Retreat is a word with negative associations. It’s often seen as giving up.  You see an army retreating in a film and you know their time is nearly up, right? The other side has won.

But retreat can be a good thing. One of the dictionary definitions is ‘The act of moving back or withdrawing’ and sometimes that isn’t a sign of defeat.

I have a different approach to the word retreat, growing up in Christian circles, I often went on retreat. And a retreat is a place you go to spiritually refresh and renew. It’s a time to relax, to slow down and to reconnect to God and yourself. I went to many retreats in my teenage years and early twenties. From serene to the busy and exhausting (fellow Dehonians will know what I mean!). All would renew me. Give me the energy to face day to day life again.

I still have a physical place I go to retreat. Once a year me and the boys get together with my mum, sister, brother in law and furry nephew and go on holiday to Scarborough. I’ve been going there since I was a kid and it’s a place of fun, joy and laughter. And strong winds that blow the cobwebs of complicated life away.

I have other retreats too for when hen the world gets too much. I am struggling a lot with anxiety these days. I’ve always been an anxious bean but with the introduction of a medication with anxiety as a side effect, it’s gone into overdrive.  I battle it every single day. It is exhausting.

Sometimes the battle gets too much. When it does I have my Kev to fall back on. Literally most times. He is the one who will hold me and hug me and tell me it’ll be okay. He’s the one who’ll listen as I tell him what’s going on in the word spaghetti of my head and help me work out what I’m feeling and what I want to actually say or actually need to do.

He knows what makes me feel better. He provides me food when I haven’t the energy to get it myself or I’ve forgotten because I’m too busy. He suggests I make a list, as lists are my comfort blanket or asks if there’s anything he can do for me. He’ll also remind me that sometimes it’s okay to say no. To not do something because I only have so much energy and time and I can’t always do it all, as much as I want to.

My Kev brings me instant respite. He patches me up and sends me back out to the fight feeling 100% better.

I am blessed to have another retreat. H lives in another city. So I have to take myself over the Pennines to see them. That journey is retreat in itself. I often start it buzzing with worries but as I pass through the sheer, breath taking beauty of nature and I get closer to Leeds, to my Kitty, I feel the worries drop away. Worry is replaced with joy and anticipation.

H is my retreat from the overthinks. A large part of that is kink. They are very much the D to my s (though I’m not the most submissive submissive,) and when I’m with them I hand over control.

Okay, so sometimes they have to pry it away from my hooked, clawed fingers because I find it hard to let go. But H makes me let go. Yes, often that involves violence and sometimes involves tears but it is loving and constructive and they break me down so that I can be free.

All the pain they inflict is cleansing pain. As I revel in it, as I wrap myself in it’s comforting blanket, I know I am safe, that I am in good hands and that I can let go. I can totally let go.

H is my calm in the storm. When anxiety and worry rages through me, they will hold me until it passes. They’ll tell me “I got you.” And just let me sob, cry and talk through my worries. Whether in person or via messages.  They remind me that it’s okay not to be strong, that it’s okay to let someone else look after me. That I don’t always have to be the one caring. I can be cared for too.

They take my broken pieces and beat, humiliate, torture, hug and love them back together then send me back out to the battle renewed.

Retreat is not a bad thing at all. Retreat is all that keeps me going through the battles of ever day life.

I am thankful for retreat.  For my retreats. I love them very, very much.