SOMA: sensual pleasure on Bondage

Friends noticed me in SL a lot more for a few weeks, and I want to share a bit about the project that I just completed there. Stop by the sim Bondage and have a look at SOMA.

SOMA is not easy to describe. They are a group of friends who share an interest in the pleasure of intellect, erotic sensuality, art and myth. At first glance, one may wonder whether it’s a sex club, an art gallery, a dance club or a temple. The answer is yes.

In ancient mythology, Soma was the drink of the gods, the Hindu equivalent of the Greco-Roman ambrosia. It is the elixir that celebrates the divine character of life. SOMA is a group of passionate friends and thoughtful lovers. Or is that lovers of thought? SOMA hosts discussions, dances, art exhibits, erotic parties, rituals, theater, concerts and more. SOMA is a pleasure feast of body, mind and spirit, a celebration of art and sensuality, of wild and tender passions.

SOMA began as one small building on a small parcel, and grew rapidly without much planning. When they finally took over the entire sim, they asked me to come and help them expand in a more thoughtful way. I retained their original Asian building and helped them expand into a large Roman area and a Celtic-themed area featuring a stone circle.

SOMA now has a blog, “Ambrosia” and can be found on Twitter @SomaSecondLife. Inworld, join the group Bondage Soma to receive notices. Below is a quick photo tour of SOMA.

One arrives at a central plaza that leads to all the various venues. Yes, that is an Egyptian god in front of a Roman villa. That type of convergence is typical of SOMA.

Soma Roman Villa

The group enjoys weekly dances in The Pleasure Dome. Love the Alchemy Immortalis “Haute Suite” chairs.

Pleasure Dome

Sculpted deities by the amazing Ryusho Ort are featured in the central plaza.

Soma Statues Hindu Egyptian Gods

Prometheus Theater overlooks the plaza and is a setting for concerts and dramatic productions.

Prometheus Theater overlooks the plaza and is a setting for concerts and dramatic productions

Villa de L’Arte is currently showing the work of the fabulous Bachi Cheng, a successful RL artist whose vibrant, colorful images celebrate life and love.

Villa de L'Arte is currently showing the work of the fabulous Bachi Cheng

A small Roman peristyle garden offers a bit of serenity in a quiet cloister.

A small Roman peristyle garden offers a bit of serenity in a quiet cloister

Artwork and logo by my wonderful friends Stephen Venkman and Seren Dawes.

Artwork and logo by Stephen Venkman and Seren Dawes.

Bacchus Pub, furnished with Max Graf’s excellent Rustica pub set.

Bacchus Pub, Rustica pub

The villa has several nooks and terraces for intimacy and romance.

Soma Romantic Terrace

Flute Alonzo’s furnishings have gorgeous textures and top quality animations.

Soma Flute Alonzo Furnishings

One private room has a Gorean dance pit and a setting for small group gatherings.

Soma Private Room

The sim is named Bondage. That said, it is not primarily a BDSM sim. But there is a small, elegant, intimate dungeon, the Temple of Bondage, well-equipped for sensual bondage play.

Temple of Bondage

The Temple of Bondage has a lovely public room and three private rooms equipped with dozens of the finest BDSM toys from BFE, Deviant, Dictatorshop and Nihil.

Temple of Bondage Dungeon Rooms

The Temple of Zeus and Hera provides a setting for pagan rituals and… well, other things.

Temple of Zeus and Hera

The Serene Meditation Garden is a lovely place for Tai Chi or just sitting, when you need to breathe.

Serene Meditation Garden

This Stone Circle is the setting for a popular weekly discussion group. I landscaped the oak grove around the group’s slightly kludgy standing stones to which they have grown sentimentally attached.

Stone Circle Oak Grove

Other features not pictured here include an elaborate undersea mer garden, tree house, beach house, and Japanese pleasure palace.

Be sure to stop by SOMA on Bondage and partake of its many pleasures.

Lies

Recently I’ve been reflecting on past relationships I have had in virtual worlds. One of the things swirling around in my brain is the subject of honesty. Honesty in relationships is an extremely complicated idea. I’m writing this journal entry mainly for my own sake, to help me get it sorted out in my head.

How many couples say to one another, “Let’s be completely honest”? And how many couples actually are completely honest with each other? Not many, I’m betting.

