I don’t feel safe

I don’t feel safe. I mostly mean sexually, but this could apply to other things too; I’m not sure.

Intellectually, I know that I am safe. Wolf and I have been together for a lot of years, and while there have been rare mistakes or missteps, I’ve never felt that he he looked down on me, disrespected me, or used me. Since I’ve been more aware and deliberate about trusting him, I’ve made a bit of progress but not as much as I would have liked.

I seem unable to feel safe. It’s like I don’t have a sense of safety because I don’t have the organ, nerve, bulb, whatever it is that I need to sense it. Or maybe my sense of safety exists but is partly impaired, since I’m perfectly attuned to detect the slightest whiff of danger.

Not feeling safe means I’m always reflexively on my guard such that I don’t necessarily even notice the tension. (It has recently occurred to me to wonder whether my chronic physical tension is connected to this.) Because of my history with Wolf, I can choose to let my guard down a bit but it takes a great deal of effort, and it’s imperfect because I don’t fully understand why I’m on my guard in the first place.

The other night, Wolf and I cuddled the way we always do. Ordinarily he’d touch my back and rub my neck, and I’m happy to let him because he knows through lots of experience what I like. But it still feels to me that he’s in control.

This time I was thinking about my feeble sense of safety and what I could possibly do to develop it. We decided that I’d tell him what I wanted and he’d do it, or he’d stop if I said stop. I often ask him to touch or massage one spot or another, but this time I just told him “touch me here” or “massage me there”. It’s a minor grammatical difference but it was enough to make me feel a little emotionally vulnerable. I hope I’m not imagining this, but when I told him to hug me a certain way because I needed reassurance, it seemed to sink in more thoroughly than usual.

With Jaime, dealing with my inherent feeling of unsafeness is more challenging. He has demonstrated his trustworthiness to me in myriad ways but we don’t have the same length of time together, and most of the time that we do have is long distance, which is qualitatively different and can’t really address issues of physicality.

I think this is why I haven’t really progressed beyond splashing around in the shallow end of the BDSM pool. BDSM often uses a dash of fear to heighten physiological arousal, but when I don’t feel fundamentally safe, all it seems to accomplish is to make me even more cautious and guarded.

I’ve been thinking about how things are with Jaime, and how I’d like to go deeper but I feel like I’ve plateaued. This relationship started with a BDSM flavour and the undercurrent is still there but right now it’s very quiet. I feel a bit disappointed about that. My difficulties with depression and low libido have been a significant issue, and in response to my general mood Jaime has chosen to back off, BDSM-wise.

Thinking about some of the BDSM things that we’ve done together that didn’t go so smoothly, I realised that I’ve probably deferred to him too much, trusting his domming experience more than my understanding of myself and my needs. And frankly, I’m not always that good at knowing my own needs, so it’s really attractive to believe that someone else knows what they are and will satisfy them.

Now, I like to know why things are the way they are, and when facing a current challenge, I often revisit my childhood to see if there might be some early learning colouring the way I think about things now. One of my tentative conclusions is that my parents were not very responsive to me when I was very young. This difficulty is that you develop your earliest sense of self from what is reflected back to you from your caregivers. If my parents weren’t good at knowing me, then they couldn’t teach me to know myself. As an adult, wanting someone else to know and satisfy my needs without my having to figure it out myself sounds like a mind-reading fantasy. But isn’t this basically what parenting young children is about?

But despite the past, I’m an adult and I now understand myself better than anyone else does. “Just going along with things” is a theme in an awful lot of my sexual experiences, and historically the results for me have been neutral ranging through to actively bad. If I’m going to submit, I think I need to trust myself more and be more assertive regarding both process  (how and when we communicate, how I express my needs and concerns) and substance (the activities I agree to).

I believe that it’s possible to be both assertive and submissive, but what I’m struggling with is whether it’s possible for me to do so, in my way, in this relationship.

25 thoughts on “I don’t feel safe

  1. This is a brave and reflective post.
    There is certainly no conflict between being assertive and being submissive.
    And speaking personally, the more information I have, the better. So I agree with you utterly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Intellectually, I can accept that submission and assertiveness aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but emotionally it’s a different story, especially when sex is involved. But I will endeavour to give you more information ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I can relate to some of the things you have mentioned here, such as not always knowing my own needs, but also, if I do understand what I need, not being assertive enough to speak about them. I quickly feel selfish (or even ridiculous) when I speak my own needs, so I just keep quiet. It’s not always easy…

    Rebel xox

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Assertiveness, especially about one’s own needs, is an issue for so many women. It makes me wonder about how much women are conditioned for the “highest feminine achievement”, which seems to be selfless motherhood. It’s challenging for sure, but we do have needs, and we’re entitled to ask for them to be met.

      Having said that, I wonder if we are also conditioned to view our needs as mere wants and thus treat them as optional… Food for thought.


  3. I find myself in a similar position. I’ve changed drastically over the past year, I’m a shadow of my former self. Where I once felt safe I can no longer claim to do so. I’ve never known myself nor have I fitting in anywhere and like you, I had very unresponsive parents and when they did respond it was negatively.

    I too know I need to learn to understand my needs and communicate them better but damn, it’s so hard!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very vulnerable post – I too have come to the conclusion that perhaps my childhood is responsible for issues I have as an adult – such as trust – but I know it’s up to me to try and deal with that now. And yes I think it’s good to be assertive and submissive, that does work for me at times with my man;-)


  5. You have very much laid yourself bare here, and I think we all feel great respect for that. I think the exploring you’re doing will take you closer to unlocking your more trusting self, or reassuring your vulnerabilities. Had you ever thought of having talk therapy or even hypnotism? I know of 1 blogger within our community who has unlocked her true personality through hypnosis, and feels so much more whole since taking that route.
    Great piece of self-exploratory writing.


    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I have done a bit of talk therapy for a work-related issue a couple of years ago; that issue spawned the serious personal growth that led me to this point, including my sexual epiphany and everything that followed. I’m very curious and analytical, and I love to know why things are the way they are. Having turned that focus inward, I’ve made lots of progress! It’s a big project 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I could sense some of that from your post. I too, like you, want to know where things stem from – of course it is not as always as clear cut as TV police dramas!


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  7. I don’t know anything about the BDSM scene, but it sounds to me like you have a clear grasp of your situation. I hope your relationships work out for you.


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