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Healing and Sadism

November 15, 2008

I realized I’ve been neglecting part of my kink. A big part. This is probably because of my excitement at being able to explore/blab about my sadism outside of the maximum-security portions of my brain.

My kinky fantasies have, from a very early age, followed a certain formula.

  1. Man gets the shit beaten out of him.
  2. Man gets tied/chained up.
  3. Man is rescued by woman.
  4. Woman nurses man back to health, which is often a very painful process.
  5. Often, man gets recaptured and gets the shit beaten out of him again.
  6. Woman rescues man again.
  7. Recovery is painful.

Of course, since it was my fantasy, I got to be the bad-guy AND the rescuer, and therefore got to experience both sides. In my childish brain, which did not yet know the word sado-masochism, the fact that I rescued then took care of the imaginary victim after he got the living tar whipped out of him made it okay. When I was at war with myself about my sadism, I over-emphasized the healing part of the fantasy, trying to convince myself that the elaborate scenarios of torture and emotional breakings were all a set-up so I could imaginarily take care of him. I called it my “mother-complex,” which was really just another elaborate ruse to fool myself because as I grew older I became increasingly frightened of the fact that I was sexually aroused by my fantasies. That was bad, that was wrong, that was sick, etc. I was fucking terrified, and in oh-so-much denial.

The end result of all this was that I kink almost as much on my imaginary victims getting well again as I do having them scream and beg and bleed. Luckily for me, BDSM has aftercare built right in.

The healing aspect of my scenarios was the one that manifested itself in real life, since it was infinitely more socially acceptable. I’m pretty obsessed with Being Prepared, and walk around with a first-aid kit wherever I go (in the vain hope that I can save some bleeding person). I’m always the one with the extra bug spray, sufficient quantities of water, an extra bag, and a pound of safety pins all ready to take out in case someone needs them.

Someone once told me in vanilla-land as I described my obsessive preparedness, “You know, being prepared is an excellent way to be in control. And no one ever notices. It’s, ‘Oh, do you need an umbrella? Why I have one right here… Handwipes? Here you go.’ People will start to stick closer to you, depend on you.”

I fumed at him, because he was oh-so-right.

Being able to meet people’s needs is often viewed as a subordinate role, but it’s also an excellent way to remain in control. And this is going to sound very un-dommy of me, but I like to meet people’s needs. I like to be that good. I like to take care of people, even if it means tying them to the bed to keep them from going out in the pouring rain with a fever. Whoops. I just went somewhere else with that.

In my fantasies, when I’m taking care of imaginary victim, I’m doing all the work, meeting all the needs, doing all the healing and holding with endless, god-like patience, but those are fantasies. I’ve been in relationships where I felt it was an opportunity for me to express that part of myself, and what ended up happening is that I was always meeting the other person’s needs but they were never meeting mine. Admittedly I didn’t know what my needs were (it turns out it’s hitting people and telling them what to do. Go figure), but I knew I didn’t like always giving and never being able to take. In my fantasies I can give-give-give, but in reality I want give-take-give-take.

Enter my revelation that I am a sadist and that’s okay. Just to choose a random example, much as I adore the idea of denying a man orgasms and all the antsy-distraction-frustration-begging-fear-pain that goes along with it, what I love even more is the idea of giving a man many, amazing, multiple orgasms that leave him stuttering (but now my entire concept of orgasm is fucked, so I don’t even know if they’ll be good). Not just because it’s a beautiful to see someone else in pleasure, but because being able to pleasure someone, to meet their sexual needs, is an astounding form of control. And I like being in control. I might deny a man orgasm for a month, but afterward I’ll probably spend an entire day (week?) blowing him.

I had an incredibly traumatic and entirely unexpected conversation about my sadism with one of my best friends yesterday. This was the first person I came out to, a good three months ago, and we’ve had conversations about how I was learning rope bondage and other skills, and yesterday she told me she didn’t know who I was anymore, that my existence terrified her and was like finding out that the bogey-man really did live under the bed, that she didn’t believe that I could be a sadist and still want to help people by teaching them how to grow their own food and have access to clean water, and that this might mean the end of our friendship. This from a self-proclaimed sado-masochist who speaks favorably and often of making people bleed and reads the heaviest sado-masochistic literature I have ever seen, from someone who has accepted me through all my many faults and mistakes, who I have taken care of through sickness and drunkenness, who has supported me through the end of my romantic relationships and the strain of my relationship with my family, who I have taken shit from and for. Suddenly, I am too much for her to bear.

She compared me to Unit 731. That hurt.

The long and short of it is that I needed to escape yesterday, so I found a library that rented movies for free, and picked up a couple of Hayao Miyazaki films. Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are two of my all-time favorite stories, and as far as I’m concerned as perfect as cinema gets.