The truth is that everyone lies. People lie for lots of reasons—some of them good reasons. It would be a mistake to cast all lies in the same light. Some lies are harmless; others are hurtful. Most lies swim in the gray area in between.

Fantasy role-playing could technically be considered a lie. Those of us in virtual worlds adopt an appearance and sometimes a persona that may or may not resemble our “real” selves. We operate under a social contract in which we all agree to suspend our disbelief about this. Some people are better at it than others. Some people look straight past your avatar and only want to know the “real” you. Others easily accept the fantasy avatar you have created. Is fantasy dishonest? Or is it playful?

Beyond fantasy, virtual worlds are a hotbed of deceit. Lying is far too easy. We can cover up where we are, and what we are doing, and with whom. We hide our online status. Knowing that no one can see our location, we feel free to invent stories about where we are. “I’m talking with a friend.” “I’m shopping.” “I’m checking something out.” Or, for total privacy, we just create an alt, and do as we please without detection. I know of at least one person who has a partner, and also a sex alt the partner doesn’t know about. I expect there are thousands of others in exactly the same situation. It almost seems to be the norm in virtual worlds.

Personally, I sometimes lie to preserve my privacy. When writing online profiles I usually say that I live in NYC. I don’t. I live near NYC, and I do spend time there, but I don’t live there. I don’t really want strangers to know where I live. I think that is a fairly smart lie and I doubt many would disagree.

“Privacy lies” happen when someone is pressuring you to reveal something about yourself that is actually none of their business. The response “that’s none of your business” might be counter-productive—it might actually increase your interrogator’s curiosity. Telling them something else may call off their prying. Are “privacy lies” good or bad? Rather than focusing on the morality of the lie, it would be better to examine the thing you are lying about, and decide whether it is hurtful.

That leads me to the “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings” lie. Sometimes this type of lie is actually compassionate, or at least benign, like when he assures her that she doesn’t look fat in those pants. But most of the time it’s bogus. Let’s say he cheats on her, and lies to cover his tracks. She confronts him. He says “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” That’s bogus. The lie is not the issue. Clearly he didn’t mind hurting her feelings, because he cheated on her. That is what hurt her. The lie is extra. Lying about it is the secondary issue that piles hurt onto hurt.

What if he’d had the courage to be honest with her long before? What if he’d had the courage to admit that he wasn’t feeling satisfied? That she wasn’t meeting his needs? That something had changed in their relationship, or in him? That type of honesty is extremely difficult. First it requires being honest with yourself. Most of us would rather placate ourselves with lies. “Things are basically fine.” “I do love her.” “I can control myself.” “I can live without it.” “I should be satisfied.” When we can’t even face the truth about ourselves, how can we hope to be honest with anyone else?

The idea of hurting someone we care about is extremely difficult for most of us. He may find it impossible to imagine saying to her, “I’m not satisfied. This relationship is not giving me what I need.” He pictures her ashen face, the hurt and disappointment he sees there, and he just can’t face it. He can’t bear the burden of having to hurt her with the truth. So he lies.

When there is a truth that would hurt our loved one if they knew about it, it’s natural to want to withhold it, or cover it up. The trouble is that this deception almost never works. Not facing a painful truth does not make the painful truth go away. It just sits there, eating away at the relationship and causing damage to both of you. For the sake of not hurting her, he decides to forego his happiness. Does he think she won’t sense that? Does he think that he won’t eventually be compelled toward something outside the relationship that does meet his needs? Does he think that won’t hurt her even more?

Others may feel differently, but speaking for myself, I would choose a painful truth over a comfortable lie every time. Hurt can be healed, but only when it’s faced. If you need something that you can’t get from me, let’s face that together. Give me some credit. If I love you, I want good things for you. I am not so selfish as to demand that you fake it, just so that I can pretend that everything is fine. I know that relationships are not black and white. I know you care about me, and that, at the same time, it’s also true that I cannot meet all your needs. So tell me the truth. Let’s face the next step.

At least, that’s how I’ve always preferred it.

What do you think?

True power

Virtual worlds have opened a door to BDSM for many people, allowing them to explore their curiosity about it in a fantasy environment. People who would never do so in “real” life can try on handcuffs, be chained and bound, and even submit to a Dominant, all without the risk of physical injury or social stigma. The wild popularity of BDSM in virtual worlds like Second Life and OpenSim attests to its genuine appeal in the sexual imagination.

