One thing has always been true of me. I have always searched for pain. I never stopped to think about whether that desire was wrong or where it came from, it was there and that was enough for me to want to pursue it.
Only, before I discovered the existence of the world that was held so precariously upon the pillars of safe, sane and consensual, I was out there in the world armed only with the knowledge of a teenager and my sexuality rummaging through the universe before me to find what I so desperately needed. I didn’t know then I even needed to get fucked, all I knew was that I needed someone to beat me up.
I found the path to what I was looking for, in anger. In what we would now call abuse.
As a child I had discovered that making people angry often convinces them to hit you. It was a simple discovery I made through observation. I also discovered that being in over your head in an emotional situation you are ill-equipped to handle causes people to anger more easily.
This was the knowledge I would later use (after a little experimentation) to decide that my best bet at finding a pain-delivery system would be to spend some time cultivating complicated, dysfunctional and ultimately abusive relationships with older (married) men.
The first two failed my litmus test. After a week or two of being together I would orchestrate a minor fight which would end in me asking the question, “Would you ever hit a woman?”
That’s the only way I knew of asking for pain.
The third time’s the charm apparently. He told me he wasn’t proud of it but he sometimes hit his wife in fits of anger. He promised me he would never do that to me. Unfortunately, he did not know that he was challenging me.
From there began the most tumultuous relationship of my life. I had never before worked so hard to anger anyone. I didn’t actually know what ticks grown men off so I applied every strategy I had ever heard of; spontaneous breakdowns, incessant phone calls, wife threats, showing up unannounced and accusations of neglect.
I don’t know if one of them worked or if it was a concoction of them all that ultimately led him to a breaking point but one day as I stood half-crying and half-yelling in what I think was an excellent application of my theatre lessons, he snapped. He came at me like a vulture at its prey.
Until then I was completely convinced that I was in control of every aspect of that situation, just that no one needed to know that except me. It was a quick and harsh lesson; no one is in control when anger is.
There I was all of a sudden, resisting pain and begging to be let go. It might not have even been that is hurt so much, in fact, in the moment I barely felt the pain at all. Just heat radiating from every little bit of me he could reach. But I felt something I hadn’t counted on; I felt terrified.
That day was the first time we ever had sex. It was the first time I ever had sex with a man. By the time that episode of violence came to a close, I was hooked. Sitting alone on the floor before he returned to apologize for his behavior, I knew it wasn’t just about the pain anymore and all that discovery did, was make me laugh.
It would be a while until I met a man who showed me that I could have pain without anger from someone other than myself. This pain was different. In terms of feeling, it was purer. It was about a man doing what he enjoyed in order to facilitate what I enjoyed. It was transactional and the physical sensation (on account of not being masked by vast hosts of adrenaline) was deeper. It was exactly what I had always wanted before I had discovered the wonders of rage.
It satisfied me. Yes, it did. And that is what I told myself then. Except it wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now either, by that time the resistance and the fear had carved out a need I didn’t know I would ever feel. Either every human being is born with a proclivity to violence or I created a monster. I wouldn’t be surprised at either answer.
I went a year without feeding it properly, satisfying it with scraps like petty fights and angry words. It was restless, and it was unable to see the monster in the man I loved. I’m not proud of it but at one point I even began to put on artificial resistance while being consensually beaten just because I was so tired of feeling un-abused.
Then one day over an issue that I would later use as ammunition to fuel a lot of anger, he lost his temper. I threw food at him. That’s his personal tick. Anger from a lover is a much scarier thing than others, is what I discovered. His rage was unstoppable and painful even in the moment. It was careless, and unconcerned with who was watching. It was unapologetic. It made me fear for my life unlike his pain which always made me feel cradled in safety. His monster was as big as mine and the moment they found each other, they became bigger than us.
It started off slowly and escalated like any good addiction from four times a year to four times a week over four years. It took a clichéd path; cracked ribs, concerned friends and too much concealer.
Then you ride a glorious high until the possibility of death stares you in the face and you come to the responsible standpoint that someone must leave and in one climactic moment a door closes and you believe you’ve freed yourself from the beast.
Except not really.
At least not for me. Or us.
As a result of our mid-relationship segue to “for-all-apparent-purposes” single life what we achieved has in no way managed to excise our individual monsters. He may use his temper sparingly and I may refrain from being intentionally instigative but we still fall together in moments of what should feel like weakness but carry no shame whatsoever.
I have to wonder if all being alone ever contributed to his process was the opportunity to erode any morality I may have left on the matter. I’m not sure how exactly it contributed to making us fit better. This much I know, with each passing day it becomes more clear to me, the girl who laughed like a maniac upon discovering terror isn’t going anywhere until she can take me along.