Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about what I’m currently going through because that’s where I am. In my last post, I opened up and shared what happened a year ago. What I’ve been through takes up a lot of my time as I try to focus on recovering from the past, being okay with the present, and moving forward.
Today, I want to remember some good things. Looking back, May 2014 was a big month for me. On May 1st, I had worked up the courage to email Bonnie from the My Bottom Smarts blog. I had just finished reading her entire archive and it was the first time I reached out to anyone who talked about spanking as much as I wanted to talk about it. From her blog, I found links to several others. As I started exploring, I found a whole community of people who talked about everything from personal relationships to every day life to how they felt about and incorporated TTWD into their lives. A whole new world started to open up.
On May 5th, I wrote my first kink-related blog entry to introduce myself. I had no idea who would read it or what would happen. I just knew that I wanted to share my experiences and maybe find some friends out there. I had fun with it. I shared stories or books that I came across. I shared the fun kinky sex experiences. I shared things that I was hoping would happen. I shared the death of Tom’s dad and his resulting relapse into drug addiction. Then, I disappeared for four years, came back, and have been sharing some of what it’s like to slowly recover from being in love with an addict. I continue to share because I miss this community and because I hope sharing might help others.
On May 23, 2014, I reached out to someone who would end up helping me through some of the darkest times I’ve had in my life so far. At the time, she had already found my blog and commented on some of my first posts! (Talk about being really excited to be noticed by someone so amazing!) I had just finished reading her autobiography and was working through her blog archive when I sent my first email to Erica. I had no idea how important this first correspondence would be. Last year, I only texted two friends the day after I told Tom to move out – Erica was one of them. As my anxiety and depression grew into something I could no longer control and keep bottled up, she was there to virtually hold my hand, calm me down, and walk in circles repeatedly through the things that were consuming me. She encouraged my switch to weekly therapy and helped me open up. She knows everything about me. And would you believe it? She has never left my side. She was there and is still there every day. Our friendship means the world to me.
Going forward, these are the memories that I want to hold on to as I start to find myself again and let go of the past. As this month closes, I am ready for new experiences and new memories. It is time.
So, this is my 100th post for this blog. I had thought about sharing fun posts from the past, but instead, I’m going to stick with being open and honest. I warn you that this post is long and emotionally raw…this is me and this is where I am today.
Last night in therapy, I was actually able to breakdown and cry for the first time in months. I’ve mentioned before that I have the ability to appear strong and stoic. With my friends and family, I haven’t shed a tear in person since all of this happened…my eyes have watered, but not a single tear escapes. I don’t typically cry easily, but I’ve also never had a problem crying before. I cried a lot during the last few years in my relationship with Tom (both in front of him and not) and also for the first couple of months after the breakup, but only when he would come over to get his stuff. Then, suddenly, I just stopped and couldn’t cry anymore. I still hurt like crazy, but no longer had a way to release it.
I told my therapist that I have been experiencing some rather painful heartbreak again over the last week. She caught me off guard by asking me how I knew exactly what it was that I was feeling and to describe it. (Umm, because it hurts?) But, I took a moment and thought about it. It physically feels like my heart is breaking. It’s how I felt right before I started telling her about everything that was going on. She asked if I thought it was also loneliness. Yes, I do. But, it’s also the same type of really intense pain I get when I’m holding on to too much, like when I’m holding back what I’m feeling because I’m trying to not be a burden on someone. It’s all of that type of pain.
I told her about the concert, which I had written about in my last post, about how I couldn’t feel anything except disappointment. She asked if there is anything I could think of that I want to do that would make me feel good. I told her, “No, not at the moment.” I’ve gotten into a light exercising routine recently and that isn’t even helping me feel better. Her next suggestion was to try walking into a room and pretending to be happy to see if it forces a change in your mental state? Seriously?! Every damn day, I smile at everyone I meet, and it’s not like I walk into meetings as if the world is going to end. No one knows what I’m going through at work. My parents don’t even know how bad I feel. And, no, faking it does not help improve my mood. This is how I stuffed things down for so long.
