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To find a way into someone else's life, we must find a way out of ours

Updated: Apr 28

December 2015 was when I first experienced the wintery depths of Northeastern United States. Temperatures dipped to a -18 degrees Celsius as I first smelled air from a new hemisphere. The wind gnawed at every inch of my exposed skin.


It was a month after A left.


I crouched and shivered in the corner of the demarcated smoking zone at Boston Logan International Airport as I sought familiarity in the ambers of my Marlboros and having the same tunes on repeat on my iPod. The same few songs, the same lyrics, the same tempo.. familiarity bred comfort - knowing the chorus that came next meant keeping my breaking point of emotions under check, less I started sobbing my eyes out in a foreign land. Between the N-th and N+1 th drag of my cigarette, my eyes started to tear up.


It was a month after A left. I threw all caution into the wind and took a solo trip to the US, and I chose couchsurfing instead of regular hotels or backpacker hostels. I wanted to take time away from the hole I dug myself into in Singapore.


My coachsurfing host, Ying, was an Chinese lady in her twenties; she flew over to Boston from Taiwan for her undergraduate studies, then found herself a job post-graduation and saved up enough to buy an apartment. Pretty much like the Asian immigrants of yesteryears in search of the American dream. In her warm couchsurfing hospitality, she set me up with a fluffy fleece blanket in her spare room, an introduction of her household and the typical niceties - where to party in Boston, the savoury areas in town to avoid and the such. Amidst the small talk and me wanting to close myself up, I was saved by a call from my parents who were worried about my whereabouts being a solo traveller in a foreign land.


Whether it was the jetlag or the breakup conversation stuck on repeat in my memories, I pulled on my fleece jacket over my CKs and leggings and snuck out onto the patio for a smoke. The sub-zero Boston wintery were frigid and bitter. I pulled my coat tighter over me for solace as the ambers warmed me up.


"你是在哭,還是太冷了?“ Ying pulled up a lawnchair next to me, gesturing for for a stick, in return for the wool scarf she draped over my neck. In the biting cold, I wiped my face, a mess of mucus and tears and offered a weak smile together with a cigarette. We conversed briefly; she wasn't seeking answers, the silence spoke nothing but everything. We sat together for a third stick in quietude overlooking the Jamaica Plain neighbourhood. The night got warmer. It was a month and two day since A left.


Ying brought me down to a child care center, where she volunteered her time with the Tzu Chi Foundation. In the center, an chinese boy with the largest doe-eyes I have ever seen ran smack into me. "You are here with our Christmas presents, aren't you? This is for you!" With a hearty smile with a missing front tooth, he shoved a candy cane mint into my leather gloves and ran off. He got the candy cane mint from the candy bowl at the receptionist desk; I smiled.


The next two hours was, amazingly fun. We set up the Christmas tree, hung streamers, and wrestled with the kids for the Christmas tree ornaments they fought to hang on the tree themselves. In all the gamut of possible emotions, they chose love, and their energy rippled through every nook of the room and into our hearts. On our way back, Ying commented, "You needed this more than them." We laughed.


I knew A wouldn't stay forever. I fought to buoy our relationship. It was a path I trodded on despite seeing the headlights of the oncoming train getting brighter and brighter, but instead, I chose to hung on to my true north. It was a month and seven days since A left.


Before I wheeled my luggage out of Ying's place en route to South Station for my next leg of my journey to New York, she hugged me farewell and patted me on my head, "Take care okay?". I nodded. A promise. I blinked, a drop of tear rolled down my cheek, and Ying dabbed it away. "You can always call me if you need me." Through my watery eyes, I saw a smile, a promise, the warmth, the cold couldn't keep out.


It was a month and ten days since A left. Why did it come to this? Who could I have blamed for the sorrow, the solitude, the nights missing you and the tear soaked pillows? If its not him, and its definitely not A... then it's only me.


The first three days in Manhattan went past in a blur - I took lots of mandatory touristy shots at Times Square, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, chugged 99c margaritas, sought nostalgic chinese food at Flushings, partied and made out with a stranger... basically New York City filled with all of her dichotomies, vices and sins. On the fourth day I woke up at noon abruptly with the alcohol from the previous night throbbing in my head. I crawled over to the coffee table for a glass of water and a slice of cold pizza to calm my churning stomach. It was a bright and warm Thursday afternoon, the streets outside were buzzing with life, but it dawned upon me - there I sat alone in the empty house, the solitude, the post hook-up emptiness all within. Mid bite in, a tear rolled down my cheek. I continued chewing until I couldn't distract myself with chewing anymore. A second tear streamed down, and another. I reached out for my phone and dialled Ying, the only person I could fathom in my mind. I returned her hello by bawling my eyes out. Ying stayed on the line. For the past month, I distracted myself with everything I could, and in the face of sorrow, was a numbness in my heart where I used to be able to feel. And at this moment, it finally hurt. I cried, shuddering and sniffing. It was a month and eleven days since A left.


Every solo traveller would agree, the road becomes unspeakable lonely. In between the small talks with the casual smoker and the chatter overheard in the subway, a big, exhilarating city that never sleeps like New York, does get lonely. And the loneliness reverberates into your soul.

It was a month and 13 days since A left. At Chambers Street station, 'Stay Gold, Ponyboy' was sprawled across the beam. I paused.


We are the sum of every moment that we have experienced and the people we've ever known; they shape us, nurture us, and sometimes, impact our lives and turn them upside down. In the transience of love and the inevitability of loss, the only thing we can do is to stay gold, till the next impact of love.



It was 6 years, x months and x days since A left. A migrated, we were so emotionally and physically distant, we only barely manage festive niceties through WhatsApp that doesn't sustain past a few exchanges. We tried.


With my friends and subs alike, I still speak fondly of A, and the bittersweet memories we shared. Nobody picks misery, despair and anguish to begin with, but they are the by-products of our choices.


Over the years, kink allowed me to rediscovered myself, I found strength to heal myself in ways I never knew, for the wounds I thought would never ever be full. I learnt what impermanent meant, to not make suffering in the transient, but to embrace the present. The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough; said Rabindranath Tagore.


I used my experiences to get my subs to talk about themselves, their life stories, their motivations, their sorrows and their accomplishments. I wanted to know them the way I would have wanted to be known, to be wanted and craved. Through our conversations, sometimes solutions never mattered, but to listen and empathize, did. I got that from Ying.


As a dominatrix, the idea of focusing solely on our kinks and fetishes - that one singular part of a person’s life, while potentially ignoring the other parts of us that make us uniquely us, the emotional, spiritual, the mental; can be peripherally distracting to the holistic wellness of us as a whole. Underneath our surface level kinks and mind-numbing quivering orgasms, is a soul that is looking to belong.


Sometimes between drags of my smokes over beer, I reflect back onto life - I may not have gone where I intended to, but life takes us places, and i think I may have ended where I needed to be. Carpe diem, seize the fucking day.


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More about our professional ethics as a Professional Dominatrix in Singapore: here

About FemDom, Goddess Ashley: here

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