You Quit When You’re Ready


   Before I forget: two more things that set up this mad second-guessing–

     A woman I work with at the Studio, “Katherine,” is in a new relationship with a guy she met through a popular online dating site.  He is a professional chef who also shares partial ownership of his own restaurant.  

     They met in the Spring.  He’s crazy about her.

      She hasn’t told him that she works at the Studio.  He thinks that she works in “customer service.”  While that job description is not necessarily untrue, it is not, shall we say, fully representative.   I like Katherine quite a bit, but she is engaging in a lie by omission. 

      It’s stressing her out…but that doesn’t make it okay.  I am telling her, Look, the later you wait, the worse it will be.  

       And then I was supposed to go on a date this weekend with a professor and writer who also works at my tutoring center.  Nothing major, just a dinner-and-movie date.  We were going to see this new  documentary film (I love documentaries) Blackfish, about an Orca whale in a Sea World hell in Orlando.  The Orca has killed three people.  I feel sad for their families, but as far as I’m concerned, GO SHAMU GO!  If I was a porpoise, I’d kill humans on basic principle whenever I had the chance.  

      They are intelligent and emotional creatures.  They shouldn’t be living in a fuckin concrete bathtub.  I guess the performance-trick-training gives them something to do with their energy and big brains  rather than only languishing in the SeaWorld Supermax Prison they’re in, but FFS.

       Anyway…I thought about the date…and I thought about the conversations it could include.  I could never tell him about what I do at the Studio.  He could blab about it to other colleagues. If I don’t mention it, and things go well and something develops between us…do I tell him later, and risk rejection?  Do I hide it and hope he never finds out?  I am very, very good at hiding things.

       All I wanted to do was see a movie, man.

      Finally: I’ve done a significant amount of politics and campaign work.  The Census, Planned Parenthood, internships, Campaign Corps, journalism.  Protest movements.  Other stuff.  

       I couldn’t do it the last two election seasons because I knew that if I was exposed, I would bring shame and scrutiny down upon my candidate/party/organization.  

       Must think about this…

     *                              *                                      *                           *

    I met a woman in AA who was in the Biz for over ten years.  Not prodomme, but as an escort and sensual massage.  She quit doing it seven months after she got sober, when she was approximately my age.  

     I took her out for lunch.  I wanted to hear what she had to say.

     She did not mince words.

     “You have to get out as soon as possible.  You cannot stay sober in that industry.  There is no excuse.”

       I glared at her from across the table.  I did not like being told by a complete stranger what I am and am not capable of.  

      “You have an excellent education and credentials.  When I quit, I had a High School degree and I’d never worked in a 9-to-5 job.  I was terrified because I had no idea how I was going to support myself.  Do you have any idea how crazy you sound to have all of the education and skills that you have, and to still be doing this?”

      I felt defensive and a little angry.  Crazy?  Me?  Compared to who?  All those fruitbats in the Rooms?  Half those crazy bitches in the Studio?  Compared to this middle-aged woman sitting across from me, who in addition to being an alcoholic also had a major cocaine problem and just told me stories about being a full-service escort and also having a pimp at one time who would beat her up?  I teach in a classroom!  I teach the GRE!  I’m a nice normal person!  A nice sane individual!

      “I just do it part-time.  I have other jobs.  It supplements my income,” I said.

       “Rationalization.  You can supplement your income by working as a dog-walker.  You don’t need to be doing this.  You have no idea how this is truly affecting you.”

        “Please do not patronize me.  What, are you saying I have false consciousness or something?”

         “That is exactly what I’m saying.  I needed ten years of therapy when I got out.”

         Well, maybe you were crazy to begin with, I thought, but I didn’t say that.  I didn’t want to be rude.  

         “Look at what you are doing,” she went on.  “People are paying you to abuse them.  Or they pay to abuse you.” 

        That pissed me off.  “Please!  I have morals.  I don’t hurt anyone.  This is not abuse.”

       “What is it, then?”

        “Look, I know the way sadomasochism looks to outsiders.  I know that it looks either scary or absurd.  But it’s not necessarily bad.  It is enjoyable.”

       “It is entirely possible to enjoy abuse and abusing others.”

       “I’ve had abusive clients and I’ve been in abusive relationships. I can tell the difference.”