I have also still been experiencing bouts of moderate to severe anxiety. One time this week, it was triggered by Tom’s step-sister texting me. We’ve always gotten along. She was being nice, and she’s very sorry for what happened. Unfortunately, she will always be tied to memories with Tom. And, I guess sometimes it is harder to talk about him. Another time within the last week, it was triggered by revisiting some old emails to a dear friend where I had just started going into detail about what happened. Apparently, I can no longer look at what happened objectively like I have been doing this entire time. Additionally, I seem to be experiencing general anxiety around the same time every evening somewhere between 6pm-9pm. The meds I have are as needed, so I typically take 1-2 half tablets a day…assuming I don’t stubbornly decide to not take anything.
Then, I decided to bring up the new video game that I am trying to use as a distraction. It’s called God of War on PS4, and it has a good, emotionally involved storyline. Now, I won’t go into all the details of the game because I don’t know how many of you are gamers, but I do want to mention something that I noticed. My mind treats everything like a logical puzzle to solve, as such, you just need the right pieces to see the big picture or to find the right keys that fit into the correct locks (like an escape room). So, why would a video game be any different? Typically, in these role playing games, you have a map. When you first start out, the map is covered in fog or obscured in some way. All you know is where you are. As you meet other characters, you are given advice, items/tools that will help you, and hopefully a direction. So, you head off and slowly the map opens up as you meet new characters, take on more tasks, and finish side quests as part of a bigger main adventure. As you reference your map, you see where you’ve been, you know where you are, and you are more comfortable with the direction in which you’re going because of the choices you’ve made. I told my therapist that I am stuck where the map is covered in damn fog – I don’t have pieces or keys or a direction to go in! I have ideas and thoughts about what to do and what to plan, but I feel like everything I try isn’t working and I have no idea what to do about it.
Therapist: Yes, you do. I’ve told you we can do accelerated resolution therapy, EMDR, or a couple of other exposure therapies. That’s how we treat PTSD. (At this point, I’m thinking – yes, and I finally agreed to try those even though I have my reservations…but I have no idea what you’re waiting on.)
She went on to describe a situation where someone wasn’t able to process the grief of losing her first husband and it was now affecting her current marriage, but with EMDR, she was able to process and finally move forward. Then, she mentioned another situation where someone lost a child after a horrible accident while they were on the way to the hospital in a helicopter.
Therapist: Why do you think this mom wouldn’t want to try to treat her PTSD?
Me, I know this answer very well: Fear. She’s afraid to feel. She’s afraid to experience the loss of her son all over again. She’s afraid to forget. Fear. I realized through some help from friends a couple of months ago that fear has too much control over me.
Therapist: Do you know when people are finally ready to try something different?
Therapist: When it finally affects every part of their life – home, work, when they are with friends, and when they’re alone..
Me: Well, hell, I’m at that point…been there for a while.
Me: I wish I could just allow myself to be angry at Tom. I always told him I didn’t want to be angry with him, so it’s something I always tried to push down.
Therapist: Why do you think being angry would help?
Me: Because it helped me get over my first long-term, long-distance boyfriend. I was angry with him for being more and more disrespectful, for not choosing to move closer for a couple of years (he stopped one class and finishing his thesis shy of graduating grad school), and for not considering what I wanted out of life. There were other factors that made me see I did not need to put up with him, so I ended it. Hah, then I met Tom two years later, and we see where the hell I am now.
Therapist: So, you said that you would cry and get angry with Tom whenever he would finally get home…
Me: Yes…he would pull up under the tree in the front yard so my parents wouldn’t know when he was coming or going. (They can see my driveway from their house.) He would walk up to the door, and I was always there to meet him. By the time he would finally walk in the door, I was relieved that he was alive and not in jail. Sometimes, I could patiently wait on him to tell me what happened. Sometimes, I would be crying and yelling at him. He knew what was going on with me. He watched me change from trusting him to being in so much pain, fear, anxiety, and sadness. There were times when I wanted to flip the latch on the door and not let him in.
