If we all were us

I have never had any great love for the norms and expectations society enforces. Those unspoken rules are leftover vestiges of an ancient culture rooted in superstitions and a tribal mentality. They aren’t needed and aren’t helpful today, and I think the extent of their usefulness passed many many years ago.

Society likes to put people in boxes. You’re a white man, this is how you look. You’re a woman, here’s how you behave. You’re Hispanic, this is what I expect from you. And on it goes. And it’s caused immense harm, from outright discrimination to stifling people’s self-discovery and self-awareness.

What if we could all just be us? What if I could tell my family I submit to my wife? What if I, as a white man, could buy pink underwear for myself at Target or wear a collar in public without stares or judgements. What if a gay couple didn’t have to worry about where to buy a wedding cake? If a woman could be as assertive and take-charge as a man and not be labeled a nasty woman. If people could walk in public expressing and accepting all of themselves – their gender, their sexual orientation, their personality, their lifestyle choices, and we all just accepted it without judgement or surprise. 

The world would be a much more colorful place, and we would all feel so much more comfortable in our own skin. I think everyone experiences dysphoria of some kind because we all have to change a little when we leave home. I hope one day we live in a happier, more tolerant world. I fear it is many many years from now. 😞

Excited…

It’s been a long few months, and I’m so excited to be taking my last final of the semester for grad school. The whole summer is ahead of us. I’ve lost some motivation with school these last few weeks, particulary with everything going on, so I’m looking forward to having until August free to engage in some self-care and to lean more into our relationship.

Things have gotten a bit behind around the house between school, work, and some flare-ups with my wife’s illness. So with my first free weekend, I’m gonna channel my inner service sub and get the house back in order (while ensuring my lovely wife has her needs met) and then spending a day relaxing with her over coffee or out on our paddle boards on the lake. Freedom is right around the corner. Six hours to go. 😊

Learning About Me

In learning to be more self-aware and in touch with myself, I have taken more time to learn who I am, what I want, and what I need. Something I’ve kept to myself for years, or did in secret, was the desire to be feminine and to wear feminine clothing.

I’ve hinted at it before – I once told my wife I felt like a male lesbian – but I’ve never really discussed it or embraced it. She had had her suspicions at different times. She once had me wear a pink apron while we were skyping (which we often did when apart) and noted I seemed to like it too much. The extent I expressed it was when my wife was gone and I’d wear certain clothing items of hers I managed to fit into or by imagining scenarios in my head.

I have little respect for meaningless cultural conventions and norms and clothing restrictions is included. I’ve had discussions with my wife about the impact of our patriarchal society on the clothing seen as acceptable. If a woman wears a man’s dress shirt, it’s erotic. She can wear pants, suits, anything really, and it ranges from acceptable to sexy. If a man wears lingerie or a dress, it’s gross or effeminate or silly. And I really think much of it is due to the degrading way our society often views women. A woman can aspire to be a man, so to speak, but it must never go the other way.

Anyway, I finally discussed it with my Wife and she was more than supportive and felt closer just because I chose to share with her. I really am fortunate to have such a caring accepting partner. 

We made a day of shopping on Saturday to get things we both needed anyway, but also as an opportunity to start diversifying my wardrobe. I don’t want to dress all femme or all male. I have both parts of me and just want to wear what I like and what makes me feel good. So for now, that may be pink underwear under my casual clothes to work or a nightie to bed, but it’s great knowing I can be free to express this side of me not only without judgement, but with embracing acceptance.

D/s and Chronic Illness

May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) awareness month, and since my wife suffers with it daily, it seems appropriate to write about it. For more information on EDS, check out:

https://ehlers-danlos.com/what-is-eds/

My wife, my Domme, lives in daily pain with EDS. Some days are better than others. There are times when her pain is low, we can go paddle boarding and have a semi-normal day. Other times, she’s in bed all day crying on and off from the excruciating pain of a particularly bad dislocation. It’s a challenge when picking up a heavy book can take a rib out of socket. It’s an ever-present threat.

This has accentuated our D/s relationship in some ways and hindered it in others. It might be obvious to say that the opportunities for service are endless. On the other hand, anything physical is very dependent on how she feels and even then limited in intensity, duration, or variety. 

And while all of that is challenging to me, and I’m not minimizing the challenges caretakers face coping with chronic illness, I cannot imagine what it’s like to never have a pain-free moment. I thought I would die and take everyone down with me when I had a dry socket from a wisdom tooth extraction. I can’t imagine living daily with ribs, shoulders, hips, bones-you’ve-never heard-of, dislocated or twisted slightly out of place. 

