The term subspace is often used in D/s conversation, for describing the ‘high’ a submissive can feel during a scene. Simply put, the experience of intense pain, and/or pleasure can trigger a nervous system-wide response with a release of chemicals including endorphins, enkephalins, and epinephrine from different areas of your brain. These are the body’s natural pain killers, in reality, our body’s very survival instincts kicking in.
As I grew into the lifestyle, and gradually the terms that go along with it, I began to consider myself a ‘bedroom’ bottom/submissive, I began to wonder if I was ever going to feel this feeling called subspace. I have asked myself if I am a ‘real’ sub if I don’t achieve subspace. I have wondered if there was something wrong, if it was me, or my partner. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get that feeling. Everyone I knew around me, was talking about it. Some of them, I felt, were judging me as less of a sub, or just not a true one at all.
Almost 15 years total in dabbling with the lifestyle, more seriously at some times than others, and now at four and a half years in a committed BDSM relationship, I can finally say I have experienced subspace this year! I now know what all the fuss is about! The odd thing was, I wasn’t expecting it and I don’t know how to achieve it again! It was just as mind altering, and reality changing as I’ve heard, and is probably the closest I’ve ever come to a hallucinogenic experience, except that I wasn’t seeing anything. Seriously, my vision was not working. My feeling was such though, that I didn’t care, or barely realize at the time, that I couldn’t see, because you couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t on another plane of reality of, I don’t know what!
After returning to this reality with my Sir next to me, all ‘loosey-goosey’ and in a fit of tingly giggles, I might add, I slowly realized that what goes up, must come down, that this feeling wouldn’t last. Scientifically and physiologically speaking, your body stops producing those chemicals that made you ‘high’, usually just as, or even more suddenly than it started producing them. Tingling, buzzing, grogginess, maybe even a drunk feeling will replace the high as you gradually get your coordination, and arguably your very consciousness, back in your control. This is usually felt almost immediately, and is quite normal, in fact, nearly physically impossible to prevent from happening. This is the Physical side to Sub-drop.
Now, psychologically speaking, the timetable of emotional effects can differ for every person, anywhere from a few hours, to a week or two! In most cases that I have read about, which I have lost count of, nearly every sub has noticed some kind of emotional repercussion(s). I haven’t experienced what I would call emotional sub-drop. Now I find myself wondering, (yet again!), am I normal? Am I some superwoman who doesn’t need anything besides some cuddling and kind words?(Honestly I want that anyhow, who doesn’t!) I don’t know about you, but what I was reading and hearing about sub-drop made me think I was going to be like, “Hey, get ready with the ice packs, warm washcloths, and body oil, I need comfort, pronto!” Or, even worse, was my trip into subspace not genuine, if I didn’t really feel an emotional drop afterward? If I don’t know how I got there, can I learn? Can I even do it again? I have come to the conclusion that it really is different for everyone, that you don’t need to listen to anyone who says you’re not doing something right, or that you don’t fit into your ‘role’. How can anyone say that about anything, really, when you can’t even describe most things in this lifestyle outside of what it means to you, personally?
Does how ‘high’ or ‘low’ we get have to do with the intensity level of a scene? Or does it at all? How high or low do you think you get? Do you think it relates to how easily you slip into subspace, or how hard the ‘drop’ might be? Do those that have the greater need for emotional aftercare, the ones that experience a greater high? I’ll be honest and admit I rarely get above a 7 on the pain scale, which you can see in my poll about pain thresholds. That doesn’t make it any easier to relate to, though, does it? There are things in BDSM that could be considered universal, such as respect, communication, and trust. There are things that cannot be universal, among them our personal preferences and needs, and the experience of subspace, and sub-drop.
I try to be general in my writings, and not get personal, but I just can’t help sharing my curious nature and my desire to ask the questions that I want answers for, after all, the supply won’t be there until the demand is, right? I will be actively looking for answers to these questions, and hopefully I’ll be able to do another post about what I find. Speaking of demand, if yours is to have more in depth information on aftercare, which we didn’t touch on much here, please read ASI’s post on Subspace & Aftercare, which is a very good place to start. I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts as much as I have enjoyed presenting them to you. As I always say, please don’t hesitate to leave a message on ASI’s facebook page if you want to be anonymous, or leave a comment here about what you think your answers to those questions are! I always look forward to reading comments, and try to reply as soon as possible.