(Originally posted 29 June 2008.)
The dark room is hot, steamy with humidity. The fan in the window turns inexorably, the thrum of its small motor filling the room along with small, choked gasps and the panting of heated breath on feverish, flushed skin. The slight tang of sea air drifts into the window, misting in the jaundiced, mottled light of the street lamp just outside. A small yelp, a low moan, and then silence, nothing in the room for several seconds but the faint rustling of damp sheets and the steady purr of the window fan...
Then a gasp, and heavy panting. The tingling high of relief flooding through the veins as easily as oxygen floods the lungs.
Breathplay. Those who appreciate it have several reasons to do so. My own reasons come from power, control, and the physical high that comes with deprivation of oxygen. It comes from the look in the eyes of the person with their fingers on my throat, the hard shiver that runs down my spine when I think about - quite literally - placing my safety, my health, my life in the hands of another. It could well be considered the extreme end of submission, and is definitely dangerous play. Like any form of bondage and torment, those who partake in it as safely as they can do extensive research, take many precautions, and those of us who have the luxury of a sympathetic health professional consult them. We learn about the damage that can be done, the best ways to reasonably prevent it, we learn signs and symptoms of asphyxiation, possible side effects... most of those I've played with know CPR and Heimlich.
However, accidents happen. The human body is fragile. The trachea isn't protected even by bone, but by half-circle rings of cartilage. Collapse it, and you have precious few minutes until permanent damage. This is a scary prospect, and one that I've thought about and accepted. It's an awful way to die, but there are worse ways, and I would rather move on doing something I enjoy than being scared of it. What truly scares me is not what might happen to me, but what would then happen to my partner. I don't know of any actual cases in which the partner was convicted of a crime due to an accidental death in the case of 'erotic asphyxiation' (a.k.a. breathplay), but it is honestly one of my worse nightmares.
In theory, I would not trust someone enough to play with them in this manner without caring deeply for them. I might have when I was younger, but I engaged in some pretty risky behaviour as a teenager. Honestly, it's a miracle I'm alive and disease-free today, when I think back on it. Now, I'm older and theoretically wiser. So with this in mind, the scenario would be that not only would someone I love deeply be looking at the loss of a close friend or lover with my death, they would also be experiencing no small of guilt for their part in it... and could possibly be facing charges. All of this adds up to a horrible scenario that I don't enjoy thinking about often.
As a result, I don't really understand the reasons some people have for keeping such a thing their 'dirty little secret'. A fair amount of people who regularly practice breathplay keep it from their friends, their families. I knew a woman who was married, and her husband never knew - she practiced autoerotic asphyxia (self-strangulation) ostensibly, though the way she behaved around a mutual coworker made me wonder if she was having an affair. Considering how generally oblivious I am in the office, this is fairly significant. I know from conversations that the gentleman she was close to was a fairly kinky guy who had tried breathplay. It made me wonder if she was trying it with him, and not telling her husband. All this is supposition. I don't know any of it for certain. But wouldn't it just be a shame if that was the case and there was an accident?
I watch people, and I listen. I got bored with talking about myself years ago, and I started paying attention to others as a result. I think other people are far more intriguing than my own life could ever be. Sometimes people tell me things, and thought I don't repeat them, I remember them. I think about them. I spend a lot of time in my own head, meandering the halls and peeking around corners, repainting the walls and swapping the carpet. I try to keep my headspace comfortable, but modern. As a result of this constant redecorating, I'm comfortable enough with my habits and opinions to express them often, and with much passion. I'm not without a social filter; I don't discuss my sex life with my boss or any such thing. But I do discuss such things with close friends, and have touched on the subject with what family I trust. Not only does it help me with my own self-exploration, but it's one more small step toward making certain that if a partner of mine mentions that I'm into having my neck squeezed to get my jollies off, they're likely to be believed.
I guess that's more important to me than a few bad opinions, or being seen as 'freaky'.