Therapist: You really have won the award for being the most enabling person in the world. (I nod in complete agreement to this statement.) You had a choice when he finally would come home. What were your choices?
Me: I could do what I did and let him in, or flip the latch and kick him out.
Therapist: Why didn’t you flip the latch?
Me, Shit. I do not want to admit this answer aloud. (eyes start watering): Because…(starts crying)…because I knew he wouldn’t stay. He wouldn’t choose me. I knew that then.
(Pause…after all, I hadn’t cried in front of her before…)
Therapist: What would you have said to a friend if she called you and just told you what you told me?
Me, I know this answer too…because…this is what I’ve been holding out hope for. (Please note: I am not trying to put pressure on or make anyone feel bad. Everyone who has been there to support me through this has done everything they can, and I fully appreciate everything you guys can do.): I would tell her, “Honey, hold on. I’m on my way over.” (crying harder) I’d tell her that you are not alone, and you do not have to do this alone. I’ve got you. I am right here.
Therapist: But, what if she tells you it’s not you that she wants.
Me: I’m there as one friend supporting another. And…this is what I want, what I need… People don’t want to feel so alone. They want to know and feel that someone is there. To have someone there while I feel this. (So, I don’t have to be strong for once.) I knew, on some level, Tom wasn’t going to come back to me. I…was so angry at his dad for dying. (more crying)
Therapist: That event is probably what started it, but Tom continued to use drugs and then it altered his thinking so much that he is not who he was before.
Me: Yes, but he had a choice before it completely took control.
Therapist: You’re right. He did have a choice, but he chose drugs. You knew about his history and a bit of his family history. Why didn’t you just walk away from him in the beginning?
Me: Because he wasn’t entirely truthful about how much drug use was in his history. But, besides that, I fell in love with what he did and who I thought he was. Our first date, we didn’t even eat. We talked so much. We spent every afternoon together, then we slept over on weekends. He would make me lunch, and we would eat at his jobsite. (crying again) I never had to ask where he was or who he was talking to because he told me. We were open about everything. He knew when I was upset. He could just tell if I was holding something back. (crying even harder) I had been more honest with him than I had with anyone in my entire life. He could hug me, and I felt loved and safe. And, he just threw me out with the trash.
At this point, the hour was up, and we needed to leave. She looked at me as we walked each other out, “well, you can’t say you haven’t cried in a while anymore.” I smiled shyly, feeling just a little lighter, “I guess you’re right there.”
As I finish typing this up, my anxiety is most definitely still present. I know I’m still a long way from completely moving on, but I think this was a breakthrough step in my book. When I tweeted about last night’s therapy sessions, I didn’t expect it to even be noticed let alone receive the likes and replies. I am truly touched by the support I’ve been receiving. Thank you all so much…as someone whose self-worth has taken a severe hit, it really means the world to me. ❤️
In the past, if anyone asked me how things were going, I always tried to sugarcoat or gloss over the negative stuff to protect Tom. I didn’t want to worry people, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I always hoped that he would come back to me and together we could fix things. I was also in denial.
To this day, I’ve always felt some degree of denial. Even when I first started reaching out to a couple of friends about what had been going on, I still felt that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Their responses and encouragement to tell my therapist what happened very slowly started to open my eyes – none of what I went through, what I had been living with, or what I was dealing with was normal or remotely okay. Up until that point, I was only feeling the direct impact of Tom’s actions, particularly when he wouldn’t answer his phone or would come home really late (after midnight or sometime the next day). Everything else (stupidly) didn’t matter to me…including his drug use, the money he was spending, and the emotional turmoil he was constantly putting me through.
