Control is an interesting topic of conversation amongst those who engage in M/s and D/s relationships. Who has it?
Some like to argue that the power lies with the submissive, who has the ability to stop the things they do not like or want with the wave of a magic word. If the top hears it. Or others hear it who can guarantee its enforcement. Assuming their pride or relationship parameters are not blocking the use of a safe word. Accounting for all variables, is the power really theirs?
Others argue that while submissives set limits, they don’t make the choices. They request and prefer, but do not command. Some, who have negotiated away safe words, and in fact, who have negotiated away limits, would laugh to be told they have all the power, while they do something they would much prefer not be doing because of a command.
As with many two-sided disagreements, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
True, the right side of the slash carries the power of limits and the responsibility of knowing when they’ve had enough. However, the left side has the power to respect or neglect those limits and boundaries, as often their bottoms are cuffed, immobilized, bound, or in some other way placed in a situation which renders them effectively unable to physically force a top to stop should they so desire it. The name of the game is trust, and has to be accompanied by a healthy dose of respect for the other person’s ability to know themself. And that’s only discussing the portion of those relationships which may touch on kinky behavior. In the cases of those who live their dynamics, the choice for the commanded to disobey may be the equivalent of risking the relationship itself.
What it all comes down to, is that in essence, we are all trying to control something, whether it be a rush of chemicals to the brain, a line attached to a limit or boundary, or even another person. So what happens when a situation comes along which is beyond the control of either top or bottom of the slash? For example, an emergency which effects humanity on a global scale. Not that any of us would know anything about that, of course.
The control we exercise so carefully over our environments and our partner is seemingly meaningless in the face of the variables which no one can ever control: life and death. This realization may cause anxiety in those who like their world a bit more orderly. While not every submissive I’ve ever met has anxiety issues, it does seem to be a common occurance in that population, and our current crisis may create feelings of helplessness or even panic attacks, particularly when the worry involves the permanent loss of their Dominant to factors out of their control.
I know you’ve heard it tons already, but take a break from social media and the news. Self care is still important in a crisis. It is physically impossible to maintain a state of heightened agitation constantly for months at a time, so settle in. Make time to be intimate and present with partners, even if only via streaming chat options. Put phones aside and focus. Our need for affection, for touch and quality time and whatever speaks to each of us individually doesn’t disappear in a time like this.
Kink play may be the furthest thing from our minds right now, but sexual intimacy can often be life-affirming.
Left siders. Have patience with anxiety and crying and need for comfort your bottom slash may be exhibiting. Shit is super scary right now, especially for those of us who love someone in that high-risk category. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage them to perform as many of their usual tasks as possible during a quarrantine. Those routines can help soothe the mind. Consider giving overly anxious partners who may need to be separated from you or who may need to venture out into high-risk areas some type of token, such as a bracelet or wrist cuff they can touch and be reminded to center themselves.
Right siders. Give your Doms and Masters a break from your emotions if you’ve been overly anxious. They may be scared, too, and trying to exhibit strength for you. Let them have some space to be worried if they need it. A hot bath, an adult coloring book from Amazon (the dirty housewife one has the added bonus of helping with dirty talk) or a little time spent on a hobby can keep the mind off of things. Stay in the present. When you catch yourself worrying about what’s to come, remember that we only have the ability to change this moment right now. We can’t change next week or tomorrow or even 20 minutes from now. So do what you can to appreciate this moment and to be as safe and careful as you can be.
If anyone finds themself struggling with mental health in this crisis or any other, please contact a professional to help you through it. I’m listing some additional resources which may be of assistance as well.