Navel gazing

In a comment on my last post, Aethel said this about her current relationship:

“I really want to strangle his old doms whenever I think of them. I have had to undo the fears, almost expectations, of abuse that previous partners left behind”

Yeep. That sounds terrible, and I’m really glad that he has you to create that safe space for him.

I actually expect (though I haven’t asked) that my First’s partners after me had to deal with a lot of that same thing. Because of his misunderstanding and the terrible hurt and mistrust it caused, I have no doubt that he cursed my name for what was done to him, and that his partners cursed my name also for doing that to him (even though I never did that to him!).

I keep thinking about this in different ways, and have to work hard not to get defensive. Parsing out the mistakes I made from the perception he had is difficult. The betrayal-that-wasn’t coloured *everything* for him, both at the time and in hindsight for all of these years, so any light and brightness that we had was tainted, seen through a shroud of bitter ash.

I’m aware that he is mentally and emotionally rewriting our history in his own head (or has already), as am I, and that means the ground isn’t solid, it’s a shifting landscape for both of us. His memories moving from the bleak into the sunlight, mine wavering in a haze of confusion on the horizon.

I think all of this is a good thing and we will end up with a relatively common understanding of it all. I actually think I am struggling with it more than he is: the epiphany that his greatest hurt was a misunderstanding has cleared the majority of the way for him to let it go and move on. That bit is relatively simple and understandable.

My confusion arises from the fact that I never noticed anything was wrong and my fear is from the knowledge that he never felt safe enough to talk to me about it. Revising history is hard. Especially when you have a poor memory, like I have. I tried to find my old writing this morning to see if there were any insights there that I missed or ignored, but I can’t locate it. Frustrating.

I wonder how different our relationship might have been if the truth had come out then (very, I’m sure). And I wonder how much of my feeling that we weren’t really a good fit was due to the hurt and anger that might have influenced his behaviour. That is, he was in a relationship where he was harbouring hurt and betrayal and mistrust, and I was in a relationship that just didn’t feel right. Of course it makes sense that the two things were related.

I never felt loved by him, even though he said the words to me. By the time we got together, I *knew* what ‘being loved’ felt like. And this wasn’t it. I think it was part of the reason that I never took him seriously: He said the words, but his actions didn’t feel like love to me. At the time, I thought that he didn’t really know what love was, didn’t know what it looked like or felt like. Now I wonder if he was afraid to let go, to show love, because he was doing his best to protect himself from me.

I need to find my old writings.

GD Star Rating
loading...

You may also like

21 Comments

  1. Love is messed up.

    It’s like two locks trying to be each other’s key.

    Love affects the brain in a similar way to mental illness (that’s true btw, love is a physiological response to an irrational desire for [emotional and physical] intimacy with a specific individual).

    Showing love in a mutually rewarding manner takes not just pre-existing compatibility but also an awareness of the other’s immediate and ongoing needs. And that takes both willingness and communication …

    … and if you really do communicate then you’ll understand each other and be able to clash over the big things instead of the shitty small things.

    … Meanwhile … I really should lighten up.

    1. I’d change ‘love is messed up’ to ‘love can mess you up’.

      I agree about showing love: I think there is something in the pop psycho-babble of the love languages idea. Not being able to communicate love in the way that the other person needs to hear it is always going to be a problem.

      *smile* You were light enough, this is not a ‘hurr hurr… bum!’ type of topic.

      Ferns

  2. Well, for all it’s worth, the idea of a misunderstanding between lovers leading to serious, often terrible consequences, is a frequent trope in literature. Think of Romeo misunderstanding Juliet’s “death”, or of Othello misunderstanding Desdemona’s “betrayal”, just to remain in the Shakespearean world.

    Of course literature will explore even more extreme situations: Romeo and Othello killed themselves, the latter filled with guilt. Also, the question of responsibility, which in Othello’s case lies squarely with Iago (but still–Othello believed! he didn’t know his beloved Desdemona well enough to trust her!), and in Romeo’s case… with whom? Friar Laurence, who provided the potion? The messenger, who didn’t reach Romeo in time?…

    In your case, however, the structure is more intricate: the ‘betrayal’ was felt by one side but never reported or complained about, so the consequences were only for him… until you both suddenly learned the truth (in your case, that he had felt betrayed, and, in his case, that the betrayal had just been a misunderstanding). And here, in an interesting symmetry, you switch places: his 20 years of suffering come to an end (with a cathartic laughter), and you… you are now in some kind of suffering, wondering if it was your fault for not having created an environment in which he would have felt safe to confront you about the evidence of ‘betrayal’ he had found.

