On “healing” in ropes

healing rope bondage

A while ago I gave an interview to someone who is writing a book about BDSM as a healing modality. I think it will be an interesting and reflected book that will also address some of the old stereotypes about BDSM that exist in our society… So we talked about healing in between other things, and it got me thinking a lot. 

Few concepts of healing make sense to me. 

My teacher Joseph Kramer talked about the concept of “wounded healer” – someone who has been wounded and dealt with it (successfully), can help others to heal. 

There is another concept of sexual healing from Betty Martin: there are two elements: shame and disempowerment. They go together: when you heal shame, you become empowered, and vice versa, you cannot heal your shame without being empowered. Sexological Bodyworkers address disempowerment by teaching people to ask for what they want. There is no other way, Betty Martin says. Healing happens through having a somatic experience of asking and getting what you want. 

This very much makes sense to me!

I think real transformation starts inside, and the modality can offer a framework to support the process, be it aikido, dance, or rope practice. But I shy away from any modality promising a “nice” perspective of healing. I mind the assumption that I’m broken to start with, or somewhat not ok, and I can be fixed by following the process. 

To me personally, this is an important distinction:

Does it have the potential to support my change originating from inside vs. having a “healing” agenda to fix me according to some external standards. Many of those are scams, some are delusionary and some are abusive. At best, it gives me crutches. At worst, it exploits my wound. 

It is however appealing as any “quick fix” often is. We like to believe in something or someone omnipotent, someone who knows answers. We don’t need to do much. We will be “done”. We will be transformed through a “transformative” experience, be it rope work or shamanic ritual, and we will be made into a better version of ourselves. All we need to do is to drink cacao.

In the end, that is the opposite of healing, as it keeps us disempowered. 

The truth is, change is work. Having supported people through the change as a Sexological Bodyworker, it is an effort to make any kind of change for yourself. It requires a commitment to go into discomfort because this is where our learning is. Change is frustrating because what happens first is that we lose the system of coordinates that used to serve us well in the past. Change always goes through the body, and our bodies don’t change instantly over a weekend workshop. Change is slow and circular, making us encounter the same question again and again.

Change is possible, but only when we really want to grow up and take responsibility for our wounds.

Rope – like any somatic practice, has a massive potential to support your change. It brings you into your body much faster than healing crystals. It offers endless possibilities for learning about yourself, being in contact with yourself and your partner, pleasure, attention, communication, and a million other things. Just make sure you are the one in charge of your healing…

***On the picture: my early healing experiments: Rigger Booth Camp at Schwelle7 June 2014. In 10 years, I hopefully look slightly less puzzled 🙂 ***