08 December, 2006

On a lighter note / Seasonal fun

Every year, we bake gingerbread. And after the first year, we realized it was even more fun if we had a theme. Two years ago, that theme was "adult" gingerbread (aka "kinky gingerbread").

Here are a couple of shots of that gingerbread.



This is "Sugar Mama's Toy Shoppe." If you zoom in, you can see that some of our friends are quite skilled in the art of carving jelly beans and sculping with fruit roll-ups. There were, of course, many licorice whips and candy canes.


And here is a picture of my own work: a naughty schoolgirl, molded with fondant. The picture is a little dark (we didn't have a camera with a flash that year, more's the pity!), but if you peer closely, you can see her bending over a bench (sesame candies), with her (rice paper) skirt neatly on the floor beside her. I doubt you can make out the redness of her bottom, but it's there. She's a repentant naughty schoolgirl now. (Actually, I think she's a long-since-eaten naughty schoolgirl, since we made a point of making everything edible, and most of the human figures were made with chocolate fondant, so they were pretty popular when it came to gobbling up the display!)

Enjoy, and may this inspire your own creativity!

05 November, 2006

Missing things

I miss "Sunday nights." I miss the freedom to just play without worrying about whether it's going to give me flashbacks, or put out W's back, or re-enact abuse, or just plain worrying.

I miss being able to be intimate without having to first stop, and put barriers around all of the parts of my mind that have spent the last several months just fiercely triggered.

I don't know what happened. It used to be, I could find those barriers easily enough, and I could have stretches of weeks, months, even years where I wasn't constantly having to beware of the lurking bits inside my brain, those land mines where, when you put your foot down just wrong, days and weeks of terror would ensue.

It's not that it was easy, don't get me wrong. But there were times when I could just be, and I really miss that.

What's harder is that, even when I've taken the time to put up all of the barriers, to get myself into exactly the right frame of mind, there's still W to think about... still finding a way to communicate that, yes, this is a safe time, yes, it's worth it to take down her own barriers for the sake of that connection. And instead, we end up having to talk and talk and talk about things, making sure that each of us is okay, that our needs are being met, that everything is fine.

Sometimes, I just want to pretend nothing happened, that I'm normal, that I'm fine, that we can just do things without having to think about them incessantly.

Sometimes, I wish I could just stop thinking about it, ignore the potential damage and pitfalls, and just go ahead and do things. Because it's certainly not that my body doesn't want it, you know? But I haven't figured out a way to grab hold of those fleeting moments when actually having sex, or a spanking, or even making out... I don't know how to grab hold of those seconds when it's possible to start, before my mind becomes aware of what's about to start, and begins showing me images of, well, similar things with a whole nother power dynamic. And so instead, we've just been avoiding it.

Damn, but I wish there were another option, for any piece of it, really.

But right now, it's "Sunday nights" I'm missing the most. That sense of structure, safety; the chance to relax, to let go of stress, to focus on physical sensations, to be utterly in the moment. The lingering effects through the beginning of the week. And, of course, the prospect of actually being able to do something other than desperately look for ways to fill up my days; the notion that I can be held responsible and accountable for things.

18 October, 2006

Apologies

Just a quick note on something. Generally, I far prefer to read a blog where the person has edited what they've written before they post. It may not seem that way, but most of my posts here have actually involved some refining and polishing. It's easier to read, I think, and a general courtesy to the reading public.

But I'm finding it far easier to write if I just go ahead and write and don't think about it. And I'd rather be writing and trying to connect with people than making a good blog with excellently readable posts. So for a little bit, I'll just write them, and they may not be nearly as well written, but I do think that the posts will have something interesting to say, and that it will offer a different kind of thing than my more polished posts. Sometimes, the editing just serves to hide what I really want to say.

So my apologies for having a less "writerly" blog for the time being, but hopefully, you'll stick with me. Thanks.

As if my usual doubts weren't enough

Much of what I've written about in this blog has been about my process of coming to terms with spanking, and its role in my life. It's a hard process to accept all of the various elements, to admit that I need it, and to understand that it's okay.

And now I'm in the middle of coping with the idea that there are different parts of myself, and it feels like all of that work I've done on this issue has kind of disappeared. Because, somehow, it's like it doesn't count if there are different parts operating.

One of the biggest things is that I feel very... strange about spankings if the "reason" I need them is that I was abused as a kid. It's especially hard when I'm reading a book on healing from childhood stuff, and the person writing it states unequivocally that s/m of any form is just re-enacting childhood abuse, and should be something you try to heal from.

Now, on some levels, I can feel very clearly that this isn't true. I've gotten a lot of strength from having s/m as part of my sex life, and I've had a lot of good examples of the healing power of intimate relationships that are fundamentally based on "safe, sane, and consensual."

But there are other levels, and those are more... confusing. Is it okay to spank an inner child if that inner child really does understand the world as a child would? How about an inner teenager? Am I re-enacting abuse? Is the reassurance and grounding that I experience when there is consistent, reasonable (physical) discipline in my life just because those parts can't understand "appropriate" treatment, and feel less tension once a punishment has occurred?

Perhaps some of the doubts are because, in terms of interacting with actual, flesh-and-blood children, I wouldn't hit. Mostly, this is because I think there are better ways to raise children, and that the lines between acceptable and unacceptable are blurry and way too easy to cross. I don't know that I think spanking children is inherently abusive, but I think most of how it operates when I've seen it in action is abusive, if that makes sense. It's too easy to act in anger, to work out frustrations. And it's not like a spanking can be taken back. Once it's been given, it's happened, and it leaves no room for the person giving it to say, "Whoops, I was wrong, you didn't actually deserve that punishment."

And some of it's the fact that different parts respond differently to spanking. I can recognize that in a lot of ways, this is perfectly normal. Lots of people have a variety of different responses at different times. But when one of my child parts is out, then both W. and I agree that, say, sex is absolutely inappropriate (partly because it's triggering to that part, and partly because, well, it's really like being a child, and that's just yucky).

So where do we draw the line? If something is sometimes incredibly sexual, is it okay to do that with a child? But then again, there are different ways of doing things... say hugging. That's definitely part of sex, but there are different ways of hugging that aren't sexual at all.

I also have to take W's feelings into account. It's hard for her to grapple with the ways that spanking works for me. She wasn't "into" spanking when we got together; she is often very uncomfortable with the role of disciplinarian. But neither of us would feel comfortable with me getting that need met by someone else, for many of the same reasons we struggle with figuring out what to do with the different parts of me. I mean, if a main reason we're uncomfortable with spanking-as-discipline is that it's too close to doing something sexual with a child, then going to someone else for a spanking is awfully close to infidelity.

And I often worry that the things I'm asking for aren't fair, and that I should just learn to figure out other ways of coping. And, certainly, there is some of that in there. It's not 100% W's job to take on raising these kid-parts of me. But it's not 100% not her job.

I have a much easier time acknowledging that it's not fair for W to have to be coping with the results of my childhood than I do in acknowledging that it's not fair for me, either. It's kind of sad, because, let's face it, even if I did fail to keep myself entirely safe as a child... I was a CHILD, and even if I thought I could do special magic things to keep myself safe, and even if they seemed to work (or did work some of the time) it wasn't my job to be able to prevent the adults in my life from hurting me. And staying at home even though things were bad wasn't actually saying that I was willing to accept what was happening. I didn't have other options--a five year old, or even an eleven year old, really can't survive on her own in the world. Just because I chose to stay, because on considering my options, I decided that the most likely way of succeeding as an adult was to stay at home so I could finish school and get into college... that doesn't mean it was okay what happened after I made that choice. Looking back, it was definitely the best of available options to stay. But that doesn't mean the available options were good ones. And it doesn't mean that I'm supposed to immediately be healthy and happy and not have any after-effects.

(Okay, that was really rambling, but this is a blog, and that's okay. Back to the original topic.)

So I have these parts. And some of them really do seem to need spankings in order to feel balanced and whole and... just not wildly out of control. The really ironic thing is, compared to my siblings, I was hardly ever hit as a kid. And it wasn't the spanking, per se, that I minded.

Thinking about it... I absolutely do NOT want the emotional environment that I experienced. I'm really not turned on by being emotionally or verbally abused.

When I think about punishment spankings, the context is very specific. I want clear rules, and consequences for breaking them. I want the person (W) giving the consequence to be calm and authoritative. I want the consequence to not be overwhelming. I want that sense of, "Okay, I messed up. I want to remember to not do this again. I want to have the consequence as a reminder, and as a way of closing off the stream of guilt that comes from having made a mistake or done something bad." I want the recognition that I'm still loved, but that someone cares enough about me to notice when I've done something wrong, and to give me closure on the incident.

I didn't get that at all when I was a kid. I got hit, not as a consistent response to anything I'd done or not done, but as a reflection of the people who hit being out of control, or me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although sometimes it bore some relation to my behavior, the relationship was tenuous at best. I didn't, and couldn't, know what the rules were. I couldn't predict what would happen. I didn't get a chance to learn from my behavior, because the adults in my life just erupted, and then didn't address what had happened. I got hit because they were angry and had the power to hit, not because it was something that would help me to be a better person. I got hit for being a child--for crying, for forgetting to do something they wanted me to do, for making a mistake. Our house didn't have any rules that I could articulate, so, obviously, the spankings I received weren't related to deliberate misbehavior.

They might have used the phrase, as they hit me or pinched me or whatever, "That'll teach you not to (hit or pinch or whatever)." But what it taught me was that the reason I couldn't hit or pinch was that I was a kid, and that I didn't have the right to exert power over other people.

And then, when I was a teenager, and babysitting my younger siblings, my mother couldn't seem to understand why I didn't just spank them when they misbehaved. Because, of course, by fourteen, I was supposed to magically transition from being forbidden to hit to being one of the people who was allowed to hurt others (but only when I was the oldest person in the house, of course!). For whatever reason, I really couldn't make that transition.

I don't know. It's a lot to process through. I'd really appreciate comments on this if you've got any thoughts on it.

11 October, 2006

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day, which got me thinking about the different ways that I can think about coming out.

