Being a service sub myself, much of my joy in life comes from caring for other people. I get an absurd level of joy from things like cooking and cleaning for others. I’ve become convinced I was a scullery maid in a past life that was happy.
That said, the one thing I am bad is self care. Its a trait I share with so many other subby types. When I found out that there was a support group for folks who tended to over commit to volunteer assignments and it was started by a leather submissive, I thought, “Of course it was! Who else would start an entire volunteer based organization as a form of self care?”
For years, decades actually, I spent my life in a variety of forms of service – to my dominants, to my family, to my state and country. Ultimately the universe intervened and gave me chronic illnesses that landed my ass in bed for months on end, forcing me to rethink self care.
Rethinking Self-Care in Power Exchange
In power exchange relationships, the submissive is in service to the dominant. We care for them, protect them and their belongings, provide sexual and practical services, and love them. One day, someone pointed out to me that as submissives, we are our dominant’s property and it is therefore incumbent on us to take care of ourselves! I wish I could remember who that was because this was a major lightbulb moment for me!
As submissives, we are our dominant’s property and it is therefore incumbent on us to take care of ourselves.
As a service sub, I took joy in providing all the care I could to a dominant partner, regardless of how I felt. Fatigues, joints swollen with arthritis, I would hobble to the kitchen to make my partner tea because the joy and purpose I got from that outweighed physical pain. Service is a form of love language for me and not being able to do these things made me feel silenced and small. So, I powered through because it served me.
Additionally, I have a huge issue asking for help within the confines of my home. Trust me, in a professional setting, delegating and demanding performance from employees and co-workers isn’t an issue (as any of my former staff or interns). But within the setting of a private relationship, in my home, asking my partner to make me coffee or dinner is incredibly difficult for me.
Reframing this type of help as self-care and taking care of my dominant’s property was incredibly useful. With my physical limitations, powering through some activities when the pain is bad is actually physically detrimental to me. Thinking of asking my partner to make dinner or bring me tea as a way of protecting his property helped me start to ask for what I need.
It’s Hard To Do Real Self Care
I’ll be honest, even with the reframing, it is still hard to do real self care. I am not talking taking a bubble bath with a good glass of cab. That is easy for me and I have a great wine collection at my disposal. I am talking about asking someone else to help me with mundane tasks, cancelling on going to social events, admitting I have too much brain fog to text or talk to my partner and just need to stare at cartoons for the next six hours type of self care.
Western society, especially American society, bases our worth on how much we produce. We glorify the “hustle” and turning every hobby into a side gig and being constantly busy and exhausted is some perverted mark of how important we are. As a person who is oriented to service to others in the first place, breaking out of this is painful.
I cannot tell you how many days I laid on the couch in crippling pain with so much brain fog Bob’s Burgers seemed to have Inception levels of complexity and berated myself for not being able to write. I have spent weeks feeling guilty for not being able to do anything more than get in and out of the shower a couple of days during the week. Needing help and needing self care is terrifying and depressing for me.
However, realizing that doing what I need to do to heal and asking for the help I need to get there is a form of service. I still lose track of that idea at times. When I do lose that concept, self care becomes much more difficult. Returning to thinking about self care, real self care, as a form of taking care of my dominant’s property makes me more open to asking what I need.
Not everyone will take a crippling chronic illness to get this… at least I hope not because it sucks donkey dick. As submissives, we need to remember we are important too. We need to take time to replenish ourselves. Sometimes that is a bubble bath. More often it is cancelling plans, or working out, or turning off social media for a week.
I hope you find the strength to care for your deepest selves.