At A Glance Author Mr. NoModifications Contact firstname.lastname@example.org When A month ago Artist Ascension Suspension / Steve Truitt Studio a tree behind Steve`s house Location Albuquerque, NM, USA
And I'm Gonna Organise Some Changes In My Life
I'm Gonna Exorcise The Demons Of My Past
I Just Feel I Can Be Anything...
That I Might ever wish To Be
And Find Myself Just Where I Wanna Be
Make My Wildest Dreams Come True!
This is to be the story of how I got suspended.
It`s going to be a rather long one, so please sit back and enjoy (click on pictures to enlarge).
One year ago, I didn`t even know that such a thing as " body modification culture" even existed. I`m just a regular guy who`s pushing forty, lost most of his hair, has neither tattoos nor piercings (but quite a few involuntary scars) and otherwise leads a life that`s best described as 'bourgeois'. Why would somebody like me who had no prior interest in body modification at all and certainly no desire to expose himself to voluntarily inflicted pain get to do this?
Now, that`s easily explained. Years ago, I had my neck broken in an accident. The treatment of this injury included suspending my head/upper body from a rig fixed to the hospital bed through screws anchored in my skull, with ever increasing counter-balancing weights added over the course of several weeks in order to slowly stretch everything so it would get realigned back into place before finally operating on it. This has been an extremely painful and horrific experience. Getting the fixation points for this contraption screwed into my head while fully conscious, having to watch it all in close-up and give feedback to the operating team - this was definitely the worst thing that ever occurred in my life and one traumatic experience that I hoped to overcome, one way or another, by suspending.
I found this site merely by accident. In my line of work, I need to follow IT legal literature. So at the end of 2005, I read about a german government body declaring this here site "hazardous to the development of german youth" and court-ordered search engines to exclude it from their index in Germany, effectively trying to censor BME (read more on this here and here). I thought "WTF, what`s on a piercing site to warrant something like that?" Since there also was a raging discussion about this unprecedented case going on in the IT community in Germany, that sparked my interest and I decided to take a look around BME.
First, I was greeted by a fascinating cover picture of a beautiful girl suspending (whom I had the honor to meet, too!). From there, it was just a few clicks into the suspension section. This was what hit right home, in the "I always wanted to do something like this" sense. I literally got "hooked" and could not get this out of my head any more.
Fast forward a few months. By then this 'suspension thing'had materialized from an elusive dream into something more tangible, meaning my mind had accepted the general idea of actually doing this myself.
That was when I started to research suspension in earnest by e-mailing people about their suspensions and asking if it would be possible for me to do it the way I intended. I wanted to suspend from the front of my body where I could actually see what was going on and deal with it. And since in all the pictures of resurrection suspensions that I had seen everybody had this totally peaceful look on their faces, that was the way I wanted to go (little did I know...).
The responses I received from everyone were overwhelmingly positive. This community has embraced my idea and made me feel welcome in a way that I have never experienced before. I`ve had people going out of their way, telling their experiences and feelings to a complete stranger who happened to ask some questions via e-Mail just to help him along with his quest to get suspended. Without the encouragement that I received from everybody, most notably from Steve and others on his team, I don`t think I`d be where I am today.
Still, everyone agreed that my choice of suspension style was not the best thing for me, especially since I had issues with my neck. So I settled on a coma suspension instead in which I`d have my legs rigged separately so that they could be unhooked and I could try resurrection if I felt like it.
A few weeks and dozens of messages later, I decided that it would be best to watch with my own eyes what suspension is like and signed up to attend the swiss body modification meeting, a suspension event which took place not far from where I live. This proved to be my first encounter with the body modification community - a very pleasant experience. Meeting people there, speaking with them and watching them get suspended in an almost magical setting at night under a tree solidified what I had in mind and I decided to go through with it all the way as soon as possible.
I secured a date with the team of my choice that nicely aligned with a trip I had to take to the US anyway, booked the flights and made travel arrangements. No turning back now. This gave me another three months to prepare, physically and emotionally.
