I find people endlessly fascinating. As SWL says “you don’t just people watch, you study them.” And I guess she’s right. I may be an introvert, but being around others and seeing the world through their eyes is such a treat. Not only do I get a fresh perspective, but I usually learn a little about myself in the process. (It’s no wonder I often need to retreat and recharge after a busy social time!) I’ve been thinking about the masochism recently, the drive I have to receive pain. Mostly due to discussions with D, as we journey together, but in no small part because I have been finding some fascinating reading online.
In my Fetlife feed recently, there have been a lot of posts around the subject of pain. I’m not surprised at this, I’m in a number of groups for masochists. What has surprised me is the apparent scarcity of people who enjoy pain in their play because they want it. Rather, it seems a common theme they desire to suffer for their sadistic partner and actually don’t enjoy the sensations themselves. I appreciate that, for those of a similar mind to myself, we may be more accepting of our love of/need for pain, and so not need to purge our brains of the conflict between wanting, but also not wanting to be hurt.
But it never hurts to take a closer look…
It’s far from the first time I’ve written about pain, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Today I’ve decided to take a deep dive into (my) masochism. What it is, where mine comes from, how I like to enjoy it, how it can show up unhelpfully and maybe where it could take me.
Firstly, we’d best find out what masochism is.
The psychology pages on Science Direct state that:
Sexual masochism involves sexual arousal at the thought or experience of being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer.
That made short work of my research, it sums me up: I am officially a sexual masochist! But it wouldn’t be that easy, surely. Nope. Scrolling through the pages of articles on science direct led me to maladaptive personalities, and cruel, sadistic murderers (and other criminals). Confirming to those not into kink that there is something wrong with a person who enjoys pain play.
I had to keep going. Well, the internet is bursting with information, and Psychology Today extends this to include sexual masochism disorder:
Sexual masochism refers to engaging in, or frequently fantasizing about, being beaten, bound, humiliated, or otherwise made to suffer, resulting in sexual satisfaction. If people with this sexual preference report psychological or social problems as a result, they may be diagnosed with sexual masochism disorder.
I can see how the lines could be blurred for some, if you feel guilt or shame over getting off to pain then it may well cause problems in your wider world. But aside from getting a little ratty when facing long stretches without those sensations I can safely say I have yet to experience the disorder side of a masochistic personality.
Where do this predilection come from?
It has been strange for me, scrolling through the search results. Article after article explaining how a masochist comes to be, it’s an outcome exclusively caused by childhood abuse, physical and emotional, as well as repeated bouts of corporal punishment throughout adolescence. Here is one such example. In their post titled ‘Are You A Masochist?‘ The Awareness Centre states, categorically, that:
Parents seek to retain control at all costs. They require obedience and compliance at all times. There is no room for the child to express his own opinions and needs. Love is conditional on being good. Taken to extremes, parents may abuse, chastise and humiliate the child, threatening to abandon or punish if the child does not toe the line.
But what about when your home was full of love like mine. Not hugs-and-kisses love, but my heart was never left wanting. My parents didn’t seek to retain control, and I was always welcome to share my opinions and needs. Unconditional love, no matter how badly I fucked up. (And I was the kind of party girl with quite the inclination for fucking up.) No, this kind of abuse came in my vanilla marriage. And it’s fair to say that the masochist in me is probably one of the reasons I tried to make that work for so long. *Glutton for punishment!*
But my relationship with pain has been different since I can remember. Pre-dating P by almost two decades. Processing intense physical sensations as pleasurable rather than horrid was something of a gift as an accident prone, outdoorsy tomboy, with a big brother whom I goaded into torturing me. My desire to push myself, to stretch my preconceived boundaries (a masochistic trait, I’m told) was evident to my parents before I started pre-school.
So this suggests that, at least for some of us, an appreciation of pain is hardwired.
Buried deep in a thread declaring every masochist (therefore including me) a victim of deep-rooted childhood trauma I discovered a refreshing comment. And a new word. Algolagnia describes experiencing pain (either giving or receiving) as pleasure. An algolaniac’s nerves send the same pain messages to the brain. On receipt of those messages the brain does a little happy dance. Like me when I get nice post, non-algolagniacs brains probably receive the equivalent of an overdue bill?
