Imagine the typical skinny tall kid in high school, with horrible acne (volcano-like), queer as fuck and also a full-time heavy metal and industrial music fan (thank you Trent Reznor). Yes, that was me, and those attributes didn't quite make me a popular kid in school, where I was actually bullied on a daily basis.
Don't worry, I won't get Freud deep here, but let's just say I never felt 100% comfortable in my own skin (and that feeling lasted till very recently). Whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, I almost felt alienated and even disconnected from reality.
When I was growing up the fetish world grabbed my attention on multiple occasions, but limited to its simplest and dumbest forms: a) pin-up girls buying corsets, high heels and one of those plastic floggers you see on cheap softcore porn from the 90s; or b) meeting a few gimps in full body latex suits, with a ball gag, following orders and barely revealing a personality of their own.
These two parts of the fetish world didn't really click with me, and somehow, I felt I was missing the big picture.
Fetish officially hit me when I turned 33. I was in a bear party in Barcelona where sexy bears and otters were almost naked and wearing nothing but harnesses. As any logical gay man, the first thing I did the next day was to buy myself a leather harness.
Let me put it this way: I didn't just find a fetish; I had found religion. After I got my harness on I didn't feel like taking it off at all (except when going to the office), and it clearly became my go-to outfit on a daily basis (my vanilla ex-husband back then was a bit annoyed by it, sorry love).
As with most kinky people, the harness was just the beginning of a long road to more and more gear that doesn't seem to ever stop. Strangely though, the more gear I tried on the more in tune I felt with myself. My harness, leather apron, leather mask, etc… they all made me feel extremely comfortable in my own skin and to happily embrace all my flaws and bring them to the light.
Sure it wasn't just the gear, I slowly started trying out some SM activities like CBT, getting spanked, flogged, caned and a wide variety of impact-play activities, but most importantly the change came when I started attending events and socialising with more kinksters (not just on a sexual basis, but also).
It isn't like I fully accepted myself overnight right after I found the fetish and kinky communities. It actually took time and effort to attend meetings, talk to different people, ask as many questions as I could, and overcoming my fears of telling people what actually turned me on (imagine being in a room surrounded by other kinksters and suddenly raising your hand to say out loud: "Hi, my name is John, and I'm a painpig ").
Also, having a Master who's not only patient but also charismatic - helping me out and having open conversations - has been extremely important for me and made me realize many aspects of my personality that I didn't even know before.
The best moment comes when you slowly start opening up and sharing your feelings about those 'dark' areas. You might realise they're just completely normal and acceptable behaviours that many people share (OK, accepting myself as a painpig/painslut did take a bit of time, but once I embraced it, it made life so much easier and funnier, and most importantly it is teaching me to place limits ).
Nowadays I no longer have any acne nor am I a skinny little kid. Some days I might feel more vulnerable, but it happens less and less often. The more I embrace those dark feelings, the more comfortable I feel in my own skin, and the insecurities have slowly been driven away and given space to more confidence (without being cocky), not afraid of opening up and to smile more often (even when I'm not getting flogged).
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