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!

Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) vs. Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)

Stock photo of a white tin case with red text which reads "First Aid case"

If you’re new to the world of BDSM, you may have heard the terms “SSC” and “RACK”, and you may be confused as to what exactly they mean, whether they differ from each other and which is better to use. So let me start at the beginning: they’re names for schools of thought within BDSM regarding, essentially, safety and best practice.

SSC = Safe, Sane and Consensual.

RACK = Risk-Aware, Consensual Kink.

There are other versions of these (such as PRICK, which stands for “Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink”, and CRASH, which stands for “Consensual, Risk-Aware, Shit Happens”), but they’re not as commonly used as SSC or RACK. You’re more than welcome to generate your own code of ethics and best practice within BDSM, and it doesn’t even need a cool acronym, but the benefit of terms like SSC and RACK is that lots of other kinksters are aware of their meanings, which makes communication with those kinksters that little bit more streamlined.

I have to confess, I am firmly a RACK person. I understand the appeal of SSC, especially to newcomers. We all want to believe that the things we do, in kink and in life, are safe and sane. The first problem, though, lies in the subjectivity of both of those words. Imagine you’re talking to someone from, say, 1600. You explain to them that we have huge metal carriages, called “cars”, that can travel at up to 270 miles an hour, and that even in everyday use they can exceed 70. You acknowledge that sometimes, the drivers of these “cars” can lack skill or focus, and sometimes they lose control of their vehicles. Then you reassure your new friend that we have crossings in place, where cars are legally mandated to stop, so that pedestrians can move from one side of the road to the other. They’re only slightly relieved by this, and they are aghast when you follow it up with, “But some people just nip across the road where there isn’t a crossing at all.”

To someone from 1600, that seems both unsafe and fucking insane, but to us, it’s Tuesday. Our understanding of safety changes from decade to decade and person to person. Some people won’t eat raw cookie dough because they deem it unsafe. Some people will do several recreational substances in a field with their friends, with no phone signal nor sober people onsite. (Not me, of course; I would never). People do things that they think are safe but that others do not, and some people do things that they know to be unsafe, because we’re all blessed with bodily autonomy, no matter how recklessly we use it.

There’s also the issue that some kink acts just cannot be made safe. YouTuber Evie Lupine did a wonderful video on this topic, citing breath play and the use of restraints as being among the things that beginners dip their toes into without a full awareness of the risks involved. SSC suggests that kinksters should only engage in play that is safe, but that takes a lot of activities off the table, or else minimises the risks those activities pose. Implying that things like choking are safe, rather than fraught with risks that can be mitigated, is dangerous, especially for beginners. It’s for this reason I prefer the “Risk-Aware” label.

Then there’s the “sane” issue. First, as outlined above, our understanding of what is and isn’t sane to do varies wildly. I don’t think that skiing is a sane thing to do (just chuck yourself down a snowy mountain! With some sticks! It’s fine!), but other people either disagree, or do it anyway. The implication that some types of play can be insane is troublesome, because the distinction between sane and not-sane is different for everybody and because if there are not-sane ways to play, what does that mean for the people who practice them?

The thing is, I know I am not a sane person by most definitions. I experience mild hallucinations, some delusions, huge emotional responses and more, and the idea that sanity is a requirement for kink is… troubling. By focusing instead on risk awareness, I can participate in kink so long as I comprehend the risks and can give informed and unimpeded consent (unimpeded meaning not affected by, nor primarily motivated by weird brain things). I’m sure people who prefer SSC don’t have any ableist intentions, but in suggesting that kink has to be sane, SSC runs the risk of alienating people who aren’t, strictly speaking, sane themselves.

I don’t judge people who use SSC rather than RACK – I’m sure they have their reasons for doing so, and everyone is entitled to set their own rules regarding how they approach BDSM. But I’m always going to err on the side of risk-awareness over insisting on safety and I’m always going to shy away from insistence upon sanity, and I hope y’all can understand why.