Obviously, most people who know me know that I'm a dyke. Coming out as a dyke has never been much of a challenge for me: if I get a decent sense that the person in question isn't likely to do violence, then I don't bother to hide my sexual orientation (I may not bring it up unless it's relevant, but I don't hide it). I often don't mention the specifics of what I do in the bedroom, but much of that is because 1, what I do in the bedroom involves my partner, and I prefer not to share things she'd rather not have shared, and 2, what I do in the bedroom rarely has any bearing on, say, whether I want my produce bagged in paper, plastic, or not at all.

There are other kinds of coming out. I am comfortable in many situations being "out" as a pagan; I've had to become comfortable being "out" about having an invisible disability (and in making it more visible so that I can, for instance, get a seat on the train, rather than getting glared at for falling down).

It's harder to come out about things like having grown up poor (although I've gotten more comfortable with my "white trash" roots as I've gotten older. Kind of. In a theoretical way.)

It's even harder to come out as a survivor of childhood abuse, especially because when it comes down to it, in a weird and twisted way, I'm FAR more ashamed of things that are presumably not my fault than I am of things that I have done of my own free will. I struggle with both denial and shame. (Is it a hope that I made everything up and it didn't really happen? Is it the fear that it was all my fault? Is it just believing that either I'm a horrible liar, or someone who is so flawed from the experience that no one would ever like me, or something I can't even put my finger on?)

And then, having come to various degrees of peace with the ways that I've needed to out myself, life throws in one more. Two weeks ago, my therapist "officially" diagnosed me with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder).

On the one hand, it's not like it was a surprise. I have been working at not covering things up in therapy, and I'd been suspecting something of the sort myself already. Certainly, as a diagnosis, it makes far more sense than me being Borderline or bipolar. I have the symptoms, and it explains those little quirks that sometimes make life difficult for me.

On the other hand, if shame and denial are a struggle just with accepting that I experienced abuse, they're a much larger hurdle with accepting this.

I've been lightly passing off my struggles this past year as "being crazy." In some ways, this is true, if you go with the first definition of crazy--being cracked, precarious, fragile, falling apart. But I can also recognize that dissociation is perhaps the most adaptive way I could cope with what happened (whatever happened) in my childhood.

I know that I'm on the high-functioning end of the kids in my family (given that I haven't been able to cope with a job for most of the year, or with routine things like eating, this is a sad statement; I'm still on the high-functioning end). So, obviously, there was something going on, and none of us are crazy in the same ways. But all the various ways that we're crazy point towards abuse as the cause.

I'm rambling, mostly because it's difficult for me to manage to write anything at all, but I realized it had been a very long time since my last post, and this seemed like a time I would be able to manage to get something written.



As a PS--I finally got fed up with Verizon, so I'm switching my email address to a gmail account; and since someone else has "Dyke Grrl," I'm using jigsaw.analogy {at} gmail.com.

15 July, 2006

Getting a Little Bolder

It started with the library fines. I’ve been needing some naughty girl spankings—the kind that aren’t quite a punishment, but have that aura to them. So when I admitted that I’ve gotten a little phobic about the library, W offered to check my fines. Twenty-two dollars, which is about what I thought they were. I suggested that this would make a good pretext for a spanking.

W, of course, never does these things the way I expect her to. So her thought was that the spankings would be tied to my paying off the fine. She told me to take a dollar to the library every day, or I would get one smack for each dollar I still owed.

Unfortunately for this plan, she also mentioned (thinking it would make me laugh) that the librarians had put a note in my file, saying “Puts books in book drop to avoid paying fines.” Sadly, instead of making me laugh, this just increased my little library phobia, because I always thought the librarians at our local branch were a little mean, and not the nice, friendly librarians I’ve always dealt with, and then I heard about that. So I continued avoiding the library for several days. And each night, W turned me over and delivered 22 smacks with the wooden spoon, quick and hard. On Tuesday, I did stop by the library, and pay $2, and avoided the spanking.

On Wednesday, we decided to get out of town and have an adventure. W wanted to go swimming, and since I’m allergic to chlorine and neither of us felt like being out in the sun at the beach, we went looking for a swimmin’ hole. We drove quite a ways, and never did find the swimmin’ hole we were looking for. But we did come to a little rural park, wrapped around a pond, and filled with nature trails. It was the middle of the week, and the day had gotten drizzly, so we were the only ones at the park. As we walked around one of the trails, W said, “Twenty wouldn’t take that long.” I figured she was just joking, and we continued with our walk.

We got into an even more secluded spot, and W noticed a conveniently placed log. She sat down, and told me to give her the backpack. She told me to get ready, and when she told me, I would pull down my pants and lean over the log beside her. I couldn’t struggle or complain, or it would just take longer.

I looked at her nervously, trying to figure out whether she was really serious. I wasn’t convinced we were the only ones in the park, or that someone might not have arrived since we started hiking. She told me to get ready by unzipping my shorts. Then she looked both ways, and said, “Okay, drop ‘em.” I complied, and leaned over.

The 20 smacks took less than two minutes. My bottom was blazing sore as I pulled up my shorts. Then W grabbed my belt loop and tugged me close to her.

She slid her hand up my thigh, and slipped her finger into my underpants. I gasped and looked at her, trying to determine whether she really meant to follow through with this next stage (I should know by now: she generally follows through). As her fingers slipped inside me, I realized she was serious. She stroked and rubbed, and I struggled to stay on my feet, and to not make incriminating noises. She was done pretty quickly (for us), and we continued with our walk.

Fast forward to Friday. We decided to get out of the apartment and find somewhere with air conditioning and cushy chairs. As we walked towards the subway, we were trying to figure out how I could be feeling less tense and on edge. Nothing was quite fitting the bill. W suggested a spanking, and I said maybe, thinking she meant “a spanking when we get home.”

SMACK!! Out of the blue, she smacked me with her 32-oz. bottle of Snapple. She did this once or twice more. “Why did you do that here?” I asked.

“It’s working,” she pointed out, “You’re smiling now.” And then she reached for my cane. The sturdy, hollow metal stick I use for balance and support. She gave me half a dozen good whacks with that, and then returned it.

My bottom was tingling, and I had to admit that it had helped. I was less tense, and I was able to make it through the rest of the evening without having a shuddering panic attack.

I’ve learned a few important things from this. First, W is willing to do many things that are normally outside of her comfort zone, simply to help me feel better. Second, a plastic Snapple bottle stings more than you’d think. And third, a cane designed for walking offers far more “thud” than “sting,” and makes an impact even through denim shorts with handkerchiefs in the back pockets.

08 July, 2006

On a More Serious Note

I’m starting to work on quitting smoking. There are many good reasons to do this: the cost of smoking, the danger to my health, the fact that W and I would like to start trying to get pregnant (and both of our unwillingness to subject a baby or child to cigarette smoke), and, of course, the fact that my smoking is a definite source of tension in our relationship.

It’s a difficult thing for me. Arguments about the dangers of smoking aren’t helpful for me in quitting, because, honestly, they are precisely why I started smoking. Five or six years ago, I was becoming more and more violently depressed. When I’m that severely depressed, the urge to hurt myself is nearly insurmountable. I finally decided that, if I was feeling suicidal, it was better to smoke—something that I knew could kill me, but not in an immediate way—than to stop eating, or to start cutting. So that’s where the smoking started, as something to do that would hurt me less in the short run than the other things I wanted to do at the time.

The problem is, smoking had sides I hadn’t planned on.
They never bothered to mention in all of those anti-smoking lectures in high school that nicotine actually makes you feel better. And the way I smoke adds to that: I go outside, I separate myself from the source of tension, I don’t try to do anything else right then, for a nice, concrete stretch of time. And I breathe deeply—in, hold, out… in, hold, out. I’m often not good at remembering to breathe, so this is a good thing.

I had started this week by trying to quit smoking cold turkey. And then the stress kept piling up. For one thing, withdrawal from nicotine, for me, seems to induce severe depression (um, yeah, because smoking suppresses many of those depressed feelings on a regular basis, so it makes sense that those feelings would emerge when I stop). And then things kept happening that really challenged my commitment to quitting immediately. I finally decided that perhaps cold turkey wasn’t the way to go. So I’m working on, I don’t know, slightly microwaved turkey. Room temperature turkey, perhaps.

As I see it, I have three types of issues to contend with in quitting. The first is the sheer physical addiction. My body wants the nicotine. The other times I’ve tried to quit (or not been able to smoke), this has cleared up in about two or three days. I don’t smoke all that much, so I think it’s perhaps a bit easier for my body to cope with not getting the drug.

The second issue is dealing with the habit of smoking. I tend to smoke while on the phone, at least for the first several minutes of a conversation; or I smoke while walking alone; or I smoke when I feel particularly tense or agitated or anxious. Not all of that is about addiction: much of it is simply that I’ve gotten used to doing it. Smoke breaks punctuate my day, and I’m soothed by the routine of them.

The last type of issue is the hardest to cope with: smoking serves a lot of purposes, and I need to be able to figure out ways to get those needs met without smoking. In some ways, I can deal with the addiction by just working through it, and with the habit by blowing bubbles (also something I do outside, also something that can represent a break in my routine).

But it’s hard for me to find a substitute for the desire to hurt myself. I have difficulty acknowledging the reasons I want to hurt myself, and while so many people blithely suggest that I do something self-nurturing to replace it, well, that was the problem in the first place. I’m not so good at that self-nurturing stuff.

And, as time has gone by, smoking has become helpful in more areas. It gives me a way to mentally separate from situations that I have trouble coping with. And that whole drug thing has a role, and helps to push away those emotions I’m having trouble dealing with. Smoking helps me to suppress anger, fear, sadness… I can numb those feelings to the point where I’m able to deal with them. And unlike cutting or not eating, smoking doesn’t seem to actually make those feelings more entrenched; it just suppresses them for the moment.