When I finally started opening up, I was never actually able to breakdown and cry. My eyes have watered, but I never felt a release or even allowed myself to really feel everything. There was relief that I could talk about things – that I was no longer keeping everything to myself, but there was still a lot of denial, numbness, heartbreak, and lack of being at peace. There is a lot of stuff I still haven’t fully processed – complicated grief, anger, fear, more pain than I care to admit, etc.
In addition to being in denial, I also felt very dissociated from events. I could describe every situation with very little emotion – in some dark way, I could even joke about a lot of it, like “can you even believe that happened?” Some things might be more of a struggle verbalize, but I’ve still managed to keep my emotions in check.
Things that have been harder to talk about were/are
- feeling like I lost the part of me that finds peace and release in being spanked and taken care of,
- feeling like all I did still wasn’t enough when all I wanted was stability, consistency, and a little attention from the man I loved and thought loved me,
- and begging him to stop doing the things that were tearing me apart (these conversations, I remember vividly).
- It’s also really damn difficult to talk about those moments in the middle of the night when I woke up and he wasn’t there…when anxiety and panic were my only company.
Every time I talk about any of this…I feel like I’m talking about someone else. That person over there went through this – I just watched. Which in some gut-wrenching way makes me feel even more powerless and heartbreakingly guilty because I stood by and did nothing. This dissociation has allowed me to be mostly in control of my emotions and reactions and pretend like nothing is still bothering me.
It’s very difficult to compare situations with others when the reasons that cause PTSD can be so different. For instance, I did not experience sexual abuse, yet I can’t deny that I identify so much with the woman in the following article.
Because I did not experience the same type of abuse, I feel that my experiences were somehow “less than,” and therefore, I shouldn’t feel as bad as she does. But, when the woman in the article describes how she had been dealing with everything, it resonates with me on so many levels, even to this day.
Now, if I compare my situation to the next article which talks about an addicted partner, I feel like my experience was far more severe and involved. I have quite a bit more to deal with because it wasn’t only that he was using drugs.
I know that I shouldn’t be comparing situations at all, but I am too filled with my own self-doubt, self-invalidation, and avoidant coping mechanisms. Sometimes, I don’t even trust my own feelings, and I project that distrust by thinking others won’t care or believe me either. My friends have had to call me out and remind me of what the hell I went through for me to even pause in my self-sabotaging cycle. I had to and still have to be reminded that I need to feel and it is okay to feel, but I’m still too wound up, overwhelmed, and afraid to breakdown that wall.
This next link that I came across is a rather long slideshow for those who are interested. It hits on so many things I can relate to. It is interesting that an addict can have so many narcissistic tendencies – they are really all about themselves when it comes to the drugs and their next fix.
Tom would do all of those emotionally abusive things when we were together, and he was very passive aggressive. He is finally no longer coming around to my house or communicating with me, but the emotional damage runs deep. I haven’t been able to breakout of doing the same emotionally abusive things to myself.
Last week in therapy, we decided to push trying something different to this week. Instead, we talked. How is that different from every other week, you might ask. Well, I still tend to be less emotional and more logical when I talk to people in person. But, this time was different. I was able to talk as if I was writing to her in an email, which is where I’ve always had an easier time expressing myself. I was able to be more open, and we finally talked more about PTSD.
I told her about a recent television episode of 9-1-1 where all of the first responders were in therapy trying to talk about what they were experiencing. They were all dealing or not dealing with various things associated with PTSD. I told her that I could agree with something each one of them said when they were expressing themselves and talking about what they were going through. She said that like those characters, I am going to have to move through and release those emotions. I can’t/don’t know how to do that. I said, “[my therapist’s name], I’m too afraid to feel any of those emotions. I don’t want to do that at work, with my parents, or by myself. I only feel safe trying to do that right here.” She replied, “Well then, we need to get you over there in that chair and start feeling.” I eyeballed the totally normal looking but very exposed office chair and nodded nervously. I think that’s when I added, “I hate how easy it is for me to lie and say I’m okay when I am not okay.”