But while casual dabbling in BDSM is safe and easy in virtual worlds, this very ease can be problematic. Those who have only experienced Domination and submission (D/s) in virtual worlds often think their experience and comprehension is complete. To be fair, I think some do develop a deep understanding; and the experience can be legitimate and worthwhile even for those who only get a glimpse of their own hidden desires, without fully exploring them.

Sadly, while virtual BDSM may be physically safe, I have seen far too many inhabitants of virtual worlds cause real-world emotional damage because they have no real idea what D/s is, or what it requires of them. It’s true that there is no one “right way” to do D/s. My Master and I practice an all-or-nothing form of D/s called TPE (Total Power Exchange), but even casual dabbling in D/s is not intrinsically wrong when it brings pleasure to all those involved. Unfortunately, too often it does not.

I’m not going to discuss the abusive sexual predators that lure women by claiming to be “Masters,” and then take advantage of them while ignoring a Dominant’s responsibilities. Much has been written of this elsewhere. In my case, I am fortunate to have a genuine Master who knows what he is doing, a good and loving man who takes his responsibilities seriously and who has the training, good character, compassion and strength to be a skilled Dominant.

Instead, I’d like to reflect on women I have met who call themselves submissives, but who are only posing. Bogus submissives have only their own self-interest in mind; they manipulate others and take advantage of them for their own agenda. They cause just as much emotional damage as bogus Masters. They are a special breed of sexual predator.

The dabblers who call themselves submissives usually have no idea what submission involves.

If you enjoy being restrained during sex… you are not necessarily submissive.

If you are attracted to a strong-willed man… you are not necessarily submissive.

If you wear a collar and know how to nadu… you are not necessarily submissive.

If you always do what everyone tells you to do… you are not necessarily submissive.

If you cooperate with a Master because you have no choice… you are not necessarily a submissive.

If you allow a Master to do only what you want him to do… you probably are not submissive.

If you tell a Master only what you think will get you laid… you probably are not submissive.

If you think you could roleplay as submissive sometimes… you probably are not submissive.

What are the differences between a bogus submissive and a genuine one? To me, the difference is a matter of character and nature. Some people play a submissive role. But some of us find that submission reveals our truest selves, our deepest, most authentic nature. Submission isn’t about what we do. Submission is about who we are.

Does the idea of surrendering complete control of yourself to a trusted Master thrill you? Does the excitement increase the more you surrender? Are you turned on by the thought of permanently abandoning your will to his? If so, then you probably are a submissive.

On the other hand, if it fills you with dread and suspicion, you probably are not a submissive.

The acid test comes the first time the Master directs you to do something you really don’t want to do. Many women are willing to play a submissive role temporarily—as long as she trusts that the Master will do exactly what she wants him to do to please her. There is nothing wrong with that. But it isn’t submission, it’s just cooperation. True submission is complete surrender. Of course you want pleasure, and a good Master wants that for you. But TPE submission means completely letting go of your own will, and trusting him, without setting your own pleasure as a condition. For a true submissive, that very act of surrender is the pleasure—that intoxicating rush of letting go and giving yourself to him.

You may think it sounds passive and easy to surrender your will. Power exchange is far from easy. It is a conscious choice you must make, over and over again, that requires a great deal of courage and inner strength. Saying yes to him means that you must be strong enough to say no to everyone else, including yourself. True submission means having true power, and then giving it away. You must own your own power, before you can give it away.

You may be able to deceive him, to play along and make him think you are surrendering, while in reality you hold on to your own power. That’s why I mentioned character. You know if you are not being honest. And eventually it will come out. If you are willing to lie to your Master, that is a matter of character. If you know you aren’t a true submissive, if you basically just want him to be your lover on your own terms, and yet you play the part of a true submissive—you are living a lie. You may in fact be a sexual predator. You risk causing emotional damage, whether you mean to or not.

If my description of total submission doesn’t appeal to you, there is no fault in it. It’s not a bad thing to admit that you like to role play as a submissive occasionally, but that you are not really cut out to be an authentic, 24/7 TPE submissive. I encourage you to enjoy dabbling in BDSM, and to take and give pleasure where you can.

But if you know this about yourself, do not try to hide it. If you are not a true submissive, do not try to pass yourself off as one.

