I’ve worked with a variety of clients over the years, mostly teenagers. They’re volatile, moody, reactive. However, if you watch them closely, you’ll see an evident escalation of behaviors before they hit crisis mode. Now, I’m not a teenager, thank goodness! I wouldn’t want to go back to that stage in my life, but I started noticing a couple of behaviors in myself… escalation behaviors indicating the likelihood of crisis mode.
I don’t function well in crisis mode, except for when I have deadlines to meet… then I can motivate myself and kick ass! But I’m not referring to that crisis mode. I’m referring to emotional crisis mode–that stage where the anxiety is overwhelming, emotions are overflowing, rationality is gone, full reactive mode. It doesn’t happen to me often anymore, for as we age and mature, we find ways to self manage and communicate our needs. However, it can still happen.
I found it happening to me recently. In some ways, I’m still trying to self manage, so as not to escalate into full crisis mode. While talking with a friend about it, I jokingly said, “I need to be beaten.”
What?! Where did that come from? I’m not a masochist! I don’t care for pain for the sake of pain, so why did that statement slip from my tongue? Then I realized… I’m in the upswing of crisis escalation, and I’m in desperate need of tension reduction.
It’s a cycle. Perhaps you’re even familiar with it. Perhaps you can see times when you’ve cycled through it yourself, or witnessed someone you care about go through this. It isn’t something that just happens to teenagers; it happens to us all at some point or another. The trick is learning to recognize the signs and manage it, so that we can successfully avoid emotional crisis mode.
And I believe many submissives experience emotional crisis mode.
Now, this isn’t true of every submissive, and I never write as an expert. I’m only sharing my thoughts on the matter because I recognize my own pattern of behavior, and in sharing with other submissives, I recognize the cycle in some of them. If it applies to you as a submissive or a submissive with whom you are involved, perhaps this will assist in some way. I hope it does.
Anxiety is the first step. I’m not referring to anxiety in terms of mental health disorders, but rather an emotional reaction to stressful situations. The brain becomes over-reactive, and worry and/or fear become primary emotions. If you watch carefully, you can see the subtle non-verbal cues indicating escalation is about to occur: pacing, finger drumming, picking at nails, chewing on the lip, an increase in doing chores. Facial expressions change; body posturing is affected.
If you notice these things, you can intervene early by being supportive, empathetic, and non-judgmental. Offer your submissive words of encouragement or terms of endearment (such as saying “good girl” or referring to her as “babygirl,” assuming these are effective for her). If she is accepting of you being in her personal space at this stage, give her a hug or a gentle touch. (However, realize that entering someone’s personal space uninvited at this stage can also escalate anxiety, thereby escalating the situation quickly.) This may also be a good time to ask, “What can I do?” or “Would you like to talk?” Connect with her in a manner that works best for the two of you.
When communicating, resist the urge to “fix” the situation and simply listen to her. Use empathic and active listening skills. Make sure that your physical stance is non-challenging and non-confrontational. Use paraverbal communication by lowering the volume of your voice, adjusting your tone to avoid inflections, adjusting the cadence of your voice, using an even, soothing rhythm.
The next stage of escalation is defensiveness, and this is the beginning stage of losing rationality. It’s not uncommon for someone in this stage to get belligerent or challenge your authority. You will likely notice bratty behavior from your submissive, even if she doesn’t identify as a brat (e.g. back-talking, mumbling under her breath, snide or snippy comments, questioning you). This tends to be a highly verbal stage, meaning that the indicators are evident in a verbal fashion, although the submissive is not likely to be effectively communicating at this stage.
You can intervene here with a firm approach where you take control of the situation by setting limits, establishing boundaries, and/or redirecting your submissive. Although communication can be difficult at this stage, have your submissive communicate in a manner that is comfortable for her about what is occurring. Some Dominants have their submissive sit across from them and verbalize; some have their submissives write in a journal, then review the written excerpt. This is where knowing your submissive is crucial because you will want to figure out a means of regaining control and communicating that best suits the needs for both of you.
This stage is a complete loss of control where rationalizing with your submissive is no longer effective. This is a physical and reactionary stage, yet it looks differently for all of us.
It’s not uncommon for someone to become physically aggressive in this stage. Have you ever met someone who seemed turned on by fighting? Or enjoyed the adrenaline high that comes from road rage and other forms of acting out? I hate to admit this, but there was a time when I was violent and would “go looking for a fight,” then was barred on more than one occasion. Thankfully, I have found other outlets. Most adults mature out of the physically aggressive behaviors when they find alternatives that work for them. Some do kick-boxing at the gym; some do zip-lining or skydiving. This isn’t to say that people engage in these activities because they are physically acting out; this is to say these are socially acceptable and typically healthy alternatives to fighting in a bar, for example.
For submissive, this stage can completely vary depending upon the person. Emotional outbursts are common. I have seen some break dishes or various items while doing chores, as they are attempting to be compliant with the task that is expected of them, yet being defiant in their own way. Personally, I no longer get violent, but I cry, curse, get even more confrontational than usual.
This is the stage where your submissive requires intervention. For me, this is the stage where the “little girl” inside of me is particularly vulnerable, so my “protective woman” intervenes by any means necessary. It is the stage where I (and likely, your submissive) need protection, safety, caring intervention. This is the stage where some form of a scene is a necessity. It’s no longer a want; it’s a need… There is a need to be tied or swaddled in rope. There is a need to be flogged or whipped. There is a need to be restrained and brought to orgasm.There is a need for you, as the Dominant, to take physical control of the situation that is most appropriate for your submissive.
- Tension Reduction:
This is the end stage where both the physical and emotional energy dissipates and rationality returns. Tension reduction is the ultimate goal because this is also where the state of equilibrium returns. At this stage, aftercare should occur. (Refer to Aftercare: Like Debriefing at Shift Change) This is your opportunity to communicate, reconnect, even process what just occurred.
Again, this is just my 2 cents, for what it’s worth. This isn’t meant to be accurate and true for all submissives.
Thanks for the consideration.