarring (in a good way) memories and impressions which will keep that need at the forefront of my thoughts, even when I am tempted to let busyness crowd it out. Today has been better. Tomorrow will be better still. God is good and He is faithful.

Which brings me to the previously abandoned rabbit trail. I realised while spending some much-needed time in prayer super early this morning that I have avoided the thesis because I am afraid that I’m not going to measure up, that I don’t actually know what I’m doing, that everyone is going to realise I’m not nearly as smart as they think I am. That I’m going to let everyone down. Queue that Bible study, which was almost brutally challenging this week (which I needed), and then ended with one of the most encouraging lessons I’ve ever received. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He knows everything that’s going on in my life, He knows me, He knows what I need, and He doesn’t call me to do anything that He is not entirely prepared and capable of accomplishing in and through me. But the key is He does it. God prepares me. God teaches me. God shapes me, brings the people and opportunities, the studies, the experiences, even the heartaches and trials (that sounds so overdramatic, but sufferings felt grammatically weird), that I need. It doesn’t depend on me, I was never meant to take the assignment and figure it all out on my own. I was designed to depend on God, and when I don’t do that, then I end up terrified because I don’t know what I’m doing. But God does. And after struggling for a long time about why I was avoiding my schoolwork and how to deal with that, this is the first thing that feels and sounds like a satisfactory answer.

I still have a shit-ton of work to do, but I know where to look now. God is good. God is faithful. So every spare moment is the order of the day now. Every spare moment I seek, I study, I pray. Which, it turns out, is a lot more satisfying than sleeping.