Now I know that there’s a time and there’s a place where I can choose to walk the fine line between self-control and self-abuse.”–Bare Naked Ladies, “Alcohol”
Before I started this website, I used to write content for a kink-friendly podcast on YouTube (leaving that podcast was actually a huge factor in my decision to get this blog off the ground). I recall a show we did on subspace, and myself, the host (a dominant), a room full of subs and switches, and our sound guy were discussing the concept of drop. Our sound guy kind of lived on the fringes of the community in that he didn’t practice BDSM himself, however, he was accepting of it and eager to ask questions, to which we were eager to offer education.
I described drop as a mild depressive episode which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and would remind me of those cases of “the blues” I would get when I skipped my anti-depressants, or I was dealing with an unusual amount of strife in my life. He looked at me a bit puzzled and asked “It sounds like drop can be pretty serious, and you mentioned you get it nearly every time you scene. Is it really worth it?”, to which every submissive in the room promptly replied, simultaneously and emphatically, “YES!!!”
So, flashback to Saturday night. I’m attending a play party, the first one in over eighteen months because of the pandemic. It’s a small get together, invite only, in the basement of someone’s house in a small suburban neighborhood. There’s a beautiful dungeon that brightly contrasts the idyllic Normal Rockwell-esque scenery outside. One thing you quickly learn about those in the BDSM community is that we’re like Canadians living in the U.S.: We blend in so well you’d never know who we were. I asked the host if I could invite Vixen, since this was her first chance to attend a play party since she moved up north from Texas last year. I had to cancel our weekly date and I thought this would be a good opportunity to spend time with her. Also, part of me may have wanted to “show her off” to friends I hadn’t seen in far too long. Penguin was there because… that’s what Penguin does. She’s a hurricane. You don’t try to control her and you do your best to stay out of her way.
I knew Penguin already had two people on her “dance card” for the night. That’s how these parties work. You may walk in the door with someone, but you schedule your activities days in advance. You discuss who you want to scene with and what you want to do so negotiations are handled in advance. When Panda and I would attend these parties we would walk in together, say “I love you” and then not see each other until several hours later. You don’t always dance with the person that brung ya, but rather, you dance with several people throughout the night and just make sure you’ve got either a ride home or a bed to crash in when the party ends.
I hit Penguin up the day before about a fire massage. She’s really amazing at it, particularly fire cupping, and wanted to make sure I got my spot in line since we’d really only done one public scene since Covid turned everyone’s life upside down. As always, she did an amazing job (she even got Vixen involved in the action) and my body was so exhausted/relieved I pretty much just fell asleep on the couch in the aftercare area not long after. When it was time to go, I helped her pack up her belongings like a good little sub and drove her back to her place as I had given her a ride to the party. We’re less than a mile from her house when it hits me: The inevitable feeling of drop that comes with playtime.
Drop varies from person to person, however, I’m one of the unlucky ones who gets it pretty much 100% of the time, and it usually sets in before the night is over. Sometimes the BDSM Gods are nice enough to let me fall asleep with a smile on my face and instead let me wake up feeling like shit, but recently, I’ve been lucky if I get a few hours between end of scene and “Here comes the rain again.” Now, because this was a real quick scene and I didn’t really hit subspace, it was light, it was brief, and before I finally conked out about 90 minutes after I dropped Penguin off at her house, I was back to my old self, however, it did get me thinking that persistent and inevitable question that’s plagued me about everything in life since I was old enough to form memories: “Why”?
I was watching Dr. Phil this morning (don’t judge me. We don’t TV shame here) and appropriately enough, the guest was a young man in his twenties who left his home, moved cross country to LA and literally started living on the streets in an effort to become a rock star. He seemed like an individual who had a unquenchable thirst for life as he spoke about how to make it big in this world, you had to risk everything, and he was so committed to his dreams, that he was willing to do just that. He reminded me of some mash-up of Tony Robbins and Kurt Cobain. It was only later in the show that his parents revealed that he was most likely mentally ill, probably paranoid schizophrenic based on the behaviors he was exhibiting, and his hunger was really insanity eating him up from the inside.