So is it as simple, for me, as “I say To-mah-to, you say To-may-to”?
I’m sure the birth of a masochist like me is a little more complex than that. Certainly, making the leap from giggling when something hurts just so good as a pre-teen, to orgasming through impact is quite a stretch, but happen it did.
Say what now? Orgasming through pain???
I guess that sounds strange, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of pain play, or even if you enjoy the heightening effects of a gentle (to me, we’re all so different) spanking during sex.
The first time I experienced an orgasm through pain alone, I had no idea that it was even possible. The possibility of a paingasm – as I’d later learn they were called – had never even crossed my mind.
One minute I was reclining, fully clothed, on a spanking bench at Studio Onyx. A man I’d met an hour before was hitting my feet with a weighth little strap, and the next my body exploded. Well no, that’s not quite right…
There were fireworks going off under my skin. First on my feet, then my nipples, then my clit. Each skillfully laid thwack causing another burst of energy beneath my skin. Sparks colliding until the pleasure enveloped me, holding me snug and warm as I shattered into a thousand pieces. Fully clothed, at my first event, in front of a room full of strangers…
That’s quite an introduction to paingasms, right? There have been more, of course. But they are a rare treat. They require a heady blend of impact (so far) to confuse my nervous system and send me tumbling into the most satisfyingly blissful states.
Orgasms through pain plus stimulation are intense too, satisfying peaks of pleasure that can roll into each other, over and over. And then the marks, they bring their own delights long after the play is over.
But the climax isn’t the goal. Nor the marks. This little masochist needs pain. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s right there in the belonging section, right alongside sexual intimacy, friendship, affectionate… It is my comfort zone, (one of) my love language(s).
So, masochism is healthy?
In my experience, masochism is just a label, a bundle of traits and experiential needs that show up and can be explored, or not. It is neither healthy nor unhealthy for me. However, that isn’t to say it can’t manifest in unhealthy ways.
Shortly after leaving P, when S was out of contact, I was hell bent on self-destruction. Channelled my need for pain into reckless behaviours. However, masochism was not the cause. Instead, it was just a hook to hang my self-loathing on. And it made me feel temporarily good in a world that felt consistently horrid. Gotta love those endorphins!
Then there is the small matter of my inner critic. The article from the awareness centre states “your inner critic attacks everything you do, pushing you to further extremes to prove your worth.” But before twelve years of domestic violence – when my relationship with pain was already slightly off the wall – I just enjoyed pushing myself. The inner critic was barely a whisper. But she woke up quite early on with P, and I carried her with me, she fed into my desire to please S. To work so hard it was occasionally to my detriment. Sometimes that critical inner dialogue gets loud.
But neither example is due to my maso-side.
Rather traits that I am fortunate enough to be able to take personal responsibility for. When you realise, you can do something about it. And I am always happy to take personal responsibility.
However, there is another aspect that requires careful navigating. Personally, I need pain semi-regularly. If I don’t have the option I become withdrawn and crotchety, or lethargic and disinterested. Running has been an absolute wonder, for managing long stretches without. When I’m injured and less able to run, it can be a little more difficult to channel those energies. But I have become more than capable of fulfilling my needs, in a safe and healthy fashion. Usually with something as simple as a calf tie. Also by indulging in rope with the sadistic 1001011 too. Or, as has been the case, under instruction from S.
So, do we need a cure for masochism?
Should you? I am clearly not the right person to say how others should live their life. But like all things, I do believe that trauma is best left to professionals, and if you can access therapy then do! There are many charities supporting people who have had traumatic experiences, and they often offer free sessions to those on their register. And if causing you problems in your life, then it’s important you take steps to ensure you are as safe and healthy as possible.
For myself, I can honestly say I did go through a relatively destructive phase. When I had no regard for my own welfare and got myself into some sticky situations. This was another issue, masochism was just a lead in to enact the self destruction through. I’ve been lucky to have incredible support, and the algolagnia remains, even with the self cruelty (mostly) gone.
