Bottoms Up: A Way To Move Through The World

My submission began as play. I wanted to be spanked in bed because it was exciting and seemed a little dangerous. My toes curled when my hair got pulled. Being choked and fucked made me feel on the verge of completely losing it in the best kind of way. It was thrilling to give up control and be dominated during sex because it was a novelty, a way to make my sex life more interesting. I liked the release I found through submission. But over time, I started to see submission as less about what happens in play and more about a way to approach the world, and I started to crave that approach in all areas of my life.

The transition from play to lifestyle happened over time. Playful moments with partners began to happen here and there: I got butterflies in my stomach when a partner placed her hand on the small of my back to lead me somewhere. I got turned on when a partner and I set routines. Slowly, I started to realize that I wanted to be able to drop into subspace even when I wasn’t having sex, and that the qualities I was looking for in a relationship all related back to BDSM as a lifestyle I want to live and embody, even when I’m not partnered.

Within relationships, kinky sex is great, and in addition to it, I want a kinky life. I didn’t know I could feel the ways kink makes me feel. I didn’t know that sex and relationships could make me feel secure and calm even as I try and figure out some pretty intense things like my gender or my professional goals. But they do.

And kink excites me, and I want to be excited about and within my relationships. That doesn’t mean that something kinky is afoot 24/7, it just means that this hot, exciting premise rests comfortably in the background. It means that when we annoy each other, we’ve got written-down protocols to work it out — and that sort of formality is sexy. Things from our pet names to who cooks dinner are influenced by the roles we play. Kink functions as a foundation, one that makes it easier for my partners and I to engage with each other.

Beyond relationships, and most excitingly, thinking about myself as a person who is submissive 24/7 means that I can approach different areas of my life submissively. It’s an exciting challenge for me to think about how in my everyday interactions I’m able to submit to and serve my communities, my colleagues, even my students — I’m not being kinky with them, but I’m thinking kinky. In general, it means I’m thinking more critically as well — I’m running less and less on autopilot and thinking through the lens of submission instead. For me that means I focus less on perfection and more on working my hardest.

I’ve written before about how draining it can be to walk around pretending I’ve got everything figured out, and to be the dominant presence in the room most of the time. Thinking about that role less as dominance and more along the lines of “how can I serve the folks I’m working with the best?” even when I’m technically “in charge” has been a welcome challenge that’s led to a lot of growth in my interpersonal skills.

On a surface level, it looks like I move through space in similar ways. I’m still Type-A, I still want to be in control in most work/school situations in my life. But my psychology has changed. I’m thinking less about making things perfect and more about service, discipline and consistency. I like to think that I’m able to make deeper connections because of this; instead of looking inside of myself, I pay more attention to what’s happening outside of my own head. I give more.

I feel fulfilled as a submissive. I feel more comfortable making decisions, advocating for myself, and moving through my fast-paced life as a submissive person. Living as a lifestyle submissive, even outside of a relationship, allows me to feel that comfort and safety all the time.

Kinky sex for me became a way that I could begin to acknowledge the things that I wanted in my life that weren’t easy to admit for myself. It was easier for me to admit that I wanted someone to spank me in the bedroom than it was for me to admit that I want and need spankings to function on an everyday life level. Eventually, sex became less of the focus for me and kink became more about the ways that I’ve allowed the lessons I’ve learned during sex to be present throughout my life.

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. I really loved this peace. Thank you for sharing. Even as a more dominant type of person, it gave me a lot to think about in terms of moving through the world, and I am interested to see if I can put some of your techniques into practice!

  2. Alaina, you write so beautifully —I might sound like a broken record but I’m so, so grateful for these articles. I learn more about my own submission every time you post. You express feelings about BDSM I’ve never been able to put my finger on but can relate to so well.

  3. I’m a few steps behind where you are Alaina, but I’m on the path to the same place. I still recoil and seek to control my life when my PTSD flares up, and in reality all I really want is the opposite… to be totally safe and secure in my Dom’s arms and have no anxieties penetrate the positive shields my subspace creates.

    On a nerdy level, anytime I say anything about “subspace” I start going into Star Trek techno babble about subspace communications. :D

  4. I adored every little bit of this!

    And I relate to it all, but from a Dominant perspective. For me to be submissive 24/7 feels incredibly draining and exhausting personally, and I’ll naturally come back to and find my strength in the groundedness I feel when in a dominant headspace. It’s beautiful to see that you find your strength within your submissive/service nature. It’s that much more incredible because I don’t feel or get it myself, but I resonate with it in its opposite.

    I also find myself applying concepts learned through kink into daily life, and I see power structures and non-sexual-kink D/s dynamics everywhere. It’s fascinating to observe!

    Thank you so much for all your beautiful words.

  5. I’m a couple ventures behind where you are Alaina, yet I’m on the way to a similar place. Regardless I force and look to control my life when my PTSD erupts, and as a general rule all I truly need is the inverse… to be absolutely sheltered and secure in my Dom’s arms and have no tensions enter the positive shields my subspace my pinkworldescorts

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