“I am a question to the world, Not an answer to be heard,
Or a moment that’s held in your arms.”
You smile like Mona Lisa, is what my boss at the time (now close friend) said after the first few weeks that I had worked with her. She wondered what was going on in my head but I couldn’t say. She had opened a small window which cast a single ray of light but I was too far away to be able to touch it. I was so afraid of rejection that I couldn’t show myself and throughout my life, I have often wondered how I fit in or where I belong.
As members of the kink community, many of you will be able to relate. Our practices are still widely regarded as taboo or something to be ashamed of. When I realised I desired to be tied up I wanted to burn the thought from my mind. I reverberated the thought that no one could ever know. Those kinds of people couldn’t be a functioning part of society. Those kinds of people weren’t allowed to exist and I could not be one of them.
The above sentiment echoed surrounding my sexuality. On a daily soap, a girl was falling in love with another girl but they snuck around, keeping it a secret. They kissed and when I saw it I repeatedly said that this was normal; of course, it was normal as long as it wasn’t me. For, if I were to hold the hand of another girl in public people would stare at me and I would no longer be normal.
When I went about my daily life, especially when I was a child, people noticed that I’m a little more tanned than the average person in Western Europe. As a result, the question about my origin always came up at the start of the conversation. The question never came from a bad place; people were simply curious and interested in my history but it made me feel different. I’m white-passing but there’s a small trace from the Indonesian genes stemming from my grandmother. I wondered why people had to cling onto this part of me when I felt Dutch and nothing else.
The aversion to my differences came from my upbringing, as I learned that my feelings and thoughts didn’t matter. My parents didn’t listen to me or my concerns and therefore, I stopped wanting to share. Feeling invalidated, I thought I didn’t matter. It was better for me to remain quiet and to stay out of the way. Since I grew up with this, I navigated the rest of the world with the same caution, avoiding to be seen at all costs and therefore having Indonesian roots, being gay and showing a desire for BDSM was at best inconvenient.
“And how can you learn what’s never shown?
Yeah, you stand here on your own. They don’t know me ’cause I’m not here.”
I first heard this song (Still here by The Goo Goo Dolls) in a fan video someone had made about Toph from Avatar is the Last Airbender. For everyone who missed out on this great show, Toph is a blind girl who is seen as helpless by her parents and who needs to be protected at all costs. In reality, Toph can find her way around through earth bending but her parents don’t accept this. She receives ‘support’ from them but is not supported, so all her life she’s had to fend for herself. As a result, she stops sharing and follows her own path, feeling no connection to anyone else. No one knows her because she’s no longer allowing anyone to see her.
No one was allowed to see me anymore either. I let go of everything that I was because none of it seemed good; I stopped smiling and I stopped feeling. I had become an empty shell and learned the right cues of normal interaction so I could flawlessly work my way through the system.
My parents would tell me that I was such a happy child. My grades were fine, I appeared to have friends and the moods were put down to puberty. They said that everything would be fine but that they didn’t have time to talk right now. When we went for dinners with the family, they told me I should talk more, look happier. They started saying I was ruining the supposedly fun occasions. You used to be such a happy child, they’d say, we don’t know what to do to make you happy.
“And I want a moment to be real. Wanna touch things I don’t feel,
Wanna hold on and feel I belong.”
When I was about to move to the UK Dad said I should mention I’m Dutch because it made me unique at a British university; people would be interested, he’d say. I thought I should make an effort to get rid of my accent. At university, my friends would ask me how to say certain words in Dutch and I’d shrug and say I wasn’t interested. I was quick to point out that I didn’t care about being Dutch; I was simply there to live my life, specifically not in the Netherlands. When I returned for holidays on some occasions I started appreciating where I came from. I decided that I am simply a person, European perhaps or just a citizen of the world.
Around when I was 18, I was at a German summer festival with my then best friend, together with her boyfriend and her parents. When I had come out, she and another friend and I had made a fan video with kissing girls and slowly I had started to embrace myself more. At this festival, as we were walking in this open space she took my hand and held it. I felt alive, anxious and happy, thinking how this was okay because she and I were just friends so no one could say anything. At the same time, no one knew we were just friends so I felt like I was proudly acknowledging my sexuality. My first gay pride which we attended together in South Korea gave me a similar feeling of belonging.
Still, I couldn’t sleep at night while having to live my ordinary life. I didn’t understand why nothing felt real and why I couldn’t feel. To escape, I’d close my eyes and imagine this underground type of cave in which my friends and I had been taken captive and were left behind bars in the dark. I could vaguely hear mumbled voices and footsteps move around until someone would get me to be interrogated first. The anticipation, fear and humiliation made me feel things I couldn’t quite explain but it felt right. I’d blink and look at the walls of my room once more; no one could know about this; there was nowhere I belonged.
“And you see the things they never see. All you wanted, I could be,
Now you know me and I’m not afraid.”
Back in 2014, I wrote this text titled ‘To Darkness,’ in rather poorly written English. In it, I’m trying to convey that I’m struggling to accept myself. Feeling a desire towards BDSM is bad, it is dark, but I have started questioning if it’s truly bad. Are we wrong for following our desires, I ask. Is there harm when no harm is done and am I dysfunctional for being who I am?
I say that the answer is no and that there is nothing wrong with my desires, but it feels like society is watching me from behind, quietly judging me. As a result, I pull away, then return when I have to fulfil this need, pull away again, return, over and over and over.
Then she stepped into the frame that was completely black; to scare me, I supposed. And maybe I was scared, I admit, but society would not be able to see without any light. In the dark, the only way we could find each other was by feeling the other and for that, I had to know her and she had to know me. If she could accept me then maybe so could I without needing the approval of society.
“And I wanna tell you who I am, Can you help me be a man?”
Before I met Lois, I had successfully managed to suppress all that I wrote about in ‘To Darkness’. The ‘she’ I mention there is Lisa, a Domme who meant a lot to me but life on her end abruptly cut things off. After opening up like that without anything to hold onto, I couldn’t function anymore. I had to bury myself in order to survive and all my previous desires and fantasies no longer existed.
Conversation with Lois was sporadic and if I’m honest, I was very sceptical of her, thinking she wasn’t reading me well at all. Months down the line this changed and it felt like she could acknowledge a part of me I had lost. I started wanting to open myself up to her, thinking she might be able to see me, and help me, be me.
The rest of that story is still being written on this blog under the slogan ‘my journey of becoming a slave’. I now identify as a slave within the BDSM community and feel happy with who I am and where my journey might take me next. A testament to that is all the words and pictures I share with you here.
“I’m the one now Cause I’m still here,
I’m still here.”
And I’m not going anywhere.
The lyrics throughout this post are from the song Still here by The Goo Goo Dolls.