Monsters come in all shapes, sizes and forms. My monster took the form of a sociable young man, well-spoken and well-liked. What the people around us did not realise was that he only ever showed his true form to me, when we were alone and there was no one else around to watch his unpleasant transformation.
For ten years, I stayed with him, not because I was happy, but because I truly did not know better. I did not know, for instance, that it was not normal to be in a relationship with periods of excessive highs, where I felt like everything I had taken was worth it because he DID love and care about me, but also with very long periods of miserable lows, where the urge to do better for myself was so so present yet ignored. I did not know that I had the right to have my limits respected, that I had the right to be respected, that I had the right to deserve more. It’s true that he was there through a lot of the shit my family put me through in those days, and I felt indebted to him and his kindness, so much so that I closed a blind eye, nay, two eyes, to the slow but steady erosion of my self-worth and self-value in his hands.
It’s been slightly over two years now that I have walked out. For a long time, the memories were too painful to deal with. I started out by talking them through with my Master, but it soon became evident that I needed more help. So I sought therapy. Fast forward many sessions, a tonne of journaling and even more self-reflection, I’m finally ready to share. I thought that time would heal all wounds, that over time, I’d let go of the negative and only remember the pleasant. But this hasn’t been my experience at all. In contrast, I find that I can’t quite recall the good times anymore. Every time I bring him to mind, all I remember are the bad.
I remember his anger. I remember how every time I tried to have a discussion with him over something or other I wanted addressed in our dynamic or relationship, he would shut down. I remember the hardening of his jaw, the veins in his face as it became more and more apparent that he was minutes from blowing up. I remember his common refrain – “Are you that unhappy? Do I make you so unhappy? If you’re that unhappy, the door is always open.”
I have never been good at communicating my feelings in person, having grown up in a household with parents who did not talk. My mother used to always tell me that as long as I lived under her roof, I had to abide by her rules and that the word ‘compromise’ did not exist in her vocabulary. And so, even as an adult, it takes me a very long time to express myself, particularly when in a confrontation. I remember so well the look of disdain on his face and the subsequent “Are you stupid? Why are you just staring at me like that? Are you a fucking owl?”
My anxiety skyrocketed in the years we spent together. I experienced full-blown panic attacks while we engaged in arguments. The worst was him not believing that I was having a panic attack. He told me outright to stop pretending. And then when the panic attack triggered my asthma and I started wheezing, he started getting worried, felt bad and then as always, started victimizing himself for being the cause to my anxiety. I felt bad for being anxious, stupid as that sounds now. I felt bad for putting him through my neurosis, for not being able to communicate with him like a level-headed adult would.
I remember him yelling. I remember very clearly the way his neck would tense when he would yell at the top of his lungs right in front of me. He never touched me in those moments, so there was no abuse, right? Wrong. The intimidation was there every single time. You want to know why I walked? The last time I let him yell at me, he punched the door so hard I felt real fear. I wasn’t going to stick around to wait for that fist to touch me, even if he said it never would have.
I remember how my consent did not matter. We were in an unhealthy D/s dynamic. I had limits, mind you, but he told me I could have none. He told me that my soft limits weren’t limits at all, and my hard limits, well they could be pushed. Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered to me quite so much if this were limited to play between just the two of us. I play hard behind closed doors, and I probably would have found the whole CNC thing very hot IF it had not involved others, involved members of the public at times.
I remember he used to have this huge kink for taking me to a bar and watching me get hit on by other men. Harmless, right? No. One night, he took me clubbing and two men showed interest in me. He encouraged them to buy us drinks, lots of drinks. Of course, I expressed concern, but I was told to trust him, he would manage it. Even if anything happened that night, he would be there. We played with others quite regularly so I was prepared for a little bit of play, maybe even sex. What I was not prepared for was him allowing himself to get so inebriated he was no longer able to take care of me. He knocked out somewhere between the club and our hotel room and these two gentlemen (yea, right) helped us back. I was also equally drunk, but not to the point where I lost consciousness.
