2015 was a valuable year for me. I spent the first half struggling through a frustrating and restrictive relationship, and at some point during the summer I reached an all-time low. Hitting rock bottom like that forces you to make a change or risk getting consumed by despair. So, as difficult as it was, I gathered the strength to pull the plug and walk away. I made a conscious effort to find people who accepted me and who wouldn’t make me feel ashamed for exploring my interests. Although I’m still dealing with residual pain, I am doing much better now.
That relationship was as vanilla as could be. Sometimes sex got slightly rough, but that was about it. This was a guy who didn’t like sex toys, or extra implements of any sort. I don’t know if he was threatened by them or what, but I didn’t mind. I liked the way he felt. I liked the way I felt with him, so I was happy. As far as kink goes, I had barely started researching and had no idea what I would be into, if anything at all. We discussed it a few times. Apparently the little interest I had was enough for me to be “way kinkier” than him. I have a feeling he couldn’t fathom why someone would want to be cuffed, gagged, and beaten. I asked myself the same questions, but I certainly didn’t find the idea repulsive. So sure, I was up for experimenting with new bedroom gear. I remember sending a flirty text about picking up a pair of handcuffs, but…I wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm. I never bought the handcuffs. “I’m not the Dom type”, he would say. Like I cared about that. I didn’t know what it meant for someone to be a Dom, nor did I know what it meant to be a sub. At that point I was still buying into the stereotype that a Dom was abusive asshole and a sub was a girl who couldn’t think for herself. Why would I want that sort of dynamic? I just wanted to be tied up for a night.
The kink thing wasn’t a huge problem, but in retrospect, it’s a good metaphor for the issues we did have.
That summer I was presented with an opportunity to explore modeling. It had always been an interest of mine, but I never sought it out. I never thought it would actually happen. But then it did, and I got thrown into the deep end: a nude shoot. (Well, body paint, but still.) I had no issues with that at all. In fact, I was ecstatic. I was thrilled to be put on display, because he made me feel sexy and confident. Now, all the models in this project were subject to a screening, where you were evaluated for your structure, what colors would work well, etc. This involved being nude, obviously. My experience was completely professional and I had a lot of fun. It was a very sensual, erotic event–right up my alley. Afterwards I was euphoric, riding the high of finally trying something that previously only existed in my wildest dreams, and I couldn’t wait to tell him how amazing I felt.
But his reaction ruined everything. As much as I tried to explain, he was convinced that the shoot was a scam and the artist was only using it as an excuse to see and touch a pretty, naked girl. In a matter of seconds my world came crashing down. He was absolutely disgusted that I allowed it to happen and that I actually enjoyed myself. This man, who had made me feel beautiful, suddenly made me feel like a worthless whore.
And for a moment, I honestly considered pulling out of the shoot. I just wanted to make him happy. I wanted to be what he wanted me to be.
And then I realized…that wasn’t the solution.
The modeling incident was the final straw in a serious of events where he made me feel ashamed and embarrassed for expressing my sexuality and sharing my body. I no longer had the energy to try to fix it. Achingly, I recognized that I couldn’t be myself and be with him. That’s when I left.
Looking back, I am now exceptionally aware that I allowed him to have power over me. Knowing what I knew then, I would say that I submitted.
I gave in to the parts of our relationship in which he showed genuine care and respect for me. I wasn’t delusional when I said he made me feel beautiful, because he did, at times. He understood parts of me that no one else had before. But he could never appreciate me completely.
Today, I know that what I went through was not submission. Conceding to another’s will at the sake of your own happiness is not submission. Giving up on your dreams to fit an image someone else has for you is not submission. Closing the doors to the most primal, core aspects of yourself because someone else doesn’t understand them is not submission.
Submission is staying true to yourself.
Submission is exposing the most vulnerable parts of yourself and trusting that you will be protected.
Submission is knowing how incredible you are and sharing it with someone who knows it too.
So here’s to 2016, new beginnings, new adventures, and silly, subby smiles all year.