BDSM Stigma or When family recommends sex therapy


Last night my mom was still harping about the online dating idea. She would not accept my excuses. Finally, I said I was not in a place to date. She wouldn’t let it go So, I told her I needed to figure out some things about myself. The first thing she asked was, “Are you gay?”

I said, “No.”

Her response? “Are you sure?” Hahaha. I did not mention is bi issue because I know she thinks non-heterosexual behavior is morally wrong. Sometimes she talks about how she is worried about my gay uncles’ souls (her brother and his partner).

However, she still wouldn’t give up, saying, “Now I’m worried.”

Since I give her plenty of other reasons to worry. I gave-in and said, “Do you remember the BDSM thing? …” Thankfully, I did not have to explain it to her. However, it was awkward. Her reaction hurt my feelings, but  it could have been a lot worse.

Last night I learned:

1. My mom does not think BDSM in inherently wrong.

Yay!

2. She associates sadism and masochism with antisocial personality disorder (aka sociopaths).

First, she questioned out loud whether I was a sociopath. She didn’t really consider it. After all, she has known me forever and knows, if anything, I have too much empathy. However the idea that she would even consider for a moment, that I lack empathy, along with all the other implications of anti-social personality disorder, because I identify as a masochist or submissive saddens me. If the woman with a PhD in clinical psychology, who has known me longer than anyone on Earth, associates BDSM with antisocial personality disorder and other stigma, so strongly that she reconsiders my personality make-up, how can I expect anyone to accept this? Granted, I don’t go around talking about this IRL. However, knowing there is a huge part of me that I can never reveal to others for fear of reprisal also makes me sad.

Also if she thinks so poorly of sadists, what can she possibly think of me?

3. She thinks masochism will kill me.

She told me a story of a man in our town who was convicted for something (obstruction of justice? involuntary manslaughter? I don’t know), after his wife died during breath play and he burned the house down to try to cover it up. I don’t know if this is the same couple my previous Dom warned me about. He never mentioned a fire to hide evidence. He said they were too afraid to go to the E.R. because of stigma and she died. It sounds like a different couple. Regardless, I don’t feel too bad for the guy, setting his house on fire was a stupid move that made him look guilty of murder. My mom associates sadomasochism with accidental death and sociopaths. She says sadism is a symptom of antisocial personality disorder and there are more “messed up” people in this community than in the general population. Therefore, she thinks either I will die in an accident, or I will meet up with a serial killer or abuser. I told her I am not an idiot I know to meet people in public places and tell someone who I am meeting and where. She replied, “Great, so we know where to start looking for your body. That is comforting.” Also, she seems to forget that I’m not exactly the picture of mental health. If I don’t want someone who is “messed up”, why would anyone want me?! As far as accidents, yes sadomasochism can be dangerous, but well-informed people can take precautions.

4. She doesn’t seem to understand that sadism does not equal masochism.

Damn you Freud! There are masochists without any sadistic tendencies.

5. She thinks it is a learned behavior and it can be unlearned.

I’m not sure about this. I did a few hours of research and it seems man masochists do not know of their proclivities until young adulthood. Where the hell did 5 year old me learn such things?! Since it began so young for me, I tend to think it is inborn. I asked why she thought it needed therapy, if she thought there was nothing wrong with it. She explained her fears about the difficulty of finding a kind, mentally healthy life partner.

Since she believes finding a good husband would be more difficult in the BDSM world and BDSM is prone to accidental death, she thinks if I can chose not to be another way, I should because BDSM invites trouble. She suggested vanilla dating and then more therapy if I find vanilla is not for me.

6. She believes I have an abnormally high pain threshold. Therefore, it makes sense to her that “normal” sensation may not appeal to me.

Yes, I agree.

7. She thinks I should date 24+ vanilla men and see if I am capable of non-kinky arousal.

She thinks I have not had a enough vanilla experience to know that I’m really not aroused by vanilla things. She is correct, most of my experience has been kinky. It still seems dishonest to get into a relationship purely to explore. She thinks I need to try becoming emotionally attached to vanilla dates and see if physical intimacy has a spark when I care about someone. I see her point here. Yet, it seems like a lot of work. She pointed out that people break-up all the time, just because I may break-up with someone because of this doesn’t make it unfair to them. Essentially, she suggests the opposite of my commenters suggest, instead of exploring more kink, she thinks I should try to ignore it and explore vanilla. I’m not sure why, but her idea gives me a negative feeling, while the opposite does not.

