Noun: Â 1. the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
Neighbor Femme and I had our first public play scene last weekend, at the Crowbar play party in Seattle. Â We’d been talking and negotiating over the course of the week, and I was pumped up for it. Â Crowbar is a play party for transmen and transmasculine genderqueers, and I knew some other friends would be there as well.
Having already played a little in private with NF, I knew she would be mean. Â ‘Mean Girl’ is a title she holds very proudly. Â She was also flagging ‘Bitch’ that night — literally, she had a hanky custom stitched with the word ‘Bitch’. Â She knew I loved heavy hard impact the best and hated stingy, flicky, ouchy stuff the worst. Â I knew because of that, she’d do a lot of stingy, flicky, ouchy stuff. Â And pinching.. fuck, the fucking pinching and twisting. I knew I’d be dealing with pain, as well as the newness of playing in public with her, but I figured I was up to it. Â I’ve handled some pretty heavy, painful beatings. Â I’d get through it by growling and howling and fighting back like I always do.
Yep, that’s what I thought anyway. Â I had the normal pre-game jitters but I figured I had a handle on it. Â Instead after starting the scene in the expected way, it would end in a very unexpected way. Â The scene would end with me sobbing like a baby in her lap.
We did some final negotiation and decided to set up at the St. Andrew’s Cross. Â It’s on an A-frame with a wooden lattice on the back side. Â Someone else had set up on the other side, with a sheet shielding them from view. Â A couple of our friends were setting up a scene in a nearby corner but otherwise there weren’t many people around on our side of the play space.
She had me strip down to my knit boxers and lean back onto the cross. Â She slapped and pinched my chest. Â She punched me, but not the square heavy punches I’ve gotten from guys, showing their strength, these were strategically placed and involved a lot of knuckles… poky and jabby, coming rapid fire into my chest. Â And once I was showing the effects of that, she came in with pinchy-twisty ouchiness right on top of all the places she’d tenderized already. Â Holy crap, that hurt like hell. Â I was making noise, and calling her names that I don’t remember and not being quiet at all.
Later she’d tell me that I took a lot, that I had nothing to be ashamed of, but honestly, I was already struggling. Â Then she came in with armpit pinch and twist that brought tears to my eyes. Â What I remember feeling at that moment was surprise. Â I was surprised and more than a little embarrassed that I wasn’t staying on top of the pain. Â I was confused as to why I wasn’t holding on better and wondered repeatedly why my adrenaline rush was so late coming on.
She came in close, tweaking the reddened flesh with expert pokes and pinches. Â She was also close enough to see the tears welling up in my eyes. Â She was close enough to grab two handfuls of the soft part of my chest and dig her fingernails into it. Â I gasped and yelled and felt the tears roll out of my eyes and down my cheeks. Â She searched my eyes, saw my determination and turned me around.
The confusion and frustration continued as I faced into the cross. Â In fact, once I was facing away from the room, my tears cut loose and I let them go. Â I didn’t know how to stop them, didn’t know why the hell I was crying. Â I was pissed at myself. Â NF started working my backside with her flogger and y’all know how much I love flogging. Â The figure eight pattern began to lull me, I wanted to sink into it, fall out of this ridiculous sobbing and into the pleasure that always came with the pain of a well given beating. Â I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing but not getting the rush out it I’d expected. I tried to cover, to hold still and cry quietly. Â The anger and confusion and shame at reacting this way kept getting in the way of settling into the scene. Â But as she began coming at me hard and heavy with two-handed strikes, I felt some of that good pain, some of that let-go-of-the-cares-of-my-life thuddiness that always sets me right. Â And still, tears were streaming down my face, snotting up my nose and running down my bare chest.
She came in close, speaking into my ear.
“Kyle? Â Kyle… ” Â She seemed kind of far away. Â “Kyle!”
She grabbed my hair and pulled my head back and that’s when I realized I hadn’t answered, Â “Huh?!”
“Do you want to keep going?”
… the process of releasing,
I wasn’t mad at her, but anger flared up hot and fierce, I was angry with myself. Â I was not going to fucking stop now like some fucking wimp! Â Stop crying you fucker, I yelled at myself, stop being a sniveling baby. Â You’ve taken more than this plenty of times, what the hell is wrong with you?!
I think I nodded or something, maybe grunted in an affirmative manner. Â Whatever I did, it wasn’t clear enough for a good top to take as an answer, and Neighbor Femme is a good top.
“Do you want to keep going, ‘yes, please’ or ‘no, thank you'”? She asked very firmly, still holding my head back with a handful of short hair.
I gritted my teeth against my sobs and barked my answer, “Yes, PLEASE!”
She put the flogger down and got her slapper. Â This is a wicked toy with short, heavy, slappy leather and a stout handle with a thin leather cord that once was a wrist loop. Â Neighbor Femme knew how to get the most out of this implement, hitting me on the wide side with heavy thuds that shook me and the cross I was holding onto for dear life. Â More heavy thuds across my hips, ass and thighs with the handle. Â There was a pause and I tried to catch my breath. Â I was close to the end and I knew it. Â So did she. Â I’d danced pulled away from the heavy handle blows, making a lot of noise. Â She switched it up again, going from heavy to light and stingy.
