[Writer’s Note: This entry deals obliquely with my sex life and BDSM proclivities. It doesn’t go into any explicit detail, but you’ve been warned all the same. Also, it’s very long, so break out the cushion for your computer chair and get something to drink before you start.]
A break-up is never an easy thing to deal with. They’re rarely pretty or even amicable, and are often the exact opposite, leaving emotional wounds in both parties that can take months, or even years, to heal. Oftentimes, usually as a subconscious self-preservation move, people will demonize the other person(s) (at least for a time), placing the sole responsibility for everything that went down on someone other than themselves. The truth of the matter is usually more complicated, though. Generally speaking, there is fault on both sides when a relationship crumbles. So it is with my recent break-up.
i first met the person in question (who for the sake of simplicity and protection of identity i will hereafter refer to in Holmesian fashion as “The Woman”) at a play party with the local group. Contrary to popular media portrayals, there were no instant mental fireworks. It was not love at first sight. i saw her from across the room, noted her presence, and also noted the collar she was wearing, so i figured her for a fellow submissive (she’s actually more of a switch). That was approximately all the thought i bent toward her that first night, which was one of my first play parties with this particular group, so i was still meeting lots of people and trying to take everything in after several months of absolutely nothing following the move from Columbia.
The next few parties, i didn’t really see or notice the presence of The Woman. She didn’t really figure back into my life until the spring came along. Around this time, she was attending parties again, spending most of her time in the kitchen, making sure refreshments and snack bowls were staying topped up and available for people who wanted to eat. Our first really extended interaction occurred when i (being a mostly good boy on my dieting and weight loss program at the time) slyly sidled up to the counter, snatched an Oreo and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth before (i thought) anyone would notice. She noticed, and promptly exhorted me to chew it and enjoy it if i was going to misbehave.
We continued interacting over the course of the next few parties, and she was apparently impressed by my demonstration of stealth and camouflage in hiding out during the Subbie Hunt. I’m not really sure what it was exactly that drew her to me. In her own words, i “was just always there.” (Terribly romantic, right? Not to mention rather vague…) Then, at one party things suddenly became more serious between us.
i don’t really remember who called who, but somehow we got into contact before the party. She told me that she was coming down early and would be staying in Branson overnight (she was living in Springfield at the time). i invited her to hang out beforehand and to drive her to the party, so we wound up going to see Prometheus at the movie theater, then driving out to the place where the parties were held. At the party, as had been the case with many of the previous parties, it had already been figured out which dominant or switch would play with me that evening. Unfortunately, that particular individual also played with someone else before me, and as a result of that scene was unable to actually play with me. The Woman heard all this, and over the course of the rest of the night, she and i just sort of fell into a long power exchange sorta-scene. She would sit on the couch with her legs draped proprietarily over my lap, except for when she wanted something from the kitchen, in which case i would go get it for her.
After we left the party, i drove her back to her hotel. She invited me up to her room, and i brought the toy bag up with me. In her room, we had our first beating scene together, and also slept together for the first time. In that room i also had my first seizure in almost a year. After i came to and refused transport by the EMTs (i knew the reason for the seizure), she followed me in her vehicle as i drove home to make sure i made it back without further event. i arrived home safely and refrained from mentioning any of this to my parents. Very few people know that this particular seizure ever occurred.
Surprisingly, she wasn’t scared away by all this, and still wanted to see me, so we started dating, mostly consisting of me driving up to Springfield to see her, but also attending parties together and playing at the party. We had some very intense scenes, both emotionally and sensually, but I never really went too terribly deep into subspace, much less hitting cryspace at all (which i’ve started to think might be a bellwether of how comfortable overall i am with a partner). Often our scenes would end right as i was on the threshold of subspace and just about to go deeper. Still, it was relatively early in the relationship, so it didn’t really concern me at the time. Unfortunately, this would become a common occurrence during our S/M play pretty much throughout the course of the relationship. i realize that i am partly to blame for this recurring pattern in our play. i should have spoken up when i realized that things were not completely working, but i didn’t, partly because things had changed between us by that time. Unfortunately, my difficulties with being communicative would also become a recurring theme of the relationship.
After we had dated for a few months, she suggested that we take things to the next step. She wanted to move down to Branson from Springfield and get a place together. This offer was threefold: she wanted to spend more time with me to the point of living together, she wanted to collar me as her submissive and become my owner, and she wanted to give me another option aside from living with my parents until i finished up my Master’s degree. The offer seemed too good to be true. A woman who i had fallen in love with, and who had verbally expressed the same to me, not only wanted to pursue a really serious relationship, but actually wanted to collar me? i was understandably extremely excited by all of this, and i jumped at it, once again, i would find, falling prey to my tendency to rush into things and leap before giving things a good thorough look.
