27 March, 2008

Reading the ny times style section today. There is an article about vegan strippers and the place where feminism and veganism intersect. Interesting how livid (some) feminists can get about other people's choices. I would be more erudite but i am typing this on my phone, not a medium that lends itself to erudition. More later.

Too zoned out to make a more coherent post. But here's a link to the article I was talking about.

26 March, 2008

Responding to Wakeman

Natty got several posts up about this before I managed to, but I'm not bitter or anything. ;) (her posts are here, here (same post as at the pb, but definitely worth scrolling down to the comments, and here.)

And since Natty got her posts up before me, I feel *totally* justified in focusing on the things that really bugged me about the article. There were some good sides to the piece, and for a moderately mainstream examination of DD, she did portray a couple of different viewpoints.

HOWEVER. Whether because she wound up writing for Bitch Magazine, or because of her own biases, the structure of the article, the framing of quotations from her sources, and her choice of sources she quoted at all really reinforces one end of the spectrum of domestic discipline.

By beginning and ending the article with an extended discussion of sources like "Loving Domestic Discipline" and the people who believe in the whole "surrendered wife" thing, readers unfamiliar with the range of approaches to DD are likely to come away with the idea that those attitudes define DD. Throughout the article, Wakeman failed to draw a distinction between the different ends of the spectrum. For example:
The crux of domestic discipline is that women's behavior is inherently rife with transgressions, and the discipline provided by their intimate partner will be a leveling force... In addition to disciplinary spankings, MrLovingDD also advocates "maintenance spankings," which, he explains, "help to build on the existing levels of the woman's obedience, respect, and honesty.

Mija... describes DD simply. "To be really trite, take the Volkswagen ad. 'On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers.'" In their figurative VW, Pablo... disciplines Mija....

"I decide that there's some sort of goal I want to achieve and he enforces it," explains Natty... who writes about her DD relationship on a blog called The Punishment Book....

(Yeah. Cause Natty is the *only* woman writing there. Hmpf. ;P )

By framing the quotations from Mija and Natty this way, Wakeman implies that they believe gender is the central dynamic in domestic discipline. I think, had I not already known Mija and Natty, I would believe that they also believe the point of domestic discipline is to rein in women, whose behavior is "inherently rife with transgressions." Now, I don't presume to read their minds, but I'm pretty sure that neither Mija nor Natty really agrees with MrLovingDD.

The repeated focus on the male/female dynamic set a tone for the article that rubbed me the wrong way. It reinforced the (imo) misogynist beliefs of the LovingDD types, and undermined the feminist possibilities of other ways of doing "this thing we do." It would be as though she were writing an article about Christianity, and framed it to imply that all Christians are of the Jerry Falwell type, even when she was quoting people with more liberal views.

In order to do that, Wakeman had to exclude a portion of the DD community. In her mind, it is a small section, perhaps not relevant to the larger discussion. Buried between parentheses in the middle of the article, she noted
Theoretically, a man can be the submissive in a heterosexual domestic discipline relationship, and a DD relationship can be same-sex, but based on both Internet presence and the couples that I interviewed, it's far more common to find heterosexual, female-submissive practicioners.

Let me speak up as one of the people interviewed for this article. I am in a same-sex relationship, and we practice domestic discipline. I have a blog, and I am one of the writers at the Punishment Book. And I have some opinions as to why it's far more common to find heterosexual, female-submissive practicioners of DD.

Groups like "Loving DD" specifically exclude couples who don't match their vision of why domestic discipline is necessary in relationships. They deny that anyone who practices outside of the male-dominant, female-submissive paradigm is truly engaging in domestic discipline, because they adhere to the misogynistic belief that women should be sumissive to their male partners. All women. All partnerships.

Last fall, when W and I were struggling to figure out how to navigate this thing we do, we tried joining a couple of other bulletin boards. We tried a few, and weren't having much luck. I finally snapped when the moderators of the least annoying board I found moved my introductory post to the BDSM forum, insisting that because W and I are both women, what we do is kink, and not discipline. So I started This Thing We Do, and discovered a lot of other people who have felt excluded from other DD forums for a lot of reasons.