Guess we’re going to try to feel feelings this week…in that chair…where I can’t sink into the couch or hide behind a pillow. Ugh.
Everyone experiences change from time to time. We grow, we age, and we learn. We try something new. We move to a new place. We get a new job. We go back to school. We meet new people. We fall in love. We have our hearts broken. We lose someone we love. We fall down, and we get back up. We try again. We adapt. We gain experience and find out more about ourselves. Some things may never change, while other things evolve with time.
Think about who you were when you were in high school.
I moved across the state between my 9th and 10th grade years. I went from a class size of roughly 300-400 students to around 1,200 students. I was terrified. I was leaving my friends and having to start over in a new town at a new school. What helped with this transition was band. I played the clarinet. During my years with the high school band, we had kids from all walks of life. We weren’t made up of just one group, but every group. I’ve always been pretty reserved and quiet, but in band, I learned a lot about leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. I was the section leader and library staff manager in 11th grade, and then, I tried out and became the drum major (student conductor) for the marching band during my 12th grade year. I learned how to project confidence when giving commands, and I felt like I had a responsibility to be someone the students in my band could depend on. I was the first person on the field before our shows started, and I was the one the entire band looked to for direction.
Think about who you were in college.
I continued band in college and was moved up to section leader after my first year. Again, we had students from all over campus from every type of degree program. I started working on my mechanical engineering degree and math minor. We focused a lot on teamwork and using new technology to solve problems. I decided to try my luck and applied for an internship at NASA. I was accepted and had one of the best summer experiences ever. In fact, I had so much fun that I went back three more times. Twice as a research associate and then I was promoted to Operations Manager for the last two summers. I took several honors classes throughout college and graduated with a 3.29/4.0.
Think about who you were during your early career.
I immediately got a job as a mechanical engineer quoting, designing, and fabricating steel tanks and pressure vessels. Over seven years, I went from mechanical engineer to project engineer to project manager to lead engineering business analyst. I implemented the accounting software which I knew inside and out. I even had to do all accounting manager responsibilities for six months before the company transitioned to a new owner.
Think about who you are now.
Now, I work in project financials. I’ve been with this company for just over a year. I’ve been trying to bring new ideas to the table and implement improvements on all of our current processes. I had an excellent one year evaluation which led to a promotion and a raise.
What have we not talked about? I’ve told you about who the outside world sees. This is the person you would meet at a conference or out in public.
Okay, so who are you when you can relax and be you?
Well, the previous posts on this blog take you through a lot of my intimate experiences with sex and spanking. Tom was the first person who tried to understand what I was yearning for. To his credit, he read every blog entry before I gave up blogging. He also read a private journal where I endeavored to be as open as possible with him. For a couple of years, he tried. And then, he didn’t.
For the time when he was trying, I discovered a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I wasn’t just this confident, strong, responsible, and independent young woman who could solve problems. I was also someone who needed a break from the stress of being the one who was always depended on. I needed someone else to take over for a while. I needed to know someone cared about me. I needed to be held. needed to be able to let go.
When Tom’s dad passed away, I started losing him. I stepped up and went above and beyond because that’s who I am. I am a fixer. I am a giver. I am dependable and loyal. I was more than capable of handling whatever life threw at us because I had to be. I could get us through this. I just had to be strong enough, caring enough, loving enough, and want it enough.
As it got harder and Tom gradually pulled away from me, I pulled away from who I was and what I wanted. I stopped blogging, stopped keeping up with others, and wasn’t even available for my friends anymore. My entire world revolved around Tom, his addiction, and the daily shit he put me through. After I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I told him, “It’s me or all of this (referring to his drug use and the house his drug addict friends were in – he was at another addict’s house in the middle of a work night in my damn car that I needed to get to work in the morning).” He chose, “All of this.” “You need to move out.” (He didn’t make it back home in time to take me to work the next morning. I ended up having to call my dad, so I could be fucking responsible and go to work.)
