Dear Sweet & Low,
The older I’ve gotten, the more intense my need to see taboo fetishes. I’m attracted by smoking women. I’ve always been into pain and the sadistic side of play. I don’t normally like pain unless it’s emotional manipulation, but when I see women who can take a beating and ask for more, it’s arousing. My go-to fantasy started in my late twenties. I’m a slave to a woman dressed in a latex catsuit. She’s chain-smoking. She knows I don’t like smoke and blows it in my face. She laughs at me and my discomfort. The deeper I get into the fantasy, the rougher it gets. She uses my mouth as an ashtray. She threatens to burn me with the cherry. She digs her heels into my hands while I kneel in front of her, and she kicks me in the side. I’m a criminal defense lawyer. On stressful days, which are most days, I need the intensity of those thoughts to push me over the edge.
I grew up in an era where everyone smoked. You could light up on a plane, a bus, a restaurant; it was a normal part of life. Both of my parents smoked, and both quit in their fifties. My grandmother smoked until she died at the age of 97. She was a hellion before it became fashionable, and the matriarch of our family.
I don’t smoke, never have. I don’t imagine myself smoking in the fantasy. The irony here: I’m allergic to smoke. Even vape smoke makes me feel like my throat is closing. Instead of smoking, I drink copious amounts of caffeine and alcohol and could stand to lose forty pounds or so. I don’t exercise. I’ve never partaken in illegal drugs. Everything I can’t imagine doing myself, I want my fantasy woman to do in excess.
I’ve accepted my proclivities to a point. I see various dominatrixes when I travel, but it’s difficult to find a Mistress that is as hardcore as I’d like. I see a mix of women in my life: cogent, intelligent lawyers; desperate, destitute mothers of criminals; hardened, cold-blooded women who grew up in the system. I’m a good man. I’m almost too good, the nice guy. When I’m with a woman, I want to spoil and pamper her. The crueler and more manipulative, the more I feel enslaved by her. It causes a fair amount of shame that I use to continue my over-indulgences.
I’d like to have my cake and eat it too. I want a stable, healthy woman at home to provide companionship and children. I want to be a loyal and loving partner. And I want the badass who doesn’t believe the rules apply to her, who craves and likes the self-abuse, which I enable. I was married briefly, cheated on my wife, told her about it, and let that divorce happen. I gave her everything she wanted in the settlement. I knew I was in the wrong. I’m too old to change, too seasoned by my fantasies to put them to the side, and I refuse to lie about what I want and hurt another woman because of my gluttony.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always be alone. There’s a strange, ebullient serenity in this. It has made room for hobbies, time with my nieces and nephews, and a dedication to my job that has earned me many accolades. I’ve made peace with the shame and regret I feel after a session or fantasy.
I’ve seen my darkest parts. The need for the taboo remains, but I no longer feel the same helplessness or sense of eroticism that came with being manipulated. Have I gotten too old and jaded? If this is so, what’s left to experience?
Smoking Alone, you are not too old, too jaded, or too anything. It is NEVER too late unless you’re in a casket. The mind, psyche, and consciousness, as we understand them, are vast and uncharted. It has set up your fantasy, your lifestyle, and your choices for one purpose: survival. Except in your circumstance, there isn’t a system of checks and balances. You’ve been rewarded for your dedication and punished for your commitment to the fringes. When most of your life is based on amassing wealth and status to portray a worthy image, it’s easy to see how relaxation is translated into weakness and shunned.
Your love of the excess has many benefits. You aren’t half-assing life. You desire a big chunk of the sensory pie, and you go after it. You may feel old, but I think this has to do with an imbalance. You have too much drive, and not enough drift. One side of the spectrum is what you call gluttony. You binge on food, adrenaline, and pain. This overload has de-sensitized you. Luckily, that can be reversed. The other side of voracity is fasting. By purposely abstaining from all activities that endorse and feed your pleasure-receptors, which might go against your grain, it will reset your senses to luxuriate in the nuance. If you’re that guy who likes to swing extremes, this is right up your alley.
