If you were to ever meet me in my daily travels, the word “submissive” is likely the last thing that would come to mind to describe me. I am fiercely independent, strong willed, and extremely outspoken. I am a feminist, an activist, and a mother. I work hard to maintain my strength, my dignity, and my self-confidence.
But I wasn’t always this way.
I grew up in an abusive family where I was never given the option for consent, much less taught about it. As I grew older, I found myself repeatedly in situations where I had been beaten, broken, abused, and worse. I had no control over my life, no control in any of my relationships (familial and romantic), and felt like I was worthless. Without realizing it, I seemed to surround myself with people who wanted to humiliate and hurt me, and was too weak or scared to change that. Any time I met someone who genuinely showed that they cared for me, I turned away from them, fearing they would see how broken I was and be disgusted by me.
In my early 20s, as I was beginning to understand a bit more about who I was and what I wanted for myself, I started to have dark fantasies about being tied up, blind-folded, and flogged by my partner. I didn’t quite understand the reasoning for this, as being submissive was something I loathed about myself. I hated being walked on by my love interests and family, not being able to speak up for myself and put an end to the torture, so why on earth did I yearn for this sort of play in the bedroom?
When I tried to bring it up with my long-term boyfriend at the time, he looked at me like I was insane. I left the fantasy to play out in my mind, as it seemed that it would never be brought to fruition. We did try experimenting a little bit with some soft bondage such as handcuffs and neckties, but it just wasn’t the same, as I knew he wasn’t really “into it” the way I was.
Partners came and went over the years, few of whom were even willing to try the softer bondage with me, and certainly none who were interested in the dynamic of power that I wanted to share with someone I loved. I knew that I did not want a partner to dominate any aspect of my life aside from in the bedroom, however it seemed that I was still choosing men who did exactly that. Funny how they had no problems dictating who I saw, what I wore, and where I went, yet in the bedroom, they refused to dominate me.
The few men I met who were actually interested in BDSM were not attractive to me, and their personalities did little to help that. The years wore on and my hope for finding a partner that I connected with on every level, especially sexually, all but disappeared. I spent four years shackled to a man who belittled me, insulted me, and blamed me for all the problems in our relationship. At times I truly felt that it must, in fact, be my fault, as I was only ever surrounded by his family and friends (who of course echoed his sentiments that I treated him badly). He had a good way of manipulating me so that I felt alone and angry most of the time, yet couldn’t leave because he would then turn around and be sweet and kind. Having a child together only compounded the issues we faced and made me feel like I couldn’t get away. I didn’t like who I felt I was when we were together, and I didn’t know how to change that.
But near the end of our relationship, I found my deepest inner strength and faced my demons. I refused to let any man hold power over me that I did not give him, and I was no longer willing to let him have any more of my power.
This was when I began to understand more about myself and my submissive side. I had always found it difficult to reconcile my private sexual desires with my desire to have power over my life. You have to be powerful to be submissive. Submission requires strength and trust; strength to let go of your power and give it to someone else for a time, and a complete trust in your partner that they will respect you and your boundaries.
I came to realize that being submissive does not mean weakness. It means that I am confident enough in myself to be able to hand the reigns over to someone else and know that they will return them to me after we play. It means that I am allowed to have power over my wants and needs and have someone else fulfill them for me, even if it doesn’t fit into traditional power dynamics or sexual desires. When my partner gives me orders in the bedroom, I happily follow them because I know that he respects me, he cares for me, and he will never try to control me outside of our play time.
No longer do I have to fight tooth and nail to retain power over my life. Having my submissive side being fulfilled in a healthy capacity means that I am able to have a healthy and happy life outside of the bedroom as well, which is something I’ve struggled with for many years. Being submissive in the bedroom doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person, or a bad mother, or weird. It simply means that I’m able to live out my fantasies with someone who cares for me, which makes me a better person and mother, as I am finally happy and fulfilled in every aspect of my life.
Written by Sara Hanna