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Does Enjoying BDSM Make Me a Freak?

by Terra Bloom

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To discover the happy pain-loving submissive in myself at the age of 50 was a fairly shocking revelation to both myself and my husband. And throughout the first months of edgy BDSM exploration, my dominant “Daddy” and I enjoyed an extraordinary amount deep sex, in between deep epiphanies and deep discussions.

We also had an extraordinary amount of fun, laughing at what we were doing, and often found ourselves perusing the photos posted on Fetlife. “Oh wow, that looks cool, we should try that.” I also logged onto the kink-themed site when alone, hoping to see more people “like me.” I wanted to feel that all the BDSM things we were trying on for size were common, if not exactly “normal.”

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Still, I feared going that far. I worried I was becoming freakish. However much I loved the power exchange of D/s, I didn’t like the idea of going over some dark line, and getting lost in freak territory.

The images were absorbing; I couldn’t look away. Well, I could easily scroll by all the perfect-body girls with stilettos and waxed pussies trying to lure people to their please-pay-me web sites. It was the regular-seeming people that absorbed me for hours—a little overweight sometimes, showing off bondage, canings, ass fistings, their flesh red and bruised and cut and bleeding, jizz everywhere. All stunning in their torture extremes. The posters were boastful of those extremes: Look at what I can take.

Oh yes, I was absorbed, but while I admired those people and their commitment to their kinks, along with their no-holds-barred way of chasing what made them feel good, in those early days none of it made me feel like I was in the company I necessarily wanted to be in. Of course, I was learning that the photo of something often makes it look more unpleasant than it actually feels. My dominant Daddy had taken photos of me in a breast harness that made me wince to see. The harness looked severe and painful, with my breasts bound so tightly. But it felt wonderful.

Still, I feared going that far. I worried I was becoming freakish. However much I loved the power exchange of D/s, I didn’t like the idea of going over some dark line, and getting lost in freak territory. I didn’t want to become unrecognizable and unreal to myself.

Up until that point, David Deida and his writings on sexual polarity, had provided a respectable framework for me to understand what was happening with me and my husband and BDSM. Deida’s work has helped me understand why our exploration in ravishment and surrender were so thrilling to us, and why it had so dramatically opened our hearts and bodies to each other. Yet nowhere did Deida actually refer to BDSM or D/s. He would advise the masculine partner to love his woman “forcefully” and “aggressively,” while recommending the feminine partner to yield to this energy. He would say “every desire, every taboo must be embraced and then converted, by love.” But he wouldn’t describe what the taboo looked like. He recommended embracing the taboo without naming the taboo. This frustrated me.

I wanted a wise teacher to tell me, “Yes, woman, letting your husband torture your nipples is a spiritual exercise.” I wanted to continue my noble project of submission as a path to God. I didn’t want it all to just be a perverted fetish. Not that there’s anything wrong with indulging a fetish. But it was the spiritual angle that calmed the feminist chatter in my head that I was betraying women everywhere by handing my right to consent in the bedroom to my husband.

Then again, the women who posted photos of themselves on Fetlife, asses in the air, waiting to be beaten and penetrated, usually wore some blissed-out looks on their faces. Maybe I was wrong to look for something beyond the immersive experience of BDSM. Maybe it was like standing on top of ladder in order to look for a ladder. I was already there. My husband would grab me hard, and I’d be immediately present, immediately pulled into my body. Immediate nirvana.

Yet, I still wanted confirmation that what we were doing was beneficial to us beyond the hot and hungry sex. Eventually, I drifted away from the gaudy entertainments of Fetlife, and instead began searching for scientific surveys and studies on BDSM. And, whaddya know, I found that according to the science of statistics, BDSM practitioners actually are more happy and fulfilled than their vanilla counterparts.

For example, one Australian study conducted in 2001, but published in 2008 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that “men who had engaged in BDSM scored significantly lower on a scale of psychological distress than other men.” Another 2013 study, called “Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practicitioners,” explained why.

“Individuals experienced a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol and elevation in testosterone levels after kink activities, suggesting that there is a biochemical enhancement for some who engage in these behaviors.” This same study also “revealed improved measures of psychological relationship closeness in participants. Both people who received and administered kink activities were notable for these increased measures of intimacy.”

Furthermore, “BDSM participants were less neurotic, more extraverted, more open to new experiences, had more conscientiousness… compared to non-BDSM control groups. The subjective well-being of BDSM was higher than that of the control group, and the study summarized that people who engage in BDSM are characterized by greater psychological and interpersonal strength and autonomy, rather than by psychological maladaptive characteristics.”

Reading that study helped, allowed me to stop worrying so much, and tamp down on my need to justify my sexual longings as “not sick.” Although I suppose me writing all this down is one elaborate justification, my own version of women posting their pictures on Fetlife, pussies exposed, see what I can take?

But I have to say, writing through this takes me ever closer to inner harmony with it all. And helps me allow BDSM to be exactly what it is to me: the most intense sexual and love experience of my life.

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Excerpted from the book, Ravish Me: A BDSM Memoir of Submission, by Terra Bloom.

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