"J-O-Y, J-O-Y, this must surely mean:
Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between."
-- Sunday School Chorus
(sung to tune "Jingle Bells")
Although it seems incongruous to refer to a Sunday School chorus in a Literotica posting, the parallel between my life as a submissive and the chorus prompted me to comment here. As a submissive, the idea of serving someone else (whether Jesus, or as in my case, the Dominant I serve) first is comfortable; the concept of serving others by being a friend, providing comfort, and sharing celebrations is no stretch either. However, my equally long-held belief that I always had put myself last, long before I began submissive service, was completely wrong!
Before I had the privilege of beginning submissive service, I spent money getting things for other people, devoted hours to making homemade gifts to surprise friends, and took three days to make a "Death by Chocolate" birthday cake. Whilst doing these things, I was proud of my sacrifice, my love for others, and my generosity. What I refused to acknowledge was that, by trying to keep everyone happy and satisfied so they would not reject or leave me, I really was attending to my needs.
Submissive service forced me to face this truth. The Dominant I serve is too smart to be manipulated and too knowledgeable to be fooled by my well-worn routine, honed from several failed "romantic" relationships in my past. My parents taught me the Sunday School chorus cited above; they also made it clear early in my life that their attention was focused on the unwashed and angry people they pastored, not on me, unless I also was involved in church activities. I grew up teaching Sunday School, winning Bible study prizes, singing solos, playing in the band, and anything else I could substitute for the attention and love I needed from the parents whom I could spend time with primarily at church.
There are many who believe that my generosity masked an attempt to "buy" love or affection. I always knew better -- I never thought anything I could ever do would keep people committed or loyal; I just wanted to hold on to them for as long as possible, no matter the financial or emotional cost to me. My dislike of myself supported this belief, since I was not even my own friend! I existed as a "star" in the church universe because of my parents' leadership and my own abilities and effort. I was a far-flung satellite, wholly unnecessary and unseen, in the rest of the universes I moved -- family, friends, and school. In all of these venues, I learned to hang back, to gauge the tenor of the audiences, and to assume a nonchalance that was completely false, but apparently believable. Being on the edges of the action and activities of others allowed me to watch them closely, to gauge their reactions, and to tailor my expressed emotions to match those of others, no matter how I really felt. I vividly recall watching television programs with my mother, and withholding laughter until I heard her laugh.
When I began submissive service, I thought I had found the type of relationship that would allow me to focus solely on the Dominant I serve, my instincts, and habits helping me to excel in submission, finding an intense, loving relationship at last. Although I did not know it when I began submissive service, I have learned the hard way that such service has nothing to do with what I think is excellent, outstanding, or even acceptable. My instincts and habits were part of the idea that it was my standards that mattered, as had always been the case in my previous relationships. Because submissive service means that only the Dominant's desires and preferences matter, this became a major stumbling block in my path to growth and development as a submissive. Submission required me to get permission from the Dominant I serve before doing anything, so my desire to surprise the Dominant with gifts and attention needed to be sublimated to the Dominant's control. Usually, although I knew I was defying the Dominant's wishes when I did these things, it simply was more important to me to behave as I always had in the past than it was to adapt my behavior to the totally new relationship I had with the Dominant I serve.
Learning to let go of the urge to do all, to supply all, and to achieve all has been a major component of my submissive instruction. The other lessons submission is teaching me -- my need for pain, my enjoyment of risk-taking, and the impact of my deep self-loathing and perfectionism on the Dominant I serve, as well as on myself -- are equally important, equally difficult, and sometimes equally daunting. The Dominant I serve is fully present, and as involved as I in my submission to him, something I never expected and never dealt with before. When I opened the door to enter into submissive service to the Dominant I serve, I thought I chose a familiar one. The Dominant I serve lives far away from me, and both of us are tied to the geographical places we currently reside; the Dominant I serve has a family about whom I know much, but which knows nothing about me. These things made me feel safe about embarking into uncharted territory as a submissive. My past included an emotionally (and sometimes physically) absent father, a 25-year relationship with a married man 25 years my senior, several short-term relationships that were little more than one night stands, and an engagement to Mr. Jekyll, when I believed the man I had agreed to marry was Dr. Hyde. I mistakenly believed submissive service would be easy and familiar since the Dominant would be distant, and the service required would be no more than what I normally did with everyone anyway.
