If you follow me on Twitter, you know by now that my boy has contracted Covid and is close to dying, although the most recent word I’ve had is that his condition improved modestly overnight. Thank you to everyone who has offered words of support, prayer, and thoughts. They are very much appreciated. Truly.
I’m currently pretty helpless, so writing something about Alex is a way for me to process my thoughts and feel just a tiny bit more in control (and we all know how important control is for a dom…). As you’ll learn, there’s a LOT to this story.
Alex only came to me right around the start of June this year. 2-3 years previously he had experienced a couple really traumatic experiences caused by two very bad Doms, and, in his words, “I crawled into my hole.” Despite having had an incredibly active and enthusiastic sex life for 45 years, he just retreated from sex, kink, and the world in general, and went into pure survival mode, terrified that the first of the two shitty Doms would track him down.
But he ran across my blog on Twitter and followed it, and found some of what I had to say compelling. According to him, it took him months to work up the confidence to message me, but he found my posts about ethical kink reassuring.
I got his message pretty early in the day, maybe around 9 or 10am. And we messaged pretty much constantly throughout the day. He opened up about the two bad doms and late in the evening he commented that he’d told me more about his life in one day than he had told pretty much anyone ever. There are a lot of reasons that Alex holds everything close to his chest, but it felt good to be the guy he was able to trust to share his pain with. Within a few days, it was clear to me that he was ready to start working through some of his problems, even though he didn’t really realize that’s what he was doing.
And he had a LOT of pain. Early on, I told him that he had my word I wouldn’t do anything to harm him, and he started panicking, although I couldn’t tell why. He said “I just threw up on myself.” Eventually, as we talked about it, he revealed that one of the bad doms had said the exact same thing using the exact same phrasing, and he suddenly felt like he was talking to that dom again. I realized then that Alex had some genuine trauma, strong enough to trigger something akin to a flashback for him. For reasons that perhaps I’ll go into in a later post, an attempt at getting him into formal therapy went very badly, and we decided that for the time being, therapy wasn’t a good choice for him.
On paper, Alex’ life was a hot mess. He had multiple crises he was trying to cope with at the same time. Maybe I’ll go into detail about those in a later post. And he repeatedly told me, “I should just crawl back into my hole. I don’t want to be a bother to you.” I admit that he pinged my Rescue Daddy tendencies pretty strongly.
But here’s the thing. Alex is an incredible guy. He’s lived a life most people can’t imagine. As we chatted, he would casually mention things he’d done, not in a bragging way, but just as simple facts of his life. I dare say there aren’t many people who have had dinner with Harper Lee (you know–you read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school) and posed for Tom of Finland. He would mention some detail of his life in passing and I’d say “Wait–what?” And then he’d tell me a story that usually left me laughing by the end.
Have you ever met someone and you knew immediately that they mattered to you? I had that with Alex. His life was a mess, but it was also bursting with potential unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Even depressed, despondent, overwhelmed with problems, Alex was alive in a way I’ve never seen. Desperate to live even as he was afraid his life was over. As Annie Lennox once sang, Alex is “an electric wire stuck inside my brain.”
Alex discovered gay sex when he was about 15, in 1973, and he discovered kinky sex almost immediately thereafter. And from the moment he discovered kink, he threw himself into it with a rare passion. He got thrown out of the Mineshaft, New York City’s notorious leather bar, when he was 16. He was a major figure in the West Coast gay leather scene from the early 80s into the 90s.
Which of course means that he was at the epicenter of the AIDS Crisis. He didn’t like to think about that part of his life, but when I prodded him, he would tell me heartbreaking stories of beautiful young men like Drake, the up-and-coming architect who wore his leathers to the office and died at 33; his parents refused to come to the funeral. He finally left San Francisco when he realized that his entire circle of close friends had died. “I was the only one left, ” he told me mournfully. “I had to get out of there.” The only reason he survived was he was exclusively a top.
