When I first started my kinky exploring as a teenager, I quickly found I was submissive in nature and a masochist (someone who finds sexual pain pleasurable). Being young at the time, I then adopted the labels and formed my sexual identity around this- I was a sub so I wanted and needed a dominant partner who could play rough and fulfill those desires. If I couldn't find someone like that then I would have to play 'vanilla' and cut off those desires.
Working as a stripper I often had customers approach me due to my kinky style and express their desire for me to dominate or hurt them in some way. This would bring up a lot of anxiety and fear- What? Me? I don't hurt people! I'm a sub!
Even when a guy I dated made a request for me to punch him during sex I froze up.
"No! I couldn't hurt you like that!"
"Come on, when I do it to you does it hurt? No! You enjoy it! I'd like to experience it!"
But I just couldn't even think about it. As much as I enjoyed experiencing pleasurable pain in my own life, I just couldn't translate it to hurting other people- even when they wanted it.
I often had lovers and friends suggest I become a dominatrix since I was so kinky and open minded.
'You'd be good at it!" They would say.
'Are you kidding me? I'm a sub! I wouldn't be able to do that!'
Then the following weekend I'd be in a schoolgirls outfit riding on some drunk stag's back on stage and whipping him while his friends laughed. It's performance art- totally different! I still don't fully know why I was so comfortable with playing dominant in strip shows but I think it was something about acting on stage that let me have fun with the role in a way I would never do in my private life.
So why was I so anxious about being a dominant or sadist off the stage? Why did it bring up so much fear in me?
I believe I had formed an identity of myself based on my early experiences of enjoying submission, and lack of confidence. It was easier for me to receive than to take the responsibility of giving the experience to someone else. I didn't know what to do, if someone would like it and I had a massive fear of rejection and failure. I would only do things I knew I was good at! When you're playing the sub role then it's much easier to please someone (though this is when toxic submission comes in to play- you can check out my video on empowered submission for more about that!)
My confident, dominant/giving side in my sexuality was a shadow piece of me- a piece I had shut down and disconnected from. I was mostly very confident in my day to day life and have quite dominant qualities when it comes to running business and working with people but in my sexuality I had cut it off. I was shy and awkward in the bedroom and didn't want to be bad at whatever I tried. The whole idea of being dominant was triggering to me (if something brings up strong feelings of fear, anxiety or anger then you're likely dealing with a shadow piece!) and it was easiest to just turn it around to say that it wasn't my identity- that I was just a sub and it's not me!
I am sure some cultural conditioning also came into play here but mostly I had found that I really enjoyed a certain role and I decided to identify with it fully. It felt safe to nestle in that identity and not put myself at risk of rejection or failure in another role.
Now, there are plenty of times when things just aren't for you- and you will know because there isn't a strong charge around them. For example, I know that I have no desire for playing with urine and it feels pretty neutral to me... if someone asked me to do it I'd feel pretty indifferent and wouldn't jump at it, but it doesn't bring up any strong emotions. There are tonnes of things in kink and sexuality that just don't appeal to me and that is totally normal! I'm not saying everyone should try everything. And sometimes there is a charge around something for a good reason (Like a lot of people are very triggered by Daddy/little girl play and it's totally understandable why that would bring up strong emotions!) but sometimes we have a charge around something because it is a part of us we have repressed that wants to be integrated... and the beauty of kink is it is a place for us to explore these sides of ourselves and welcome all the parts of ourselves home.
When I moved to Berlin I started to attend workshops, festivals and events about sexuality and this is when I started to really discover all new parts of myself.
When I first attended a shibari workshop it was mostly because I wanted to find people to tie me up after having my first experience with rope, so I went to a Sacred Rope workshop and in the class we switched so I got to try tying. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it! I was paired up with this lovely woman and we had a lot of fun tying each other (even though obviously we were both very new!) and as soon as I got home I started to tie everything around me (and myself!).
In the safety of a workshop container I was able to let go of my fear, try on a new identity and learn more about myself. The environment of a workshop is one of trial and error so it has less pressure than trying something new in a sexual setting privately. You're all there to learn and you don't get disappointed when the person who is learning isn't very good at what they do. You support each other to learn and grow and it helped give me confidence to get creative.
I continued my sexual education and exploration with countless workshops and events... Berlin is a city where people love to ditch all labels and identities- to explore all sides and try everything. I dived in and started to explore parts of myself that I didn't know existed. I surrendered the identity I had known in favor of my own growth. As I learned the tools and skills to be confident in giving experiences, I started to really enjoy guiding people through an exploration of their pain threshold and seeing their bodies writhe and jump as I inflicted pleasurable pain in the way they desired. I became curious about the art of surrender and seeing the moment when someone let go while I played with them- the melting and softening. It felt beautiful to give people an experience that I personally enjoyed so much! I explored my own internal dominant and submissive archetypes the way I authentically wanted. I got to be a cheeky fairy covering people in glitter- tying them up and spanking them while manically laughing. I got to be a powerful Goddess and have a servant worship me. I got creative, I got curious and I learned more about myself with each experience.
Questions started to come up such as-
"Can I be 'feminine' AND take on a dominant role?" "Can I be loving AND inflict pain?"
"Can I give AND receive something that feels good for me through the act of giving?"
"How can I assist this person to experience some of what I have loved myself?"
I started to make my own rules about what a 'dominant' identity could be.
I could be a fairy, a powerful Goddess, a shield maiden, an evil unicorn, a queen. I didn't have to dress in black latex and act mean- I could be whatever kind of archetype worked for me on that day (and even switching moment to moment in a scene). I also got to explore my submissive side even further and I learned how to be a better sub through experiencing the other side. I saw how much more confident I felt when my subs would give me feedback and guidance- how much deeper we could go with communication whether verbal or physical. I became better at tying every time I was tied and learned to translate what felt amazing to me to the giving role.
I PLAYED. I experienced joy and freedom through this exploration and stopped taking it all so seriously. Trying something in a workshop didn't have to mean it was a new identity or that I had to like it, but it was an opportunity to surrender to the unknown and surrender what I thought I new about myself in search of my truth. I decided to disassociate the fear and anxiety I felt around certain identities and replace it with curiosity and eventually playful joy or a neutrality if it wasn't resonating with me.
When I was resisting exploring the other side- it all became quite serious. I was seriously submissive and seriously not going to punch someone when they asked! Now if I receive a request I can feel into it without the charge of the shadow identity and I can really notice if it's a yes or a no that comes from my current state and not from some false sense of self I had created long ago and refused to let go of. This has in turn helped me to have so many interesting and unique experiences that I would never have had if I had not taken that first step to allow myself to switch out of my normal role.
I still find myself desiring much more the submissive side of things- I crave surrender and the sweet subspace! That desire has never changed- but I know I have so much more inside of me than a single identity and I won't limit myself with a box around my sexuality. I feel honored to get to give people the powerful surrender that I have enjoyed so much and that I feel everyone should get to experience.
I get to be creative in so many new ways with my sexuality and translate it to my artwork. I have healed shame and anxiety through this exploration and integrated more parts of myself by working through these pieces.
I get to experience all perspectives I desire and understand myself and others on new levels.
I get to live more in the present moment and feel really in touch with my desires based on my current state and not based upon the past view of myself. Dynamics have the fluidity to change moment to moment and not be trapped in a single structure for eternity.
I have the whole universe inside me and I get to feel it all.
Want to explore conscious kink through the art of shibari/kinbaku? I have created an online course that gives you the tools for communication and playing safe. This is a great way to try both top and bottom of a kink experience. Check out more here!