Definitions are frustrating things. Every time I think I have the perfect way to describe my experiences, something comes along and upsets that theory. I've been involved in many discussions about what being 'a Mistress' or having 'a slave' means to me, and the more I try to pin down answers for these questions, the further I get from any easy explanation. We all want to describe ourselves in the perfect way. We want to put ourselves out there in a manner that tells people 'this is who I am' and have them understand. We want to find people with values and needs that play nice with our own, who want to take what we have to give and have to give what we want to take.
The closest I've come to describing slavery has not been by definitions. Rather, it has been through conversations. Merging two opposite perspectives on a situation to come up with a unique concept for what the relationship means to us.
For example. When I presented Bill with a collar, and asked if he would be my slave, he asked me what 'being my slave' entailed. I responded, "it means you have to do what I say." He told me, "I already do what you say," and I replied, "yes, but now you HAVE to." It's a little embarrassing to think about, because our relationship is built on so much more than me telling him what to do. The intention behind that offer, and how our relationship has continued to grow, are the only things that matter at the end of the day. But the basic concept behind that exchange was taking our relationship from a place of desire to one of dedication.
He has also told me numerous times that he takes pride in others knowing that he is mine, and that he feels responsible for my happiness. Pride and responsibility don't feel like traits that a 'submissive' should have - after all, aren't they supposed to be humble and subservient? What is this nonsense about feeling a sense of achievement and accountability?
To me, those feelings are signs that his submission is both real and based in reality. They are signs that he is not simply 'submitting' to me or 'serving' me, like a kid giving his teacher his homework assignment or a waiter placing dinner on the table. He belongs to me completely. His mind works in such a way that he is compelled to put me first, and can only be truly happy and at peace when he has succeeded in doing so. It is only natural that he should feel responsible, both to me and to himself, for my happiness. And when I am happy, he can't keep it to himself. He wants the world to know.
He belongs to me, and my ownership of him occupies his mind, whether we are with each other or not. I don't need to struggle to put him in his place, or stop him from doing things that displease me. I need only to allow him to make me smile, and the rest will follow.
Despite having worked out what 'slave' means to us, I still sometimes struggle with being called 'Mistress'. It probably has something to do with the sheer number of people who have tried to put me in their particular 'Mistress box'. It seems like everyone has a different definition for the term, and people can be very hasty in assuming that we have the same one. Hell, I even run into this problem when I try to tell others I'm a Sadist, because even the labels that seem relatively easy to define are up for debate amongst different practitioners. Like how Christians have approximately 10,000 different denominations, and the only thing they all probably agree on is that this guy named Jesus existed.
We have worked out what Sadism means for us, but again, the concept is better expressed through a conversation. I can look at my slave and say, "I like hurting you, and I like it because you like it when I hurt you." His response will be, "that's great, because I like it when you hurt me, and I like it because you like it when you hurt me." Plain and simple. Usually followed by, "well, I'm glad that's settled." If you asked me how a lifetime of struggling to find each other could lead to such easy conclusions, I couldn't tell you, because you either understand it, too... or you don't.
In that same way, you might understand that being a Mistress, to me, means that I come first. Whatever my current need is, that takes priority, and the rest will follow. My vulnerability lies in allowing others the chance to make me smile. And my disappointment comes from feeling pressured to fake a smile for someone else's benefit.
The most uncomfortable feeling in the world, to me, is this: being begged by someone to do something that they think will make me happy, so they can get off from it. Essentially, someone deriving sexual pleasure from the idea of making me happy, and projecting their particular desires and theories of pleasure and happiness onto me. This is why there are certain fantasies I will only participate in after being given a very clear sign that the person requesting said fantasy knows that they are doing it for their own experience of pleasure, and not as a 'service' to me. Especially if it's something that requires a lot of attention, forethought, and communication, and they actually suck at it (but think they don't). This is unfortunately a very likely scenario if they've literally made it to the point of mindless desperation. Control over their desperation is not a control I want to have, because the person being 'controlled' is unaware of how serious and disruptive their desires actually are - a theory that proves itself time and time again.
A related uncomfortable feeling is someone trying to twist around something that I actually AM into to serve their own needs, but instead of begging, they try to offer it up as a sacrifice that they are making. This is why I find people saying things like 'I would let you hit me if you wanted to' so frustrating. The fact of the matter is that I don't need anyone to 'let' me hit them. Never have and never will. I know too many people who would legitimately enjoy being hurt by me to waste my time giving someone the feeling of satisfaction that they've served me by simply acting as my punching bag (an extremely inexperienced one, at that). They've connected my pleasure, my craft, and my skills to some imaginary 'need' that mirrors their own desperation, rather than putting in the time to discover what they actually have to give... or, you know, straight up asking what I actually need. These people are usually very confused about the nature of their own desires, and it shows.
A necessarily skill for anyone who wishes to serve me is the ability to put their desires and their designs aside. The ability to let me in. To see me as I am. See my happiness. My sadness. My struggles. My values. My dominance.
There is a reason why the only thing that my slave begs me for is mercy.
And that is what being a Mistress means to me.