        “What is the difference?” she asked.

        “Abuse hurts and degrades the soul.  I don’t feel bad when I have a good session with a client.  I feel good.  I feel happy.”

        “You are black and blue, Margo.”

         “What am I supposed to do?  Change my entire sexuality?  This is the way I was imprinted.  It is crucial to my sexual functioning.  Why should I give it up if I don’t have to?  It gives me joy.”

      “Obsessions can be fun.  As alcoholics, we both know all about that.  Tell me: why are you doing this professionally?”

      “Repetition compulsion and the money is helpful.”

      “Exactly.  You are acting out.  You are spinning in place.  You cannot do this and move forward with your life.  If you want to get better, you will have to quit.  Even if you don’t drink, you are not engaging in sober behavior when you do this.  Margo, you are out of control.  You are still stuck in it, so you don’t see it clearly, from the outside.”  

        I was furious.  Alcoholics don’t like to be told that they can’t drink.  They go: mind your own fucking business.  I’ll quit when I’m ready.  I’ll quit when I’m ready, and not a day before.

      She continued: “My best advice to you is that as long as you keep doing this professionally, you need to be doing a lot of AA at the same time.  It will support you and sustain you, give you perspective.  You need to keep one foot in the normal world while you do this.  You are in great danger, Margo.”

       “What?  Violence?  Like a client could hurt me?”  All sex workers fear violence.  Or at least all the ones I’ve talked to about it.

      “That too, but also emotional danger.”

       I know in my heart that she is right.  I’ve known these truths for a long, long time.  

       The Awful Truth.  This is holding me back.  I’m stuck in a holding pattern like a jet over an airport, waiting for clearance to land.  I cannot move forward in my career–you know, what I went to college for–as long as I keep doing professional S&M, because if I’m exposed, it will nuke my professional reputation.  

        I cannot have love in my life, because no healthy man is going to put up with it (me doing BDSM with a lot of random guys, even if they are clients).  And if I am spending so much energy doing this, what am I going to have to give to another person?  

       And sex work is isolating.  It is, and not just because it’s illegal or verboten to talk about.  And isolation is lethal.  Isolation will get you in the end.  

       But you quit when you’re ready.  

       You quit when you’re ready, and not a moment before.  

14 thoughts on “You Quit When You’re Ready”

  1. One can ready themselves to quit. One can seriously try to quit. One can quit for a day at a time, a minute at a time, a second at a time. AA produces dogma which always pissed me off. However, some of what you report that she said has a ring of truth.

    There’s a banner on my site. You know the one I’m talking about. Recovery In The Lifestyle. Check it out. She sounded too judgmental about your sexual preferences but maybe not too far off on the craziness of the Biz.

    Plus, let’s face it. You are moonbat crazy, and I mean that in the nicest, most attractive, and adorable way possible.

    1. Hi Advo;

      Yeah the dogma drives me nuts. Sometimes I want to write down my arguments and leave em on the bulletion boards by the coffee machine as if I was Martin Luther in Wittenberg.

      I’ll check out the Recovery In The Lifestyle link today. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Yours in craziness,

      Moonbat Margo

  2. Hi Miss Margo,

    I wanted to make a few points about this post.

    1. You can stay sober in any job, in any situation. The only thing you need to stay sober is honesty about what alcohol does to you. Nothing in your life, however painful, demoralizing, or fucked-up, can make you drink.
    This woman is giving you very bad advice if she tells you that something in your life will make you drink. That is a lie, and it touches on a deep fear we all have – that we will go back to drinking. You never, ever have to drink and you won’t if you are honest with yourself about what drinking does to you.

    2. Some things in life are bad for us. They make us unhappy, angry, etc. When we drink we anesthetize ourselves. This allows us to do things that hurt us. When we quit, we feel the pain. Problem is, when we quit we feel a lot of pain. The best analogy I ever heard was about a deaf man who went to emergency room one day because he suddenly had terrible pain in his ears. In fact, he had suddenly gained his hearing. What was pain to him, was just hearing. So, I think that when we stop drinking we feel all sorts of things, and it all feels like pain, and it takes time to sort it all out.

