Hail, brave content creators, welcome to the April edition of the Carnival of Aces. With the spring equinox behind us, Passover and Easter upon us and April Fool’s day tomorrow and everything around us blooming and reproducing… Well, no time like the present to feel melancholy. Or cheerful. One of the two.
This month’s theme’s inspired by a medieval Flemish-Dutch sentence:
Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu[,] wat unbidan we nu[?]
All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?
Penned in the 1100 by a monk, probably to test his quill, it’s the oldest sample of my native language. It’s always struck a chord.
Rarely does a shift in orientation work out in a person’s life according to expectations. We wander into such wildly unexpected and unknown futures.
I think we need those stories.
So the question for this month:
How did your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations impact your (expected or imagined) future?
Prompts to help the creative juices flow (feel free to deviate):
- All the (other) birds:
- Was there a clear or typical path in life that you decided to diverge from, when others didn’t?
- My nest:
- What life have you begun to build since your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations changed?
- Except me and you:
- If you had to sketch a potential life or partner or relationship or family, what are some of the ingredients that make it a good, safe, peaceful and/or joyful prospect?
- You’ve decided you do not wish for a partner and may find fulfilment in your life through alternative means, please share!
- Still waiting
- What expectations for your life are you uncertain about or struggling with after having discovered your (a)sexual and/or (a)romantic orientations?
- Leave a link to your contribution, be it post or vlog or art piece, in the comments.
- Send your contribution to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org so I can host it on my blog.
- Leave your thoughts on one of the prompts in the comments.
Please do let me know if you’ve contributed somehow, I do wish to honour all the awesomeness. If you have specific preferences for pronouns and/or descriptions for your submission, let me know those as well, please. Late submissions added throughout May.
Associated posts, links to be added as they appear:
- Parade of posts for April (on this blog)
- The March parade (luvtheheaven’s blog)
- The Call for submissions for May (hosted by Prismatic Entanglements)
- All of the Carnival of Aces parades! (Asexual agenda)
Note: I can discern the gender of some, but not others. So you’re all neutral “they”, because the poor guy personifying politeness in my head is pacing in indecision and waving a book at me with “21st century etiquette” on the cover. If you wish this changed, leave a comment and I’ll edit.
Note 2: Thanks to conscientious commenters. List should now be complete and link correct.
Before I started reading all of the submissions I received for this month, I was bouncing around in glee because of the idea of a multitude of perspectives on something I wanted to really read more about. Now I’m just humbled by the different thoughts, great stories and awesome people I have been allowed to host in this month’s Carnival of Aces.
The theme was to write about the relationship between (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations and the future, based on the oldest Dutch sentence in existence, “Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda tu, wat unbidan we nu?” That was taken in a lot of different directions.
Controlled Abandon was first out of the gate with a post considering both a future alone or together with a partner equally, and sketching how both would ideally work out. Read what they wrote in their April 2018 Carnival of Aces post.
Lib considers with dry wit on A3 that they might be a migratory bird that takes a while to settle down in “My Unexpected Future“.
Blue Ice Tea on Ace Film Reviews shares a beautiful and hopeful story about finding a satisfying friendship in “Growing Up Platoniromantic: Happy Endings“.
Queenie of Aces writes in the Asexual Agenda about queer futurity (which is my new word for the day) and building a road for others where there isn’t yet one to walk on in “To build an unimaginable future“.
Between Worlds Unknown is the gorgeous name of Varian’s blog, whose accepting of their asexual orientation lead to other questions and realisations, read it in “Stepping Stones“.
An Ace from Appalachia had me groaning and then grinning in sympathy at the pressure they faced over their wedding. If you want to join me in the crowd that wants to take down the entire wedding industry and its PR, go read “My Story Of Failing At Doing The Straight Thing“.
In From Fandom to Family, Luvtheheaven speaks about coming of age with a lot of doubts and a shaky future and finding strength in picking their way through that. It convinced me that this slow-built nest will turn out very interesting in “I Can’t Just Let The Future Pass Me By“.
