Recently I’ve used this phrase in some of my posts. I thought I might look at “finding your submissive self” through the lens of my own life.
I’m going back about eight years to a time before I was in a D/s life. I was in my real estate career, living a very vanilla life, dissatisfied and not sure what to do. I had been aware for some time that I was submissive, though naïve about it, but now I was beginning to think about it as more significant in me than I’d realized before.
I made a lot of mistakes in my early exploration of my submissive sexuality, but maybe this was something I did right: I dedicated time to assess my submissive feelings and inclinations — sort of a personal, submissive inventory. I really focused on it. That sounds so Tony Robbins, but for me it was less of a self-improvement technique than an inner exploration about strange desires I just needed to figure out.
Probably the most obvious thing to me then was my persistent longing to be obedient in an extreme way. I couldn’t make sense of that, but I knew it was there in me. “Obedience” to me wasn’t simply about being a follower, nor was it about being, say, a housewife in the old traditional sense, deferring passively to a husband. My longing was something else, deeper and more extreme. Of course back then my definition of “extreme” was more modest than I consider it now, but even then I had a clear sense that my longing required something beyond normal.
I remember being at parties with real estate colleagues, sitting and sipping cocktails. A particular man there, just by his presence, compelled certain submissive feelings in me. I remember having a longing to sit on the floor at his feet. In the social context there that would have been so inappropriate and odd, yet I wanted that, maybe precisely because it would have been a socially embarrassing demonstration of my obedience. I didn’t even know the man.
I realized as well that my submissiveness also involved the desire to be taken into experiences I never could or would take myself. At the time, I couldn’t specifically identify what those experiences were — I was too new to it all. But I had a palpable sense that I needed someone to command my being and push me into life events of doing and being that were otherwise beyond me.
At the time, I was also going through a kind of sexual awakening. I’ve written many times about how my sexual development was repressed in my early years, and so I was at twenty-seven just beginning to open up sexually to who I was. This led to a brief but serious relationship with a man and also a girl-crush on a colleague of mine, which led to my first sexual relationship with a woman.
But I was given advice from someone, I forget who, to imagine my submissiveness apart from my sexuality and any sexual experience. D/s, it was said to me, is not about sex, but about a radical abandonment of one’s self to another’s dominion. The point was that as I assessed my submissive self, would I still feel what I felt submissively if I took sexual attraction and sex itself out of the picture?
As I worked this through, my answer was yes. That desire to be “taken into experiences I never could or would take myself” was not primarily, to my mind, about sex. I could imagine sexual things, yes, but it was for me really about a different kind of relationship in which I was treated in a non-traditional way, taken into life experiences of submission and obedience — again, admittedly, vague and undefined. My submissiveness just had a craving sense these “other experiences” awaited me out there.
The further realization I came to was troubling to me. But it was strong and unavoidable. It was, simply, a strong wish for my own degradation.
What I didn’t know then, but believe now, is that this is possibly the core of submissive psychology. My submissive desire was to be humiliated and degraded. I didn’t feel this to be a kind masochism, a “hurt so good” desire. It was different. It was something I would likely protest and object to in reality, yet something I knew I somehow needed. Again it was ambiguous as to what and how (indeed, in my writing now, I’m still trying to figure this out), but it was a strong, driving submissive desire in me. Troubling but true.
There were other things too, other evidences, such as how dominance in persons across a crowded room would somehow melt me, and how I started to imagine myself in a kind of servitude to particular men or women. Traditional people’s fantasies look like a Hallmark movie, mine looked like “The Story of O.”
It took a long time. I was sorting out my life in a handful of different ways — my relationship with my mother and my father, my beliefs and faith, my bisexuality, my career and why it was disappointing… and now this, my submissive nature, which started to loom as a bigger reality in my life than any of the others.
My “submissive self-assessment inventory” took me about a year and a half. It was never so formal a project as that, but that’s kind of what it was. It yielded the self-revelations I share here, but slowly and often messily.
At a point, I started to accept my being submissive. And then becoming open to being extremely submissive. And then allowing myself to identify primarily as a submissive, taking on the label, allowing myself to be defined by it: “My name is Shae and I’m a submissive.”
There were still questions for me to figure out. Namely would my submissive identity need to be a full-time life? And then, how to find a dominant person who would take me places I couldn’t take myself.
But I came to this point when I was twenty-eight where I could say I found my submissive self. I knew this is what I was.