Just because people are excluded doesn't mean they don't exist. Fifty years ago, there weren't many black people in Ivy League insitutions. Was this because black people weren't intelligent enough, or because they were specifically kept out of those institutions? Yet, there were those who made an argument that intelligence was inherently tied to whiteness. Right now today, same-sex couples are denied the right to marry, with the argument that marriage is about heterosexual partnership. Does this mean that same-sex couples don't exist, or that they don't make long-term partnerships, or that they don't do any of the things straight couples do? (Well, according to my mother, the big difference between my lesbian relationship and my sisters' straight ones is that W and I spend a lot of time working on communicating well. But I wouldn't argue that it's our homosexuality that makes that happen!)

So okay. Some of this is irritation at all of the ways my relationship is dismissed, and most of that is not Wakeman's fault.

But at the same time, I am annoyed by this exclusion as a feminist. People tend to fall back on gender as an explanation for behavior at points where gender is not, in fact, the cause. Whether it is domestic discipline or the discussion of who is responsible for doing the grocery shopping, gender cannot be the answer.

Very often, I will hear straight people talking about their relationships, ascribing the challenges to the differences between men and women. Some of our (perhaps less enlightened) straight friends say they wish they weren't straight, because they think their relationship problems would go away if there weren't those gendered differences.

I am here to say that relationships--straight, gay, polyamorous--are WORK. They take work. They take HARD work. And they take a lot of it. And domestic discipline takes work. It isn't going to save you the trouble of learning how to communicate with your partner. It doesn't excuse you from being able to express your needs and desires. All DD is is a tool couples can use.

Taking gender out of the equation forces me and W to look at ourselves. It forces me to take personal responsibility for this need. I do not need it because I am a woman. The reason W does *not* need it isn't because of her gender, either.

Accepting myself for who I am is a radical act. It challenges the idea that there is only one way of doing things, only one way of being a good (take your pick: feminist, woman, Christian, pagan, black person, abuse survivor, healthy adult...). And it does challenge me to think about why it is that I have these needs. If the answer is not "because I am a woman," then I'm left with a lot of work to do on understanding myself and who I am.

I suspect some of the reason that W and I were excluded from other forums is that some people don't want to have to do the work of understanding themselves and their relationships. It is easier sometimes to exclude dissenting viewpoints, in order to not have to examine your own experiences too closely.

And Wakeman's article gave those people an out. It left a broad path by which readers of the article can dismiss DD as misogynistic, and reinforced the tendency of feminism to exclude what isn't comfortable. It also allowed those who believe that DD works because "women's behavior is inherently rife with transgressions" not to challenge that belief for themselves.

I'm not completely certain why this thing we do works, but I know it's not because my behavior is any worse than W's. I don't know why I need external discipline, but it's not because I am submissive to W.

To me, the best of feminism comes when it challenges our assumptions about how people interact with each other in the world. Wakeman's article, for all of its positive sides, doesn't do that for me.

23 March, 2008

coffee and a spanking

w and i are doing family stuff today. so i hoped maybe we would be skipping the whole "maintenance" thing this week. no such luck. last night, i got this text message:
what time do we have to get up for coffee and a spanking?

so here it is, not even nine thirty in the morning, and i've had a spanking already. it wasn't a very hard spanking, but she said i wasn't allowed to squirm, which really seemed to make it hurt more. and it's hard to control that involuntary response.

as the spanking was ending, it was like something loosened inside of me. like some knot of something untangled. not sure how to describe it. what it meant was, as soon as the spanking was over, i grabbed hold of w to hug her. i needed that hug as much as i needed the spankings.

what was going through my head? well i guess it was that for a little bit, i felt safer than i have in a long time. it's ironic that this would come from a spanking, because, you know, there's all that stuff where they talk about how it's re-enacting abuse or something, or else it's sexual.

