Sunday, June 20, 2010

Masochism: Lessons in Pain & Unbounded Power

I have a very special friend with whom I have a complex and strangely intimate relationship. He is special because he is a fellow mystic with whom I can share my journey in the most intimate ways. He is special because he was my closest friend after my mother died and an amazing gift in my grief process (although not always in the nurturing way you might expect). But my friend is also a sadist who will consciously and joyfully take me into the places that scare me both physically and emotionally in order to help me face my fear, heal and evolve. This creates a tension in our relationship.

I am a masochist - spiritually, emotionally and physically. I willingly move toward fear and pain. It forces me to grow, to dive deeply into my own darkness and fly out more spacious. It gives me release. It tests my resilience and endurance. And physical masochism allows me to express and transform spiritual and emotional heartache through my body.

My masochist is powerfully attracted to my friend's sadist. The pain he is capable of inflicting with joy is terrifying, more than I know I can handle. And yet I feel a strong desire to surrender to him, to allow him to push me to my edges.

It isn't the same as the submission I surrender to Knight. My masochist and my servant-submissive archetypes are very different. Masochism isn't about service to another's will. It is about surrender to fear and pain, in the hands of someone I trust not to harm me.

My friend and I have had several impact scenes over the years, but always at parties, always light because they were limited by time and space. He is moving away from Humboldt soon and I have been experiencing a growing desire to see what would happen if we allowed my masochist and his sadist to dance without limitation before he goes. I expressed my desire to him recently and discovered he had the same thought.

Last Saturday night we danced. It was an ordeal. It blew my body, my mind and my heart wide open. It mirrored my current emotional experiences in powerful and excruciating ways. I am overflowing with insights. I believe that I was subconsciously seeking an ordeal all along, knowing that my friend would push me to my edges and beyond.

This dance was different than any other BDSM scene I had done before. It was the most physically and emotionally trying scene I have experienced. We started with dinner and a mystical conversation. As we moved into scene space, we talked about some of the things that came up for me (like how it freaked me out when he slapped my face). I was very vocal, which I usually am not. I talked about feelings and fears I was experiencing in the moment. I admitted when it hurt. I cried torrents of tears. I called him names. I stood up for myself when he taunted me. I even fought back to make it stop and refused to allow certain sensations to continue. It was the first time I refused to completely surrender to the physical play.

But I experienced complete surrender emotionally. I shared my raw pain with no inhibition. My habitual pattern is to keep my pain to myself, both in scene and in life. I pride myself on my endurance, strength and resilience. I hide away with my darkness as much as possible. It scares me to be so vulnerable as to share my raw pain with another and trust that they can and will hold me. But I put it all out there with him. I was afraid he would judge me as weak for carrying on, or that he would disappointed if I didn't go as far as he thought I could, yet I didn't push myself any further than I believed in that moment that I could go. I accepted my limits and I expressed the hurt when I reached them. I believe there is a lesson in this for me in "real life."

This scene was also different because my tolerance for pain has changed. I am far more sensitive. While I can still endure a lot, it feels like pain rather than intense sensation that can be processed and even enjoyed. We couldn't break through to the "forever place" (that magical transcendent bottom space that usually comes from an intense scene). In my head I asked myself several times why I was putting myself through it, why I kept surrendering to more hurt. I eventually refused to take any more. All I could see was fear of pain. I couldn't see the spaciousness on the other side.

I looked into the mirror of the experience and saw that I fear that the heartache I am currently experiencing around poly and my triggers will never end. I am afraid my wounds will never heal and it will hurt forever. And I am frustrated that either path I take -- staying with Knight in a poly relationship or giving him up -- both lead to pain. It feels like I have no choice about hurting.

But they are two distinctly different kinds of heartache. Giving up my relationship with Knight would be the loss of the greatest love I have known and tremendous grief. Facing my demons in poly relationship will (likely/hopefully) lead to more love and a healing of these gaping wounds I've been carrying around and picking at since my mom died. I will come out more spacious and joy-full on the other side.

I think I have become too identified with pain (read the link - it's really good!). I think I might believe that my wounds will be open wounds forever and evolving will always have to hurt. Maybe I believe life itself is painful. Maybe I even believe that I deserve to hurt.

From the link above: "Personally, I haven't run from my pain. I compensated for it. I spent so much time accommodating it, "working with it", paying attention to it –- NOT avoiding it, that I neglected my very agency and power: my joy. Unbridled, unabashedly sweet, essential joyousness."

I think I am afraid of my power unbounded by the limits of fear and heartache. I am afraid of my own bigness. I am reminded of this well-known quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am interested in seeing what unfolds in the coming days because I have a sense that even though we couldn't move me into the "forever place," we broke something open in me energetically. I seem to be extraordinarily sensitive, not just to other people's energies, but the energy of life itself. Those ecstatic states I recently wrote about? More. Bigger. Deeper. I feel the Divine moving through me in strong currents, a sort of electricity through my body and my heart. I feel Oneness, my connectedness to all of life through my Divine Spark.

Lunchtime at the marsh today I really felt recognition that the God in me is the God in everything, which makes me as big as the Universe. It brought me to tears.

One of the things we talked about over dinner before our scene was my frustration with feeling disconnected from the Divine. Even with my new spiritual practices, I have been struggling with really feeling connected to God like I did when I was younger. My intuition is telling me that this new opening to the energy of life may be my door into the personal relationship with the Divine I have been craving.

What might life be like if we are capable of sustaining a sense of Oneness most or all of the time in all that we do? What might our relationships be like if we are aware that we are relating God to God in every conversation and in every touch?

It sounds so far-fetched, doesn't it? Who am I to talk about being God? Yet everything I have studied and experienced in my life has led to this and it is what I strive for -- to know myself and you for the delicious (and quirky) facets of God that we are.

On the practical level, there is something in this for healthy polyamory, too. When talking to my friend recently about my struggles with Knight's growing love for another, he asked the question: what if I see her as an aspect of myself in the Divine? What if I see her as an aspect of the God in me who will love and hurt him differently/uniquely, but just as perfectly as I do for his evolution into his own Divine nature? Where is the room for fear and jealousy in that awareness?

So many big questions. I look forward to living the answers.

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