When your life is dedicated to eradicating oppressive behaviours and abusive tendencies in wider society, little shocks you. But when the words “there’s a part of you that wants to be in an abusive relationship” come out of your boyfriend’s mouth, it does. And yet, I cannot deny it. I don’t want to deny it… because there’s beauty in the darkness.
I’ve rewritten my life and my experience. I have healed wounds so that like the Kintsugi vases, the cracks have been made beautiful with burnished gold. But those cracks have been created by oppression, both systemic and personal. My self has been cast, like pottery, by abusive hands. Those hands know best how to caress my curves, they know how to objectify me so I shiver. Those warped minds, just like those who warped my own, know best and instinctively how to play the game. I know how to play the game. When you can play as well as I can, it’s a talent. And denying my talent an outlet is futile.
There’s a dangerous myth surrounding kink that only those who have been abused can now be aroused by the various fetishes and power plays involved. It’s not true. Plenty of people with gloriously happy childhoods love kink. The opposite can also be true. Plenty of people with unhappy childhoods can be really rather ‘vanilla’ in their sexual preferences. I, whilst happy to experiment, fall largely in the latter camp. But the bells in my childhood still sound.
Only a small proportion of abusive relationships involve sex and violence because an abusive relationship is rather more characterised by one person treating the other like an object. Disempowering them. Controlling them. Manipulating them. And that happens all around us, every day. It happened to me as a child. And I continue to dance when I hear the bells ringing.
As my self-esteem–and my self-acceptance–has grown, I’ve realised that I’m very comfortable in a zone, if I trust in myself enough, where I can play with the ebb and flow of my power. Where I trust that I will be okay no matter what, to be manipulated and controlled. But I don’t know if I will be okay for sure, because ultimately we cannot. Those who play with me must also trust, and theirs is also a blind trust. Because I could turn on them. You could call it ‘abuse play’. It’s a place where playing it out means we must abandon all notions of what might be considered healthy.
I’m not attracted to nice guys. I desire dark and dangerous men. I like men who play me like a game of chess. I’m also playing them of course. It’s all consensual but not in an above board, honest way (that would be the way of a nice guy). These are the piercing and painful secrets we whisper to one another in our late night conversations, in those moments of vulnerability, before putting our metaphorical masks on again. That’s what makes it consensual even if for long months at a time, we forget that it’s a game we’re playing. Life is a game. A game driven by our kinks, our fascination with power and objectification. I do not, and cannot, play it with many.
Our relationship is deeper, darker and more addictive than any other I’ve known. Because of it we’re intensely addicted to one another. Our humanity drives us by fear as much as by love. We are both light and dark. I hunger for him because he resists me. Still, he wants me for his next fix. I want to consume him… but he holds himself out of reach even whilst wanting badly to succumb. And so we edge our way to mind orgasm. He shines a light on my darkness, marvelling that even then he cannot see. He must feel his way through it. We struggle for power in perfect tandem, back and forth, but it’s a dangerous game, because as our self-esteem fluctuates at any given moment our game could all turn to abuse. And by then it would be too late.
Mundanity and the white picket fence are not for me. I need a relationship which embraces and uses my pain if I am to be my full and glorious self. I need someone who will not only allow me to explore and heal the abuse I’ve experienced, which I’ve long since done, but also someone who delights in playing the same mind games which built me. I need the darkness because without it I’m only living a half life and light without the dark suppresses who I am.
When my self esteem was low, my relationships were abusive. Yet I’d always assumed that when my self-esteem was higher that my relationships would be healthy. And I assumed, like most other people, that a healthy relationship would not include power play, consensual or otherwise. I imagined myself like a simple flower, a daisy perhaps. Once I was free from my past I thought I could be like the daisy, simple and bathed in sunshine. But no.
My defining characteristic is more than my flower. Like the poppy, I can be simple. Radiant. But I also conceal a drug. Those who pick me think they will enjoy pushing the limits of their reality and dicing with death. Beware. Some have just seen my petals, admired my beauty but they don’t see the whole of me. They don’t see that I’m also poisonous. Just like any other drug, I can expand our reality. But if we tip over the edge I can also smash our lives into pieces and destroy us both.