This post has spent a long time in utero. The seed of it took root during the weeks after I ended things with LH. I dissolved our contract around the holidays, and in the first weeks of that freedom after our breakup, I felt reborn. A weight had been lifted, and I could be myself without rules or restrictions. I knew in my heart that I had done the right thing even though re-reading our entries on this blog brought me to tears. The LH/Heather duo that we had been was nothing like where we ended up. I remembered those events, but they felt far removed from the people we were now—almost as if they happened to someone else entirely. The breakup, though, was new territory in the breadth and depth of its pain. I had never experienced a D/s breakup so gut-wrenching.
LH and I didn’t stop talking right away, and as the strands of our relationship began to further unravel, I saw exactly how entwined we had been. Our communication became strained as we debated until each call and text felt like an exercise in breakup masochism—deliberate cuts to my heart with each word we spoke. But I was reluctant to cut him off. All my old protocols were there waiting to leap into action. It was ironic that a long-distance D/s dynamic had such a hold on me. The tendrils of our power dynamic had sunk deep into my psyche until it was a part of my emotional make-up. There were few parts of my life where I didn’t take him into consideration in some way.
I spent a lot of time on this blog talking about my independence as a facet of my submission. I had a list of things that showed how independent I was, but when I emerged from the role of lifestyle submissive, I couldn’t help but feel how dependent I was on LH and our roles. For a long time after the breakup I was in denial about it. After the rush of freedom wore off, I turned once again to the man I had called “Daddy.” It was more than a habit that had worn its grooves into me over the years of our togetherness. The Little part of me, that girl that desperately wanted to believe that her daddy would take care of her, wanted to run back into his arms for reassurance.
It killed me to know that I was afraid to be without him. I woke up in a panic every morning that our shared photos and files would be gone, that I would be blocked from his social media accounts, and I couldn’t bear to look at Fet to see if he had deleted me from his profile. And those were only surface things. The real hold was that I had bought into the idea of being “his” so wholeheartedly, that I couldn’t imagine myself as anything but his submissive.
What a galling position to find myself in. I played a role so well, and consented to play it, that it became my identity. And I wanted it. It felt good to me. I was naturally submissive, and with all my heart I wanted to be his. For years I had decided that no matter what happened I was determined to make things work. The man moved halfway around the world, and I insisted that we could continue a healthy dynamic. I convinced myself that a visit every three or four months was enough, and when those visits plummeted in quality and intimacy, I made myself be OK with it. It took me over a year to admit that I was miserable and then longer to muster the courage to change it.
I spent a lot of time since our breakup questioning my reactions and memories. Didn’t we agree that his needs came first as the Dominant? Wasn’t it my place to serve? When I signed our contract, didn’t I agree to give him control? And I know what you’re thinking. That contract wasn’t anything legally binding. I could have protested and stood up for myself at any time. You would be right, but I wanted so much to be cherished, loved, and taken care of. I thought that if I gave enough of myself to him, that he would reciprocate in equal measure. When he didn’t, I told myself that I could make it enough.
That’s when I had the big wake up call. With 2016 coming to an end, I took a trip down memory lane and leafed back through my journal. I wrote about the same heartache, the same emotional challenges, the same bullshit over and over again. Then I looked back even further at my serious relationships over the years and saw this string of selfish, manipulative partners. And then I said to myself, holy fuck Heather, DO NOT MAKE THIS YOUR LIFE STORY. I didn’t want to be on my deathbed and think, “Damn, I wasted a lot of time trying to convince emotionally unavailable people to love me.”
The scales fell from my eyes. It eventually clicked in my brain that when someone said to me, “this is the best I can do,” without changing a blessed thing about their behavior, it meant that it was time for me to get out. It was just another way to let the entire emotional responsibility of a relationship slide off one person and on to another while pretending that it wasn’t a cop out. And when that same person chose to stay out all night drinking with random strangers rather than come home to me waiting in bed, it was a bigger more definite sign. All those signs and it felt like it took forever for me to do something about it.
Now I’m doing all the things you’re supposed to do after a major split. I got back into therapy. I’m taking better care of my physical self, sleeping more, reading, and allowing myself the space to be alone. The thing is… it takes so much fucking time to recover. That whole annoying analogy of peeling away layers like an onion is irritatingly apt. Odd things will trigger a barrage of emotions, even after thinking that I had processed it and was feeling solid with whatever piece of our past I had dissected. Those patterns of thought where LH was the center of everything… I have to change them. I catch myself ruminating along the well-worn paths, and I have to consciously stop myself. Yet they creep up like insidious friends with false reassurances. Habit does not equal love.
I do go on the occasional date, and I’ve had some tentative negotiations about playing with various people. None of it feels right to me yet. I probably see Guy the most and that’s sporadic at best. He has his own shit to work out, and we established early on that there are no expectations between us except honesty and authenticity.
There was also a guy who wanted to explore my confessional fetish, but he failed to get the approval of his wife even though he said he had it. Even after several attempts to make a potential scene work between them, I had to say no. He did me a favor though. I now have a personal rule of no more married poly men or married men in an “open” relationship (unless I’m unicorn-ing, and they’re dear friends first). Then there was a primal guy who wanted a (human girl) pet while on his quest for the love of his life. Plus the super-intense vanilla guy who wanted three dates in a week, so he could judge my “level of engagement.” Not bad men necessarily, but they didn’t fit. I want more than what they offered, and as awesome as I am in and out of the bedroom, I deserve to get what I want.
I know I’m not the only one in the history of D/s to hurt after a D/s dynamic has ended. I know that dominants hurt too and can find themselves just as fucked up. I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is that what you’re feeling is real, and it’s a challenge to sort through the wreckage of your heart and head to find a place to begin healing. It’s possible, though, and that last person you fell in love with doesn’t have to be the pattern of the person you love in the future. Be patient with yourself and forgiving. Allow yourself lots of time to feel stuff and listen to what your gut is saying. How you did D/s the last time, doesn’t have to be the way you do D/s down the road. You’re going to be OK, and so am I.