This writing was prompted by two things: first, a writing prompt that I found here while searching for BDSM writing prompts, and second, a friend suggested pain as something I might want to write about. The prompt was this:
“If SM is a part of your dynamic explain how pain works for you. Is it a sexual turn on, a healing release, a spiritual moment, a session of giving?”
So, how does pain work for me?
First, a ‘how we got here’ overview:
- Pain is something I desire. As far back as maybe middle school, I can remember moments of telling myself stories when they frustrated, when they didn’t work, because I could talk all I wanted, describe things in any detail, copy my characters’ positions and movements with my body, and the feeling would still not be there. This year I once ended up in near-tears from the same issue- I was trying to enjoy the story, and I just couldn’t, because it wasn’t working, it was empty and blank (this was, incidentally, before I was lucky enough to find a partner).
- Pain is something I cannot experience in any way except physically. I cannot imagine pain. I write stories with lyrical, detailed descriptions-at-length of the pain my characters feel, but I feel none of it. I do not feel pain in dreams- moments that clearly should be painful give the odd sensation of a tangible absence. I cannot remember pain I have felt when I am not feeling it. I can remember that I did feel it, I can remember how it made me feel, if I think of descriptions in the moment, I can remember them, but the sensation itself is beyond me.
- Pain is something I have sought out experiences in. Two summers ago, I burned myself on the upper thigh with a paperclip. Three times, heating it red-hot in a candle. I still have the scars. This summer it was on the inside of my arm, and molten sugar. I tried hitting myself with various items. I have now tried me-getting-hit-with-things with the aforementioned, and very awesome play-partner Spiral (I believe the proper term for this is impact play).
So, now that I have had these experiences, what do I know? First, I enjoy them, quite a lot. Second, in terms of the prompt, none of the above. Pain is not in the least bit sexual for me, and it does not arouse me. I don’t feel healed, or spiritual, or giving.
So, what do I feel?
- First of all, I experience pain as pain. I’ve read the term ‘experiencing pain as pleasure’. It doesn’t quite make sense to me in terms of myself, since to me pain is a physical sensation and pleasure is a mental experience, but even aside from that, this isn’t something I experience. Pain for me hurts. When I burned myself, I was holding the metal against my skin, and my mind was going ‘oh dear god’. The few times I manage to hit myself hard enough to hurt, my mind goes ‘ow!’. When Spiral hits me, my mind goes ‘ow, ow, ow this hurts, ow’, and I move around and can’t force myself still and make quite a bit of noise out loud as well.
- Second, pain makes me incredibly excited. I get euphoric, cheerfully elated, I smile very widely, my eyes get bright, my talking to myself is excited bantering conversation. After the paperclip, I ran to Zack’s room, basically bouncing up and down going ‘honey, guess what?!’
- Third, and as I said before, I enjoy the experience. I like it. I like it happening, I like it having happened, I like planning things knowing that it will happen. I like the side-effects- the flooding-though warmth that’s the aftermath of hitting, bruises and the scabs and blister on my burns and the scars I now have. Close to the fact, they make me excited as well, somewhat farther they make me happy, beyond that they make me satisfied. They feel right.
Some final thoughts:
- While this is possibly obvious, I do not enjoy all pain. Stubbing my toe, period cramps, headaches, are as non-enjoyable to me as, I’d imagine, to most others.
- Trying to obtain pain, and not getting enough of it, frustrates me. I’ve tried dripping molten wax on my skin, and it’s nice enough, but it’s not enough. Hitting myself is usually much the same. (I have had a pretty satisfying experience with that, but it was my first one, I successfully and purposefully gave myself two bruises, and I was at it for over an hour).
- If I ever find some way of getting (enough) pain such that I can do it to myself, it doesn’t cause damage, isn’t a limit issue for me, and is quick and reliable, I will be very, very happy. The fact that in very many of my stories I focus a lot on this kind of pain- on pain spells and machines that copy them, on experiences in magical virtual realities where all the senses work but the real body is unaffected- and that characters who can cause this kind of pain really appeal to me when I find them in other works, may be related to this.
- I have yet to experience pain past the point where I am enjoying it. I think I’ve gotten close- at several points when Spiral was hitting me, my mind went ‘OK, this is approaching the line beyond which I will not enjoy it’- but I have not yet crossed that line. Also, crossing this line is something that appeals to me. It may work out differently in real life, it would have to be carefully arranged to make sure of safety, and I would probably need help staying in place, but it is an experience I feel I want. Part of the reason for this is ‘research’- my characters experience that kind of pain, and I want to know what it is like. Part of the reason, I suspect… isn’t.
And there we are.