Try before you buy

… in which I realise how much D/s is like clothes shopping.

Yesterday, Xander took me clothes shopping. I changed the way I’ve been eating and have lost weight, and I had no more tops that didn’t look all stretched and baggy. And I found a cute green merino sweater and some corduroy pants, all in a size 12! Last time I bought tops, they were 16s and 18s! That, and his appreciative looks are good motivation to keep going with my good diet.


Trying on clothes made me realise how I first brought D/s to my then unsuspecting husband. If D/s were clothes, I bought clothes for both of us that I liked based on how they looked on the hanger, models, or on other people. And I bought them without checking the material, trying them on, or asking my man whether he liked them on me or on himself. And then I ended up disappointed that he wouldn’t wear them, or wouldn’t comment favourably how they looked on me. And I thought something was wrong with me when they didn’t fit all that well.

Now in regards to real clothes, my man chooses and buys his own, and he simply won’t wear what’s not comfortable, stylish and has a certain class. His taste in clothes is more conservative than adventurous. He doesn’t wear bright colours or bold patterns. He doesn’t need to; his quiet strength and charm are plenty enough to make him stand out. And when he helps me choose, the items he picks for me are often bolder than what I’d dare, but I try them on, and he’s got a great eye for what suits me. In fact, most of my clothes that I get complimented in, sometimes even by strangers, were picked by him.

Back to our D/s journey, though: In the first two years, I was in a form of sub frenzy. Now that I knew what I wanted, I wanted it all and I wanted it now, and despite my best efforts to not overwhelm my darling husband / newly crowned Dom, I still did.

What is subfrenzy? According to Kayla Lords, “A heady emotional time when a submissive is so excited and eager to submit that they go above and beyond, are overly enthusiastic, and will sometimes submit to someone not worthy out of the sheer excitement and happiness to be submitting at all.” More here or here, if you’re keen to learn more.

And after two years of that, I couldn’t / wouldn’t do it anymore. Several reasons contributed to that D/s hiatus last year (among them stress and medical issues for both of us), but one that I hadn’t seen clearly then was that I was trying to “do” our D/s in a particular way and exhausting myself and frustrating him in the process. I was wearing metaphorical high heels that killed my feet and back, thinking “this is what a good sub wears”, and not realising that he’d never asked me to wear them and probably wouldn’t have picked them for me either. They sure looked good in the shop window, but they weren’t me, or him, or us.

When I called it quits on the D/s we’d done so far, I told Xander that I still wanted him to lead, but that I needed it to be really his leadership from now on, not just my version of what I thought our D/s should look like. And that meant, I had – and still have to – wait for him to find ways to lead us that feel good and comfortable and right to him. So, nowadays, much more than before, I’ll ask his opinion on particular ways of submitting to him before I “buy” them. Kind of like clothes shopping. “Look what I found! Do you like it on me? Do you want me to wear this? Do you think it suits me?” And if he says no, then I’ll put it back on the rack where I found it. Maybe even without moping.

try before you buy sign

The difference to before is, we’re going D/s shopping together these days, even if it’s at my prompting (“I need a new top!”). But I’m not buying things before trying them on anymore, and not without his approval.

And, unsurprisingly, his buy-in is a lot bigger than before.


Here are a few of my thoughts on respect and on why it is a vital and essential ingredient for our relationship as husband and wife, and even more so as Dominant and submissive.

We have a family motto, which begins with the words “We treat everyone with kindness and respect, even when they aren’t kind or respectful.” This is the first of two meanings of respect, “due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others”.

This kind of respect demands that I first of all accept other people as they are, even if they are very different from myself. Even if their tastes, preferences, outlook on life, and wishes are different from mine, even if I think they are incredibly wrong about something, first of all, they are a person and as such deserving of my respect. And this regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others is essential in personal relationships. Disrespect from a stranger may be uncomfortable, but its effects are usually temporary. In a personal relationship, disrespect for the other person is extremely destructive*. It reveals the lack of care about the other person’s feelings, wishes, or rights. When I disrespect another it means I value my own opinion, feelings or momentary comfort more than the person I’m disrespecting. Looking out for myself more than for my partner is a poor basis for any relationship, but in a D/s relationship it destroys the foundation of trust and goodwill that the power exchange requires.

This sort of respect requires that I show patience to my husband. I pay attention to what he has to say and listen without interrupting or rushing him. It means I don’t give him unsolicited advice, because I don’t automatically assume that my way of doing things is better than his, even if I’ve thoroughly researched my way. Maybe he did that, too, with his. Respect means to start with the acceptance that he does things differently from me because he is not me and that he’s gotten through a lot of life without me in it, so his way of doing this particular thing may be just as valid, or maybe even better than mine. It doesn’t mean I can’t offer help when it looks to me like he’s struggling with something, but it means I need to accept his “no, thanks, I’ve got this”.

Respect also means honouring my agreements with him. And as I’ve freely agreed to always be honest and obedient, dishonesty, withholding information and disobedience are now not only a problem unto themselves, but also one of disrespect.

