Thursday, March 25, 2010

Am I a submissive?

Am I a Submissive?

I know that in my work persona, increasingly I am willing to capitulate. If someone wants the power, I willingly handed it over. I am not uncomfortable with holding power, making decisions, being responsible. But if anyone ever reaches for it, I deftly step aside and hand it over without thought, no matter if that person is competent, entitled or even knowledgeable. I am naturally a follower and a fixer. If someone messes it up, I just fix it. I find that many of my coworkers begin to assert themselves giving me orders beyond their authority.

In many ways I was infinitely more submissive at work than with my husband. For years, decades, I would bristle, resist, ignore, criticize, and undermine. Somehow the idea of submitting to him never even occurred to me. And he was the most assertive, demanding, dominant person in my life. I just couldn’t let go of my fear, and I didn’t even know exactly what I was afraid of.

I remember thinking that if I did this thing, gave in, I would disappear. The thing that is me would vanish. I would slip beneath the surface of his needs, his way, his vision like a tired swimmer no longer able to hold my head about the waves.

And if I disappeared, what would be left? Who would I be? What would I be?

But no one can only fight the waves for so long, and admitting and finally embracing my submission made drowning sound so sweetly seductive.

Tentatively, fearfully, irresistibly I would surrender… for a second or two… and let my head slip beneath the surface, and panic. I would fight my way back up. But once I had glimpsed the peace that lay beneath those crashing waves, I had to return, and return again, each time sinking a little deeper, staying a little longer.

And I have learned something. I did not die. I did not drown. In fact, the very act of surrender, inhaling the very thing I feared the most, enlivened me, charged me with power and possibilities. All along I had been struggling to hold my head above his power, thrashing like a drowning swimmer to keep from surrender.

I did not disappear. I did not lose myself, because this is what I was meant to be. I did not become something else. I had been fighting to be something else. And now as I sink down and down, weightless, relaxed and free, breathing in, feeding on, thriving within his power, I realize this is me. This is who I am.

I don’t know how deep the depths are. I don’t really even care. It is peaceful here and the further down I go, the better I like it.


  1. I read this and the first thought that came to mind is when did it make sense, when did you realise you wouldn't 'drown' under his will? If I'm not being to personal to ask this, but was it a singular moment, or a gradual realisation over many months and years? Feel free to ignore the question if I am butting in on personal territory but I am so curious to hear other people's accounts.

  2. It was gradual... like I said the first times of surrender were accompanied by a panicked struggle back to the surface. I don't know how many times it took before I quit fighting. I am not totally sure I have completely quit the struggle.

    Trust is a process. Surrender is a process. Some days easy and natural. Other days one is assailed with a "what the fuck have I gotten myself into" sense of doom.

    It did have its singular moments... by the dozen... One of the first was when I had fought my way back up to the surface and told him in a clear no-nonsense voice that he could NOT be my Master any more... I had changed my mind. He very quickly proved to me that once given... it could not be so easily taken back. There continue to be singular moments, some sweet, some infuriating... but each teach me a new lesson.