This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, mainly because it's something I've been accused of in the past. At the time of said accusation, I believed it. I believed I was being a “bad submissive” and trying to yank away my Master's control. Which in turn sent me into a downward spiral. As a submissive needing from the deepest part of me, to yield my heart and soul to my Master, WHY would I want to take that control away? Why would I go against my instinct to submit everything to him? Ultimately, that relationship failed and I was left with that burning question. Was I truly a submissive?
Master and I have been doing a bit of reading together. We started with a book on the lifestyle from a Dominant's perspective. And then he gave me the task of finding a similar book from the submissive's perspective. It took me a bit longer to find one that covered the same things, but I did and to say we're both getting a lot from this would be an understatement. Sometimes you need someone else to put an idea into words before you can recognize it within yourself. I told Master that every time I came across a passage or sentence that I wanted to share with him, I would highlight it later for reference. Little did I know that most of the book would become bright yellow.
This book covers topping from the bottom in a few sections, and every time I've come across it, it's been like an “aha!” moment for me. It's helped me answer that question – why a truly submissive woman would want to take back the control she craves to put in the hands of her Dominant.
I guess I should preface this part by saying that I do believe there are different types of topping from the bottom. It's NOT that black and white and can most definitely be a sense of turmoil for both a Dominant and submissive. First, we should look at the bare bones of the D/s relationship. The submissive hands over the control to the Dominant who in turn takes the control and “actively dominates” just as she “actively submits.” Active dominance can mean something different for everyone as each relationship is unique. For me, it means Master is as active in the relationship and in maintaining it as I am. The mentality that now he has my submission he can sit back and passively “let me submit” doesn't exist. In the same respect, I actively submit to my Master. I make a conscious effort to fill his needs, meet his expectations and listen to him talk to himself as he builds (a habit I've begun to pick up on.) The balance of the control is always moving and shifting depending on the situation. It's when one party continuously puts in more than he or she is getting, an uncomfortable and unhealthy imbalance forms which can result in behavioral changes by either person.
I recognize my stubbornness (and thankfully that's a challenge Master has embraced) and there have definitely been times when all I want to do is stomp my foot and say “REALLY?!” But I don't because I know that's a line I shouldn't even think about crossing. While I may have doubted my submission at one point, my journey to my collar with Master has reaffirmed the deep submission that I know I couldn't force myself to have. So how could I be accused of topping from the bottom?
I knew I had been giving myself over to him completely in my previous relationship, but my needs were not being met in return. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I withdrew (seen as topping from the bottom by isolation), I tried to express my concerns (seen as topping from the bottom by demanding things), I tried to be the perfect slave and failed every time. I needed him to “conquer me” (a term I've picked up from the book and LOVE) in some way that said “I am your Dominant.” Conquer me is almost like an internal need for a show of strength. It's not saying to a dominant “force me to do what I don't want to do.” It's that voice, that je n'est sais quoi that sends shivers down your spine and butterflies fluttering in your stomach.
It all goes back to the control factor. As a submissive, I crave for Master to exert his control over me. How, how much, when, why are all things that have been discussed at length between the two of us. I also looked at it as a way to almost safeguard me from unconsciously playing with the control balance out of fear or frustration. I would never want to truly try and take away any of the control from my Dominant or express any sort of domination over him (unless he's asking for my brattiness to rear it's lovely head), but looking back I can absolutely see how I did unconsciously take back control in a previous relationship. I do remember feeling afraid, confused, “blah” and unable to pinpoint the source. I felt insecure due to a lack of control over me, so to alleviate that absence I attempted to exert my own control. I cannot stress enough how this was not a conscious decision on my part. My main thought was to alleviate the uncomfortable emotions I was feeling. In a way, it's a natural response. A submissive serves her Dominant because that is who she is. If he drops something, she picks it up without thinking because it is helping him. If he drops the power of control, she picks it up not only to fill the void, but to help him. This is still a hard concept for me to understand myself, but I have never believed in something so much. It broke my heart to be told that I was being a selfish slave, topping from the bottom and acting out when internally, I had no idea what I was doing.
I retreated further. The further I drew back, the “worse” my behavior became. By that time, I had regained all of the control I had at one point submitted. This behavior of unconsciously taking back control bit by bit can definitely be (and clearly was for me) habit forming. By regularly taking charge in the absence of my Dominant's control it became harder for me to any relinquish control whatsoever. I lost faith in his ability to command, which took a toll on my trust in him. When he did try to exert any control over me I found it extremely difficult to feel an appropriate submissive response which eventually caused me to question who I was. I couldn't figure out how I was failing. In the end, I found myself extremely unhappy, with full control in my hands, internally freaking the hell out.
It's amazing how the simple lack of expressed control can cause such a breakdown of a relationship.
Was I topping from the bottom? Not in my opinion. I truly believe that in topping from the bottom the submissive is consciously aware of what she is doing, whether it's through manipulation or giving her dominant orders, with the intent to take power from her dominant regardless of the motivation. I don't fully understand topping from the bottom or why a submissive would want to do so. This way of demanding things (demanding in general is unacceptable) is dramatic, unnecessary and exhausting. If the submissive is unwilling to take responsibility for her actions and blames the dominant for her behavior such as demanding that he fix the problem, perhaps she should reevaluate if this is a relationship she truly wants to be part of.
I'm not saying that all bad behavior is due to topping from the bottom, nor am I saying that absence of the Dominant's control over a submissive is always the reason either. This phrase that gets thrown so frequently in our community is not as black and white as it seems. Next time you accuse someone of it, or are told that you yourself are topping, take a look back and analyze the actions, emotions, and balance of control. Take a deeper look at what's going on in the relationship and never shut out honest communication.