But all this is about “general” respect. The second meaning of respect is the sort of respect one earns, “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. And I do have that respect for him. He’s kind, generous, deeply loyal, and he has shown his trustworthiness to me in the 15 years we’ve been together time and again. There’s no one else I’d rather have by my side if my world were to fall apart, or if we were stuck up Waikikamukau creek without a paddle. (Hehe, no paddle, no paddle spanking!) I feel it is necessary I regularly show him this respect and my appreciation, because withholding it signals I take his qualities and achievements, and by implication, him, for granted. And taking someone for granted is pretty disrespectful, and harms the relationship without ever talking about it.

This sort of respect also means that I don’t jump to conclusions if something he does rubs me the wrong way, but I’ll tell him how I feel and will give him a chance to respond to that information. In the meantime, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, because in 15 years of marriage, he’s more than earned that.

When I asked Xander how I could help him grow into his dominant role and persona, he said “disrespect is a huge hurdle”. I have thought a lot about why that is so. I think it is because respect signals “I value you, you’re safe with me, I’m on your side, even when we disagree or when you’ve done something I don’t like.” Disrespect is always a form of attack on the other person, and the power exchange for a harmonious D/s relationship can’t work if the partners need to hold on to their own power for fear of being hurt by the other. So in this vein, respecting him means not expecting him to be perfect but extending him grace when he needs it. He’s human, just like me, and humans, alas, simply aren’t perfect. Life constantly requires us to adjust and change our plans and sometimes even our aspirations, and it’s hard to be on the receiving end of a downward adjustment. Respect means I need to trust his word that he’s doing what he can even when those efforts don’t always bring forth the desired result.

On the other hand, respect for the man he is, and my requirement of honesty demand that I do communicate with him when things aren’t going so well and when I need him to change something. It means accepting his limitations as well as his strengths, and love compels me to not demand things of him he’s not able or willing to give. If I want him to lead us and he agrees to lead, respect requires that I first accept the leadership he gives, even if looks different to how I envisioned being led. I can tell him how his way of leading affects me, both positively and negatively, and which aspects of his leadership are more effective or less, but this, too, needs to happen in a form that’s respectful, not critical.

Giving respect builds up the receiver, but moreover, it never diminishes the giver. And that, in addition to all the other reasons I’ve given before, is why it’s a vital ingredient to any marriage, and even more so to a D/s relationship.


*) Contempt – which is the opposite of respect, according to researcher John Gottman, is the number one predictor of divorce:

I’m grateful to have my Dom back. And for last year’s struggles

… in which I look back over the last year and forward into the future.

Sometime in the middle of December, Xander asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I quietly told him: “I want my Dom back.”

Come Christmas, I unpacked a waffle iron. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted that, too. I’d picked it myself, after all. Four big square Belgian waffles in one go, great nonstick coating, and… oh, wrong topic, ‘scuse me!

Yes, my Dom came back, too! We could have rung in the new year with a countdown spanking, only that life got in the way and we were bushed and asleep at 9 p.m. And he didn’t come back all at once, but it built up slowly over December. When Xander started coming out of his lack-of-testosterone-funk, he gave me a few fun spankings, we started talking again about D/s things, and once or twice, he put a play collar on me for bedroom fun that didn’t involve going to sleep early. And a few days after Christmas (and after a good spanking and sexy time), he had me read him the list of “My needs as your Submissive and Wife” that I wrote for him a while back, and we talked about each point. At the end of that, he said he didn’t want me to get hurt again when he couldn’t keep it up, and that’s why he didn’t want to commit, but he was willing to give it a good shot. I told him that “domly perfection” wasn’t on my list of needs. His willingness to learn together with me how we can live our lives showing our love to each other in this way is (finally) good enough for me. (Yes, I’ve learned, too.) So, in short, I’ve got my Captain back on board, and I’ve been properly spanked and loved in the last two weeks. I’ve got an updated list of rules, and we’re both doing our best to live our respective sides of the slash. And we’ve got a new communication hack: When I’m hankering or itching for a spanking, I’ll tell Xander “I’d like a spanking, please”. When it’s gotten to the point where I know I need a spanking, I’m to tell him “I really need my medicine.” Then he knows I need his active support to keep our life calm and peaceful.

You could even say we’ve got a new “project” in the works, too. As our D/s ways of interacting popped up again, I noticed how much I’d slipped in terms of showing respect to Xander. So, I told him of my resolution to consistently show him respect in my words, actions and tone of voice, and I asked him if he was willing to hold me consistently accountable for that for the duration of January. He agreed and has been paying attention and giving me feedback, both positive and of the discipline sort.

When he went back to work I struggled a bit, as he wasn’t physically around and mentally occupied with the go-live of a huge long-term project, and because I had my period (which often makes me feel down, sad, and neglected), but I coped alright. One thing that helped was that on the day before my period started, I hated how ornery I was feeling and asked him for a good “put me in my place” spanking, and he gave me one that has me still noticing it when I sit down today, four days later. Ouch, but yay.

I am so very grateful that we’re back on the D/s road, because I love the closeness and much improved communication when we engage this way, and because I love submitting to my man when my submission is welcome. And now that it feels we’re on the other side of them, I am also grateful for the struggles we overcame in the last year, as each of them brought its gifts. I intend to bring the lessons learned in this yearlong intermission forward into our “new” D/s, because they were good lessons.

train tracks going through water towards a cloudy sunrise

Things I’m grateful I learned this year

I learned that I am always going to have a submissive heart in my marriage, and that being submissive isn’t the same as being a doormat. It doesn’t mean always saying “Yes, Sir” in words or actions. “No, Sir, that’s not cool with me” can be just as important. It’s not good for our marriage or for me when I stop communicating my needs and desires to my husband. Just as Xander is in service to me and to our relationship, I am in service to him and to our relationship, and if his actions or lack therof are hurting me or harming our relationship, I have to let him know instead of suffering in silence. He loves me, and he wouldn’t hurt me or us on purpose. So if I don’t tell or show him my hurt, he won’t know to stop doing that thing, or start doing that other thing again because I need it.