Smoking also gives me something I don’t have to share. I hate to acknowledge this one, because, well, it’s so selfish. But as I’ve moved into the reality of a full-time living-together being-married kind of relationship, I’ve had a harder time being able to manage that whole “sharing” thing. Growing up, despite having a ton of siblings, I mostly had a room of my own. I have almost always had a lot of personal space, and had to share surprisingly few things for someone from a large family. And, I hate to admit it, but I am sometimes desperate for something that is all mine, that I don’t have to share with anyone.

And as I examine the reasons I keep on smoking, I’ve also realized that some of it is a fear of moving on to the next stage in my life. Remember how I mentioned that I have to stop smoking before W and I can have a kid? Well, even though I mostly am desperate to start that process, there’s a big part of my less-surface brain that would rather put it off, just a little longer. It’s a scary move, and there are a lot of parts inside of me that would rather not make it. I’m trying to work out a deal with those parts, but it’s still something of a challenge.

In the end, I know it’s something I need to do. There are parts of me that wish W were willing to punish me for smoking, to help me quit. The problem is, I’m not sure it could work. I know how very much W hates smoking, and I think the punishments would feel very wrong, were they to happen; we’ve been reluctant to use spanking for things that are issues between the two of us, in large part because we don’t want to cross a line into abuse. Beyond that, I don’t know that punishment is the right approach in this case. On the one hand, I do feel fiercely guilty; but on the other hand, I really do need to learn about being more gentle and supportive for myself, and quitting smoking may well be a place to practice those skills.

So I’m not going to get a light-hearted (yet painful) spanking for smoking; but I’m going to figure out how to quit anyhow.

Story: How Was I To Know

I wrote this story several years ago, before I met W. The interaction between Michelle and Janey is, I think, very different from my and W's interactions around smoking (and around public spankings, for that matter), but it's still a very fun story for me. Part of the fun of the Janey and Michelle stories, for me, is watching their interactions with their housemates. It's purely imaginary, since neither I nor my housemates would have been quite so... open about spankings. But it's fun to imagine and pretend.

Hope you enjoy the story!


"How Was I Supposed to Know?"
======================

"Well, how was I supposed to know you didn't have any underpants on?" Janey asked.

"Janey, I had zero reason to think you were planning on pulling down my pants and spanking me, in the BACK YARD at a PARTY." Come to think of it, if I'd had any reason to think Janey would make it to the party that early, I wouldn't have been smoking in the first place.

"I've told you. If you want to feel like you're being bad, fine, but come tell me, and I'll give you a spanking. You don't need to smoke." She looked at me for a minute. "Plus which, it wasn't that big of a party. Really, it was only housemates and their lovers."

I glared at her. She came over and rubbed my bottom. "Am I forgiven?" She smiled fondly.

I continued glaring. Finally, I allowed, "I guess."

"It was funny, wasn't it?"

"NO!!!"

"Well, let's go back down to the party. They're about to have cake. Maybe I should offer Liza a birthday spanking?"

"You do that."


....................................
Janey had thought she would have to work late, and she'd made plans to take Liza out for her birthday later in the weekend. So I assumed I was single for the night, and hung out on the deck, watching the barbecue heat up, and talking to Gwen, Samantha, and Sam's boyfriend, Kenny. When Kenny asked if I minded him smoking, I bummed a cigarette.

We were talking, and watching fireflies, and generally enjoying ourselves. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. "What did I tell you about smoking, Michelle?"

Shit, shit, shit. "Um, that it's bad for me?"

"And…?" Oh, shit. She'd promised to turn me over her knee immediately if she caught me.

I stubbed out the cigarette, and stood to head up to my room. When Janey plans on doing something immediately, there's no getting out of it. But as I turned towards the door, Janey tightened her grip. She sat down on the bench.

"No, Janey. Please! Not here. Not right now!"

"Yes here. Yes right now," she said implacably.

I writhed as much in embarassment as from fear of a spanking. Janey pulled me firmly over her lap, and started smacking me over my shorts. After fewer than a dozen spanks, she reached for the waistband. Desperate, I fought her for the shorts.

"NO! Janey..."

She pulled them down, and must have been surprised to discover me bare underneath. Which, of course, didn't stop her from continuing. As usual, she spanked long and hard. I wriggled, and squirmed, and tried to get away from her hand. I was doubtless putting on a very good show for our friends.

Janey paused. "Hi, Liza. Happy birthday."

"Hi, Janey. Is this my present?" I looked over, and saw Liza leaning appreciatively in the doorway. I have GOT to get my own place!

"Well, it's a bit of a surprise, but it can be your present if you like. Any requests? If you go get a nice wooden spoon, I can finish her off."

By this point, I just buried my face in my arms. Liza and Janey continued discussing possible approaches for the rest of my spanking. Eventually, Liza went inside to get a hairbrush. If it hadn't been her birthday, I would have been livid. No, wait, even though it was her birthday, I was ticked off.

Liza brought her girlfriend out to watch. It had to be the most embarrasing moment I've ever lived through, at least in that house.

As Janey set fire to the backs of my thighs with the hairbrush, I heard Liza's girlfriend comment, "Hoo boy, I wish I'd known this was the kind of entertainment offered here at Liza's. We'd be spending more weekends here, and a lot fewer in Brooklyn!"

"I know. I should be here more on weekends," Gwen and Liza commented together, and then gave each other five.

Janey put the final touches on my backside, and put the hairbrush down on the bench. She gently rubbed my bottom, and then pulled up my shorts. I shoved my way through the crowd on the deck, and went up to my room to sulk.

Janey, of course, followed me. "I warned you about smoking," she offered. I know it was her way of apologizing, but it didn't seem very apologetic.

"You gave me a BARE BOTTOMED spanking in front of FIVE people," I pointed out.

"Well, how was I to know you didn't have any underpants on?"

26 June, 2006

Playing School




I had a few days of feeling better last week, so I decided it was time to play.

On Friday, I was experimenting with making a pattern for a skirt for W. The first skirt I made fit me perfectly, which meant it would be a bit too snug for W., so I made another one out of the rest of the navy blue sheet I’d cut up. And then I realized I had two knee-length navy blue skirts, sized to fit each of us. I swear, this wasn’t actually intentional.

But given that I had the two skirts, I figured I’d go ahead and come up with a scene. So I walked to the dollar store and bought two ties to match the skirts, and then came home to write a note for W. from our “headmistress.”

Unfortunately, my timing was slightly off, so W. got home before I could finish the note or tape it to her door. No matter. I was in my study, so I waited until she was in the bedroom, and then slipped the note under the door.

The note read as follows:


As you know, it is your responsibility as head girl to maintain discipline among the girls in your house. It is still early in the term, so you may not be aware of one girl who is posing a serious discipline problem. I am bringing her to your attention, because we hope you can encourage her to behave properly, so that your house will not lose points. This would be a shame, as the rest of the form is quite disciplined and studious, and they stand a good chance at winning the house trophy.

J., the new girl in your form, has been a constant disciplinary problem. She rarely completes her prep work. When the teachers have set her extra work, she has ignored them, or responded rudely. Last week, she even swore at Mademoiselle.

Outside of class, she has refused to participate in any games, and she has encouraged the other girls in her group to do likewise. While they have continued to participate, discipline is eroding among her group.

You may have noticed several of her pranks. She, and the other girls, believe they are funny, but the senior class was not amused to find their beds short-sheeted, nor were the youngest girls pleased to find that the salt shakers had been filled with sugar last Friday.

In addition, I myself found her out of bounds without permission last Saturday, and also found her using the computers in the library after lights out this Tuesday. Matron has complained that her clothes are rarely in good repair, and that she refuses to mend them. I am sure you have noticed that her uniform is frequently quite sloppy.

Please deal with this situation before it gets completely out of hand.

Sincerely,

E. Bumsworthy
Head, Blyton House


While I waited for W. to read the note, I changed into my “uniform.” She called me into the bedroom, completely in role. The first thing she did was hand me a pair of her pants that I’ve been saying I’d mend for the last month or more, and tell me to mend them. I sat and did this while she changed into her uniform. (Perhaps we should keep this in mind for future mending tasks, because it only took a few minutes, and it’s more fun to do things like that as part of a scene!)

Then she had me stand and face her while she gave me a long lecture about my behavior, and about how I needed to behave better. She informed me that it was a special thing to be a member of our school, and a privilege to be a member of our house. Then she tallied up my various misdemeanors and let me know I’d get 100 strokes with clothes, or fifty without.

I was doing my best to be a surly student, although it was hard. W. was so reasonable and firm that I’m sure, had she really been my head girl, I would have caved and apologized immediately. Instead, I tried to stick to the role of a student who resented being sent to the school, and thought all of the rules were stupid and below her.

But W. made me lay across the bed, and paddled my bottom firmly for my various transgressions, lecturing as she went. When she was done, she told me she hoped she wouldn’t have to punish me again, and told me I would have to make amends to the people I had been so disrespectful to.

Afterwards, I checked in; W. had enjoyed the scene, because so much was already set up. I enjoyed writing the letter, and it’s always fascinating to me the way she can make a scene her own, even if it all started out in my head. I wouldn’t have thought of the mending (this is probably why mending sits around for months in our house!), and her lecture about the honor of the house was inspired.

We’d had so much fun that I wrote another letter on Saturday, in preparation for our usual Sunday “night” (which we actually had in the morning, because we were expecting a guest). That note from the head of our house complimented W. on her success in bringing such a change in my behavior, but let her know that I had a real problem with using too much foul language and slang. That brought on quite a lecture, and a much harder spanking. (I don’t know yet whether I’ll suggest the use of soap in the future… it might turn out to be like writing lines: more fun to imagine than to experience.)

We’ll definitely do this again. And I sadly informed W. that the reformation she inspired in me after those first spankings wasn’t going to be permanent… because where would the fun be in that?

07 June, 2006

Under the Weather

Quite literally, as it turns out...

Sorry for not having posted. The weather has been rainy, rainy, rainy here lately, and combined with my usual springtime fibromyalgia flare-up, I've been spending most of my days in bed. I'd post more about that, but fibro has got to be the most boring thing going: I can hold up a book for a few hours a day, and I can occasionally sit up long enough to check email (most of that's been going towards finding a roommate, though). Other than that? Watching TV and reminding myself that these crummy weeks are the reason I don't have a job, and the reason we have cable, so I shouldn't be feeling as insanely guilty for not doing housework and otherwise being efficient.

