I guess I knew I enjoyed pain when he slapped me in the face so hard that I felt it in my teeth for days later.
I held my cheek to revisit the throbbing, hoping somebody would slap it again. Secretly, throughout the day, I would sit at my desk in a quiet office job in Manhattan and touch the soft area and feel the tingle and pulsing, remembering the thrill and exhilaration of the last ritual I had undergone. No one else is involved -- even when they obviously are.
I wouldn't say that I am addicted to pain. I don't need it every minute of every day. I have been addicted to other things. This is not the same. I just simply thoroughly enjoy the feeling of pain, and I want to know where I can get more.
I sound like a junkie.
I swear, I'm not.
Armchair psychologists -- or, um, my own psychologist -- might say it makes me feel "alive" or that I like it because it makes me feel powerless because I am a powerful person and that I love feeling like a "bad girl," but all of that would be a lie. I really just enjoy the feeling of intense, no-holds-barred, I'm-standing-at-the-edge-of-tears pain. And all I can think about right now is: How can I find more?
It's not like having a sugar craving. Or a desire to get wasted. I can't go to the bodega or corner bar and get a really sharp whipping on my ankles. Well, I live in New York, so I'm sure there is a bodega somewhere. But that's really not the point.
Because, of course, it's sexual. It happens when you are naked, splayed on a bed (or something) and your flesh is really the only thing there, and you can either feel ecstasy or pain. I prefer to feel both -- in that for me, they are one in the same. Why? Because they're both a means to an end. They're intrinsically linked. They're both extreme. It's the height of human feeling all wrapped into one. An orgasm wrapped in an orgasm.
Sometimes I wish I was stupid and so boundaryless that I could find my cravings fulfilled by playing the odds on Craigslist and getting "casually" involved in intricate, involved, dungeon-style S&M games with strangers.
But I'm not. I do have some boundaries and people are fucking crazy. Sociopaths do exist. I'm not "subconsciously suicidal" or secretly wanting to be hurt beyond repair. I just crave the quite honestly indescribable euphoria that accompanies well-done sexual submission.
I have no desire to let just anybody render me completely helpless and say to them, "Now is when you start hitting me." That's not my style. I'm a pretty cautious person, and I don't want to end up on the cover of The Post with a headline reporting the untimely death of the "Pain Princess" who was just looking for a good time and ended up hanging from the rafters of a random warehouse in Queens with her feet cut off because, OOPS, things went a little too far. I am not looking for Mr. Goodbar. This is the unfortunate reality of what I'm dealing with. Though there are plenty of people who understand the regulated delivery of pain, there are definitely psychos out there who hate women, who don't respect safewords and are not neatly labeled with "MURDERER" on their chests.
I would like to think that the danger is the appeal. Because that would make sense. That maybe I like the pain because I am looking for an adventure or something more than just the shitty boring sex I'm having now -- and that once I find someone I really love I won't need this part of me. But honestly, this has nothing to do with love. It has nothing to do with emotions. It has nothing to do with rational thought. It has to do with pain -- and my deep, almost irrational, head-over-heels love for it. Though I may not find love any time soon, I do know that after a good beating, when I can't sit and I can't wear shorts because the welts on my legs are not conversation starters I'd like to introduce to anybody, these are some of my most satisfied days.
Why? Maybe it's the beauty of my power of regeneration. Maybe it's showing myself that I can take it. Maybe it's uncovering strength inside myself I never even knew that I had. Maybe it's the thrill of being taken to the edge of no return and seeing the true extent of my power to do whatever the fuck I want -- with my own body, my own choices, my own movie.
I do love myself. I don't think that these preferences are created by a deep-seated hatred of myself because I was molested as a child (I wasn't, for the record and the only reason I make this assumption is that when I confessed these feelings to a close friend the immediate follow-up question was, "Were you abused?"). I have not completely figured out why I need this part of me to be satisfied.
All I know is that I enjoy it. I really do. "Enjoy" doesn't even do it justice.
The dilemma is that physical pain is something that is so difficult to divorce from notions of evil. The fear of hurting someone else is natural and good, but to want to feel pain does not a crazy bitch make. When administered correctly (dare I say, compassionately), it can be a form of expression that transcends rational boundaries of morality. It is a feeling in one of its purest forms that it strips you of all the bullshit between two (or more) people and allows for there to just be one thing: The Pain.
So for now, I wait. I'm looking for a healthy situation within which to practice the ritual.
But I will not be trolling Craigslist for men who like to beat up women because they are afraid of them or can't love them or whatever. I will not be asking every person I sleep with to make me bleed (I am capable of climax without pain, thank you). Quite honestly, in my experience, they never hit hard enough, you can feel the hesitation, their fear that it will come bite them in the ass. You can bite me, too, if you want. That works.
Unfortunately, though, at this point, I have not found the appropriate circumstances. I know someone exists. Obviously, I've seen glimpses. I would like to believe that those people are out there; maybe some of them are reading this, who understand.
I will find you soon enough.