I’m grateful I learned that there is a difference between being submissive, feeling submissive, and actively submitting to my husband, but there are big areas of overlap between all three.

I’m grateful I learned the term “sub frenzy”. I recognised that I’ve been there a lot in the first two years of our D/s life. And over the course of the last year, I learned that I can do life without overt D/s or DD. I may not like it, and I’m nowhere near as happy or effective as with accountability and a freshly spanked bottom, but I can do it. Even for a long time. That’ll help in the future, when our D/s life goes through low phases.

But the biggest thing that we both learned over the last year, when we were both suffering from fatigue, was to cut each other a lot of slack when we couldn’t do our respective jobs and to have faith that the other one is doing his or her best. I want to keep that goodwill, even if in our D/s relationship we have defined expectations of each other again. Because, clear expectations or not, we’re still only human, and life happens, so sooner or later we will drop the D/s ball. Despite my best efforts, I will have days when I break the rules, or when I don’t even want to play by them. Despite his best intentions, there will be days when he’s inattentive and can’t or won’t follow through. And that doesn’t mean one isn’t interested or invested, it means one is human. And it’s one thing to tell one’s beloved “it looks to me like you’ve dropped the ball”, or “when you drop the ball, I feel XYZ”, and it’s another thing entirely to assume and accuse the other one of disinterest or personal or moral failure because they dropped the ball.

I want to keep in mind that Xander loves me, and that means he gives me whatever he can when he knows what I want and need. When he’s doesn’t, it’s not because he doesn’t care or he doesn’t want to give it to me. It could also be that he simply can’t, either because of reasons inside or outside of him, or because I haven’t communicated what it is I want or need, or both. Or because he’s human and sometimes forgets things, too.

There is almost nothing outside you that will help in any kind of lasting way, unless you are waiting for a donor organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date serenity. Peace of mind is an inside job. – Anne Lamott

It’s confusing…

Wondering how being true to my submissive self and respecting Xander’s need to not be on dominant duty can go together.

I’m not posting often these days, and that’s mainly because don’t know what to post. I’m often confused about where we are at, and it seems to change too quickly for me to be able to name wherever we’re at when I think I know. I can write about the confusion, though.

So here’s what I do know:

I’m a submissive woman and lover, and always have been in my primary relationship, long before I could put a name to it. I’ve made my peace with this. I long to connect with my partner often and deeply, and to love fully, giving all of me to someone who is worthy and who wants to take on all of me, and will love me in return. I know I wither and get really anxious when I can’t have that for long periods of time. I know I thrive with external accountability, and that I can create some of that by myself, but most I can’t.

I know that my husband Xander is a dominant man, and that he loves me. I know that he’s kind and generous to a fault – it’s really hard for him to say “no”, even when it would be better for him to do so. The counsellor called it self-sacrificing. I know he’s burnt out from working in a toxic work environment for years and that he has not recovered from that yet. I know he’s got a frozen shoulder and that takes a lot out of him, and I know that most days, most hours, he’s not feeling even a little bit dominant because he’s struggling just to get through the day, and I know this because he told me so. I also am reasonably sure that there’s an element of depression in the mix which may or may not be caused by physical reasons. I do know that as soon as he started supplementing his testosterone, “my Xander” started coming back. He had more energy and was emotionally more responsive to me. I know he still needs a lot of alone time, and that he’s uncomfortable with some of the expressions of dominance that I find hot, especially with giving direct verbal orders and overtly taking control. I know that he doesn’t feel ready to start consistently being “my dominant” and holding me accountable again, and that he currently has no idea what I actually mean by “D/s” for us, also, because he told me so.

And I know I don’t do things halfway. I’m all in or not at all, and I don’t know how to be measured in my emotional responses or in anything else, really. And that’s where being married, submissive, and trying to please my man gets very confusing these days. Allow me to back up a bit more to explain.

I introduced D/s to Xander about three years ago, and in the first two years, I more or less told him what I wanted from him and he wanted to to give me what I wanted, and in the process learned to spank really well. Just as before D/s entered the scene by that name, he made all the big decisions, and he provided and looked after all of us. I learned to obey him and to treat him with respect, and I discovered just how happy and peaceful my mind got and how much I got done when he was actively dominating me in some way. I trained myself to behave in a submissive way so his inner dominant could come out into the open. Unfortunately, the latter didn’t really happen, at least not in the way either of us expected. There were moments, and they were glorious, but that big shift from “Mr Nice Guy” to “Mr Domly Dom” that I’d dreamed of and he’d hoped for never really happened. (I’m coming to think if that shift exists as such, it’s likely to be a lot more subtle than a personality transplant…). I stopped interrupting him or offering unsolicited advice and learned to be mindful of my tone. He liked that he could stop an argument with “Enough!” (and I mostly heeded it), but more often, it didn’t occur to him to use the power I’ve given him. And all of it, he said, never felt “natural” for him, not even after two years of often daily spankings. But oh, did I EVER swoon when he got those dominant looks and moves just right…