So hopefully, I'll be able to post next week, because the weather is supposed to stop being quite so damp and dreary. (I often suspect, however, that the weather people just put some sunny days into the long-term forecast so people don't get depressed about the weather, so we'll see...)

29 May, 2006

Troubled

Sometimes, I wonder how much of my response to things is because of having been abused as a kid, and how much is actually related to the situation at hand. Over the past couple of days, two things have happened that are still troubling me.

In the first case, it was all about tone of voice--I got intensely triggered overhearing my SIL putting her kids to bed, snapping and yelling at them as they got more resistant to laying down to sleep. I could understand that the situation was stressful--the kids had had an exciting day, and were in a strange bed, and we'd had dinner later than we should have; SIL had had a long and tiring day, hadn't gotten enough rest the night before, and didn't have the support of her husband putting the kids down for the night. But as she snapped and snarled at the kids, I couldn't help feeling that sense of impending danger that I felt throughout my childhood. SIL wouldn't beat her children, and I know she loves them, but emotionally, it's still hard for me to separate.

The second case is even harder. I was chatting with one of the kids who lives next door to us yesterday. He had on a sleeveless t-shirt, and I noticed a bruise near the side of his chest. It was a narrow, sideways u-shape. It's a shape I'm familiar with, peering in the mirror, or craning my head, the day after a spanking with the loopy toy. And try though I might, I can't think of anything other than a looped cord that would result in a bruise like that.

In neither case am I sure what I should do. I will definitely keep an eye on the kids next door; but would social services actually help? It's such a hard thing to figure out. And W. and I are trying to figure out how to approach tone of voice with her sister in a way that will actually help both the kids and SIL.

Yeah, so that's what's on my mind right now. I'm just not sure what to do.

24 May, 2006

The Rule of Silence/ Story: Revenge

We don’t talk about these things. If there was one rule obeyed in our family, it was the rule of silence. As adults, I think each of us has touched on speaking, and then backed away, putting up walls of denial between ourselves.

My sisters and I, between the four of us, probably show nearly every symptom of having been sexually abused as children. Physical problems, mental ones, emotional ones: the signs are there, but we don’t talk about it. My older sisters talk almost constantly about their various physical problems, but have never mentioned sexual abuse as a possible factor. My younger sister? Well, she’s the one who does the acting out, sleeping around, making really unwise choices, having brief intense affairs, and all of that.

Four or five years ago, she asked me whether I had ever wondered whether I’d been sexually abused. Her timing was bad: I was on the way out the door to the first meeting of a class, and our younger brother was visiting. I meant to get back to her on it, but… well, I didn’t.

Part of it is because it’s all tangled up in shame and guilt and denial. As much as things happened to us, there are the things we did to each other. And it becomes difficult to confront, because I don’t know how to approach one part without acknowledging the others. I remember the sheer mean-ness of how we—me, my older sisters, my mother—treated my little sister because we were jealous of how her father favored her over the rest of us. We teased her, a lot. And none of us protected her.

And there is the anger I hold towards my next-older sister, who even if she didn’t sexually abuse me (she may or may not have, I don’t remember clearly enough to say), definitely taught me that she had the right to touch my body whenever and however she chose, whether or not I wanted her to do so. It’s something I’m not entirely able to forgive, and as I grow older, I still hold her responsible for it. She may have been hurt herself, she may have been young, but I still believe she should have been old enough to know better.

I worry, sometimes, that part of why I am reluctant to get clear memories of my childhood is that I, too, did things to hurt my siblings. I don’t know, and I also have no idea what I would do with those memories if I had them. The rule against speaking holds strong, and words are a weak tool for making up for sins I committed a quarter of a century ago.

The rest of this post is a story I wrote quite a few years ago, pulling together some memories I had on this topic.


================

Revenge
=======

Excitement flared as soon as I saw the door. I had to have that room. It HAD to be my room. A lock, and no one in the family had the key. Nothing could be better than that.

I got the room, not so much because of the lock, but because the room was roughly the size of a large closet, and only had a tiny window, which looked out on the blank wall of the neighbor's house. When we moved in, the room was mine. And there was no key to the lock.

For the first time in my memory, I could sleep every single night, safe behind my dead-bolted door. I had that room for six months.

The next summer, I went to visit my father for the first time. I was away for the whole summer. I was eight, and I mostly forgot what it was like, back home. At the end of the summer, I returned. I was nine now, and, with my hair in fancy cornrows and beads, and my ears pierced, I was a new person. Someone who could sleep at night for three whole months, with the door wide open, and not have to worry.

I took my suitcase up to my room, and got ready to show my family all the things I'd made and gotten that summer. But something was different. I looked around the room. My red white and blue quilt still lay across my bright red bed. My books were on their shelves. My toys were piled in their box. My winter clothes sat on the closet shelves. What was different?

And then I saw it. The lock was broken!

Mom! What happened to my LOCK?!

My little sister, the blonde haired, blue-eyed princess, the one everyone loved best, had been in the room. She locked the door. No one could get it open. She couldn't get it open. My stepfather got a ladder, and climbed into the room from outside. He broke the lock so she wouldn't get stuck in there again.

How could she ruin this for me? How could she RUIN it?!

I was furious. I was helpless. I wanted nothing more than revenge.

My revenge came within a few weeks. She said she had missed me. She begged and begged, and finally convinced me to move my bed out into the big room, and have it across from hers. We could share a room. We could be friends. I didn't want to be her friend. She ruined my lock.

That night, I heard the sounds, and I turned to face the wall. I didn't have to hear them. I closed my eyes. I didn't have to see the shadows. I made myself a story. I didn't have to be in that room.

Later, I heard her voice. "I had a nightmare. Can I get in bed with you?"

My revenge was ready. "No. You'll be fine. Go to sleep."

The next night, as we got ready to go to sleep, she begged. "I don't want to have a nightmare. Can I sleep in your bed?"

"No."

"Please, please, can I sleep in your bed?"

"No. Here," I gave her my stuffed cat, a present from my stepmother. "Sleep with this. You won't have nightmares if you sleep with this." It was a lie, and I knew it. But I was her big sister, and she believed me.

The sounds came again that night, and the next, and the next. I learned always to sleep facing the wall. I had to be invisible. If he noticed me, I wouldn't be safe any more. With her in the room, I was safe. He didn't love me, because I wasn't his real daughter.

She finally gave up begging to share my bed. We didn't talk about our
nightmares.

But she finally figured out how to get her own revenge. One day, we were playing outside, and both of us wanted the bicycle at the same time. I was three years older, so I was able to shove her away, and get on the seat.

"I hate you," she shouted,

"Why?" I asked, since that had stumped her in the past.

"I hate you because you're black." The words, lashing from the mouth of a six year old, couldn't have been her own. We didn't talk about me being black in the family, not openly. We both knew it was something not to talk about, even if we didn't know why.

It hurt. She hated me for something I had no control over.

Even if it wasn't really my skin color at fault.

She slapped me. I ran inside to tell.

She ran after me. Mom was at the store, or at the doctor, or somewhere not at home. My sister's father was taking care of us.

"She slapped me," I tattled.

"Because she pulled down my pants outside," she lied in retaliation.

My stepfather grabbed the excuse. Even though it would never occur to me to do that, he was happy to punish me.

"I'll show you what it's like to have your pants pulled down," he shouted, and yanked down my pants and underwear. My sister and brothers watched, without surprise. Spankings were common enough.

He quickly glanced around the room, and picked up an extension cord. He pushed me over the arm of a chair, and began to lash my bottom and thighs. "You'll never do something like that again," he warned.

The pain began to burn through my whole body. "I DIDN'T do it!" I protested. It did no good. He continued to whip me with the extension cord.

My body was on fire. I couldn't make it stop. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I begged, but I couldn't stop him.

Afterwards, my bottom and thighs were raw with welts, but it was okay, because it was fall, and I wouldn't be wearing shorts any more until summer. No one would see the welts.

My sister and I kept seeking revenge. I pulled further and further away from her. She searched out ways to punish me for the things that neither of us could control.

I still hate her for making me lose my lock.

I still feel guilty for not sharing my bed.

I am finally learning that I hated the wrong person all those years.

Fear of Writing

I’ve wrangled around with this entry a lot of different ways, and the words fight me every single time. I think the problem is that I’m so used to not writing about this issue, that it’s really difficult to find a way of facing it down.

See, the reason I haven’t been writing on my dissertation is that, separate from all the usual reasons people don’t write, I also have to fight intense terror of the act of writing itself. It’s been with me for as long as I can remember, and gets worse the more direct and real I have to be in the writing. Thus, writing a history dissertation becomes something of a problem, because I have to take facts and make my interpretation of them as clear as I possibly can.

When I sit to write, and it’s something that touches on reality, I struggle. When I’m lucky, I can find that clear space in my head, and write without connecting to what I’m writing about. Things focused on the present, touching only peripherally on my emotions, are the easiest. I can write lists and charts with very little difficulty. Stories are pretty easy, most of the time, until they become stories about myself.

But writing, real writing, writing where I take facts and state an interpretation of them… this becomes terrifying. I sit to write and my hands shake, my vision grows dim, the world tilts and spins around me. A filter intervenes, somewhere between thought and expression, to make what I’ve said as inscrutable as possible.

I thought, for years, that this was just a problem with academic writing. In college, both I and my professors were puzzled by it, because I could express my thoughts clearly in words, and I had definitely mastered the mechanics of writing… but my papers did far more to obscure my thinking than to express it.

And then, after college, I read over some of my journals, and realized that the avoidance and inscrutability were more, rather than less, present. I noticed that, and kind of worked on it, but mostly put it aside. I couldn’t really face the reasons that I find it so hard to put words onto paper (or onto screen, as the case may be). I hoped that the problem would go away, without me having to actually face it.

But I’ll keep trying to do this.