By now, I knew the suspension FAQ by heart, even started to lose some weight to stay within the weight limits recommended there. And let my mind deal with and accept that soon there would be sharp pointy objects be stuck in my body and I`d be subjecting myself to intense pain because I WANTED TO.
I arrived in beautiful New Mexico a few days prior to the day it was all bound to happen and got to know and trust everyone involved in my suspension in person. I was promised "a lot of fun" and this promise was kept. We went on trips together, hung out together and generally had a good time.
Finally, the big day had arrived.
I got up before dawn, jumped into the car and headed out for a trip into the mountains. Seeing the sun rise while soaking in some natural mineral hot springs out in the solitude of wilderness definitely is the best suspension preparation technique ever. I felt completely calm and at ease with myself. There was no fear, no nervousness at all.
But the clock was ticking and I suddenly had to hurry to get back in time for the 7pm time the suspensions were supposed to start. I remembered that I should eat something before so I grabbed me some sandwiches on the way.
When I got there - twenty minutes late -, the house and back yard were full of people and the suspensions had already begun. I was handed a few sheets of paper I should sign. While reading through them, I suddenly felt a wave of anxiety hit me like a freight train, totally unexpected and certainly not welcome. I had not been prepared for this and I did not know how to deal with it at all. Well, I tried to force myself to concentrate on what I had in front of my eyes and after a little while it got better somewhat.
Then I proceeded into the yard to watch the suspensions and meet all the others.
I still felt very nervous, and then the hospital-like smell from the Technicare that was slowly dispersing throughout the house made me feel really nauseous. At one point, I could not stand it any more. I needed to get out of there, and quick. So I got me the leash and went for a really exhaustive 6-mile run around the neighborhood with one of Steve`s dogs for an hour. That did the trick - I didn`t feel nervous any more; the anxiety was gone as fast as it had come. I came back just in time to see someone go up from two hooks in his chest, which was an awesome, deeply emotional experience to watch and it helped to put things in perspective again. And then I tripped in the dark and my foot got trapped in a hole in the ground, spraining my ankle. That hurt. Badly. Everyone was joking about that, too - you certainly don`t need feet for flying...
Eventually the last of the others finished suspending and the place emptied out pretty fast. Now it was only me remaining with the team. There was no plan as to who goes up when that night. It just fell into place that I was last - originally I wanted to do suspend at sunset.
So Steve asked me: "Are you ready"?
"Sure am, let`s do this".
"OK then, take off your shirt and lay down there". So, this is it. I felt like those would be the last words I`d hear in this life.
I went into the piercing room, took off my shirt and laid down on the massage table in there. I would receive eight 8g/3.2mm diameter hooks in total, with two sets of four being pierced simultaneously each time. Steve put on gloves, took a marker pen, had a quick look and a few pinches here and there and proceeded to mark my torso and legs with sixteen tiny little dots to mark the entry and exit points for the hooks. After that, the skin in the areas where the hooks would go was cleaned with Technicare.
Then it was time for the thing I was afraid of more than anything: those hooks...
I felt strangely calm, like a doomed man on the chopping block waiting for the blade to fall. This just HAD to hurt like nothing I`ve known before. And we still were joking about my ankle - everybody was right, it really didn`t hurt anymore.
The hooks came out of their sterile pouch and were mounted on needles. Then I was told that I should breathe in deeply and exhale slowly (which I did anyway). The hooks would go in on the exhale.Then Steve and Bennett had a brief discussion about whether or not they needed to go through something they called a "complete breathing cycle" with me. As I "obviously had done my homework" they decided to go ahead, but not before the "don`t forget to breathe" lecture one more time.
Everyone lined up at my sides, hook in one hand, my pinched up skin in the other.
"Yes".I took a deep breath in, started to exhale slowly and braced for THE PAIN. Then "pierce".
