I've been thinking recently about love and BDSM. This was triggered by something that happened a couple of weeks ago and have only just found the right space to be able to articulate it. I find talking about love quite difficult, not because I am embarrassed, or because I find emotions challenging, but because it seems like such an overworked subject. So much has been said on the topic by better minds and sharper pens than mine whilst at the same time an awful lot of inane twaddle has been wharbled by soppy handwringing actors, teenage singers and dodgy "wimmins" literature. It's a road well travelled, clearly. Yet everyone's experience is unique, each person has a specific resonance that comes to mind when they hear the word. For me, love is very concrete, it's not an airy-fairy ineffable concept, it's as real as the sheets beneath my hands, as the keys underneath my fingertips. A definite palpable entity that I own as much as any other thought or feeling in my head; book on my shelf; piece of clothing in my wardrobe.
I thought that love might be complicated by BDSM, that emotional power plays might make it harder to recognise or to appreciate love. Turns out that whilst this is a reasonable concern, it isn't exactly the case.
"I don't love you, you know that, don't you?"
I didn't know that, not precisely, I'd suspected as much and had thought it to be true in my heart of hearts. So I nodded, feeling like I'd been punched in the chest with something hard and cold. I started to cry, part of me felt lost and abandoned, the other light as air, almost relieved in a terrible way as if some awful secret had been confirmed. The Photographer barely pauses, he continues to fuck me and I continue to cry, softly, trying not to alter my position or do anything that might affect his use of me. My mind is reeling and my connection to my skin feels quite tenuous, I'm numb.
"I can't love you, not a thing like you. How can I love a slave? I've never made love to you, that's not what we are about."
His voice is soft, reassuring like one might talk to an animal or an unreasonable child, explaining to them the rationality of a seemingly cruel gesture. It is a cruel gesture. It is also rational, and the strength of the imbalance of power we have sweeps me away for a few moments. I can love him, and I do, perversely perhaps I feel it even more so right then and there because of what he is saying. He reiterates how much he needs and wants me, how much he enjoys using me but that the very nature of what I am to him prevents love. I have never felt quite so empty around him, quite so much of a thing or object until this precise point. I've enjoyed the feeling of being used like one, but then I could hide myself away in my body, floating happily in the sensations. Here it is impossible. I am not playing at being an object, I am being treated precisely like one. I have not shut my personality or emotions into a little box whilst I enjoy being calmly abused: they are fully present, appreciated and understood. And under examination they are irrelevant to him. I have given so much over to his control, starting with my body which was the easiest, then to parts of myself and my identity that only a handful of people know about. And those parts of me which I thought were unique and special have no value.
Afterwards, I lie on his chest. We're talking quietly, whilst he strokes my face shoulders.
"I do love you. But not when we're doing that, I couldn't do the things I do to you if I loved you at those times." He's trying to explain.
Part of me feels a little triumphant, that he feels as strongly toward me as I do for him. And happy, especially given I know he has a hard time relating his emotions. Most of me still feels hurt, shaky and confused. I'm trying to understand him: I am to him sometimes myself, a real person who he loves, and sometimes his slave, who is not a person and therefore he cannot love me. I can appreciate it as a D/s dynamic, it is very powerful, certainly and there must be a mindset that he adopts just as I have one when I submit, that is different to the day-to-day, that processes and expresses in different ways. For him, love is incompatible with ownership. Like loving a table, or a chair. I can see his point of view, and lay it out here as best as I can in black and white, but I don't think I understand it at all. I suppose because I do not separate out the two states of being in the same way: I am his all of the time, sometimes this is expressed more strongly than others. I'm always his, and I love him.
These are hard waters to swim in, I've never played like this before, never been owned or experienced ownership like this and neither has he. So both of us are working through what we've discovered and I'm not sure how the dynamic will alter given these new revelations: that he loves me, and that he doesn't. It does give me a curious confidence. I know that we have a strong relationship and we keep discovering curious twists and turns that lead us to unfamiliar places. Falling in love was something that I was prepared for, and I like being in love, so it's no hardship at all, far from it. Making love powerful strange was something I'd never anticipated, and dealing with that together will be something entirely new.
5 weeks ago