Have you noticed that when you are in a funk, when things don't appear to be going too well, that everyone else seems to be coasting along with the wind at their backs, but you feel like you are fighting a force nine gale!
It is a year since I started blogging, so I suppose I should know how to deal with the lows as well as the highs by now. It makes me smile, looking back, about how easy I thought this would all be.
You do something - you get spanked.
You don't do it - you also get spanked.
End of story.
How naive I was. Not stupid. Just blissfully ignorant about the size and intricacy of this dynamic. After all, for most of our marriage I thought I always deferred to my Starman. Okay, so I probably nagged his balls off along the way, but eventually I would be dragged kicking and screaming to his point of view. When I nestled into his armpit and innocently informed him a year ago that I wanted to be submissive, I had not the slightest idea of what that particular type of wine was going to taste like.
...a dark and cold winter's day; grey clouds scudding across the sky; a frosting of snow swirling across the frozen ground chilling hearts and fingers alike. The journey across the yard to the barn is one severe enough for the most intrepid of explorers. The clang of the metal door and the damp mustiness inside. The bottles stacked along the rear wall in rows - Elderflower 1998, Blackberry 1999, Damson 2000, Grape 2003. Each bottle with its own particular cover of dust and grime, labels partly obscured and difficult to read. Snapshots of time captured for ever in different coloured glass.
A bottle is taken down and carried carefully back to the house and into the warmth of the kitchen, wiped down and the cork removed. There is no guarantee that this bottle will be a good one. Who can remember whether or not that particular summer had the sunshine at the right time, or the rain when it was needed. Who can remember whether the harvest was a good one or whether the grapes were sparse. Who can remember what happened last week, let alone a few years ago.
But I draw the cork and sniff the wine. Does it smell okay or is it fusty? Is it clear or has the sediment made it cloudy? It doesn't matter - it is poured slowly into a small clear glass and held up to the light. The colour of this bottle is good. it smells of wine and not of vinegar. A small sip, and then a bigger mouthful, swirled around the mouth and over the back of the tongue.
A good bottle; the warmth spreads with the second glass - yes, it was a very good year, no cooking wine this, but one to be savoured and enjoyed.
It is not easy to write a blog. Are we writing what we want to write or writing what we want others to read? How do we start to write, and how can we find the time? How can we be sure of the benefits?
Once a thought is committed to the written word, we sit and stare at it for a while, and then slowly other thoughts spring to mind. Sometimes they are not particularly helpful thoughts, but at other times a solution can appear like a starburst. So my bottle of wine becomes a whole summer of memories reaped and captured to ripen in dark cellars of the mind, awaiting the explosion of realisation in the first mouthful taken.
We are so frightened of the pain of disappointment, that we often pick at what is new and hopeful, anticipating flaws or failures, robbing ourselves of the joy that could lift our spirits.
Our journey in TTWD could be compared to the making of wine - from the initial harvesting of the fruit through to the final stages of bottling and labelling. A slice of time readily consumed echoing the years. A road followed around corners, through woods and meadows, with uphill gradients and downhill slopes. The wine uncorked and consumed - seeing present details in its depths, reminding us of other places - other times - other lives. Until we started this journey, I thought that by now I knew myself fairly well - yet now I am not so sure.
Sometimes you have to pick a road at random, you have to take your courage and hold it firmly in two hands, and stride manfully (or womanfully) forward. You can never actually know which choice would be the best, and whether you will for all time regret your lost opportunities, regret not glancing down those other roads at least momentarily. You can never actually know if the road you pick is going to be the right one, and even if it is, whether you will recognise the signposts along the way. After all, like wine, magic needs the right conditions in order to work.
Way back at the start of our journey, I wrote about walking along a personal hall of mirrors, and likened that to our journey along a road. Now I can see that everyone around here is a mirror along that way we are walking. Each mirror is different. Some are plain and simple, some are highly decorative, some are wood, some gilded with gold leaf, some made of drift wood plucked from the beach.
If I gaze into these mirrors for too long, they sometimes dazzle my eyes, and thus, my peering becomes counterproductive. Sometimes my eyes will selectively perceive and block everything else. Sometimes the mirrors grow dull and my vision is impeded. I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland.
"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cheshire Cat.
"I don't much care where -" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
" So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if only you walk long enough."
Way back before I started my blog, I was asked a very important question, not by one, but by two people. Why did I want to start Dd?
The answer then was that I simply didn't know. I don't think I am capable of a much better answer a year later.
