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.)


Wintermute said...

I'm really glad that you've had positive
experiences coming out as lesbians
and with telling your therapists
about spanking in your life.

I have always felt that gay and lesbian
people are my brothers and sisters
because spankos are also viewed as
deviants, although spankos don't face
as much organized discrimination as
gay and lesbian people do. Perhaps
after coming out as a lesbian being
a spanko is a minor thing. But
I'm still very careful and I keep
my sexuality separate from my
professional life. Some things,
like the gender of your partner,
can't be kept private. But I'd
keep private things private as much
as possible. The world is not a
very nice and welcoming place. If
you ever start to doubt that, just
think of G.W. Bush and the people
who back him. So I'd recommend
being careful.



Jigsaw Analogy said...

Thanks for your support.

I think there's "careful" and there's "unwilling to take a calculated risk." Certainly, W. and I are quite careful as we choose the people we come out to about any aspect of our lives. But I've also found that it's very easy to fall into a habit of caution when, on analyzing the risks, it isn't necessary. I've got more to say about that than will fit into a comment, so I'm writing a whole post.

galros said...

I'm also glad you had a positive experience with the therapists. It's something I'm working myself up to talking about to be honest!

It's also good to see you writing back on here as well as the other jigsaw analogy!


Jigsaw Analogy said...

Thanks! I wrote about this here, and in other places, particularly because I wanted to share some positive coming out experiences. I know how hard it is to tell people, and I think everything goes better if you can remember, while telling, that there are people in the world who are accepting.

Thinking about what Wintermute said, about the world not being a nice and welcoming place... I don't entirely agree with that.

The world will not fall over itself to accept you if you don't do the work of accepting yourself. And there are people in the world who are too caught up in their views to see anyone else's.

But I think coming out is more often an option than it isn't. I lived my childhood protecting deep dark secrets. As an adult, I am choosing to tell as much as I can, because there is no good reason not to, and many good reasons to be out.

Other people need to calculate their own risks, and decide for themselves how out they will be. But I am committed not only to being out, but to adding positive coming out stories, so that when someone is deciding whether or not to tell, they can hear both sides of the experience.

Plus, I have had the great good fortune to be surrounded by people who have accepted everything I have told them thus far. If it's not safe for me to come out, then who can?

Anonymous said...

We had positive experiences coming out as lesbian except for one?

I am curious which one you are referring to... But you don't have to share in print if you don't want to.

Mostly I just wanted to comment somehow. :)