Tales From the Butler Academy: Modules 0-9

Note: This is part of the “Tales From the Butler Academy” section. Find more here.

I wanted to give a quick summary of what the butler course I’m taking has covered and what I’ve done so far. So here’s a quick module by module breakdown of the parts I’ve completed.

Module 0: Introductory Module

Resources: None

Assignment Types: All essay/written response, covering things like “how you feel about the subject of help” and “how you feel about the subject of control”, goals for the course and your career, and study techniques. 

What I Learned/Applied: Not much to apply from this module, it’s more of an introduction to the course and a “getting to know you” thing. I had to get my story straight pretty fast on the “actually a slave” thing and clarify my goals, and found subjects like help and control very applicable. 

Module 1: What Is a Butler? 

Resources: Reading Chapter 1 of Serving the Wealthy (STW), Volume 1, all of Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, pieces from STW Volume 2: “The Butler Goes Mainstream”,  “Keeping the Profession Whole”, “Historical”, “The Question of Robots and Butlers”, “And Finally, Some Printable Humour”, “A Day in the Life of a Modern Butler”, “Just When You Thought You Knew Everything”, “The Word Was Butler”, “So What Is A Hotel Butler, Anyway?”, “The Future Hospitality Professional”, “Poor People Skills and the Wealthy”, “The Indomitable British Butler”, “Transcript of Lecture at Harvard University”, “BostonCoach Keynote Speech”, and “Would You Like Your Service Today Live or Programmed, Madam?”. Watching: Gosford Park, The Butler, the pilot of Downton Abbey, the episode “Jeeves in the Country” of Jeeves and Wooster, and episode one of Black Adder III. 

Assignment Types: Essays related to the resources, one visual timeline—all on basic terminology and mindset of the profession. 

What I Learned/Applied: Still not too much to apply from this module, still covering basics, but learned some interesting historical bits, consumed some inspirational resources, and really started to get a picture of the course. 

Module 2: Essence of a Butler

Resources: Reading Chapter 2 of STW Volume 1, pieces from STW Volume 2: “Basic Attitudes”, “A Duty to the Profession”, “A Royal Butler Disgraced”, “The New Age of Service”, “Emotional Engagement—A Mantra in Search of a Technology”. 

Assignment Types: Some essays, and what I did as a giant self assessment spreadsheet. 

What I Learned/Applied: Really had to take a long look at myself and my soft skills, especially when seriously comparing to professional standards. Identified areas to work on and made plans to do so. 

Problem areas I identified included professional demeanor and professional dignity—I think this is affected by being a slave held to many kink norms day to day rather than being a professional butler. (The random beatings kind of make “dignity” take a hit, though I didn’t phrase it this way for the course.) 

Others included health and energy (for one, I had a kidney infection at the time of this module; I’ve taken a lot of concrete steps to improve my health since, and this being a weakness wasn’t exactly a shock). 

Other areas to work on: composure, humility, (fading into the) “background”. I think all have improved since. Humility, especially, we developed a few protocols around and I began to check in on in my posts/etc. As far as “background”, the later added speak when spoken to protocol helped a lot. 

Module 3: Trappings and Tools of the Trade

Resources: Reading Chapter 3 of STW Volume 1, piece from STW Volume 2: “Of Various Traditional Butler Tools”.

Assignment Types: Essays, creating (maintaining) a butler’s book and journal, acquiring/using/evaluating a butler’s resource library, wardrobe, and tools (including photos), learning basic computer tasks (if needed) and developing (maintaining) a time management system. 

What I Learned/Applied: Gained a few bits to add to my butler’s book, found out having a cigar cutter around is strangely useful. I already largely had the butler’s book, journal, library, time management system, and computer skills. Great material for my butler’s books class. Wardrobe wise, I still stick to my daily slave uniform. 

Module 4: Butler Etiquette  

Resources: Reading Chapter 4 of STW Volume 1. All of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan). Piece from STW Volume 2: ” Of Various Traditional and Modern Butler Concerns”. 

Assignment Types: Essays, and about twenty video etiquette drills, including several rounds of redos. (Each prompt outlined a different tricky situation.  My job was to sketch out a more specific scenario if needed, and film myself, as the majordomo, responding to it.) 

What I Learned/Applied: I wrote more about this here. Ultimately, this module reminded me that compassion is at the core of the soft skills that set the butler industry apart, which was important for me as someone who’s low empathy. 

Module 5: Management and Leadership Principles 

Resources: Reading Chapter 5 of STW Volume 1.

Assignment Types: Primarily essays/written response. This chapter emphasizes checklists and processes, managing resources and problems, creating (and modifying as needed) effective routines, and what makes a good leader. 

What I Learned/Applied: Went through my assorted checklists and routines to apply the principles of this module. I still teach a lot of organizational principles from this module in many of my classes. 

Module 6: Staff Management

Resources: Reading Chapter 6 of STW Volume 1, Home Comforts (Cheryl Mendelson) Chapters 68 to 72, Debrett’s Etiquette and Modern Manners (John Morgan)Chapter 14, pieces from STW Volume 2: “The Placement Game”, “What To Do If There Is Nobody At Home”, “Why Good Employees May Be Hard to Find”, “The Hidden Drug Menace”, “Ethics? That’s Human Resources”. 

Assignment Types: Essays, gaining familiarity with tax forms, comparing and contrasting staffing agencies and vendors (and selecting them), writing vendor contracts. 

What I Learned/Applied: While there’s no other permanent “staff” here, I do work with contractors and such, so several bits were useful and I used this module as an opportunity to revisit some of those things. It also covers record keeping and insurance and such in depth, which I again revisited and was useful. 

Module 7: The Butler’s Relationship with Their Employer

Resources: Reading Chapter 7 of STW Volume 1, pieces from STW Volume 2: “Hope does not Need Rose-tinted Glasses” and “Don’t Just Sit There”. 

Assignment Types: All essays/written response.

What I Learned/Applied: I wrote about this more here. While I first thought this module might not really apply for me, ultimately it’s about proactive, effective, efficient, honest, routine communication, and about trust, respect, and clearly defined roles. I found it applied to many of our communication systems, and revisited a few things based on the principles of this chapter. I teach on many of these systems, as well.

