If you’ve read my ropespace post, you’ll know I love to be tied up. If you’ve spent more than two minutes on my Twitter feed, you’ll know that I love being suspended. But if you’ve ever been in the same room as me whilst I’m getting hoisted into the air, you’ll have quickly figured out that I’m a little bitch about it.
The pictures that go onto my Twitter feed (or onto my Daddy’s Instagram) make me look perfectly content up in the air, and I often am… after a fashion. During the process of being lifted, though, I have a tendency to squeak and squirm and repeatedly shriek the phrase “I’m scared!” with my eyes scrunched up shut. However, I do end up in the air, and I have some wisdom on how to make it from A to B as a bottom without completely freaking out that might also be applicable outside of suspension scenes.
1. Let your top know how you respond to fear and to pain, if that’s knowledge they don’t already have. If this is someone with whom you regularly do edge play and/or S&M stuff, they might be aware of your reactions to fear and pain already, but a refresher doesn’t hurt. For instance, I make a lot of squeaky noises when I’m frightened, but they don’t necessarily mean that I’m so frightened I want to stop the scene – in fact, fear and adrenaline are two of my main motivators for getting suspended. Conversely, some people fall into complete silence when they’re trying to process pain, and if you’re one of those, make sure your top knows that! Otherwise they may well worry that something isn’t going well, or even that you’ve lost consciousness.
2. Accept that suspension is going to be scary and that it may well hurt. The first few times you get suspended (at least), your fight-or-flight response might well kick in. Not only are you more or less immobilised by rope, but you’re no longer on the fucking ground, and no matter how much you trust your top you’re going to be terrified of falling. The only way I’ve found of soothing this fear is a. Acknowledging that this is an inherently fuckin’ terrifying thing to do, b. Reminding yourself of all the ways that the risks involved are being mitigated (your top has received training on suspension; there are crash mats beneath you; the rope you’re suspended with is as strong or stronger than climbing-grade stuff) and c. Breathing as slowly and deliberately as you can manage. The only other thing that will help this primal terror subside is practice and time – that’s how demo bottoms & performers can be inverted and spun around like yo-yos with naught but a serene smile on their face.
As for the pain: you’re putting most of your body weight through ropes, which are not renowned for their generous surface areas. I usually revel in the pain where I can, and I remind myself that part of being a good bottom is communicating my needs when something hurts too much or in an alarming sort of way. You aren’t going to ruin the mood by saying, “Could you adjust that thigh cuff, Sir?”, or even, “I don’t think I can do this – can we try something else?” – any rope top worth their salt will be not only happy, but excited to experiment and improvise to find a tie or position that you’ll truly enjoy.
3. Move around in the rope! Remember how I just said that being hoisted into the air with just rope and carabiners is terrifying? Well, we’re gonna go ahead and make that more terrifying by wiggling. This sounds counter-intuitive, but moving around in the air might actually make you less afraid in the long run, since it’ll show you how much control you still have over your body (and might flood you with a little more adrenaline). In addition to that, moving around in a tie while you’re still on the ground will help you find all the kinks (haha) and less comfy areas so that your top can adjust or reassess that aspect of the tie, and moving around in the air can shift the pressure from one part of the tie to another, meaning that you can stay up there for longer. Oh, and wiggling your fingers and toes can keep your circulation going, and alert you if you’ve lost sensation or motor control – always important.
4. Remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Oh, God, I am shit at this one. As soon as my dodgy joints or my autistic overwhelm or the universal limitations of the average human body get in the way of my being able to stay in a tie or in a suspension, my chin wobbles. I become simultaneously apologetic and whiny. I am consumed by guilt, Impostor Syndrome and disappointment in myself. But suspension, and rope, and kink as a whole isn’t a competition or a test or a judgement of your worth as a bottom or a person. If you can’t do something, or you need a tie adapted, or you just plain aren’t enjoying yourself, it’s okay to stop! It’s okay to try play around and try something else, and it’s also okay to bundle yourself up in your Sonic the Hedgehog blankie and call it a day. In kink, we play with bodies in some intense ways, and with brain chemicals arguably even more so. Even if the stuff you’re doing doesn’t look as physically draining and fucking wild as some of the stuff you see in videos and performances, it can have a huge impact on you – so make sure it’s a positive impact, and respect the limits of your body and your brain.
Oh, and always bring a lint roller along if you want to wear your clothes anywhere other than the rope scene itself. Rope fibres get everywhere.