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Romancing the Shadow:
Challenging Limiting Beliefs Through Kink

By Midori

Self-limiting beliefs – We humans have them in spades.
Thoughts and feelings that start with phrases like…

“I can’t… “
“I’m not good enough…”
“I don’t deserve…”
“No one will like me if…”

I have them. I bet you’ve got yours.


Many are bitter inheritances from our parents, and their parents, and… Others we received from society at large.


They fill us with doubt and all sorts of fears. They keep us from our awesomeness within.


Can we get past them? 
Yes, with a hella lot of work. 
There’s no one way, but we have many paths. Therapy, meditation, coaches, peer support, books, journaling, intense sports, and physical practice, just to name a few. All of these, at some point, demand us to take a long hard look into ourselves. 

How about kink? Can BDSM be a way to challenge our stunting beliefs? Could it give us the strength to get past this garbage? 

Uh, sometimes, possibly, maybe, likely. Yes…. 

Why am I hesitating in giving an enthusiastic yes? Because I worry that people will approach BDSM as a quick fix, mistake the elation of play for a panacea, or worse still, claim to relieve others of their struggle.
There is a possibility of discovery and strength gained in kink play. Is there an instruction manual for a sure-fire way to make the changes you need through BDSM? No. If someone claims to, make sure to look behind the curtain. 
Here’s what I know. If I chase it, if I force it, if I try to grasp it, it’ll slip through my fingers. It’s like water in so many ways.  But I can share with you my journey and lessons learned.

Somewhere along the road of life, during a detour unplanned into a carnival sideshow, I came across a hidden door. It led me to a world just below my surface.
In this place of shadowy woods, deep within, roam legions of creatures, monsters, and wild things.

The hidden door was kink.

The door would appear from time to time, beckoning. I’d tumble down it, willingly, eagerly.

Kink play is an experience bound by time, space, and consent of all the participants. It’s a recreational activity intentionally created with defined ordeals and significantly fewer variables and ambiguity than in daily life.

Why did I jump through that door over and over?
My reasons were simple: fun, a bit of sexy adventure, a touch of transgression.
It would be easy to claim noble intentions for kink in my misspent youth. But that would be an utter fabrication. I was just playing.
Like my childhood play, kink felt straightforward. I get to spend time with someone I like, making up rules and agreements of the game, while the boring grownups left us alone. Suspension of disbelief unleashed; we got to be whomever we wanted to be, with whatever powers we wanted to have.
I get to be anything, anywhere, and all at once.
Who do I want to be today?
A villain, a warlord, Godzilla, the big boss, a princess, Marco Polo, a ninja, Cutie Honey, a scary ghost monster, and even the lone scientist who sees the truth of our reality as an experimental construct created by aliens.
(Seriously, all of these, including the last, were my childhood fantasies. And who’s to say they aren’t still?)
I was a timid, well-mannered, and serious child, navigating a baffling, cold world, with the daily onslaught of prejudice.  
But in my play and my imagination, everything could be turned upside down and right side of me.  
BDSM is a containment field for behavior and desires generally deemed inappropriate or outré. It is a laboratory where we can invite, face, and possibly engage with, the shadow-dwelling dangerous parts of ourselves.   
These parts of me, I call my Monsters.
Monsters are real.
In this world just under my surface, they came to me.
They stir under my skin, pressing up with terrible claws, throttling my heart.
These Monsters, my dark desires, all the ways I should not be or was told not to be.
Violent, greedy, selfish, grotesque, large, loud, imperious, wrathful, changing, vulnerable, hard, childish, murderous, hungry, immature, immoral, amoral, irrational, illogical, strange, and scary.
These desires, these monsters, would slide into my otherwise cheerily naughty play scenes. These creatures would tug at me as I find myself aroused, against my values, by something violent or morally ugly. 
It was very unsettling.
There are so many monsters here. I can’t count them all. These creatures, the multitude contained within me.
If I let them out, would they take over me? Are they the real me? Who will I be?

Eventually, I realized that they didn’t take me over. But I was changed somehow.

In the aftermath of play, whether it was carnage or beauty, in their retreat to their realm, the Monsters would leave behind pieces of them. These, their gifts, imbued with traces of their powers and essence, nourished me. Returned to me something elemental.

