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.

The Best Days of Our Lives

Sometimes, when I’m quite tipsy and out on the town, I’m struck by the sense that my friends and I rule the world. The city is lit up and glittering just for us. We are fearless and stupid and hilarious and we love each other. I feel the swells of hope and bravery reach high tide in my chest.

The problem is, though, that emotional abuse conditions you a certain way. Whenever I start to feel brave, or hopeful, or – God forbid – happy, I also start to feel a cold dread leak into my bones. If you’ve lived through emotional abuse, you’ll know that abusers never let their victims’ happiness go unpunished. You’re used to knowing, consciously or not, that whatever positive emotion you’re experiencing is part of the cycle of abuse – you’re in the honeymoon phase now, but you know that soon, the sky will fall in. Every time you feel like you’re getting less small, someone cuts you back down to size. Eventually, you might stop hoping or laughing or feeling brave altogether.

So when I feel like I’m on top of the world with people I love, my brain tries to slam on the brakes. It isn’t my brain’s fault – it has been taught that the more elevated I feel, the worse the inevitable fall will injure me. My brain tells me, “You’ll grow out of this. Sooner or later, you’ll stop having nights out, stop drinking, stop dancing, stop loving these friends – sooner or later, you’ll lose this feeling forever.” 

The thought is like a bucket of cold water in that it startles me, makes my chest muscles tighten, makes me feel like shit. I know I won’t be a dumbass student full of Jagerbombs forever – my brain is right about that. What if it’s also right about never feeling like this again?


Play parties – especially the chill, lowkey rope jams I often attend – aren’t much like nights out. The music is quiet. The lights are dim. I’m stone-cold sober. 

I’m on a mat, lying on my back with one leg suspended above the rest of me. My Daddy is tightening ropes around my shin just to make me writhe and squeak. It fucking hurts. He closes his fist and starts punching the rope that will later bruise my skin. Harder and harder, up and down my entire lower leg. He squeezes my calf and I almost scream.

From my position on the floor, I make accidental eye contact with somebody else on the floor – another bottom, also being tormented, also writhing and squeaking. I’ve never spoken to them before, but they take one look at my agony-filled face and smile at me. I smile right back, knowing that they feel how I feel, knowing that we’ll both glow with pride and endorphins when we’re done.

When the ropes come off and I’m scooped into a hug, I feel so warm and in love with the world. My legs shake in time to the music. The other bottom, the one who smiled at me, is receiving aftercare, too.


I have nagged and nagged at my Daddy to go and play with someone he likes. I’m in lingerie and full makeup, but there’s an empty bathtub in the venue (for some reason) and I’ve found that it gives me exceptionally good autism to sit inside. I watch, fascinated, as other people play. I recognise one of the songs on the playlist and smile to myself. 

Sooner or later, someone I know reasonably well comes and joins me in the bathtub. We sit side-by-side in our sexiest underwear and talk for at least an hour. I make her giggle a lot. We point things out to each other – interesting scenes that are unfolding and other people’s cute outfits, mostly. Another person comes and joins the conversation, kneeling in front of the bathtub. I let sentences about sex and kink and queerness fall straight out of my mouth, completely unfiltered. 

Every now and then, I remember that one of the loves of my life is in the other room, having pulled with my help. I remember the fizz of affection I felt when I caught the eye of another bottom earlier. I remember that these are conversations I would never have anywhere else.

I might grow out of drinking and roaming the town, but the number of older kinksters surrounding me suggests quite firmly that I won’t grow out of this. Which is good, because right now, I feel like my friends and I rule the world. The dungeon is dimly lit and decorated just for us.

On Top of the World: How Does Topspace Feel For Me?

Greyscale photo of Morgan, a white nonbinary human with piercings, holding a mini flogger and smirking at the camera to suggest they're in topspace

I’ve written before about all the difficulties I have with topping. It’s a headspace I find deeply nerve-wracking, which is part of why I don’t play with it all that often. But I do play with it – something keeps drawing me back towards topspace, despite my fear of it.

The thing is, I do have a sadistic streak. I love the faces that hot people make when they’re in pain. I love the way that bruises look on skin. I love the warm glow of pride at knowing that I did that, especially when a bottom is as pleased as I am with the results. More than that, though, I love the fact that someone likes me enough and trusts me enough to ask me to beat the shit out of them. The thing that really turns me on about sadism isn’t so much the amount of pain I inflict – it’s being permitted to inflict that pain in the first place. There’s something so beautiful about a bottom looking up at Topspace Morgan with wide, grateful, endorphin-flooded eyes, and it makes me giddy.

The same is true when it comes to other types of topping, including tying people up and bossing them around. I feel the same awe and childlike glee at my own power – physical or psychological – when I’m topping as one might feel when they’re in charge of the breaktime snacks in Year 6. And, just like with breaktime snacks, I also feel the full gravity of my responsibility to the bottom with whom I’m interacting – but that’s no bad thing. It adds to the sense of importance and effectiveness I feel, and makes the successful execution of whatever I’m doing even more satisfying. Plus, being in a position of responsibility automatically activates some primal, protective part of me, turning me into a nurturing (if slightly evil) top who only wants the very best for their bottom. When “the very best for [my] bottom” translates to “hitting them harder and spitting in their mouth”, it feels like the whole cosmos has aligned in my favour, because I can display my affection towards my partner by doing things that are going to get me soaking wet, whilst rendering them the same lust-drunk mess they turn me into just by whimpering and squirming.

Topspace is a much more coherent, “adult” headspace for me than any of the others I’ve included in this miniseries. I have to stay alert to every aspect of a scene – is my partner comfortable? Are their hands turning purple in their handcuffs? When did they last have a drink of water? How close are they to their limits? – which means that I can’t just let my brain melt into warm goo when I’m topping. Again, though, that has its advantages: namely, the vigilance that topspace forces me to maintain means that I enjoy every minute detail of a scene, rather than letting it all melt together from under a blindfold or through the blur of choking-induced oxygen deprivation. It makes me feel like a conductor, observing and managing every part of a gorgeous (and filthy) symphony. In topspace, when my anxiety lets me enjoy it, I feel so damn capable.

There’s also a hedonistic, super-indulgent element of topspace for me. There’s a human I fancy directly in front of me, and they want me to use them however I see fit. It’s like having an entire Terry’s chocolate orange to yourself, except sexier, slightly more challenging to navigate, and way less monotonous and sickening than eating an entire chocolate orange in one sitting would be. I feel a little bit like my arousal and satisfaction are the most important things in the world, or at least that they come in at a close second behind my partner’s enjoyment (and safety!). Topspace is a lot like some of my other headspaces in that regard, but the whole thing is flipped so that I’m in charge of whether and when I get fucked (or eaten out, or massaged…). It’s like the hedonism of pupspace put through a kaleidoscope, transformed and glittering and nearly unrecognisable, but still from a similar source, sharing a lot of the same colours and blurred shapes. (I recognise that this is extremely abstract, but it’s so hard to put words to these hugely emotional experiences!)

I love topspace in part because of how much it differs from other headspaces that I access more often. I also love it simply because it feels delicious, and I can wield it to make bottoms feel delicious, too. Writing this post has made me remember exactly how delightful topspace can be, and I’m glad I’ve put words to it, because these words will serve as encouragement next time I (or you, maybe!) really want to consensually beat someone up but feel frightened or inadequate or any-other-thing.


This post is the final-for-now installment in my Headspaces Miniseries! If you loved it, you could support me on Patreon, or follow me on Twitter to hear more of my thoughts about kink and sex and more!