Self-Care For The Kinky

Kinky keeps us healthy.

February 26, 2020

Leah Blooms aka Leah Peterson
Whip Snap
photo by Beo Beyond

s kinky folk are drawn to the more expressive types of sex and intimacy for lots of reasons, and one major theme is usually some type of trauma we’re working out. Emotional, mental, physical, childhood — you name it, we’ve probably had it, and we’re working our asses off in an effort to clean house, be stable, and live as productive citizens who put love out into the world in every kinky way possible. Dr. Joe Kort, a sex and relationship therapist who teaches in the University of Michigan Sexual Health Certificate Program advocates for kinky sex and play as a healthy way to work through issues.

“The benefits are the same as children who have had traumatic things happen and then engage in play therapy,” says Kort. “BDSM/kink/fetish — and truthfully all sex — is ‘play therapy.’ People are working out all kinds of things through sex. As long as it is open, honest and negotiated in safe and respectful ways between two or more adults, it is a release that can be very healing and pleasurable.”

But, beyond kink, a self-care practice can help us stay healthy.

It can feel annoying to talk about self-care. As an idea, self-care has been co-opted by the elite who have money to burn on trips to the tropics while partaking in “Wellness Tourism,” (which was an $639 billion industry in 2017) while wearing “athleisure makeup,” which is a real thing, or to throw on the monthly to a guru who promises you enlightenment for the low, low price of frillions of dollars.

While possibly fun (and sunny) to spend acres of days on the beach on a remote island for a retreat focused on conscious uncoupling from the matrix, real self-care has nothing to with luxury and how much money you have to get a weekly massage (although massage certainly could be self-care). You don’t need that latest supplement showcased between 2am and sunrise in the As-Seen-On-TV informercial that promises you peace of mind or a better piece-of-ass after you lose ten pounds.

Real self-care is practical and available everywhere, to everyone. You can afford to breathe deeply for five minutes at your desk or criss-cross-applesauce-style in your bedroom. You can ask a friend to be your go-to, on-call safety person as you navigate a particularly emotional week. (You can trade them a homemade, crocheted scarf in exchange for them wiping the tears off your chin.)

You can throw out all the left-over holiday candy in the back of the cupboard, including the Nestle Crackle that no one ate, because they aren’t good, but you’re saving it for that next 3am anxiety attack. You can take a walk at lunch or sign up for a Tai Chi class at the Y or attend a Coda.org meeting in your area. Point is — you can take care of yourself if you make it a little bit of a priority. Just decide to do one thing.

Below are some ideas on how to take the first step.

Top Yourself

Think of where your life is out of balance and use some mental restraints. Go ahead and put cuffs on. Tighten up those mental ropes. Make yourself sit still for like, ten minutes in front of a candle or burning incense. Force stillness and reflection to see where you’re telling yourself unhealthy things tinged with guilt and shame. Breathe. Cry. Let your emotions catch up to you.

Love Notes

Do some creative writing around the thoughts and feelings that surface. Sometimes the only way to process some of the harder stuff is to feel it, write it, and then read it. I keep a journal that is just for processing these types of emotions. The pages look a lot like someone yelling, or at the very least, having a spirited one-sided conversation, about something that happened where I felt misunderstood, abused, let down, or anything else that lingers in my heart and mind. You know that conversation you keep having with no one in the back of your head while you’re doing the dishes or walking down the hall or any number of other things, explaining why they were wrong?

That’s the one. Work on that one. Write it alllllll out. And when you read it back to yourself, maybe, oh I don’t know, at 2am after a few glasses of wine, cry about it, maybe laugh about it, and forgive yourself for being a sloppy, emotional human. And then rip out and burn that shit if you feel like it. I like to finish with jotting down, “I Love You,” on a post-it note and putting it on my fridge or car dashboard or anywhere else I frequently look. Because goddammit, I’m a fucking rockstar for surviving life.

Physical Touch

Touch yourself lovingly. Make yourself feel good. Respect and love your body in a whole new way for simply existing. We can go days, weeks, and years without ever really looking at our own reflections because we don’t like what we see. Touching ourselves with a kind caress is unheard of. This is the only life you’ve got and that body is the one you’re in. If now isn’t a good time to love your body, when is? What would have to happen first? No matter what qualifier just came to your mind, I’m going to call bullshit. Now. Now is the time to radically and fiercely love yourself just as you are, you sexy beast.

Delayed Gratification

Abstain from sabotaging behaviors and then reward yourself with things that actually make you feel good. Addictions got you in a crazy-making cycle? Do a little googling on sugar addiction and you’ll find out you’re not alone. Your gut can be a real son-of-a-bitch and even if you successfully ignore it throughout an entire, grueling day of it whining about how bad it needs some treats, you’re probably going for that Crackle bar in the back of the cupboard right before bed when your defenses are low. (Dammit, I told you to throw it out!) Simply saying no to cravings won’t work. You’ve got eons of primal biology working against you. Replace that treat-cycling behavior with something that makes you feel good like a daily meditation practice or a walk or a pottery class. And, ok, maybe a square of dark chocolate before bed.

Good Boy

Gratitude has been shown to work in changing your mindset and elevating not just your mood today, but your moods overall. I struggled with the concept of God for years, so including gratitude instead of trying to pray to that old dude in the sky has been a game-changer for me. Although gratitude is traditionally tied to religion and God or god or gods, it doesn’t have to be. As psychologist and professor Robert Emmons from UC Davis wrote, “Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness.”

Whatever your flavor of spirituality is or isn’t, gratitude for existing is a thing that will help you stay grounded and centered. Thank God or thank your Higher Self or the great spaghetti monster in the sky or simply the life-force energy at large. It doesn’t really matter who or what. Just send those higher vibrations out and up.

You’re So, So Good

We have to learn to parent ourselves in a kind, loving-parent voice. Don’t let yourself go without self-care. Make it a priority. And if you have a trauma-based childhood, you need it more than most. You have lots of un-layering of emotional trauma still stuck in your cells that needs to be set free. Your instinct might be to deprive yourself of things that feel good, which makes sense in a warped kind of way when you grow up thinking that good things aren’t for you.

Shed the guilt and stop simply surviving. Embrace the idea that you should be thriving. You deserve good things! Your resiliency in still walking around this marble in space with your meatsuit on speaks to your strength. You can afford to be softer and kinder to yourself. Way to go, you. You’re so, so good, luv.


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