In recent months, I have watched more than one bogus submissive wreak havoc in the lives of people I love. With only her own pleasure in mind, she accepted a collar and the loving care and protection of a Master. Thinking only of what was in it for her, she mouthed the words “yes Master” without revealing what she was thinking: “…as long as it’s convenient for me.”

She didn’t want a Master; she just wanted a lover.

She did whatever it took to lure him into a relationship under false pretenses.

She played the role, like a game, taking what she could get.

She let him love her, as long as it was convenient.

And when it came time to live up to her promise, she deserted him and broke his heart.

She damaged us, too. The betrayals cut like a knife through the community of family and friends who supported our beloved Master and friend. We agonized with him, hurt for him, dropped everything to stand by him when he needed us. We, too, suffered, as his open and generous spirit shuttered tight, his trust broken.

But the bogus submissive never stopped to think of what her lie would do to us, or even to him. She never considered the pain she caused. She thought only of herself.

She left in a whirlwind of drama that she created, a smokescreen with which she attempted to veil her deception. She did not have the strength of character to say, “I’m sorry. I thought I was cut out for this, but I’m not.” Instead, she invented some bogus reason to make it seem that she was not at fault. But she fooled no one, except perhaps herself.

I have seen this scenario play out more than once in recent months. My motivation in writing this post is not to claim “I’m a true submissive and you’re not.” It is, rather, a cry of resentment that the dishonesty of bogus submissives hurts me and my loved ones.

About Grief

Today I have been thinking about grieving.

It’s one of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn in life: everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Nothing is permanent. Whether we are talking about a relationship, a job, a feeling, a possession, an experience, or a life, you will lose it eventually. No matter how deeply we love them, no matter how hard we try to hold on to them, no matter how perfect they are, situations change. People leave us. Things come to an end.

Learning to accept that truth was very hard for me. When something is good, naturally I want it to stay that way. When something good comes to its inevitable end, I grieve. That is completely normal. But I also tended to get angry about it. I could not understand how or why something so good could just… end. It seemed to me that good things should go on forever. I wondered what had gone wrong. I wondered how I had failed. I would be resentful, as if life had cheated me by taking away something, or someone, dear to me. That anger would smolder inside, on top of the grief. And I couldn’t let it go.

It took a long time, and surviving many losses, before eventually I began to accept that there wasn’t anything wrong. Loss is what it is. It is simply the way life works. It is neither bad nor good. I don’t like it, but it’s just how things are. When things end, it does not necessarily mean failure. It does not mean that someone did something wrong. Loss is not a mistake. Loss is natural. It is normal. It is inevitable.

I fought that truth for a long time. But eventually I accepted it. Once I did, a large burden was lifted from my soul. I stopped being resentful and angry that I should have to face loss. I got it through my head that facing loss is a universal human experience, and that I was in no way exempt… nor was I being singled out for suffering.

The next step was learning how to grieve. Not to be resentful, but to allow myself to feel sad. Just as loss is natural, so is grieving. In fact, if you don’t grieve, it seems to me more likely that something is wrong. Strong, healthy people grieve and feel sadness. There is no shame in sadness. In fact, sadness honors the memory of your lost one. And I think that the size of your grief reflects the size of your love. The more you loved the person, the more you grieve. You honor them with your grief.

But most of us don’t like grieving. We try to talk each other out of it. When someone we care about is grieving, it makes us hurt for them. We don’t want our loved ones to hurt, and naturally we don’t want to hurt either. We tell them to “be strong,” or we look for something to say to them to “make them feel better.” Perhaps “feeling better” is not what they need. As long as the grief is not debilitating, rather than trying to get the person to stop grieving, perhaps we should give them the freedom to feel, give them permission to honor their loss with their sadness, and simply be with them in their grief, support them, and care for them while they go through it naturally. And perhaps we should care for ourselves the same way, giving ourselves permission to feel.

