I recently made a penitent flogger out of eight strands of leather. It is a nasty little piece of work that can deliver a significant sting with very little effort on the part of the dominant. As I made it, I had wondered how I would feel when I actually used it. I knew it would be nastier than anything I'd wielded yet and I wondered how Pet would react and how I'd feel about his reactions.
I warmed him up a little with my favorite rope flogger and the Josephine I kept for myself before switching to the new flogger. I then proceeded to deliver 100 strikes in groups of ten to twenty at a time. It was challenging for him - it was easy to tell. Still he held his place, maintained his position and refrained from using "yellow". The notion he would willingly take on this challenge because I willed it was humbling and exhilarating at the same time. In between sets, I caressed and stroked his stinging skin, and gently hold him as I told him how pleased I was.
The look on his face as I ended the final set was striking. He looked like he'd had his limit, at least for the moment. He was a little reluctant to meet my eyes as he struggled to compose himself. I was concerned, wondering if I'd pushed him a little too far. I knew I'd pushed him hard as the type of sensation that flogger delivers is definitely the most difficult for him to process. At the same time, he is proud of his stoicism. He didn't use his safe word, and I respect his desire to be pushed. Afterwards, I acknowledged the achievement aloud and how I hadn't been sure how far we would actually get. As I held him, I made it plain he had exceeded my expectations and that I admired his resolution to stick with it to the end. His smile let me know he was pleased he'd made it through as well.
I've had moments with Pet when his facial expressions of pain have been thrilling and exhilarating, like the first session with the penitent flogger. His facial expressions the following day provoked an entirely different response. While they were familiar, the helplessness and exhaustion in his eyes was different. The pain he was experiencing was uncontrollable and persisted for hours (i.e. from a very intense headache). He could not keep up with it nor find a way to provide any relief. I could offer nothing to ease his discomfort. I have found it emotionally and almost physically painful to helplessly watch his reactions.
I've been reminded there are limits to my brand of sadism. In order for me to enjoy his discomfort, I need to be in control of how the sensations are administered. I need to be effective in helping him to successfully process his pain and in offering him comfort. And most importantly, I want either him or me to be able to make the pain stop. Without these limits, there is no pleasure at all for me in watching his discomfort. There is only concern for his well being and determination to find a way to help make it better.