So, long story short, we moved in together. My parents were less than thrilled by the idea, to put it mildly, but i made the decision and stood by it. It wasn’t really until after the move that the two of us started to see the aspects of each other that would eventually drive us apart. For my part, i have a tendency to be very timid in the face of confrontation. When faced with a fight or flight instinct, i tend to pick flight. This extends to communication. If i have a concern, or something that is bothering me, or just something that i feel should probably be known, but it might cause an awkward situation or confrontation, or if i feel shame about it, i have a real problem expressing myself. i also internalize everything. i beat myself up over things harder than anyone could beat me up over them, and it’s not as simple as just ordering me not to as a submissive. This behavior has become so ingrained in my very being over the course of my life that it has essentially become an unconscious behavior.
For her part, the things that i wish i had actually managed to speak up about, or speak up about more forcefully began to become apparent shortly after we moved in together. The most egregious behavior was, again, something that i tried to ignore at first, thinking (hoping) it might be a one-time thing… or a two-time thing… or a three-time thing… etc. In a behavior that is actually rather surprisingly like my mother (despite her constantly telling me that she wasn’t my mother and i could talk to her), The Woman has a tendency to keep her displeasure to herself, or to try to subtly address it in a roundabout, indirect way at first. When that doesn’t work, or the feelings she keeps to herself build to critical mass, she explodes, venting all of those pent up emotions in a single blowout attack. After she finishes, having vented and gotten her catharsis, she returns back to status quo and continues on with things as normal. In the meantime, the effect on me was the emotional equivalent of plunging a sword into my belly just above my waist, drawing it upward until it met my collar bone, then leaving me there, ripped open and bleeding.
Unfortunately, these emotional explosion events did not go away. They became more frequent, and more extreme, as time went on and i started failing more and more to live up to the unrealistic expectations that were upon me (again, partly my own fault, more on that later). Multiple times during the course of our relationship after the collaring she disowned me as her submissive, told me that i was just someone who was living in the house with her, and she wasn’t kicking me to the curb because she was “obligated” (her exact choice of words) to stick around and give me a place to live until i finished my Master’s degree. Then things would get better for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, until the next blowout occurred. It got to a point where i was honestly afraid to be in the room with her for too long. There was this almost palpable tension that permeated the atmosphere of the house. It felt like walking on eggshells strewn about a live minefield. And much like the effect my mother has on me, every time i wanted to speak up about something, i not only had difficulty, my tongue would almost physically cleave to the roof of my mouth and i would be practically unable to say even a single word.
But how did it come to this point? i think a lot of hit has to do with the way the relationship started. We were a kink relationship from the word go, and didn’t really establish any clear rules for dealing with vanilla life. For example, i was nominally supposed to perform service around the house, which wound up translating into most of the domestic tasks: washing the dishes, cleaning the cat box, cleaning up around the house, etc. She did her own laundry, but most everything else was expected to be done by me.
And i would have been perfectly content with that, if not for the nature of my schedule outside the house. A short day for me during this time was 11 hours working at the school district: 8 hours during the school day, and 3 hours with an afterschool program. My longer days were closer to 13 hours and involved driving to and from Springfield after working at the school with three hours of class in between the drives. So i would come home in the evenings absolutely exhausted, but be expected to cook dinner, clean up afterward, etc. i would also often come home to find that she had left things out from her breakfast and/or lunch that would have been really simple to take care of: wrappers and other trash left out on the counter, simple little dishes that just needed a quick once-over to be clean… i even found the milk carton (not empty) just sitting out on the counter on multiple occasions rather than having been put back in the fridge. To say i wasn’t keeping up with all of this is an exercise in understatement, and i didn’t feel capable of asking for help, not just because i had trouble talking to The Woman anyway, but also because i felt so completely and utterly ashamed that i was failing as a submissive. i started to spiral back into depression, managing, this time, to put a brave face on and soldier through my daily work responsibilities, but practically collapse into my computer chair in my room afterward.
Meanwhile, the dishes piled up, the cat box was forgotten, and stuff in the living room that hadn’t found a home to be put away into didn’t get put away; and emotional blowouts started to string together like incendiary paper dolls. But still i tried to salvage the relationship, and my psyche, because i loved The Woman, and things couldn’t be this bad forever, right? i think my parents started to catch on to my emotional state, as well, because they began telling me that my room was still open, and that if I needed to I could move back in with no questions asked. Every single time they broached the subject, i assured them that i was fine, and that things were alright, and that i wanted to stay with The Woman. i never once even briefly considered taking them up on their offer until the very end. But i haven’t come to that point yet in this recounting.
