Learning From My Mistakes

dominance Aug 21, 2023

This post was originally written in the summer of 2022, and it's being reshared now, unedited, as a part of our move to a new website and blog platform. 

This moment marked a big shift in me as a Dominant, where I learned a lesson that still reverberates in our love and my teaching. The value of my strength, even when it's uncomfortable. The necessity of facing my own inner worthiness issues and how they keep me from showing up how she needs me. The ways that I would lead from such a soft and mushy energy, because I feared her reaction to firmness. 

Enjoy this post, and make sure to check out our podcast to hear more about how this evolution has played out in our lives.

This is, by far, the most vulnerable post I’ve made since we started sharing our lives here. 

Over our 13 years as a couple, we’ve gone through a lot. We’re nowhere near the same people we were back when we met. 

I went through my own phase of “awakening” quite a few years ago. 2014 and 2015 were big years for me, coming out of unconscious living and realizing how much I was stuck inside the matrix. 

I went through a lot of work to extract myself from it. Getting back out of institutional religion. Making a plan to get out of debt and executing it. Getting myself in shape. Dealing with and resolving some health problems. Improving my mindset, especially around work. And last, but certainly not least, beginning to take responsibility for my entire life and everything that touched it. Recognizing that I had more choices than I was allowing myself to acknowledge, and that I was choosing to act, always, not being forced to act. 

Dawn hadn’t even begun this work. In fact, she wasn’t even in a place where she could recognize or acknowledge how big of a shift of consciousness I was undergoing. 

The level of frustration, even despair at times, of trying to live consciously with a spouse who wasn’t there with me, was off the charts at times. I was seeing life in this new way, but also needing to relate to the woman I love in a way that kept some sense of peace and harmony in our relationship. 

To say that a relationship helps us as we grow is an understatement. Because this awakening process is one thing. It’s like gaining the ability to see the truth for the first time. But as I began to live with this ability, I was also forced to see some truths that were uncomfortable. Especially in and through our relationship. 

Although I didn’t have this vocabulary to explain it at the time, I recognized that Dawn had a very strong masculine shield. She was very much in doing and performing mode most of the time, and relaxing, surrendering, and trusting weren’t really things in her universe. Perfectionism and people pleasing drove almost everything. 

If I had stepped into that masculine space and started to lead at that point, my sense was that I would have blown up the whole relationship. And so, without fully realizing what I was doing, I continued allowing her that masculine energy, and basically continued to let our relationship run as it had, in a reversed polarity. 

And when she WOULD relax, when we were out on date nights or vacations, I would step pretty naturally into the space that her relaxed state allowed for me.

A lot of how I handled this phase of our relationship was certainly not done with intention. I was still acting very much out of my subconscious programming. I was awake enough to realize that she wasn’t at the same place as me. I wanted her in my life. And I had to try to make both of those things work. 

What I can see now is that I was trying to help her along. I knew that she didn’t think for herself, and had never really learned how to. I could see that she wasn’t in touch with her own feeling and emotion, and how much that had been suppressed for her whole life. I could tell that she wasn’t comfortable in her own body, and that her body and mind had been severed by her upbringing, into two separate entities. 

And so I spent a lot of time and energy, over quite a few years, trying to lead her back into herself from this place of mostly inverted polarity. I tried to teach her to think for herself. I tried to help her identify her emotions and experience them. I tried to help her understand that she was just one, integrated human being, and that all of her was good and acceptable just as she was. 

And over time, she started to learn. Maybe some of my teaching helped. Maybe me sharing my own views of the world helped her see a bigger picture. Lots of it was her own process, that is for sure. 

But over the past couple of years, and especially over the past 6 months, she has made a similar shift of awareness that I went through so many years ago. 

As she has, she’s slowly but surely come to be able to set down that masculine shield and recognize all the ways that she has held up her “doing” energy to protect her soft, emotional heart. 

Here’s where the vulnerable part of this comes into play for me. 

I had become pretty damn accustomed to playing the role that I had played. Even for most of the time that she’s been wearing a collar and calling me Sir, I’ve been trying to lead from a place that didn’t trigger her wounds and traumas from the past. 

As much as it was unconscious at first, it became a more conscious decision. I chose not to be overly assertive as I tried to lead her, because when someone is acting out of their wounded triggers, they aren’t hearing anything at all. 

So recently, when she asked me to step up and assert MORE dominance, I completely missed a very important transition that was happening. 