In August of last year, I wrote something that I considered posting here. But, I was not ready. Instead, I shared it with a dear friend who encouraged me to also share it with my therapist. I’m choosing to bring it up now because I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. In fact, I still struggle with it every day.
I am the person who has done everything my résumé says I’ve done, but what I can’t seem to reconcile is how is that the same person who wrote the following.
“Outer You vs Inner You”
Are the versions of you drastically different? Do you act differently? Do you hide behind a façade?
The versions of me are very different. I do act differently depending on the situation, and I do hide behind a much more outwardly acceptable personality.
At work, by some miracle, I’ve been able to hide what’s going on inside. Instead, I appear confident, ask questions, present ideas, work well by myself and with others, and strive to change things for the better for everyone. Before a meeting where I know I have to speak, I’ll get nervous, but I push through and am not afraid to throw out ideas. I am very mindful of others and how they do their jobs, and I do everything I can to make all of our work days a little easier.
When I’m around family and friends, they know I have some self-confidence issues. However, other than that being all in my head, I am a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need to rely on anyone. I own my house, I am about to buy a new vehicle, and I have a decent job where I am making more than paycheck to paycheck.
Underneath the Wonder Woman façade, I feel everything. I am free, lost, relieved, sad, excited, hurt, broken, happy, angry, and frustrated. I am dealing with imposter syndrome. I am dealing with a break up after years of living together. I am excited by new possibilities, but I am afraid of rejection. I am vulnerable and full of insecurities. I am hopeful yet still struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I know it is no one else’s responsibility to help me. I know only I can learn to cope and walk this road. I know it takes time. But, knowing all of that just makes me feel so much more alone. I feel guilty for reaching out to people who understand – I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I don’t want to sound like a broken record – same shit, different day. I don’t want to bring someone else down because I feel like hell. I feel stupid for even talking about what I’m going through because I feel like it really is no big deal especially when I know other people are going through so much worse than my little first world problems. Also, I’m confused because what I feel doesn’t align with how I think I should feel or how I think I should handle how I feel. If I remove myself from the situation, I could tell you exactly what’s wrong, what to try, and how to start working through it. So, what’s the problem?
Avoidant behavior. I am acting like nothing has happened. I do things to prevent myself from thinking too much, and I spend time with people who I do trust but not enough to completely let go around. I am ignoring the desperate need to breakdown and let go. Why? Because it’s easier than dealing with everything. I don’t want to fall apart alone because I miss being held and comforted, which only emphasizes the loneliness and spirals me down even further.
But, you know what? Life goes on and stops for no one. So, if I don’t have time for this – for me feeling sorry for myself, how can I expect anyone else to have time for it – for me.
Who are you today?
I’m not sure. Would you believe things got worse in the time since writing that. I feel like I’ve lost so much self-confidence and self-acceptance that I find it incredibly difficult to trust myself. I have fallen into periods of being depressed and painfully numb. I’ve gone through many anxiety and panic attacks. I still haven’t been able to really focus consistently at work, and I feel like I’m barely doing the minimum to get by. I hit a point where I felt like I lost everything about me. I haven’t even been able to cry in months, and I want so desperately to experience what’s in my pinned tweet with someone I can really trust – “What I wouldn’t give for a wall-breaking spanking, the cathartic release kind of crying, and some “it’s okay – I’ve got you” aftercare, followed by some restful sleep…”
Last week was the first time in a long time where I felt a little hope in the darkness. I held on to that hope and wrote my first blog entry in four years. It’s time to start sharing my story, to try new things, and to continue recovering.
I want to take a moment to thank many of you for the encouragement you have given me since I took these small steps both here and on Twitter. Your support and kindness mean so much to me. ❤️