17 November, 2007

Calling all spanko inventors

Okay, so the other day I was reading about this thing called the 3rd Space Gaming Vest.

Even though I'm not too interested in video games that involve punching (aside from the occasional punching of the keyboard when I notice that I missed a TOTALLY obvious word in "Word Whomp Whackdown"), I think this product has possibilities.

It's a vest you wear while playing a video game, and it has pneumatic pockets that expand and contract when you get hit in a game.

Now, it seems to me that if we've made it this far into 21st century technology, it's not too long before someone figures out how to make, oh, I don't know, a pair of PANTS that will do the same thing. So that those of us who are sadly away from our partners can interact with them on a more visceral level.

Or there could be a whole shelf full of spanking related video games. Maybe a game based on playing school, and different behaviors, if they caught the eye of the videographic "teacher" would then result in various penalties.

I'm a writer, and an historian. But I'm not an engineer.

If you are, maybe you should buy one of these, and then figure out how to make it useful to spankos. I'm sure you'd make a ton of money on it!

08 November, 2007

Search Engine Round-Up

Like lots of us, I have a little widget on my blog that tells me how many people come here, how they get here, and what search terms send them to my blog.

The thing is, with a name like "Breathing In and Breathing Out," I sometimes feel a little worried that people looking for something totally innocent wind up here instead. (Same thing, strangely enough, goes for my other blog, Jigsaw Analogy.)

But there's a good batch of search terms today, so I get to do one of those fun lists of how people found me!

Google seems to REALLY think people should read the story Cheaters Never Prosper. Not sure why that's such a favorite, but people landed there after searching for the following:

  • smacked bare bottom

  • missy bottom hairbrush

  • her spanked her with the hairbrush ruler (hm. How does a hairbrush ruler work, exactly? And this searcher should get spanked for poor grammar!)

  • laura spanked in front of

  • you need to be spanked for your bad grades young lady (I wonder if they were disappointed to realize the story was about two adults, with no report cards at all?)

  • get the strap young lady

  • pull your pants down for a spanking

  • severe caning stories

  • severe caning (I think these last two might have been happier to find Collective Bargaining, but who am I to argue with Google?)

Then there are some of the usual terms:

  • spankings hurt (Well, isn't that kind of the point?)

  • spanking stories head girl (Imagine the school where "spanking stories" is the name of a house! What are the other houses? "bondage tales"? "figging fables"?)

  • i spank woman (me use grammar)

And then there are the ones that make me wonder whether the person was actually looking for something on, I don't know, BREATHING. (I suppose Google is not actually able to figure out content or intention, no matter how wise it seems....)

  • breathing out process

  • when breathing hurts

  • breathing in

  • breathing in and breathing out (These last two may have been actually looking for my blog. Hard to know for sure.)

06 November, 2007


Noticed this as I walked along the street today. And I just have to ask: how much does a pink bottom cost, not on sale? And does this mean the top is blushing, or just pink? I have a top who is often pretty pink....

15 October, 2007

Discipline forum

W. and I have been looking for a bulletin board type forum where we could discuss this whole discipline thing with other people. And we haven't run across or really heard of any forums where our particular ways of doing discipline (or, you know, of being non-Christian, non-straight people) really seemed to fit in.

So after seeing from some comments to a post I made on the Punishment Book that other people were also interested in the idea, I figured I could make a forum myself (I was setting up an unrelated website anyways, so it wasn't difficult to just add another domain on, and put the bulletin board there.)

Anyhow, I got the forum up today--www.thisthingwedo.com/forum.

It's a board for those of us who do some kind of discipline, but don't want to be told things like "anything with a power exchange or spanking is ultimately about sex, and if you think differently, you're just deluding yourself" or "men spank women because women are weak and God made men the heads of households for a reason" or all of the other things that people say. Beyond that, it's got space for discussing those real-life concerns, such as how our physical and mental health fit into this thing we do.

Please, if you are interested (and feel like having a non-blog space for talking about this stuff), join up.