The last thing I had to learn was how to grieve, and then… let it go. This was probably the most difficult part. For the longest time, I had no idea how to let something go. Was I supposed to just decide not to feel something any more? Who can turn their feelings on and off like that? I’m still not certain when or how I learned it. It wasn’t a matter of ceasing to feel something. It was more like continuing to have the feeling, acknowledging the feeling, but deciding to turn my attention elsewhere. I have learned to allow myself to be sad, and then to turn and focus on something else. Not to bury it, but to acknowledge it and then move on. I say to myself, “It was wonderful, and I will always honor and cherish the memory; but now the time for it has ended.” In my mind, I create a memento, and set it on a shelf in memory, where I will visit it from time to time, remembering the wonderful part. Then I allow myself to not think about it all the time. And somehow, eventually, either the sadness gradually subsides, or else my capacity to bear it increases; but one way or another, it no longer weighs upon me as much.

Grief is complicated. Everyone grieves in their own way. Even for one person, grief might be different from one situation to the next. However it goes, grieving is an important part of living. Knowing that all things end should make us appreciate and honor each precious loved one, and each present moment even more. Feeling grief reminds us that we are human. Without loss, there could be no change; without change, there could be no renewal, no growth. And our ability to change and grow in wisdom is part of our humanity.

And, after all, one day, even grief will be no more. Grief, too, will end.

.

Our Collaring Ceremony

On 14 July 2010, our first anniversary, Walter formally collared me in a beautiful ceremony. I thought I would share that ceremony here, for those who have never experienced one.

A collaring ceremony is in some respects like a wedding. It signifies a permanent commitment between a Dominant and a submissive. The “ring” went around my neck instead of my finger, and the nature of the promises is slightly different. But like a wedding, the Dominant and the submissive make vows to one another, promising their love and support. The collar symbolizes their mutual consent and the vows each has made to the other.

I dressed carefully, wanting to be elegant and pleasing but simple, to signify that I would be letting go of my personal power and consciously, willingly, joyfully handing it over to him. It would not do to dress like a princess or in any way that seemed ostentatious. When a collaring ceremony is private the submissive might even be nude, as a symbol of the consensual power exchange at the heart of the relationship. But for this occasion I chose a simple Grecian style white gown by Nicky Ree, with long flowing gauze draped from the shoulder. I carried a single white rose, the traditional symbol of submission.

With joy in my heart, I made my way down to the ceremony pavilion on our island. The path wound through the trees and down the hill into a sheltered valley. As I emerged into a clearing, I saw the rustic pavilion, surrounded by trees. It was generously adorned with hundreds of white roses that seemed to burst from every beam and rafter. Master waited on the pavilion, by a small table that held a jeweled box. An intimate group of family and close friends greeted my arrival. I smiled, unable to contain my happiness.

Camryn Darkstone Collaring Ceremony“Camryn, would you join me please?” Master called.

I stepped onto the pavilion and went to him. “It would be my honor, Master.” We both smiled. Then he spoke with solemnity.

“Camryn, it is my intent to offer you my collar as a sign of your submission to me. Are you willing to accept my collar?”

My heart leapt with excitement. “It would be my greatest joy, Master… yes!”

Master turned to the table and opened the box. I gasped with delight as he removed a collar that he had made especially for me. Bright silver, engraved with a Celtic design and sporting a gleaming sapphire, it sparkled in the sunlight. It seemed the loveliest thing I had ever seen. 

Reaching out, Master placed the collar around my neck, but did not yet close the lock. He looked into my eyes with love and made his vow to me.

“Camryn,” Master said solemnly, “with the placing of this collar around your neck and your acceptance of it, I vow to do everything I can to be worthy of you. I promise to hold you and keep you safe, to stretch you and give you flight, to respect the needs of our relationship above all others, to love you, honor you, support you in all things and be sensitive to your needs and desires . I acknowledge the trust you have placed in me and the responsibility that goes with my acceptance of that trust. I will never violate or even threaten to violate that trust. I acknowledge and accept with all my heart the gift of submission you have made to me. This collar will be a symbol of that which we already know: that you are mine, and by wearing it you will always be safe to be everything that you are.

“Do you accept this collar in the spirit by which it is given you?”

Looking on my Master, and hearing these words, I felt my heart fill with love and happiness such as I had never known. Without any hesitation, I spoke clearly and with conviction.

“Master, of my own free will, with clarity of mind, heart and conscience, I surrender my life to you, submitting to your will in all things.” I had difficulty holding back tears of happiness as I spoke from the depth of my heart. “I accept your collar as the outward and visible sign of my deepest joy: that I am yours. I gladly accept your authority and trust you to guide me on the right path. I vow to honor you with my every thought, word and action. I promise to stay with you, support you and fulfill your needs and desires as you allow. You are the center of my universe, the light of my life and the love of my heart. I give you my love, my heart and myself, now and always.”

