Since the first time I attended, CLAW has been my favorite event. People who go to IML seem to have greatly varying interests in going, from circuit queens to "tourist" types to people who just go because of its notoriety to those who go only for the vendor mart. When you're at CLAW, there is an overwhelming sense of community, love, and family, and you see the way the people involved not only want to be there but want to make it better; people willing to trade debauchery for community-building and responsibility - not that there isn't room for a little of both. I missed CLAW last year, and after a reminder of how much I love it I truly hope to not miss another in the foreseeable future.
In addition to the feeling that people are actively invested in bettering their community, you also see that they are interested in bettering themselves. This is apparent by how extensive their education efforts are, and how earnestly people attend these classes instead of treating them like a novelty or a quick demo as they sometimes do at other events. This year I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Master Taíno's class on Power-exchange Relationships. As most of you know, I think a lot about BDSM-related endeavors; I don't just randomly participate in them. While a lot of ideas that were discussed were conclusions I had drawn some time ago, hearing someone else independently draw the same conclusions was not only self-affirming but empowering. When reflecting on these experiences and possible exchanges, I try to think in abstract terms to make it easier to share thoughts with others. Unfortunately this sometimes results in forgetting that I'm a part of the equation. As I watched my friends all mulling over the weekend through various social media portals, I began to realize how all this abstract thinking has challenged my ability to cultivate an identity.
My friends and I joke a lot about how I primarily identify as submissive, and it seems to be a common line of ribbing among "switches" and their friends. While my ambitions certainly fit my identity as submissve my experience, statistically, does not. I've sought a level of play which very, very few people can deliver for nearly a decade, and I'm only just realizing that the need for such an intense level of play is a result of this identity conflict.
The issue seems to be that ego and dominance can become conflated; it's easy to see dominance and ego as nearly the same thing sine they both stem from what appears to be an elevation of self. This form of ego can be taking pride in being right more often, in knowing more, in understanding something better, making more money, etc. What occurred to me while attending this class is that ego more closely resembles being true to yourself, not simply asserting what or who you are. What I am is a person who strongly desires intimate connections of any kind. Unfortunately, for years the ego I feel in being sure of myself had been mixed with the concept of dominance, just by how my culture perceives power and ego. This can make it very difficult to express submission since being unable to assert yourself can feel like giving up who you are due to this conflation.
I've written a lot in the past about controlling unwilling subs, ranging from simply being reluctant to becoming enraged in protest. Depending on the situation, this is most likely due to an imbalance between what the sub wants and how badly the sub wants to relinquish control, which can be related to the above mentioned conflation. After all, if someone thinks giving up their desires means letting go a part of who they are, of course they'll be less likely to do so. For me this relinquishment is the nature of the connection, and I had been too busy focusing on asserting who I am instead of being true to who/what I am. If that seems too subtle, it's the difference between attempting to control a perceived identity as opposed to actually having one. Unintentionally, this has really helped me understand what a lot of bisexual friends must have went through and many others still are.
To make a long story short, I'm slowly realizing I'm capable of deeper submission than I knew I was capable of, and it's primarily due to this weekend. Even better, I've already had a scene since arriving home that confirmed this suspicion. While this was largely intended to help me deconstruct some thoughts, I really hope this ends up helpful to anyone struggling with similar issues .. I don't presume I'm the only one, though it's entirely possible I'm just exceptionally dull in these matters.
Thanks for an unbelievably amazing weekend, everyone.