[F4TFriday] How Many Masks ?

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If there’s one thing I find really hard to come to terms with in personal relationships, it is taking things at face value.


It’s not that affection was missing in childhood, it was there at a very long arms length and never deliberately expressed.  I do not have a single memory of being hugged or kissed by either of my parents.  It’s the kind of thing that leaves its dark mark in later life where questioning and doubting expressions of affection is the first reaction.  It embeds the notion of “I’m not worthy” into anything but the most transactional social relationship.  It leaves you wondering why is this person spending time with me ?  Are they really my friend ?  Are they just doing me a favour ?

I knew I was worthy in other aspects of life, never a question on ability at work, yet always a problem in personal relationships.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, avoiding personal situations where sex might be an expectation is classic asexual behaviour, though at the time it just compounded all the doubts about social and emotional adequacy.

I think this is one reason I found the path of D/s so attractive – and then so damned difficult.

I knew from the start with my former mistress (I’ll call her P to save typing) that as a lifestyle domme she had several subs.  Each one of us provided something different and each of us got a different mask from her in turn.  I never asked how many or what they meant to her, though one or two would crop up in conversation.  I’m not poly, so I accepted the mask she portrayed to me knowing that I probably didn’t have the emotional fortitude to know much about any of the others.

And with the mask that P showed me I could understand that I fulfilled the part of her that loved chastity.  And she took me on one hell of a ride with it.

The complication was when I became her personal sub, not just someone she played with to fulfill some aspect of her dominant nature.  I was slowly allowed to see the masks come away in their many layers.  To a degree that just set off even more questions of which one was the real her ?  How much face value could I take from the current mask ?

By not asking, I never knew at the time that there were no other personal subs, I just assumed there were and mentally set up the necessary walls and boundaries.  Despite the desire to play with different people she was essentially monogamous and I was chosen.  I wish I’d known and been able to understand that so long ago.

When she turned professional as a domme P really educated me about masks and roles.  She needed so many to protect herself from clients.

There was so much we couldn’t say to each other back then.  Things we’ve since learned by talking when we get together for lunch or dinner.  The P I knew by the end of the D/s relationship wore no mask for me, except for the mental pain she was in.  She kept that hidden to protect me – I wish she hadn’t, but that’s what we do to those we love.

And that’s the real kicker here.  I know now from when we talk that she loved me and cared deeply for me from an early stage.  And although I’m no longer “hers”, she still does in a different and perhaps more complete way.  Things I would half-cynically question back then – “What role is it that’s showing this affection ?  When will it stop or change ?”

And what about my own feelings ?  I loved her deeply, initially for what she was as a domme, then as a person and at last as a friend.  My fear of being exposed and hurt when the mask changed or she switched attention / affection to those assumed others left me unable to express it or accept her feelings at the face value they actually were.

My realisation only came much later, when we started to have some very deep talks about those years.  She’d been in therapy since she stopped being a domme and I heard a lot of new revelations.  I heard how I was the one bright spot in that existence.  How I’m the only one one from that world she still knows and wants to see.  How amidst the depression and C-PTSD I’m the only non-family member to have been in her house for years.  That in certain areas I know more than her therapist.

By now I was dealing with a different relationship, a different and more complicated set of masks and that gave me a better understanding, you might say that I finally had the emotional maturity to accept that P loved me for who I was / am.  There was no caveat.  No questioning the apparent irrationality of it, the desire of the engineer to find rational first causes.

If this was an episode of a US soap opera, we’d now be on the final scene where today’s happy moral lesson is cheerily disseminated with schmaltz.


Some ten or twelve years after I first heard words of affection from P that bounced off the walls built to the mantra of “I’m not worthy”, I finally had to believe them.  To realise that I was and am worthy of another’s love and affection for no discernible reason other than that I’m me.

There’s a significant key here.  It was P who first saw melody in the deepest recesses of who I was and named her.  From the first time she discerned melody, she never thought of me as male.  Getting a bit deep here, but I think that her love was primarily for melody rather than the male host, though there obviously was some cross over.  This is a lot clearer in some of our discussions, which in more recent times have been with melody rather than any residual legacy of ‘him’.

As melody I’m far more emotionally attuned for this to resonate.  Able to listen to nice things being said about me and instinctively know they are heartfelt rather than shrivel inside like an emotional cripple.

I’m aware that the tone of this post is close to fishing for compliments and validation.  It really is not meant for that purpose.  The validation came when I learned that, at least as melody, I can be comfortable as the object of someone’s love and affection – I just wish that it hadn’t taken so damned long to sink in.

#F4TFriday prompt #109 ‘Face Value’.
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