Tillie King on Pain Processing & Chronic Pain

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Content: Tillie King on receiving sensation, bottoming, and pain processing.

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Tillie King

Pain Processing


Hi, my name is Tillie King and I’m here tonight to talk to you about pain processing. For me pain processing is the art and science of getting the most out of your experience bottoming. It doesn’t necessarily mean taking more than another person, or taking more than you have on another day, it’s just for this experience, getting the most you can out of it.


So everybody has a little bit of background, is that when you undergo pain or another stressful situation, your body releases two things: one, endorphins. And these are kind of our happy chemicals. They are the body’s naturally occurring opiates. And so they lead to that kind of rush of warm, relaxed, and aroused feelings that some of us experience when we undergo pain. The second thing, our bodies will release adrenaline. Now this causes a state of physiological arousal, so you’re more sensitive, you’re more reactive, your body is primed to deal with whatever situation. And this, this is associated also with exercise and stress as well as arousal and orgasm. So you’ve got a powerful biochemical mix going on inside of your system when you’re undergoing pain.


Now let’s put all of that aside and focus on what we can control during the painful experience, which is what happens inside our own bodies and minds and our emotional realm. Now going into that, the first thing I think we need to consider is: why are you bottoming? What is your motivation or intent going into a scene or a situation where you might undergo pain? Now there are a lot of reasons why someone would choose to do this or consent to a dynamic where these things happen. So the pain might be undergoing because it’s a form of foreplay, and you and your partner enjoy it. It might be because it’s a punishment, so you’re atoning for some wrongdoing within the situation, or you’re wiping the slate clean, or you’re being released of the guilt of having done something wrong. There might be other reasons, just curiosity, maybe, maybe it’s just for fun. A reason I’ve often gone for is, I have often experienced ordeals, and so this is using pain as an intense way to connect to someone else, to connect to your own inner self, to use it as a teacher or a challenge.


So once we’ve examined our motivations for undergoing a painful experience or bottoming, now we have to start thinking about negotiating for our needs and setting ourselves up for success. Now it can often feel a bit pushy, nitpicky, micromanage-y, topping from the bottom, to really talk about, this is what happens, this is what I need, this is how it works best for me – but you also have to consider the fact that your top never has to use a piece of information that you give them. You can go on and on and on about what works great for you, and for example, for me, being cold really doesn’t help me very much, in fact, it’s painful in and of itself, so I could be put with my feet in ice water just because someone thinks it will be more entertaining for them. Of course we all know that when we talk about things like boundaries, hard limits, we’re talking about sharing information that helps us and whoever else is involved in the scene avoid really unwanted consequences. Another thing about negotiating is then you get to do a bit of, once you’ve laid it all on the table and everyone knows what’s going on, you get to prepare yourself. Now the ways I like to prepare myself are things like sleeping as much as I can, eating well-balanced meals, not too much sugar, not too much caffeine, hydrating a lot, and trying to really, when I am setting myself up and about to do the scene, remove all exterior distractions from my life and just step into what I’m doing fully.


One thing I learned slowly, and one thing I cling to often in difficult moments is, it is my top’s job to be really hard on me. It is my job to make things easy for myself. Just doing things like communicating with your top, not forcing yourself into a really uncomfortable position if there’s an alternative, making subtle choices and just looking at the experience and going, how, how can I be easy on myself since someone else is being hard on me? Sometimes your top will want a really intense scene; sometimes your top doesn’t necessarily want a really intense scene. So just kind of be mindful of that.


Something that I think is really important in our community to talk about is doing your own pain processing, not anybody else’s. I’ve heard a lot of judgments over the years about what a ‘good bottom’ looks like, or how an ideal slave reacts to pain, or what’s sexy, or what’s inappropriate, and at different times they’ve all been different opinions. Some people are really reactive and noisy. Some people are really stoic, internal, and quiet. Some people move around a lot. Some people remain very, very still. Some people find bondage extremely comforting. For some people, that in and of itself is an ordeal and something hard to deal with. Some people require a lot of verbal interaction and role-play to kind of maintain a headspace to keep good with going on with this. Some people actually don’t want to be talked to at all. So I think it’s really important that as you go through scenes, notice what works for you, what your style is, what actually helps you get through the experience. And go with those things – use those tools. If you experience a lot of judgment or naysaying from a particular person or group, I’d consider distancing yourself from them and find people who are accepting of how you deal with pain.


When you’re actually in the scene and in the middle of everything there’s a few things you can do that I find almost always helps. First: breathe as if your life depends on it. Besides our biological need for oxygen, breathing is one of the few things that you have, usually, any control over. If you’re doing a breath play scene you’re gonna have to work with the conditions that are set upon you. So when you take a deep full inhale, and exhale fully, what you do is actually completely relax your body. Your body produces more endorphins, there’s less tension and stress within your body, and what I find is that when I do these things, my body actually integrates the sensation more. It kind of feels weird, but, when you hold your breath you’re trying to control an experience. And when you let go of the breath, instead of trying to control the experience, it moves through you. I also find breath work really important in that it can give me a focus. It can give me something in this overwhelming experience that I can cling to, that I can return to, and I have a bit of control and assurance in. you’ve been breathing as long as you’ve been alive, so it’s a familiar thing to do.


Another thing I find really helpful in scenes is accepting. I always think that we can accept more and resist less. And I find the more I accept, the more pain I’m willing to do, and the more I resist, the less pain I’m able to do. What I’m talking about is basically an attitude of really being in the moment, of, when something happens to you, instead of trying to think about it, analyze it, and control it, to fully experience the sensation as it is happening. Sometimes surprising things happen when you do that. So just accept things. And also accept the reactions that come up with you. You might be in a scene and all of a sudden you start crying. Or this tension that you were aware of, that you weren’t even aware of carrying, suddenly comes up and dissipates. You might get really frustrated and angry, there might be something about the experience that really, you feel like what is happening is really unfair. Sometimes you just start laughing. Sometimes something can be physically quite awful but there’s part of your brain that just seizes upon something ridiculous and starts laughing. So just also accept what’s happening within you, and go with it, follow it, see where it takes you – that’s where I think things get really interesting.


Another thing I think about a lot when bottoming, finally, is how it’s important to really relax and refocus. Now it might seem odd that I’m telling you, relax, it’s just a single-tail, relax – but, whenever you have a pause, whenever there’s a break, whenever nothing’s going on for half a second, do your best to relax. I find spots in my body that I tend to hold tension that I can release is in my jaw, so relax your face a little. In the hands, so instead of clenching them or holding on to something, just try to relax them. The stomach, a lot of us hold tension in our stomach, especially if we’re feeling afraid or tense. And your asshole – trust me, and it might come in handy later, but relaxing your asshole can often provoke a full-body reaction. The other thing is refocusing. I think a lot of the time we can get overwhelmed, we can get lost in sensation, we can become confused, and when you can, when you find yourself in a state, focus on something that helps. Focus on your breath, focus on your intention – why you’re originally here, focus on your top and your connection to them, maybe the enjoyment they’re getting out of the scene, maybe your feelings about them, and that, in the moment, can help clarify: why am I here and why am I doing this and why do I enjoy it so much?


I hope this has been helpful, and I look forward to talking to you all later.

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