I got my punishment for procrastination this morning.
By the time we had finished discussing my behavior, and why I wanted/needed to be punished for it, it was too late to have the punishment last night. W. suggested that when I got up, I should do my usual morning routine (i.e., read the paper and do the crossword), eat breakfast, and then do some work from nine to ten. Then I was supposed to wake her up, and I’d be punished before going back to work.
I tossed and turned all night, and then woke up insanely early, given how long it had taken me to finally fall asleep. I went for a walk, read the paper, did the crossword, and found that it was still only eight o’clock. So I allowed myself to check my email, and do a little bit of web surfing. I was even Very Good, and downloaded the temptation blocker (which didn’t work on my computer. I don’t know whether to be grateful or not.). Then I looked at the clock, and found that it was ten after nine, and I hadn’t eaten breakfast or started work. Not a great start. But I took some time to clear off my desk, and found the documents I had been working on most recently, and pulled together the articles and notes I needed to write with today. I even managed to read one of the articles. And then it was nearly ten o’clock.
I went into the bedroom to wake my sweetie—and she is especially sweet in the mornings, with her hair all tousled and her skin glowing pink. It was strange, feeling so tender to someone, yet knowing, dreading what was coming later. She woke slowly, and then her phone started ringing, first one person and then another. Half of me was glad for the delay, and the other half resented it mightily. She sent me to make breakfast for the two of us, and I took my time preparing it. We took our time eating, and W. answered several more phone calls.
Then it was time. She pulled a pillow in front of her, and told me that she didn’t think she could give me the sixty-five strokes with her hand, so I should get the “loopy toy.” I had been expecting that, but it still made me shiver. I gave it to her, pulled down my shorts, and lay down over the pillow.
“Why are you getting this spanking?” she asked. We had discussed all of this last night, but I know she wanted it fresh in my mind.
I looked at her, and back at the pillow. “Because I wasted so much time this summer.” I remembered the things she had said the night before, about how hard it is for her to work all the time and have us not be able to do more than pay the bills; about how much we need for me to be finished with the dissertation so I can get a job; about how important it is for both of us for me to simply have the thing finished, and to be successful with it. “Because I was selfish. Because I won’t be able to do as good a job now.”
“You will do a good job on this,” she said. And she wasn’t just saying that—I think she seriously meant it when she said I will finish this dissertation even if she has to threaten me through every chapter. “You have got to do this. And you will do it.”
And then the spanking started, hard and fast. Every time I twisted to the side, she pressed her hand firmly into the small of my back, to remind me to stay still. She paused, and said, “Twenty.” I took a breath, relieved that she had been keeping count, and that she wasn’t expecting me to keep track. The second twenty wasn’t quite as bad, but I was still writhing, and my breath was coming fast. The third twenty was just as hard. And then came the final five, and she really made those count. My breath shuddered through me—not quite tears, but closer than I’ve come during a spanking in years. And it was over.
I lay face down for several seconds afterwards, still shuddering. It wasn’t just that my bottom was on fire, even though it was. There was so much emotion roiling through me, so much regret for my failure to get work done, and regret that it had come to the punishment. It wasn’t that I felt bad for asking her to punish me, but that I felt bad that I had done anything to earn the punishment, and that she had to give it to me. But W. pulled me to her, and rubbed my back. She soothed me until I was breathing normally, telling me that I was good, that I was smart, that I was brave, that I would be able to do the work.
And then I actually had to go start working. While the punishment helped, I realized that I was still going to have to work on focusing. I had gotten out of the habit, had been spending a lot of time allowing myself to play solitaire, or read email, or read a book, or do nearly anything that isn’t work. When we discussed my punishment, part of what W. wanted was for me to “repay” the work I hadn’t done this summer by doing extra work until I’d made up the difference. So my goal for today was ten pages.
Boy, was it hard. W. and a friend were cleaning the rest of the apartment, and I wanted to help with that (or at least to offer suggestions). The renovators upstairs were doing something insane with drills and hammers directly above my study, but I needed access to my printer, so I couldn’t work at a café. It was hot; I didn’t know where to start; I wanted to take a walk; I wanted to do the laundry. But W. kept sending me back to the study after my breaks. And by the end of the day, I had twelve pages (when I put it on double spacing, anyways) of raw draft. Probably it will amount to three or four pages of usable writing, but it’s a start.
In the spaces between thinking about my dissertation, I’ve been reflecting a lot about punishment in real life. When I was a kid, I didn’t have to wait for spankings; if I made an adult angry, punishment came swiftly and without much discussion. I didn’t have to spend time reflecting on my behavior, and I guess it was largely assumed that I would figure out what I was done, and would “make it better” by never slipping up again.
This, on the other hand, was a punishment between adults—between equals. And there was a person on the other end of the hand that was spanking me. It was an unpleasant, difficult thing for both of us. And while the spanking was uncomfortable, if it were just the spanking, I don’t know how hard I would work to change my behaviors. It was over in five minutes, and while my bottom is still a little sore fourteen hours later, it’s not unbearable. What I want to avoid in the future is the disappointment, the frustration that W. experiences when she sees me sabotaging myself by procrastinating. I don’t want to have her go through it again. If it were just me, it would be much easier to slack off.
I’ve been surprised by one of the side effects of bringing up punishment spankings. As my fantasies turned into reality, the biggest thing I’ve had to grapple with is the fact that W. is a real person, with emotions and responses of her own. And my behavior doesn’t fall into a vacuum, where the only person I hurt is myself. We’ve talked a lot, W. and I, since I told her about the blog. Some of that is just us getting the chance to readjust to being together after weeks apart. But there’s more to it than that.
We’ve been forging our way into new ground, and it’s both scary and liberating. I’m realizing she’s more resilient than I sometimes imagine her to be, and I’m also realizing the ways that this shift in our relationship will help her (to be more assertive, to be more vocal, to talk about the things that she needs, or to tell me when I’ve upset her). It’s hard to figure out, this give and take in relationships.