It is coming home for me more and more just how bad the emotional fallout has been for me thanks to X-man. I mean, I’ve known the damage that happened in the course of the relationship and its aftermath, but realizing just how bad it *still* is, and the ways in which it is affecting me, is turning out to be increasingly upsetting.
I haven’t played since the breakup, by choice, mostly because I’ve known I wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I didn’t know by how much. For much of this time, I wasn’t even able to visualize a flogger hitting my back. I could visualize it flying through the air and getting halfway down to my back, then something would kind of jerk it back upwards and away, halfway down, then jerked back away, over and over again, half strokes that never connected, as if some kind of invisible barrier existed halfway between the top of the swing and my body. Eventually, I was able to force the visuals to bring the flogger into actual contact with my back, a fully completely strike – and then, upon impact, I saw myself fly up from the bondage table I’d been visualizing myself lying on, screaming in panic and rage, grabbing the flogger out of the top’s hand – and wrapping it around his head and neck.
That mental scenario has gradually started to give way to just flying off the table screaming, but no longer trying to kill the top all the time, although that unwelcome visual still plagues such attempts to envision myself being flogged more than I’d like. In my mind’s eye, I’m gaining more control over that reaction, and just barely starting to be able to envision the possibility of *maybe* being able to play again someday.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a party talking to some friends, when all of a sudden, something that felt for all the world like a singletail caught me on the left shoulder, in exactly the same spot X-man had once injured me. I turned around in shock, expecting to find some moron cracking a singletail too close to the people sitting there, but it turned out to just be a stray rope end from another friend taking down some rigging he’d been using earlier, and clearly a totally innocent accident. (We were in close quarters because of the way the venue was set up for that event, not because I’m stupid enough to get in the way of someone else’s scene.) I was not injured, but the moment it happened, I just started having terrible flashbacks to everything that had happened with X-man, all the fear, all the emotional trauma, all the injuries, all the panic.
I was able to catch my breath and start to calm down, doing some deep breathing to get a grip, and the guy whose rope it was was extremely apologetic and understanding, especially when I filled him in on the basics of what had just happened and why. After a couple of minutes of chatting, he offered to tie me to the chair I was in, and after a moment or two of thought, I agreed, thinking that since good bondage had always previously been like a safe, calming cocoon, it would be helpful to help me get recentered – and a good, low-key way to test out light play again. So he took a few fairly loose wraps around me, securing my torso and arms to the back of the chair. I don’t think he even tied the ends off, or if he did, it was one loose wrap. It was secure enough to feel and create that enveloping, holding feeling that I’ve always found so soothing about bondage, but in no way completely immobilized me, and I knew I could easily get out of it if I had wanted to, with minimal effort.
As I continued my deep breathing to try to calm myself, and to try settle into the headspace of security in bondage that it used to bring years ago when I’d last been with partners who were good at it and able to tie me securely, I *almost* started to get there – and then all of a sudden, it was like the sky lit up with fireworks, and the flashbacks started bombarding me from every direction, and the relationship flashbacks were mixed with some from the car accident I’d been in a few months before The End. It was like an incoming stream of attacks and light flashes coming at me, like being in the middle of a Star Trek battle scene. I flew into a panic and started screaming to get it off, get it off, so freaked that I stood up, still attached to the chair, and fighting the rope, trying to shake the whole assemblage off, starting to try to run to try to shake it off me. Thankfully my friends were within arms reach, and were able to calm me down enough to sit me back down and hold me still enough to get the rope off. The top in question was at my side instantly, too, and I just flew into his arms, sobbing my eyes out in panic, and sheer upset. I calmed down within a few minutes and was then OK, but still pretty shaken up for the rest of the evening.
This afternoon, following the fundraising auction for the Tour de Cure team sponsored by our local dungeon, I was standing around chatting with the same friends, who had won a marvelous soft, sweet red leather paddle that I’d also bid on. Its handle is very flexible, and one side of the paddle is a cushy leather pillow. I’d tried it on myself earlier, and was absolutely unable to elicit anything remotely resembling pain. It doesn’t even have enough impact to really create any real sensation at all.
J started whacking a bit on some other friends, and then I started wagging my tail at him, thinking that this thing was *sooo* soft and cushy that there was no way it would be a problem, so after verbal verification that I was game for a few swats, he started to pound lightly on my upper back, then started to work over more of my back and butt. For the first half minute (I would estimate), I was doing great. It was lovely, just like a massage.
And then all of a sudden, the panic started to come up again.
The instant it started, I cut things off, and J stopped instantly, and both he and A were checking in with me to be sure I was OK. I must have looked *really* freaked out because of the depth of concern I saw on A’s face.
The freakout was not as intense as it had been with the bondage, but what was so upsetting was that not only did it happen again, it happened with a toy that is really no more of a physical challenge to take than it would be to be hit with an average pillow.
Response to Fetlife query about how to have sex again after rape or sexual abuse:
I’m still pretty much in the “Anyone who touches me is a dead son of a bitch” stage myself. I panic at the mere *thought* of anything much beyond a massage or light, decidedly nonsexual carress. A stray rope end from someone else’s scene hitting me sent me into flashbacks, a couple of loose turns of rope around me for probably less than a minute triggered a fighting panic, and a few smacks while fully clothed with a paddle about as hard as a pillow brought the panic up also. The very *thought* of trying to have sex with anyone again is enough to send me screaming into the night.