Where the heavy blows feel deep blue and purple, the lighter single-tail style flicks of the leather cord were white-hot explosions of pain spreading across my back, shoulders and back of the neck. Â It was like being accosted by a swarm of painful gnats and that pain finally blew the last of my fuses. Â I couldn’t stand and take it anymore. Â I didn’t realize she’d stopped so when I felt her hands on my shoulders, I flinched away. Â I don’t know what I looked like to her, but I felt like a complete failure. Â My face was a mess of tears and snot and confusion.
… and thereby providing relief from,
She turned me around, stepped in close so all I saw was her concern and compassion. Â She unclipped me and sat me down and brought me water. Â I gulped it down and tried hard to get my breathing and tears under control. Â I lost that battle and was just sitting there, hunched over crying. Â NF pulled me down into her lap, covering me with a hoody. Â Once under cover, I let go. Â I stopped trying to hold it back and let myself sob and cry. Â She covered me, petted my head and kept me safe. Â Protected and small, I finally started to feel what this was all about, why tonight doing something I enjoy a lot, I had inexplicably begun to cry like a baby.
… strong,Â or repressed emotions.
I wasn’t crying because of the physical pain, though the fact that my relationship to pain was so ass-backwards that night was a symptom of how messed up I was. Â As I lay there sobbing in NF’s lap, it came on me like a drum beat, “I miss Her. Â I miss Her. Â I miss Her. Â I miss Her.” Â There it was, the answer to why I was falling apart in the dungeon. Â It wasn’t about physical pain at all, it was all about emotional pain. Â Deeply held, locked and double-locked away, pushed down where I could control it. Â The beating had served to send my mental guard away, to unlock the doors and let all the sadness come howling out.
One of the reasons I love playing bottom is that the physical pain takes me out of my head, which is a blessed relief most of the time. Â There are so many times in my every day life when I’d rather be taking a punch or a paddle than dealing with the emotional or mental pain I’m struggling against. Â That night at Crowbar, Neighbor Femme took me right out of my head but instead of the high I’m used to feeling when my mind gets out of the way, I felt the full force of what my head had been shielding me from all summer — the deep sorrow of missing my Sir and lover. Â Like a runaway train, sadness and guilt and frustration and loss ran me over and left me broken. Â I felt guilty about playing without Sir, even though we’d both agreed I needed it and it was right and good that I should find others to play with.
I don’t know how long I was curled up on the floor, my head in her lap, hiding under the hoody draining myself of tears. Â It could have been hours for all I knew. Â She made me feel safe, so I let go of my big bad-ass control and let myself be small. Â Before long, I stopped worrying about anyone watching, or what my friends would think. Â Inside the hoody cave I could pretend no one else was there. Â She sat me up at one point to give me more water. Â She took my wet, sloppy face in her hands and said, “You are a good boy. Â You miss Her and you want to be with Her. Â You aren’t a bad boy for having a good time with someone else. Â You are not a bad boy.”
That brought fresh sobs from me and another timeless period under the hoody.
Eventually, the tension was gone, taking the tears with it. Â I sat up, wiping my face, took a full breath and looked around. Â The scenes that were underway when we started were still happening and Neighbor Femme was sitting there patiently. Â She asked if I was ready to get up and move over to a couch where we could sit and have our aftercare. Â She reached for the cuffs to take them off, but I asked to keep them on a bit longer. Â They serve as a kind of a security blanket for me while transitioning away from the scene.
We sat on a nearby couch, where a couple of friends were hanging out. Â I was starting to feel the post scene high and it was very good to just sit comfortably and relax with Neighbor Femme while chatting with my friends. Â As a part of my personal aftercare, I pulled out some dark chocolate, a gift from Roxy. Â She and I have discovered that dark chocolate is a very good post-play recovery snack for me. Â I sat there in bliss, feeling the presence of my Sir and enjoying the treat.
After a little while, our part of the dungeon had emptied out, so we made ready to move to the other side. Â Seeing that I was feeling light and playful again, NF gave me a little challenge. Â She clipped my cuffs together and, gesturing to our gear, told me I’d need to bring it all over and stash it on a shelf. Â Being given an assignment made me ridiculously happy. Â Grinning ear to ear, I attended to the details of getting gear into bags and getting the shoulder strap in place. Â I stood up, her bag over one shoulder and my cuffed hands holding my bag. Â Then I saw the one thing I’d missed, the paper cup I’d been drinking water from. Â I looked up at her, she had that smile, the one tops get when they wonder how you’re going to deal with a challenge. Â I could have put everything down, then picked up the cup and put it in one of the bags, but that was too easy. Â Instead I balanced on one leg and picked the empty cup up with my toes, trying to toss it to her. Â It fell to the floor and she looked at me with arched brows “I’m not going to catch it, but you can hand it to me.”
