As any of you who follow me on Twitter, my poly blog (A Poly Life), or Fetlife know, W’s been out of town since the beginning of November, and won’t return until the beginning of December. As you may also know, I have a hard time with separation from either of my partners, but due to the nature of W’s and my relationship , I tend to feel his absence more acutely than I do Ad’s. I need reinforcement, and confirmation of, our dynamic if he is gone for very long, otherwise I start to feel disconnected; unmoored. Or, as another blogger commented in a post I ran across just now (linked from the last issue of e_lust), as I was contemplating this one:
“Lacking a clear focus, lacking direction and lacking specific dominance, what do submissives have to hold onto? We’re only half of a dynamic. We can’t create dominance to suit ourselves, anymore than a dom can create a submissive when there isn’t one already lurking.” (from Naked Confusion.)
One of the things that makes this somewhat problematical is that while I view (and respond to) W as my Dominant–I am submissive to him, emotionally, not just in those times when he is physically dominating me–he has, in the past, only enjoyed exerting his dominance in tangible ways. He doesn’t want or need to control me outside of telling me who to fuck or play with, or to play with me physically (ie tie me up, beat me and fuck me, or other physical displays of subjugation and/or dominance.) When he’s home, I get my submission fix by placing myself in that situation with him, by being in his presence, and usually do not need many more reminders of our dynamic than that. But when he’s gone, I don’t get that need met at all, and I quickly start to
LOSE MY FUCKING MIND
Okay, maybe I don’t lose my mind, but…it gets squirrelly. I get squirrelly, and needy, and discontent.
In the past, I have prided myself on my communication skills–and gee, we all know what they say: pride goeth before the fall. Actually, I haven’t been all that prideful, I am well aware that I stumble and take missteps and bumble along just like everyone else. But seriously? This was Communication 101, and I ignored the first rule. You know, the one that says, “He (or she) can’t read your mind”? Yeah, that one.
The thing is, sometimes, submissives have difficulty communicating their needs, wants and desires. Even those of us that know better, that know that just because we are submissive doesn’t mean we’re doormats, that we are strong and capable and can speak up for ourselves and yadda yadda yadda…even we have difficulty speaking up sometimes. It’s common in the vanilla world, too, for women (in particular) to have difficulty asking for things, especially when those things are intangibles such as needing comfort or affirmations of love or worth.
So is it any wonder that in a D/s dynamic, we might find it even more of a struggle to reconcile the necessity of asking for what we want or need with our need to be submissive; to be compliant, to give in, to subvert our own needs, wants and desires to the big-D type person in our life? Speaking up, especially if it is about an issue with the potential to cause confrontation or disappointment, about something that the D-type might not want to hear, or if it could be perceived as criticism, can be very difficult.
Throughout my young adulthood I fought to retrain myself to behave and communicate in healthier ways than my own family did. I saw the other women in my family fall into the habit of passive/aggression, and I abhorred it. I don’t necessarily blame them for these tactics–they were only conforming to their own upbringing, following in their own mother’s, sister’s, aunt’s and grandmother’s shoes. Women were taught to be quiet, to be good, not to make waves. The only way to get those needs heard was a sideways attack: you weren’t allowed to confront the issue directly.
And if that didn’t work, well, you could always fall back on martyrdom.
But while I don’t blame them, I certainly don’t want to be them. And so I have really tried to learn to communicate directly and openly about my feelings. About my expectations. About everything. It’s not easy, though, and when I began exploring submission, I realized that interacting in a D/s dynamic was going to make it even harder. But I persevered. And still do, working to find ways to communicate effectively even within the dynamic.
And (hopefully) learning when I make mistakes.
I knew that I was going to need more in the way of reinforcement while W was gone. I have known that about myself since he left last time. And, I’ve thought about it since then. I blamed myself for being too needy, I blamed him for not being Dominant enough. I tried to force myself to believe that part of my “submission” is to accept what (I believed) he is capable of giving, and to believe that what I want or need isn’t important–my submission is. And, in some cases, I believe that this is part of the dynamic. That is part of submission, and a part that many submissives revel in, a part that feeds that need in us.