Module 8: Housekeeping 

Resources: Reading Chapter 8 of STW Volume 1. Piece from STW Volume 2: “Appendix 8A”. Home Comforts Chapters 14 to 58. 

Assignment Types: Essay/written response and a lot of practical assignments. Cleaning all kinds of materials, polishing silver, flower arranging, building a fire. Making a bed, working with fabrics, handling laundry. Creating/maintaining housekeeping routines and checklists. Learning basic sewing. Closet organization. Acquiring cleaning tools and learning to use them/creating a cleaning caddy. Managing air quality, lighting, and pests.  

What I Learned/Applied: Hoo boy, now we’re getting into the hard skills. I learned all kinds of fun facts and neat tricks for cleaning every kind of material I can think of and several I hadn’t heard of/identified before. Reorganized every closet in the house, got a humidifier (game changer in Vegas), redid some lighting bits, experimented with polishing silver, improved my flower arranging, started making and using my own homemade cleaners, added/modified a lot to my housekeeping routines and checklists and class material…

Module 9: The Butler, the Kitchen, and the Chef

Resources: Reading Chapter 9 of STW Volume 1. Home Comforts Chapters 8-13. All of Think Life a Chef (Tom Colicchio) and Dictionary of Culinary and Menu Terms (Rodney Dale).

Assignment Types: Essays and practical. Exploring a kitchen supplies store and grocery stores and shopping techniques, assessing kitchen supplies and organization and safety, assessing refrigerator/freezer/pantry management, preparing at least three breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. 

What I Learned/Applied: Got some kitchen storage back in order, inspired me to add some more recipes to my repertoire (which I added to the resources for my culinary service class as well).

… 

(Final Note: I’m currently on Module 10 of 22. Will write another one of these at some point in the future.) 

“But Isn’t It Automatic?” (Learning in High Protocol)

“But isn’t it automatic? After this long, at least?” 

“Yes… and no,” I say. We’re lingering over dinner, talking about protocol and what goes into remembering it, or doesn’t. 

Mistress is distracted, going upstairs to get something and coming back before I can finish my answer. But I’m not, and I can’t be—which is part of my answer. While she’s gone, I, too, rise from the table, but am alert, knowing that if she comes back before I sit again, I’ll need her permission for the chair, which I’m not actually allowed to ask for, and she’ll probably order me back into Waiting Position first, which is how I wait behind my usual seat before meals, after I hit the pager transmitter button to inform her food is ready, at the two assigned times each day. 

I also know that her leaving and coming back ends the interaction, even though I was basically mid sentence. Under the speak when spoken to rule, once she speaks to me, I can speak for the rest of that interaction—until one of us leaves (her at will, me with permission, asking first if there’s anything else I can do to be of service, then asking for the permission, then curtsying and going) or we’ve both been quiet for a while—back and forth like normal, without another direct question or prompt or permission. So I remember to keep my mouth shut now, even when she comes back, until she prompts me for the rest of my answer. 

While all little things, that adds up to a lot to bear in mind. 

When I’m able to finish my answer, I elaborate. 

There are several factors that affect how automatic a protocol is for me. 

The first—which she easily identified and is perhaps relatively obvious—is how long it’s been in effect. Our oldest protocols are four and a half years old now. But we add and tweak things frequently. Things got added and tweaked just this morning, based on the recent development of me getting my driver’s license. Older protocols are more likely to be automatic. But that can take years, depending on the other factors. 

Another factor, though, is how frequently it comes up. Now, most of our protocols come up rather frequently. 

I typically use five of our eight codified slave positions multiple times per day. Kneeling (used frequently when in her presence in lieu of the furniture), Waiting (for both meals I serve daily), Inspection (for both daily inspections, plus after showers—taken with permission—mostly checking on the shaving rule), Leashing (for morning unleashing and nighttime leashing for sleep, where I sleep on the floor, nude), Curtsying (every time I leave her presence, after the asking if there’s anything else I can do and obtaining permission). Another is Speech Request Position (to obtain permission to speak if I really need to and she hasn’t prompted me), which I use slightly less because I frequently just wait for her to speak first. The other two are primarily for maintenance discipline (weekly) or punishment (rare), though sometimes they come in handy for other things. I still practice many of these on my own in the mirror to check in on them. Not rocket science, but I like the bar high. 

Likewise, my uniform is exactly the same every day, and hasn’t changed significantly in a solid year and a half. Being basically the only clothing I own at this point—a few copies of each item—it’s not hard to remember, though I still double check I have small items, like my pager. 

If a protocol super rarely comes up, we often cut it. Still, there’s a range. The more I do it, the faster it becomes automatic. 

The factor that was less obvious to her was if the protocol was a do or don’t, if it was an if/then or a don’t/until, if there was a cue to start it or a cue that released it. Our more specific speech protocols have cues. She, in a way, initiates them like a ritual. If she gives me an order, I say, “Yes, Mistress.” If she grants a permission or denies it, I say, “Thank you, Mistress.” If she gives me a compliment or a critique, I say, “Thank you, Mistress.” These all have cues to begin. If, then. 

But, speak (only) when spoken to isn’t an if, then. It’s a don’t, until. Don’t speak until prompted. Do not do this common thing until the cue. And there is no reverse, no don’t speak cue, just silence and existence. And that makes that one trickier. I must always, with no cues, keep it in mind, until the cue that I’m allowed to speak, creating my own cues for it. 

A lot goes into all of that until it’s automatic. 

Practice. Like the hours of checking positions in the mirror. 

Sticky notes everywhere. (She sprang the no using the bathroom without permission—if she’s awake, and we’re both home or out together—rule on me on my birthday, minutes before my mother—vanilla company—arrived to celebrate, leaving little time to think it through. I quickly left a large reminder note for myself in the master bathroom, which I use most often and guests don’t usually go in, which I took down a few weeks later. She didn’t come up with a way for me to subtly ask for the bathroom permission in vanilla company for over another six months.) 

Then there’s meditation. Lots of meditation. 

And a now twice yearly total silence vow for a day or weekend, resetting my awareness of my words. 

