Connecting Through Simple Rituals

Rituals are something that the BDSM community has in common with many cultures, religions, and even athletes. Some rituals are formal and grand, kneeling and crossing oneself for communion. Others are less ceremonious, an athlete crossing himself before a game or always wearing some cherished object. For cultures and religions, they are a fundamental part of life. For others, they are emotionally significant. It’s a basic part of human nature that connects us to something considerable outside our own feeling or skill. We may do this thing to bring us luck, when we talk to God, or when we just want to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.

For many of us, the rituals we practice in the BDSM community are significant to us and our partners. Our rituals may have pieces that are similar, but unlike religious ceremonies, we tailor things to what works for us as individuals. There is a commonality many Power Exchange relationships share with religion; we kneel to the one who holds power over us. It is a form of respect, a way to connect us to that person or entity. In this simple act of supplication, we are defining that we give up control.

It isn’t necessary to define why we give up control, only to recognize that we do. We allow this exchange of power freely; it is not taken from us. By performing a ritual that acknowledges our yielding of control we give ourselves power over the unseen demons of this life.

Kneeling is so simple for some, painful for others. I kneel every night at Dr. Payne’s feet as he removes my day collar, and we say goodnight. This daily ritual acknowledges our Power Exchange, our commitment to the collar, and our love for each other.  This act is almost like evening prayers. It is an act that we use to reconnect that bond at the end of the day; to say thank you for the continued support, to acknowledge that we survived a particularly trying day, or for a brief reminiscence of what a great day it was.

When we are able to practice that thing that we do, there are rituals before a scene. The moment Dr. Payne tells me to strip and present for binding and the actions before we begin a scene are reminders of my place as His submissive, a reminder that I have surrendered.  The last movement as I stand naked and bound, we share a moment of quiet as our breathing syncs and I am reminded I am His.

Even the end of the scene has significant meaning as I am unbound, wrapped in a blanket, and held as I shiver and cry: He reminds me, “I’ve got you.” I belong to Him and I am protected.

There are moments in my life that a specific ritual feels so necessary as if I might collapse from mental torment without it. At other times, these specific acts are a quiet reminder that I am whole.

Whatever that ritual is for you, allow it to be yours and move you in a healthy stable direction. Our rituals should be that thing that reminds us we are made whole by something outside ourselves.

The acts of nurture, service, and love

If you have ever seen us in public and commented on my clothing, you know my standard response is, “Dr. Payne buys all my dresses!” I say it with a smile. It is a dictated protocol response, however people who know me personally know how much I love this. The phrase is attached to the act. Dr. Payne buys the dresses to be sure of a certain look, but I am the one who makes an effort to pair items together with the proper makeup for the look He loves so much. I love getting dressed up for Dr. Payne – for events, for date night, for Him. His look when I have perfectly achieved the pinup style that I adore is priceless. I feel pretty and wanted. He feels honored and proud to see His Kitten well adorned. These are balms for an old wound of feeling ugly and unwanted.

There are other aspects of my outward appearance that are not part of our Power Exchange Dynamic but are still within the form of service. This involves the other member of our group: Princess. There is no Power Exchange between Princess and myself; we have a more intimate relationship than just lovers. The things we do for each other are acts of love. Princess has become my nail artist, but this is more than just painting my nails and making them pretty. There is a sincere intimacy in the touching of hands and feet, the tender caress on my hand as she grooms my nails, and even the quick tug bringing my hand back into place when I become distracted. In these moments between us, it is just us in silence enjoying the simple touch. This is the balm for an old wound of thinking that I was not good enough to let others do anything for me.

Putting on makeup is an act of grooming and service to myself. It becomes an act of service and bonding when Princess wants to do my makeup – girl time! Even the simple act of bathing myself is service to Dr. Payne. I must care for Sir’s property.

Then there are the times one of us is not well due to some physical illness, or a chronic issue that flares up. In these moments of physical or emotional pain, we care for each other. In these moments we are reminded that we serve the Collar, and of what it means to love each other.

This is not just Power Exchange, we are family. My service to Dr. Payne is not just service; I love this man and I love to serve Him. The service of presenting Dr. Payne or Princess an evening drink is an act that brings me great joy. This is a shared act of communion.

It becomes this circle of serving each other; service does not equal submission. The acts of service become a form of healing old wounds: damage others have done to us, and damage we have done to ourselves.

When you see us in public, when you see me on social media, you will know that I am healing those around me, and I am constantly being healed.

The effects of social distancing on my anxiety.

I get to work from home!  I was relieved, and maybe a little excited to be given permission to disconnect socially for the foreseeable future. It meant I would be avoiding the daily onslaught of people and things that influenced my ability to manage my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Lacking a commute meant sleeping in, and more time for me and my personal projects. I am introverted by nature: I rarely feel I get enough time to be still with myself and recharge.

The scary truth is, my own mind is often my worst enemy. A few weeks into working from home, a major problem with this disconnection is becoming apparent: it creates a breeding ground for Anxiety’s close cousin, Depression.  It’s been creeping in for small periods, but now it really wants to move in. Sometimes I would rather be curled up in bed than be productive

As humans we are wired to be social, which is problematic for us anxious introverted souls: the need to socialize is often at war with the need to be left alone.  When online for work during the week, my extroverted coworkers are starting to message me—sometimes video—and I find I am not dealing well with that unpredictable nature.

My sleep is becoming disrupted. I am waking up at 3AM unable to sleep, and lay there thinking about unimportant things: “I really need to mop!” and also truly terrifying things: “Will I be mentally well enough to return to work once this is all over?” My daily meditation time is becoming more relished, but harder and harder to quiet my mind. I am also realizing there are some unusual effects on my sex drive: I swing wildly from wanting to be cuddled to being mercilessly fucked. Sadly masturbation is less interesting: I am craving the human contact.

Even in a strong, seasoned Power Exchange relationship this kind of stress can be difficult. I find I am being reminded of protocols that were second nature a few weeks ago and, now strained, are allowing my brain to replay bad tapes over and over. The support of my Dom is important: Dr. Payne would never take my mental health for granted. However, I am starting to feel guilty for needing so much from someone who is living in the same situation and has their own set of responsibilities and fears.

We have a protocol that has become my best friend–you know, the kind of friend that reminds you to do the right thing even when you don’t want to. I have a standing order to express my feelings to Dr. Payne. All my feelings: the good, bad, and the horrifying. We are talking more than usual about where we are emotionally, and I find I am relishing these moments of connection. It helps me keep focused to know I am not alone in dealing with whatever my mind dishes out.

A sad realization has come to light in these moments of sharing: I am not truly alone. We are all cooped up at home together. Therefore, we must find ways to truly disconnect and unplug, even if for short periods, from everything that tugs at our attention. I am spending more time outside in my garden or just sitting on the front porch. If I can’t take care of myself and my mental health, I am missing an opportunity to serve, and I must take care of Sir’s property. To that end, I get to serve at home. I find comfort in those still moments when I can kneel at Sir’s feet.

What basic act of service gets you centered when everything demands your attention?