When DD's Not Enough

Regular readers have no doubt noticed a sharp decline in the frequency at which new articles appear on this blog. My apologies.

The truth is, I haven't written because I've been reluctant to face what's most on my mind these days with regard to Domestic Discipline (DD).

A few months back, I wrote a post questioning whether a relationship is real if the only thing holding it together is DD. ("If DD is the glue, do the parts really fit?")

At the time, I concluded that the answer was yes, because for a relationship to thrive, what was required was trust and communication, and something, be it DD or a more traditional method, has to provide a framework for that trust and communication or the relationship won't survive.

I'm no longer at all sure of that position.

Back in March, Bonnie posed the question on "My Bottom Smarts" as to whether you'd leave a relationship if the other person wasn't interested in DD. But it's the opposite question that's on my mind now. Do I stay in a relationship that seems to be fundamentally unhealthy for both parties just to keep DD in my life?

As many of you know, my partner and I spend most of our time apart. This isn't for professional reasons, as with many couples. Rather it's because after six years of being together, when our relationship became so difficult and painful we couldn't be in the same room together without hurting each other, I left. And he agreed that I should leave.

I moved 800 miles away to get some time to think things through and start over. Ironically, once I did leave, the pressure was off, and we had the time and space to find each other again -- largely through an exploration of DD -- both through extended phone and email conservations about our expectations from a DD relationship, and then during the extended times we've been together in the last year.

As with many couples, things improved rapidly for us when DD became part of our lives. Almost overnight it seemed, we went from tears, fighting, accusations and anger to intimacy, love, communication and talk of marriage and life commitment.

But now, our separation is more extended than it has been in the past and since for us at least, DD does not seem to work when we're not physically together, things have fallen apart again in a serious way. Once again, it's hard to believe we're the same two people who were so close last time we were together. I feel as though he's a stranger most of the time, and I don't seem to be able to find back the wonderful person with whom I have such a unique and powerful bond. And I suspect he feels the same way.

When my partner and I added DD to our relationship this time around (we'd tried it before, but that's another article!), we realized we had a lot of clearing the air work to do. To accomplish this, we did the traditional "clearing the slate" ritual -- an extended, intense disciplinary session meant to expunge the hurts and betrayals of the past and start us on a new, healthier path together.

This ritual was helpful, to some extent. That level of ritual pain is powerful and it can't help but be cleansing in many ways. But the reality is that one afternoon of DD, no matter how intense and emotional, isn't going to erase years of mistrust, hurt, anger and miscommunication. That's not realistic, but more the stuff of romantic DD fantasy. Also significant is that the slate clearing was about me making up for what I did. We have yet to find an effective, DD-themed mechanism for making up for what he did -- one of the potential flaws of a traditional DD relationship. (see "When I'm Angry")

No matter how many spankings are given or how much time is spent in the corner, at some point in a relationship, you have to sit down across the table from the other person and talk with them about what's going on between you. And that's where the problem is, at least for us.

The truth is that neither my partner nor I are particularly good at communicating with each other about our feelings. (except where DD is concerned) When we talk about the issues in our past, I get emotional; he withdraws. I get more emotional because he withdraws; he withdraws even more. And so it goes.

And as a result, nothing really gets resolved between us. This lack of closure and resolution is why DD is such a welcome change for us. No leaving things to simmer and fester -- a spanking clears the air and gets us back on the right track.

But spankings now don't seem to help us with things in the past. And for us, there is a lot of pain in the past. Big Pain. Not "don't leave the toilet seat up" kind of pain, but big, Lifetime Movie of the Week pain. A sticky, seemingly bottomless pit of mistrust, anger and hurt that I'm not sure can be cleared up with any method, DD or otherwise.

My new answer then, to whether a relationship is legitimate if the only thing holding it together is DD is, sadly, probably not.

It may be that for DD to work as it's intended, it has to start from a place of trust and communication, rather than standing in as a substitute for those things. It may be that trying to use DD to rescue a relationship full of pain and anger and miscommunication is like putting a band-aid on an infected wound. It covers it up, but it doesn't make the wound go away.

And so I've been contemplating the possibility that's breaking my heart: That this wonderful, beautiful relationship that feels so right, so complete and so safe in so many ways (in many ways beyond DD) may not be the right one after all.

And with that, of course, comes the fear that I may never find anyone else again who understands this need in me as completely as my current partner does. I may find someone else willing to spank me, sure. Easy enough. But as we all know, DD is much, much more than that. Will I be able to find someone else with such a solid grasp of the psychology involved on both sides of a DD relationship? Who understands why living this way is so important to me and what my life experience was that made it so? Who comes to DD with such exquisite sensititivity and respect for my personhood? Doubtful. But possible.

Even more than the obvious heartbreak of losing my partner and all the wonderful parts of our relationship when it's working, it's devastating for me to think of forever losing a chance at being the person that I am when DD is working. The sense of empowerment and confidence. The feeling of finding my truest feminine self in a way that I haven't found anywhere else. To give that up terrifies me and keeps me hanging in, trying to make this work long past the point where I probably should have realized it's not going to.

If he asked me to marry him today, would I say yes, despite the ongoing problems, despite that murky tar pit of Big Pain in our past? Probably -- almost certainly -- yes. And that scares me even more. That I want and need DD in my life so much, and that I'm so afraid this is my only chance at having it, that I'd be willing to make a lifelong commitment to a relationship that's so fundamentally flawed just to keep it. Yikes.