I’ve noticed over my years in this fun-filled kinky world of ours, is that some of us grew into our kinks, while others have known since childhood. I fall into the latter category: had my first subspace experience in nursery school, in fact. It wasn’t a sexual encounter – I was the ‘patient’ in a Star Trek game. There were three boys and a girl, all pretending to take care of me – poking me. I had been told to lie perfectly still, as though I was dead, and I remember distinctly going into a trance-like state.
Oh, how I’ve been chasing that dragon!
It is my perspective that any claim of identity that works for me (and you) is right and correct unto itself. Call yourself a Master, because doing so empowers you? Go for it – doesn’t matter to me if you have a slave or not. Labels are tricky, of course. They are limiting, can create division, and when attached to identity – live in our cores.
My identity as submissive has been solid since I was a teenager… That is, until several years ago, when I came into Relationship with a dominant, the dynamic of which caused me to question my very identity – and not in a good way.
This is a man of honor and integrity. He’s brilliant, caring, self-aware, but he had this habit. Whenever I did or didn’t do something in the manner he expected, his words would come out as: “I would think if you’re really submissive, you would…”
The first few times he said that, my response was “well, I am submissive, and this is how I’m responding”. After a while, though, I began to question my self. I found myself having thoughts like “maybe he’s right. Maybe I’m not submissive” and “perhaps I’ve been wrong this whole time”… and mind you, this whole time (at the time) was decades.
In time, I came to understand that the ways he looks for submission – the behaviors, emotional responses and the like – aren’t ways that I manifest submission. Doesn’t mean I’m not submissive – just that I speak a different dialect of D/s than he.
I remember a day when he pointed to the ground and said: “be submissive”, and I was like (paraphrased) “Are you fucking kidding me? I submit in response. If you want me to submit to you, show me your dominance. Be strong. Have will and intent. I don’t just drop to the ground because someone tells me!” Or something like that…
Truthfully, I do drop to the ground.. sometimes with as little as a look, but with him? Nada. Just frustration on both our parts.
What a gift that moment was… I’m not sure I ever expressed how I experience my submission before that exchange. For me, to submit means to be in an energetic exchange with someone. I don’t submit in a vacuum. Submission isn’t my default setting. Nope. My default setting is pretty, well… dominant… or at least a setting that occurs in parity with those around whom I am.
This is what’s true for me. What’s true for others is wonderful and amazing and perfect. It’s just that even with distinctions like dominant, submissive, switch, master, slave, pony, etc… we are and will always be primarily oriented based on our own personal experience, and language has a really shitty way of expressing that.
My biggest take-away from that relationship was this: If the context I’m in has me growing, I stay. If the context in which I’m living has me shutting down and questioning the very parts of my self that (outside of that context) I know well, I leave. This is a parameter that I use in all my relationships: kinky, work, familial. It works for me.
In our community, I so often hear people talk about hard limits in terms of scat, kids, animals, and such. For me, my hard limits have started to sound more like “as long as I’m growing and waking up, Yes. If I shut down or dissociate, then possibly not so much”.
Lest y’all think that I’m suggesting the statement of ‘if you were really X’ only works from a dominant towards a submissive, think again. It could easily be worded “if you were really a dominant, you’d…” or “if you were really a switch you’d…”.
So how did things end up with the person in question? He’s been partnered for years with a delightful person who presents in a way that he experiences as submissive, and they are still going strong, and it works.