I knelt, in a traditional posture of submission. He reached out and locked the collar firmly in place around my neck. As the lock closed forever with a satisfying click, my world seemed to fill with light and love. I am his! At last I am become who I was meant to be. I have found my heart’s desire. I smiled up at my Master in utter devotion.

“Camryn,” he continued, “I will never forget the responsibility that I have undertaken here. I am charged with your well being in all you do. My decisions will affect you in every way. Your life is literally in my hands and I will never shy away from that responsibility, but use the power you have given me wisely. I will never consider only myself. I will always remember that you will follow wherever I may go. I will not lead you into danger and I will be mindful that you will look to me in all things for guidance and teaching. I promise to learn from you what is good and safe for you, and be prepared to give as much, or more than I receive from you. The Master’s hand is a double edged sword. It can give pleasure and it can punish. I will never forget that, and will consider every facet of any situation before using that power. It will never be used in anger, and will always be justifiable.

“Thank you for giving me the gift of your submission, Camryn,” he said softly. He took my hand and helped me rise, and we kissed, through my happy tears as our friends and family showered us with congratulations, warmth and love.

Two Three Six Five

Here’s my submission for Two Three Six Five!

Camryn Darkstone and Walter Balazic

As a drizzling November rain brings a hush over my quiet First Life, my day begins as usual, with silent meditation. Then, as every day, I go to meet my love on Second Life.

I work from home, where I live alone. My social life centers on an intimate group of dear friends. We have known each other forever. We share the same passions, activities, and opinions. We smile together about a favorite quote: “I don’t know if I need a lover. I think I would settle for five good friends.”

Most of us look for such good friends, with whom we share much in common. We like to bond with “people like us.” Social media tools make it even easier to filter our friendships, associating only with those who reflect the views and tastes we already have.

Seeking relationships, we make lists of desirable attributes ranging from the superficial, such as appearance, to the provocative, such as politics or religion. We look for personality or character traits, or mutual interests and ambitions. We envision what we want, and we find a partner who fits into our predefined vision.

But this can be very limiting. Envisioning a certain outcome can blind us to glorious surprises. We may miss out on wonderful gifts because we were expecting something else. Focusing on our goals, potentially beautiful friendships with lovely people slip past us, unnoticed.

At first, I didn’t think I needed a lover in Second Life. It caught me totally by surprise. Walter was a surprise. Outwardly, in RL, he is very different from me. Had I stuck to my preconceived notion of what I was looking for, I might easily have missed the gift of knowing, loving and being loved by this beautiful soul. No one could have foreseen his impact on my life. No one could have predicted who I’d turn out to be: that I, the rebellious, independent loner, would willingly and happily surrender my freedom, opening my heart to the surprise and delight of unexpected pleasure.

So I advise that you let go of expectations. Have goals, but don’t be enslaved to them. Something better might happen. Don’t assume you know what the best outcome is. Be open to the possibility that you will be surprised by someone completely different from what you expected. Leave a crack in your armor, so that grace can leak in.

Get over it

Dear world:

Yes. I am a strong, intelligent, secure, capable, boringly normal woman in a D/s relationship. Get over it, already.

Don’t call me a doormat. I am independent and self-sufficient and there is only -one- person who gets to tell me what to do.
 
Don’t call me weak. My way of life requires a reserve of inner strength you only wish you had.
 
Don’t call me passive. I made a carefully considered decision, of my own free will, with clarity of mind, heart and conscience. Our life is a mutual, consensual choice.
 
Don’t call me a bimbo. I have exquisite taste and I don’t wander around SL dressed like a hooker. My sex life is as private as yours, and probably no kinkier. 
 
And p.s. It’s none of your business anyway.
 
I have been given the gift of submission, the freedom to surrender, the grace to trust, the privilege to love.
 
If that bothers you, I’m not the one with the problem.
 
Everyone should be so lucky as me.