To the casual observer I am certain we were seen as a couple who sailed through life and marriage without a care in the world. But had that observer looked more closely, the cracks were apparent; the passing in doorways, the superficial chat, the merging of one day into the next in one long boring cycle with nothing real achieved at the end of it.
I sniped and I cut and I chipped away. He buried his head in the sand, ignored, immersed himself in his work. The magic we once had was so eroded it had all but disappeared, and we were sliding rapidly into the depths.
So perhaps when I say I couldn't answer that question a year ago I was wrong.
Because I thought to myself "You don't really need any magic. You can help yourself - you can fight back. All you've been doing is running away. It's ridiculous. You've already got all you need - inside of you! You don't need magic to work it out for you - you can do it all on your own."
It's true. It's no use saying you can't! There's no such bloody word!
I honestly don't know if am I remotely submissive or not. Perhaps I may be a little. Usually I continue to fight it tooth and nail. I think I may even hate the word, and truthfully dominant/submissive scenes are not for us - I laugh too much. Okay, so every now and then a little flame is ignited and a new connection is made. But my problem is that I am the Queen of the Groundhog Day.
So instead of feeling sorry for myself and moaning about this recurrence, I determined to do something about it and not rely on any sources of magic. I needed to prevent this happening again, and I could feel this particular bottle of wine fizzing and about to push that fusty old cork clean out and across the kitchen.
I was determined to to ask, or persuade or infer. Not this time. If women could have the equivalent of blue balls, then that is what I would have to put up with. I am strong and I am sparky, but I am too flipping pushy. Not this time. I have done my best this time to really listen to advice and to block up one of my ears so it goes in one and is unable to come out of the other! I resolved to sit it out and not direct the proceedings regardless of how tempting it was.
And strangely, the advice I had been doing my best to ignore, came home like a clutch of chickens.
"I reckon it must be spanky day today."
My amazement knew no bounds. I choked into my coffee, had to have my back slapped and managed to dribble coffee down my nose. (Yes, I realise I am grotesque.)
And then he said in a moany sort of a man-voice "My stomach doesn't feel too good. Must've been the supper I had at the pub with the boys, before the match." (soccer)
I was in a mad rush to get up and showered because I was dashing out to do some Christmas shopping and I had a million little things to get done first. But I stayed there and thought, I must say something to feed into this.
"I'm taken aback, Dan. Really chuffed you didn't need me to remind you. I was determined not to say anything and you've really surprised me."
Dan simply moaned again. "Don't feel good" he whimpered.
We then had a ten minute discussion about the fact that nine times out of ten his stomach plays up when he eats at this particular pub with the boys. Too much chilli in everything! In hamburgers, in sausage and mash, in shepherds' pie, in fact in everything! The cook must be besotted with chilli!
"It's all right, darling" I assured him. "I'm in such a rush today. You just lie back and snooze a bit longer. We can do it tomorrow instead."
Secretly I thought that by tomorrow he would have totally either forgotten about it or totally gone off the boil. So I didn't allow myself any illusions, we've been there too many times before. I wasn't going to remind him either. Yet when the next morning came, and the upset stomach was a thing of the past, Dan remembered!
"Go get the implements!"
He didn't ask. He ordered me.
However, in this I am well trained, and I offered him a choice of three. This is a reasonably new thing started a few weeks ago, and there again I have listened to someone's advice that you can get too fond of, and used to, the same implement, and therefore it loses its effect. (Good grief! What bottle of wine had she been at to give me that advice?! And she called it good advice!)
I soon realised that this time things seemed to be a tad different. Dan positioned a fat pillow over his lap and helped me into position. It prevented me feeling him beneath me. I hurriedly grabbed a pillow to sink my face into. I am not good with pain and am very vociferous. I am, however, very good at chewing the corner of a pillow.
I remained fairly quiet initially, not wanting to ruin what I thought was going to be a good thing. Dan's warm-ups are amusing to say the least. He has tired of bongos and now prefers to play "Guess the tune" so we progressed through Three Blind Mice, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice. I relaxed into the feel and rhythm of his palms snapping against my cheeks.
Then suddenly whack and a streak of fire exploded on my right buttock. Then another on the left. I yelped loudly and tried to evade the source of that awful flame. Yet as soon as it began it stopped and he went back to using his palms, so I wasn't exactly sure what he had used. But now I was on high alert.
Then four very hard, very fierce whacks in a row, which caused me to yell and kick like a mule, and at one point I felt my foot connect with something. I craned my neck round to try to see what it was, but he wasn't having any of that. He pressed down hard on my back, secured my legs and I was ordered to stop kicking.