14 October, 2007

role confusion

or, How DID Further Complicates DD

It's been a while since I last posted here. In part, that's because W. and I were away over the summer, so we just weren't doing much that inspired posting here.

But a larger part is that I (in the collective sense) think of this as a blog for adults, and the adult parts of my system just haven't been around that much lately.

That said, I (Ellis) feel more comfortable writing here than I do over at The Punishment Book. I know the adult parts of my system would prefer I not be going to any "adult" sites, I figure better one that's registered in my own name, than one that is shared.

I suppose I could try to make this a really coherent and linear post, where I sound all erudite, but it's a blog, and I figure it's okay to write however things come out. So the topic is role confusion.

I mean, on the one hand, here I am in this adult body. I look like an adult. There are adults who live in here along with me. But I, myself, am fifteen. People who know me, and know teenage development, insist that the things I do that frustrate the adult parts (and W.) (and me for that matter) are actually totally appropriate for a fifteen year old.

But I'm used to living in an adult body. I can buy cigarettes or alcohol, because my legal i.d. says I'm in my 30s. (And, trust me, I routinely get carded, for whatever reasons.) I can drive a car. I can access the entirety of our household budget with my ATM card. I am used to making the decisions about what happens in my life.

I have spent most of my life functioning as an adult, and resenting a lot of what that has meant.

Maybe some history of how I came to be a fifteen year old stuck in the body of a woman in her 30s would make sense here. There are those who say that DID/MPD is caused by a person (unconsciously) splitting themselves into different parts in order to continue "normal" functioning in the face of traumatic experiences. I don't have a good gauge on what is, or is not, traumatic, but I do know that most of the time I was growing up, the best way to get through was to be able to totally separate different strands of my experience.

So, why would I have split off when I was fifteen? I think part of it was that none of the other parts who were around then were really able to cope with what was going on at home. Specifically, it's that someone needed to be a partner for my mother.

I guess you could call that the initial role confusion. My mother didn't have a lot of other options for someone to be a partner, and there, living in the house with her, was someone who had a body that seemed adult, and who sounded pretty much like an adult a lot of the time. We had moved to a new town midway through my 9th grade year, and I didn't really have any friends. So there I was at home most of the time, and I guess it just seemed natural for my mother to turn to me with all of the needs an adult has in a relationship.

And here's the hard thing. It's not like it was really clear what was and wasn't okay. I mean, which elements would I say shouldn't have happened? I just don't really know.

But I do know that all of the elements taken together added up to something that, had it not been with my mother, would have clearly been a Relationship, capital R. And it was a Relationship with clear evidence of domestic violence (although, I suppose since it was from parent to child, it was child abuse). Clearly, when one person in a relationship is an adult, and the other is a teenager, the balance of power is off. And when the person who is an adult is physically and emotionally abusive on top of that... well, it's not a great situation.

Okay, so fast forward, oh, fifteen years. And I (collective I) get into a relationship, on equal terms, with W. And then we move in together. This is when I (Ellis) started to get really triggered, a lot of the time. I would be absolutely FURIOUS that W. wanted me to behave as her partner. I felt (sometimes still feel) trapped and desperate. I would think, over and over, "At least with Mom, I knew if I stuck it out for a few more years, I would be able to just leave, no strings attached. But there's no out now."

So there's all of that emotional stuff going on. It's hard. Oh, my GOD, it is hard. I know it's hard for W. I mean, she has every single right in the world to have an adult partner. She is a loving, generous, really great person. I sometimes forget that, in the midst of my own stuff, but even I can recognize it's true. She deserves to have a partner.

And then here is this person, who lives inside the body of her partner, who is sometimes the only part who is present, who desperately needs her to NOT treat me as a partner. And it's not just about sex. Had my mother just come into my room at night, but been a mother during the daytime, then things might be much easier. But that's not how it was.

Okay. So on top of all of that, W. and I have been trying to maintain the structure and rules that I so desperately need.

Last week was an example of what happens when role confusion and DID collide with the best of efforts a couple can put into DD.

Over the summer, the rules and structure had pretty much not been in effect. We were travelling, and consistency just wasn't something either of us could manage. And then we got back home, and the habit from the summer of not doing discipline was stronger than the habit from before of doing discipline.