that's not at all what went on with me.

maybe it's that some parts in the system have really been thinking about how spankings happened when i was growing up (well, beatings that were *called* spankings). and how even when it's really bad now, the worst spankings i've gotten from w, are nothing compared to the kinds of things that were doled out to little kids in my family. there's one particular memory... not gonna get into it right now, but i'll probably post it before too long, either here or at my other blog. i know there are parts who want to write about that one, but it's hard.


some of the release was just... it felt like a little barrier being taken away from my ability to trust w. like, i was able to trust her just one bit more, and that came with this feeling of release, like i had to hold onto her really hard, because all of a sudden, that was more possible for me.

because, yeah, for me, having this disciplinary relationship is a key part of my ability to trust w. the fact that she keeps on being consistent. that she will enforce the rules even when i don't want her to. that we have built up our ability to communicate, and our trust in each other.

it's not like discipline or the rules solve any of our problems.

and actually, thinking about the initial text message... it's not like i'm not still in charge of a lot of elements in our relationship. i am the one who suggests lots of the rules. and we work together to figure out when the rules are working, and when they need to be changed.

and also, there's the fact that we take my mental health into account. when the reason i haven't followed the rules is because i just couldn't handle it, then we decide together, on a case-by-case basis. because the fact is, it probably *would* be a replication of abuse to ask me to ignore what's going on inside of me in favor of following rules (specifically in this case the daily tasks; safety-related rules still have to be followed).

i think it's the communication we have to do for the discipline that helps this to re-write the patterns i learned as a child. no matter how i behave, it's clear that w still loves me, and respects me, and cares for me. and she's not going to go over the top just because she is frustrated. she's shown over and over again that she isn't going to cross those lines. and i really appreciate that.

not sure what else to say, so i guess i'll leave it at that.

09 March, 2008

Sunday maintenance

well, this isn't exactly just about the maintenance end of things, since i'm pretty sure the spanking i got was also kind of a follow-up spanking to the one that i/we got on friday night.

but it was the sunday afternoon spanking. so w and i were talking beforehand, and i (jamie) admitted that a lot of why i didn't do my tasks last week was because sometimes i just need to push at the limits, and also that i kind of suspected the punishment wouldn't be very bad (and the spanking she gave grace on friday night just wasn't that bad).

and a lot of other stuff i can't remember or don't want to share in a public forum, but the part that matters for here is that the spankings are often just not particularly bad, and much as i HATE to get a bad spanking, once it's happened, then i am more in control of my behavior, and it's a LOT easier to be good and follow the rules without fighting, for a couple of weeks afterwards.

so i admitted that to w. and she followed through with a really, REALLY hard spanking. it was only 10 minutes, which is shorter than lots of the spankings she's given me recently, but BOY was it harder. most of the time, i can sit down on my desk chair pretty much straight after a spanking, and barely notice it. now, it's been most of an hour since the spanking, and i'm sitting down gingerly on my well-padded desk chair, and wincing at the thought of having to sit on anything harder.

and i guess the effect of a really hard spanking is this: i do NOT want to earn another spanking like that. i really, REALLY do not. and for as long as i can remember what this felt like, which is easier with a hard spanking, it will be pretty easy for me to follow through. well, presuming i can continue to trust that w really will follow through on another spanking, even if it hurts.

we're trying something new with tasks, and having them assigned by particular days, and particular parts. hopefully, that will work.

so, here's the list:

sunday: sort laundry with w's help (whoever is out, i guess)

monday: jamie: do laundry

tuesday: little kids: sweep living room and dining room; therapy; maybe go to a movie after therapy

wednesday: jamie and grace: thoroughly clean the kitchen (see notes); couples' counseling

thursday: ellis: see what's going on with the vacuum, fix it if possible; therapy

friday: jamie: vacuum all floors in the apartment.

08 March, 2008

My rules

Yup, another really long post. How exciting!

