How BDSM Saved My Life At 55-Years-Old

Photographer- Craig White

It's true. I never thought I'd be working in the most famous bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) dungeon in New York City. Not to mention that I'd start at the ripe age of 55. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would kick a man straight in the balls wearing six-inch heels, blood-red lipstick, black eye shadow, and false eyelashes, I would have kicked you out of my house.

I was a holistic practitioner who lost my award-winning wellness practice in the wake of the Great Recession. I was 55, with no prospects, no financial savings, no family members who would help, and friends seemed to vanish into thin air. I found myself on my own with no hope in sight. But between the thoughts of despair, worthlessness, and even suicide, I had this little voice inside of me that kept saying, "I am resourceful."

Then one day, out of nowhere, came the idea of becoming a professional dominatrix.

At the time of my emotional and financial bankruptcy I was working to earn my PhD in Metaphysical Science, studying female sexual empowerment and researching the transmutation of sexual energy. As a student of empowerment and sexuality, I wanted so badly to "walk the walk" and apply these principles I had studied and believed to my own life. But no matter how hard I tried to talk myself into such a possibility, there was nothing in my reality telling me that it was possible.

Who would hire a 55-year-old woman with no experience whatsoever as a dominatrix?

I alternated between excited hope and logical despair. I was also struggling with many negative social influences that told me how wrong I would be to make such a decision. At the same time, I felt that I needed to be true to myself and that the experience could empower me as a woman. I somehow understood that this would set me free from my own judgmental perceptions (formed through social standards) of how a woman should behave and follow the "rules." I also hoped it might get me back on my feet financially.

Then, after weeks of persuasion, I finally convinced a New York City BDSM dungeon to grant me an in-person interview. I started my dominatrix training three days later, and just like that, the scariest thing I ever did led me into the most empowering experience of my life.

Photographer- Craig White

The dungeon was an extreme learning environment, to be sure, but during my time there I learned to truly accept other people with an open mind and an open heart. By practicing BDSM, I've come to understand that people are different and have very different desires, sexualities, hopes, dreams, loves, purposes, ambitions, and styles. And all of it is good. In the very beginning, I had to ask myself: If something or someone brings us genuine joy, happiness, pleasure, and love, how can that be wrong?

It's funny now to look back at how scared I was, walking for the first time into a subculture of domination and submission, but I am glad every day that I found the courage to walk down those dark and mucky stairs for my first interview. In my time at the dungeon working as a professional dominatrix, I met some of the most amazing, confident women I've ever known.

One young Mistress of about 25 put it best when she told me and the other Mistresses, "I am so amazed by all of you. Your positive impact will influence my self-confidence for the rest of my life."

Photographer- Craig White

Like her, I too will be inspired by those women and experiences for my entire life. No longer do I judge or make assumptions about people and their sexualities. The dark and stormy night of my interview was the beginning of my transformation into a more grateful, prosperous, loving, compassionate, trusting, curious, playful, and confident woman -- all because, when I lost everything, I saw it as an opportunity to create the life of my dreams.

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