My first forays into BDSM were heavily influenced by service, and the concept that doing for others could be eroticised. Much of that was extrapolation from an initial encounter I’d had in the early 90s with a man which lead to my discovering that my feelings of submission in the sexual realm somehow spawned the desire to serve in ways that had nothing to do with sex.
Or so I assumed at the time.
In the intervening years, I realised that not only could service be erotic, it could keep pace with explicit sexual acts when it came to erotic satisfaction. The sensations I experienced in the face of learning to properly serve formal high tea, for example, felt a great deal to me like arousal. However, I always felt less-than-perfect in these endeavours because my initial trainings were couched in the assumption that being chosen to provide service was an honor, a place to serve was a privilege, one for which you should be grateful, and love was never to be expected.
Seared into my memory and at the root of my initial break from the desire to be a slave in a consensual D/S relationship was the moment I was told that I had failed in my service at an important event because someone had noticed my service, and complimented me. We were to be invisible in service and the fact that I had served in a way that drew attention was indicative of my lack of humility…that I was showing off, selfish, and not in line with the style of service in the House. To say I was devastated would be an understatement…my identity as a submissive and consensual slave hinged on my capacity to obey perfectly and to perfectly suit the needs of my potential owner.
After that relationship was over, I began to uncover pockets of resentment that had built up as a result of what I came to eventually see as a broad-spectrum devaluation of submissives and service. I bristled at the idea that I had to earn a place to work and serve and THEN could be told I had failed because of who I was. This new soul I was working to embrace was vulnerable, and had been badly damaged. I thank Ganesha for removing that obstacle to self-acceptance by way of my osmotic mentors…women like Viola Johnson and Teramis, who spoke to my heart, reassured me that I was not broken and worthless and that the Master, the Owner, the Dominant who would know how best and most properly to use and own and appreciate and even – dare I hope – love me – did exist and would know my magnificence when they saw me.
Fast forward to maybe 18 years later and I stand in the kitchen of a luxuriously appointed apartment in Austria, being rented by my Master and Husband while we are traveling and I realise I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and privilege to be able to serve him and his guest. It DOES feel an honor to do so. I felt humbled and awed by my life as his slave.
“Why,” I muse, “does this feel so different? No resentment, no anxiety producing pressure…just satisfaction at being able to create a space where he is comfortable and loved?”
It then struck me, as gently as a smile and as electric as a lightning bolt: it is an honor because I have realised it is. Not because I was told to be grateful…because I was allowed to be. Not because I had to earn this place, but because I was invited to step into my power. Not because he asserts his ownership and dominance, but because he lives his life and gives me the pleasure and challenge to serve him, to be his.
Some may be enamoured by the idea of struggling to be pleasing, of having to prove and earn a place. I feel very strongly that this is an entropic system which cannot hold. We need to have intrinsic worth that cannot be compromised. We, as humans, we need this. How truer then this is for submissive humans? We cannot permit our self-worth to also be the property of an external force lest we risk collapse with no recourse because someone fails us, or fails to see and love and appreciate us.
Respect must be mutual. If it is to be earned, this currency must be exchanged by all participants, not doled out in a parsimonious and paltry fashion from the owner to the owned. I am the one to decide how I wish my service to be received and then it is my responsibility, as a slave, to find the owner who is fit and willing to do the job. And both of these criteria are vital. You will meet those who are willing and eager, but unfit. More rarely, but also out there, are those who are fit and capable…but unwilling to do the work. Make no mistake, fitness and willingness are two sides of the same coin: one cannot endure without the other to support it.
I have my place.
And I did not have to earn it.
It was waiting for me.
And…I am grateful beyond measure.