Tough, space-taking, fearsome, expansive, resilient, clever, fierce, far-seeing, emotional, passionate, creative, void seeking, annihilating, spontaneous, large, ancient, substantial, oracular.

In my early days of kink exploration, I played awkwardly at the cliché of dominance and submission. In between trying to look like a badass, I nervously checked in with my play partners, usually feeling unsure and unsteady. A bit of spanking, a bit of nipple tweaking, a bit of light bondage. 
What I wanted, I couldn’t put words to. What I wanted didn’t fit into the repertoire I saw in the kink scenes around me. So I did the things that my partners asked of me. Of course, they were just as new to kink and didn’t know any better. But I believed that they knew much more than me. In my young life, I also believed others knew better than me about anything, and knew what was best for me. (Spoiler – They didn’t)
Something about BDSM drew me but I couldn’t quite identify it. I had an aching craving but I didn’t know what for.  
Then I met lovers who wanted their physical endurance pushed, to challenge their flesh and mind. Underneath all my well-acculturated niceness, effortful selflessness, and constant struggle to be fair, lurked a possessive, sadistic, and imperious me. Beautiful, powerful lovers sank to their knees and wished me to symbolically annihilate their ego through pain, ordeal, and feral devotion. I felt my feet root into the earth, my body growing large, electricity charging through my limbs. My stomach churned in anticipation and cunt pulsed. Even now, my heart races as I feel back to those first steps of embracing my dark desires – to face my own beastly nature.
Over the years, I realized that letting my Monsters out in play and merging with them briefly, gave me insight into what I am capable of. 
Many of my Monsters stood in direct opposition to the limiting beliefs that hold me back. 
Powerful against timid. Absurd against serious. Expansive against withdrawn. Standing firm, not weak-kneed. Even wrath and rage have a place in my everyday life for the right situation. In the face of injustice, a whiff of my monstrosity may allow me to see the wrong, to act and not freeze, to resist instead of getting along.
Over many years and many scenes, I’ve come to know my monsters, my own glorious horribleness. They are my Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of Hades. If I don’t pay attention to them, honor them, acknowledge them, they will devour me and wreak havoc in my surface world. 
To deny or attempt to exterminate that part of us turns them against us. Perhaps this is what happened inside casually and senselessly cruel people.
I know now that I must get to know them. Accept them. Let them out to play from time to time, to accept the willing martyr’s flesh. Stylized destruction, desired ordeals, and eager self-sacrifice; these are the makings of a hot kink scene for me. When the wild things get to know me, come to trust me, they become my ally. In times of true distress or threat, I may call them forth.
Today, in situations where those limiting beliefs rise to make me timid, insubstantial, and filled with self-doubt, I know I can access the traces of my own essential monstrosity. When chaos comes my way, I know I can refuse to freeze in indecision. When I would devalue myself, another voice refutes that. When faced with violence, I find the calm of the warrior. 
Accepting the monsters, my monstrosity, is accepting my humanity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Bodhisattva. This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely comfortable with them taking up space in my everyday consciousness. Sometimes I have to call a “family meeting” with these messy creatures I share this body with.
My Monsters and I, we have a complicated relationship.

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Your Fairy God-Auntie of Kink. Exploding Expectations. Challenging Conventions.”

Standard Educator Bio

Trailblazing educator, sexologist, artist, and irritant to banality, Midori founded Rope Dojo and ForteFemme: Women’s Dominance Intensive. She penned the first English instruction book on Shibari, “Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage” in 2001, paving the way for the popularity of rope. Dan Savage calls her the “Super Nova of Kink,” while others affectionately call her Auntie Midori for her cool, tell-it-like-it-is, funny, reality-based teaching. 

She is also the author of “Wild Side Sex,” “Master Han’s Daughter,” and “Silk Threads.”

Education, Coaching, Private Learning & Art:

Special membership perks! Learn, laugh, and enjoy her special online classes, events, and art at  where she is working on her next shibari book!



Workshops, articles, art, events – currently all on where she is working on her next shibari

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IG: @PlanetMidori

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FaceBook: @MidoriReallyMidori  


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