Before I go into this topic, let me make it very clear, I am not a doctor. This is based on my own personal experience in recovery and how it relates to BDSM.
The world we live in today is much different than it was 40 years ago. Many people you encounter either currently or in the past struggle with addiction, are in recovery or have a loved one who struggles. There are a lot of things to consider before entering in a relationship, when you are a person in recovery. It is suggested by medical professionals and twelve step groups, that a person doesn’t enter into a relationship until a full calendar year of recovery is achieved. My personal opinion is to take a little bit longer if you are entering a dynamic of power and control. Ds dynamic requires a high level of trust. How can you accept the full-hearted trust of another, if you still can’t trust yourself? The main reason it is suggested that people wait is vulnerability. When an addict gets clean and sober, they are like a small child in so many ways. In any romantic relationship you are going to be forced to deal with strong, complex emotions. Add a Ds dynamic and you are adding even more intensity. Any pain or heartbreak you experience from a relationship will hit you harder, especially if it involves powerplay. If you have not developed healthy coping skills and mechanisms, you are setting yourself up for failure. Most of the time the things the non-addict consider “normal” are completely new experiences for the addict. Not only are you facing the regular “vanilla” emotions, but yours will also be intensified because of the BDSM play. That could make for a pretty lousy cocktail, no pun intended. Not only can this be detrimental to the relationship, but the recovery of the addict as well.
The role of Dominant partner carries a lot of responsibility, in general. In other posts I have covered how demanding that can be especially in a full-time relationship. Now, add the pressure of managing your addiction, new healthy friendships, and a completely new lifestyle. I would recommend being at least 14 months sober before attempting to engage in anything more than just Dominant roleplay. The idea is to be healthy enough to provide a stable, structured, emotionally safe environment for your submissive. Submissive partners require a lot of time and patience, especially the needy ones. It wouldn’t be fair to take on the role of the Dominant if you are unable to provide the emotional stability, time and energy most submissive partners need. Not only would you be selling the submissive short, but you would also be hurting yourself as well. I stayed out of relationships the first year of my recovery and treaded lightly for several months afterward. As a matter of fact, I still check in with myself and monitor my emotions on a daily basis when it comes to my interactions with someone, I am actively lifestyling with. I want to make sure I am able to present myself as a gift to my partner, not a full-blown train wreck. Anyone who knew me in active addiction, will tell you, I am the cover girl for disaster.
Control and power- Check your motives
There are so many different types of feelings and emotions that play into any Ds dynamic. That being said, from my experience I have noticed those emotions and feeling are more elevated than that of my non-addict friends who engage in BDSM. Addicts always want more, nothing is ever enough, and we always have a need to go further. Check yourself when interacting with your submissive. Are you enjoying their reaction to pain, too much? Are you pushing them too far? As an addict your want and desire may be a little more than that of a non- addict. Do not get so wrapped up in your own fantasy, you forget to check in with them and gauge their reactions and response. When a submissive fails to give you the desired response to a rule or the reassurance you desire, you may feel highly disappointed, because your addict brain is craving the dopamine typically produce when you experience the feeling of love. You do not have to be “in love” to experience that feeling. Make sure you aren’t engaging in the relationship just to satisfy your own need to feel in control or be admired. I know it can be difficult to differentiate, but it is possible. Writing and journaling is always a great outlet. The writing allows you to reflect and consider the feelings you are experiencing. You can always reach out to other kinksters in recovery. Fetlife provides groups that cover every kinky need. Kik is also a good platform of advice and communication.
Be prepared for a harder Top-Drop
Many Dominant partners experience guilt and insecurities associated with engaging in BDSM. Often times they feel guilt for enjoying hurting, degrading or humiliating their partner. They question their mental capacity and may dwell on feeling there is something wrong with them. This is more typical in females than males, but common among all genders. That is common for even non-addict kinksters. Addiction is the disease of obsession, that is the bottom line. Addicts obsessively use drugs to no end; they engage in obsessive behavior to obtain the drugs. The mental obsession with the drug is what overpowers the addicts will power every time. It is to be expected that Tops who are in recovery are going to have a harder drop. These feelings are going to be much more intense and may start to cause a self-loathing obsession. These drops may make you second guess your level of care for your sub, and even may make you want to leave the relationship, possibly creating feelings of inadequacy. Those are a few of the things expressed to me by other Dominants who are in active recovery. Remember, feelings are not always facts, somethings just are, and there is nothing wrong with you for liking what you like. These feelings will eventually get easier to deal with over time.
