This is a guest post by Mistress Steel. It was part of her Steel’s Chamber Scrolls which is now defunct. Shared with Permission.

Long ago the first imagery appeared. In most cases we cannot pinpoint the moment or recognize it’s import in our life. When I was a child I went to the library every Tuesday with my mother. Each of us children were allowed 8 selections (there were 4 of us). We would load up and carry these books home like priceless treasures. After finishing our own 8, we would exchange our books with our siblings. On that day my older brother got a book on prehistoric man. The pages were very large and the depictions quite detailed. In one I saw a person tied to a long pole, being carried by two other people. In another scene this person was put over a fire. The images astounded me. I was horrified and instantly hooked. For over a year I checked that book out every week until the Librarian suggested that others might like to see it and forbade me. Many other books followed. I do not recall any as having that initial impact but I remember reading sections of books and being so moved that I would tear out pages to hide so I could read them again and again.

Each of these bits spoke to something inside of me. Having the power to summon instant emotion and response. Over the years of my childhood and young adulthood these grew into a fabric that seemed to live on it’s own inside of me. I know that in this I am in no way unique. Many people find their first exposure to this realm of BDSM through fictional books. It may have been Gor or The Story of O, or even one of Anne Rice’s Beauty books. It may have been a movie like 9 1/2 weeks, Exit to Eden or any of a number of others. Once read or seen, the stories seem to ‘live’ inside of us.

The problem comes when the individual tries to translate a fictional realm into a real life lifestyle. The books with all of their titillating eroticism fall far short in many ways. The author tends to gloss over the hard stuff. It is a world of unblemished perfection under the tightly held controls of the writer. Real life does not function that way. Someone has to take the children to school, pay the bills and balance the checkbook.

Unrealistic expectations and desires are some of the most difficult challenges faced by those who are experienced in the lifestyle when dealing with those just entering the lifestyle. In many ways we each buy into a particular ‘aspect’ of the fantasy. Be it the control, or the subjugation or the intense eroticism. None of these things are sustainable 24 hours a day. Yet over and over people try to implement the impossible.

The individual puts on the role. Be it Dominant or submissive. They reach inside just like an actor and pull out that part of themselves that identifies with that aspect and they drape it across themselves like a cloak. And, while wearing that cloak they present themselves in the assumed role fully. In that mode they seek out and engage their opposite, they pull out all those fantasies and dreams and try to fashion them into a workable scenario. And it seems to work. Except, that their new relationships tend to fail rather quickly. After a few meetings something ‘happens’ and they separate to seek another person, ignoring the sensation of personal relief they feel. They willingly attribute that sensation to that person not being ‘the one’. This may recur for years. Especially if they cling to their fantasies as being the epitome of perfection.

The fantasy of being caged every day is enormously erotic mentally, and extremely devastating in reality. It is boring, uncomfortable and a total waste of the ability and talents of the individual. They do nothing to contribute. There is no computer, no books, no television, no bathroom, no telephone, no attention. The books never talk about how the slave would feel if their mother walked into the room where they were caged naked. The fantasy of having slaves at your beck and call suggests that anyone (regardless of wealth), could live like a King. Have sex whenever they liked, have whatever they wanted done instantly. The books never talk about the total responsibility of clothing, housing, feeding, medical, retirement of each of those individuals. The enormous outpouring of attention required to keep a slave happy and healthy. The complications when submissives fight amongst themselves, jealousy issues, insecurities and a myriad of other problems.

When the individual reaches their limit, (the length of time where the role is sustainable), then inevitably that role falls away and some other part of their personality shows through. This is generally some form of lashing out. The role becomes stressful to sustain and the source or reason for the creation of that role becomes the focal point for the outburst. This is generally followed by embarrassment. The individual realizes they have ‘broken’ their own word. They have acted in a manner in opposition to what they agreed upon in the relationship. This embarrassment can be so great that they completely sever the relationship, seeing no way to rebuild the previous respect.

This entire structure was doomed before it ever began. Assuming any type of ‘role’ pressurizes the insides of a person. Maintaining a veneer while hiding other parts of the self creates imbalance . . . eventually the psyche tries to reestablish that balance. There are no rules or formulae to being either Dominant or submissive. There are no requirements. Being a Dominant does not mean you have to be a bitch on wheels 24 hours a day. Nor does it mean that should you show vulnerability others will lose respect for you. If you cannot be ALL sides of yourself then you are reflecting a flawed image outward. If you feel it is un-Dominant to smile, laugh, tease, flirt, etc. . . then that should be a warning to you that you are not being honest with yourself. A sustainable relationship requires the entirety of the person to be involved. Being whole will allow you to project a ‘confidence’ of self. An assurity of who you are with all your warts. No, you will not be Dominant or submissive 24 hours a day. The strongest aspect will be present the majority of the time.

At some point the illusions and expectations must be set aside in lieu of functional choices. There is no Gor with it’s eternally young women and no children, there is no Chateau hidden somewhere with some fabulously wealthy person willing to ‘keep’ you in luxury and comfort and Mickey Rourke is not waiting to bring you to your knees somewhere. A submissive carrying these illusions may find cleaning a toilet with a toothbrush not to be something they fantasized about doing at all. A Dominant clinging to expectations of a 24 hour servant may find attending to that person more like day care of a helpless infant than filled with the ideals of the erotic fantasy. They will probably be completely unprepared for the stress of being totally responsible for someone else’s life and happiness.

Written by F.R.R. Mallory – also known as Mistress Steel. This article may be excerpted from Extreme Space, The Domination and Submission Handbook, Safe, Sane and Consensual, Dangerous Choices or other books by F.R.R. Mallory and shared here with her permission. Please click on the book title for information on how you can order a copy of these books and others by F.R.R. Mallory.