In my last post I unceremoniously declared that I was submissive. I don't wear it like a badge, as I said, the realization of it has settled within in me. No matter what is said or done between my husband and myself, the fact remains, it isn't going to change a thing. It isn't what I crave, it is who I am.
So Now What?
Over the years I have seen many friends come to the end of their 'adventures' with ttwd. Some haven't been able to continue, and who on earth can fault them for that? A few have discovered that truly it wasn't for either of them. The last group took what they needed from ttwd, improved their marriage and decided to shelve it, claiming to come back to it if need be in the future.
So what about me? I have come to terms with a part of me, I always suspected was there. I mentioned last time that ttwd keeps the insecurities away, but it doesn't MAKE me submissive any longer. So is there a role for ttwd in our lives now? Over time would my insecurities of who I am override my emotions and have me suppress who I chose right now to freely be? Is that even possible?
I believe my biggest challenge would be, and IS maintaining some level of vulnerability. With life the way it currently is here at our home, submission isn't taxing. It just is. There is no upping the ante. With that, at least for me, I am in control of my submission. Again that is fine, but what it does is flat line vulnerability. We all know what happens after an extended period of being flatlined....
Recently I decided to step back from a few things I do around here. My house didn't fall into disrepair. I am a housewife, over simplified, but there is a universal title many can relate to. My stepping back didn't have to do with my 'day job'. It had to do with the little things I did for my husband. The 'extras' were not mandatory, but I thought we both enjoyed~ me on the giving end and he on the receiving end. I was a little hesitant to try this experiment, mostly for myself. I knew that stopping these seemingly little things, could potentially be creating a void within me. This void could also lead to a bigger disconnect than I had been feeling recently. With a limited time in my head, I decided perhaps this was worth the risk. The thought was, perhaps anticipating Barney's needs most days, did not enable him to 'request' what he wanted or needed from me. It might be time to give him space to figure out what he requires from me, outside of safety 'regulations'.
Over a month ago, Barney decided that in the interest of being consistent, he would basically remove all the 'rules/expectations' (whatever floats your boat) and start new-bringing back each one slowly. Yeah, that didn't work for me. On paper sure it sounded logical, but most of our rules have to do with safety concerns, ( I may or may not, depending on who you talk to, be a bit of a klutz). Other rules surrounded health and well being. All of those things were gone. In addition it appeared that he cleared off the basic Dd ...D's if you will. Instead of moving forward, it felt like I was losing everything.
Having no choice, I had to go along with his grand plan. I still couldn't help but feel awful. I felt that even though he had his reasons, it seemed like all the things he had built up over the past 3 years were not worthy of remembering for him. It felt like those things no longer mattered~ I no longer mattered. The odd thing really was that I did 99% of those things 90% of the time, simply because they were important to him. I couldn't wrap my head around why on earth he needed to drop them to be more consistent. For his part he couldn't or wouldn't recognize why this hurt so much. In addition to all of this the 3 things he brought back to the 'table' had very little to do with advancing our relationship, or curbing destructive behavior which effects our relationship This is where I falter. If I become hurt, I shut down. If I stay shut down for an extended period of time, I start to build up steam and then it comes out. Mostly now it comes out via tears and not anger, but it still is a hot mess. Or I am. It sets us back far more than say, not weary a cutting glove when cutting a pineapple, ( yes one of my *3* rules).
I know I'm not supposed to be the one in charge. I know I need to let him get his footing again, because somewhere along the line he lost it. I am not going to pretend that I didn't have anything to do with that. I know that when I shut down it effects him. It makes him question. It makes him overthink and doubt. I wished to God I was stronger than I am emotionally at times, but I'm not. I wish I could easily spit out concerns and worries or~~ wait I did do that! I did during my most vulnerable times, as coached by others. All it did was aid us in getting to this spot. I became a 'victim' of WWS. Wounded Wife Syndrome, where you husband looks at you with pity. He looks at you like you are broken. For many that may sound loving and caring, for me it is very unsettling. *I* have to pull myself back together, or I end up walking over him because he appears not loving, but unable to handle my vulnerability. ( Wonderful how the emotional brain works at times isn't it?).
So what of my experiment?
I struggled at first to not do things. I then 'dug' deep,trying to be strong and hope that things would change. I could feel the change in me, and while I didn't like it, I hoped it would eventually spur some action or conversation at the very least? What ended up happening, was me feeling weighted down again, heavy and lost. I suppose in part that was because I was suppressing who I am, who I took so long to be okay with. Worse than that was Barney's reaction. With the exception of coffee in the morning he didn't acknowledge that things had changed for him. He didn't SAY anything at all. It was like ' it just didn't matter' to him. All of the things I felt good about doing, things that fulfilled me because they made him happy, 'just didn't matter'.
***( In all fairness to Barney he did pick up in what I consider areas of 'play'. Things that if I was in a good emotional place, they would most definitely help to keep me there, but they haven't worked to date, to help me feel secure enough to expose my entirety again)
I have said in the past that I don't believe I consciously test. I am not Super Submissive, trust me. I don't test because I am fearful that he won't react, and that will put me further into myself~a risk I generally am not willing to take.