After I was in the hospital last February, I had voices in my head, repeating over and over “This is what we SAID would happen if you told. It’s what happened the last time.” And I could only respond, “What last time? I’ve never told.”

Then my brain would thrust forward a half-remembered event from my childhood. When children’s services came to investigate. The thing is, I always remembered this as being because my sister said or did something in school that made them come. But the image was persistent.

So I make my guesses. Perhaps I was the one who wrote something at school, something that made my teachers wonder, something that caused social services to come. I don’t remember what happened afterward, but I cringe every time someone mentions a social service investigation. I am terrified for the kids in the family.

When I worked in a high school, and was a mandatory reporter, I hoped I would never have to call children’s services. I remember my absolute fury in the training, because they instructed us not to tell the kid whose parents we were reporting that we were doing so.

And I have to wonder. Why do I remember the… violence coming towards me, if I wasn’t the one who told? Why am I the one who has such fear of putting things down in words, if it wasn’t me who made the mistake in the first place?

But I struggle with that, because it’s tied up with realizing that perhaps there was a time when I wasn’t able to keep myself safer than my sisters and brothers, when I wasn’t able to maintain that protective distance.

Rationally, I know that there’s nothing my family could do to hurt me now, no matter what I put into writing. It’s still hard, to get past that part of my brain that has kept me safe for the last quarter of a century. I am accustomed to writing around and through the barriers, finding ways of getting words out without alerting my internal censors to the danger.

I need to find a different way, though. I have a strong sense that the only way for me to get this dissertation finished and get on with my life is to finally face those censors directly, to address why they are there, and hopefully to put them to rest. It feels like dragons or monsters, lurking in my brain, waiting to attack as soon as I make the wrong move. And let’s face it, I can’t write clearly enough when I’m cringing, waiting to be attacked.

So I’ll give this a try, writing about those forbidden topics, trying to prove that it’s really okay, that I can say what I need to say without being beaten or yelled at. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it.

19 May, 2006

The Punishment Book

The women over at the Punishment Book asked me to join them this week. I am flattered and looking forward to sharing the space with them (um, well, not so much in the sense of looking forward to being punished, but, you know, to the self-expression part).

I posted an introduction yesterday. And then, last night, W. gave me a totally unexpected punishment, which I write about in greater detail over there. Because, well, it seemed to make more sense over there.

I've got some things running through my brain that I'm going to be posting about here, but there's thunder and lightning again, and dinner is getting close to ready, so I'll write about those things later.

18 May, 2006

Is It Okay To Spank an Inner Child?

So, yeah. I posted three weeks ago about W’s and my conclusion that it’s okay to spank an inner child. But time goes by, and one goes through actual, rather than theoretical experiences, and things become less clear.

I have continued to be varying levels of cranxious. Most of it, I think, is the process of working through the feelings that therapy and my foray into craziness are bringing up. (No, I don’t really think I’m crazy. I just, you know, have issues to work through.) And when the emotional load gets to a point where I can’t ignore it, I don’t always manage to let the feelings out in a reasonable, responsible, adult kind of way.

Last weekend, after several days of hearing my inner child demand—ever more loudly—to be allowed to throw a tantrum, I let it out. And, boy oh boy, is my inner child childlike. So I threw all of the socks at the wall. And then all of the pillows. And then I dumped all of the dirty laundry on top of that. It wasn’t enough. That inner child had a lot of frustration and anger to let out.

So I proceeded to my playroom (and, for the dirty-minded out there, I really mean “playroom”—it’s where we’ve got the playmobils and the blocks and the arts and crafts supplies). I dumped out all of the blocks and rattled them all over the floor. It wasn’t enough.

So I did something entirely, utterly childish. I got out the finger-paints, and proceeded to paint all over the wardrobe. Boy, was it satisfying. My inner child finally felt like it had gotten a chance to do something bad. It wasn’t quite enough, though. Since my (by then inner) adult objected to writing “bad words” on the wardrobe, just in case the paint didn’t wash off, the child wasn’t entirely satisfied. So we got out some expensive Post-It brand poster paper, put several sheets on the wall, painted on them, and then used pens to write bad words.

And in a full display of maturity, my inner child decided that the “bad words” it needed to write were things like “uglybutt” and “fart face.” Silly? Sure. Satisfying? Very much so.

But on some levels, my inner child was destined for disappointment. Because as much as it wanted its bad behavior to be recognized and limited… well, W. didn’t quite comply with our plans. Partly, it was because she thought it was just silly and funny. I can see this, and, yeah, it was pretty silly and funny. Mostly, though, it’s because she felt that it was good for me to let my feelings out, and she didn’t want to discourage me from doing it.

I’d like to say that I think she’s right. But as I check in with that part of me, I can understand the disappointment. There’s a safety in having reasonable limits imposed on my behavior. It wasn’t safe for me to behave badly as a kid, because the response was disproportionate, dangerous, violent. So I have always fiercely controlled myself, and I have learned to turn all of my anger and frustration and rage on myself.

My adult side has trouble letting go enough to let this inner child out into the world. It’s an embarrassing part of me, especially when it doesn’t behave well. It’s messy and irresponsible and bratty. And it’s looking for limits, and I can either test limits or impose them. I can’t do both.

So we go back, W. and I, to pondering whether or not it’s okay to spank an inner child. (Or, for that matter, wash its mouth out with soap, or send it to bed early, or whatever.) If it were a real child, neither of us would consider those options. And if I’m behaving like a child, then shouldn’t I be treated like a child? So it becomes difficult.

Several times recently, W. has brought up the idea of couples counseling with someone we could talk to about the role of spanking in our lives. I admit that I’m incredibly wary of this, for a lot of reasons. But it’s still something to consider, and perhaps having a neutral person to mediate the discussions could help us to stop going over and over the same ground.

And, who knows, maybe they could help us answer the question:

Is it okay to spank an inner child?

15 May, 2006

Multitaskers



Several years ago, back before I met W., I saw this bath brush on sale at Bath and Body Works while searching for a rubber ducky. I figured, you can't go wrong for $7. I bought it solely for the purpose of washing my back. Well, and also, as it turns out, as a back scratcher. No, really! Okay, I did have spanking in mind, just a little bit, but since I didn't have someone to spank me, it was mostly a vague fantasy.

Since meeting W. it has, of course, been tested out for spanking purposes. The back side is pretty noisy, but I think W. likes it anyways because she gets, um, a lot of bang for her buck. And the bristle side is shockingly wicked, yet pretty quiet. So the bath brush often ends up in the bedroom instead of beside the tub where it belongs.

More recently, we've gotten some kitchen-related multitaskers.
I saw the red item on the top for sale at Whole Foods. It is called, I kid you not, "The Switchit." It's a narrow silicone spatula with a metal core. The wide end has a pleasant sting and the narrow end hurts like holy heck. I admit, between the bright red color and the name, I bought this one primarily for spanking, although it's seen some use in the kitchen as well.

That wooden spoon is a different story. I've been on a quest for a wooden spoon that doesn't hurt... my hands, while I am mixing things in the kitchen. I bought this spoon, since OXO products are generally pretty good about being ergonomic. However, when mixing a stiff dough, this one tends to bite into my hands a bit more than I like. So once I'd gotten another spoon that I like a bit better, I tossed this one into the toy cupboard.

I brought it out last night as W. was mourning her hairbrush that cracked last week during a vigorous (but strangely unpainful to me) spanking. (I guess those drugstore hairbrushes with the little spiky things simply are not meant to be spanking tools!)

Oh. My. Goodness!!! First, the spoon is incredibly quiet for a flat wooden implement. Second, W. was delighting in the marks it leaves--a white spoon outline, followed in short order by a bright red oval. But third--that thing hurts like crazy, and leaves a lasting burn.

W. likes the control she has over it (no catching herself on the hand, as has been known to happen with the evil "loopy toy"). I like the fact that, also unlike the evil loopy thing, the spoon can be used at varying levels of intensity.

So there we have it: three great, inexpensive spanking toys that also have uses outside of the bedroom.


12 May, 2006

Story: Got Topping?

I wrote this Janey and Michelle story for the SSC Short Story Contest a few years ago. I was reminded of it by facing the same situation at the grocery store earlier this week. Why is it they can have an excellent price on ice cream... and have nothing but vanilla on the shelves (or, in the case of this week, also Edy's brand Spumoni, which is just not appealing to me!).

Anyhow, here's the story:

Got Topping?
=============

I observed my flavor options for the ice cream that was on special this week, and pouted. "Vanilla. Nothing but vanilla. What is UP with this city?"

Janey ignored me.

"Not EVERYONE prefers VANILLA," I grumped. Janey continued to ignore me, but I was getting a few glances from other shoppers.

"I mean, really," I continued, trying to provoke Janey, "SOME people are a little more ADVENTUROUS, and would like MORE than VANILLA." I was either feeling feisty or premenstrual. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference.

"Okay, fine." Janey reached into the freezer, and plunked a carton of vanilla into the cart. She started walking away. Since my bag was in the cart, I figured I'd better follow along.

"I said, I don't WANT just VANILLA."

"No problem," she said, and kept walking.

She turned the cart into one of the aisles. "I can provide you with some TOPPING." She put a jar of fudge sauce into the cart, and walked briskly on.

Waiting in line, she said, "I'll be right back." She returned with a wooden spoon.

"What's that for?" I asked suspiciously.

"We need a special one, for the topping," she explained snidely. "It doesn't stop being vanilla unless the topping gets BEATEN in."

A woman my grandmother's age was behind us in line. "I don't think you should beat it that hard, sweetie," she suggested, "It might get all drippy."

Janey and I looked at each other, and tried not to snicker.

We got to Janey's house, and as soon as we'd put the ice cream in the freezer, she had me bare-assed and leaning over one of her kitchen stools so she could test out the spoon.

And then, to make up for the bottom-smacking, she gave me ice cream with hot fudge sauce. But she let me use my own spoon to mix it in.

