On Submission

The challenge was to define “What’s sub mean to you?”

Sub to me is a sandwich. Or a type of submersible watercraft. Or a prefix that usually means “below.”

I don’t think of myself as anything remotely related to the word “below.” This probably one of the reasons I began rejecting the label for myself. (Not that “bottom” is much better in that regard). Too often, the term “submissive” is thrown about as something that is below or beneath its dominant counterpart. I don’t think that’s how it works.

So I’m going to clarify, because I’m a word nerd and I need to clarify. Am I writing about what submission means to me or what it means for me to be a submissive?

It’s easy for me to say what submissive is not. Or, rather, why I don’t identify as such anymore. It’s a label that seems to carry with it too many assumptions that don’t reflect the whole of me. When I say “I am not a submissive” what I’m trying to convey is that “submissive” is not all that I am. It’s a characteristic, not a character.

But it’s in there. Part of me. One of the little Russian nesting dolls that make up the whole of Phi.

So, how do I describe it? How do I isolate that characteristic, make her a character and assign her that label? What does her submission mean, to me?

I’m going to use an example from my current relationship. Even though there is not a strict D/s dynamic to it, there are times when he is more D and I am more s. There are times when that’s not the case.

There was one evening when his D was prominent and brought my s out for the whole evening. On her own, she’s a bit more quiet and reserved. She’s very obedient; she listens carefully and asks questions because her mission, her goal, is to please him. To make him proud. To serve.

She serves best by asking questions to ensure that her actions meet with his demands completely. That means identifying loopholes that could have gotten her out of something uncomfortable. She doesn’t mind discomfort as long as it’s intentional.

But if he didn’t mean for her to be uncomfortable, she doesn’t see any reason in enduring it; so she asks.

A strange thing happened that night. Frequently when he comes over, we prepare dinner together. That night, because he was very much in D mode, he supervisedwhile she prepared. Usually, after dinner, I (or we) clear the dishes from the table and take them to the kitchen. I usually leave them there overnight, opting to spend more time with him and deal with the mess in the morning than take time from him and do them in the moment.

But that night, in submission mode, that wasn’t an option. Not because he demanded it – not in the slightest. He went upstairs and she set about washing dishes, wiping counters, and sanitizing the stove top. She even preset the coffee machine to brew around the time she thought he’d be waking up.

That was my submissive head space. She wanted everything to be perfect. Clean. Her service resulted in sacrificing time away from her lover, but in service to his comfort. Not that a few dishes in the sink would have made him uncomfortable – but that’s her: she goes above and beyond.

She wants him to be proud. She values his approval, and unless he’s given her some other directive, she’s on autopilot to do whatever feels right to ensure his happiness.

This might have something to do with prior “training.” The last time I was in a D/s relationship, my domestic duties were the measuring stick by which my former partner used to rate my performance. And, in my original D/s relationship: that with my mother (she said, tongue-in-cheekly), it was VERY much valued, despite my not being quite motivated by duty or submission to do it.

What drives her? Love. I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing that really can drive her anymore. It used to be something else: need. In the absence of love, need was a handy substitute, but not a lasting one.

Do little aspects of this character pop up now and then during times when I’m not necessarily in “submissive” mode? Sure. Like i said, it’s really a characteristic, not a character. I’m very rarely in a 100% submissive state of mind anymore.

But it can happen. It did, that night.

I’m sure it will again.

But that doesn’t make me a “sub.”

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