Last night, conversation drifted to the always-difficult topic of responsibility. Again.
My position: everyone is responsible to themselves for making good decisions; partners are responsible to each other in any relationship; but when I have someone disabled (physically or emotionally) in a scene, I have an extra responsibility for their safety.
Jos’s position: NO NO NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO!!!!
OK, that’s not quite fair. But basically we keep having this argument, and he keepslosing (but see caveat below), and the topic makes him apeshit.
We both agree that if he got injured in a scene, we would get him the care he needed and, when that was done, calmly talk about what went wrong and how to avoid such mishaps in the future. We both agree that we’re going into this with open eyes and that we understand injuries can occur. (More important to stress, perhaps, is that we both agree that he is going into this with a “risk-aware” mindset.) We both agree that he would not hate me and blame me for fucking up, and that I would not drown in self-loathing.
We both agree that he is not in this game in order to be absolved of responsibilities.
So, as I was saying, last night we had this conversation, which turned into an argument. I won. He conceded but then proceeded to argue (as I heard it) some more and I kept arguing back. To be honest, I wanted to make sure he knew where he was wrong, but I was also enjoying his energy, and I was needling him.
Then he started yelling at me. The content was along these lines:
I’VE ALREADY AGREED THAT YOU ARE RIGHT
WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME SUCH A FUCKING HARD TIME?
THIS IS REALLY HARD FOR ME
THIS MAKES ME FEEL REALLY TERRIBLE
WHY CAN’T YOU LET ME JUST PROCESS THIS?
and so on, so it wasn’t anything intrinsically damaging to hear. Nevertheless it was emotionally scary and painful, and later I needed to be held for a while so I could not-quite-cry until I was healed. (Sometimes I am really cool with his anger, but in a general sense, the idea that he could be angry with me is absolutely terrifying. This may explain why I’m so reluctant for him to face my anger – I naturally assume he would feel the same way. Instead, he wishes to be afraid of my anger but isn’t. Another delicious irony brought to you by the folks who invented this fucked-up sexuality.)
Anyway, I was reminded of his anti-anti-responsibility stance today when I read this post (“Some Thoughts About Owning Slaves”) by Lady Lubyanka, which reads, in part:
When I talk with kvetch about me owning him, one of the first things which always comes up is his feelings of security, tranquility, and comfort at the idea that I’m his owner. Feeling owned is something which he craves. I’m not exactly sure yet precisely how this works, but I think there’s a lot to do with responsibility, guilt, self blame, and poor self image in there. I shall expand on this a bit:
I think that being owned gives kvetch these feelings because:
- Responsibility for decisions regarding the investigation of his emotional, intellectual, and personal development lie solely with me;
- Guilt feelings he has about not knowing the way forward, and about problems addressing difficulties he has, are alleviated because, as he is no longer responsible for those, guilt is not possible;
- Self blame is also not possible because of the things which are no longer under his jurisdiction;
- As somebody whom he respects, admires, and regards highly, I can credibly reinforce and validate his positive self image every time I demonstrate that I find him of value to me.
- Coming from a person whom kvetch values, respects, and defers to, this positive validation is profoundly meaningful to him- much more so than if coming from some random person (or even a vanilla-non-power-exchangey girlfriend)
Now see, that is the kind of submissive Imight be, if I ever let myself go there (which I really for a hundred different reasons – including and prominently featuring what I just wrote – doubt I ever would) – the kind who enjoys not having responsibility for some things. And Jos despises that. (Even as I read over those bullet points, I can hear his teeth gnashing and feel his head wanting to explode.)
And now the important caveat to “keeps losing” above. The first time we had this argument, I really did assume that Jos was like Lady Lubyanka’s description, and like I myself would be. I assumed this was part of the appeal for him. And it’s really important for me to know – all judgments aside – that it’s not, that it’s not even close. So when I say that I “win” these arguments, that’s not to say I didn’t lose on some important level. I had indeed been wrong in the beginning. That I was able to modify my initial position to make it right doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn something important.
It’s just that it’s been a while since I learned that important thing, and I wish Jos could let go, just a little bit, of his fear or aversion towards me having any responsibility to go with my power – or towards the idea that he gives up just a little bit of it along with the control, whichever. I’m really glad he’s not like Lady Lubyanka’s slave. I respect that. I just want him to accept that during a scene, my acceptance of responsibility for his safety is, well, responsible. Because frankly I don’t think you should scene with a top who doesn’t take that seriously.