    Your suffering will certainly be less intense than his, but perhaps also more enduring, because you can argue logically that you are to blame. One could, however, say that no single person is ever solely responsible for the environment of a common relationship; he was certainly co-involved in the creation of the common interactional space between the two of you. But it was a D/S relationship, in which the Domme clearly had more control… and thus more responsibilty… but the sub is not merely helpless, he can express himself and his feelings, which he chose not to do… ahn, this is hard…

    Interesting. I wonder if an artistic treatment of the situation — say, the two of you writing down the story from each individual perspective and then combining them to form one book — would serve as final closure for the whole episode. It might help allay the pain (however dull) that you might now be feeling because of it.

    1. I LOVE THIS COMMENT SO MUCH!! LOVE!

      You are so right: It’s a Shakespearean tragedy writ large over decades. Also a terrible cliche from every romcom ever only without the easy conclusion where everyone lives happily ever after when the hour and a half is over.

      I also loved how you summarised it so beautifully. I laughed with delight while nodding away.

      “Interesting. I wonder if an artistic treatment of the situation — say, the two of you writing down the story from each individual perspective and then combining them to form one book — would serve as final closure for the whole episode. It might help allay the pain (however dull) that you might now be feeling because of it.”

      Maybe this should be my next writing project, with him as my consultant-advisor: “No no you were MUCH more of a bitch than that!!!”

      Thank you so much for this entire comment: Wonderful.

      Ferns

      1. I would encourage this writing project. Of course, you’re right that this could become a soap-opera cliché, but I think you have the writing skills necessary to pull it off. So many directions to go: philosophical-pessimistic (‘suffering has no meaning, it just is’), moralistic-nihilistic (‘I did nothing wrong, and still I cause suffering? how is that fair?’) tragic (‘so many years, so many feelings, all for nothing…’), light-headed humoristic/comedic (‘all I needed to do was ask? d’oh!…’).

        I would love to read the result. I hope you guys will collaborate on it!

        P.S.– I’m the same person who wrote you an ‘ask-me’ as Nep-Amsterdammer; I didn’t mean to have a different name here, I just didn’t notice the reply software automatically got my e-mail name.

        1. Well hello Nep-Amsterdammer, welcome out from the confines of the Ask box!

          We’re already discussing who will play us in the movie… :P

          Ferns

  3. “At the time, I thought that he didn’t really know what love was, didn’t know what it looked like or felt like. Now I wonder if he was afraid to let go, to show love, because he was doing his best to protect himself from me.”

    These words really break my heart. If I were in your situation, I would already feel bad because of “ghost guilt” (the kind you feel when you didn’t really do anything wrong, but some misunderstanding created the impression you had to someone you cared about). But the idea that something beautiful might have been prevented from flourishing because of that… and in a world in such a dire need of beautiful things… that idea really breaks my heart.

    1. *smile* Well if it’s going to be a tragedy, it must have an ethereal and forlorn phantom of potential love lost pitifully wailing at the moon on dark misty nights, no?

      I’m not going too far down the ‘what-if’ track for exactly the reason you state: it’s a sadness, it’s also not useful and there are no lessons to be learnt in it.

      Thank you so much (again) for your comments.

      Ferns

      1. “I wonder if an artistic treatment of the situation would serve as final closure for the whole episode.”

        “Well if it’s going to be a tragedy…”

        Tragedy? A little soon to know, methinks. This is a tale that spans across the decades. So far we have only really explored the first act, suggested who each fills the role of hero and villain, and piqued the curiosity of our readers.

        Right now, here today, we are writing Act Two, where new light is shone through old windows, and all that we assumed to be true is not as it seemed. The villain is shown to be innocent of her crimes, the hero shown to be nought but a grinning idiot (though not without a certain rugged early-40’s leading man charm, in a Hugh Jackman kind of way).

        And so dear readers, you like I, must be wondering where this tale turns next. Act Three is unwritten; the page is blank, but the pen is poised.

        1. I think you’re right, Her First. I think you’re now exploring other chapters. It must be fascinating to go through one’s life watching the tectonic effect of a (small) change on the subsequent events, external and internal (mental, emotional). It must be quite a railcoaster. I can’t wait for the next chapter…

        2. @Her First: *laugh* Good synopsis.