What happened next was amazing - and completely unexpected. First, I felt a sharp stinging
painsensation all over my body as the needles penetrated the skin, followed by an indescribable feeling when the hooks were being pushed through under the skin and finally another sting as the needles found their way out the other side, followed by the hooks.
It was WAY less painful than expected and over in maybe five seconds. The left knee hook took a little longer than the others.
All my fears and doubts that I had built up over months about the act of getting those hooks put in me were just carried away on the big wave of adrenaline that hit me right then. All that fear suddenly did not matter anymore. I felt relieved, although the onslaught of adrenaline made my body shake a little which I didn`t like one bit.
Then I sat up and got to have a small break as the next round of hooks was prepared, allowing for the adrenaline to settle.
Everyone congratulated me on my skin that was so easy to pierce (well, I soaked it for more than three hours that day so it should be nice and soft...). Then more "don`t forget to breathe" reminders and everything was ready for the second round.
The second set went like a dream. There was even less discomfort (thanks to the adrenaline, I suppose) and when they were all in I got up, admiring my newly acquired shiny additions to my body. I was amazed that it actually felt good to have those hooks in me - I could feel them shift inside when I moved my muscles. This was a strange but pleasant sensation. I wondered to myself: "This is what makes people get piercings?" My left knee hook started bleeding right away, though.
Everybody then walked out to the tree I was set to suspend from, taking the table with us. I carried "my" rig, a beautiful heavy steel work of art, painted bright red with "ASCENSION" prominently displayed on its sides. Ascension, that was what I wanted to achieve tonight.
I laid down on the table once again, with the hooks sticking out from me and their 'eyes' looking up in the air, eagerly awaiting what was to come. I felt just great. There was no pain at all and no fear, just a great sense of anticipation of things to come. I thought that after the hooks, I had the worst already behind me...
Somebody handed me a roll of paper towels to be used as a head support. I put my head down on it and all around me everybody was suddenly busy with ropes, attaching the rig to the tree and the like.
The rope (550 parachute cord) was threaded through the eyes of the hooks on "my" side and connected to the rig, starting from the makeshift head cushion, then my chest. The chest hooks immediately started to bleed as the skin was stretched even the tiniest bit. Normally, I don`t bleed heavily from wounds, but this was different. Probably because I followed the good advice everyone had given me and drank water by the gallon the week before, thinning my blood more than usual in the process. At first I tried to contain the trickle of blood using a paper towel, then I just let it run.
They also hurt quite a bit, as if to prepare me for what was to come. The rig pulled not only upward, but also towards my feet, and that definitely was not very comfortable.
Everything was now set and ready to go.
The tension was slowly increased, while at the same time the rigging was adjusted to ensure all hooks were pulling evenly and I was beginning that long journey up in the air.
Now, I was proved wrong about my assumption regarding the most painful part of suspending. It certainly wasn`t the hooks. This really HURT. A LOT. No other way to describe it. The skin was pulled away from my body in areas that are sensitive and tender and my body apparently was trying to tell me that it did not like what happened. THE PAIN got more intense with each little tug on the rope that promised to lift me up into the air. The whole time, I had Bennett talking to me, constantly reminding me to breathe steadily and try not to tense up and fight the pain but relax into it. That`s easier said than done and I tried my best to concentrate on my breathing and push the pain away from my conscious thinking. Tried, but did not succeed.
This my best was not enough. I hate to say it but the pain just got too intense for me to handle ( at least that`s what I thought), so I asked to be lowered down again to take a break. I`m not sure if I even left the ground at all; most probably not. I hardly noticed then, but there were copious amounts of blood flowing primarily from my chest hooks.
They lowered me all the way down again but retained a good deal of the tension. But that intense, overwhelming pain was no longer there. I felt relieved and disappointed at the same time - relieved because the pain was gone, disappointed because I didn`t manage to successfully leave terra firma.