So I was getting really, um, out of kilter. Not doing well. Not being able to structure my own life. And things have been really chaotic for me internally, including the fact that none of the adult parts has been present at all for well over a month, and not much before that since somewhere at the beginning of August.

So W. and I discussed bringing back the rules. And for a couple of days, it did help quite a bit. Then things kind of blew up, due to something W. wrote and didn't intend me to see, but which was in a place where I couldn't really avoid having seen it. It basically talked about how much W. misses having an adult partner, and wishes that I (Ellis) weren't the only one present lately. Given that I'm not stupid, I had already been suspecting she felt that way, and feeling pressure to take responsibility for the role of adult partner. I mean, that's the kind of thing I was created to do--the things no one else wanted to cope with doing. But it's also the kind of thing that I've been working on NOT having to do any more.

So things were difficult last week, to say the least.

On the other hand, I have to give W. some huge credit. Despite the fact that I was fighting and testing in stunningly TESTY ways, despite the fact that I was doing everything I could to just push her to the point of giving up on the rules (something she has done in the past), she managed to hold firm to them, and be as consistent as a person who is coping with (currently) untreated ADD could be.

I got a punishment spanking every single night last week, each harder than the last. I continued to resist, and push, and just try to get to the point where W. would give up on the rules. Much as I was desperate for her to be consistent, I couldn't trust that she would be, and I just needed to "get it over with" as soon as I could.

But I was also working very hard, when I could, on figuring out what I could tell W. that would help her to understand me, and what I need, and why I need it. Just because I was testing doesn't mean that I wanted to be testing, you know? Just because I believed W. wasn't going to follow through doesn't mean that I didn't hope, deep down, that she would.

I have to say how incredibly grateful I am to her that she did manage to be consistent, because it's building up a little store of reasons to trust her in my mind.

Those of you who also have "trust issues" will know how much of a long haul we're in for. Much as I'd like to be able to say, "Oh, we had a good discussion, things are great, now I trust her...." Well, that would be naïve. But, slow though the process is, we are building trust, and that is a good thing.

And we are working on ways we can clarify the roles in our household, for both of our benefit. It does get complicated, like it does for anyone else doing discipline. I mean, most of us have quite a few roles in our relationships. But I guess with DID, that gets just a bit more complex.

17 May, 2007

It's all in the context

My mother always used to say that parents who said "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you" were doing it all wrong. She believed that the child was the one who should be "hurt" by a punishment. Mostly, it was a joke. But there was an element of truth to that in her approach.

But I've seen a different way of doing things since W. and I have been using "discipline" in our relationship. It's not that W. should be in greater physical pain after a punishment (although there has been the occasional mishap), but that part of the power of the punishment comes through the knowledge that she really does not enjoy doing it, and is only doing it in order to help me. I can see the emotional pain she experiences, and that, nearly as much as the discomfort of a spanking, helps to reinforce the lesson.

I posted at Jigsaw Analogy about a memory of a particular punishment from when I was a child. W. was disturbed by it, because the implement my mother used was one that W. and I sometimes use as well (although, come to think of it, not during punishments). But, for me, the context is far more important. W.'s goal is not to cause pain without consideration for my emotional state. She is careful not to hurt me (aside from the "hurt" caused by the specific punishment). She pays attention to me, and throughout a spanking, whether punishment or play, it is entirely clear to me that she loves me, cares for me, and will protect me as well as she is able to protect me. Even if I don't enjoy a punishment from her, I feel entirely safe. I am not afraid she will lose control and hurt me more than I am able to handle.

I think that, in a lot of ways, discipline in our relationship is helping to re-write my childhood experiences. It is allowing me some space to not have to imagine millions of rules, and follow each and every one of them, in order to stay safe. It is allowing me (and, even more to the point, my younger parts) to understand that adults can set and enforce consistent limits, and that it can feel safe and grounding to have these limits set out explicitly.

