A few definitions from Dictionary.com:
pain (noun) – physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc; a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body; mental or emotional suffering or torment.
harm (noun) 1.physical injury or mental damage; hurt.
Sound a lot alike, don’t they? When used as verbs, they’re synonyms. In common parlance, they’re used pretty interchangeably; if you have caused someone pain, you have caused them harm.
Well, in the world in which I live, pain does not equal harm.
Confused yet? Let’s try an examples.
Person A is hogtied. Person B is kicking, punching, pulling hair, choking, and otherwise beating the crap out of Person A. Person A screams “Stop!” but the abuse continues. Is Person B harming Person A?
The answer depends on one thing: Consent.
If Person A has been tied up without consent, they are being harmed. If Person A consented to being tied, but did not consent to a beating, they are being harmed. If Person A negotiated the hogtie, beating, and their safe word is “Stop” (which, for the record, is not the wisest choice of safe word), they are being harmed. If Person A negotiated the hogtie, beating, and their safe word is “Fruit Punch,” they might be in pain but they are not being harmed.
Got that? Now, on to another part of my world.
Cernunnos has said (in short), “You are My lover. You will Ordeal. If you succeed, you will wear My collar and do My Work when I ask it of you.” I love Him and want to wear His collar, but can’t do so without going through His Ordeal. I don’t want the Ordeal, but I have to put myself through the pain and terror of it to earn what He’s offering. Can this be considered harm?
I can hear the potential protest. “But He’s making you do something you don’t want to do! That’s harm!”
I don’t want to be at work today, but I have to be to earn my paycheck. Is that harm? No. What I will be doing for Cernunnos will be no less my Job than what I do five days a week. The paycheck is different, that’s all.
Plus, doing things we don’t want to do is part of life (if you thought otherwise, think again). And again, the difference between pain and harm lies in the concept of consent.
I’ve said before that I can remove my training collar and effectively walk away from this, if I so chose. That option remains until the final collar is locked around my neck. Once the lock snaps, it becomes consensual non-consent. I will have voluntarily yielded my consent to Him, allowing Him to do with me as He sees fit. Potentially pain and discomfort, but not harm.
Does that make it easier? Hell no. I get to stare at a great big black South African whip every day, knowing that in six weeks it will be used on me. Fuckin’ HELL no it’s not easier.
It’s painful. But it isn’t harm.
Tricky things, words.