Then I had an idea that seemed brilliant to me at the time: Why not grab the rig - that had nice handlebars for exactly that - with my arms and use them to support my weight until I`m safely up in the air and have left the painful "going up" phase behind? Plus, I would be in total control of the amount of pain this caused me, and being in control myself would be easier. Well, the answer was "we would not recommend this, it makes things even harder, but it`s your suspension and we do whatever you want to". So I clamped my hands around the shiny handlebars and asked Brandon on the rope to pull me up again.
This time, I did get off the ground very quickly. They continued to lift me up until my feet cleared the table, then took it away. There was only very minimal pain this time. I thought: "Great - I`m up!" All that remained now was releasing my hands from the rig and I would be free.
Well, I was in for a big surprise: I COULD NOT LET GO. My hands plainly refused to obey the orders my brain gave them and continued to keep their firm grip on the rig. I was prepared for a lot, but not for that. My fingers would not open, no matter what I tried to coax them into letting go.
As this didn`t work out either it was "down" one more time. The table was quickly put back below me and I was lowered down to it once again.
Then I did what I wanted to do all along: I asked to be handed the rope to pull me up myself. No problem - but for that I needed to put on gloves, as the rope was supposed to be "clean" and shouldn`t be touched with my bloody hands. So I was given a pair of latex gloves, put them on and Brandon handed me the rope.
I thought: OK, this is supposed to be like mountain climbing - nothing new for me. So I grabbed the rope with my left hand, pulled, moved my right hand up the rope, then shifted my grip to the right hand, pulled, then the left hand again and so on ad infinitum.
That did it. I inched myself up from the ground. I could feel the hooks move on my chest and there was intense pain every time I pulled at the rope but that was a far cry from what I felt at the first try. This time, it was not predominant and I could relegate it to a place outside my mind where it did not matter any more at all.
I was in control, and that was what mattered. Right hand - pull, left hand - pull, right hand -pull, left hand - pull and so on. I was running on autopilot in my own little world. Not losing my grip on the rope and pulling it with all the force I could put into it from this awkward position was all I that was on my mind. I had tuned out the rest of the world.
And then, suddenly, I had reached the end of the line where it didn`t go any higher. I was all the way up. I did not even have to think one second before letting go of the rope and handing it back over to Brandon - this seemed the most natural thing in the world.
I was free. Flying, hanging from nothing but hooks in my body. I had just achieved my very own ascension.
I closed my eyes and savored the moment. Everything just fell from me at this point. The anxiety, the fear of not being able to cope with the pain, everything negative just was so meaningless now. My mind has moved on to some other, higher plane of existence. I had found myself.
Then everyone around applauded and congratulated me. I made an effort to get rid of the gloves in a glamorous manner by trying to throw them away like an artist on stage which sent everyone laughing.
After a while of just floating there, zoned out in my mind`s space while looking up at the sky and the tree with my perception of time and space left behind on the ground, Bennett asked if I`d want to swing a bit.
Now, being moved about was the best feeling ever. Beforehand, I never believed that suspension was fun - I actually had arguments about this point with people. Well, I was wrong: suspending
iscan be fun indeed. I had such a great time "flying" up there with my bloody wings (the blood on my back looked like butterfly wings - an amazing sight) that I wanted this to go on forever.
At one time, though, I wanted to have my knees unhooked to try resurrection.
And then we had to discover that I could not have my knees cut down because we forgot about that during rigging. They should have been done separately but weren`t. So I`d have to try resurrection another time. Oh well, I didn`t mind too much; I`ve had a great, intense experience even without this.
But there is an end for everything, and even my maiden flight had to end at one point. My feet were freezing and becoming increasingly numb (it got cold - remember, we are at 5,000 ft. and it is almost October). I had completely lost any perception of time and when I was told that I was up in the air for a little more than ninety minutes and it was close to midnight I could not believe that at first. So I decided to come down again. The table was brought below me, Brandon untied the rope from the tree and I was slowly lowered down on it.