The Dominant I serve knew at once that I deceived myself about the nature of submissive service. To this day, I cannot explain how it was that the Dominant I serve got me to agree to meet for dinner, much less how it was that I complied with instructions to remove my panties in a restaurant toilet, to hand the panties -- large, white cotton "granny" panties -- to the Dominant in the restaurant parking lot, to stand before him whilst he observed and felt for my sexual juices in the crotch. It certainly never occurred to me that, at our first public, in person meeting, the Dominant I serve would set the bar so high.
Yet more was to come! Two days later, after following more involved instructions, I went to the Dominant's hotel room, stripped down to pantyhose and heels, walked to the center of his room, put on a blindfold, bent over at the waist to grip my ankles, and waited until he granted me his attention. Only someone who, like me, has survived a lifetime of struggles with being overweight and unwanted will fully appreciate how impossible those actions would have been for me prior to that fateful night.
From January through December of my first year of service, I went from one extreme to another. Instructions were treated as tests, which I always have enjoyed. When I was instructed to used carrots as dildos in my cunt and ass, after photographing the carrots with a ruler and sending the photos to the Dominant, my main concern was getting the photos right. Even the instruction to slice and eat the carrot that had been in my cunt as part of the next day's salad was easily done. The Dominant had me measure distances from the bed to the bathroom, and I did so, completely unaware that the next instruction would be to buy that length of chain and three padlocks. I spent hours and hours chained to the foot of the bed, even when the Dominant was far away, and believed it was training for future chaining at the foot of his bed, which it was.
During our first week together, the standard for service was more difficult. Waiting in his hotel for the Dominant's return, I donned my nylon suit and heels. There were plugs in my cunt and ass, my wrists and ankles were cuffed, my ears were plugged and muffed, and my eyes were blindfolded. My nipples were clamped with wooden clothespins, and I knelt in the center of the hotel room, just out of the line of sight from the doorway, awaiting the Dominant's return.
This test was repeated nightly, until the night when the Dominant was delayed by over an hour getting back to the room. By that time, I had collapsed onto the floor a number of times, only to drag myself back up onto my knees again. At last, I dissolved into a mass of sobs, onto the pillow the Dominant had just slid onto the floor in front of me. When the Dominant realized my emotional and physical pain, he got right on the floor next to me, comforting me. I knew enough to realize that, painful as the clothespins were on my nipples, the removing them would make the pain worse, so I had relied on the Dominant to take them off, whilst I continued trying to deal with my sense of failure and shame. The Dominant tried to get me to understand that I had not failed as long as I put forth my best effort. Once again, the lesson was given: as long as the Dominant I serve sees no failure, I succeed. I tried to understand, but decades of always striving to be perfect and easy achievements made this concept very difficult for me to accept.
During my first year of submissive service, I often drove long distances to spend even short amounts of time with the Dominant I serve as he traveled on business. Once the Dominant I serve instructed me to make the drive dressed only in my nylon suit and heels. The Dominant fully expected me to become sexually excited by the exhibitionistic aspect of this drive yet mostly I just feared having car trouble that would reveal my "paws" to a tow truck driver or helpful fellow motorist. Even with those fears, when I arrived early for our meeting and realized there was a run in the bottom half of my nylon suit, I proceeded to a nearby Walmart to replace it. I chose self-checkout to avoid a cashier, but when I had problems with the register, the customer behind me assisted. She looked wonderingly at my paws, but did not ask, I did not explain, and the world kept on turning.
