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Once we were without each other and married to other people. Both of us used to go to work as early as possible and come home as late as we could, often sitting in a bar rather than go home to a place where we were not really wanted, where no one really knew who we were.

Now Papabear comes home as soon as he can, from a job he continues to work so I can be home growing food and taking care of him, so I can not have migraines from sitting in front of a computer for hours for a job that frustrated me.

The dogs and I go to the gate to open it for him and greet him and, often, he stops right there by the street and takes my face in both his hands, looks deep into me and says, ” Hello Gorgeous.”

And I believe him because his eyes and his hands make me beautiful. This is Home, and here, I am Enough.

Last night, when me and Daddy were making love, I got a little nervous and scared and I began to whimper, and he held me tight and kissed my forehead. He whispered to me “it’s okay baby, it’s okay,” over and over and the last thing I heard was “cum for me, like a good little girl.”
Needless to say, I died.

At a community cleanup where I am uprooting weeds that have grown through the pavement, and Papabear is concerned that I don’t hurt my shoulders:

Me: I’ll stop when I have to.

He: I hope you’ll stop before you have to.

And we both know what “I hope” means. It means ” You will stop…”

The stronger the control, the gentler its effective expression.

Fenced

When we bought this house, the first thing Papabear did was have the windows replaced so we would be safe at night (the 150-year-old originals were stuck but didn’t lock.). The second thing he did was build a beautiful wooden fence by hand, each picket shaped and sanded by him.

That fence has become a lovely objective correlative for Papabear’s loving control. It keeps me safe as I work in the gardens because it allows our two dogs to run free in full circles around the house. (This is necessary where we live.) It forms a barrier that may be more psychological than physical but is effective nonetheless, to anyone who would break in as I work or we sleep inside.

Even more, it holds me inside his protection when he isn’t home. It reminds me that I live under his arm and he raises it over and around me, not just when he is physically present, but all the time. It also reminds me to stay within the fence of The List he leaves for me, not hurting my aging body by doing too much physical work at once.

Non-material things matter most. But some material things do so well at representing what matters that they take on their own glow. The fence is one of those things.

My parents celebrated their 35th anniversary today!
  • Me:What does it feel like to be with the same person for this long?
  • Mum:Amalgamation. He's part of my day, part of my being.
  • Papa:Oh, she's the biggest part of my life. It's incredible.
  • Me:How do you do it?
  • Mum:Swim with the stream. Teach yourself to love every part of it.
  • Papa:I always feel like I belong. The need for the other person, to be with them.
  • [pause]
  • Papa:What are you trying to get from this?
  • Me:I'm sorry?
  • Papa:Why are you asking us these questions?
  • Me:Oh, just documenting.
  • [They look at each other, laugh, and leave for dinner]
  • ___
  • I hope I find a love like yours one day, and I hope we become parents who are just as awesome as you!
  • Happy 35th anniversary,
  • may you never part ❤
Empathy: first in the series Characteristics I Need in My Leader

Yes, I said he has the empathy to be my perfect leader.

I’ve seen many, perhaps too many discussions of what makes a “good dominant.” (Silly rabbits, it’s whatever works for you, and we are all “real.”) in fact, I’ve tried to remove Papabear and me from the framework of those discussions by using the expression Control and Compliance to indicate what our relationship is like rather than any version of D/s.

But I’ve never seen empathy at the top of the list of requirements for the leader in any such relationship, and I think it belongs there. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum from bedroom-only hardcore D/s to the sweetest most Vaseline-lensed romanticism, an unusual level of empathy is necessary in the leader of the relationship.

Without empathy, discipline can easily become abuse. Control can easily become an ego-driven nastiness that isn’t healthy. Dominance can become a twisted thing that destroys the submissive’s spirit.

Empathy shows itself early in a relationship and never goes away. It’s in the instant backing-off when things move too fast. It’s in the listening ear for strangers who need a lift. It’s in the balancing advice when we are angry or hurt.

After so much time, it’s in the smallest gestures.

We have a baby rabbit living around the foundation of our house. There’s lots to eat here, and I don’t mind sharing, planting extra for the bunny. I hope it will stay. But we also have two big dogs, only one of whom is compliant enough to have stopped looking for the bunny because I said he should. The Palace Queen will do as she chooses.

So I have laid down cleaned tomato cages to block parts of the foundation where I see the bunny most often, and I’ve removed the firewood that was blocking access to the space under the concrete steps we never use so it can have good hiding places, easily attained.

Even so, I know Papabear was right in what he muttered to himself outside the other day as we looked to see where the bunny had gotten to: “This is not likely to end well.” He didn’t mean for me to hear it, but I did.

