Surrender by Laurie et al.

by Laurie et al.

The English Composition course I have been taking has required me to do one of the things I hate to do most, write on command.  When I write, really write, I have to be inspired and it has to have a personal meaning for me.  I have avoided this course for years, but now I believe there is a reason I was meant to take it at this time in my life.

Each essay I have had to create has, at first, seemed an impossible chore.  Suddenly though, each time, some event in my life would form a story in my mind, and become an obsession I had to write down.  When this happened, each story took on a life of its own. I didn’t control the story, it controlled me, and each time I could barely type fast enough to get the flowing thoughts out.  I was surprised every time I finished to have learned something new about myself, though I doubt it was obvious to the reader, and I found it therapeutic.

Five essays so far in different assigned writing styles on very diverse topics, all based on recent events in my life.  All were unrelated, or so I thought, until I saw a common theme, the undercurrent, my meaning.  I had been writing about changes in my life, shifts in my own thinking, and ways I have recently learned to cope with different stressors in my life.  I had been writing to myself.

It was an epiphany.  The revelation was not just about the connection in my essays, but also that of the single, specific event that began these shifts in perception, these ripples in the pond of my life.

This would be my final essay for this class, and now I knew what it had to be about.  It wasn’t a safe or appropriate topic, and if I could have chosen another I would, but there was no choice.  The story was already alive and breathing in my mind, demanding to be born.  I would have no peace until it was.  I must write about myself, my Masochism, Subspace, and how everything changed.  I had no idea how it would begin, where it would go, or what the message would be, and that scared me, but the story was in control.  I gave in.

Obviously details would be inappropriate.  Very interesting perhaps, but inappropriate.  Details were not important though.

I am a Masochist.  When I finally acknowledged that, it changed me.  For some reason, when conditions are right, my mind and body can translate pain into something else.  Learning how to use that changed my life.  The event, the rock thrown in my pond, was discovering Subspace.

Most people would not intentionally seek pain.  Who in their right mind would?  I do.  In part I do it for the sensations themselves, but I also need it to get to Subspace.  One definition of Subspace is “a specific state of mind that a submissive may enter, particularly after intense activities and/or (depending on the person) intense pain play, characterized by euphoria, bliss, a strong feeling of well-being, or even a state similar to intoxication. Thought to be related to the release of endorphins in the brain. The euphoria associated with Subspace may last for hours or sometimes even days after the activity ceases.”  (Veaux)

It is the highest high I have ever experienced.  I am breaking no laws, and I am not putting any chemicals into my body.  My brain and my body create everything.  Athletes who push their physical limits to the point of pain, and yet go on know this feeling.  Some runners claim to be addicted to the “runner’s high”, that endorphin rush.  It is a built-in, fight-or-flight survival mechanism.  Residual effects often last for days.  Brain chemistry is truly amazing.

Under the right conditions, with the help of another, and with safely applied stressors I can allow this physiological process to occur.  Then the never-ending internal babble in my mind stops.  Every sense, every nerve ending is alive, working at maximum capacity.  Everything is sensation.  Any touch, sound, or scent can be felt intensely.  Yet, I am very focused and relaxed.  I can then enjoy this altered state, and use it for much more pleasurable things than running a marathon.  But I am not here to talk about those.

Originally I planned to write about the causes of Masochism and/or Subspace.  The assignment was, after all, to write a Cause and Effect essay.  I tried.  I found it difficult to put my subconscious, my psyche into words.  With this story still incubating, I decided I needed to seek more information from reputable sources.

Still deluding myself that I could write objectively and explain the whys or hows, I was disappointed to find very little research or statistics on Sexual Masochism or Subspace.  Google provided a mere 100,000 results for Sexual Masochism.  Most results were exact copies of diagnostic criteria for the mental disorder “302.83 Sexual Masochism”.  The rest were porn.  Although I did find it comforting that consensual Sexual Masochism is not considered a disorder unless it causes “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”, this was no help for my essay.  (American Psychiatric Association pp. 572-573)

With surprisingly little legitimate information available, I was still at a loss.  There went my idea of taking the “proper” approach.  Well, I decided, if I wanted to know something I could always ask Subject Matter Experts.  One group I am a member of has more than 15,000 other active Masochists and Sadists.  Still not sure what I was seeking, I conducted a survey.  I asked the Masochists several questions I had asked myself over the past few months.

As always, I received overwhelming support from this group.  Most were very willing to answer my questions honestly from their own perspective and many offered further assistance.  Several were willing to allow the use of their identities; however since not everyone was, I decided to keep all information from this source and the source itself anonymous.  I also received well-intentioned criticism of this topic.  One English professor, a member, was concerned my subject choice might be inappropriate and humorously suggested that I was actually seeking a bad grade because “maybe red pen plays into the whole Masochist thing.”

So I collected all the responses and prepared to write.  Hardly a scientific study, but I had data.  I organized it logically, read it, and wrote a few drafts trying various approaches to explain Something-Which-Can-Not-Be-Explained.  I failed each time.  Whether it was a transcendental out-of-body experience; a significantly super-enhanced physical encounter; a completely relaxed physical, mental, and emotional state; or so many other amazing things each experience has always been different for me.  Everyone else’s is different each time, too.

Consequently, I had no commonly agreed upon description.  I also had way too many causes, which I was unable to elaborate on without turning my essay into kinky erotica.  I couldn’t do that.  Some who read this will be disappointed I left all the good parts, the “juicy” bits out.  But what could I do?  This is an English Comp essay, after all.

