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.