Self Care / Self Love: My Exploration of Kink and Submission as a Tool for Self-Love and Self-Discovery

These last few months have been challenging, but they have also been  revelatory in providing new direction in my personal growth journey.  I’ve focused my reflections on my journey thus far around my mental health and self care practices. However, there is one facet of my life that I am beginning to invest in with new experiences and learning opportunities–my sexuality. My sexuality is an aspect of my identity that I am proud of and constantly seek growth in. I identify as a cisgender, Black, bisexual woman. I am also kinky, a hedonist, and a submissive in training. I am delving into kink and the BDSM lifestyle at this time of my life because I am deeply committed to learning about myself and growing into the person that I feel I am destined to become.

So, how did I come to this decision to explore kink and BDSM more fully? While growing up, I devoured articles, personal stories, and books on sexual health, consent, kink, and identity. I educated myself on sex and sexual health, and developed an understanding of the myriad ways that sexuality is expressed. I experienced a personal sexual revelation during my time at college after spending a semester in a sex education workshop and later facilitating and coordinating the workshop–I felt powerful, informed, and in control. After ending a long-term relationship that spanned half of my time in undergrad, I found myself single for the first time in 4 years and rapidly indulged in many new sexual experiences. I began changing sexual partners frequently, and went through phases where I developed a roster of casual partners, dated, settled down in relationships, broke up, and began the cycle again. I was never completely single. I enjoyed that period of my life, but soon became bored and sought unconventional relationships and experimented with non-monogamy.

During this time I was also highly driven by my “I do what I want” attitude, underlined by my love of instant gratification and new, exciting experiences. This year, however, I decided to shift my focus away from romantic relationships with men; I find that these relationships often drain my energy, and also distract me from investing in my friendships with women. I realized I needed to get to know myself on a deeper level, since I was also using my sexual practices to distract myself from processing my emotions during rough periods of my life. I played with the idea of practicing abstinence many times, but I ended up always listening to my hedonistic urges, and finding myself unwilling to compromise my sexual gratification for a chance to soul-search. This pattern led me to fully consider a BDSM practice and begin a journey of self-discovery.

I first began to explore my own kinks and desires. I researched BDSM practices and identities.  I’ve incorporated kink into my bedroom play before, but my partners did not share the same enthusiasm that I did. I read personal writing from Dominants and submissives, and I took kink personality quizzes. I’ve included my results from a test I took some months ago that solidified my interest and helped me identify myself in the lifestyle below (these quizzes aren’t very accurate, but they can serve as a useful introduction for many people)..

== Results from http://bdsmtest.org/ ==

96% Switch

96% Brat

92% Voyeur

83% Experimentalist

83% Exhibitionist

81% Masochist

81% Submissive

80% Rope Bunny

61% Rigger

58% Vanilla

55% Dominant

51% Primal (Prey)

51% Degradee

49% Degrader

47% Girl/Boy

46% Sadist

46% Non-monogamist

38% Brat Tamer

37% Primal (Hunter)

23% Master/Mistress

18% Daddy/Mommy

12% Slave

12% Ageplayer

3% Pet

2% Owner

d types type

other type

I am currently a submissive-in-training. I am beginning to learn a lot about myself and my Dominant. In terms of my own personal growth, I am focusing on strengthening my ability to communicate my needs and desires clearly, my self-esteem, pride in my sexuality and self in general, my ability to care for others and act as a good partner and friend, and my use of healthy outlets for stress and anxiety. In general, I’ve found that there is a disconnect with what I think I communicate with my partners and what is actually understood by them. Clear and open communication is critical to BDSM power dynamics, and healthy relationships in general, so learning how to explain my needs when I experience them is very important to me. I believe that this ability to articulate my needs, concerns and desires will roll over into other aspects of my personal and professional life. I also see myself learning more about how to care for others through my submission. I enjoy feeling helpful and useful to my loved ones, and I would like to work on my empathy and becoming more in tune with what my Dominant’s needs are. I can often become stuck in my own mind and not understand how and when I’m needed by others.

I also see submission as a potentially healthy practice for me. When I feel out of control, I often seek control in other aspects of my life that are unhealthy. Sometimes this involves me using substances to control my emotions and physical sensations–to induce feeling; distract my mind; induce hunger. Sometimes I binge eat or develop restricted eating patterns to make myself more aware of my body. But most of the time, my need for control in my personal life has resulted in me becoming involved in sexual relationships that do not add to the quality of my life. I believe that my experience with BDSM will help me strengthen my connection to my body and its sensations, and deepen my understanding of my spiritual and emotional needs.

