I’ve not known myself to be the kind of person to crave submissive humiliation or punishment. But as I made progress in what you might call my personal submissive inventory, others’ writings — and their emphasis on the importance of these aspects — led me to wonder whether or not I’ve ever even quite experienced these. How can you know if you want something or not if you’ve never felt it? I set to find out.
Miss Isabelle set me the goal of not picking at or biting my fingernails. This is truly harder than you might expect — despite being a grown woman, it’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. No amount of encouragement, reward, or disincentive successfully turned me off the habit as a child or teenager, and repeated attempts later in life always ended in lasting failure. I much prefer having long nails, but there’s three decades of neural pathways to fight against.
We’re evaluating my performance on a weekly basis, and at the end of the first week she’d caught me biting or picking at my fingernails two or three times. I really enjoy pain, so this was always going to be an uphill battle, but Isabelle wanted to determine if a regular spanking (with implements) might have the desired effect anyway, if there was enough force and no warm up.
What is the desired effect? When I pick at or bite my nails, it’s not a decision I make consciously; it happens entirely habitually, usually amplified when I’m feeling anxious or unsettled. (There is probably some attachment model or Freudian lens to apply here.) The punishment experience needs to be aversive and felt deeply enough that it sinks into my subconscious that this is something we need to avoid; it needs to be pre-thought if it’s going to alter a behaviour which itself is pre-thought.
We found out pretty quickly that this kind of pain was not going to have an impact. I’d recently had an experience where a particular kind of beating had gotten me close to tears, and I feel like breaking down in tears is a signal that something’s happening inside. It seemed like we couldn’t repeat that here.
The next week went very well for me. Isabelle was talking up the reward I’d be getting for preserving my nails as we neared Sunday evening, but in the car that morning as we talked her eyes suddenly widened at me, and I realised what I was already doing.
It so happened we were going to a kink store that afternoon, and while I looked at the things I was there for, she busied herself looking at the hot wax candles. I find wax a bit hard to deal with — the sharp heat can be a lot, especially as the body warms — and have a fresh memory of two enthusiastic Dommes dripping a candle each on me at the same time.
I realised something was up when we went to pay and the girl behind the counter asked, “you know this one is extra hot, right?”
Isabelle laughed. “Oh yes, I know. How much hotter is it?”
The cashier looked at me. “It certainly feels hotter. It’s meant to be about 4 degrees more.”
I must’ve visibly deflated. At the time I didn’t quite know how obvious the arrangement was, but in retrospect, Isabelle was confident, and I was wearing a collar. Welp.
That evening after dinner, she had me set a towel out on the floor of the living room and fetch a lighter.
“I’m going to punish you now, for biting your nails. You were doing so well, too, but I need you to know that my orders are to be followed. Take off all your clothes, lie down on your front, and close your eyes.”
I could hear her unwrapping the new candle, and I started to tremble.
“This is going to be very hot. Tell me if it’s too much to bear.”
Quietly, I started to panic a little bit. I heard her flick the lighter. I waited what seemed like minutes but was probably less than ten seconds.
“It takes a bit to melt. Okay, here it comes.”
The first drip hit my back, searing hot. Before I could register it fully, the next drip hit, and then the next, and I whimpered, trying to keep it together.
She didn’t let up, and I could feel my body trembling, tears coming fully unbidden. I’d never cried from wax before, but this was all so much; the heat so much harder than anything I’d had to endure before.
It can’t have been more than a minute or two before she stopped. I was shaking from the tears, and — I kind of can’t believe this — but I can feel them coming on again now, writing this up days later. I guess it really did sink in.
It’s all the more surprising because it was at that point that she came down to my level and brought the candle she used into view. It was purple. One she’s used on me many times before. The new candle — black — was sitting proudly on the coffee table, untouched.
I laughed hard.
She did end up trying the new, “extra hot” candle on me after that, and I barely felt it! If anything, it felt less hot than the regular purple one. Maybe post-fear endorphins masked the pain? In a feigned huff, Isabelle declared that next time we were back at the kink store she’d report back to the girl I was “too much of a slut to get hurt by it”.
I’ve noticed, in the days since, a tiny moment of time opening up, a breath of consciousness — the instant when one of my fingernails is pressed to another, before any damage is done. The desired effect.