Payback’s a bitch, and that bitch looks an awful lot like two Cenobites I know and love.
Recently I taught a self-defense class for a women’s group.
Now I absolutely love teaching self-defense to people facing the same fear I did for so long, especially to women and kids. Love it. I love the look that comes into someone’s eyes when they get it — when they realize they don’t have to live in fear; they don’t have to tolerate being bullied or harassed.
When I teach these classes, I do a practicum for the second half: A partner and I demonstrate some common attacks and how to respond, then have attendees partner up and try them.
To that end, I like to work with a training partner who is younger and smaller than me. It boosts attendees’ confidence when they see someone half my size successfully warding off the chicanery they all face; it emphasizes the point when I tell them size and strength are far less important than knowing some good simple techniques.
Headspace 1: The Animal
We talk about “finding your animal” in my style of martial arts. It’s not about looking for a spirit guide or something like that; it’s about tapping into that primal strength that lets you fight like, well, like an animal. It’s the force that drives a soccer mom to lift a car off of one of her kids, or lets a creaky old fart open an enormous can of Acute Failure of the Victim Selection Process on a bunch of stupid punks.1
I don’t go “full animal” when I’m teaching; that’s reserved for training with someone of equal or higher rank (or if I’m actually defending myself, but that’s another story). But I do need to get focused and at least stick one foot into that animal headspace.
For me, part of that is seeing my opponents or training partners as nothing more than a set of targets, pressure points and joints to exploit and manipulate — to dehumanize them. It’s a fine line and one of the places where martial arts takes control and focus. I don’t want to really injure my partner, but if I don’t demonstrate techniques for real it does no one any good.
What does that mean? It means that even though I’m submissive and a nice guy, when I’m teaching martial arts I’m the meanest, nastiest son of a bitch you’ll ever meet (most of the black belts I’ve ever met are like that — the nicest, most vicious sadists imaginable).
One of the other things I like to do is demonstrate a takedown and submission in which the victim’s wrist, elbow and shoulder are all held in an extremely painful joint lock, using only two fingers. My demo partner for this class was Heather_Daisy, so I put her flat on her back in this wrist lock.
I sat down next to Heather and, in my best imitation of Count Rugen from The Princess Bride, said, “Now this is for posterity, so please be honest: Can you get out of this?”
Heather pulled against my grip, then gasped and immediately stopped. Trying to muscle out of this hold just makes it hurt more. “No!” she said.
“And how does this make you feel?”
“It makes me feel like I hate you!” she cried.
I let her up and we continued with the practicum.
Headspace 2: The Sicko
It doesn’t bother me to inflict pain on my demo partners. They’re grownups and they know what they’re getting into. But the last part of the practicum has always been difficult for me: I show the class how to defend against attempted rape. This requires pinning my partner on her back and pretending I’m trying to pull her pants down.
This really shouldn’t be any different from the rest of the demo: We’re all grownups, and I’m always careful to explain this to my partner and make sure it doesn’t trigger anything. But when I’m in that dehumanizing headspace AND I’m simulating an attempted rape, for some reason it just makes me literally sick — I feel horrible, guilty, nauseated. I have to resist the urge to apologize over and over for what I’m doing.
This is not a trigger — I’ve never been sexually assaulted2 and I’ve never assaulted anyone. But I feel the way I imagine I’d feel if I was coming to my senses after losing control of myself and committing a rape.
I’ve done this often enough to have learned how to deal with it — what I’m teaching is, IMHO, important enough that I shouldn’t avoid this part of the class. I know I’m going to feel horrible for a while, but also that it will pass. So suck it up, buttercup — you’re going to have a rapist in your head for a couple hours, and that’s that.
Headspace 3: The Submissive
I invited everyone to ask me questions later if they had any — the class was over and it was time to start the play party. “I’ll be free for a little bit but I think I have an appointment soon,” I said, winking at BlackButterfly.
She said, “Nah. I’m going to give you to Heather for the night.”
Gulp. Heather’s face lit up. She likes torturing me anyway, but now payback was on the menu.
I was strapped down tight to one of the crosses in a jiffy and the fun began.
Headspace 4: The (Partial) Lizard Brain
Heather can be really scary to play with. And BlackButterfly is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. But instead of watching, this time she decided to tag-team with Heather and they both turned into full-on effing Cenobites.
Heather and BlackButterfly have both driven me almost — almost! — over the edge in panic more than once. And last year I did a breath play session with MsSaskia that pushed me pretty far that way.
