Tainted Love : How I Starting Moving Past Old Hurts

Quick Warning: The article below talks a little about manipulation and boundaries. Not a whole lot, but just a heads up.

When I was a kid, I found an overripe tomato in the fridge, and ever since then, I can’t stand tomatoes. Something about them always reminds me of feeling queasy from seeing the seeds inside the tomato sloshing around just underneath the skin. It actually took me a while to be able to stand the idea of tomatoes even touching my food (a fact that made getting Mexican food a little challenging since Salsa Fresca is actually the best). Eventually, by doing small bits of tomato in dishes and proving to my brain that it wasn’t toxic, I was able to get mostly over it. I still have problems with really fresh tomato, but just knowing it’s in my food doesn’t make my stomach upset.

This was also how I was able to get back into BDSM after a really bad breakup.

When I was first getting into kink, I was a couple of years into college; I’d been very heavily introduced to the wonders of the male form (and the dangers of being queer in a predominately black school) and I had started dating a friend I’d made in my second year. We’d gotten along really well and… well, I was 19 and fairly starved for attention. Adding to that the fear of my emerging queer identity and wanting of seem as “normal” as possible (I had a LOT of things to work on at that point) I jumped into the relationship pretty passionately. And for a few months it was fine, however she became more manipulative and crossed several boundaries as we went on.

When I was staying at home during the summer, she called my house at 1am because I hadn’t talked to her before going to bed: A big deal when your mom is a nurse and has work at 5am. She was very controlling about my time, actions, and wants. She’d introduced me to my first play party by telling me that I had to go, and she was disappointed that I hadn’t played with someone my first time.

Things eventually ended in a fiery ball of misery for both of us. When it was over, I couldn’t even stand to think about kink. It just reminded me of being manipulated and lied to. All the hurt from the relationship was now associated with the fun, interesting thing I had been enjoying up until then. And for a few years, I just couldn’t let myself even look into the scene.

Now, obviously it wasn’t her fault that I couldn’t enjoy kink. It was just that my brain had tied my feelings about her to BDSM. She’d been my introduction and first partner that I could experiment with, and so when that ended badly it made a lot of things more difficult. My brain wanted me to avoid anything that reminded me of her because it was trying to ‘protect’ me from the pain I felt, like it wanted to protect me from the nausea I got from seeing the overripe tomato. There was no way that part of my brain could know that not all tomatoes were like that, so it wanted me to be safe from EVER finding a bad one. And just like with tomatoes, I needed to disassociate kink from my feelings about our breakup.

My first steps were talking to groups online about the idea of kink without making any hard plans to practice. I started thinking more and more about what I liked in kink without thinking about how to do it. The way it connected you to your scene partner(s). The idea of not having to keep as much of yourself contained. The myriad of sounds you could get from implements and could induce from people. (I’m very auditory-minded, so I just love the sounds people make). I went slowly and let myself relax at each point.

Luckily, my partner was a lot of help in this. They’d never tried kink before, so we went about it by getting books and reading. It gave me a way to start reconnecting with being around someone who also enjoyed kink. We started with rope, something neither of us had tried before, and slowly worked back into other kinks.

When I started going back to the local scene (I had moved by then, so it was a completely different set of people) it was just to acclimate myself. I let myself get used to the feel of the space and talked to the people so I could feel comfortable. Thankfully, everyone was very supportive and had no problem with me watching and asking questions. Eventually, I started playing again, but it was at my own pace rather than someone else’s. And had a GREAT time with it, too.

There was a lot of long steps to my eventual success, but for anyone struggling with trying to recapture your enjoyment of something from an emotional or traumatic event, I think the same advice would work. Find what is is that you liked and let yourself slowly adjust to it. Don’t let your feelings of “I should be fine with this.” and “Why am I still hung up on this” make you try and force yourself to enjoy things the same way. Depending on how difficult it is, you may also want to see a therapist (which is never really a bad thing. There’s no shame in asking for help!) or take a break from said activity.

If you have any of your own ideas on how to continue enjoying things despite having hurtful memories around it, please feel free to share them below. I hope this helps with your own progression!

17 thoughts on “Tainted Love : How I Starting Moving Past Old Hurts

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