I did a really stupid thing over those two years, though, and that’s coming back to bite me in more ways than one now: I used to provide the lecture that he wasn’t giving when he spanked me for broken rules – in my head. He definitely spanked me like he meant it and like I needed it, but I’d mentally add the stern words that would help me improve my behaviour or mindset. I thought he’d say these things if he knew how to, and that sooner or later he would, so wasn’t this just harmless fun (because stern is sexy), and helpful? Turns out, neither. Firstly, Xander didn’t know I was doing this, so based on my thanking him for my discipline and my subsequent behaviour changes, he could only assume that what he was doing – spanking me mostly silently – was all I needed, and that he was doing it just right. But what’s worse, the brain doesn’t know the difference between real experiences and intensely imagined experiences, and it keeps changing with repeated experiences. Basically, I tricked myself into seeing Xander in a more dominant light than where he was at the time, and when reality intruded in a way I could no longer ignore, I thought that he’d been pretending all along. But while he was indeed trying to “fake it till you make it”, I’d been doing most of the the pretending myself. I had been really happy, though, until then. I really thought and felt we were “progressing” beautifully on our D/s journey. (And my memory is probably smoothing out the bumps in our road, too.) What happened instead was that we were growing together in some aspects, and apart in others.

When at the end of last year, both Xander and I were so exhausted that there was no power to exchange, I pulled the plug on our D/s as we’d been doing it until then. I’d been putting a lot into it without getting enough out for it to be sustainable. And, even if it was in glimpses only, we both knew by then that Xander is dominant, but that the outer expression of that dominance is very blocked. But I couldn’t settle for “imitation D/s” anymore. I really want to submit to him as my leader, because I know how sweet life is when he does lead us, and because it wears me out and makes me anxious when I have to be in the lead for too long. And because I truly believe that he’ll be happier, too, when he can freely express his masculinity in more direct ways than now. But we’re not there yet.

But, underneath, in those two years, the ground under our feet has shifted. Though we never got to where it was all natural for both of us, we both couldn’t go back to being entirely vanilla if we tried. I feel awful when I speak disrespectfully to him (and he can’t abide it anymore either). I can’t not try my best to obey him. I want his explicit permission for a thousand things. I crave his guidance, and I still run to him when my mind runs amuck, because I know that even three minutes on the phone calm me like nothing else. I tell him every time I’ve cried in his absence, and when he’s in the house I go to him when I need to cry (it used to be a rule). I want to serve and delight him and make his life better.

I love him. I want to give him what he needs and wants. I want to make his life more peaceful, not more problematic. And I want to submit to him. And right now, those aren’t entirely compatible. In the last year, before he started getting a handle on his health, he was in no position to be anyone’s dominant, so I pulled up those uncomfortable big girl panties as best as I could and did what I could without spankings, accountability or dominance. But now… he’s coming back, and because I can’t do things halfway, or “ease into things”, my inner submissive is roaring and craves all the dominance from him as soon as he gives me just a hint of Dominant Xander. Even just a sexy spanking flips my switch to “full-on submissive craving” while at the same time my heart cautions me to not even go there, as he said he’s not ready, and because I believe that unwelcome submission would be yet another burden on his already overloaded shoulders. I just don’t know how to be with all that. I don’t know how to honour myself when I crave with every fibre of my being to submit deeply and fully to him RIGHT NOW when the loving thing is to not push him into a role he said he can’t fulfil yet.

I don’t know if it ever does get easy to “lean into the dynamic in times of stress” rather than back off it, but for us the point is moot anyway as we’ve not yet gotten to the point where it ever was easier for both of us. Currently, what makes my life easier makes his harder. And I don’t know how to balance my needs with his when I can’t trust that he’ll say “no” or “not now” to me when he really should to protect himself from emotional or mental overload. I can’t relax into enjoying feeling submissive and that “all is right in my world because my Dom’s got me” in response to his newly emerging signals of dominance as I have to anticipate that tomorrow or the day after that, he’ll be back to not being able to be that. And yet, one spanking, and I’m on cloud nine for a day or two. And then I get resentful if he’s not stepping up to pull me back in when my mood slips again.

As I said, it’s confusing.

So far, I got nothing but “wait and hope and love him and communicate as best as I can” for the meantime. Helpful suggestions are welcome.

Winter finally broke…

What happened after my “tantrum” blog post

That day when I wrote and that last post really was awful. After I clicked “publish” on that post, I called my best friend and burst into tears. When I finally could speak, I told her how lonely I felt in my marriage, and how I didn’t know how to do this anymore… She’d been in a similar space a while back, and now she’s not, so I knew she’d understand, even if she didn’t have any advice. And she did understand, and she didn’t try to give me any advice, because she’s smart that way. Instead, she told me that she didn’t know what made it better, but that at some point, she stopped trying to make her husband do anything and started focusing on looking after herself more, and he seemed to have followed suit.

So I decided that while I didn’t even begin to know how to fill my submissive needs, I could at least stop hoping for Xander to dom me and try to come to terms with that our marriage at this point looked a lot like flatmates rather than lovers. So I buried my hope for happiness in that regard and began the hard work of coming to terms with that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted, and how to arrange my life so that I could cope with that. My heart broke a lot that day.