          We are going to need some fabulous dramatic music for this epic.

          I’m thinking something like this.

          And for the record: “a certain rugged early-40s leading man charm in a Hugh Jackman kind of way…” Check.

          Ferns

        3. I’m not convinced on this choice of soundtrack!!

          In a he-said, she-said style movie, perhaps we should have our own individual soundtracks, expressing the thoughts of each person?

          So in selecting songs approriate for the era, my soundtrack starts with this. It’s always been the song that I assigned to our relationship, as Ferns and I have discussed privately. Almost every line resonates through me, though sometimes I translate the meaning; like the last verse where I swap the literal to the metaphorical to describe my failed attempts to shut her out of my thoughts:

          Moved out of the house so you moved next door
          I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
          I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
          You’re driving me crazy
          When are you coming home?

          ___

          But for the opening scene, I can imagine the first 53 seconds of this playing ethereally as we see a young man walking wide eyed and almost in slow motion, through a train station, searching for a face in the crowd in which he was about to place so much hope and trust.

          Hold on,
          Hold on to yourself,
          For this is gonna hurt like hell.
          Hold on,
          Hold on to yourself,
          You know that only time will tell.

          ___

          As the relationship builds and the power balance is set, we hear this, as he feels himself flailing, unable to gain her approval:

          Deep in your eyes,
          I see your thoughts,
          I know you want me,
          But you know that some things,
          Are best left never said

          Oh baby please believe me
          Don’t you see that I don’t care?

          ___

          Then, as the plucky young hero/idiot starts his journey to recovery, this builds in the background, as we see him choose to fight his new-found demons, and a wry smile creeps onto his face.

          Never let another girl like you, work me over
          Never let another girl like you, drag me under
          If I meet another girl like you, I will tell her
          Never want another girl like you, have to say
          Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
          Nobody’s gonna slow me down
          Oh-no, oh-no, I got to keep on moving.

          Despite being somewhat cheesy, that last song is particularly poignant. I still remember the moment on a Saturday morning, not long after the ‘betrayal’ and whilst I was lost in some very dark thoughts, that the version by Unique II came on the TV and I heard it for the first time. It was the right message at the right moment, and it became the anthem for the next stage of my journey.

        4. @Her First: *smile* Very good. I haven’t heard some of those songs in forever.

          I love that Transvision Vamp song: the intro especially, but ouch.

          That last one also had this lyric, which seems apt:

          “You look at me and you’ll see your past
          Is that the reason why you’re running so fast?”

          Ferns

      2. I like your poetic imagination very much. I am definitely going to look for your book.

        And you’re right. No lessons to be learned. Just that everything in life is possible, including happiness — and the lack thereof.

        Here’s a hug from someone who likes to care about people he’s never met: {{}}

  4. “the sub is not merely helpless, he can express himself and his feelings, which he chose not to do…”

    Stop to consider though, the mindset of a sub, especially one new to D/s relationships.

    The one thing that a sub craves more than anything else, is to please their Dom/me, and to be made to feel that they are valued for doing so. Pleasing is done through actions and through words and though any other means possible. The need for reward is drug-like, and overwhelming. Ultimately, it becomes everything… an addiction.

    And as with any addict, the greatest fear the sub then has is to fail, and not receive whatever chemical high that feeling valued will provide. So the fear becomes that by expressing how they truly feel, that they will generate displeasure, and their addicted need will go unmet. In short, don’t piss off your dealer.

    This is something that Dom/mes need to understand: a sub who is mentally strong, may decide to silently carry the burden of whatever mistreatment they feel that they have received, to avoid creating that displeasure. After all, a sub’s role is to bear whatever pain that their Dom/me decides to inflict upon them.

    Don’t complain.

    Don’t flinch.

    Don’t show any sign of how much you truly hurt.

    That was the case with me, and after I had developed the belief that I had been betrayed, I did a number of things. The first thing was that I tried to rationalise what I believed to have happened, trying to lessen the blame I could assign to my Domme: ‘she must have had a good reason’ or ‘it’s ok, I can accept it, I still love her, maybe she can still love me too’.

    This only fed the craving… the need for approval. But I started to believe that I was failing to please her, which made me more desperate. I needed a fix, but it seemed harder to get.

    This led to withdrawal, and I became untrusting after the seeds of resentment sprouted their roots. I withdrew from the relationship, I withdrew from happiness, I withdrew from life. I suffered depression which included a bout of anorexia; 12kg falling from an already lean body.

