I have been meaning to flesh out more of the pain-pleasure play that I was starting to explain, mostly to myself.  There is an aspect of this abstract desire that reaches beyond purely physical for me; that is the search for a kind of release through intense stimulation.  Pain.

Emotional release is difficult for me.  Starting as a child, I have conditioned myself to suppress intense emotions.  In the presence of parents possessing completely opposite methods of emotional expression, I take after my father: stoic and quiet, even in his anger.  I met all incoming arguments with a seemingly indifferent silence, a mask for my inability to express myself clearly.

And so the simple idea of having that carapace broken down has increasingly filled my head.  If only, I surmise, I could be pushed to that point where nothing is present but raw emotion, then nothing but a tired, spent shell that has just released all the buildup of emotional burden.  To free the constantly present, tight, knot of anxiety that I have always felt pressed against the center of my ribcage.  What would it take to feel that, even if for a moment?

This line of thought has always kept me a bit on edge, however.  It feels like a dangerous line to cross, and I wonder if it is healthy to have this craving.  What mental or psychological deficiency prevents me from handling my emotions?  Is this a viable method for achieving release?

It is not as though I have any history of abuse or violence.  Besides the odd slap with a ruler when I was being particularly rowdy, I wasn’t hit as a kid.  I keep searching for some tenuous, silk-thin thread of correlation woven from my childhood to help explain this, and I keep failing to find it.  The only sliver of memory I have is of a dark, hidden excitement from seeing characters rendered helpless, perhaps tortured, at the hands of an emotionless villain, at some distant point in my life.

This pushing of boundaries, of taking me beyond my level of conscious consent and capabilities, is an act I tried to talk to my first partner about.  It wasn’t as well-formed a realization at that point – I just wanted to experience an intensity of pain capable of making me cry.  Thus far, this has never happened.  Not to say I have a high tolerance – as mentioned in my first musings, I haven’t experienced enough impact play to define that.  My level of exposure to the world of BDSM and kink is quite odd, really.  I have received enemas, done puppy play, been tied Japanese Shibari style, and swallowed urine, but I have never been caned or whipped.  My level of “roughness” has never quite exceeded that of “edgy vanilla,” when in actuality I want struggling, slapping, biting and sheer physical overpowering.

It is possible that this form of experience can help me break down my personal trappings and convolutions.  Or perhaps this is simply the best way for the kind of person I am: to be flogged into crying.  Maybe this is actually the least-destructive way for me to find release.

In any case, I’m going to end this rambling with an amazing TEDtalk of a brain scientist who had a stroke one morning, and proceeded to delve into the slow unraveling of her mind’s functions.

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  1. April 24, 2009 at 3:48 am

    I just recently found your blog (so, ehm, hi, nice to meet you!), but I felt like I had to react to this post. I know the feeling of hidden emotions so well, of this knot, this pain, in your body which you can’t/won’t let out.

    I did bdsm-play where the dominant ‘broke’ me trough hurting me (floggers mostly, canes are too intense for that, for me at least, I really did need a build-up for things like this, else the pain would only get me angry), and I could not do anything but cry. It was helpful, very releasing. I’m not sure if it helps in the long run, since the release is relatively short. Trying to really feel your emotions, to accept them, works better for me right now, and this seems to be a more permanent ‘solution’ from hiding everything inside. But that is not an easy road, as you probably guessed 😉 (and it’s what I write about in my blog mainly, if you’re interested)

    /Nuclear Rainbow

    • April 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Hi there, thanks for writing! Good to hear others’ thoughts about this, as thus far it is only theory for me. Though I will say that, after this weekend at a bondage workshop and after party, I am convinced I need pain to some degree 😉

      Very solid advice on the long-term solution…I’m trying to work through my anxiety and guilt issues, but rationalizing doesn’t seem to work so well. Too primal for the first, too embedded in the latter.

  2. ProfessorJackal
    May 2, 2009 at 1:02 am

    That TED talk really is amazing, isn’t it? My father showed it to me a few months back. Her description of her left hemisphere going in and out of commission, and the sense of peace and connectedness that washed over her when her right hemisphere found itself free of the constraints of its ratio-logico-dominant brother (or sister) was compelling. She goes a bit waffly towards the end with her new-agey suggestions that we are all choosing every minute which hemisphere to “listen to” (it took a stroke, after all, to silence her left side–and she wanted it back pretty badly, apparently). But a rich, provocative talk.

    I think pain can be a powerful and effective tool in releasing emotions–it’s no secret that pain stimulates the release of hormones that in turn galvanize the brain into emotional action–so long as it doesn’t become a crutch. I don’t see you leaning heavily enough on the idea, though, for that to be a worry.

    My girl has experienced the kind of emotional release you describe. It is very intense and can take a variety of forms, depending on the emotions it conjures. Most often it involves serious tears, but they can be shed for a wide range of reasons. The end effect, though, has always been a sense of release–and of journeying somewhere worthwhile.

    Pain on its own, though, isn’t enough. Behind the pain–or perhaps suffusing it–is a sense of connection with (and betrayal by) the tormentor. The faceless, emotionless figure is a powerful one, but if it is really faceless, unknown, then terror is likely to be the dominant reaction. The more productive, inflected emotional release comes from the way the tormentor hurts you emotionally as well as physically. And that takes trust–both the kind you need in order to put yourself in someone else’s hands, and the kind you offer him to twist and tie and torture you with. Part of the pain, that is, involves a sense of “How can he be doing this to me? He’s taking it too far! He’s violating the trust I put in him!” Of course, if he does it right, he can take you to that place and then bring you back. And *that* is an intense experience indeed, for both people.

    A cane is difficult to use because it is so tempting to wale away. And a cane really hurts even at very low levels of force. But it is possible to beat a light tattoo that is actually pleasant and then gradually gains in intensity and leads to a powerful release, in a variety of senses. It depends on the kinds of pain you “like” and the kinds you “hate.”

    A thoughtful, thought-provoking entry. Thank you.

    • May 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks for an equally thought-provoking comment, Professor Jackal! This is the second time now that I’ve heard that pain in of itself is not enough, that the emotional element is necessary. How very interesting…

      The thought of putting that trust out there to be manipulated is frightening, but I understand the feedback loop it gets placed in.

      And yes, definitely, I’d only do this with someone whom I trust is capable of putting the pieces back together after I’ve gone to that place.

      Regarding the TED talk, I really loved her dissection of her own brain’s deterioration – quite astounding. I love TED in general!

  1. April 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm
  2. April 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm
  3. June 26, 2009 at 7:40 pm

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