Abject Submission 1: Is it bad for me?

Backlit knife behind a curtain
Image (cropped) courtesy of Adam Bowie (CC BY‑NC‑SA 2.0)
This post is Part 1 of the Is It Bad for Me? series.

I am shaken.

So far, all the the shame and guilt you’ve seen in this blog should really have been in the past tense. I knew people needed to hear my stories, so I told them, but after sixteen years you do get used to your kink.

Or, well, that’s what I thought. Then last week I read “This One’s for the Invisible Girl”. And suddenly I’m not sure if I do know my kink – or myself.

Let me tell you a story: I’ve been masturbating since before I can remember. This is pretty normal. I’ve almost never had an orgasm that wasn’t caused by masturbation. (I’ve had one.) This, sadly, is also pretty normal.

I can’t remember the first time I had an orgasm. I also can’t remember a time when having orgasms, for me, wasn’t tied to a process of self-destructive psychological abuse in which I would hypnotically force myself to re-imagine and re-live variations on violent, traumatizing feelings from my childhood until I came — and then lie in bed afterwards feeling blurry, dissociated, scared, unable to focus, intellectually muted and emotionally numbed. I’ve hated coming for most of my life. And I still forced myself to do it compulsively, similar to the way I used to cut myself compulsively, knowing that I was going to regret it for the rest of the day.

And, because our culture universally frames orgasms as the epitome of sexual pleasure, I told myself that it was no big deal and that this must just be what “good” feels like. And, when I could bring myself to talk about it at all, I told my partners that, too.

– From “This One’s for the Invisible Girl” by thirdxlucky, paragraph breaks added.

She hated coming. She’d feel horrible for the rest of the day. Yet she couldn’t stop doing it, just like she couldn’t stop cutting herself. There’s a word for that kind of thing. It’s self-injury.

And she’s not the only one. I was horrified to learn from her link that many abuse survivors struggle like this.

The women I have spoken with who struggle with using masturbation as a form of self-injury feel deep shame about what they are doing, and each one fears that she is the only person on the planet who does such a thing. They also tell me that masturbating as self-injury is a compulsion: They want to stop, but they feel powerless to do so. This is true of all forms of self-injury, which is why self-injury is a compulsion, not a recreational hobby.

– From “Masturbation as a Form of Self-Injury after Sexual Child Abuse” by Blooming Lotus

And you know the scary thing? It made so much sense.

At first I only connected it to a friend who has tried to explain this to me repeatedly. I didn’t understand. Until that post, my friend had literally never encountered a single person who understood. (I am so sorry. Thank you for bearing with me.)

But then I started to wonder … is it me too?

You have every right to scoff and say that I’d know if I had it this bad. And it wasn’t this bad. But as I’ve told you, last year I faced personal and professional failure. It was pretty bad.

I could tell you about the recurring fantasies. I could tell you about bursting into tears when I realised exactly what experiences I was compulsively reliving through them – not abuse, but hellish in their own way.

But others have said it better. Here are two stories that I discovered when things were worst, and loved to pieces. I’ll show you the moments that spoke to my kink like a bell.

This one has a courtesan slave on punishment duty:

The butcher dragged him stumbling down the hallway, shadows swallowing the edges of guttering candlelight, shoved aside a gaudy curtain across one of the narrow antechambers not already occupied by a grunting patron and softly gasping whore. He shoved Luca inside with as little care as he’d given the curtains. A courtesy, this; he could have fucked Luca in the public room, a hundred leering gazes passing through him. Luca reminded himself to be grateful.

– From The Golden Bird (Chapter 6) by Augusta Columbine (online, work in progress)

And here is the tail end of some extreme old-school hazing:

Then it was over. Mered­ith, sob­bing un­con­trol­lably into his arms, barely re­acted as Rudd slapped his bot­tom and said cheer­fully, “Sweet blood, what a fuck­ing mess you are. I don’t know why I bother with you. Go get your­self cleaned up. No tea or sup­per for you today; I want you clean­ing my bed­room till you can lick the floor with your tongue. Oh, and tell Dav­en­ham I’ll want your services overnight; he can lock up the third-rankers’ dor­mi­tory with­out you.”

– From Unmarked by Dusk Peterson (2010)

Yes, those were the parts that really did it for me. Are you surprised? There is a reason why I named this blog The University of Abject Submission.

But that was last year. I picked up those stories again last month and was shocked by the disconnect. For the very first time, reading about that state of mind felt like I was on the outside looking in. And I could tell that inside wasn’t a place I wanted to stay for too long – however much it spoke to my kink.

