Abject Submission 3: Only the Gift

Hands making a heart around baby feet
Image courtesy of Vinoth Chandar (CC BY 2.0)
This post is part of the Is It Bad for Me? series. You may wish to begin with Part 1.

As you know, a few weeks ago I was frightened by my kink. I already knew I had been eroticising my depression last year – we emotional masochists are capable of amazing feats – but now I wondered if I had also been trying to get addicted to it. Because I knew I had been compulsively reliving the worst of it in fantasies and fiction.

And I have this blog to thank for getting me through the panic. My friends have been wonderful, but normally I wouldn’t even have mentioned it to them. I’d just have tried not to think scary thoughts until my natural forgetfulness took over.

This time I started to write, and the painful details came back. Before I knew it, the search for clarity had forced me to the point of tears and fear. For a while there I thought blogging had made things worse.

But as soon as I finished writing Abject Submission 1 and hit the off switch, other things started coming back to me. The simple pleasure of giving handouts to strangers with a smile. The way tension fled my body when I imagined being in bondage for the first time in a long time. The joy that had made me beam at security guards and passing trees after someone said, “My dear, you’re mine.”

I spent a week making notes. I analysed 78 ebooks for patterns. I made it far too complicated. Because there is really only one question: How does it make you feel?

For thirdxlucky, the answer was: Unequivocally awful.

I can’t remember the first time I had an orgasm. I also can’t remember a time when having orgasms, for me, wasn’t tied to a process of self-destructive psychological abuse in which I would hypnotically force myself to re-imagine and re-live variations on violent, traumatizing feelings from my childhood until I came — and then lie in bed afterwards feeling blurry, dissociated, scared, unable to focus, intellectually muted and emotionally numbed. I’ve hated coming for most of my life. And I still forced myself to do it compulsively, similar to the way I used to cut myself compulsively, knowing that I was going to regret it for the rest of the day.

– From “This One’s for the Invisible Girl” by thirdxlucky

I had assumed my fantasies were bad for me because they were about reliving experiences which were bad for me. But did they leave me numbed by trauma and fear, self-loathing and regret?

No. Something in me took the worst of real life and gave it back to me, changed just enough to leave me feeling loved and supported. It’s amazing how the fantasy was almost identical to its real-life antecedent, and yet it took me months to see the parallel because the emotional effects were night and day. Gone the frustration and hurt. Only the conflict and helplessness and love remained, leaving me prostrate with gratitude.

Still depressed. But comforted.

Was I wallowing? No. I thought I was, because I knew I could turn off the depression any time I liked using Jeeves or Fawlty Towers. And I did dose myself with English comedy – but rarely. Why not? Didn’t I want to be happy?

Now I know the answer. Laughter was anaesthesia. I didn’t need all that much of it. The fantasies and slave fic were better, because they reminded me what it felt like to be loved without hurt. And that’s what was missing from my real life. I wasn’t killing myself by chasing depression, I was curing myself by transmuting it into submission.

Abject and terrified, yes. But full of love, and deserving of love in return.

And that must be why I fell in love with those two slave fics about emotional abuse and rescue, The Golden Bird by Augusta Columbine and Unmarked by Dusk Peterson. Because that’s what they’re about, this transmutation.

Luca laughed. He felt fizzy all over, wild with joy. Robert wanted him. Truly wanted him, even though Luca was a slave and a whore and a slut who couldn’t control his prick. Robert thought Luca was beautiful, perfect. Robert had come just from the friction of their bodies moving together. Luca called Robert master and Robert wasn’t the least bit angry at his presumption. He hadn’t even shoved Luca away when he was done with him. It was like the dream Luca used to have when he was little, a child’s fantasy of being bought by a kind, gentle owner. He’d always been brought back to reality by a kick or a slap or a patron punishing him for not being eager enough. But Robert was real, and he was better than any dream.

– From The Golden Bird (Chapter 38) by Augusta Columbine (online, work in progress)

Laughter, joy, being wanted. Those authors were trying to do for me exactly what I was trying to do for myself – take me on a journey, starting from numbed pain and the conviction of worthlessness – but ending in submission, offered with joy, received with love. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out. Thank you, thank you a million times, Augusta Columbine and Dusk Peterson.

And now I think I also know why thirdxlucky scared me so much. Fear, self-loathing, and regret for giving in to compulsion – that’s how Alebeard’s aptly named Rape, Pillage & Plunder Stories made me feel sixteen years ago. And a few weeks ago, just before I wrote Abject Submission 1, that’s just how Fernando’s similarly themed graphic novels were making me feel. Violently aroused. And deeply violated.

Doubly shocked.

I have written elsewhere about how I could possibly be turned on by the Rapist’s Happily Ever After. I’ve also written about the aftermath of shame and horror. But I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain why My Kink Is OK but Not OK.

And now it is so clear. There are stories that make me feel wonderful about my kink, and stories that leave me feeling like filth. They’re both about abject submission and the thrill of receiving it. But The Golden Bird and Unmarked treat submission as a gift beyond price – an infinitely humbling responsibility, to be returned with equally unbounded love and protection. How could I not feel safe? Whereas for Alebeard and Fernando, I’m a treasure, but a treasure meant to be pillaged and polluted with glee. How could I not feel violated?

It’s not the first time I’ve wondered about the difference. Maculate Giraffe actually challenged her readers to figure it out in her seminal Slave Breakers slash series, after first describing the difference:

Truthfully, Lee might not have remembered if getting fucked had hurt …. His master could go as fast as he wanted, he could tear Lee up and make him bleed if he wanted, Lee didn’t care, if this came at the end of it, this blurred and dizzy ecstasy of being wanted, being pleasing, being right, his body no longer a clumsy and traitorous encumbrance that constantly got Lee punished, but a thing his master wanted, touched so gently, was pleased with. He’d never felt so safe as he did then, in his master’s arms, safe and fucked and praised, but he knew he could feel safer: his master’s hard cock in him again would make him truly safe.

Now, finally, he thought he understood: this was how a slave was supposed to feel about his master’s cock. Hungry. Desperate. He wanted any touch his master was pleased to give him. He wanted all the touches at once. This was what he was for.

It’s not about the hurt. I don’t want mercy. Only the gift. And I want to be the giver. But I need someone to accept it.

And it was not wrong for me to imagine it compulsively. That was exactly what I needed, a reminder that abject submission can feel safe.

Thank God I didn’t find Fernando’s graphic novels till this April. Because it could have gone the other way. And I don’t think I’m completely recovered yet, either from last year’s depression or the shock of several weeks ago. I burst into tears while writing this very post, because it made me realise why I haven’t been able to cope with some of my friends and doctors lately – their heartfelt sympathy triggers the hellish experience which gave birth to my fantasy. I’ve dealt with my own pain, but trying to comfort theirs on my behalf just … doesn’t … work.

But I have most definitely learnt a lot about myself at The University of Abject Submission. So thank you, too! Thank you for being my classmate.


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