Sennkestra slides a post through the closing doors of April on Next Step: Cake in which they shed some light on the differences between general and specific life goals and how that can really change the answers. Go read “Milestones and Priorities“.
Laura, on their blog [Purr]ple [L]ace, reflects on their big masterplan to build a single-parent household and how not being single throws a wrench in that, and the bittersweetness that is adaptation in “Nesting and… Re-nesting?“.
Elizabeth in Prismatic Entanglements also discusses her less than usual path to a less than usual domestic situation and mixed bag of blessings, friction and thoughts that brings along with it in “Building a mosaic from a Shattered Future“.
And… I wrote “A [hu]man of good character“.
Now on, on to the next month:
- The Call for submissions for May (hosted by Prismatic Entanglements)
- All of the Carnival of Aces parades! (Asexual agenda)
- The March parade (luvtheheaven’s blog)
Round-up post coming soon, but I’ll be wanting to read everything as I link to it, I just know it. And plus, then I can immediately include anything posted on May 1st (but mostly I’m just too eager to read what feels like extra special contributions because I hosted this month).
So, immediate recommendations for more writerly fun.
- Host for the May parade of the Carnival of Aces will be Elizabeth over on Prismatic Entanglements, so keep an eye on that blog for the next call of submissions (link added).
- Head over to the Carnival of Aces Masterpost to host a month yourself! We’re set for two months, but it’d be great to have more folks involved. The work is:
- Think of a theme. I recommend an indulgent drink to go with it. Ask fellow bloggers the thing you’ve been wondering about (and yes, themes re-occur).
- Write a post at the start and end of the month with theme and submissions respectively.
- Write your own submission.
- That’s it! And I can tell you it’s quite a good amount of fun for not much effort.
- Write or draw or compose about asexuality and representation for the next volume of “The Asexual” and get published! The submission deadline for their next journal is June 18th (so you’ve got about six weeks), more information is over here on their website.
- Get a place in the spotlight and tell a little about yourself in an interview over on asexualartists.com. Here’s their call for interviewees.
If you’ve got more recommendations, feel free to add them in the comments.
Reading now! (Edit: read, round-up post coming soon)
I was going to write “ man person”, but no strikethroughs in titles allowed on wordpress. So, scholarly brackets it is. I’ll worry about being inclusive to aliens when we meet some. This is my contribution for the April – Carnival of Aces.
My friend tells her unlikely love story, and concludes, “I had a list, so I knew who to date. He just fulfilled every item on it. I knew he was the one.”
“I… can’t even imagine.”
“What’s on your list?”
“I don’t have one. I suppose I’d like to just… see what develops when I meet someone.”
“No list? C’mon, what’s your type, what’d you put on there?”
I’m quiet for a few minutes. Her sharing at least obligates me to give it serious thought. “Really wouldn’t know what to put on it,” I admit in the end.
There’s a list in my head. It’s for me, not any partner:
- Be at peace with loneliness, so company is joy, not necessity
- Have a good circle of friends, then worry about romance
- Have a stable income, so you can support a household
- Meet in real life for dates, online contact hurts too much
“D’you want me to set you up?”
“Er… are they nice?”
“Yeah.” How else do I ever meet anyone?
A month later, I’ve still heard nothing.
What I want: a list of ways asexual people identify partners in life, so I can try things, and support from friends when I admit to seeking a partner.
What I have: a list of expectations people have for how a good, normal, healthy woman finds a partner, and all the ways they joke about helping, and won’t, because it’s too unusual.
“God, I hate being single.”
“We all deal with some level of loneliness, in or outside a relationship.” The later in the evening, the more philosophical, though not necessarily wiser, my brain.
“I guess, but, I’d really like some company, y’know?”
“Depends on the company,” I mutter.
I forget my own advice, gradually.
Out of my own fantasy, the things I did like about being in a relationship, pop culture and idle conversations I build a new, false image I wish to chase.
I start living in fantasy land.
It’s an excellent image to fall asleep with, but a bad thing to believe in the waking world.