My submissive journey is going great so far. I have an amazing Dominant who I trust and feel close to. I do not think I would go on this journey without them, because complete trust in my partner at this stage of my life is absolutely crucial, whether in a BDSM dynamic or not. Our friendship is growing and our understanding of each other is deepening. It is still the beginning, however. I receive assignments from my Dominant (one being this blog post) which I enjoy because they give me the motivation to practice deep introspection and communicate my thoughts. I know I have a lot of work to do in terms of learning and following protocol, in presenting myself to my Dominant, and in relinquishing power. I am a bit of a bratty submissive because I am used to having my desires and demands met by my partners. Having partners that did not submit to my every whim often incites a bit of a power play where my goal is to figure out how to get those desires met, which ultimately kept me intrigued and excited about my partnership. I can also see this playing out in my BDSM dynamic, but I know that my Dominant will not  tolerate my brattiness too much, which is even more exciting. I’m beginning to learn what I can and cannot get away with. I am also very excited to experience more play and punishment. My Dominant has introduced me to impact play with a riding crop, and wax play, and we began to search for a flogger that will be used on me during our next session.

I have a range of kinks that I am interested in which I’m sure will evolve over time as my Dominant and I try new things, and I’m very much looking forward to discovering new insights.

 

Currently Reading & In My Feelings: “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde

I’ve read Audre Lorde’s speech “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” several times over the past 3 years and each time I’ve read it, it’s resonated with a new part of me unearthed by life. Every. Time. Audre Lorde (1934-1992) is “a black feminist lesbian mother poet”, a woman celebrated for her poetry and radical womanist writings. Her speech, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” was originally given during the Modern Language Association’s Lesbian and Literature panel on December 28, 1977 and was published in two of her books, The Cancer Journals and Sister Outsider. My instincts told me to reach for this text today, as I’ve made some personal breakthroughs that have encouraged me to seek the light at the end of a long, dark, tunnel.

I’ve been sitting in silence and darkness for months. Some of it was intentional on my part and some of it was crafted carefully for me by people who I originally believed deserved my trust. I became tired of the sensations of anxiety, triggered by Mondays, emails, and text messages; hated the feeling of dread pulling my chest and stomach taut. I am still tired. I spent months in silence. During the day I pulled back at work, went through the motions, ended my struggle for change, and felt defeated by bureaucracy. I sought the quiet of my room at night, avoided watching television, sat in the dark with my thoughts and worries. It became meditative. It was also healing, at first. But I soon became too comfortable living in silence. I withdrew from conversations with my closest friends, kept details of my life to myself. I felt unsure of myself, and my path. I doubted my instincts. I sought answers from the stars and in planetary alignments. I sought answers from my silence. I found peace. And I found apathy. Continue reading

Self Care / Self Love: YOGETREE Workshop

Since my No Good Very Bad Day, I’ve made a commitment to focusing on myself. “Focusing on myself” encompasses a bunch of actions and ideals, including goals to understand my patterns, accept my flaws and shortcomings, admit and seek help and mentorship, and to push myself out of my comfort zone (within some limits). These goals came into fruition today when I participated in an amazing yoga and poetry workshop series entitled Yogetree. Continue reading

The No Good Very Bad Day

I shared a bit about the end of my last relationship and my own mental health struggles in one of my previous posts and I did so with the intention of opening the door to some more personal blog posts. Despite my efforts to find a way to flesh out my personal struggles (pages and pages of notes and ideas that never made it to this blog), I’ve fallen flat. At its birth, this blog was intended to be a place where I could finally delve into my heart and soul and express parts of my identity that I felt I never could before. For that reason,  I purposefully created the categories “personal identity”and “sex & relationships” (later changed to self care & relationships) on the blog as encouragement. They remained empty through these past months of me blogging– I prefer to distance myself from my blog by uploading academic papers, photos and anecdotes about Philadelphia and updates on my music tastes. It’s a defense mechanism that I employ in my everyday life: me shielding my innermost thoughts and emotions from public scruitiny. I chose, time and again, to ignore the pulling sensation in my gut telling me that something was bothering me and that I needed an outlet to express it. Today, I decided that it was time to stop.  Continue reading

Kicks

Okay. Please, please listen to Kicks by fka twigs, which is a powerful and sensual song about masturbation and self-pleasure. I feel like a sexually charged goddess every time I listen to her sing, “What do I do when you’re not here? I get my kicks like you.”

A year or two ago I wrote a piece of erotica with my roommate. For some reason, I had the hardest time writing the piece by myself, even though it was based on a real experience I had. I took it to my roommate and we banged it out super quick together. It was so much fun. If you’re comfortable with it, I’d recommend writing a piece or brainstorming erotica with friends. My roommate and I definitely brought out the best of each other’s ideas and language and I still feel proud of the piece, which you can read below.

How do you get off? Do you write or read, listen to sexy music, watch erotica, or use your imagination? Continue reading

Three’s Company?

How do you negotiate a threesome with your partner? My partner and I have been discussing the possibility of a threesome lately and have reached a stalemate based on our choice of the third partner. Here’s some quick background information: my partner–who I’ll refer to as Skinny Hipster throughout my blog–and I have been dating for the past 5 months.When we began dating we were non-monogamous, and although we only hooked up with each other during my Thanksgiving and winter breaks in Philadelphia, we officially decided to be non-monogamous during times when we were living in different cities. We’re very open with each other about our sexuality and have been frank and honest about our experiences and desires throughout our relationship. Now that I’m living in Philadelphia again, we’ve decided to be monogamous (for now) but it hasn’t stopped us from discussing non-monogamous fantasies and scenarios with each other. Continue reading