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My first suspension

On the afternoon of Saturday 30th June 2007, I did my first suspension – a 4-point suicide suspension, performed by Constant Elevation.

I lay on the table as they cleaned and marked my back, thinking to myself, if I can do this, I can do anything. Simon (Captain Howdy) and Ben inserted the hooks two at a time. They were painful, but swift and bearable, and left me with a big smile on my face. I stood, and Ben pulled the rope taut. My feet were flat on the floor and the hooks were pulling my flesh from my back.

I felt like it was moving fast, and I needed a little time now. I asked Ben to give me a minute to get used to the pulling. Simon stood in front of me and held my hands as I mentally sorted through the sensations. After a minute, I felt ready to take the next step, and started pushing up onto my tiptoes.

Now, the hooks were taking part of my weight, and that was when it started getting really hard. The difficulty was psychological rather than physical. It was painful, but the discomfort wasn't primarily pain, but the feeling of my skin being pulled away from my back with force. There's a significant psychological block to allowing yourself to hang from your own flesh. I said to Simon, what the fuck am I doing? I was thinking, I can't do it, but reminded myself, this is my body and I have control. If I can do this, I can do anything. My will was battling against my mind and my body. Alice told me not to look at the floor. I tried to look out of the window, but found myself compelled to look at my feet. Finally, my will won the battle. I made that last, incredible leap of faith and lifted my feet off the floor.

Then, suddenly, I was hanging. The physical sensation was indescribable – my skin was being dragged away from my body with the force of my whole body weight, and it begged me to stop. But mentally, I had crossed a barrier. I remember gasping and laughing. I looked down to see the floor moving further away, and that was amazing – not only hanging, but being lifted higher into the air. I lasted a few minutes before my body won the fight and I went back down.

I stood for a minute, then felt a bit sick, so Alice brought me a chair and I sat down. Sean gave me my teddy bear, and I sat holding him for a minute. Alice said something about going up again in a minute, and I thought, no, I can't do that again, I'm done now. But gradually I thought, I'll give it another try. And after a while I stood up and started the process again.

This time, Alice held my hands. I lifted myself to my tiptoes slowly, each centimetre a struggle. I reached the points of my tiptoes and willed myself to lift my feet off the ground, but I couldn't. I desperately wanted to make the lift but my mind was compelling me to retain my physical connection with the floor. You can do it, they were saying, but this time my will couldn't break that psychological barrier. I left the ground, though – Ben pulled me up on the rope and I hung again. This time I took my bear up with me. I hung for a while, until I came over feeling sick and returned to earth.

I remember very little of the time I spent in the air. I didn't know how long I spent up there, but I'm told it was 2 or 3 minutes each time. I've no idea what music was playing. I was too focused to be aware of the details. I sat for a little while, gathering my thoughts, before deciding not to go up again.

The removal of the hooks and cleaning was mostly painless, but pushing out the air bubbles hurt. For the rest of the day, I could feel the injury to my back every time I moved my shoulders. For the rest of the day I kept thinking, I can't wait to do it again, I want to do it now! I felt overwhelmed by the experience I'd just had, and knew it would take a while to absorb and make sense of what I'd been through.

It's been two days now and the soreness is almost gone. I have written the story of my first suspension for myself, to ensure that I never lose the memory of that moment I first left the ground. I'll definitely be going up again, but I'll never experience anything like that moment again, and I want to keep it for ever.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 July 2007
in Ritual

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Artist: Constant+Elevation
Studio: +
Location: London

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