Communication is frequently held up as a key cornerstone of D/s, and rightly so. Communication in any relationship is incredibly important to enable expression and understanding of thoughts, ideas, opinions and emotions. I’ve not read, however, much of how to do this within a D/s relationship beyond just sitting down and talking. Sounds so easy right? Sometimes it’s not though.
Communication of my feelings, needs and emotions is something I’m pretty piss poor at. With anything else, I’m confident, open and outspoken, but this? No. I gag myself and hide them behind a protective front. I’ve realised recently with increased clarity why that is, and yet again it’s rooted in my past. When the years of chaos and drug use and violence were occurring, and even afterwards, not once was I asked how I was feeling by any adult or friend in my life. Not once was I asked if I was ok. That sends a pretty powerful message to a child, as it did to me, that these were not things we spoke about, these were not things we asked for help with. That my feelings and needs did not matter. That these are things we keep hidden and these are things we do not burden others with. That these are things we manage by ourselves.
I’ve mentioned in previous writings that Cuiplash and I introduced the use of an emotional safe word in our D/s to give me an additional communication tool because I’m so bad at emotionally focused communication. He recently used a bad driver analogy, comparing me to a driver going along and then suddenly swerving or pulling in without signalling or indicating my need to first, leaving him and others wondering why. This made me laugh at the time, as it’s true. I fail to communicate what’s going on in my head and heart and whilst it’s often very busy in there, outward appearances would suggest otherwise until I suddenly take a sharp corner, and occasionally crash the car.
Whilst Cuiplash and I made and still make relatively good use of daily check ins and weekly ‘downtime’ talks focusing on us and our D/s, I find I need the opportunity to be asked, rather than offer, how I am feeling in myself. We’d often go off track earlier in our D/s as Cuiplash is not a mind reader, as much as I’d like him to be, and he’d either be unaware I was wrestling with something or he’d give me space which ultimately emotionally triggered me into feeling a bit abandoned and unseen, a negative neural route right back to when I was little.
Three things had to happen to improve this repeat pattern. One, I had to take more responsibility in expressing my feelings rather than waiting to be sat down and have them drawn out of me by him. Two, we had to find a manageable way to do this. Three, I had to practice this.
Together we came up with the idea of an emotional safe word that I can use at any time to signal to him verbally or online that I am struggling with something and that I need to talk when we can be alone. He set me that task of choosing the word and it had to have meaning. I chose riptide as my emotional safe word as I always go back to water as my source of peace. It also describes effectively the sensation of being pulled out and away and of being overwhelmed.
I’ve still to practice using this more, as sometimes even that can feel too hard. I’m honestly THAT bad so we also introduced a visual signal I can use to communicate my need that I will write more about in another post. When I have used this communication tool it has been really effective as it builds those lost skills and confidence in me and takes the pressure off him to second guess.
I think, no matter how good you are at communicating in general, expressing difficult feelings and deep needs can often be more challenging for many reasons around vulnerability, shame, embarrassment and fear of judgement or appearing silly. I think that no matter what tools you use to enable it to happen as often and as easily as you can within your relationship, of any or no dynamic, it’s only going to strengthen it.
So, my lovely readers, what communication tools do you use that work well, beyond a simple ‘let’s talk’?