Three little words. So simple, the same amount of syllables as “I love you.” But for me, so much harder to say.
I don’t like my neediness. I shun it and reject it, tell myself it’s inappropriate. Part of that may be my own wariness about other people’s neediness. It’s been my experience that, while some may just need a bit of support now and then, others (if you let them) will feed on your life force. The Takers. I have no tolerance for them, and if I feel like I’m going to be one, I withdraw.
All kidding aside, most of you know the holidays bring me down for various reasons. This year, I did exactly what I wanted to do — nothing. There were no obligatory family gatherings with John. He was going on Monday to his mom’s nursing home for Xmas dinner, but he knows I will not go there again and he doesn’t ask me to. And as it happened, my client had just sent me a nearly 400-page manual to proofread. So I figured Monday and Tuesday, I’d stay home and work. Easy, right?
Not sure what happened. Everyone was fine; even my upstairs neighbors were cooperating and were quiet. I knocked down about 200 of those pages, plus going to the gym Monday, so I felt virtuous. John and I talked on the phone both Monday and Tuesday. But I felt lonely. I was sad that I can’t seem to enjoy what other people are enjoying at this time of year. And as much as I felt like being with another human being, the thought of getting dressed and made up and going out was unacceptable.
It didn’t help that I was watching an old sitcom episode (circa 1975) on AntennaTV, and saw my mother in the party scene. She used to be an extra, throughout the 1970s and part of the 80s, and did a lot of shows. She looked so young and pretty and alive, in a beautiful blue evening gown I don’t remember seeing before. It made my heart hurt.
I knew Mr. D was incredibly busy with his kids visiting, with family and friends and shopping and preparing his house for company and all that, so I left him alone. Figured he’d touch base with me sooner or later. But by last evening (Tuesday, Christmas night), I hadn’t heard anything from him. I’d sent him a light and friendly text, but he hadn’t answered it. I’d sent an e-card, but it had gone unopened. And when I called him, he didn’t pick up.
Yes, I’m freaking insane. My mind goes to dark places. But by 10:30 last night, I was convinced something awful had happened to him. After all, he always returns texts. He always returns calls. And it wasn’t like him to go so many days without checking in with me, even if it was just for a minute. If something had happened — if he was in the hospital (or worse) — how would I know? It’s not like I’m a family member. Still, when I’d called, I’d left a message, but I purposely didn’t make it sound needy. Just said that I hoped he was having a good holiday, and were we still on for Wednesday?
This morning, no text and no phone call. So I called again, and this time he picked up. Whew. He’s not dead. He sounded hoarse and exhausted, apologized for not getting back to me, but he’d had a houseful of people and hadn’t gone to bed until 2:30 a.m. Then he said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to postpone today; I’m just wiped out.”
I wanted to get off the phone immediately. I didn’t want him to hear the neediness in my voice, the tears that were already starting. But he did hear it. “Are you OK? Talk to me.”
“I can’t,” I said. “You have to. Please,” he said. He kept insisting until I hesitantly told him that I’d thought something had happened to him and my head went south.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I have a bunch of kids in the house right now, but let me make sure they’re squared away, and I’ll get away for a couple of hours and come see you.”
“No!” I cried. I didn’t want to disrupt his day. “You’re exhausted! You’ve got so much going on! Please don’t, it’s OK, I don’t want you to. You need to get some rest.”
Very gently, but also very firmly, he replied, “I can take care of myself. What I do for my own welfare is up to me, not you. Thank you for caring, though. I want to come over. You need me to; I can hear it in your voice.”
Goddammit. I didn’t want him to hear that fucking need. “But you just said you were wiped out,” I said in a small voice.
“It’s been crazy here,” he admitted. “But good crazy. Fun. A little overwhelming, but I love it. I’ve had a hectic and wonderful few days. But I want to see you, too. That’s not a chore. That’s something I need, too.”
What could I say. I really, really needed to see him. So we agreed on 1:00. He said he could only stay a couple of hours; I told him that was fine.
We talked for a long time after he arrived. He felt bad that he hadn’t been in touch with me, and I felt silly and childish. I kept apologizing for my neediness, and he kept telling me to please stop that. “I’m not supposed to be needy!” I said. “I’m supposed to be fun!”
“You are fun,” he said. “But listen to me. I like all of you. If I’m going to be your top, I want it all — laughing, crying, happy, grumpy, bitchy, sassy. Do you get that? Are you starting to get that?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
“You need a really good spanking, don’t you.”
I sighed. “I don’t know what I need.”
“It’s all right if you don’t. I do.”
He took me by the hand and led me into my room, setting up the pillows on the bed. I assumed the position, and he pulled my leggings down. “I’m a little upset with you,” he said. His voice was calm. “I wish you had told me outright that you needed to talk to me, to see me. I wish you had trusted me enough to know I’d care enough to make a window for you.” Then he began to spank me.
“Do you know I care about you?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. “How do you know?” “Because you’re here,” I bawled. I’d started crying again from the very first strike.
“Then say it,” he said, continuing. “I want to hear ‘I know you care about me’ after every swat.”
Somehow, I managed to blubber that out each time. “Yes, I do care,” he said. “And you won’t ever forget that, will you? You’ll never doubt it again?”
“No,” I sobbed. “I won’t.” He then went to my implement drawer. I didn’t have to look; I knew what he was getting.
That wooden heart paddle bit and stung fiercely, but I welcomed it. I squirmed and my feet twisted together, but I held my position. Soon, I was crying so hard I couldn’t say the phrase anymore. He stopped.
It didn’t have to go on for a long time. He’d made his point.
Sorry, y’all — no pictures this time. Too personal.
“Shhhhhh,” he whispered. “It’s OK. You’re OK. Come here.” And he gathered me close. I wept and wept, but these were different tears. The bitterness was gone, and they were as sweet and clean and pure as rain.
At 3:30, he had to go. He asked several times if I was OK now. I was more than OK, and could send him off with a smile.
After he got home, he called, just to make sure once again that I was all right, that all was good. “I’m great,” I said. “Thank you. So much.”
He made me promise that next time I get in that sort of head space, I will let him know. Not with a light-hearted message, but a direct and honest expression of my need. This is what he wants.
I hesitated, and he added, “I know it’s hard for you. I know I’m re-wiring you. But promise me.” I did.