Tying the threads together: the importance of therapy within D/s

This is one of a series of posts I wrote over the past months but never published. It remains relevant even if “out of sequence”.

Domina Faustine Cox is one of the Dommes on Twitter that I most enjoy reading—her posts are often thought-provoking and issue-based and reading the responses she generates is an education.

In one relatively recent post she opined on the importance of therapy within the D/s context—effectively saying that all clients should combine D/s with therapy.  It won’t surprise you that I believe that everyone can and should benefit from therapy…but I am also aware that therapy is not always accessible for everyone for a range of reasons, including self-awareness.  

I am sure that she was not saying that people in D/s need therapy, not at all, but rather that the ground we cover as we work and play in this arena, can be much more productive and healing when combined with therapy.

The first time I met a dominatrix I committed to seeing a therapist.  She hadn’t asked me to, and I don’t know why I was compelled to do that, or say that, given how little I knew about D/s and what we might explore together.  I couldn’t have possibly known what a great commitment that was then.  Or did I?  Maybe I knew I was going on a journey that might be difficult at times, and which would have profound effects on my psyche and persona, but I had no idea of the destination then, any more than I do now.  As Mistress often said to me, “it is the process not the goal”…and indeed she is right.

When I think of why people go to therapy, what comes to mind is the need to work through issues, trauma, unhelpful patterns.  And I guess that I began the therapeutic process with those things in mind.  I suspect most people do.

But it leads me to speculate about what someone in my position, exploring feelings of submission with a professional dominatrix, might wish to discuss with a therapist.  On the face of it, there needn’t be a connection between what happens in “session” within D/s and in session with a therapist.  Except that when something rocks your world, challenges you, forces you to look at yourself in new ways, sometimes very challenging, and also to find equilibrium in a safe space devoid of judgement, it is hard to imagine that discussing what is happening would not jump to the front of the queue in conversation with the therapist.

And so it has been.  But the conversation has not been about what we do, or even how I feel, but what I am seeking in a D/s partner.  I am consistently amazed by the parallels between the various people I am seeing and the messages they are giving me, and how they are speaking to me as one.  Teaching me to just be, to be in the moment, to be supple, and to let life happen, as it happens.

I like to refer to this collection of people that I have been interacting with as the posse.  Chief among them was the Domme.  And as I spoke to my talk therapist about an instance where I have failed to live consistent to my ideals in submission, I found myself musing about how my therapist was engaging with me to help me discover how to be a slave, and to act in a way that is consistent with those goals.  And I was thinking, ‘this seems completely the opposite way that most people might approach the therapeutic process,’ seeking instead to understand why they have these feelings in the first place.  But I loved the help.  She had determined to her satisfaction that my desire to submit was not unhealthy, but actually an important step in personal growth.  That’s huge.

The talk therapist, and indeed, all but one of the posse, recognised the healing power of BDSM, the important role that a Dominatrix plays, and how my desire to serve is a genuine expression of self-love above all else.  And so, in therapy, we turned away from why I wish to submit, or anything else, and we began to examine how true I am to myself in the manner of my submission, and how submission is helping me to grow as a person.

We got to this point after a discussion of the role of submission in my life.  She asked, “did you submit your way to the corner office?  Probably not.”  And I responded, that superficially, “no, I did not, but in other ways, more fundamental ways, yes.”  I remembered how hot-headed I was in my early career, how my early leadership opportunities would have been painful for those who worked for me, until I began to learn that my success had nothing to do with me, but rather the motivation and spirit of those who reported to me…and at that point I became much more cognisant of my impact on teams, the people around me.  I carried this into life as a CEO and was reminded of a speech I gave to my company.  The gist was that the most important word for an employee to have in their arsenal was the word “no”.  That the closer an employee was to the task or to the customer, the closer they were to truth…nobody knew how better to organise the shipping of packages than the people who did it all day long.  Management always comes up with dumb ideas…but if they don’t say “no” then dumb ideas begin to take over.  And for the manager, the most important skill was to encourage their reports to say “no” and to listen to this.  It is a form of submission.  When you believe that seniority is really a duty of care and listening, then you have tapped into something powerful.

