A Gavotte, for those not so interested in esoteric historical trivia, was a popular Baroque French folk dance noted for the many varied and dynamically interwoven choreographs that it entailed. It was described by one expert of the time as "often quite fast, but occasionally slow." I often think of the nuances and changes in our clan's relationship as being like a Gavotte. It always involves we three orbiting about each other................often quite fast but occasionally slowly. There are more varied patterns and paths and steps to our "dance" and goodness there is occasionally a wild yawing of tempos from speedy, to almost lethargic, and then back into warp speed, and then we moderate our pace again. This last passage, this period in which we have tackled my drinking and used switching, not simply as an adjunct to SM play, but as a serious disciplinary support to achieving mutually agreed to behavior modification goals, was just such a sudden emergence of an entirely new dance step, pattern, and tempo in our "gavotte." Following up on swan's excellent post, Fred and Ginger, I intend to share some of my reactions and reflections on this period of transformation we have just passed through. I have thought several times of wanting to post some of these thoughts as a series of posts, but each time I do, I get bogged down in determining how to do this effectively. This will be a "catch all" post to tie off a number of loose ends that have been floating about in my mind that I need to see in black and white. Writing here, during this process has been a wonderful outlet for me: an outlet that has not simply been cathartic, but very therapeutic. I have said many times how I have felt supported, bolstered, and at times challenged to move forward by readers' comments here, and that has been true. So not only was this an outlet but a source of moral and emotional support and valuable input. Thank you, once again, to all who have commented here during this period.
My current status in this change process is that I am in day nine of total abstinence from alcohol and I have no intention of drinking anytime soon. It has neither been easy nor horrifically difficult since I began total abstinence. I have never had the kind of "cravings" for alcohol I have often heard described by those who drink too much. If I don't drink, I just don't drink. Sometimes I think I'd like a drink or a glass of wine, but nothing that reaches the intensity of a craving. When I quit smoking I had cravings. There were times I felt like, if I couldn't have a cigarette, I was going to go mad. My relationship to alcohol has never been like that thank goodness.
I have found myself doing some fairly in depth research into the neuropsychology of alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal (AW). Fortunately my medical background in Rehabilitation Counseling provides me a strong enough medical background to read and comprehend medical research literature. This exercise has led me to understand that my AW symptoms are fairly typical and very mild (thank god). I have insomnia....both in terms of sleeplessness and sleep fragmentation. In the first few days I had some nocturnal uncontrollable leg movement disorder typical of hyper-excitation of my neurological system, which is a bench mark of AW. I am very fortunate. My symptoms are very mild. I have no seizures, nausea, sweating, shaking, tremors, paranoia, anxiety, or emotional lability. I have at times felt moderately depressed (dysphoria). My last time I was feeling this way (B Cognition: Woe is me. I so enjoy drinking as my "fun" each night. Now I will be bored.), I did some of my most extensive reading in medical literature about this and became convinced once again that in light of the dramatic enhancement of the effects of alcohol on my Roux-En-Y gastric bypass surgery altered physiology, I must really work towards complete or at least virtual abstinence with no significant relapse. I have gone through too much to be healthy and have a good long life remaining ahead to squander it in exchange for some cocktails and wine. I have dealt with, and overcome, too many major health issues which would have by now seriously compromised me or killed me, had I not. Smoking, lack of exercise, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, sleep apnea, meuralgia parasthetica, spinal stenosis, are all diagnoses I had, typically in severe forms, which I no longer suffer from in any way. I have gone from taking 27 prescription medications each day down to four each day -- and those are for osteo-arthritis, and standard 61-year-old-guy prostate issues. All those other conditions are cured or in remission, which status is as close as there is to a cure for chronic progressive conditions like diabetes. To do all this and then ruin my health for alcohol......sheesh, I think not! It is ironic that the surgery that altered my physiology to allow me to finally conquer my obesity has, simultaneously, set me up to have a huge crisis in my lifelong love affair with whisky and wine: to make our continued symbiosis untenable. Life is simply too strange.
