Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. ~John Wooden
I heard this and thought. Hm. Maybe that’s the issue I’m having with discovering that I have an inner Sadist* It is an assault to my character.
I see myself as a kind, caring, empathetic individual. I’m genuinely concerned when I see others in pain, be it emotional or physical. I have given handouts to pan handlers because I don’t believe I’m here to judge whether they are addicts, mentally ill, or someone who’s had a streak of bad luck. I care. I want to help. When my people are hurting, I hurt. It is important to me that those around me, especially those I love, are happy and comfortable.
Given all of that, imagine my surprise when I realized how much I enjoy inflicting consensual pain. I’m not exaggerating when I say I struggle with it. Last night, during a discussion about that very thing, I made a declarative statement about how much I want to hurt people. Not a remarkable thing to hear in a dungeon space. Quite remarkable for me to say it without first beating back the thought that I’m a horrible person for feeling that way. The fact that I said it, I believe for the first time, without thinking there must be something wrong with me, is significant progress. I almost want that feeling back, that wrongness. Reflecting on this today, I had the feeling that there must be something wrong with me for not thinking something is wrong with me.
Perhaps what is most interesting to me about this evolution of my character, is that I do not now, nor have I ever, believed there is anything wrong with the individual who causes me pain. If I have no concerns about His psyche, or the psyche of anyone who inflicts consensual pain for that matter, then why all the internal hubbub about mine? Why this penchant for casting myself as some evil “other”, as if no one else on the planet shares this hideous, warped trait?
I’m pretty sure it is because sadism* is the polar opposite of who I thought myself to be. It might also be that if I embrace this truth about myself, then there is a fear about what else might be lurking inside, waiting to rear is socially unacceptable head. Am I not already enough of a freak?
Additionally, because I am evolving in a very public manner, my reputation and character are changing in tandem. Because, ya’ know, there isn’t enough pressure when altering the fiber of your being. Let’s add an audience.
*The generally accepted lifestyle definition, not the DSM diagnosis.