I'm really bad at having limits.
I mean, in practice, I'm great at having limits. I'm like the queen of limits. I have a whole bunch of them, and most of them shouldn't be pushed because they're backed up by triggers. I'm good at negotiating, I'm good at articulating why certain limits are in place, and I'm getting better at using a safeword before I start to completely freak out.
I'm not bad at communicating my limits to other people and insisting that they respect them; I am bad at having limits. I'm bad at living with needing them. I'm bad at not hating myself for having them.
I got the idea from Arthur that good submissives don't have limits. They will do anything. Even if they aren't comfortable with something, they will not only suck it up, but they will get off on the idea of doing something they don't want to do for the sake of their dominant partner. In my head, there is an Ubersub out there who will do every single fucking kinky thing and like it. Incidentally, she is also every other partner that all of my past and future partners will ever have. So, it is a pretty major failing, that I am falling short of this.
I could get into how this is irrational and untrue, but why bother? Of course it is.
I blame Arthur for this, to some degree, and not just because it's fun and easy to blame him for things. He definitely trained me to feel lots and lots of shame at refusing him anything. I've always bent over backwards to be accommodating, though, since childhood, and I've always felt a degree of anxiety at having wants and needs that might interfere with someone else's. (My mother told me recently that she and my dad used to worry about that.) Arthur exploited this tendency, but he didn't create it.
I'm also going to go ahead and blame, y'know, This Culture That We Live In, in which women in general are taught to accommodate, to put others' needs before our own.
And this is why I spent most of the last couple of days in a trigger-happy state of panic, convincing myself that no one will ever want to be with me because having limits makes me essentially unlovable.
I can't honestly give him the credit for this, but if Arthur had done this deliberately - had made it so that asserting my boundaries can be triggering - it would have been truly masterful. No pun intended.
I know, even when my brain is flooded with panic, that having limits is universal, and that asserting them is good. I find it really attractive when someone can articulate to me what they want and can handle. I've dated and played with people since Arthur, and none of them has ever behaved as though I've disappointed them. This is all on me now.
I barely identify as a submissive anymore, partly for this reason. (You got a better blog title? The Masochistic Maven? Whatever.) For me, the expectation of obedience can be dangerous. Saying yes too quickly, too often, can make it harder to say no. I've also realized that I can't always handle activities that go along with submission: taking orders, using honorifics. And not being able to handle it makes me feel bad about myself, and then we loop back around to the beginning of the post and start all over again.
This is why I go on and on about consent, and negotiation, and giving yourself permission to say no. It is not just because every single person needs to hear it: it is because I need to hear it. I need to hear it over and over, until that message is louder and clearer in my head than the one that says I should feel ashamed for dictating what other people can do with my body and mind.
I am trying to stop worrying and love my limits.