Every year I write a blog post about being grateful for the people in my life. I include the wonderful things they’ve done—whether for me or in general—and it’s been a great way for me to show my appreciation. Last year I wrote several posts about my thankfulness for others, because I have that many amazing people around me. So it doesn’t surprise me that this year began with me feeling a great deal of gratitude.
While there are many people I can attribute this to, there is one person who has changed my life most. It’s because he doesn’t just help me out when I’m in need, or soothe me when I’m down. He’s changed me by doing something that most of us rarely do…
He witnessed my pain.
Because of that, this post is dedicated to D.
When we’d first met, I had grand ideas of what submission was. Of course I did, because I’d been taught that in my youth. I didn’t recall all the reasons as to why or how I knew how to submit. I just thought it was instinct. But D saw more. Way more than I anticipated. And at some point early on, he shifted his methods with me.
I didn’t understand a lot at the time. Like why—when I’d submitted completely—he didn’t use me any chance he had. Or make me do things like clean his house, scrub his floors, and be the sexual slave I thought I was signing up for. Maybe in the beginning, that would have been the case, but D saw immediately that I was in deep need for something else.
A few months ago, I finally asked him why these things never happened. Not in detail, but overall. I thought there was something wrong with me, and that’s why he’d not done all of the terribly kinky things we’d spoken about. Like maybe I wasn’t attractive enough, or didn’t serve well, and for a submissive, not being allowed to truly serve is torture.
His answer was not even close to what I expected.
He told me that early on, he became aware that those things were not what I needed. He’d said, “I’ve been performing triage.”
My heart sank when he said it. Not out of shame, but because I had no idea I’d been that bad off. I can’t even recall what I said to him in response, because I was too shocked. Which then opened my mind to questions. Like why had he taken me on? I surely wasn’t the ‘fun-time submissive’ that I wanted to be. He’d recognized right away what I needed, and he took me on anyway.
It’s taken me a while to understand fully what that meant. Both the triage, and what it meant when he chose to take me on regardless.
As I’ve looked back on all my growth and changes, knowing that while I may have come a small way on my own, what’s really moved me is my complete submission to him. Trusting him when he said I needed to work on something. Letting go when I wanted to hold on. Being brave and pushing through a trigger when I was afraid.
Much of our time together isn’t spent with me as his house slave or sex slave, it’s spent with him working me through my trauma.
This means that each and every time this happens, D is witnessing my pain.
That may not seem like a big deal when you just read it. But witnessing someone’s pain is one of the hardest, yet most compassionate acts we can do. When we witness pain, we feel with that person. We tune in our empathy, turn up our compassion, and our loving kindness, and we allow that person’s pain to be present.
This isn’t something most people are accustomed to. When the people around us are in pain, our instinct isn’t to let them feel it. It’s to squash it. Make it go away as quickly as possible.
I suspect there are two reasons for this. One, no one likes to see people they love suffer. And two, it’s painful to witness someone in pain.
Too often, people end up telling one another things to suppress their emotions. If it’s a death, we’re told, “Oh, so and so is in a better place.” Really? How is being dead, and not around their loved ones, a better place? That’s a horrible thing to say to someone. Yet as a whole, we do it all the time.
Or we force people to focus on things that are good, or going well in their lives. To shift their focus from pain, to something positive. And while this may work great for people who get caught up in depression, this isn’t great when people ‘need’ to feel their pain.
Pain shouldn’t be suppressed. When it is, we don’t heal from it. It becomes buried trauma in our bodies. Causes PTSD and other issues. The bottom line is that we have to feel our emotions in order to move past them. We have to move ‘through’ them.
While all of this made sense to me as D worked me through one terrible memory after another, I wasn’t able to acknowledge what this has meant for him. It’s not that I didn’t understand, but more a ‘if I think about this too much, I’m going to feel guilty and stop showing him my pain’.
Not that I had a choice really. A safe word, yes, but when I submitted to him fully, I meant it. So when he demands I let something out, I do. But that’s not how my mind always sees it.
Last December I blogged about working through some really awful memories. How D made a hand around my neck hot, and helped me to release all that pain and trauma I’d suppressed most my life. And not once did he flinch away from me. Not once did my tears, my fighting, or my panic, intimidate him. If it did, he certainly never showed me. He was simply strong. Demanding I keep letting it out. And in doing so, witnessing all that pain in me. Watching my face as I recalled being on the ground, with a hand around my neck. Being choked. And someone kicking me repeatedly. All because I’d told.
D is empathetic. Which means as I was feeling all of that, even if he has the best boundaries in the world, he felt some of my pain with me. Experienced what I went through along with me. The amount of pain might vary, but witnessing pain can be brutal. Yet he did it.
I didn’t go into this D/s relationship expecting him to witness my pain. In fact, people have done such a great job of telling me not to let it out, for various reasons, that allowing someone into the darkest parts of me didn’t even cross my mind. Not on a conscious level.
At a subconscious level, I think I knew exactly what I needed. And that is exactly what D gave me. Someone to hold me while I cried. To tell me I was safe. To demand that I let out my suppressed emotions and trauma. I needed someone who wouldn’t be afraid of me when they saw the darkness in me. I needed someone who wouldn’t ditch me because I flinched at their touch. I had no idea when I met D, that he would be the person he is.
There is a part of me that wishes I could name names right now, and shout out to everyone who this amazing person is that changed my life. But I cannot. The best I can do is be publicly anonymous.
But D has changed me. And in helping me through my pain and trauma, he’s witnessed every bit of it. He’s felt my pain with me, felt my hesitation, and fear, and he’s stayed strong throughout.
This is why I’m so full of gratitude.
He didn’t have to do any of this.
When we set out, I intended to simply serve. I never thought that in my submission, my life would change so drastically and for the better. Yet here I am. Stronger, braver, more confident and sure of who I am. Because D took the time to help me. Gave up his free time to talk to me, work with me, be firm and still compassionate, and that blows me away.
Allowing someone to witness my pain hasn’t been easy either. Because I know what it means. Even talking about it causes some people pain, and I hate that. It’s partly why I always kept it inside.
But D knew that until I exposed all that darkness to the light, that I’d always feel dirty. That I’d never fully shine my own light.
I am grateful for the time and energy D has put into me. Grateful for him being there for me when I’d get triggered or shut down completely. Grateful for him holding me, even when I felt dirty and didn’t want to be touched. Grateful for him showing me that I am worthy. That I didn’t deserve what happened in my youth, and that instead, I deserve what he’s given me.
Attention, safety, and highest form of love… compassion.
Witnessing someone’s pain validates that it’s okay for that person to feel their pain. It tells someone, “You are worthy of finding joy once again.” And it’s not easy. It’s hard. Takes a lot of time and patience for both parties. Plus a heavy dose of self compassion, because each time new pain is witnessed, both parties have to recover.
What D has given me isn’t something I thought I deserved. There were many times when I felt so horribly selfish and guilty, because everything was always centered around my needs in that moment.
Yet here I am. A different person. Someone who is happy, and confident in who I am, who sees my worth, and my growth. I am here because D witnessed my pain. He let me feel it in a safe way, and it gave me what I needed to become whole again.
So D, thank you. For giving of your time and energy, and for witnessing my pain. For giving me that safe place to let it out and deal with it. And for giving me pleasure in my pain along the way. This short post can’t even begin to cover my gratitude, but it’s a start. Thank you.