Anyhow, I was going to post this over at This Thing We Do, but then it turned out to be four pages long, so I'm posting an abbreviated version there, and the whole thing here.

General rules:

#1 most important: It's okay to be mad. It's NOT okay to be mean. This means it's good to let out anger in safe ways, like writing, playing the "explosion game," talking, drawing, hitting something safe, writing, etc. It is BAD to let out anger in ways that hurt other people, OR yourself. Even "accidental" hurting like breaking your foot by kicking a concrete garbage can. (Um, can I just clarify, I only did that *once*.)

Also in this category is not saying "whatever" to W. (As in rolling my eyes and saying "whatever." The consequence for that is getting my mouth washed out with soap. I suppose were I the type to swear at her, that would also be cause for getting my mouth washed out with soap, but it has yet to happen.) And I should do my best not be a punk or deliberately jerky or difficult. This includes “button-pushing.” This is hard to quantify, but we both kind of know what’s going on when it happens.

We have to eat three nutritious meals every day. A bagel is nutritious. A donut is not. Use your head. If you can't eat, a smoothie is an acceptable substitute. Soda is not. If I have "tummy yuck" that rule can be suspended.

Bedtime is 11:15 on school nights, 12:00 otherwise. An adult, or W, can decide on a change. "Not wanting to fight" is NOT an acceptable reason to suspend bedtime. Consequence for not following this: go to bed as much earlier the next night as I delayed the previous night. Even if the part who is out the next night isn't the one who delayed the previous night, this rule remains in effect. If you resist a second time, it's 2 minutes earlier per minute than the first earlier bedtime.

As a system, we're responsible for doing at least one "job" a day. If it's mostly the little kids out, these are things like feeding the cats or taking out the trash. If it's teens, it's washing dishes, sweeping, etc. Adults: grocery shopping, laundry, errands, major housecleaning, etc. (There have been several versions of this. Currently, it's that W will give us a set of jobs to get done during the week, and we work on them as we're able. Or that's the theory, anyways.)


I cannot read W’s mind. She cannot read my mind. I need to accept that neither of us is a mind-reader, and to be willing to say what I’m feeling, and believe her when she says what’s going on for her.


The book (where we keep notes about what works, process-related stuff, copies of the rules, and the pages of lines) gets returned to W’s bedside table. Do not destroy or hide the book. If you do destroy the book or “lose” it, then you are responsible for replicating everything that was in it, including all of the pages of lines.

Non-adult parts are NOT allowed to rescind the rules. It isn’t fair to take advantage of W’s desire to do the right thing by insisting that the rules are not helpful. It’s not acceptable to trick W into thinking that you are someone who is allowed to negotiate when you actually aren’t.

System-related rules:

No part is allowed to “go away.” You can stay inside the head, but NOT try to get rid of yourself. We are a system, and each part is important. We have to learn how to work together, even if it’s hard.

We all have to work on being clear about which part is active, internally if nowhere else. In safe situations, we need to let trusted people know who we are.

NO ONE is allowed to run away or hurt the body. Not at all. Or to plan or threaten to do this.

No one under 14 is allowed to drive the car. No exceptions. If someone under 14 needs to switch in, we GET OFF THE ROAD FIRST. This rule is not negotiable.

No one under 20 is allowed to leave the house alone after 9 PM (except for specific, time-limited errands, like going to the store; this is only with permission). You are not allowed to trick W into thinking you’re an adult. If someone DOES sneak out, another part is entirely correct to tell W. This is serious: it’s about safety.

There’s a LOT of process-related stuff throughout the notebook, about consequences that do and don’t work, and stuff like that. One thing I want to say is, it’s kind of nice to look back and see all of the progress that *has* been made, even when it seems like there hasn’t been much. Anyhow.

I’ll try to go through and summarize what’s there.

