I've recently been reading Sacred Power, Holy Surrender and there's a section on it about the concept of service. It's made me consider my entire approach to service in a different way.
When I was a child, service was a complex topic. We owned a bakery and my parents (but especially my mother's) job was to help customers on the phone, create custom orders, etc. My parents (like their parents) also has to supervise the front of the store and ensure that the employees were handling customers well, including being prompt, being polite and helpful.
At the same time, service was never celebrated in my family. Service was something you did because you had to do it, something coerced through money or power.
As pointed out in the book, that attitude permeates our society. We denigrate service, and service workers. We use terms like "low skilled worker" and have eliminated many service positions, asking people to serve themselves. Furthermore, as the book points out, we've replaced respect with friendliness. Our service employees must be cheerful, making their own feelings with a constant stream of joy.
We could discuss the sociological factors for this change, including the role of automation, the expendability of the workforce, the changing role of social class in Western society, the link between our society's view of money and personal worth, etc. But more importantly for me is how we reconcile these views in a power exchange context, and more importantly, how I personally reconcile my personal values about the value of service and how society has influenced my outlook.
In a recently Love Languages quiz I took, service was my #2 "Love Language" or the way in which I receive the feeling of being loved. When a partner does something for me, such as bring me water, make my bed, or help me with a project, I feel enormously loved and cared for. I'm also a dominant, and in being so, feel that servicing me is a way for my submissive to show me her continued commitment to our relationship.
At the same time, until things settle down into a pattern, I will sometimes get a knot in my stomach when I see a partner servicing me, especially spontaneously. In that moment, my psyche chimes out two different but related messages. The first is "What a loving act!" and any bit of SLDD (another term for codependency) can creep up, and at the same time, I will feel embarrassment for my partner ,"Oh you didn't need to do this for me..." as if I was seeing her do something humiliating.
Letting go of my codependency has also meant opening up to service, because to me, opening up to service is also opening up to love, and to vulnerability. It's to understand that just as I may enjoy doing for my partner, they may enjoy doing for me, and that we don't even need to dress it up as power exchange, that sometimes, doing something nice for someone else is a spontaneous act of affection.
Service, it's nice.