What does this have to do with empathy? Given his accurate evaluation of the situation, he could tell me to to stop putting out food. He could even laugh at me when I yell at The Palace Queen to stop running after the bunny. He does not. He seconds my reprimands and walks with me looking for the bunny, hoping all with be well aganst the odds.

His empathy allows him to simply walk with me through this little adventure and hope with me that it will not become something ugly. And that is an apt metaphor for our life together. Because of the way empathy shapes his strengths, our life has much more beauty than ugliness, and I am happy to comply with his control.

Okay, TCP, here's a confession for you...

First, a bit of context: I am sixty years old. Until about four years ago, I taught college-level English in several different venues for over thirty years. I was married twice before I met Papabear, and in neither case did I change my name. When I was in a car with my first two husbands, I drove. And all that implies.

Now, with all that in mind, you will understand why this is a confession (and it’s just one example chosen from among many similar possibilities).

When Papabear returns home today and smiles and approves of how I cleaned and reorganized the refrigerators as he asked me to do today, I will get a real thrill out of it. In fact, I’m getting a bit of a thrill out of it just in anticipation.

As Papabear walks in the door from work, carrying ice cream for later:

Me: It’s a good thing you like fat girls.

Papabear: I like YOU.

And with that, he erases every whiff of negativity my self-critical mind created around the treat he designed for the evening, releasing me to simply enjoy it as I would if I didn’t live in this obsessive culture.

In other words, I like our own little world.

It had been one long,hellish week. Sure John had a lot of fun hanging out with little kids, teaching them how to make fires, set up tents and sing stupid camp songs, but he had missed being home a lot. When he finally gets back he drops his bag at the door and kicks off his dirty shoes. Dad would probably be somewhere in the house, puttering around. John flops down on the couch and calls out tiredly.

"Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad"

When he says he's proud of me...

I don’t think he understands how much it means…how it makes me feel. The feeling is similar to the heart- expanding sensation I had when our son received his doctorate, when he got married and looked SO happy, when he called from Europe to ask me how to make yogurt. That kind of feeling.

It’s an expansion that pushes out past hurt from any source. It shows me what matters most in life to me. It’s like the feeling elicited by the words “good girl,” writ larger.

He doesn’t say it often. When he does I know it’s about something at least as important to me as it is to him. And it’s that deep, intimate knowledge of what matters to me that makes it so important, so BIG.

When he says he’s proud of me, I know the pride is wrapped in the context of all I am, all my failures and failings, all my weaknesses as well as my strengths. And the way he says it makes me feel as if I am giving HIM a gift.

He is discerning, the most intelligent man I’ve ever known as well as the kindest. That I make him proud is itself one of my proudest accomplishments.

I just had to work out for myself why it matters so much to me.

Flexibility: seventh in the series Characteristics I Need in My Leader

No, not that kind!

I refer here to mental flexibility. To get to where we want to be together, we had to try on different behaviors and habits. Some worked for us and some didn’t. We both had to be willing to try, evaluate our own and each other’s responses and keep or discard whatever it was to serve our needs best.

For example, there is a restraint system attached to our bed, but it has gathered dust for months. We tried it, and it was fun, but the fun was pretty superficial for us. There’s nothing superficial or purely physical about our control and compliance, so physical restraints were not what worked for us. Instead, Papabear prefers to restrain my hands with his own. Better yet, verbal commands work for us. These methods appeal to the kind of emotional and psychological connection we have.

But he had to be willing to both try the restraints and replace them with what works better for us to get to where we are happiest.

Sometimes it’s my own behaviors that have to be tested with his agreement. One example here is also a good illustration of how reading others’ ideas can be helpful, as long as we don’t accept them as our own norm. When we are in public together but some distance apart, I will often sit with my hands turned upward in my lap. It is a sign of my submission to him that only he knows and can see from across a room. He likes it, and so do I. This behavior was a suggestion from another submissive woman.

One behavior that we tried but later let go of was my wearing a headscarf in public as another sign of submission. I did enjoy the shy smiles from other women in headscarves, but my normal body temperature is higher than most, so added warmth didn’t work for me. Papabear easily let it go as a consistent thing, but he likes seeing me in one now and then, I think. The point is that he was willing to try and evaluate the behavior based on what was best for us both. Perhaps I’ll do more of this one now that the weather has turned.

The greatest and most powerful effect of Papabear’s flexibility has been in how he accepts and then develops his enjoyment of the ways sex changes over time. Without flexibility here, we would be in serious trouble, given our advanced ages!

It takes continuing flexibility to live happily in any relationship. Papabear’s willingness to embrace and enjoy change and take chances has been and continues to be one important foundation of our happiness. But the one thing that doesn’t change, that is not flexible, is our devotion to one another. Everything else illustrates the title of my home page: Everything changes; nothing dies.

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