Control, Intensity, Trust

My experience with that passionate young man taught me what I desired from D/s: control, and intensity. Those who think of BDSM as little more than sex with handcuffs might find it difficult to understand either desire. It is difficult to explain to someone who isn’t wired this way. The experience of surrendering, abandoning control of myself to a trusted dominant, thrills me beyond words—and the more control I give up, the more extreme my surrender, the better it gets. I also need for the space between me and my partner to be alive with intensity; without that, I am easily bored. In the absence of the emotional and sexual intensity I had known with Jonah, the world felt pale and bland.

After several weeks of searching, I began to despair. There was no shortage of dominants in Second Life; just a shortage of good ones. Again, those who are unfamiliar with D/s might imagine that being a submissive means that I like for people to tell me what to do—and that might seem like an easy desire to fulfill. It is not easy at all. In fact, I find it nearly impossible. The third thing I need, in addition to control and intensity, is trust. I do not trust easily. In my life, I don’t let anyone tell me what to do. I am rebellious and fiercely independent. In work and social situations I am usually the one in charge. Not because I want to be; but because no one else can dominate me. I am too smart, too strong, and my standards are too high. I want desperately for someone else to be in control, but I cannot trust enough to give up control to anyone unless they are smarter and stronger than me—and very few people are—and unless they earn my respect.

Jonah was one such person. It had been so easy to surrender to him; I had not fully appreciated exactly how many things had to click before that could happen. With each unsuccessful encounter, I began to despair that my relationship with Jonah might have been the kind that only happens once in a lifetime.

I was wrong about that.

Next: Stonehaven »

Into darkness

But I’m getting a little ahead of the story.

Those were dismal days, after Jonah was gone. I seemed to plunge into a darkness that muted my heart, my thoughts, my desire, my outlook. It was not a darkness of anger or anguish. It was nothing so dramatic. No, I didn’t feel pain, or rage, or resentment. I didn’t feel anything at all.

My relationship with Jonah had been a dizzying series of highs and lows. In the words of the poem: when it was good, it was very, very good; when it was bad, it was horrid. At any given moment, I would be soaring the heights of bliss, or else my heart was ripped open. There was never anything in between. My friends were perplexed when I would sob, heartbroken, after the latest fight, or worry during one of his unexplained absences. Loyal to me as they were, their concern was reasonable. Why on earth do you stay with him? they would ask. Look what he does to you. Granted, the bad times were extraordinarily painful. But what can I say? I was in love with him, and that kind of love transcends the immediacy of highs and lows. For me, the good times were so good, that it was totally worth hanging in there through the bad times. I knew those bad times would happen. But I also knew that they would end. No matter how horrible the fight was, I knew he would be back, and that if I could let go of the hurt and anger, and allow myself to embrace the pleasure, the bliss might be even more exquisite than anything I had yet experienced. Hanging on was worth it, because the lows were predictable, while the highs kept on getting higher.

Until the day when they stopped, for good.

The soaring and plunging between highs and lows with Jonah had been exhausting. But even the anguish of the lowest low was not nearly as bad as the deadness that had taken over me now. I felt no relief. I felt no pleasure. I felt no longing. I felt no pain. I felt nothing. I continued to move through life, putting one foot in front of the other, but it was like eating food without being able to taste it. The world had no color. I could not take pleasure in anything. It was the worst.

I remembered that there had been a time before Jonah, a time when Second Life was shiny and new and interesting. Hoping that I could get interested in something, anything, I explored SL, wandering, searching. I shopped, but without enthusiasm. I went sailing, but it was boring alone. I tried to build, but with no one to build for, every prim just reminded me of my loss. I even made a half hearted attempt to date a little, but compared to Jonah, every man I met was a disappointment.

It was unbearable. I became desperate to break free of the deadness, the ennui. I just wanted to feel something. To feel some evidence that I was still alive.

My mind wandered back over my two and a half years in Second Life, trying to remember whether I’d ever done anything else that could potentially shake me out of this state… anything intense enough… even a little risky. I started wandering in the back alleys, the red light districts, the post-apocalyptic ruins, the darkest corners of SL. I threw caution aside and sought out sexual encounters that were anonymous, primal, a little dangerous. The danger caused something to stir inside. I went after it with a hunger for more.