Okay, the smoking bit. As you may have read, smoking fetishes start early and persist. They tend to be different depending on your gender and sexual preference, but one element stays consistent. The smoke presents a barrier, the mythological veil representing a bridge between the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown, the dark side and standing in the light. Most smokers remove themselves from situations, work places, loved ones, and high sensory situations to have a “break.” They feel overwhelmed, restless, uncomfortable, and bored. This ramps up their anxiety, and they depend on the habit of smoking and the chemical of nicotine to quiet their nervous systems. Less oxygen to the brain will do that. Nicotine is an upper or stimulant, so technically, a smoker should get an added jolt, but if you’ve smoked for many years, your dependency is critical, your adrenals hampered, and collapse is eminent.
For a long time, smoking was seen as cool. Tobacco companies packed toxicity and additives into those little soldiers, and we know the drill. What was initially used in holistic practices (e.g. smoke baths, tobacco poultices, and the passing of the peace pipe) eventually became a massive addiction, which would further socially castrate those whose coping mechanisms didn’t include deep breathing, pressure-point tapping, and a good long cry. But the coolness factor remains in the eyes of the rebel: a lady in a black dress, red lips taking a drag around a French inhale. And yep, it makes one say, “F*^% support systems.”
From Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Meg Tilly’s character gives some tough love advice to a mom about to pop. Pregnancy porn is also considered dark or taboo kink.
Can you exist in a system of rules and regulations 24/7 without feeling like a pent-up animal in a cage? Not from what I read in your letter. We seem to love pegging people into two categories, the righteous and the criminal, without reprieve. Because your dark-side lady lingers in the taboo, she is a giant middle finger to society—the conventional right/wrong dogma you happen to support as a law-abiding servant of the court. She represents all you cannot be and is the thumb that presses your release valve. Impulsive, persuasive, and aesthetically pleasing, she’s living life on the edge and daring the conventional squares to confront her.
What’s a guy to do? Quit your job, join a meetup of Yoga Preppers, and become an ex-pat in Bali? Maybe. That actually doesn’t sound so bad. But I believe you when you say you’re a nice guy. More than that, you’re a smart guy. You’re also a Captain Save-A-Ho. You see that nasty, naughty girl, and while you envision her self-abuse, you’re looking to save her from herself, and you know how hard the world can be. From the hard-luck stories, the brokenhearted, and the down-trodden, you understand you are blessed. If you can save her, maybe you can save yourself. For whatever reason, you were given a different set of genetics, environments, and resources to survive and thrive. There might be a hefty serving of privileged guilt feeding this behavior.
Now, I’m not one to judge. I’ve been there, done that, and smoked through most of my own Save-A-Ho tendencies. My mindset was one of survival. I was desperate to see one of my peers climb from the boiling pot before it was too late. If I gave them a boost, a pass, an understanding ear, maybe they wouldn’t need their vices. Thriving was a distance wish, not the foreseeable future. We were enabling each other. No matter how successful my endeavors or resplendent my accomplishments, I couldn’t hit the brakes and enjoy it without an external symbol telling me to switch over into relaxation and calm. I loved/hated smoking, but I needed the Me Time. It was only when I met my partner—who didn’t complain about my smoking, but steadfastly dropped hints like “it doesn’t fit who you are”—and surrounded myself with a tribe who worked to understand emotional, physical, and mental abundance that I broke through my emotional wall. Every time I wanted a cigarette, I was choosing to put distance between me and someone to whom I longed to be close.
I worried about my breath, my smell, my teeth, and my fingers. I worried that I would not be a good enough partner. I worried about everything, all the time. I worried, period. Anxiety was and has been my biggest obstacle. I wanted to be away from my partner because that kind of constant intimacy freaked me out. I wanted to be away from my family because they might see I was in pain. I knew who I was, what I was, and what I believed, and I didn’t want those hard-won beliefs questioned. Not being questioned, they weren’t threatened. Not threatened, there was no need to change them. Without stimulus for change, we stagnate and decay. My smoking caused a massive conflict over what I wanted: my stoic individuality or my chance at real relationships with lovers and friends.
