Does Submission in D/s have a similar root?
Nature v. nurture is one of our favourite long term social debates. Are we born this way, or are we made? Members of the psychological professions, of which I am a loose member (very loose) would typically argue that nurture is the most important factor.
Perhaps, but nature acts on predispositions to something. It doesn’t just act in a vacuum. We aren’t born angry or emotional, but we might become so through environmental cues. But are we born loving dark green or purple rather than them being imprinted upon us? Which characteristics, traits, preferences are genetic and which are learned? Does a child who loves pink love it because it symbolises femininity and the child has learned that, or is pink an archetype that we love because it symbolises femininity? What came first? There are most certainly features of our selves that are learned and others that are wired, but most importantly of all, there are traits for which we are pre-disposed. I believe that faith is one of them.
I can’t remember a moment in my life where I didn’t have some kind of submissive feelings. Of course, memory starts at about 4, so perhaps in the period before that time, I was nurtured in such a way that turned me into a submissive. Of course, it’s possible. Is it likely? But what about superstition? What about belief in a God, or life force greater than ourselves, believe in life after death, belief in reincarnation, or faith itself? Are these things born with us or do we learn them along with the millions of other things we process in our mother’s arms, suckling at her breasts, learning to sit on toilets and not mess ourselves? Or, are these big questions consequences of the particular way that we navigate these first important hurdles?
Would that things were so simple:
- “She was quick to walk so she believes in God.”
- “He was quick to toilet train, so he is an atheist.”
- “She was breast-fed for just a few weeks before she was weaned, so now she believes in reincarnation.”
Totally far-fetched, right?
I believe that faith, belief, a propensity to believe, is something that is wired into us. We are born this way. That some people are more in touch with the world around them, with nature, with the spirit world, because they were made that way. They were born with a predisposition, which in the right circumstances leads to greater connectedness and belief. The direction that propensity takes after birth is subject to environmental stimuli. But, at its root, some people are born to believe, and others not.
Ask yourself the following: back in the Dark Ages, when faced with the Inquisition and the choice, “renounce your faith or be tortured and die,” why did so many people choose painful death? Was that a social construct? Seems hard to believe. “My neighbour might think poorly of me unless I accept torture and death, so I might as well get on with it, right?” Or is it that knowing that a betrayal of self would be more painful in the long run, that it would be better to die quickly than to die slowly knowing you had traduced your own true nature? Yes. True nature = the way I am = the way I was born = my consciousness = my DNA = my predispositions.
And why not? Our DNA, as well as the cocktail of hormones and nutrients we are exposed to in the womb, a function of the mother’s emotions, mental state, and diet, dictate what we are at birth. We are born ready to receive. These preceding variables dictate how we might process what we receive, and what we are prepared to receive, and together, over time, we become. What happens next is environmental, but how we respond to environmental stimuli is based on what we are made of at the outset.
In Gabor Matés book, Scattered Minds, an excellent book recommended to me by a dominatrix, the good doctor makes a similar point about ADD. Book reviewed here. You do not “get” ADD, but similarly you are not “born with” ADD. You are born with a propensity. In the case of ADD, this is a sensitivity, a hyper-sensitivity, but you will only develop ADD if the environmental stimulus is consistent with what drives ADD. But if you were not born with that propensity, you will not become ADD regardless of the environment. Were you therefore born that way? Sort of. But for those who become it, ie have ADD, they most certainly were born that way. In other words, I was born that way because my environment confirmed it, or encouraged my development in a particular direction. It is like a light switch, and somebody turned it on, some environmental trigger. With people who never show signs of ADD, nobody or nothing ever turned it on, or they just were not born with the switch in the first place.
This has to be true with a great many things. We are all born a certain way, think of it as a bank of light switches. Our environment may determine which switches get turned on, which get left off, but the light switches that are made available are a reflection of who we are the moment we are born.
Think about destiny for a moment. How many of you have ever felt that you were destined for something? It might be something vague like “greatness” or something material like “I was destined to have this thing.” But destiny also comes in different flavours, some tinged with morality or spirituality. Can you think of times where you felt something deep in your soul, that you believed something was going to happen, that it was written, that it was destiny? I believe that our birth propensities when fulfilled equal destiny.
That is not to say that destiny is written. It is simply to say that destiny can or may be fulfilled, and it feels different when it is. It is like water following the course of the river bed v. having to carve one anew. The difference in effort for the two are an apt metaphor for how we change ourselves and grow. Not all aspects of propensity or destiny are positive, in this sense. Fighting with our selves to change the course of our development as people, the flow of the river of our persona, is wicked hard, and requires immense consciousness and effort. And even then, with all the will, some things about us are too big to change; accept yes, but change, out of the question.
I certainly know, and have always known, that I am non-binary—even if the words for it are new. Ditto for my faith. I never liked or enjoyed religion or church, but there isn’t a moment where I have doubted that I am a part of something bigger. I spent years in therapy and immense psychic energy trying to become non-binary, trying to find happiness as a man. In the end, I realised it was not only futile to keep trying, but potentially dangerous to myself. I wrote about that here.
It often seems that the main criticism levelled towards people who talk about faith is the blind belief in it. But in the case of a genetic predisposition, what else is there? In other words, I think I was born to believe.
In the same way, I believe I was born to submit. To what, to whom, and when are all things to be worked out and understood. But I was born this way. I know it. It is me. It is my nature. This feeling is a spiritual feeling. I find I cannot be calm, cannot still my beating heart without it. My mind is always swirling, whirling, racing with thoughts–but submission brings calm. I can’t live without it. My nurture has been to find the million and one ways to hide it. To become a big, tough, capitalist. Yet, even then, with my successes and failures in that world, every time I have risen to the top there have been significant women leading and guiding me, and the times when I came unstuck, they were not there. What does that tell me? That the alpha, hard-driving, successful me can only play if I am submissive to a woman. And what does that say? It confirms my nature. It explains why my true nature is to be peaceful and silent at Mistress’s feet. Even if such a feeling is not always accessible, it is desirable. It is meant to be. What do I do with that?
I don’t need to convince anyone of the origins of my submission, least of all myself, for I have faith.