30 April, 2006

My Bottom Smarts "Spanko Brunch" (Topic: My first adult spanking)

Bonnie over at My Bottom Smarts has a wonderful forum that she calls "Spanko Brunch", where people can wrote about a topic she suggests, and then she posts a compilation of what everyone's said. This week's topic is "My first adult spanking," and this inspired me to write a response. (Why couldn't we have fun topics like this for grade school compositions? Oh, right.)

So, here's the memory:

Less than two months into our relationship, W. gave me my very first adult spanking. I can’t remember how I brought up the topic, but (in good lesbian fashion), I’m sure we talked and talked about it beforehand.

I can remember the day it happened. W. was coming to visit me (we were long-distance for the first 9 months of our relationship). We hung out at my apartment in the afternoon, but we were going to see Margaret Cho that evening. After some talking, she gave me a somewhat tentative spanking. She used her hand, and made my bottom very warm and rosy. And she made me very, um, squirmy and wet. It was delightful, and it confirmed that this was definitely something I would love to have more of. Mostly what I remember about it, and why I remember the exact day it happened, was that she was doodling on a piece of paper, and wrote our names. She decorated it with pink bottoms, with stars coming off of them. She handed this to me while we were waiting for the show to start. {{Shiver}} {{Squirm!!}}

Bonnie, thanks for suggesting this fun topic!

27 April, 2006

Having memories

I guess the problem, right now, is not so much having memories, but having my adult mind giving commentary on the things I remember. Part of me approaches it like a logic problem: if this is true, and this is true, then this is the answer. But then I connect with it emotionally, and things start to go haywire.

I’m writing about the memories (in my usual vague fashion) behind the cut.

========================

I remember hiding in a closet, watching my stepfather touch a little girl. I remember the darkness, I remember touching the carpet. There were clothes hanging above me, shoes and toys on the floor. The closet was a safe place to hid, he couldn’t see me, he couldn’t touch me. I abandoned that little girl.

I always thought she was my sister, because my sister is the one he touched. But this memory is from Alaska. And the little girl he was touching… she was big enough that her feet were halfway down the bed when her head was at the top. When we lived in Alaska, my little sister was only a year and a half old. I was four. The two of us were the only little girls in the house.

========================

Sometimes, it’s memories of things I’ve been told that line up together.

My mother has always complained that I’m not very affectionate. She’s told me about the times when I was a baby, and she tried to cuddle me, and I just held myself stiff and wouldn’t snuggle.

Separate from that, she’s talked about how I started sleeping through the night when I was just a few months old. By the time I was six months old, I didn’t take naps any more. But I was a “good” baby, and if she put me in my crib, I would amuse myself, and not cry or complain.

My mother believes in spanking babies who are only a few months old, or at least she did while she was raising children. She was going through a divorce and found out she was pregnant when I was little; I know that she hit us more often when she was in stressful situations when I was older.

Was this when I learned to dissociate?

========================

And sometimes, it is just persistent physical and visual memories.

I remember being in the bathroom and scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing at my… you know. Over and over, trying to wash… something away. I remember there being blood. I remember wondering whether I had started to get my period, and then realizing that it was just temporary blood. I can still see the gold-speckled formica of the bathroom cabinet, the ratty bath mat beside the sliding door of the shower. I remember the little square window, high on the bathroom wall, that looked across to the corner of the neighbors’ roof.

I didn’t start having this memory until after the first time I masturbated, and part of me asked why it didn’t hurt like... why I didn’t bleed like…

========================

Most often, though, it’s just an upwelling of fear, nervousness, tension. I was talking about it with my new therapist last week. Just describing what I felt, emotionally, when I was having anxiety.

I explained that it’s not so much emotions as a sense of tension. Feeling like there are things going on, above my head. Like danger is lurking above me, and can come crashing onto me the second I let down my guard, make a mistake, do something wrong. Loud noises surround me, I feel the air as something comes towards me… and then nothing happens. Over and over, day after day, this happens to me. On a good day, it comes in bursts, and goes away in between. On a bad day, it’s there all the time.

After therapy, my internal voices started to rant. “Why did you say that?” they asked, “You know it’s all lies. Why are you lying?” My only defense was that I hadn’t said anything happened, just described what I was feeling. And I know for sure that’s what I was feeling. “You’re just trying to get sympathy,” the voices rant. “You know what people will think, if you tell them this is going on.” Of course, the voices have no good explanation for why I would make it up, but they’re making it unpleasant for me to talk about it.

========================

Much as I hate this process, I’m very afraid of the alternative. Because I know that if I don’t keep pushing at this, I will go back to not really believing anything happened. Over and over, those voices in my head convince me that I was making everything up, or that I’m making too much of the things that I know for sure happened. They tell me it wasn’t bad, that it wasn’t hard… they berate me for letting anything out, because even if something did happen, I shouldn’t talk about it, and I certainly shouldn’t write about it. Much as I hate remembering, I don’t want to make myself forget again.

26 April, 2006

It's Okay to Spank an Inner Child

Yesterday was a particularly cranxious day. (Cranxious, of course, means that combination of cranky and anxious that is no fun either for the person feeling that way or the people they are around.)

By the end of the day, I was craving a naughty girl spanking, but (as often happens in that mood), I couldn’t find the words to tell W. what I needed. And so I was “hiding” in my study. W. came in to let me know she was concerned, but since she didn’t tell me I had to come out of my study, there I stayed.

Partly, it was just that I really didn’t want to try to go to sleep. And partly it was that I knew I’d just get more cranxious when faced with someone being soft and nice and trying to cuddle and nurture me.

I wanted to throw things around the room, stomp my feet, yell and shout; basically, my inner child was demanding a chance to be bad, bad, BAD!!! And my outer adult wouldn’t let it, or didn’t know how to make a compromise. Usually, I buy my inner children off with toys or similar treats. But this isn’t a good long-term strategy (my outer adult likes to have a place to live, and electricity, and all of those other things money has to be spent on). So there were no treats, and there was no chance for a tantrum, either.

I finally went to bed, thinking W. was asleep. I noticed that there was a text message on my phone, which had been charging in the bedroom. I checked it, and saw that she had asked me whether I thought a spanking would help; in her next message, she noted that she thought it would definitely help. I was sad at the lost opportunity for a spanking, but texted back that I agreed, but my phone had been in the bedroom.

Turns out she was awake, and she offered to give me the spanking. But the spanking wasn’t giving me the release that I needed—she was giving me a gentle, loving spanking, trying to help me feel better. But I so needed a naughty-girl spanking, to be sternly told what to do, not allowed to make any choices right then. I needed—desperately—for her to take charge. So we gave up, and turned off the light, and got under the covers.

And then my phone rang, with a friend asking whether she could stay the night, because she was locked out of her apartment. I started talking with W. as I waited for the friend to find out whether she could get in touch with her landlord or a locksmith, and then W. offered to come with me when I drove to pick her up.

As often happens, I was much more able to talk while I was driving. We discussed how I had been feeling, and what I needed. W. explained that she still feels ambivalent about ordering me to come into the bedroom, or giving me a spanking when I haven’t asked for it. But she also said that there are times when the main thing she wants to do is tell me to behave, to stop hiding, to stop expecting her to read my mind.

I’m not sure how to manage the divide there. In my ideal world, I could just say, “But that is exactly what I need you to do! Please do it! Please feel okay doing it!” But that’s not really fair, and so I don’t tell her this.

We also talked about the cranxious feeling. It stems from a desire to be a little kid, to be told what to do, to be given limits. And I find myself acting like a kid, pushing against the boundaries of appropriate behavior, just to see whether anyone will make me do the right thing. It’s such a comfort when it happens, and it gives me the strength to get through another day or week or month of being a responsible grown-up. But it also feels just a little weird, to allow my very child-like inner children out, and then to spank them. I wouldn't spank an actual child, and my inner children feel very much like the child versions of me. But W. reassured me that it is okay to spank an inner child. And, on further reflection, I do realize that inner children are capable of informed consent in ways that actual children aren't. Of course, I admit I'd rather I only had well-behaved happy inner children.

Even though I’m not supposed to expect W. to read my mind, or act as though I can read hers, well… I do feel very much like W. would prefer me to be all the grown-up; I get a sense that she hopes my little kid side (particularly the bratty, needy, cranky, misbehaving, limit-testing version) will be eroded by therapy, or by life or something. On some levels, I also wouldn’t mind if that happens.

But from my point of view, it feels like such a central part of me, the part where all of my inconvenient emotions are stored, that I’m reluctant to send it away. More than that, even though I rationally know perfectly well this isn’t her intent, it feels like W. is rejecting those emotional, inconvenient parts of my adult self when she talks about a time when I won’t need the naughty-girl spankings.

So I stay in this cranxious state, wishing I could figure out how to explain what I need. My fantasy right now is that I could let my inner children be the brats they want to be, throw a tantrum or break the rules. And then W. would sternly send me to the bedroom and stand me in the corner. After I’d cooled off, she’d give me a hard spanking, and maybe some more corner time. And then I could come to bed and sleep through the night, safe and forgiven. But I know that even if things went exactly as I described, it would be more difficult and more complicated than it is in my imagination. We’ll see how it goes.

25 April, 2006

Story: Six Out of Seven

I realized it’s been quite a while since I last posted a story, so here’s one for your reading pleasure. This was one of the first Janey and Michelle stories. I wrote it originally for the soc.sexuality.spanking Short Story Contest in 2001. It’s veeerrrry loosely based on a true event (which is to say, I’d gone to a poetry reading with a friend, and the poet offered the statistic that inspired the story). And for the next half hour or hour, I kept harping on the statistic to the friend. Other than that, though, it’s all fictional. I was single at the time, for one thing, and for another, I’m actually very leery of public spankings.


Six Out Of Seven
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"Surveys indicate that one person in seven participates in some form of s/m sex," the poet commented. I listened to her poem, and then realized....

“Six out of seven people are vanilla?!" I whispered to Janey. "That can't be right!"

"Shhhhh, Michelle," Janey whispered. "Let people listen."

But as the poet left the stage, I had to repeat, “Six out of seven! No way!! A lot of people had to have lied."

