Everyone will tell you to be stoic. To be strong. That’s what being a top means. To not need comfort, touch, reassurance. You’re harsh, strict, brooding — what would you need with those displays of vulnerability, your soft underbelly?
You will see. You will see.
They may not even tell you with their voices, but with their looks, their expressions, their shoulders turned slightly this way instead of that. You’ll know. You’ll get the message. It is more of an assumed cultural wound than good practice, more collective unconscious manifest through sexism and stereotype.
Tops know secrets like these: the only way to display your softness is if you are strong.
There is no wrong way to come back from a top trip and integrate the experiences of sensation, obedience, control, ownership, rough play. I spent years in concern, stretching out like a sandbar as the tide went out, before I started asking for things. Will you send me photos of the bruises? (Preferably along with even the smallest of expressions that you liked playing, you are proud of the marks, you don’t think I did something horrible to you?) Will you tell me what you liked? Will you tell me what part of it was the hardest for you to endure? (The part you report is almost never the part that I’m obsessing over in my mind, worrying, the moment that I fear I went too far or did something wrong.) Will you hold me (down) when my heart starts flying out of my chest, bursting from care and concern for you, when really what I need is care and concern for me? It feels counterintuitive. You’re the one who endured so much, who put yourself in a vulnerable position — but after we are both certain you are okay, and your endorphins have settled down, please may we talk about my vulnerabilities? About how much it takes to let my desire be seen so visibly? Because at any moment you could turn and make fun of it, walk away from it, tell me it’s wrong, tell me it’s too much, tell me I’ve gone too far.
Perhaps trust is my biggest kink. That would explain a lot.
I don’t want to tell you how hard it is sometimes to muster up the strength to beat you down. I know you ask for it, beg for it; I know you need it, somehow somewhere in your system desires the intense sensation that comes with bodies slamming into each other, pain bursting on the edges of your body. I don’t want to tell you the monologue in my head sometimes as you take it, harder and harder, for me, as we keep up the illusion — for both of us — that it is in fact for me, that it isn’t something I do for you because you need it. I know I need it, too, and I do, and I seek it, and I crave it when I don’t get it, but sometimes: I don’t want to tell you, but all I want is your mouth on me, your hands on me, those loving caresses, those sweet kisses, and sometimes, I whip you beat you smack you fuck you hard just so we can have those moments of aftercare, where I can break down after coming so hard that I cry, and you kiss my tears and fit right into that spot in my arm against my chest and shoulder, and I marvel at our forms.
Kink is cuddling foreplay, you told me once.
There are so many reasons why we smuggle our desire, why we keep it hidden in secret compartments and rarely offer others a look, but primarily it comes down to fear. Fear of what someone else will think, fear that you won’t get what you are asking for, fear of humiliation, fear of giving someone leverage to hang over you, fear of actually getting what you desire.
Being strong isn’t about having no fear, but about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Feeling the fear and knowing that no matter the result or response, you will be okay. Feeling the fear and trusting in your own inner strength and inner sense of self and friends and community such that you can risk, you can offer your fragile places even if the result is shattered brokenness, because you know you can put it all back together.
As a top, it would be good to become familiar with kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold, making it stronger than it was before. The breakage or repair then becomes part of the history of the object, making it even more beautiful for having broken. Because there will be times you put yourself out there, no longer smuggling your desire, and it won’t be caught but will clatter to the concrete floor like glass. There will be miscommunication.
And it isn’t just you that can break. To be in the position of potential violation is, for many of us, horrifying. Learn the social and sexual politics of consent. Devour everything you can. Build trust slowly and truly. Listen when someone says they were hurt. Make amends. Do what you can to repair it all with gold.
Listen to your body. Your body will tell you if something you do is healthy for you. Are you calm, serene, elated, thrilling like a bird call the next day? Or are you foggy, mucky, crashed, pining? Pay attention.
Learn everything you can about how to be a top: how to read body language, how to communicate, how to negotiate, how to do the technical skills of kink and BDSM with which you want to play. Learn everything that the queer kinky culture expects of you. But also be willing to source the answers from your own body. They might tell you, in whispers and dust, how strong you are supposed to be, how certain, how unbreakable, but your belly might know better, and might tell you precisely what kind of sensate holding you need after. Maybe you need something delicious in your mouth — brownies, limeade, a caprese sandwich. Maybe you need words of praise and clarity. Maybe you need time, time, time together, riding out the endorphins until the chemical waves settle. Maybe you are fine right after, but you need contact the next day, and the next, even just a brief response to a text, a small phone call.
Experiment. Find out what you need. You’ll discover patterns. You’ll discover consistent solutions. You’ll discover all those things about yourself that are waiting, just out of reach, for you to bring them home.
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