There is a place that exists inside of me. It is a domain of euphoric bliss and boundless freedom where I am unfettered by doubt or fear or shame. A place where I can leave behind my inadequacies and failings, where I can lay down the armour that I wrap around my fragile self, and be safe, calm and at peace. I have explored the borders of this uncharted land but always with the knowledge that I cannot stay. Time will eventually discover me there and with grim inevitability return me to the place where I shed my skin, where I must again don the masks and guises of strength and courage and return to the world where I am bound to remain.
This place haunts my dreams. In every room and in every moment I catch glimpses of the doorways that may lead me back to that far distant land. These doors are invisible to all but me, yet they remain, all around me, every day. The sound of high heels striding with confident purpose, the scent of certain perfumes, a precise shade of lipstick on an elegant woman’s mouth, the glimpse of a seamed stocking beneath the hem of a skirt…the soft music of leather and steel. All of these things whisper to me of possibilities…a distinct and precise combination of sensory input like the ingredients of a spell – an incantation that must be spoken just so…and the doorway may open to me once more.
No amount of longing can lead me back there, because I know that I am forbidden to open this door alone. I may stand before it and wonder at what lies beyond, but I cannot – nor can any other man open it. The guardians of this door are exclusively female. They hold the only key and they keep it jealously hidden. No pleading, no manipulation, no demonstration of masculine strength, no threats nor any amount of posturing will force them to unlock the threshold unless they so choose. Then, if I am so honoured, they will lead me by the hand down dark and winding paths to the place that lies behind my eyes. They will leave me there for a time…but all things come at a price and the cost of this can be a heavy burden to carry.
My passage is bought with humiliation and pain.
My Mistresses strip me of all my presences and bring me to my knees. They bare my body and my soul is laid naked before them. They observe every nuance of thought, word and deed and they discover the things inside me that I have hidden even from myself. I cannot hide from their scrutiny, as painful as it is to me – I writhe before them as they exorcise the spirits of my self doubt. They hold my minds eye open and they force me to look here, and here, and here. And if they perform the ritual with skill, the venom that I cling to, the poison inside me that I will never willingly release is torn away from me with a scream like silence.
Humiliation is the first lock on the door…shame upon shame upon shame and the key slides into place. And then suddenly I find myself without transition in a place where shame has no meaning, like a word repeated over and over again until it becomes senseless. My sense of self is dissolved and as it falls away from me in tattered shreds I become nothing. I can no longer be humiliated because I no longer exist. I am weightless and utterly without substance and liberation explodes in my mind like an epiphany. The key turns and the first lock falls open.
Yet the second lock awaits and its name is pain.
Once again I am led to a dark place within my mind. Anticipation builds. I am to be bound - but not only by ropes and leather…the will of the Guardians holds me in place like cold steel chains. I have made the choice to abandon choice, by my own free will, my will is stripped from me and I meekly submit to the ritual. The bonds are placed on me and it is a sensation as intimate as a lovers caress. My Mistresses are not unkind; yet. They show no desire to cause me discomfort and I revel in the glory of their proximity. I drink in the flood of sensation, the scent of leather, the soft swish of long flowing skirts. I feel the warmth of their fingers as they touch my naked skin, even if only to ensure the restraints are securely fastened, that the blindfold has wrapped me in darkness, and that the gag will muffle my inevitable screams.
Despite what I know is surely to come, I have a moment to pause, to feel safe and secure. For a short time the burden of responsibility has been taken from me. I have no need to pretend that I am brave or strong; all that is required of me is that I can suffer. It is all that I have to offer them and I pledge myself to pay my debt.
With the first instant that the first stroke arcs through the air to lash across my helpless flesh, I begin the journey to the doorway that leads to my secret world. I climb the mountains in my mind and every peak proves to be a false crest with a new peak behind it. Every time I think I have reached the summit, the mists clear to reveal the majesty of the hills yet to be climbed and every step of the way, my Guardian Mistresses are guiding me, pushing me onwards with stern application of the lash. Without them I would wander aimlessly and founder but they will not let me fail. They show me the way with patience, empathy…. understanding.
They have an almost preternatural perception of my state of mind. When the pain becomes more than I can bear, they show me that I am wrong; that I can and will bear more pain. They take me beyond my limits and expand my horizons. They give me a moment to collect myself then they take me beyond those horizons too.
I forget myself. The distance between what I am and what I could be becomes insignificant. The doorway beckons, it shines like redemption as the second lock falls open and I pass through to what lies beyond.
And later, I know I have been there but the memory washes away like tears in rain. I struggle to hold the moment but it feels as if I am remembering a story about someone else’s dream. It passes and recedes into the shadows at the corners of my mind, leaving me with an aching hollow longing, and a crushing sense of debt to the Guardian Mistresses that took me on the journey. I am left with the knowledge that I will never have the words to thank them for the gift that they have given me. I am humbled before them and I wonder once again why they do what they have done. Could it be that they too travel to that place but by a different path? Could it be that they too lose themselves in that perfect moment that peaks and fades too soon? I will never know because they will not, ever give up their secrets to me. Perhaps to gain that knowledge would mean to see the doorway close forever.
I must wait. I must wait and know that there is another world hidden just behind the thin walls of this one. A world that hides behind every closed door and every drawn curtain… The ritual continues and the guardians are waiting.