6/16/2011

Barriers on the Road to Surrender







Subs may hit road bumps on the way to submission. Whether your immediate goal is getting her to subspace, punishing her, or simply getting her to relax, you will doubtless hit these bumps in the road. Sometimes they are small bumps, things that you notice but don't really hinder the journey. Sometimes they are full-on barriers in the road and you have to stop the car and remove the barrier before you can keep driving.






Some barriers are doubtless in your slave's control. Some of them are probably not; these are the instinctual, emotional, or even habitual responses. Eventually, these can become unlearned, but that will take training and consistency on your part.






Here are some things that can hinder subs from fully submitting:






  • Fear. This is at the root of all the other barriers! Whether a sub is stubbornly telling you no, swearing her remorse if you stop caning her, or putting distance between you, they all stem from fear. The question is, what is she afraid of? She may be afraid of being seen as a doormat, being judged, being too sexual, losing her self-identity, being too needy, or any number of things. Sometimes she may not consciously know unless you ask her and make her think about it.



  • Stubborness. This is definitely within a sub's control, and represents a basic failure on her part to allow herself to feel "loss of self". You can point out what she is doing and encourage her to let go of herself a bit and acquiese to you.



  • Embarrassment. It is almost impossible to relax enough to surrender to another person if a sub is feeling embarrassed, because embarrassment focuses on yourself ("What do I look like? How am I being perceived?") instead of the other person. It is a natural reaction, but one your sub will have to get over to reach fuller submission. You may want to reassure her, distract her, or simply focus her attention back to you.



  • Self-consciousness. This is related to embarrassment. If a sub is struggling with insecurity and self-consciousness, it's going to be difficult for her to go into subspace or reach that level after a punishment where she completely surrenders. When my Dom brings my focus back to him, or causes me pain to distract me, it helps me forget about feeling self-conscious.



  • Anger. Feeling angry means she's feeling wronged somehow, whether rightly or wrongly. She may feel you are being unfair or unkind. If she is focusing on how wrong you are and how right she is, this gives her a sense of moral power and judgment over you. You may need to talk through the problem and listen to her feelings and validate them. Even if you do not change your original stance (and often you shouldn't!), simply letting her know you understand her feelings and that you have taken them into consideration can help.



  • False apologies. This happens a lot right before or during a punishment. Subs will complain and holler, "Not fair!" and come up with a million excuses why they shouldn't be punished and a million ways they will never do it again. Especially if the punishment hurts, she may start apologizing profusely before she means it. I will say that for me, false apologies are not an attempt to be dishonest or lie to my Dom. However, when I'm in so much pain that I'll do anything to stop it, the, "I'm sorries!" just come flying out without me thinking about them because I am desperate to make the pain--which I am honestly sure I could not handle one more ounce of--stop. One solution to this is training in overcoming pain barriers; another is waiting to see if she still demonstrates an actual attitude change once the pain stops.



  • Emotional distance. This is a weapon many women have learned when physically overpowering you is impossible. You are bigger and stronger, so you can control her body, but she can shut you out of her mind. This is her attempt to keep some power. Symptoms include sulking, avoiding eye contact, not answering questions, and getting quiet and withdrawn. She may do it when she is overloaded or overwhelmed. Emotional distance is poison for a relationship because it impedes communication, which is vital for reconciliation. Dr. John Gottman calls this stonewalling, and its presence in a relationship makes you more vulnerable to divorce.



  • Abuse triggers. Things that remind her of past abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, will garner intense physical reactions from her that she probably can't control. She may go completely numb and unmoving, or she may fight you like a tiger. She is not reacting to you; she is reacting to the situation. Abuse victims cannot usually control their reactions; their brains simply react to a perceived threat. Communication is key to understand what her triggers are, why those are triggers, and so that you can recognize the signs. You can also work to devise a plan to work past those triggers or make them less intense when they do occur.



Wait! I didn't add pain to the list! While it is possible for physical pain to jolt a sub out of subspace, it is interesting to note that pain can actually serve to put a sub into subspace. Once my Dom has gotten me to clear my mind and relax, it is often only a centering jolt of pain that I need to send me into subspace. I call it "centering" because it forces all other thoughts and concerns out of my head, and I focus only on one thing. It also makes me go into subspace easier because I find it sexy that he has power over me.




Let's go back to the subject of which of these "barrier to submission" are in your sub's control and which are not. Some are probably conscious choices she makes; others are subconscious decisions she makes and you may need to point out exactly what she's doing before she will realize it and correct the mistake. For instance, I know if I'm being stubborn. It's a conscious choice I make, and I deserve it when my Dom punishes me for it. On the other hand, I often don't realize when I start to bring myself out of subspace because I'm getting embarrassed about acting "too submissive," or when I am forgetting to make a verbal request because I assume he'll read my body language. In those cases, once he points it out to me, I realize what I'm doing and can make the choice to change my behavior.




Other barriers, however, are not in her control. A sub who has been abused cannot control panic attacks brought on by triggering that event. Telling her to relax in that situation will not do any good, because the truth is she can't relax. However, even the most instinctive reactions can be unlearned, with slow and careful navigation on your part, lots of communication, and patience as you train her body to un-learn old reactions and learn new ones.




One reason I like the BDSM idea of "training" over the idea of just going straight to discipline is that it gives the sub time to understand what reactions she is having, how they are affecting the relationship, and what the Dom would prefer she do instead. Training can include punishment, but it is often the final resort, and first the couple is expected to communicate. If my Dom tells me what he wants me to learn, why it's important, and how he wants me to learn it, that gives me time to adjust to a new and unfamiliar pattern of behavior under his guidance and tutorage. He can guide me through days and weeks of learning the new behavior, and punishment is a final resort rather than his first answer to everything.

1 comment:

Mistress L said...

This is an enlightening post. I find almost all submissives go thru a stubbornness of some kind. I think it's just human nature to fight relinquishing control.

Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us.