About a month ago, Mija wrote to the authors of the Punishment Book about several things, and one of the things was a suggestion that, since this is our "blogiversary," perhaps we could each write a post about where we are now, in life, and in regard to this thing we do in our relationships. I kept putting it off, but since February obliged me by having an extra day, we'll see if I can manage to get a post written and slide in under the deadline!
Almost two years ago now, I was invited to join the Punishment Book. Looking back over the posts I wrote then, not a lot has changed. In terms of my day-to-day life, I described myself as a happily partnered lesbian/dyke spanko, and as a grad student and aspiring housewife. The "graduate student" part of that was falling apart at that point, because I was also taking what has turned out to be a longer than expected trip into Crazyville. So I'm no longer really a graduate student at all (something that's eventually going to take some processing, but right now, I'm just letting that be). But the rest of it is true.
In terms of discipline, W and I struggled with the role of discipline in our lives, and I struggled with the ability to give up control. While discipline clearly worked, and helped, I was also ambivalent about how that interacted with my personal history, specifically as someone who was abused in childhood. And, really, all of that is still pretty much the same.
Except for the results of my extended foray into Crazyville. The signs were clearly there already. The first punishment I wrote about for this blog was one that was received by what I later recognized as one of the little kid parts in my system. A few months after joining the PB, I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or multiple personalities. While it explained a LOT about me, and has helped me to make significant progress in coping with life, officially knowing that what I had previously brushed off as slightly more than the usual levels of quirkiness and bad memory and being very much in touch with my inner children has also GREATLY increased my worries about the role of discipline in my relationship.
That isn't to say that discipline isn't continuing to play a large role in my relationship. W has been a real champion, holding firmly to the fact that it works, and that it makes me feel better and clearly helps me to cope. So discipline has continued, and become even more of a consistent part of our relationship. And, being who I am (and being ALL of who I am!) this sadly means that I get punished on a regular basis.
So why haven't I been writing here?
Some of it is because it feels awkward, when writing about things more specifically, to try to describe the particulars of the interactions. Very often, it's a matter of writing about several parts, or of different parts writing their own experiences. And most of us are uncomfortable both with behaving as though there is just one of me, and also with calling attention to the fact that there is more than one "me." So often, I (we?) just don't write.
Some of it is because many parts in the system, and definitely the parts who would be writing from firsthand experience of discipline, feel somewhat awkward writing as though we are adults. Although we live in an adult body, and definitely have the privileges of adulthood, we're not exactly adults. And somehow, it doesn't quite feel right to be posting here, or even at Breathing In and Breathing Out unless it's an adult part doing the writing, because of the general understanding that they are adult sites. At the same time, I also realize that it's kind of silly, and the boundaries are more intended to stay within the law, and it's no less legal for me to visit these sites than to buy cigarettes and alcohol or to drive the car.
Some of it is from shame. There, I said it. I am ashamed of myself for needing discipline. More than that, I am ashamed of myself for not being able to be just one person in my body, and being able to "parent" myself, and take care of my own needs. I, and the other parts, continually test limits, and while I know intellectually that this is developmentally appropriate behavior for the ages we really are, it is rather immature for the age of our body. And what's really hard is, because of having DID, when my body was a teenager, I pretty much avoided all of the limit-testing, and had admirable self-control and self-direction.
But the shame remains. I joke with W that I really have got to stop reading the official treatment guidelines for DID, because they are not helpful to me, and they make me feel bad for needing to go through my own process. What's more, my therapist isn't following those, and she is a sufficiently good therapist that I know if she thought I was doing something unhealthy, or that I wasn't progressing appropriately, that she would tell me.
Still, I feel ashamed. I feel as though if I just worked harder, if I tried something different, if I pushed myself a little faster down the path towards being "cured," then I wouldn't need external discipline, and I wouldn't have to ask W to take on the role of providing it. And I feel fiercely ashamed that I (and, more than that, that the other parts) are often so persistently defiant, not only unable but sometimes just unwilling to follow our fairly simple rules. Because who wants to have to write about being punished, yet again, for failing to follow the exact same rule?
And, as I read other people's writing about discipline in their adult relationships, most of what W and I experience fits pretty closely. The only difference is the lack of that adult-ness in our interactions much of the time. And I guess in W's need to be able to know which part she is interacting with, so that she can also know which approaches are going to work.
I've been thinking a lot about this, and working on getting some level of internal consensus that will allow me (us) to write more often, because there are often things I'd like to talk about that don't fit at my non-kink blog. And perhaps I'll be better able to manage that in the coming year than I have been in the past year or so.
So, that's where I am right now.