Tying the threads together: the importance of therapy within D/s


This is one of a series of posts I wrote over the past months but never published. It remains relevant even if “out of sequence”.

Domina Faustine Cox is one of the Dommes on Twitter that I most enjoy reading—her posts are often thought-provoking and issue-based and reading the responses she generates is an education.

In one relatively recent post she opined on the importance of therapy within the D/s context—effectively saying that all clients should combine D/s with therapy.  It won’t surprise you that I believe that everyone can and should benefit from therapy…but I am also aware that therapy is not always accessible for everyone for a range of reasons, including self-awareness.  

I am sure that she was not saying that people in D/s need therapy, not at all, but rather that the ground we cover as we work and play in this arena, can be much more productive and healing when combined with therapy.

The first time I met a dominatrix I committed to seeing a therapist.  She hadn’t asked me to, and I don’t know why I was compelled to do that, or say that, given how little I knew about D/s and what we might explore together.  I couldn’t have possibly known what a great commitment that was then.  Or did I?  Maybe I knew I was going on a journey that might be difficult at times, and which would have profound effects on my psyche and persona, but I had no idea of the destination then, any more than I do now.  As Mistress often said to me, “it is the process not the goal”…and indeed she is right.

When I think of why people go to therapy, what comes to mind is the need to work through issues, trauma, unhelpful patterns.  And I guess that I began the therapeutic process with those things in mind.  I suspect most people do.

But it leads me to speculate about what someone in my position, exploring feelings of submission with a professional dominatrix, might wish to discuss with a therapist.  On the face of it, there needn’t be a connection between what happens in “session” within D/s and in session with a therapist.  Except that when something rocks your world, challenges you, forces you to look at yourself in new ways, sometimes very challenging, and also to find equilibrium in a safe space devoid of judgement, it is hard to imagine that discussing what is happening would not jump to the front of the queue in conversation with the therapist.

And so it has been.  But the conversation has not been about what we do, or even how I feel, but what I am seeking in a D/s partner.  I am consistently amazed by the parallels between the various people I am seeing and the messages they are giving me, and how they are speaking to me as one.  Teaching me to just be, to be in the moment, to be supple, and to let life happen, as it happens.

I like to refer to this collection of people that I have been interacting with as the posse.  Chief among them was the Domme.  And as I spoke to my talk therapist about an instance where I have failed to live consistent to my ideals in submission, I found myself musing about how my therapist was engaging with me to help me discover how to be a slave, and to act in a way that is consistent with those goals.  And I was thinking, ‘this seems completely the opposite way that most people might approach the therapeutic process,’ seeking instead to understand why they have these feelings in the first place.  But I loved the help.  She had determined to her satisfaction that my desire to submit was not unhealthy, but actually an important step in personal growth.  That’s huge.

The talk therapist, and indeed, all but one of the posse, recognised the healing power of BDSM, the important role that a Dominatrix plays, and how my desire to serve is a genuine expression of self-love above all else.  And so, in therapy, we turned away from why I wish to submit, or anything else, and we began to examine how true I am to myself in the manner of my submission, and how submission is helping me to grow as a person.

We got to this point after a discussion of the role of submission in my life.  She asked, “did you submit your way to the corner office?  Probably not.”  And I responded, that superficially, “no, I did not, but in other ways, more fundamental ways, yes.”  I remembered how hot-headed I was in my early career, how my early leadership opportunities would have been painful for those who worked for me, until I began to learn that my success had nothing to do with me, but rather the motivation and spirit of those who reported to me…and at that point I became much more cognisant of my impact on teams, the people around me.  I carried this into life as a CEO and was reminded of a speech I gave to my company.  The gist was that the most important word for an employee to have in their arsenal was the word “no”.  That the closer an employee was to the task or to the customer, the closer they were to truth…nobody knew how better to organise the shipping of packages than the people who did it all day long.  Management always comes up with dumb ideas…but if they don’t say “no” then dumb ideas begin to take over.  And for the manager, the most important skill was to encourage their reports to say “no” and to listen to this.  It is a form of submission.  When you believe that seniority is really a duty of care and listening, then you have tapped into something powerful.

We also talked about what holds a marriage together: essentially, if you cannot sublimate your needs to the collective need, to your partner, then your relationship will be toast.  Especially when it hurts, when you are angry, or feel wronged.

She asked, “how does this relate to your dynamic with Mistress?”  And she asked whether I had escaped the common perception that the sub is in control, focussing on the words “I want” in the following sentence which was what I had said to Mistress when we first played together: “I don’t want to be my version of a submissive, I want to be yours, to adapt and respond to you, to serve you, and to discover what that means.”  I meant it with purity of heart, but my therapist challenged the presence of “I want” in the sentence, and thus began one of the most enlightening therapeutic sessions of my life.

She accepted my explanation that I am seeking to give pure love, love without demands, without restrictions, to just live and be love.  That through D/s I have found the first and only person in my life who I can be in the fullness of me and be totally without fear or shame…and that it is not possible to experience that and not feel intense devotional emotion.  Is it possible that others could have done the same thing?  Perhaps.  But I searched long and hard to find someone that I could actually play with in this way, and have the level of respect, mutual interest, natural chemistry, and in this I found myself extremely fortunate.  She understood that loving in this way was my way of providing myself self-love.  How?  Because I never accepted the love of my parents for all the strings it came attached with.  I couldn’t feel their love because I didn’t allow it, and I never allowed myself to love them back.  Yes, they loved me, but for the curious circumstances of life, I could not accept their love because it would have destroyed me to have love for someone who also hurt me.  And so, my therapist sees that there is incredible power and beauty in what Mistress was exploring with me.

But my therapist also asked me difficult questions and challenged me.  Some of her messages:

  • Unconditional love is without expectation—it is in the moment and is not looking for something else.  It happens, and does not desire or wish for anything else than what is happening
  • Wanting something from her is not consistent with that kind of love.  If you want something, you have attached strings to it
  • When you give to her, or are a certain way with her, are you sure that you are not doing those things, or behaving in that way to elicit a response in her?
  • Does the very act of “trying” to do something, or committing to change, not already put you out of balance with your goal? Shouldn’t you just be? As you are? In the moment? Without trying to be anything other than that?

She drew a parallel between my attachment to Mistress and the attachment bonds that can grow between a therapist and patient…that of course there is a professional context, and that a service is being paid for, but when it works as it should, it is very normal that deep feelings of attachment can develop.

And so, yes, in questioning me in this way, I experienced the unusual and sublime feeling that my therapist was helping me to find my way towards slavery…and helping me to let go of expectation and to just enjoy what I have, because I have so much.

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