For all my seemingly confident advice on what I think submissives can or should do to help their relationships, I hope you all know that every bit of what I believe most firmly in is based on my own experience - not just my observations. And for all my "knowledge," I get sucked into the whirl of negative thinking, forgetfulness, and cloudy thinking, too. What I've discovered is that when I stay mindful of the things that make the relationship I have with John Brownstone work, then we're better able to deal with the big and small things as they happen. So this really happened...
I don't ask for help very often.
I'm the type of person who decides what I need to do, plans out the most efficient way to get it done (at least in my mind) and then does it. I take great pride in accomplishing big to-do lists or a number of tasks that might make someone else give up and walk away. There are days I get stuff done through pure willpower alone. (Don't be fooled - there are days when I melt into our big, cozy recliner and don't move for hours, too.)
I also take my "jobs" seriously. They're mine - because I'm good at them, because I prefer to do them, because my Dominant assigned them as tasks, or (and this is so true) he asked me to do them because he hates them (cleaning bathrooms comes to mind, lol). I'm on unfamiliar ground in this new life we're building. I earn a quarter of what Daddy earns (I used to earn more than him), and I've morphed into some sassy Domestic Goddess.
My life consists of writing, parenting, and taking care of our home. That's my "job." And, even though I never thought it possible, I love it. Washing dishes is (most of the time) soothing. Cooking dinner and watching all three of my boys finish every bite is a source of pride. Keeping the house clean helps keep me sane.
Daddy can tell when I get overwhelmed or stressed. He used to jump in and help, and I may or may not have (unintentionally and purely by accident) bitten his head off and asked him (kind of) politely to get out of my kitchen. Now he asks, "What can I do to help?" It took me several weeks, but I finally started asking for help. Rarely. But when I ask, he's always right there, ready to do whatever I need. When I was sick, he didn't ask, he just did what he knows I normally do. I'm not used to that kind of help, but I love it - and him.
Life got in the way.
Fridays are my longest and craziest days. I clean. I wash laundry. I run all the errands. I try to fit in appointments. I don't even write on Fridays - there's too much domestic crap to do. Last Friday, I was still recovering from the crazy crud we came down with. My energy was low. I was drained. But the list was long - even though Daddy stayed home and helped me. On my way home from the laundromat (where the AC was turned off and I sweated into a blue plastic chair for two hours), I dreamed of magic fairies putting away the laundry while I took a cool shower.
I sent a quick text.
"Daddy, I have a favor."
"Could you and the boys please put away the laundry for me so I can take a shower when I get home?"
"I would be happy to, Babygirl."
Here's what I've learned about asking for help (and it was a reason I never asked for help many years ago): the person who agrees to help you will never do the task on your schedule and in the way you would do it. Back in the day, this would be a source of annoyance and I'd end up doing it myself. I've mellowed since meeting Daddy. I have faith that all will be well. And I've learned that my way isn't always the only way to do something (but I do prefer my way, lol).
I walked in the door - without having to touch the laundry, which was heaven, in case you wondered - and chaos reigned supreme. Both boys were home. There were questions about dinner, questions about friends and playtime, questions about the weekend. I could barely hear myself think. I let Daddy know I was taking my shower and ignoring the rest.
I came downstairs, and the laundry was still by the door. That night, we went to bed late, and the laundry was still by the door. The next morning, Daddy had to be somewhere early (and was running late), and he brought the laundry upstairs. I knew he had no time to put it away, but I asked anyway before he left.
"Well, I put some of it away."
When I went upstairs, I laughed and rolled my eyes. He'd put half of his laundry away and the rest was either in the basket or on the bed. For a moment, I considered leaving it until he came home, but I couldn't stand the clutter, and I knew our afternoon was going to be busy, too. It was going to get worse before it got better.
It felt petty, but it was still real.
I put away the laundry and a little niggling voice crept into my mind. He always helps when I ask. Why not this time? Ugh, I'm annoyed. I shouldn't be annoyed. We've been busy since yesterday. I might not have put it away either if it was me. Yeah right, I totally would have. Damn it, should I say something? What the hell would I say that wouldn't sound petty?
And that was the crux of it - how could I let him know how I feel without sounding petty? How many times in life have we (you, me, the rest of the world) refused to mention an annoyance because we thought we were being petty or that it was too small to matter? Lots of times. And how many times has it stayed with us, become a bone to gnaw on, and a sore spot of contention?
Most of my previous marriage was a million petty annoyances that were never voiced and dealt with that morphed into bigger hurts and grievances. I will not let that happen with my relationship with Daddy. When I'm upset, I will let him know - even if it seems small and petty.
If I wondered whether I should say something, the fact that the laundry stayed on my mind all morning was a clue. No matter how much I rationalized and understood intellectually what happened, I couldn't stop thinking about it. He always does what he says he'll do - except this time.
It's not always what you say, but how you say it.
When he came home, I'd already started our afternoon plans. (Every couple of weeks, we make big batches of food and take it to his sister's house so she doesn't have to worry about meals for several days.) I'd finished my part and prepped the kitchen so he could do his part. We made small talk about his morning. He was happy and relaxed (although still exhausted - some days, I feel like we run marathons.)
I knew I had to say something before it slipped too far past, but I wasn't sure the best way. I knew sarcasm and sass wouldn't work here.
"I put away the laundry." Simple, matter of fact, zero judgment.
He sighed, a small frown on his face - guilt all over his face - and pulled me close for a hug.
"I had to laugh when I saw what you'd put away. Only some of your own clothes." Again, I kept it light. I even smiled.
"Well, in my defense, I don't know where any of your things go. You would have needed to be there with me, Babygirl."
I gave him a small look - the eyebrow might have arched up a little. "Maybe so, Daddy, but I still had to put it away."
He hugged me tighter.
"Two words, Daddy. That's all I need."
"I'm sorry, Babygirl." I pulled back to look into his eyes.
"Thank you, Daddy."
In that moment, I didn't need much, just acknowledgement that he was sorry and that he understood I was less than happy about it. It was over for me.
Not every small annoyance can be cleared up that easily, but maybe some of them. If you never say something because it seems "small and petty," how will you ever know? Holding onto the small things only allows them to become bigger over time. The key, I believe, is to be as easy-going about it as possible and to remove the assumption that whatever was (or wasn't) done was intentional. Yeah, sometimes it was - which means you've got a bigger problem on your hands. But sometimes, life just gets in the way and people make mistakes.
Any good relationship must be built on communication and trust. That means that you have to say something - even when you think it's small and petty or that you "shouldn't" be annoyed.
P.S. When I write about the parts of our lives that could possibly paint my Daddy in a negative light, I always ask him to read it first. I won't post a thing that is too one-sided or if he thinks I'm being unfair about a situation. When he read this, he felt bad all over again. It's just laundry. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I'm in no way bothered by it now - but days later, and he still felt bad. He's a damn good man - who may never forget to put away laundry again. 😉