Tag Archives: stress

281. Why Domestic Discipline? A Reflection

281

In a bit of reflective mood.  I’ve exchanged a few emails from a woman who is at a stage I can relate to.  Basically, she is ready to embark on what I experienced all the way back in Post 8.  NOW I am ready to get hubby aboard  Emailing her got me thinking back to what led me to embrace Domestic Discipline.

In a few weeks it will be three-and-a-half years since me and Mike created our first Domestic Discipline contract.  Four contract iterations later, and I am at a place I would have never envisioned.

I started to reflect on what led me to find DD.  And thus, this post was born!

PRE-DD SELF SABOTAGE
I’ve always been busy, even before Domestic Discipline.  But pre-DD, busy came with a lot of  self-sabotage.  I believe a lot of you can relate.

You keep ploughing away at life without ever stepping back and prioritizing.   And when you are busy, you are stressed.  Stress narrows our focus to where we just keep going, like a hamster on a wheel.   (ah, that evokes memories of Post 30 regarding “intentions” and how they once overwhelmed me).   We go through the motions, never stepping back and considering what’s most important to work on next.  It led me to spend a lot of time on things that weren’t important to begin with, or, weren’t the most important for that moment.  The result is I had a mountain of other things still left to do.

DD gave me a focus.  With Mike’s help, I forced myself to separate tasks that are urgent from those that are important but not urgent, and from those that were not important at all.  Basically, better schedule and prioritize all the household/mom/spouse duties one has and do so with Mike’s involvement.  And for a problem solver like me, who made everyone’s problems my problems, it helped to have Mike remind me to “pay my family first.”   I needed to prioritize my family needs ahead of responding to other people’s needs.  That sounds like a “Duh!” moment, but that’s the thing about self-sabotage.  You don’t even realize you are doing it. 

PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
When we’re stressed, we often don’t spend the time to think through how to do something.  We have a tunnel vision and again, just dive in and slog through it, as if activity somehow translates to results.  And when you are a perfectionist like I was, you’re doubly overloaded and the result is way over complicating solutions to any problem.  Simple example – I didn’t always keep enough food in the house.  The result, lots of wasted time and added stress of having to make runs to the store to quickly pick up one or two things, or just surrendering and ordering take out (expensive, not as healthy). 

When you are caught up in the moment, any alternative sounds daunting.  Had you told me Pre-DD I should plan better, I would envision hours of meal planning on top of hours of shopping and cooking and cleaning – forget that!   But that thinking overlooks an easy solution.  It often isn’t a choice between two extremes.  Some simple planning and it is easy to prepare more home meals and minimize the runs to the store or the take-out.  Pre-DD I wouldn’t take the time to consider a solution.  Heck, I didn’t even recognize it was a problem.

Another example of this was taking the time to research how to optimize household chores.  Yeah, stuff our parents and grandparents were probably taught in home-ec courses.  What?  Yeah, just google it and you can find all sorts of tips on making household chores easier.  I credit Mike with this one as he had the idea to have a rule that I had to research various chores – Who knew folding a fitted sheet was easy? 

KICKING THE CAN
Pre-DD, once my mental energy was tapped out (which was almost always), I lacked the energy to engage Mike with something I needed.  It takes some emotional and cognitive oomph to engage your spouse.  That is only made more difficult when you have the mindset that they won’t do a task to your liking anyway, so why ask.   So, instead of asking for help, I just added it to the list that I never got to.   I would keep kicking the can down the road, not realizing that the end of the road was already overflowing with cans.  It was then about managing the cans, versus actually accomplishing anything.  Again, activity without results.  DD allowed me to cash those cans in for recycling into positive energy.  

Sometimes solutions are easy.   Keep forgetting to charge my phone?  Buy an extra cord that is just kept in the car.  Keep forgetting various things?  Make lists!!   Make preparing for a task a task in and of itself.  When you are better prepared, the tasks become easier!

RUNNING AWAY
When I was overloaded I always had an impulse to try to just escape.  Escaping could simply mean doing something poorly, like cramming stuff into the closet, quickly closing the door before the stuff all collapsed on the floor, and calling the room clean!   Escape could also mean avoidance.  Just kick that can again.  And of course, watching tv or mindlessly scrolling social media were always great escapes.  And how can I forget my favorite – shopping!  Especially for things I didn’t need. 

I’ve mentioned this before.  I would see a beach towel and my mind would escape to the beach.  I could feel the popping of the towel as I spread it on the warm sand, the waves gently lapping on the shore, warm sun on my body.  Of course, I could only fulfill this escape by buying the towel, because clearly I couldn’t go to the beach in that moment.   Add one more beach towel to that overflowing linen closet!

LESS IS MORE
In simplest terms, Pre-DD my life could be summed up as the
undisciplined pursuit of more.  It is now the disciplined pursuit of what is important.  

I needed a way to not only organize my life, but to deal constructively with ways to escape – we all need anxiety relief valves!   And we can be helped by being able to better notice when we are doing something just to avoid doing something else.  It’s about remembering that activity doesn’t mean results.   Activity without results is stressful.  Activity with results is rewarding. 

RISE ABOVE
So yeah, pre-DD I had all these issues, and I know I am not alone.  These issues aren’t personal flaws in my character or yours.  They are not deficits to be loathed or ridiculed.  These are all patterns we can all fall into, some of us deeper than others.  The most highly conscientious and self-disciplined of us aren’t immune to these struggles.

HOWEVER, it all reached a tipping point for me.  They went on for too long and were too deeply entrenched in my every day behavior and thinking.  It had spiraled into one unhealthy, stress filled, and unproductive day after another after another after another.  I could not rise above it without something drastic and without my husbands help.

So I made fixing it a priority, which led me to a search on ideas to fix it.  I stumbled upon DD, and, here we are!  It literally fixed everything.   I am a different person. 

There are the outward things of being highly organized and highly effective at everything household related.  And my results come with what feels like the least amount of effort required to achieve these things.  I replaced activity with results.

And there are the inward things.  Stress-free, anxiety free.  Well, sure, there are days where something can cause concern.  But instead of meeting those days with a paralyzing anxiety filled dreadful feeling, I meet them as simple challenges to be conquered.

Whether the inward things or the outward things, my current life is one of fulfillment and purpose that I never imagined possible.   It’s freed me to be the loving person I want to be, for all the right people who are deserving of my love . . . and even some of those that aren’t as deserving, because, I now have a spare tank of energy that I never had before.  And it has created this circle of positive energy that feeds on itself. 

ALTERNATIVES TO DOMESTIC DISCIPLINE?
I’ll concede that the idea of DD is a bit silly (
Post 236 as one example).  There are many other ways that allow some people to have what I now have without subjugating themselves to their spouses.  Fine, but where does that come from when you are emotionally and physically exhausted?  And if I am being honest, I know I lacked the tools and the mindset that would have allowed more traditional ways to be successful.  I touched on this back on Post 220.  I am Healing: Truth about Discipline.   

As great as other ways may be, they are not “my way.”   I know myself enough to know that nothing else would have brought me to where I am today as quickly and as fulfilling as DD.  It has bound me closer to Mike, to my family, to friends, and to Kayla, like nothing else could have.  I love where I am today. 

That’s what my Domestic Discipline has meant to me.  That’s what my submission means to me.  {mic drop}

Next: 282. Sex no Matt(er) what?

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.