When I tell women that I consider myself submissive to my partner, they often cringe.
“Submit?!” They say. “No… what about surrender?”
I get it. “Surrender” feels gentler.* It conjures up a flowing, radiant woman, softening herself toward her partner.
“Submit” feels dirty. It feels intense. It makes our bodies cringe, it reminds us of allll past conditioning saying “women must submit to men.”
And that’s why I like it.
I am interested in the reclaiming of terms that have historically filled us with terror. Most people cringe when they hear the word “pussy.” And yet, such a major part of healing my relationship with my sexual energy was wrapped up in my reclamation of this word.
I couldn’t say it in the beginning. It made my body feel… yucky. It felt gross.
Now I love my pussy and everything about her.
I am interested in the transformation that happens when I take that back. When I say my pussy is mine, my body is mine, my sexuality is mine, my blood is mine. My submission is mine.
I am interested in what happens when I don’t feel shame around my body or my desires.
Most of us spend our entire lives avoiding our shadows. Avoiding and repressing and pretending like they don’t exist.
We pretend that there aren’t anyyyy parts of us that wish ill on other people. We pretend like we never have a desire for anyone other than our partners. We pretend that we don’t like sex, that we don’t like that our bodies don’t look the way we want, that we don’t like when we feel sad or angry, that we don’t like when others treat us badly, that we don’t like when we’re running out of money, that we don’t like when the whole world is burning.
I help unearth people’s shadows for a living. And we all have pieces that do, in fact, like these things.
When we shove them down and pretend that they don’t exist, they gain power over us.
They are no longer conscious. They are unconscious. And there, in our unconscious, they gain strength.
On the other hand, when I can fully own and not feel shame around these parts of myself…. then I gain strength.
I am no longer constantly triggered by people’s opinions of me. I am no longer thrown off when a man is rude to me on the street. I no longer feel hesitant of expressing myself in my everyday life.
When I understand my shadow, my boundaries become clearer.
I can fully own that there are times when I like to be submissive to my partner. Because of this, I have a very strong understanding of how I want to be treated by other men. If a man says, “You’re a slut,” I don’t freeze, nor do I erupt in a triggered response. I feel centered in my body. I know who I like to be called a slut by and when. I do not feel shame around my sexuality. I can choose how to react, and precisely how I want to handle it.
There are also many times when I am submissive to Jordan in a non-sexual way. I like when he makes decisions. I like when he carries things. I like when he makes plans. I like when he meets my needs without having to ask him.
In the past, I was so focused on proving that I could do all these things well if I wanted to, that I didn’t realize that I didn’t actually like doing them.
Because I was able to own that I want to be submissive to a man, most of the time I no longer have to do these things. Jordan orders for us at restaurants, carries packages down the street himself, does the cleaning that I don’t like doing, and responds to my needs. He figures out how we’re going to get where we’re going, he decides what time we should leave, he handles situations when things go wrong.
My needs are entirely met, often beyond what I would have done for myself. My preferences are taken into account.
I get to sit back and relax and laugh and look pretty. I know – some men would say that in a demeaning way, right? But it doesn’t feel demeaning to me, now. It feels empowering. Because I am choosing this dynamic for myself. I like to relax and I like the way Jordan responds to my radiance. I like when he holds me and I feel safe. And I like knowing that I can choose who to have this dynamic with.
When we own our shadow, we get what we want.
As another example: my family was very critical of me growing up. They made fun of me a lot – in a light-hearted way, to them, but it still had an impact. My ex was the same way.
I never consciously noticed or felt bothered by this behavior. It was normal to me.
Do you know why I never noticed it? Because I internalized it. I became my own inner critic. The voice in my head mirrored the voices around me.
You could even say, I grew to “like it.” It felt like love to me. It felt familiar.
I only began to notice when people were critical of me when I became aware of my inner self-critic. I started to be able to set boundaries with the people around me. I started saying, “That is mean, actually. I don’t like being talked to that way.”
I started being able to distinguish. Because I owned and approved of my inner self-critic – the part of me that “liked it.”
When we own and approve of parts of ourselves, we can integrate them.
When I am able to adore all parts of myself, I gain a whole lot of power.
Not everyone has pieces to heal around submission. Maybe the word holds no charge for you, maybe you just don’t feel interested or pulled toward it. But it is likely that if you have a strong body reaction to the word “submit,” there’s a lot of healing for you there.
I don’t know if it’s possible to not have a complete pendulum swing before we come back to middle ground. Women have been repressed for centuries. Today there are women who think aspects of femininity are wrong, that everything “feminine” has nothing to do with women at all and has been wholly taught to us, and that most men are toxic and terrible.
I had to become very angry, feel like I hated all men, stop wearing makeup and shaving my legs, in order to realize that there are some aspects of femininity and what’s considered “traditionally feminine” that I really love (for me, personally! you do you).
And for me, there is huge healing in submission. Not just surrender.
*What’s interesting, is that the actual definitions of submit and surrender don’t mesh as much with these connotations.
If you google “surrender,” you’ll come up with phrases like: “abandon oneself entirely.” “Cease resistance to an enemy.” “To yield to the power or control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.”
“Submit,” on the other hand, results in the phrases: “accept or yield to a superior force or the authority or will of another person.” “To permit oneself to be subjected to something.” “To defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.”
I cherry-picked a bit; the words themselves have a lot of overlap. They are synonyms.
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