And while that inner critic can be mean and nasty, she can also be useful and fun. When used correctly (and with plenty of snuggles available) she’s a great help when it comes to exploring degradation. Acts don’t cause me shame. Words from others (and by others I exclusively mean D, because we are digging deep foundations to pour degrading concrete into) don’t set fires, they just lay the kindling. It is what my brain does with those activities afterwards… That inner critic pipes up. Reminds me what I’ve been up to and why it is so gross, and, more importantly, why I should be disgraced at my own behaviour! Then, and perhaps most importantly for me, I tell D what a pickle I’ve got my head into, he chuckles sadistically before reassuring me. Popping me back on the straight and narrow.
What about the masochists who don’t like pain?
Ah yes, we’re back at the beginning again.
The submissives who suffer for their Dominants. Who despise the pain but love to make their owner happy.
When I consider kink, I know categorically that I am masochistic first. Submission comes a close second, BUT it is a very rare man who can capture my submissive heart. Maso me is less fussy, relying on skills and personal energy and friendship. The S/m play times I’ve had are an energy exchange, not power exchange. In fact, I might even go as far as to say they are service sadists. I tell them what I want, how I want. And they deliver. We grin, laugh, hug… Happy days!
With S, and now with D, I have my own needs. I am happy to communicate those, as I will give the pain scale and ask to stop if needed. But submissive me is invested in taking the pain that D wishes to give me. Our relationship is new, early days mean for slowly growing into our dynamic, building trust in both directions. He needs to know my responses with the lighter pain play before he pushes me further. And I am enjoying playing in all of the ways that he decides (from our many shared interests and perversions) which are teaching him more about me as we go.
As a masochist, there is a need. And sometimes its a case of “the more you have, the more you want”. Being submissive to a kind yet sadistic Dominant, means my urgency is kept in check. And pain feels different when the control has been handed over to someone you trust and care about. (Dozens of pegs added by my hand – easy. Six added to my breasts by D – whimper, squeak)
So I understand it from the other side. The subs who hate pain and endure suffering for their Dom. I love pain, but am enjoying the process of learning each other and enduring* a more gentle and snuggly approach.
(* Honestly, it’s such a hardship, being turned into a needy little snuggle slut.)
Now I’ve taken a swim in my oceans of pain, what have I learnt?
Unlike what the internet will tell you, masochism is not bad, it is not always caused by unresolved childhood trauma. Sometimes, we are just wired differently, and that’s OK. Thinking about the posts I’ve been reading, which had confused me so much. The submissives who endure masochism for their sadistic dominant’s amusement are really the same as me. As a submissive I have always loved to take the pain that my owner wants to give me. It’s safer that way, keeps my need for pain under strict control, and means I can’t be topping them from the bottom. Keeps me safe. Right now, I’m a submissive algolagniac who is enjoying the approach of her new dominant.
There is pain, and it is delicious. Both physical and emotional. The care and attention we are giving each other is a joy, and is setting us up for deeper explorations. As we progress I know he will push my love of pain for his own amusement, and with so many directions this could take us I’m excited! Until that time I am happy that I’m being slowly broken in as his girl. And more! It is nice to be safe in a sadists embrace once more, knowing that I am safe and cherished in his arms. As I hope the post writing submissive are in their endurance.
Right, that’s quite enough brain unpicking. I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately! As it’s the September Song Project, I’m going to leave you with an absolute classic:
Click on the Revelations button above to see what everyone else is up to this week, or check out my archives here, to see my past posts.
Also, as I discuss submissives enduring pain I’m linking back to my Lists, Prompts and Inspiration post. (18 – Endurance.) Thanks again to Mrs Fever for her inspiration at the start of the year!
From the story of how the barefoot sub became the woman she is today, to toy reviews, with a hefty dose of contemplation, a sprinkling of erotica and a LOT of nudity in between, you can be sure to find something to tickle your fancy at A Leap Of Faith.