Last Sunday, I was on the way home from a seven-hour shibari workshop with my Daddy (as in my nurturing, dominant romantic and sexual partner). I sat in the passenger seat of my Daddy’s car, my black ‘Masochist’ T-shirt covered in rope fibres, and attempted to compose a message to my mum (as in my actual biological parent) about how my day had been. I have a spectacularly open and chill relationship with my mum, so I finally gave up on forcing my brain to communicate with my thumbs and just told her I was in subspace and my brain was “pleasantly mushy”. The next day, when I was somewhat more coherent, she asked me what I actually meant by subspace.
The answer, of course, is that it depends.
This conversation with my mum, in combination with Kate Sloan’s latest piece on little space, prompted me to contemplate the differences between the different kink headspaces I experience, and how I might describe them. This post will hopefully be the first in a series of many exploring the different subcategories of subspace.
To begin with, I want to talk about “ropespace”. It’s a subspace like many others, but it specifically occurs when I’m being tied up in some capacity, and usually involves literal ropes, as opposed to other restraints (like handcuffs). The rope itself plays a part: I’ve grown to associate the appearance of rope, its texture and its warm earthy scent with being bound in some capacity, so just seeing, handling or sniffing the stuff can gently nudge me towards ropespace if I’m not there already.
The other sensory aspect of rope bondage that really contributes to the headspace it puts me in is the sensation of being wrapped up tight, squeezed or otherwise securely held by ropes, both whilst I’m being tied and for any period of time that I stay tied up. I often say that it “gives me good autism”, which is a very particular kind of sensory stimulation or comfort that satisfies me very, very deeply. (Other things that give me “good autism” include glitter, citrus-y scents, arranging things by colour or size, and those cookie decorating videos that are everywhere at the moment.) I am almost instantly blissed out by the feeling of being hugged by ropes, whether that hug is around my waist, chest, wrists or even feet, and the experience of being tied into those hugs by someone I’m into is so joyful it makes me giddy.
A big part of the reason that I’m so sensation-oriented when I’m in ropespace, and thus so focused on the scent and pressure of the rope, is that I feel a lot more mindful and embodied than I do usually. I have a bunch of trauma stuff I’m still in the midst of addressing, meaning that I dissociate on a pretty regular basis, and in my day-to-day life, I can still more or less function even when my brain has completely checked out. But, because of the risks involved in rope (like circulation loss, nerve damage and joint problems), dissociating just isn’t an option. My primary job as a rope bottom is to be attentive to my body’s responses so that I can communicate with my top and be tied safely (which also means that any hint of dissociation warrants a safeword and possibly the end of a scene). Rope scenes are some of the few times that I intentionally and continuously tune in to every single part of my body and the ways that they’re all feeling. This can be exhausting, of course, but it can also be calming and enjoyable and deeply, deeply healing.
Another major psychological component of ropespace is the sense of malleability it gives me – or, more specifically, the sense of malleability that being manhandled by my Daddy gives me. Combined with the security of being tied in the first place, the experience of being grabbed, moved around, turned and twisted as my top needs can sometimes put me into little space; other times, it simply puts me into a deeper subspace wherein I feel lovingly objectified – a useful and prized canvas upon which my top can create art with rope. The couple of times I’ve been suspended have amplified this enormously: being carefully dangled from the ceiling makes me feel small and willingly helpless, especially when coupled with the intense fear of falling and the pride my Daddy expressed when I overcame it.
There’s also an exhibitionist edge to some of the rope stuff I do, since my Daddy and I are currently obsessed with attending workshops to learn and practice new skills. This necessarily means getting tied in front of people, which adds again to the sense of loving objectification – my Daddy loves to tie me tightly, roughly or otherwise meanly, to get me to squeak and whimper, so all eyes are on me and I feel distinctly ‘shown off’. Not all of the rope that I do is in public, but I still feel like I’m ‘showing off’ when it’s just me and a top – like I’m showcasing how still I can be, or how obedient, or how resilient.
Ropespace is still somewhat new to me, but it feels different from masochist-space, service subspace, pup space and little space already. All of the aforementioned fall under the general umbrella of ‘subspace’, of course, but I hope I’ve managed to articulate exactly how ropespace feels for me, at this point in my kinky development, and I’m planning to explore other kink mindsets soon – so watch this space!