Things I’ve Learned from Submission

I’m stubborn. I won’t do what you want, especially not when you want. Four years ago, you’d have had a better chance convincing North Korea to give you internet access than of getting me to give up my wishes. Then I found BDSM, and my stubbornness began to dissipate.

Submission taught me that if I let someone have their way, chaos will usually not ensue. I’ll arrive home with all my body parts in-tact even though my friend led me away from the bookstore I was dying to see. Did you know that a woman can safely go without books for 24 hours and not contract Ebola as a result? I know. It’s incredible, and I learned this by being on the wrong end of a belt.

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Submission requires you to open up to possibilities you can’t influence, let alone predict. It taught me that it’s easier to flow through life like water than to stand, unmoving, like a rock. Nothing awful happens when you give in. Quite the contrary: the tide might carry you to undiscovered islands.

When I first found BDSM, the draw to submit felt like an impossible tide. My need to control my life was knocked out of place. My first dominant wasn’t ashamed of what he wanted, so giving it to him felt delicious. In those days, submission was just another kind of lust. I did it for the sexual pay-offs, and so you could say our D/s was barely D/s at all.

Still, it triggered something in me, and in my next relationship, I tried my damnedest to be A Good Sub™. I opened my hands and let the world flow through my fingers. For a while, it was beautiful, but then I found out how dangerous submission could be. Chaos ensued. The tide hurled me against the rocks, and submission felt like dying. My “dominant” used BDSM as a bargaining chip to undermine my needs. D/s meant I didn’t matter. It meant my life had to shrink to make room for his.

I paid dearly for my lack of stubbornness. It took me years to regain my self-esteem, but when I did, it was more solid than it had ever been. I learned to love myself because I was aware of my weaknesses. It doesn’t seem to grok. Not logically anyway, but that’s how it happened. My character deficits were no longer mysterious, and I learned self-esteem didn’t mean liking yourself so much as knowing yourself.

Recovering from that relationship taught me who I was, and suddenly my feet felt steadier on the ground. I could submit without being knocked over. I could give up control without being carried to other islands. My submission stopped being the tide and became the rock.

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