I read the original entry and commented; reading it again, actually several times - I now see facets I didn't recognize before. I think each of us tends to read anything in the context of our own perceptions. In one way, that is self-evident yet I believe most of us tend to internalize our own prejudices and forget that they can colour and distort the reality of thoughts of another individual.
I think I did so here - primarily (and honestly) because of some issues prevalent in my own life and relationship.
I think the primary issue I wanted to clarify in my own mind is that often thin line between consensual s/m and abuse.
The reality is that those for whom a lifestyle of kink doesn't appeal, open don't comprehend the distinction. Hell, one of my biggest issues is there are people who are IN the lifestyle that don't get the difference! I also believe that there is a disproportionate number of people in BDSM who do have baggage from childhood that compels them to seek "safe" abuse later in life. This is not always a bad thing if the individual is fairly stable and aware of their baggage.
BUT, the issue I wish to address here is those of us - and yes, I include myself and from elise's description, she also - who came from happy, stable families with no history of abuse and still seek the dark side as it were.
And I think a lot of that is to do with the individual - who they are, their character, their motivations and perceptions. Just as there are leaders and followers, those who act and those who react, we are all to some extent genetically imprinted with certain character traits that ultimately dictate the type of life we lead.
Long before I recognized who and what I was, I was a risk-taker, the one who stood up and was counted, the one who acted in an emergency, who despite being terrified, made the leap ... scared of heights, I went up on a kite behind a boat, when I saw a man hit a woman on the street , I stepped between them (even though he was twice my size), claustrophobic to a great degree, I donned scuba gear and plumbed the depths of the ocean ....
I have concluded I need the edge ... to feel alive, to feel complete, I crave and revel in sensation ... and there is something in my physical makeup, in my emotional complexity that can take what others would find repugnant, painful and frightening, and embrace and find in it my personal salvation.
Oddly, unlike my D. who sometimes struggles with his sadism, I have never had a huge issue accepting who and what I am. But that is true for the way I have always been able to embrace my sexuality without guilt or pricklings of self-regret; accepting and revelling in my masochism is no different for me than accepting that I an intensely sexual person whose complicated psyche and emotional equilibrium needs the intensity engendered by BDSM play to elicit a true state of nirvana ...
Where I quibble, however, is the degree of emotional abuse I can tolerate.
THAT is the area I constantly examine and question, the facet of myself that causes me a great deal of angst and self-destructive behaviour that my rational mind knows is unhealthy.
Complicating the issue is the reality of my very long-term dynamic with D. - so entwined are we, that it is often difficult for either of us to step back and see the growth and direction of our relationship objectively... The reality is that even the healthiest plant needs tending and trimming, it needs nurturing with the proper application of soil, fertilizer and sunlight ... and sometimes, you have to step back and see where the dying stems have to be cut away or the suckers need trimming.
Ultimately, I believe in my soul that D. and I are like the holly bushes ... that to thrive, to reach the apex of emotional, spiritual and physical peak we need each other ... but we also need to realize that trimming away the bad bits is as crucial as life itself.
Certainly, there is something in what elise says - that the intensity generated by the D/s dynamic is unlike anything in the non-kink world and in itself, that offers a powerful, somewhat overwhelming attraction and engenders a need that if not balanced with rational and emotional health, can ultimately be destructive.
Conversely, embracing, revelling and enveloping oneself in that intensity can be an incredible and emotional, physical and spiritual experience that leaves every other experience looking pallid and recollected in shades of grey ...
The trick of course - and this applies equally to whatever choice of lifestyle - is finding the balance