I’ve been in the scene for approximately twenty years. At nineteen, I was so determined to make my spanking fantasies come true that I advertised in a spanking magazine and promptly got myself half a dozen good dominants. I never went more than a day without getting what I needed—sassy fun and spanking games. It was always light. It was never serious, and although more than once I was positively blistered, I was never spanked to tears because no serious emotion was ever involved and I wasn’t sexually involved with any of them. I was young. I was new to all this and still very much learning what I wanted and what I liked. Aftercare was never, ever mentioned to me. I never read about it. I’d never heard of it. But looking back, I can see I always got it in the form of a hug after the spanking was done. We’d hug, we’d talk, we’d cuddle, and I was always fine afterward.
Then I got married. I am submissive, but I am not slave submissive. While spanking was still fun and games, for me the dynamic shifted, becoming domestic discipline with some kinky games thrown in. The hubby likes bondage. We both like anal. Clips, clamps, spreaders, he likes to devise bondage furniture (ask me about the time my in-laws saw the padded horse and thought it was a very odd ironing board).
Still, aftercare was never mentioned. Looking back, I can clearly see where aftercare was employed, but it wasn’t until about two years ago when I became involved in my current BDSM group that I became aware of the word. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I became aware that I needed it.
What is aftercare? In my opinion, aftercare is as personal to each individual as their kinky sexual preferences. For me, it’s what balances out what must be physically endured in my quest to get the mental high and the tender aftereffects I love. With my husband, this happens in the quiet moments after real discipline is done. It’s what helps us reconnect as lovers and friends. But it wasn’t something I thought I’d ever need with the casual play partner, because casual is just that. There is no real emotion involved. It’s all fun and games, never serious, and I never go into that funny headspace where my body convinces my brain that I must really have screwed up because this SHIT is REAL.
And then, for some reason, everything changed.
I was flogged for the first time a few months ago. Now, flogging is one of those things that I NEVER would have thought was a.) erotic or b.) something I’d ever do. My husband has no interest in doing it, and it’s not spanking, so I wasn’t interested either. Then I started my Masters of the Castle series and in one of the books, I decided there should be a flogging scene. Something you should know about me is that I’m a big believer in knowing what my characters are going through. I’ve participated in cutting, cell popping, rope and bondage play, and fire play and cupping. I’m scared as hell of electricity, but when it came to that scene in Kaylee’s Keeper, I bought a violet wand and I had one used on me so I could write about it. In my opinion, you can’t write about what your character is feeling during a flogging if you’ve never experienced it.
Well, okay…maybe you can, but I can’t. So, I decided to bite the bullet and just do it.
Doing what authors do best, I researched who in my BDSM group were considered the best floggers. Given three names, I approached all three men and was flogged by each over a period of several months. One was playful, one was sensual and one was over the top serious. Perhaps even…no, on second thought there was no perhaps about it. My shoulders were bruised for days. It was severe.
Maren, stop blithering on. What does any of this have to do with aftercare?
Everything as it turns out. I completely fell apart two of the three times. I had no idea that was going to happen; certainly, it had never happened before because I don’t cry. Rarely at home, never cry in public—I don’t cry. Up until I was flogged. I bawled all over two of the three men who, although I’ve talked with them both for over a year and consider them friends, are practically strangers to me. My aftercare from each? A simple hug.
Taken from where I began twenty years ago, I’ve always negotiated to end with a hug before each and every scene I start, but I’d never needed it before. When it came to being flogged, these experienced Doms took me mentally, emotionally and physical to a place I was not ready or comfortable going. The first time, I was a sobbing wreck before I even got off the equipment. The second time, I didn’t cry, but I suffered three good days of subdrop—another first for me. I was a mess in a whole different way. The third, I got off the equipment just fine. Then he put his arms around me for our negotiated hug, and—BAM—the release hit me like a bullet between the eyes and when it did, my need to be okay was earth-shatteringly overwhelming.
He hugged me for a long time. He took me into the aftercare room, lay down with me and just held me and talked to me until I was fine again. I can’t imagine what I would have gone through if I hadn’t had that hug—that simply little reassurance which told me that I was still okay, I wasn’t in any real trouble and that we were still friends, before I could reconcile myself to the closure of the scene.
I know some people are going to look at this and say, “Yeah, but that’s not real aftercare. I do this…yada yada yada….”
That’s fine. Like I said, every person is different. But, if you take all the different variants of aftercare and you break them down into their most basic, basic parts, it’s all the same thing: Aftercare is reconnection between the Dom and sub. What form that reconnection takes is irrelevant. It’s whatever the sub (and Dom, for that matter) needs. When you read about it in a book, it’s more fun when it’s sexual, but in reality it can be anything—sharing a cigarette, cuddling, a nap, having your hair brushed. The importance of what form it takes is not something I’d fully understood or appreciated until I suddenly found myself truly needing it. Those hugs, those really rather insignificant seeming physical exchanges, was what I needed to bring myself back to normalcy after subspace ripped me apart. Aftercare for me is a return in balance and there is nothing more important than that.
There are a lot of good bloggers participating in the Round Table today, so click here to go back to the list and share their thoughts on the subject of Aftercare. :)