I’m on my way to answering the questions about the pain/play aspect of my relationship with Michael, I just have to take a little detour before I get there.
As I was reading the questions left here, I was again reminded how easy it is to confuse different aspects of this multi-faceted lifestyle loosely lumped under the acronym of “bdsm”. The letters are a confusing jumble of letters meant to cover a wide variety of activities – bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism. I’m sure you could argue that there are other words that would fit those letters, but those are the ones I’ve seen most often so we’ll stick with that.
In my relationship with Michael, we are continually engaged in our Dominant/submissive dynamic. He is always the Dominant, I am always the submissive. Period. No questions asked. Ever. This does not change whether I am tickling him in bed or he is beating me senseless. The “D/s” part of “bdsm” is a thoroughly fundamental part of our life. Our power dynamic fluctuates… it sometimes seems the thinnest layer of respect and deference in heated conversation, and it sometimes overwhelms both of us when I am on my knees at his feet, but it never goes away. Just like I am always my daughters’ mother, he is always my owner and I always belong to him.
The part of our relationship where we engage in things that hurt and bruise and create endorphins is the “s/m” part of “bdsm” (this is often referred to as “S&M” in popular culture). He is a sadist, I am a masochist. This is rather independent of our relationship. He occasionally enjoys hurting people other than me and I enjoy being hurt by people other than him. The sensations are what is important in this particular definition, not the person with whom the play is conducted. In the grand scheme of the time Michael and I spend together, the “s/m” part is relatively minor. If we are fooling around on the couch or in bed he will almost always bite me or pinch my nipples or scratch my thighs, but most of the time we behave like respectable people and treat each other nicely.
In short, the D/s dynamic is quantifiably separable from the s/m activities we pursue. The Dom/sub aspect of us underlies all else and never goes away, no matter how invisible it may seem to outsiders or how aggressively I rage against it when I am angry. The sadism/masochism is a temporary expression of a particular facet of our identities, much like if we were to occasionally go rock climbing or do crossword puzzles.
I promise I’m working on explaining how Michael and I work pain and play into our relationship. It isn’t as complicated as I’m making it, but it surely isn’t easy either.