I grew up in an environment which was quite tightly controlled. There were certain house rules and there were expectations of how you should behave. I think that is fairly usual and probably most homes are like that to a greater or to a lesser extent. Through my role at work I can see the way that parenting styles impact on the young person and so I am aware that consistency is key in setting those rules and boundaries and in having them accepted and adhered to. In that sense, the environment in which I grew up was not only tightly controlled but it was consistent in its expectations and so they stuck and were rarely challenged. To gain acceptance, I learnt self-control.
Controlling the environment and the expectations is interesting as it does set a blue print for how you want those within it to behave. Behaviour comes from feelings which are triggered by thoughts caused by actions, so to really control, you need to be influential over how that person thinks and feels. I do not suggest that most people are thinking about it on this level, as the majority of us are prompted by a thought which triggers a feeling and leads to resultant behaviour. This usually happens quickly and is part of the sub-conscience. It is only when trying to shift or alter thinking styles that you really become aware of it and have to slow the whole process down, challenge it, and make changes so that a new way of thinking becomes habit.
Under pressure I think that most people will return to the hard-wiring that their brain has adopted during their formative years. Those connections become your default and it can be very hard to change them later on in life. I know that there is a big shift at the moment from groups trying to persuade us that certain behaviours are nature rather than nurture, but I really think that while genetics play a part, so much of what we are comes from what we have learnt early on. It is based on protecting ourselves and finding a way to survive and hopefully succeed, within the environment which we are part of.
I was brought up with a strong set of core values which were modelled, corrected and reinforced where required. This led pretty much to good decision making, sensible choices, thoughtful responses and an expectation that I was someone who would do the right thing, whether that was concerning myself or my actions towards others. All good so far. The flip side of this was the thought process. As a family the thinking was often verbalised. There were always reasons and explanations. These were public and you were held accountable in a sense for the mistakes and failures that you made. I always remember this being about the negatives rather than the positives and the fact that we all knew about each other was part of being close and meant that we all learnt from the actions of each other.
The expectations were high: high to unattainable. Hence came the guilt and shame and the sense of failure. The fear of exposure and the need not to be discovered was huge. The desire for acceptance and the need for approval became the key at the root of the process. So the action would trigger the thought which became shaped by the desire for approval. I would behave in the way that I thought I should but the feeling would be negative – anxiety or guilt or a sense of failure. The anxiety would come from the fear of getting it wrong, the guilt from the fact that I was lucky, had no excuse and should be grateful and the failure because whatever I did, it was never good enough to meet those unattainable expectations.
These are things that I have been aware of for a long time. They make me who I am. They mean that I set myself unrealistic expectations, that I seek reassurance and approval, that I try to be what I think that others need and want me to be, and that I have a high level of self control. HisLordship deals every day with these symptoms and although he has an idea of the cause, I am not sure he has ever understood why it happens. Letting go has never really been an option for me. How can I be what I need to be if I let go? It also means that the level of complex analysis and the need to anticipate a variety of outcomes becomes an integral part of the thinking and this is also not conducive to letting go. Thoughts and feelings are predicted and responses are therefore controlled.
There is a D/s link to this self-analytical ramble in that this has really affected not only my need to submit, but also my submission itself. Left to my own devices, I will control my thoughts, behaviour and actions very closely but to a never ending goal. The expectations I set can never really be met, the approval that I seek will never be gained and I will never be good enough. That is quite hard to manage and it is so completely wired as a default that it becomes hard for those who are drawn into it. What I need is for someone else to set the expectations, to approve of my thoughts, actions and behaviour and to let me know that I am good enough.
HisLordship is the first person who has come close to being able to do that, and do it in a way which can turn the old negatives to new positives and begin to rewrite my default. During the years with him, I have felt myself move away from some of the instinctive feelings and start to break away from some of the innate responses. I feel calmer and freer and that is reflected in some of my actions and behaviour. The past still affects my submission though, as acting in a submissive way and behaving submissively is just part of it. Unless he can break down some of the layers of self control, I am not going to be able to fully let myself go.
I am not saying that this never happens and during a scene where I am tested in an intense way, I will find myself slip into that place. When I was thinking about my relationship with pain I realised that my self control meant that I processed pain in a way which meant that I retreated into myself to fight and control it, rather than letting go and coming out of myself to clutch on to him in need. If it goes too far it becomes emotionally divisive for us rather than emotionally connecting. Triggering my emotional vulnerability will have the opposite effect. My need to be accepted, to gain approval, to meet the expectations will be huge, especially where I feel that I have been exposed and/or revealed as my true self.
Losing control (giving up my self-control) will lead to exposure of who and what I really am. To do that and allow myself to be accepted and loved and approved of, despite the reality of who or what I am, is what I need to do to fully submit. Only through losing control, will I actually be free and that will only come through someone else taking complete control over me. I have hidden myself behind many layers and defences so that I can be what I think I need to be for that situation, and that holds me back, as a person and as a submissive. I have known for a long time that Sir sees me but for this to go any further I need him to show me myself. Not by telling me in words or by giving me examples, but by making me become it.
It is a lot to give up and I am not sure where it will go or if it will happen. When I was much younger I worried about who that person was. I wanted to find her and to see but that was difficult and led to so many conflicted emotions that it was impossible to continue. I had unpacked myself so far, but put the layers all back on, probably even more tightly with the knowledge of what I had discovered in the process. Since I met HL this is the happiest phase of my life and I have no real need for more than this. But the process of reflection that is part of D/s means that I have come face to face with the ways that I am limiting myself, and if he wants to push those boundaries then I am happy to try and see where he takes me.