A major change that occurred as a result of submissive service was that I began shedding the excess weight I had used to buffer myself from other people and my own frustrations. I requested and received nipple piercing by the Dominant I serve, and I experimented with self-discipline since the Dominant was not always physically present to provide corporal punishment himself.
After a year that included dizzying heights and terrifying depths, a week spent on vacation with the Dominant I serve was wonderful in every sense of the word. I had the most difficult time remembering that I was serving him submissively, not just coddling a long distance lover. Even wearing of short skirts for miniature golf and bowling, sleeping on a dog bed beside the Dominant's bed, and eating out of a dog bowl near his chair did not force me to face that I did not understand the rigors and requirements of submissive service. I believe the Dominant I serve knew this, but he still granted me the honor of wearing his collar as my Christmas gift.
Things seemed to be continuing as before when the New Year began; I traveled for hours to meet the Dominant at an airport, and to spend a few short hours with him before driving back home again. In that trip, the fallacies of my thinking that would blossom into terror began making themselves known. When the Dominant corrected my welcome at the airport (slumped against a wall, looking at him directly), my reaction was to be angry -- hadn't I just driven all that way to be with him? With the vantage point of time passing, I know my reaction signaled my ignorance about submissive service, and my misunderstanding about my relationship with the Dominant I serve.
I spent the first year of my submissive service anticipating being dismissed at any moment, cut off into utter darkness and isolation by the Dominant I serve deciding I was not worth his time, his trouble, and his effort to mold my submissive service. There were long periods of weeping, feeling sorry for myself and feeling inadequate even to understand, much less perform, the duties and responsibilities of being a submissive in service. I contacted other, anonymous Dominants, trying to find out if the things I was being instructed to do were standard or abusive. When I was told that the Dominant I serve was too harsh, I first felt vindicated in my feelings of being persecuted. As the discussions with these Dominants continued, my heart revealed that I already served a Dominant who knew what I needed to grow in submission, and that I needed to change my attitude, rather than the Dominant I was serving.
Eventually, I stopped expecting to be cast out at any moment by the Dominant I serve. Rather than feeling secure and comforted, I was terrified. I had begun to understand that I was serving a Dominant determined to know me inside and out, and to push me beyond limits I had accepted for far too long. Instead of acting appropriately -- discussing my fear with the Dominant I serve -- I hid behind pints and pints and pints of Haagen-Daaz, eating thousands of calories day after day after day. I believed the Dominant I served would dismiss me when I regained the weight he had been so pleased that I had lost, and I thought that I wanted to be dismissed. Still, I was afraid to let him know when the weight gain was happening, and I worked hard to keep him deceived. I took masses of photos before I gained much weight, and recycled them to meet my daily photograph requirements. I withheld my feelings, my reality, and my actions from the Dominant I serve, and pretended that I was not sawing off the limb on which I was perched.
After a few months, the Dominant returned to my area on business, and instructed me to meet him. I had to confess the weight gain, and I fully believed that would be the last I heard from the Dominant. The Dominant's reaction was not what I expected -- instead of discharging me, the Dominant I serve tried to help me understand my fears and insecurities. Having to face how little I understood the Dominant I served or even the service he preferred to receive from me, I spiraled even further away from the ideals of my service, the demands of my personality, and the wishes of the Dominant I serve.
Before the time came to meet the Dominant for another week's vacation in December, I was sent a list of instructions for me to comply with during our time together. At this point, I was fatter than when I met the Dominant, and more confused and stressed than he ever had seen me. I read the instructions, realized that many of the tasks would have been easily and happily done in the physical condition I had enjoyed the year before, but were beyond me at my current weight and level of conditioning. Rather than acknowledge the instructions, and ask permission to discuss my new limitations and concerns, I very un-submissively (and impolitely) fired back an immediate and complete rejection of the entire list.
