Part 1 of this post reported on the second-most common complaint from tops, “Give me real reactions, dammit!”
On behalf of all of us down here, I protested that we are good boys and girls and we are (mostly) not doing it on purpose. According to a kinky friend who wrangles minds for a living, what I was describing sounds more like dissociation.
So I nodded sagely back at her and asked, “What can we do about it?”
Edited to add: These half-measures are not going to work for someone who is experiencing extreme dissociation, e.g. panic attack or catatonia. They just need the scene to TERMINATE, whether or not they are capable of safewording. Thank you to Ginger Nic of Switch Studies for pointing this out in her comment below.
1. Mindfulness Is All
Faced with my cry from the heart, my friendly neighbourhood mind-wrangler responded by assuming an air of gnomic beatitude and intoning, “Mindfulness.” Then she dissolved into giggles because she knew I would react to that.
Groan. Groan groan GROAN. I swear this is the exact same answer I get from her every bloody time I ask for advice. First it was for chronic pain. Then it was ADD. And now kink? Next time I’ll ask about interior decoration and take bets.
But in the case of dissociation, it does make sense. Mindfulness is about improving awareness of your own body and mind via meditative techniques. (And more.) If you want to be present for some of the most stressful moments of your life, it does make sense to practise first.
And strangely enough, getting into a scene really is sort of like meditating. Like so. (Thanks, Little Guide to Getting Tied Up!)
Don’t try them all at the same time! Now that’s a good way of getting distracted.
If you’re lucky, the top will remind you to do these things. Or make you aware of your own reactions: “Did you know you’re trembling?” Or “I like that high-pitched sound you make. That one.” But it’s nice to know how to do it yourself.
I think it also helps to remember that it’s not our job to enjoy what is happening. Our mission is simply to experience it. But really experience it.
And if something is getting in the way of that, we can do something about it. If you realise you’re scared or distracted: “Sir, I keep worrying about marks, but I don’t want to stop.” (Thanks, Little Guide to Getting Tied Up!) Or if you’re bored or angry: “Ma’am, I’m losing the headspace. Could you help me?” (Thanks, PlaySpace!)
Because I do think the top can help a lot. See below.
2. Make Me Feel Safe
Personally, when I dissociate from the pain or exposure, my most immediate desire is for the top to say, “Put your clothes back on. We’re stopping for now.”
I fully concede that this is not the most intuitive way to get whimpers and tears. If I were a top, I’d probably try to crack that stoicism by hitting harder. And here I am suggesting that you put the strap down?
But it makes complete sense from down here. Dissociation is a defence mechanism against stress and danger. The direct solution is security and relaxation.
I do realise it’s hard to figure out whether to whack harder or let up. In my case, “not enough” and “TOO MUCH!” both look like bland indifference. How can you tell them apart?
You can’t tell. But you can ask. It doesn’t have to sound un-domly if you both know that you get to decide what to do with the information.
And there’s more than one way to help the bottom feel safe enough to react. Privacy helps me, but someone else might only be able to relax with witnesses around. Or sometimes it’s enough to simply reassure us that it’s okay to let go and make noises. (Thanks, PlaySpace!)
Yes, occasionally you’ll have to shut down all the way and reboot, but it’s actually pretty rare. Dialling it back, cuddling or breaks will usually be enough – even without the addition of clothes.
3. Try Something Else
My gnomic and mirthful mind-wrangler approved of my suggestion above. But then she asked, “What did Mr Gasp Shake Thank You do when you stopped reacting?”
Blink. “Well, first he kept whacking me. Then he tried hitting not so hard in the same place. Then he hit me somewhere else. And actually, that was enough.” I thought harder. “Come to think of it, he got out the cane when I stopped reacting to the interrogation, too. I was so sure it wouldn’t work, but it did.”
I still don’t know why it works. Maybe all the fear is concentrated on one thing and you can trick the mind if you switch to something that previously felt safe?
My kinky mind-wrangler approved of this strategy, too. She said exactly the same thing as the doms at PlaySpace: “That’s a good rule of thumb. If it’s not working, try something different.”
I would never have come up with this one myself, nor would I have believed that it would work. But given the proof upon my own body, it is my absolute favourite.
Let me be honest. It’s not because it is time-efficient. It’s because the sub doesn’t even have to know it’s happening.
And then maybe you can trick us again by coming back to the scary activity later?
So there you have it. Everything I know about the Road to Interesting Noises. Or should I say Being Present and Attentive for Your Own Torment and Subjugation?
I think our roles are showing, don’t you?
Major caveats: My experience is woefully limited. And I have a long, long way to go in terms of putting all of this into practice.
So I would really love to hear what you think. What works for you?