…it’s a very good place to start. Good, first musical reference out of the way! Appropo, since the above picture was an 18 year old me in Austria. I figured I needed an old picture for a post about the old me.
I always knew I would be different. Different than the rest of my immediate family, who have remained in the same tri-state area for the duration of their lives. Different than most of the kids I grew up with. I never much cared. I took weird as a compliment, did my best to purposefully stand out, and was too busy with the myriad of theatrical productions and concerts I was involved in to care about my lack of social life.
I always knew, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was…until puberty came. I had my first sexual stirrings in the form of a dream, as young teenagers often do. To spare you all the details, I’ll just say it involved the Queen of Hearts, an almost-impossible-in-real-life rope suspension, tickling, and what I didn’t know yet to be an orgasm. I wouldn’t know what one of those was in any form of reality until I was 19.
That didn’t stop me from chasing the unfamiliar yet pleasant sensation of arousal, though I had no comprehension of what it really was at the time. Like a good little milennial, I turned to the internet and found my solace in stories. They fed my desires and fantasies and created new ones as well. Alone, I started doing unspeakable things to my favorite dolls, crafting my own sordid tales.
There were challenges, of course. Being caught by the parents was a constant concern. I didn’t know exactly what it was that I was doing, but I knew my parents wouldn’t approve one bit. I grew up in a tight knit Christian community and attended Christian school until college. Christian guilt was an on and off battle. I would feel the uncomfortable pangs of guilt (no doubt unconsciously fostered by my born and bred Jewish mother) and consciously abstain from the stories for six months or so. Eventually, the yearning would grow too strong and I would come back. No matter what, I couldn’t keep my mind from expanding outside of the norm and into the darker recesses of my mind. There, my curiosity and imagination grew by the year. It was only a matter of time before I acted on them and I knew it…I just needed to be out of the house.
I’ll save that chapter for another day. It is here that I pause and wonder – what on earth put those first stirrings in my mind? Why were my first sexual thoughts centered on a cold and cruel dominant woman when my reality was completely centered around heterosexuality being the only acceptable way of life? The question of nature or nurture is age old and a bit of a moot point overall. I’m into what I’m into and I’ve become what I’ve become. Does the source much matter?
At the end of the day, I suppose it doesn’t. But as humans, we are prone to chasing the unanswerable questions. Some psychologists are wont to explain it away with trauma, mental disorders, dysfunctional family lives or troublesome childhoods. Fortunately, not all believe that is the case and consider it a healthy outlet as long as the end goal is to hurt and not to harm.* Some find the following comforting, while others feel as though accepting it is resigning those of alternative lifestyles to a difficult fate – maybe we are born with it after all.
- *above, I’m referring to “hurt and not harm” as consensually participating in sadism/masochism without permanently harming and individuals mentally or physically