It is hard to explain why I would still feel fear in a safe and solid relationship. My sexual insecurities, irrational fears, and difficulty being vulnerable have caused more trouble than I can possibly ever explain. But, I’ll give it a go.

The beginning…

When I first met Mr. D, we had a rather (what I thought at the time) wild sex life. I met him through a local online dating service that no longer exists. We were the only people on the site under 40 without children, and so, while neither of us felt the other was “ideal,” we began emailing back and forth and then talking on the phone. It really didn’t take me long to realize that I was interested. His wit and charm and humor and intelligence pulled me in. By the time we actually met in person, I was fully prepared for the final test of chemistry to prove what I already knew: I wanted him.

We went out on our first date, and I was immediately drawn to his blue eyes and quiet demeanor. He listened to me ramble on for hours, and when we finally went our separate ways, he said goodbye with a hug. He was a smart man. He knew I wanted more, but he also knew he held the power. From the very beginning, he knew exactly what he was doing.

I drove away that night spinning. I couldn’t get him out of my head…I’d had a hit and I wanted another…and another.

I remember there being a few days before he called. And when we had our second date, I was already sure that I would do what I could to ensure we were naked by the end of the night. I’m not very good at seduction, so I invited him back to my place for wine and a movie. I believe we watched Henry and June, which was on purpose, because I hoped that the sexuality of it would rub off on us both and provide a natural segue into the bedroom. While I don’t remember the details, I do remember that we slept together that night, and that from that evening, I was completely addicted. He sent me roses at work the next day, which pretty much sealed the deal.

Within weeks, he’d bought me my first anal kit, and I faced the mixed emotions that came with adding new activities to my very limited sexual repertoire. I took nude photos of myself for him. I bought lingerie for him. We had sex in the car, felt each other up in dark alcoves downtown, bought sex toys, and just generally had a lot of fun getting to know each other.

We married within two years and found ourselves pretty much immediately expecting a child. I’ve written about the difficulties and complications that came with that birth and how it left us both facing fears that neither of us were prepared for. Would I ever enjoy sex again? Would I be able to make him happy? Would he ever have a fulfilling sex life with me? I felt broken…and feared that I would continue to be a disappointment to a husband who never signed up for a broken wife.

Leaving vanilla behind…

We struggled for years after our son was born, trying desperately to re-find our feet as a sexual married couple. I was exhausted and my libido seemed completely inactive. I worried it would never come back, and I lost myself in fear and doubt and insecurity. As a man with a very high sex drive, he didn’t know what to do. He wanted his wife back, the sexually willing, fun woman he’d married. And I was terrified I’d never be her again.

Eventually we explored the swing lifestyle to see if that would bring us out of our hole. He hoped it would boost my self-esteem, and we both hoped it would provide us the boost we needed. In the beginning, it did. There was excitement in perusing dating sites and emailing back and forth with other couples. It was something the drew us together, something that we could support each other in and share. But, after dozens of not-so-satisfying experiences (for me), the whole thing sort of caved in for us.

We continued to talk about it to figure out what was or wasn’t working for us. Swinging just didn’t work for him, because he wanted close connections and lasting relationships with people, which was exactly what I was most afraid of. I didn’t want him to fall in love with someone else, and I feared losing him. Which, looking back, I realize was silly. This was my first recognizable glimpse of Mr. D’s polyamorous desires. For me, swinging was casual sex…nothing I needed or wanted to be full-time or ongoing. But, with so many disappointing sexual encounters, I was over it. The amount of emotional and mental energy it took me to gear up for all of these activities, given my introverted personality, was just more than I wanted to continue to commit.

We had worked ourselves into an interesting conundrum. He wanted more from these non-monogamous relationships…and I wanted to be done with them. So where did we go from here?

We backed away from the swinging scene, but now that we’d had our feet in the water, it was impossible to go back to “normal.” The problem was figuring out what we were going to do now.

At this point, we began delving in to D/s, with varying degrees of failure and success. I tried very hard to be what I though a submissive was. I read books and tried to emulate what I learned. But, of course, because it wasn’t really me, and it wasn’t really based on my true desires, it didn’t last. I knew that something about what we were doing felt right, but I wasn’t sure how to discuss it or what to ask for.

But again, through our clumsy experimentation, we had awoken desires in each of us that would be impossible to put back in the box. While I wasn’t a natural submissive, I had submissive desires. I needed him to push me and pull me and bend me. We explored rope play, punishment, role play, figging, and sensory deprivation. We also determined that both of us were heteroflexible (me more than him), and both of us experimented with how that might fit into our lives, as well.

