(Originally posted 22 July 2008.)
Usually I start these things out with a description of some sort, because I've often been told that description is easily one of my strongest writing skills, but y'all read enough about whips lashing and crops cracking and ... mmm... I'd probably get distracted with a description like that anyway. So, launching right into masochism, there is an art to it. Or, rather, to sadism.
For instance, spanking. Anyone who's received a poor spanking, and who's also received a good spanking, knows what I'm talking about. You cannot simply slap away at one part of the skin. For one thing, if you're dealing with me personally, it only pisses me off. Rather than making me more pliable, it's likely to make me snarl and growl and possibly call you names. Granted, this is all personal preference, but a spanking is not only about pain, but about sensation. I am above all a sensualist, and a masochist secondary to that. So when someone doesn't keep in mind that the skin gets ever more sensitive with each strike, leaving it blistering under the impacts while the rest of the skin goes hungry, it's generally aggravating.
This goes doubly so for things that tend to hurt more, like paddles and crops. Whips, of course, are an entirely different matter, but more on that later. The art of sadism is definitely a learned one; I have yet to meet someone who truly grasps it on their first try. Someone can certainly have a talent for it, but the experience gained through experimentation using different tools and techniques is priceless. It's a little easier when dealing with roleplay, but right now I refer to offline experiences, in an actual bedroom, with actual tears and sweat and blood.
It took me years to actually understand that I deal with pain differently than others do. I cannot begin to fathom the way that painplay feels to those who do not enjoy it. I cannot imagine that aspect of my sex life being anything other than a joy, albeit a ... difficult one. Not knowing where the differences lie makes it difficult to explain what the thrill is, but I have been known to try every once in a while. Sex alone is grand, by and large, but there is really nothing that has quite the same electricity as a hard bite on the shoulder in the middle of things. Being slapped, bitten, pinched and pulled around the bedroom doesn't even seem to really hurt, at least not in the same sense as stubbing my toe or skinning my knee. I would almost say that the pain is there, but only as a counterpoint to pleasure... but considering the fact that I enjoy and derive pleasure from pain on its own, that theory falls a little flat.
Some people begin their forays into masochism gradually, working their way along the line of more and more intense experiences. I did not, myself. One of my first boyfriends was already an established (though not highly experienced) dominant and sadist, and though I had toyed around with being tied up and smacked on the ass a bit prior to him, he definitely brought things to a new level. I didn't feel pushed by him; I wanted to explore. But in retrospect, his inexperience could well have turned me off of the entire thing very quickly, were I not a masochist. The first thing he used on me aside from his hand was... a whip.
Anyone who has experienced what a whip feels like even at only a half-hearted swing will understand what an intense experience something like that would be for a novice like I was. Even now, with nearly a decade of experience under my belt, I am still in awe of whips. They bite. They sear. They burn. They hurt like hell. I've had experiences with edgeplay that were less painful than that whip. And, going back to what I was saying earlier, they are practically intolerable when they strike the same place twice. Criss-crossing in itself is a fireworks display of agony; I can only imagine what it would feel like to have it hit precisely the same place more than once. Given the width of most whips, this is extremely unlikely unless you have extremely precise aim, except perhaps by a fluke.
So here's me, still uncertain and more than a little nervous, laid out across the bed with all four limbs cuffed and tied, my (relatively new and still unused) safeword planted firmly in mind. We had been working on bondage prior to that, our experimentation focused on various restraints and positions, sometimes for decent stretches of time. I had been comfortable with that, and had only cried 'uncle' - or 'red', actually - once, with a blindfold. (Blindfolds and I have a love/hate relationship. I'm a fairly visual person, and having that taken from me is one of the most simultaneously exquisite and nerve-wracking experiences, ever. It's still a rare treat.) We knew the neighbours upstairs were out for the evening, and the houses nearest us were far enough away that they weren't an issue. We could be as noisy as we wanted, without fear of having the police show up at the door and wonder what was with all the leather. And so that was the setting of my first experience with anything truly painful. He snapped the whip a couple times off to the side, asked me if I was all right, and then let off with a test swing across the center of my back, from left hip to right shoulder.
I didn't scream. I hissed.
And then I gave my personal safeword for the first time, starting to cry. It scared me deeply, but what I did not tell him - and never got the chance to - is that the pain itself is not what had me so shaken. I mulled it as he hurried to the bed, checked my back for broken skin, and snapped off each cuff. It was the brain-searing, unadulterated high I got from even just that (comparatively) light tap. I didn't fault him for my own confusion in the least, and I still don't. I felt like there was something wrong with me, even as I immediately regretted calling it off, and wished I could take the safeword back. This was pain. This was a whip. I was not supposed to enjoy this, right? Wrong. I wondered for years what was wrong with me, though I did indulge - guiltily - in my penchant for pain. I used to get into moods where I don't want to be caressed or kissed; I want, with a need that throbs through me down to the core, to be hurt, and hurt without mercy. I still get into those moods, and they are as powerful as the strongest lust. Though painplay is a wonderful catharsis, I've found that these moods don't have much correlation with how stressed I am, or my emotional state in daily life.
Those periods are why I identify as a masochist. Not only because I enjoy pain, but because I crave it, and there are times when a dozen clitoral orgasms won't even touch it. I have no idea if others - those who are not of the masochistic bent - experience this, but something happens when things get intense enough. It is, though not an orgasm in the traditional sense, very much the climax of any such experience. A friend of mine has termed it a 'paingasm', and I suppose that's the best name there is for it. It's the point at which the pain builds to a crescendo, and whatever comes next, whether it be hand or crop or knife, releases a cascade of joy through the whole body. It's both purely physical and incredibly mental, all at once. And it's only once that's happened that my actual craving subsides. I've tried attempting to settle for less, and it just doesn't happen. The body demands satisfaction of some sort.
I have known wonderful, attentive sadists (I don't think that's an oxymoron, taken in context...) who learned to pick up on these moods and indulge them without my having to say a word. I think it gives them some sense of satisfaction as well, or it seems to. I have no idea what the physical signs are; if they can see it or just sense that moment of exultation. But I do know that my favourite sadists are the ones who can pick up on these small cues, and read the body language as well as they can listen to the words. This is the true art to sadism, and I would say it's more vital to S and M than it is to relationships in general. That knowledge that even if you cannot articulate what you need, someone else will help you with it. I don't know precisely when I was able to shed the feeling that there is something wrong with me, but I so know that having people like that around helped a great deal.