Saturday, April 16, 2011

it doesn't feel helpful

There have been a number of people writing about how a sub helps and supports her Dom when he is the one who needs it (see Dauntless Vitality here, and A Dominant Character here, and Kytten here.  I have to say though, that in my case, it doesn't feel like i am being helpful at all.   It feels like the most i am offering is not adding to the problems, and maybe staying out of the way.   To a mom and someone who is a problem solver by nature and profession - this doesn't feel like much. 

The phrase "still waters run deep" was coined just for my husband.  Add to this the fact that when he is upset about something, he doesn't usually respond then and there.  I really believe that he mulls over, deciding if it's an okay thing to be upset about, or if it's actually misplaced anger.  And he compartmentalizes like you've never seen: work in one box, home in another, the kids, politics, the price of gas, tea in china - all have a little box in his head and the ick from one almost never drips over onto another.   And (in the understatement of the century) he doesn't like to talk about his feelings.   Ok - I think i've covered all the applicable stereotypes.

The sum of all of this though is that he doesn't tend to get upset when and how you would expect.  He is so even keel that the tiniest ripples, the most subtle changes in behavior, can be almost alarming. This is the him that i know, i am familiar with it.  The subtle changes that most people, including our kids, don't even notice, can shake me to my core.

And the past week he has been very off, distracted, distant, not sleeping, and not at all connected.  This has been much more than tiny ripples, and I have been very, very shaken by it.  A day or two i can attribute to work or some other stress, by mid-week it was only getting worse. When i asked, he assured me it wasn't me, that he didn't know why he was so off-kilter, but i hadn't done anything to upset him. (Unless i keep prodding - that upsets him)

Previously, I would have become paranoid that he was hiding something, or defensive, as if he were blaming me, or just pissed off that he was being so unpleasant.   There *is* a new pattern now and that *is* a good thing.  I have been able to argue myself out of my paranoia or defensiveness.  I've managed to (mostly) keep moving and go about the usual day to day stuff.  I've gotten all the things done that needed to be done, without adding too much to his worry.  He knows i am very concerned and feeling unsure of how to act and wanting to be able to help. But my fears and upset haven't spilled over to infect the kids and rest of the house. 

So - to that end - i am glad i have been able to give him the time and space to work through what he needs to without the double burden of soothing the emotions of me and potentially the whole family.   I'm sure he has worried some, wondering if i would last or if i would come to a breaking point.  I can't change that though, it will take time for each of us to trust ourselves, each other,  and "the system." 

But still - not being an additional problem does not feel at all like being really helpful.  And i think that most people - of whatever flavor - do feel a strong desire to help when they see that someone they love is distressed. 

I don't have the feeling that i am accomplishing what seems to be described in any of the blogs i mentioned above.  I appreciate the explanations.  It sounds right and lovely and i want to believe that i offer him something similar.  I want to believe that this, essentially very passive, offering is really of some benefit to him.  I really have no idea if he views my submission as a comfort or even a good thing in his life.  I know that there are two competing implications of my submission: i feel much, much more acutely lost and hurt by his distance and withdrawal, but i am better able to trust him when he says it's not me and to wait and let him work through it. 

All of that aside though, it is always hard to watch someone you love struggle with something and not feel like you are able to help. 


  1. GG, I wrote what I wrote in part to help in situations like yours. You got my side, how I feel, what it meant to me. You did not get however how she was feeling. When I am hurt, really, really hurt I withdraw, normally I seek advice from all but in moments to crisis or panic I turn off and operate on auto. I make decisions rapidly and take action quickly and I do it with out consultation.

    She finds this very difficult and she often feels like she has no idea how to respond or what to do. She want to act like I do but I allow no room for that. It is hard on her no doubt, this week particularly.

  2. Thanks for the mention and referral to my blog.

    Sir J said this well. And what he said is the overall point of my post. Mine was directed more towards Doms than anything. It is also a good lesson for myself. We Doms have to learn not to withdraw in tough times. We have to be willing to open up and share and allow our partners to help and assist us. We can't take advantage of what they have to offer if we don't.

    I'm sure in your case, you do and offer much more than you realize. We Doms do notice, even if we don't say anything. And as Sir J's post noted, it can even be as simple as coming home and seeing what we have that makes us the most happy. Don't be too hard on yourself. Almost all subs offer their Dom things that are intangible, and that they appreciate more than you know.


  3. gg, I relate. My husband often does not want to lean on me, although in recent years, through TTWD, that has subtlety shifted, as I think the increased deep seated trust has changed us both, and now he is more least sometimes. But mostly, bc he's a man, he wants to fix is his own problems, and my keeping myself steady and trusting in him does help. He has told me so...later.


  4. "i am glad i have been able to give him the time and space to work through what he needs to without the double burden of soothing the emotions of me and potentially the whole family."

    You did offer what he needed most. Ditto what Sara said. Most men need to work through their problems on their own.

  5. It's the hardest thing on earth.

    I'm impressed with how well you're doing it, and holding on to doing it, and finding ways to keep doing it. It's not easy, and doesn't feel at all rewarding.

    Keeping you both in my thoughts.



  6. I think you are helping by letting him work through things since that seems to be what he wants.


  7. You're speaking to my heart... I've been struggling with a very similar issue recently. I think my biggest issue was that my brand of helping was more of an intrusion... one with good intentions, but intrusion none-the-less. It's really hard to step back and let them handle the situation in their own way, but really... it's the best thing to do.



  8. You've really got to be proud of yourself. It's one of the hardest things to do, to not actually physically or verbally try to *help*

    I hope He works it out soon and things normalize for you.

  9. I apologize, I keep trying to respnd to everyones' comments and blogger keeps eating my words. So -thank you all, I appreciate the commments, I do.

  10. I've been struggling with this *so* much and it is wonderful to finally read someone else's view on this issue. i always try to help. i tend to immediately sense when the energy is off and start with "what's wrong?" "are you ok? you seem..."

    This line of questioning usually turns into an argument of some sort. My Ma'am doesn't ask for help and at times seems insulted I'd suggest something is even wrong. I'm a service submissive and my feelings get hurt because I feel like I'm not being of service. It turns into a vicious cycle.

    thank you for this. it is good to read from the above comments as well that silent support is sometimes the best.

    <3 mina

  11. Dear gg.,

    i'll have to agree with Mina. Some people just don't want us to interfere with their troubles, they get offended and kind of "shut down". Like Mina's Ma'am, my Mistress is a perfect example of this. She just won't say what's wrong and will punish me if i ask. For Her, it is enough to know that i am there, at Her feet, waiting quietly.

    i call this "silent service" and is one of the most difficult, lonely and unrewarding aspects of submission.

    However hard, don't "break position" gg.!

    Hugs, cassie

  12. Mina,
    He does the same - he gets quite annoyed if i ask more than once if he is ok. It is helpful to hear other people say they are learning how to help more passively. Thank you.

    Thank you. Sadly, I was able to be quiet for some time, but i found myself feeling lost and then angry. i do hope that i will be better prepared to see this and have a better way of acting next time.

  13. This is a trivial example: if I am looking for something that I have lost or mislaid, my wife will usually want to "help". She will start asking me questions, like "What are you looking for?" or "When did you have it last?"

    Usually this "help" just irritates me and stops me from concentrating on the job in hand. I like to try and solve my own problems before I ask for help, and I think many men are like that.

  14. Malcolm,
    Hmm - even i get annoyed at that kind of help. I tend to be more "male" in my desire to do something active and problem solve when there is a problem, not just listen and wait. And yea - my husband is absolutely liek tha t- so i need to learn to be a little more "female" in my way. Thank you.