Anyway, enough for my going on about the medical aspects of my life. It is a curious coincidence, unless in retrospect I find this was some sort of preconscious foreshadowing, that shortly before we embarked on this passage, I had a sudden interest in switching from Top to bottom in SM play with my two, after an about 5 or 6 year hiatus from having any interest in experiencing this end of the power exchange dynamic. Whether this evolution was influenced by the loss of my job and my abrupt unexpected embarking on retirement in June, or was simply some sort of random development, I don't know.
As my behavior late at night became more extreme after drinking, swan and t began more and more to tell me how I was acting, in that I generally awakened unaware of what had transpired. My behavior since my surgery has been way different than before it. I have always indulged in alcohol use since college (well, and in high school whenever I could get away with it). I often drank heavily. I never had a D. U. I. I never beat anyone up. I functioned fine in my work. I often found drinking socially to be a real asset in the very political arena within which I worked. Now, since my surgery, I would drink pretty much as normal. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner. Perhaps a cocktail or two before, or maybe no cocktails until after dinner and then some. It seemed though that after four to six drinks I would flip over suddenly to incoherence. I typically had no memory after that, or very blurry sketchy impressions as opposed to clear memories. And often I was either nonsensical or really unpleasant, even angry and hostile. It typically fell to swan to cajole and pour me into bed. I would awaken in the morning maybe hung over, maybe not, quite lovey-dovey feeling, an entirely different personality than I had been when going to bed. I did not understand that my Roux-en-Y Gastric bypass surgery had caused me to dump raw alcohol into my system such that each drink had the effect of four drinks, that I would become intoxicated at far higher levels than ever before, and moreover that it would take me much longer to recover to sobriety than a normal person. Our conversation progressed and it became clear to me at an intellectual level that my behavior had to change because of what swan and t were having to deal with. I understood and bought into this intellectually. My cognition however did not match my affect. While I knew I had to change, I did not feel like changing. I had encountered this dichotomy in others who had behavioral goals but not the will they needed to accomplish them. It was at this point in the process that I asked swan to become my disciplinarian to support me to accomplish "moderating" my drinking. I felt determined I would not lose my "old friend" alcohol, but that I could still get my consumption and its effects back within controllable limits. In obedience and service to me, she undertook to do that. At first, I think, there was a degree of sensual erotic carry over in this for me. I had only very recently returned to switching. When t or swan and I had played at switching, it had been very nice and enjoyable sort of "slap and ticklishness." As we were beginning to approach this transition, I asked swan to ratchet the experience up a bit as a sample of what it would be like were I to seriously require punishment, for, what in my mind I overtly, thought of as its deterrent effect. While that was sincere, I think too that I wanted some greater intensity in SM stimulation.
I received my first pass at swan's administering sincere corporal punishment -- 25 pretty severe rattan cane strokes, the next evening. It in fact did give me the "taste" I had requested. I was amazed at how emotionally overwrought I became in anticipation of the whipping I got. I also was way relieved that it wasn't that severe compared to what I had feared might transpire. I didn't want to go there again. I had soreness and lasting bruises. I had no taste for more of that, nor, however, had I any less taste for alcohol. I still believed I related to alcohol more or less normally and needed to simply be more moderate, and didn't really have a picture of how outrageous my late evening behavior was. We went on through measuring the baseline of my consumption, to trying to limit it via a drink limit (four per evening plus wine with dinner). We moved to a new phase. The plan was I could only have a drink if swan poured it for me. When she could see me about to "tip over" into the abyss she would "close the bar." It was my responsibility to deal with that limit's imposition with grace. I agreed to this with a whole heart and sincere intent on August 31, but when swan called the limit that night I became furious and was whipped again more harshly. This time involved my being restrained on our spanking bench and receiving a very harsh whipping. swan, who had had little practice in corporal punishment (CP) for years, found aiming her blows in my tightly bound position difficult and tended to whip more my upper legs, thighs, and hips, than my butt. It was very painful and tremendously bruising. I still have the remnants of an almost completely healed bruise on my hip from this punishment. This was no game. There was nothing erotic about it, or its aftermath. I sincerely did not want to ever repeat this punishment again. swan, who in her role as an educator has said her goal always with discipline was to assure she never had to correct a behavior problem more than once, and