One of the things I am pondering mightily is the reality of submission as it is lived vs. the hot & horny fantasy of d/s. A time ago, I went to the Center for Sex & Culture to see Laura Antoniou talk about stuff. Not many people beside myself were there, because jaded-ass San Francisco is like that. It was great for me, though, because I got to have pretty much a one-on-one conversation with someone I respect. One of the things she said about submission being put to the test when it is difficult to obey really struck a nerve. I had been struggling for a bit with my own submission, what with being newly released after requesting the dissolution of a 2-year relationship, and feeling like perhaps I wasn’t actually cut out for this slavery thing.
She spoke of submission not really being much of an achievement when one is only doing the stuff they wanted to do and would have done anyway even without the imperative of consensual subjugation. Is it truly an act of submission if you take thirty lashes from a whip when you are an inveterate masochist who enjoys every blow? Or is the submission more profound when pain is not erotic for you , and yet you endure it for the love or joy or pleasure or whim of your dominant?
That struck a chord. Quite a bit of my first two years pursuing submission was…a stretch. It wasn’t me, but I strove to be The Perfect Egoless Slave so as to please the dominant under whom I’d sought training. That didn’t work out so well. I strove to submit despite it not feeling quite right. Ultimately, I did do the right thing and removed myself from that situation.
Fast forward to 2013 and two decades after my initial realisation that submission was, perhaps, an enticing doorway into my own inner depths and here I was embarking on a new journey with someone who was himself brand new to actualising this dream. I was cautiously optimistic about this being the right thing for me – for him – for us. There were some aspects of our desires to be discussed and hammered out, but on the whole, I was hopeful. Despite all that life had done to slam and shake my expectations, despite my own foolish compromises and questionable choices, I was ready to go for it, full on no reservation. I thought, Sure, OK, sometimes it’ll be difficult but can handle it! I can handle anything!
It is easy to give lip service to submission. It is more difficult to actually bend one’s will to another when you’re rebelling against those things you are ordered to do. It is extremely difficult when you are struggling with feeling like you absolutely know what is best, and yet you are obligated to walk the path differently because of the will or whim of the person you serve. Trust needs to be built and maintained and, when damaged, given room to grow.
I thought the hardest part of this relationship would be my learning to trust him.
That has paled in comparison to the challenge presented by my learning to wait for him to trust me.
I have found myself having to choke-chain my own demon in order to protect my owner from the rage and teeth and fangs she’d undoubtedly use to deleterious effect if let her run rampant. I have a bad temper of my own, but that needs must be checked lest it further fuel his, and tip the balance away from the path of healing upon which he is so newly embarked. It can feel deeply frustrating to feel as though I have to be the one in control while he struggles to learn to trust me. And, most troublingly, it is difficult to maintain my own boundaries, to remain in integrity with The Prime Directive while I am, myself, questioning whether or not my obedience is Righteous And Right or Dangerous And Damaging. It can be tough to look within yourself, teetering on the edge of a maelstrom’s moiling murky maw, and wondering if you are embodying a good slave or a whipped jade.
Even as he is learning to trust me, I am re-learning to trust myself. To trust that I AM and I WILL make the best decisions for my own emotional safety. That I am resilient enough to weather the stormier seas he sometimes sails, and to be able to navigate these difficulties with grace. It is not easy. It is, in fact, some of the most difficult work I have done. And yet I see how I have grown, how he grows, how much and how deeply he cares for me and it gives me strength to pick up and walk on for another day. Even when the demands made of me seem to be beyond my desires and my capacity, somehow I have made it through. We have made it through. Of this I am proud. Of myself. Of him. Of us.
I have heard many folks assert that slaves are to be seen and not heard, that there is no room for pride, that it is all about the master. In our case, our spiritual growth is aligned for us to challenge one another in ways that a traditional relationship might not permit.
Do I enjoy all to which I must submit?
In fact, fuck no.
Do I willingly follow this path as it leads me to an increased understanding of selflessness, compassion, respect and unconditional love?
In fact, Fuck yes.