I spent a good number of years living in the "one down" position in a BDSM erotic power exchange. Before that, I'd spent even more years wishing that I could find that sort of relationship dynamic. Even as I held tightly to my strong feminist philosophy and political views, I wanted a different sort of reality for my own intimate world... a paradox that I came to accept without any sense of needing to reconcile or resolve the divergence.
I found comfort, security, and sometime even joy in living that life choice. I remember those days with fondness. Now that it is gone, no longer part of my life, I look back and find I have no regrets about the time I spent in that place.
But it is gone. I am not, any longer, a submissive. I do not practice submission. I do not think about myself in those terms anymore. The dynamic was created between my partner and me. It was a joint effort. While there are those who believe that a submissive can exist apart from the dominant opposite number, I do not.
Submission is a responsive expression of erotic potential. It arises in the presence of a trusted dominant force; a partner who calls it forth. I do think that some of us are "wired" to make that sort of response under the correct conditions, but being inclined that way is only part of what needs to happen to bring it all into being. Without an active, conscious, deliberate and willing partner, there is truly nothing to submit to, and hence no real submission. I know. I have tried: carried out all the motions, made all the moves, dreamed all the dreams. It isn't the same thing. I don't know what it is, but I know it isn't submission.
For a time, I mourned that reality. Missed the charge that was, for me, present in the power dance. But mourning ends. It must. Life calls us onward, and we move a s we must.
So, now, I take care of the things I take care of. I carry my share of the work. I make the effort to be a good partner. I do not however, hang on his every word. I do not wait, breathlessly, to know what he might want or need. I don't strive to anticipate what he might require. He can take care of the things he wants as well as I can. If he doesn't ask it, I don't feel like it is my job to do it or give it or produce it. I don't keep score or balance accounts, but I do stay in a place of awareness of what is "fair" and equitable, and these days, I want there to be equitable sharing. The thrill that compensated for the lack of fairness in my D/s relationship is not there, and without that, there is nothing at all to pay me back for the self-discipline and sacrifices that submission requires.
I don't know which way is better. These two relationship styles are different. Different enough that there is not really any good place of comparison. I imagine it looks pretty much the same from the outside, but it isn't. I know it isn't.
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if he felt his own urges toward dominance surge back to life. I wonder if he would choose me in that event? I wonder if I would choose to try again? I wonder if I could retrace the steps, find the path, bend that far? I wonder... and then I feel myself give a mental shrug, and go on. It is an exercise in mental masturbation. Nothing more. You cannot step into the same stream twice.