Promises don’t seem to mean much anymore these days.

In the past couple of weeks, everything that we have built has fallen apart. Stress and exhaustion have made him too mean, too irritable, too unpleasant, and I haven’t the strength to endure, to wait it out.

I just can’t predict him.

I can’t trust in obedience. I can’t trust in anything.

Grateful

His delivery had not been gentle, and at first I couldn’t hear his words over the noise of my own hurt feelings. My first reaction was to bemoan how mean he had been, to withdraw into myself and wallow in unhappiness. But I realized that even though he hadn’t chosen his words with the thought to coddle me, there had still been truth in what he had said. I needed to trust in his perspective, and adjust my behavior accordingly — my hurt feelings did not exempt me from the need to improve myself.

He said that I had been ungrateful, and that I’m often ungrateful when I’m stressed or unhappy. I realized that I often mentally devise scenarios of how I would like events to happen, and when my husband doesn’t match them perfectly I complain of what he didn’t do, instead of thanking him for what he did. It’s a behavior that I have noted and criticized in others, only to realize that it exists in myself as well.

I’m good at expressing thanks when I’m relaxed, happy, and everything is going well. I’m good at expressing thanks when I’m alone, reflecting on events and picking out the positive. I’m terrible at expressing thanks when I’m with my husband, stressing about what’s happening in the moment and letting anxiety be my master.

I’m resolving to always be grateful for what my husband does, and to always express it. I am also resolving to keep an open heart and mind, to hear the truth in his instructions even when they hurt my feelings. Holding onto pain has never improved anyone’s life or situation, and it most certainly won’t do any favors for our marriage — it is not justification for refusing to change one’s own unpleasant behavior.

Toddler

The toddler hit me in the mouth with my metal water bottle, and broke my tooth. I have a dentist appointment for it in an hour.

I’m left wondering why all of my efforts to be a patient and understanding mother have resulted in me getting creamed in the face. Why is the toddler so wildly out of control? I’m trying hard to do everything right, and it’s just not working.

I can’t take her out anymore. We can’t go to the park, or shopping, or anywhere, because she’ll go ballistic and make it impossible for me to wrestle her to the car. She won’t listen to or obey me, no matter what I do, no matter how consistent I am. What am I supposed to do with her?

Sleeveless

I’ve mentioned before that I have a preference for sleeveless blouses, and I’ve been clinging to it as a source of inner conflict. It’s against LDS standards to flaunt bare shoulders, and as a teenager I spent a lot of time lusting after those oh-so-attractive sleeveless designs. When I initially left the church, I guess that I had convinced myself that I had earned a special right in regards to the way I dressed, because this is turning into a surprisingly huge deal for me. I know perfectly well that clothing should not matter so much, but sometimes it’s hard to follow what one knows.

The more and more I associate with church members, the more and more I’ve been finding ways to cover up my shoulders around them. Now, with making friends that I’m thoroughly excited about, I want to wear sleeves all the time, just in case Sage comes over unexpectedly. It would certainly save me from a lot of discomfort, should I be caught unprepared.

A voice in my head keeps wondering if relenting to social pressure is a sign of weakness — shouldn’t they accept me for who I am? The counter question is, why am I defining myself by the presence of a simple t-shirt underneath my blouses? Is it really so wrong to raise my standards to match those around me?

I wore tank tops at the beach a couple weeks ago, mainly because when I packed my bag, I found that I had very little else. I spent a lot of time wearing a jacket when it wasn’t too hot, because I felt more comfortable that way.

When I asked my husband about the topic, his reply was that while he didn’t mind me having bare shoulders, if I were to find myself choosing between wearing sleeves versus sleeveless, he would prefer that I chose the blouse with sleeves.

I’m caving in to the inevitability of my heart’s desires, and plan on going shopping for some plain t-shirts to wear underneath my blouses. Maybe even some shrugs as well. Then I can be just like all my Mormon friends.

Dark Places

During the first three months of our BDSM debacle, my husband and I had some involvement with the local group. We didn’t jump in all the way, mainly because my husband wanted to protect me from the “doms” — the guys who think that any submissive girl is available for them to order around and “play” with. We did socialize with a few submissives and a couple of dominants, enough to get the basic idea of what the lifestyle was like — enough to convince me that I was going to be “empowered,” and all that jazz.

