Holding Space

holding space

There are times when I need to be broken by him, taken apart and ripped wide open. There are times when he needs to break me, take me apart and rip me open. The deepest and deliciously darkest of these times are those where our dual needs smash into each other, meeting each other on a collision course towards raw intimacy and vulnerability.

Through extensive and challenging talking therapy, months and years here and there picking apart the bones of the shitstorm that was my childhood and the life long effects, it appears what I live with is Complex PTSD, something I’ve touched upon in other writings. Each month along slinks PMDD, a brutal duo that hulk out and go to town on me. I’ve recently discovered there is a recognised comorbidity between the two which piques my interest and certainly explains a lot, if I didn’t have to deal with the combined feels they bring.

Old habits and ways of being encourage me to not like the feels too much and I can hunker down, or bubble up, as he says. I’m quieter, which is deceptive, a little like a swan gliding along whilst paddling for its life underneath the rapids. For someone who is a total chatterbox normally it must be blatantly obvious, despite my reassurances to the contrary for want of appeasing concern and not wishing to be burdensome. As we are at each others’ centre, he’s always incredibly perceptive, sensitive to the shift in me and watches over me carefully.

How do I manage the energies of frustration and stress that are a natural and normal part of living in combination with the triggers, sadness, anger and hurt that C-PSTD brings, with her hormonally wrought sister PMDD who appears uninvited each month like clockwork? Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh advises us to ‘take good care’ of our anger, to embrace it ‘with gentleness’. Why? Underneath anger is always the wound of grief. Anger sits on top of pain, it muffles and protects. It is much easier to stay with the surface emotion of anger than feel the more difficult feels underneath. Anger is energising and powerful but it can be destructive. We all carry wounds. But to what extent do we hold space for ourselves and carry them with gentleness and mindfulness?

I should make clear this isn’t a pity post, I know myself deeply and understand what I live with, and boy have I done the work. Maybe not all of it that requires doing, not just yet, but I’ve got this. And he’s got me. And when his need collides with mine, there is acceptance. And with acceptance comes healing and another step towards who I really am and want to grow to be.

As a masochist I am an alchemist with pain, transforming it within me into many things. Intense arousal predominantly, but also catharsis. And after catharsis it morphs back into desire and need and he harnesses this to build me back up again, restoring my body and heart anew. So when his sadism dances with my masochism I’m free to be transformed. When I’m devoured by him this way, this fast, this hard, I break wide open. And when he grips and growls ‘let it all go’ the torrent flows. And he doesn’t stop until it’s all gone. He is always a consistently considerate and nurturing husband and Dom, and I know I’m forever safe under his hands, even when he drives me hard towards my limit, whilst always honouring it, because here he holds space for me and my needs, and in turn I meet his.

I spent a number of years practicing Ashtanga yoga when I was younger. I remember a tutor once explained the importance of the relationship between breath and energy. “The point of yoga isn’t to replace the darkness with light,” he said, “we breathe deeply to integrate and honour all of life’s energies.” I try my best to still work with this, to not repress my feelings, but learn to tend to them with as much gentleness I can muster. To attempt to make room for difficult feelings to move through my body. Thich Nhat Hanh writes, ‘when the mental formation that arises is negative, we should go back to ourselves and embrace it tenderly, calming it with our mindful breathing, like a mother would soothe her feverish child.’

During such intense play he safely opens the door that allows me to feel and integrate the anxiety, fear and hurt that took root in my childhood. With his hand, his belt, his words and ultimately his love and constant regard for holding such a space for me he unlocks access for me to return to, and hold space for the little girl who still lives within my own heart. And after, in the quiet moments, when I’m enveloped by his body, his breath and his love I am lighter, truer, and once again at peace, revelling in the contrast of the dark and light in my submission and our connection. And so is she. And we love him all the more.