A BDSM relationship isn’t all whips, cuffs and sexy time. At the core for many is their power dynamic, and their love for and commitment to one another. For some who wrestle with mental health issues, the loving dynamic they have with their trusted partner can help. That’s what this short story is all about.
Jess paced the length of their living room, muttering to herself, hands clenching and releasing in a subconscious attempt to rid herself of excess energy. In brief moments of clarity, she reminded herself to breath. One deep breath, two at most was the usual outcome. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t.
Her garnet red hair, having wiggled out of its braid, clung to her face no matter how many times she brushed it away. The familiar dark cloud of panic was closing around her and she could only hope he came home in time. Jess tried everything she knew to keep it at bay, all the old tricks she’d learned over the years.
They helped, but not nearly enough. Not all the time.
As the last of her logic fell victim to her invisible tormentors, she reached for the thin, silver band around her neck. The feel of it in her hand, tugging against the back of her neck, helped her hold on just long enough.
No more than one foot through the door, he called out to her, his voice penetrating only the outer edges of the chaos in her mind.
“I’m here, Jess. It’s me.” He reassured her, watching her every move.
Gauging the situation quickly, Michael was at her side in a flash, arms length away, waiting for the right moment. The scent of him wafted over her with each pass. Certain smells could near stop an attack dead in its tracks, and his was one of them. Each time Jess passed him, she breathed a little deeper, not even realizing it, until the pacing slowed enough for him to reach out and catch her gently by the shoulder.
She turned towards him, her face pale, streaked with crimson from where she’d swiped at her hair over and over, growing more frustrated each time it fell in to her face. Keeping the one hand planted on her shoulder, Michael reached up and brushed the remaining stray hairs away from her face.
The fears still fought valiantly for control of her mind and body.
This time they were losing.
His hand in her hair, his voice in her ear, the word that could cut through the darkness of panic with infinite ease.
Jess struggled to make her body obey. Michael’s grip on the base of her braid remained, only tight enough for her to feel it. He always did that, in case she struggled, in case the touch was too much right that moment. It never was, though she always appreciated the gesture when it was all over.
Her limbs were leaden, when they weren’t twitching. In fact, that was the only movement they were capable of without significant effort. She wanted to obey, but her mind would barely respond, her body even less so. She felt his hand squeeze tighter in her hair, the sensation of it embracing her entire being.
“Kneel, pet.” His voice was calm, warm.
He tugged gently downward and her body finally responded. His free arm under one of hers for support, Jess sank to the ground, kneeling haphazardly. The grace of her descent or pose played no part in this dance. The only important thing was calming her mind. Jess hated days like this, the days when her own brain rebelled against her.
The days when she couldn’t keep it together.
On these days, he was her glue.
“Good girl. That’s my good girl.”
Jess rested her head on his thigh, the worn denim of his jeans soft against her cheek as he stroked her head. His murmured praise dispersed the haze surrounding her mind like the sun hitting early morning fog. With her arms wrapped around his leg, Jess closed her eyes and breathed deep.
When her heart rate returned to normal and the last of the shaking subsided, she opened her eyes and turned her face to look up at him.
“There you are, pet. Feeling calmer?” He gave her a gentle smile.
“Yes, Sir. Thank You.”
Michael took her hands, helping her to stand and pulling her close, her head resting over his heart. The steady beat calmed her, made her feel safe, as did his firm hand on the back of her neck. He never let go until she was ready, until he felt her start to pull away, and today was no exception.
Jess held on as long as she needed, sheltering in his arms until her legs were steady enough to step back. He kissed the top of her head, the tip of her nose and her lips twitched with the start of a smile. With a gentle tug, Michael pulled her towards the couch. Sitting and looking up at her, he said,
“Do you need lap or floor, pet?”
Jess thought for a moment, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
“I…I dunno.” She mumbled.
Making even the smallest decision could be near impossible after an attack, which made her hate them even more. She stared at the floor, fidgety and embarrassed. Michael tugged her down into his lap, his arms encircling her as she curled into him.
“It’s alright, pet. I’m here. You don’t have to tell me what happened until you’re ready, OK?”
He always said that, and she loved him more for it every time. Eventually, she’d be ready and he would coax the words from her when she couldn’t make herself speak. He would listen without judging. If she needed to be held, his arms were waiting. If she needed to pace, he would stay just out of her path, close enough to hear and to step in if the panic began to overwhelm her again.
When it was all over, she would be in the place she loved more than any other – at his feet, his hand stroking her head as it lay on his thigh.
Nowhere else calmed her mind quite like that, nor made her feel as loved and accepted. Before Michael, before discovering others shared the thoughts and desires she’d called a plague and a burden, Jess never felt like she belonged. No one ever accepted her for who she truly was, and in time, she began to hide these parts. Like so many others, she tried to get rid of the thoughts, the needs, the desires. Hatred for herself grew and festered, but it was worth it.
Worth it not to be taunted.
Worth it not to be ridiculed.
To not be seen as weak.
Meeting him hadn’t fixed everything in an instant; nothing could. Some days, like this one, were extremely difficult – but he didn’t waver. Not when she needed him. Simply being able to be her full, true self with Michael held an extraordinary healing power for her. The more he coaxed out of her, the more he accepted and often embraced her needs, wants and desires, the more comfortable she became. With him, and most importantly, with herself.
“I’m right here. You’re safe. You’re my girl, and I love you. You don’t need to say anything, you don’t have to do anything. Just rest, and know that I’ve got you.” He murmured it as a mantra, just loud enough for her to hear.
Jess slid her arms around his waist as best she could from her position, filled with a deep need to be close. One strong hand cradled her head, the other made small, soothing circles on her back. She closed her eyes again, taking a deep breath and noticing the trembling was gone. That was the last thing remembered when she woke with her head in his lap an hour later.
“Welcome back, pet. Feel better?” He asked, smiling down at her.
Jess rubbed her eyes with her fists, yawning, then stretching, arching over his legs.
“Yes, Sir, much.”
“I’m glad. I want you to go take a bath, or a shower. You can choose, if you want, but it has to be one or the other. Then get something comfy on. I’m gonna order pizza and bread sticks. Sound good?”
“Mm, yes, Sir. One clean pet coming right up.” Jess stayed right were she was.
Michael chuckled, lightly tickling her ribs until she squealed and sat up to get away from him. He grinned, lunging at her playfully and tickling her again. She hated being tickled, yet the laughter his fingers caused was like the warmth of the sun after days of rain. She scooted away, he followed, until she jumped off the couch, sticking her tongue out at him.
Michael gave her a wicked grin, threatening to pounce once more. Jess scampered off to the bathroom before his wiggling fingers could reach her again, still laughing.
Pausing at the door, she turned and blew him a kiss before disappearing to follow his orders, feeling the love behind them in every fiber of her being.
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