Today, I was tasked with writing about the role of punishment in a D/s relationship. However I know, because I am not in one, that I will not find myself punished for twisting the topic slightly. I am instead writing about penitence – one of the many reasons that I’d love to explore D/s dynamic.
I have never been in a D/s relationship. Maybe my very desire for one – and a loving, kind dominant, who will help me explore my body and sexuality and kinks – might go against my need for freedom to explore and centre my life on myself. That need is certainly holding me back from negotiating the possibility of a D/s relationship at the moment, because it would be (apparently) almost a crime to limit me before I’ve really begun my explorations – though this too, of course, is my choice.
My desire for impact play, however, isn’t something that anything holds me back from playing with. I have written erotic story upon filthy tale featuring spanking, but I had much less first hand experience with it than I want to. It’s not uncommon for me to message a friend who knows me as Quinn that I really want a spanking – to which their reply tends to be along the lines of you always want a spanking, Quinn, or when I’m luckier, mmm, and I want to spank you too – how long until you are coming to visit next?
Every so often, I wonder if it’s a kink that is all in my head. In many regards I have a very low pain tolerance, why should I crave spanking so much? Yet every time a firm hand comes down sharply on my arse I get wet. I can’t take a lot of pain, but my body loves it. Even when it hurts, there is a part of me dancing in delight because I’ve got just what I want. I haven’t explored far, mostly bare hands on my arse or my cunt, or – on an occasion made more memorable by the fact the boy wielding it had sworn he never would – someone’s belt.
I was never spanked non-consensually as a child – as far as I can remember, at least. But I was raised in a religious household. Not strictly so, but we attended mass most Sundays, and religious enough that I’m not sure the marks of that upbringing will ever leave me. I believed in God, if not when baptised, but when I was confirmed and took my first Holy Communion, but I don’t any more. I have attended confession not more than a handful of times, but the idea of penitence is one I have taken forward with me.
This links to something I discussed with my therapist two weeks ago: I am very hard on myself when I make mistakes. It’s a thing I’m working on – though this wasn’t well expressed to the friend I tried to talk to last night through tiredness, tears, and what today turned out to be period cramps. It is hard not to hate myself for every mistake I make, every time I forget to eat or miss a bus or – worst of all – hurt or annoy a friend.
This isn’t a post about my mental health, though, or about the fact I have a treasure-trove of troubles to work through in therapy. But while I am learning to forgive myself, I sometimes ask for help from those I trust. It’s ok to phone in sick to work because I have a migraine and have been throwing up, right? I ask a friend, needing confirmation that I am allowed to take care of myself and am not letting others down. I want to make it better, I don’t like it when you’re upset with me, I tell another, because guilt and fear were ripping me apart and when I can’t see that I’m a half-decent human being, I also can’t believe that anyone else can.
This is where the idea of a D/s dynamic comes in. I don’t know if penitence is a word used by many in their kinky play, but both the idea and the word itself would undoubtedly crop up if I ever entered that kind of relationship. A submissive, me, fucks up – fails to complete a task, doesn’t take care of themselves, is bitchy or impertinent – and is set a punishment by their dominant for the mistakes they have made. The punishment is meted out, or worked on, and when it is over the submissive has done their penance and is forgive. A clean slate.
That’s not to say that said submissive won’t get into more trouble if they break the same rule again – repeated poking of the bear should be dealt with swiftly (but painfully*). But I like (and maybe even idolise – thank the Goddess of Dildos that my therapist is quite good at talking about kink**) the idea that after taking a spanking I will be forgiven. I won’t have to carry around the guilt that makes me feel sick. If I have done my penitence, not only can I be forgiven but I can forgive myself, and stop beating myself up for every mistake. Especially if there is actual beating involved in the penance.
A quick aside here: good girls get spanked, bad girls get punished.
Real life is complicated, and my head and my heart are both messy. Please don’t think I am being naive here – I am aware of how much work has to be put into any relationship – especially one where a D/s dynamic is in place. I’m not trying to say that it makes things easier. But with my persistent anxiety, I am trying to learn how to forgive myself for the little things, and trust that my world will not fall apart when I make mistakes. And with my Catholic upbringing, I have faith that doing something to prove my penance, to clean my slate, would help me not feel like I am letting those I love down.
Besides, there is something delightfully dirty about perverting the idea of penitence.
*If this has been negotiated and is consented to.
**Coffee and Kink has written a wonderful post about finding a kink-friendly therapist, which gives better advice than I could on the subject.
Image sourced through Pixabay.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.