And… Rhonda again:
“But. How can what you have with Tom even classify as a "power exchange" sort of relationship? He checked out a long time ago in that arena, if I've read this all correctly. You can submit to that nothingness all you want. Doesn't make you a slave. I mean, sure, you can still decide to Be a Slave in your head, but are you really? It's akin to the failed marriage you went through, isn't it? You promised forever there, but forever turned out to not be realistic. Sometimes we make promises that turn out to be not so good for us. Why should we punish ourselves forever when life says we should probably do something different? I dunno. Just don't really understand why you accept such a painful existence. Nor do I understand why you think your miserableness is a way that anyone else should accept as their way of being.”
Rhonda, I am going to continue to treat your inquiries as if they are being put forth in “good faith.” That is, from my perspective, an artifice that allows me to discuss topics of my choosing, and has nothing at all to do with my actual evaluation of the validity of your opinions on this subject (since, as near as I can tell, you are a faceless Internet handle with nothing at all of substance to offer).
To answer the question about how my relationship with Tom can be classified as a “power exchange” sort of relationship, I’ll offer as a starting point, this definition supplied by Tarnished Halo: A power exchange relationship is a relationship in which one of the partners consensually gives up a specific amount of control of their personal lives to another partner. Frankly, most relationships are not power neutral. Even those relationships which might seem to you, or to any other casual observer to be pretty “vanilla,” include elements of power exchange in that one or the other partner cedes a degree of control in one area or another. Power exchange isn’t synonymous with “kinky.”
My relationship tends, naturally, toward an unequal or uneven power balance. He is, by his nature, inclined to take control; to want things done the way he wants them done. That drive has been quieter in these last few years as he has healed. I am, by my nature, inclined to give that control over to him when I can. I prefer the safety and security of that imbalance. The practice of that has required me to refine my expectations and modulate the receptiveness of my power antennae, as I have healed. You have not, obviously, read it all correctly. You clearly do not comprehend subtlety or delicacy or anything other than the hot, steamy, juvenile, simplistic, Fifty Shades of Grey characterizations of BDSM porn.
My “failed marriage” is in no way comparable to this personal and intimate endeavor in relatedness. That was a bad agreement, entered into by two naive, inexperienced young people. It was a terrible mistake. We were badly matched. We accepted the social norms that dictated that we ought to marry in order to raise our children. It was, as I look back at it from the vantage point of nearly 6 decades of living, a failure of the teachings of society and church -- and not our failing. We ought to have let one another go much sooner than we did. If we had, we would both have been happier, and probably, so would our children have been.
I do not claim the title of “slave” anymore. Perhaps I never should have. I don’t feel, at this point, the need for the label. My relationship is what it is this day. It is different than it was a dozen years ago, and it will be different still in a year, or two, or ten. That is the reality. I have chronicled the days and weeks and years of this relationship in more words that I can count. Unlike you, Rhonda, I have plenty to lay on the table in this discussion. I am not just talking silly fantasies, and unfulfilled dreams and desires. I have taken the risks and endured the bumps in the road in order to actually LIVE this life. I don’t just read what other people write, and then make snide and snarky comments, I do it; have done it, and continue to do it. If you have anything to offer beyond your faceless anonymity, then lay it out, and we’ll talk as peers.
I am not punishing myself. He is not punishing me (which may be your issue). I am not miserable. I have had tough days. We have had a tough passage. That is not a failing. That is how life carries us all. The difference, I suspect, is that I put my vulnerable and broken places out here for all to see. I write it honestly, knowing that there will be some, like you, who delight in pointing out the ugly, messy, broken places (as if that somehow makes you righteous). We’ve been broken. It is true. Breaks heal. Often the broken place heals and is stronger than it was before. I don’t know that I can claim to be stronger, but I can claim the healing.
Whatever you want to call my relationship, Rhonda, please know you are welcome to that label if it makes you somehow feel better. I do not care. I am where I choose to be, living the life that I have been given to live. What I know; what you clearly do not seem to know or understand, is perhaps best summed up, with a bit of a baseball metaphor, by Anne Lamott: “We stick together, and love bats last.”