My therapist Jillian (I now have permission to use her real name) is a licensed counselor who lives in BDSM and D/s lifestyles. She is a switch, experienced both as a dom and a sub, though she plays most often as a sub. I think of Jillian as a cross between a motivational speaker and “sub-whisperer,” and she talks about “empowering the submissive.” Which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but in a way that’s her point and her passion.
Since she and I have gotten back into sessions again, she’s been talking to me about some new things. This is a paraphrase of what I remember her saying in a phone call earlier this week. It is incomplete and probably slightly misstated in some places, so any quibble with her statements here are probably my error in translating them.
“Any dominant over you, Shae — Master K or Master Michael or Mistress Amanda or some other — derives pleasure from doing things to you that rob you of dignity and your self-image as a woman. That’s not a criticism. That’s what they are supposed to do as doms. It’s how they are wired. And that’s what we, as submissives, want them to do to us. There’s something in dominance and possession which we subs respond to and need.”
Jillian said she didn’t need to, with me, go into all the back psychology of that. “You already know a lot of it, Shae.” Her point with me was that I need to see my life as a repeated process of degradation. “You are constantly sexualized and subjugated, and you need to deal with the impact of that on yourself.”
“The issue,” she said, “is not how to avoid the humiliations of submission. That’s what we love and need and get pleasure from. The issue is how, repeatedly, to recover from it and rebuild a sense of worth and value.”
“How do I do that?” I asked. So we talked about a variety of strategies. She said my writing online was really important to this. For any sub, she said, any artistic expression — writing, painting, music — is a primary way a submissive processes what she experiences.
She believes more social connection is important. She said she knew it was hard to find persons outside the lifestyle to be understanding of us in the lifestyle. But ideally, someon like that. (I really am trying to build some social connections and outside relationships.)
Jillian talks about a spiritual process — and by that she means meditational — a regular time I can be present with myself, with no other distractions, to think about who I am as a human being, and as a woman of dignity.
She says this is most of all a mindset — how I think about myself. “If your life goal is to be a slave,” she says, “then you will limit yourself and your life to that. If your goal is to be a woman of elegance who lives as a slave, then you aspire to be a person of dignity and value.
I am realizing that for Jillian the phrase “a woman of elegance” encompasses a lot of things. It isn’t for her about the outward appearance or some false image of beauty. It is an inner elegance that comes from confidence that comes from a core of self-value.
She says, “The secret is that doms get much more pleasure from a woman who is confident, who has dignity, and who conveys elegance than one who is self-doubting, depressed, and conveys her own sense of unworthiness. They would much rather dominate a woman of inner strength than dominate a woman who is already broken.”
I have much to think about.