Watching this young man speak so confidently about his goals, his dreams, and his determination, it made me wonder not just about myself, but the whole “culture of the submissive”. BDSM is often mistaken for abuse, which is no surprise given how it must look to outsiders, however the dominant is usually the one painted as the abuser and we never stop to ask “Can the submissive be self-abusive”
I’ve often griped about lack of submissive education in the community. You can go anywhere and find book, a video, or a workshop on how to be a healthy dominant, but what about a healthy submissive? Doms have to be trained to know when their subs are in distress, but do subs themselves know when they’re in distress. How often have you seen a Dom call “Red” during a scene. I’ll give you a hint: Almost never.
Part of living with ASD (That’s Autism Spectrum Disorder, for the uninitiated) is that you tend to see things as binary or black and white, which is funny because ASD itself is anything but. There’s a reason that so many incels have ASD. Their mindset is one in which life is driven by cause and effect, yes and no. When A happens, B is supposed to follow. As we all recognize, human emotions rarely fit into such neat boxes, so the incel quickly becomes frustrated and jaded with interpersonal relationships. It’s the same for submissives with ASD, but internally. Rather than looking at interactions with other people and asking “Are they a good person?” the submissive looks at their own actions and asks “Am I a good person?”
Shortly after I got out of college, I became obsessed with True Crime. Shows like “Law & Order”, “Criminal Minds” and “Forensic Files” were my comfort shows that I would flip on the television after work to help me unwind. It seems strange that murder and mayhem would help someone relax, but it wasn’t so much the violence as it was trying to understand the motivations and the psychology behind it. I’m convinced that’s always been, if only subconsciously, the driving force behind my masochism. Like the young man on the Dr. Phil Show, there’s something romantic about personal struggle and torment. As much as we like to kid ourselves, I think many of us would jump at the opportunity to explore our savage nature. We say we live in a civilized society, however, if Covid has taught me anything, it’s that we’re closer to “Mad Max” than we are “Star Trek.” I think deep down, we all want to dance with the Devil, even though we would be aghast and what we might discover about ourselves.
When you look back on your life, the last thing you want to have are regrets. Nobody wants to die with a bad case of FOMO. That’s the whole reason we have bucket lists. As I dissect my day to day life, I notice there’s a lot of… shit. Not “shit” as in “waste that needs to get flushed down a sewer” but “shit” as in “I do a lot of stuff, and do I do it because I want to, or is this just another manifestation of some form of self-harm? When I start going back into the office next spring, I have an hour commute each way to look forward to , followed by time spent with my partners and/or community matters to address literally every night of the week (To the people in my FetLife inbox, if you’re reading this, “Yes” I know you’re waiting for me to write back and “I’m sorry” my life is such a clusterfuck). Sleep, which is already a luxury, is going to become more so. Even as I write this it’s 12:30 on a Sunday night and I have to be up for work in six hours, drive my father to the doctor’s at noon, pick up cat food, go grocery shopping, and get in my three mile walk all before the sun goes down because I made a promise to my therapist.
For those of you who had the opportunity to read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in high school, you’ll know that the “monster” in the book is far different from what has been portrayed in television and movies. In fact, the term “monster” almost takes on a different meaning. Rather than being a creature of evil, it’s someone who is cast aside by society, has their intentions misunderstood, and finally acts out in a way that, while their actions are harmful, inspire feelings of pity rather than vengeance.
And so I sit here and I type, and I plan, and I wonder how my days, weeks, months, and years will play out. Am I good person inside? I am. I don’t question that. However, do these dark feelings that linger inside and my desire to explore them add value to me and those around me, or are they some unhealthy coping mechanism of some unknown, unresolved trauma? Honestly, I don’t know. What’s even scarier is that I don’t want to know, because that would tear away the allure of it all.
In that case…