Skills I’ve Learnt By & From Bottoming

A chalkboard with a mindmap on it, with a lightbulb at its centre. The mindmap is titled "Bottoming Skills" and has six bubbles, which say "boundaries", "self-care", "balance", "processing pain", "communication" and "mindfulness" inside

Last month, I asked my Patreon people what they’d like to see a blog post about for the month of October, and they voted for “Skills I’ve learned or am learning, as a bottom and a human”. So, naturally, I… proceeded to go about three weeks without writing or posting anything. My brain has been on the fritz again and writing about bottoming has fallen to near the bottom of my to-do list (get it?), but at least I can spin it in my favour this time, because one of the most important skills I’ve learned as a bottom is understanding and asserting my boundaries.

Looking after my boundaries comes under the heading of “soft skills”, and it’s a soft skill I’ve had to battle to learn. That’s not a surprise; I’m assigned female and recovering from abuse on top of that, so I’ve spent a lot of time acquiescing on my boundaries for the sake of my safety. In kink, though, the best way to ensure your own safety and wellbeing (and that of the people around you!) is to recognise and assert your boundaries, so that you don’t say ‘yes’ to something you can’t withstand. If you, like me, don’t care much about your own safety or wellbeing, you might find it helpful to reframe it as, “Part of being a responsible bottom is communicating about my boundaries and limitations. It helps my top/dominant if I am forthcoming about what I can and cannot do.” This helps you grant yourself permission to assert your boundaries, and the more times you voice a boundary and have it respected (and even congratulated, with phrases such as, “Good pup for telling me”), the more you’ll train your brain to connect asserting a boundary with having a good time, which is hugely helpful in non-kink contexts, too.

That’s the thing about soft skills like these: I learn or build them whilst bottoming, but they improve my quality of life in vanilla contexts, too. Skills in a similar vein include communication and self-awareness, as well as mindfulness and staying present within my body – something I struggle with, since 1. I dissociate pretty frequently and 2. My brain is usually running at ridiculous speeds and is never fully focused on a single thing. When I’m bottoming, staying present and attentive to my body and brain is essential to my safety as well as my enjoyment of the scene, and this has the pleasant side effect of teaching me that being present inside myself can be a good thing.

Another skill that I practice whilst bottoming and that helps me in my day-to-day life is processing pain. I have hypermobile joints that cause me chronic pain, with acute flare-ups often occurring in cold weather, when I’m ill, when I’m stressed, when I’m not eating right, and/or seemingly at random. It’s hugely helpful to have pain processing strategies to hand for these – things like deep breathing, visualising pain as heat which is radiating from my body, and learning not to freak out because pain is not always equivalent to peril. I’m not learning to ignore pain – in kink, because pain is part of the fun; with my joints, because pain is informative – but I am learning to cope with it.

Bottoming is also teaching me to prioritise self-care. I’m a better bottom (more engaged, more attentive, able to push myself) if I’m well-fed, well-rested and managing my chronic pain appropriately. It’s sometimes difficult to grant myself permission to perform self-care, so, much like with the assertion of boundaries, it’s useful to reframe it as being useful to other people, as well as mixing in the incentive that if I do more self-care, I can do more BDSM.

I have also learned and/or developed “hard” skills from bottoming. Some of these things are as minor and context-specific as coiling my Daddy’s rope for them, but some are bigger – like rope stuff helping me to improve my balance and proprioception. Bottoming-related hard skills are ones I’d like to explore more thoroughly; things like bootblacking would aid my hand-eye coordination, help me to keep my own Doc Martens in good nick and, as a nice bonus, put me into a service-oriented headspace. There are so many ways that bottoming has the capacity to improve one’s quality of life beyond just the bedroom/dungeon/wherever you do kink, and I’m excited to keep exploring them.

Why Bottoms Should Make Notes At Kink Workshops

Stock photo of a blank, lined, spiral-bound notebook, open and with a fancy pen sitting on top of it

I want to present to you my case for bottoms who attend kink and BDSM workshops making notes on the material they learn. I notice a lot of tops with notebooks and pens, but markedly fewer bottoms with the same, and I think those bottoms might be losing out a little as a result.

But before I delve any deeper, a small disclaimer: I go to a lot of rope workshops. And very little else. So this piece will be from a rope bottoming perspective, using rope bottoming examples, but it should still be relevant for spanking workshops, protocol workshops, humiliation workshops, and any other workshop you can conceive of where bottoms might be there, absorbing information and/or being practised upon by their toppy friends and/or partners.


I’ve written plenty about how actually being tied up feels for me, and why I like it, but I think there’s a particular art to attending workshops and classes in a bottoming capacity. I’ll likely never use the information provided at these classes for topping (since I’m dyspraxic as hell and sub-leaning besides), but I like to be more than a willing body for a top to practice on when I’m in any kind of workshop setting.

