Can Kink Lead to Self-Actualization?
Written by Dr. Gloria Brame on May 15th, 2022
38 years ago, I finally, reluctantly, accepted the truth about myself: I was kinky AF. It’s not as if I’d ever forgotten that I tied myself up to masturbate as a teen, I just stubbornly refused to define it as kinky. It was just me, a secret side of me, one I kept hidden except with a tiny handful of lovers I trusted.
As difficult as it was to confront my truth, it was exhilarating. I was released from the prison inside — the negation of my sexual needs, the fear of losing everything because of my sexual quirks, the overpowering chokehold of shame. I was free!! And I didn’t have to hide anymore.
What I never imagined was that kink would take me on a never-ending journey to self-actualization and inner peace that extends far beyond kink.
The journey to self-actualization through kink
Self-actualization means integrating the parts of yourself into a whole so you can become your best self. It means breaking down the barriers that stand between you — the person you want others to see — and you, the person you are inside. It means all of you –the social person, the person you are at work, the person you are at home, and, yes, even your sexuality and gender expression, are integrated and balanced. Harmonious. All systems are working together to help you achieve your human potential.
There are innumerable paths to self-actualization and innumerable stories about how people achieved it. People can get there through therapy or yoga, praying, or reading books. For those of us who’ve repressed our kinky nature, the journey to wholeness includes accepting and integrating kink into our identity.
How can kink help a kinky person live a truer, more meaningful, happier life?
It takes commitment — and it takes a community!
The First Steps are the Hardest
We begin our kink journey in the wilderness. Maybe you grew up thinking you were weird. Then at some point, you found out about kink and people living non-conformist sex lives. Whether it made you feel ashamed or proud, you were still surrounded by mainstream culture’s negativity toward the stuff that turns you on. You had absorbed it, whether or not you wanted to. But then, as you were exposed to this new world, after a life of living by other people’s prudish rules and ignorant beliefs, you were smacked in the face by new truths.
You were told it’s bad to give people pain and bizarre to enjoy receiving it. Boom, new truth! It’s not bad if you find people who play by the kinky rules, consensually and safely. Then it’s great.
You were worried people would run away screaming if they knew some of your deepest fantasies. Boom, new truth! There’s a community full of people who are living out those fantasies and having the fun you never dreamt possible.
How you receive these truths is part of your journey. The hard part. It’s hard because they conflict with the old programming. Whatever made you hold back is now shaking you to your core. “You can’t do that!” it’s growling, “You shouldn’t!”
Finding your way
It takes a lot of learning and support to find our way through the chaos. But if you connect with others like you, they will help you learn and open new doors for you. It takes some courage to stay on the path. But you are no longer alone. People wiser in the ways of kink can teach you. People who’ve been where you are can support you and nourish your soul. This is the blessing of community. You can lean on it. You can meet people who get you.
Eventually, a day will come when you realize you’ve evolved out of the old anti-sex programming. What was once forbidden is actually normal, even romantic. So what if you’re weird? The whole world is weird. Now you can do that thing you fucking LOVE to do without shame.
Then the Mysteries and Magic Unfold
What you do with your new knowledge is the next stage. The best path is to implement what you already suspect — that safe kink with someone you trust can be ecstasy. Getting experience is critical now: you need to let go and play, in order to feel what kinky people feel. You’ve earned it.
As you pursue your true pleasures mysteries are solved and the magic of the journey takes hold. Yes, you’ll likely run into difficulties and stumbling blocks along the way. For instance, sometimes people get discouraged when they don’t find a partner. Or they regret an experience and withdraw for a while.
Allow yourself to take the journey, good and bad. Focus on learning from it every step of the way.
You can think of your journey as a book filled with adventures divided into chapters. How much you learn depends on whether you were paying attention and storing information as you go. Through this process, you, like me, will discover more about life, human behavior, and the value of compassion — for yourself and for others — than you ever expected.
What I Learned
No doubt, I have learned how to be a good, ethical player. I know more about my body, my ethics, my boundaries, and what makes me happiest when I play. (In case you’re curious, it’s total control during a scene.)
But kink taught me huge life lessons. For example, I learned
— power can be used for good or for bad in very real and raw terms
— ethical power means negotiation – with eager consent or nothing
— commitments are a deep responsibility
— self-respect comes from having self-control
— kindness is crucial
It changes you, for the better
All of these lessons — and dozens more — have altered my view of life. They’ve shown me my own potential to rise above pettiness. They’re taught me how to lead a moral life, and how to drown out the noise of haters.
Whether you are at the beginning of your journey or have decades in our world, think about the lessons you’ve learned. Write them down. It’s a good exercise to clarify your journey by examining what you’ve learned.
Some people never learn. But you can. If you’re reading this, you are a learner. Keep going. Never stop.
Self-actualization through kink really happens
It’ll sneak up on you. First, you’re ashamed and nervous, then you’re overwhelmed, at times excited as can be, other times wondering how you made the latest mistake you just made (it will happen). And gradually, you realize you’ve become comfortable. Competent. Confident.
And you may find that you feel stronger inside because you’re living your own life, your own truth. No longer are you the product of a corrupt world or shitty parents, meekly living the way they sentenced you to live. You are instead the person who took the long, hard, thoughtful journey to become the person you were always meant to be.
I can see it happening. Can you?