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Not what I wanted but what I needed

As I am writing this I am sitting on a train back home, reflecting on my first ever suspension yesterday, a four point suicide suspension.

Most people (at least in the United Kingdom) are aware of suspension on a physical level if not knowing it's name; ask people if they have seen "those freaks that hang from hooks in their backs" and I am pretty certain that they will know what you are referring to and like many people, that's how I first came across suspension and like other body modification-related things, thought that it was "sort of interesting" but most certainly not for me.

There is a tendency amongst people who are not pierced (and many who are) to assume that the act of hanging in the air via hooks in your back must be indescribably painful. I must admit that I too shared this view until such a time as I had my nipples pierced followed by a Prince Albert and came to the understanding that whilst pain is quite obviously painful, pain itself it just a physical reaction of electrical impulses and neurotransmitters in the brain and is something that you can ride and even block out in some circumstances and this is something that I consider myself quite able to do when being pierced and so the notion of trying something that looks so blatantly painful began to appeal to me. I had also read many experiences that people had written describing feelings of peace, of stillness, of intense euphoria and in some cases feeling close to God and given that I was going through a pretty turbulent time in my life at that moment, all the above appealed to me considerably.

My girlfriend at the time was also interested in suspending but with both of being far from thin we were both worried about the hooks bending or ripping out of our skin and leaving us horrible wounded and disfigured for life and looking like something out of a bad horror film. At this point I was aware of Vampy (Sue) and her Body Evolution team from postings and QOD questions on the BME website and I sent her a message asking generally about how often they suspended people and if our weights would be a problem. Her reply was mostly positive and she assured that whilst the weight wouldn't be a problem, she didn't generally like suspending people that she wasn't familiar with as there has to be a good degree of trust between the suspension crew and suspendee.

This made perfect sense to me and it was agreed that me and my girlfriend would come down to a meet at some point and see what goes on and then at a later date (if everyone was agreeable) we would return and possibly suspend.

Fast forward two years and I was no longer with my girlfriend, my personal problems had been greatly resolved and my life was much more stable and I felt that I was now at a point in my life where I felt ready once again to suspend partly out of my initial curiosity and partly to help banish some demons that I had been harbouring about my weight and general low self worth and low self esteem.

I feel compelled to mention now that I am terrible procrastinator and it is quite often that I will think up grand plans or dream up what I consider to be a good idea and then work on it for a few weeks before consigning it to the trash can. Having spoken to Vampy about my fears about suspension and making sure that she was happy to suspend me, I agreed a date with her several months in advance so that I would be sure of getting time of work and then once we agreed dates, I handed in a holiday request form and once my time off was approved, I purchased my train ticket and that was the logistics taken care off – the only thing left to deal with was me and my own internal fears.

Vampy's plans were to have a Body Evolution meet late one weekend in August but since I was quite self conscious about suspending, we arranged for me to come down a few days before the meet and suspend privately and combine my suspension with a sort of mini-break away from work for a few days. Once I arrived in Norwich after a bit of technical difficulties with my train (that's another story mind...) I was met at the station by Sue and Gren and I was instantly at ease with them when we went to a local supermarket to get provisions and I quickly got the impression that they were laid back, decent people and that I would be happy suspending with them.

There is a lot to be said for the cleanliness of a studio's piercing room and it would not be unreasonable for me to hold Sue's house to the same standards so when I arrived, I was delighted to see that in her spare room was a fully stocked and equipped piercing studio that as clean as any other that I had been pierced in before and I was most impressed.

That night we relaxed in front of the TV and had a few drinks and I asked a good few technical questions like how much force the suspension rig can take, how they would get the hooks into my back and how long I would suspend for and whilst my questions were probably ones they had heard countless times before, everything was patiently explained to me as if it was the first time they had heard my questions and I was quite satisfied with the answers that I was hearing. Furthermore to this, I will freely admit that I was quite naïve about how the hooks got into someone's body and I just assumed that they were pushed through the skin in a brutal manner so I was rather relieved when it was explained to me that the hooks would be fitted into the backs of regular piercing needles and this was how they would come to be in my back.

How completely and utterly logical!

Why didn't I think of that?