Again, ridiculously happy boy. Â Now I get to show off. Â Again I balanced on one foot, picking the cup up again and then lifting it above my waist and placing it into her hand. Â I was seriously grinning like a fool now. Â Apparently, while chilling out on the couch, I’d lost a few decades. Â We sat together and watched some of the other scenes still going on in that part of the play space. Â There were some wicked things happening and I kept glancing at her and she’d raise her eyebrows as if to say “Oh, yeah? Â You think you can take that?” Â And of course, being in post-play giddy space, I was completely confident that I could take on the world. Â And then my tummy rumbled, and suddenly I remembered the hot dog cart outside.
“Oohhhh,” I said, “You know what would be good right now?”
She smiled indulgently, “What’s that, Kyle?”
“A hot dog! A hot dog would be so yummy right now!”
She may have cracked up, I’m sure if she didn’t she was tempted. Â You have to try to picture me as an overgrown 5 year old, kind of bouncing around and clapping his hands in anticipation of the great happiness a hot dog would bring. Â Like suddenly I was at the carnival trying some of the rides and watching others and all of a sudden famished. Â Of course, I wanted a hot dog! Â If there’d been cotton candy, I would have been all over that as well.
She was nodding her head and looking at me with big Mom eyes, “Of course you can get a hot dog, sweetie, but you’ll have to put your pants on first. Â And your shoes.”
I looked down at myself, having forgotten I was still in just a t-shirt and knit boxers. Â I think I blushed and ducked my head, “Oh yeah… *giddy laughter* I guess so, huh?”
Again, an indulgent look from NF who motioned me towards our bags, and my jeans and shoes. Â I looked at my cuffed wrists, then at her, seeing her amused expression, I knew I wasn’t going to get uncuffed quite yet. Â I bounded over to the clothing and began to pull my jeans up. Â Keep in mind there are people sitting around watching the scenes with us and now a couple of friends were watching me, being quite entertained. Â I managed to dress myself quite nicely, thank you, concentrating on my task with the wholehearted focus of a boy about to get a treat. Â By the time I was ready to follow NF outside for my hot dog, I was even feeling a bit smug. Â Which means next time the cuffs will probably be behind me. Â Serves me right.
I bounced out to the hot dog stand, absolutely starving for some tubular meat. Â I chose the polish dog, even though the vendor tried to temp me with the ‘big one’ and the ‘even bigger one’… and then NF asked “Are you gonna have onions with it?”
I made a face, and explained to her and the vendor, “Raw onions make my tummy unhappy.”
“But Kyle, he’ll cook them for you, would you like them if they were cooked?”
There are three witnesses to what a goofball I was at that moment, NF, the vendor, and our friend Wolf. Â Apparently, my eyes got even bigger and I might have jumped with delight. Â I turned to the hot dog guy.
“You would cook them for me?” Â I’m pretty sure my voice went up a few octaves.
And so it was that this giddy boy got a hot dog just the way he wanted it, with sauteed onions, cream cheese (quite a conversation was had about the merits and delights of cream cheese with hot dogs), a little ketchup and some sweet hot mustard (more conversation about the merits and delights of sweet hot mustard). Â It would be an understatement to say that I was very, very chatty. Â This is a good sign that I am very, very high. Â The hot dog was so. damned. good. Â I was in little boy heaven and the evening wasn’t even over yet. Â I’m sure if a puppy had come along at that moment, I would have completely lost it.
I was merrily chatting away with the hot dog guy and Wolf when Neighbor Femme came back out to check up on me. Â I followed her back inside and we sat on the couch next to Daddy Wendell (I still need to tell you guys about having the tar beat out of me by DW and another top). Â Daddy Wendell was holding court in a conversation pit ringed by boys of various sorts. Â All were held in thrall by his story telling. I happily snuggled up against Neighbor Femme and enjoyed the warm glow.
Too soon it was time to head home. Â I was still feeling very good, but deemed safe to drive not just myself, but Wolf. Â NF was continuing on to another destination in Seattle. Â I was still cuffed and clipped. Â She took me aside so we could have a moment alone. Â She took the cuffs off, one by one, slowly and respectfully. Â She repeated what she’d said earlier, that I was a good boy, a loyal boy and that she was honored to play with me. Â I thanked her for her patience and strength in making space for my pain and sadness. Â And for taking such good care of me. Â She is a very good top, very empathetic and quick to adapt to where her bottom is coming from on a particular day, and I’m looking forward to playing with her again. Â Hopefully without all the tears and sniffling.
A catharsis is an opportunity to open up and release emotions that have been suppressed and unexpressed. Â The scene with Neighbor Femme pulled me right out of my controlling brain and into my body, where my heart has been struggling to come to terms with the changes of the past year. Â Without that control, everything came rushing out, like a dam being breached. Â That night was only the beginning of me opening up and letting go. Â Once I started allowing myself to feel my feelings, it seemed like I couldn’t stop.Â Â I’ve cried more in the past week than I have in the past year, but it’s a good thing because holding that much in just isn’t healthy. Â
I’m still working it all out, looking for a way to balance my needs with those of my loves, and I’m under no illusions that I’m done with crying. Â I have learned that I needn’t be ashamed of crying during the scene, the friends who were there were very supportive and wonderful. Â I am very fortunate to be loved and held up by such good people.
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