Pleasure and shame in BDSM

I had known the term masochist since I was a teenager. My love obsession at 14 included it in his fantasies. I would sneak phone calls to the older 17 year old boy when my parents were out. He would quiz me on my sexual proclivities, despite the fact I was a virgin, shy, and my sexual experience was limited to sneaking into my father’s porn magazine collection. He would ask me if I liked being hurt. So I knew this was a thing.

As I matured sexually into my 20’s however, this issue did not come up again. Sure I had rough sex, even some hate sex. But my relationship to pain stayed distinct from sex. First it was drugs. Then self harm. Then tattoos and piercings. I became really good at torturing myself mentally and emotionally. And when that wasn’t working I would turn to physical pain.  In the second year of my recovery from drug addition I stayed in a constant state of physical pain. I would get a tattoo endure weeks of healing and then follow it up with a piercing. Heal that and back to the shop for more. The owner of the parlor became my confidant, my mentor, and though I didn’t know it at the time, my sadist.

Of course  I know now that I was having anxiety attacks. I was 24, newly clean off drugs, and for the first time in my life I was facing my emotions. The doctor gave me an antidepressant for my social anxiety and depression. I wrote about trauma after trauma in my step working guide. But it would take me a couple more years to accept that I was suffering from major PTSD. In fact, I was still adding trauma to my baggage. Maybe I haven’t stopped yet.

My piercer friend’s life got busy. He couldn’t be my on-call sadist anymore. That’s when he finally convinced me to check out BDSM. I went on the social networking site for masochists and other kinksters he told had me about. I found a whole world of people that liked pain just like me. I learned that a lot of people without mental illness were into it. No one here was being stigmatized for it. Still, I had been diagnosed with one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses in the book for my cutting. Up until that point all the self-imposed pain infliction in my history came with a huge dose of shame.  Shame is like a drug too. It’s hard to kick.

I will never forget the first time I got naked with a man, faced the wall spread-eagled like I was about to be frisked by the cops, and felt the leather of his flogger sting my ass.  It hurt and felt good at the same time. It was arousing. I felt… conflicted. Why was this so amazing for me? There must be something wrong with me if I like this so much. Well there was something “wrong” with me. I had a trail of medical and therapist files to account for that. Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, ADD. But I was also strong.  I had survived and overcome things many people couldn’t. Recovering heroin addict, sexual abuse survivor, single mom. And here I was moaning, squeeling and getting wet as a man beat me with a leather flogger.

I have been involved in my local BDSM community for four years now. I have educated myself. I have continued my therapy. And I have been beaten, poked, and tortured countless times. I have been controlled, dominated, and degraded. All with my consent. I have many friends who do all these things and live happy, successful lives. They have no mental illness, no trauma background, and no Daddy issues. That’s not me. Which is why I still don’t understand why I get so much pleasure from pain.  I still don’t know if I am treating the problem or aggravating it.  What I do know is that if I go too long without pain, it begins to feel like an itch that can’t be scratched. From there it precipitates to the feeling that a dam has broken and thousands of pounds of water are rushing at me. If I don’t get some pain. It will crash into me and I will be swept away.  I tried to ignore this feeling once. I went three months with no sex or BDSM. As a result, I had my first relapse from cutting in over 8 years. My life almost fell apart. I held it together. And I won’t ignore this mental demand for pain anymore. I can’t risk it.

Of all my sadist play partners only one shares this shame with me. Every time we play he is fighting a battle with himself. As I watch him take deep satisfaction in inflicting pain on me, I also know it kills him inside. I know that in the middle he will stop and ask me what is wrong with him. He will say he doesn’t understand why he wants this and needs this when he knows it is wrong. Even though he sees how much pleasure it brings me, he tortures himself mentally for hurting me physically. Last night, he came over and beat me. He was angry at me for calling him. Angry at himself for coming. Before he left, he said we couldn’t keep doing this. “Please try to get someone else to meet your needs,” he begged, “this isn’t good for me and it isn’t good for you. But he also talked about the next time. He always does. And I never feel guilty for asking him to hurt me because I know he needs it. It is a part of him, he can’t deny. No matter how badly he wants to.

So. Here I am. The next morning. My ass is a little raw and stingy. It feels delicious. And of course my thought are with this beautiful man, who gave me this gift. I wish he didn’t feel shame. I wish he would never regret our time together. But I know he always does. And I still wonder, even if only a little, if I am doing what is right for me in my relationship with pain. Perhaps I will never have the answer. My heart is heavy and conflicted between pleasure and shame.

 

 

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