Xander gets a message when I publish a new post. He read my post, and because he was busy at work, just sent me a quick message that he was sorry, and that we’d talk later. And we did, later that night. And the next night. And a few times since then. And he told me he didn’t and doesn’t want to be “flatmates”, but that he thought he was doing me a favour by giving me space. In turn, I had gotten so used to coping, because he wasn’t in the position to meet my submissive needs that I’d not communicated them – or my need for simply HIM – at all, and for way too long. In short, our communication had broken down over … life, his burnout and mine, the needs of our family, work, etc.

He was shocked how much I was hurting. And if I hadn’t been so heartbroken, I’d have laughed out loud, because all of a sudden, without my prompting, he was saying all the domly things I’d been yearning to hear for years, things he never said before: That he wants me to come to him with my needs and burdens. That meeting my needs and keeping me happy is his first priority. Music to a submissive’s ear, especially when it comes from the love of her life. But, I WAS heartbroken. And though part of me wanted to, my heart couldn’t trust that he’d actually follow through, because this pattern of me being very unhappy, him taking action for a week or two in response and then fizzling out had happened too many times already. My heart had become cautious, and couldn’t bear the thought of having its hopes dashed again. So, I didn’t laugh. I didn’t feel the delight that I imagined I’d feel on the day he finally came around to understand this about himself. My response was more like “I’m ready to believe that when I see it, and not just for a fortnight.”

And yet… his heart was answering the very call my heart has been sending out for over three years now. And I think, my “giving up” may have been a necessity for this to happen. I still don’t really understand it.

I’ve written this a while ago. We had other talks since, and we are both learning to communicate a bit better about all of this. He’s telling me more of how he actually is, and I’m learning to come to him with my needs, worries, and concerns again instead of coping all by myself. And so it seems that winter has lost its cold and lonely death grip on our dynamic, and spring may be coming in.

We’ll be talking more details about our dynamic in the weeks and months, and I suppose years to follow.

I’m hurting and I wish I could just throw a tantrum already.

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.

What’s in a “Yes, Sir”?

… in which my ideas of what “Yes, Sir” means for us were challenged.

These days, our D/s river runs deep and doesn’t surface often. I think it’s largely because we don’t have enough energy (or power) which could be exchanged. But it certainly continues to run, only far beneath the surface. Our two years of overt D/s have changed us: Regardless of spankings or none, we both like our life better when he’s the boss and I’m not. Xander looks out for me, and lets me have downtime and outings. I do my best to obey and address him respectfully in word and tone. I keep him in the loop of how I am doing emotionally and mentally, and I communicate my needs and preferences clearly. I support his need for downtime and give him what he needs. And I try to stick to my slow weight loss plan as best as I can, because he made it clear how much he’d like me to get my pre-kids figure back (me, too). He doesn’t ask much of me above and beyond that, and that’s pretty much as far as our D/s goes most days.

We communicate well and don’t fight much, we’ve found easy ways to connect emotionally, and we have each other’s backs. It’s a good marriage, and though I do miss the special closeness, relaxation, and the spring in my step and increased self-control I get from being well spanked and well bedded, the lack of these two are really my only complaint. It could be so much worse!

But recently, Xander put his foot down, and I was surprised I didn’t know how to respond. I’d been going to bed much too late, and I can’t afford to. I get really grumpy and irritable with the kids when I lack sleep, and it affects my health. After we’d sorted out the miscommunication that led to it all, he told me how I was to do things from now on. I was surprised and a bit thrilled (because he hasn’t told me how or what to do in a long time), and mostly relieved. And this was the sort of interaction that required a “Yes, Sir” from me, but – I couldn’t say (or rather, write) it. Not because I didn’t agree with him, or because I couldn’t submit to it, but because it meant so much to me, and I couldn’t say it without knowing if it was as important to him as it was to me, and what it meant to him. I’d been running on assumptions for too long, and I didn’t want that to happen again.

Manga of a girl saluting and saying
But what does it mean??

I remember how at first, saying “Yes, Sir” to my husband felt a bit awkward, but how much I loved the feeling of sharing a naughty secret with him when I said it aloud. I loved the way it made me feel submissive when it was for something that came easily and the way it reinforced my commitment to obey him when it was hard to say.

After the bedtime discussion we had over our phones, his final message said, “OK, I think you get it. So this topic is done.” I had no trouble accepting it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to write “Yes, Sir.” In fact, I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t respond at all. When he got home, I told him in person that I accepted his dictum, but I couldn’t say “Yes, Sir” to it just yet, and I’d need to talk with him about why. He said, “I did notice you didn’t reply at all.”

Later that night, I told Xander I needed to know what “Yes, Sir” meant to him before I would use it again, because it meant so much to me, and I couldn’t bear thinking it meant one thing but later finding out that it didn’t. He said, “It is very important to me. But it’s just information. This is how you tell me that you accept and will abide by my decision.” Spoken with dom-ly finality. His tone said clearly this was not open to discussion. And here I was, full of all the feelings, and he obviously didn’t feel the same… I struggled with that. After a while, I quietly gave him the “Yes, Sir” for the bedtime decision and told him I needed time to think about all of this. He said, “There’s nothing to think about”, but he also knows me well enough to give me that space when I ask for it.

