The Doll’s Revenge: a Shadow Healing Ritual

I lean in close to the Doll’s ear and whisper: “You’re so much better than a real girlfriend.” I continue kissing her, enjoying her passivity. After a minute or two I’m surprised to feel her hands and arms starting to move; and then, suddenly, she’s alive! She turns me over onto my back and straddles me, overpowering me, pinning me down firmly. As she looks down at me below her, her eyes blazing, I feel a shudder of fear.

“You’re a horrible person,” she says in a cold, robotic voice. “Look at how you treat women. No wonder they leave you.” I feel scared, angry and hurt at the same time. How the hell did this Doll come to life?

Shadow Healing Ritual with Newman Alexander and Dossie Easton

The scene is going perfectly to plan. As negotiated, I spent the first twenty minutes playing with M____ as if she were a sex doll: only responding to my kiss and otherwise totally inert.

This scene is for me. It’s a Kinky Healing Ritual to help me look at the fear of abandonment that arises around the women I fall in love with. In the scenario she’s a sex doll and I’m treating her like my girlfriend. For the first half of the scene she’s completely still, but then when I say the magic words (“You’re so much better than a real girlfriend”), she comes to life and starts taking revenge on me – for the way I’ve treated both her and my previous girlfriends.

It was hot at first, pretending to come home from a busy day at the office and finding this beautiful, almost-real girl dressed like a Manga character, lying inert on the bed waiting for me. I hugged her tight and whispered that I’d missed her. She didn’t respond. I stroked her face and kissed her cheek. She didn’t respond. I asked her if she wanted to have sex before dinner. She didn’t respond. I told her I was happy that she wanted to have sex too and started to undress her. Then I kissed her full on the mouth, the only action to which she was allowed to respond. (She kissed me back, but in a very soft, still way.)

She turned out to be a fantastic kisser and I spent ages making out with her while exploring her inert body with my hands. Normally passivity is a turn-off for me, but in this “Real Doll” scenario I find it quite exciting. More importantly though, there’s something in me that does control the women in my life, that does treat them a bit like dolls, and this is what I wanted to bring awareness to through the Ritual.

After a while of kissing and touching her, I noticed that I was feeling shame as well as pleasure. How could I enjoy touching someone who doesn’t respond? There’s this ambivalence in me around empowered women, a fear that they’ll overwhelm and hurt me. And they all leave, of course. So some part of me is always striving to have control, to keep things safe. In real life it tends to express itself more subtly than in this scene: as with many of the Healing Rituals I create (for myself or others), the aim here is to make the pattern explicit, to bring it to the surface.

I get back into it with The Doll, pushing my tongue into her mouth and stroking over her panties. I can feel from the slightest quivering that in reality M_____ is quite turned-on by this – the Doll fantasy is something she enjoys too – but I try to put that to the back of my mind. For this to really touch me, I need to believe that I’m in love with a doll because I can’t handle an actual flesh-and-blood woman.

After a while of exploring her body, I say the magic words: “You’re so much better than a real girlfriend.” This is her cue to start coming to life. We’ve talked about this at length, about my guilt for the way I’ve treated previous partners, my longing to get punished for it, how I want to be free of the pattern.

As she overpowers me, I feel a lot of fear. I know this place from childhood, being small and weak in the hands of an angry woman. Back then it was my mother; now it’s this irate doll who’s been abused by the loneliest, most hurt version of me.

Theatre plays an important role in this work. It seems that our brains don’t quite know the difference between something that really happened and something that we recreate. For this to work though, the scene needs to be done with enough conviction that the players can lose themselves in it. I find it hard to really immerse, but somehow I’m in it enough for the emotions to come up. When I was holding her as a Doll and telling her how happy I was that she’d never leave me, I felt a deep loneliness rising in me. Now that she’s coming to life, I can feel my shame.

She begins to bind me: quick, precise, aggressive. “No wonder your last girlfriend left you, look at how you treat women,” she says, barely looking at me as she pulls the rope up to the hanging O-ring, raising my left leg with it. I let out a little howl, the insult smarting more than the rope. “You’re not a real man,” she throws in for good measure.

After she’s secured me she starts to hit me with her hands, the flogger and the Stick of Joy. As I’m rather scared and tense, I feel the strokes intensely. The pain smarts and stings, full of aggression and female rage. I sense that a small part of her is saying this for real, sharing the frustration of many women who dislike being controlled by men. I sense that there’s something archetypal and profound, about the scenario we’re playing out.