We also talked about what holds a marriage together: essentially, if you cannot sublimate your needs to the collective need, to your partner, then your relationship will be toast.  Especially when it hurts, when you are angry, or feel wronged.

She asked, “how does this relate to your dynamic with Mistress?”  And she asked whether I had escaped the common perception that the sub is in control, focussing on the words “I want” in the following sentence which was what I had said to Mistress when we first played together: “I don’t want to be my version of a submissive, I want to be yours, to adapt and respond to you, to serve you, and to discover what that means.”  I meant it with purity of heart, but my therapist challenged the presence of “I want” in the sentence, and thus began one of the most enlightening therapeutic sessions of my life.

She accepted my explanation that I am seeking to give pure love, love without demands, without restrictions, to just live and be love.  That through D/s I have found the first and only person in my life who I can be in the fullness of me and be totally without fear or shame…and that it is not possible to experience that and not feel intense devotional emotion.  Is it possible that others could have done the same thing?  Perhaps.  But I searched long and hard to find someone that I could actually play with in this way, and have the level of respect, mutual interest, natural chemistry, and in this I found myself extremely fortunate.  She understood that loving in this way was my way of providing myself self-love.  How?  Because I never accepted the love of my parents for all the strings it came attached with.  I couldn’t feel their love because I didn’t allow it, and I never allowed myself to love them back.  Yes, they loved me, but for the curious circumstances of life, I could not accept their love because it would have destroyed me to have love for someone who also hurt me.  And so, my therapist sees that there is incredible power and beauty in what Mistress was exploring with me.

But my therapist also asked me difficult questions and challenged me.  Some of her messages:

  • Unconditional love is without expectation—it is in the moment and is not looking for something else.  It happens, and does not desire or wish for anything else than what is happening
  • Wanting something from her is not consistent with that kind of love.  If you want something, you have attached strings to it
  • When you give to her, or are a certain way with her, are you sure that you are not doing those things, or behaving in that way to elicit a response in her?
  • Does the very act of “trying” to do something, or committing to change, not already put you out of balance with your goal? Shouldn’t you just be? As you are? In the moment? Without trying to be anything other than that?

She drew a parallel between my attachment to Mistress and the attachment bonds that can grow between a therapist and patient…that of course there is a professional context, and that a service is being paid for, but when it works as it should, it is very normal that deep feelings of attachment can develop.

And so, yes, in questioning me in this way, I experienced the unusual and sublime feeling that my therapist was helping me to find my way towards slavery…and helping me to let go of expectation and to just enjoy what I have, because I have so much.

10 thoughts

  1. I find your thoughts very interesting, but also relate to the depth towards a therapist that you describe. I remember in one therapy session (Exposure & Response Prevention for OCD, combined with CBT for anxiety) she mentioned mindfulness and meditation to me, and fhe way that she described it reminded me exactly of how subspace feels to me. It was because of my therapy, I think, that I was able to explore subspace more. I was able to let go of control and feel, instead of wondering if I was feeling correctly. I felt like my therapist saw me, and like she understood me, even though we never discussed my inclinations towards BDSM.

    I also find it interesting that you say BDSM was the first time you felt capable of love, as though that love was conditional until now. I too relate to that, and I also relate to feeling conditional love towards my parents because of their conditional love of me, which angered me and held me back. Submission allowed me to finally be, not perfect, but just as I am. Loved and to love in return. Accepting, embracing, and finally, fully loving.

    A very thought provoking post, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Helen. I appreciate your personal and thoughtful reply. BDSM has taught me so much…about boundaries, about consent, about love, about the importance of communication and respect. There are many parallels between therapy and the kind of BDSM I experienced, especially with one dominatrix in particular, and in ways, I made more progress with her as a person than I ever have with a therapist. Especially enhanced because one of my therapists was very “in there” with me–helping me to process and manifest my submission, service, and all the other things I was feeling, but also to help me recognise when my boundaries were being violated, and to teach me to self-protect better.