In response to her request, I started doing more of the things I’ve historically done in our relationship to lead. Leading her in her thinking. Leading her in her feeling. Trying to lead her into a space where she invited and accepted my role as Sir, so I could step into it comfortably, knowing that it was going to be received. 

Until something happened just the other day. A little interaction of ours ended with Dawn crying, saying to herself, and eventually to me…don’t tell me what to do! Don’t tell me how to feel! 

At first, as a testament to my own growth, I was able to sit with her in that emotional conversation and be strong enough not to be triggered myself into being defensive and trying to protect my own ego. I know and accept that her emotional experience is hers, and it’s not about me.

And, as a testament to her growth, she was also able recognize that fact as well. But even still, the fact remained that she felt the need to protect my feelings by making sure I knew that it wasn’t about me. 

Then I asked the tough question that I could tell she didn’t even want to bring up. Does the fact that you’re feeling the “don’t tell me what to do” response so strongly make you question how that relates to being my submissive? 

Yes, she said. And she cried. And cried. And cried. 

When I sit down and reflect on these big emotional moments, I try to look at them with empathy first. And then ask myself, what is my responsibility in causing this situation if anything, and what is my responsibility in resolving it. 

And I realized what had happened.

She asked me for more Dominance, and I gave her more inverted polarity. My conscious decision to lead from behind became some fucked up version of “topping from the bottom”. 

My weakness, at the moment that she had asked for strength, had left her spinning. She had offered to set down that shield and let me step even more fully into the lead in our relationship  in a more direct, assertive, and tangible way. 

And my response was to continue to try to help teach her how to give me what she had already offered me in her request for more Dominance. 

While she was telling me that she was ready to step more deeply into surrender, I was reverting back to my childhood programming, where my mother’s unpredictable moods and emotionally withdrawn personality left me constantly questioning if I was loved, and always comparing my actions to her responses. 

We all go through some version of this as children. We assume that our tiny little brains’ interpretations of the events we experience are the truth. 

We decide what things mean with little immature brains, and we usually decide that it means something about ourselves. We’re little, and our whole world revolves around ourselves. 

Why is mom in a bad mood? I must have been bad. 

Why did my teacher look at me like that? I must have done something wrong. 

Why did that kid say I’m stupid? Maybe I’m stupid. 

And as a response to those little decisions that we make, we start to make other decisions to try to make mom be in a better mood. To make the teacher proud of us. To make the other kids think we’re smart or cool. 

And we learn to act in the way that gets us treated the way we want to be treated, so we don’t have those initial little decisions we made turn out to be true. We’re always protecting that little child who got hurt by those early events by the ways that we act. 

Boys get a lot of their early life experience being under the authority of women, and many of us learn that we get treated better if we behave the way we’re told to behave, and we get treated worse if we don’t obey. 

And so we make efforts to be pleasing, because our little brains associate the punishment we receive for misbehaving as meaning that we are not loved or lovable. And to earn the approval of our mothers, our day care providers, and our teachers, we learn to be pleasing to women if we want to experience love, approval, or affection. 

In my case, I learned that you definitely don’t ask for what you want. I learned that you work very hard to make sure that everyone is okay and happy with you. And then, I can have my way, as long as mom had already told me that it was okay and that I knew I wouldn’t upset her.

So back to the situation at hand. 

When Dawn was ready to set down that shield and relax much more deeply into my leadership, I still felt the need to make sure that it would be pleasing to her for me to do so. I still was seeking reassurance that it was okay for me to be me. I was putting my desires away and just trying to make sure she was happy. 

As much work as I’ve done, there is still something deep down there that didn’t feel right about taking what I want, even from someone who has told me THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE’S NEEDING FROM ME. 

This is why relationships are so powerful as healing tools. And it’s why there is more benefit to us as individuals to stick it out with the people we love and work through this stuff. 

Now that I’ve identified this ongoing wound, I can address it and work to release it so I can live more consciously. And I can be a better man, husband, and Dominant as a result. 

None of that happens if I get defensive. None of that happens in a relationship where true commitment isn’t there and I just avoid the situation by moving on to a new partner. 

This deep love stuff isn’t for the faint of heart, and as much as we share and try to be as real as we can, it takes a lot of these kinds of conversations to have those great times be even greater. It takes a radical amount of responsibility. It takes deep introspection. It takes intense vulnerability. 

It’s hard. But it’s worth it. 

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