I’ve never described myself as a masochist. Masochism implies a desire for pain that is pleasure in and of itself. But I don’t get wet from pain. It isn’t the smack of someone’s hand on my naked backside that gets me hot: it’s the dirtiness, the horniness. The fact that whacking me with the flat of his palm might make his dick hard. The pain itself is a by-product. To be endured, not enjoyed.
But sometimes endurance is the whole, miserable, masochistic point.
If you’re not into extreme BDSM or pain, this might not be the blog post for you.
Last night I dreamt of 100 lashes. With a thin, wet strip of cloth. Torn from a sheet and dunked in a bucket of ice-cold water, so each slick strap across my flesh bit as hard as it could. I dreamed my back was covered in a lattice of welts – a rainbow of reds and pinks and purples.
And I bit down on my tongue and refused to cry out.
I didn’t want it to stop: I wanted to endure.
The phrase ‘be kind to yourself’ is always meant well, and when people tell me to ‘be kind to myself’ usually it’s because… well… I’m not. It’s a suggestion that’s uttered gently, by friends, when I am not being kind to me. When I’m miserable and shitty and when every sentence begins and ends with a ‘sorry.’ When I live inside my own head, trapped in an emotional courtroom drama: justifying, defending, prosecuting and condemning every action I take.
Be kind to yourself.
I’m not very good at being kind to myself. I don’t like it. I like being able to apologise twelve times in one conversation because I spilled half your pint on the way back from the bar. I like adding ridiculous epithets like ‘you must hate me’ or ‘I’m so fucking awful’ or ‘I have been such a cunt.’ I like biting my lip until it hurts because I can’t remember if I emailed you on your birthday and something needs to happen to make me remember it next time.
I like burying my face in my hands in the bathroom and weeping until I am sick.
I tell myself off.
Liking myself requires effort and confidence. It’s brave. Hating myself is a thumb-sucking kind of comfort. A warm blanket that I hide under, because the harder I work at hating myself the less likely it is that someone can pop up and hate me in a new and surprising way.
Masochism does the same thing. It’s what I revert to when I’m lazy. When I need comfort.
When I want to be whipped raw and bloody as I bite my teeth till my jaw locks, eager to take just one more stroke of that thin, wet strap.
So you’ll see why when I talk about masochism, I don’t mean pain as pleasure: I mean pain as pain. Pain as a role-play of justice and retribution.
Pain that emulates the thumb-sucking comfort of a really really really self-hating apology. Pain is the easy joy of saying ‘I’m bad’, even though I know deep down I’m good, and I could argue my case if I had the time or energy. Pain is a simple, sweet alternative to the sustained and Herculean effort involved in asking for pleasure.
Pain is burning hot. Pain is focused. Pain says ‘you have to think about this now because it’s searing through your skin, and this pain – this comfort – will distract you from the other.’
The harsh smack of a thick leather belt on the back of my thighs.
Rough, vicious anal sex where you grip the hair at the back of my neck and call me a bitch when you pull me back onto you.
The humiliating slap of your palm against my face.
Your rough fingers burrowing into my cunt.
Your voice, not telling me ‘it’s OK’ or ‘sssh’ or ‘be kind to yourself’ but ‘fuck you’ and ‘bitch’ and ‘you deserve no better.’
I’m not a masochist. And nor do I really think I deserve to be beaten, or deserve to weep, or deserve to have you fuck me like I’m nothing. It’s just easier to be kind to myself when you’re the enemy I’m facing. Easier to be proud when I’m enduring pain I can’t control.
It’s not self-hate: it’s a weird kind of self-love.
That comforting dream of 100 lashes. That sting of wet cloth on the back of my thighs.