by Debbie Ann Wertheim
Alex came to San Francisco. Twice, over two months. The first time, stuff happened (unrelated to our play) that hurt several people, including him, pretty badly -- it still lays unprocessed, without closure... despite this, his second trip appears to have marked a start for his healing. He thought he could not play any more... he found out he was wrong.
This post tells of our play on each visit; he has seen it and helped edit it -- where he felt a need to insert remarks, they are displayed as [blue text, inside brackets].
Alex came to San Francisco.
And it was every bit as magical as I imagined it would be.
We had written a story together -- filled with fire and brimstone, confession and repentance, sturm und drang. "Wages of Sin" -- half story, half email exchange in guise of "in-role negotiation"; it was posted to a.s.b.
When we realized that we had a chance to make it come true there was a great flurry of email. Information exchange. Negotiation. Details. It was fun to wake up to email from Alex. It was at least a month of intense anticipation. I did things even at this stage to keep myself from getting crazy with anticipation.
I sent information in email. I found the music he mentioned for the scene -- Bach's "St Matthew's Passion", Monteverdi's "Selva Morale e spirituale". I cleaned. I shopped. But mostly, I daydreamed. I listened to St. Matthew's Passion. I wrote.
And finally, we met, at a playparty... Basically, we had agreed he would spank me (on a series of pretexts he plucked out of thin air at the party itself) -- until I said I was sorry (for whatever he was scolding me for at the time), when he would stop and give me some respite until the next bout.
[A: I was impressed... for all of my spanking (not with just my hand, either -- I was the proud owner of a new and nasty wooden paddle...!) -- I was not able to make Debbie Ann apologize! I tired my arms out, and she was bawling but not saying anything about being sorry. Wow...!-) I also felt quite reassured about our forthcoming "serious" playdate, fixed for two days hence -- first, some socializing, connecting, and strolling around SF, then, later, the Main Event...]
The play party was a good place to start. We did the "get Debbie to say she's sorry" scene. It was great - at least for me - I enjoyed being as stubborn as I wanted to be. I don't really think I was that heavy - there was a break about every 5 minutes, which makes it a lot easier for me to take just about anything.
I got a glimmer of insight into the feeling of not surrendering, which was a concept being talked about in the news a lot since this was the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.
In general, I'm a firm believer in not challenging, because I know given enough time and the right instruments, I'd surrender every time, but this time, I was pretty happy and not saying I'm sorry. And I knew More was to come...
And then the day arrived.
At first we wandered around San Francisco - buying books, looking for gifts for Alex's children, drinking espresso, and generally enjoying a bright, sunny, and still cool, day.
It was a joy to hear Alex's voice, to hear the person that made those words appear on my screen. I was happy, just with that, in and of itself. Finally, we public transported to my little apartment. And sat on my bed.
I don't remember feeling scared at that point. I felt uncertain. As if I were blindfolded and didn't know where we were going. I put music on, brought glasses of water in. And then let Alex lead the way. Alex and I role played hard and deep...he was an agent sent by god to cleanse me of sin, to rebirth me as innocent into this world... and Alex has such a wonderful voice, and a huge emotional power... he was so sweet in his severe punishment of me. I remember Alex taking my shoes and socks off, and how I felt safe.
I wasn't afraid of breaking Rules, because there weren't any Rules. Before we played, I was afraid I'd be rebellious and stubborn and obstinate, which I have been known to be, on more than one occasion. But this was completely different.
Alex was here as a gift from god. He told me that it wasn't even him visiting this discipline on me, that he was just a tool of a power much greater than the two of us. I felt like Alex was my friend, somebody I could tell everything to, somebody who had only my redemption in mind.
The role play blurred a lot for me. On the one hand we were talking about how I had sinned by masturbating, or by writing porn, and certainly I don't believe those are sins. But there was a part of the play that I did believe - that this was a gift.