Consequences that work:

Spankings are effective with most of the parts who do things that would earn them a spanking. They are more effective depending on the position (ie, bent over the bed vs. lying across the bed in front of W). Lighter spankings are less effective (except with the younger parts, who really don’t need a very hard spanking for it to be effective). There’s a balance between long/hard, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what works best. A spanking that is too short, or too light, isn’t effective. One thing that would help spankings to be more effective is for W to not worry about whether it will hurt me/us. She really is not going to be able to cause serious damage.

Writing lines can be effective. It helps when it’s used to reinforce a rule that has been broken a couple of times. They work better after a spanking, rather than before, or in place of a spanking, although writing a LOT of lines can sometimes be a punishment in itself. Writing just a few lines, before a spanking, lends itself to resistance and that being ineffective.

Corner time works well mostly as a way of focusing my mind before a spanking. It helps when there’s a short lecture beforehand, making clear WHY I am standing in the corner, and keeping me focused.

Losing computer games is most effective as a punishment for Jamie. Less so for the others.

Losing the computer might be effective, but it also seems to induce some serious upset/panic, so I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s a serious consequence, or because it really is too much.

Mouth washed out with soap: as a consequence for saying things that are not okay, this is really effective.

Being “grounded” is probably an effective punishment, except that lately, I haven’t been getting out of the house for much other than therapy. But it’s still a thought in general.

Early bedtime: very effective as a response to not going to bed on time. I’m gonna rat the rest of us out, and point out that in the last bedtime negotiation, you said that bedtime would be 11:15 UNLESS RULES WERE BROKEN that day, in which case it would be 9:45.

Having extra chores, either when I didn’t do the ones I was supposed to, or as a consequence for being a jerk. This is a complicated one, because it needs to be balanced between being strict and being reasonable. But maybe if I remember that I can say “red light” or something similar if I get overwhelmed (rather than pushing limits), this would work.

Process-related stuff:

One thing that comes up a lot is that it’s better to be too strict than not strict enough. Giving me extra chances results in harder pushing of the limits. We do have a safe word (red light/yellow light), and we WILL use it if we need you to stop or slow down. Anything else is mostly either a response to the punishment, or being manipulative (I think you know who I’m talking about there!).

TELLING me what to do is better than asking, particularly in the context of discipline.

Doing the consequence sooner rather than later, or making it clear that there will be a consequence (and following through on that!) is better.

W is getting MUCH better about following through on consequences, and not negotiating over the rules. That helps a LOT.

Maybe it would help W to think of her role in discipline as though it were improv. If she doesn’t commit, it won’t work. I trust her to be safe, and not to hurt me. And we’d all much rather that she made a mistake than that she did nothing.

We all respond to direct questions, and our lies are much more likely to be by omission than outright lies. So asking a direct question will help to hold us accountable.

New plan for Sunday maintenance:

Do it on Sunday afternoon.

Check in about the week that just went by, and talk about what went well, and what didn’t go well.

Corner time, with something to focus on (ie, about how the past week went).


Check in about the week to come (discuss anything that’s happening, and also give a list of tasks for the week).

JA journals for 15 minutes, and comes back to spend time with W.

07 March, 2008

Why can't I be good?

that song has been running through my/our mind all day. all week maybe. trying to figure out what's going on, why i/we push so hard against the rules.

the current one that we've been pushing hardest against is the one that we asked for. we asked w to give us tasks to get done each day. yeah, something a responsible adult wouldn't have to ask for. something i was expected to intuit even as a teenager--you know what needs to be done, so you should just do it. but i wasn't. i couldn't.

it's a complicated thing. some of it is because there are parts who get triggered by particular tasks, like putting away plates. some of it is because lots of us are terrified of beginning to seem to function as an adult, because the more we do that, the less it feels like we're able to get support. some of it is because, in the midst of everything else, it's so hard to be able to focus enough to break tasks down into their various pieces any more. i know i used to be able to do that, but it hasn't been happening for a long time. and some of it is because if w gives us specific tasks, that means we're not responsible for getting everything done, and it gets a little less intimidating. and helps the more, er, ├╝ber-responsible parts to be able to back off before the entire house is clean, and every other concievable task has been done. presuming i/we did the task, that would be all that needed to get done.

