I wrote this several months ago, but I’ve publicized it now in the process of analyzing and thinking about what I need and want in my current relationship. After letting it sit a while I’ve determined that it’s worth reading, even if I’m the only one who reads it.
I’m not sure how to write this without coming across as preachy and impossible to please. And I’m not a fan of telling anyone how they “should” do anything. Really, I’m not. At the same time, there are ways to do things that are healthy and ways that are not. There are ways that are positive and ways that are not. There are ways that are abusive and ways that are not. And there are ways that are thoughtful, aware, subtle, and truly loving and which are the difference between someone who thoughtlessly dominates and one who responsibly and carefully wields power given in trust.
I am not impossible to please, but i am difficult to please because i have high standards. Those standards come from experience, from past relationships, from learning the hard way. From learning about myself through having experiences i thought i wanted, and finding out that those experiences cannot be had in any kind of healthy way. I’m looking back through the other side of dysfunctional and twisted relationships, to understand why each one happened, why each lasted long enough to have a strong impact, and determining the lessons that each taught me.
From my first substantial D/s relationship I learned not to let immediate wants and needs overtake me. It seems so basic, but fresh out of a vanilla marriage all I wanted was someone to tell me what to do, to overpower me, and to make me feel, finally, like I didn’t have to be in charge. My judgment was out the window, and I cringe looking back on choices I made that were short-sighted and foolish, self-damaging, and ultimately just plain embarrassing. I let the attention-starved and seriously co-dependent side of myself call all the shots, and in so doing completely missed that the person I was with was ultimately immature, noncommittal, and selfish. These things would be so glaringly obvious to me now, but all I saw then was escape.
From my second, and very long-lasting and complicated D/s relationship I learned the most. I learned what emotional abuse looks like, and what it means to be left unsupported as a sub. It started gently, very slowly, and what seemed very thoughtfully. Being two extreme and intense people, the ideas and fantasies were always edgy, and sometimes the actions. It worked its way to a M/s relationship with no safe words, no excuses, no limits, and ultimate failure. These things are there for a reason – safe words, limits, and negotiation. Unfortunately, when i quit my job and became a full-time slave I was left without structure, goals, and attention. I learned what it looks and feels like to be the recipient of lack of follow-through. Of constant disappointment. Follow-through is critical. It is everything. It is integrity and it is what allows trust. I was also terrorized by the relationship I was in, without any expectations made clear, no structure, no rules, no boundaries, and at the same time intense sexual demands that escalated into and beyond the limits of safety and sanity. My fear and instinct to protect myself was deemed disobedience, and my floundering without any kind of structure was deemed laziness. I didn’t know what to do. I was supposed to do what I was told, but was told nothing. I was left without connection when the only thing I had left was my connection to this person who I’d promised to obey without question.
Both of these relationships were begun at times in my life when I was rootless, jobless, and completely emotionally vulnerable and lost. In both I was offered help and guidance, a journey of becoming and what I was told would include brutal but necessary growing pains. I was up for it both times because I was desperate and truly lost. What I didn’t realize was that the responsibility for my growth was MINE. What I also didn’t realize was that I was not the person they wanted on the inside. I was the person they wanted on the outside, and they each made it a project to change the inside so that I would be the whole person they wanted. When it didn’t work, they grew frustrated and contemptuous. I will never accept that again. I am no one’s project.
My most recent D/s relationship began differently. I had my feet much more firmly planted, I was working steadily, I had my own place to live independently of anyone else, and the person I was submitting to had his own independent life, including other partners. We had a pretty rigid schedule of renegotiations and check-ins. I was held accountable and given structure. I was able to rely on him in times of sub-drop, and was given direction when requested. Still, with all of that, I was again a project. I was again determined to be less-than, lacking, and the job at hand was to make me an adult because through all of these past relationships, including my vanilla marriage, I’d never grown up. This was legitimate and true, and I agreed to the process, and I did grow up. I went through some hard stuff with him and he supported me and showed me a lot of what a good Dom should be. There was a lot of accountability, and a lot of trust, and I worked very hard, and my hard work was appreciated and celebrated. I was supported in my painful metamorphosis. I did things from which I would have previously flinched in terror. I learned how much I am capable of. I accepted that I have power and that it’s ok to have it. But ultimately I was not what he wanted, either. I was tasked with becoming something else, something better. It was something I myself knew had value and in fact it is where I have finally come to, but to be told I was not worthy until I reached it was damaging. The relationship ended before I got there. It ended in flames. I thought I did not understand why, and without confirmation I can only postulate.My guess is that I outgrew him. There was a huge incident that spurred the break. One in which I was given a punishment far outstripping what seemed to me a small misstep. It forced me to question, and I looked back with discernment into his eyes, and I saw someone who had lost power over me. I didn’t recognize this then. I was harshly rejected, disowned, and lost not just him, but a huge support system built around him. However, the devastation had its benefits in the long run. It pushed me forward.