She is the strongest woman I know and almost always faces the day with a smile. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

Some things I’ve learned supporting a partner with a chronic illness:

  • You have to be flexible. Things can change in an instant.
  • You have to be strong. Caring for someone else in any capacity is not easy, and sometimes you’ll find strength you didn’t know you had.
  • Empathy is critical. They didn’t ask for their illness, and they deal with something daily that you’ll never likely be able to fathom. 
  • Self-care is a must. Submission alone can be draining and caring for someone with a chronic illness even more so. You have to take time for yourself to re-charge and relax. You can’t be there for someone else if you’re not there for yourself.
  • You will face despair. And it won’t last. Some days will feel horrible, like life is terrible and depressing and the chronic illness is swallowing you both alive. But those days pass, you get stronger, you move on, things ebb and flow.
  • Other people won’t get it. And you don’t have to explain it. The world is full of people stuck in tiny boxes. People are going to give dirty looks because they don’t get that some people need to use a handicapped spot when they’re not in a wheelchair. You will have a crazy aunt who thinks she can be cured with nutritional supplements, or even worse, the right religion. Let it roll off and move on. You owe them nothing.
  • It’s painful. It’s so hard to watch someone you love deeply suffer, and you can do nothing to fix it. It takes time to accept and it’s never easy. Watching your partner in pain will never become easy.

I’m sure there’s more I could add, and more I will learn in the future, but those are a few I was thinking about. And for EDS specifically, and “invisible” illnesses, in general, please think twice before judging someone who can’t keep a job or uses the handicapped spot and “looks fine.” You may never know what they deal with day in and day out and all they need is love and support, not judgement. For them, the world is a painful place.

Insecure Attachment

I have PTSD – something I don’t like to admit to myself, and even less so to other people. This has given me the gifts of anxiety, emotional flashbacks, the aforementioned inability to connect with my emotions (AKA alexythymia), and an insecure attachment style.

There’s more information on insecure attachment at this website:

https://www.psychalive.org/how-your-attachment-style-impacts-your-relationship/

I’m avoidant and relationships scare me, so I avoid them or, sometimes, push people away. I like to say I don’t need relationships or I’m independent, but the truth is that everyone needs someone, even if it’s one or a small group of people.

This has played out in my marriage. I love my wife, and so I pursue intimacy and we connect and love one another intensely. Until something triggers that anxiety and I fear I’m losing myself, my identity, my independence, or I’m being manipulated or controlled. So I withdraw from the relationship. I check out emotionally, I become anxious and withdrawn, I’m irritable, I stop obeying, I turn off my submissive self.

This has created such a rollercoaster in our relationship as each period can last up to a few months. It doesn’t help when I’m already more vulnerable in the winter, emotionally. I’ll be doing more this fall to prepare accordingly.

We first discussed attachment as a couple with my therapist a few weeks ago and it hit like a ton of bricks. I am scared, terrified even, of close relationships. But if I’m honest, I know I need them and want them.

Even having that knowledge, though, has been really helpful. Now if I’m feeling like withdrawing, I know why. I can take a step back and say, “is she trying to manipulate me, or am I acting out of an insecure attachment?” 

I’m already feeling more confident in our relationship, and I hope I can work toward being more stable and consistent. Having a partner with a secure attachment is a big step, and I’m thankful my wife now has one after years of therapy (she was the anxious/fearful style when we married). I’ve supported through her healing, and now she’s doing the same. I couldn’t ask for more. ❤️

Feelings Wheel

I wasn’t raised to keep my feelings to myself. I was raised to smother them, deny them, and feel guilt that I had them. This was communicated to me both explicitly and implicitly by parents who never learned to function in a truly healthy way and religious teachings that emotions were evil or demonstrate a lack of self-control, discipline, or trust in god. 

As a result, I’ve never been in touch with my feelings and often denied I had any. This obviously caused issues being in an intimate relationship, especially one with the incorporation of BDSM and D/s. In my opinion, communication is the most important element of a healthy D/s relationship. It’s easy to see then how we had many issues with my communicating my needs, my feelings, or what I wanted from her or even from myself.

To help me identify my feelings and grow in my emotional expression and recognition, my therapist gave me a feelings wheel like the one pictured. It’s been really helpful and I think is probably helpful even without having existing communication issues. It’s been nice/weird/scary/intimate working to be self-reflective in how I feel, what I desire, and how to communicate it. It’s early, but I’m hopeful. 

Healing Together

2017 has been crazy so far, and I am looking so forward to this summer. After finally getting through seasonal depression, we’ve had to deal with two deaths in the family, family drama, and struggles from our pasts while balancing grad school, our relationship, and general life responsibilities like work and our home.

Our relationship has suffered from these things, but we’re both determined to move forward and improve. We were both raised with abuse, which has impacted our relationships and from which she has largely moved forward and healed from. My journey has only just begun in some ways because my unique combo of emotional/religious abuse has befuddled many a therapist. I finally have someone who gets it. 

I’m already feeling more hopeful, and my wife and I reaffirmed our commitment to one another and to our D/s relationship as well. I am extremely lucky to have found someone who accepts me for me and is committed to being the healthiest people we can be individually and as a couple. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead. And two weeks when I finally wrap up this semester of grad school and have some free time until late August. 🙂