Mother’s Day Flashback! “See, Mom, It’s Like This…”

Just got off of the phone with my Mom, and listened as she opened the package that has been sitting and silently holding the little secret gift I’d ordered weeks ago, so that I wouldn’t forget. She seemed to really like the gift: 4 little hand-crafted silver pendants with the initial of each of her 3 daughters, one for her granddaughter and a bird-shaped pendant that said “Mom” and “Grandmother” on it. Apparently Moms LOVE shit like this. :-) I’m just glad to be able to bring a smile to her face.


See Mom, It's Like This...

“I don’t understand it,” my Mother said.

“I don’t entirely understand it either, Mom,” I replied, sitting on the edge of my bed, phone cradled to my ear as I fiddled with the enormous stack of papers that always threatened to bury me under its formidable bulk “there is a lot that no one really knows. But I’ll do my best to tell you what I know.”

“OK,” my Mom sighed, “can you tell me why you do it? Avoiding pain seems like a natural thing. But you don’t do that. You seek it out on purpose? Why would you do that?”

I stretched my feet into the patch of sun that was warming the hardwood floors in my flat, nudging one of my cats out of the way in the process. I took a deep breath.

“That’s a great question, Mom. And you’re lucky that your firstborn happens to be the kind of pervert who runs around talking to people about exactly this kind of shi¬— ¬stuff. So, I can tell you what I’ve learned about myself in the past few years…”

I hadn’t expected to come out to my Mother about being involved in BDSM on this particular Saturday afternoon. In fact, my Mom and I had been a bit distant for several years. It doesn’t really matter why anymore, but we, like many mothers and daughters, had our disagreements. But we were awkwardly, tentatively, reaching out to one another again, and had been having an amazing discussion about much that had gone unsaid for many years. Toward the end (or what I thought was the end!) of our chat, she asked me a rather pointed question about a convention I’d attended a few years prior. I’d avoided providing her with any detail about the focus of the event and now, years later, she was all curious. I took a deep breath, asked her if she really wanted to know, since it had to do with my sexuality. She said yes, she did want to know. So I braced myself and told her I’d been in Washington DC to teach a class at Black Rose… a kink and BDSM convention.


“Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission Sadism & Masochism. You know, the whips and chains people.”

“Oh! Wow. And here I though you were a lesbian and were embarrassed to tell me.”

I laughed silently. But I figured now wasn’t the time to lay on the outing myself as bisexual as well: if my high-school triad hadn’t given it away, she didn’t need this additional data point right then!

She asked me some surprisingly challenging questions, and when she asked me how it was to give people spankings, I realized I had to come out to her again… as a submissive.

“Now that is a surprise. I would have though you would be a dominatrix!”

“Yeah, Ma, so does everyone else…”

We had a really great discussion that ranged in so many directions. Her most pointed questions were about how I could deal with being black, a descendant of African slaves, knowing our history, and yet “play” within this world where “masters” and “slaves” acted out roles that looked and sounded a whole lot like the horrible atrocities perpetrated against our ancestors.

“It’s a consent thing, Mom. We have choice. I do it because it fascinates me, it scares me and…” I hesitated. Was this just too much info for my nice, middle-aged Baptist church-lady Mother? “…and it turns me on.”

“I see!”

I wasn’t sure she did, but that is a far thornier thicket than we needed to machete today on this, my Coming Out Moment.

“But…so you deliberately let people hurt you? On purpose.”

“Yeah, Ma. That’s one of the things I do.”


The eternal question, isn’t it?


One of the things I talk about when I present on BDSM is knowing your whys. So many people live unexamined lives: lives circumscribed by fear, by the rules, by the morality thrust upon ‘em, balking from their darker shadowy selves because they don’t want to risk ostracization, because they fear losing control.

The allure of Leathersex was, to me, exactly this risk. The depths of cruelty, the paradox of masochism spoke deeply to me. And I spent several years unraveling my “why” before I made the conscious decision to step into the world of kink, Leather and BDSM.