    3. I have had periods of staggering pain in my life since I quit drinking. Some of it is just life, things happen. Some of it is/was the result of bad decisions I have made. If I am sober, I feel the pain of my bad decisions, and I can think clearly enough to make the connection between my choices and my pain. This has nothing to do with drinking. I think of it as being a responsible adult. I make decisions, I live with the consequences.

    [to be continued]


  3. [continued from above]

    4. I would make a distinction between S&M as such and working as a pro. Being a pro brings emotional stress and social stigma. It can be, however, rather lucrative. Whether S&M can work as part of a loving, mutually supportive, committed relationship is another question.

    5. As time goes by, your feelings about all this will become clearer. The pain of early sobriety will fade, and sober experience will give you a better sense of the lay of the land as to your own emotional needs and responses.

    6. Part of recovery is undoing the damage of years of drinking. Part of that damage may well be your working situation. Remember, a symptom of alcoholism is socializing with social inferiors. When you look around the lounge at the Studio and feel that you do not belong there, you are right. The question is how you get from here to there, there being where you want to go. I am a big believer in acting based on my own sense of freedom and power, and not from fear. I knew people who made hasty career/work decisions based on fear, and they came to regret it. You can certainly stay sober where you are now. And you can think through the best way to transition out of it. Whether you quit tomorrow or later, whether you have other work lined up or not, it’s your decision.

    I found that the best way to recognize the damage done by drinking and to begin to take action to undo it was to do the steps the way they are laid out in the Big Book. It really isn’t a big deal. They don’t take a lot of time. They are not instruments of self-torture, like the lashes used by the Flagellants in the Middle Ages.

    I think that the first three steps are about lifting my eyes to the horizon, looking at the world as something beyond the immediate desperate second-to-second survival of an addict. I decide for myself, or more accurately find in myself, what I believe life is about, why I am here, where I come from and where I am going. Addicts live fix to fix and have no time to consider such things.

    I think steps 4 to 9 are just a structured remembering – so I can reconnect with the person I was before my personality as distorted by alcoholism. I don’t see why step 4 should take more than a couple of weeks, an hour or so a day tops. If you read the book on step 9, it only talks about theft, adultery, slander in a small time, and such. Big stuff. I had hardly any amends to make, and when I did it was never an apology. It was trying to be a decent human being in the future. Many people see it through a perfectionist lens and turn it into a struggle to build a perfect life. The steps are not about a perfect life, they are about staying sober by reconnecting with yourself before the addiction and trying to be decent to people.

    Anyway, I’ve run on. I hope I don’t seem preachy or pushy. Early sobriety is not a fun time, but hopefully you recognize some of its pleasures. For me, sleeping through the night was a big one. It happened when I had about ten weeks. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years, and it felt so good, so physically pleasurable, that I swear it played a major role in keeping me sober. Despite its quandaries and difficulties, life is much better sober.


  4. Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in encouraging dommes to keep doing it. Dommes are a precious resource for someone like me. They have no substitute — if dommes stopped doing what they do, I’d be in deep trouble.

    That said, it pains me to say that I think there is a lot of truth in what you say. I think it probably is hard to have a more “normal” life, if that’s what you want, while being a pro domme. Impossible? I’m not sure, but the odds aren’t good, I think. There are guys out there that are cool with dating and marrying a pro domme, there are examples out there, but it would be foolish to say that it doesn’t make finding a relationship harder, and it’s already hard, even without that layer of complexity.

    In the book, Heads in Beds, about the hotel business, a young man is offered one of two jobs, either as bellman or on the front desk. The man is told that the second position can lead to management and career advancement, but if he chose to be a bellman, he’d be one forever because the money was just too good to give up. No one would ever walk away from a job that paid that much, and much of it in cash. Sound familiar? It must be very hard to walk away from that much cash, especially for doing what you like to do.

    My free advice, and worth every penny, is to sit down and really figure out what you want in life. Because time goes by, and before you know it, a lot of time has gone by. Once you figure out what you really want, decide what in your life is getting in the way. If you want a job with career advancement, a relationship/marriage, kids, your own family, and a life free of worrying if the next stranger is going to bust you or kill you, then you really have to decide whether “the biz” is compatible with that.

