Posted at 18:01 on 25 Jul 2011 by Pandora / Blake
I've been working a lot on my site the last couple of weeks, and it's been a stressful time. Not preparing content; preparing content is an energising, happy-making experience. Instead I've been wrangling with the realities of finance, logistics, web development; contingency trees collapsing my timescales into unrealistically short deadlines. D, who is handling the site back-end for me, is only available to work on the project until mid September. I can't apply for a CCbill account - which we need before we can get to grips with the billing integration - until my site is ready to launch. Ergo, my site needs to be ready to launch by September. Never mind the complexities of finding the money to pay his mortgage while I'm taking him away from other paying work.
The feeling of urgency when I think about this project has been increasing by the month. Every time I contemplate how much work there is still to do it feels like a hand is squeezing my heart. Not panic: merely a sense of overwhelming certainty that this is what I need to be working on, not anyone else's website, not any client projects, this, now. My breath catches and my pulse quickens as every cell in my body urges me to drop everything and work on this, now, go go go. I have been patiently squeezing work on it into my evenings and weekends for too long. I know with every part of me that right now, this is where my time and energy should go.
Of course, I still have clients. I still need to pay my bills. I can just about find enough to finance the shoots already booked and D's time; until one of my funding options come through, I still need to work for free. Much as I would like to, I can't turn my back on my other commitments. But the collapsing timescales have left me little choice over the next four weeks.
During this process, I have been as tense as perhaps I've ever been. It's a new, unfamiliar sort of tension. Not helpless anxiety, feeling out of control; nor a sense of being overwhelmed, of being unable to cope. It's the muscular, jaw-clenched tension of being completely in control, of carrying all the weight oneself. I can manage. I can do it. It will happen. But the burden of responsibility is so heavy that my shoulders are shaking under it. Carrying this is occupying every part of my attention; I can't think or talk about anything else. I'm absolutely determined not to drop it, but sweat is starting to drip down my back and my legs are beginning to tremble.
When I asked Tom for a stress-relief spanking, I wasn't sure how I'd react. Would I crumble under the pain? Would I be able to submit? He was gentle with me, rubbing my back as I lay over his knee. The spanks he gave were firm, regular, reassuring.
I found myself staying quieter than usual. It was as if I didn't want to communicate any vulnerability. As the sting increased, I gritted my teeth and had to force myself to breathe. I wasn't fighting the pain, but I wasn't relinquishing control, either. I lay there absolutely still, exhaling and inhaling in measured breaths, maintaining a carefully relaxed and limp position over his knee. It was as if I sat on the other side of my desk accepting each smack with a courteous nod, filing it away for future use. I had asked for this, I knew I needed it, but I wasn't about to break.
When the spanks started coming really hard, my breathing became a little more ragged and I wondered if I would cry. But then it ended, and as we hugged I realised that I was much more relaxed, and I hadn't thought about work for a whole fifteen minutes. As heat radiated out from my bottom into the rest of my body I felt that pleasant glow and the beginnings of a happy buzz. That evening, I was more functional and sociable than I'd been in days.
The next day Tom and I got together to deal with any discipline arising from my weekly exercise schedule. The decision to hand over maintenance of my exercise regime to Tom had clearly paid off: I had missed only 2 items from my weekly goals, one of which was a late report. It was the best I'd done in quite some time, and our mood as I lay down over pillows for twelve whacks with the brush was very positive. Not a punishment; merely a gentle, necessary reminder to accompany deserved praise. I took them almost silently, acknowledging the pain but not succumbing to it.
Afterwards we were both keen to continue to play. Still feeling somewhat fragile, I asked if I could go over his knee. I wanted the physical intimacy, the reassuring closeness of being supported and held. Again, I wasn't sure in what way my tension would manifest. Would it spill over into anger, making me reject the pain? Would I react badly if things went in a direction I didn't expect?
As the spanking started I realised I was reacting in a very similar way to the previous night. I breathed evenly through the pain, accepting it, waiting for more. It occurred to me that my quietness might give the impression that I wasn't enjoying it, but deep inside I nurtured a suspicion that I needed him to go hard. Still, I couldn't quite let go of my pride enough to give the encouraging murmurs and whimpers which normally signal to a top that I want more. Instead I rested a palm against the bare skin of his thigh, under my ribs. His hand on the back of my neck steadied me securely, and I returned the gesture with a reassuring pressure of my fingers. Too withdrawn for words, I managed to unbend enough to signal my assent non-verbally, squeezing his thigh and, occasionally, with the slightest appreciative wiggle of my hips.
He got the message. My quietness was not the disengaged, uncertain silence of someone who wasn't into what was happening. It was the quietness of someone too strung out to play games; of someone willingly waiting to be pushed.
This time the pace of the spanking stepped up more briskly. The weight of his hand knocked the breath out of me; then a yelp. Sting layered upon sting to create a growing burn. Finally, I found myself unbending. My muscles loosened as impact shook my body. I pressed my face into the pillows and surrendered.
By the end, I was crying out. But it wasn't until he stopped, his hand affectionately caressing my inflamed skin, that the tears came. Where pain had released my emotional grip, tenderness pushed me over the edge. I curled in his lap like a small thing and wrapped my arms around his neck and cried. He held me fiercely, understanding without explanation what was taking place, and before long I was laughing through my tears. It was laughter at how ridiculous my stress had been, how ridiculous my preferred mode of relaxation. But it was also the laughter of delight, at having found this perfect solution to grown-up woes, and at having a partner who knew what I needed.