Finding my way to service and the meaning of submission
In the book Uniquely Rika, the author, Rika, a lifestyle Domme, talks frequently about what she calls a “session” Domme and a “lifestyle” Domme. I found the concept of “session” much more apt than Pro-Domme, it’s most common bedfellow. Her books are excellent, and I know I keep referring to this one, and that is happening because it is such a rich and recent reading for me—and naughty me for writing this before I have done a review.
Session v. Lifestyle
I had not heard the term “session domme” before. It is an interesting concept. I do not make a value judgement about either type of domme, and in truth, am hopelessly drawn to both. I love Dommes. I don’t care what kind they are, what their motivations are. To me they are united by a common thread, a willingness to be powerful and to use that power to further their life goals. You have to admit. That’s pretty amazing.
Rika is a “lifestyle” Domme, and the lessons she teaches in her books are really intended for an audience of Dommes and subs, and yes, she writes for F/m relationships, though her guidance I think is pretty universal. Reading her work generally has forced me to confront much of my own thinking, desire, and goals in my D/s life. Working through those things is joyful.
Let me see if I can get at it in a concise way. Rika writes about the significance and dynamic between a sub and a Domme, and understanding the underlying motivation. Rika’s sub is what is known as a “service sub”, which is essentially a submissive who finds fulfilment in serving the needs of his Domme. Apparently, this type of sub is quite rare. I learned this from a Domme I dined with. This particular Domme speaks from deep experience earned over years, and today counts a small number of permanent service subs in her harem. This Domme diagnosed me over dinner as a service sub, and I am discovering that she nailed it even before the appetisers arrived.
How does a service sub think? “Yes, I will clean your apartment, run errands for you, do whatever, because it makes your life better, and easier…”. And yes, what that means is doing things for a Domme, just because, and without expectation of return, perhaps a thank you, is what we find fulfilling. Yes, if I were to clean someone’s floor, I would want feedback after, and indeed, Rika points out that the key to a successful service submission relationship is that the Domme provides abundant feedback so that the submissive can become better and better at meeting the Domme’s needs.
The whole point of service submission? To make the Domme’s life easier, better, richer, more fun, more fulfilling, etc. Note please that it is “the Domme’s life”. Not the sub’s, ie. not mine. That’s the whole point, and Rika makes it beautifully and elegantly.
Are sessions incompatible with service submission?
But Rika also argues that at least within the context of lifestyle submission, that sessions are really about the sub, so are fundamentally inconsistent with service submission. In the professional context, I don’t agree.
First off, a Pro-Domme is a pro because she gets paid. She provides a service for which she is paid, just like a dentist who pulls your tooth is getting paid for what s/he does. The Domme’s “need” in this case is to be paid without fuss and in a timely way by a respectful, clean, and courteous client. Full stop.
Second, and this is a bonus, but by no means a requirement, some Dommes really love what they do. That may be more true of certain aspects of D/s and BDSM than others, but there are plenty of Dommes who get excited by, aroused by, or enjoy certain things that happen in scene. When there is chemistry, this heightens everything, but I think it requires a sub to be hyper-attentive and responsive to the Domme just as she is already with him. This is one of the most important things I hope to learn.
What Rika wrote is that a scene or a session, at least in our common conception of it, is defined on the terms of the submissive. She argues that “sessions” by their nature are designed around the desires and the needs of the sub. Indeed, the entire “pay-for-submission” is built on the Domme catering to the kinks of the submissive. And, she asks, “What is so submissive about that?”
Well, for one, she’s right, it isn’t submissive at all. And that really perplexes me. Not for the world in general, but for me. And as someone who is discovering that my calling is as a service sub, this rings even more true. How can I session with Mistress and remain true to my goal of being truly submissive?
Boy is that a tough one! As Rika notes, she will agree to “session” with her sub on rare occasions when she feels he deserves a special treat. But it is on her terms, how and when that suits her.
