masochism and self harm

Calico, as usual, has spurred me into some thought about masochism, self-harm, and, of course, "Secretary", the movie that brought the two together.

I was a self harmer. I have never been a masochist. To me, one could easily be a precursor to the other, and I'll explain that in a moment. But, call it my martyr complex- when I take pain in a kinky session, it's because I want to be absolved of guilt or to prove I can do it, not because it's sexy for me.

I have self-harmed off and on since I was about 12 or so. It started as a vent- a way to release some steam when it seemed like things were too much for me. Then, it became a way to feel better, to reclaim my body and control in a way that kept others at a distance- I could cut my breasts and inner thighs, and yes, I felt blissful. It was painful, and unpleasant, but I felt in control of myself afterwards, focused, clear. Later it was because I felt like I couldn't speak what was in my head or heart- cutting was easier than telling someone how I felt who would then be apathetic to my pain.

When I discovered BDSM, I read a lot about being suffering and finding bliss within that suffering. Many of them took pain for the pleasure of their partners. I tried to find the erotic within that sort of pain- tried to blend it with sex and make it more enjoyable. But it never was- pain just hurt, and I resented those inflicting it on me.

It took me a while to realize this didn't mean I was a bad submissive, it just meant I wasn't a masochist, and that was ok. Later I realized that I enjoyed pain only if I was in control of it- and, to me, whether I was cutting my breasts or someone else was piercing them, the feeling of release and relief was the same. I began to realize that I didn't need to cut myself- I could use that desire for suffering and give myself over to someone who desired to give pain- I could channel that energy into something clear and powerful instead of hiding it away and being ashamed. I found myself able to ask for a severe flogging or a piercing ritual, and through that, the ability to scream and cry my way out of the dark hole I found myself in into relaxation, almost meditation.

Now, I guess one of the questions would be what constitutes self-harm. I suppose that cutting your flesh when you're not feeling great is self-harming. It's never been erotic for me. But it's been... freeing, I guess? So to me, it was self-harm, and I felt guilty about it, because OTHER people would see it that way, OTHER people would medicate me and tell me I was crazy. It wasn't what I thought at first, though I ended up feeling that way eventually.

Now, however, I begin to think that cutting was a way for me to inflict on myself the trials that people going through adolescence have gone through for centuries. It was a way for me to find who I was, in those flashes of clarity. It was a tunnel I felt I had to go through to come out the other side. And I wonder if there's a deeper, primal reason for people to do self-harming activities- this need to go through something difficult and painful, full of blood and sweat and tears, so we can realize our own humanity.

This whole idea will take a lot longer for me to put together, and I know there's a thesis in it somewhere. But I look at my small scars with a little bit of pride. Other people may judge me for that. But for me, I see it as a symbol of who I was, and the fact that they're healed, a symbol of who I've become.

Be the first to comment

Post a comment