In some situations, I sit and review all applicable protocols before proceeding. As mentioned, I’m new to driving, so I still take a moment and sit in the car when I leave or arrive somewhere, remembering new or recently modified rules like always notifying her when I’m leaving the house and when I’m returning (if I’ve been gone longer than twenty minutes), asking permission to drive anywhere except the coworking space I’m a member of (I can also walk to get the mail and go on my required morning walks without permission), keeping her informed of my general plans, making sure she can track my location via my phone (ensuring it’s with me, and WiFi/cellular is on—for me, that’s far from a guarantee, otherwise), and parking in the shade and refueling at a certain level if I can, and taking all of my things back out of the car. Plus, like, remembering how to drive, safely. 

And almost any time we interact, I count protocols on my fingers. 

First, I usually press one finger into my palm as a reminder for speak when spoken to. This is also a reminder to wait in the doorway if entering her office, to not go farther, wait to be beckoned in, then move, kneel in position if it’ll be a more than a minute. 

Once spoken to and in place, I release it, replace it with three fingers—permissions, feedback, orders—for the speech protocols I mentioned above. Permissions also covers the rule on asking—making sure to use may, please, and Mistress. 

If things get quiet, I switch back to the one, for speak when spoken to. If I’m thinking about leaving, I also switch to one, for our exit protocol I mentioned. 

The positions mostly get assumed before she comes in, or on demand, or as part of the things above. 

Even what is basically automatic, I want to be sure of; I want it to be done well—and that’s largely on me to figure out. The counting part is mostly automatic. 

I have very little punishment immunity—there is no safe period for a new protocol, there is no automatic forgiveness for small accidents, there is no real time off from protocol, just not scaring the vanillas and such. 

We’re careful in our protocol design and tweaks because of how inflexible it is once in effect. And once it is, Mistress pointed out that she almost forgets it’s there, views it more as automatic code switching for her (interacting with me versus anyone else), and she views our dynamic as casual and relaxed because the protocol doesn’t really affect her actions as much, though she has to check on some things, like at inspection times (a job I appreciate).

I, however, have to handle what I call the protocol fatigue that definitely flares up now and then from keeping it all in mind, several years into 24/7 high protocol, on top of a full time job’s worth of service, and the effects of lifestyle masochism with irrevocable consent. 

And it’s definitely worth it. While I am service oriented and strive for useful more than anything else, I also want to be simply pleasing, elegantly bent to her every whim and preference, obviously obedient, adherent to every detail. My mind can’t frequently wander too far from her, with all of those things to keep in mind (and I’m not allowed to be answerable to anyone else—like having a job). The detailed training and behavior modification fulfills my desire to be as close to perfect as possible—for one person, because you can’t please everyone.

So is it automatic? Yes and no. It’s complicated. Some are easy, automatic now. But they don’t need to always be. I’m willing to put in the work when they’re not. 

I’m looking to teach others about that process, too—writing this, launching my How to Learn Protocols class—because there’s definitely more to it than meets the eye, whether it’s automatic now or not. I’m passionate about the process and the results both, and love living it, and discussing it with Mistress over dinner, or teaching it in a Zoom webinar, or writing about it in a blog post.

Maybe that’s part of why it doesn’t become automatic more quickly for me. I just love thinking about it too much. 

Lifestyle Masochism Example (The Rice)

This is part of the Lifestyle Masochism series. These are stand alone non fiction/memoir examples of the lifestyle sadomasochism we practice within our irrevocable consent framework, as discussed in the explanation post here.

Morning inspection happens at 10:30 as always; Mistress checks my morning service tasks, looks me and my uniform over in Inspection Position, approves; I apply sunscreen for her. 

When we’re done today, she says, “When you’re ready, come to my office.” 

“Yes, Mistress.” 

I have a few chores to see to, packing up and planning to do, before I’ll be ready to head out for a few outside things. I clean the litter box, move the laundry to the dryer, so on. 

I know, somehow, by her tone, that she has some unpleasant thing in store for me before we leave. I turn over guesses in the back of my mind as I do the chores. 

On her daily planning template, there’s a section labeled “How to Harass Hannah Today”. This amuses her. The whole joke of it’s not like I wake up in the morning and plan how to screw up your life today. Except, she does. In her morning planning, something gets penciled in. Last night, I noted that her page for the day said, Make knell (sic) on rice, though that hadn’t happened. My best guess is that it got pushed to today, and that’s what’s coming, though it occurs to me that her carpeted office is an odd place for this. 

When I get to her office, I wait in the doorway silently as required. She beckons me in, and I note a large, sturdy but relatively thin wooden cutting board on the carpet, bearing the anticipated rice, before she says it. Ah.

She has me take my leggings and underwear down to below my knees, but generously not off entirely, since I already have shoes on; at her order, I set my pager that was clipped to my clothes to the side. I’m right here; she doesn’t need to page me. She tries a few things with my shirt and bra for more aesthetic exposure, but they’re not staying in place; they come off entirely. 

I kneel up on the cutting board. We’ve mentioned the rice a lot, but oddly I don’t think we’ve ever done it. It’s uncomfortable, but not the utter agony I’ve heard about in FetLife writings, though few things are for me, which is a fun challenge. 

Just the rice isn’t exciting for her, either. She yanks on my hair, pinches my nipples hard, hits me wherever’s accessible, tries to get me to go down on her, but the angles don’t really work, and it’s brief. I squirm, but stay on the rice. 

Today’s lecture is, “You know, if I did this to someone else, I’d be like, in jail. But you, you love it.” But me, I beg for it. But me, I can handle whatever she throws at me. But me, I’ll do anything for her. But me, I’m incomplete without the suffering. 

She picks up a metal ruler from her desk. It’s there for drawing and such, but it’s handy. She traces the front of my left thigh and selects a spot, tapping it. I tense and wriggle in anticipation. “Stay still,” she reminds me. “Keep your hands out of the way. This is metal; if you move your hand, I’ll break your wrist.” 

I’m wringing my hands behind my back. I keep them there. She hits that spot on my thigh with the ruler, hard, enough to leave an almost immediate, distinct welt. I hiss and writhe; it does have an unexpected bite. She picks another spot right below it. Same thing. Paces around to my other side, right thigh. Two more to, “Even it out.” One, two. Oof. 