Discipline, on W.'s part, is very much an act of love. She does not hit me in anger, or because she feels like I am out of her control. She doesn't hit me to make me afraid, to make me feel guilty, to make me be obedient. She spanks me, or provides other discipline, so that I can feel more secure and so that I can know someone else is helping me to maintain limits. She also spanks me, on occasion, so that I can find a way to let go of what one of my little part calls the "mad bad angry feelings." Whether or not it would be a reccommended therapeutic technique, a spanking can clear the air; it will help me to release the tangled feelings inside, in a way that nothing else can manage so satisfactorily. Perhaps it's the release of endorphins, perhaps it's the sense of being cared for as I release the feelings. Whatever the reason, a spanking can help immensely when I am unable to relax my control over my emotions in a different way.

Mija posted at The Punishment Book about finding your "someone." I've been thinking about that process, and remembering how fortunate I am to have W. Neither of us is perfect, and we didn't come into the relationship with perfectly matched desires. But I've found that the love we have is enough to keep us working through our differences, and finding ways to meet each others' needs.

W. is my "someone," and I wish I knew how we managed to find each other. I'd hesitate to say it was fate, although there was an element of that. I wouldn't say it was out of being willing to settle, because in so many ways, we had each adjusted to being single, and were willing to accept that we would continue being single for the foreseeable future. Neither of us, I think, was especially desperate for a partner. But when we met, we were ready for each other. We were able to talk about what we wanted in a relationship from the beginning, and we were able to trust each other enough to be vulnerable. It helped. Sometimes, it felt like diving off a cliff and hoping there would be water in the lake below, but it has been worth it.

Finding your "someone," I think, takes a lot of time. There is no perfect match, already made, waiting out there in the world for you. Instead, there are a lot of people who are compatible in some ways, but not in others, with whom you can build a relationship. Years down the road, you may find that, hey!, this person really is quite perfect, and I have exactly what I hoped for. But it takes trust.

If I were giving someone advice on a new partnership, I'd say, "Share yourself; let them know what you want, trust them with your secrets." Perhaps not all your secrets at once, but give them enough of yourself so they will be able to see where the other parts are coming from when you are able to share those as well.

22 April, 2007

Revolutionary Acts and Calculated Risks

Or, Notes From My Activist Self

I often say that happiness is a revolutionary act. My experiences in this world could have left me unable to take joy from anything. Many people who live with the scars of childhood abuse, or who struggle to cope with debilitating physical illness, or, honestly, who are unable to come to terms with their sexuality, kill themselves. Others numb themselves with addictions, or they cut themselves off from life to cling to the pain they have known. They are unable to move past what happened into the possibilities of their futures. To continue, not only to live, but to take joy in life... that is revolutionary.

Happiness is not just accepting those occasional moments of grace, when joy bursts through you unexpectedly. It requires work. To get real happiness, and not just the ability to put a smile on your face regardless of how you feel, you have to be at peace with yourself.

To do that, you have to come to a point of self-acceptance. And one aspect of self-acceptance is being willing to be seen by other people. Which leads to coming out.

I have been coming out for what seems to be my entire adult life. I came out as a pagan. I came out as a lesbian. I came out as a survivor of childhood abuse. I came out as a spanko. I came out as a person with an invisible physical disability. I came out as a person who grew up poor and on welfare. And then, when I thought I had finally gotten done with coming out, I faced coming out yet again, as a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Am I out to everyone I see, about everything I am? Of course not. Sometimes coming out isn't relevant, and sometimes, while relevant, it's a risk I (or W. and I) are not willing to take.

However, as much as I can, I push my comfort levels to be as visible as I can be. It is always a calculated risk. I have grown accustomed to adding up the positives and negatives of a particular moment of coming out, and deciding whether to say something. Or not.

I believe that self-acceptance is vital in this process. If I whispered, ashamed, "I am _________," and then hurried away before someone could reject me... they would reject me.

I do my best, instead, to say confidently, "This is who I am. I accept myself." And then to be open to hearing the other person's response. To make it easier on myself, I choose the people I come out to carefully. I don't go up to someone preaching on the street and tell them about my deep pagan beliefs (okay, I don't often do that). I don't tell the person ranting about how "all those people using benefits cards should get jobs" about growing up on welfare. I am as out as I can be, but I take care of myself (myselves).

