I've been debating about whether or not to write this post for several weeks, but I've decided that I think it could be both really good for conversation and really good for me to write out. So here it is.
After more than two years of being in a relationship that included discipline, I now find myself without it. Without discipline and without the relationship, that is. (And actually, I moved into my relationship with M from another one that incorporated discipline, so I guess that means it's been about three and a half years since I've been on my own in that sense.) Aside from the normal gut-wrenching, soul-piercing pain that accompanies any break up, I'm also dealing with the loss of any practical application of discipline in my life. At this point I'm still dealing with a lot of the initial grief and the loss of discipline feels kind of minor. But it's starting to raise its head in small ways.
I first noticed it in the lifting of the caffeine restriction. M was always very concerned about my caffeine intake and had limited it to two units (glasses of iced tea, cans of pop) per day. Now I can drink as much as I want. Or rather, now I have to monitor it for myself. And it's not that I mind being responsible for my own food consumption; I am, after all, a competent adult who is independent and fairly strong-willed. Truthfully, I used to find that rule irritating--and comforting. Irritating because it was a reminder that someone else had a say in my well-being, and comforting because it was a reminder that someone else had a say in my well-being.
And then I noticed it when I had a fairly major deadline for work and procrastinated until the very last minute. (I literally got up at 5:30 the morning it was due to finish it.) M was very good about helping me set deadlines to protect myself and my sleep--and then enforcing them. Of course I finished the project and it was fine and my boss didn't have any problems with it; I am, after all, a competent adult who works well under pressure and is responsible enough to meet deadlines. But in the past knowing that someone else would hold me accountable for goals, that was both frustrating and comforting. You get the picture.
That leads to the larger issue, since drinking iced tea and writing last-minute projects do not actually form a large piece of my consciousness or existence. The larger issue is the loss of having a back up, of having someone who would watch me and not let me self-destruct. Of having real life consequences for real life actions. And I miss that.
Four years ago, before I had my first relationship with discipline, I knew that I craved something but had no idea whether or not it was possible. I debated with a spanko friend of mine: he was convinced that discipline could never work in the context of a real, long-term relationship; I wasn't sure if it could but knew I wanted to try. A lot of those thoughts were fantasies and came straight out of fiction from Discipline and Desire (which I still love, by the way). The fantasies where the dominant man is gentle and caring and loving and stern and the submissive woman is feisty and independent and strong-willed and yet still craves discipline. The kind where he instinctively knows when she needs to be spanked and when she needs to be snuggled, where discipline makes their relationship stronger and is never a source of tension. The kind where he is always consistent and never has needs of his own. In other words, the really fictitious kind. But then I met M and we began to struggle through the real-life application of discipline in the context of our real-life relationship. It wasn't always easy, but in some ways it worked better than I could have hoped.
I don't want to get into all the nitty gritty of my particular relationship, but I do want to talk about what it's like to go back to not having it now that I know it's possible. Basically, it's tough. It's only one aspect of the overall toughness, but it's there. There's a deep part of me that aches for accountability and certainty and the physical pain that brings emotional pain to the surface so I can deal with it. And now that I know what it's like, I yearn for it even more.
I'm certain I have friends who would be willing to establish a disciplinary relationship with me if I asked. But I'm not emotionally ready for that, nor do I anticipate being ready in the near future. The memory of what I had is far too close, and my discipline needs are far too intimate. But it's something I will grieve intensely along with my other griefs--and something I wanted to offer up to this community for processing and thoughts. After all, I can't possibly be the only one to whom this has happened (or will happen). So I'm offering up my experience, for what it's worth.