I spend a good deal of time examining my life and my choices because I believe in learning from the course my journey has taken. Because I do this, I see the twisted route I have travelled from all angles.
In the past (just past, don't get me started on "old guard"), a lot of dominants were brought up to mastery through service. Many of the seasoned veterans of our community once bent their knees and backs to older, wiser dominants in order to learn. It was not something to be ashamed of, but rather a badge of honor to have once worn a collar and to have served.
Fast forward to this present. How many dominants do you know who have served? How many do you know who would even consider serving? And how many do you know who feel superior to those who have served? This isn't a blanket statement which paints the whole community with a broad swath of arrogance and hubris, but there is a sizeable group of dominants who at least behave as though they feel this way.
I believe that while every individual journey is different, there are some things you cannot learn if you have not experienced them. For example, can you truly know the pain of serving in silence and without feedback if you have not experienced it? I do not believe you can.
My journey in this way of life began long before I knew there were floggers or crosses, munches or conventions. My mind began this journey with my first fantasies and with the first role playing most little girls engage in. I tied up my barbies. I made one of them the evil woman and I let Donny Osmond (I didn't have Ken) rush to the rescue. While I wanted to be the beautiful Barbie who was rescued, part of me enjoyed the evil intent of Ballerina Barbie and her wicked plans.
And so, when decades later I found those men and women who do what we do, I started in Barbie's place. I was the good girl. I was the one both tied up and rescued. I was the one who went home and cared for the family. I was the servant.
And for years I was happy there at the feet of those who said the right words and pushed the right buttons. I knew I wanted and deserved more but I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what "more" I wanted.
Then came the time when Ballerina Barbie resurfaced. After decades of pushing back the evil thoughts and plans, of people pleasing and giving up parts of myself, my inner sadist stood up and screamed ENOUGH!
First it was enough for me to be alpha in a family. To still serve but to do so with a great deal of autonomy. Then I began topping. I reveled in the feeling of power that came from those willing to stand before my whips. Then I realized something about the men I served. Many of them were unprepared for the needs and desires of truly dedicated servants. They were either unwilling or unable to provide feedback, structure and connection on the level which so many servants seemed to need...on a level that I needed.
I continued to believe I would one day find the right owner. One who would revel in my strength and intelligence, who would enjoy my sadism, who would not break my spirit but rather carefully bend my will. And I cannot honestly say that should that unicorn ever appear before me that I would turn it away, but I don't truly believe in the unicorn anymore.
What I believe is that my time in service has prepared me to be the kind of owner I once prayed to find. My pain was not wasted but rather useful in forging the person I am today.
I know that structure means security to those who serve and so I have developed a clear set of protocols and expectations. I know that accountability and consequences are important to the well-being of those who serve and so I am careful to not threaten that which I will not carry out. I watch and make note and while I believe delayed punishment to be less effective than immediate correction, I will employ both when necessary. In short, I pay attention.
I pay attention to those things which are most important to those who serve because I remember what it was like to beg for structure and to see mistakes and errors go unnoticed. I remember because I served.
So as I find myself having fully stepped from the right side of the slash to the left I am confronted with new insecurities and stresses. My discussion with my leather brother about the MsC included my concern that my decision to step over the slash would not be well received. I know we like to pretend our community is all lovey dovey with everyone's choices, but I've seen the truth. I had trouble explaining my place in the community before I crossed the slash and I worry how my decision will go over. I know I shouldn't care, but I'm human. I care what others think to some extent. At the same time I feel this is the right place for me now and I will not allow anyone's opinion sway my position. Usually this conflict in my feelings translates into stress for me.
This has turned into a rambling mess for which I apologize. Let me sum up and close with this simple statement.
Learn wherever you can, from wherever knowledge is offered. Do not turn down learning opportunities because they come in a form with which you are not comfortable. Please celebrate the different paths we each take to find our place in the world.