"Michelle! Shut up!" A few heads turned our way.

"They *must* be lying," I consoled myself. I didn't think again about the statistic until we left. Every several minutes, as Janey and I sat in the cafĂ© with our friends Liza and Sam, I would comment, “Six out of seven?! No way!!"

Janey rolled her eyes. "Michelle. We all heard. Be quiet."

"Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, you ca-an't make me."

"Stop being a brat and drink your coffee."

"I know you are, but what am I?"

As we waited for the train to go home, I commented again, “Six out of seven. No way!!"

"Michelle. Shut up. I mean it."

"Anybody want a peanut?" I asked, engaging in some subtle brattiness. "They had to be lying," I added.

Janey had finally had enough. "Why don't we find out?" she asked, her voice dangerous. "There are about fifty people in here. Let's see what they think."

"They wouldn't tell us!" I pointed out.

"No problem. Sam, Liza, you're both observant women. I want you to watch, and see how many people seem interested." Janey firmly grabbed my arm, and pulled me across her lap.

"Wait! Janey! What are you *doing*?!" I asked as quietly as I could, trying not to call attention to myself, draped across my girlfriend's lap.

Smack! Her hand cracked down, but over my shorts, it didn't make much noise. No one noticed. It was overalls, and she wouldn't take them off, not in public. Unfortunately, the shorts were baggy, and there was plenty of room to drag the legs up.

SMACK!! The slap reverberated through the station. SMACK!! I kept my face down, cheeks burning. SMACK!! SMACK!! Janey concentrated on the spanking. SMACK!!! I concentrated on being quiet. SMACK!!! SMACK!! After about a minute, Janey asked, "Do you two think you've got an accurate count?"

Liza smirked, "Yeah, I think we have pretty fair assessment."

Janey let go of me just as the train came. I hurried to be the first one on. The others followed me. Liza and Sam got seats halfway down the car from us. I glared out the window, and wouldn't look at Janey.

"So? What did you observe?" Janey asked the other two when we got to my house.
Liza and Sam giggled. "Janey, you won't like this, but Michelle was right. I'd say a good third of the people there were *quite* interested."

I smirked at Janey, stuck out my tongue, wiggled my hips, and said, "Ha-ha, ha-ha.
I was right, and you were wrong." And then I trotted upstairs.

21 April, 2006

Something in the Air

So W. and I had a little bit of "Sunday night" last night. I had been dropping subtle hints (where "subtle" means "completely overt, but short of saying outright that I wanted to have a spanking scene"), and when we got home, I showed her this program, which is a simple thing that will calculate a punishment or determine a random scene for you. I think it's possible to edit it to reflect one's personal preferences, but we haven't gotten around to that yet.

So we chose an infraction ("snapping and swearing") and let the computer determine the specific punishment. I believe it suggested 45 smacks with the hairbrush, a dozen with the cane, and 7 minutes in the corner, nude, with hands on head. And so we went to the bedroom to play it out.

I wasn't fully in "scene mode" while we were making the bed and otherwise tidying the room, but it's amazing how quickly one gets into a submissive mind-state when one takes off one's clothes, and stands in the corner. It's not that I've never had corner-time before, because I have. And I think some of it has even included me being nude. But there was something about last night that made the headspace come all the faster.

After eight minutes in the corner (I wasn't being great at standing on both feet and keeping my face to the wall, so W. added a minute), I climbed onto the bed for my spanking.

Now, W.'s hairbrush isn't particularly heavy, and it's usually not too painful, but last night, it certainly built up some sting. Between that and her rather, um, familiar stroking, I was squirming around quite a bit by the end of the session with the hairbrush. Then it was time for the cane. She repositioned me, and gave me a dozen moderately lenient strokes.

After that we took advantage of my brain being in the right space and had some hot, delicious sex. That was quite nice, too, even if the sex left me more sore than the spanking did!

19 April, 2006

Bratty Sizzlebutt

I was playing around online 'cause... well, just 'cause. And I found the ever-amusing Spanko Name Generator. My name (if the name I use is "Dyke Grrl") comes out to be "Bratty Sizzlebutt." Silly, and a great waste of time. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday Nights

“Sunday night” has become a euphemism for spankings. Last fall, as we began to explore disciplinary spankings, we found it helpful to have a set time for me to account for the work I’d done the previous week. Friday nights weren’t great, because we were both tired, and also because we like to have a peaceful dinner together (or with friends). Saturdays, we often were out with friends, or otherwise busy. And weeknights, we’re often too tired or too busy for there to be time. Plus, Sunday night spankings started off the week with a clean slate, and gave me incentive to work well during the week.

For lots of reasons (aka, me spending time focused on mental health), the accounting for my work part has been put on the back burner for a while. But the spankings have continued in various forms.

I have been very grateful for the routine of it.

Sometimes, it’s a playful spanking. Several weeks ago, W. created a schoolgirl scene that was really fun. We imagined ourselves to be two girls just starting out at a boarding school. W. “convinced” me that we should do an “experiment” to find out what it would be like to get a spanking, since the school used corporal punishment. She had a variety of implements, and we discussed what the potential punishments would be for various offenses. Within our roles as new schoolgirls, we took on the roles of various figures at the school. It was very meta. Of course, W. was the really naughty one, and managed to convince me throughout the role-play that I should be the only one getting the spankings!

Sometimes, it’s a short, sexy spanking that quickly leads to other things.

And sometimes, it’s what I’d call a cathartic spanking. This Sunday, we had friends over most of the day. I walked them downstairs when they left. When I got back, W. asked if I was “ready.” Since we hadn’t specifically discussed spankings, I thought she meant “ready to go hang out in bed instead of in the living room.” I’m dense like that. Then she grabbed me by the belt and firmly directed me to the bedroom. This sent a delicious tingle through me.

We went into the bedroom, and straightened up the bed. As I was getting my side of the bed settled, W. rearranged the various items stacked at the foot of the bed. Yup, I thought, a spanking is in the works. She pulled me to face the wall, and instructed me to stay where I was. She left the room. (I get some points here, because my cell phone rang at this point, and even though I knew it was my mother calling, I didn’t pick it up.)

She came back, and praised me for having stayed in position. She arranged some implements behind me on the bed, and stroked my hair—occasionally gripping it firmly. She asked whether I was all right, and I said I was. She picked something up and… OUCH! It was the bath brush. Even through jeans (and the handkerchiefs I keep in my back pockets) that thing stings! She delivered several sharp smacks while I squirmed and wiggled. She moved my hands back up to the wall every time I reached down.

When I really squirmed, she stopped and shifted to hold my hands in position. She picked up one of the loopy toys and brought that down across my backside several times. Like the bath brush, it hurt even though my bottom was fully protected.

Then she put the toys down, and I thought we were finished. She climbed onto the bed, and told me to get over her lap. I did, and she continued the spanking. But this time, she had a goal. She held me firmly, and told me that she was holding me, that she was in control. And then she told me to “let it out.” She spanked hard and fast.

“Let it out,” she urged.

I resisted, I struggled. “I don’t want to.”

She wouldn’t let me twist away, she wouldn’t let me block out my feelings. I finally relaxed, and let the tears come. She rubbed my back and stroked me and held me. She told me how proud she was of me, she reminded me that I was (am) safe.

I hadn’t been expecting this kind of spanking. I’d had spanking on the brain for days (well, I’m re-reading the Enid Blyton books, and those are definite fodder for spanking fantasies), but I didn’t think I was telegraphing my desires so strongly. More than that, I hadn’t been more than usually edgy over the previous week, so I wasn’t feeling desperate for a cathartic spanking.

But I think W. knew more about that than I did (or at least, more than I acknowledged to myself). Because the spanking helped immensely. Even though I had ignored my need to let out some of the tears, she seemed able to read it in me. I think I’ve slept a little better in the days since then. And while I’m still coping with flashbacks and anxiety, it’s been a bit more manageable—I’m going for hours at a time without intense anxiety, and this is an amazing relief.

I’m glad that we have these “Sunday nights” with each other, no matter how they turn out. And maybe, if I’m nice, we’ll have an extra Sunday night or two during the next few days of school vacation.

That's what happens

W. and I were at the warehouse store yesterday evening. A woman was near us in the aisle, and her kids were fooling around in the cart. One of them was standing up and leaning over, and she reached forward and popped him on the bottom. He said ouch!, and she commented, "That's what happens when you stick your butt out!"

We walked around the corner, and since there was no one in the aisle at that moment, I stuck my own butt out as I pushed the cart. W. gave me a smack, and said, "That's what happens when you stick your butt out!"

That smack stung more than I expected, because two days down the road, my bottom was still a little tender from our usual Sunday night spanking. (Two and a half days later, I can still feel it, actually!)

14 April, 2006

Bounded in a Nutshell

I might count myself the king (queen) of infinite space, were it not for the bad dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I woke up screaming from a nightmare. I noticed that W. hadn’t woken up, and I realized that it had just been a dream. I whimpered, and tried to wake her up, but I wasn’t really capable of talking. And then, as she wasn’t responding to that, I realized it was still a dream. I think I actually woke up at this point, because I got out of bed. I managed to get back to sleep, but kept waking up from nightmares (and not remembering the nightmares) all night long.

Last night wasn’t what I would call a “good” night.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being really ungrateful, to my psyche, or to the gods and fates that determine how well or poorly I cope. For the last week or so, I’ve managed to have sufficient self-discipline to be able to get through the days, getting a lot of stuff done so that we could have people over for a Passover Seder last night. For most of a week, I was able to make myself do things, simply because they had to be done.

On the one hand, I’m profoundly grateful for that capacity in myself. It’s how I’ve gotten through the hard times in my life: that ability to manage to get things done, and even to get them done reasonably well, regardless of whether or not I can actually handle doing them.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself more and more often in a situation where very little absolutely has to be done, and in this state, I seem unable to force myself to do things that aren’t vitally necessary. So I kind of fall apart.

