Self Care for the Single Submissive - Part 1
In a sex-positive context BDSM stands for:
BD – bondage and domination
DS – dominance and submission
SM – sadism and masochism
Good afternoon, gentle reader. Kayteezee here, with some thoughts on self-care for single submissives. If you are reading this and not already familiar with/experienced in dominance and submission, you might find yourself confused, having thoughts of ‘how can this be healthy?’, or even repulsed. That’s OK. If this topic isn’t for you, then simply move on.
Please note that I’m writing towards relationships that are rooted in consent, not abusive, and in which the participants all have a say in how the relationship is cultivated.
In general terms, a person is submissive when they surrender to the dominance of their partner, and this can occur at a specific time (sex, going out to dinner, at a play party...) as well as over time (a weekend, the framework for the totality of a relationship…).
Clearly there is an infinite number of possibilities between specific and total, and this is why what works for one person may not work for another.
One thing I want to make as clear as possible is that submission as an identity is not always already expressed as weak, conquered, and dis-empowered. In fact, that most vital and healthy expressions of submission I’ve witnessed over the last 35 years are those in which the submissive is strong, willing, and empowered.
As I have been known to say in my coaching and teaching practices ‘if you want to be someone’s doormat, be that from your most fully empowered self’. This is my opinion and my bias. Your mileage may vary.
So here is the first part of this series – Self Care for the Single Submissive
Power is Currency, and you need to have it in order to exchange it. When I teach about power exchange, I often use money as a metaphor. A simple demonstration goes like this:
· I start with $20 in 5s and 10s
· I have someone ask me for $10, and I give them $10
· I have another person ask me for $20, but I only have $10 left
The $10 I am short represents a deficit in my capacity to give
In a context of power exchange (dominance and submission), your personal power is the currency you have. Use your unpartnered time to cultivate greater self-awareness around how you are when you are depleted, so you can bring that knowing into your next relationship. Burnout is a real thing in power exchange relationships – and you can take measures to minimize your own.
If you have a need for surrender/submission and are not partnered, find outlets through which you can experience some relief:
· a need for rough body play might end up with you grappling, wrestling, etc
· following orders (being obedient) could show up as you attending an exercise or movement class, so you can do what someone asks you to do
· your need to be in a service position might show up as you volunteering, helping a friend move, etc..
Spend some time defining and refining your power exchange needs and think outside of the BDSM box.
What makes you feel the most alive and connected?
How are you best supported when you are under stress?
What appetites do you have that need to be ‘fed’ though your exchange of power? Here’s a piece I wrote called ‘Beyond the BDSM Checklist’. You can use it to think about areas of your life that are impacted by power exchange relationships, so you can see where you stand. There are sections on finance, monogamy/non-monogamy, love, work, etc., and it’s free.
One possible expectation of you as a submissive is that you will be doing a great deal of emotional labor in the relationship. You might do some things that you would rather not. You could be asked to behave in highly specific ways (protocols) that require you to mask your feelings in the moment. In order to be able to do this better, while you are unpartnered, keep your self as balanced as possible.
What I’m talking about here is the relationship between your body/mind and the world: stress, grief, new opportunities. Notice where and when you feel agitated/angry/etc and take action to shift that. Here’s a video explaining some breathing exercises that are specifically aimed at emotional balance, and here’s a video of me guiding the full meditation. Of course, there are myriad other ways to seek and maintain balance. Perhaps you garden or knit.
Practice these complete sentences: ‘No’ and ‘No, thank you’. Decline an invitation without making up an excuse. Notice where and when you soften your ‘no’ in order to be polite, or to avoid a conflict, or because you are concerned about how the other person is going to react, or whatever reason. Healthy and clear boundaries are critical in the cultivation of consent, and you having clear and healthy boundaries will help you negotiate with your future dominant partner/s from a place of personal power.
Notice where you are feeding your own resentment towards people and situations in your life, so you can practice releasing resentment and forgiving. Say, for example, you have a friend who is always late, and you hate that about them and allow that response within you to be an expression of resentment and/or hostility. What can you do to have your preference for punctuality without making your friend wrong?
People who operate as the dominant partner are just that: people. They will fuck up. They might lie to you. They are also learning. If you expect your dominant partner to be perfect and they are not, you are likely to find yourself disappointed.
Visualize and Seed what your next power exchange relationship will be like.
Visualization is the practice of imagining how something looks, while seeding is the practice of imagining how something feels. In the context of single-submissive-self-care, your visualization might include a scene you want to experience, or the kind of collar you would like to wear. What does it look like? Write that shit down. Paint it. Sing it into a song. Make a vision board. Whatever works for you.
It’s been my experience that it’s often far easier to visualize than it is to seed. I have some theories about why this is the case, and for now, what I’m inviting you to do is to look for where/how you feel your submission in your body. When you’re in your next power exchange – how are you going to feel? If you’ve had past relationships, you can tap into those emotional memories in your body. If you haven’t had a power exchange relationship in which you were the submissive – what can you imagine it will feel like? Can you find it in your body? Is the emotion you’re bringing forward... does it have a shape? How about its density?
Here are some questions to help you get started if this is confusing or seems out of reach. How do you feel in your body when you are safe? How do you feel in your body when you have an experience of mattering to someone? How does smooth resolution to conflict feel? Think of seeding as exercising your emotions – keep those muscles strong.
That’s it for today, friend. Stay tuned for Part II