In "Wages of Sin," Alex's roleplayed character had been a mix of sincere fanaticism and lubricious sadism. The real-life scene was quite different -- it was much cleaner, more honest, even more frightening... he was a conduit for energies and cruelties greater than himself.
This scene did not WANT to be about sex -- it wanted to be about sin and confession, repentance and penance, energy and pain. [A: luckily I had sense enough to perceive this in time, and let it flow freely enough, mostly overriding the sexual elements we had originallly "scripted in"... what remained of them were the only parts of the scene that did not work perfectly, but luckily they were minor.]
Repentance and penance. belief and doubt. Earlier in the day, Alex had told me about putting a cigarette out on a woman, so when he started talking about fire and my hands, that was all I could think about. And I was really scared at that point. I remember saying, "I'm scared". I think seeing the lighter was a bit of a relief, though the pain from the fire is not an easy pain. It hurts. Alex showed me how even a second can make a huge difference. It was simple and yet powerful.
[A: I did like the part where I reassured you by playing with the flame upon the palm of my own hand... I don't generally do "self-topping", but feeling the flame, or a blade's edge, myself, when I'm topping with them, somehow feels different. When I'm far enough in topspace, it's not even pain, per se, the way it would be were I bottoming, or in a real-life accident... it is sheer energy, feeding my frenzy and fed by it in turn.]
It was so nice to be reassured. It again fed into that feeling that you were my friend, that this was truly something that would make me feel better.
When we wrote Wages of Sin, it didn't feel like it had much connection to my real feelings about <god>, but as Alex and I started playing that is what came up for me. And my feelings are/were (see...they are in flux) that I want to believe in ***, but I couldn't reconcile the holocaust with the existence of a benevolent spirit. I was caught, between wanting to believe, but not being able to believe.
And then he took the tawse out. I know I didn't imagine how much it would hurt. I was told to count and I was worried about how I should count, if I had to say thank you first or after or what, but Alex said just count. I liked the feeling of being in role and yet feeling safe. The tawse on my palms hurt like bright fierce light. I think it was some of the harshest pain of the scene. I don't think my hands have ever been hit so much and so hard. Counting was hard admidst all the pain. For the last three Alex said I didn't have to count, but I had to keep my hand still. It took a lot of energy to will my hand into staying there, and by the time this part was over I was in tears. Staying still often pushes me faster into tears - I need a release, and for me movement is often a release, without movement I cry a lot faster.
There were three breaks, I think, in play that went for 4-5 hours, and one of the breaks was after the hand scene. It was easy to stay in role through the breaks. The role play took no effort at all for me. It felt completely natural, and true and honest. I remember getting up at the break to change the music- we went through all three CDs of St Matthew's Passion- and almost being too high to focus. I held my hands together in prayer, as well as an attempt to lessen the pain. My palms were red.
In another segment of play Alex used a very stingy toy (?) [A: it's called a "tri-wand", and I once bought it in Boston...] on my breasts. I thrashed around a lot - it hurt - I even had to take my nipple ring out, something I hardly ever have to do. Later I would find a small bruise right on my nipple. The marks on my breasts showed up fast. We talked of how temporary pain was preferable to the everlasting pain of hell. And how the pain I was enduring was just a little taste of what jesus went through, and how it all brought me closer to god and the angels and would keep me out of hell.
The bottoms of my feet were subject to the same stinginess, but I must admit, I thought it felt good. It was not as intense as the pain I had felt on my breasts and hands. I think I stayed pretty still for the sole whipping. I liked all this attention to all these different parts of my body, and how each one felt different.
The end was truly cathartic for me. It was hard for Alex to understand my words through all my tears. These weren't just tears, but huge sobs, hysterical... I felt that god didn't love me, or didn't know of my exsistence, or that I was unloveable. And this made me sad beyond all belief, this made me despair. This caused an emotional pain that exceeded everything physical. Alex told me that god did indeed love me, otherwise Alex wouldn't be there, and in that very moment I was absolutely sure that was true.