After one of the worst of these housework-related blowouts, i could not get to sleep, so i stayed up the entire night cleaning house, mopping and disinfecting the cat box area, detailing the kitchen, getting things at least livable in the living room, and moving her new computer desk across the room so that i could hook up her desktop to the internet and she could use that for work instead of sitting on the couch. Things got a little better for a time after that, but i don’t think she ever once actually booted up that desktop computer, even though i changed the background on it to a really funny monkey picture (she loves monkeys) as an additional surprise for her.
It also bothered me the way she treated me day to day in small ways. All of my stuff, the things that express my personality and particular brand of nerdiness, were relegated to my “office,” the second bedroom (if you could call such a tiny room a bedroom) in the house, and none of my things were allowed to be on display in the main part of the house because “Star Trek doesn’t go with any kind of civilized décor.” There were certain casual (non-awkward or confrontational) things that would come up in discussion that she had very entrenched opinions about, and if i expressed a differing opinion, she would be very dismissive of what i had to say.
A huge example of this was her extreme distaste for the state of Missouri, and her thoughtless dismissal of me every time i tried to bring up something that i thought wasn’t all bad about it. Sure, i’m not a huge fan of Branson, but i rather like St. Louis and Kansas City for what they are, and i absolutely adore Columbia (a place to which she has never been and practically refused to entertain the notion she might like). Are there better places in the world to live? Sure. But is Missouri really tantamount to the Ninth Circle of Hell? Hell no! In any event she was constantly working on plans for us to move out of the state immediately upon completion of my Master’s, despite the fact that my career would very likely benefit from working in the state where i got my certification for at least a few years. When i would bring this up, she would tell me that i should choose whatever was best, but that she was moving out of Missouri with or without me. i heard this from her many times, and each time she reinforced the notion that her geographic location was more important to her than being with the person who she was (reportedly) in love with.
Shortly after we moved in together, i had another seizure. This time, it happened at work, and it was worse than the one before. i didn’t become fully conscious until after i was already in the E.R., i was apparently aphasic for a significant amount of time after my eyes opened (i don’t remember any of this, but apparently they asked me who my sister was, and my reply was “Corn,” as if it made perfect damned sense). My family was on the scene first, and my mother rode with me in the ambulance and all the way through. It was only after a little while that they remembered to call and go get The Woman, whose vehicle was out of commission at the time. This only deepened her feeling of essentially having to compete with my family for my love, and there was an emotional blowout not long after i returned from the hospital. The upshot of having the official record of my seizure was that i couldn’t drive for six months, so The Woman had to take me into work every morning and pick me up afterward, unless i could find a ride home. She did this for the entirety, getting up in the mornings well before she would have otherwise arisen, then going back to sleep until she had to get up to work her own job.
Her job working from home also created some tension that hung between us, again unspoken (because i’m a chickenshit). My work was always from the early mornings into the evenings, whereas her work would be from late afternoon until 10 or 11 at night. This meant that she wasn’t getting off work until about the time (or after the time) i had to go to bed in order to get up on time to do everything all over again. As a result, we had very little “us” time during the week. Then on the weekends, when i could stay up a bit later, she would often finish working, then just stay on her computer and surf the internet, dashing my hopes to have some personal time with her. Again, if i’d had the damned courage to speak up about it, it probably would have changed at least somewhat.
Then there was the matter of her illness. Shortly after the first of the year she started to get sick with coughing fits that would immobilize her from her calls at work, often so intense that she gagged as well. This was apparently something that had occurred the previous year as well, but at the time the doctor’s she had gone to in Springfield had been dismissive of it. She went to a local doctor to talk about it, and they started doing a battery of tests, hypothesizing that it was either something wrong with her lungs or something terribly wrong with her heart. It proved to be extremely elusive, and test after test came back inconclusive. i worried about her constantly, which, added to the depression, made me even more useless as a submissive. Then her doctors urged her to stop working, and she started taking unpaid medical leave from her job. This really amped up my worry, because i knew that my income alone would not… could not keep us afloat. But i resolved to do my best to figure out some way for us to make it work, despite my parents’ redoubled offers of a soft landing back in their house.
At any rate, through shared responsibility, our relationship had reached a point by May of this year that was tacitly very unhealthy. We were both trying to make the most of it, but more and more it just wasn’t working. Then a single event tipped the scales irrevocably and shattered the tenuous balance that we had been able to strike: i had a third seizure.