It makes me feel rather guilty, since if I am capable of forcing myself to do things when they have to be done, if I am able to suppress the panic and the flashbacks and that horrible chaotic overwhelmed feeling some of the time, why can’t I force myself to have sufficient self-discipline to do this all of the time? I have those voices at the back of my head, accusing me of just not trying hard enough, not wanting desperately enough to feel better. If I tried harder, those voices reason, I could continue to manage all of the time, and not just when there is a deadline.

Now, rationally, I know that this is unreasonable and unhealthy. Heck, rationally, I realize that this is probably why I ended up with things like fibromyalgia (the year before I had what turns out to have been my first fibro flare-up, I distinctly remember having the constant sensation that I was sucking the energy reserves out of the very marrow of my bones, in order to get done all of the things that had to be done).

I realize that self-discipline alone isn’t going to keep me from having flashbacks. I understand that it’s not even healthy to suppress them. But, damn, I really wish I could.

I am also resentful that I don’t seem to have a choice about the panic, about the memories. If I could choose, I would have more time to just get to be peaceful and happy and enjoy living my life. And I hate that it takes strict self-discipline to pull this off, because if I’m not constantly putting at least part of my mind to the task of holding off all of the negative stuff, there it is, in the middle of my brain-space, taking over everything.

I suppose I do have a choice, but I don’t seem to know how to make it. Or I don’t have the courage for it. Because I know there is a dream I don’t even remember, the one that I dreamt made me wake up screaming. And I cannot bring myself to, I do not know how to, I am terrified to face the content of that first dream.

I wish I could just let the past be the past, inert, over, done. I wish that the fact of my survival were able to give me the strength to face what I survived. (And the voices in my head sneer, “It was nothing, it wasn’t bad, why are you whining about it?”) In a more positive sense, I try to tell myself that nothing I remembered could be as bad as the struggle to not remember. But I don’t seem to be convinced.

30 March, 2006

It's like a train wreck

For years, I had therapists who insisted that I would only have memories of my childhood when I was ready for them. I always figured that by “ready” they meant I would be able to cope with the memories; that I would have skills for dealing with them; that I would have a strong support network in place. I thought they meant that I could have the memories, but also live my daily life in between.

So I admit I’m feeling a little resentful. Through a combination of events, I don’t currently have a therapist. Most of my friends live in other states. I haven’t had the mental energy to keep up with my primary source of online support. My best friend has been getting increasingly volatile and difficult to talk to in the best of circumstances. So my tangible, daily support network consists of my wife. She is a wonderful, loving person. But I also realize that she’s not able to provide all of the support I need. And she really doesn’t know any more than I do about how I can cope with what’s going on.

On top of all of this, I’m getting very mad at the jerks on the Internet who feel the need to create websites about how people who forgot childhood abuse and then remember it as adults are making it all up. I was checking Google to see if there was an online version of The Courage to Heal. Most of the sites that came up were the ones debunking “false memory syndrome.” I suppose it’s my fault, for persisting in clicking on those Google links, even though I know the sites are going to be… um, wrong. And yet I click. On more than one site. On more than one day. This, from a person who generally doesn't even rubberneck at accidents when I'm driving!

The people writing these sites give me no credit whatsoever for being able to make up something that’s actually interesting. Really, now! When I was a kid, I created whole worlds! I can make up stories about things that are actually unique and original. So why would I bother to make up run of the mill physical, emotional, and sexual abuse? Why not come up with something like being kidnapped by fairies, or traveling through time?

In my more rational moments, I can laugh about it. I mean, where is the benefit to me in making up the memories? Oh, right, I really wanted to be unable to do anything I really enjoy because of the crippling panic attacks; I really couldn’t figure out how else to have nightmares every single night; I love shuddering and flinching during sex, and it’s a great way to build a healthy relationship. Yeah, that’s it.

So here I am, waiting (and waiting) for the people at the counseling center where I had my most recent intake to call me back. I would give up on them and go find a therapist on my own except for one thing. I am so emotionally drained, and having such a hard time getting myself to trust anyone right now, that I’m just not able to get the resources together to go find a different therapist. I need therapy in order to be able to advocate for myself to get good therapy. It was hard enough to manage to find the therapist who ended up dropping me after I was hospitalized. Going through the process all over again is more than I can bear.

Right now, it’s all I can do to hold myself together waiting for this stupid clinic to call me back, and talking myself into going and into talking once I get there. I suppose, in the meanwhile, it would be a good idea to stop reading the idiotic “false memory” sites, because I know if I keep reading them, I’ll manage to convince myself, once again, that I made everything up.

23 March, 2006

Long and rambling

Behind the cut there is a rambling post about childhood abuse stuff and current frustrations with health professionals. It may or may not be triggering, and it’s definitely self-centered, so be aware before you read. Oh, and it’s not about spanking in any but the most general way.

When I was a kid and got hurt, or someone hit me, they would often say, “Stop crying, that didn’t hurt.” And if I didn’t stop crying, they would “give me something to cry about.” Which is to say, hit me harder, hurt me more than I was already hurting. I suppose it was intended to give me a sense of perspective.

Another way my mother would encourage me to have a sense of perspective was to say, “If people could survive Auschwitz, surely you can survive this.” I was an adult before it occurred to me to think that most people didn’t survive.

When I complained about someone saying something that hurt my feelings, they would remind me that sticks and stones can break my bones, but words could never hurt me. My family always said I was too sensitive. They say this even more now, when I object to them saying things that are categorically racist (black neighborhoods are dirty because black people are lazy; black men are in jail because they’re all criminals… and we won’t even go into their “joking” use of the n-word around me, or their delight in referring to me as a “negro” because I won the National Achievement Award for Outstanding Negro Scholars when I was in high school). Because, of course, they don’t see me as black, so they don’t mean me when they say that blacks are bad people. And if I take it personally, clearly, I’m way too sensitive.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I feel like my health care providers are doing exactly the same thing right now.

My doctor is one of those people who thinks that the problem with fibromyalgia is that the people who have it just have a low pain tolerance (and, by the way, don’t exercise enough). It doesn’t matter that I experience migraines, abscessed teeth, and broken bones as mild discomfort. Because he can’t see a testable cause for the subjectively greater pain of fibromyalgia, he has determined that the problem is a low pain threshold. These things don’t really hurt, he is essentially saying. (And then went on to comment on how if you have a headache and then bang your foot, you stop noticing the headache because of the pain in your foot. You know, why not go get something to really cry about….)

And then there are the mental health professionals I’ve been dealing with.

I was in the psych ward recently because I made myself admit to W. and one of my friends that I was feeling suicidal. I felt guilty for admitting this, since it felt manipulative to ask for help (I was nearly 15% sure that I didn’t really want to kill myself, after all). My experience in the psych ward was horrible—I had no access to any of the things that make me feel safe or comforted, but the staff there acted as though I was unreasonable to not say I felt safe there. When I commented that it felt like being in the psych ward was a punishment for asking for help, I had more than one doctor on staff tell me it wasn’t a punishment, and then sternly add, “Well, now you know what happens when you tell people you’re suicidal.” (I had managed to convince myself they hadn’t really said that, until W. mentioned one of the doctors saying it to her as well.)

The staff at the hospital misdiagnosed me (in not only my opinion, but in the opinion of everyone who knows me that I’ve talked about this with) with borderline personality disorder. They offered no help for the panic attacks and anxiety that caused me to become suicidal. The antidepressant they had me start ended up causing increased anxiety (this isn’t their fault: it’s an antidepressant that usually reduces anxiety).

And over and over, the therapists and psychiatrists I’ve seen have insisted that since my life now is good, I’ve got no real reason to be so anxious. They tell me that I have a low tolerance for distress, and that my problem is that I am unable (read that: unwilling) to just get on with living my life and choosing not to feel the emotional upsets. When I asked for something I could do to reduce anxiety and panic attacks last week, the therapist I was seeing gave me a handout for people with a low tolerance for frustration that said, among other things, that a good way to better tolerate “distress” is “With comparisons: Compare yourself to people coping the same as you or less well than you. Compare yourself to those less fortunate than you; read about disasters, others’ suffering.” Because if people could survive Auschwitz….

I recognize that these people mean well. They are probably trying to help me. But somehow, it feels like they’re doing exactly the same things my family did to help me when I was little. If my body hurts, it is because I am a wimp, and I should be distracted with “real” pain. If my feelings are hurt, I should be told that I’m too sensitive, and reminded that other people are worse off than I am. They should tell me there’s nothing to be upset about, rather than help me to cope with the things that are causing almost constant anxiety.

Rather than getting better services, more suited to my needs (which is what my old therapist said would happen if I went to the psych ward), I have been dropped by my old therapist, and shunted from one person to another. I haven’t had a therapy session that wasn’t either an intake for care, or a termination of services since February. I am likely to stay at the center I’ve been referred to now, and they told me today that I won’t be assigned to a therapist for three more weeks. On the advice of the psychiatrists, given the adverse effects of the meds, I’m not currently on any medications for anxiety or depression.

And boy oh boy, are my inner children ticked off at me. I forced myself to admit, over and over, that I was definitely physically and emotionally abused as a child, and probably sexually abused. This by itself gives me severe panic attacks after doing it, and I’ve had to do it over and over and over, without actually getting any help in coping. Instead, I’ve been informed that my life is good, I’m clearly successful and accomplished, I am in a good relationship, and I am able to be in contact with my family, so I should stop feeling so anxious and depressed. (The psychiatrist doing the intake today actually said that in pretty much those words.)

I keep taking the risk to trust people, in the hope of getting some help, and instead, they send me to someone else, telling me I should be able to manage.

It really frustrates me. And I can’t help but think, “Would I be getting more services if I were acting out?” But I’m trapped in being “good.” And because the mental health providers recognize that I’m not going to actually do anything to hurt myself or others, or anything impulsive or dangerous, they trust that they can leave me to muddle along on my own with less help than I was getting when this whole business started. And I can’t help but feel the same desperation I felt when I was a teenager, knowing I needed help dealing with all of the stuff that had gone on, and realizing that it wasn’t going to come any time soon. (Yes, rationally, three weeks isn’t very long. But emotionally, it’s about 2 ½ weeks longer than I can handle right now.)