Perhaps everyone’s experience of submission is different. D/s must represent different things to different people. I hesitate to even call what Mistress shows me as D/s. Without a doubt, there is absolutely nothing in what we do that does not involve a Dominant partner and a submissive one, but that is no different than saying there is Mother and child, Leader and follower, Guide and seeker. It is not within the sexual that lie the most powerful lessons. What, therefore, is submission?
The Erotic is a language through which we can see ourselves
What we find arousing gives a glimpse into our deepest beings. The erotic is a landscape, an entire language, where each individual on this earth has their own dialect. The dialect of the individual is the lens through which each of us experiences arousal, and connects to that animal and spirit within us, that finds the deepest bodily pleasure and release when spoken to with fluency. Is the metaphor too obscure? Erotic feelings are a sensual roadmap to the psyche. The blog post, “Is the Erotic a 7th Sense?” Spoiler alert: yes, it is.
When we are conceived, divinity comes into each of us. But how the divine inhabits each of us is a function of the things we experience, our lives within the Mother’s body, our experience of birth, the critical development steps of attachment and attunement which occurs between Mother and breast-feeding child, and so on through child development. These critical years, thought by developmental psychologists to last roughly until we are 6 years old, are the most critical years in determining how we will go on to interact with the world.
Yes, our disposition reflects our genetic code. We can think of it as a propensity for a trait.
In the book on ADD, Scattered Minds, Dr. Gabor Maté describes the ADD child not as one who is born with ADD, but as one who is born with hypersensitivity—the child who goes on to develop ADD, is born with a heightened sensitivity to the world around it. This is the genetic gift of ADD. But ADD only develops when the conditions for it are ripe…in this case, among other things, the failure or breakdown of some aspects of the bonding that must occur between baby and environment—particularly the attachment and attunement process between Mother and child. In other words, though you may be born with a propensity for ADD, you don’t “get it” unless the conditions are right.
There have been studies which have highlighted the prevalence of ADD people being drawn to BDSM. Many ADD people find these kink practices to be highly grounding. ADD people are easily distracted. We struggle to be “present”. BDSM can be a very effective way to become present—and indeed, when you are being choked or whipped or just drawn in to the vortex by a Domme, there is no place to go other than the present. And this is important. The goal of meditation is said to become present. Bliss as a state is said to be derived from a feeling of complete presence. When I say that the erotic is the language or road map which illustrates our deepest selves, this is what I mean.
Child development and how we are “supposed” to grow
And because each person is unique, what each of us finds erotic is also unique. I think of what might be happening in a “perfect” development path between Mother and child with a male baby. The baby finds the feeling of unconditional love on his Mother’s breast. He finds nourishment and sustenance, and a wonderfully reassuring feeling of being protected, cherished, cared for. And as the boy grows, he discovers that his Mother is separate from him, another being. He discovers that she teaches him and guides him, but also says “no” to him from time to time. And by watching his Father and Mother, he begins to understand that his role is to become like the Father, and how the Father behaves towards him and towards his Mother. When all of this happens smoothly, then the child grows into a well-grounded, respectful, responsible, loving male. One who cherishes and protects and supports women and seeks out a partner with whom to recreate that near-perfect state of bliss he experienced as a child for their future children.
The female child does the same, only she identifies with the Mother, and learns to emulate her, and to replicate her dynamic with the Father. This is what happens in ideal conditions. But what happens when the child is born non-binary? In my case that was a desire to be like the Mother and to reject the Father—a replay of the divorce dynamic and tension in my home environment. Would the relationship with the self have developed differently had my parents had a healthy dynamic? Almost certainly. Would I have grown up with a respect for men and a willingness to be like them had I found in my Father a person whom I wished to emulate? Almost certainly.
I have no problem with my deep love and respect for women. I do not put them above me, but I cherish what they represent to me, inside of me. Indeed, I believe that this need to attach to women, to offer them of me, to be the way I am with them, was born from the need to survive. And because I didn’t get what I needed from my own Mother during those critical development steps [written about here], I play these things out in my interactions with women every day. For the most part, this is totally innocuous, and might be called “the art of the submissive flirt”. When a woman comes to “get” me, we have crossed an important therapeutic hurdle—she has declared from the outset that I am wanted, and cherished, or at the very least, could be, that her curiosity and attraction are such that the preconditions exist for this level of comfort and certainty in our future relations.
You can’t fix the past, but you can choose to move forward in a new way
It isn’t surprising that this dynamic is laced with Mommy energy. As my ex-therapist pointed out, “you can’t fix what happened between you and your Mother, but you can live those needs in new ways, and through that process, find healing.” In part, this is what I am doing with Mistress. It is a relationship. But it is not like the relationship I have with my SO. With my SO, I have a common project which is the meaning of life—to give birth to and to raise children who will be positive and responsible citizens, respectful, warm, and well-adjusted. My responsibility to them and to her is to rise above the failings of previous generations and to break the cycle of trauma that is often carried forward. It is my belief that despite all of my sexual quirks and byways, and my failings as a human, that in my family at least, I have done more to shake free the toxicity of the past. But that does not excuse me from going further, and from helping my own children to do the same.
