Self Care vs Self Aware


I find the best way to help people understand my point of view is to be painfully honest.  With that being said, I’m going to share some deeply personal mental health experiences.  At one time, many years ago, I would have apologized for the possibility that I may upset someone.  I have learned, over the last ten years or so, that it is ok to be broken sometimes.  It is ok to crack under pressure and question myself and most of all, it is ok to cry.
That sounds like common sense.  I know it feels like it when I comfort a friend.  I tell them all these things that I know, logically, will help them.  Logistics that I have always felt I am not allowed to partake in.
I have to be perfect.  So, I have told myself for about twenty-two years now.  Perfection, to me, is not functioning without mistakes.  Perfection means that I can cope with your short-comings without detriment to my performance.  If you are having a bad day, I will soothe you, cuddle you, and tuck you in.  I will make sure you only have to worry about getting a good night’s rest.  If you are in pain, I will cater to your every whim.  I will serve you dinner, mow the lawn, run errands, and anything else that eases the stress on you.  If you are stressed, I will massage you until your body turns to jello and your eyes close in relaxation.  I will do all of this…and everything else on my list.
I sound crazy, don’t I?  I’ve been told I am.  I’ve also been told I am a dream submissive.  I disagree with both of these.  But, let me come back to that later.
I have severe OCD.  Everything I do happens in threes–right down to those lovely kisses I get each night from my spouses.  I will compulsively ask you the same question, even when I already know the answer.  I will focus so closely on what I am doing, that I won’t notice when my body is ready to collapse.
I have severe panic attacks.  Some days, they are so bad, my collar has to be moved to my wrist to prevent me from suffocating in my sleep.  There is nothing more intense than the failure I feel when I have to ask for the relocation of my collar.  Though I am aware it is a medical necessity at those points, it is hard for me to see it as anything else.
The worst of my detriments, is the toxicity of my core values.  I have three ideals that I have never been able to shake.
      1) My feelings don’t matter as long as my partner is happy (i.e. never speak up in disagreement)
      2) I get what I get and I’m happy for it (i.e. never ask for anything)
      3) My worth is measured in my usefulness (i.e. broken things get thrown out)
Still thinking I am crazy?  Reading about me on paper sure reinforces that thought.  And, honestly, there are days where I am curled half naked on the living room floor staring off into space that I would probably agree with you.
But, my wives and my Master disagree.
As Master says, “the answer is always, Yes, Sir.”  I said it once in play and now it has become a mantra.  When He asks me the questions I find so hard to answer, such as:
                          “Am I worthy?”
                          “What am I feeling?”
                          “What do I want?”
    My Favorite:  “Why am I apologizing?”
If you have never suffered anxiety, you may be staring at these questions and find yourself completely baffled.  For those whose heads are as chaotic as mine, I can see you nodding along.  It took me a very long time to learn I wasn’t alone–to learn that mental health is not an automatic death sentence.
I’ve used the examples I have because my mental health heavily influences the way I submit.  If I’m having an off day, Master may tell me we cannot play.  He has to weigh the benefits of cathartic pain play and the ramifications that come with drop.
When I started out as a submissive, I always leaned towards slave.  I never understood why.  Then I discovered that some of my own core values (which I discuss further down) are the reason I have the views I do.  In my own relationship, Master has blanket consent.  I’ve heard it referred to as consensual non-consent as well.  It basically means that as long as I have not used Red (to which so far I never have) against something, He can add it in to our Dynamic without prior discussion or negotiation.
Knowing the things about me that Master does (and which you will be privy too soon enough), He has to balance my need for a Total Power Exchange (TPE) with the mental health aspect of keeping me safe, sane, and self-aware.
With what I am have laid out below, you will probably never envy the man who has collared, kept, and cared for me.  But, that’s alright.  Mental Health is a hard battle for those of us who suffer from the imbalance.  It is even harder for those who love us.
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Now, that I have given you background, I am going to bring up the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn: the definition of self-care.
According to Google, self care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
One of my best friend’s is a guru at this concept.  She does things like yoga, stretching, swimming, Brazilian waxes, takes “me time,” trains her dogs, and more.  She does this with a full time job, a full college course load, a long distance relationship, and still finds time for hobbies.  Its like those miracle stories you hear about single moms who work 15 jobs and still make it to school functions for their kids.  She’s told me that because her life is so busy, she considers her self care to be non-negotiable.  She forces herself to make time because if she doesn’t take care of herself, how can she care for her partner?  
 
She makes a very valid point.  One, that I should mention, my wife has been trying to drill into my head for ten years.  
 
Well, when the bestie starts talking to Master and Master starts talking to the wife, I get the short end of that stick.  Mostly, because it means I don’t really get a chance to refuse whatever scheme/idea/rule has been concocted.
 
