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A Long, Hard Fall

I could say he dropped. More accurate to say I dropped him.

I was nervous. He’s shy of electricity, and had never showed any interest in CBT before. Yet there I was, attaching electrodes while he whimpered and clutched his hands into fists underneath me. I couldn’t help laughing: “I haven’t even turned it on yet!” Of course that didn’t last long, I started shocking, biting, taunting while he tried not to cover his face. I moved his hands, too roughly, surprised that he didn’t resist at all.

“So. . . I guess I like electricity.” His voice was steady but his eyes were shy.  I’m used to seeing his face confident and almost haughty, sure that he can take control back from me any second. This vulnerability is new. The vicious part of me wants to laugh, but I force it into a toothy grin. “Oh? Then you won’t mind if we try a higher setting.” He whimpers, closes his eyes. I’m sitting on his chest, I feel him tense up even as his breathing becomes steady and slow.

“I think I need to be tied up if you’re going to keep doing this.”  I hesitate. I hate rope. I could use zip ties–but no, he’s very strong. If he fights against 1/4 inch plastic he will cut himself. I plan to make him fight. Rope it is.  I tie his wrists to the headboard with a nameless, ugly knot. He gives it a look, pulling at it, testing its strength. The knots hold but he’s dragged us both a foot up the bed. That won’t do. I drag him back down by his feet and tie his ankles. He’s looking at me, wide-eyes and silent. “You okay?” I ask. He nods. I say “good.” I think Let’s see if we can’t change that.

I can’t say what happened when. I set the TENS unit to a 15-minute cycle. After that? There was pinching, slapping, mocking. He tried to speak, turned shy instead. I told him to repeat himself and thrust my fingers into his throat when he tried. I smothered him with my body, dialed the electricity slowly higher, smacked his thighs to keep them apart. There was a moment–he said “please” and buried his face in his shoulder without finishing the thought. “Please what?” He didn’t answer. “If you’re smart, you’ll beg me not to leave you tied up here all night when I’m done with you.” He jerked so hard then that I worried my ugly knots would slip, but they held. The TENS unit read one minute left. I picked it up. “Let’s see if you can handle the highest setting.” He was thrashing, trying grab hold of me. I turned the dial. He shouted then. “Less than a minute, you can do it.” I spoke softly. I’m not sure whether he heard.

The timer ran out. I found myself sitting on his thighs thinking oy, what next? Was that too much? Not enough?  He wasn’t looking at me, and I couldn’t read anything in his face. So I asked “Do you want–” and paused, stupidly, caught between “to stop” and “to keep going.” In hindsight it’s obvious I should have called the scene as soon as I got paranoid. He crumpled visibly, twisted himself small and away from me as much as he could.

I untied him quickly, and he rolled onto his side, away from me. And I screwed up. If I did this, curled up and turned my back on him, it would mean “don’t talk to me, don’t touch me, I need stillness and silence right now.” So I started coiling rope and wire, organizing and clearing up, trying to give him space. I did this for about three minutes before he started shouting that I was worse than Hitler for not holding him.

Obviously I dropped everything and dove in to cuddle and comfort. Too late: he didn’t want me to touch him because he was too angry at me for not touching him. Two seconds later he clung to me like a koala to a tree and started crying. Thirty seconds after that he kissed me more intensely than he had in years. Then inexplicable laughter. Through the whole of this I sat bewildered, wondering what the hell was going on and when Godwin’s Law had jumped off the Internet and into my sex life.

After he’d stabilized, I tried to ask about it. Meaning I started with “Did I break you?”

“No, I think that’s what sub drop is like though. You were asking what I wanted, and it jerked me out of my mental space.” He took a deep breath. “Please don’t ever do it again.”

“Pull you out of your headspace, or hurt you?”

“The headspace thing. Hurting is good.”

It could have ended worse. I keep telling myself that. But clearly I still have a lot to learn here.

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