“Well, it’s a blessing, really, for your life, if you don’t desire anyone.”
“So you can focus on other things. On God.”
“What do you mean?”
Well, like Paul said, if you lust after others, you must marry. If you don’t, you’re more blessed because you can focus on serving the Lord, like him. Feel happy.”
Even as someone who actually does ministry, this made me balk.
I feel this is going to become the asexual equivalent of the scenario where gay people are accenpted so long as they are celibate and “they focus on God’s love.”
Sex is for heterosexual people, right? Bleh.
Oh, I desire another. Just very, very rarely sexually.
I don’t know how, but I know I do.
“I can’t seem to actually start. I remain this… armchair philosopher.”
“Scared? Lazy? Ignorant?”
I tell her of all my insecurities.
“Stop thinking so far into the future. Meet people. Give them space to become your acquaintance or friend or significant other, whatever develops. All you can do is create the opportunities and invest the time to grow new relationships. The rest is not yours to control.
Okay, helpful list.
- Meet people
- Stop worrying
- Enjoy the meeting of minds
- Be conscious of but not stopped by my sexuality.
I am spending a lot of time with someone in a relationship that is… not going well. Mostly, I’m in charge of making sure she eats and has enough fun, someone else is playing the part of confidant.
They pose for a picture. “Wait. I need to unlock my phone for you. It’s secured with my thumbprint. No one else can access it.”
“Oh wow, that seems handy, in case it gets stolen.”
I get one of those glances, one of the heavy, unsmiling ones. “Yeah, well, I got tired of his spying, y’know? My messages are none of his business.”
He messages her daily. He reads her email. He upsets her, over and over.
Yet, she loves him, he loves her. They’re trying.
The realisation comes gradually that I have been idealising realtionships.
Living in fantasy land is safe and easy.
There are things, being single, that I’ve been taking for granted.
My own space, respected.
Being on an even keel with others.
I realise I do have a list.
List (to be specified):
- Adult of similar age
- High integrity
- Similar ideals
- Compatible life goals
- Equally affectionate
- Does not discriminate
- Comfortable with who I am
Seeking: a person of good character.
Dare to volunteer as a host for Carnival of Aces, and that is inevitably the month you will get swamped, or so it seems. I tried to find the actual quiet month, too.
Several weeks of being a supportive person, and catching up on things after, didn’t leave much room to write. As reward, I’ve received a much-needed reality check about relationships. More about that in my own contribution to April’s Carnival.
This is also to say I’m sorry for my late responses to all, I really do appreciate everyone who’s contributed. I started this month so absolutely stoked to be able to play a host to a festival that’s provided me with a lot of writing inspiration.
I’m really looking forward to reading everything.
I live in a progressive society.
I am ‘not sexually active’, rather than a virgin (maagd).
Virgin and maiden and damsel (in distress) are the same word in Dutch.
Everyone is the hero of their own narrative.
I was a child in the nineties.
We were never told we should be the damsel.
Thus, it remained a word for other people.
…Born from the Virgin Mary… (geboren uit de maagd Maria)
Except that was not the Mary I liked or pictured.
My Mary was the respected wife of a middle-class carpenter with half a dozen children, who had been exiled to Egypt and returned to Israel only to move to a completely different town and build a new life there succesful enough to afford a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the only woman on the planet to have raised God the Son with reasonable succes and saw him go off to do inexplicable things and then had to bury her eldest child.
The woman who went and asked that same Jesus for a miracle because her friends’ wedding was about to go off the rails.
The Virgin was a blue and white robed statue in old chapels.
Thus, it remained a word for other believers.
I was never asked if I was a virgin.
Society never impressed this word on me, but went out of its way to reject it as oldfashioned.
I was always asked if I was sexually active.
So, I was ‘not sexually active’.
Thus it remained a label for other cultures.
I never needed the word to describe or defend the fact I did not have sex.
It was rather taboo to ask if someone had ever had sex.
If you had it, presumably you boasted.