Even with people I know well, whom I trust, it can feel mind-numbingly terrifying to think of coming out. The point of a calculated risk is to weigh the difference between what I fear will happen, and what, on cooler reflection, I actually think will happen. I ask what I have to lose by saying one particular thing, at one particular moment, to one particular person.

When I am sure that, objectively, nothing that bad will happen, I take the perilous step of trusting someone with who I am.

Visibility is a revolutionary act. I come out, not only for my own comfort, but so that other people will need to hide less of themselves. I come out, not only to tell my own story, but to allow other people like me to know they are not alone. I come out, not only for others who are like me, but so that people who are not like us will learn that we are just as human as they are.

21 April, 2007

We told our therapists about spanking

And we are still in therapy. With the same therapists. And it's all right.

It started because my therapist had suggested to one of my teen parts that it was entirely okay to ask W. for help creating and enforcing limits. And since the three of us were going to meet to discuss the process, and to define rules and consequences, well, mentioning spanking seemed à propos.

W. was perfectly comfortable telling my therapist about spanking. It didn't seem to be an issue for her, she felt that it was an important thing to discuss, and that it was information my therapist could use. And it did seem like the right thing to do, rather than trying to be all evasive and sitting with the discomfort of knowing we were leaving out a huge chunk of how it is that rules and consequences work in our relationship.

So we told her. She did mention the obvious concern (re-traumatization), and I said simply that I was confident that spanking itself is not re-traumatizing. There are other issues at play, and there are many things I have to work through in therapy, but spanking is actually fairly peripheral.

However. W. stopped going to therapy last summer. At the time, she said it was because we were broke (we were) and that if only one of us was going to be in therapy, it should be me (I agreed). But, given W.'s procrastination in going back into therapy when we could afford it again, I guessed that there were more reasons she was not in therapy than just the money.

And there were. As it turns out, a big one was her discomfort telling her own therapist about spanking and discipline, combined with her desire to process through how she feels about her role in that.

But W. needs support she can best get in therapy. And she's got her own things to process that have somewhat less to do with me. She even agreed that she needs therapy. So she finally went back to see her therapist a week or so after we'd "confessed" our deep, dark secret to mine.

She told her therapist, and once again, it was fine. Her therapist didn't seem to think the spanking, per se, was an issue, so long as each of us is comfortable with our role.

I guess the lesson is, just because you're worried about what other people will think, it doesn't mean that they will respond badly. And I guess it's like any other kind of coming out. In my life, I've found that the difficulty is not in how people respond, but rather in getting myself to a point where I'm brave enough to tell them in the first place.

With one exception, W. and I have had incredibly positive experiences coming out as lesbians. I have found that the people in my life are caring and supportive when I tell them about any of the other boxes shoved into my mental "closet." I wonder, at times, whether our experiences are positive because we are fortunate in our community of friends and family, or because, on the whole, the world is a more accepting place than we give it credit for being.

But as we make our decisions about what to tell to which people, the hundreds of positive experiences we have had can often be outweighed by one bad experience. We balance the relief of openness against our dread of what might happen, what we have heard happened to other people, what has happened to us.

And so, even though most of the time, everything is all right, there is still a level of terror in coming out.

I think it's important to remember to tell the stories where everything went fine, to help other people feel more confident about making their own choices. So take this post as one more piece of evidence. You can tell your therapist, your non-kinky (to your knowledge) therapist, your therapist whom you found by calling (non-kinky) referral service, that you spank or are spanked, and even that you and your partner do this in the context of discipline. And thus far, the evidence has been that it's okay. If you already have a good working relationship with your therapist, chances are, this will not cause it to fall apart. (I am basing this on a sample of two. If you have other experiences to add, please feel free to comment.)

22 January, 2007

Spanking again

I've been thinking more about the spanking/abuse thing, and realized a big source of my discomfort in talking with people about it.