Here’s the best part of this–turns out, I have a very different definition of self-care than my people.
 
Self-Care (according to Master):  
I need to take time just for myself.  This means that I should go hang out with friends in a non-kink related environment.
I need to have my own interests outside of my submission.  This means that at least some of my hobbies should not include boot blacking and whip making.
I need to prioritize my time and learn how to say no.  This means that i should never promise to do more than I can honestly manage and it is not my job to fix every problem.
 
Though our conversation was much longer, that was the most important “self care” rules he wanted to see happen.
 
Because (and I quote), I do not practice self-care.
 
I was almost offended.  But, mostly, I was baffled.  I stared at Master with the most gobsmacked look on my face and imitated a fish for a good minute before I stuttered out that I did not understand.  I’m pretty sure I sounded less than intelligent.  Master was understanding.  He gave me cuddles and explained the recommendations above and why he believed I did not take care of myself with the same vigor I did my people.  (For the record, I say “my people” because even as dedicated as I am to Master, we do have a family that is priority beyond our relationship).
 
Here is where that wonderful thing called communication comes into play.  I mulled over his words for a few days.  It bothered me that he believed I did not care about myself.  To me, I did.  I never missed work.  I took care of the family to the best of my ability.  I made my doctor’s appointments, reminded him of meetings we had, worked with out local kink community, and so forth.  I functioned pretty well.
 
That’s when I learned I am a high-functioning ball of anxiety.  According to my therapist, it is my OCD flaring up in the form of itemized mental lists that help me feel like I am in control of my environment.
 
But, what it also made me realize is that Master and I have different definitions of self care.
 
Now, this is why I gave you some background about the fucked up things mental health has done to me.  Building on that, I am going to explain, as best as my mind will allow, my anti-Google definition.
 
–At two different times this year, I was able to walk away from cleaning house.  In January of 2018, I stressed myself to the point that I cleaned until I disassociated and worked myself into a cold sweat.  When I was forcibly removed from my kitchen and prevented from continuing, I had a complete meltdown.  I sobbed for hours and it was days before we could turn the light on in the kitchen while I was home because even a single cup in the sink would push my anxiety through the roof.  Now, with medication, strategic rules in my Dynamic, and that mantra mentality I referenced earlier, I can feel those episodes coming and can remove myself from the environment before they happen.
 
–I don’t zone out and hurt myself anymore.  To be specific, I have fits of unconscious scratching.  When I am stressed, I will scratch myself bloody.  I have scars on my shin when my nails cut so deep it didn’t heal cleanly.  I am able to separate itchy scratching from stressed scratching.  I am able to ball my fists up, put them at my side, and repeat the mantra that “I am not allowed to scratch” until the need passes.
 
–I can, to a degree, ask for love.  I am a very tactile person.  Hugs, kisses, and cuddles are my lifeline.  When life is rough, when my anxiety is drowning me, when I am stressed, those moments bring me peace.  As I mentioned earlier, that need violates my toxic core values about not asking for things.  But, now, I can face the possibility of the other person saying no, and ask for those simple things.  I know, logically, that they would never be withheld from me.  But, forcing myself to ask, and facing that possible rejection, is a huge step forward for me.
 
These are but a few examples of the strides I have made in my journey of self-discovery and self care.  But, they don’t match up with the traditional definition of those terms.  Once I realized that, I had to figure out how to put those thoughts into words and express them in a way that showed how proud I was of myself.  
 
I came to the conclusion that self care is the steps you take to correct a behavior toxic to your health.  But, being self aware, helps you identify those behaviors to begin with.  
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I would not be surprised if you are reading this and wondering how I can function.  I wouldn’t even be offended if you find me to be a difficult submissive and partner.  I come with a lot of baggage and a lot of unusual mental health issues.
I’ve asked both Master and my wife why they “put up with me.”  They simply tell me they love me.
I find my peace in my submission.  I find my happiness in being a service-oriented person.  I find my comfort in the little things that makes life easier for my family.  But, mostly, I found myself in my suffering.
I found strength in admitting I am not strong all the time.  I found relief in being told I was allowed to cry.  I found that I am a better submissive because of my problems.  While I fight the belief that I am a burden to my Master, I have learned that in order for me to trust Him with my body, I had to trust him with my mind and my soul as well.
Submission might be a gift, but self-discovery within my dynamic is my reward.

About the Author

My name is Joji.  I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42.  I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling.  I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay.  I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning.  I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan.  I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education).  It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement.  We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.

Comments

  1. so heartfelt and inspiring

    • Thank you. It was quite the discovery when I had to defend my idea of self care but I learned a lot from it.

  2. please write more pieces like this!

    • There is another piece that is just as deep into my psyche as this. I hope you enjoy that as well and I will endeavour to continue writing pieces such as this. Thank you.

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