If you did not speak of it, it was assumed you simply did not have it recently.
I moved too much so I did not grow up in one place.
I did not have a family that considered my sexual activity its businesss.
I had no people come on to me uninvited or presuming they could have sex.
Thus, it remained a line of defense for other people.
I did have talks with friends, of course I did.
It is really easy to turn the conversation to other aspects of a relationships.
People really love to talk about their own experiences, if they talk about it at all.
I also had kind enough friends that they simply respected my being single as a choice.
When I had a relationship, it felt so utterly personal, tender, vulnerable, I was circumspect.
In talking to my partner, the past seemed so much less relevant to discuss than us, now, until it didn’t exist anymore.
Thus, it remained a discussion I never had.
Every single doctor I have ever had.
Are you sexually active.
I get, perhaps, a look.
Thus, it remained a question I was never asked.
The only time the issue of virginity was raised, was in a religious context.
It came dripping with bad and worse associations. Submission. Purity culture. Patriarchy.
I felt revolted at the mere idea of identifying with it.
I like having my judgment respected when it comes to my sexual activities.
I like having the freedom to discuss what I did and did not do without immediate censure.
I like having no law or rule dictate or limit my activities so long as I do not harm or harrass anyone.
I like the sense of safety and respect and responsibility that awards.
I like the idea that I answer to God, and God alone, when it comes to whatever consensual sexual activity I engage in.
The idea that I make choices to follow what I believe is right freely, in my own time and without outside pressure.
I like it a lot.
I like sexual freedom.
Thus, it remained a discussion I tried to avoid.
I am not a virgin.
I have never had occasion to identify with the word.
I have never much discussed it and when I did, disliked it.
I do not apply this label to myself.
Ironically, people will apply the label if I am ever very clear about the limits to which I have been sexually active.
I cannot even make sense of where that line is drawn.
Is there one?
I do not wish to be a virgin, with all that that entails.
I am simply ‘not sexually active’.
Lady bits will be discussed in this post.
I live in a progressive society.
I am ‘not sexually active’, rather than a virgin (maagd).
There are reasons for this. I want to illustrate that.
It’s always felt so… natural (vanzelfsprekend).
With great glee, teen magazines and sexual education revelled in one fact when I grew up.
Only one percent of girls would have their hymen intact and bleed when they had sex.
Hymen. In Dutch, literally virgin seal (maagdenvlies).
The accuracy of the statistic wasn’t important.
Its repetition was.
Scientific fact or fiction as a mantra, a talisman.
Your hymen will 99% likely not be intact.
It meant, do not fear sex.
It meant, it won’t hurt, try it.
It meant, you are safe, don’t worry.
It meant, there is no magic.
It meant, there is no unforgivable sin.
It meant, you will still be the same person.
There is no magic.
Your body cannot be a sacrifice.
Your blood does not have special powers.
You will not be targeted by evil sorcerers or monsters or bogeymen.
There is no unforgivable sin.
You are not more virtuous for having had less or more sex.
You are not more holy before you have sex.
You do not have to be an angel.
You will not be a slut.
You do not need to be ‘kept safe’ for your own good.
You are safe, do not worry.
You are not in danger because you are innocent or beautiful.
Others’ lust is not on you.
Sexual harrassment is a crime.
We make laws, we bring justice.
If you are in danger, we are on your side.
We will teach you how to speak up.
We will teach you how to fight.
We will teach you how to be prudent.
We will teach you how to wield our laws.
Do not fear sex.
You will still be the same person.
Your body is yours to do with as you please.
We have enshrined this in the declaration of human rights.
We are dedicated to bringing this freedom to everyone around the world.
This freedom is your inalienable right.
Try it, it won’t hurt.
Here comes the sticking point.
What if I don’t want to try sex?
Then I don’t, I suppose.
They said, your hymen will likely not be intact.
You may not have a detectable hymen in the first place.
It may break when you ride a bike or a horse.
It may break when you insert a tampon, fingers or a device.
It may break with rigorous physical activity.