Most of us are raised to think of pain as something to avoid. We are not taught that submission and dominance, as sexual expressions, are healthy. Only recently has the medical establishment declassified the participation in consensual BDSM as a paraphilia that required treatment. We have a lot of training that tells us that BDSM is “sick” and only people who don’t respect themselves or others, damaged people, sociopaths… only they would deliberately inflict agony on another or permit themselves to be subjected to pain.

But I wasn’t acting out on some desire for actual destruction. I didn’t think I deserved to have the world treat me like shit, I didn’t enjoy trips to the dentist, and I still launched into a stream of invective when I stubbed my toe on an aggressive table leg. So, what was this masochism thing all about, anyways?

Knowing why I am the way I am isn’t vital to enjoying a spanking, or relishing my submission. But it is vital to my peace of mind when it comes to insuring my emotional health and wellbeing. For me? Knowing that my masochism comes from a place of desire and lust, not a place of fear or self-loathing, helps me to know I’m on the right path.

I took another deep breath.

“Well, Mom, I will tell you what I know about my ‘why.’

First, because I simply enjoy it. You know how some people have differing tolerances for sensation? Mine is just extra high. Although I think I probably inherited that from you and dad! Remember that time he cut his hand open to the bone and sewed it back up himself, with a sail-mending needle?”

“Oh my goodness, that was horrible…”

I laughed “Yeah it was, and that’s pretty unusual, frankly. But I also remember you reaching into a pot of boiling water to pull out a spoon you’d dropped in there and immediately turning to me and saying ‘Don’t you ever to that, Mo. That is very dangerous!’ and I remember thinking you had super powers!”

My Mom laughed. “I remember that! I was sure you were going to try it right then and there. You were always getting into something…”

“It’s true. It’s still true! So yeah, maybe some of this is nature; just a higher tolerance for pain that runs in the family. Some of it is just being the sort of person who needs to have everything turned up to eleven in order to have it feel right.”

“But why do you go back and do it again and then again?”

“Well, Mom, maybe you can answer that question for me. You being pretty darn masochistic yourself!”


“Yep. You always told me how terrible it was when you were in labor with me. How long was it? Almost two days?”

“Oh no, well, it was about 38 hours…”

“And that had to suck.”

“It was very difficult! The pain was terrible, and you wouldn’t come out! You kept crowning and then going back in!”

“Well, I had to make an entrance. Timing is everything.”

My Mom laughed. “You always were a ham.”

“Damn skippy! And yet, even after all of that, all of that pain and suffering, you went and had another kid. And another one. What were you thinking, risking that pain and suffering all over again?”

“Oh you don’t remember the pain. Once the nurse put you in my arms, and I saw you there, and how beautiful and perfect you were, I loved you so much, and I forgot all about the pain because I had this wonderful little baby right there with me.”

“Well, it’s kind of like that for me, too. See, when I am in the middle of the pain, it transforms me. I become…different. More. Not just me, I am me in the middle of an amazing transformation, an experience that pushes my body and my brain. It is difficult, and sometimes it is so excruciating, but sometimes you get kind of high off of it, like a runner’s high, you know? And then afterward? I have this incredible sense of bliss like…like I pushed myself to experience this and I won. I won, because I survived. And I can hold myself in my arms and see how beautiful and wonderful I am. And I don’t remember the pain, not really. But I do remember the journey.”

“You know, that…I can kind of see that.”

“Also? To keep it real? It just turns me on.”

“OK then!”

We laughed.

“Well Mo, this is a lot to think about. I’m going to talk with my prayer partner about it too.”

“How funny! You have a prayer partner, I have a play partner, and the Lord’s name gets invoked a lot in both cases…”


“I’m sorry Mom. I couldn’t help it.”

I wasn’t sorry though, not really…and you know? I’m very proud of us. Of me, for being able to share this part of myself with my mother and of my mother, for her willingness to love me “no matter what.”

So why am I a masochist? Nature, nurture, freakiness?

Whatever the reason, I am content to be so.

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