Tuesday, December 27, 2022

On Self-Realization, Acceptance, and Coping: A Year in Review

Mounting Challenges

2022 was an extraordinarily hard year for me, maybe the worst I’ve been through in almost 15 years. It started with 3 months of major (often problematic) home renovations that saw a parade of strangers stomp all over my privacy and my solitude. I work from home, so managing the noise, the chaos, and the interruptions was an incremental load of daily stress I did not manage well. Why I handled it so poorly isn't something I understood until much later, but we'll get to that.

Compounding that was my seasonal depression, provoked by the prolonged darkness, miserable cold, and mounting snow. The season always takes its toll on me, emotionally and physically, but the whole pandemic isolation experience certainly didn't help, leaving me weary, with the sense of being trapped, and feeling so hopeless. 

After that, it was the death of my father-in-law, which saw us spend a month far away from home, wrenching me from the comfort of my routine, forcing me to engage with family gatherings, and seeing me swap places with my grieving Goddess, putting me in the strong, supportive role where she’s usually the one to hold it all together. It also involved long drives, including a 650 km stretch in the dark, in some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen, none of which I’m comfortable with.

Halfway through the year, though, it all culminated in my Goddess’s surgery, which saw us spend another month even farther away from home, where I not only had to struggle with the lack of familiar surroundings, the absence of my routine, and the challenge of working from a tiny hotel room while she recovered, but the paralyzing fear that the woman I loved with all my heart was never going to get better. I’m a service submissive, so caring for her needs was hardly a challenge, but seeing her suffer, seeing my vibrant Goddess bedridden and in pain, was extraordinarily difficult.

Hitting Rock Bottom

My depression was at an all-time low, and my anxiety was at an all-time high. I felt so alone, so hopeless, and so unable to cope. I felt abandoned and ignored by friends, unsure whether they weren’t hearing my cries for help, didn’t know what to say, or simply didn’t care, and the one person from whom I could always take strength – my Goddess – had none to spare. I was in a situation where none of my usual coping mechanisms were available to me. I couldn’t even go for a long walk (there were no sidewalks), much less a hike (there was nowhere to hike), and there wasn’t a BDSM session to be found for a hundred miles (yes, I checked). 

Oh, and let’s not forget the driving – as the only able-bodied person in the family, I had no choice but to once again do the one thing that always feeds my anxiety, and that’s driving long distances (close to 2500 km), in heavy traffic, in unfamiliar territory, with Goddess painfully cursing every bump and vibration.

I broke down. I retreated from everything and everyone, both online and at home. I stopped reviewing books, stopped blogging, and deleted half my social media presence. I turned inward, which is usually a bad thing to do, but instead of succumbing to the dark thoughts, I chose to work on myself. Instead of wondering what’s wrong with me, I chose to find answers as to why I am so different from those around me. I thought a lot, researched and read even more, and even talked about my feelings (which I don’t do well) with both peers and professionals.

Self-Realization and Self-Acceptance

What I discovered is three things – one, I am nonbinary; two, I am neurodivergent; and three, the two have a surprisingly high level of correlation. 

Even though I'd tried the term on before, pairing it with trans, coming to understand and accept myself as nonbinary was a powerful sort of freedom. It meant I could finally be comfortable being me — all of me, not masculine or feminine, but everything in between — without feeling the need to choose some end of an arbitrary spectrum. Without the pressure to transition or become something else, I'm free to exist as who I am, embracing what I am in each moment.

As for being neurodivergent, I'd suspected it for a while now, but arriving at a proper diagnosis, coming to fully understand why I am the way I am, was a HUGE relief. All of my sensitivities (sound, smell, taste, texture) were suddenly placed into context, and all of my emotional challenges (stress, anxiety, social awkwardness, etc.) suddenly had a framework for managing them.

I’m not broken. I’m not just difficult or fussy. I’m perfectly fine, albeit a bit different from most.

