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I Was a Sugar Baby and I Am Not Ashamed

Learning to heal shame around dirty secrets

By Emily StroiaPublished 5 years ago 3 min read
Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

We all have dark moments—you know, the moments we don't want to talk about.

These are the moments we are ashamed of.

These are the dirty secrets we most likely will take to the grave.

The invisible cloak of shame we wake up with every day and cleverly hide the bones of our past.

This secret of mine is one I've carried around for far too long—12 years too long.

I buried it so deep in my memory that I hoped I'd forget it.

But the thing about shame is you don't forget it.

It follows you wherever you go.

When you least expect it suddenly you are face-to-face with the truth of your past.

You are faced with a choice to own the shame around your dirty secrets or continue to hide them and hide from them.

Personally, I never told anyone because I was afraid of being judged.

I was ashamed.

But I don't want to live in shame anymore.

I was a sugar baby and I am not ashamed.


I was 21 years old. I had just moved to New York City. I got kicked out of the military and was struggling to make ends meet.

I had a job for a few months as an executive assistant and was fired right when I signed the lease for my apartment.

All the money I got from unemployment cover most of my rent with a couple of hundred bucks to spare.

I lived off $1 ham and cheese sandwiches from the bodega and pizza.

I was barely surviving.

I needed the universe to throw me a lifeline.

Sometimes when we are at our lowest a strange synchronicity of events will occur providing us with the resources we need.

And then I met her.


A friend of mine was in town and invited me to a lesbian bar in the West Village.

When I got to the bar my friend and I had a drink and then hit the dance floor.

An older woman with Tom Cruise jet black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes started to dance with me.

The way she smiled at me made me feel safe.

She had a warm nature about her so I followed her lead.

She bought me a drink and we chatted for a while.

Throughout the night we exchanged glances.

She never really took her eyes off of me —that kind of attention excited me.

I gave her my number before I left and a few days later she called.


The first time we went on a date I was hesitant. 

After all, she was older —at least 30 years senior to my 21.

Our courtship started off slow and quickly turned into a silent arrangement.

She knew I was financially struggling.

We talked about our relationship and it was clear we would never truly be an item.

But she wanted companionship and I desperately needed financial support.

She wanted someone to have fun with, someone to spoil. We went to fancy restaurants. I was her date to gatherings.

It was a platonic arrangement for a while.

She bought my groceries and paid my rent.

She took me shopping and got me clothes to endure the brutal New York City winter.

She bought me a $2,000 Nikon camera so I could start a photography business. I later sold it because I needed the money.

It was very clear — I was her sugar baby and she was my sugar momma.

The day we had sex I felt like I had betrayed myself, like I had lost the last little bit of dignity I had left.

I never really wanted to have sex with her.

But as time passed I felt scared that if I didn't put out I would lose her financial support.


I couldn't live with myself after our relationship became sexual.

I decided to end our relationship and prayed the universe would help me get through my dark financial struggle.

I found extra side hustles like nude modeling privately for men in their expensive homes. I even let a man touch my vagina while he drew me.

But at least I wasn't anyone's sugar baby — I could go home at night with some sense of self-respect.

I carried a deep shame around my choices but when you have reached your rock bottom, desperate times really do call for desperate measures.

Being a sugar baby while is not my great accomplishment taught me one thing.

Everyone has a dirty secret.

And you don't have to be ashamed.


About the Creator

Emily Stroia

Self-help writer. Meditation teacher. Author. Mother.

Passionate about healing.

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    Emily StroiaWritten by Emily Stroia

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