I need to start getting my thoughts in order to talk about catharsis. I’m sure that what I actually say will vary from what I’m writing about. Such is life.
Because I’m me, let’s start with a definition:
Strong or repressed emotion. I have buckets of that. When I think of catharsis I think of a flood of things all at once. I think about beating my friends until they cry because it is hard to cry on your own. I think of being beaten until I genuinely sob. Not many people have ever done it. I think of being crucified. I think of atonement. I think of freedom from the burden of carrying these emotions forever.
I have two female friends in particular I think about when I think about cathartic scenes. One is my Sarah and another is one I don’t have permission to name. With Sarah a lot of what I work towards is helping her feel ok making noise and taking up space. I do that very deliberately because I have known her for a long time and she has good reasons to make some fucking noise. It’s ok for her to cry about the stuff that is happening and has happened. But that’s a hard thing when you are punished throughout your childhood for having negative feelings.
My other friend had a hard time safewording or really saying no to anything, ever. What is a safeword some of you sweet people ask. A safeword is a word that can end the scene. For most people red stops a scene and yellow means “please check in”. Traditionally speaking safewords can be any significant word or phrase that wouldn’t occur naturally in a scene. In really heavy sm scenes… sometimes a safeword is the difference between a scene and abuse.
So I asked my friend if she wanted to learn how to say no. I hit her for a long time. A really long time. It felt like hours. I was vicious and terrible. The whole time I told her, “I want you to decide when this stops. You have to tell me to stop. You have to defend yourself. You have to know you are worth that.” And on and so forth because fuck I talked for a long time.
Eventually she did crumble and sob and beg me to stop.
I hear she’s done much better with boundaries ever since. I’m glad.
Sometimes you can’t really understand the size and shape of your boundaries until you go all the way to the other side of them so you can get a good look at where they should have been.
I think of a lot of my rape experiences like that. “I should have done ____.”
I didn’t know.
Positive stuff. A few truly stand-out scenes as a bottom. The first crucification was the most intense. When you don’t know what to expect, it is more intense.
Without getting into details about why I told my then boyfriend/top/later Owner that I had a lot of sins I needed to atone for. He joked and said he could crucify me. I said that sounded great.
We built a padded backboard together. Full of hardware and gizmos to make the gearhead happy. I was grateful for all that time in the wood shop learning skills. Yes, I can help you construct equipment. I am a useful tool to have around.
There was obviously a crossbar for my arms. He tied me to the backboard using polyester rope. That was his preference at the time.
I’ve been suspended in a lot of positions. I’ve been suspended by enough people that I think I have a good idea of what the different positions are like. They are all intense in different ways.
The crucification was early in my scene career. I didn’t have much experience then. I was shocked by the breathlessness. That was what made the scene so intense. It hurt, yes, but it was the constriction of my lungs and diaphragm that caused me to see stars and hallucinate and feel like I was talking to dead family members.
I remember feeling a sad benevolence. These people absolutely could not love me while they were alive. The love they feel now is hollow and empty and useless but present. What does it mean? It means they don’t hate me.
It’s ok that I was born. It is ok that I chose my life over theirs. It is ok that I forced retribution on my father for hurting me.
It is just how life goes.
I talked to my boyfriend a little bit about what I felt and experienced. Not long after that he told me he didn’t want to know more about my past. Heh.
I really desperately needed the experiences he gave me. I think he kind of sensed that and couldn’t do it if he knew just how badly I was abused. Especially considering how recent it was when I met him.
I met my future Owner less than a year after my father killed himself.
Now, as a 34 year old that kind of blows my mind. Wow. Less than two years after my father sat in a garage with the motor running and a note saying everything was all my fault… I became a 24/7 slave. Now it was half my life ago.
I didn’t have a normal college experience. I had weird ritualized sm and no alcohol or drugs and I was shoved through doing homework and learning responsibility and household management experience.
He was a parental figure as much or more than a boyfriend. He taught me about loans and interest. He taught me about different levels of protocol and etiquette and appropriate behavior for different settings. It took a while before I was civilized enough to go to work stuff with him.
We spent a lot of god damn time on behavior training. I needed it. I needed to have someone pay attention to me and help me learn those skills just about like ABA therapy.
Do you know what I find funny? Most every boyfriend I’ve ever had is thrilled I married Noah. Because he pays the kind of attention to me none of them ever wanted to pay. They are happy I found that.
I like my life.
Another stand out scene: that scene with the couple in Portland the weekend before Noah asked me to marry him. I love going to Portland. I do so much fucked up shit there.
In that scene it was the first time they had ever co-topped together. It was intense the way they would stop addressing me to focus on one another and talk about what they wanted to do as if I were just kind of a toy then they hurt me fantastically. This is the stand-out most painful scene of my life. He picked me up by my pectoral muscles and shook me like a dog.
That pain made me almost completely lose my mind. It felt like my body was about to be shredded apart. Given that I have previously had the bottom quadrant of my face ripped off by a pit bull, that was an intense experience.
And when I came down to the ground again completely flipping out his partner slapped my face.
I think I collapsed to the floor.
I honestly don’t remember at all what happened after that.
It was a casual pick up scene with folks I barely knew from the rare parties I attended in Seattle.
Why was it cathartic instead of traumatic? Consent. Bitches. There are scenes that once you are in them… there is no way out but through. There are life experiences you must endure that are traumatic even though you want them.
Childbirth comes to mind.
Why did I trust this man to do this to me? He had extensive training by my government on how to torture people. If anyone was going to be able to do it and walk me right to the edge of the line of what I was going to be able to walk away from… it was him.
He did a fabulous job. Good man.
And his partner? God damn. I love a mean woman.
Why was this so positive? Partially because for the whole rest of my life I have an established 11 experience when it comes to pain. Unmedicated childbirth is not the most painful experience of my life. Having my face torn off wasn’t more painful.
Holy fucking shit.
Being in that much pain lets you appreciate all the days you sit at a 6. It’s not so fucking bad.
Would I be so into Noah if I hadn’t had such a shitty life? Probably not. But I am who I am and it is working out pretty well.
I need to talk about how Noah creates safe space for me. That’s a big deal. That’s kind of the foundation for a lot of the good that has happened.
Noah was ok with me coming out to the garage every morning for months and months and sobbing hysterically. He didn’t react like I was a weirdo and I should stop making him uncomfortable. He said, “Ok. This is where you are right now. What do you want or need from me?”
The process of training him in how to be support has been long and layered, but there is improved trust with every year. That makes everything easier. He does what he says.
Goodness I trust him. The ability to trust someone is… huge.
My cathartic experiences with other people have been primarily one-off releases of emotion in my body. I’m not usually supported before or after. I had a great deal of structural support but just about zero emotional support from my Owner. He had very specific verbal boundaries around this and I really think he behaved ethically.
But I want something different from my forever and it’s ok because I have it.
A lot of my cathartic experiences with Noah have been more gentle and about building connection and intimacy and attachment and trust and care taking and…. It’s different.
And then there are the drug experiences. We’ve had some fucktastically good drug experiences together.
But uhm, that’s not what the show is about.
People are weird.