Submission and Masochism

Before we begin, I realized today that I completely skipped “M is for…” and headed straight from L to N (this is what I get for keeping up with the blog while I tour).  So, lovely people, this coming Friday we step back in time and explore something M.  I promise.  Now onto my Monday thinkings…

An Ebi tie. I was not so serene the entire time I was tied. This tie was created for torturing prisoners, and over time it does.

An Ebi tie. I was not so serene the entire time I was tied, this tie was created for torturing prisoners, and over time it does become unbearable…

I’ve been thinking about the difference between submission and masochism.  I was having a conversation recently with my partner about this, and it made me question where I fit on the spectrum myself.

Specifically we were discussing a passage from the book “The New and Improved Loving Dominant” by John and Libby Warren where Libby writes about some of her experiences with submission.  She writes about how before finding herself to be a submissive she first identified as a masochist, that:

this was not a very pleasant thought, but it was the only term I could find anywhere that described my taste for pain.  I knew that I did not like being hurt.  In fact, I am a wimp when it comes to what I call real pain, but I and many other submissives can only describe the joy of a whipping or a spanking as increased intensity.  The language is truly impoverished in trying to describe the physical feeling.

I began to wonder what the line was between enjoying pain and enjoying taking/bearing pain.  I have been told (and I have taken great pride in this) that I am what one might call a “super-masochist”, meaning someone who enjoys pain to an extent where most people would pass out, call safe word, or run the other way.  And it’s true, I have a strong body, an intellectual relationship with pain that supersedes much of my reaction to the sensation of it, a lot of great pain processing tools in my bag, and a willingness to test my boundaries constantly.  These realities seemingly add up to something that looks like a masochist, but upon closer inspection I think I turn a corner…

I don’t play with everyone who likes hurting, and if I look at when I enjoy pain I notice I only enjoy it fully in rather particular situations.

I have a very select eye when it comes to who I’ll allow lay fingers/floggers/bullwhips on my body (I’ll add here that this is not a strange or bad thing in general).  However, I find I seek out play partners who are specifically really good at listening and paying attention.  This probably uncovers my intuitive need to deeply trust my partner rather than a desire to submit, and the vast majority of my play has been pick-up play rather than in the context of a kinky relationship so I need to make sure I’m trusting my gut with these people 200% before starting anyhow.  Beyond that though I like to play with people who I can trust who really want to play with me – and this is where I get a little stuck on the masochism thing.  I respond much better emotionally, pain tolerance-wise, and in physical enjoyment when playing with the Sadistic-Dominant type than to people who are just Sadistic, those who are out to just eat my pain up as I lay there processing it.

When I think about what type of bottom I am, I come to the central idea that my driving desire is to bear.  Knowing that someone desires me to undergo physical duress turns me on more than the physical duress itself (though I won’t say there aren’t some types of pain I find to be completely delicious and taking it to be seductive and a total turn on).  Being asked to bear painful activities activates my competitive edge (in competition with myself over how far I can go).  My response to succeeding at bearing my top’s will feels like a romantic unwinding within me that I find rarely in even long term sexual partnerships.  This feeling, to me, reeks of submission…  and it’s funny to me that as much pride as I take in the moniker “masochist”, I feel shame and fear in claiming submission as my own (which in and of itself probably points to just how important that word is to me and my journey of self-realization).

Does any of this really matter?  No.  Probably not.  But I’m curious.  We all have these incredible and different super powers within us – the power to bear, to accurately hit a small and trembling target, to read someone’s energy and desire, to see one’s own blood without fainting, to be turned on to the point of orgasm in the hands of another, to heal from bruises quickly…  I guess I think it’s important to know who we, in our deepest darkest corners, are and to exercise our powers in the ways that make us the happiest, ways that allow us to feel the healthiest in our pursuits, and to get what we ultimately want from our encounters.  Not everyone is going to be a good partner to me, and vice versa, I will not be dream bottom to every top.  By understanding what I want though it makes it easier to articulate to my partners how best we can play together.

I’m curious if any of you out there have had similar thoughts about your desires and inclinations?  Write in if you would.  I’d love to hear the stories of people who think about these things too.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

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~Thank you.

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