Shortly after that, she lets me go. I stand, dress, and, unasked, clean up the rice. Some has ended up on the carpet, brushed out of my skin, where it left indents, and it’s quite a job to find all of the tiny white rice in the thick white carpet, though I quickly discover that if I brush my palm over the carpet, the remaining rice jumps up.

And soon enough, we’re ready to go. 

Lifestyle Masochism Example (Top Three for the Week)

This is part of the Lifestyle Masochism series. These are stand alone non fiction/memoir examples of the lifestyle sadomasochism we practice within our irrevocable consent framework, as discussed in the explanation post here.

Sunday. As always, morning inspection at 10:30. 

Morning service tasks already done, I shut my 10:29 alarm and get in Inspection Position in the bedroom. I stand, legs spread, hands clasped behind my head. 

Mistress comes in. I’m silent, waiting for her to speak first. Speak when spoken to. She tells me my morning tasks were done well and on time, looks me and my uniform over, approves. 

“Thank you, Mistress,” I say, the required response to the praise. 

“You’re welcome, slavegirl.” She releases me from the position to fetch the nearby sunscreen and apply it for her: “You may get me lotion.” 

I do. And normally, that’s it. 

Today, though, it’s not. “Remove all of your clothing.” 

I do. Meanwhile, she seeks out a few items. Removing my leggings and underwear is painful today. On Friday night, we did an impact scene—paddles, full force, thirty minute timer—that had me dripping blood on the floor before finishing with the barbed wire “flogger” I made (barbed wire duct taped together). It looked like a horror movie scene—blood drops on the carpet, blood soaked implements, blood rushing down the shower drain. A barb flew loose from the flogger after catching in my skin, landing on the floor. 

It was supposed to be a catharsis scene, but it got more silence and giggles than anything. It was fun. 

After all the blood, I spent Saturday draining so much plasma, it immediately soaked through my clothes no matter what I did, leaving clear wet spots wherever I sat. 

Now, my clothes stick to the wounds, and I have to peel them out. But Mistress has a solution. 

I step into the Pull-Up unprotesting. Diapers aren’t my thing—and that increases the fun for her—but I’ve yet to figure out a better solution. She lays on the humiliation verbally, but the reality is practical. 

With that in place, she has something else for me. The mostly used soap from the shower, wet. I let her run it over my tongue and place it in my mouth without protest, too. 

She places me in the corner—well, nose pressed to a wall, arms boxed behind my back, Corner Position—emphasizing how much this amuses her. 

I wait there. She takes a picture. I’m sure it’s quite an image. I wonder nonchalantly if she’ll post it. 

She leaves me there for a few minutes. I’m pondering the soap. The shape and size are okay right now, but the bar wouldn’t fit in my mouth brand new. It’s plain to look at, and the taste is unpleasant, but it doesn’t burn or tingle like some of the scented ones do. I should do something about this. 

(By Thursday, I’ve played with making my own cute, well shaped bars in various flavors for her to torment me with—and use around the house—including ones shaped for anal insertion, and an improvement on my ginger infused lube creation. I have plans to sell them.) 

Mistress comes back in and releases me from the corner, lets me rinse my mouth out, leaves me to redress in my uniform and go about my chores or, “Whatever it is slavegirls do.” 

… 

Tuesday, which means I give Mistress a pedicure at four o’clock. 

I’m done now, still cleaning up supplies, and soon off to start dinner. 

But Mistress has other ideas. She finds me again, putting a few things away in the master bath. “You may remove all of your clothing.” 

This order always leads to interesting things. Given the setting, I’m pretty sure I know what, and as I strip out of my uniform, I warn her that means dinner will likely be late (not served at six as always). 

“That’s fine. I can make dinner be late if I want. If I’d rather harass you.” 

“Thank you, Mistress.” The permission is kind of buried, but there, evoking the required response. 

She opens the shower door. “Kneel.” 

I do. The shower floor is cold and hard, and just big enough to manage my usual Kneeling Position—knees open, big toes crossed right over left, hands clasped behind my back, right over left, right thumb over left thumb—without touching any walls. 

She leaves me there for a minute, seeing to something in another room. Then returns.

She pees on me, and has me lick her clean, then turns the shower on full blast cold. I fly out of the sudden stream of water before I can realize what I’m doing, kneeling up and clinging to the doorway of the shower as she orders and shoves me back into the freezing water. She wants me there for a few solid seconds, soaking me with the removable shower head, before she leaves me to clean up with warm water. 

Or, “You may rinse off,” as she puts it, waiving the requirement to shave and present for inspection after. I’ll be free to finally start dinner.

“Thank you, Mistress.” 

… 

Friday. 

I’m making dinner, to be served at six as always. Steak is in the sous vide, soon to be seared; potatoes are boiling on the stove, soon to be mashed; asparagus is getting tossed and put back in the oven. Some mutual favorites. 

Mistress comes in, asks about the food. I answer. 

“Take off your shirt,” she orders in response. 

I glance at the various uncovered windows around, but comply. A neighbor could see in, but it’s not in plain sight. 

“And your bra.” 

I set both uniform items on the island. 

She produces two clothespins. No points for guessing where those are going. I’m not shocked by their appearance, either—I noted them sitting on her desk earlier. They were out of place—not in the dungeon—but, as I cleared a few dishes, trash, other out of place items, I left them, suspecting exactly this. 

She puts them on me. I bite my lip as she does. Then, the pain is low intensity, but achingly constant.

She presses the ice dispenser button on the freezer behind her, and traces my breasts and stomach with an ice cube, cold and wet, dripping down my skin. 

Then she reaches past me and pulls a fork out of a drawer. She dips it in the water boiling on the stove, holds it there for a few seconds. Presses it to my abdomen hard a few times, though it loses heat quickly, and she sticks it back in the water. 

The contrast is interesting—there’s a second where the now mild cold from the ice rapidly gives way to mild warmth from the fork before I’m struck by the burning heat of the metal, squirming a little. 

