My arms are tied behind my back, I can hold my elbows in my hands, wrap my fingers around myself. The rope is tied to a suspension hook high up, I can lean into it, testing the strength of the bonds and, by inference, the strength of my body. Being tied up makes me feel strong: regardless of whether I can or cannot loose myself, I feel as if I could. I can imagine my muscles flexing and snapping these cords. The fact that I couldn't is irrelevant, it's the place my mind goes. I feel very powerful. I am tied up because I am a strong, potentially dangerous thing. There's a sense of the animal about it. I don't speak but I do feel a little growly, not in an angry way - it's more playful than that. If I were a cat my tail would be twitching, waiting to see what happens next. Although on the outside it may seem as if I am the captive, inside I am the one toying with the situation, grinning and biding my time. I am poised, elegant and perfect. I am also beautiful, displayed like this, arranged and put in place. There is a strong sense in which the attentiveness of the Dom becomes an investment of some sort of power, of time, of effort in the submissive, rather than the more traditional removal. I can feel it now, each touch and each tie. A certain energy. And I'm lapping up the attention and loving it.
After an hour or two, I'm back in the same corner of the room, but everything has changed. I'm on my hands and knees, cold, wet and shaking. A thick, padded collar around my neck, my head locked in place inside the iron circle at the front of the puppy cage. I'm outside the cage and I feel exposed, vulnerable. If I were inside there would be safety, I would be the strong thing held tight and Captain would be on the outside, limited in what he could do, how he could interact. Now I am the limited one. There are no ropes to hold me, just the heavy cage, keeping me down and in place. I can't see him, he's somewhere behind me - all I can see are the drops of liquid on my arms, resting uncomfortably on the rubber floor on the interior of the cage. I feel a wave of cold rush over me and I shivver hard. It's a full body shake, from top to toe. I try and hold myself still, legs spread in what has become an accepted position, arse raised.
He hits me. I don't really remember where and I don't really remember how it felt beyond the fact that it hurt. I think I howled. The pain showed me to be exposed, removing any last vestiges of strength that I might have had earlier. The only thing that remained to me was my capacity to withstand this, to endure, internalize and go with the pain. To take it from my soaking, trembling skin and hold the warmth within me. I've done it before, let it take me away and use it as a badge of how good, how well-behaved and submissive I could be. Not now. The pain was pain was pain. I was trapped and being hurt. He was silent and far away. I was alone with the pain which I just couldn't endure. I let go. I kicked, bucked and lashed out with my arms to catch the flail before it could land again. Then I broke down and cried. Not because of the pain, but because I had failed to take the pain, because I had been weak and unable to bear it, because I had tried to fight back as opposed to staying still. Because I had done something wrong. I was frustrated and unhappy with myself, with what little I had managed to do, with the pathetic quantity and quality of my performance.
Thinking back to that moment, talking to him about it later in bed, that had been a key point for me - the use of the word "performance" emphasising that much of what I had done thus far was exactly that, a show for his benefit, me trying to show off, flash my colours in a superficial rite of nothing significant. Doing it with mirrors. That moment was different. That was me, dragged kicking and screaming from my safe place of comfortable aptitude into something too hard. Something I couldn't do. A genuine break rather than a self inflicted push.