Fear of Submission

Sometimes, I want to just forget everything I’ve learned, deny my desires, and shut it all out of my life; sometimes I want to erase everything I’ve written here (as I have once before) and never play with anyone ever again. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel completely okay with what I want and with who I am.

And that, in itself—the fact that I’m often not okay, that I get scared of myself—is at times profoundly disturbing, and makes me feel somewhat ashamed and embarassed.

A lot of the embarassment comes from the fact that I don’t often get to see other people having those same thoughts and worries. I know that everyone does (right?), but I also feel that this is something that I should be over by now, that because I know intellectually that there’s nothing wrong with what I feel and what I want, I shouldn’t be agonizing over it as much as I do. It’s also in large part due to the fact that my partner, who’s as new to this as I am, has had a far easier time with it than I have, and has very rarely touched the “oh my god, am I really like this” moments.

We talked about this last night, and he said something that I’d never thought of, but that makes a lot of sense to me: being dominant and assertive is seen, in our culture, as a positive quality (especially in men), and so his being a dom doesn’t really create a lot of dissonance—while his desires have certainly troubled him from time to time, especially at first, the overall position of dominance hasn’t been disturbing to him in the same way that submission is to me. Submission can be much more perturbing, because it’s not valued in our culture the way that dominance is; submission means that you’re not strong enough, that you’ve lost.

I’ve struggled with that dominance game all my life, constantly fighting to prove that I am smart and strong, confident and capable. It’s often felt to me that I have to work extra hard to get the same respect as male peers, to be regarded as an equal. And I feel that I’ve largely succeeded in that.

So it’s really not all that surprising, then, that coming to terms with a side of myself that finds a deep satisfaction in being ordered to a man’s feet, to be collared and bound, to be spanked and slapped, to be choked and suffocated, has been just a little difficult. For me, my sexual identity as a submissive is a complete juxtaposition of the persona I present to the rest of the world, or at least, that I want to present. I suspect that a lot of my friends would be shocked to learn that I’m a submissive. For him, his identity as a dom is a little clearer: domination is a positive attribute for him, and his personality is markedly assertive and dominant to begin with. I expect that even if his friends might be a little surprised at the extent of some of the things he enjoys (especially his sadistic side), his general position as a dom would not be at all surprising.

More thoughts, upon reflection: What’s interesting is that I don’t have the same issues around specifically masochistic desires. I’ve always been okay with fantasies or actual play that’s more focused on pain and endurance (clamps, whipping, cutting, etc.) than on the D/S aspect. But that, too, fits in with my background: if the submission is a problem for me because I’ve actively combatted an association with that in my “regular” life, the masochism fits right in with a history of using pain to break through troubling mental states (began cutting and burning myself at age 14) and a fascination with asceticism and martyrdom (very much a self-denying, morality-obsessed activist type up until a few years ago).

4 comments so far

  1. maymay on

    I think the only way to become comfortable with this is to do more of it, and do it in a way that makes you feel good. Submission is not a valued quality in our culture, but some of the essential components of submission are, indeed, very prized: modesty, thoughtfulness, self-discipline, stamina and endurance, and perhaps most typical and prized of all, generosity.

    Of course, the educated individual would see these things as descriptions of both dominants and submissives, but the ignorant only understands these in the context of the server, not the served. That’s something I find comforting when I think of the power needed to submit and how to showcase that to other people.

    And I’m a guy.

  2. Trin on

    I feel the same way about my desires to dominate and my sadistic desires… far more often than I generally admit. It’s hard being us, sometimes.

  3. Dw3t-Hthr on

    I get awfully frustrated about the way surrounding culture treats support roles — and I do largely process being a sub as being in a support role. And I think that makes it hard to be a sub entirely comfortably, because there’s so much out there that values being the go-getter, the one In Charge, the high-powered executive or whatever.

    Drives me spare. I blog about it occasionally, because repeating myself repeating myself repeating myself.

  4. sinclair on

    Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel completely okay with what I want and with who I am. — I definitely still go through this, especially where BDSM and fantasies are concerned, especially with overpowering, and sadism … yeah. your post made me think that I should write on this more. thanks for that.

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