    For some dommes, and some non-dommes, the “normal” life is their version of hell. They like being celebrities, they like having their own business, a business where their clients literally worship them. They can’t stand the idea of waking up next to the same guy (or gal) everyday or the compromise that comes with a committed relationship. They love their freedom, the money, the power, and their star status. They love jetting off to London or Tokyo to see a client that has paid for their trip and then some. They love being taken clothes shopping at upscale boutiques. If that is you, then embrace it. But at some point, you have to decide, and the longer you wait, the longer it will be until you start the next phase of your life.

    That’s my humble opinion.

    1. Hi Downlow!

      Thanks for your business. Latex corsets are expensive. Without guys like you, none of the hilarious hijinks documented in the archives of this blog would be possible, lol.

      Right now I don’t want children, but we’ll see if I change my tune when I’m staring menopause in the eye. My mother went in early. I think I have about ten years of fertility ahead of me, but who knows–I’ve never been pregnant or tried to get pregnant. I could be barren for all I know.

      I enjoy having maximum freedom and autonomy. The problem is, living like this is INTERESTING, but it’s not very fulfilling. I don’t know what I need for self-actualization, but as you say, I need to fucking figure it out.

      I don’t feel like I’m really contributing so society. That bothers me and makes me feel ashamed.

      The double life is, I believe, responsible for a great deal of my distress. I ought to quit with this bullshit and commit to something.

      Yup. I need goals.

      Thanks for weighing in, Downlow. I expect that I will be documenting my progress, or lack thereof, so we’ll see how it goes.


      P.S. The life of a dominatrix is not all glamour (though it definitely has its glamorous moments, which are tremendously fun). When you are in the “medical” room at 4 AM with a sweating coked-out Hedge Fund manager who is coming in off a 3-day bender, glamour is the last thing that springs to mind, lol.

      Clients are funny. They seem to think that we are lounging around our Tribeca lofts, covered in diamonds and petting our white persian cats, while our house slaves fan us and feed us bonbons.

      I understand, though. No submissive dude wants to think of his goddess folding socks, lol

  5. Hi John,

    First, thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and helpful comment.

    1) Thanks for the reality check.

    2) Re: pain. While I agree that booze is a great anesthetic, I myself find that I am actually in much more emotional pain when I am actively drinking. One reason I had to quit was that I was extremely depressed and anxious. Part of that due to the fact that when you’re drinking, every day is Groundhog’s Day. Some of it’s chemical–alcohol literally kills the brain, as I’m sure you know.

    I do not know where my deep aversion to feelings comes from. It is probably what made me enjoy drinking in the first place. FML.

    4) Yeah, being a pro is a whole other ballgame. And lucrative. But my problem there is that since I can’t come entirely out of the closet and advertise with a website and ads that show my face and whatnot, I am unable to maximize my earning potential in this industry. It also doesn’t help that I have no business smarts, though I have improved on that in recent months.

    “Whether S&M can work as part of a loving, mutually supportive, committed relationship is another question.”

    Yeah, the eternal question. It has foiled and frustrated every relationship I’ve ever had. I don’t know what the answer is.

    Regarding stepwork: I’ve never been able to do it in the past, but I’m at the point now where I’ll do anything if it could help. The Program is very spiritual, if not explicitly religious, which is totally counterintuitive to my philosophical understanding of the world. I cannot will myself to believe in God; it’s just not possible. I know you say that it’s not a big deal, but it does present a dilemma that I resolved in the past by going to Atheist AA. I love my Atheist AA, but they don’t do stepwork or sponsorship.

    I’ll try stepwork if it’ll help. Some of the steps are really good common-sense stuff, like Responsible Adulthood 101 for Tards That Blew It.

    Maybe I should stop stressing out about it and just look at it as an instruction manual, like programming a new TV or something.

    I’ll need to get a new sponsor, though. I’ve had three. Two of them moved out-of-state and the last one had a busy career and kids so our scheduled didn’t jive.

    You are not pushy or preachy at all. I am definitely, ahh, taking suggestions.

    Thanks again


  6. I don’t know if they’re all Persian, but you have to admit, the domme world has a lot of cats!

    Seriously, I have been “behind the stage” many times, for more than one pro house, and more than several pro dommes, so I know it’s not all (or even mostly) glamorous. Much of anyone’s life is routine and ordinary, even pro dommes. But it’s not 8 to 6, in a cube, in business casual attire, at a terminal, or in interminable meetings.

