This is our truth, tell us yours
As has been said, this is an overheard conversation in a pub, where perhaps you strain your ears, maybe to work out if the woman just came from a whispered story. It is not a how to guide, or instructional manual.
The problem with cliches is they originally developed in order to describe a feeling or situation which others can recognise. A cliche never starts as a cliche, instead it spoke to something which makes others say “Yes, I get that”. So, when I want to describe how my knowledge and understanding of BDSM has developed the word journey attracts and repels.
There has been change and development, and movement, and we are used to comparing this to the idea of a journey, to moving from one place, to another. For me one of the biggest changes has been in understanding what submission is not. For the longest time strange ideas around passivity informed my thinking. It is a huge sign of unconscious bias, of absorbing ideas even if they contradict everything we consciously believe. How many times have I typed the words “a sub is not a doormat”? However when the doors closed, and the clothes were off, submission and passivity were intertwined.
I still remember so clearly the first time I reached out to touch Carter as he was on top of me. I felt like a moment where a Rubicon was crossed. Carter may be smiling as he reads this, and remember another reaching out, when I grasped his head, against all my instincts of what a submissive should be- as he said, a moment he had been waiting for years for. There are many ways to push a sub past their boundaries.
The idea that submission means a negation of ones own desires is a simplistic one, but a very alluring one. The problem is that it carries within it the idea of a submissive as empty, to be filled with whatever the Dominant desires. As I have learnt I have realised that something which is only one sided is rarely worth exploring. I discussed it a little here in a post about sex work and performance. The ending of O is perhaps the most clear example of this as the submissive as an empty vessel, filled with the Dominants desire. What if, instead, the submissive’s desires and the Dominants coalesce in an active synthesis? The most clear way I can think of describing this is coming when Carter comes. Not in the simultaneous orgasms beloved of porn and Hollywood, but as a response to his orgasm. Its hard to describe because its hard to explain. Instead of being the receptacle of anothers lust, their lust and desire become my lust and desire, not cerebrally, but in a very physical, in the most physical way.
Carter and I have a number of running jokes, one of them is about topping from the bottom. As he rightly says, a sub can only top from the bottom if the Dominant allows it. Perhaps though part of the problem with the discourse around bdsm is that the term topping from the bottom even exists. Is a sub meant to have no desires? Or are they not meant to express those desires? In this case does someone want a sub or a clone of themselves? Knowing what I do about human relationships the desire for a clone seems all too common. The work needed in accepting that another person is not a clone of us, and more importantly should not be turned into one, is a lot more than many are willing to put in. Easier to demand an emptiness, and claim it is submission, than to negotiate the fact subs are people too.
Perhaps this is also where the cliche of the journey falls short. The idea of an arc where the sub reaches a space beyond which there is no futher submission possible is a common one. In the final scenes she (and it is always she) is served up, like the main course, to a group of gourmands. Instead my experience is more of each time I submit that arc being played with, can Carter push me to a point beyond which I cannot, this time, go? Not every time we meet might touch the boundaries, but it is a possibility each time we meet. In this way without the search for the ultimate, the ending, each time can be enough in itself.
Carter spoke recently of lessons beyond the bedroom, in his understanding of this thing that we do. Perhaps that is the most important one for me, not to lose what is within my fingers by grasping for what is out of reach. Once that important truth is reached then we free ourselves to fully be in a moment, to experience everything a moment can give us, and to allow an experience to fill us fully.