BDSM Is A Form Of Therapy For Me
People have been confusing BDSM with abuse for a long time now.
I’m not talking about more conservative folks who cringe and wag their fingers at the idea of someone engaging in “unsafe” activity, like flogging or sexual torture. I’m talking more about folks who wonder if the desire to receive pain, to get smacked and choked by a partner, may be coming from some deeper issue from childhood. Those who believe that BDSM activities are associated solely with traumatization from childhood are oftentimes the same individuals who believe the desire to feel pain in the bedroom is perceived as more of a tragedy than a triumph.
These perceptions have caused me to question myself in the past about whether or not enjoying BDSM was hindering my trauma recovery. The truth is, engaging in BDSM and fulfilling my desire to receive pain during sex has been nothing but productive and positive for me.
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BDSM allows me to work out difficult feelings I have about myself in the bedroom. I’ve felt suicidal on and off since I was 15 and have also had periods of time (due to my mood disorder) where I was either violent or incredibly sexually impulsive. Medication and diligently partaking in self-care really help me keep these (and other unpleasant feelings) away. But, at the same time, all that hard work creates some pent-up aggressive energy (toward myself and others) that I need to let out in some form.
While some people go to the gym, have a run or write out their angry feelings, I get choked and flogged in my bed.
The comfort I take in kinky sex with my partner is present even when I’m at my lowest and feel tempted to self-harm. I know that through their choking and scratching and slapping, I can work through these urges to self-harm in a safe and respectful space. By the end of sex, I feel extra-satisfied knowing I didn’t pick up a drink or try to cut myself when experiencing these hard feelings. Instead, I turned my pain into pleasure.
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BDSM helps me transform feelings I have about deserving pain in negative ways (through words, marginalization, rejection) and instead turn them into a satisfying activity. My practice of BDSM becomes a healthy way to channel consuming negative feelings.
I’ve found that when in a controlled and consensual environment, it’s OK to feel that you deserve pain and somehow, the more I dealt with these tough feelings by “being punished” by my partner, the more whole I felt. Sometimes, I cry at the end of sex because of the amazing emotional release that receiving pain gives me.
It somehow makes me love myself and it makes me feel strong.
BDSM also challenges my core belief that I don’t have any control over my life, something that became an ever-present feeling for me in childhood as I dealt with verbal, physical and sexual abuse. When I dominate my partner, I truly am in total control. Not only is this a turn-on, but it makes me feel endlessly more confident about my power, worth and abilities. Dominating someone sexually helps me trust myself to take charge in other situations I may have formerly felt too uncomfortable or inadequate to partake in.
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Despite the most stereotypical ideas that some folks still hold, BDSM is a space of endless possibilities and healing from things like trauma. After being abused for so long, performing dominance and agency with the bed as my stage feels hugely rewarding. I act out who I want to be: powerful, happy and skilled at setting boundaries. Through this act and through the reward of being physically punished, I can transmute all of my negative feelings into something much more positive and productive than self-harm and drinking. Honestly, BDSM is the best therapy I’ve ever had.
By Meg Zulch