How do I, as a former escort, live with myself, he asks?

Thinking about what was written to me yesterday (as was showcased in my last post)…

When someone asks me something like “how did you live with yourself?” for working as an escort in my 20s, it’s a bit perplexing. It causes me to wonder how others can be so blind to human nature (as well as animal nature) that they view our sexuality as some sort of unique sin within human life. It’s really not about money specifically so much as an exchange of resources and companionship, yet others try to make it out to be so ugly and dirty and with their words strip it down into something it needn’t be. That innocence they all claim to care about is tainted by their own imaginations and words oftentimes more so than the reality of the situation itself. It doesn’t help that most people out in the public get their education about sex work from HBO or the bible.

Human sexuality can be very complicated, but it also can be very simple. When someone looks at sex work as the opposite of anything having to do with love, I think it depends entirely on the situation and the persons involved. It’s not automatically the opposite of a labor of love. Work in general can and does itself go either way depending on the situation and the people involved. I happened to like my job and most of the people I chose to spend time with while in it. Many of my clients were very sweet and accommodating, as I tried to be toward them as well. Bonds developed between some of us that lasted years. True friendships even developed in some cases, a couple even that transcended sex work and continue on to this day even when the offer of sex was taken off the table years ago.

Involving money doesn’t automatically preclude genuine care and concern. And money isn’t sufficient all unto itself to make a person debase herself. Just because money is offered didn’t mean I had to take up any and every offer, and it didn’t mean I felt obligated to do anything and everything somebody wanted. No. Nor did I. I was very selective about my clients, and rightfully so.

What people seem to envision is so far from the reality most of the time. We’d typically meet and then go to dinner, sometimes at very fine places I otherwise might never have had access to on my own. And we’d talk and get to know one another, with the emphasis placed on me getting to know them, working toward getting the man to feel comfortable in my presence. We might enjoy a couple glasses of wine, but that’d be it — rarely more than that since it’s important to stay on track and focused. Then we’d go back to the hotel room and lounge and chat until it came time for me to slip into a gown and light the candles and turn on some music. We tended to like to rub and massage one another. We kissed and embraced. And cuddling was a big part of our time together oftentimes. A date lasted several hours, sex being only one aspect of it. I used to say that sex might be 10% of a date overall, albeit a very important 10% of it. But still…just 10%. The rest of the time was spent talking and petting and snuggling. So it’s not uncommon that bonds could arise, even if they didn’t rise to the level of love the way some think sexual encounters properly should. But there was affection and intrigue and compassion…which people out in the public prefer to ignore or dismiss when they discuss sex work.

My goal was to make the experience as mutually enjoyable as possible. Though I was there to tend to their needs primarily, since that was my job — to make these men feel better for a while. To give them someone to talk to who wouldn’t betray their trust, and I’ve kept my end of the bargain ever since.

The money was exchanged not just for sexual access but to establish boundaries. An important boundary was for me to let them go back to their lives without further interruption until we met again. And admittedly, providing for people in such a way can prove a bit draining on one’s soul over time, because life can be lonely and that sort of arrangement can underscore that feeling. It’s not exactly easy pouring your care into someone for a temporary amount of time, only to release them and then to go back to one’s own empty apartment. And it’s not easy when members of the general public deride you as a whore for doing what you do and say god-awful things to try to make you feel cheap and disposable. They know not what they speak. They just stand in judgment, unable to comprehend that there are people out there who appreciate you for taking up time with them in such a way and making them feel special for an evening.

Not everyone can or wishes to go out to bars or to play the dating game or to risk forming major attachments that may interfere with their jobs or lifestyles. Some men are married and are dealing with the passion fading in their marriages after having raised a family. Some men are nearing retirement age and just wanted to enjoy the company of a lady a good bit younger than themselves whom they learned about and interacted with online and found interesting. Some men are disabled and ashamed of their disabilities and have therefore had no success in the dating circuit. Some men are reclusive and going through hard times and just wanted someone to sit with them and hug them and breathe some playfulness back into their lives. Some men work long hours and didn’t have the time or energy to devote to an ongoing love affair with anybody. Some men were depressed after divorces and just wanted a no-hassle encounter where the conditions were understood upfront.

