Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection
I have posted before about vulnerability, and for me it has been significant to the success of my submission. Allowing myself to be vulnerable for HisLordship, and letting him see the real me, has been significant. Doing this has given him the opportunity to empathise with me, acknowledge my needs, and build a stong connection. I have often said that D/s has given me an intensity and an intimacy that I never thought I would have with another person, and I firmly believe that this is to do with vulnerability and connection.
I am not suggesting for a minute that submissives have to be vulnerable and that, conversely, Dominants do not. What I am saying is that for a relationship to be successful, and for you to be truly connected on an emotional level, you must both show vulnerability. For us, that happens to come from the open way we communicate with one another and from the high levels of trust and honesty which are part of the power exchange. The structure of our dynamic means that these things are reinforced on a daily basis and that our needs, emotional and other, are met.
I love this little cartoon. It explains how and why empathy works really well and if you have not seen it before, and have a couple of minutes to watch, then it makes it much clearer than I can. It is valuable too in stressing that it is not always easy to give the right response, not only because it requires vulnerability in yourself, but also because it can require conscious thought which would come from the timing being right. I find so often that knowing theory doesn’t mean that we can apply the practise, and that is why, for us, having scheduled times to talk in this sort of way, really helps.
Being vulnerable was not something that I found easy, especially at the start. I was used to being independent and didn’t want to feel that I ‘needed’ someone else. I actually took great pains to point out the difference between need and want, and actually this was a barrier to me being able to achieve the sort of closeness I wanted to have. I think as I have grown older I have found this easier in general. I no longer associate vulnerability with weakness as I once did, and can see now that it is a hard thing to do, but it allows us to make the connections that we want to make.
Vulnerability is frightening because of the risk you have to take to show someone that side of you. I suppose I have got better at thinking about that risk and weighing it up in a rational way, which puts it into perspective. To be hurt is not something I enjoy (well only the right sorts of hurt) but it is something I can endure. My ability to bounce back has been proven over time, and I am pretty confident that I can pick myself up and carry on when that is what is required of me. Being resilient is a big part of this as it allows us to take those risks and to think with a growth mindset, approaching things as opportunities rather than as problems.
Slowly over time I have got better at expressing my vulnerabilities to HL and this has actually demystified them a lot of the time. They are out in the open and therefore, they are no longer the scary things that I might hide, even from myself. Talking has become a huge connector in a way that it might not have been otherwise. I think these are things we do with each other much more at the beginning of a relationship, but as life gets busy we don’t always take the time to really talk and to listen to each other. Of course, this only works if you are both prepared to articulate your thoughts and feelings honestly, so we have had to take those risks and make ourselves vulnerable to each other.
Within out current relationship, this doesn’t feel so much of a risk as the level of trust and intimacy we have is huge. What it has also done is allow me a safe base from which to take other risks and I have seen the effects of rolling that out into the other areas of my life. Showing my weaknesses and being vulnerable in one context, has enabled me to be stronger and more resilient in another. I suppose that things no longer happen to me, they happen to us, and that has made all the difference. Vulnerability has allowed us to make a connection which unites us and enables us to grow together, as individuals and as part of a couple.
Having this sort of connection has allowed me to have a much higher level of physical intimacy with HL too. I realise that giving your body (within agreed limits, of course) is part of most D/s relationships, but within a married dynamic it becomes an integral part of how you are together. The emotional connection is continually reinforced through our communication and the way we interact, meaning that I am able to express things and consider things, on a sexual level, that I would not otherwise. It allows the right environment, I suppose, and I think that is why the bedroom only type of D/s really did not work for me. It allowed me the space to disconnect and operate on a more individual level.
Essentially, for us, being able to be open with each other and to share what is going on inside, has made all the difference. We have become attuned to each other and supportive of one another on a level that was not there prior to D/s. In a sense we have been de-mystified but at the same time, are able to explore those yet undiscovered parts. It has opened up opportunities and experiences which we might never have ventured into or embraced before. It is allowing us to learn and grow in a way which feels safe and manageable as well as feeling exciting and boundless.