Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where is the Line?

I was recently inspired to dive into a thought process around healthy limit pushing and crossing the line into actual damage.

It really is the proverbial line in the sand--you draw it, stand there with your nice little stick pointing firmly at it... and a big wave comes along. Bye bye line in the sand. Sometimes it's a good thing. Other times, not so much.

So we try to walk on this finite line and travel in a direction that's healthy. Hopefully without falling off one side or another. But falling along the way is inevitable. Kind of like learning to walk or swim--at some point you are going to eat dirt or breath water.

There's a line between growth and damage. Sometimes it's difficult to see through the waves, but it's there. And I was recently asked where exactly "there" is.

The truth is, I don't know. Pause for shocked silence (yes, please do smirk here).

Your line might be over there, someone else line might be over here and off to the side.

For me, the line falls somewhere between that place where I just know I can't go any further even though I can (in that "I can't think or speak because my brains are goo and may never function again" kind of way), and feeling icky the next day or when the experience is duplicated. But it has so far been nearly impossible for me to catch on my own. I need His help.

It takes a while to figure out where your line is. And even then the damn thing has a tendency to move. And it takes time for someone else to pin down your moving line. So it's easy to cross when you are trying to push the limits. And damn do I like having my limits pushed. In a love/hate kind of way.

It is possible to experience ttwd and come out cleaner, heal old wounds, expand your mind and the way you see existence, to create a relationship that is, to plagiarize myself (can you do that?), closer than skin will allow.

And it is also quite possible to come out wounded and damaged, with new scars and a relationship lacking mental intimacy.

I believe that overall, we come closest to shark infested waters when we deal with pain or humiliation.
Pain factors into Alpha and I's relationship, but it's not something He generally pushes further than I think I can go. Pain, while extremely physical, is also a very mental experience--how it is given, how it is taken, the individual processes along the way.

I think humiliation (referencing myself again of course), is a bit different. It can be kind of like swimming with dolphins in shark infested waters--dangerous but oh so incredible. And it's not so much about the event itself as what happens afterwards. So maybe the line between growth and damage isn't so much about what happens when we play on the edge, but the things that happen when we hang off of it.

I'm gonna get sidetracked with humiliation for a minute here...I used to think it was squarely on the wrong side of my little line in the sand. And then I learned that there is nothing quite like it. Having someone piss all over you and treat you like a dirty whore one minute, then turn around and tell you that they love and respect you the more for it and you can try to take over the world again tomorrow? It's one hell of an experience. Yes, I know run-on sentences are one of my major grammatical errors. I can't help it if that's how I think lol.

And it's tricky, because that worthless feeling can be a sneaky little bitch who wants to sit next to you and be a close companion. Sometimes she wants to hang around and mess with your head. That's why what happens afterwards is so important--It can crush her or bring her in for coffee.

Alpha likes to say that He will hurt but never harm me. And I think that is an important distinction. Hurt is a temporary experience that offer opportunities for growth. Harm occurs when there are adverse impacts with lasting effects.

How do we avoid crossing that sometimes finite line between to much and not enough, between hurt and harm--how do we walk on the perfect road? Never gonna happen 100% of the time. Huff at me all you want lol. It will still remain true.

But I do believe it is possible to maintain an overall healthy balance.
There's no substitution for knowing someone well. Alpha knows me well, and is quite acquainted with my migrating line in the sand--He has moved it upon occasion. The better a Dom knows their sub, the easier it is to avoid damage.
At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I think that safe words (and actually using them), can really prevent a lot of harm and diffuse situations before they reach the point of causing damage. They give submissives the tools to help prevent harm. If you have one? Use it when you need it. Not after. And the better you know yourself, the more effective and useful it will be.

Is there one single point where everyone's line intersects, a common point between pushing the limits and incurring damage? If so, I think that it is an emotional intersection. Perhaps a feeling in common...But whatever path gets us there will be unique to each.


  1. Very timely post lil. Safe words and lines are something we have been discussing quite alot lately and I find it somewhat scary that I feel like I have no idea where my line is. How's that for a run on sentence? LOL. Thanks for giving me more to think about.

  2. Walking the line (and even gently nudging it to expand it a bit) are the pinnacle of excitement IMHO. But you're right--it's dangerous business. You've done a wonderful job of capturing the precarious nature of this particular exercise!

    As to safe words, I agree that they should be employed when necessary. At the same time, one must be careful that hitting the eject button doesn't become too easy and routine--sometimes you only think the plane's going down, when actually it's about to perform some amazing stunt that will leave you gasping and marveling. So much depends on trust and on how well you know each other!

  3. faerie,
    I have been on such a ramble this week that it's all blending into one long post of confusion in my head.
    I'm glad you found something to think about in my mad ramblings. I do try to make some semblance of sense!

    Thank you. And I agree, it is incredibly exciting. Living completely in our comfort zones doesn't offer much opportunity for growth and evolution.
    On the subject of safe words, I did a post about them a while back. Many of the comments mentioned having them but being unwilling to use them--like safewording out was to be avoided at all costs so as not to disappoint. There were subs who regretted choosing not to use it when they should have.
    So while I think you make a very valid point that safe words should not be abused, and that they can be used as a manipulative "out", I also believe that the majority of subs have a hard time making the call and using it when they really need it.
    And there's the little fact that I don't have one--and I feel it's irresponsible not to advocate them just a bit.
    I did say I try to make sense--nothing about actually succeeding lol.

  4. This is a wonderful post- the analogies are great!
    I think that a submissive has the duty of communicating their limits and calling safe when they are pushed too far. Too many submissives are in it with "I can take it all" mentality. They think that being able to take what ever their M gives is what it is all about. They are wrong though because they miss a large portion of the relationship with the compromise and growth. These people will be the ones that end up having done it all in no time and have nothing more to look forward to, not to mention the effects on the psyche when one rushes into these sort of things. No thanks- I will take it slow and follow Master's lead and though we personally do not have a safe word- He will stop when He sees me at my limit because He knows me that well. Then we can work together toward making the limit disappear. That is all a part of the experience and what builds trust.

    And as a side note to any that may read this, despite not having a safe word we certainly advise others should always have one.

  5. viempora,
    Thank you.
    It's so easy to get caught up in that "I gotta be able to take all he can give" thing. But that's really not the healthiest for either partner imho.
    While I like to point out ttwd is an individual experience, I also like to err on the side of advocating for safe words.
    And there is really no substitute for knowing each other well is there.


Play nice.