      I think that those of us on the right side of the D/s slash have a particular risk which crops up from time to time, that there is a risk that we don’t self protect enough…but we have to. Ultimately, it also makes us better subs, because we become more solid, and the more solid we are, the more a domme can take flight, knowing that their dominance can soar when there is a firm foundation. I believe that submission can lead one down a path of incredible strength and towards higher purpose. And this note of yours on meditation and contemplation is exactly how to get there. Mindfulness can be a carve-out in a day, a moment in time that we set aside to ground and breathe, and be present for ourselves, but it can also become a way of life, incorporated more and more into every waking moment.

      Really appreciate your thoughts.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Girlieboy, I think the right kind of Dominant can do wonders for a submissive, for their development, for their personal growth and, as you say, for their inner strength. Being able to speak to someone who understood you and could help you recognise when things weren’t so right must have been hugely beneficial for you too. I’m envious – had I had that a year ago, I’ve no doubt that I would have made the mistakes that I made. Alas, I also think now that he was an omen, a message to me, of sorts.

        I completely agree with your assessment on us s-types, and really I think if one thing makes me laugh, it’s that the media portrayal of us is almost never like we truly are. We’re often portrayed as being washy and insecure, and yet many of us are leaders who, in the broad light of day, may even speak with more assertiveness and clarity than even our D-types do. The Doms and Dommes that are assertive in and out of the bedroom are the ones that raise red flags for me, and again, had I known what I now know, then there’s no way I would have gotten involved in my little entanglement a year ago. A good Dom/me recognises and appreciates hard work, dedication, loyalty and humanity, and a bad or abusive one will mock you for it. That was the mistake I made, and yet bizarrely enough, it was perhaps my inner strength that recognised that he could never love me in the way that I needed to be loved. I truly believe that nobody other than a good Dom/me (and the occasional good therapist) can truly appreciate just how strong we s-types really are.

        I completely agree with you that mindfulness and meditation are key to our growth, and really I wish I was able to carve time out for them more often, because they are of huge benefit. True to form, a submissive wouldn’t really be a submissive if they weren’t attempting to save the world with their own bare hands, would they?

        Thank you for replying to me, Girlieboy.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. What a treat. Back to back delicious comments!

    The Domme I played for much of the last year did really push me. In the end, we became unstuck, but she has left me with a lifetime’s worth of positive challenges. But we became unstuck because I couldn’t get my head around two things: that within a professional context there is this “need” for the provider to cater to the client’s needs–and that this seems to be the basis of the relationship. This was counter to what submission means to me. To serve her really and truly, whether that is kinky or not. It takes one hell of a person, whether domme or sub, to be so open to a “stranger” or client to say, “this is what I need and yes, I will allow you to fulfil it for me.”

    The second area was about openness and truth. Almost all SWs, and for good reason, don’t reveal much about their private lives, including their names, or anything, to their clients. I understand that. Especially for safety reasons. But I also felt that the depth of submission I was both prepared to go to, and was being asked for both inside and out of “play time” was one which required openness and transparency. And I get it. A professional is working. She may not want to take her work home. She may need space. Sharing in this way might detract from her ability to do that. But in my case, that means two things: 1. I am failing in my prime objective as a submissive–to give without strings attached, to serve in a true way that is about her needs, not my own, and 2. that I am ultimately not trusted, and am therefore on some level regarded with contempt or somehow as a lesser being. I understand that many subs don’t feel this way…even many crave degradation…but not me.

    Thankfully I have now found a domme that is both totally open with me, but is also gradually allowing me to serve her in a deep and spiritual way…and the respect I feel coming from her for me as a person, that I am not an object, not a wallet, but an equal, a cherished human, is simultaneously a source of comfort, but is also making me feel much more grounded in my submission, and much more desirous of submission to her. And the funny thing? She is not overtly dominant at all. She is in many ways, as you say, quite shy and soft spoken. Totally and utterly feminine. She has yet to command me in any way. And yet, her dominance feels so much more powerful than any other I have yet to experience. it is as if she is saying through her way of being, “I am. And as I am, you will find submission inside yourself.”

    Liked by 2 people

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