2. The Backstory: Love life…every moment, every day.

I believe sharing the details of my story can enable you to find a path toward greater fulfillment and satisfaction in life, so you too can “love life, every moment, every day.” 

This “creed’ was instilled in me by my mother.  I’d like to say this came about because my mother was a strong, independent woman, but that would be a lie.  She grew up in a very misogynistic environment and my dad did not provide respite from the misogyny she knew as a girl.  Perhaps that is why it was so important to her that I would love life, every moment, every day.

She never told me exactly what the term meant.  She knew I needed to discover that for myself.  What it came to mean was that if there was an aspect about my life that I did not love, I, and I alone, was responsible for changing it.  No man, no drug, no other person.  Just me.   Thus, I, Jennifer, grew up a very self-empowered woman.

Yes, my name is Jennifer, Jenny to most, although my family calls me Sadie.  I can thank a cousin for that nickname.  That story isn’t important to my journey, but I mention it just in case I refer to myself as Sadie later on.  I often think of myself as Sadie in the context of recalling stories from my youth.

Anyway, back to my story.  Yes, I grew up very self-empowered and “with it.”  That self-empowerment led to me being the informal psychologist, coach, mentor, and confidant to many family and friends.  I was the one that “had it all together.”

Mike and I got married when I was 21, he was 22.  I admit I was the more dominant one and in aspects of our relationship I still feel I am, but as you’ll learn, that no longer applies in many ways.  I had it “all together” and “knew” how things should be so Mike pretty much learned to defer to me.  I know I frustrated him at times.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want his input, but, I was stuck on the fact the loving life meant things had to happen a certain way.  How can I honor my “creed” if I suppressed my hopes and desires?  Okay, so, I became selfish, but justified it because if I can’t be happy, then I can’t make others happy.  Basic psychology, right?

Then came kids.  I was a high school counselor (see, credentials to “prove” I could solve problems) but quickly put my career aside to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) after a short stint back at work after the birth of our first.  It was always my desire to focus on my kids without worrying about a regular job – that was loving life.  Mike accepted me as a SAHM although he would have preferred I return to work.  Being a SAHM was always my plan and I also justified it because my husband made an income that “I” felt we could live on and maintain the lifestyle that “I” wanted for my family.

So, three kids later (all sons).   The eldest is just wrapping up post-grad work and lives on his own.  My middle is out of the house and half-way through college.  My youngest is still at home and has special needs and will never be independent.  With all three kids I threw myself into maintaining my mantra, “Love life…every moment, every day.”

It worked well for many years, but then in the last few years morphed into a terrible thing.  I kept placing greater and greater demands on myself.  Maybe it was because of the needs of our youngest, but I became increasingly focused on controlling everything.  This meant trying to solve everything for everyone – not just my problems, my husbands, or kids, but my siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends.  It grew to mean I must not only meet my needs, but meet everyone else’s, and even anticipate them and meet them before they even knew they had them.  Add in the extreme demands of a special needs child, and I was overloaded.

The overload showed.  I would “trick” myself to convince myself of my happiness, but those tricks were wearing off.  I was argumentative with my husband, I became moody and a slob.  My husband said I was like a storm leaving a mess in my wake wherever I went in the house.  Not only did I rarely clean anymore, but I was compounding the cleaning work for my husband.  Up until then I would say we split the chores adequately (I did most but he  did his share).  Household chores had never been a point of argument.  We had a system and it worked, until I started messing it up.

I became forgetful- constantly losing or misplacing things or even just forgetting what I was talking about.  I felt like too many thoughts at once were going on in my head. Maybe all that noise in my head also caused a distraction because I also became a klutz.  I dropped and cracked three cell phones in less than a year, I lost my car keys, my credit card, plus constantly losing things around the house.  I lost interest in keeping within a budget – if I wanted something, I got it on impulse.   I started staying up later and later to binge watch television, often until 2 a.m. Because of all of that, I wasn’t getting good rest.   Add to that the physically and emotionally demanding days of caring for our son (plus caring for everyone else’s needs) and 4-5 hours of sleep just won’t cut it.

