This is written by Jennimal on Fetlife and re-posted with her permission.
An Un-Collaring Ceremony
“I am safe,” I said, reaching back and unclasping my necklace.
Sir and I had not an hour ago returned from a 4-day intensive M/s conference. We’d attended presentations and seminars by leaders in the leather community from all parts of the country. We’d listened and nodded along with their sage advice on topics ranging from establishing protocols to identifying the stages of an M/s relationship. We’d cried along with the heartfelt poignant anecdotes of the struggles some Masters and slaves had endured to get to the place they were. The very last presentation on spiritual M/s was the one that struck me to my core, and the one that impelled the confession I was now giving, kneeling at Sir’s feet.
About a year ago, I was just getting out of a D/s poly triad that had proven to be very, very bad for me. Within this relationship, I not only denied my own needs time and again in order to keep my partners happy, I didn’t even bother identifying my needs in the first place. In this relationship, my “needless and wantless” co-dependent tendencies grew to so dominate my life that I didn’t even realize I had a problem. And they were compounded because I now had TWO people to live for, so I really didn’t need to bother with myself, I was so busy making sure their needs were met. I thought I had no needs. No. Needs. And by the end of the relationship, I was not even cognizant of my value as a person, only my value in what I could provide for others (specifically, them). My heart and spirit were battered and broken, I was lost to myself, and the thought of identifying my needs and expressing them to people in a position to satisfy them terrified me. There was just no way I could do that.
With Sir’s help (as a friend, before we began our power exchange and romantic relationship) I was able to start making inroads towards a complete personal transformation. I read books, I started therapy, I talked to Sir A LOT and began to learn healthy adult ways of interacting with people, and of navigating relationships of all kinds. I learned things my parents never taught me because they were living out their own maladapted behaviors as I grew up. I learned for the first time in my life what personal boundaries are, and why and how to set and enforce them. I learned it was okay to express emotion. All these lessons were essential for my self-actualization.
One other thing I did for myself at the time (though I told perhaps 2 people about it), was I gave myself a symbol of my commitment to myself. My whole life, I’d put my feelings and my needs aside in order to meet the needs of others. I was now making a promise to myself that I’d care for me, that I’d protect me, and that I’d dedicate myself to the lifelong pursuit of my own personal improvement/development. To show myself my own undeniable worth and value. (This may all sound incredibly self-centered, but you must understand that I had been living most of my life with the “knowledge” that I had no real worth. As I believed myself to be in the eyes of others, I was always “just jenn”.) Since totems and symbols resonate so strongly with me, I decided to collar myself. I’d give myself a tangible symbol of my dedication and devotion to my personal transformation, growth, and fulfillment, as a collar symbolizes when given by a loving Master. If ever I faltered in my path, or whenever it got scary and hard, I’d need only reach up and grasp that necklace and know that I would never allow myself to fall so deeply into my maladapted behaviors and patterns again. I’d know that I DID HAVE WORTH, even if it became easy to doubt that again and again, at times. I’d know that I was choosing people to be in my life who would contribute to my growth and self-actualization, versus letting toxic people in close again. The collar, the revered symbol of commitment to and dedication to another person. Except with this collar, I would be dedicated to myself, in a way I’d never before been. I didn’t tell many people about my collar, because I feared I’d be ridiculed and derided for taking the symbol and using it to suit my own purpose. Still, it became my most treasured and loved piece of jewelry, and I never removed it once I put it on.
And then nearly a year later, I sat in that presentation on spiritual M/s, which tracked a sub’s journey through the stages of: submission (body/primal-drives), seduction (ego/intellect-drives), and finally surrender (spirit-driven). I’d been frustrated (and frustrating to Sir) lately because I’d been struggling very, very hard with my obedience to Him. Our relationship had been stressed and strained since mid-January, and we’d been unable to find the footing to even begin to regain equilibrium. Each new issue or hurt was only compounded by the ones that had preceded it. The proverbial tunnel felt long, and the light at the end of it dimmed day-by-day. We’d had sex once during a period of five weeks. We’d played hard once in about that same time frame. (Our relationship isn’t based on sex and play, but what Sir and I have is a magnetic, primal connection which is a component of the language of our relationship. And weren’t “speaking” our full language. What was once rich and robust was now whittled down to what amounted to newspaper-speak.) So, as I felt less connected to Him, I felt less energy and engagement coming from Him. Less engagement felt like less care and consideration. And so when He’d give an order that seemed to me like he’d considered everyone and everything but me before He gave it, I balked. I cried. I raged. Sometimes, I’d willfully disobey. Because, to be considered is to be safe. And I didn’t feel safe, so I couldn’t obey. And it hurt me every time to behave that way. Who I am is a person — a submissive — who adores obeying. It’s listed as a fetish on my FL profile, for fuck’s sake. And here I was not obeying. I didn’t feel true to myself. I thought I was a bad sub, and what’s worse, one who had aligned herself to a Dom who often didn’t consider her. And all this caused terrible, persistent fights. We couldn’t seem to get it “right” again. All the hurt and doubts always hung around. I wanted to surrender. I wanted to obey without question. I wanted to be His. My heart wanted this, desperately, but my head (my fucking, stupid head) kept getting the last word.
So, I sat through the presentation on spiritual M/s, and my need for all of this to feel right for me again was palpable. I needed to get back to the way it felt before the constant fighting and questioning. To give over and trust in the rightness of my chosen power exchange with Sir. But I could not see a way out of it, the light had grown so dim. Then another s-type in the audience made a comment. A rather innocuous comment to probably most of the people in attendance, but one which hit my brain and set off a chain reaction of thoughts and realizations/revelations. She’d related how, in the absence of a Master, she had spent the last year serving herself and her community. And I thought to myself (approximately), “hey, I’ve been doing the same thing… but wait, I have a Master/Dom… so that means I’ve been trying to serve myself and Him at the same time… but if I’ve been serving myself, how can I possibly be truly serving him?” Boom, boom, boom, like dominoes the thoughts fell one onto the other. And it hit me in the end, indisputably and powerfully. I could not surrendermyself to Sir if I was still serving myself. If my bottom line was always keeping myself safe and protected. And these realizations revealed to me one true sure fact upon which I felt instantly compelled to act: I had given myself a collar in order that I might feel safe and protected as I did the very hard work of transforming myself, and any time Sir would give me a command, I’d run it through my own filters of whether I thought the command was best for me. I realized that my collar had become a physical manifestation of my ego and, so that I might have the ability to TRULY surrender to Sir and his guidance and plan for me, the time had come for me to remove my collar. This tangible token was binding my spirit. It had become a wall separating me from Him. I knew then it had served its purpose, and that I no longer needed it. I’d learned to trust myself and to speak my truth. And now I had this man with His beautiful heart holding out His hand to me to guide me through life with Him. I knew I had to free myself to truly trust Him to do so. No more “is it good for me?” filters. I knew in my heart of hearts that His way would be best for me for a lifetime. I knelt at his feet upon our return from the conference, and confessed all this to him. It is not my place to recount here how visibly moved He was. Words can never, ever describe how amazingly powerful that moment was for us. I was ready, finally, to surrender myself to Him. To truly devote myself to Him.
“I am safe,” I said, reaching back and unclasping my necklace. I would never again wear it, after this moment.
“You are safe,” He responded.
And I knew that I was.