The other day Daddy grabbed my hair and pinned his arms against my chest in a way that if either of us moved in any direction, the other must move too. Inextricably linked.
“I’m still here, y’know. We’re still here.”
He used that Daddy voice that always makes me nervous and shy, the one that pulls out all the slave feelings in me. The connection is never broken, the power exchange never gone. We do not “turn off” the dynamic when things are hard. We do not leave our roles when life is overwhelming. But sometimes I, we, need the reminder that the strength of us isn’t gone.
I’ve lost three family members and a family friend in the last year. Three of these were somewhat sudden. My estranged father wanting to speak to me on his death bed after almost 20 years. My stepfather in a hospital one day, unable to visit due to COVID restrictions, home with hospice a few days later, gone the next. My grandmother shortly after her 88th birthday, after three years of “this might be it”, six months of “why haven’t I gone, why am I still here?” An old family friend contracted COVID while ill with cancer, something I wasn’t aware of.
The grief is thick, complicated, confusing.
And all the while, life continues on. I finished my degree at the end of April this year. Day-to-day life business still has to be handled, bills paid, jobs gone to, shopping done. Driving back and forth between home and my mother’s to help, hold space, spend time.
Daddy has been a quiet steady force through it all. His presence grounds me even when I don’t want to be, when I want to seek out chaos and depression. It’s hard to resist old patterns and habits when turmoil hits our life but it isn’t what he wants from me. The foundation of our relationship runs through every action I take, every choice I make. What would Daddy want me to do? Would this please him? Would he understand? Can I look him in the eye and say I did this without fear?
The M/s never stops. The M/s is constant, the building blocks of our life.
I wish I could say that we leaned deeply into the M/s over the last year. I wish I could say that we added rituals, made time to spend in that headspace but that isn’t our truth. Daddy commented recently that he has chosen to back off of me for the last year because he knows that I need the emotional bandwidth for much heavier things than I normally do. He says that this is why he isn’t my dominant – he is concerned about me in a long-term manner, about how I will be in six months, a year, five years. He is Daddy and Master, choosing to ease control now rather than push beyond fragile boundaries and risk future distrust.
I want to say that that isn’t what I wanted. That I wanted to be pushed and give over more control in this fearful year but that is also not my truth. I resist things like that when I am struggling in non-chaotic times. An oxymoron of a slave, perhaps, but I desperately need to control something in my life. A year of grief, death, a pandemic, meant very little control over my life. Letting anymore of it go would have been impossible.
I often tell Daddy that I trust him, that I believe he knows what is best for me, even if I don’t. This year has reinforced that, even if I wish it were different. I am not the slave of my own fantasies but the person who exists here and now, in this body, with these emotions, with this energy and these abilities. This is who I must work with. This is who Daddy loves, owns, and cares for.
The grief lingers, surprising me at times. My brain is complicated and strange. I have forgotten that people I love died only to remember the next moment and relive it again. These moments are happening less and less but I still reach for Daddy and whisper to him “I forgot about Grandma and now I’m sad.” He doesn’t hesitate to comfort me, to offer me space, to let me cry in the middle of a tv show because a line struck me in a way I can’t explain.
Perhaps these are simply hallmarks of a great partner but, for me, they are reflective of why I serve him. My humanity is never rejected by him, even when I reject it myself, When I want to distance myself from who I am, he pulls me back.
Daddy grabs me by the hair and forces me to stop, to remember. We are together in this, no matter what this is. He will never stop being there.