Recently, I said to a date, “Tell me about your relationship to pain.”
“I really fucking like having my ass spanked,” she replied. Non-responsively.
Had it not been our first date, were we not in a bar, I would have spend her ass really fucking hard. And repeated my question.
Given the context, I forwent the spanking and simply repeated the question.
Either I didn’t communicate clearly or she found the question as posed unanswerable. In any event, I offered to show her what I had in mind by describing my relationship to pain.
I don’t like experiencing pain, I told her. It’s not consistent with arousal for me. The moment I feel pain in a sexual context, it takes over the foreground of my experience and whatever else I may be feeling recedes, or disappears.
Outside a sexual context, I continued, I am able to find pain more… interesting. For better or worse, I am a person for whom pain is a fairly constant aspect of my life. And, as a person who meditates quite a bit, I’ve become fairly intimate with my pain over the years. I distinguish between aches and throbs, dull and sharp, quiet and loud. I notice when pain is relatively static and when it is more dynamic, shifting and changing, in sensation, location, intensity. I feel temperature in my pain. Usually warm. Sometimes hot. Very infrequently, freezing.
My own experience of my pain is that, generally speaking, it doesn’t go away. At best, I become distracted from it, it suffers from my neglect, pulsing on never the surface, clamoring for attention, but not getting it.
It rarely stays the same for more than a moment or two, even if it’s more static: it does shift, I can see, when I look closely at it. Like cells moving under a microscope, the closer I look, the more variety I can discern.
There is a separate set of questions, about how I relate to inflicting pain on others. That, alas, will wait for another day. Though I’ve surely written about it before….