    And by the way, you could have house slaves fanning you and feeding you bonbons, put an ad on Fetlife. The diamonds may be more difficult…

  7. Crapola I just managed to erase my comment! I will try to reconstruct.
    I commented before that I found your blog by googling “drunkalogue” and I find your posts about alcoholism v valuable. I myself have been using Women For Sobriety rather than the medically unproven higher power stuff but it may be too “positive thinking” for your taste.
    Imagine my surprise when I saw that a lot of your posts involved another interest of mine- sexual relationships, how people engage w each other on a sexual level and what games they play whether overt or not. I myself am in a sexually fulfilling relationship that is better than ever but not without a lot of honest communication and growth on both my and my husband’s parts. I believe in being sex positive as the sexual drive is part of our biology. However I have never been involved in sex as a business or depended on it for income so I have no insight there.
    Despite using the word positive twice in the above paragraph, I am a negative, depressive type person. I think I appreciate a lot of your posts involving your lifestyle/sexual dynamics bc I have always been hesitant to trust a person who hasn’t hurt someone they love, been hurt by that person, or painfully lost that person. It is part of being human. Your writing just puts it right there on the table instead of hiding it and in a way that is more honest than anything I can think of.
    So keep on writing. I am trying to quit drinking bc I feel so stupid now after several years of too much alcohol, I could never write like you do even before I was drinking…stay sober!

    1. Angela, I am writing a response to you. Please check back tomorrow. If you’d rather it be private, you may send me an email.

      Thanks, and hang in there.


    2. Hi Angela!

      Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I’m glad you like it.

      “who hasn’t hurt someone they love, been hurt by that person, or painfully lost that person.”

      Pretty much describes every person on earth.

      I’m only slightly familiar with Women For Sobriety–isn’t that mostly in the Western US? I’ll look it up. The only other treatment option that I know of around here (besides AA) is Rational Recovery and the rehab program run by Scientologists. I think there used to be some sort of “Moderation Management” program that focused on teaching people how to control their drinking without quitting entirely, but the woman who founded it killed two people while she was driving drunk on the wrong side of the highway. A story straight out of ancient Greek theater.

      Regarding your depression: I’ve been there, and I know how painful it is. The only thing I can offer is that alcohol will exacerbate your depression. Hell, it may even be the primary CAUSE of your depression. Your emotional health will be much, much better if you can quit drinking.

      And yes, alcohol will make you stupid. Literally and figuratively. It will make you a ghost of who you are.

      You must read “Drinking, A Love Story,” by Caroline Knapp. Hands down, the best alcoholism memoir I’ve ever read. It’s a very good book…and it deals, it part, with women and their sexuality and romantic relationships, and how alcoholism affects these.

      Another excellent book is “The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior,” by Craig Nakken. It is the best self-help book about addiction and recovery that I’ve ever read. And it’s short. You can read it in a day or two. It provides a very persuasive and illuminating answer to the burning question: “What the hell have I done to myself? And how did I get here?”

      Finally: there are no treatment options that I know of which are medically proven. I am not a physician, but I tackled the peer-reviewed psychiatric literature on the subject (as I did for anorexia nervosa). It is my opinion that the medical establishment is unable to treat us, much less “cure” us, at the present time. All they can do is handle detox and withdrawal and try to fix the damage alcohol has done to the organs. It makes me furious that modern medicine has no answer, but boo hoo…people with MS and cancer are probably pissed off too.

      We have to save ourselves.

      Keep reaching out of help. If you are an active alcoholic in deep shit, it’s like you’re out in the ocean in an inflatable raft. AA, or Women For Sobriety, are like ropes anchoring you to the shore.

      Alcoholics have a relationship with alcohol which has to be replaced with relationships with other human beings. Don’t turn to the bottle for support and to assuage your pain. Turn to your friends, or the group.

      And now I’m going to take my own fucking advice and go to a meeting.

      Thanks for reading. Please come back any time.


      P.S. If you’ve been to one AA meeting and hate it…shop around, if you can. The groups all have very different flavors. And there are women’s groups, as well.

  8. Okay, I’m home. One more thing, Angela:

    There is a book titled “Love Junkie,” by Rachel Resnick. It is memoir. Very intimate and sincere. My impression is that the author was/is an alcoholic, though she does not declare herself as such in the book.

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