She cycles the ice and the hot fork for a minute, and finally her nails down my skin, a strange collection of pink marks. 

She talks about how she likes coming in and harassing me, having me as, “A toy to play with as I please.” She removes the clothespins. I bite my lip again, hold my breath. “You may get dressed.” 

“Thank you, Mistress.” 

I check on dinner. Evidently, she’s had her fill of entertainment for now.

Lifestyle Masochism Example (Pressure Pointed)

This is part of the Lifestyle Masochism series. These are stand alone non fiction/memoir examples of the lifestyle sadomasochism we practice within our irrevocable consent framework, as discussed in the explanation post here.

I’m standing in the bedroom, kind of between activities, having just finished cleaning and shutting down the downstairs for the night, now settling in upstairs, without it being time for my final evening service tasks yet. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll type up some notebook pages when Mistress comes in, making sweet talk, which somehow ends with me tackled to the bed, on my back, pinned with my hands over my head in a way my shoulders really don’t want to stretch, with her on top of my legs. 

She’s still talking—something, we’re in a Lifetime movie, random violence, you love it, that’s pathetic, something—but I’m a bit distracted by her fingers digging into pressure points around my hips and thighs, sharp bursts of pain with aftershocks. She’s narrating: “See, you’re just in here minding your business, and then you get tackled and held down and pressure pointed. That’s a verb now. That’s how this works.” 

I’m still distracted by the pressure pointing, not entirely sure what comes out of my mouth in response, squirming. I’m still feeling aftershocks when she slaps me hard in the face instead, her hand settling around my throat, squeezing; the other presses into that spot at my hip again that takes away the rest of my oxygen, then hits me in the chest.

She tires of this, though, and I find myself flipped over—it’s always strangely disorienting, flips like that at moments like these; the world was already kind of small, her hair a curtain around my head, and now my face is mostly pressed into the comforter, and the person pinning me down is now also behind me, and everything spins. She yanks my uniform leggings and panties down, and I half see her throw my pager to the side, so the clip doesn’t get broken under me (again). 

She spanks me, hard, some slaps, but mostly punches, the kind I feel in my hips more than anywhere else, force and pain. I sink against the bed. “And you like getting punched in the ass.” The theme tonight seems to be, “You love it, you pathetic little pain slut. I bet it makes you wet.” She slips two fingers in me, abruptly—I make a choked sound—not that wet. Or that open, especially at this weird angle, with my legs kind of trapped closed. It just hurts. Not for long, though; after a few seconds, her fingers press at my lips, and I suck off what did drip onto them instinctively. 

Then the punching continues. “I wonder if you can come from this,” she says, which isn’t much of a question. I’ve done it countless times before—come from pain alone. The real question is if I can do it right now. Hmm. Probably, I think. “Just from being a punching bag.” And the punches keeps coming—force, pain, a lot more than cute, erotic slaps—fast, hard; sensation builds. “It goes with your whipping girl complex.” 

“Please,” I get out, mostly into the comforter, my way of saying, Yes, I can, and yes, I want to, though I can’t get down enough air to finish the question properly, the golden may, please, Mistress combo.

She pauses for a second, but only for a second, maybe to be able to hear me better, or give me enough oxygen to finish. But she fills it in for me: “Please, what? You want to come from this?” 

“Yes, Mistress—” 

She resumes. “Come, then.” 

So I do. People ask me about this part a lot, when I talk about orgasming from pain. It’s like any other orgasm, really. Sensation builds up and intensifies. A need for relief. A feeling of being overwhelmed. The endorphin rush. It’s a little more mental, a little less distinct, but it’s everywhere, and it’s an orgasm nonetheless, and I pant, “Thank you, Mistress,” when it’s over. 

“You’re welcome, slavegirl.” The unofficial end line of any protocol that dictates, Thank you, Mistress. 

And so I catch my breath.

Service Skill: Giving a Manicure

  • Create a soothing environment.  Offer a basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.
  • Place towel, then adequately sized bowl or basin with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions, on a table at a comfortable height where you can sit across from each other. Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch. Ensure good task lighting. 
  • Remove old polish if needed.  
  • Soak fingertips/hands for ten to fifteen minutes. 
  • Use a cuticle pusher to push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. If there’s a lot, you might want to use a cuticle trimmer.
  • Trim, file, and buff nails. Gently clean under nails with the cuticle pusher. 
  • Dry, then moisturize and massage hands. Apply cuticle oil to cuticles and nails; massage in.  
  • Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat. Let coats dry completely before the next one; keep them thin and even. Keep common polish colors on hand. 

24/7 High Protocol: Last Thing at Night

9:35 PM.

My reminder alarm goes off as always.

I’ve probably had one eye on the clock, so it’s simple to wrap up the writing or whatnot that I’m doing, most of the time. 

I see to my final evening tasks. Write the nightly turndown card with tomorrow’s reminders, meal plan, and weather forecast, place it in its spot. Turn down the bed. Fill the humidifier. Lay out my blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed (slave furs). Little things.

9:40, my pager—slave bell—gives its “goodnight” auto off buzz. 

I strip out of my daily uniform as required, shivering a little—slaves don’t touch the thermostat, or so I’m told around here—and give myself a once over in the mirror, freshen up.

9:44, I get into Inspection Position. Standing, legs spread, hands clasped behind my head, head and eyes up, back straight. I can hear Mistress going down and up the stairs, checking on tasks I did earlier downstairs—cleaning the kitchen after serving dinner at 6, preparing the coffee machine for tomorrow, shutting down the house. 

Back upstairs, she comes in and looks the room, then me, over, circling me, prodding—the usual mix of caresses, slaps, squeezes. 

I’m silent, waiting for her to speak first. Speak when spoken to. My arms ache and tingle a little. 

She tells me I did well, lavishes me with praise. 

“Thank you, Mistress.” The required response. I mean it. And even though it goes this way ninety-nine percent of the time, there’s always an element of relief. 

“You may get me lotion.” She sits on the end of the bed, lying back. I get out of position, grab the lotion, and rub it into her elbows. The nightly default is at least that. She rubs it in a little more and rubs the excess into her hands. “You may do my feet, too. And rub them a little.” 

