Over seven days of recovery. One week of negotiation. Three years of an established play relationship. Around seventeen needles. One video of a partner I haven’t seen in three months insulting my life’s work. Thirty or more people watching me sob into my own lap, tied to a chair with blood trickling down my arms and legs.
These are some of the numbers that went into the emotional sadomasochism demo taught by XCBDSM at Rome BDSM Conference. Although there was an audience, a real scene was playing out in front of the room full of con goers. That demo had the potential to make or break one of my longest standing relationships. Emotional sadomasochism is a line that once you cross you can never go back. It can also be beautiful, and cathartic, and so much more.
I put every ounce of my trust that he would be able to hurt me without breaking me.
I agreed to try to be emotionally open for the demo. I tend to focus my frustrations inward, so it is difficult to get any response out of me emotionally other than rage or indifference. I almost prepared too well. As I walked past the crowd of silent con-goers and sat down in a chair facing away from them, my eyes were already welling up with tears.
That was when the pain started. A low voltage taser was thrust into my arms and legs unrelentingly. Before I could even process the pain of electrocution (which is one of my least favourite kinds of pain), needles were shoved into my thighs and arms. One was plunged right into the muscle of my leg. I kicked him. The look he gave me made me stop. He made me promise not to kick him again, and say it out loud. Something we had never done before. The worlds bled out of my mouth and I looked away for a moment.
I started my pain processing breathing. He noticed. Another needle went right along my shoulder blade. The whole scene went like this. Every time I started to reign my emotions in, or started to work through the pain he was dealing out he would kick it into another direction. This was something that was hard to explain to an audience, but I think it was one of the keys to making the scene so dynamic and successful. The pain didn’t just plow forward at 100, it was in waves. I wasn’t allowed to crawl into my mental shell. I wasn’t allowed to tough it out, I needed to be present.
Then the video. Watching a video of her tearing apart the logo I designed for her dug deep into an insecurity that most artists have. What if my work isn’t good enough. What if what I create is crap and everyone is too nice to say so? What if I’m wasting my time?
It sounds strange, but I have never felt so comfortable crying in front of a large crowd of people. I knew it was ok, and that was what I was supposed to do. We had a volunteer (appointed earlier) who came up afterwards and sat with me, just in case I didn’t want anything to do with Cross. I looked up for the first time, towards the audience. I saw so many of them wiping their eyes, and everyone clapped. In life, there are moments that define you. Moments that you know you can never go back from. That moment was one of them for me. I knew that all of the work we had put into the class had been worth it, and that I had put my trust in the right person.