The film is crackly and the figures on screen jerk slightly. It is a party and people mill about, cigarettes and drinks clutched in hand. The hum of the projector and the heat of it lends an almost eerie sense of déjà vu; the hot rubbery smell and squeak as the rubber pedals flash images onto the wall are unique and she remembers the unique sound of film spooling through rubber. Amongst the adults, a child appears, curls close and short to a small skull, a starched “party” dress with a bouffant skirt and cap sleeves. She moves busily between the milling throng, clutching a bucket, emptying ashtrays and picking up glasses.
The child was me. I was 5 and as we watched the jerking, straining super 8 mm celluloid reveal a forgotten era, I found it remarkable to see the submissive in the child ... My father recorded many hours of super 8 film, primarily of my sister and I. The advent of my two youngest sisters coincided with more frequent out-of-town trips and very few films reveal anything beyond around 1961 or 1962. But watching that film some years ago, after rescuing 20 or more canisters of the film from the garbage on one of my “commutes” to Montreal after his death, I was struck by the adult in the child ... for even then, at 5, I had an obvious desire to be of service.
On my forays into the words and thoughts of other individuals, I often see what is termed an “overwhelming need” on the part of women (I realize there are many submissive men, but in this thought, I’m dealing with females). I see again and again justifications and arguments for online and offline relationships apart from their relationship with a primary partner, based on an oft-stated “must have or I’ll die” attitude.
I frequently read that their partners don’t “understand” them or their desires, that they “must” fulfill this deep need to subjugate themselves to a more forceful, dominant personality (now, TRUTH, that kind of excuse really does NOT sound any different than ANY justification for looking outside your primary relationship).
So what is this submission that is so compelling, so overwhelming a desire, so forceful a part of their nature that they are willing to couch potential disaster to fulfill that part of their personality?
1. Submissiveness does not EQUAL WEAK. I know that I was well into my 30s before I recognized the submissive part of my own personality. Certainly, submissiveness is NOT something I had ever associated with myself – thus the first dichotomy I recognized in my maturity. Being submissive is NOT the same as being a doormat – the first mistake a great number of “new” submissives make. I am and always have been a leader. I am and always have been a warrior. I am and always have had ability, “smarts” and a facility for getting things done, organized and completed ....
2. Submissiveness is a Dynamic Between Two Unique Individuals! What I did recognize – in hindsight – was that when D. and I met, my submissiveness flared to life .. it exploded to the forefront and became and integral and inescapable (I thought) part of our dynamic. At 17, I fought against the need I had to serve him. I battled what I perceived the “weakness” i had when it came to forgiving him for transgressions I would have annihilated other men for. I fought the overwhelming (and continuing) sexual fever I found myself wallowing in whenever he was around ... and at 19 I “escaped” to another province, hoping distance and time would sever the obsession he engendered in my erstwhile practical self. What I discovered, however, was that ONLY he elicited that kind of slavish pavlovian response from me – no one else.
And, of course, my ‘escape’ didn’t work and he followed me down two years later.
What I did discover in my short forays away from the magnetism of our mutual obsession was that no one else would do. And as the years progressed and we explored the limits of our complicated, never sanguine obsession, we hit some pretty amazing high points – including a recognition on my part of my innate masochism and an understanding (but not acceptance on his part) of his sadism. Sensuality had always been a driving, magnificent force between us; the addition of the s/m to our sexual repertoire provided such a dimension of pleasure and ecstasy that it at times threatened to invade every aspect of our lives together.
But, when all is said and done, his discomfort with the dynamic persisted and detritus of a damaged psyche contributed to the (almost) inevitable deterioration of a relationship which sadly, worked so well.
In the past four or five years, our dynamic has undergone some dramatic, life-altering changes; shocks, revelations and blows – the jury is out on whether or not we will survive them. During several of these stressful and upsetting intervals, I was faced – several times - with the reality of his repudiation of our dynamic.
And ultimately, it ended.
Regardless and without going into years of our complicated, fucked up relationship, at the end of days, the submissiveness that is an integral part of who I am is no longer in the forefront. In short, I do not live my life in a dynamic which celebrates the submissive part of my psyche.
3. You CAN get on with Life – like many other things, it is all about CHOICE! I had a decision to make – am I willing to ‘give up” or at best, sublimate that part of who I am that provided such poignant, soul-fulfilling contentment? Or (and truly, it is this simplistic)- was having him on his terms more important? What I ultimately concluded, after a great deal of soul-searching and yes, pain, was that the submissive aspect of who I am does NOT define me in my entirety.
The answer in the end, as it always was and probably always will be, is I take him on his terms.
I ruthlessly suppress the submissiveness which, when all is said and done, is simply part of who and what I am. As is my hot temper which I seek daily to control. As is my obsessive list-making. As is my need to “serve” in some form or another.
Because, ultimately, it is a choice we all make.
I will be honest – I could never get my head around having a primary partner in real time and having a Master on the side (whether online or in real time) – not only because I can’t imagine anyone EXCEPT D. in my heart and my bed, but because the sheer INTENSITY of a D/s dynamic is so compelling that I cannot understand how your “regular” relationship could survive.
I do add the proviso – I am NOT judging anyone out there that chooses differently. Ultimately, when all is said and done, I do not walk in anyone else’s shoes. I do not live their days, nor deal with their stresses nor live in their skulls. What consenting adults choose to do with their time, hearts and wills is THEIR business and I would NEVER presume to decide for them the morality of their individual situations.
There is – I admit it – a gaping wound in my psyche – but you know what? The choice I’ve made is to get on with life because when all is said and done, we submissives are tough broads ...