“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”– Chuck Palahniuk
I am a lover of pain, a fiend for unusual experiences, and a follower of feelings. Most people think I’m a strange human, but many find that strangeness to be beautiful. Over the years I have learned to embrace it. It is who I am and it is what makes me unique. It is what drives my passion for existence. After reflecting on my last shoot with Mark Dektor and Bettie Bondage, I realized the tremendous amount of love and gratitude I have for the BDSM community. Not only has it served as a judgement-free space to experiment with new elements of pain, but it has also become an avenue for creativity and deep connection.
Pain is truly a fascinating subject, and one I am very fond of because it enables me to quiet my tireless mind and gives me the opportunity to feel again. I am given the chance to experience what it going on with me, my physical body, and my emotional self. The official definition of pain is recognized as the “physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.” However, conscious, deliberately-inflicted pain is much different.
I can recall every single needle that has been pierced through my pale skin—155 in total—from my breasts and collarbone to the tops of my sensitive thighs and various areas of my face. I used to keep them in a sealed mason jar atop my coffee table like a souvenir. It was a reminder of my strength and liberation. I know, who adorns a coffee table with a translucent jar of defiled needles, right? She does. I’m she.
As humans, we tend to steer clear of pain and instantly remove ourselves from the discomfort, but these are the most critical kinds of experiences. Whether physical or psychological, leaning into pain is where we become more aware. It is where we learn about ourselves and are given the freedom to grow. To me, feeling various types of pain can bring a lot of emotional distress to the surface and forces me to confront it—thoughts and sentiments that have become trapped in my body for days, weeks, and months. It is a form of therapy that enables me to maintain my mental health.
Being able to embrace varying pain during a scene allows me to be present, to free myself from anxieties, and feel the catharsis I need to transform and heal as an individual.
My previous scene with Bettie Bondage is one I will never forget, one that brought forth an intense bliss and the most pain I have ever experienced during play. The goal: to sew my mouth shut as a means of embodying my submission. I thought about the idea for weeks. I connected with digital acquaintances who had undergone sutures for leisure and gathered all the information I could to prepare accordingly. I even Googled a video to watch the process, but that my dear friends, was a terrible idea.
I remember being extremely nervous the morning of. I nuzzled into the white metal chair in Mark Dektor’s studio, fidgeting relentlessly and stumbling over my words as I attempted to hold a conversation. I observed Bettie as she circled the studio, uncrating her implements and lying them out onto the wooden table one by one. My pupils widened as I focused in on not one, not two, but six mosquito hemostats, three boxes of needles, and surgical sutures. I could feel my belly tightening, my nerves becoming fiercer. I had to pee, but the rain was heavy. I took a deep breath in and tried to mellow out.
“Ready?” asked Bettie. Her energy was much different than I had anticipated. It was fiery and carefree. She adjusted the music and turned up the volume. Heavy metal filled the room. She preferred Danzig. Talk about a mood. We initiated the scene with 12 needles in my chest, six on each side to intertwine thread and tighten them into a corset. She was quick, but meticulous, sadistically tugging on the thread surrounding each piercing. She watched me squirm and laughed as I squealed. It wasn’t long until I fell into a tranquil headspace. I continued to breath and allowed my mind to focus on the sensations against my skin.
I fell in love with needles the moment I felt the first one pierce my butter-like flesh. They have become the one type of play that sends me into a deep almost, instantaneous subspace. Once the needles were plucked out of my chest one-by-one, we moved on to my face. I had never had needles inserted into my face before and I was eager to dive in.
We began with a single needle below my left eye, just above the cheekbone. Bettie positioned herself behind me, resting one arm atop my shoulder, two fingers pinching my skin. The other slowly pushed the needle down through each layer of my complexion. When she asked me how I felt, I had not a clue. I looked into the camera and smiled at Mark. I didn’t feel any pain. In fact, I didn’t really feel anything. There was pressure, but perhaps I just needed a moment to process the fact that there was a needle in my damn face. Five more continued to pierce through my cheek as we giggled and relished in lighthearted conversation.
“Let’s try one in your bottom lip and see how you do before we move on to the sutures,” Bettie suggested. I agreed. She kneeled down in front of me and pinched my lip as she plunged the needle in, downwards, and out. Holy. Fucking. Shit. It felt like the needle was on fire, tearing bits of my lip apart on the way in as I let out a high-pitched scream. It was an intense, burning sensation that I wasn’t familiar with. “Good news is, the suture needle is a little bit smaller,” Bettie said. I immediately doubted my ability to handle it, but decided I needed to try anyway.
It’s important to know that pain not only serves as a means of healing for me, but it also serves as a challenge, and I am addicted to the challenge.
There is nothing more gratifying than putting my body through acute physical pain, enduring it, and making it out alive with a smile upon my face.
We moved on to the first suture. I closed my eyes as I felt the hemostat tightly hugging my upper lip. Bettie slowly began puncturing my mouth in a downward position and out the other end. It felt like time stalled dramatically. I could feel the silk thread being sprung and dragged through every layer of flesh as I cried. My eyes swelled and tears instantly fell from their sockets. It was similar to popping a pimple at your lip line, but a hundred times worse. It was an excruciating yet unusual sensation that I quickly learned to despise. “I don’t like it, take it out!” I screamed.
Bettie quickly cut the thread and gently removed it from my lip, holding my body to ensure I was okay. I started laughing uncontrollably at the thought of what I just willingly put myself through. “I can’t do it,” I said. Bettie smiled and checked in with me as I composed myself.
Here’s the thing, when playing with a partner or attempting something for the first time, you should never feel obligated to complete a scene you aren’t fully ready for. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to use a safe word, stop, and reconnect. Always listen to your mind, listen to your body, and take the time you need to recover or move on to something else.
I won’t lie, at first I was a disappointed in myself for not continuing, but after coming to terms with the pain and emotional distress, I realized that there was no reason to rush through this. I will try again when I am more prepared and it will be beautiful. It will be a new challenge. Pain is funny like that. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and teaches you things about yourself you may have never known. It is a powerful motivator and when we can accept it, we have the ability to shift, the potential to expand, and the power to transcend.