I can still see those first images. The first D/s* images I EVER saw. He had said: you should take a look at my site before we talk. I clicked on a tumblr page. There I read his words, his writing. There I saw the images he had selected. And all I could think was: This. This is what I want.
The photos were stunning and unusual but it was his writing that really got me. Unball that fist you’ve been clenching your whole life. That was what I needed to hear right then and there. When we texted, just as friends, his words were the beginning sketches on a map of a territory that I had never heard of but that I, somehow, knew I needed to live within. It was a very complex journey from there. I have written about it before and there is more on my specific kinks here but what this story is is about marking the wrong turnings and dead ends I took on the way to where I am now in the hope that hearing those will enable others to travel more safely.
Those images and words sparked my desire. A desire for sex and for life that I had not experienced in a long time. I had not known that these even things existed, had not known what I did not know and, seeing these images, helped me see how much I had to learn about myself as well as my desires.
The images and words were the start of opening up and exploring. But, even with all the reading I did, I did not really understand what it was I wanted or where I was headed. Still lost and confused, but with an agreement in place that meant I could explore, I signed up to OKCupid. Enthusiastically, I started answering questions that I had either never considered before or had not thought about for a very long time (Was I interested in… group sex? Hair pulling? Anal? People of my own sex?). Even when I had done all of that I still did not really understand what I had said about myself. It was only when I began matching very highly with certain types of people that I began to see and I began to wonder but even then I still had no real idea. Swept up with the excitement of my new freedom, I nervously but eagerly texted and replied unthinkingly to all sorts of questions about myself. I had swapped numbers and was texting (filthily!) with someone I had never met within an evening. This led to a coffee date and then a date at his, a date during which the half-agreements and ideas we had put in place were very much ignored. He took and took hard in a way that I did not consent to. But how could I have consented when I did not even know what consent was? Did he? I do not know. We were both upset by what happened (for very different reasons) and did not speak again. I put the awfulness down to lack of experience and tried to not repeat the same mistake. Needless to say, I made the same mistake again soon enough.
I met two other men that summer, both experienced at what I now knew was Domination. I was lucky to learn a lot and to feel safe and even a little cared for by both of these men. But I was also emotionally manipulated and taken advantage of. However, I did not feel violated in the same way as on that first date. I felt very aware, in a way, of the speed with which I was moving through the space. Propelled forward by what I am aware now is known as “sub frenzy”, I was having the all too common experience upon discovering a sexual dynamic and set of experiences that one likes of going too far, too fast. The related piece of writing to this is meant to help manage that in a way that harnesses the energy there and makes the exploring a safe and mostly positive experience. Being quite experienced at life, I was happy to make mistakes. My tolerance level to discomfort was high and I hurtled forward, picking myself up quickly after my frequent stumbles. It was my feelings that mostly got hurt. Too many people in the kink space and dating space set care and friendship to one side for play and I struggled to get my emotional needs met by any of the men I met. I was lucky to have met a wonderful young woman whose friendship and care supported me but I wish the men I had been involved with and been able to see me more as a whole person and not just a play toy.
This was all in the spring of 2015 and, by December, my experiences were getting increasingly full on but I was really struggling with the lack of emotional connection. It was then that I met Andrea. We met on OKCupid (a 94% match!) and, after a rescheduled date, we met in January 2016. The intellectual and emotional connection was formed very quickly and, both being on the same page with regards openness and sexual exploration, we quickly started making plans to go to play spaces and events such as Killing Kittens and Le Boudoir together. These experiences were fun and interesting. We met some lovely people and learnt a lot - again, mostly through mistakes and talking. There was very high compatability between us which meant that mistakes were easily dealt with. Then, that autumn, we went to Torture Garden, me in latex for the first time and him dressed as an Officer. We met some amazing people and both felt instantly at home in this mostly accepting, vibrant, queer, LGBT space. Signing up to FetLife (a social network and blogging site for this inserted in BDSM and beyond) we began to connect with the people we met at these events and we also began to go to munches. Munches are socials for kink explorers to get together and talk and socialise - always in a pub or a cafe and almost always in every day clothing.
As someone who was always a fast learner, I soon began acquiring the verbal tools and skills I need to mange my boundaries better, to use safe words and also to negotiate and agree consent I began to put some hard rules in place around how I interacted with people I met and, now, like many more experienced kinksters, I prefer to play privately and with people I know well and am friends with rather than at public events where still too many people go to stare rather than to learn and understand.
And what do I mean by play? Well, I increasingly see this word used as a way to avoid saying “I had sex with so and so…” but it can and does mean lots of things. All kinksters have their own definition for many it is non sexual impact and rope and verbal play. For others it can involve oral and penetrative sex of all types. For some it is just sexting. For others it is an anonymous group experience. All of these things are as valid as each other and are organised and curated carefully by experienced and wonderful people across the country. For me, I like my play to involve some form of penetrative or oral sex and I mostly enjoy impact play as well as rope and exploiting the power exchange dynamic. More to come on the details if you are interested.
It is important to emphasise, as I did in my earlier piece, that I still very much enjoy ALL sorts of sexual experiences. The fear that trying these things becomes an “addiction” and one cannot enjoy “normal” sex both raise the question of what is addicting and what is normal? It is often hard to see that the experience of sex can be as varied as the meals one eats. Sometimes one craves comforting, soft mash and other times zingy, spicy thai. Both are food. Both are very different from each other, but one is not more “normal” than the other. Sex, of any kind, as long as it is consensual, is the same: it is the sex you and the people who are also involved, if any, and of any number, want at this moment.
Everything is about sex, said Oscar Wilde, except sex itself. Sex is about power. And for me, that was what most fascinated me: the exchange of power and control. The giving up my agency for these moments and saying: yes, do as you will. The level of trust and communication it requires to do this and feel safe and not at risk is huge. It involves careful talk about what you do and do not like, agreements about what is a definite no and what you might explore. It involves everyone feeling able to say no as well as yes, it is about consent and choice. As with all things, the more time spent preparing and understanding the self and the other, the more fun it all is.
I have spent three years exploring and learning and if, by sharing my story and my mistakes, I can help minimise the risks and raise awareness of best practice then I am pleased. It takes courage to explore yourself, your desires, especially when almost everything and everyone around you will tell you they are “wrong”.
It takes courage to ask questions about things you are unfamiliar with and perhaps a little upset or disturbed by based on what you think you know. I am very happy to answer questions. I will always say if I cannot answer and I will always be respectful and kind and I expect you to be as much as you can. So, please let me know what questions you have about kink… I am going to do a regular “Ask a kinkster” session to help you explore and discuss this area of sexuality in a safe and friendly way :) let me know what you think! Feel free to email me too. All and any questions are dealt with in strictest confidence.
I hope me sharing my story has helped you understand a little more about this topic and I hope it has cleared up some common misconceptions about BDSM as well as me and my own journey to here. Writing this has helped me to see just how far I have come as well as to feel excited for whatever learning and fuller understand go myself is to come…
*D/s means Dominant/submissive and is part of BDSM (also known as kink). BDSM means: Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sadism, Masochism. These words are often heavily loaded by our cultures and mean different things to different people. There are some great resources about the long history of kink and there is a growing body of medical and psychological evidence that those who practice kink in some form are mentally and emotionally healthier than those who do not.