Kink & Recovery
As animals in physical bodies, it can be exhausting to live with a human mind churning all the time. We consistently seek out alternate mind states beyond our daily reality. The most obvious paths involve alcohol and other drugs. By altering your brain chemistry, even if momentarily, you can certainly change your perspective, demeanor, and mood in ways that vary person to person. Some people, like myself, are predisposed to attempt to make this alternative a permanent reality.
My introduction to kink was at a time in my life when I used heavy drugs fairly often. I was involved in swinging and party scenarios I did not fully enjoy, but would go along with because I was inebriated and thought I was making my partner happy. He may have enjoyed the scenes we did, but he was not happy later to learn that I went along with something so serious without communicating my discomfort.
This is the difference between BDSM and addiction. D/s relationships are built on consent and mutual trust. This must include trusting the other person to speak up for themselves when necessary. Addiction doesn't care what you think or feel. Oppositely, D/s necessitates gathering as much information as you can about the other person in order to evoke the desired results in a safe environment. Consenting to things that I wasn't really okay with did not make me a good submissive. That's actually very bad submission. By consenting to things I actually hated (seriously!), I was lying and telling him that I was okay with what was happening, while it was destroying my self-esteem and our relationship.
It was only after I finished rehab and began my recovery that I was able to enter the kink world as a real player. Strip clubs were not an option for someone avoiding hard drugs. I started working NYC foot fetish parties with all sorts of girls and clients. Before, I thought my feet were big and awkward from years of dancing. My monkey toes are pretty long. But here were people lining up to pay for a bit of time with these appendages I had never appreciated. Talk about a self-esteem boost! I did it for me, and accepted or declined requests as I saw fit. Setting my boundaries was a crucial early step on the long road of recovery, as it is for everyone.
BDSM offers an extraordinary AND healthy alternative mindset. "Top-" or "subspace" is a somewhat hypnotic state achieved when each party is able to let go of daily inhibitions and worries through play. Experiencing this while sober, as I insist my subs be upon arrival to a session, is superb positive reinforcement. Every little thing we do rewires our brains a bit. Drugs aren't necessary to get into a place of relaxation or adrenaline, whatever the scene may be. The letting go happens thanks to moments of interpersonal connection, maybe some fun exploitation of sexual arousal. It is these pathways that must be diligently carved out and deepened by good habits. It's not as easy building patterns without the help of chemical substances, but it is a worthy practice.
Navigating life in recovery can be a minefield. You never know when a trigger will pop up and threaten to blow you apart. BDSM has the beautiful advantage of upfront limits. Each scene and relationship should be entered with some discussion, however brief, of what each person is into and what they are very NOT into, including what could potentially ruin a scene for them. As a past intravenous drug user, needle play is a hard limit for me. Trauma also prevents me from being a rope bunny, so I even make fetish photographers aware of this as a limit. It is not your place to go into why someone's limits are there, but to respect them. Without telling the details of my life story, I expect my boundaries not to be questioned, as should you.
Kink and recovery both require vigilant care of one's self. This includes planning ahead to avoid triggers or adverse reactions. This includes acknowledging yourself for the good work you did; aftercare for an intense scene or a rough day. You made it through, and you will again.
Respect your desires. Practice good habits. A Mistress can be a great resource in setting goals and holding you accountable. Tell on yourself when things feel off or you made a mistake. All these things will help you grow and deepen your devotion to the craft & your crafter.
Side note: Go get tested! Regardless of your level of activity in the community, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and get tested regularly. This applies to casual players as well as professionals. Many doctors and community clinics offer free testing resources. Search online to find one near you.