Growing up my parents were extremely physically and emotionally abusive. I moved out when I was thirteen, but I carried the previous abuse with me wherever I went. It made me cry when I detected the slightest amount of anger towards me, it made me shake and pull away when people waved their hands at my face or jokingly slapped me, and it made me go into full PTSD flashbacks whenever someone snapped a belt. My skin was covered in scares from my anger, frustration, and sadness.

I attended therapy with my new family for years. I became functional – I played sports, took honors classes, and was accepted to one of the most prestigious universities in the country. But I was still cutting regularly, I still couldn’t handle people’s anger, and I still had flashbacks. My (now) Master and I had dated for about six months when we decided to begin to integrate S&M into our relationship. It was subtle at first – hair pulling, biting, or gentle slaps on the ass. Then one day, feeling a giant surge of trust towards my Master, I handed him a belt off of my floor and bent over the bed. He was hesitant, expecting me to sob and cry and never speak to him again, but he tried it. The results were just about instantaneous – I started relating the sound of a snapping belt to sex and not my abuse history, I could have someone gesture with their hands near my face without crying, and I began to process emotions in an entirely new light.

S&M became an almost therapeutic aspect of our relationship. When I was stressed out, I knew that Master could come over, and we could have intense play - mild bondage and beatings at that time, and that I would experience relaxation on the other side. I could release my anxieties, my fears, my mania, and my depression through an intensive tactile and sexual manner, in a safe place with a person who I learned to trust more and more every day. Now, after two years of S&M I still find it comforting. There are limits to what I can do sometimes, and I need to communicate with my Master when I have had a flashback and am unable to look at a belt without cringing, but as long as we have open channels of communication S&M can only help me grow.

Adding S&M into our relationship didn’t cure my PTSD nor did it make me less bipolar, but it helped me come to terms with emotions in a new light. I was able to attribute sounds, voice tones, and experiences away from something damaging and associate it to something positive that elicited growth and pleasure. It opened modes of communication between my partner and I, we were able to discuss what felt good and what didn’t, emotional ramifications, and deepen our trust every day. I learned that pushing boundaries – emotionally and sexually, can have some pretty incredible results. I found a space in which I didn’t need to worry about making a mistake, when I faltered Master would catch me (and punish me accordingly), but I knew what was coming. I knew that the punishments were done for me, to help me grow and expand, and not cower and shrink. I found a place where I could trust. I found a place where I learned to love. I found a place where I could finally let go of such a traumatic past and finally be myself.