A word of warning: This is me, honest, hurting, and not sugarcoating a bit. Unedited.
So if you’re not in a position to read any of that, go away. Now. Look after yourself.
So here comes. My name is Willow (not really), and I’m submissive (really). Looking back, I always have been submissive in my “primary relationship”, and that ain’t likely to change. That means, I can’t help that I focus on my partner, a lot, and I have this inner imperative to make his life as best as it could be. In return, I need him to want me. Take care of me. To pay attention to me. To show me he cares for me, wants me around, and desires me. I need that connection like I need air to breathe. And right now, it feels like I’m slowly suffocating.
I’m probably “high maintenance”, but I don’t know that for sure. In my twenties, I’ve scared away my fair share of dates and boyfriends with the intensity of relationship and commitment I desired. But inside my head, it doesn’t feel that way, because it seems so simple: Daily or near-daily check-ins. Accountability. Regular spankings. Occasionally, sex, preferably the sorts where he took control and I gave it. How hard is that?
We did that for the better part of a year or two, and when we did, I was the happiest and most relaxed and effective at my job at home, even if I initiated and pushed for all of this. My husband loves me, and that’s why he gave this to me as best as he could. As long as I pushed for it. Since I haven’t been pushing… nothing of the sort.
My husband has burn-out. And anxiety. And probably depression. But since he’s also got the ubiquitous, deeply ingrained man shame conditioning that a man can never show weakness, he can’t allow himself to look for help for any of this before he’s out for the count and has no other choice. So he retreats and “disappears” emotionally and just shoves it all down, because that’s what he had to do when he was younger and no one was there to support him emotionally, and he never learned to do things any other way. And because he never experienced being supported, he can’t really imagine it, or that it could make a difference, and he won’t go looking for support.
I hate all of this in so many ways, because a) I love him deeply and hate to see him so poorly, b) I have experienced the huge difference a good therapist can make first hand, several times, and c) it feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I can’t really see if he’s getting better. And every time he “disappears” emotionally, I have a harder time coping with his absence. And unless he lets me in, I can’t even help him. All I can do is stand by him and love him, while I try to recover from adrenal fatigue myself, which means I have shit-all reserves for when things get tough.
I know he deeply cares for our children and for me. I know this because, despite his burn-out, he goes to work for us every day, and he provides amply for us. I know this because he takes time to do research to find the best car for us as a family, so we can be comfortable AND safe. Because he spends precious weekend time doing up the basement so we can move our office downstairs and the kids can each get a room to themselves, so family life will be more relaxed. And because he brings the kids to bed at night, although he’s tired, too. And the many other ways that he makes sure we’re safe and provided for.
But none of this makes me feel wanted. None of it lights me up, and none of it switches on my “I want to worship the ground you walk on” googly eyes the way a simple “Come here” does. Or a spanking. Or being held accountable. I feel like the submissive part of me – which is huge – I’m just another burden, another piece of work for him, and that there’s not a thing in the world I can do about it. (Well, I don’t badger him about my needs anymore. I try to get the household and my work done regardless of the non-existent accountablity. I try to forget how much easier this all was when he switched on the 40% of my energy reserves that I can’t access on my own.)
I lived with severe back pain for several years, and he stood by me all that time (and never got support for himself, just for the files). The other day he said that his burn-out is just like my back pain. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. He’s not cruel for not giving me what I want, and he’s not indifferent. He’s sick. And that’s what makes me unable to even throw a hissy fit. It’s not his fault. I’m pretty sure that if he had more energy, he’d start domming the living daylights out of me today.
I’ve lived with anxiety most of my life. And in the last few years, between thyroid medication, discovering the peace of surrendering to my Dom/husband, and leaning hard on God, that’s gotten a whole lot better. I was completely free of anxiety for long enough that I thought it was gone for good. Well, I was wrong. It comes back at times like a very unwelcome visitor I can’t simply toss out, and since I’ve gotten used to not being anxious all the time, I now REALLY feel it again. It’s awful. I don’t cope all that well with it anymore. I don’t remember how I coped with this in the past. Well. Spankings sure helped. Knowing – no FEELING – that “he’s got me” always helps a lot. But nowadays, he’s just scraping by. He’s tapped out all the time and needs home to be a place of refuge and recovery. I am tapped out a lot, too, so that doesn’t help anything, least of all my anxiety. And even if I had the energy, I can’t push for a life anymore that looks like D/s but really isn’t. For whatever reasons, the dom we both know is inside him, is thoroughly blocked from coming out. And it’s not just the fatigue. He can’t feel good about controlling me, however much I dig it. And I’m done making him feel like a jerk so he can give me what I want.
And that’s why today, I hate hate hate being submissive. I am doing a lot of self-care, because both my husband and my kids depend on me, and because my husband can’t care for me that way at the moment. And still it’s not enough. I feel lonely and am hurting inside, because no matter how good my self-care, no matter how good the support I get outside our marriage, and no matter how much I do to keep our marriage alive and my husband close, I CANNOT fill that void inside that only he can fill. And I can’t even throw a proper tantrum, because it only hurts everyone, including the man I love and feel compassion for. And I can’t do a thing about that loneliness and pain when he pulls away. All I can do is tell him that’s what I think is happening, and hope and wait for him to come back.
And part of me fears I’m a stupid doormat woman for running after him and still caring for him and loving him. Yeah, that old record starts up when I don’t often enough get to feel he WANTS me. When I feel taken for granted. I have to shout at that old record to shut the F… up. That loyalty and faithfulness and standing by my man isn’t stupid, but what I vowed to do “in good times and in bad times”. And hope and pray that the bad times will at some point get better. It’s so hard to keep up hope when it hurts so much.
So. With variations, this has been our life in the last few months. Vanilla. No spankings. No sex. No real accountability. Trying to get through, trying to get better. Cutting each other lots of slack when one of us or both of us can’t pull our weight. We’re rubbing along well enough, day to day. We cuddle, kiss and laugh at times, too. It’s not all dire. But oh these black holes when he disappears. The black holes when through no fault of either of us, we simply can’t find time to connect. That’s when I wish I was different. That I could simply distract myself. That I could help being so focused on my man. That I could trust he’ll be fine if I just give him space. But I don’t know how (– yet). It’s not who I am, and I suck at pretending to be anything else.
So, today, my only positive sentence to end on is that it’s much better when I’m hanging on to “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Because, so far, God has always come through, and he will this time, too. But fuck, I can’t wait for the better times.