She insists she sees nothing wrong with BDSM on its face, but she also thinks I should get therapy to fix this if I try more vanilla things and nothing works.

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BDSM: It’s not about the pain; it’s about trust. Right?!


“It’s not about the pain; it’s about trust.” – Echo in Dollhouse s01e09

This is true. It might be a little about the pain. 😉 However, for me, BDSM is about so much more than pain. It is about trust. Giving myself over to someone without reservation is beautiful. Unlike some who call themselves masochists, I do not crave pain, except when I’m very upset as a distraction. Pain as a distracting coping mechanism is not related to BDSM. In general, I don’t like pain. I want it to stop. However, I thrive on pleasing people. I always did. Through masochism, I can give someone a type of pleasure that not many would endure willingly. Through withstanding pain, I show submission and putting someone else before myself. As I said, I do not enjoy the pain. I do not get off on it. I struggle and beg. Yet, when it is over, once I recover, I want more. I like bruises. They’re physical proof of my strength, of my willingness to serve. They can excite me.

Furthermore, pain is inextricably linked to submission. I don’t know how that happened, but it did. Without pain, it feels like a role in a play; it feels like an act.

In order to let someone have that much control over me (I.e., restraints I truly can’t get out of on my own), I must trust them with my life…literally. Once bound, I am s.o.l. if they decide to go past my boundaries. That type of power exchange makes me feel safe, like I’m enveloped in a warm cocoon. I believe this is because of the high level of trust necessary. If I trust them as much as I need in order to put myself at their mercy, I cannot help but feel safe with a collar around my neck.

My favorite female characters confounded me for a while. (Cara from Legend of the Seeker, Echo from Dollhouse, Max from Dark Angel, Sydney Bristow from Alias) If I identified as submissive, why were my favorite characters the strong, self-reliant ones, who often ignored authority? Then I realized, this isn’t about laziness and wanting someone to control my every move so I didn’t have to think. It isn’t about wanting someone to take care of me and it isn’t about weakness. I value self-sufficiency and internal fortitude, in myself and others. This dynamic is about a self-sufficient, whole human being trusting someone, loving someone, enough to give that person control. The only person I could turn myself over to is someone who I knew held my best interest at heart. If my arms are going numb and I signal to them, they will listen and fix the problem to prevent nerve damage, as opposed to continuing their work for their own gratitude.

In turn, that magnitude of trust forms a deeper bond than most relationships. Moreover, trust generates feelings of security, peace, and happiness.

Are those feelings possible in vanilla relationships? Sure. However, my experience is BDSM fosters trust and openness on different playing field, faster than other relationships. It is inevitable. To be safe, you have to talk about everything going on inside you physically and emotionally.

I know there are people out there who use this lifestyle as a smoke-screen for abuse. That is awful. I have been very fortunate to be with people who respect my wishes and value my well-being above their own happiness.

If BDSM is so great, why do I have so much trouble accepting it? Well, I think there are some great aspects to it, but I also fear I have ulterior motives like self-harm. I don’t know how to suss out where genuine kinks begin and self-hate begins. I wish I knew. I don’t know what I’ll do if I decide kinky cannot be healthy for me. Also, for some reason, I feel guilty about it all.

I feel weird that the only time I find pleasure in intimacy is with BDSM trappings. I’m afraid that means something is wrong with me, that I’m not normal. Maybe if I find the right person, pain and submission won’t matter. Who knows. What if this dynamic is all I ever feel comfortable with AND it is unhealthy? I just don’t know. I also don’t know how to go about exploring these things. It feels unfair to experiment with someone. I couldn’t see myself with a vanilla person. Therefore, I’d be exploring the vanilla side of life with another kinky person. Yet, what happens if at some point, I decide BDSM is no healthy for me? What if I realize all these thoughts about pain and trust are simply rationalizations to mask self-loathing? What if it is all about the pain because I think I deserve punishment? I guess I break-up. That sounds simple, but it is not simple for me. I may be young, but I do not take intimacy lightly. I would feel dishonest going in to a relationship to explore non-kinkiness with a kinky person. Dishonesty would destroy the needed trust, making me feel unsafe. Do you see the problem?

I suppose to the solution is to develop a more relaxed view of sex. I doubt that will happen. *sigh*

If anyone is reading this, do I make sense at all? My own mind confuses me; therefore I imagine others would find it convoluted as well.