And I enjoyed providing that to them, so long as they were kind to me. Those who weren’t kind I walked away from, because no amount of money is worth scarring one’s psyche. Those wounds linger, so I was very careful to protect my interests as well as theirs. And a lot of us had fun. Enough so that many of the same men came back to see me again and again over the years, sometimes setting up regular arrangements from month to month.

I kept my fees very reasonable (comparably speaking in terms of the length of the date), because I understood the external costs the man bore for the evening, like the hotel room and dinner and perhaps also his travel expenses if he was from out of area. Because I preferred lengthier dates that allowed enough time for us to relax and feel comfortable with one another, I set it up that way and let it be known on my site. Because I wanted to be choosy too, I didn’t vie for top dollar for overnight dates (even when encouraged to do so). I strove to be reasonable and fair there, which allowed for more selection to choose from and made the dates affordable enough to where a man could visit me regularly. But it was enough that I got by just fine and was free to book usually only about 7-8 dates per month (a number of them being repeat clients, as mentioned already). This allowed me to focus the majority of my time on my school studies and reduced the sense of burnout that tends to come with a profession like that.

We had some really nice times. Lots of worthwhile memories. But then the naysayers on the outside looking in, plus my own sense of loneliness, eventually got to me…

What do people really want from you? They want everything. Too much. Sometimes clients get overly attached. Too often supposed friends and members of the public cast harsh judgments. But I learned long before ever becoming an escort that people are fickle and that they judge and condemn without much provocation or warrant. People like to call someone out of their name for anything and everything — for doing what they want or for not doing what they want or for doing with someone else what they themselves wanted. Or simply for entertainment, it seemed in some cases. And by this I’m referring to my teenage years too when it’s all-too-common for others (peers and adults alike) to harshly judge budding female sexuality — just automatically, without even anything to go off of other than perhaps their own sexual interest in you. I’ve listened to being called a “whore” since I was 13 or 14 years old, loooong before anyone could justifiably say such things about me. My initial crime was hitting puberty and attracting male attention.

We like to think that words do no harm, but they can get into a person’s psyche and become embedded. That’s proven true for me — the so-called whore. I’ve tried to embrace the term to lessen its stigma, but it always burns. Because it says to me that no matter what I do I cannot escape this word, this designation. Not unless I lived a life up on a shelf or perhaps if I proved to be tomboyish enough to erase my femininity (in which case they like to denounce you as a lesbian, so you can’t win for losing). But that is not who I am, and I always reveled in the exploration of my sexuality.

Intimacy is a beautiful thing — like a bird that has to remain free to land where it so chooses. You try to cage it, and there will be unforeseen consequences. You cannot trap and contain all of nature, much as people try. You have to let the spirit be free to interact and connect as it needs to. Love is the same way. You cannot force it, cannot coerce it — it is spontaneous in origin. Money cannot buy it, but nor does money automatically eradicate the possibility of it blooming. Humans do not seem to understand this.

I don’t know what my purpose in this life is. But I never regretted my time working as an escort and actually for a while there felt connected to something beyond myself in catering to my people. It felt right and undeserving of the cruel lashings the outside world likes to put upon it. It felt very much more innocent than half of anything that ever arises from the bar-scene, that much is for certain. By and large, it felt like human beings finding one another and taking comfort in each other’s presence. We each were searching for something and took refuge together when our paths crossed.

Not all clients were like that. Some came in with more mechanical interests. Some watched too much porn and thereby hindered their own abilities to experience intimacy in a mutually fulfilling way. Some clients belonged among online “hobbyist” groups where they bonded with other men over the sharing of (typically trumped-up) stories of their sexual exploits. Those clients wore me down and turned me off. I dealt with them as little as possible. Our agendas did not align. I had (and have) no love for so-called “hobbyists.”