But about 5 years ago, something flipped in his brain and he decided to start exploring subbing. And that’s when the problems began. He was as passionate about being submissive as he was about being dominant. He wanted to go all the way, because Alex doesn’t do anything by half-measures. And like many subs, he had trouble figuring out how to keep himself safe while still giving himself whole-heartedly to his dom. Had he been able to build boundaries more effectively, he would have been able to avoid the two bad doms who preyed on him and victimized him in terrible ways.
I don’t want to talk about what they did, not yet. The stories he told me were truly awful. They make my blood boil, especially because he had a minefield of trauma reactions from what one of them did to him. We would just be talking and he would suddenly start panicking and I would have to walk him through breathing exercises to calm him down. That slowly got better as the months went by. I said I’ve only known him for five months, but in the first two months or so, he must have had 20 such attacks.
I said that Alex was ready to work on his problems, and here’s the remarkable thing. Since I’ve known him, I’ve seen him undergo remarkable emotional growth. I’m not a professional therapist (although having done a good amount of therapy myself, I do know a few basic techniques for helping people), but I’m a very good listener and I know how to ask good questions. As I got to know him and as we talked through some of his issues, the frequency of his panic attacks declined sharply. His last was almost a month ago. He started finding a language for his feelings. (Reading my novels really helped with that, apparently.)
Although Alex was extremely active as a kinkster, he came from a period before there was any real discussion about kink, kink ethics, and the like. As he said to me recently, “Back then I never heard anyone talk about consent. If I wanted to do something with a boy, I just did it. I’d walk up to the boy, pull out my dick, and piss in his pocket, and he’d do anything I told him to.” (He met one of his best friends that way.) So he’d never had to do much thinking about why he wanted what he wanted or how to express it or how to navigate the challenges of being a sub. So when we would talk, he would occasionally say, “Oh my god, Sir! You just explained something I’ve felt for years!”
As a sub, Alex’ problem was that he responded to anyone he perceived as dominant. They became his “Boss”, and it was his job to do what the Boss wanted, no questions asked. That’s how he got in trouble with those two shitty doms. But it wasn’t just kinksters Alex responded to that way. It was anyone he felt was “higher up the pole”.
Alex is a strange contrast. He is both an extremely capable guy and a guy in desperate need of protection and guidance. He was a successful businessman for 30 years.
“I used to show up to business negotiations on my Harley and in my leathers.”
I laughed. “Because it intimidated them?”
His turn to laugh. “No,” he said, like I had just said something really stupid. “Because they would assume that I was just some dumb biker, and that meant I had the upper hand. By the end of the negotiations, their pants would be down around their ankles and I’d have gotten everything I wanted to get from them.”
But as a sub, he couldn’t figure out how to be at the bottom of the pole and still do “top of the pole stuff”. How could he negotiate with people if he was just supposed to obey them? His instincts as a submissive were to make concessions. “Because then they’ll like me and be nice to me.” As I helped him navigate a variety of problems, I had to repeatedly tell him that such an approach wouldn’t work. But as we worked on that, he gradually started figuring out how to do it. I helped him figure out rules to decide who he should submit to and who he shouldn’t. This last Monday, he stood up to a couple of people who had been bullying him and got them to not only back off, but come around to helping him with things he needed done. I was so proud of him when he told me about that.
Over the course of our time together, I moved from giving him advice to giving him orders. We both realized that he needed that. As I helped him navigate various problems he was dealing with, he came to trust me to a remarkable extent. He would get a bad idea in his head and fixate on it (his bad ideas usually involved running away from the problem), and almost inevitably our conversation would go something like this.
“I’m going to do X.” (X differed, but it was usually the wrong way to try to solve the problem.)
“Don’t do X. That’s a stupid idea.” (Alex liked feeling dumb, so I that’s how I would phrase it.)
“No, Sir. This is what I’m gonna do.”
“No. You’re going to do Y. If you do X, it will have the following unintended consequences.” <Lists several things Alex hadn’t thought about.>
“But I don’t wanna do Y. I wanna do X.”
“I don’t care. I’m the Boss. You’ll do as I say. And I say you’re doing Y.”
<wordless noise of frustration, followed by deep sigh> “Yes, Sir.”
