At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one of my favorite things about the kink community is our ability to tailor our kinks and dynamics to fit our needs, to attach as much or as little meaning as we like to certain words, phrases, objects, or body language. Collars, of course, are no exception: for some, they are akin to wedding rings, symbols of a deep commitment that are only to be donned after much time and consideration. For others, a collar is more of an aesthetic choice, a method of signaling to other kinksters in the wild.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle, and it’s very dependent on context. There were sexual encounters with a former FWB during which I wore a collar for little more than the utility of it; while I cared about him, I wasn’t romantically attached to him, and though we played with some power exchange, I wasn’t his submissive. I wore a collar sometimes when we’d play together, but I wasn’t collared.

With my ex-partner and Dominant, the idea of a collar meant a lot more. Several months into our relationship, we picked out a lovely purple leather posture collar at a sex shop together, which we used during scenes. Then, for our first anniversary, he purchased a beautiful silver o-ring pendant, which I wore nearly every day as a subtle day collar until our breakup. While not on wedding ring level for us, they certainly were imbued with meaning, symbolic of our commitment to each other – at least, that’s what they meant to me, as I suppose I shouldn’t speak for him. I got rid of both after our relationship ended, but the necklace was harder to let go; had I not left it in his car immediately after, when I was still in full quiet rage mode, I don’t know if I would have been able to part with it.

It’s been over 5 months now, but it’s still a little strange, not having it around my neck every day. And now that I’ve had time to heal and rediscover both my sex drive and my submission, I’ve found myself longing to wear a collar again – not because there’s anyone currently in my life to collar me, but because I want to better acknowledge, cultivate, and celebrate my submissive identity in and of itself.

In short, I think I want to collar myself.

I don’t really view it as becoming my own Dominant, and I’m definitely not going to conduct any sort of formal ceremony or anything. I’ve just decided that, in the absence of a consistent irl Dominant partner, I’m going to take a more active role in my existence as a submissive person. My submission is a vital part of me, after all; why shouldn’t I be allowed to have a collar to both remind me of that and potentially signal it to others, in certain situations? Just because I’m without a Dominant, I’m no less of a submissive. And there’s no one else to look after me as a submissive right now but me.

So a little over a month ago, I purchased this collar from Stockroom:

Close-up of my neck while wearing a collar made of three black leather bands and a large silver O-ring

It was one I’d been lusting after for quite some time, and they were having a sale, so I decided to treat myself. I felt a little strange at first, putting on a collar such as this for no one’s pleasure or benefit but my own, but the moment I buckled it and felt the weight of it settle on my neck, a profound sense of calm washed over me.

Yes, this is what I’ve been missing. This is who I am. This is who I was before him, and who I’ll be long after he’s faded from my memory.

Much like my first post-breakup sexual encounter, wearing a collar again felt like unlocking a piece of myself that had been dormant for a long time; suddenly, I was more myself again than I’d been in many months, and now that such a vital piece of me had returned, I couldn’t imagine how I’d been surviving without it.

Unfortunately, while it is beautiful, it is also very obviously a collar, which limits my ability to wear it as often as I’d like. However, I was recently given this necklace as a birthday gift:

A close-up of my hand cradling a sparkly opalescent pendant with a gold chain

It’s from my brother and sister-in-law, and while I loved it immediately, it wasn’t until I went to wear it for the first time that I realized its length: on the shortest hook, it’s practically a choker. It obviously wasn’t designed with kink in mind, like my old day collar was, but nevertheless, I can’t help but reflect on its collaresque qualities whenever I wear it. What began as a 30th birthday present is quickly turning into its own version of a day collar; I find myself touching it while sexting or if I’m feeling especially anxious, just like I used to do with my old necklace. But unlike that old necklace, this is a day collar that’s ultimately only about me.

I had allowed my submission to become so intertwined with my relationship with my ex-partner that I had almost forgotten how to exist as a submissive on my own, but now, I have a way to keep myself grounded and present in that piece of my identity. When I’m having a bad mental health day, I can put my collar on and be reminded that I have worth and value, not just as a submissive but as a whole person.

My submission is mine first and foremost. My breakup didn’t ruin me forever. I’m not irreparably broken.

I still belong to someone.

For the moment, that someone just happens to be me.