So the next afternoon iam.twysted (Shaun) arrived and after a bit of a chat and a few cups of tea (it's a British thing...) him and Sue started to get set up and I began to get very, very nervous as the needles did look pretty large and there were four of them but since this was what I came for, there could be no backing out and with that, I went and laid down on the piercing table. Once I was laying down Sue explained that her and Shaun would do a hook each simultaneously followed by a short breather and then the remaining hooks. Usual piercing procedure would follow with a signal being given to breath in deeply followed by a long slow breath out, at which point I would be pierced. Of the piercing itself I must say that it was not especially painful or drawn out and if you have had several piercings then it will not be a problem for you. The pain itself was pretty localised and more dull than sharp and the sensation itself was again not painful or especially unpleasant but I could quite clearly feel somethi ng forcing it's way through my skin and out the other end...

Once I successfully had four stainless steel hooks inserted into my back I was quite chuffed at myself and I really was quite pleased that I had came this far. Although I knew that most difficult part lay ahead of me I was again determined not to back out as this was what I had came for. Once we were outside Sue explained to me that if I felt tightness in my arms any lower back pain I was in essence to "dance the funky chicken" as this would help loosen the muscles.

After Shaun had attached the ropes to my hooks and began slowly pulling on the rope and adding tension, I began to feel really uncomfortable and could not put the issue of my weight out of my mind and could not help panicking about the hooks ripping and whilst I was pretty much up, I clung to the earth with my tiptoes as much as I could, completely unwilling to put faith in the people suspending me and unwilling to hand over responsibility for my safety and well-being – I just couldn't and asked to be lowered back down and have the tension loosened for a bit so that I could relax and mentally compose myself.

I briefly considered backing out but almost in the same instant I rejected that notion and told myself that if this was in any way unsafe, if I was in any way too heavy, if there was any risk of the rig collapsing then Sue simply would not take any chances and I began to prepare myself to try again and formulated a plan:

After a few minutes break and some water, I spoke to Shaun and told that once he had put tension on the ropes and I was just about ready to go up, I would give him a signal and at that point, I would breath in deeply and when I breathed out, he would pull on the ropes and hoist me up and I would be forced to ride out my fears and push past them.

Once this was agreed, Shaun slowly increased the tension on my back to the point where he was waiting for my signal and although I didn't feel completely ready I know that if I just waited for the "right moment" then I would never suspend so I just thought "Fuck it" and told Shaun I was ready and following my breath, he hoisted on the ropes and I was up!

I suppose the first thing that struck me was the complete absence of any appreciable pain and this really surprised me as I was expecting to at least feel something but instead I felt a strong tugging sensation on my back and I did not like it one bit. It crossed my mind to ask to be lowered back to the ground but to me, that would have been a failure and a loss of face and after coming so far for this I was determined to ride out the discomfort. After checking I was OK, Sue started taking photographs and I noticed that the initial discomfort and I guess shock at it all was giving away to a somewhat dull, tight feeling on my back, almost as if I was strapped to some sort of tight harness and the only way I can describe it would be like how sunburn feels when the skin starts to tighten up.

I did manage to relax enough to ask Sue to push me a bit so that I was swinging and it was such an odd feeling that I really don't think I can describe it in words as everything that your mind and body takes for granted as the norm has ceased to exist and I think my brain was having a really difficult time processing this new reality that it was now in – everything just felt so surreal and odd. After what seemed like a few moments I asked to be lowered back down to the ground, satisfied that I had achieved what I came for and proud of myself for being able to push through my doubts and fears and really achieve something. I did ask to go back up but like the first time my brain started freaking out and I immediately asked to be lowered down again.

Once I had been disconnected from the ropes I had a drink of water and a smoke whilst I sat down and relaxed and tried to put everything in order in my head before going inside to have the hooks removed and of that there is nothing to say as that is exactly what I felt – nothing. No tugging, no pain, nothing. I had to ask if they were really out since I had no physical sensation to associate with them being removed.

Overall I was disappointed not to experience any of the euphoria that other people talk about but I wasn't really looking for that and if anything, my experience has taught me just how insecure I am with my body and I believe I now have the final impetus to seriously do something about it and lost a significant amount of weight before I suspend again next year and hopefully when I have shed my hangups I will be secure enough in myself to truly enjoy the experience without worrying about everything and anything.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 23 Aug. 2006
in Ritual

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Artist: Vampy
Studio: Body+Evolution
Location: Norwich%2C+United+Kingdom

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