nurture, nature, and how I got this way

Sunday night, Mother and I sat outside on the porch with bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It became a reliving of a memory that led me through a maze of thoughts on psychology, submission, and dairy products.

It’s a question posed to me sometimes: about the psychology of submission and dominance, specifically how much of it might be derived from one’s relationship to parents. Jeremy asked me this, but others have too, so I won’t put this in the form of Jeremy’s conversation with me.

The presumption is that an adult submissive like me might be submissive due to a childhood of pleasing a difficult or distant parent. Likewise, it’s suggested an adult dominant might be dominant because an upbringing of chaos compelled a child toward order and control.

It’s a tricky question for me because I don’t really agree with those explanations, yet I do believe in the basic ideas of psychology, which is based largely on childhood cause and adult effect.

Yes, we are creatures of our nurture to some degree, no question. As adults, we are inclined to some things because of childhood associations. Being back in my childhood world is replete with personal examples.

This is where dairy comes in.

I remember when I was in grade school my parents taking me to an ice cream parlor called “The Barn.” We went nearly every Sunday night after church, and I always got their mint chocolate chip ice cream. To this day, that’s my favorite flavor, and I always buy it, often saying, “It’s good, but not as good as The Barn.”

It’s obvious that I am, as an adult, reaching for the mint chocolate chip at the grocery because of my memory association with it as a child. That’s a basic tenet of psychology, common knowledge. I agree that my childhood nurture influences much of what I do today.

Another example: I have written often about how in my slave life I am required to scrub the kitchen floor, and also how, quite incidental to the degradation that often accompanies it, I quite enjoy the floor-scrubbing itself. I know this is a feeling that derives from when as a child my mother asked me to scrub the floor for her because she had problems with her knees. If I did a good job (which I always did), she’d treat me to, well, mint chocolate chip ice cream. That pleasant association persists in me today and attests to the frequent association between adult propensities and childhood nurture experiences.

(In an ironic twist, in this current time here with Mother, I have twice now scrubbed the kitchen floor, not because it needed it nor for any ice cream but to relive the recent memories of my slavery in which I would be sexualized and objectified and watched with sexual pleasure.)

Another example illustrates the point I’m getting to.

As a child, I was also a maker of stories. First in my head, then in play with friends (in which I was always the damsel in distress, often tied to trees, waiting to be rescued), and later in grade school as a writer of these same stories, putting them down on paper.

That I am a writer today, even as I am writing this now, is perhaps a result of my childhood penchant for telling stories — again reinforcing the nurture side of things.

Yes, but then there’s the further question of where my attraction to writing came from in the first place. How was it that at a very early age, as I started to form simple sentences, I became so inclined? My parents always told their friends that I was “such the teller of stories.” Neither of my parents had that in them; nothing in their rearing of me suggests I was a child bard out of some coping reaction to my mom or dad.

I was a writer then, and am a writer now, because that was in me. It was the way I was made. It was nature.

I think of my submissiveness this same way.

Certainly, there are things in my childhood you might point to that suggest nurture-experiences of being controlled or submitting to authority. I haven’t written much about my father (I will someday), who was stern and authoritarian, and I’m sure analysts of me could make a lot of that. I have written about the church culture I grew up in (what I’m back in now), its emphasis on hierarchy and the submission of women — and you could point to that as rendering (nurturing) me to be submissive then and now.

But those experiences don’t really align. If anything, I should be rebelling against that in adulthood, eschewing anything that aims to subjugate me and make me submissive. Somehow, I have left those experiences behind, yet found my true submissiveness, that which I think I was born with. I believe I am an adult submissive despite my upbringing, not because of it.

This goes to my belief that my adult submissiveness is actually a kind of sexual orientation. That’s another conversation, and one I’ve written about before.

My point is that I am a writer today because I was born with a brain that was adept at ideas and stories (and likewise not adept at putting things together — mechanics).

And I am a submissive today because I was born to be this way, oriented from birth to live a submissive life.

There is truth in both nurture and nature, of course — each well illustrated in my life by a dairy product.

Nurture makes me long for a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream on the porch on a Sunday night.

Nature makes me long for Amanda, as an act of her dominance, to smear mint chocolate chip ice cream over my naked body and watch me drip.

10 thoughts on “nurture, nature, and how I got this way

  1. As a father of three very different children, I’d agree that we come out of the womb with personalities and inclinations already largely formed. And I think our orientations, when it comes do dominance and submission, are ingrained in our natures, though of course influenced by nurture.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Life has led me to believe that we are born with propensities regarding certain likes, interests or abilities. Our lives, anytime, but particularly during childhood, may curtail or reinforce those propensities. Sometimes, when the former occurs, it can leave us in conflict, and, sometimes, when the latter occurs, we can soar. Perhaps your upbringing, shae, caused you to deny your true sexuality and thus, you discovered yourself later than you might have, otherwise. Of course, my opinion and five dollars might buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
    As regards ice cream:
    Two scoops of good butter pecan ice cream, reverently anointed with 1 tbsp maple syrup, ¾ Oz. bourbon, and a light sprinkling of shake-on Chipotle is not to die for, but to kill for.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. very interesting i think that there is some truth to all this. My father (first born male latinx) was very dominate and yet when i came to my Mother, he gave her everything she wanted. I remember clean the street in front of our house and the elderly neighbors as Father taught we help each other out. i was always a Momma’s boy. And here i am serving my Mistress and Her Hubby Sir. Helping out my youngest daughter and her hubby with there 4 girls. Just serving and enjoying life. Thanks for a wonderful blog. love the picture You painted of you with “smear mint chocolate chip ice cream over my naked body and watch me drip.” happens to be my favorite ice cream too. Thanks


  4. this speaks to me in unexpected ways…the relationship of food to sexuality. The Marcel Proust idea of how the taste of a simple tea cake, a Madeleine, can trigger a novel-length soliloquy…your mint chocolate chip is how I experience my father…but my flavour has always been vanilla.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello shae,
    I’ve been following since the early days of your blog and I enjoy it very much. I’ve never written until now but just want to let you know I hope things are going OK for you in PA. I’m a bit worried as you haven’t posted in a couple of weeks now. Your readers care about you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mister Ben, thank you for your concerns. I’ve been in a difficult place emotionally, but am surviving OK. I intend to post something soon, explaining the current state of things. I appreciate your interest in my life and blog, sir, and maybe I’ll get back on the blogging track again….


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