Last night, just before going to sleep, I had a full-on panic attack. I haven’t had one in awhile, thankfully. I’m also glad that I’ve learned to read the signs of an incipient attack.
I very rarely complain to (or about) Jalan in any regard. This isn’t because she’s perfect — she’s human — but because I can almost always see the ways in which her intentional actions and words have a positive purpose for herself, for me, or for our mutual benefit. (The exception would be constantly picking my zits, but I don’t complain about that all that often either. Though I did just now.)
But last night during the panic, I recognized and complained to her about one of her patterns in responding to my anxieties about my illness. I tried to make clear that it was very specific, and that I hadn’t been holding back resentment. The complaint was still something that she had to cope with. After giving it careful thought, she explained why she does it and the important role in plays in her coping with current difficulties. That helped me to understand.
In the same tearful, shaking, panicky discussion, I brought up a couple of other things that weren’t as personally directed. But I recognized a theme in them — a need for more active help from her in my coping with the situation and the uncertainty. Let me clear (and I tried to be explicit last night, too): I see and deeply appreciate the many, many, difficult things she is doing to help out. But one of the consequences of some of those things has been greater difficulty in maintaining our day-to-day intimacy.
I also recognize that it’s not all on her. In a partnership and marriage, all of the responsibility for “making it work” is not and can not be on one side. But I have not been well enough, most of the time, to manage my own parts very well lately in the periods of physical weakness and fear.
Normally, we live in each other’s pockets. Being apart more than 2-3 hours feels like a long time to both of us. And we’re greatly spoiled (in the best possible way) in that our lives permit that closeness right now. But some of the work she’s had to do has stressed that pattern, and our D/s.
Part of the conversation we’ve already been having, in fits and starts but ramping up over the past couple of weeks, is that how feeling of deep, intimate connection has been threatened over the past months and what to do about it. One of the things that makes our partnership work so beautifully — both in the D/s sense and more generally — is that we are both continually, actively, monitoring and looking for our opportunities to heal (where necessary) and build (always) that partnership and connection.
Lately, my personal coping strategies have been failing. One of the plans in the works is, when we can afford it but not putting it off to long, for me to see a good hypnotherapist we know in order to add to my repertoire of coping strategies. And particularly to substitute tools for my self-injury fantasies. I haven’t cut in over a decade, but the habit is, in some important ways (not least neurochemical), like a substance addiction. The draw never goes away, it’s only managed more or less well.
Meanwhile, one of the other coping strategies I feel that I need is re-evaluating where we can from where we are now in the D/s components. I am absolutely not talking about moving away from it. But examining the parts we used in the past that I and we are not capable of in my time of disability. Examining the parts that we are capable of but that have been sliding (mostly on my part, but that’s part of the general stress issue, not rebellion). And looking at what we can do from here that we might not have incorporated in the past.
I asked that we have more conversation about that today. Appropriate grieving for what we’ve lost (at least for now), but moving on: Starting from where we are right now, what will work for us now and moving forward — to our benefit and our pleasure.
It’s a process, not a state. But, cheerleading ourselves for a moment, we excel at maintaining process.
It’s part of our love, our parternship, and, yes, our D/s.