“Yes, Mistress.” The you may is no matter—it’s an order. Yes, Mistress. So I do as told. 

When she seems content with that, she sits up. I get into Leashing Position, kneeling, knees apart, big toes crossed in back (right over left), my leash across both of my palms, hands resting on my thighs, tossing my hair out of the way, checking that the collar o-ring is in front, that my back is straight. She takes the leash clip from me and clips it to my collar. Gives me a few more pats on the head, says goodnight, and goes, off to do a few more things and then settle into the bed and sleep. 

I settle into my blanket, seeing to a few final-final things. Set my alarms for tomorrow. Plug in my devices. Write my slave journal entry. Take my meds. Message my mom, Goodnight, I love you. More. Most. Seriously, goodnight. And turn my WiFi and cellular off.

And then it’s time for sleep.

“But You Could Walk Out Right Now”: What Really Keeps People in Relationships

“But you could walk out the door right now,” a visiting friend says. We’re all in Mistress’ office, late at night. “I’ll help,” he jokes, looking at her.

“But you could leave,” another friend says, during dinner, gathered around our dining table at a play party. Others agree.

“But you could get out,” says a close friend. We’re at the park at sundown. They look around. “Couldn’t you?” 

I hear this all the time when I mention being in a no way out/irrevocable consent dynamic as a slave. 

And admittedly, my answer is usually subpar. Put on the spot, to explain it concisely, in a way comfortable for the audience, I fail to give my full, real answer. I point to difficult—but not impossible—logistics, to just not wanting to leave, anyway.

But here’s a better answer. 

… 

I read a really good book, which, since I’m about to give a spoiler for the sake of metaphor, I’ll not specify and be vague about.

But, the main character is in your standard fictional culty institution. She gets sent to The Rehabilitation Center (you know the trope). It turns out to just be a little suite. 

There she waits, for months, processing the events that brought her here. Eventually, another member that is finally allowed to visit her secretly convinces her to escape the institution, and sneaks her a set of lockpicks. 

Later, the main character goes to pick the lock on the door. Panicked, she realizes that something is wrong; what is it? 

The door is already unlocked. 

It was never locked. 

She just never found the mental clarity to open it. 

… 

The reason I take issue with the but you could sneak out right now argument is that it’s simplistic, and, ultimately, victim blaming. 

In many cases of domestic abuse—the thing these people are compare-and-contrasting me to—it’s not logistics that truly keep people trapped. Being a literal prisoner is not so common in these cases, and the logistics may be difficult—but frequently, they’re not impossible. I see it as unusual for someone to spend a long period of time in a relationship while wholeheartedly wanting out, but being stuck on logistics. The vast majority of the relationship is usually spent not truly trying the lock on the door. 

It’s spent in that emotional fog. It’s a lack of mental clarity that keeps you there, or—in a lot of cases—keeps you coming back. It’s the invisible bonds between you and your partner. 

Where there’s a will to leave, there’s usually a way. But the will isn’t a guarantee, either.

In academic literature on the subject, the stages of change model is frequently used. The stages include precontemplation (not intending to make a change any time soon), contemplation (the problem is acknowledged; change is considered), preparation (planning for change), action (implementation of the plan), and maintenance (reinforcing and sustaining the change). 

However, this study on leaving abusers posits that preparation is not a necessary stage in terms of change itself, citing that almost half of participants did not engage with this stage at all (and this was consistent with other findings), and this did not seem to affect the action or maintenance stages. 

In other words, the important part, pre action, was contemplation (acknowledging the problem and considering change), escaping that mental fog, breaking the invisible bonds—not figuring out the logistics of escaping and breaking out the door.  

… 

Now, the bond shared between you and your partner is what keeps people in most relationships, for better or worse. 

But what kind of bond is it? How was it created? And does it run both ways? 

Feelings of things like mutual safety and happiness, created by consistent caring, keep people in healthy relationships. 

But in abuse cases, trauma bonds come into play. 

Trauma bonds typically run in one direction—they are part of the victim’s relationship with the abuser (rather than the abuser’s relationship with the victim). 

They are created via recurring, cyclical patterns of intermittent reinforcement (like positive attention, gifts, physical affection) and intermittent punishment (like physical, verbal, or sexual abuse). 

And intermittent reinforcement is more powerful than consistent reinforcement in terms of habit forming.

In other words, the abuser becomes the victim’s addiction that they just can’t quit.

But that’s generally speaking, about what keeps people in relationships. 

What about me? What truly keeps me here? 

If emotional bonds are what keep people in any relationship, and that bond can be, say, a healthy one or a trauma bond, which is it around here? 

To an extent, we have the healthy bonds. Love, respect, trust, safety, happiness, consistency. 

But that’s far from all of it. 

There are two defining factors to a trauma bond:a power imbalance and that intermittent reinforcement and punishment cycle. And we purposefully cultivate both. 

The power imbalance—shown through 24/7 high protocol and the service/housewife dynamic. I sleep leashed on the floor, I have no privacy, I wear only my uniform, I speak when I’m spoken to, and I serve on a full time level schedule. 

The intermittent punishment/reward cycle…

We have no official reward system for behavior, and I have no rights—things like aftercare aren’t guaranteed—so all rewards (psychologically speaking)are intermittent. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t.  

We do have an official punishment system for behavior, but it’s not frequently needed, and I have no limits, no safeword—so she can also give any form of punishment (psychologically speaking) at any time, for any reason, intermittently. 

And we make exactly that a goal—the random, unpredictable violence—not as sex, scene, event, or formal discipline—being frequent, especially when, in the moment, I really don’t want it. 

So there’s that. 

… 

Additionally, there’s what I call the honor lien—and I don’t take that lightly. I frequently use this quote from my erotic fiction to describe it: 

“[Our contract is] honor bound, and it says you own me, and I can’t change that. If I go back on it, I lose that integrity. It’s like a lien. I either honor the agreement or lose something momentous. Telling someone they own me really meaning something, ever again. […] I said that—anything you wanted to do—I’d let you. And if you don’t abide by the law or religion or social pressure, that doesn’t change what I said. So if I break the contract and leave and say it was because you were doing something illegal—I’m still breaking the honor ties. So I forfeit my right to leave with that integrity, to you—because the only way to leave with that is if you release me. You have a lien on my integrity with my debt being lifelong obedience. To include forfeiting all other rights. Unless you release me. If, when, I die, you die, or you release me—the debt is paid; my integrity is something you can’t take at that point.” 