It's not just the association between spanking and abuse. (Although I was pleased to read yesterday about legislation in California that would make spanking young children a criminal offense!)

It's that the people I know who can accept spanking between consenting adults see it as something sexual, and I agree with their belief that my young parts should definitely not be having sex. So if they are getting spanked, and spanking is either sexual or abusive, then what we're doing is wrong no matter how you look at it.

And the thing is, it's definitely the younger parts who need spanking. Not all, or even most of them. But one of the little kids, and a couple of the teens, really feel better if they get spanked occasionally, and it helps them to feel safe, and to cope with their feelings, and to let go of feeling bad about having done bad things.

There are also a couple of adult parts who feel much better, and are better able to let go of guilt over having done things that I shouldn't have (or, more often, forgotten to do things that I should do!), if I get a spanking.

And, of course, there is the adult part who likes spankings as foreplay.

Okay, so I've lost where I was going. I think it's mostly that there's still a lot of struggle with perception, and it becomes harder as I think about the different ways that I expect people to think about spanking. My friends that I'd talk about this with might be kink-friendly, but they tend to hold pretty strong views about how children should be treated. And I agree with them, kind of. Children shouldn't be spanked... and yet, I know from deep personal experience that I have some children and teens inside me who really do need to be spanked, and so I have a lot of confusion about the best way to deal with that.

On the other hand, my doubt and confusion aren't stopping me from requesting, or W. from giving, the occasional spanking. Neither are the doubt and confusion keeping those spankings from helping me to feel more centered and at peace. So there is that.

02 January, 2007

Spanking vs. abuse

I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately. I think part of what makes it difficult for me to figure out is this: it's not something I feel comfortable talking about with lots of people I know (well, really, none in real life). And more than that, it's not something I feel comfortable talking about with my therapist.

On the one hand, that's not too much of a problem. W. and I talk about it, and I write about it here and over at the Punishment Book. But on the other hand... it feels a whole lot like the "secrets" I had to keep when I was little. And that's a big piece of why it's so very uncomfortable for me.

The thing is, I do feel some shame to be an adult woman who needs disciplinary spankings. And I know that, with external children, I'd be inclined to think it wasn't a good idea, that there are lots of other ways to bring children up.

But... there is the simple fact that, for me, spankings work. They help me to focus, to behave, to feel in control.

And there is this: I do believe that there is a difference between spankings and abuse. I can tell with my own thoughts about it, that spankings, per se, are not the problem.

Even more, I can tell from the feedback from my kid parts. They do not perceive that W. ever "hurts" us. They articulate this with specifics: she doesn't yell, she doesn't hit us in the head, she doesn't punch us or pinch us or slap us. The spankings are controlled. They are understandable. She is calm when I get them. She is nurturing and caring.

And, as I said to my sister when I was eleven or twelve, it wasn't the spankings I objected to getting. It was the context, the way they were delivered. What was abusive was not being hit, it was the way the hitting (spanking, whatever) was delivered.

But. There is always that but. I can't talk about this with most people. I expect they would immediately decide it was abusive, unhealthy, something that I shouldn't be doing. They wouldn't look at it from the perspective of something that normal people do, as something that can be part of a healthy relationship. They would see it as a very unhealthy power dynamic. And I don't feel secure enough in my role in this to be able to make it clear to them that I believe it is healthy. So I just don't say.

I guess I wrote this post mostly so that my kid parts could know I talk about it somewhere, and that it's not a bad secret, just something we choose not to mention to most people. I guess it's that it's something private, rather than a bad secret. But it's still a struggle, because it's hard to make it clear to them that there are different reasons for not talking about things, you know? And also, that I'm not entirely comfortable with having them write a post to this blog, or to the PB, because these are, in my mind, more adult forums. But I don't want to write about spankings at Jigsaw Analogy, because while you can find this blog from that one, I don't want to make the people in our life who do read that one have to know about this part of my life.

It's all very complicated, to say the least.

So, in the hopes of getting some responses: has anyone talked about spanking (in the context of DD) with their therapist? Any advice? Warnings? Wise words?