They said, be careful with the vagina, that may be narrow.
The vagina may be narrow.
I have discovered the truth of this last part.
It is a flexible channel with muscles around it.
Go figure what inactivity does.
The Dutch ride bikes regularly from age four.
I have always wondered if other nations had a higher percentage of intact hymen.
I preferred tampons.
We swim a lot, in Holland.
Hobby, outing with friends, day out in summer, exotic vacation.
Imagine having a 25% chance of not being able to do that.
It’s hard to bend over and see, easier to touch lady parts.
We were informed it’s good to clean and be familiar with those lady parts.
We were told about a terrifying host of things that can be wrong .
Mostly, I remembered it was good to inform a doctor if anything seemed off.
That means knowing how my genitals looks when they’re alright.
Relevant: stimulating devices.
I explored enough to know parts were functional.
I found that it worked differently for me, however.
It took me a while to figure out, hey, other sexuality.
Upon the stage of public opinion, the Dutch don’t really have conservative evangelicals.
We have conservative Muslims.
They are not considered white, so they are ridiculed more openly.
Thus, Christian girls worry a lot less about being a virgin, at least in a clear physical sense.
Muslim girls, well-informed, do worry about not being virgin in any discernable physical way.
I have overheard several serious discussions of the wonders of goat’s blood packets in the marriage bed while on the train, over the years.
An intact hymen is for other cultures and other times.
Physical inspection was for horrible quack-doctors among Victorians.
Physical mutilation is for horrible witch-doctors on other continents.
Here, just sign a petition, send a card.
Except, not really.
I read about sexual education going out the window.
I read about girls not knowing about or being scared of their own genitals.
I read about women feeling scared about not having an intact hymen.
I read about people getting sick, of STDs spreading again.
I speak to fellow Christians honestly believing this is all a good development.
I am speechless.
Your hymen is likely not intact.
It’s just a little fold of tissue.
I find I am holding a talisman.
Image and official rules over on The Global Aussie.
So, this is taken me two weeks, but I loved the idea of this 🙂
Thanks to janitorqueer for tagging me into the Liebster Award.
Rules of the game, in the tag-post:
1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
3. Nominate bloggers who you think are deserving of the award but also help promote newer bloggers with less followers.
4. Tell the bloggers you nominated them, in a comment on their blog.
5. Give them 11 questions of your own.
The first few questions…
- What inspires you most when writing/blogging? A creative outlet for demisexuality and all it brought with it, especially at the start, with the two-fold goal of finding a sense of community and hopefully providing some informative posts for people similarly redefining their identities and lives.
- Are you religious? Yes… and Christianity is definitely significant in my writing, I think most of all because faith and sexuality both feel like fundamental parts of my self.
- Did you enjoy your education? (high school, university, etc.) Yes and no. I love learning stuff, but secondary school was a gauntlet due to a lot of uncertainties. University I adored because I studied something I loved. Graduate studies was a whole other ball-game again, that… no.
- What is your dream job? private tutoring in what I studied, with someone else doing the admin and client acquisition.
- Boxers or briefs? yeah… on that subject I mostly appreciate it that my roommates have different preferences when it’s my turn to do laundry. Easier to tell apart.
- What important values do you live by? Love others as you love yourself… and that can be split up into
- a) Each person should know they are invaluable;
- b) I am fascinated with every interesting mind I encounter;
- c) It is essential that everyone recognise that everyone else is incalculably precious and not to be wasted, and that this is embedded in everything from international law to household rules;
- d) Everyone has agency, needs and unique talents and worldview, so satisfaction of basic needs, freedom of choice, freedom of information, accountability, equality and a healthy support network are essential for each human being to function.
…since that leaves me with five questions, here goes, pulled from other sources.
- What would people be surprised to know about you? I was a scout and know three ways to build a camp fire.
- What is your greatest joy in life? Succesfully getting an idea I’m very enthusiastic about from inception to final execution. There is no bigger high.