After he went off and did Y, he’d come back and say, “That totally worked, Sir. You’re right. X was a stupid idea.”
“That’s why I’m the brains of this outfit.”
Several times he said, “Just once, I want to be right and you be wrong. But you’re not. You’re always right.”
The problem was that X almost always involved either running away from the problem or doing something that would hurt him in the long run. On more than one occasion, X was “put everything into my car and leave the city.” Like I said, he’d panic when he couldn’t see a solution to a problem, and when he panicked, he almost invariably made things worse for himself unless I could rein him in.
Because what Alex needed was not having to make decisions. He was excellent at carrying out orders, as long as he understood them, but like a lot of subs, decision-making was a problem. In his case, decision-making made him feel like he was “climbing the pole”, and that was exactly the thing he didn’t want to do. So decision-making left him profoundly confused. He knew how to make decisions, but he didn’t know how to make decisions and be a sub at the same time.
Alex has a malignant brain tumor. Unless it is successfully operated on, he probably won’t last another six months. To have it operated on, he has to do 5 rounds of radiation therapy. I don’t know if you’ve ever done radiation, but it’s unpleasant. He would come back from a session feeling nauseous, vomiting, his body hurting, struggling to do anything except lie on the bed. The next day would feel really shitty. The day after that felt better, but exhausted. And three days later, he had to do it again. The night before, he would start to panic.
“I’m gonna skip it this time. I’ll just wait a week. That will be ok.”
“You can’t. This has to be done on a set schedule. Otherwise it will give the tumor time to recover.”
“But it feels so awful!”
“I know, boy. But you have no choice.”
“I can’t. I can’t do it. I just can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”
“You can do it, boy. I know you can. You’ve done it before.”
“Please don’t make me do this! I can’t.”
“Well, you don’t get a choice in this matter. You’re doing it because I say you’re doing it.” (And I was saying that because he literally didn’t have a choice. He was gonna die if he didn’t.)
<wordless noise of frustration> “Yes, Sir.”
And the next morning, he would get up and go do the radiation.
I’ve heard many stories about masters testing subs during play scenes–giving them mindfuck decisions, forcing them to do humiliating tasks, and the like, to see how obedient they are. But I’ve never heard of a sub doing something that was genuinely excruciatingly unpleasant simply because his master was ordering him to do it. And, sadly, this wasn’t actually the most intensely unpleasant thing I had to order him to do. Maybe I’ll write about that in a later post, but right now I’m not ready to.
No matter what it was, no matter how unpleasant it was, no matter how badly Alex wanted to do X, he always did what I ordered him to do. Sometimes I had to crack the whip over him harshly, but he always did it. And that made me so incredibly proud of him. I feel so extraordinarily humbled by the way he put his faith in me and my leadership and thanked me for always making the right choice, the choice he needed made but couldn’t make for himself. Subs sometimes talk about how they are willing to walk through hell for their doms. Alex was actually doing it.
He was feeling pretty sick the night before his last scheduled radiation treatment, worse than usual. But I told him that all he had to do was get through the next day’s treatment and he’d start to feel better. The radiation would be done with, he’d start to get his energy back over the next couple days, he’d stop feeling nauseous. Then he could have the brain surgery that would save his life. We discussed what collaring him might look like.
He felt even worse the next morning but he got to the hospital.
Then he texted me that at the hospital, he had tested positive for Covid. Within a few hours he said they were putting him on a “breather”.
The last thing he texted to me, several hours later, was “So sorry.”
And I know what he was saying. He was lying there in that hospital room, facing a potentially fatal disease, and he was desperate to apologize to me for not getting that last treatment that I had ordered him to get. It kills me that he thought he was failing me when he has always, consistently, made me so overwhelmingly proud of him and he’s managed to fight his way through a mountain of obstacles and challenges just because I told him to. He would say it was hopeless, I’d explain why it wasn’t, and he’d do what I said, even when he wasn’t sure he could do it.
He was the most remarkable slave I’ve ever met. And I may never get to see him again. He may die alone in a hospital room. And I’ll get to find out a little bit of how he felt when he left San Francisco.