so we asked w for some help with getting tasks done. and then discovered some problems. i don't think any of the teenaged parts really trust her to follow through with consequences. but at the same time, there's a desperation to break some kind of rules. i think even if i/we trusted her completely, we'd still be breaking the rules sometimes. i've seen it with the little kid parts: sometimes, they just need to be reassured that it's safe to break the rules, that w will still be there for us. but more, that the response to rule-breaking isn't going to be catastrophic.

had i not done expected tasks when i was in high school, things would've been out of hand. and it would have included a lot of emotional abuse, and i think there are parts who say that there would also have been physical abuse. honestly, even had i completed them, had they not been done to exacting standards, it still would have been bad.

even though i should be old enough to understand this without experiencing it, i can't quite understand emotionally that things are different, not without pushing at the rules to see what happens.

and some of it is being desperate for the reassurance from w, that she's really going to follow through, and keep on dealing with me, even if it's hard.

so i didn't do my tasks this week. and they're the same tasks, more or less, that i didn't do last week. and tonight, i got a spanking for it.

i had done some of the task (washing some of the dishes), and since w didn't say anything about consequences when she got home, just commented on the number of dishes i had washed, i kind of fell apart. it was like, "well, ok, see, i knew that she wasn't going to follow through on consequences, if i made even a token effort."

there'd been a lot of arguing to that effect. one of the things that's really hard to admit is, we don't all get along inside. and us teenagers are probably the worst in that respect. ellis is too responsible. she tends to want to do all of the work we're supposed to, and to push really hard to make sure that gets done before the fun stuff. jamie tends to like to do things that are rebellious just kind of because she likes to do things that are rebellious. and grace... well, grace kind of has trouble letting go of the idea that no one is going to help us if we look like we're even a little bit ok. and a lot of the rules center around either self-care (eating, sleeping) or around daily functioning (like tasks). and so we argue and fight.

i guess it's kind of like if we were sisters or something, not that i was ever this... communicative with my actual sisters. and not like we were ever that close in age. jamie is 14, ellis is 15, and grace... not sure exactly, but somewhere around there in age. we are kind of stuck with each other, and we have a few things in common (like, oh, living in the same body) but aside from that, we're really no more alike than if we were sisters. which is inconvenient, because it's not like we can go off and spend time elsewhere, you know?

oh, right, so back to the spanking. w hadn't said anything about the task not being finished, and so i wasn't doing so well. that was mostly grace this evening... seeing it as confirmation that even the least little bit of seeming to be ok, and i'm back being expected to cope without help.

so when w asked whether i was ready for bed, and then told me we had "unfinished business," i felt a serious wave of... relief? kind of. mingled with being nervous, because it's not like i wanted the spanking, no matter what my behavior might have indicated. i guess it's a matter of the difference between "want" and "need." i definitely needed it, but i most certainly did not want it.

so i got the spanking, and it's over, and i can only hope this will mean that i'm able to have a good week.

i can hope.

but now for a kind of gross analogy (thank you, jamie): limit-pushing is kind of like a zit. it builds up and builds up. and a spanking, or other consequence, is kind of like popping that zit. sometimes, doing it just once works fine. apply a little pressure, pus goes zooming out (ew. i hate writing with other parts!) and everything is ok for a while.

other times, it takes more than that, and the pressure builds back up again really soon.

but i (ellis) am going to add that sometimes, it will seem like the zit didn't get sufficiently popped, but then after an hour or two, the pressure backs off on its own. you know, just for the record.

one thing w talked about, and our therapist has been talking about, is how ellis needs to not have to be responsible for everything all the time. she was crying today about feeling like she has to be too responsible, and feels like she has to figure out how to get all of us to cooperate, and it's hard. and the thing is, ellis does not cry easily. and i guess it is hard on her. on the other hand, we (that is, right now, grace and jamie) also realize that ellis won't often let the rest of us do anything fun if she feels like there is work we ought to be doing. and she's not very good at listening to the rest of us, or feeling like we've listened to her if we haven't just fallen into line and done exactly what she wants. i mean, yeah, she is pretty smart. and she's made some good decisions. but she's not the only one who can make good decisions, and sometimes, things she thinks were a bad idea turn out to have been the best choice we could have made. just for the record.

