18 October, 2006


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.