Does one who submits risk losing ‘self’?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this week that has really been on my mind the last couple of days. Her question was basically how can you submit without losing who you are, losing yourself? How, indeed.

When I first made the decision to specifically seek what is commonly called a power-based dynamic, the one thing I worried about was losing myself the way I had in my abusive marriage. I was married to a clinical narcissist who was psychologically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. He was insidious in his abuse, and over the course of our 12-year relationship, I really lost who I was. I was slowly manipulated and in a lot of ways brainwashed. That is what long-term abuse will do to you. It’s slow and insidious.

When I left my marriage, I made a pact with myself that I would not seek a relationship for a year. I dated on and off, but never with the idea or intent of finding a relationship. I knew I needed to ‘find’ myself again, and I couldn’t do that if I jumped into another relationship. And so over that year, I spent a lot of time working on me, finding those things about myself that I had given up or let fall by the wayside due to my marriage. That one decision changed everything about who I was and where I was heading in life. It allowed me to really find my confidence again, find that girl I had lost and bring her back to life. And I vowed that I would never allow that to happen to me again.

So what does that have to do with the idea of losing yourself in surrender? Well, what I learned is that I can surrender completely and still maintain my personal authenticity.

Power is an interesting concept. When we talk about D/s, M/s, or O/p dynamics, people generally call them ‘power exchange’ or ‘power based’ relationships. The concept of the dynamic is that one person gives up their power to another. For me, that analogy just doesn’t work. It doesn’t really work for Sir, either. So we don’t use the word ‘power’ when discussing our dynamic. What I give to him is authority – the authority to direct my power.

I have the personal power to execute any action that is required of me. I am a powerful person and when talking about it to someone will often call myself a ‘power slave’. I get things done. Most of the slaves I know are what I would consider to be ‘power slaves’ because they are the kind of people who make the world move. We can do anything required of us, even the hard stuff. We can smile through the toughest times. We are the people who make things happen. Often, we are described as ‘survivors’ because when the going gets tough, we’re the ones who keep on keepin’ on. If we didn’t have power, we couldn’t do that.

I’m not the kind of girl who is helpless. I’m not the kind of girl who wakes up in the morning and allows fear or stress to paralyze me. No matter how tough things get, I will keep moving, I will pull up my bootstraps and git ‘er done.

That kind of person isn’t the kind of person who will lose themselves in surrender. If one has a strong sense of self, is confident, and knows who they are and what they want out of life, their personal power isn’t really up for grabs. A surrender-based relationship won’t make them less than they currently are, but will strengthen them. A healthy relationship will make them stronger, will make them more confident and secure.

But if one is insecure, isn’t confident in who they are, then they are at risk of losing themselves in surrender. Surrender from a position of weakness isn’t likely to be strengthened by surrender. Note that I said ‘likely’. I said that because I do know people who were struggling with serious insecurities but who were self-aware and intent on working to increase their confidence. They partnered with people who were supportive and helpful. And through surrender became ‘more’, became strong, became confident. It wasn’t easy for them, but they knew where they stood and what they needed to do to become strong. They were able to find themselves within surrender. So my statement does not in any way mean that someone who lacks confidence and security will lose themselves. Just that if they aren’t self-aware they are more likely to. And if they are aware of that risk and they determine not to allow it to happen, the chances are that they will be able to keep it from happening.

Thinking about this topic has helped me to solidify some things within myself about my own personal power, my own confidence, and to see where my Sir encourages me to be my true, authentic self. Surrender has made me a stronger, better, more authentic me. I wish that for everyone who desires surrender.

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