This will not be the typical Monday night blog. Tonight was much more personal; there are no pictures. In a way, I don’t feel like blogging about it. But I know I need to.
Looking at all those old photo albums kind of stirred up a hornets’ nest. Feelings and memories resurfaced. I hated most of those shots; I hated my life when those shots were taken. So I ridiculed them. And I invited you all to ridicule them with me.
None of you did. And ST was none too pleased with me.
There was no opening small talk when he came in. He grabbed my hand, pulled me into the bedroom and sat me down on the bed. Then he told me what he thought of my last couple of blogs, and of the awful things I’d said about my pictures.
“You knew a lot of assholes back then,” he said. “But you don’t have to keep buying into and perpetuating their lies.”
I was honestly bewildered. “I’m not,” I said. “I’m just being honest. Those pictures are ugly. I WAS ugly.”
“No, you weren’t. What did you expect people to say when they saw them?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I dunno — ‘Gee, Erica, you sure cleaned up good’?” He laughed.
“I want you to recognize the lies; I want you to see what everyone else sees,” he said, sitting next to me. “That you were beautiful then, and you’re beautiful now.”
Fucking tears. Always at the ready. Endless, bottomless well of the damn things. “Stop it,” I mumbled, ducking my head. “You’re going to make me cry. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at those pictures and not find them hideous.” And then the waterworks started.
He pulled me close. “Don’t think because you’re crying that I’m not going to spank you,” he warned. But he was too tender-hearted to do it at that moment. I lay in his arms, facing away from him. Even then, the internal nattering wouldn’t stop. Don’t look at me. I look ugly when I cry. My eyes swell, my makeup smears, my nose gets red like a boiled lobster. Don’t. Look. At. Me.
Quite the opposite from my usual “look at me! look at me!” demeanor.
We talked a bit, my tears dribbling down the whole time, him stroking my hair. I felt embarrassed about my recent blogs, ashamed of still being so goddamn full of grief over my past. I thought I’d exorcised a lot of that, writing my book. But then all that old crap comes back and feels as fresh as is it were yesterday.
“You can talk about your feelings,” he said quietly. “You can tell people about what happened to you. But you don’t get to put yourself down. You don’t get to continue where they left off.”
I told him random things, fleeting thoughts and memories that skittered into my head. I talked about the time John was getting his hair cut and I was reading a magazine, and his barber called across the room, “And how are YOU, gorgeous?” I heard him. I went on reading and didn’t answer. “Um, sweetie?” John said. “He’s talking to you.” My head jerked up in shock. It honestly didn’t occur to me that he’d meant me.
“He couldn’t have been talking to me,” I murmured to ST. “Who would call me gorgeous, right?”
“I would,” ST replied. Oh, damn him and his being so nice. How did he expect me to stop crying when he was being so sweet?
Finally, I did. And he took me across his lap. Rubbing my back, he said, “I don’t really feel like spanking you now.”
But of course, he did. Lightly at first. Then not so lightly.
It went on for a long time. I don’t know how long. He kept it simple: just his hand, one small leather strap and a wooden paddle. We did not switch positions; he kept me OTK for the whole thing. And — definitely a first — neither one of us spoke a word. No banter, no dialogue. No sending me to get more implements, no stopping to take pictures. We kept going — him silent and determined, me accepting and absorbing. The pain was love and comfort and I wanted it.
I didn’t shed a tear during the spanking itself. When he stopped, I cried again then. I felt like one enormous exposed nerve. But safe. And so, so very grateful for his presence. For the caring. For his not abandoning or rejecting me.
It was a long time before we talked. Talking would bring me back to reality, and I wanted to stay in the bubble for a while. I guess he did too. Eventually, though, we slipped into comfortable chitchat. Then it was time for him to go. It was raining out, and his pup was home waiting for him.
Because we took no pictures tonight, I’m going to post another old one. But this time, it’s one of my favorite photos. Many of you have seen it; I had it up in my old MySpace album, and I have it in my Facebook album. Some of you have not. I was 23 years old.
To this younger version of myself, I share these thoughts.
I’m sorry we had so much pain. Being shy, painfully self-conscious and awkward shouldn’t be an invitation for ridicule.
I’m sorry people exploited our vulnerability and desperation to belong, and we were too sensitive to let it roll off. Instead, we absorbed it and believed it all.
More than anything else, though, I’m sorry I wished you were someone else. I’m sorry I ridiculed you and put you down. Because I was the last person in the world who should have done so.
I am 54 years old. Lifelong habits are hard to break. But it’s not enough to embrace who I am now; I need to make peace with who I was, as well. I have, somewhat. Just have some more work to do, I guess.
And now, before I lose my nerve and delete all this, I’m going to hit Publish.