My little island of calm was an illusion. The veil between reality and fantasy was an illusion. Can I be a badass bitch dancing in the dark AND a subtle feminine light? Well, yes. Not only can I be both, I need to be both.
What’s more, I need my tribe. I really, really need them. I’m a whole person by myself. I’m an abundant person with them as my team. I can relish in the taboo without getting emotionally attached, reactionary, and judgmental. I can wallow in feeling serene, empowered, and confident in my ability to say “No thanks” when I’m riding the craving train.
The obstacle is the way.
I want to address your use of the word manipulation. I like it. There’s an ownership present I don’t often find outside of Mistress chat. Maybe this is because of your lawyering background. I don’t know many attorneys personally, but those I’ve talked to at this depth of introspection know manipulation for what it is and use it to their advantage.
When we hear the word manipulation, most people have an adverse reaction. Its definition is tied to abuse, cruelty, and abject immoral conduct that verges on pathology. If you are a person who manipulates others, it’s usually not in their best interest, unless it is and you let that be known. In Fetish Land, this is usually the case. The manipulation is requested, rewarded, and discussed in length. To manipulate feelings, responses, and outcomes in a play scene means a high level of human understanding. We say it’s a part of the game. I say it is the game.
A great speaker manipulates the masses with a mix of eloquence and common sense. They speak to the need in a person. They may want a change for the better, but they need to take action and rally behind a purpose that elevates the burden of solitude, apathy, and indifference. No one likes being ignored. It is with great enthusiasm that we latch on to the emotional teat of anyone telling us what we’ve been thinking and feeling, if it appears they have a way out of the tunnel.
When I refer to fasting, I actually mean a 24-to-48-hour water fast. If you feel hungry, avoid all interaction with smokers and smoking videos, and when you start to fantasize, get up and do something else. This means bubble baths, sunbathing, strolling in the park, drinking electrolyte water, light yoga, meditation, rocking out to your favorite big-hair band, and reading books. Anything you’ve been putting off that would be self-loving, now is the time to indulge in its clarity.
If this sounds nonsensical, hear me out. Because you’re hardcore and externally motivated, why not use the same pattern of stimulus/response in a way that is internally focused? Most religions have some sort of fasting to keep humble and clean, but they also do it for visions, emotional highs, and a transcendental journey. I don’t think you’re just looking for the taboo. In fact, all that we consider taboo is rooted in the divine. Incest, suspending from hooks, gender-bending, black lung—all cringe-worthy and suspect, unless you look at why that person is needing to be pushed to the limits. In essence, they are asking for help so they may stop doing what they feel helpless to do.
Those that can take the pain and ask for more are impressive, but they haven’t beaten the system. Death isn’t a threat, it’s an escape.
What is sexy about this? To be clear, I’m not suggesting aversion therapy to get you to stop relying on that fantasy. You tell a head-strong kid NO as they reach into the cookie jar, you just programmed him to want it more. It doesn’t work. I’m suggesting redirection. There’s nothing wrong with your fantasy. It is a mass of information perfectly tailored to you. By looking at the entire picture, that which is sexy and that which isn’t, you have more power in observation. With this break in the constant flow of sensory input, you’re going to see and feel parts of yourself that are just as necessary and intense as your love of the taboo.
You ask what is left to experience? Everything. You think you’ve seen it all? Man, you’re just getting started. If you really like manipulation for all it can do, it’s time to manipulate yourself into a different thought pattern. Take a break. Take a vacation, a very long vacation. Surround yourself with people who demand you be vulnerable and don’t look at you as less than what you are. Date women who aren’t scared of the dark but don’t have to live there. Travel. Breathe. Thank your body for supplying you an easy out in the form of an allergy. Listen. Be quiet. Be still. Then go back to the fantasy and reinvestigate.
You never had to chase after the taboo/divine. It’s been inside you all along.
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