On Self-Worth and Submission

Isabel posted something the other day about struggling with her self-worth. Something about it got me thinking about the fact that, when I really think about it, many of the submissives whose blogs I read struggle with their self-esteem and self-worth. I also find that when I’m depressed or feeling really poorly about myself, I tend to gravitate more towards the submissive role. I have to wonder if there’s a connection there.

I always say that the BDSM lifestyle can be amazing and fulfilling for HEALTHY people that know what they want and can find it in the lifestyle. At the same time, I think that it can be a really dangerous place for others. Those with emotional problems, whatever they may be, can often find a way to hide those, or excuse them away, in a D/s relationship.

Codependent people can get lost in these relationships, and a D/s relationship can both feed the codependency while making it seem “okay” because “I’m a sub.” People with really low self-worth can end up in unhealthy D/s relationships because, deep down, they don’t feel they deserve to be treated as anymore than someone’s slave. Sadistic people can find vulnerable, emotionally fragile people to prey on under the guise of “just being their Dominant.”

I know that, for the most part, I’m an emotionally healthy person. I also know that my submission ebbs and flows. There are times when I feel like I want to be 24/7 submissive, and there are times when my submission doesn’t leave the bedroom. I find that the times I have the desire to be more submissive are the times when my life is in chaos, or I’m falling into a depressive period. Which explains why, when I first met Profligacy, I was very much the 24/7 sub, but as our relationship progressed, I gained more independence within it.

I met him at a time when my life was in chaos, I was depressed, and I needed someone to take care of me. He filled that role perfectly, and was exactly the safety net and guiding hand that I craved at that time. And while my submission never went away, as I became more independent and confident in myself, my desire to submit 24/7 (and especially outside of the bedroom) began to wane.

I have to wonder how much low self-esteem and self-worth is correlated with being submissive (outside the bedroom). Submissives, what are your experiences?

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  1. IsabelNo Gravatar
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    First off, thanks for the link. Second, I agree with you. I’ve noticed that trend with my emotions as well. In moments of emotional weakness or low self worth, I gravitate towards being more submissive and being told I’m a good girl and the attention I receive from others. I don’t think my need for attention will ever completely dissipate as I am admitted attention whore, but when I feel more confident and self secure I definitely feel more confident in my relationships. My brain is long hardwired to seek approval of others and that’s probably never going to change. It’s a long struggle and something definitely ongoing for me to build up my self worth and my view of myself. Whether that comes from aging or growing more confident in my own skin, I don’t know. It’s just a process. I think law school is definitely helping with that though. It’s maturing me as well.

  2. JessNo Gravatar
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Britni, I really enjoyed this post.

    This was definitely me after I was kicked out of my house after coming out as a lesbian to my parents. This was also the reason I struggled with self worth back then. I loved my ex, Sarah but I was definitely exploring D/s for the wrong reasons back then. Add to the fact we both had alcohol and substance abuse problems and that didn’t help things either. I often found myself using the pain she inflicted on me for emotional release.

    At least today I’m in a much better place so I enjoy things. Thanks again for writing this post. I really enjoyed it. I’m definitely going to read Isabel post on this to.


  3. SqweakNo Gravatar
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    This is another great post by you. here is a website you might find interesting: http://www.paganbdsm.org/brokentoys/index.html

    later <3

  4. BlowJoyNo Gravatar
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    I think there can be many theraputic elements in D/s relationships/play, however D/s should NEVER be a substitute for therapy. If anyone struggles with depression, be it temporary or long-term, they should get therapy. Hell, I think EVERYONE should get therapy, even if it’s just once a month in order to “check in.” Keep healthy, maintain balance. But unfortunately, many Doms and subs think their relationships/play IS therapy. It is not. Someone very close to me recently ended things with their sub and a week later she tried to kill herself. The guilt he felt was great, but he had to understand that she was not in a healthy place to begin with (which he recognized and was the reason he ended it with her) and probably shouldn’t be involved in D/s play at all.

    Just like regular “vanilla” relationships, if you’re not ok with yourself first, you can’t be ok in a relationship… add D/s dynamics to the mix and you could really be playing with fire if you or your partner is not ok. This is SO important. Step one: GET RIGHT FIRST.

    Blog pimp: http://yourenotthebossofme-jsn.blogspot.com/2009/05/girls-guide-to-gangbanging.html

    LOVE YOURSELF FIRST. Don’t seek others to save you. Save yourself.


  5. Rockin' With a Cock inNo Gravatar
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    A lot of this post resonated with me. I’ve had similar feeling of submissiveness when I’m feeling powerless or hopeless in other aspects of life. Trying to explain that to my partner was difficult. I’m going to have to write about this now. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. SuspiriaNo Gravatar
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Hmmm… maybe something is in the air…. this touches close to home for me.
    I am grappling with my abuse history, it comes and goes in waves and is surfacing for me, hard right now. The tendency in the past has been to want to have someone else provide the comfort of restriction and control when I am struggling emotionally. I think it was, as you mentioned, a way to hide from myself– “I am flailing, I am uncomfortable, I feel out of control—here, you take it, all of it.” Not the best foundation for a thriving, healthy dynamic.
    It was challenging to make the choice to step back, spend time alone, reflect, and really make an effort to heal.
    I do not discount D/s as an important part of my life, I just want my motivations to be clear. Because I *want* it, not because I am hiding in it… too, I do not want my vulnerability to be that unfurled banner attracting someone who will disregard my boundaries and my safety, as has happened in the past.
    I find the more that I come into my personal power the less submissive I am outside the bedroom– the less crap I take from strangers, my family— I speak up for myself, and for people around me, even.
    A healthy D/s dynamic fosters this kind of strength in me when interacting with the rest of the world; I have seen it. I know that the opposite has been true– when I was restricted and abused I was isolated and my ability to interact beyond my limited scope was severely impaired.
    I dunno… as much as I crave ownership and submission, I am on this kick of self-mastery. I think to give myself fully requires a strong center to offer from.

  7. PrettyPrettyPrincessNo Gravatar
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Great post, very very authentic and true. Obvs my experience in this area is limited enough that I don’t think I have enough perspective to share my thoughts but I can absolutely see what you’re driving at.

  8. minaNo Gravatar
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Totally true for me. My submission is an ebb and flow kind of thing. It changes on a daily basis which is frustrating. Right now, I have a very very strong craving to have a “daddy” in my life, but I know this has mostly to do with the fact that my husband is in another country until the end of the month. This “daddy” is just a need of having a male figure in my life to take care of me in more ways than one. I’m certain the craving will not be as strong once hubby is home. So yes, my submission and levels of submission changes according to my moods AND what is going on in my life.

  9. jonsbabydollNo Gravatar
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I really wanted to get into this a bit more than a comment really should, so I wrote about it on my blog…. http://thebloggingslave.com/?p=1138

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