04 March, 2008

perfectly imperfect

Natty recently wrote a post about the ways that a discipline relationship helped her to be able to give herself permission not to be perfect.

It really resonated with me, and I found myself with more to say than it seemed fair to fill up the comments section of *her* blog with, so instead, I'm writing here.

For me, and I mean this collectively, I've worked for at least the past 20-odd years on being perfectly imperfect. What I mean by that is, somewhere late in grade school, and definitely by middle school, I realized that being *too* good meant that I wasn't appropriately demonstrating that everything was ok. It was vital for me to seem to be like the other kids at school. Home was something of a different story. At home, not only did I need to maintain levels of perfection that, looking back, were *insanely* difficult, but I needed to behave as though I was not, in fact, doing so. I needed to look as though I didn't consider myself to be especially good, or smart, or hard-working. So I guess some of the perfect imperfection happened at home, too.

So what could I do? I didn't have the space to make mistakes with this. It wasn't something I could really do through trial and error. I had to figure out how to be perfect without ever calling attention to the perfection (not that I achieved it, naturally. Not bragging here!)

I started by reading. I would read stories about normal kids, or kids who had access to magic but were otherwise normal, or kids who lived in the past but were otherwise normal. I would see that they made mistakes, or misbehaved. I memorized how they would respond, and practiced it in my head. Then I began to write my own stories, stories about kids who were normal, or maybe they had access to magic or lived in a different world, but were normal. That is to say, kids not going through abuse.

I did this for a couple of years, until I felt like I had some sense of where the boundaries were. How to be a little snarky in safe situations (ie, school), but not cross over the line into misbehavior.

And I learned to create a semblance of normalcy. I learned to put out a vibe that let people think that everything was ok, that the reason I didn't go to parties or really hang out except for at school functions was more that I was introverted, and not that there were things going on behind the scenes that made it impossible for me to be a normal kid.

I learned it well enough that I don't know if any of my teachers realized that the hard work I put in to doing well in school was that the only, absolutely the ONLY escape route I had been able to see was getting into college and leaving home. Because I practiced being like the other smart kids, the ones who had always known they would go to college, the ones who had some reason to be confident it would happen, the ones whose families might even be helping them to figure it out. I constantly watched the signals, figured out what to do by guesswork.

A lot of what I mean by talking about being perfectly imperfect is that I also did everything I could to act as though mistakes weren't life-shattering. By high school, I had a good sense of what "normal" looked like, and I was getting pretty good at imitating it. I don't mean that I tried to fit in much with the other kids, because there wasn't a snowball's chance of me doing that. But I *did* know that there was nothing wrong with being different, and I figured if I had the persona of being quirky, that might mask the deeper differences beneath the surface. So I was a nerd, I didn't bother trying to be fashionable. I made myself not care about not being able to do lots of normal teenaged things.

By adulthood, I realized another thing. Someone who had gone through my childhood was gonna have issues. I had issues up the wazoo. They were causing some problems.

However, I also had a community where this was... I guess normal enough. I knew lots of people who had issues, and I knew what to do. You go to therapy. You work to heal. And I knew what healing looked like, and did my best to copy that. Probably, if I didn't have DID, it would have worked.

The thing with being perfectly imperfect, though, is that the point is, you have an obstacle (lets say, oh, fibromyalgia and DID). And you accept it. And you do all of the right things, and choose to overcome that obstacle. By sheer force of will, in the Zen sense of force of will, which is to say, by accepting it and working through it, and doing all of the right things. You know, by walking with a cane and resting when necessary, but somehow, being able to continue to overcome. By going to therapy and support groups and writing in your journal and deciding that you're going to communicate with the different parts, and somehow, being able to make it all work.