I did hint at my needs, but I was afraid of rocking the boat, of making him feel inadequate, of making him think I was unhappy with him by being more direct. I wasn’t unhappy with him–I just need “specific dominance” to respond to. The thing is, that is (perhaps) hard for someone to relate to that doesn’t need, er, “specific submission.” He doesn’t need me to kneel at his feet, or call him Sir. He knows I am submissive to him, all the time. He knows it is a part of me, a part of our dynamic. But guess what? He may not realize it, but the reason he knows it’s there is because I tell him so, all the time. I show him, all the time. I think he thinks I don’t need to “show” it to him; that he just knows it’s there.
I think, though, that perhaps he also gets it fed without even realizing it’s being fed, because regardless of any “specific dominance” on his part, I respond to him as his submissive. That is always there, given to him by me, freely, because it is how I relate to him. The fact that he doesn’t choose to exhibit his dominance, that he doesn’t, say, tell me “no” about something, or tell me how to do something, or make demands about my behavior…doesn’t mean that the undercurrent isn’t there. And I know he is intuitive enough to feel it, even when he hasn’t asked for it.
The other day I was…poking…at him, trying to get him to say he missed me. “Of course I do,” he said. “But that goes without saying.”
Um, actually, no. It doesn’t. Well, it does. I do know that he misses me. But–
“Let me ask you this,” I said. “You know I love you and miss you, right? But yet I still tell you. And how does that make you feel, when I say it to you? Good, happy, loved, appreciated?” He had to admit that it did.
Same thing with D/s. I feel my submission to him all the time. I know he is my dominant. But I need to feel it. I need something tangible to respond to.
But this is where my big ole Communication 101 Error occurred. I had…sort of…expected him to read my mind, to know that I needed more, based on hints I had given him. I didn’t say any of that to him before he left. I knew it was going to be an issue, but I just couldn’t get to that place where I could say, “I need you to…dom me. From afar. Give me assignments, tell me what to do, give me tasks.” He has never expressed his dominance this way. Long distance Topping has never been his thing.
At least it wasn’t.
Even when I finally did screw up the nerve to say it, when I had about
LOST MY FUCKING MIND
I struggled with the words. With communicating.
It took a rather long, tense, not-very-happy conversation between us to get to the heart of the matter. I wish it hadn’t taken me getting all squirelly for us to get there, but…sometimes, that’s the only way it can happen. I’m not perfect. I stumble, I bumble, I make mistakes. But I’m learning.
And W? Let’s just say that he has “risen to the challenge.” Once he understood how important it was to me, and why, and once we discussed the ramifications of it (and his own concerns about it), he started shifting the dynamic, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. And I find myself responding to him in ways that I have only dreamed about doing with him. I like a D/s dynamic. Honestly? I crave it. I don’t want to be micromanaged any more than he wants to micromanage me. But…we are discovering a middle ground.
And I find myself reacting in ways that are new and delicious. So for instance, instead of saying “I’m thinking about doing such-and-such, what do you think?” I find myself saying, “May I do such-and-such?” A subtle, but huge, difference in how I perceive things between us. And he’s said “no” more than once. And when he did…yeah, I felt sad about not getting to do what I wanted…but I also felt…wonderfully, deliciously, reminded of our dynamic. Submissive to him. I like that feeling, of obeying, even when I don’t want to. And of knowing that he expects that obedience.
So…this shift has been interesting. For both of us. He’s actually found that he derives a lot of pleasure (and amusement) this way. And…as I knew he would be…he’s good at it. He makes me shiver, he makes me wet, he makes me happy. He makes me all subby and happy and swoony in my subbiness. ;-)
And, in another interesting twist…Ad has stepped in as “enforcer.” But more about that in another post, perhaps.
So…dynamics they are a’changing. And I love it.
Oh, and PS. He told me he misses me. ;-)
(A word here about “topping from the bottom,” because I can hear some people saying that to describe how this change in dynamic came about. First of all, W and I communicate as two adults in a relationship, first. Secondly, he expects me to communicate my needs to him. And lastly, topping from the bottom doesn’t work unless the Top allows it to–or doesn’t realize he’s being manipulated. And seriously? If a Top doesn’t see when he’s being manipulated–and stop it if that’s what he wants–then maybe he should rethink what he’s doing. As W says, I can ask for anything. It’s up to him to grant it or not. I can even attempt to manipulate him (which I don’t, except in certain “playing bratty” situations.) Sometimes, it amuses him to “allow” me to manipulate him (in which case, um, yeah, he’s not being manipulated.) But simply asking your Top for something is not “topping from the bottom.” It’s communicating. Nuff said about that.)