A three part series: Subspace, Aftercare, Subdrop
Subspace – that ultimate, sometimes elusive, goal, and, for some people, the very raison d’etre to engage in BDSM impact play in the first place. Subspace is both a physical and a mental state. It’s the runner’s high. It’s the high of drugs, of overeating, of over-indulgence. There is no moderation here. It’s the fantastic high-flying floaty feeling that normal life and existence lack. Like an addict, the submissive craves that feeling of subspace, where everything is on hold, where there are no worries, no pressures. For some, it is greater than orgasm itself. It is, indeed the BDSM practitioner’s drug of choice.
For those engaged in BDSM play, subspace has been described as a floaty feeling, almost an out-of-body experience, in which the submissive is still conscious but is in an almost hypnotic or catatonic state, often unable to articulate and often motionless or greatly relaxed. This “flying” is equivalent to the runner’s high. It’s a waking sleep. It’s somewhat dreamlike. Subspace is a heightened state of awareness, almost like entering into another plane of existence, an altered state. Details of the event are clearly experienced yet muddily remembered.
Subspace is both a physical and a mental state.
On the physical plane, subspace is a combination of chemical release and processing along with enough sensation to release those chemicals. Normally, that release happens through impact play: spanking, flogging, paddling, caning, and the like. Like a long distance runner who hits the proverbial wall and yet finds the stamina, the strength, the resolve from deep down inside to keep going despite pain and fatigue, the submissive who enters subspace floats along beyond the pain and stress of impact play. The human body is well equipped to fight off extreme pain and still survive, which is how people survive great traumas, car accidents, war, child birth, and stubbing toes. When the intensity and/or pain of a scene become overwhelming, the body releases epinephrine and endorphins to offset the pain. These are “fight or flight” chemicals that our body produces. They are what give people great strength and allow them to lift cars during life-threatening circumstances. For recreation, the release of these hormones leads to the floaty feeling of subspace.
On the emotional plane, BDSM activities often require great trust and test and push boundaries. A particularly intense scene of hair pulling and pushing a submissive to His feet in a show of dominance, standing on her back, pushing her to relish her subordinate and submissive role, with some edge to the play, a veiled threat of punishment or the flash of knives for upcoming edgeplay, these can send the emotionally vulnerable submissive into a dizzying array of feelings, some of which release those vaunted chemicals, producing that other reality of subspace.
As the body combats a foreign threat, pain from flogging or psychological stress by emotional boundary-pushing, the body loses its sensations of pain. Through a careful interplay of impact and strong knowledge of the submissive, a Dominant can string that subspace along for a while. He can peak it, draw it back again only to peak it once more, taking the submissive along a journey of physical and emotional pain and pleasure. Using hypnotic rhythms and music can help a submissive enter subspace more quickly. Another technique is ramping up. That is, inflicting ever-increasing sensation through spanking until a pain threshold is met and then backing off, and then starting again at a stronger level and taking the threshold a bit higher, and continuing this process, like a stair step, until the submissive enters that desired state. At a certain level, the body reacts, the chemicals are released. That level can be played with, left to drop a little, raised even higher, maintained for a while. The Dominant plays the submissive’s body like an instrument, deftly tugging her subspatial strings to keep her “high,” as if flying a kite.
Not every submissive finds subspace. Not every submissive enjoys subspace. For some, it’s a fragile state, briefly experienced or not at all. For some, it’s the scariest of zones, the ultimate in giving up of control. For some, it’s the greatest of gifts, the ultimate in giving up of control. For a submissive, to have a Dominant take her to subspace requires great internal peace and confident trust beyond words in that Dominant. It’s a shared experience, one not soon forgotten.
When I take Lolita to subspace, she has reached a level of pain that leaves her nearly immobilized. It’s at this time that she enjoys when I take that impact harder than ever before, when I can release my inner demons upon her body, hard and sure, strike after strike of wood, rubber, nylon, and flesh upon her own flesh. It’s a delicate balance, though. Strike too hard and it pulls her out of subspace. Miss the rhythm or miss hit, and she drops from subspace. A strong spanking in her sweet spot, just below her butt toward her inner thighs combined with a bite to her back, and I can draw that subspace out for her …
… float, sugarpop, float on the air, for when you land back on earth, Daddy’s going to fuck you to a different kind of altered state.
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p.s. There is a similar experience for a Dominant called Dom space. Following subspace, you’ll want to provide plenty of Aftercare, which is part 2 of this series. Also, you’ll want to be aware of subdrop, a potentially difficult period following a BDSM scene, regardless of whether subspace was attained or not. Subdrop is part 3 of this series.