I kept reading and revising.  I kept reading the responses to my questions.  Their experiences were so similar to my own.  I kept reading my own answers, and realized that they still did not meet the PG-rated version I was striving for.  I sighed and deleted.  Re-wrote, sighed, and deleted again.  I kept walking away and coming back later for yet another attempt.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I read and revised more.  I read the responses over and over.  I kept re-reading the drafts.  I kept re-reading my introduction.

Then the point, the “voice”, my meaning, hit me.  It was the effects of Masochism and Subspace, not the causes, that had affected other parts of my life, made ripples in my pond.  Ripples I had written about, even if only to myself, in my other essays.

There was no need for me to type my list of long-term effects.  Somebody already had.  Many people had.  One question I had posed to the others was “How does your Masochism enhance/hinder/effect the other parts of your life?”  No one had to respond, but so many did.  Every one of them responded because it was a subject very near and dear to their own hearts.

We are Masochists.  It is part of us, and it has always been there.  We know what we need, and we know how to get it.  We crave it within the very essence of our being.  We feel it.  It is indescribable.  We surrender to it.  We will do anything to get there.  Well, anything within pre-negotiated “hard limits”, of course.  Why or how does not matter.

“I believe it has a very positive impact on my self-esteem and self-confidence.”

“Jeeze what don’t I get from Masochism… It’s a high that’s unexplainable… It narrows my world for just the right amount of time to really see what makes my world so beautiful… It stops all the background chatter (if that makes sense)… Makes me feel powerful and fragile and I love feeling those two aspects at the same time… But most of all being a Masochist feeds my soul… It’s my missing link.

“I get a physical release of tension and stress. I also get the mental release of being able to ‘escape’ daily life and exist in the moment for that given time.”

“Pleasure! DUH! Seriously, I get a soul deep feeling of happiness and contentment that is priceless! I am happier then I have been in years, and love every minute.”

“I have had Subspace last for several days as well and that is sometimes an almost bizarre feeling. Bizarre because the things that normally bother me don’t bug me at all and I feel quite dreamy even while able to function as I usually do.”

“Pleasure, of course. It’s a chemical high, after all. The endorphins and adrenaline, along with love and security, is amazing.”

“I get a release from tensions and stresses…and in some way a sense of accomplishment and awe over what I can handle.”

“At one point Masochism was purely sexual, over time this has grown into much more. I find that pain focuses me in a positive way. It can be cathartic, a stress reliever, or a way of achieving clarity. So many different things.”

“At the end, the screaming releases I get are both physical and emotional, leaving me a much calmer, better focused person.”

“I know when I ‘fly’ I am more even-tempered for the days following the fly. My mind is able to focus and physical/mental/emotional stress is relieved.”

“All of my physical discomforts are gone and I feel no pain whatsoever. I feel as if I could run a marathon and this is what is magical about it. I do suffer from constant pain in the form of inflammatory arthritis and there is no medicine in the world that works to totally alleviate my pain as Subspace does for a period of time.”

“The catharsis, the stress relief. The focus is perhaps the biggest positive. Actively pursuing my Masochism has helped me grow as a person. Something I felt very strongly about previously in a negative way has turned around entirely and become a major influence on my life.”

“We’ve found that the ‘longer term’ effects of our scenes are that I’m better able to cope at work. I am in a high stress, ‘large and in charge’ type of position.”

“The physical pain/pleasure brings focus and tolerance and perspective to my everyday life. I’ve settled down and become significantly less emotionally driven in my career.”

“It enhances my life because it helps me to release stress and therefore be a happier person. I also know that when I am receiving pain regularly, I have no thoughts of using drugs or doing other negative behaviors. (I’m 12 yrs clean, but still desire a high…if that makes sense…)”

“Surrender” by Laurie (14 December 2009)


“You did it!  You wrote a paper on masochism and it wasn’t perverted, ‘x-rated’, or threatening, and didn’t portray us to look like freaks.  My hat is off to you lady.  I’m proud to have been a part.“

Writing about this, without crossing any boundaries, yet still getting my point across was very difficult.  I needed to write this for myself, and perhaps for others trying to come to terms with this strange, scary, and wonderful “dark” part of their psyche.  I did not write this for the grade, although I never would have written this without the assignment.
Thank you to my teacher for encouraging me.  Your response to my first essay gave me the courage to write this.
I would not have been able to write this without the help of others, strangers yet friends, who selflessly offered their personal insights and opinions.  Thank you to all of the other Masochists.  You understand how hard it is to fit into “normal” sometimes.
And, of course, I could not forget the one who taught me the most, who understood and helped me to not feel “bad” or “wrong” for simply being who I am.  Thank you Sir.
                                                        May 15, 2010

Works Cited

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Print.

Veaux, Franklin. “The Kinky Dictionary: Glossary of BDSM Terms.” Franklin Veaux’s Home Page. 03 Aug 2009. Web. 13 May 2010.
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2 Responses
  1. Reading what I wrote about Subspace while in Subspace is weird… 😀

  2. I turned in my paper tonight. It wasn’t due until Wednesday, but if I didn’t do it tonight, I might talk myself out of it. As soon as I did, I started second-guessing myself. My stomach started churning. I was going to be worried about it until at least Wednesday if not longer.

    About half way through class I realized I was not only due for EPIC Subdrop, but PMS as well. I could possibly be an emotional wreck on Wednesday. I normally don’t get Subdrop unless it is a very intense “flight”. Yesterday was way more than intense!

    I asked my teacher to read it. Better tonight (still floaty) than burst into tears at first sight of my teacher in two days. I didn’t expect him to actually grade it tonight, but he did.