I can still see you as clearly as if you were there right now.
I sit on the edge of the bed locked into your leather straitjacket. It is absurdly huge, a fact that makes you laugh. I do not care. I am restrained. I am wearing you. I am safe. I am happy. Nothing else matters. You sit close, between my knees, the heat of your body warming my bare legs. Concern is a palpable aura surrounding us.
In your hands, the sensory deprivation hood. The one I have looked at with caution and apprehension. You lock eyes with mine and silently ask. I swallow hard, offer a tiny smile and slight nod. You begin speaking about safewords for what seems like the millionth time. I want to be amused. I want to be frustrated. I want to be annoyed but you have instilled in me that this hood and panic go hand in hand. It is only this that keeps my gaze paired with yours, that keeps the hood in your hands at the peripheral. I work on listening to you. I know this is huge.
You talk to me about how you will place the hood on my head for a few moments only. How to find the hole through which I will breathe. How you will confirm that I have found it. How you will take it off quickly. A frown plays across my face. I want you to leave it. I know what hoods mean to you. I want this for you. I need this for you. I ask if we can leave it for a bit. You deny my request but explain we can put it back on.
You ask if I am ready. You ask if I am calm. I assure you that I am. You wait a few beats anyway, making your own assessment. You ask again. I confirm and you move to place the hood on my head. It is ill-fitting. I work to find my air hole. I feel your concern ramp up as I take a few moments to locate it. We work together. I find it. You make me prove it. You prove to me that I can move plenty of air through a seemingly inadequate grommet. You make me talk to you. My voice is so loud in the confinement that it hurts my ears. Before I know it you’ve removed the hood.
You watch me, monitoring my condition. Intensity rolls off you in waves. I assure you that I’m fine. I can see you weighing the truth in my words, deciding if they are the truth or if I’m saying what I think you want to hear out of a desire to please you. I tell you again that I’m doing well.
I want the hood. I want it back on my head. I need this for you. I want this as part of my service to you. I yearn for you to be proud of me. If I were not bound I would reach for it myself. You wait. You ask if I am calm. You place it back on my head. We confirm breath once again. You wait. I think to myself that I don’t really get what the big deal is. There is plenty of air. I’m fine.
You ask if we can tighten the laces. I give my assent and you go to work. The room goes quiet. I hear the laces being pulled, unnaturally loud in my reality. You are rushing. I’m not sure why. The grommet shifts. Panic rises up. I call yellow. You quickly move to take off the hood. I raise my hand palm out. Silently asking you to wait. You want my voice. I don’t want to give it. It hurts my ears. It fuels the panic. You insist. I give it. I just need a moment to regroup. This is a pause, not a stop. After a moment or two, I say that I’m ok. You can continue. You need reassurance. I give it. I dislike giving direction but I’m working too hard to be able to find submissive language.
We do the hold, continue dance a few times more. I’m fighting panic as the hood grows more constrictive. I’m focusing on moving air. It’s all I can handle. You keep asking for my voice. I am resistant. It hurts but I keep giving it, knowing if I don’t, you’ll pull the hood and all will be for naught. Every time I speak the panic gains new purchase. There is something about my amplified voice that the panic feeds on. You tighten the strap over my eyes. It cuts into my upper lids. Again, I say nothing. I need to do this for you. I’m concerned it will take nothing for you to decide it’s too much.
I sit in darkness and move air. I hear you moving around making small sounds. You check in with me often. I don’t like it. I know you’re being safe but you’re making this more difficult. My too-loud voice and panic are working against me. It seems that every time I get comfortable, you check in and I have to start over – beating the panic back to a bearable level.
You come to me and kiss me now and again, as best you can with the hood between us. I lean into you needing the contact. Once you come and suddenly the air is gone. Panic is there full-blown and snarling. I grit my teeth against a scream. My rational brain informs me that if I do, the volume and resulting pain will have me on the edge of insanity. I realize I’m fighting tears. Rational brain speaks up again informing me that if I cry, I will need more air. Sensing victory, panic begins to drool. I’m terrified. I don’t know what to do. I cannot think. Something whispers yoga breathing. I seize the suggestion with both hands. I combine yoga breathing with vocal breathing, counting, filling my lungs from the bottom up. Somehow I get back my precious control. Panic is still there humming in the background but I’m handling it.
After a time, I find my control slipping. Again. I think will this never stop? I cannot get it back. I call yellow quietly, trying not to make it worse. You don’t hear me. I brace myself for the pain and raise my voice to call yellow again. The panic grows teeth. Suddenly you are there assuring me that you never left that you were never more than a few feet from me. I tell you I know but sometimes it’s not enough. I ask you to touch me. I regain my calm. You hold me. You know. You have done this, in these garments, in this hood. The intimacy is nearly unbearable.