This is a guest post by Elle.
I was inspired to write this article by the recent series about submissive journalling. I found myself wanting to get back into journaling, yet still holding back.
This is a personal account of what can happen when journalling goes wrong. In my case, it was when I became depressed. It's about how to recognise that there is a problem, and what you and your dominant might do to overcome it.
I'm in a mainly distant relationship with my Master. Writing to each other has always been an important way to maintain and develop our connection.
We met online, and right from the start, we exchanged emails, in which we were able to share and explore what D/s means to us. Having time to reflect, and being able to put things in writing enabled a level of intimacy and honesty that would have been harder to establish in real time conversation.
About six months into our relationship, my Master asked me to start a daily blog. I approached this with a certain amount of trepidation, and in truth, it was not always easy. Yet I discovered, to my surprise, just how powerful it could be. I learnt a lot about myself. I developed as a submissive and as a person. The relationship with my Master became richer, stronger, closer.
But then, after a couple of years, it started to go wrong. I had been through a difficult time. Although I didn't realise it, I was suffering from depression. It became harder to 'find my voice' every day. My Master noticed this. He might comment that I sounded a little unnatural or 'forced'. As time passed, I became anxious. I would try harder to please him and end up sounding even more forced. Or I would doubt myself, and withdraw completely. Sometimes I would stay silent for several days, giving him nothing to go on, and no means of controlling the relationship in the way we both need.
I was all over the place, but neither he nor I understood why. What had been my 'safe place' - my blog - started to feel less safe. Sometimes, when I came to him after days of silence, he would comfort and reassure me. Other times, he would challenge me, describing my words as self-absorbed, narcissistic, sensing the problem he would encourage me to focus on helping others. Other times, he would express his frustration, and even occasionally, his hurt. Worst of all was when he started to keep a distance himself. He was trying to give me space to find my way, but I felt even more lost without him.
What had been so good for us - the journal - was becoming unworkable. Here are my suggestions for anyone who is experiencing similar problems with journaling.
Don't be too quick to assume there is a problem
: when you use a journal to share your most intimate thoughts and feelings with your dominant, then you will sometimes come across difficulties. This is one of the great gifts of journalling. In addressing these things honestly, your relationship will grow. If there aren't some uncomfortable moments along the way, then you're probably not doing it right!
How can you tell if it really is a problem?
Here's my personal 'acid test'. Is this issue enhancing the D/s dynamic? Or is it detracting? 'Good' conflict will feel like full-on engagement and will bring you closer to your dominant, even if it doesn't always feel like it at the time. 'Bad' conflict will leave you feeling distant and adrift as if the very fabric of the power exchange is unravelling.
Is it a problem with the relationship itself?
If you're finding it harder to engage or connect with your dominant, then it might simply be that one or both of you are no longer motivated. Ask yourself honestly whether you are both still fully committed to the D/s relationship.
In summary. You're journaling regularly, sharing your thoughts and feelings, you're used to working through problems together, and you're both committed to the relationship - but somehow, the whole thing seems to be unravelling. What's going on?
For me and my Master, a big part of the problem we didn't identify my depression at first. This is where the journal can help.
Your dominant can be your early warning sign:
if you are sharing your journal with your dominant regularly, it's safe to say that no-one else knows you as well as s/he does. If s/he detects a change in your thoughts, feelings or communication patterns, it's worth paying attention. It might be something intangible, but it's well worth a conversation to see if you can work out what's going on.
: if journaling isn't working in its present format, it might be best to stop for a while. Talk this through with your dominant. Maybe journals can be replaced by other types of communication or togetherness for a while. Maybe you continue journaling but less frequently. Maybe your dominant gives a different structure or purpose to your journaling. This could be to help understand what is going on. Or it could be to focus you on something else. Maybe you continue journaling but don't share with your dominant for a while. Whatever you do, do it with the input and direction of your dominant, and stay close.
Nurture the dynamic
: this is so important, yet when things feel like they falling apart, it can be the hardest thing of all. Even if you feel completely worthless and inadequate as a submissive, you can still go to your dominant and tell him or her that, and ask for their help. In doing so, you are reaffirming your submission, and helping to empower your dominant.
Back to basics:
at times of crisis, simple is good. Simple rules, simple structures, simple routines can be very helpful for a submissive when s/he is feeling like a failure. Simple ways to please, simple ways to serve, where small efforts and successes are acknowledged and positively reinforced by a watchful, caring dominant. This can be especially important with depression, where everyday things can sometimes feel like a monumental effort.
Work on the underlying problem:
so, you've spotted there's a problem, but you've managed to stay connected, to nurture the D/s dynamic and to put some simple structures in place to hold everything together? Then you deserve a big ' well done'! Phew! You now might even be in a position to work on the underlying problem, whatever that might be. Depression? Anxiety? Mental or physical illness? Addiction? Stress? Emotional breakdown? submissive burn-out?
Getting back to submissive journalling
: One of the hardest things about submission is to open your heart, mind and soul to another person. To let them see everything that you are, the good bits, the bad bits and the stuff that's lurking in your darkest corners. You need to feel strong, and you need to feel safe.
Journaling is a powerful tool that can transform a D/s relationship. There are times, too, when it feels just a bit too much.
At some point, though, if you've journaled before, you're going to want to get back to it. Keeping a mood journal can be a tool for managing and recovering from depression, and this might be one way back into submissive journaling. Or just start again, with small simple steps.
You will find your voice again. I am certain.
Elle is a female submissive. She is currently trying to re-energise her submission, and rebuild the relationship with her Master, after a period of depression.