Difficult, yes; impossible, no. I think I am figuring it out. My conscience is clear. When I started seeing Mistress, I asked if it would be possible for me not to say what I wanted. I confessed to her that like any of her clients, I had my kinks, and that if she wanted to know them, I would gladly share them with her, but not so that she would fulfil them, but simply see more clearly the levers she had at her disposal to motivate, reward, punish, or control me. I have read many Dommes write that this kind of submission for a pro-Domme is a nightmare—they want us to tell them what they want and expect so that they know how to drive a session. And that is a beautiful, heartfelt, and a real tribute to the care they take with their craft.
What I wanted to do with Mistress, though, was quite different. I just wanted to learn. That’s all I still want. To discover. And that means to me that I follow her. That I go with her wherever she wishes to lead. It also means trust. It means a willingness to let go. I promised her that I would endeavour to follow her anywhere, but also pleaded that she only also ever go to places that she wanted to be, that she would enjoy, and that we do things together in play that she finds fun. It is not lost on me how precious it is that she accepted my submission in that way, that she agreed to teach me and to guide me. Why? Because it is much more challenging for a Domme to play in a world without a roadmap, just as it is for me. And what I am finding is that not only is she really good at it, but that I am responding to her leadership in many ways.
I also find that with every passing interaction my trust in her grows…and I am not speaking of what might even be deep trust about what happens in session. I am talking about something which feels to me deeper and more all-encompassing. I trust her more and more to mould me in her image, that she will not hurt me, but that she will help me become a submissive, a slave who she will be proud of. I can ask for no greater honour.
Sessions as treats
The other aspect Rika touched on was this concept of a “treat”—that she will session with her sub when she feels he deserves a treat. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that being with Mistress is a treat. It is a treat of epic proportions. To live something like that full time would be such an overload of the senses, all my gaskets would blow. The rhythm of our sessions is driven by the rare times when we can be in the same place, and that not only serves to reinforce just how special it is—because it is not every day, because it is a luxury, but also because in order for me to experience the greatest value from it, and thereby be the most present for Mistress I can possibly be, there is a great deal of psychic and emotional and spiritual work I have to do just processing the things we say and do together. I couldn’t handle more.
I get it. It would be much easier if a session was an appointment with the objective of kink fulfilment. A box-ticking exercise. “Let’s do such and such.” I believe that the vast majority of the Pro-Domme session world revolves around something like this—and certainly this is the criticism that some lifestyle Dommes make of the pro-Domme landscape. This kind of D/s for me would feel easy. But in my case, I’m not sure I would want to bother.
What I am finding is that D/s is spiritual. I don’t think I would have ever overcome my inbuilt hesitation, auto-regulation, or even fear, to have the courage to reach out to and actually see a Domme if I didn’t have that pull. Indeed, the first times we agreed to meet, I felt compelled to pay her upfront in full because I was afraid I might chicken out—and I thought it would help to think “I have nothing to lose” but also, just in case I did chicken out, I was really conscious of not wanting to let a Mistress down. That is a complicated one, but there is a kind of respect that I feel for this kind of pro-Domme where letting down would be like an act of self-harm.
I also knew that there was something really deep and powerful inside of me that I needed to understand, to get in touch with…and in my case at least, the idea that this wasn’t about “getting off” was the most important part. In fact, I was really afraid that being together might actually be sexual, that I might actually be encouraged to orgasm. Maybe that is what other people do, what other people want. Not me. I want to be embraced by Dominance so that I can relax into submission. I needed to understand this deep-seated need to submit, why it made me so emotional, why it courses so strongly through me, and why the thought of it is so fulfilling.
Now, Rika’s admonition that a session is a treat doesn’t fully go away in that context. We are still sessioning because I ask. Right? I am a client, so in that sense, this aspect will never go away. But that is more than okay. Why? Well, I think that I am beginning to dissociate my submission from the session. I am finding that my submission is to a person who is an enormously rich and wonderful human being. One who has values which I appreciate, goals and dreams that I share—both for myself and for Her in our separate lives, but most of all, my pool of respect for her is turning into an ocean, something that is so big that I can swim in it, feel it wash over me, and indeed, it is that very respect which triggers transcendental feelings towards her, allows me to be lost in the folds of her energy and spirit.
