Such Was My Recklessness

When I decided to seek help about my drinking problem, I went to the campus counseling center and started meetings with a counselor there.   I didn’t see her for more than a few months, because I made the mistake of confiding to her that I was working weekends at my first dungeon (what can I say?  My secret job, and its attendant issues, seemed germane to my drinking), and that revelation had an immediate chilling effect on our relationship.  To my complete surprise, she judged me about it, in a very harsh and unprofessional (to my mind) fashion, and thereafter I felt her disapproval and suspicion in our conversations.  I felt uncomfortable with her (or, more accurately, I was acutely aware of her discomfort with me), and eventually decided to stop our sessions.

Which was fine.  I was no longer getting the full benefit of her expertise, and I wasn’t impressed with what perspective I was getting.  I felt that she was making a lot of assumptions about my personality and motivations that were not just unflattering but downright wrong.  For example, she told me that I was working at the dungeon because I wanted attention and validation from men.

She did give me one insight into my character that had previously eluded me and that I never would have come up with on my own, however.  I’ve never forgotten it.

I was talking about my drinking, and I said that the reckless drinking was really out of character for me, because in most other aspects of my life I was cautious, thoughtful, and risk-adverse.  Really!  I’m the opposite of impulsive.  I don’t act quickly or rashly.  I’m the sort of person who always wears a helmet, buckles up, drives the speed limit at all times, and doesn’t eat food that’s been left at room temperature for more than an hour.  I don’t often try new things, or make a trip to a new place, be it across town or out of the country, without detailed travel instructions or an itinerary.

“Margo,” she said, dead serious, looking at me over the tops of her glasses, “you are absolutely not risk-adverse.  At all.

I was incredulous: had I really done reckless things?  Moi?  Madame, surely you jest!

But after careful contemplation, I must admit that the record will show that I have taken risks, and put myself in situations, that were not just unnecessary, but dangerous and even potentially fatal.  I even mentioned it in the copy of one of my proSub ads–I cribbed a quote from de Sade, in which he asserted, as reason for his libertinism and depravity, that a man’s humanity is incomplete until he has had every experience.

And so I have pursued every experience.  My adult life has been characterized by the deliberate and relentless exploration of my sadomasochism, a journey of personal discovery that I ultimately prioritized in my life.  It is a serious business to me, and I approached it with the earnestness of a devoted scholar.  To see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down to, really?  Isn’t that what I was doing there, in all those dangerous places, with all those (potentially or overtly) dangerous people?  Isn’t that what I was doing when I went back, when I stayed, when I went deeper and still yet deeper?  Over and over again?  I started prodomming when I was desperate, vulnerable, and very isolated–it really was survival sex work–but why that, among the handful of desperate options (why did I perceive it as an option at all?)?   I did it for the (potentially) fast money and because the flexibility of the job fit my grad-student needs and lifestyle, but really, really, I did it because I was fascinated and I wanted to know, to explore that part of myself.   My clients were my teachers.  Even when I did not want them to be.   My lovers were also my teachers, including the dangerous one with the scalpel whom I loved best, and who cut my heart for five years.

I pursued every experience.  I sought them out online, on Fetlife, on Craigslist, in the dark corners of the internet, and I put up ads so that they could find me.  I took trains to meet strangers in parts of the country I’d never been to before.  I took airplanes.   I went to their houses, their dorm rooms and brownstones and walkup apartments, and a million hotel rooms in cities on three continents.   I got into their cars and climbed aboard their boats.  And they came to me, both in my home and in the fantastical rooms of the Studio and the other dungeons in which I worked.   They have needs and compulsions, too.

I gave a man the key to my house so that he could enter at the time of his choosing and take me God knows where, with God knows who.  I rode on the back of motorcycles drunk.  My boyfriend gave me drugs and I let him without knowing what they were or what they would do to me.   I let people lock me in cages, closets, hoods, and, (nearly) a barn.  I let them bind me with rope and suspend me from ceilings.  I let them put metal police restraints on me, cover me with a blanket, and take me for a car ride.  I let him throttle me with his hands, his leather belt, the terrycloth belt of a bathrobe.  I let strangers beat me with everything you could imagine, sometimes for money and sometimes for free.  I let a psychopath come to my house and put me in traction.  Such was my recklessness in pursuit of myself.