It took me a whole day to mull over his view that “Yes, Sir” was “just information.” What about the D/s and the erotic thrill and all the… feels?!? Didn’t he, couldn’t he, …? But after much deliberation, I arrived at the conclusion that he’s right. Or did I simply submit and accept that this was what “Yes, Sir” was to mean for us? As I’m writing this, I can’t tell if in this case, there’s even a difference, because if I truly want him to lead me, then I do need to follow his lead. And that means I will have to let go of at least some of my ideas on how he “should” lead and instead, accept how he actually does lead. (I can always respectfully tell him if I like it or not.)

I can and do “Yes, Sir” again, because now I know it means the same to me as to him: that I accept and will abide by his decision. And at the same time, every instance of “Yes, Sir” is also an affirmation that I still want this, that I still want him as my Dom and that I still want to obey him and follow his lead. And that is a good place from which our D/s, the one according to his rule, can grow.

Where do we go from here?

… in which I begin to find out what sort of D/s couple we might become.

I love the haunting finale of the end of the musical episode “Once More, with Feeling” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 6, episode 7).  In this episode a demon makes people break out in song and dance and reveal their innermost secrets (and sometimes spontaneously combust). After the Scooby Gang jointly defeat this demon, they sing: “The battle’s done / And we kinda won / So we sound our victory cheer / But where do we go from here?” The music isn’t nearly as upbeat as this sounds… minor and open chords and all. So, yeah, the baddie is defeated, but at a huge cost. No one can go on like before pretending they are “fine”. All cards are now on the table, and with these revelations, the characters need to find new ways of relating to each other.
That’s pretty much what my life felt like after our Christmas break.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast on stage
Where do we go from here?

For those who haven’t read the last (mammoth) post, here’s the summary: Just before Christmas 2017, I called a big fat stop to our D/s as we were doing it – or increasingly not doing it. Ten weeks of being half a world apart and single-mum-ing it had left me exhausted, and I simply couldn’t carry on as before. In my absence, Xander had reverted to his pre-D/s ways, and due to work and other reaons was also exhausted, and unable and unwilling to give me what I wanted. And with our D/s not being a power exchange but a power sinkhole, I quit. I quit going through submissive motions and I quit carrying 90% of our D/s life. I quit acting “as if” and supplying in my head what Xander didn’t do in terms of dominant talk or actions. And it took Xander several weeks before he could even tell me what he still wanted in terms of D/s.  I did not like being in limbo. I didn’t know how to BE with Xander without his/our/my rules.

Eventually, we did talk and look at the broken bits of our D/s life and what we could put together again. It wasn’t much. Most of those conversations were difficult, painful and heart-wrenching for both of us, but they were worth the effort. We ended up agreeing on quite a few things:
D/s is a way we both want to relate to each other. It feels right when we do. And it’s become part of who we are, not just what we do.
D/s or not, our mutual love and commitment and our marriage stand firm.
Xander told me of his own accord that he wants back what we had (something I hadn’t really gotten out of him before), and that we would get back to it some day, even with my additional proviso that it’s got to be coming from him this time around.
We both came to the conclusion that I’d done everything I could to help Xander get comfortable with the Dominant we both know is inside him, and that it hadn’t worked. That there were other things blocking him… definitely fatigue, and probably depression or something like it. He agreed it might be a good idea for him to try something different, as his method of “stuffing down any negative emotions” instead of dealing with them clearly wasn’t working anymore. So he’s been regularly seeing a therapist for much of 2018, and it seems to be doing good things for him.

“The battle’s done / And we kinda won / So we sound our victory cheer. / Where do we go from here?” To be honest, I don’t think the battle is “done”. But we definitely “kinda won”: we are emotionally closer again, and our marriage stands strong even without relating to each other overtly in a D/s way. Days with spankings or sex are few and far between, but we are very gentle with each other and cut each other a lot of slack for not being able to do it all and be it all. We spend time with each other and go on very vanilla dinner or movie dates. We are renovating and building a sound-insulated den in our house where we will be able to spank without fear of being overheard. Xander changed jobs and is now not hating his work life every day. And recently, Xander put his foot down on my bedtime, which required a “Yes, Sir.” (And that’s a whole new blog post.)

I don’t think the trimmings of our D/s life – you know, the stuff with rules and spankings galore – are going to come back quickly. I’ve done therapy and I know first-hand how hard it can be and how much energy it takes to revisit and heal old trauma and shitty childhood conditioning.  Right now, we both still struggle with low energy, lack of privacy/sound insulation, and two young kids who suck dry whatever energy Xander might have left at the end of the day, when he brings them to bed. But he won’t always be in therapy, and my adrenals will hopefully recover (it’s looking good now), and the kids will at some point learn to go to sleep by themselves. The den will be finished one day.

I am very grateful for and happy in the harmonious, peaceful, and loving D/s marriage we do have. Over the last two years, the underlying current of our marriage has irrevocably changed to this dynamic where he leads and I follow – and it doesn’t need to look like in the novels. (Does anything, ever, really?) It’s a marriage dynamic in which we support each other in the best way we can. Where I can now gratefully accept pizza nights and time out in a hot bath when he says so, and where I can ask him for a spanking, and he can say, “Sorry, not today,” and I can be at peace with it, knowing he heard me.

