My safe place, a garden, just kind of dissolved last year, and was not a real place any more, which it was for many years - a vivid, real place to me and my alters. It was a safe haven where we could come together and talk, and feel things, and agree about containment issues and safety issues.

You could only get there by opening a wrought iron gate and descending some old concrete stairs, flanked by a thick hedge. Once down the stairs, you entered a smallish grassy area surrounded by a ten foot hedge. At the other end of the area, was a huge, colossal tree. An oak, or maple, I'm not quite sure. It was truly immense, at least 500 years old. (It was way too big for two people to put their arms around and touch fingertips.)

Inside the tree was pure love and peace. At times, rays of bliss, serenity and joy would stream out from the tree to envelop me and my alters and comfort us. At other times, we would come together in a big circle, all seventeen of us, and we all wore white dresses and were barefoot. We were all different ages, sizes, but all of us were pretty and smart. We felt love for one another and encouraged and supported each other always.

We buried a secret there. I remember burying it quite vividly, that secret that threatened me many years ago, the one I wasn't ready for. A hole inside the middle of the garden appeared (no one had to dig it!). A big old treasure chest - straight out of a pirate story book - appeared and the secret was locked away inside of it.

One of us didn't wear a white dress or look pretty. She was burnt, burnt so badly she was charred. She was as black as a nightmare and as short and slight as a four year old. Her pain was so intense and frightening - I believe it was her secret that we buried, because she just couldn't hold the pain any more. I also believe she was the bravest and strongest one of us. She held the very worst pain and bad memories. She knew all about everything, that's why she was so burnt. When the chest was buried deep in the ground, she relaxed a little bit and I went on with my life, not to uncover that secret for nine more years.

My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies, by Nancy Friday, first published in 1973.

Friday collected sexual fantasies sent to her by women from all over the US and put them in a book. No big deal.

Except it was a huge deal. Women didn't have sexual fantasies. It was a well known fact that they didn't. Women who admitted to sexual fantasies were diagnosed as suffering from hysteria and branded insane. I'm not sure when sexual fantasies were taken off the mental illness list, but it was a startlingly recent development.

These days we accept as perfectly normal that a woman will start having sexual fantasies as soon as she is old enough to think of sex in general - body and mind walking hand in hand. But back in the '70s the situation was very different. If you had sexual fantasies you were depraved, unnatural and dirty.

But all of a sudden, here are all these women, from every conceivable walk of life, writing in sizzling detail about their own innermost dreams and fancies. It was a revelation to the women who read it and a slap in the face to the scientific establishment and the medical experts.

I would recommend My Secret Garden, or one of its sequels, Forbidden Flowers and Women on Top to women today, too. For some reason, every woman I ever met thinks that her masturbation pattern is the most intense, that her sexual fantasies are the most depraved. It's a liberating experience to find out just how much we think along similar lines to other women, and how much some women's imaginations differ from our own.

I remember the '70s, the '60s to for that matter, and it's complete news to me that women were not commonly known to have sexual fantasies prior to this time, hell I know they did. Maybe I just knew the right women? No don't think so, this was "common knowledge", so ingrained and instinctive that we really did not have to think about it. Still it's a interesting meme.

It takes a twist in my thoughts, but I can remember with relish the times I spent fulfilling some of those fantasies, and I know damn well that least some of them could not have been any idea of mine.

My Secret Garden was also the name of a dialup bulletin board system in Shreveport, Louisiana in the late 80s and early 90s... actually pretty technologically advanced for its time, it developed a full Internet connection at a time when commercial ISPs were still hard to find especially in a relatively backward place like Shreveport. It even had the domain name secret.com (and gave the several machines on its network hostnames like top.secret.com). However, the sysops seemed to suddenly lose interest in BBSing and the board vanished... they didn't even bother to renew their domain name, and now it belongs to some sleazy porn site operator. I last saw the sysops (Roger and Patty Morris) at a bird show that was in the other half of the Bossier City convention center from a computer show I was attending -- I guess they decided computers were for the birds.

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