So I make notes.

They’re not notes that a top could use (at least, not on their own), because they don’t feature any technical details, diagrams or instructions. Instead, I make notes on the things I’ll find useful later, for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. When I’m in subspace, I’m not likely to retain information unless I write it down;
  2. When I’m overwhelmed by being in a noisy room full of people, I’m not likely to retain information unless I write it down;
  3. The physical act of writing keeps my autistic gremlin hands busy in a way that doesn’t look too rude (unlike, say, playing Animal Crossing on my phone), so my autistic gremlin brain can focus on what the workshop leader(s) is/are saying;
  4. They’re both informative and fun to look back over days or weeks after a class or a workshop.

“But Morgan,” you may be asking, “what do you make notes on, if not technical details and instructions?”

I’m glad you asked, dearest hypothetical reader.

I primarily make notes based on gut feeling – things that make my ears perk up, if you will. I start each workshop’s notes with the title of the class, the date on which it takes place and the scene name(s) of the workshop leader(s), and then I outline what we’re actually doing, like so:

Example Workshop – 12.05.19 – Led by Example McExampleface and E. G. Forinstance

Objective(s): full side suspension; gunslinger hip harness; eat as many aftercare snacks as humanly possible

After that, I might make notes on specific ties, both naming and describing them so that I don’t have to Google fancy shibari terminology every time I revisit my notes.

Tie: Tengu (the raptor hands one that makes my boobs look excellent)

The most useful notes I make, though, are usually based upon things said by the demo bottom (who often also doubles as a workshop leader). Demo bottoms provide invaluable tips on which things are the hardest to endure and how you might go about doing so, and they’re not usually tips that tops will take note of. Demo bottoms remind you to stretch and wiggle, encourage you to be a princess if something hurts in the wrong way, and give you straight answers about how uncomfortable or painful something might be. They make the world go ’round.

TIP: keep an eye out for circulation loss/nerve impingement in the hands for this one

Another key thing I include in my workshop notes is something a top simply cannot do on a bottom’s behalf – my initial reactions to all the activities we try. This is especially important for me as I have a hypermobility condition which requires me to be careful with the positions I put myself in (or allow others to put me in), and keeping track of which positions seem to aggravate which joints is key. For instance, if I’m having a Bad Knees Day™, I can use my notes as a tool in considering whether a futomomo is a good idea.

“Morgan, don’t you just remember when things hurt you?” you might be wondering.

No, dearest reader, I do not. If I remembered every position, activity or weather change that ever made my joints hurt, I would have no room left in my brain to remember anything else. I’m always in a little bit of pain, and often in a lot – so I often block it out, and I almost always forget about it afterwards.

Thoughts: that was hot as fuck, very much enjoyed the feeling of being compact & smol. Elbow joints ache, about 4/10 pain, but worth it (and could be fixed w/ ibuprofen and care)

Naturally, bottoms who might be inspired to take notes in workshops as a result of this blog post can deviate from the formula I’ve presented here. If you think you’d benefit more from making notes on the mechanics of something, drawing little diagrams of human anatomy or anything else, you do you. I’m just here to sell notebooks remind bottoms that they’re active participants in kink, and that their insight and learning is as valuable as that of their toppier counterparts.

Smut Saturdays #15: The Beauty of a Blindfold

Stock photo of a piece of light brown rope arranged in a heart shape, lying on a darker brown bench. The background is out of focus but looks greenish. It's cute, and suits this smut about a blindfold nicely.

Ready for some blindfold smut? Every fourth Saturday, I’ll be posting erotica I’ve written, based loosely on my own real life experiences or fantasies, for your wanking enjoyment. They’ll all be under the category ‘Smut Saturdays’ and if you’ve got any feedback or requests for smut scenarios, put ‘em in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @KinkyAutistic!


(I acknowledge that it is no longer Saturday. In fact, at the time of writing, it is Tuesday. But what could be more on-brand – for #AutismAcceptanceMonth especially – than running three days late on a self-imposed deadline?)


It hurts.

Of course, I know that it’s supposed to hurt. There is only one wrap of rope around my upper thigh, and through it is the weight of my entire leg. I feel like my skin might split, but it won’t give me the satisfaction – I probably won’t even bruise.

My Daddy and I are playing in his living room. I’m on the floor under his suspension frame, naked, with my right leg hoisted into the air and my left one resting on the ground, so my vulva is readily visible. It’s relatively quiet and calm in here, but the pain is still overwhelming me, and I’m worried I’ll reach my limit soon. I suck in short, sharp breaths, pulling air through my teeth, as I try to adjust to the feeling that my upper thigh is about to get ripped in two. I want to be good. I want to take this.