And that is a very, very good thing.

And something to build on. We’ll get “there”, wherever that will be. He said so. And when he says he’ll make something happen, he will, come hell or high water. I just have to be patient.

An End of Sorts… and not yet a new beginning

A summary of what happened over 6 months of preparing for travel, being apart for nearly 3 months and coming back together. Not surprisingly, it changes things.

It’s been impossible to write a blog post during or right after our big overseas trip, because during I didn’t have time or space to write anything, and afterwards, well, I had no effing clue where we were at, Xander and I. I wrote most of this post 6 weeks after returning and I finally came to an understanding of where we were at – which wasn’t where I thought we’d be. This post spans half a year of time and a huge shift in my heart, so be warned, it’s a long one. I made every effort to keep it engaging…

So, our big trip overseas spanned three months, starting in August. We wanted our (bilingual) kids to spend enough time surrounded by their “minority language” that it would click and become their go-to language at home. And that worked. Sadly, Xander had to go back to work, so we were (literally) half a world apart for nine weeks, with the kids and me on the other side of the earth. Overall, it went pretty well, considering, although it was hard, hard, hard. Over the last two years, I’d come to enjoy and depend on Xander’s lead and frequent spankings at home, but I coped surprisingly well with being on 24/7 for this time and having to call all the shots, and all without spanking – I had only two meltdowns worth mentioning in that whole time. Then again, I had to keep it together because of the kids, so I couldn’t really afford to melt down and wallow anyway.  I had to dig deep into my reserves, because I couldn’t replenish them during that time and, on my return, have relapsed into adrenal fatigue. But I’ve dealt with adrenal fatigue before, and my recovery is going well this time around.

So, that much for background info. But you’ll be wanting to know what happened with Xander and me, and our dynamic. In summary: It changed.

End of train tracks

I wondered how much of our dynamic I’d need to function well while away, and how we’d make that happen. Well, it didn’t start well. In the months running up to the trip, Xander had very little free time or headspace due to work pressures and ongoing tiredness. I supported him as best as I could, giving him space, but I also told him, more than once, how much of a problem his lack of emotional presence and engagement was for me. There was nothing either of us could do about it, so I just submitted as well as I could, and carried on, always hoping for that holiday time. He said, “We’ll have three weeks together, with no work to worry or house maintenance for me, that’ll be our time to reconnect! And we’ll have some family around who could surely look after the kids for a few hours for us to get away.” Three whole weeks! It’d be wonderful! But to cut a long and tedious story short: It didn’t happen, and it wasn’t wonderful. It was a catastrophe. In the first week, too much travelling and visiting, being in other people’s spaces all the time, weather so hot and muggy we could barely function to begin with, and one particularly toxic family visit made it impossible to have privacy or find energy for anything.
We had our first “real” conversation and connection (of more than five minutes) ten days into our trip, and that wasn’t fun either, because by that time I was so furious about having been sidelined for so long and not seeing any effort on Xander’s behalf to connect with me that I fairly ripped him a new one. Plus, he hadn’t held up his side of our agreement, there’d been no check-ins of any kind, and he barely even asked how I was doing. After that, we had one lovely morning away together when we went to pick up a rental car. The rest of the three weeks was packed too full with visiting. We were back on the same page in one respect, though: dejected about the lack of connection options. Hoofuckingray.

And then he went home, and I was trying to find some form of normal with the kids. For the first week, connecting with Xander didn’t even happen daily because he was travelling in other time zones and our schedules just did not match up. So I put on my big girl panties and coped. “He’ll be home soon, and once he’s back into his daily work routine we’ll find regular times to connect.” Well… he got home, he was jet-lagged, he was working, he was tired… in short, all things I understand, but I still got pretty angry at his lack of initiative to connect with and support me. It made me feel like that short chubby awkward girl with the cheap glasses who keeps hoping for a crumb of attention of the gorgeous, smart hunk two classes up. Looking back, it had been quite a while that there were only two ways I could get his attention: insisting on it in a thoroughly unsubmissive bossy way (I need this from you NOW) or being in a state of emergency, and I was getting damn tired of that pattern. He had no idea how to dom me from afar and didn’t try out any of the ways I’d written down for him either, so I did what I’ve been doing the past two years when he’s been overloaded with other things: I’d spell out what I needed from him, plan the way I’d like to do things, get his stamp of approval for that, and carried on as if this had been his idea, as if he’d actually follow up by himself, and pretend to be content in my little bubble of somewhat submissive space, fuelled by knowing that he loves me and wants me to be happy. It were mostly the memory of his dominant energy when it does come out which kept me going, and my stubborn determination that if I do this long enough, he’ll eventually come around to doing his part. My mantras were “Fake it till you make it”,  “Submission fuels dominance”,  “Work on what you can control”, “Be the submissive you want him to make you be”, and “Your role in his life is to be a joy, a blessing, a smile, more often than a pain in the ass. You are a reflection of his dominance with your words, your deeds, and your demeanor.”  After all, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck, right? Or at least it might one day grow into one.

