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Self-harm and BDSM

13 Aug

This was a comment that I posted on JTRevner’s blog. I figured if it inspired this much writing, it was worth posting for my audience as well.

By way of preface, I am kinky, bipolar, and, historically, a self-injurer. I’m only mildly masochistic.

Cutting for me was, as you say, largely an exertion of control. It’s been over a decade, but I still have the urges, sometimes nearly overpowering. Self-reinforcing behavior like that has the potential to set up the same addiction-reward pathways in the dopamine system in the brain as substance addiction. It will never go completely away, especially in times of high stress.

I do have a great support system, including but not limited to talk- and pharmaco-therapy. But here’s how I’ve dealt with it in BDSM:

Even though my self-injury wasn’t limited to cutting, that was the apex. So I made a hard, permanent, limit for myself. No cutting in play. Not in self-play, not in bottoming. It’s not the blood — accidents can happen. But nothing to intentionally break the skin. When I was higher risk, I didn’t allow even dull knives near me — no use, even in jest, of implements designed to break the skin. It was a sign of trust that I’ve never felt for anyone before when I gave Jalan a gift of a straight razor for shaving me, which she does in locations occasionally as a stamp of ownership.

This doesn’t mean such play doesn’t have appeal for me. It has in the past and sometimes does in the present. But it’s a rule to protect myself: by not allowing playful use of something that I’ve used destructively, I don’t cross the streams.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Health

 

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