She ties me some more and says more mean things. At some point I get angry and tell her to fuck off. I struggle against the bondage but she’s done a brilliant job and I’m not going anywhere. It’s not the nurturing bondage I’m more accustomed to so it’s hard to let go into it, but I feel her presence holding me and I relax a bit. And I’m still on edge, not knowing what’s coming next.

She starts to pinch and punch me. It’s right on my edge. I feel the hostility and even some hatred in the strokes. It’s what I want: I want to touch that place of deep shame in me, the part that feels I really deserve this. I want to feel it so I can access it more fully. It’s not that I want to release it – I know all too well that this only happens when something’s truly ready to move, especially something as deep as this. It’s more that I want to be able to go there, all the way down, to touch the murky damaged parts inside. Although I’ve tried many approaches, I find this type of psychological theatre the most effective for healing deeply-held patterns.

The pain gets more intense, the words meaner. I don’t have much resistance left, I start to wail and howl with each stroke. There’s something brimming, a barbaric yawp, a giant FUCK YOU waiting to be roared out. But just as I’m getting close to that point, the two women doing bondage near us ask if we can quieten down. It’s an awkward moment, as I’m close to a fuller expression of hurt and anger, but M_____ switches direction and starts untying me.

She keeps hitting me though and I tell her I might need some tenderness. So she sits on top of me and asks me if I’m really ready to stop mistreating women. Will I promise to do better? I say I’ll try. She looks into my eyes again and tells me that she’ll hunt me down if she sees me doing anything like this again. Another shudder of fear. It lands.

After a little while I’m unbound and we cuddle softly. I know I could’ve gone deeper and it also feels like a good start. This topic runs very deep, beyond the personal to the collective, and I need to keep digging.

After some time we go to get food together and hang out in a friendly way. It feels right to transition slowly in this case rather than bringing things to an abrupt close. I’m feeling rather fragile and a bit disoriented, and it’s good to still be with M____ as things begin to settle.

The release comes the next morning, as is often the case with me. I wake up groggy but in a bright mood, feeling the energy of Xplore still running through me. I’m exhilarated by all the adventures I’ve had and the connections I’ve made. Suddenly without any warning I begin to weep. I realise it’s not just the session – my best friend died suddenly a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying to give space to the grief. Here it comes, along with a rush of gratitude for my life and all the people in it.

I cry in fits and starts for nearly an hour as waves of emotion move through. It’s a powerful release, the first since Jon died, and I sense that the session had a lot to do with it. These layers of shame are hard to reach; once they’re revealed, my body-mind has a natural wisdom in knowing how to deal with them. But they’re also clever layers, well-concealed, resistant to being brought into the light of day. It feels good to give them space to breathe and for anything that’s ready to go to be released.

This theme is very close to the surface for me right now and it felt good to do the Doll scene with M____. I know I can work more in this area, uncovering deeper layers of the controlling patterns I have with women and finding ways to do things differently.

M____ felt like a good counterpart, especially as it was her first time doing this kind of Healing Ritual and also being so mean to someone. In fact I didn’t realise quite what it was going to touch until we got into it – initially I thought it would mostly be erotic while touching into the issue. But as soon as the switch happened and I went into a strong fear response, I realised that the scene would go much deeper than I’d expected and I let myself go into it.

I am constantly fascinated by how we can heal our body-minds through scenes like this, where we enact (or re-enact) something that carries a strong charge for us. In this case, the scene grew out of mutual fantasies and desires, things that turn us both on, with some of my ‘stuff’ woven into it. I often find this to be an effective approach: the erotic charge brings more libido to the scene, which in turn supports us both to open up more.

There’s something about these Shadow Healing Rituals that’s so effective, so potent and so surprising. They tap into our body-mind’s natural healing intelligence, our ability to befriend things and transform them ourselves. The enacting, or re-enacting, works beautifully because it turns an abstract problem into something lived and experienced, both visual and kinaesthetic, that allows a dialogue between the conscious and unconscious parts of us.

As with all things we need to be careful to find the right line between recreating a situation and retraumatising ourselves. This takes skill and awareness, but more than that it requires compassion from both giver and receiver. As long as we stay tender and open in our hearts and allow things to flow, we can feel and sense the moment when it’s about to tip over the edge into something that’s too much for us. And the healing often happens right on that exquisite edge.

Next April I’ll be co-leading a week-long residential retreat with the legendary Dossie Easton, author of Ethical Slut and Radical Ecstasy. In this week we’ll be exploring this profound work and giving you the chance to create your own Shadow Healing Rituals. Find out more >>

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