Saturday, February 4, 2017

Not romantic, not broken

Like every other teenager, at 14 or so I started exploring my sexuality. Whatever that means. Most "normal" girls started dating boys at this age. Some girls even dated other girls! Not me, though. I wasn't dating anyone. I experienced a crush now and then, sure. I wanted to look good for the guys....

But looking back, I can't help but wonder if those were really crushes at all. If I thought someone was nice, society told me I should want to kiss them and date them. So, I wrote sweet letters to the funny guy in my English class. I told the guy I knew since kindergarten that I wanted to date him. I giggled and blushed and got rejected (every time), but I didn't really care. Those guys were still in my life and I felt just the same about them as I did about the girls. They were my peers and we were all together in school trying to figure out how to survive math class.

Eventually, the other girls and boys were matching up. They were teasing each other until asking the other to dance at a party. They were trying to get alone time and getting in trouble with their parents. That's when I started to wonder. Maybe if I dated these boys, they wouldn't kick the ball so hard in gym class? Then my nose might not bleed so hard when it hit me in the face.... Or maybe if I dated these boys, they would look the other way when I inexplicably vomited on the lunch table everyday. MAYBE if I dated these boys, they'd be so in love that they wouldn't laugh at me when I bought them a carnation on Valentine's Day. But I didn't date these boys, and I didn't particularly want to. Even when every other girl, including the lanky one with bad pigtails and a worse attitude had a boyfriend, I still didn't want to be in a relationship. I didn't want to devote a Saturday to meeting him at the mall for french fries. Nor did I want to wear his hoodie in 90 degree weather just so everyone knew we were a couple. I had no interest in dating boys.

"So... am I a lesbian?" I wondered this often. Later in life, when bisexuality was a hot word, I wondered if that was the label for me. Those terms didn't fit, either. As little interest as I had in getting boy slobber on me, the thought of girl slobber was even worse. Girls like gossip and they don't grow beards. Not for me.

Now what?

Years went by, college came. At 18 years old, I finally found a guy online who was pretty neat. He had a cool beard and cool thoughts on political stuff. He went to college for music, which was so cool! Plus, he was really into me, so I was like, "Oh. This is normal. I found normal!"

Then we met in person and he was cool, but he wanted to kiss me and put his hands on me. Immediately, this didn't feel cool. Not that it was wrong or bad, but those weren't my hands and lips, why were they near my skin? Ew.

Oh, yes, that was my reaction to being touched: ew. Every single time. I didn't like it. I didn't like the germs and someone else's saliva near me. I didn't like being touched or complimented or even holding hands. Flirting was uncomfortable, too. I simply detested everything about this new thing I was experiencing. He would also ask me questions about my habits and my body that sounded absolutely rude and gross. Would I like WHAT WHERE!? Do I want HOW WHEN!?

No, sir. NO to everything.

The only thing I could think to do was to stop everything. Stop dating, stop talking to new people, stop whatever was causing this displeasure. If I could just turn off that faucet, that'd be great, thanks. But I couldn't make it stop! Everywhere I went, there were men, and sometimes women who were asking for my number or offering me a drink. And, truth be told, I loved connecting with strangers. Going out to a new bar or restaurant or even traveling with someone I would otherwise never have met was so much fun! Usually, the guy would pay, so I wouldn't even have to worry about money!

Why would I stop this? Everyone else was doing it and everyone was telling me I should do it, so... clearly, this is what I should be doing, whether I liked it or not.

This worked for me until the inevitable moment would come: he would expect the next thing that normal people expect on or after a date- he'd want to get close to me. He'd want to kiss and touch and possibly even start a relationship. Oh, right... that. Ew.

Problem is, if I rejected him, I was told I was just leading him on and taking advantage of him. That's what normal people told me. Taking advantage of people is not something I do, so I went on a second date, and a third, and my resentment would grow. Eventually, everything about this person seemed horrible. They were no longer nice or friendly or funny or kind. They had no positive traits, they were just evil people sucking me into their lair of hot, sticky, disgusting saliva baths.

I wish I could say there were positive influences telling me what was so clear. I wish I could say that my support system was wise enough to inform me that I wasn't required to date. That I didn't have to get married and have babies and make a family to be happy or complete. If someone had just taken a moment to tell me that it's OKAY to not be normal, my life would have been so much easier. Maybe I wouldn't have hated college, maybe I wouldn't have hated socializing, maybe I wouldn't have even hated myself for being abnormal. Surviving my teens and my college years and 6 years of my 20s have been made unnecessarily stressful because everyone thinks I will find "the one" and that I will find my sexuality when I fall in love, because I WILL fall in love. Apparently.

In the meantime, I'm the poor, unfortunate girl who has never had a romantic relationship or been mature enough for one. I am faulty because romance is not something I want, and a mate for life or for tonight are of no interest to me. If I can't publicly display my affection, what use am I to humanity as a whole?

The world has told me I am useless.

But, really? I'm super fine with that. There are days when it bugs me, but I am lucky to be free of that pressure! I don't have to make anyone happy but myself and the people I so choose. I can do and go and be as I please. Without worrying about a jealous or abusive boyfriend. I've never wondered why the guy I love hasn't texted me in 2 days. There are no strings attached to me and I don't have to get approval from anyone but my teachers in graduate school, while there's no boyfriend to distract me from my professional goals. No boyfriend to break up with when I go traveling for a month. My dog doesn't have to approve or disapprove of a guy who comes in and tries to interrupt our happy family of two. I get to live alone, keep the toilet cover down, and never worry about a messy guy trying to ruin my organized lifestyle.

Now, that's what I call a success. With the freedom to protest injustice, foster homeless animals, give unto others, and take the last bite, I have no one to face at the end of the day but myself and my ethics and morals. This romance with myself has its ups and downs, and sometimes I need to buy myself a box of chocolates and beg for forgiveness, but I know just how to get it. Whether it's cheering myself up or calming myself down, the answer is always inside me without an ounce of falsity, passive aggressiveness, or concern that I'll leave at any moment. The trust is unconditional, the love is never-ending, and the memories together are priceless.

I'm not aromantic or asexual, I'm all I have, and that's everything to me.

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