I started fading almost immediately, but I figured that it was because I wasn’t doing it right. Everyone kept assuring me of what it was supposed to be, and I figured that I could somehow achieve it if I could just find the right mindset. I decided to go hardcore, and pushed for the master/slave dynamic. I wanted to cease existing as an individual, and become an extension of my husband.

As I plummeted farther into self-hatred, the BDSM people that we knew praised me more and more for being “the perfect submissive.” They said that we had “a really awesome relationship.” I wanted to believe them. I convinced myself that I believed them.

After three months, we moved to a new location and lost contact with them. I didn’t bother seeking out any new BDSM friends, and after a few months without any external influences, I finally began to protest, “This isn’t right.” I finally started listening to what my gut was telling me.

Now when I slip into the dark places of my mind, I revert back to being that “slave.” I cry about how I’m such a terrible person, and ask my husband, “Why won’t you punish me? Why won’t you hurt me? How am I supposed to stop misbehaving without it?” I refuse to form my own opinions, and try to manipulate my husband into treating me like a puppet. I thoroughly and completely hate myself.

Thankfully, I don’t journey into those dark places too often anymore. I went there for about an hour yesterday morning, which has gotten me thinking about it and past events.

For a long time I struggled with trying to understand why our supposed BDSM friends spoke so highly of us and our relationship, when it had been so destructive for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that in the world of BDSM, that really was what most of them aim for.

It disturbing how casually most BDSM submissives talk of hating and distrusting themselves, and it’s obvious that it stems from before they ever got into the lifestyle. They bond over their self-loathing, and speak highly of how punishments give them absolution. Since I did not start with those feelings, BDSM had to create them in me. Perhaps, if I had given it enough time, I would have picked up the feelings of relief that punishments were supposed to impart as well, but as it was they were far from natural for me.

I did everything right, all the way down to losing my confidence and self-esteem. The one thing I did wrong was failing to see punishments as redeeming.

I’m far happier as I am now.

The Widow

In an odd twist of fate, it turned out that we had known the widow of the previous owner of this house since just after our second baby was born. She had had a stroke that had taken away most of her abilities, including her ability to say anything more complicated than a word or two at a time. The other day, her daughter brought her here for a visit while the daughter helped us work on the house.

At first the widow seemed relaxed and engaged. My husband was quite sweet and communicative with her, piled blankets on her to help her stay warm since the back door was letting cool air in, and helped her hold the baby for a short while. Then he returned to his work, and I became the main caretaker. The widow quickly fell asleep, so I turned my attention to reading to the toddler.

Later when I looked up, I realized that the widow was trying to stand. I immediately went over to her, took her hands and asked what she needed. She seemed really agitated, said something that sounded like, “He’s here,” then kept repeating the same gibberish sounds over and over. I found the daughter and told her that her mother needed something that I couldn’t understand, but she didn’t take it very seriously. I sat for awhile holding the widow’s hand, feeling awful that I couldn’t understand her, until she tried to get up again. I had the thought that it would be good to indulge her, so I called for my husband to come help her stand and walk. When he came over, the widow grabbed onto his hand and didn’t want to let go. He assured her that he was going to be right back, then went to talk to the daughter; she decided that it was time to go home.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since, wondering if her anxiety had been triggered by something misfiring in her brain, or if it had been something in the house that we couldn’t see. I haven’t smudged or purified the house yet (that should happen tonight), but I have blessed the room that we’re currently camping out in as a safe refuge. This room feels pretty secure.

I’m pretty sensitive to spiritual energies, but I’m not anywhere near on par with someone who is well into the twilight of her life. I’ve watched people as they move towards the next life, and they gain the ability to see things that I could never hope or wish to see here in the prime of my life.

I’ve tried a little rabble-rousing to see what I could summon, but got absolutely nothing.

I’ll probably never figure out what it was that agitated the widow so much.

-Star

I Want More

While we were driving home from the beach, I got really carsick. Since that’s not typical for me, my husband immediately started teasing me about being pregnant. I was all like, “Nooooo!” because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

My hopes got up anyway. When we went to a Mexican market and I saw those chopped up cow lips in the meat section, my stomach did a flop. As I retreated to regain myself, my heart started singing, maybe I’m pregnant. So I took a test.

And it was negative. Phooey.

I know that baby number two hasn’t even cut any teeth yet, but I still badly want baby number three. The timing feels right, and babies are just too precious and sweet for me to not starve after them. I. Want. More. Now.