Be patient with yourself, allow room to grow
Give yourself a break. If you are fresh in recovery, allow yourself time to grow and blossom into the healthiest rendition of yourself. Allow yourself the time to become the best Master/Mistress a submissive can possibly have. In the long run you will be so happy that you did. Get to know yourself again. When we get sober things change. What I want now is totally different than what I wanted back when I was using drugs. That even plays into my sexual and BDSM wants and needs. When you get sober and work on yourself you become a completely different person. There will always be the core make up, that defines who you are, however, the other pieces will grow and change to suit the happier healthier version of yourself. I think all subbies deserve a happy, healthy, sober Mistress/Master, don’t you? If you can’t regulate your own control of self, how can you effectively regulate the self-control of another person?
Healthy people attract healthy people. When you are actively taking care of yourself on a spiritual level, other people can see that. You are going to attract people that have a certain value on a spiritually fit person. Two train wrecks make one hell of a disaster. Sick people (in an emotional sense) lean on other unhealthy people to co-sign their bullshit. You deserve to have a partner that is just as healthy as you to fulfill your needs.
It is not easy feeling the new and fresh wants of sex, especially when it involves the use of power and control. You may even feel uneasy about your BDSM desires, because they differ from the ones you had when using drugs or alcohol. A lot of times when you are using drugs, the need for sex is much less. The drugs replace the sex. It may be awkward and uncomfortable at first, experiencing these “abnormal” (abnormal to you) feelings. Just know they are completely normal, and this is what you have been missing the whole time you were using. This isn’t going to go away. Don’t worry, you won’t miss the pleasure bus.
Power is a responsibility, not a privilege
I also know the heartache of jumping into a role you are not ready for. I was fresh in recovery my second or third attempt and I rushed into a relationship assuming a Dominant role and it was a fucking disaster. It was fun at first, but the responsibilities that come with caring for myself and a submissive and day to day life were too much. We were both in early recovery, both not ready for any type of relationship, let alone a Ds and we both ended up relapsing together. Thankfully both of us are sober today and have a little time under our belt. Things don’t always have such a happy ending. Sometimes the ending is just that, the end. Your recovery is your life. If you don’t spend the time in the beginning working on yourself, you might end up like so many of my friends, dead.
Remember the responsibilities included with your Dominant role. Spend enough time with yourself to determine if you are ready for that. You may need more time and that is more than okay. If you aren’t sure, but you have been clean for a while, consider Dominant roleplay. You never know what the future may hold. Possibly after more time and trust, you can shape that into the foundation of your relationship. Be open with your partner and let them know where you stand. Communicate what responsibilities you are willing to take and what may be too much. Keeping that open line of communication also allows the submissive to know that you are in no way rejecting them, you just need a little more time to be prepared to assume the responsibility requested. Good things come to those who wait. You are worth the wait.
Frequently check in with yourself. Just like in recovery, when we are asked to check our motives, it’s the same concept. Ask if your motives self-seeking and are you doing things for the right reason. It is definitely an ego boost to have a sexy sub crawling at your feet. Make sure you are doing it for reasons that are pleasurable and positive for both of you. Don’t use the sub as just an ego boost, to make you feel more secure.
Don’t dwell or beat yourself up about the past. That part of your life is over, and you are free to move on. That also relates to mistakes you may make as a Domme. You will make mistakes, no-one is perfect. Part of recovery is admitting when you do make a mistake and going through the process to correct it. Most submissives are pretty forgiving people, especially if they are sweet on you. If you feel you made a mistake with your sub, talk about it with them. Ask them what they think and listen to their feedback. Try not to repeat the same negative experience and move on. The right person will understand you and be patient.
Even if you have been clean and sober for years, you are still a work in progress and you will continue to grow. Go into each day with an open mind, allow yourself room to blossom into the Mistress/Master you have always been at the core. Core make ups never change; they only grow. Remember, even if you do have good clean time, always proceed with patience and don’t rush or jump without weighing in all aspects.