It is ironic that Jz published this post a few days ago. This sort of circumstance came up for me - for us.
I had, for the first time I think, been able to tell him directly what I felt like i wanted. I had asked him, nicely of course, to please push me harder the next time we were able to play. So, all day, he had been feeding me promises and tastes of what he planned for that night. This was new and I was very apprehensive and wondering (oh s**t) what i had gotten myself in for. [ know - just exactly what i asked for - go figure.]
I think that the prolonged nervousness was a big part of why i was unable to tolerate much at all right from the start. That happens to me every once in awhile, and in the past i have just buried my face in a pillow and waited for my mind to catch up to where it needs to be. But he had done somethign differently also - it was a small, innocuous thing, about the environment, not even really related to what he was doing to me. But it set me off completely. It made me furious. It only took me a few seconds to realize it was much too much like something my father had always done. In this context I couldn't handle it. I lost it and rolled away and just said, "I can't."
Usually if I'm not restrained, he expects me to stay still, if i do squirm, he waits a bit, puts a hand on my back, then demands I stay still. He realized this was different and he stopped. He listened to me and asked more questions and waited for me calm down and figure it out and explain it to him. He laid down with me and reassured me (and changed the thing that had bothered me). Then he started again - different pain, in different ways in different areas, with pleasure too this time. Back and forth. He build up to what he had been wanting to do before - not as intesely I'm sure, but some.
I'm glad he stopped -and I'm glad he went back to it.
I believe he doesn't want to see me in psychological pain, or to be angry, at least not by the time it's over. He wants me to be with him in this and responding the way he likes me to respond - sometimes that means I'm angry initially, certainly in physical pain, to have marks, to be in tears and to be spent - but also to be very aroused, and to be in that incredibly connected, focused on him, and completely responsive headspace.
I know this goes against lots of peoples' ideas about submission or dominance. Maybe it is "service topping," or letting the sub really be in control, or just playing around, not doing it right at all - whatever. For us, it is part of us learning each other and ourselves, and it is how the trust is built.
I didn't know that this thing that he did would bother me, certainly not to that degree. Now I do know, and so does he. And it helps both of us understand a bit more about why certain patterns have existed in hte past.
It reinforced for me that i should be honest with him, that he doesn't see it as a failure on my part, that he won't just throw up his hands and walk away, that he will even go back to what he was doing if and when it is right. It shows me that i can trust myself to distinguish real distress from the feeling of being pushed in an appropriate way. And it shows me that he can make that distinction too.
It shows him he can trust me to let him know when i am in distress, that i will be honest with myself and with him about it. This lets him know he can push more, maybe with more confidence - because he knows i won't try to play martyr, but also that i won't cry wolf.
This also opened up room for me to talk about other things that had been only half formed in my mind. He is interested in breath play, but i consider it a hard limit. I am slowly finding myself (cautiously) intrigued by it, just peeking from between the fingers closed over my eyes at the idea. I have to believe that building up trust is the way to move towards being able to explore this kind of limit.