But that tag-team playtime with Heather and BlackButterfly got me closer to total lizard-brain, out-of-control panic than I’ve ever been before:
At one point Heather had a knife in my bellybutton, saying, “Yummy internal organs!”
“No!” I gasped. “I’m stuffed with cotton! Like Winnie the Pooh!”
Everyone laughed, but I wasn’t trying to make a joke — I was drop-dead scared and trying to talk her out of slicing me open.
When we switched from knives to beatings, Heather made me say “Thank you, Mistress Fire and Ice Cream!” every time she hit me. Then she asked me what BlackButterfly’s favorite ice cream was. BlackButterfly arched her eyebrows and waited.
“Vanilla!” I blurted.
They stared. “Really?” BlackButterfly said. “We’re at a kink party and you’re guessing vanilla? Tell her my favorite ice cream!”
“I don’t know what it is!” I cried. “Well,” BlackButterfly said, “you’d better keep guessing.”
“Peanut butter and chocolate!”
This went on for a million years or so until I yelled, “Cookies and cream!”
“Yep. About time,” she said.
“That’s one of them. What’s the other one?”
After I finally got the second one (strawberry), I was rewarded with an extended whipping, during which I was supposed to say, “I promise to take my Mistress out for ice cream!” after each hit, but of course that took too long to suit Heather, and besides, I was getting more than a little incoherent.
Then followed a recital of BlackButterfly’s favorite color, movie, and bunch of other things, culminating with her favorite song. I knew this one right away:
“Little Wing!” I blubbered.
“Very good!” BlackButterfly beamed.
“Now sing it for us!” Heather said, raising whatever she was hitting me with by that time (I can’t remember).
Well, doggone if I couldn’t. I’m a horrible singer, but it wasn’t embarrassment; I was only vaguely aware by that time that a lot of people were watching (and enjoying) my torture. No, the problem was I was teetering on the edge of completely, utterly losing it. Whatever “it” is. A little tiny piece of my brain was reminding me that
- Heather and BlackButterfly weren’t really going to kill me, and
- I was strapped down very tightly and wasn’t going anywhere.
But that little part of my brain was locked outside and quietly, timidly scratching at the door. The rest of my brain was yammering and gibbering in panic — I was hyperventilating, my eyes rolling, thrashing around wildly in the restraints and trying desperately to get away.
I’ve always wondered what will happen when I get pushed far enough that that little tiny piece of my brain shuts up and I go completely over the edge. I am, in fact, intensely curious and can hardly wait to find out.
But I didn’t get to that night. Heather looked at me a minute and said “Can’t do it, huh?” I shook my head or blathered something and she smiled.
“Well, I’m gonna spank you five more times and you get to count them. Think you can do that?” She picked up a spanker made out of the sole of a hiking boot. I nodded or twitched or blinked or something. She raised the spanker.
Sweet eructating Cthulhu on a pimped-out pogo stick!
I somehow accessed enough brain cells to stutter a few syllables that Heather charitably decided sounded sort of like Spanish, and we were finally done.
Heather and BlackButterfly, probably wisely, did not untie me until I at least started to calm down. Dang. Came THAT close to finding out what’s over that edge. But I trust BlackButterfly implicitly — I think she’ll know when I’m ready for that final push.
Headspace 5: Exit the Sicko
Let me tell you just how intense this whole thing was: When BlackButterfly lets someone else play with me, I am required to keep my underwear on — the naughty bits are off limits.
When they untied me and I sat (fell, actually) down, my underwear was drenched. And I honestly didn’t know if it was sweat or if I’d pissed myself.
Turned out it was sweat, but I had to go home later commando. But if you aren’t sure if you peed yourself and realize it very well could have happened, you’ve had a good session. I’m so lucky to have such an awesome Mistress and such awesome friends!
But something else happened: The Sicko Headspace, which was just beginning when we started playing, was gone. And it didn’t come back. I never went through the self-inflicted guilt trip I have always taken after the rape section of the practicum. Not this time.
This is one of those epiphanies that fascinates and frustrates me at the same time: Was it just the intensity of the session and ensuing endorphin bath that swept away the Sicko Headspace? Or was it because Heather — the subject of the simulated rape and interrupted guilt trip — was the one doing the beating?
And why did a beating make the Psycho Headspace go away? I’ve tried meditating, exercise and a bunch of other things to try to forestall it or distract myself out of it, but this is the first time it didn’t put the hammer down.
I have SO much learn.