A raft of personal problems and my confusion about what I wanted and needed as a person and as a submissive made the time we had together totally different than the year before. When the Dominant was met at the airport, I made it a point to do as I had been told -- dressed in pantyhose, heels, collar, cuffs and overcoat, I stood upright at the passageway, eyes cast down. Yet, once we were in the car, en route to our lodgings, I again refused to agree to the Dominant's instructions. I did not ask for explanations of things that seemed confusing to me in his instructions; I did not explain why some of the things he wished to be done could not be done in the sequence he had outlined and why. I simply said, "No." That little word showed how unlike the woman discovering her submissive self and exuberantly chasing the thrills and new experiences of the Dominant's instructions I now had become.
Part of my rejection of the tasks was because I now know how much I hated crawling on all fours over tile, feeling the expensive pantyhose pick and run over and over. I knew I was forgetful and resentful of having to ask permission to urinate and to speak. I hated feeling always as if I needed to take a shit because of having a butt plug in my ass for far longer periods than seemed reasonable to me. Instead of seeing the Dominant's tasks as a way I would express love, respect, and commitment, I saw them as painful, demeaning chores; they were things I did not want to do, things I believed I could not do, and it was so much easier for me to focus on those feelings rather than face up to the fact that I felt I was too fat to do those things, and that I had got fat in an effort to avoid submissive service, including those tasks.
Once again, the Dominant did not argue, demand, or command. He let me go about the half-assed service I was willing to offer -- gourmet meals, cleaning, valet service, and sleeping on the floor beside his bed -- and waited for me to realize that I was hurting myself even more than I was hurting him. I was denying who I was, what I needed, and how much I needed to be challenged and encouraged to be a better submissive. In the process, I was denying him the opportunity to express his Dominance, test his creativity, and expand his knowledge of me and of himself.
A major miscalculation on my part brought me into submissive service in the first place. Contrary to my belief back in January 2008, the Dominant I serve is not hampered by geographical distance, nor does the Dominant I serve permit emotional distance between us. No matter where the Dominant is, my service goes on: there are daily duties, specific instructions, and the requirement to seek approval and permission for a repairman visiting the house or taking my mother out for lunch. Even more importantly, the Dominant I serve understands the faux submission I lived for more than 50 years, and the difficulty I have in moving into the reality of submissive service, leaving the facsimile behind.
The Dominant I serve still allows me to serve him, but he makes me pay a high price for that service. Beyond the physical pain, the emotional fear, and the psychological resistance that must be overcome, I have to be completely honest and totally open with him. After a lifetime of telling people what they wanted to hear, and of hiding myself emotionally, as well as under 100 extra pounds of weight, I find being rigorously honest more difficult than wearing clothespins on my clitoris and nipples. The most daunting task of submission is being just who I truly am -- no efforts to spin my shortcomings, no manipulations of the facts to make me look better, no slipping around the duties and pleasures that are part of the submissive service that allows me to fully express and explore myself. The Dominant I serve made it clear that he would not dismiss me, that the choice was mine. I could choose to give up my service and return to an insular, lonely, and frustrated life or I could embrace and fully live the life I was destined to live, and had been allowed to experience by the Dominant I serve. And that, really, was no choice at all -- for who of us would prefer death to life when life offers a chance to be wholly alive and functional.
When the truth had to be told, I finally told it -- not just the terribly high number of pounds I had packed on, but the reasons why I had done so. When the Dominant I serve let me see his pain at my deceit, his concern for my health because of my weight gain, and his commitment to me that far exceeded my commitment either to the Dominant I serve or to myself, I realized that I had made the best choice possible but made a terrible mistake to put that choice off so long.
Slowly -- so much more slowly than I would wish! -- I am becoming the submissive that the Dominant I serve believes I can be; I am beginning to love and forgive myself so that I can trust and believe in myself. I am learning that I will survive, if not overcome, the trials that are part of every life (paying bills, deaths of loved ones, loss of property), as well as the trials peculiar to my submissive service (proper attitude, positive outlook, daily anal plugging, constant wearing of nipple hardware, pantyhose worn ALL the time, daily photos, periods of sensory deprivation devoted to self-examination and self-improvement). These things, as well as so many others, are being taught to me by the Dominant I serve.