But some brush that off after a certain point. 

And there are tricky logistics involved in leaving. But they’re not impossible. 

And, of course, at the end of the day, I’m very happy here.

But what really keeps me in? Especially if that stopped being true? If the honor lien became no longer enough?

The trauma bonds we try to replicate, really. Yes, we have a certain type of trust at the core of it. I am safe in that trust in certain ways. But am I safe from being beaten when I don’t want to be beaten? From sex when I don’t want to have sex? From fear or humiliation when I don’t want those emotions? No. 

And if it looks and feels like abuse in the moment, well—my mind reacts like it’s the real thing. I flinch when she moves the right way and have other behaviors that indicate constantly expecting to be hurt. I have the occasional nightmare about it. I do the freeze and fawn response. 

I’ve written about this before:

“Irrevocable consent is messy at times. Did I consent? Yes. Once. Years ago. Did I want to be beaten with no warning or warmup today until I screamed? Casually dragged across the floor by the hair yesterday? How about the sex when I was so sick I cried last week? In the moment? Probably not. That’s where the defense reactions come from. But I really want those things to keep happening overall, and I want to not want it in the moment, to gain that sense of ultimate submission from it, because in the end I submit anyway.”   

And I have the mental wiring of internal enslavement, and I describe my decision making like this:

“So I’m standing at a fork in the road.  One clear, sunny path leads to the obedient action.  The other path—to disobedience—is shrouded in fog.  The clear path is the obvious best choice, the one I normally happily continue down.  But, even just mentally pondering the foggy path, it’s like wandering into that thick fog and constantly getting turned around.  I always end up back where I started like ultimately bouncing off a force field.  If I could see the path clearly, I’d notice that it dead ends in a few feet.  But sometimes I don’t see or remember that it’s a dead end.  But I start to dissociate, and thoughts swirl in that fog, too much to continue down that path.  Because of that guarantee, that the fog is too thick, there isn’t really a path there at all, no matter the apparent intersection.  And so I go wander down the clear path again.” 

It’s complicated.  

I sometimes call it, lightly, abuse without the hassle. 

Ultimately, we create these bonds with purpose, we communicate outside of the moment, there is a core of love and trust in ourselves and in each other. I consented once, forever.

And that bond works for us. 

Being a Slave Isn’t Easy

People often tell me that they envy my life as a slave, and a keyword that comes up to describe it a lot is simple. And they mean well, but the word simple makes me cringe a little. To me, it implies easy, and, for me, even as someone who is naturally inclined towards submission and service, being a slave isn’t easy. Slaving away means working hard for a reason. To me, slavery is a lot of things: 

It’s dragging myself up from my blanket on the floor in the morning after being unleashed, shivering. 

It’s falling off the side of the bed trying to get up after sex that was painful and only she got pleasure from, and I didn’t want to be used today. It’s having sex when I don’t want to have sex. 

It’s dripping sweat from dirty work while she relaxes.

It’s practicing a new slave position in the mirror for an hour to make sure it’s right.

It’s a thousand trips up and down the stairs per day for chores. 

It’s making a million small service decisions that she doesn’t want to be bothered with. Here’s a vision. Now make it real. 

It’s lying on the floor near tears and trying to figure out how to get back up after being randomly beaten for the third time that day when I didn’t want it. It’s being hurt when I don’t want to be hurt. 

It’s my legs going painfully numb from kneeling on the floor when I don’t get permission to change position. 

It’s giving her a massage while my body aches. 

It’s having limited energy to use on anything but her. It’s not being allowed to spend too much energy on anything but her, like having a job. It’s more than a full time job’s worth of work. 

It’s needing to figure out how to learn a new protocol perfectly and immediately, by myself. It’s the 24/7 mental demand of high protocol. It’s only speaking when spoken to; it’s all the speech restrictions to keep in mind.

It’s setting out to learn any service skill that might be useful. 

It’s hours and hours and a lifetime of communicating, of adjusting my communication style, of making it work, of prioritizing the dynamic above all else.   

It’s a complete lack of privacy. Not being allowed to lock doors. Sharing all my passwords. Being tracked via my phone. Not even being allowed to leave her presence without permission to be alone. Two daily inspections of my work and body. It’s not being allowed anything to myself. 

It’s a complete lack of financial control. 

It’s not having control over my digital life—rules for my friends list, not being allowed on most social media, needing permission to make a phone call. Limitations to work within. 

It’s having no control over my body. Patiently waiting for permission to receive pleasure, use the bathroom, shower—accepting the possibility that further humiliation gets thrown in there—sticking to my specific uniform and not getting creative license.

It’s dealing with the occasional throwing things, aggressive driving, bad moods, hard days. 

It’s not getting my way. 

It’s never being entitled to warmup, cooldown, aftercare, or sobriety. Sometimes, it’s being told, “No aftercare,” before we start. It means no safeword, no limits, not ever being allowed to leave. 

It’s always, always being on call, with no guarantee of Light Slave Duty or being allowed to go out. It’s constantly being ordered to do things, even while on Light Slave Duty.

It’s being expected to do it—anything—immediately, without complaint, without question, with a smile and no expectation of reward. 

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But is it easy? No.Few worthwhile things are, and I wouldn’t really want it to be, or it wouldn’t feel authentic. Slave is a heavy word. Not everyone could or should do a dynamic like this, and I think it’s damaging to pretend otherwise; it’s just not worthwhile for everyone.

I love being a slave. And I frequently talk about what I love about it. But it’s a disservice to pretend it’s always easy. If I’m going to write and teach about it, I think I should be honest, realistic, let people know what they’re really getting into if they’re chasing a dynamic similar to mine. 

So: easy? No. 

But, everything I dreamed of? Yes.  

Tales From the Butler Academy: The “Butler’s” Relationship With Their “Employer”

(This is part of the “Tales From the Butler Academy” section. Please start here.)

