Why are discipline and punishment so prevalent in the BDSM lifestyle and culture? What makes them so widespread in use and form? This is the third part of the series on Correction, Discipline & Punishment.
There is a fourth and often overlooked companion to correction, discipline, and punishment – and that is Forgiveness. The ability to forgive needs to be an integral part in any of these activities. Forgiveness, at the very least, serves as the transition from any of the prior activities and back into “normal time” with the goal of reinforcing a key message. That message is simple, that the relationship still possesses love, trust, and acceptance. However, how we view forgiveness is different and often depends on our role within the relationship.
Forgiveness is essential. Without it, how can your partner properly know that they are still accepted, cherished, valued? How will they know when to stop being hyper vigilant, or if they will be surprise tested? Without the forgiveness you mentally and emotionally exhaust them by keeping them walking on eggshells.
How will a sub learn to make the distinction between being permitted to be human and learning from mistakes, versus being held to impossible standards or made to jump through hoops? These are things I have found most submissive fear, and if the Dominant does not explicitly provide the forgiveness, the submissive will often continue to punish themselves to emotional exhaustion and possibly physical damage as well.
You must clearly and emphatically provide the message of forgiveness in a timely fashion. A Dominant should also provide for the time to allow the sub to process the forgiveness and dwell on it a bit so it sinks in. Give them the time to digest and try again without hovering over them. Give them the space to make you proud.
Allowing yourself to be forgiven is essential. Yes a mistake may have been made, or something really held you up on a particular task which was unexpectedly challenging. Perhaps you had difficulty asking for help, or couldn’t communicate what you did not understand. Perhaps this demanded not so much willingness to please, as much as it demanded obedience.
Maybe you’ve been beating yourself up since your first attempt, even possibly before you even tried at all. Your Dominant has gone through with you the correction, the discipline or punishments – and has forgiven you – but the error still plays out in your head. There may be the lingering sense of shame or guilt for not having been better, or perfect, or something intangible that almost makes you want to be someone else.
In the end, if the Dominant in your life has forgiven you – then its time to let it go.
Once it’s done, it’s done – let it go, move on to something better, clean slate. Don’t bring up the past faults, mistakes, errors or occasions of transgressions or punishments. What happened was something that WAS, its part of the past and the past does not exist in the NOW. At best it remains only as imperfect reflections and distorted stories in the mind as Memory. Right now, there is the Dominant and submissive, both moving forward to build the best dynamic they can. That is all that matters. A quick mantra both should give thought to: “Punishment given, transgression forgiven, embrace the clean slate…”
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