I am desperate for that vision of perfection. The version where yes, these things are here, and there is something I can choose to do that will hurry me along to the place where I can continue to be perfectly imperfect. Someone with flaws, but who is able to be... I don't know. Perfect, without being perfect.

So then there's discipline, or rules, or this thing we do. And I still strive to be perfectly imperfect. I expect that maybe just by having the rules, or by breaking them very rarely, and then getting punished, then I will miraculously be able to have self control, and not need the rules any more. That I will be able to stand on my own, needing only the help that makes other people feel good for helping me, and not the help that makes other people (W) frustrated and overwhelmed.

Part of being perfectly imperfect is being able to be helped easily, with the first thing a person tries. Or, if not that, it's being able to explain clearly what it is that I need, and how to give it to me.

The fact is, though, I'm not perfectly imperfect. I'm just plain old ordinary imperfect. I hate that like poison.

I break a rule, get punished, and break it again. And again. And again.

W gets exhausted and frustrated, and I'm not able to make myself trust that she's not going to give up on me, so I marshall all of my persuasive abilities to get her to agree to stop having the rules. And then I am furious with her for giving up on me.

Or I go to therapy, and I learn strategies, or I talk about the things in the past. And somehow, it doesn't get through. I find myself unable to use the self-care strategies, and instead, spiral into things like not eating, or pulling away from the people who might be able to help me. I close off, I shut down.

Even when everyone around me insists I really am working hard, and making progress, I find myself unable to accept it. Instead, I push myself to get better faster. Or, more likely, I get furious with myself (myselves) for being unable to get better faster. I struggle to make myself do the right things, and fail. I push myself to do more, and fail.

Not quite sure where I was going with this. I guess the point is, I'm never going to achieve that level of perfection, the one where I am flawed yet perfect. I'm just going to be plain old ordinary imperfect. And I'm not sure how to allow myself to accept that.

02 March, 2008

not sure what to say

w wants me to write more. i don't feel exactly comfortable writing here is part of the problem, but the places i feel more comfortable, i don't think it's appropriate to talk about spankings.

so i guess i'm writing here.

maybe i should say something about the whole different parts thing. i don't know. not sure where that fits in, or what's ok to write.

the last post i, in the sense of "someone who is in this body" did, that was mostly jamie, and some of me. i guess i started coming out during the earlier "sunday night" spanking which i guess will now be a "sunday afternoon" spanking. i'm grace by the way.

anyhow, i guess since i was out, and there was stuff going on that i don't know what it was, so it seemed to w like i wasn't feeling any better, or that i was feeling worse. but more, that was just kind of a switch in who was out. not that the spanking hadn't worked. but i couldn't figure out how to explain that.

then we went out to a coffee shop to see some of our friends. i walked there, but someone else came out for the social stuff (not very social, since the friends are really pretty introverted, but i guess for the being around people part). but that didn't last too long, so i came home early.

i was having a hard time, but i wanted w to have a chance to spend time with the friends. so i just came home. feeling really crummy, and i *did* try to think of who to call, but there really wasn't anyone, so i didn't call anyone. just kind of buried myself in a book. good thing i had a book i wanted to read.

but then, for a whole lot of reasons, when w came home with dinner, i chose not to go eat right then. partly, it was not being up to being social, since one of our friends had come home with her. partly, it was because... i guess because it's a way of being able to express that something is wrong? i don't know. it wasn't exactly deliberate rule-breaking, and yet, refusing to go eat dinner breaks one of the big rules, and i did it... except not entirely on purpose, if that makes any sense.

but anyhow, pretty much as soon as our friend left to go home, w came in and sent me into the bedroom for a spanking. which i got. and then we talked some, which was good. and then she sent me in here to write, which i am doing. still not sure that i'm really ok being the one writing here, but i guess it doesn't really matter, and those who aren't interested aren't required to read.

maybe someone else will be out later and write something that's worth the time it takes to read. i don't know.