Such was my recklessness.

I still haven’t had every experience.  My humanity remains incomplete. I have come to understand that the rabbit hole is bottomless.   The obsessions cannot be quenched or exhausted.   Like a dying star, they change, grow, and expand outward, incinerating and enveloping you in their orbit.

If there is no end to it, do I stop?

What else is there?

3 thoughts on “Such Was My Recklessness”

  1. That counsellor was entirely unprofessional. It is not just to your mind – it seems that her manner went directly against professional standards of establishing a working relationship that is sensitive to client’s own worldview and emotionally safe for a client. Yes, situations arise when as a counsellor, you can feel a conflict with your own values that makes doing this hard for you (e.g., for me this can happen with clients who are extreme socially conservatives).
    We were taught that if a value conflict happens, you could try to openly bring it up with a client, attempt to resolve it by understanding how it affects your interaction, and refer to somebody else if you can’t successfully manage your feelings around it. But never ever ever do the half-assed job of not-so-secretly judging and letting it seep through.

    – a counselling trainee

    1. Thanks for the comment…yeah, I thought her behavior was inappropriate (I was surprised by it, honestly) and I gave some thought to reporting her or complaining about it to the management of the counseling center…but then I’d have to tell more people exactly what was making me uncomfortable, and what she said to me, and who knows where that information would go? I was still in the program and taking classes! What if the sex work was a violation of student conduct, even though not prodomming isn’t illegal? I was there on a fellowship, and couldn’t afford to lose my student aid.

      She definitely did not like me after I told her I was prodomming. She told me I wasn’t a feminist (she actually said that, as if I asked for her opinion about my politics) and that it was unhealthy to base my self-worth on whether men were willing to pay me for erotic experiences (as if that has ever been a major source of gratification for me). She also got mad when I mentioned that my boyfriend, the Surgeon, gave me money for textbooks that semester. I could tell in her mind she was judging me and felt that I was “taking the easy way out,” like “oh look this pretty girl gets money from men instead of working at Starbuck’s like she should.” So much bullshit. The easy way out, yeah, like there was anything easy about domming or being the Surgeon’s girlfriend.

      Sorry, I went off on a tangent! Thanks again for your comment.

  2. It’s interesting to look at this piece in the context of Franz Adler and his destructively compulsive gambling which you have rightly decried.

    Because it seems at least plausible (without wishing to be in the slightest judgmental) that part of the explanation for this behaviour lies in the fact that you too like gambling. Not on the turn of a card, or the roll of a pair of dice, or the speed of a horse…but gambling nonetheless. With your life, or at the very least, your well-being. Like any gambler, you seem to enjoy the risk, and return to risky situations despite the very real and present danger that they offer.

    The neuropsychology of this is not particularly complicated. At the moment at which you take the risk (or make the bet if you will) there’s a huge rush of adrenaline, caused partly by raised anxiety in the face of danger, and partly by the anticipation of a huge reward for the risk taken. Your heart pounds. You sweat profusely. You become agitated, fidgety and restless, but also almost painfully alert. Oddly for a state which is at face value uncomfortable, it’s not difficult to become addicted.

    If the bet comes off and you beat the odds, winning the hoped-for financial gain or some other reward (as any mountain-climber will tell you, simply getting out of the dangerous situation in one piece is hugely rewarding), there’s a massive surge in those parts of the brain that register pleasure. This can bring as much euphoria as any of the other supreme joys it’s possible to experience in life. Again, as with other pleasure-inducing experiences, it’s not difficult to become addicted.

    I could go on about the way in which gambling (seeking risk and being rewarded for the prediction of events with uncertain outcomes) is, like alcohol, embedded in our culture, but that would make this post too long. I’ll just say that it was reckless gambling (with other people’s money no less) that brought about the crash of 2008.

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