Module 7 is titled “The Butler’s Relationship With His Employer.” (Being a woman and all, I’ll refer to it gender neutrally going forward. But note this language whenever I mention how traditional this course can be.) 

The jokes about this module started long before I got there, just seeing it on the syllabus. And, of course, the topic was mentioned much earlier in the course. 

“So… I’m not supposed to sexually harass you?” Mistress would ask. “No random beatings?” 

But once I got there, I realized it was a) a relatively short module, just some reading and essays, and b) honestly, super applicable.

It’s a module about communication, about trust and respect and roles. About how you must generally appreciate the other’s role even if it’s not for you, for things to run smoothly. That communication needs to be proactive, efficient, effective, routine, and largely honest. That roles must be clearly defined, lines drawn not to be crossed, before they fade away. That formal and respectful does not necessarily mean cold or uncaring. That trust on both sides is crucial to a well run household. 

While I’d expected to be very vague and a little misleading in this module at first, I actually found myself being very honest, just with the typical term swaps (Mistress, employer) and some omissions. 

Yes, my “employer” and I do have codified, optimized, routine check ins, quality assurance, meetings, forms, reviews, communication methods, checklists, role agreements. I do clarify what my job is. We do find a way for formal to be caring (even intimate)—via protocol as a love language. We do discuss our communication styles and actively work to make them mesh better together. We trust and respect and appreciate each other and are very honest. 

Rather than typing and deleting about professionalism, I found myself writing about real actions. We have long approached our dynamic through a lens so close to professional that people have tried to push, “It’s a relationship, not a business,” on us. But really, in a lot of ways, we do resemble a business superior/subordinate relationship as much if not more than a vanilla marriage, and that’s not a bad thing.

There are many parts of our dynamic that I think make the most sense from that lens: 

  • Our contract. While relationship contracts even in the vanilla world are on the rise, and are a long standing norm in power exchange, many people still think of contracts as something from the business world, especially the detailed, logistically focused kind. Our current contract stands at nearly 2,500 words, mostly bullet points, not a lot of fluff. It covers in detail our schedule, all of my service duties, our protocols, my uniform, inspections, discipline, meetings, written report systems, Light Slave Duty, and more. (More on a lot of those themselves in a minute.) We spent a lot of the first weeks of our relationship cuddled up, having sex, going on dates, hanging out, all that, but we also spent a lot of it sitting across the table from each other with papers in the middle hashing out all the details, including our more formal and specific style of protocol. 
  • Meta Saturday. While the exact day has shifted over time (I believe it was born as the alliterative Meta Monday), this has been, from the very beginning, our weekly check in. We go through a list of questions (modifying the list over time as needed) to reflect on the past week and plan for the week ahead. We celebrate wins, check in on specific areas, ask how we can do better, and discuss tasks and events. At first, this was a meeting. Then, as the typical good business practice goes, we realized the meeting could be an email, and we made it a worksheet we both fill out and send to each other, discussing more if needed. But frequently, we realized we’ve already discussed a lot of it during the week—this is just our final check that we have. 
  • Light Slave Duty. This is the equivalent of time off—or mostly off. Since I live in my workplace (a common issue for private service/domestic staff and housewives alike), I don’t skip being present there, and most of our rules, protocols, etc. never turn off (the ones that do are for vanilla company, not time off). And there are a few small duties that remain on Light Slave Duty, and the possibility of further orders. And I’m not entitled to it—it’s up to Mistress my employer. But, it’s the closest equivalent. It’s a pre codified mode that means inspections, service tasks, and schedule items may generally be skipped without consequence, to be used if I’m sick, etc. I also generally get Sunday mornings “off” to the same extent. 
  • Written issues form/formal complaint. In the case of a problem that we don’t want to just hash out verbally, and that isn’t a punishment kind of issue, we have a specific written form. It includes what happened to trigger the report, how it made the person feel, why they felt that way, what can be done to make it better right now, and what needs to be true for this to not happen again. While rarely used, it’s been very valuable when it has been. I’m not guaranteed results from it, but it’s a great way to clarify any issues at hand.
  • Inspections. Not so much some details of the process, but the twice daily quality assurance. Every day at 10:30 AM, she checks on my morning service tasks, and at 9:20 PM she checks on my evening service tasks. Then, she inspects me in our Inspection Position (I wait in this position in the bedroom—dressed for the AM, nude for the PM). I offer her sunscreen in the morning and lotion at night, and at the PM one, I also get leashed for bed. (Again—not the details of this one, just the quality assurance idea.) 
  • My journal/review system. Okay, this might not sound super businessy, but the basic premise here is basically that I keep logs that she looks over. It’s a way to review and communicate. Each night—from the very beginning—I write an entry in my physical journal, mostly briefly logging activities. Before Meta Saturday time, I create a weekly review page in summary. (I also do this monthly, quarterly, biannually—I also start a new physical journal at that time—and annually.) Then, I bring her the journal. For the monthly review, I also send her an email. The email mostly refers her to the journal, to my monthly habit/goal/task tracker I keep on a giant Post It note in my office and fill in as I go (this one isn’t required, it’s for me, but it can be useful for her to see at a glance, too), and to my monthly newsletter I post publicly. I also include statistics for the month from my websites, income, FetLife profiles/groups/events, Archive of Our Own, etc. I reference this frequently myself. 
  • My daily uniform. Not so much what my uniform is—not that it would be that out of place in a casual workplace—but the fact that I have one. The part that’s the most businessy is my pager, which I keep on me so she can page me when she need something. 
  • Discipline. Not the method—but maybe the idea of pre codified, formal disciplinary action. This is also common in power exchange.
  • And, no small thing, this is probably the most important factor that makes my dynamic an equivalent I can frequently easily talk about for butler school coursework: the part where I work forty hours a week or so for her. Being a slave majordomo is my full time job. I’m not allowed to have any other job. So on. 

You can see how I actually had things to say for this module.

This realization was pretty validating. Since I’m going to butler school hoping to merge the professional and kinky service worlds, I want them to truly be potentially equivalent.

And maybe add just a pinch of sexual harassment and random beatings.