I became exactly what he wanted, but for myself. The person he wanted was an equal, a person with power, a strong and independent woman who would submit – out of nothing but desire and affection – to him and let go of all of that power by choice. To trust and obey and be used, humiliated, degraded, to do it by choice and for both to know that this is the ultimate form of submission. That the more power you have, the more you have to give up. The more valuable every act of obedience becomes. You can say, as many like to, that “the sub has the ultimate power in any power exchange relationship,” but this is a simplistic way of looking at it. A more empowering way of looking at it is that every free person in this world has power. It is foolish and naive to deny that a submissive has power or that it can be taken away from her. But she has no more power than her Dom. Neither is truly in control of the other. It is an exchange.
From now on, it will always be an exchange. I will never be a project again. I don’t need training. If there’s one thing I am and have always strived to be, it is a good girl. I never needed inspiration for that. It is a core part of who I am. Anyone who has any intimate D/s knowledge of me knows that I obey, and this is where my joy comes from. I don’t need a life coach. I don’t need a therapist (I already have one). I don’t need someone to mold me into anything. What I wish I’d noticed in myself through all of this, all those years of torment (much of which came at the hands of mental illness and my own low-self esteem independent of others), was that I had been surviving the whole time. I’d been fighting the whole time. I’d never stopped working toward my own growth, understanding, self-awareness and improvement. I never settled for my own weakness. I need someone who sees me as i really am – a flawed work-in-progress and a powerful and capable woman who has chosen them to be the one she kneels for. And to value that greatly, flaws included.
And here is the preachy part:
There is a responsibility you have to a person when you accept their submission. They’ve given you power and deep trust, and by relieving them of it you now owe them your best intent, your integrity, your trustworthiness and your trust, and the promise that you will create a place of safety for them within the dynamic you share. You are responsible for following through on the structure you create, the things you say, and the rules you set. You are responsible for making your expectations clear, and for holding your partner accountable to consent given. For checking in on that consent frequently. For insisting they tend to their own responsibility to always communicate desires, feelings, thoughts, fears, worries, and concerns, and for creating a secure space from which to do it. Because you are responsible for making sure YOU can trust THEM. It goes both ways, and a Dom can no more effectively maintain control without trust than a sub can submit without it.
The great thing about this is that if you do it right, all the things you want can happen. The most intense and edgy things that were demanded of me produced fear and trauma in me under the wrong hand, but I can’t envision a single thing I would be unwilling to at least keep an open mind about given a relationship with a strong and stable foothold in trust and openness. Intense and edgy are inherent in me, but those kinds of things need the most support and trust.
I did not start out strong, capable, or independent. This much is very true. I’ve changed so much, I am a different person even though some days it doesn’t feel like it.
-I believed I was a baby, but I am capable of withstanding a beating, a rough day, or a heartbreak.
-I was led to believe I was not submissive, but I am most content when submitting deeply to someone I trust and love.
-I believed I was not a masochist… well, I am. Yay 🙂
-I believed the only way to become strong is to be broken, but the way I’ve ultimately become strong is by fighting attempts to break me.
-I survived a goddamn heart attack, for fuck’s sake.
-I believed I was not good enough. I am more than good enough.
And this is all to say that I know. I know what is healthy and what is not. I know whether you are for real or if you aren’t quite there yet. And I know there are a lot of people out there whose domination is really abuse, whether they are aware of it or not. I have high standards, and demand some advanced self-awareness and understanding of power dynamics. I have created some very large shoes to fill, but I am worth it.