Arguments with my husband increased – too many nights of silent treatment, yelling, or one of us storming off to sleep in the spare room.  Most of the arguments were of my own doing but you could not have convinced me of that at that time.  After all, I was “loving life!”   My husband was losing patience and I could feel he was becoming less and less loving, despite efforts to try and express his love.  He would tell me of the amazing job I was doing with our son and that picking up some extra household chores was a simple way to honor and respect what I was doing with our son.  (Did I tell you how wonderful Mike is?)  While I appreciated those words, I knew I was letting him down, and by letting him down, I was letting myself down.  This went on for about a year

I am someone in constant self-reflection and frankly, for a long time my self-reflection was dishonest.  My internal monologue was like this, “yep, I made the right decision, even if the outcome wasn’t what I thought it would be, so there isn’t anything I should change.”

Finally the breakthrough.  I realized I was not loving life, not for any moment, not any day, and I needed to change.   I was probably clinically depressed, but being who I am I felt I created the problem and I can fix it.  Once I had admitted to myself I had a problem, my mind kicked into overdrive on how I was going to correct it because I knew I could solve this problem.

Skipping over the details for a moment, suffice to say it all changed March 17, 2015.  Almost immediately on that date my life changed in wonderful, positive, and previously unimaginable ways.  I am truly loving life, every moment, every day.   And all without aide of anti-depressants!  My drug was Domestic Discipline (DD).

I am certain my specific path is not for you to take.  However, there are elements of my journey that I am convinced can help everyone.   My hope is that you will focus on the basic principles that are providing my love for life and don’t focus on my specific methods.

No two DD lifestyles are the same and some may say what I practice is an odd form of DD. You may not like my methods or ever do anything that remotely could be called DD.  But if you can suspend your judgement while reading my blog, perhaps, just maybe, you can come away with how you might apply some of the principles I use in a way that best suits you and your relationship.

So, how did my search to improve my life lead me to DD?
NEXT – 3. The Search.

5. Before Getting the Hubby Aboard

Before I could get Mike aboard, I had to first completely get my head around this. I was less than an hour in to being introduced to the concept of DD and while I was already convinced it held significant promise, I needed to get fully comfortable with the concept and exactly what I would be asking Mike to agree to.

I like lists, so I made myself a Pros and Cons list.   They went something like this:.

PROS:

  • Give structure to my chaotic life that was getting increasingly unsatisfying.
  • Codify what I expected of myself into a “contract” of behavior would be my way of honoring myself, honoring my husband, and honoring my family. It was not demeaning unless I allowed it, and I would not allow it.
  • Asking Mike to help me is his way of honoring me.
  • Require myself to share and discuss everything with my husband.  Mike would have to have a vested interest in the things that are important to me. No more silent resentments, no more unresolved arguments. It would require a level of communication that no other “system” I could think of would require.
  • Provide structure to resolving disputes that was quick and final. No lingering ill feelings.
  • Creating a process to resurface those disputes when everyone was calm and respectful – I can tell you that today this has been the biggest Pro of my DD!

CONS:

  • Structure meant I couldn’t just call the shots on a whim.
  • Those spankings still seemed demeaning to me.
  • I would have to share and discuss everything?  I was not used to that.
  • Sure disputes would be resolved quickly, but only because Mike would have ultimate final say.
  • Again, being submissive does not sit well with me. Punishment?  Getting spanked?  Are you kidding?

How did I reconcile these cons?

Ultimately, I had to focus on the desired outcome and work backwards. (A great tip to take any problems in life).  The outcome was to become the person I wanted to be.  That’s a tall order and would not be possible without some sacrifice. Plus, this didn’t have to be permanent.  If I didn’t like it, we would stop.  So, why not try it?

I still wasn’t sure I was ready.  I wasn’t.  But the thoughts were running in my mind and I was becoming more and more open to the possibilities.  But….how would I justify allowing my husband to punish me?  That seems to be the very definition of submissive?  How could I ever agree to be submissive?

NEXT – 6. Submission and Accountability

1. Domestic Discipline Convert

I want to share my experience that completely transformed my life in ways I could not have previously imagined. I had become lazy, forgetful, argumentative, and indecisive – in short, I was not living life according to my own personal commitments, wishes, and desires.  That all changed almost overnight.  I found a way of living that allows me to best honor all the commitments I make to myself.   

I know my path is unique and my methods are not for everyone – and may even shock you.  None-the-less, I am convinced that many of the concepts of my journey will help you, even if you find different methods to apply those concepts.  Please suspend all judgement and open yourself to the possibility that you can achieve a greater satisfaction in life and in love by applying some of the principles I will be sharing on subsequent blog posts.

Next: 2. The Backstory.