This time it happened behind the wheel of my car. It was the last day of school for staff at the school district, and i was heading home at the end of the day. i had missed a dose of my medication, though i hadn’t realized it yet at the time. For a split second i started to feel that ethereal aura sensation, but it was too late to do anything about it, because the seizure came on almost immediately after. My car ran off the road and hit a tree. i was uninjured, aside from a wrenched shoulder, but the car was totaled. Once again, my parents were able to be on the scene first, but this time i came out of the seizure much faster and was lucid and talking to the EMTs, once again refusing transport. This time my father called The Woman early on and let her know what was happening, but with her vehicle still out of commission, she had no way to get to us.
We went to the family doctor and talked about the event, determining that it was a missed dosage that allowed the seizure to happen. Afterward, my parents took me back to their house, where they had the remains of my car towed. We sat and talked for a while, and they again urged me to move back home, but at that point i continued to stand firm. i still felt that The Woman and i could withstand this just as we had withstood previous setbacks. My dad drove me back to the house, letting me know that the offer to move back was open anytime i might change my mind. i assured him that i wasn’t interested, but thanked him for everything he had done to help, then went into the house, where The Woman was waiting for me.
i expected anger. i really did. i just didn’t expect her to lead with the anger. It seemed reasonable to me that she might say something to the effect that she was glad i was alive, that the accident hadn’t injured me more than it did, that my car hadn’t gone off the road at a different point, where there was literally nothing on the side of the road but a steep ravine. The first words she said to me were something to the effect of “How could you do this to me? Do you realize how much this complicates my life?” The anger continued for some time as i cowered before her wrath; she again told me that i was no longer her submissive, that she was obligated to stay around until i finished my Master’s degree, but was leaving immediately afterward. She essentially told me that our relationship was over. Her exact words that day were “Stick a fork in it, I’m done!” After i came out the other side of my emotional tailspin, i realized that i couldn’t stay in this situation. Living with my parents was certainly not the best of all possible worlds, but at this point it had become, for me, the lesser of two evils.
Then i did something remarkable. i spoke my mind to The Woman. i told her that i felt that i needed to move out. She was not pleased at the notion, but by the time she started asking why, i was losing my resolve verbally, if not mentally. The one thing that has stuck with me from that conversation was when she actually asked the question, “Do you want our relationship to be over?” Did she not realize that she had told me that it was over already? The message of “Stick a fork in it, I’m done!” was pretty fucking clear to me. Did i want the relationship to be over? NO! i absolutely did not. But i needed it to be, and i couldn’t escape that fact no matter how hard i tried.
So, long story short again, i moved out. It was one of, if not the, hardest single things i’ve ever had to do in my entire life. i knew that it was what had to be done. i knew that i needed to move out. And i hated myself for it. For the first few weeks afterward, i hated myself with a near-suicidal self-loathing. i started sneaking food again, eating emotionally to try anything to feel better. That only resulted in deepening the depression and self-hatred i was already feeling. Somehow i still managed to put on my brave game face for work every day and keep it on until i could get home to the privacy of my room. i kept hearing a tiny voice in the back of my head repeating the words “Velcro collar… Velcro collar… Velcro collar…” over and over again. And i had left her in the midst of still trying to deal with this elusive illness, and still having no real answers. i had just broken up with and left a sick person. How much of a fucking ass must i be?
Meanwhile, if her online activity is to be used as evidence, The Woman continued on with life as if nothing important had happened, commenting on people’s stuff on FetLife, even still sending me Instant Messages with links to neat websites. Her own writings did reflect obliquely what had happened and her opinion of why it had happened. From her perspective, i bailed on her when things got hard, probably talked into it by my parents. Newsflash: things had already gotten plenty hard and i was sticking around, trying to make it work. i had consistently rebuffed my parents for close to 7 months. i left because our relationship had become unhealthy. Our relationship had become less about mutual love and support and more about a sense of obligation and duty devoid of love and passion. i got to a point where i just couldn’t read any more of what she was writing, so i removed our friendships on social networks in order to stop them from showing up in my feed every day.
So that’s my side of the story. It isn’t a pretty read, and i know it doesn’t reflect well on me. There’s plenty of fault to go around for this whole fiasco, and i definitely deserve a healthy share. There were countless points in our relationship that if i had just opened my fucking mouth and expressed what i was feeling at the time… if i had grown a gods damned backbone and stood up and said what needed to be said… things might have turned out better. But i didn’t. i can’t change that. All i can do now is heal as best i can, then work on me. Slow myself down so i don’t go rushing at breakneck speed into relationships i haven’t fully examined. Work on loosening my fucking tongue and being less of an utter yellow chickenshit bastard when it comes to awkwardness and confrontation. In any event, i don’t imagine i’ll be looking for a fully committed relationship for a significant amount of time. i definitely won’t be seeking someone else’s collar for a long time.