Once I understood that, I was able to shift my focus from fixing myself to finding new mechanisms for coping with how I am, the most important of which is weekly yoga sessions. Another correlation there that surprised me was the overlap between yoga and BDSM — the emphasis on form and posture, the fluidity of movement, the control over your breathing, and the surrendering to someone else’s instruction. While a meditative state isn’t quite the same as the bliss of subspace, it is something I can easily attain every Monday night that serves as an emotional reset for the week ahead. Additionally, it’s a small group that accepts me as nonbinary, never once raising an eyebrow, no matter how I’m presenting that evening.

Friendships and Relationships

I do wonder about friendships lost, and whether I was unfair in expecting more, or perhaps just treasured them differently because being neurodivergent makes personal connections so rare for me, but that’s still a work in progress. I’d be delighted were any of those friendships be rekindled, but I’m also accepting of the fact that maybe they just reached a natural end beyond my personal expectations. Social gatherings will always be a challenge, but my Goddess and I know how to measure my anxiety now, and how to find escape routes that allow me a few moments to breathe. I did get out to a local trans meeting last month, which I’m proud of myself for doing, and I’m looking forward to attending the local BDSM/fetish munch next month.

As for Goddess, she did heal and is looking better than ever, ready for the next stage on her journey, which involves returning to school in the new year. Where that would have once filled me with anxiety (another break in routine, with additional expenses), I’m excited for her, focused on how I can support her, and looking ahead to what that means for our future. I still feel a healthy amount of jealousy over her poly relationships, but I’m also emotionally aware enough to know that a big part of that is envy. Friendships are hard for me, and relationships are even harder, but I’m working on opening up to people. If I had one wish for the new year, one goal for personal development and growth, it’d be to develop a regular, ongoing dynamic with another Dom/me in the area, one that complements what Goddess and I enjoy.

The Path Forward

Coming out of all that with a fresh understanding and a new outlook on life, I’ve been able to be social again, engage with (small groups of) people, open myself to new experiences, and even find joy in things that once only filled me with dread. I’m reading again, reviewing again (at my own pace), and enjoying that aspect of my life again. I’ve thrown myself into editing (a passion that never really left me), weighing in on nearly a million words this year, and I’m excited about the projects and authors I already have lined up for the new year.

To top it all off, we came out to our families this holiday season. We talked about my being nonbinary and neurodivergent, and we discussed being polyamorous in an open marriage. No, we didn’t get into the finer details of bondage and kink, but we laid everything else on the table, and  (as Goddess likes to say) we are proudly loving out loud.

And that, I am pleased to say, puts me in a place where I can end the year better than I began it.


  1. From out of the darkness there comes light and I’m so happy to see you step into it with realisation and acceptance of who you are Sally, so proud of you !!

    1. Thank you, SK, for always being there to cheer me on and for holding the door open into that light. :)

  2. So sorry that your 2022 was so tough. Reading about it makes me think I should try to reach out to Mrs. K and see if she's respond. I know what it's like to lose a spouse. Not sure if she's still checking Kaaren's emails though.

    It's funny you mention neuro-divergent, because of my being in this "scene" for so long, I can tell you that I'm betting at least half of all the people I've befriended live there somewhere on the spectrum.

    So glad that your goddess is on the mend, and has goals set for her future, which should line up with your progress too. It's amazeballs that you were able to "out" yourselves enough to the family and be comfortable with your decision. I'm hoping that it all went well.

    Lastly, I'm glad that you are still around. I'll check out your posts, even if I'm not interested in reading the book you've reviewed. Please give my regards to your goddess, and my wishes for a wonderful 2023 ahead for you and those you love!

    1. OMG, it's so good to hear from you, Dee. Seeing your name in the comments made my night!

      When I retreated and started deleting social media, I lost touch with a lot of blogs. Part of getting back out there and reconnecting with people definitely includes you. I miss our regular chats, I miss your captions, and I'm still gutted by the loss of Kaaren - I still have trouble believing she's gone.

  3. I know it's a trivial phrase but "If it weren't for the darkness, we wouldn't appreciate the light." I hope 2023 fills your sails with pleasant breezes and takes you where you want to go.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Ms Sally so sorry to read of all your trials and tribulations. I am in Iowa and if there is anything I can do to help please feel free to reach out,,,,, And if you ever need somewhere to stop over while en route......