When learning about personal safety and BDSM you likely hear the word safeword more than once. A safeword is used as a last resort when you need the play you are engaged in to end. But there's an unintentional negative stigma surrounding using your safeword that needs to be understood. You are not a failure if you have to use your safeword. It's there for the very reason you have it. It's that 911 call. You know it's there, but you only bring it out for emergencies.
Unfortunately, so many submissives that have safewords feel that if they use it they have let their partner down and feel disappointed in themselves. They regret using it after the fact and often that will scare them from wanting to use it in the future. But there is no reason to be afraid of using your safeword.
Let me say it again, you are not a failure for using your safeword.
On a few message boards, I frequent there are submissives who brag about not using their safeword and that they have never needed to use it in their relationship.There are two things to keep in mind with these people. One they are probably lying and two, if they aren't then they use other forms of communication to get play to change so that they don't have to use a safeword.
It's common to use regular, direct communication in play in place of a safeword. The majority of relationships that I'm familiar with would be just fine with that. But if you are not capable of communicating somehow, be it subspace, an altered state of mind, gags (silent safewords are used) or perhaps even the Dominant gets lost in Dom focus, a safeword can halt play in these instances.
It's like the use of other emergency words like "fire!" or "help!" they tend to get attention when yelled because people have learned that those are pay attention words. A safeword is exactly like that. You use it to get the emergency attention you need, in this case, to halt play for whatever reason.
Why the Guilt?
Let's face it, you might be like me. I have ended the scene and then regretted that I used my safeword. What's that look like? Well, you start second guessing yourself. "Could I have lasted a bit longer?" "Was that leg cramp really an emergency?" "That didn't hurt that bad, did it?" "What will he think of me now?" "Am I a wimp or a quitter?" It's hard to process the use of a safeword as a good thing when you've learned that it's a last resort. When it's talked about online and in books that a safeword is serious business and shouldn't be taken lightly.
So, you fret over why you used it. Now, your Dominant isn't going through the amount of guilt you are pushing on yourself. In fact, they have probably already moved on from it. You know why? Because they are aware of how important it is and that you'd only use it as a last resort. They aren't second guessing why you used it. You just did. End of story. Move along.
But a lot of what submissives do to themselves it always striving to be the best submissive they can be. You've probably said that very phrase at one point, haven't you? Well, you know what? You are the best submissive you can be by admitting you've reached a wall and need to stop. It proves you are honest and trustworthy and that you respect your Dominant.
Start trusting yourself. You are not a failure. You are a responsible, self-aware person. That safeword is what it is. Learn from the moment and embrace that you are going to reach limits - even if you've been further at one point in the past.
I'm proud of you for using your communication skills. You should be too.