I’ve been thinking about how I relate to the word submission as of late. I was prompted by being asked why I had objected to the word applied to me and why I was viewing it differently in the last several months. Then, I read the post above and it helped crystalize some of my thoughts.
I do experience a sense of shame due to the word doormat being linked to the word submissive. Submissive doesn’t feel like a strong word to me. It isn’t coming from a strong place in me. Whereas, slavery is strong and coming from a strong place in me. It can take an iron will to bend myself, to stay focused, to be willing to fly in the face of a culture that endlessly promotes the Individual.
Being submissive may not be coming from a strong place but it is my natural place in the world. It doesn’t resonate in some ways because I can’t relate it to strength and I know myself to be a strong person. This character trait is neither something I am wanting or able to change in myself. What I want to do is find a way to make peace with it.
As the writing linked above notes, the boundaries I have for myself are largely non existent. My sense of “being taken advantage of” is non existent. There are a million examples I can think of offhand where anyone witnessing the situation told me, directly, that I was being taken advantage of but I had no intrinsic sense of this. I can see how this factor makes me vulnerable, how it has contributed to me getting into situations where the conditions did nothing to help me thrive as a woman.
The place where I diverge from the pattern is that I do have ambition. I’ve always had a strong drive, a strong work ethic. And it’s been used to further other people’s education, careers, wallets, desires. These last couple of years is the first time I’ve demanded success that was in my own name. I’ve earned a Master’s degree in Exceptional Education for someone else while my own grades suffered under the strain of attempting two simultaneous full time course loads, parenting an infant, doing all of the housework, cooking, and laundry for four, and holding down a full time job. Even thinking about those years, I can’t honestly say that I felt taken advantage of. Yeah. Non existent personal boundaries.
I have boundaries as they pertain to other people. I learned well as a child to make damn sure no one stepped on my mother’s toes and that lesson carried over to how I will respond when someone thwarts the Alpha in my life. I think in terms of a ranking order and in the end, there can only be one on top.
So, instead of having a fight-or-flight instinct or a flight-or-freeze instinct, what I have is a fight (for others) or freeze (for myself) instinct.
I can see how that too has left me open season.
What more could a predator want in life? In me, they have had a person who has no natural personal boundaries, who will fight to the death for them, remove any obstacles to their power, and will otherwise obey without question.
If you show me your teeth, I will inevitably cave if I feel threatened and know that the person can and will overpower me. In other words, I won’t give what they can’t take.
This fits in with the familial cardinal abusive rules:
1. Back down to a threat.
If there is any hint whatsoever that I was not the epitome of deference, the situation would escalate into savage abuse. That means no eye contact, hands behind your back, no crying, no emotion, soft or no speech. The idea here was that the mother was not to be challenged in any manner. Any idea that I was not backing down to the threat meant I had “stepped into a woman’s place” and should expect to be treated as another woman, as a threat, so the swift escalation to punching and kicking was entirely my fault.
2. Never beg.
Begging implies both weakness and is disgusting and should be obliterated. It also implied that the mother was abusive and cruel and if that was the case, if that is what I was communicating, then it was time to “show me what abuse was” and the fault was mine entirely for provoking it.
That speaks more to the predator and prey concept, the idea of being overpowered but only by a person who has it in them to fuck you up. The abuse model is abhorrent to me. The truth though is that I respond to people who are able and willing to take me down if I needed it. I can’t respect or understand anything else, not in an animal sense. Deep down, what it feels like is I will give you everything of my own free will, provided we both know that you can take it the moment I stop offering. That feels right to me. It makes sense to me. Why would I offer myself to a person who was incompetent to take it? To me, that seems demeaning.
The animalistic sense is that I will push back if I believe I can win. Intellectually, especially. Because, when it comes to intellect, I don’t have any natural inclination to link it to emotion. I only understand that as a concept because I have seen it hurt people and I hate hurting anyone for any reason. It doesn’t make sense to me how it would hurt anyone but I accept that it does and that is a good enough reason to me to continuously hold back. The singular time that I will express myself without concern is in a full blown rage, which is deadly calm and punctuated with a beautifully hidden vocabulary.
Physically, I have been shown throughout my life to be weak. Ineffective. Ineffectual. The times that I fought back physically and won where under the direction of the Alpha person in my life or under my protection instinct for them. About those times, I feel nothing. Physically, I have otherwise been continually reminded in life that i’m an easy target, that I couldn’t fend for myself and survive.
When I broke that myth, I walked away from a strangle hold.
I had life-long believed, until a few years ago, that I would repeatedly face rape and homelessness and near starvation without the aid of an Alpha person. Without their good will. And I would work to ensure my own survival, linking it to theirs, giving everything I ever had to them, as a tribute to keeping me safe(ish). Every time I had tried to step into the world alone, I was shown that my mother and the child I had raised were left open to abuse, igniting my fierce protective instinct that kept me coming back. And I was shown that another Alpha, a more cruel one, would step in with my amazing lack of personal boundaries and prove that I wasn’t capable on my own to defend my Self.
Walking out on the myth that I would face danger and death on my own turned out to be the thing that saved me.
No matter what, I know I will figure things out and land on my feet.
Without that knowledge, I would have never found Sir Raven and would have never fit here. I would not have been able to understand her motivations to have me retain my intrinsic sense of self. I would not have understood her not coming up with petty reasons to be cruel and hurtful. I would not have come to her a whole person, one who had broken free from at least blatantly abusive people, blood or no. I take immense pride and satisfaction that I walked out on my own, leaving behind the people who would have kept me permanently ashamed and cowered.
This single choice changed everything for the better. It was not easy. I knew hunger, freezing temperatures, unsafe living conditions, and a new set of people who told me to be afraid. I listened to myself and kept listening to myself.
Now, I need to release the shame from my nature being used against me by unscrupulous people. It really is their shame. They knew what they were doing and as long as I link submission to shame, i am doing my Self a disservice.
Through Sir Raven, i understand that an Alpha Wolf need not be entirely self-serving, need not be cruel. She shows compassion, often. Hell, she has times that she absolutely treats me like a princess. For the first time, i have aligned myself with a person who is entirely capable of taking whatever she wants from me but her goal is never to make me weak or codependent or afraid in the world. We are interdependent. That is the goal and its not a hidden agenda. My strength is her strength. My success is hers. There is no hidden agenda.
i don’t have to agree that she isn’t an Ass at times, insist that she isn’t a control freak when she can be. Her power isn’t about a myth that i have to repeat on demand. It’s clean. She can be cruel because it pleases her and we are openly aware of this. It is her nature, just as it is my nature to bare my throat for her knife, to lunge into it. i can beg for her to beat me and beg for her to stop and its not a threat because we are not lying to each other about what is happening. We are acting out our true natures. It’s clean and honest. There is no hidden agenda, no lies that have to be told, and no shame.
When i asked her, last night, to read that link, i found she already had. i was looking down at the bed when i said that i felt some shame about it, about being me, being that way. And she pronounced, in her steadfast and calm manner, that i was perfect.
In my entire life, no one has ever used that word in any reference toward me. I’ve been a “good” (girl, daughter, wife, lover, child, friend) and a “great” (mother, lover, student, teacher). But never perfect. Not about me or anything I’ve ever done.
What she meant was perfect for her. That who i naturally and really am is perfect for her. And if i am that, ever, even for singular moments in time, that is everything.
Nothing else matters.