I have a few different ideas about pain. Of course, not all pain is equal and circumstances matter a great deal, but that is another post.
This video contains fictional examples of some of my thoughts about pain. The clips are from V for Vendetta and Legend of the Seeker. If you’d rather not watch it, I’m also going to list them and explain the ideas in the post.
1. Pain gives us pride. This is a large aspect for me. I am proud of the amount of pain I can endure. I look at bruises or other marks, lightly touching them to make my nerves dance, and smile because I see proof of my inner strength.
2. Pain makes us powerful. I feel pride because of this power. Withstanding pain makes me powerful because the more pain I willingly endure, the less anyone or anything can truly hurt me. I am powerful because blows glance off me.
3. Pain teaches us control. Biting back a scream, forcing my body to remain still as the whip mars my flesh, or resisting the urge the cry, enables self-control. Sometimes I may not be able to control my emotions, but this helps. It gives me a measure of control that few people can match without drugs. If I can master my body, I can master my emotions.
4. Pain makes us resilient. Withstanding brutal bodily assault means lesser hurts, physical and emotional, are like minor annoyances. Once you’ve been though hell, everything else seems inconsequential.
5. Pain clarifies what is important to us. Taking yourself to the edge brings clarity. What are you willing to endure torture for? An ideal, such as honesty? Your life? Someone else’s life? It may even give you a will to live. Pain shows us there is more to life; it opens our eyes. What are we willing to sacrifice? What means more than our life?
6. Pain takes away our fear. This is the same idea as resilience. Once you’ve shown the limits of your will, there is nothing more to fear in this life.
7. Pain reveals our true selves. It strips away the veneer, the masks we put on, the image we try to project… It takes us to our base self. It shows who we really are without the trappings we live with.
8. Pain bonds us. Pain not only bonds a couple engaging in S&M, it also bonds us to others. Pain creates a new depth of intimacy. The trust and faith required to submit wholly to another person is unparalleled. This is how masochism is sexual for me. Pain has all these functions, but this one is purely about connecting with your partner on a new level. I am capable of strong, loving emotional connections, but pain brings something new to the equation. Yet, it also deepens our empathy towards everyone because pain is something all people experience.
9. Pain is transformative. Through all these ways, pain transforms our being. Once we have this knowledge of ourselves, once we are purified through the fire, we emerge as new people.
But if pain is transformative than why would someone need more than one intense scene in their life?
Because we can always become stronger, more self-controlled, more powerful, more centered. Furthermore, pain has value in the moment.
10. Pain overwhelms the brain and blissfully obliterates emotion. Sad? Angry? Hurt? Lonely? You don’t have to be. Maybe it isn’t the healthiest way to deal with emotion, but it works. I don’t have to feel. I don’t have to scream at someone in anger. All I have to do is get rid of the emotion with another sensation. That is why I self-injure. It has nothing to do with sex. I’m not saying anger does not have a place. All emotions have a time and a place; confrontation is sometimes necessary to. You have to be able to express your needs within any relationship. Needs and wants and emotional reactions are normal. It is good to be able to talk about your feelings. Otherwise you can’t have a relationship because relationships, even D/s relationships, are two-sided. A sub or slave is not a doormat, he or she has wants, needs, and feelings just like any other human being. However, some people, submissive or masochistic or none of the above, have emotional reactions that they know are disproportionate or irrational. Sometimes those emotions have nothing to do with a legitimate want or need, they just spring up and engulf someone. In those cases, when there is no need that must be met or underlying root, and the emotion causes so much turmoil that it threatens to overwhelm the person, using pain to slay the beast makes perfect sense.
11. Pain sates the darkness. As Goodkind eloquently put it,
“The pillows were stained with her blood. It had been a long night of rare sensations experienced.
She knew she was evil, and deserved to be violated in such a brutal fashion. She could offer no moral objection to it; even in the terrible things he did to her, Jagang was nowhere near as corrupt as she. Jagang erred in simple matters of the flesh, and that could only be expected – all people were corrupt in the flesh – but because of her indifference to the suffering around her, she failed in matters of the spirit. That, she knew, was pure evil. That was why she deserved to suffer whatever he did to her. For the moment, that deep dark place within came close to being sated.” P. 420-421 of Faith of the Fallen
Clearly, self-hate reigns here. This aspect is probably the most dangerous and unhealthy part. However, as long as the self-hate exists, it is safer to satisfy the demon within through pain from someone else’s hand than one’s own. Otherwise, the feelings of self-loathing may become overwhelming and awful things like suicidal ideation can result. Obviously, you have to pick a partner who cares about your wellbeing more than you do. If you chose a sociopath, you may be no safer than in your own hands. For me, submission fulfills this to. Serving someone else give me a purpose. Subjugation feels like something I deserve. It feels right and proper. Just like pain, submission has many other facets like showing love. However, that is for another post.