There’s a scene in Princess Mononoke, where one of the characters has just been healed after being horribly wounded, and he’s too weak to chew a strip of meat to gain his strength back. So another character chews up the meat and feeds it to him with her mouth, like mother wolves to cubs, or mama birds to chicks. The day before she was trying to kill him after he took a bullet in the chest to save her life. After a moment he just starts crying. It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen in any story-telling medium, and one that’s resonated with me since the first time I saw it.

There’s another scene from Spirited Away, where the heroine is trying to save her friend. He’s gushing blood at the mouth, ripped and poisoned from the inside, and at the moment he’s a crazed twenty-foot long dragon. She pries his mouth open and sticks her skinny arm past his three inch fangs to force medicine down his throat, and then clamps his muzzle closed with her entire body as he thrashes.

Watching those stories while I was trying to get away from everything for a while made me remember that sadism and healing, and the idea that sometimes healing hurts, are irrevocably entwined in my head. Exploring dominance in the context of kink introduced me to the idea that that the “focus” is on meeting my needs. As someone who has come out of a lot of relationships always meeting the other person’s needs and never having hers met, this is a very novel, seductive idea. But neat as it sounds, and as much as I want to have my needs met, I get off just as much on providing for the needs of others. Which is why I have this fantasy of someday being with someone (or someones) where he’s focused on meeting my needs, and I’m focused on meeting his needs, and it’s this happy feedback loop. Who knows if that’ll happen. It’s a fantasy.

Which I guess means adding herbalism to my skill to-do list.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. devastatingyet permalink
    November 15, 2008 6:23 am

    I love those movies too, especially Spirited Away. (I also have a really strong fondness for My Neighbor Totoro, though it doesn’t have any intense moments like that.)

    I don’t think of myself as having a sadism/healing cycle thing going, but I do get off on the nurturing aspect. It is why (and really the only reason why) I like medical play – putting needles in someone is a perfect occasion for sort of feeling and acting like you’re hurting them for their own good, but you want to help them through it. I don’t mean roleplay, but just kind of how you present yourself.

    As a kid, I often pretended my stuffed animals lived in an orphanage run by a cruel abuser – like Annie did, I guess – and then I would adopt and save them. Naturally I played both the cruel orphanage lady and the kind mommy.

  2. November 15, 2008 8:12 am

    You? And this? Have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

    And honestly, the fact that your friend made that comparison makes me sick. And, it makes me angry.

    Sorry, I was trying to make an intelligent comment on the rest of this post, but I got stuck there and it was too infuriating to go forward.

  3. ranat permalink
    November 15, 2008 5:46 pm

    @devastatingyet – My Neighbor Totoro is also excellent, I agree.

    Yeah, “hurting them for their own good” is an awesome fantasy concept for me. I hadn’t thought of medical play in that context… hmm…

    Hah, I’m totally with you on stuffed-animal orphanage. I grew up in a slave culture (something I’ll talk about in another post), and even though it was beaten into our heads that slavery was badwrongimmoral I still developed a guilty fascination with it. In my day dreams I would be the “good” slave owner who would go and buy the slaves from the cruel master and free them and take care of everyone.

  4. ranat permalink
    November 15, 2008 5:52 pm

    @Eileen – I’m still pretty shocked-numb-infuriated-confounded over it myself. I think about it, and I’m just like, “How did this even happen?” It just seems so impossible that I could have had that conversation with someone who has always identified as a sado-masochist, who reads stuff rife with pain and blood and chains, who I’m so fucking close to. It blows my mind. I have no idea what’s going to become of that.

  5. devastatingyet permalink
    November 16, 2008 12:54 am

    It is rather mind-boggling. Maybe your “friend” has some unresolved self-hatred issues over the sado-masochism and is taking them out on you.

  6. ranat permalink
    November 16, 2008 3:15 am

    It’s a very real possibility, but I can’t know for sure. I feel like I can’t make any assumptions at this point, even reasonable or logical ones.

  7. August 22, 2010 2:24 pm

    Have you ever read Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents? It’s sad and frightening and oddly titillating at the same time – and entwines both taking care of and hurting the people you’re with.

    I also have felt the touch of Miayzaki. If you haven’t already, you should also see the Nausicae of the valley of the wind. Like always, powerful young female character saves everyone willing to sacrifice herself to do it.

  8. ranat permalink*
    August 22, 2010 4:44 pm

    Octavia E. Butler is one of my favorite authors of all time. But I was never able to finish Parable of the Sower (at the time, it just wasn’t speaking to me), and I haven’t read Parable of the Talents. But the Xenogenesis trilogy. OMG. Polyamorous aliens and braingasms. Highly recommend it.

  9. August 22, 2010 7:08 pm

    Ha! You know what. I’ve read Xenogenesis over and over, and over and over and over again. I read it like every three years or so. And I never thought there was anything… pecualiar with it. But I really loved the Parable of the Sower. The next book on the series was somewhat more… bleak. Then again the Bad Seed or what was it called was just awful.

  10. ranat permalink*
    August 22, 2010 9:48 pm

    I might have to check the Parable series out again. There’s still a few things of hers I haven’t read.


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