Written By Leah Blooms.
Photos via Birdie.
In my earliest heterosexual encounters, I never felt like I had much of a choice in anything. Once the guy began making advances, if he wasn’t terrible or mean (and sometimes even if he was), I just tried to relax and take it. I (wrongly) thought that once you said yes to having sex, you’d set that understanding: You now have sex together. I didn’t want to be a cock-tease or cause blue balls, both conditions I’d heard could literally cripple a man.
In the kink community, I found a totally different way to consider power, consent, and exploration. I found myself attracted to this community of people who operated with an enthusiastic yes, where everything was based on consent. Safe words meant it could be stopped at any moment, for any reason, by either party, and I found safety and power in that. I also found I liked being both a Top, which is defined as a person who administers the strokes onto a bottom’s body during a scene, as well as a Domme, which describes an ongoing and deeper relationship a Top has with their sub, which can permeate all parts of life.
At first I had a really hard time thinking about striking a person on purpose, but the more I learned safe and intentional ways to do it, the more confident I became in my ability to have fun, give pleasure, and create satisfaction in the role as a Top. I learned how my bottom’s body reacted and how their breathing changed, watching their skin blush and redden. I found myself suspended both inside myself and inside my bottom, deeply understanding how we were both reacting.
As much as I reveled in exploring kink, though, it took some time for me to consider bottoming. I assumed I would pop off with my safe word immediately after the first stroke and possibly try to punch the person topping me as a reflex. Still, I felt intrigued when I saw my bottoms’ bodies pain responses send a flood of endorphins, creating a high feeling. I realized it could be an alternative to self-harm, which I had stopped doing in the many forms I’d found growing up, but reflected on often when things were hard.
So I handed my girlfriend a wooden paddle and told her to Top me. She nodded, but said no to the wooden paddle, suggesting instead a large, soft flogger and a crop. I began to argue with her, to tell her that I knew better. She interrupted me saying, “It’s time for you to call me Sir, pet. Go get the crop, get undressed, and get on the bed.” And just like that, our roles reversed and I did everything she said, quickly and without further discussion.
“Trust me,” she whispered, just like I had quietly murmured to her dozens of times before. I closed my eyes, swallowed hard, and nodded my head.
That first time, I found being vulnerable and open so much harder than I had imagined. I had known it would be challenging — I can be a real feral sonofabitch when I feel backed into a corner — but I wasn’t prepared for how adrift I felt during the scene. I was left open and yearning, with all my innermost secrets exposed.
My girlfriend, now my Sir, asked me to repeat my safe words and then began stroking my legs with the flogger. Suddenly, my entire body felt alive and electric.
In kink — and especially bottoming — I’d given my consent to someone I trusted to do things to my body and I knew they would stop if I wanted them to. I was in control, even though I had surrendered to them. I was terrified. I was excited.
Immediately, my head felt light and I felt like I was living outside my body, watching. At the same time, nothing but what was happening to my body at that moment mattered, and I felt my blood rushing through my veins and goosebumps popping up everywhere. The soft leather flogger ran up and down my legs and under my arms and over my breasts. As lost as I got in the moment, I remember that I suddenly realized my breath sounded just like my bottom’s in previous scenes and I felt my cheeks getting pink. My Sir leaned down, breathed on my neck, and told me I looked beautiful, and in that moment nothing had ever been more true.
She switched to the crop and every time it snapped at my thigh, I felt a tiny incremental drip of endorphins drifting down my veins and collecting together, increasing in intensity until I was marinating in it. The relief and buzz I felt was akin to some risky drug trips I’ve taken over the years.
I was so lost in the feelings that I lost track of time. I forgot about everything but what was happening on my skin. When she stopped flicking the crop on my legs, the music changed, and I knew the scene was over. I had an urge to say no, I’m not done! Please don’t stop! But in the same moment, I realized I had reached the max of what I could handle, and I was deeply grateful my Sir had ended things when they did. I was flooded with relief.
I was so completely taken by surprise after the scene ended that I dissolved into tears. I had previously watched my bottoms weeping after scenes and while I was invested in witnessing their process, I had felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t cry like that. But I felt like a bird with broken wings who had fallen to the earth, unable to find the strength to fend for themselves. I felt completely empty on the inside and in need of care and love.
My Sir climbed into bed with me and held me while I wept. I was aware of very old feelings from childhood abuse working their way up to the surface and exiting my body. I felt so thankful for the opportunity to cleanse those old hurts while my Sir whispered in my ear that I was loved and cared for. She told me I was strong, smart, and beautiful, and fed me fruit and a drink of water. I felt loved and content in a way I haven’t ever felt before. When I thanked her for her care, my Sir reminded me that she was doing what I had done for her many times before, giving back to me what I had given. Those kind words brought on a fresh set of tears of gratitude.
I now believe that crying at the conclusion is a really important part of the process when doing kink for healing. It’s like the crescendo near the end of the symphony, where the notes have been sung and harmonized and the music climbs to a great height you didn’t think possible and then comes crashing down to your relief. The flood gates open and the emotions rush out of you, leaving a deep, quiet space for repairs to happen. For me, it’s an alternative to riskier “release” or “escapist” behaviors, like drug use and self-harm. Kink is a compelling way to heal traumatic events from the past, and I’ll be grabbing a crop, getting in Position two, and waiting for my Sir next time I have something to work out.
Leah is a queer, genderfluid (she/they/he) writer and mentor with passions surrounding sex & body positivity, mental health, and practical and achievable health & wellness. Leah has been writing online since 2002, has been published in books and magazines, and was asked by Diablo Cody to work with her on Showtime’s “United States of Tara” because of a memoir Leah wrote about her mental health journey. You can find Leah at leahblooms.com and msgender.com