At first I thought it was another silent call.
But then he spoke, quietly and with hesitation. “Samantha,” he said. ‘I hear you are back at work and I would love to see you – if you agree to it.”
I was just pulling into the car park at Westfield, for me, a deadly place where stationary cars pose a serious ‘crash’ risk, having managed to slam into a parked car just weeks before.
His name was T. He was in his 40s. “I have been in a wheelchair for 30 years,” he said cautiously. “You may not want to… His voice trailing off nervously.
“I would be delighted to see you T,” I said. “Just tell me more about your situation.” He was a paraplegic, from an accident in the water when he was 12.
“I can’t feel anything from my neck down so there would be no sex, but I just want to be in the company of a woman,” he said. “My imagination still works.”
We agreed on a time and date. T would be making the three hour drive with his carer. “Looking forward to meeting you!” He said, this time with joy.
I threw my phone in my bag, and my heart sang. Yep, Samantha was back. And I was bloody delighted. Forget sex, drugs, rock and roll. I’m not lying when I say this job is more of a counselling role. And it’s clients like T that make me realise even more that I found my calling. I am exactly where I want to be. This is my path.
But it isn’t easy.
This week has been an interesting week. Because going public back in 2014 wasn’t dramatic enough (ahem), I thought why not put myself through the “embarrassing” thing again…OK, on a serious note, and to anyone who hasn’t read my story – I was a $1200 an hour escort, retired for love, got dumped, became depressed, then decided to return to the job I loved.
Sounds easy enough, but announcing my return was bloody hard. Harder than going public the first time.
Then I had no idea how interesting my story was, now I am a bit more cluey. I knew it was going to be news and I was worried. The mental chatter in my head was unbearable. Should I, shouldn’t I? What would ‘people’ think?
Maybe I could work on the sly? But that wasn’t me.
In my books, I wrote about how, for me, I need to lead an authentic life. Lying and double lives may work for my clients – but they don’t work for me.
Not only because I would lie in bed wanting to confess all to all and sundry but because I didn’t want anyone to have power over me. The main reason I outed myself years ago was to take ownership of who I was – and take away any power from anyone else.
If I didn’t out myself, someone no doubt would. And yes, it does happen. Recently, a few weeks before I went public again, a man called Nick tried to blackmail me. He offered me a ridiculous amount of money to see me, sent photographs of expensive gifts he had purchased for me..and If there’s one thing escorts can spot a mile off is a time waster and that’s what Nick was.
When I refused our date, the threat came neatly in black and white. “Fine. I am going to the press to tell them you are back working.”
And that little sentence there made my stomach turn.
That f**king little prick.
I emailed something back along the lines of how police can trace email addresses and that he has been harassing me but my anxiety was sky high. Somehow I had ended up in the situation I swore I would never get into. Someone had power over me.
I don’t know how people lead double lives, I really don’t. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I doubled the dose of my anti-depressants, friends were worried for me. Men – but mostly women – still write to me, fans of my story, my books, my ‘truth’ and my courage. I felt an utter fraud.
Back in 2014 I had a tattoo on the inside of my left wrist, the words ‘Stay True.’ I got it done in LA, where I was appearing on a talk show about my book. Reporters were hounding me from Australia, and all I had to do was look at those words and stick to my truth.
And that’s what I knew I needed to do now. Stay true.
Stick to my truth and own it. I won’t lie – staying true is hard. It’s bloody hard.
I have chosen to be a public voice and I believe that comes with responsibilities. A beautiful woman called Tash stopped me in the street a while ago to tell me she loved me, that she read my books, how it helped her marriage and even her elderly mother loved my books. She loved my honesty she said.
If women (and men) are taking the time to tell me they gain strength from my story, then they deserve to know the truth. We all deserve the truth. As for being embarrassed, codswallop. I’ve made peace with who I am.
The only embarrassing thing that happened to me this week is that my new friend at the dog park kindly informed me her name was Liz, and not Tracey, the name I had been calling her for weeks.
Now THAT is what I call embarrassing.