    Then, with time, things got better. I had new experiences with new people, though often communicating equally poorly with them. I loved, I lost, I learned, I grew. It was almost exactly 10 years later that I realised I was in a good place, that I was in control of my own destiny, and that I was happy; a happiness that was only possible by acknowledging that me as a person was simply the sum of my experiences, and that the bad ones were as important as the good.

    1. “In short, don’t piss off your dealer.”

      Ah–I really, really understand this.

      Her First, I have no words to describe how sorry I feel to think that you had to go through so much suffering — ultimately for no reason at all. So many wise people have written about the meaning of pain and suffering; that an allmighty God who loves us could not possibly have allowed such things to happen, that pain and suffering must have a meaning (including the BDSM meaning of being somehow a door to pleasure).

      What is really heartbreaking in your case is that the hurt, the pain, the suffering, was utterly unmotivated and meaningless: just a misunderstanding. Evidence that real life is just a long series of causal chains, without rhyme or reason, or…

      But maybe it’s better not to think about theory and structures here. As Ms Fearns said above, there is no lesson to learn here. (There is nothing here, which may, in itself, be scarier than any lesson would have been. See Kundera…)

      Maybe it’s better for me (also a sub, by the way, though I’ve never been blessed with a ‘dealer’ for my fix–every word you wrote about it resonates deeply with my own feelings) to agree with you: we are all the product (rather than sum: I believe it’s exponential…) of our past experiences, good and bad. Their consequences mix, so some of the good things we are now result from bad experiences (and vice-versa).

      And to wish you that the happiness you’ve found will continue on and be made better (deeper? more multi-dimensional?) by this late unexpected revelation.

    2. @HerFirst: This comment fits equally here or on the last comment you made about communication.

      “The one thing that a sub craves more than anything else, is to please their Dom/me, and to be made to feel that they are valued for doing so.”

      There is a fundamental truth in this that I’ve talked about in different ways (once in this post after we started talking again).

      IF things are working for my submissive and me in the way I want, as you said (and felt) his foremost desire is to please me, and I think there’s a very real risk (actualised in our case) that it means that he will not bring up things that will clearly NOT please me. And of course that’s all the hard stuff.

      I can add into the mix that I’m not tolerant of whiny crap about small things. I don’t want to hear it. So of course while I may *say* that the big things are different, I’m demonstrating to my submissive every time he wants to bring up something small that I’m not willing to listen.

      Obviously that’s not workable.

      “And as with any addict, the greatest fear the sub then has is to fail, and not receive whatever chemical high that feeling valued will provide. So the fear becomes that by expressing how they truly feel, that they will generate displeasure, and their addicted need will go unmet. In short, don’t piss off your dealer.”

      This, though, is an interesting way to look at it that clarifies the way to resolve it:

      Ensure that he knows that he has my approval *even if he is causing me displeasure in that moment*. The displeasure then becomes a drop in a sea of approval, and that’s a lot easier to handle.

      Thank you so much for your openness and willingness to share here. I think it’s brave and amazing and I really appreciate it.

      Ferns

      1. “I can add into the mix that I’m not tolerant of whiny crap about small things. I don’t want to hear it.”

        This was true then too, and I knew it. Fortunately, I’m not prone to whinyness anyway.

        “Ensure that he has my approval *even if he is causing me displeasure in that moment*”

        I can’t help but think this may be somewhat paradoxical, at least in the mind of the sub. It’s a step in the right direction though.

        You may never truly get it right, and in a relationship based on the premise of one person submitting control to another, there is a point at which the person who has made a conscious choice to submit, must be prepared to deal with what happens next.

        Don’t step into the fire if you’re afraid of what the flames will do to you (with obvious caveats about being careful with who you choose to submit to).

        1. “I can’t help but think this may be somewhat paradoxical, at least in the mind of the sub. It’s a step in the right direction though.”

          It is paradoxical, but not in a way that can’t be resolved. I can be angry and upset but still love my partner overall. In the same way I can be displeased but still approve of my submissive overall.

          And you are right of course. The submissive can’t abdicate their responsibility to deal with negative outcomes: the refusal to do it at all EVER is cowardice, and will lead to them lying about stuff to avoid having to deal.

          There is ‘creating a safe environment’ and there is ‘pandering to someone who isn’t taking responsibility’. There’s a big difference between them.

          Ferns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.