I’ve been chatting to new friends on the scene while out and about, and the importance of communication between sub and dom has been a topic of conversation that got me thinking.
It has occurred to me that we haven’t so far mentioned the importance of emotional/mental safety during play sessions or scenes. If you’re new to the BDSM scene you’ve probably been focussing on physical safety and practical concerns around this. But it is also important to realise that when playing, especially using role play, you may inadvertently come across a ‘trigger’ that causes upset to the Sub or Dom. It is very important to realise that this can happen at any time, even for experienced players.
Pushing the boundaries can be very satisfying and even healing, but does come with this risk. We nearly all have deeply buried experiences that could be unearthed, and if they are, they need to be dealt with. The first thing to remember is that if, during a session, something makes you feel suddenly or inexplicably upset or traumatised you should immediately stop the scene. Your dom is not a mind reader. He/she may read your body language well, may know you well enough to know most of the time how to handle you or that they need to check in with you, but if you’ve no idea what’s wrong (as happened to me recently) you cannot expect anyone else to be able to read that. So be prepared to use your safe word or gesture then take your time, with your dom, to explore the problem. Doms must do the same. They are human, and if they are disturbed or upset they, too should end the scene and spend time with their sub to sort out what the problem is.
There is no shame in this, and no-one is to blame. It is simply a risk associated with pushing boundaries and the type of intense play we adventurers do. The trigger that sets you off could be a word, a phrase, an implement used or the role play itself. It could even be a scent or sound, a tone of voice, the type of pain or bondage, in fact anything you can think of may trigger feelings you didn’t expect.
So if it happens to you, call a halt. It is your responsibility, even as a sub, to take care of your own emotional well being. If it happens to your partner, you must be prepared to give them the aftercare they need. Either way, get cosy, have a nice comforting cuddle and take a deep breath. From experience, once you’ve opened the box, the lid won’t go back on. You’ll need to talk it out, try and get to the bottom of the problem and deal with whatever you’ve unearthed. Of course what comes up may be too personal or raw to discuss there and then with your play partner. This is fine. You must deal with it in your own way, and your partner should respect and accept that you may want to go away and NOT discuss it, but sort it out yourself some other way.
In my own case, a simple word used during a scene made me feel very upset (in a way we hadn’t intended), yet I had no idea why. It took me completely by surprise. It was only after ending the scene and gentle probing by Fulani that the memory of what was attached to that word was brought to light. At first I felt pretty devastated to have to revisit such an old wound (as mine turned out to be). The good news is that once that whole memory was aired, and dealt with in my own way with his support, I felt, and still do feel, much better. In fact I can cheerfully say that for me this was a healing experience that I know will have long term benefits.
Be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to sort out the issue you’ve discovered. This is not a time to bury your head in the sand. This might be something you can resolve with one long conversation, or you may need to take more time to process the triggered feelings and understand why you’ve felt as you have. In extreme cases, you might want to get outside help such as counselling. Do what is right for you. If it’s your play partner, you must respect their decisions as to what’s right for them.
As long as you remember the importance of this, party on! Have fun, play safe physically, mentally and emotionally, then you can enjoy pushing the boundaries.
There are couple of books we can recommend for beginners. They are: The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt, Janet W. Hardy and Fish, and The New Topping Book by Dossie Easton, Janet W Hardy and Fish, both available from Amazon at very reasonable cost (the links on this page will take you to Amazon.co.uk but they’re available on Amazon.com as well).