Eventually, we even tried to bring in a third. Mr. D found a young woman who was very submissive and who sought guidance and pain. At the time, he was working in a nearby town, which is where she lived, and therefore had daily access to her. I felt very insecure, and my fears drove a giant wedge into the whole thing. She was a lovely woman, and had nothing but the most genuine intentions, but I was not ready to make this sort of leap. I tried. I kept my fears to myself, hoping I’d “get used to it,” trying to make him happy. I looked at her and saw everything I wasn’t, and rather than viewing this as a good thing…even a natural thing for him to want…I saw it as him seeking out someone who was thinner and younger and a better submissive. To me, she was simply a living, breathing reminder of everything I wasn’t and would never be. It was ridiculous and irrational, of course. But then, comparing myself to others has always been a destructive activity I can’t seem to stop myself from doing.

The aftermath…

After this, I sort of shut down sexually. Neither one of us really knew what to do. He knew he wanted something I wasn’t willing to give, and I felt I was being expected to give something I shouldn’t have to. This was the beginning of our trouble, the source of our resentment and struggle. We would spend the next several years in and out of counseling, arguing, blaming, and stockpiling guilt and anger. One counselor even told us to just divorce and be done with it, that there was nothing we could do to come to any sort of agreement or consensus, our needs were too different.

But we stubbornly held on to one another, because we love each other and because we are best friends.

We were both exhausted. Tired of fighting and tired of being angry. I was tired of promising to be things I could never be, and he was tired of me breaking those promises. I was tired of being expected to rise to a height I was unable to go, and he was tired of feeling guilty for needing things I didn’t want to give or allow. We were basically tired of feeling guilty for being ourselves and wanting the things we did.

We had yelled and cried and fought our way into quiet. I feared losing him, I feared staying with him, I feared hurting him or pushing him into a life that blurred his edges, killing his passion and forcing him into a bland box that he didn’t want. I feared leaving and finding someone new who didn’t understand my need for submission.

I feared vanilla as much as he did. And I feared rejection because of it. My insecurities were a garden of color before me, and I was seeing all of it in blinding bloom for the first time.

When he moved out last November, I tried very hard to see what my life would be without him. As a single mom, would I ever even have time to date? Would I want to? Would I have the energy? Would I put if off until my son moved out? And then who would I be? What would my aging sexual needs be then?

I worried more than I should have, I’m sure. But, I’ll be honest…my brain finally quieted, and I finally accepted that life would go on, no matter what. My panic started to settle and I started to breathe my way into a routine. I wrote a lot during that time, so there is plenty for you to read if you go back in the October-December 2018 archives.

What now…

Now that we are through the storm, for better or worse, we now have the hopefully enjoyable task of rebuilding from a perspective of greater insight. We are committed to one another. And though I have never been very good at being vulnerable, I find myself feeling somewhat like I did in the beginning. There is that flutter of anticipation. I won’t say that it doesn’t terrify me to try new things, especially sexually speaking, but some time ago, I promised Mr. D that I would embrace vulnerability and allow him to lead. Letting go is scary (for me)…but it is also imperative…so much so that it is usually a daily mantra for me – breathe…trust…let go….

I do trust him. But I know I will make mistakes…we both will. That’s the nature of human relationships.

After everything we have been through, I finally feel confident saying it that simply, with no qualifiers. He is Dominant…a born leader. And he knows me inside and out.

Every part of what we have explored together, whether success or failure, is forever a part of us and our experience as a couple. None of it can be erased, nor would I want it to be. The hurts and confusions are not regrets. They are, instead, building blocks to something better. Something clearer.

We can never go back to who we were in the beginning. The layers we added to our experience will forever be pressed into the sand, evidence of a life lived: times of feast and famine, flood and drought. And we have brought with us knowledge.

However, much like new lovers, we are tentative to move forward. I think both of us still fear “screwing it up.” But we cannot remain stagnant. We will continue to move together, finding our new rhythm.

The photo I’m sharing for February PhotoFest today is one that fits the “Fear” theme really well. It shows my face, and one of my greatest fears is being “found out” online. I’ve really thought long and hard about sharing this photo. But, first of all, I really loved it. And second of all, the likelihood of me being found is not very high. A few local friends know about my site, but those friends are also people with “things to hide.” So I don’t think they’d sell me out. They have no reason. The only other person who knows about it is a counselor. I’m not likely to make face shots a regular habit here, but this one just felt like it needed to be shared.

3 Replies to “Pandora’s Box: A History of Experimentation, Fear, and Insecurity”

    1. Such an interesting post Bridget, and real roller coaster ride of experimentation and emotions! Thank you for sharing that insight into your life. Other people reading this with similar issues will find insipration I’m sure!

  1. Oh Brigit, thank you for sharing such an intimate and moving post. I’m so glad you are able look back with positivity and acceptance and are in a place where you can take all that on board together and move forward, building anew, I wish you both the very best. Your image is stunning too and I love the paint edit a lot xx

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