This…has become surprisingly hard for me to talk about.
When Ferns announced that She was putting together some mysterious art project involving submissive men, I retweeted her announcement, just to encourage guys to participate. It was a pleasant surprise when She asked if I would send a pic, as well. After discussing it with Mistress Delila, I sent the one She requested, plus one more. That, I figured, was the end of that.
Except it wasn’t. When Ferns announced the project was completed and ready for viewing, I quickly clicked over to Her blog to see it. Then I sat there with butterflies gnawing through my belly while it loaded. When my pics finally floated by, the sense of relief was nearly overwhelming. But as interesting as that was, there was more to it than that. Unexpectedly, I found myself on the verge of tears.
The thing is – I never saw myself as being beautiful until I saw how Mistress Delila loved me because of my submissiveness. I didn’t think I was hideous or anything, but for forty-one years I just didn’t see anything special when I looked into the mirror. It took three and a half decades to understand that I am submissive, and several more years before I looked into a woman’s eyes and saw…
I saw a lifetime of not quite fitting in fade away into memory. It took me more than thirty-five years to realize that I am submissive, and six more before I found a relationship in which that submissiveness could be fully expressed. It was like I had been holding my breath my entire life and I finally broke through to the surface. It was like I had just been released from solitary confinement – a sentence served entirely within the confines of my own body.
I saw that I am beautiful.
I don’t mean that in a haughty, “look at me now!” kind of way. I simply mean that it had never occurred to me that ANYONE would find pleasure in simply looking at me, even after I’d been married twice. I’ve never had a hard body or the chiseled features that makes women’s hearts (or lower parts) throb at first glance, and I never will. But seeing the glimmer in Mistress’ eyes showed me that I don’t need them.
I feel like I’m dancing around the subject, and I really don’t know how to describe it better. Either you’ve felt beautiful because of the what you see in someone else’s eyes, or you don’t, I guess. If you have; then I’m sure you understand what that feels like. If not; then I hope you do feel it – and soon.
But I think there is a difference in what a woman experiences when she feels beautiful and what a man experiences. Men are not, as a rule, told they are beautiful. They are handsome or good-looking or…whatever. But not beautiful. We generally do not achieve that pinnacle of human desire that “beautiful” denotes. On the other hand, because we are told over and over again (through gender roles) that we CANNOT be beautiful, we don’t feel like we are missing out on it…until it happens.
The opening of the floodgates of possibility are one reason why I wept in Mistress’s arms. And those floodgates re-opened when Ferns posted Her artwork. It’s one thing for someone who loves me intensely to find me beautiful. It is quite another for someone who I only know through internet banter to include me in a project She has promoted as celebrating beauty. It’s like I was pulled out of the crowd and stuck in line with the Ms. America finalists. (Yeah, I know I picked out the pics and sent them to Her and knew about the project…but part of me still suspected that I’d not make the cut, so to speak.)
I also understand that part of what makes this so emotional is the baggage from my childhood abuse and neglect. Those long years of trying to be invisible still mark me. I understand that those messages were – and are – logically and emotionally wrong. I think it is a sign that I’m in the last stages of healing that allows me to receive the kind of adoration in Mistress Delila’s eyes…and also the admiration in Ferns’ eyes (if I can read that into the project).
I also know that part of what I feel is the loss of isolation. Submissive men are too often told (through gender roles) that they cannot openly display who they truly are. When it slips out, we are often subjected to derision and the bondage of gender roles is forced back upon us so that our authentic selves are damaged and left limping in solitude. This is why I started the Submissive Men group on Fetlife several years ago: Because I needed to know that I was not the only one like this. The relief of belonging to that group has done multitudes of good in helping me understand and accept myself. Ferns, whether She knew it at the time or not, struck a blow against that sense of isolation and solitude.
So this little project has moved me to these words, and beyond them to a place where words simply cannot exist. It’s a place of pure emotion and belonging. It’s a place of home and of being owned and adored. For that, I have to thank Mistress Delila for the photos that showed me Her gaze…and for letting me share them.
And, Ferns…to simply say “Thanks” seems trite and shallow and insufficient. But there is no other word that can convey the depth of what it means to me. So I will close with this simple word: