“You acknowledge the trauma as your teacher, and thank it as the unique lesson your Soul devised for you in this lifetime as a strategy for calling out your best and highest faculties. This is no easy task. You might feel bewildered and resentful, yet your subconscious mind is eager to re-claim this aspect of your lost power and re-integrate it. Ask yourself what gifts the trauma has given you, and why it was necessary for you to receive them. Your Soul knows the answers to these questions.”
I live in the space in between the crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs and the glimpse I catch of potential on the horizon. It could be better; it might be better; hello, look, here I am better for a little while; but look again, here I am crumbled, it doesn’t ever last long.
It is the aftermath. The recovering from the betrayal pain trauma that has never healed. My life is the aftermath, the need for rest and regeneration and healing and pause and allowing myself to feel into the extent of it so that I can actually take the path into the new way of being.
But underneath that: more grief. More loss. The pain so deep the offerings of transformation and nourishment aren’t even visible. Look away, look away, I don’t even trust them.
And underneath that: watching watching watching everything. Observing everything. Making everything into a story that is either true or untrue. This serves me well; often my skills of emotional and psychological insight are greater than those around me, and they learn and are grateful for the insight. But it can become compulsive. I can’t stop seeing every little detail that is wrong wrong wrong. I can’t stop listing every infraction. I can’t stop noticing all the things that should not be the way they are.
Sometimes, when the ghosts come, it is impossible to be awake in the present moment. All there is is indecisiveness, restlessness, carelessness, and a lost path. There is no here/now. There is no building of stability because why? Stability is lost and will surely never be found.
Way down deep in the bottom of it all, I am untrustworthy. I do not trust myself.
In my highest of high selves, connection can pull me out of it. The spark of new love. The spark of insight about being in relationship with myself, with the living earth. Fueling each other, asking each other to share our lives. The mirroring that can happen. The deep feeling of being understood. The deep feeling of life meaning something, because it can be shared and others can witness and feel seen and understood, too.
And when I can get out of my own way, I can see where I am going: king of my own passion. King of my own emotions. King of my own sovereign kingdom. I know where the boundaries are, and I know how to keep them. I know my own strength and I’m not afraid to use it. I have control, mastery. I know my limits. I know how to take my seat and not give it up, to hold my ground and be willing to fight to keep it. I know my worth. I trust my worth.
I trust that I will be okay, regardless of what happens around me.
I can say no, I’m sorry, that just isn’t right, and I’m going to remove myself from that situation. I can say yes, that is the right thing for me. Yes, that is where I am going. Yes, I have a vision I have values I have goals I have experiments to do, and I’m going to do them, they are all in alignment, they are working together harmoniously. Oh, there is something wrong? Totally cool, tell me the details and we will work out a solution.
I will not take things so personally. I will not identify so deeply with the pain, anguish, suffering.
When I can resurrect what has been taken from me, what trauma has strangled and left bleeding, I can get back to my own trust. I can trust my own proprietary experiences. I will build my own stability, a fertile ground where I can grow into the person I have always wanted to spend my life with.
She fingered the teacup at the sink. Hands wet, dishes stacked waiting, overhead light off but the light under the cabinets on which made for dramatic shadows and underbelly.
The teacup was her grandmother’s. Used to be. She didn’t put it in the sink anymore because of the porcelain on porcelain danger. The sliver of gold around the rim and edge of the saucer were still the ring she loved most, even since the one on her finger. Her lips touched it and she was kissing like King Midas was touching, she was drinking like the sorceress at the waterfall. The way it balanced in between her fingers felt like a fine Japanese knife, like a feather compared to a cairn of rocks, like the sacrum loose in the pelvis.
The rest of it was white. It still held it’s gleam, though it could use a deep polish by one of those harsher chemicals. The glass of the glaze was still diligently strong, protecting everything after all these years, protecting hot sweet poured flow like a mountain cradles the lava.
She used to beg her grandmother to get it down from the high glass shelf of the cabinet and let her hold it. Gently, gently, with two hands, only when she was sitting on her bottom, only when her hands were clean and steady. She learned to keep her hands clean and steady. Learned to ask the way her grandmother wanted to hear. Learned to remember the settled feeling in her belly even when it wasn’t in her hand.
The hairline crack was still visible. He fixed the break, the fracture that separated it into half-moons, splitting into duality, no longer whole. He was as precise as she was. He researched how to repair fine porcelain on youtube. He had tears in his eyes as he mixed the chemicals to make the sealant, and again when he smoothed the outside until she couldn’t even feel it with her fingertips. He presented it to her again. He gave it back to her. He as much as raised it in both hands on bended knee.
There was nothing to do but go forward. She cradled it in both hands, careful not to have too much soap. It was reparable, she told herself. The sealant was made from gold, too. A fine river-shape down the side where her thumb sat. It was stronger than it had ever been before. But she knew the line was there. She will always know it is there. And someday it will be more beautiful than it was before.
Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few questions—both in the Submissive Playground course and in the Ask Me Anything box—concerning kink, trauma, and wellness, particularly about psychological kink play like D/s and Daddy/girl dynamics and whether or not they are “good” for you.
After my own recent experience of a D/s Daddy/girl relationship dynamic “going sour,” as I’ve been phrasing it, I have many of my own questions about the ways that these dynamics can contribute to emotional or psychological damage, can play into our past hurts or traumas, and/or can cause further harm.
I do deeply believe that D/s and other psychological kink play can be healthy, but like any relationship, can also be profoundly unhealthy. It’s not the dynamic that determines that health or damage so much as it’s the relationship—and a thousand other factors.
(Even categorizing relationships as “healthy” or “unhealthy” is oversimplified, since I think no relationship is entirely “healthy” or “unhealthy” all the time.)
I realized I needed some other expert opinions on kink and wellness, so I have been reaching out to some of the mental health practitioners that I know who are kink-friendly and knowledgeable.
This is my first interview so far, with Dr. Matt Goldenberg in Seattle. He and I have been friends for more than 10 years, and I am really grateful to know him and have access to his smart brain!
A couple of the resources we mention in the interview:
- Kink Aware Professionals directory includes many professionals, not exclusively psychologists and therapists
- “Justine’s List” – FetLifer Referrals to BDSM aware & Kink-friendly helping professionals – Therapist, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, doctor, body-worker, lawyer, legal office, medical practitioner, health, insurance, family & probate, marital – on Fetlife.com
- Essay on finding a suitable therapist, in the Justine’s List group on Fetlife
As I’ve been pondering, and through this interview, this is what I’ve been thinking:
- I don’t believe any particular act is inherently healthy or unhealthy (except perhaps illegal ones, or ones deemed “morally wrong” by the community at large, which are generally things like non-consent)
- The same act can be “healthy” and feel great for some people and be “unhealthy” and feel bad for other people, and the same act for the same people at different times could feel healthy or unhealthy depending on the circumstances.
- The biggest indicators of “unhealthy” scenes or moments in kink are feelings. If things aren’t feeling right, they probably aren’t.
But I still have a lot of questions, like:
- It is my belief that no fantasy is inherently wrong, and that playing with deep psychological triggers can sometimes be incredibly healing. What to you is the relationship between mental wellness and the practice of kink?
- How do you know if the kind of kink you’re practicing is contributing to your compulsions or damage, rather than healing it?
- What are the signs that one should watch for that may indicate someone is in a “danger zone”, playing with things they perhaps shouldn’t be?
As I delve deeper into psychological kink play, the nuances of it are increasingly interesting for me … This may be the beginning of a larger project.
I have a few more psychologists and therapists to conduct interviews with already. Do you have any suggestions for mental health practitioners who are knowledgeable about kink (they don’t have to be kinky themselves, but some knowledge is important), and who may want to talk to me? Have them get in touch, or send an email introducing us: [email protected]
Do you have other psychological kink and wellness questions? Ask me here in the comments, and who knows, I may ask your question in the next interview.