When Alex suddenly had to come back to San Francisco for a business trip, we thought that, given his weak and hurt state, we might not be able to play, but we would still enjoy each other's company. There's lots of different topics that we like to talk about, lots of things we like to do together.
But when he came to the city, after a few days in the South Bay, he was already started on the road to recovery -- in good part thanks to two wonderful people who spent time with him there, Phoenix and Manx.
And then, we found out there was a Links party happening that very weekend -- suddenly, the prospect of a little bit of play appeared feasible again... a very significant thing, for one who so recently had seriously doubted he could ever feel up to playing again...!
In particular, having become aware of my fear of cigarette burns, Alex proposed doing just that, and I agreed. We talked about it early in the morning, so I had all day to contemplate the thought.
That was the only plan we had discussed prior to the Links party. We took a few toys and wandered over to the party (after an amazing cooked-by-Alex dinner). Just to make the scene a little more difficult, it turned out, due to smoking rules, we had to play outside, where I had to be quiet - not an easy task for me, but Alex graciously gave me his handkerchief to bite down on, and then proceeded to tease and torment me, then to burn me with the cigarette, and then finally put it out on me.
It wasn't nearly as painful as I had built it up to be. It hurt, but it was very pure clear pain, and it was in a very small area, and it was over pretty fast. It wasn't the kind of pain I could really relax into, it wasn't particularly erotic pain, but it was satisfying to go through. I thought it would be somehow unbearable, and it wasn't.
Little did I know that was the easier part of our play.
The next part is so hard for me to explain. We were in a small dark area...I was lying down, on my back, and Alex with his hands took hold of these muscles(?) above my breasts, next to my armpits, and he squeezed hard and it was excruciating. It hurt so much. I screamed as loud as I possibly could. It was completely mind emptying pain. Nothing existed besides the pain.It was like Alex was reaching inside me and touching pure pain. I think nobody could see what he was doing to cause such screams to come out of me. It made me happy to scream as loud and as hard as I could and feel Alex not flinch, not back off, not check in, but just keep the pressure on. It was so intense.
And then Alex said, I want to bite you really hard, is that ok, and I said yes, and he bit the flesh on my sternum really, really hard -- and that's when it was like there were no bodies, there was just these two spirits, and I felt my very inside soul being squeezed hard. The way Casper the ghost can walk through walls, was the way it felt that Alex could reach inside me and squeeze/bite/touch pure pain. It felt very much like there was an emotional energy that existed above and beyond the physical sensations that were happening. And it is very unlike me to describe things in that particular way. I'm not a very newage california type gurl, but there was no denying this - to me it felt as real and solid as this computer keyboard. There was definitely an otherness to it, and it felt scary to me. No matter how hardcore of a masochist I am, I wasn't experienced in this sensation that I could be reached inside of. I felt like Alex had this huge power. I was pretty scared.
We played down there for awhile...went upstairs and took a break...went outside and felt the burning end of a cigarette, and then it was back to that small dark space, where Alex slapped the burns until there were bruises all over my upper arms. I tried to get away and couldn't. I cried.
We finally went home. Completely exhausted.
The next day was Alex's last day here. It was a wonderful post-scene day. I still felt happy, content and sore from the night before. We slept late and then slowly roused ourselves and headed over to the Cliff House for brunch. The brunch was lovely, the view was beautiful...I was reminded how much I love this city. After brunch we wandered around, watched the ocean and talked about Italy. Then we went over to Golden Gate Park, looked for water flowing uphill, and spent more time walking and talking and looking at ducks diving. It was just easy and sweet - it didn't really feel sad to me. Towards the end of the day, we came back to the house, loaded up the suitcases (now heavy with books!), and headed out to the airport. I felt a little sad, but still content. I'm sure I'll see Alex again and it had been such a treat to have these days together.