My Secret

It was a t-shirt weather day in Orange County. I just got in the night before and was staying at my sister’s house. She was at work that day. I was still in my pj’s sitting at the kitchen island, answering emails on my computer when my mom came over.

Hi Mom.

Hi “con” (which means child in Vietnamese)

She looked tired and concerned. She told me to come sit next to her in the family room. She had something to tell me.

I wondered what that was about?

She said she had been waiting for me to come home to talk to me about this in person.

Hmm..my mind went to her health, is she sick? Does she have cancer?

Is everything okay? I asked.

She said that she knows what I’ve been doing.

Hmm what is she talking about?

She said my sister told her about my job. And the “bad things” I  do to men.

Holy fuck.

Then she filled me in.. Apparently, my sister had come to her (last month) crying hysterically and told her how I have this job where disturbed men have me do obscene and terrible things to them. I tie them up. I beat them. And it was just a matter of time before I would be assaulted by them or arrested, and my whole academic career would be ruined. When my sister tried to show her the photos and videos of my website as evidence of my depraved work, my mom had to look away. She told me that she felt like her insides were being ripped out. That gut-wrenching nausea that my mom was describing to me, I felt all of it in my own stomach when her words started to sink in.

Was this really happening?

The secret I had kept from her for a decade and thought I could take to her grave had been handed to her by my sister, like a heap of filthy dirty laundry. Now this is her dirty secret to hide as well. And there was nothing I could do or say to take it back and protect her from it.

I really wanted to tell her it wasn’t true, because I knew that’s what she wanted to hear–a nice, clean white lie. I wanted time to rewind back to that moment before the truth came out. Because I can feel the pain of reality was just too much for her to bear.

But it was too late, the walls of my carefully constructed double life came crashing down and she saw all of me and I had nowhere to hide. And just like that I saw her image of me in her eyes unravel: her valedictorian, Bill Gates scholar, PhD golden child, the one she never had to worry about, the one she always loved boasting about, her point of pride had now become her deepest pain and  greatest shame. She told me that nobody can know about this, that her daughter, the one with such a bright future ahead of her, was actually doing this.

There was no word for what I did in Vietnamese. Or at least I don’t know what the translation is for ‘sexworker’ or ‘dominatrix.’ I tried explaining to her what I did. How the men I saw were not “crazy.” How they were, in fact, the sweetest and kindest people I know. They were lawyers, businessmen, managers, students, normal people who just wanted an outlet.  I told her about my slaves, men who were alone in their desires, and some who couldn’t make changes in their lives for themselves. But for me, they would do anything, they could even curb their addictions, change their diet and lifestyle and tap into their well of creativity.  In me, they found a muse and a catalyst for change and self-improvement. It was just a different but highly effective form of drama-therapy. Through consensual pain and submission, I could heal people in pain. To my surprise, my mom, this super traditional, conservative immigrant from VIetnam, listened, and kinda got it. But in spite of that, I could tell, she still couldn’t accept it. “What would people think?” she asked. That trumped everything in her mind. “Please don’t let us lose face,” she pleaded to me, “You have to quit.”

For weeks after, I thought about it. Quitting. I thought about all the amazing relationships I’ve built these past ten years. I thought about who I am, a healer, an empath, an explorer, and how this job has allowed me to be all of that. I thought about my freedom, how I’m the Mistress of my own time. And wherever I am, and whoever I’m with, it’s where I want to be. I thought about all the women that I have mentored into becoming professional dominatrices and how much joy I got out of being a Domme Mom. Instead of having babies, I bring awesome, beautiful pro dommes into the world. I thought about how rare it is to find your passion in your work. I thought about how with every year, I find more meaning in my work and I love what I do more and more, to the point where I know that this is my calling. I thought about how lucky I am to have stumbled upon this world and have, literally, made a name for myself, though it. I thought about this unconventional life that I’ve carved for myself that fits weirdo me so perfectly.

But I was stuck. How do I live the life I want to live, yet still be a good daughter? And by good daughter (by Asian parent standards), I mean 1) making your parents proud and 2) never making your parents worry about you.

“You can’t make mom happy being a dominatrix, “ my sister  told me. And for the longest time I thought that was true. That’s why I kept Colette, my pro domme persona, a secret from my family. Because I thought they wouldn’t understand it and would try to squash it, which is true, because that’s what they’re doing now that they know.  But then I realized there’s a reason why most people, like my folks, don’t understand this thing I do, that looks so dark and immoral from the outside. It’s because those who are on the inside, like me, keep it a secret. We keep this shadow part of ourselves private, in fear of not being understood. But it’s actually our very secret that perpetuate the misconceptions surrounding it.

My secret is the reason why my family doesn’t understand me.

That was a revelation.

And then I also realized that I’ve been operating in this rigid binary of either I quit being a dominatrix or else my folks can’t be happy.

I actually need to believe that there is a world

where I can be a dominatrix

and everybody will understand and accept me.

And that’s when I thought, Wait..

What if I create that world?