I'm cross-posting here an excerpt from an entry in my personal blog because it explains, in part, how I became interested in exploring the punishment. I originally thought about expanding this into a longer treatise on why and how very, very different sensual/play spankings are from punishment for me, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
We got together with friends in the spanking scene [last] Saturday night. At one point, the discussion turned to why we all liked it - to how we got to where we are. Perhaps I've never said and perhaps I should later expand these thoughts into a more comprehensive essay, but I do crave structure and discipline and known consequences for misdeeds (all aside from my admittedly sluttish, erotic attraction to sensual spanking as a form of pleasure).
When I was young, my parents fought. Constantly. Loudly. Our house was nearly always filled with tension or anger when both were home. My dad spent hours away from home as a volunteer fireman just to avoid the complications that awaited him at home. My mom never failed to point out his shortcomings. My dad said hurtful things and never forgot a wrong - and never failed to bring them up even if they'd happened years earlier. My mom manipulated to get what she wanted by appealing (complaining) to his parents and siblings and children (my brother and I) when he was stubborn. We were sometimes also cast into the role of referee as well as judge.
One summer, my parents began a fight in the basement that was impossibly loud. I left the house, shut the doors, went next door into their air-conditioned home, and buried my head into my neighbor's bed. I could still hear them arguing.
I hated the notion that conflicts could never be resolved. I had good models of marriage I suppose - my grandparents, neighbors (i.e. foster grandparents), and a few others - but I saw a number of marriages on a daily basis that fell apart or that seemed to be cracking at the seams by people whose tempers and memories overwhelmed common sense. Besides, my primary example of a successful relationship was nearly always filled with tension and anxiety.
I had always been attracted to kink - I remember early fantasies about bondage where the most wicked thing that happened to me when tied up was being kissed and having my clothes taken off. (I didn't know what happened after that.) And frankly, I was later in love with all of the dominant type-A personalities that threatened their women in my mother's Harlequin romances. But spanking as punishment? No one did that, and it couldn't really work.
And then, somehow, the idea of being punished came upon me. My path to the spanking communities online was via the Usenet groups alt.sex.stories, then alt.sex.bondage and then alt.sex.spanking. Alt.sex.bondage (now soc.subculture.bdsm-something I don't have time to look up) was fascinating and scary and completely out of my innocent league. Those were the days when I saw the bdsm community as a leather-and-motorcycle subculture that I could never be comfortable within, and fairly soon I drifted to alt.sex.spanking (now soc.sexuality.spanking). Still, alt.sex.bondage taught me that there were some people who found the idea of punishment acceptable.
In short, punishment - spanking or otherwise - has become a final way to resolve a conflict for me. I know and trust that once I am punished for something that it will never again be thrown back into my face as an example of how I 'will never change' (of how I am me). I know and trust that Chris punishes me because I have an emotional need to be punished and that when he punishes me, he has truly already forgiven me. He does not spank me in anger, but once it has passed. He punishes me because I ask him to, because I need to be redeemed, not because he needs to express his frustration and anger with action.
I did not know when I first explored the spanking world that I would find a relationship that added discipline to sensual spanking, or that such a relationship could be workable. I wasn't convinced that I could experience punishment without feeling the endorphin rush of sexual spanking. I now know that the unambiguous difference is in my mental state, particularly when I've already come to the point of repentance. But I wanted - craved - discipline, and as I've confessed those needs to Chris (a non-dominant, non-disciplinarian spanker), he has tried to accomodate me in a number of different ways. We are still developing as a couple, I think, and I hope we will never slide into a stagnant relationship.