certainly not more than twice, felt she had likely assured I would not risk having further punishment in the future. I agreed with her perspective at that point as well, believe me. The September 2 post, "Butt Pictures A Different View," depicts the aftermath of this punishment. It was after that, as I anguished over my/our situation, that I first researched the effects of alcohol in the aftermath of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery. It was then I first realized that I was not on a level playing field with others in terms of processing my alcohol consumption. There really was a reason this was occurring to me. September 3 we had a good night. I stayed within limits and responded very appropriately to swan's declaration that I needed to end my consumption. We were both excited that progress was occurring. Then September 4, a Saturday night, found swan and I home alone with t up spending the weekend caring for her Mom. When it was time for me to finish my evening's alcohol consumption "within limits" I "went off." We had a lengthy tirade of my angrily assailing swan for imposing this limit on me and not respecting my individuality and lots of other pure "crap." We concluded that there really was no plan and that we would work in the future to develop a new plan. swan went to bed feeling horribly beaten up emotionally and completely discouraged. I of course was simply comatose. Sunday, September 5, dawned and along with it the beginning of a turning point in this process. I remember "coming to" and thinking that it was good we were going to collaborate in developing a new plan. I was thrilled and relieved thinking that it was great that I had not messed up and would not need to be punished. Then as I lay there the fuzzy memories of the night before began to seep into my consciousness. I had said awful and hurtful things............lots of them. I was increasingly distressed and then horribly guilty. How could I have so hurt someone I loved...........not just someone............swan! She awakened and I told her tremulously she had to whip me and I wanted to get it over with. She objected that there clearly was no plan, and there being no plan, there was nothing to whip me for violating. I told her that was horse crap. That we had a mutually developed and agreed to a plan, and my behavior toward her was unacceptable. I told her I would not accept anyone ever treating her as she had been treated the night before, let alone my doing it. As I went to the massage table (we had decided that platform for my restraint for punishment was safer than the spanking bench) I knew I was in deep trouble. I knew swan was adamant that she never would have to punish the same behavior more than twice, and that if she ever did, the punishment would be extreme. This was the third time. I knew too who had taught her how to do corporal punishment. It was me, and I am a very sadistic disciplinary Top. As I laid down and was restrained I was actually physically trembling and my breathing was both rapid and shaky. She engaged in no "warm up" gentle foreplay spanking. The goal here was severity not pain/pleasure. She went straight to the latigo leather viper strap. I'd used that a lot over the years. I certainly had forgotten how intensely it bit, burned and STUNG! Then she moved to the two-tailed wooden handled rubber strap, one of the three or four worst implements in our extensive armamentarium. By this time, I had lost all control. I was crying, sobbing, screeching how sorry I was, begging, and frequently just crying out "Oh Sue!" She went on to a thorough application of the larger of our red acrylic Leathers By Danny paddles, which while somewhat less intense than the last two implements, was not by any means "easy," and was different enough in sensation, combined with the condition my butt was already in, to have me continue my screeching and caterwauling. Thank goodness I was restrained. I was frantically squirming and reaching, kicking, etc. to try to find some sort of respite or escape from the punishment I was receiving. Then she escalated to what amounts to a corporal punishment version of nuclear war. I, in the last year, purchased a matched set of rubber floggers. They are each handmade, weighted-handled floggers of nine, 1/8-inch- thick, very flexible, solid-rubber pipes --each 19 1/2 inches in length. My trembling had begun as I laid on the bench when I saw she had one of those down from the storage rack as she prepared to punish me. She gave me ten lashes with it. It was the most intense whipping pain I'd ever had. I was beside myself. I had plunged and wrestled about so much I had actually managed to somehow get my head outside of the head support on the massage table. She paused and looked at me. I was a crying sobbing mess. She took some time to replace my head in the head support for safety's sake. I lay there sobbing and trying to get to a point of somewhat more regular breathing. She waited longer and I began to hope against hope she was done. God, knows I felt I had learned whatever lesson I needed and I was way ready to be done. Then she said the fateful words that are still emblazoned in my memory, and I think will be forever. With a shaky voice that was near to tears she said, "Ten more and we will be done.....and then NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN!" I think I may have said something like "No, please." Then she laid on, in fairly rapid succession, ten quite severe rubber flogger lashes that I will never forget.
