The biggest challenge to my mental health is control. Ironic for a submissive who has relinquished control of a number aspects of my life that this should be the case. Or perhaps, it is not an irony after all. Perhaps it makes a lot of sense and perhaps the requirement to submit to a strong man was what I needed all along. Before I submitted, I was a self-confessed control freak. I don’t know if I really believed it but it was what others said of me, so I owned it and bandied it around, half with disgust and half with pride
I have traced my need for control back to my childhood. I was quite tightly controlled as a young person and fitting in with what was expected of me was part of what I did. In order to meet the expectations of me, I learnt to exercise self-control. I think there were two aspects to it really; one was that I had to meet the standards set by others and the other was the self-regulation required for approval. In the end their standards became my standards and their disappointment became mine too. I never really felt that I made it. Nothing was never good enough, and neither was I.
You never know how other people think so to identify my own thought processes as negative was not something that I did at that point. I didn’t think that anyone liked themselves and I had been taught that to wallow and complain was ‘victim mentality’ so that wasn’t something I did either. I was lucky. I had everything I needed and more so had nothing to complain about. I suppose in the end the pressure to be something I felt that I wasn’t and the fear that I would let everyone down and be exposed for what I really was took a grip.
I responded by controlling the one thing I could as a teenage girl; my food intake. This gave me a focus and a sense of achievement. It all made sense somehow. If I ate I was bad and if I didn’t I was good. My eating disorder was about control but it didn’t cause my issues with control. It was the result I think of an internal struggle and the fear of fighting a losing battle. It was a long time until I realised I had an issue and was ready to admit what was going on, and an even longer time until I felt I was starting to put it behind me. I had started by controlling my eating but it ended up controlling me and there are times when it can still have a hold.
Control, or the feeling that I was losing it, was also the root of self-harm and that became my coping mechanism for a while too. I still find that my control of pain is a barrier and I have written here before about how my relationship with pain has made it difficult to let go in some situations. Impact play can only take me so far and, although I envy those who can use it as catharsis, for me it can have an isolating and destructive effect when it is not tightly managed. I can’t let go, I have to hold on. I have to own my pain, whether it is self-inflicted or not.
D/s has really helped me because it means that I have to give up control. This is not easy but not all things good are easy. I have said before that there is fight in me and I will push back. My submission may be my desired natural state but it won’t come naturally to me. I need to be dominated in order to submit. I am submissive to HL but not to anyone else. I don’t have a submissive personality on the outside so it is only when I am triggered into being in that head space that I will submit without question. Those triggers are to do with control. If I am tightly controlled by HL then I am happy and safe; if I am stressed then I will try to claw the control back.
I alluded to some of this in previous posts including the mammoth one I wrote the other day where I outlined my recent spiral out of control. Essentially, if something external challenges my control, I will seek to take it in other areas where I feel that I am managing it rather than it managing me. Using all the tricks in my book and I will make myself feel better by trying to control not just the events and activities I am involved in but also the reaction of those around me to my behaviour. I will present it as a positive in a manipulative way which means that I will be allowed to continue with it. It is not a pleasant trait but I suppose a lot of the things that take hold of us don’t put us in the best light.
It is about deflection and about setting my own standards and expectations so that I don’t have to focus on the areas where I feel I have been set up to fail through no fault of my own. It is a challenge not to fall into these same traps over and over. It is hard because it is a defence mechanism and it is one that has worked for me for years and years. It has got me where I am and it has protected me. It is self-destructive but it puts the control firmly with me. I am responsible for my own undoing in a sense. And that makes me feel less vulnerable than if I feel that someone else has that control over me.
The good news? I have found a cure in D/s. The tight structure and routine means that there is much less space to go off track. The clearly defined role means that I know what I am responsible for and can focus on those things. The fact that I am listened to allows me to feel safe in the belief that HL knows what I need and I can leave it to him. My rules and rituals provide a clear set of expectations which can be met and I am not set up for failure. The trust that comes from the power exchange means that I am in a place where I am able to be free from what others want me to be. It goes past that, if I am pushed, and the last shreds of my self-control finally are relinquished.
Letting go is not the scary place I thought it to be. Trusting in someone else to have my back doesn’t mean that my world falls apart in the way that I feared. Nothing awful happens when I take a chance and do something which pushes and challenges me. What I do find happens is that I feel lighter, I feel more relaxed and I feel a sense of calm. I have learnt to enjoy the feeling of vulnerability and the sense of closeness and intimacy that comes when you really open up and let somebody in. I realise of course that I can only do this within a really clear and very tightly controlled set of circumstances but the effect has turned my life and my previous ways of managing on its head. Everything is changed.
Needless to say, writing about control has been a recurring theme. For other posts you may wish to read the following:
For more posts on mental health click here