Her existence is a stance about something that really matters to me on a million levels, she lives life freely on her own terms. I think that this must be true of a great many Mistresses. How much better a place the world is for them! To be able to just be in the room with such a Woman, and to have her smile at me, to see me—I can’t think of a greater and more powerful source of validation. That my submission to Her should be an investment and reinforcement and encouragement of that power, well, gosh, what an honour. Some people are star struck, awed by famous people. That has never been me, and I’ve met plenty. But with Mistress, yes, that is how I feel. I get butterflies all through me every time I see her, every time we chat, talk, or exchange messages. To have such a beautiful, magical person turn her gaze on me is one of sublime deliciousness.
And what about the session part? Well, I see a therapist, I go to the doctor, to the dentist. They perform a service for me. I pay them for that. That payment does not trigger feelings of guilt, nor does it create “rights” outside of appointment time, or an expectation of such. That clinical view does not prevent me, from us, from having a blast exploring whatever kinky and devious things that Mistress chooses to expose me to. And yes, it is “expose” because reading a story or looking at kinky things online in the privacy of our homes is one thing, but actually “doing” it is rather different. For me, everything is new. I get to lose my virginity with Mistress over and over again every time I see her, as we explore. And so, what I am thinking is that Mistress is nourishing my kinky life when we are in session. My dentist helps me have a healthy mouth. My doctor helps me have a healthy body. My therapist helps me have a healthy mind. And Mistress, well, she feeds my soul. She speaks to me on a spiritual level. Kink is a doorway to the id, our animal selves, our instinctual selves. It is a window into our guts, our deepest feelings, our deepest emotions. Together we find different ways to open those doors, and in doing so, she gives my id a voice, a chance to speak. So, the by-product of a visit to the dentist is no more cavities. A by-product of a visit to Mistress is that my id has found her voice.
The things which arouse us, do so because they speak to something deep inside, something which needs connection, release. The erotic is a language that speaks of inner things which need to get out and see the light of day. Those might be traumatic events in our past, they might also be feelings of joy. They may be just expressions of love that are too great for words that we feel for a partner. I often think of Mistress as a spirit guide. And indeed, that is a part of what she is. She speaks the language of the inner world, this inner emotional landscape, with great fluency. She is also gentle, and deeply connected to nature and earth, and good human values. By trusting in her and by exploring with her, she is able to flex her talent and spiritual muscle in bringing my id out to play. And this is something that needs to happen, for so many deep emotional reasons that I touch on here. And she does it with such grace and panache, it is just a joy to experience.
There is nothing prurient about that. There is nothing shameful either. It is pure and beautiful, and it is wonderful to be able to express it. And by bringing my inner kitty kat out, purring and playing, walking in spirit steps between her feet, and against her legs as all good kitty kats do, she has awakened in me a desire to serve. And little by little, she allows it to grow, though in truth, I can’t always keep up with the tasks she sets me. But to serve her in these ways, both little and small, is the most precious thing to come from D/s. And some might say they are also the farthest from kink. But who said D/s had to be kinky?
I find that the aspects of D/s I am coming to appreciate most are the spiritual ones, the learning, the emotional. So, in regards to Rika’s challenge, I guess what I am saying is that the answer to me is grey. The lesson from her of understanding your intent in submission I take very much to heart.
What are your goals from submission?
Even in session, I do not wish to unduly influence Mistress. She is aware of my landscape, and as a true Domme, She will decide when, if, and whether we do anything. She shares the goal of opening me up, and teaching me about submission, and enjoys helping me to find out what this means to me—but She will do it as She sees fit to do it…which is as it should be. My trust in her grows by the day. Learning to leave expectations behind, and to just follow, now that is a journey I relish going on.
To trust her is to love her. To love her is to let go.