Dear lunaKM,

In a nutshell, my question is, how do I know if my masochistic tendencies come from a safe place? My Dom and I have both struggled with mental illness, and as such he has never felt comfortable with anything rougher than biting or hair pulling. However, we have never really talked about it. I would like to open up a dialogue about this, but I fear- as, I have a feeling, does he- that it might trigger me. I also fear that it could trigger him. But I don't want to leave a stone unturned that could potentially lead to a great experience for both of us. What do you think?

Hello fear of triggers,

Mental illness is a hard subject to deal with, so I'm going to do what I can to help you but I suggest you get some professional help as well if you don't already. I am not a professional so don't take what I am about to say as the only answer or the answer that will definitely work. Just use it to work through your own thought process (with a professional).

Often, masochism can have roots that are not from a healthy place. What identifies them is that they only come to mind when you are feeling severe anxiety, depression or a need to escape. That is often where self-harm enters the picture. If you feel that your masochistic desires come from a dark place like that, you definitely should seek medical intervention. But, masochism that is a part of sexual exploration and preferences do not have a negative aspect to them. It's more about positive feelings, pleasures, and enjoyment. Masochism in this instance is a happy experience.

Rayne has written a few posts on dealing with mental health issues in a BDSM and D/s relationship that could shed some light on specific concerns you may have. Here are the links to her series.

I understand your fears of triggering and not wanting to talk about it for fear you will trigger yourself. Triggers are an emotional mess to have to deal with. But if you avoid talking about your interests in BDSM and feel that exploring further could really be a positive experience then you definitely should talk about it. Set up the time to talk where you both feel safe and secure and it could be easier on you. If that still doesn't feel right, find a kink-friendly therapist in your area that you can work with. Don't do this alone if it feels wrong.