Early 13c., “penitential chastisement; punishment,” from O.Fr. descepline (11c.) “discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom.”
I’ve done a lot of things for which I should be punished. My recent history is populated with broken hearts, broken promises and broken beds – and when I say recent, I mean the last five or six years. My barely-controlled recklessness has made me friends and lost them, it’s made me feel good and it’s put me in hospital, it’s caused happiness and depression. But mostly happiness.
2012 is going to be a more disciplined year for me, in which I spend some time making money and
working hard to pay off the debts I’ve been avoiding since I was a student. I’m 27 this year, which means I’m young enough to start building an exciting future for myself, if I can show some restraint. (I’m hoping to avoid joining the 27 Club, but I can genuinely imagine myself choking to death on a strap on dildo or something. I’m half-expecting to die on a duel over a woman.)
For many months now I’ve wanted new tattoos, tattoos that advertise my gravitation towards a kinkier lifestyle, but I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t attract attention from those outside the BDSM community. I want kinky people to know I’m kinky, but I don’t want to rub it in the faces of those who aren’t. I would never do anything as crass as get handcuffs tattooed on my wrist, for example, because it’s not subtle. (I would, however, consider demanding that future long-term submissive partners get a lock tattooed somewhere discreetly on their body, the pattern of which fits a key tattooed on my body. But that’s just a little brainpuff for now.)
Therefore, I chose the word “discipline”. I can explain it to my parents as wanting to be more dedicated to my responsibilities, to my vanilla friends as an important part of the martial art I study, and to kinky friends as a way to express my own, ever-deepening attraction to sexual paths less travelled.
In 20 days’ time, I have will have the matching word “restraint” tattooed on the other foot, and the meaning is multifaceted exactly the same way; restraint is both a healthy quality, and a kinky one. I’ve chosen these two words extremely carefully, and they’re perfect. I had little flushes of adrenaline when I realised how perfectly ambiguous these words were, and how ideally suited they were to the manifold meanings that I wanted to express.
Here’s the artist at work. He had a hunch that the tattoos had a meaning related to SM, and he asked me if he was right. I couldn’t reply because I was too busy concentrating on not passing out.
Pain & Subspace
I cannot begin to explain the pain of this tattoo. It took a little over 1.5 hours – so I’m told, since I had no sense of time. I remember it all vividly, but not in any particular order. Time passed, but not for me. It was excruciating and when it was finished I was exhausted just from the sheer effort it takes to be in so much pain for so much time.
It was amazing. It felt incredible, perhaps the most intensely vivid sensation of my life. I consider myself to have a very high pain threshold, but this experience was a real challenge.
And I knew it would be. I knew it was masochistic, and I knew that it would take discipline and control to get through it: the process of getting tattooed is as symbolic as the tattoo itself.
Still, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re pretty certain you can tolerate the pain. I had a little crowd of people watching the process, one of the other tattoo artists and one of the patrons were closely watching, as were one or two potential customers. People were asking me questions, but I could only reply in the spaces when the artist re-inked his needle.