And there were risks. It’s a risky profession. You take chances, even when you screen someone properly. I was very fortunate overall though. But there are some men who will hold you down and take what they want without concern for you or your comfort and safety. My experience has shown me you can meet those types of men anywhere, and through screening I rarely dealt with them during my time working as an escort. Much more likely to run across them at a bar or tavern, IME. I found that it was “civie” men (in other words, non-clients) who found out I worked as an escort who’d try to give me the hardest time, because they thought they could get away with it. They tried devaluing me far more than my clients ever did or would have dreamt of. Because in their twisted minds, that’s what I was there for. But no. That’s not what I was put here for, to be treated in an inhumane fashion by some stranger with a chip on his shoulder. No. And I continue to resent those memories. But they were not the fault of the industry and, as stated before, debuted in my life before I ever became an escort. Because that’s how some men are — always seeking a reason to see someone else as a toy they can use and abuse and discard. That points to something contained within human nature that is conveniently blamed off on the so-called whore because such men refuse to stand accountable for their own actions and choices and because they lack any real moral compass and only care about what they might legally get away with.

My disdain for men who act like that is a bottomless pit. They have earned my wrath, not only from what I know of them but also what I hear my loved ones suffered being put through by these types as well. If one wants to talk about evil, look there. They are the possessors and the controllers and the destroyers of innocence, because they care not. And yet they aim to conflate their dehumanizing ambitions with all of sex and all of love and all of intimacy that anyone else might be capable of experiencing. That‘s sick. It really is. But there it is, plain as day for anyone who cares to look at it.

I take issue with what we like to refer to as evil for this reason in particular, especially if the offense is done against a child. And it is this sort of shit that led me into studying the dark side of human nature and social dynamics, which I’ve spent the last decade or more learning about. As recommended before, the books of Erich Fromm help illuminate what I am pointing to here.

Some people are incapable of experiencing love, for whatever reasons, and yet they speak as though they are experts. And they denigrate the experiences of others by trying to make them out to appear pathetic and unworthy, when they themselves wouldn’t know a damned thing about something truly worthy. They live in their egos and are not interested in seeking truth. Reality appears to terrify them, for whatever reasons, so they try to construct their own. And they then preach from their pulpits to others, trying to poison the minds of the young and naive and downtrodden so that they too might turn out as miserable and thereby help validate the sick preacher’s distorted worldview.

I want nothing to do with that other than to study it.  But I am familiar and it’s THAT which ever made me feel dirty and low.

So, how do I live with myself? By walking on, placing one foot in front of the other, like so many out here. I’ve been living and learning. There are moral concerns with attaching “price tags” to sexual encounters, I would not dispute that. And there are moral concerns when it comes to dealing with married men, especially considering how popular it is in society to blame the “other” woman. I carry the weight of those concerns and have for over a decade. They undoubtedly will accompany me to my grave someday. I am not perfect and I never claimed to be a saint. Life is tricky and there is no purity here, not among adults. Everything’s a tradeoff. Pain and pleasure are not wholly separated. Love can be complex, and monogamy is much harder for some to stick with than others. And now we live in the era of full-blown decadence and temptation, which only further compounds these matters. Morality at this stage of the game is an interesting inquiry and one I take up a lot of time pondering in recent years. But I won’t claim to have the answers, especially not some universal answer applicable to all others.

Life tosses opportunities your way and you do with them what you can. All in all, when I look back, I am not ashamed of those life choices. It was a very human and humane occupation. Why must I regret that? Why have so many people pressured me to regret that? I cannot and I will not. It provided me with useful perspective on a lot of things, plenty of which might not even seem directly correlated in any way. We have this one life to live, and to spend it tucked safely away and above all scrutiny from others was never my ambition. I preferred to live my life and to do so on terms I established. If that’s wrong, then I apparently am incapable of being right in accordance with the ideals of others.

Thoughts to be continued another time…

[Updated the next day for greater clarity and to correct typos.]