Not wasting the opportunity for personal growth
Therapy is a great way to do this. Indeed, without self-consciousness, none of this is possible. Having a willingness to work and be totally open with a professional, highly trained psychotherapist, is a fantastic way to grow and to leave behind this kind of personal and generational trauma. Getting to work with a Dominatrix is a rarefied privilege. First, I am sure that most Dommes are not like Mistress. I am not criticising any Domme, and it should be that every sub and every Domme find a match based on mutual goals, desires, and needs. What I am saying, however, is that she is just right for me. My path to her was not an accident. It is a reflection of self-awareness, and recognising that I wasn’t going to a Domme to “get off” but rather to learn. It is a reflection of taking an enormous amount of time trying to learn about various Dommes and how they interact with their subs. It is a reflection of a relentless desire to learn about BDSM and what motivates and drives those of us who seek it out. But it is also a reflection of the years of training and skill that go into developing a Domme, especially a professional. It is also a reflection of her character, her personality, and who she is and how she became such.
In order for me to learn and grow as much by visiting with a Domme, I find that I have to take it seriously. That I have to be willing to work on myself. How many times have we heard the expression that relationships break down because “s/he tried to change me,” or “don’t marry someone you think you need to change?” Why is this true? Why are we unwilling to change? Why is this considered unhealthy and one of the best ways to destroy a relationship? When I think of my own marriage, it is predicated upon a willingness to do the hard work associated with commitment. I swore an oath before family, friends, before God, and above all, to my wife, that I would do what it takes, without ever relenting, to love her, to cherish her, to care for her, in sickness and in health, forever. I am aware of the alarming statistics regarding divorce. I am also aware of the complacency and laziness that can lead to this. Sometimes there is an accumulated detritus, a calcification, that just makes us unwilling to do the work any longer.
I feel in part that my refusal to have sex with my wife, born from (what I tell myself) her disgust at my sexuality, is simply a cycle of mutual recrimination, and has no place in a healthy relationship. [I wrote about that here]. It is the elephant in the room of our relationship. And it needs to change. One of my fears is that Mistress’s relentless pushing of me to grow was going to get here before I did, and that I would be told to deal with this before I was ready…but thankfully that is not how she works. And now, I am here, and I realised that I must at least try to begin the healing process with my SO, so that we can let the elephant go. And that might not lead to a healthy sex life between us, but it will certainly break a steady leak of poison.
The importance of submission in any relationship dynamic
But what of this willingness to change? As Mistress has pointed out to me, you cannot go into something with the mindset of quid pro quo. To give to get. It sullies both parties. Christian submission, turning the other cheek, is what is called for. And this interests me greatly on many levels. I have been thinking a lot lately about how Mistress is like a priestess. That her work with me is designed to put me in touch with the divine within me—as she says, she is opening doors. And I am curious. My approach to Her has been that I do not wish to satisfy any kink of mine, to live out some fantasy of what being a slave to her might mean. I have asked that she think of herself and think of how a slave might be useful and fulfilling to her, and to help me find a path to being a slave who does fulfil her in this way, and is one she is proud of. And I have thought of this as being bent to her will. To changing. To being willing to change to reflect her needs and desires. That is my “kink”. But what I am discovering is that a “good slave” is relative. Relative to the self. In other words, I believe that Mistress’s goal for me, is for me to become what I am meant to be, whatever that is. She is simply the guide, the one who helps me to discover it, but is not telling me how to be, or what door to open. The “kinky” things we might get up to, are in this sense, not kinky at all. They are spiritual.
When I refer to the rarefied privilege to be with Mistress, it is this recognition that there is enormous potential to grow through the things we do. And here I come full circle. The erotic is a language we all have and speak in ways that reflect our unique life circumstances, our traumas and the way we love. This is the language that Mistress shows to me, teaching me how to speak my own dialect. It would be possible to play with her and have fun and to play through various fantasies and leave it at that. But that strikes me as a waste of her talents. She is not just a diamond, but a crown of diamonds. And to make it worth being with someone who has this much potential to change my life, I have to be willing to do heavy lifting when I am not with her. She is not a therapist, she is not my faith healer, nor is she my masseuse. Instead, she is a guide, one who leads me through a mix of humour, sensation, ritual, and pleasure to learn and to grow. She is without agenda, and most profoundly, she is helping to take control of my life. Isn’t that ironic? Submission is about letting go. And yet, it is this act in itself, the act of letting go, which is teaching me mastery of self.
And I find in her a genuine warmth and desire to help me discover these things and to grow from them. How many people in any of our lives can be relied upon to be like this? Not many, if any. It is exceedingly rare. This is the precondition to a level of trust that leads to the expression of unconditional love. This is my path to healing. Recent play unlocked for me a sense of comfort about the self and a powerfully healing dynamic that went right back to the root of my developmental trauma. But it is not enough to just experience it and feel better in one’s own skin. It requires using it, applying it to life, in taking it back to my relationship with my SO. This is what I owe her; it is what I owe myself.