This picture is of the immediate aftermath:
In the immediate aftermath of this whipping, I was in physical agony and emotionally devastated. I held still and wept while swan took these pictures and then she released my bonds. I lay there for a while as she stroked my back, uncertain if I could move in a coordinated fashion. Eventually with her support I moved to the bed for her to put ice packs on my butt (a mixed blessing of cooling soothing and burning sting). I recall breaking down and crying a couple of times through this period. swan was very caring of me and forgiving, and yet too, quite serious and quite pained herself to have had to do what she had.
This was the last time I have felt angry or lapsed into being vitriolic with swan or t about this problem.......a problem which is clearly mine and in no way the fault or responsibility of swan or t, who have done nothing but try to help support and care for me through this, who only want me to be well. It also, in combination with the several rounds now of research I have done into the effects of alcohol in the aftermath of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and neurochemical models of alcohol use, abuse, and withdrawal, have led me to my present pretty comfortable peace with abstinence. I keep saying that I don't know for how long I will maintain that. I know I will not drink today, and likely not tomorrow. I can't imagine my drinking this weekend or even in the next month. I am too old to think I ever want to decide anything is forever and I know never is always too long for anything. I am just going forward on that basis and deciding what I want to do.
I am convinced though that there is a high end to the limit of what I might do. I cannot drink at all Monday through Friday until Friday evening. Were I to drink Friday evening, Saturday evening, or Sunday my drinking would be restricted by swan's discretion. Beyond that I may not drink. I am certain,were I to violate that,the whipping the aftermath of which is pictured above would be a day at the beach. If you think that frightens me, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!! I still can't see those pics without a significant visceral response. I will not go there again. I can still here swan's pained voice saying "NEVER AGAIN!" before she laid on those ten last excruciating lashes that cut into my ass and my soul.
I have attended BDSM conference workshops that have posited that there really is no true corporal discipline of adults. Sure we can role play, but in fact no matter how real and awful it seems in the moment, within a week, you will be fantasizing and masturbating about the intense "scene" you had. I am here to tell you I have lots of sensual/eroticsm invested in spanking and related activities, and that there has not been (nor do I expect there will come to be) any erotic feelings about this whipping, and I doubt there are any on swan's part either.
This process began on about August 25. It has involved an evolution from my engaging in wildly out of control drinking; to accepting intellectually that I needed to slow down, but not wanting to in reality; to projecting this onto swan and t; to empowering them to help me; to being punished rather extremely (although yes, swan, I know you can do much worse if I force you to:); to becoming enlightened about my unique medical circumstances; to now my practice of total abstinence................all in a period of three weeks! Sometimes the tempo of our "gavotte" is warp-speed rapid.
There are those I know who cannot imagine how I, a man who has always appeared to be an innately Dominant personality, could possibly have ever accquiesced to this, to cede limited control to my family, and to actually submit to very real corporal discipline. The fact is, I was out of control due to alcohol. I cannot tolerate that lack of control. Just as when I was out of control in my life due to obesity which was harming my health, I was willing to go to the extreme of undergoing gastric bypass surgery to regain control of my life, now when I find my lack of control regarding alcohol is harming my health and my family's health, I am willing to go to the extreme of being disciplined to support me in achieving my new control. This is not an example of my weakness or my inherent submissiveness, it is an example of how absolutely unshakeable my drive for control is.
There have recently been in this realm of the blogosphere some really fairly infantile discussions about switching by practitioners, who are new to all this, and who don't even really have any sort of real time experience, talking about how men who switch aren't masculine and are simply really bottoms trying to falsely lure women to be with them as Dominants under false pretenses. You know, the kind of discussions that always start off saying, "I really don't mean to offend anyone....but." I'm not sure if those discussions are directed at us, or if our recent experiences were seminal to them, but I'd reassure those writers: to be offensive you would have to have a great deal more standing in the lifestyle for anyone to credit your perspective, and secondly you should get at least five years of real life experience, that is not over the telephone or Internet, before you make judgmental comments.
I am amazed and proud of how my swan has grown as a disciplinarian. I think the take-away lesson about switching is that if a Dominant believes that He might ever switch, He should remember that with each act of Dominance He engages in He is teaching His bottom how to Top Him in the future. It is a lesson I have learned in spades, or more like "in blisters."
All the best,
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.