So, I made it through. We made it back. I yearned to settle back into being his little slave girl, only to find that the “Master” had really disappeared. In the two months he’d been alone in our home, missing us and being by himself, Xander had slipped back nearly all the way into his old “nice guy” ways, and would not exercise any dominance over me. He was even asking my permission to do things again. I know he asks out of consideration, and I appreciate the spirit behind it, that he loves and respects me. And I do want him to ask about my opinion or how I feel about him going on a motorbike ride on a weekend day, but I so ever do not want to be the one calling the shots for him. His spanking skills were still there, but I pretty much had to beg for him to make time for that or not get any. So, in short, I didn’t get spanked much, we didn’t have much sex or quality time or conversations. Having to jump up and down and do cartwheels to get his attention was seriously getting old.

Additionally, in the time apart, he’d gotten used to looking after himself instead of all of us, and I’d gotten used to deciding and getting things done without his input. I didn’t see him changing back, and he was signaling his unwillingness in many ways. For the first time, I found myself increasingly unwilling to submit to him. It was one thing to submit to someone who leads well, but I got the impression his judgment on what we needed had taken a serious hit.

A week before Christmas, I threw the towel. I simply could not continue as before. I was deeply unhappy with the how I’d been carrying the emotional bulk of our our D/s and marriage, and that he wasn’t showing any inclination to increase his engangement. He said he was happy with the way things were, that he thought they were fine for me, too, and that he didn’t have the energy to dominate me. I can’t begin to describe how hurt and how angry at myself and at him I was. I felt like an utter fool for making his life so dandy and comfortable and myself into his low-maintenance submissive and slave girl. Had I turned myself into the proverbial doormat?

Now, I have to back up a bit here and set something straight: This summary sounds like poor me is complaining about how selfish Xander has been doing it all wrong all along. But that’s definitely not the whole story, so while it was my experience, it’s not true as such. It wasn’t selfishness or disinterest that made him act this way. And I realised that what I did needed to change, too, because I had been contributing to the situation, and not a little: Over most of our D/s journey, I’ve practiced submission in areas I wanted him to want from me (and he sure liked it) and in things he said he wanted from me, all fueled by very little input from him and lots of input from myself. I learned to make do with spankings instead of the leadership and dominance I craved. I was (and am) practicing good self-care, to meet many of my own needs so he wouldn’t have to. But now he was telling me he didn’t even want to do that.

Fatigue – both his and mine – helped me realise that what I’ve been doing is not sustainable. And I was no longer willing to do this by myself. So, that day, I really felt like quitting, although I couldn’t and can’t imagine our marriage entirely without D/s now.

There are a few things I know deep in my bones. One: I do love him, and I want to make his life good, not miserable. Two: I know that in my closest personal relationship, I am and always have been submissive by nature, so I couldn’t not be submissive to him if I tried. It’s not in me. And three, this whole “submission brings out dominance” thing clearly wasn’t working for us, at least not the way we both had hoped. For a day or two, I thought “my brand of submission brings about complacency,” but now I know that isn’t so. (More on that later.) So, quitting entirely wasn’t going to happen.

But I knew I couldn’t go on in the same way. I’d have to find a sustainable way to be true to the submissive part of me, one that didn’t rely on him feeding his dominance back to me. So, I took off my collar, cried hard for a few minutes and then texted him: “You were right, this is probably more my thing than yours. And I’m the only one I can control. So I will stop giving you submission in areas you don’t want anyway and in areas I can’t give freely without hoping for your dominance in return. I am still your wife, and I still love you, and I’m still submissive by nature. And I agree it would be smart for us to start over on the D/s. No more little slave girl for now. I’m sorry I put so much pressure on you. Please forgive me.”

He got this wrong and told me not to flip flop between extremes, we’d talk later. And we did, briefly. I explained to him that I wasn’t flip-flopping. I wasn’t playing hard to get so he’d up his game. I’d simply stopped doing what I began to realise was not good for either of us. I’d grown resentful over giving in areas where he hadn’t asked me to give and keep giving. I realised that the behaviour I thought to be submissive had been fueled increasingly by how I wanted our relationship to go, not necessarily his wishes. And last but not least, I hadn’t been communicating honestly with him either. My man spanks really well, but the whole lecture or expressing his feelings or expectations in words are not his forte. (Yet.) So, while his spankings without the lecture do smart and release endorphins, they don’t do all that much to get me into a different headspace or heartspace, and because I wanted it so much and thought I needed it, I’d simply supplied my own dialogue in my head, never telling him I did. So of course he assumed that his spankings as they were were “doing it” for me, when the secret ingredient hadn’t been his implement on my butt so much as what was happening in my head – but not between us. I finally realised that wasn’t much different from fantasising about someone else while having sex, so I sheepishly told Xander what I had been doing and stopped doing it.

And he did not object to any of it. He said we’d figure it out, but as he was massively exhausted, we postponed proper talks about where we would go from here to the Christmas break. And until those talks started, I felt in limbo – I had no idea where we were at nor how much I could even do about it. I did not like that one bit, and not in a sexy way. And I had no idea if we’d ever get back what we had, if Xander even wanted any of it.

We did talk. And because that leads much more to where we are now, that goes in the next post.

Intermission until Dec 2018

Just a very late heads up that this blog ain’t dead yet.

I am overseas with the kids for several months, and because Xander is back at home earning our travel expenses and I’m mum-ing and dad-ing 24/7 all on my own, I barely have time to string two thoughts together, let alone a blog post.

But I’ll be back! Probably even with a story or two of how I/we managed while literally half a world apart for many, many weeks.