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Liberation Through Silence

As with so many of my mods, the desire to have my lips sewn has no greater history behind it than a sudden almost imperceptible yet undeniable feeling that it is something that I should do. I wanted to experience the sensation and restrictions of being physically unable to open my mouth, but the desire for this had no particular origins or foundation beyond a growing realisation that this was something I was craving more strongly with the passing of time. My original plan was to have my lips sewn just before I suspended for the first time, but as the time for this to happen grew nearer and I became more nervous I resolved that as much as I'd like to have that experience, it perhaps wasn't appropriate for what was bound to be an already overwhelming event by itself. So on the second day of a two-day mini suscon held by Vampy of Body Evolution in Norwich (on the first day of which I had gone ahead with my suspension) I had my lips sewn independently of anything else.

My lip sewing procedure was begun around lunchtime on the Sunday of the suscon weekend. I sat upright on the piercing bench and Vampy and I discussed how many stitches to place around my lips, agreeing on five; two on each side and one across the very centre of my mouth. The markings were placed and my mouth wiped with sterile antibiotic solution. My nervous forgetfulness and the proximity of the needle to my face prevented me from seeing exactly how the needle was threaded or the structure of the nylon thread that was used, but the needle was very thin and curved, around two centimetres between each tip. I felt a sharp, stinging, popping sensation as the needle entered my skin above my top lip, and another as the needle exited inside my mouth. The needle then entered the corresponding bottom marking inside my mouth, exited through the skin under my bottom lip and the thread was cut, leaving me with a single long piece of thread travelling between each hole inside my mouth. The sensation was no more intense than pricking your finger with a regular sewing needle but I flinched unexpectedly due, I think, as a response to the work being done right up against my face. It also made my eyes water slightly, brushing away tears after every complete stitch. This was repeated five times until each stitch was in place but untied. At this point the thread was still loose, so I could open and move my mouth. Vampy then started working from the first stitch again, pulling the thread tight and so closing my lips, tying each one off in the middle. About twenty minutes after we'd started, the five stitches were tied, trimmed, and I could no longer speak or move my mouth. My lips swelled slightly, and I found they became dry quickly as I was unable to lick my lips. but this was quickly solved with a judicious application of lip balm and other than that, there was no pain or discomfort at all and only a minimal amount of blood.

One of the reasons I chose to have my lips sewn was to experience a voluntary silence, but I didn't realise just how important your mouth is for communication, even when you can't speak. Without being able to smile, or pout, or curl my lip, or poke my tongue out I found it near impossible to interact with anyone past a blank-faced delivery of hand gestures. This was unnerving at first, and I immediately felt alienated by my almost total inability to communicate with the people around me. However, after a while, I found this incredibly peaceful and calming. Separated from the ability to talk and interact and have that acknowledged by others was strangely liberating. There was no longer any expectation – either overtly or covertly, from myself or others - that I should participate in the conversations and verbal activities of those around me and I found the newly granted license to just sit back and observe others gave me a curious sense of freedom. In essence I was forced to be passive, a concept that I would previously have stated filled me with great unease. Certainly the times at which I needed to communicate and couldn't were greatly frustrating, but for the majority of the time I found myself more relaxed than I could remember, removed from the pressure of social interaction.

I kept the stitches in for around six hours and was so relaxed with them in place that I even fell asleep for a short while, only removing them because it was time for me and my party of friends to go home. The removal took around ten minutes in total and like the stitching was not really painful, just an unusual, stingy sensation. Antibacterial lotion was sprayed around my mouth to soften the clotted blood around the holes, and the individual stitches were cut in the middle and pulled out through the top hole on each one. After all five were removed, I was cleaned up with more antibacterial lotion and had a drink, the liquid stinging against the small wounds in my mouth. Immediately after removal was the most uncomfortable time of the whole experience, as my already puffy lips swelled more and the holes stung from having the thread pulled through them, but this subsided completely within fifteen minutes. The holes left were surprisingly almost imperceptibly tiny, and by the evening of the following day they had disappeared entirely.

I felt as though I could have kept them in for much longer and missed them when they were gone, experiencing strange feelings of them still being there all the way home. After such a long period of silence I was reluctant to start being vocal again, relishing the last traces of my much-enjoyed passivity. Having my lips sewn was such a fantastic experience for me that I am already thinking about the possibilities of doing it again in the future for a longer amount of time, perhaps over a twenty four hour period as part of a fast.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 14 Oct. 2004
in Ritual

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Artist: Vampy
Studio: Body+Evolution
Location: Norwich

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