Just those few hard spanks had made my eyes water and I wasn't happy to be told not to kick as I didn't think I could prevent myself.
He went back to using his hand, and then I felt the Rose Paddle, and once more relaxed. Stupid me.
Whack! I bucked and did my best to move forwards, backwards, in fact anywhere I could go to get away. This wasn't in the contract!
"That's the boy!" Dan stated quietly. "He's the one!" And then he chuckled. He went and chuckled! There I was with my nose boring a hole through the pillow, howling and gasping and kicking and lurching around, and he was chuckling!
The explosions of burning pain continued, (Most of you have been there, and have frequently given me advice to which I only half listened to. Not any more. I promise I will listen to everything!) and continued, and I gave in. There was nothing else I could do. I wasn't going anywhere, the hand on my back and his leg across mine was preventing that, and oh it hurt so much I didn't want to be there.
Then it stopped. Everything was quiet and still, except for me having a darn good cry. Which, of course, was the point.
Dan rubbed my bottom and it felt like he was rubbing me with hot coals. When I checked in the mirror later, it looked like glowing embers, never mind hot coals!
When I pushed myself up after a suitable interval he sat there stoking the bath brush!
"That's the boy!" he repeated. "Didn't go numb that time did you? That advice someone gave you about needing to change implements certainly worked. You must remember to thank them for me."
I couldn't reply. I was still sniffing and studying my poor rear in the mirror.
"It's a good job I don't bruise like I used to do in the beginning isn't it?
"Come back to bed. We don't have to get up just yet."
Dan started to play.
"I wonder why being spanked makes my body so much more sensitive than it's ever been?"
"No idea. I wish I'd known about it years ago."
I sat up.
"Did you just say what I thought you said?"
He pulled me back down.
"You ought to ask your friends if the same thing happens to them."
"I couldn't do that."
"Yes you could. You want to ask them if a good, swift, hard spanking turns them into raging sex maniacs."
"Well, it's true, woman."
The next morning I was in for yet another surprise. I had showered and run along the landing and into Dan's bathroom to drag the scales out from under the bath where they are kept, in order to weigh myself.
Horrors! I had put on two pounds. I groaned.
I glumly exited the bathroom.
Then suddenly I was being hoicked into the small spare bedroom Dan uses as a dressing room and bent over the bed there. What the heck?! Dan loosed a rapid volley on my bottom. I was speechless with surprise and only managed one or two quick squeaks.
"Go get the paddle."
I think I giggled with excitement. I ran quickly back into our room and retrieved the paddle from the drawer and dashed back again and resumed my position.
Then I wondered why I had giggled!
Dan began re-igniting the flames from the previous day. This time he focussed mostly on one cheek. He knows I hate this and it soon had me shrieking my protests.
Then he attacked my sit spots which he also only discovered not so very long ago.
"On your toes" he said sternly.
This was not turning out as I had hoped.
"On your toes!"
There was no need for him to say that - I was already on my toes! I am very glad that rose paddle is so well made. I know it is flexible and can't damage me, but oh when he splats right dead centre (if you know what I mean) it really does hurt.
"There you are" I was told when I had calmed down and was still having my post spanking hug, "a top up."
All that day my bottom wasn't exactly sore, but uncomfortable, and the redness changed to light bruising. My jeans rubbed, and there was an inner discomfort that lasted a day or two.
I now know that Dan has learned to think on his own, so no more reminders unless absolutely necessary. He's told me that he is resolved to use more than one implement in future unless we are just playing and that we will think of this as Top Up Spanking and he will administer these when he deems necessary in order to avoid any further Groundhog Days. (He didn't call them that, he was much less polite!)
We discussed that these are not punishment spankings. He still won't do those; yet he is happy to "whale away with a bath brush" when necessary. He doesn't like the name or connotations. But these are certainly not fun, I can vouch for that.
I thought I was on the bottom of a lake with thick ice on top. Every time I tried to surface I just bumped into the ice and rebounded back down. Now Dan has chipped away at the ice and created a hole. I wonder if another year from now he will have cracked through the entire surface, so that it won't matter where I come up.
I wonder whether surrender is born in the shadows, if we must move into darker places if we are to find what we so desperately need. Perhaps we must be willing and able to exclude nothing of ourselves and to lay ourselves open to the truth. To be stretched far beyond where we thought we could or wanted to go. To be willing to accept what we cannot change or control, in order to see revealed what is most hard to know about ourselves.
The sap has gone down, the vine is resting once more until spring - sleeping soundly, roots reaching out into the sparse soil now moist with autumnal rain.
My friends, we will share another bottle....