The moment I touched the ground again, I felt heavy like I carried the weight of the whole world on my shoulders. That really was strange and irritating for a moment. Lots of other suspension experiences mentioned this, but reading about something and actually experiencing it, well that`s different.
The ropes were cut and I sat up. I was amazed at the amounts of blood that had accumulated on my body - my back looked like something out of a Hermann Nitsch 'action painting'. I had some beautiful ladies take care of my poor body by taking out the hooks, cleaning off the blood and bandaging the wounds. There wasn`t much trapped air, so I got around the infamous post-suspension massage. My left chest exit hole did not want to stop bleeding at first and needed something like three bandages before it finally stopped. And walking felt a little awkward at first.
I felt elated and exhilarated, totally at peace with the world and myself. Physically spent but mentally charged. There was a deep sense of accomplishment now where questions were before.
The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. I stayed with some of the team for a few more hours, talking, reviewing pictures, watching some old suspension movies and generally savoring my experience before I finally called it a night and went home.
The bandages came off the day after. There was a little bruising around the chest hooks. That was about all. The scars are minimal and will probably fade to nothing within the next few months. However, healing took weeks. I was sore much longer than just the day or two that you read about everywhere. Where my skin was stretched it hurt when strained and wearing a seatbelt was really uncomfortable for several weeks.
I felt 'high' from the experience for about three days. All my sensory perceptions were highly sensitive, and it felt like my feet didn`t touch the ground when walking. Coming down from this was very quick - from one minute to the next, without warning - and not altogether pleasant at all, as I felt drained, worn and exhausted then. I was very fortunate that this happened at a moment where I was with caring people who could relate and so this transition back to "normality" went smoothly.
Looking back now, after all this has sunk in and settled: What did I gain from it?
Although I did not have a "spiritual experience" and suspending might not have changed my life, it has given me more than I dared to ask for and developed into something truly unique I surely will cherish and treasure for the rest of my life.
Suspending has given me clarity; it answered many of the questions I wanted to have answers to; it has changed my perception of myself, it has opened a whole new way to look at me and my life, it has given me back the ability to put total trust in people, it has once and for all cleared any doubt in who has control over my body and it definitely has served its purpose in teaching my mind a lesson or two regarding perception and valuation of pain.
The pain, well....suspension is NOT about pain; it`s really a mind 'thing' more than anything and its physical aspects are quickly tuned out. Not that there was no pain - oh no, there was a lot of that and it never abated completely, even floating up there after the endorphins kicked in. But it stayed well in the background and somehow, it just didn`t matter any more at all. I remember asking everyone before how to transcend the pain - now that I have done it myself and should know how, I have to admit that I still don`t know. Maybe there`s things that want to stay unexplained.....
But suspending also has left questions unanswered and opened a pandora`s box of new ones I didn`t even know I had before doing it.
With suspension, being able to 'let go' should be a core part of the experience. I failed miserably at that twice and then circumvented the whole issue by pulling myself up running on sheer willpower, strength and determination to get up there no matter what. I had no idea I possessed these 'virtues' in such abundance and, looking back, I am amazed at how I could pull that off (pun intended).
Apparently it seems that when they say "suspension tends to give you not what you want but what you need" they are right. So suspension has given me strength and power where I asked for and expected surrender and release.
So, it seems like I`d have to do it again if I want to find an answer to this question. And I will do it again. So we`ll see where I go from here and where this will lead me to.
And finally, I`d like to say "Thank you":
- to the German Federal Government for making me aware of this - censorship never worked and never will.
- to everyone in here - those who run things as well as those who made their experiences available here. It is because you sent me on this intense journey as well prepared as possible - because you put up with all my questions, took your time answering and patiently explaining ever so many things to me -, I was able to conquer this. I owe this community a lot. Please regard this as an attempt to pay some of that back, so it may serve to inspire others just the same way as your experiences here have inspired me.
- And a big 'Thank You' to everyone out at Ascension Suspension. You all are simply AWESOME. It was an honor suspending with you. I could not have done this without you.
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