I had a very cathartic moment the other night. My husband and I were watching a recorded episode of Masters of Sex, and for those of you who have not seen this fantastic series, I highly recommend it. The writing and performances are incredible…and the way the program tackles the subject of sex and sexuality is profound. Plus Lizzie Caplan is just all kinds of awesome…
In this particular episode, Virginia Johnson was assisting a patient with vaginismus…or, the female version of impotency. She was having an inability to be comfortably penetrated, all due to the trauma and shame she incurred around a series of traumatic sexual experiences in her childhood. I won’t go into detail about what happened, but let’s just say that the writing and the acting was incredibly powerful. And in this particular scene, the woman was sharing with Ms. Johnson all of the personal conclusions she had made about herself as a result of this sexual dysfunction. As a man who went through my own series of sexual traumas and abuse in my childhood….needless to say, a button (rather a keyboard) was pressed. And in that moment we handled it…let it move through me…looked at it for what it was, and moved on.
But I got to thinking after about what opened up for me as a result of watching this powerful scene, and reflecting over the years about my feelings on sex. Yes as a leatherman and kink educator I am very vocal about the importance of maintaining the sexuality in what it is that we do. It’s fun and it can be very powerful. It’s a large component of who we are in leather and kink. But with that, I’ve had a great mythology about what sex ‘means’ to me. And it’s been a meaning that isn’t true I’m discovering.
If you’ve read my post called Wounds, or simply listened to my podcasts, you are familiar with the sexual abuse I experiences as a child. And there are many of us in the kink world that sadly have this experience in their pasts. With proper help and guidance, and a certain amount of courage, one can evolve from the grip that these traumas create. Inevitably, because BDSM and kink play require a large amount of trust and relinquishing control, there are going to be triggers from the past that are going to be scary or disabling in some way. The trick is to identify them. And learn to not let the wounds hurt as much. Personally, I don’t believe they truly go away. In my case, there were three perpetrators over the course of my life from age 8 to 17. And all three of them had something in common. The first was a caregiver – my father, and as a child I turned to him for protection and love, especially because visiting him was an escape from the physical and emotional abuse from living with my Mom and stepfather. But in order to receive that love and protection, I had to do my part to make him feel ‘fulfilled’. During that time there was also a teenager who lived up the street…and when things were bad at home I could go hang out with him. He had lots of fun projects like forts and things…and yes he was quite a few years older, but he was really the only friend I had and I definitely needed one. He too, abused me sexually. And did some very twisted things. All of these I was willing to put up with, just to get that feeling of security and acceptance by this ‘friend’. Years later, I went off to boarding school, and had to deal with the isolation of being a freshman. The beginning of the teenage years was awkward for me like it is for many, so I sought the help of the school counselor, who lived on the campus. Sadly, he too molested me frequently. And constantly assured me that all I told him was private and that I could ‘trust’ him. Well, I was hurting so much and wanting so much to be accepted by others…that I allowed him to do these things to me to get his help and guidance. Eventually though, I reported him and he was fired from the school.
I didn’t see it before I watched this Masters of Sex episode. But in all three of these cases, I formed the false belief that I HAD to bring someone else pleasure and sexual gratification in order to receive love, care, security and protection in return. In other words, I created this sexual myth, that SEX leads to SECURITY.
It’s funny how much this statement has permeated my life experience over the years! I can remember when I would first go to leather or kink events, and knowledge of my play abilities would become known and suddenly I would get all kinds of requests for me to tie people up, or make them a pup, etc. And I would let my ‘dance card’ get packed with these playdates…because subconsciously I believed that this would lead to my being liked, accepted, even loved. And in many of the cases, what would happen is the play would ensue…the orgasm or catharsis would be reached…and then the person would thank me and be off to the next dance! And I would feel incredibly empty and exhausted by the end of the weekend.
I can remember situations in the past where I would be with a boy…or even a Sir….and a play offer would come from another source for them to embark in. And my jealousy would be so strong that I would want to vomit. Even when I was part of a leather family, I can remember moments when I knew my Sir was playing with my leather brother…..and I would feel incredibly scared and sick. And it makes perfect sense….I was believing that my supposed ‘security’ was being lost. And I wouldn’t be cared for or protected.
Sex…especially kinky sex….is awesome. It can drive you absolutely wild with joy, make you have physically convulsive moments so filled with pleasure that you can barely talk afterwards. It’s a very profound act and it’s meant to be fun and enjoyable. But we have to remember…I have to remember…that it is just that. Sex. Call it spiritual, call it love-making, or simply call it and high-endorphin hormonal power exchange. It’s still simply SEX. And we can free ourselves up to enjoy it more and our relationship with it when we make ourselves aware of what SEX ISN’T. If you have equated some powerful words with sexual exchange as I have over the years….you may be hindering your own growth and enjoyment of it. I certainly have.
One thing I never stop embracing is my humble evolution and growth as a kinkster, leatherman, and above all a human being. The path of BDSM is crazy to begin with and I don’t think the insanity ever truly stops. But the rewards that come as a result of opening up your trust to others and your willingness to put your ego aside can lead to some amazing self-discovery. I certainly have realized this in the last 48 hours. Hopefully in my sharing this, I can help some of you with an equally amazing breakthrough.
Thank you for reading 🙂