I still respond to stories that nail that feeling. This year I discovered Helenish’s Take Clothes Off As Directed and Theft of Assets, Destruction of Property and well, wow. But there is a difference. My strongest reactions aren’t for the happiest moments – but not the worst, either. And I still love Unmarked and The Golden Bird, but now I find myself going straight for their happy endings.

I don’t want to live in those other places any more. I’m so very thankful that my kink has transformed a little – bounced back, I think, though I can’t be sure.

But should I have let my kink dive down that rabbit hole last year?

Will my future self decide that I’m wallowing now, every time I stand at the mirror of my shame and my emotional masochism takes over?

I’ve seen so much pain in other submissives’ blogs – Unspeakable Axe, Fears Being Alone, Lifestyle Gambler. Please, please convince me that it’s not our submission that’s doing this to us.


8 thoughts on “Abject Submission 1: Is it bad for me?”

  1. I don’t think any of us has a kink. All our thoughts, no matter how deeply we file them away into a dark recess, are rooted in our primitive reptilian brains. And in order for any of us to reach the peak of sexual pleasure, we have to let ourselves go there. I think what is perverse is not what mainstream media would think it is. I think straight laced sexuality without gratification and release is what constitutes the bizarre while the exploration of everything the mainstream might deem a kink but gives its participants their deep rooted release is what is quite normal.

    1. I appreciate the support, but I think what you’re saying is that we shouldn’t let convention hold us back. What I’m worried about is whether my kink is actually damaging my happiness and strength.

      (I also think it saves time if we don’t redefine the words “kink”, “bizarre” and “normal”, and instead talk about whether the ideas are right or wrong. I hope you do agree that it’s possible to want something that is wrong.)

  2. I’m a strong supporter of “whatever makes people happy – as long as it’s RACK, it’s OK” – some things are not for me, but this whole “My kink is a valid kink but because your kink is not mine, it’s wrong” drives me up the walls.
    I wish people would ease up, especially with comments like “perverted” and such, this whole shaming because somebody’s sexuality is not “the norm” is such bullshit.

    1. I must have done a terrible job summarising thirdxlucky’s post. She’s not shaming anyone’s kink, she’s saying part of her kink was NOT making her happy, and I’m trying to figure out if that applies to me as well.

      It’s really sad that she encountered so much of people shaming her shame, so to speak. I was aghast to find that I had been doing that myself. So I do hope you’re not saying that she (and maybe I) shouldn’t be unhappy in the first place. Because I absolutely agree with thirdxlucky that we should have a right to avoid our kink if it’s causing more unhappiness than it’s worth.

  3. There are so many right and wrong pressures about sex and sexuality that come from society and/or culture. Something that should be so personal is constantly exploited through media, violence, and relationships. Sex is suppose to be nurturing, exciting, glorious, explosive… Yet all I hear is shame, hurt, and anxiety about the topic of sex. It is bad, it is good — only if it done this way… screw that. Question your kink if you want, change it if you want — It is your sex life. I wish I could have read this post 15 years ago, it may have saved me from years of a self destructive sexuality due to the limits given to me, or taken from me — however you want to look at it. At least we’re not alone. It is a hard enough just to survive in this world, trying to keep a balance of happiness is always subjective. I guess what I am saying is that I can relate to you and the author you quoted. Your concern is very much worth while.

    1. Yet all I hear is shame, hurt, and anxiety about the topic of sex.

      Actually, I think that’s a step forward. I get worried when people are afraid to talk about those feelings.

      Question your kink if you want, change it if you want — It is your sex life.

      Thank you!

      I wish I could have read this post 15 years ago, it may have saved me from years of a self destructive sexuality due to the limits given to me, or taken from me — however you want to look at it. At least we’re not alone.

      I am so sorry to hear that it also applies to you, but I’m glad we’re not alone, too.

  4. Your post reminds me of a caller I heard asking for advice on a podcast once. This woman was really turned on by the idea of her partner cheating on her, but being turned on by her own humiliation just made her sad.

    The advice columnist didn’t have a lot of helpful advice, and I don’t either. The kink community is great at ‘don’t feel bad about being a pervert’ but when your kinks themselves make you feel bad, we’re kind of at a loss. Emotional masochism must be a really difficult kink to have, and it seems like we’re all so busy beating the ‘kink is not abuse or self-harm’ drum that we can’t acknowledge that maybe some kink really is a form of self-harm.


      You’ll see from my new post that it’s not as bad as I feared, not for me. But I’m still glad I spent some time terrified, because otherwise it would be too easy to forget that this happens to others.

What do you think?