I wake up, still sleepy. I'm alone in my bed, it's Sunday. My apartment is clean and tidy.
However, if you go back a few years, it would have been different story. There would be used glasses with GHB/GBL in them, plates with fine white powder (whatever was on offer) and there might even have been a glass pipe or a syringe or two. And all my fetish gear would be laying everywhere, like I had put on a fetish fashion show.
It was not a pretty sight!
But this article is more about what comes after, after all the chaos and mayhem.
When I started my recovery, I had been told to give up my fetish, as it would be too triggering (wanting to use), so I should just get rid of it all and forget about it. I would say, and this might be true for some, that those who discover fetish during their drug addiction may struggle to split the two or they'll just find it's not for them anymore. But of course, it is not impossible for or me. I had fetish before I started using drugs and so badly wanted to get back to where I came from and learn how to enjoy it all again.
In the first two years from my rock bottom, in October 2016, I had only used my fetish gear if I had a relapse/lapsed (used drugs). So, I more or less vanished from the fetish scene to keep my-self safe, and if I did go out, there was so much anxiety I could barely be myself. There was a lot of anger and grief around not being able to do what I did before, and also learning that I might not be as much a social butterfly as I thought. It was all hidden behind alcohol, drugs and not real-ly connecting with anyone.
I had to take a good look at my past, my childhood and my relationships with friends and family. I had to be 100% honest about what was going on with me and my head, not just the pretty picture being painted in well edited status updates and filtered photographs. There was a lot of baggage I had to unpack, to understand where some of my trigger points came from - not feeling good enough and/or even lovable. This also comes from a very unhealthy getaway into sex in my teen years (14-15years of age), engaging with some older guys for validation, to find the "love" I so craved. I am still working on all this and I will probably never stop.
Fetish sex can now be an anxious affair, especially when there is too much of a "plan" for the ses-sion. My brain can go into meltdown with thoughts of: "am I good enough", "will I be able to live up to his expectations" or any other horrible thing you could think of. I find it easier now to just have sex, not having too many plans and then seeing how it goes, be it vanilla or fetish sessions. The more expectations, the more anxiety, which in some cases can make me pull the plug and cancel. I had to learn with sex, my mental health comes first, which means it is more important than any cock, SURPRISE!
There are things I don't or can't do now, boundaries I have set myself, as before I would have just gone along with it, as I was too high to say no, or because it was the norm. I spent too much time on trying to fit into a box of what a fetish man should be, look and behave like, and see where it got me, a drug addiction, bad anxiety and sometimes crippling fear.
I spent most of my 20s in a drug-induced haze, so coming out again in my early 30s, I have been playing catch up, mentally. One of the big reasons drug addiction is so hard to beat, is your mental development kind of stops, and when you start getting clearer headed, all your emotions comes back. Not in an orderly fashion, but in one big mess. Getting all those pieces back in place takes time, especially if you don't have the tools to do so, and sometimes relapse is just easier and less painful. I've done a lot of growing up the last few years, so now at 35, with nearly 3 years drug free under my belt, I can start seeing what I want out of my fetish and what it means to me.
I now advocate #SoberIsSexy, which is a great passion of mine.
This involves organising my sober socials - #GoingInDry! - being open and honest on twitter, when I have a great sober session and being there for others when they ask for advice on sober sex. That said I am no expert; I just have my own experiences.
I also know when to be on my own and to recharge mentally, which means I have to be there for myself, before I can there for others. I need to have my sleep, preferable not going out two nights in a row, not spending too much time on dating/sex apps, and just being more kind to myself.
When going to a fetish event, one thing I have learned is that, even if I have purchased my ticket, got into my sleazier outfit and ready for good time, if my head says no, I should go home and just accept it. Before I would cover it up and just push through. But you know what, if you are having a shit time, you are allowed to go home. Why I could not see that before, I think it might come with experiences, but also due to the fact I am completely sober now, (apart from a red bull – that's as strong as it gets) when I go out.
I can remember the first time I noticed I felt good being in fetish gear again, so I could start to reconnect with my fetish and sex properly.
I was sitting on an underground, on my way to The Backstreet (London) in my leather jeans. I was sitting there, groping my leg without thinking, feeling the leather, the extra layer of skin on top of my own and I realised that I was so excited by the leather and the feeling it gave me and not what drugs I used to take when wearing it years back. It took time and work, A LOT OF WORK, but don't let that scare you off, as in the end it is worth it.
Why do I write these things and why am I this honest about some very personal stuff? Not be-cause I want adoration, but because I know someone will read this and get some sort of comfort of thinking "Oh, it's not just me!". So, to quote CS Lewis:
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
If you have a great time out, drinking and doing drugs, I am happy for you. I sometimes wish I could still do all those things, but the long and the short of it is, I cannot. I am okay with that now, though, as my life is so much better for it.
So if you have been affected by anything I have said or you know someone who is struggling, you are far from alone and there are people who will help you and love you till you can learn to love yourself.
It's that first step in saying "I'm not okay, please help me" that can be the hardest. That could be issues with drugs/alcohol or just depression/anxiety which is normally something that can lead to addiction (self-medicating).
I have had to come out many times in my life, as gay, as a fetish man, as an addict and as some-one who suffers with mental issues. Nevertheless, all of this is okay, as long as I am honest and try to be a better fetish man every day.
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