As I searched for experiences intense enough to rouse me from my ennui, I recalled a moment from my distant past, before I met Jonah. In the first flush of realizing that in SL, as long as I stayed anonymous, I could try anything without threat of physical harm, I’d visited a seedy meeting place and challenged myself to flirt with the most dangerous looking man I could find. He was pretty scary, too; he was tall and powerfully built, with an air of dark power around him, dressed in black leather with metal trim. I may have been brazen, but I was still naive; he told me he was a Master, and I responded, a Master of what? He laughed. At that time, I honestly knew almost nothing about BDSM, and certainly nothing about D/s, dominance and submission.

He corrected that quickly. Here, put this on, he said, handing me a collar. I hesitated, a thousand questions spinning in my head. Should I do it? What am I getting into? My heart was racing. The fear of the unknown. The thrill of danger. I took a deep breath. What’s the worst that could happen? I thought to myself. In a rush of boldness, I complied, and put on the collar.

I waited nervously as he typed some information and adjusted the collar. Suddenly, I was kneeling. I struggled in confusion. Why was I kneeling? I didn’t recall wanting to kneel, or touching my keyboard in any way. But there I was, on my knees, hands behind my back. I looked up at the Master. His dark eyes were fastened on me with an intensity that made me shiver. From now on, he said, you will greet me this way.

Then I heard a snap, and the chink of metal; I saw that a chain had been attached to the collar. He held the other end. Come, he said, and turned and walked away, obviously expecting me to follow.

Um, I don’t think so, I thought to myself. I don’t know where this is going, and it sounds like a good time to stop. But to my shock, I could not stop. I seemed not to be in control of my movements. Not of my own volition, I followed, jerking along at the end of the leash. It wasn’t up to me. Every nerve was firing as I grasped that by putting on that collar, I had given control of myself to someone else.

Now, two and a half years later, my memory of the intensity of that brief encounter created a spark of interest in my otherwise dead heart. Those few days I spent with that Master had opened a new world to me. I only had a glimpse of it at the time, but something about it resonated very deeply. I know that the prospect of not being in control scares some people half to death. Others place great value on their freedom and independence and are not interested in losing it. Until I met that Master, I thought I was one of those people. After all, in RL, I am usually the one in charge; the manager, the leader, the chairperson. But not because I want to be. I do it because it is expected. Being in control energizes some people. Not me; being in control depletes me.

Gradually, subtly, that Master taught me to see something in myself, something that goes against the grain of popular culture. That first experience was a surprise; he took control without asking. If he had not, I would never have understood. Once I tasted it, though, I wanted more. I gave up control to him willingly. Each time I did, I had no idea what would come of it. But the excitement was intoxicating.

I came to realize that I feel this thrill because I am, by nature, submissive. It wasn’t a choice. It’s just a part of my personality that I was born with. I had managed to ignore it for my entire life, to that point, believing myself to be a natural leader.

My first encounter with D/s lasted only a few days. I met Jonah not long after. Was his naturally dominant personality part of his allure? He did not practice BDSM in any formal way, but because he was dominant by nature, and I was submissive by nature, our relationship had that dynamic. I ceded control to him in everything. He made all the choices, deciding what we would do and when. He always operated the menus, selected and placed the pose balls; he even designed my avatar, choosing my clothes, skin, shape and hair. Being in control of me was deeply satisfying for him. For him to be in control was deeply satisfying for me. 

Now, in my dismal numbness, I remembered those butterflies in my stomach, the sensation of simply letting go, letting someone else be in charge of me, accepting the danger. Would BDSM provide the intensity I needed? I decided to find out. When I felt the thrill in the pit of my stomach as I faced the unknown, I began to suspect I was on the right track.

Next: BDSM in Second Life »

Revealing my secret

I am a very private person. I am also quiet. I listen a lot more than I talk, and rarely talk about myself. So those around me don’t know much about me. I know they are curious. They sense that my eventful past holds secrets… and my present does as well. Usually I like to keep it that way. But sometimes, there is a good reason for revealing secrets.

I have said that a relationship is a space between two people. That space could consist of a few wispy strands of fluff, or glow hot with passion, or run deep and strong like a river. Relationships are diverse in character. This blog allows me to create new relationships; as I reveal my secrets to readers like you, the space between us comes alive.

In my opening posts I told the story of my first SL relationship. Now I will begin to tell another story, of a time when I was lost, and searching. If you are lost too, you might resonate with that. There is another love story waiting at the end of that journey, and I will tell that secret too.

I hope you will join me for the journey.

Camryn Darkstone