Some Beginning Thoughts on Pain Processing

From my first "scene" ever - a 5 1/2 hour long exploration of sensation with a wonderfully varied Dominant sailing the ship. Here I am tied "Ebi" style, not so bad initially as I am quite flexible, but you see my leg going blue from cut off circulation... It was precisely the LACK of sensation, rather than any pain I felt that scared me most in this part of the scene... Leg's fine now, a narmal "Karin's Leg color". And an interesting experience for sure.

From my first “scene” ever – a 5 1/2 hour long exploration of sensation with a wonderfully varied Dominant-type friend sailing the ship. Here I am tied “Ebi” style.  It wasn’t so bad initially, as I am quite flexible, but you can see my leg going a little blue from cut off circulation over a longer period of time… It was precisely the LACK of sensation, rather than any pain I felt that bothered/scared me most in this part of our play.  The leg’s fine (and was immediately after release), a normal “Karin’s Leg color” now. It was interesting to learn that I have a harder time with no feeling, than with pain itself.  Of note: this particular tie was created for torture.

I’ve been talking to a few people about pain lately, and ‘pain processing’ – something one does in a scene where they are taking on a certain degree of pain like being hit in rough body play, receiving sharps (needles), using hitting toys, etc, so that they can play longer or to take more pain without ending the play.  Some people who take on pain are masochists (meaning they derive pleasure from pain itself), and some are not but are willing to bear pain for submissive reasons, for the endorphin rush, or to succeed at accomplishing a particular feat or goal.

I was describing what I think is going on with me while I am pain processing to someone I had played with, and I’m wondering how it is like or unlike what others experience. Let me know your thoughts by filling out the anonymous contact form, or emailing me at: Karin@ABCsOfKink.com.

The circles in the center of the bruised areas was made with a flat wooden paddle... Happy Birthday to me!

The circles in the center of the bruised areas were made with a flat wooden paddle… Happy Birthday to me!

Here’s what I wrote:  “Pain is experienced as a lot of really distinct layers for me. Kind of like a complex wine… There are sometimes layers of pain that are horrible and too much, types that are warm, types which spread slowly and have an emotional component, types which are very much sexy and a turn on, types that surprise or fry my system… And usually when I’m receiving pain – especially in the context of Rough Body Play – each sensation holds way more than one layer of pain. When I process it’s about searching through the sensations and lifting the ones that are too much to ready myself for the next moment.  So, I think I’m not processing the whole thing each time I take a break, just the parts I need to to come back to center quickly.  I also try to hold on to the layers of pain that are enjoyable and connected to my partner more deeply. It helps, I know, to experience pain that has both terrible and wonderful layers in it at once, because I can hold onto the good parts and melt into those (in a way) while holding the terrible ones at bay for as long as possible…”

My first "sharps" in the form of an "endorphin button"... I loved this experience.

My first “sharps” in the form of an “endorphin button”… I loved this experience.

After having written that, I found and started reading “Nociceptors and the Perception of Pain” by Alan Fein, Ph.D, and right off the bat some of what he’s written seems to coincide with the experience of pain that I describe.  He explains that various nociceptors (pain sensors) register sensation at different speeds – hence my “layers” of pain experience, I think.  I learned that “pain” itself is not a sensation, rather it is an emotional reaction to a particular sensation which elicits varied response in different people; so some people can take more pain than others, and someone can “decide” to toughen up and take a higher level of sensation past the point they normally would when they deem it important to do such.  When I describe the different feelings that accompany pain, I think I am describing a combination of various different types of nociceptor signals (mechanical, chemical, thermal, and the difference between somatic and visceral pain), combined with the emotional reaction I have to those various signals – while “thuddy” pain is more tolerable to me than “stingy” pain, that is in part because I am not as afraid of or reactive to that sensation so I have the ability to more easily take on impact that leads to one type of sensation over the other.  I can also acknowledge the emotional reaction I have to stingy sensation and accept that experience to a higher degree by understanding the difference between physical reality and emotional angst.  Breathing, staying really present with the moment, and swimming between these understandings is part of how I process pain so that I can get to a level of sensation during playtime that I find rewarding – physically, emotionally, sexually, chemically, and relationally.

I’m still reading up on the reality of how bodies function with pain, but I love that one’s ability to recognize sensation and decide what to do with it (fight, flight, enjoy, bear, push deeper, relax into, reject, accept…) are not solely physical limitations, but emotional and psychological challenges as well, and that our actual limits are a flexible and fluctuating conversation between these three states.  The body is a wondrous thing!  What have your experiences with pain processing been?

To Breath and Being,
Karin

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~Thank you.

Questions, curiosities, or just wanna know more? Email: Karin@ABCsOfKink.com

or fill out this anonymous form:

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