Submission Gap: Masterless and Longing for Certainty

A London subway platform. It reads Mind the Gap.
Image by Pawel Loj / CC BY

“Peoples once accustomed to masters are not in a condition to do without them.”

-Jean Jacques-Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Equality

Abusive Certainty

The thing I loved about Kurt was what scared me most about him: I never knew which version of him I was going to get.

He was one man when he woke in the morning. Another when he got home from work. And became someone else entirely over and over again. It could happen when he got lost in thought. Anything that reset him, even if just for a moment, delivered me a different side of him. His moods were splintered into different pieces, and he never quite connected into a whole. It was fascinating to watch.

But some of those sides were pretty ugly. Dark. Unforgiving. I was afraid of Kurt in ways that are still hard to explain.

Still, the sex was hot. Brutal. I was his dirty girl, and while I was in his bed, he was going to do whatever the fuck he wanted to me.

And when he stroked my face after and called me his brown-eyed girl, I melted into the mattress. We crossed our legs all over one another, until we were completely interwoven, collectively becoming a sort of raft on the bed. Smoked cigarettes naked, exhaling in unison. Creating waves we lulled in.

The rough sex left me covered in bruises that I’d stroke at odd moments, staring out the window at people walking by, remembering.

With Kurt, there were moments of absolute bliss. And he told me what to do at a time when I was entirely directionless. Lacking purpose.

In some ways, Kurt’s controlling behavior felt like a kind of security. Of stability.

But at its core, our relationship wasn’t healthy. At all. He took my money. Dictated what I could eat, told me who I could see (which wasn’t very many people). Dating him in the first place hadn’t even been a conscious decision I’d made. Our entire relationship began because of my aversion to saying no and his excellent manipulation skills.

And one day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to leave.

Vanilla Certainty

The trouble of course was that it wasn’t all bad. While Kurt might have been a controlling asshole, he’d made me feel certain for a little while. I knew what I had to do on any given day, what he considered right and wrong. And once he was out of my life, that was gone, too. Along with the kink and rough sex, that welcome darkness.

I was on my own now. Back at sea. Adrift on a much smaller raft. Everything looked the same.

Months passed. I dated a series of people. Minor hits, minor misses. An engineer who gave me one of the worst kisses of my life. A man in recovery who threw a lit cigarette at me when I  criticized his doing drugs in front of me.

I was finally set up by friends with Seth, the only other single person in my immediate social circle. Seth and I were very different. I’d been wandering for years, a stray kid. He’d been a late bloomer, reluctant to leave the safety of what he’d known. Supportive parents.

But what attracted me to Seth was his sense of certainty. He was confident, resolute in nearly every situation. Where I only felt maybes and doubts.

Yet, I was soon to learn that Seth wasn’t controlling, not like Kurt anyway. Seth could barely control himself, let alone anyone else. He often projected certainty in his words, but his actions demonstrated he was even more lost than I was.

And Seth was suspicious of sex. Intimidated by it. He had less experience than I did and what he did have hadn’t been very positive. Seth was sure that things would go downhill if we slept together. It took a year of constant reassurance for him to finally relent.

It was good, solid sex. But he certainly wasn’t interested in playing games with debasement. Pain. Or anything kinky, really. His least vanilla interest was threesomes. Fun but not exactly adventurous for a young man. Still, I suggested a few more “out there” activities, and he vetoed the idea immediately.

I loved him and said nothing about this mismatch. But inside I felt disappointment. I’d had a taste of being sexually dominated with Kurt, and I felt like I’d never get it again.

Kinky Certainty

And then 8 years later, everything changed. After discovering close friends of ours were polyamorous, I finally agreed to open our relationship, something Seth had wanted since the very beginning (because, duh, threesomes).

Seth and I originally dated a friend together, but after that triad broke up, I began to meet people on my own (while they continued to see one another). And through meeting new people? I discovered the kink scene. Formal D/s.

And when I did, I found what I’d been longing for all those years. What I’d experienced with Kurt. Certainty. Only this time it was even better. Founded on actual consent. Structured. Rooted in safety. I was able to fully explore submission — but this time within a healthy context.

It was all the excitement and danger of my abusive relationship…but without the actual abuse.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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