When he got to the hotel room, he knocked out on the bed, and they, they basically helped themselves to me. I struggled with this for years – was I raped or not? I thanked them for helping us back, they started feeling me up but then revealed they didn’t have condoms on them. I told them it was not a good idea and they should go, but they told me it was ok. And in my drunken stupor, I was fucked by both guys. I was so drunk the entire thing was a blur. Even till today, I have snippets in my memories, but no clear picture of their faces, no clear timeline of what actually happened. What I do remember was waking up the following morning, realising what had taken place, and feeling extremely violated and worried that they might have given me something. The two ‘gentlemen’ had even stolen my ex’s RayBan sunglasses, which he bloody deserved.
I was mad. I was so angry with him for failing me. I still am. I don’t know how a couple can move on from something like that, and perhaps we never did, because after his feeble apology the next morning and a clear STD test, he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. And we were just recently married so I kept mum about it too. But it was too huge a skeleton for us to keep in our closet and it eventually started pushing its way out. (I’ve spent hours dissecting this in therapy and coming to terms with the fact that yes, I was raped, and that no, it was not my fault.)
I thought that after this incident, things would change. That he would realise that his actions had irrevocably affected my self-worth, but no. He continued to make flagrant remarks about my body to anyone and everyone who would listen. My tattoo artist, for instance, with whom I had a friendly but professional relationship. He would egg my artist on constantly to touch me, to take advantage of me. And here’s the kicker. He really did one day. I’d shown up for a session and he whipped his fucking dick out and asked me to suck it. I still hate myself for how I responded in that situation. Yes, I did it. I felt cornered, I didn’t want to sour things and for him to do a poor job on my art, which, now that I think of it, was retarded of me.
After the fact, I blew up at my ex for encouraging this, telling him that I had repeatedly told him to stop, to avoid ruining my relationship with my artist. Here’s what he said – “But you never told me no. You never sat me down and said it seriously so I knew it was a no.” I still don’t know how to respond to that. No is no. As for my artist, I made it very clear something like that would never happen again, and to his credit, he never tried anything funny again.
There are so many other instances in which he betrayed me, let down my trust. I learned that he snogged one of our kinky female friends outside the restroom on our wedding day. At this point, we had NOT yet explored cuckqueaning. He knew that my limit was that we always play together. And this was a vanilla event – our wedding for crying out loud. I only learned about this after we split when she apologised, thinking I’d witnessed it (I had not, I had been looking in the general direction, but I had not seen) and worrying I held it against her. Why he felt it was acceptable to do something like this in the same venue where our vanilla friends, family and colleagues were, I will never understand.
Then there was the time when I introduced him to someone I greatly admired – a fellow Pro Domme who had made a very big name for herself. She was someone I looked up to as a business mentor, and she never shied away from sharing about what she did and how she did it. She was extremely supportive. Knowing all this, when he met her, he groped her ass. She called him out for it on the spot, but later told me she would let the matter rest on account of her friendship with me. When I confronted him about this, he failed to see what he had done wrong. And this was probably when I realised that he was in fact, truly misogynistic.
I have so many more memories but I think I will stop there. It’s already taken a lot out of me to put these in words. But this is why I have trust issues. This is why, for the entire of the first year I was with my current husband/Master, the slightest sound/movement in the night would jolt me awake. Now, I sleep through almost anything. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in years. But I still can’t trust. I still don’t cope well with confrontations. When my Master has gotten angry in my presence, I have systematically shut down, wringing my hands together and looking like a very ‘lost puppy’, in his words. We’ve worked so hard at helping me unlearn certain reflex responses over the past few years it’s insane. I often feel like my Master is being punished for something he had no hand in.
But that said, I’ve made good progress. With my Master, I’ve learned how to speak up for myself. I’ve learned how to say no. I’ve learned how to love myself again. I’ve learned that I have value. I’ve learned that my anxiety is loved, that it’s ok. When I still suffered attacks, he’d hold my hands and take me in his arms, rocking me back and forth till I breathed easy again. I’ve learned that my fight or flight response is so fucked that I need to relearn very basic coping mechanisms. I’ve learned that it’s safe for me to be in the presence of his anger, that it isn’t going to be directed at me despite me having nothing to do with the original cause. I’ve learned what it feels like to be truly loved and cherished.
I’m still learning, and I am finally ready to put this monster of mine to rest.