What happens if I use my safeword? This has always been at the back of my mind. I’m sure it’s something that many of us have thought about. What happens, really, if a safeword gets used in the middle of whatever activities we enjoy? We all know, or I should hope we know, the basics: stop the action, check in, and address the issue. What happens mentally and emotionally though, when safewords are called or the action is otherwise halted? What goes through our heads, the heads of the other person(s) involved? How do we address the aftercare in these instances?

I had a bit of a run-in with this not too long ago, and while I’m trying to not focus on it too much I do find myself still post-mortem-ing the events of that night. There are a lot of what-if’s but most of those are just that, what-if, and I’m trying not to harp on them. What I’m more interested in looking at is my own personal response to having been in a situation where the activities at hand needed to be stopped immediately, and which ended the fun for the night.

I find that I was equally shaken by the fact that I had to say no than by the reason I had to say no. What about it shook me? It was my first time doing anything which could be considered safewording, and that upset me. I like to be able to reach inside myself and move through and push myself, so this felt like a defeat. I don’t take well to being defeated. More than being defeated though, was that I didn’t ACTUALLY safeword.

Now, I don’t engage in kink activities where “no” is a word to be ignored unless explicitly agreed upon from the beginning. This worked out to be fortuitous for me in this case. That night when I found myself plunged deep into a flashback of an extremely traumatic experience from my past, I could think of nothing but “no”. No! No no no. Clawing my way away from the situation, and calling out that one word was all I knew in that moment. It wasn’t until what felt like hours before I was aware of my partner speaking to me, bringing me back to the world. It took a good three days before I registered what he had been saying. THAT was scary. Realizing three full days later that I’d not actually heard his words, just the sound of his voice and that he was trying to help.

I am blessed to have some wonderful friends in my life, and while I generally do not kiss and tell I turned to my part-time roommate for support and guidance. I felt sad. I felt broken. I felt disappointed in myself. I felt like I could have prevented the event somehow. I both wanted to talk and to hide. I recognize though, that I was in good hands both during and after, that I had love and support, and that I was safe.

I wonder, what do others do in these situations? I can only imagine what it must be like for a top to see their partner drop like that. What can I as a bottom do in the future to help my top after an incident like this? These are the things I now ponder…

  • Elspeth

    Thank you for your comments! One thing I’d like to mention is that nothing that was happening when this incident occurred was out of the ordinary for my partner and I, nor was it boundary pushing or edgy. Things like this can happen at any time, as you mention in your comment Spat- you can run across an unexpected trigger at any time.

  • An intelligent, thoughtful post. I am sure it is a shock for a Dom when the safe word is used – it has never happened to me, but then I am far from extremes. But I know I would feel that somehow I had failed in my duty of care. my responsibility to stay within set boundaries. Whether it was my fault or whether there were factors outside my control, I would feel bad.
    I’m sure you will resolve it together. You are intelligent and articulate and I’m sure your Dom is also.

  • spat cannon

    Generally, i’m not enough of a true sadist while topping to reach a point where safe wording is an issue. Any boundaries i push or pain i inflict is motivated by the masked joy it spurs in my partners, so it took some digging to conjure appropriate memories to respond to this.
    Even those of us who can judge our partners’ thresholds will occasionally accidentally stumble on a trigger. While in the moment instincts kick in and i immediately switch to the role of comforting nurturer, but i too found myself bothered in the following days. Perhaps it stems from being raised in a family of guilt based relations, but even though i’d not violated negotiations or consent, i felt terrible as if i should have been able to preemptively prevent the situation. In the following days i was incapable of instigating play or even casual sensual touch with the aforementioned partner. Eventually we established that what had happened was neither of our faults, unavoidable, and also unlikely to happen again and we proceeded with caution eventually reaching the level we had been prior to the incident. Even recollecting this event i feel selfish, having needed my partner to reassure me and i dread it happening again with any partner. As i said though, this memory is a decade old and muddling through it has lead to many years of fabulously steamy adventures since.