Before Christmas I asked D if he'd do something for me. I'd become aware, lately, that I'd been drinking more than I was comfortable with, and I wanted help keeping track of it. With some nervousness, I hinted that the sort of help I wanted was the D/s type. D's never been particularly comfortable with formally structured protocols, and prefers a level of informality and spontaneity to both play and punishment. 'Serious' rather than playful punishments have been rare between us, and mostly on a one-off basis - although I've learned over the years that this doesn't mean our D/s dynamic is any less real.
So I wasn't sure how he'd react to the idea of a more structured, explicitly negotiated system to help me watch my drinking. I told him the truth - that I'd taken the proposal to Tom, first, but although he'd agreed, he never ended up acting on it. Tom's health has been so poor lately, and his stress levels so high, that it hadn't seemed fair for me to put extra pressure and responsibility on him. So I checked that Tom didn't mind, and approached D instead.
To my surprise, D seemed amenable. Unlike Tom and me he almost never drinks; perhaps that was why he felt comfortable keeping tabs on this area of my life. He'd feel hypocritical, he said later, holding me to standards he wasn't keeping himself. (In my defence, I'm not a total pisshead - four pints of cider is an unusually heavy night's drinking for me - but I do find it all too easy to have one or two at the end of a long day, and it adds up. When I realised I couldn't remember the last day I'd abstained completely, I decided it was time to change my habits.)
After a vague "yes" but no further discussion, I knew better than to push, and left the ball in D's court. Sooner than I expected, however, I received a startlingly stern email from him describing the process and principles he wanted me to follow, and asking me to let him know the guidelines I wanted to be kept to. I read that email several times: it was a delicious mix of negotiation and dominance. The basic rules were up to me - although he was prepared to let me know if he thought my suggestions were too slack. But once agreed, he would keep me to them; and it was him that insisted that I send him an email every morning reporting what I'd drunk the night before. If you don't report a drinking level for a given day, without a good reason, then I'll assume you deserve a punishment for that day regardless of surrounding drinking levels. I shivered with delight at the realisation that he was taking this seriously.
We discussed punishments. A designated implement seemed sensible, given the associations it was likely to accumulate. With some trepidation I proposed the horrible little bath brush which, conveniently, has been barely used since I bought it. We were both being very honest with each other - him about his lack of booze knowledge, and me about my own weaknesses. The whole thing felt more consultative than authoritative, but I felt very secure knowing that, unlike me, he wasn't going to cut me any more slack than I deserved. I was confident that the structure we'd developed was sensible and sustainable, holding me to the spirit (as it were!) rather than the letter of the law, and I trusted D to make fair judgments.
As I sent him my daily emails (a hard habit to get into), it became clear that I was trying to lean too heavily on my 'rules', whereas he was more interested in general patterns and my perceptions. At first it felt like I was in a constant state of self-denial - possibly the restrictions increased the temptation - and moderation felt surprisingly difficult. Nonetheless, as I'd hoped, the act of recording affected my decisions, and the prospect of disappointing my Dom proved far better motivation than my vague guidelines in themselves.
After about a week, I discovered that he was collating the emails in a spreadsheet. A categorised, colour-coded spreadsheet. I was amused, flattered, aroused - but also shiveringly nervous at the precise record-keeping this implied. I've had punishment books before - but this was my first punishment spreadsheet!
I got to see it in person on Friday afternoon. Green text marked the booze-free days; red the heavier ones. A blazing scarlet background denoted the day I forgot to check in. We argued about that, a bit. The thing is that I was fairly sure I'd not drunk anything that day, but I couldn't prove it until I got back home. I was perfectly happy to be punished for not sending the email, but it seemed unfair and unproductive to treat the missed email as if I'd had a piss-up. The two crimes were clearly separate! Eventually he agreed - by which point of course I felt anxious and guilty about having got my way.
Once the spreadsheet was up to date, D cheerily suggested that we get the punishment over with. With alarm, I suddenly realised how close I was to tears. A combination of disappointment for having missed a report, anxiety about the perceived unfairness and guilt for arguing with him. As we hugged he noticed my trembling, and decided that spankings would happen after dinner. I was both relieved and disappointed. I appreciated the chance to calm down enough that I had a chance of taking my punishment with some dignity, but no-one likes to wait.
(To be continued...)
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