I have disappeared literally over the past few days. One day I went for a walk, without seeking him out first to INFORM him. (We once had a 'rule' that I wasn't to leave the house without asking. With his work the way it is, and our neighbourhood the way it is, this became very difficult to maintain ( in the summer). The rule then changed to outside of the neighbourhood, because I couldn't phone him every time I walked across the street to sit on someone's step. Anyway, that disappeared along with making plans without asking too). I honestly thought it wouldn't matter. I brought my phone, but only so I could listen to music. I needed to get out. Just before returning home, my phone rang. I didn't answer it. I was minutes from home, and it wouldn't matter anyway. When I arrived, our middle son said, " Dad just went out looking for you". My heart sunk. NOT because I was in trouble, but because maybe he was worried. Although that really didn't seem like him. He was gone for a very long time...VERY LONG. I heard him come home, but he didn't come in the house. He stayed outside chopping ice for a long time. I thought, 'Well maybe he wasn't that worried after all". Later,he entered our room and said something about not being as in shape as he used to be. I said nothing. After a considerable amount of time had passed he asked which direction I walked ..." no", was all I said. What difference would it make? Clearly it didn't matter, and while I didn't leave to gain attention, but because I felt I needed OUT, it sure didn't work OUT well for me. The feelings of prewalk instantly returned. That was the end of our discussion that day.
A couple of good days, or a day and a half of good days passed. Then it hit the proverbial fan again. I knew there would be several days where I would be alone, or he would be preoccupied. I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was something one of our sons wanted to talk about. Alone, I listened. Alone, prior I was going through my own things. Barney went out with the other boys that night. Alone, I tried to preoccupy myself. I decided to make a drink to take the edge off....and then another....and another. I stopped at 3 (large ones), which used to be a rule of mine. Now the rule is NO drinks without permission, although it has never been inforced. Again, I wasn't testing, as I figured it just didn't matter....and once again it didn't. ONE of my THREE rules, broken, and nothing. When Barney came home that night I was still up ( past my bedtime, another rule) talking to our son. Of course he took priority, so I knew that wouldn't matter. Later in the privacy of our room I discussed what was happening with our son. All in all that was a good conversation.
After, Barney asked me something 'mundane'. Earlier in the day we had had an issue, he and I. I stupidly assumed that because I was actually opening up, he'd take the opportunity to talk about 'it'. He didn't. Hurt I rolled over and dismissed him. We exchanged words, and after the lights went out, I got out of bed and went to sleep on the couch. I did hear a 'Get back here' as I walked out of the bedroom, but I didn't see him until the next morning as I was about to basically walk out the door to buy groceries ( again another long forgotten 'rule' about driving our van without him...etc...etc..). He said he was coming with me, and informed me we were going to talk. Oh and we did for a few minutes about TALKING..sigh. Groceries complete, with minimal verbal exchanges, we headed home. I waited and waited, nothing. A few blocks from home, I told him to pull into the gas station. I gave him instructions concerning our oldest son's work schedule and got out of the van.
" Where are you going?"
" I don't know, but home is not an option, if this silence is continuing" and with that I left. FYI it is February in Canada I didn't think that through.
About an hour later I returned home and immediately went to the laundry room in the basement, avoiding everyone. Not that it mattered. We were due to go out with friends that night so I had to pull myself together. I wanted nothing more than to cancel, but I had to go, and hoped it would help my frame of mind. My body ached from stress. Nothing I did or took relieved the tension in my arm and wrist. My hip ached from walking when I shouldn't have in boots that weren't made for distance, at least since I hurt myself last year. I was tired from sharing the couch with the stupid dog, but more over, I was crushed.
I remember telling Barney the night before, 'You can't handle me when I shut down, and you can't handle me when I am vulnerable. So who or what is it that you want or need from me? Because I don't know anymore. I give you what I can and it doesn't make a difference. I stop giving to you and you don't say anything"
The last statement he commented on, " Oh I noticed" He also went on to tell me that he was very pissed when I went for my solo walk, and after not finding me he kept walking to clear his head. He was pissed that I went to sleep on the couch, but decided it might be better if he didn't say anything at the time. He ...he....he... but guess what? All this did was send me messages that ' it just didn't matter to him'. Nothing I did good or bad mattered enough for him to comment either way. That is the message I received.
Barney went from being a non talker, to an exclusive talker~ Except of course when it counts, like in the moment! I guess I am too challenging to say something at the time? A little speaking would often go a long way. However if one waits TOO long it does have the tendency to fall on deaf ears, I'll give you that.
Our last two days have gone on like nothing negative has happened between us. Yesterday I was supposed to wake him up at 8 am. I didn't. At first because I forgot, and then thought maybe I mis-remembered. Later I didn't because I was crying and didn't really want to be around anyone, least of all him. After I bathed I walked into our room to see him in bed, I did an about face to leave. He ordered me back in. I was given a short lecture and an even shorted physical reprimand . I have to say I was surprised because the boys were still sleeping on the same floor. He hasn't done that in almost a year under those circumstances. Once again I feel like I have to sweep everything under the carpet and start again, suppressing feelings that have occurred over the past few weeks. I am not one to dwell on the past, but this is different. It feels like what happened " just doesn't matter".
I am grateful that he tried, I am. I am trying not to be negative, but I think I have been too idealistic in my thinking for far too long sometimes. It only leads to disappointment. I am not saying I am going to become a pessimist, but more of a realist.
Often in our relationship, what I see as the starting of a good foundation, Barney appears to see as the cherry on top. It has become increasingly more difficult to talk about that, and what 'coasting' does to me after so very many discussions concerning the same topic.
After a while it feels like...
It Just Doesn't Matter.