Healing Through Kink
WARNING: This post deals with issue of mental health and sexuality that may be triggering.
This might seem like a strange topic for a life coach to discuss openly, but its important. As I said to a client recently, your relationships are part of your life, and I’m a Life Coach.
I’m experienced in BDSM, I’m openly polyamorist. Everyone has a right to be themselves and experience life as they desire, if those aren’t for you, that’s fine with me. But as a coach, having first hand knowledge of those experiences allows me to understand other people with those needs and help them rather than judge them.
Last night I had an interesting encounter with a former lover. We met seven or eight years ago, right after I had been dumped by a woman I deeply loved, and I was in a not very healthy mindset. Our relationship was passionate and turbulent and lasted, on and off, for several years. Then we didn’t see each other for a long time. Over the past couple years, we’ve periodically meet up, or run into each other, but never really talked about the past. There’s this connection between us that just doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how badly we act toward each other sometimes – fortunately, that negativity seems to have passed.
Last night, she and I went out for drinks. She’s in a new relationship now and seems quite happy and healthy. And I’m very happy for her.
Then came the part that has really hit me.
“Its because of you,” she told me. “You’re the first person who made me understand I’m not a piece of shit. That I’m worth something,” she said with tears in her eyes.
I was stunned. I know I was not in the best place emotionally when we dated, and I have always felt like I ended things really horribly with her – which she agrees with, she didn’t let me completely off the hook. So to have her offer such a heartfelt acknowledgement of what I meant to her was stunning to me.
She showed me her arm, which still carries the scars of self-mutilation from years ago. “I don’t cut myself anymore. To this day, because I promised you I wouldn’t.”
Our dynamic has always been one of power exchange, Dominant/submissive to be precise. When we first met, she had been cutting, which should tell you how healthy her mental state was then, too. I made a rule, no more cutting. It wasn’t allowed.
I went on creating more rules. She was to stand tall, head high, shoulder back, proud. She was to look me in the eye. Even though, in our relationship, she was submissive, she was never to carry herself in anyway other than proud and confident. Much of our relationship was like that. Being that it was a D/s dynamic between us, she would be rewarded for complying and punished for failure. Even the punishments were typically designed to reinforce a positive, self-empowered mindset.
It was not all sunshine and roses, of course. We had arguments, she often had fits of anger and shouting and crying over things I thought were trivial – but before then, that was the only way she had learned she could win attention from anyone. For my part, I wasn’t always understanding, I didn’t always list to her complaints if I felt attacked.
When things ended between us, it was ugly. But even that is something she has forgiven me for. She told me she learned many lessons from me, some of which she was only recently began to understand, perhaps because now she’s in a healthy, loving relationship.
BDSM is often misunderstood by people who don’t participate in it. Popular media often makes it worse with horrible examples like 50 Shades of Gray, which violates the whole foundation of BDSM on every level.
What we see in movies and TV, is often only what can be seen about BDSM, the visual aspects of it. But in truth, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The reasons why some people get fulfillment being dominated, or dominating someone else, and why each individual has different preference as to how that happens, are rooted in deep psychology.
There are as many variations of dominance and submission as there are people who participate in it. And there are far more people who do than anyone realizes. In fact, many couples who would never consider themselves kinky are actually D/s but don’t realize it because their version doesn’t look like what they’ve seen in the media. It not about black leather and latex, whips and chains, or any of that.
Its about control – who has it and who chooses to relinquish it. If you think about it, even certain religious doctrines about how a family is supposed to operate are BDSM, requiring the man to be dominant and the woman to be submissive – only those models are rarely healthy and are dictated rather than consented to, which is coercive and totally against the principles of true BDSM.
In the right circumstances, research is showing it can be very beneficial for both your personal mental health and your relationships. Healthy kink requires communication far beyond what most people are comfortable with. It requires a level of trust, and of responsibility to your partner that builds very deep bonds.
For a better example of health, less obvious BDSM, check out the 2002 movie Secretary.
I learned a lot about myself through BDSM, not just about what my kinks are, but about the importance of personal responsibility, about my preferred relationship dynamics, about communication, about consent, about the power of positive reinforcement, accountability, about acceptance (let’s be real, some kinks are pretty strange to most people, but who are we to judge?) These are lessons that continue serve me personally and professionally.
What are your experiences with kink? Did you learn anything from them? Did they help you in anyway in your life? Or did you have a bad experience? You can leave a comment below or, given the sensitivity of the subject, feel free to contact me directly, there’s a link to my contact page at the top of this blog.