A couple of disclaimers before I get into a potentially thorny subject: First, I’m going to be making sweeping statements about human nature and ideal ways to evolve. I will also be discussing a recent RL incident, and some of TMT’s reactions. Keep in mind that it’s all my own POV. TMT would no doubt relate things differently, and I’m perfectly aware that what works for me doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone else, okay? Disclaimers noted? Good.
Recently TMT and I were having a discussion surrounding an incident that happened to me. I won’t go into details, except to say that it had RL penalties involved. It also fell into a category which I have given TMT the right as my top to monitor. As you might expect, she was not pleased, and imposed her own penalties. It was my reaction to these penalties which prompted our discussion.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that I’m not very good at submitting. 😀 Even if I’ve agreed that my top has the right to set boundaries around something, even if I’m the one who approached her about it because I needed her help, I still have a very hard time with it. For one thing, like most people I like to be in control. For another, I HATE being wrong. And I don’t mean in the “I’m perfect so I can’t possibly be wrong” way, I mean in the “I must not be a good person if I make a mistake” way.
Yes, common sense would tell anyone that’s not true. But common sense is not operating when we fall into childhood-based fears. So I struggle with things, even in those (narrowly-defined) areas where I’ve agreed I will submit.
I’m not going to debate whether it’s “healthy” to submit in the first place. Those of us who are into TTWD have to assume a certain degree of it from the start. Even if you only like to be spanked because it’s fun or sexy, even if you divorce it entirely from being “punished” for “bad behavior,” you still have to submit to being over someone’s knee and having your butt whacked. On the other end of the spectrum, you may choose a relationship in which you give another person the power to make certain decisions about your behavior, and to submit to their guidance in all things.
I believe you can be in a relationship which requires submission and not consider yourself a “submissive” (or dominant, for that matter) person. I also believe you can be in such a relationship and be a well-organized, well-functioning adult who lives in the real world perfectly well and takes care of herself, and possibly several other people who depend on you too. You can be successful and ambitious and emotionally stable and highly intelligent and spiritually evolved. (You can also be a total mess, but that’s true of anything.)
So the fact that you choose to turn over your power to someone else in one or more areas is reflective of nothing else except the fact that that’s what you want to do. Because you feel it will really help you, because it makes you feel cared about, because it turns you on, because of all or none of the above.
Do I think it’s also a good and evolved thing to decide to live without any aspect of domestic discipline? Sure, why not, if that’s what you prefer. I do believe it’s healthy to be as self-reliant as possible, which is not the same as being disconnected from needing people. Our connections keep us alive and add meaning to life. But taking responsibility for our own emotions, actions, and happiness is the best way to find satisfaction and contentment while we’re on this planet, so why not strive for that overall?
Which is where struggling with submission has actually been instructive for me. It forces me to confront childhood issues and patterns of behavior. It forces me to try to get beyond instinctive reactions to protect myself, and try to see that the defensiveness might not be necessary. It gives me insight as a top, to see where a bottom/brat might be struggling, and what seems at first like simple naughtiness might be an attempt to deal with deeper things. As a top it seems so clear to me what the right thing is, and how simple it is to avoid trouble by making the better choice. When I submit as a bottom, I realize the muddled soup we all have to swim through on a daily basis, and how it clouds the thinking of an otherwise well-meaning and perfectly intelligent person.
But back to my screw-up. In our discussion, I was pointing out to TMT that doing a task, even if the instructions were not completely followed and the attitude seemed resentful (it was actually unhappiness and distress, not surliness), was actually a sign of submission. I mean, if you really HATED doing it, and you did it anyway – albeit not in the spirit that your top wanted – wasn’t that actually SUBMISSION of a sort? Especially knowing how much the bottom struggles to submit?
TMT had to walk away from our Skype chat at that point in order to take care of one of furry creatures she is a guardian for, but I could hear her laughing all the way across the room and back. Needless to say, she did not agree. I get her point – she was most concerned with: 1) my safety, and 2) me actually learning something about why I got into the situation in the first place and how I might avoid it in the future. But (IMO), submitting to something and agreeing with it are two different things. It’s ideal if they co-exist – doing something your top instructs you to do, in the spirit she wants you to do it, makes it a helluva lot easier on both of you.
But just doing it in the first place….that should count too. 🙂
(Btw, I’m not asking for anyone to help justify my actions to TMT. In my opinion, she did her job as top admirably, and continues to do a brilliant job under sometimes trying circumstances. *g* I learn from her all the time, about how to be a better top and a better human being. I guess I’m just sharing a little of what I went through, in case it helps anyone else who is struggling, and I’m also interested in hearing what other people have to say on the subject.)