“Daddy,” I say timidly, watching as he begins to uncoil yet another rope. He pauses. “Could I have a blindfold, please?”

Asking for things mid-scene is not my strong suit. If we’re being brutally honest, asking for things at any time is not my strong suit. I want to take up as little space as possible, and make as little fuss as a person can; but this directly contradicts my desire to be as honest with my Daddy as possible and to process as much pain as a person can. So I ask for the blindfold, and I tilt my head up willingly when he pulls it from the rope bag.

“Good Puppy for asking,” he tells me, his voice both warm and condescending. He lays the fabric carefully over my eyes, aiming to block all light out of my vision but also to avoid compressing my nose and compromising my ability to breathe (because that would come later). He knots the blindfold tightly behind my head, so it hugs my skull and blocks out some sound by virtue of lying over my ears. I could still hear my Daddy if he raised his voice, but I can no longer hear the clock ticking, nor the hum of the refrigerator in the other room. All I can really perceive is the pain in my thigh.

I breathe in. I breathe out. I start to let go of the panic I had originally felt as a result of this seemingly unconquerable pain. I think, I hope this bruises and, Oh, it eases off if I press my left hip into the carpet and I’m such a good little masochist, all while my Daddy starts to tie my wrists together, silent and deft.

With one sudden, fluid motion, my wrists are pulled up, and with them, so is my entire torso. I yelp, but more importantly, without thinking, I twist, so that both buttcheeks are firmly on the floor and my wrists are comfortable above my head without threatening to pull one of my hypermobile ribs out of place. In the process, I obviously rotate my poor upper thigh, twisting it and dragging my flesh across the rope that encased it, and now I know it’ll bruise. I’ll be lucky if I haven’t made it bleed. I whimper, only somewhat soothed by the indomitable familiarity of ropes swaying and jostling whilst my Daddy locks off an upline that’s connected to my body. (For those not well-versed in rope-related words – some of which I might be bastardizing or making up entirely – the upline is the one that goes up to the suspension point. Locking it off involves doing things to it so it doesn’t move, unravel or otherwise drop your bottom on their, uh, bottom.) I’m disgruntled about my thigh – shearing (the dragging of rope across skin) is a type of pain I do not remotely enjoy – and I keep whimpering until the familiar movement above my head stops. Then there is a very long pause, and I blink against the fabric of my blindfold, against the darkness.

My Daddy takes hold of my chin. I don’t know whether he’s standing over me or kneeling by my side. I do know that him gripping my chin like this can only mean one thing. He holds it for long enough that I can object if I want to, but I stay silent. I’m such a good little masochist.

Crack. The sound of his palm across my cheek. I’m so full of endorphins that I interpret pain as warm, and sigh heavily at its pleasant radiation through my face. I know what’s coming next.

Crack.

It’s going to happen soon. It’s not the pain so much as the shock of it that gets me – and the intimacy of it. Being slapped across the face is completely inescapable. You hear it more loudly than any other slaps. When you’re not blindfolded, you see it. And I think it activates some primal instinct that arse-slapping just doesn’t achieve, because it usually only takes —

Crack.

Yep, three strikes and my eyes well up behind the blindfold. I can feel my lower lip wobble. My Daddy shifts his grip from my chin to my hair, and I know the next slap will make me cry.

He pauses for so long that I whisper, “Green,” in case he’s unsure. And then, crack. Across my face. Knocks the tears right out of my eyes. Knocks a loud sob out of my mouth. And I know that if I weren’t blindfolded, I’d call “Yellow,” because I’d be overwhelmed. But all I can feel is heat in my cheek and an unbearable level of anticipation, and I tilt my head up a little bit to indicate I’m ready for another.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

And now I’m fully sobbing, and I can feel my Daddy’s hand brushing hair out of my face. “Oh, look at you,” he says softly. “You’re so pretty when you cry.”

“I’m trying my best,” I wail, as is my custom when I feel sufficiently little and deep in subspace. “I’m trying really hard.”

“I know, baby.” There is some shuffling. His hand isn’t in my hair any more. “Do you know what else is really hard?”

I giggle even though there’s snot leaking from my face. “Daddy!” Then there’s a hand in my hair again, but this time it’s pulling. I can barely remember that my thigh is hurting, and I only re-become aware that my wrists are tied above my head when I move to scratch something and realise I can’t. “My brain is stupid,” I report honestly.

“That’s okay. You don’t need a brain for this.”

My hearing isn’t muffled enough to disguise the sound of him pulling down the zip on his jeans, and I open my mouth readily, my tongue stretching down my chin.

And that’s where I’ll leave you, friends, because some things are sexier when they’re unseen.