(Well, I appear to be on staff here now. I considered doing an intro thing, but I'm terrible at explaining who I am. Hi! I'm Dw3t-Hthr, I'm (for stuff that may be relevant here) an introspective poly genderqueer sub with a thing for altered consciousness and an interestingly tense relationship with boundaries in a non-scene-delineated relationship in which the formal power exchange started I think about a year and a half ago, and I rant a lot. Hi!)
I was talking the other evening with a friend of mine who had managed to shed some of their fear around sex and sexuality and was exploring a bit what it meant to have done so, and wound up thinking a bit about some of my own experiences, and how they interact with matters of kink.
I was sexually assaulted when I was fourteen.
This did a lot of things, but the thing that gets me most is the way it linked fear and sex. Especially the concept of first sex with a new partner. And I've never had a mature sexuality that did not have some of that flavor of fear touching it, though now that that's over half my life ago, it's less of a constant awareness and more of a "Damnit, stubbed my toe on that thing again." Most of the time.
For the decade or so after the assault, whenever I started a sexual relationship, it was with that fear pushing me. I refused to admit it to partners, because it was my own private nightmare and I couldn't figure out how to talk about it. Once I got past the part that was beginning a sexual relationship, the vast majority of the fear became irrelevant, so I would stifle it and lock it away until the really scary stuff was over, and then I didn't have to deal with the emotion.
With my most recent ex, I told him that I was frightened, and when we got around to sex, I shoved the fear in the closet until it became irrelevant and went away again. But it was something, to be able to tell someone, "This terrifies me, so's you're aware."
With my most recently developed sexual relationship, I made clear that the whole thing terrified me. And we started to negotiate around it -- I need an overnight, not an evening, so I have time to be not afraid in if I manage to get there, for example. So there's time to let things settle. And we got our night -- after a couple of times when the sexual tension had gotten to a point that I didn't care about doing the sane thing, doing the thing that was acknowledging the fear and he would hold me and murmur that I'd told him I needed the longer time, and he was going to respect that. And when we got our night, he had me bring up some music because he knows I find that soothing and it keeps my mind from spinning out of control. And he held me, and took everything very slowly, and watched me with this expression of obvious wonder that included some intense, focused gentleness, noticing when I was hitting too much terror and starting to lock up, watching the emotions start to dissolve and flow away into a space where I wasn't afraid anymore.
There's a space in that wide-open terror that's not far off subspace, was one of the things I learned there. Going to the place where it feels like someone could do any of a range of things, has this sort of ultimate power aimed at vulnerability. That was why I always squashed it and put it to the side before, because I couldn't face that level of risk, and I knew that the teetery vulnerability of that new-lover space would fade once the new was over.
He opened up the space where I could ride through the fear rather than hide from it. And where I could learn the trippiness of acknowledging the risk of opening up and do it anyway.
And while I didn't ask him until months later, I'm pretty sure that that was a big chunk of what set the tone for our power relationship -- the shape of his intense, vibrant carefulness pulling me open and letting the emotions flow without doing me harm. Keeping me safe through it. And it's a cradle in which the hair-pulling rough sex is still that gentle, safe world to me, even when I get a sharp edge of fear in it, because I've been through fear and back with him.
I was reading back posts in Maybe Maimed But Never Harmed when reading blogs that commented on the femsupremacy thing, and came across this one -- a very different experience, a differently framed interaction entirely, but there's still that thing in there that I recognise, the emotional vulnerability, the riding through it.
The being okay afterwards.
(And I have places I could go with this -- stuff about kink with emotionally damaged people (you know, normal people), the way assault damage (and other PTSD experiences) can interact with sexuality, the entire altered consciousness angle ... but mostly I just want to leave it at 'the being okay afterwards' and see what other people make of my ramblings.)