- What is the favourite country you’ve visited? Ireland. It managed to combine an idyllic countryside with an inexhaustible source of culture and some of the best music and loveliest accents I’ve had the pleasure to hear.
- Craziest idea you ever got in the shower? Top five non-humanoid aliens I’d want to meet. Especially the part where I was speculating on safe methods of preserving my body while communing with noncorporeal entities consisting of thought.
- One sentence that sums up your 2017. The advance of human commodification is horrifying, enraging and inspiring (to write about).
Questions for the tagged ones:
- What was the catalyst for you to start blogging, and what keeps you writing now?
- What do you consider the best part of yourself?
- What stranger, friend or family has continued to be an example throughout your life (describe what they mean to you, if you want to keep it general)?
- What is the most important choice you ever made, to you personally?
- If you had to describe yourself in a movie tagline, e.g. the callous reporter or the down-to-earth jazz musician or the calm old soul, what phrase would you use?
- Congratulations, you are now the President of the United States. What’s your first executive order?
- Earth has been destroyed and you flee the planet. Describe the space ship you’re on.
- What is your favourite superpower?
- What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
- You get one freebie to smack a person in the face without consequences. Who will it be?
- What polysyllabic (big-ass) word has become a common word in your vocabulary?
Tagged ones (which are just plain good blogs, and didn’t already get tagged, go read):
P.S. “Liebster” is something like “sweetie” in German, and River Song was one of my favourite characters. So, that.
My contribution to the March Carnival of Aces, about physical health and bodies. Go check out all the contributions.
Explicit language about sex, though I try not to be graphic.
For twenty-five years all the landmarks of developing sexuality and romantic relationships pass me by.
I blame my impopularity, my insecurity, my anxiety, my depression.
I have a few crushes. I think those feelings are attraction.
I look at a man I have known for several years.
In disbelief I feel my lower stomach roil with heat and my groin clench. I flush.
I flee to the hallway and slide down a wall.
That was sexual attraction. Out of nowhere. Already waning.
I realise I have never, ever felt it before.
My mind explodes.
I find the word “asexual” online. I read, ferociously.
I am demisexual, I decide.
I feel highly relieved.
The general practicioner looks at me. “Are you sexually active?”
I tick the box for single on the document, on every document.
I am in Amsterdam during Pride week.
I buy a purple dress and paint flags on my hands.
No one recognises asexuality as a thing. I comfort myself with forum hopping.
Weaving through the crowds I realise the most important thing about Pride is intangible: lack of expectations.
People bring their kids to experience a place and time when anyone’s sexuality and gender can be anything and it is okay.
It is festive, but I am alone and unknown. I leave early.
On the way home I buy a black ring and put it on my right middle finger.
There, I am out.
I take a photo.
I fill out another form. Yes, I’m single, dammit.
For the first time, I want there to be a question about sexuality.
“I’ve been flirting with you for ages!”
“I honestly didn’t notice.”
“Oh my God.” Skype makes his laugh a muffled thing. “Do you like me? I mean, you were not responding, so.”
“…yeah. But. I wasn’t gonna say anything. This is online.”
“You were just gonna pine. Pathetically.”
“Well, yeah. I’m… kinda glad to be having this conversation, though.”
I discover that being in love comes with heightened awareness, especially of my body in the world.
Flirting, once I’m aware, is an addictive adrenaline rush.
I feel tender, vulnerable.
I stop blogging. This is for me.
“Your vagina’s kind of narrow.”
I glare at my doctor. What part of ‘never sexually active’ was unclear?
“You never masturbate?”
I shrug. “Yeah.”
She grimaces. “This may hurt.”
She slides in the I.U.D. Aside from a dull ache, it’s fine.
Five years’ worth of birth control, installed.
Our flirting, our conversations continue.
I am shameless. I grew up in a culture open about sexuality. I see no reason to hold back.
I find my imagination has the greatest influence over my body.
Anticipation can buzz for an entire day beneath skin.
I want touch, I crave it.
The flip side, he lives in another country.
I love the attention, the banter.
I want company. I want another body, close.
The calls become explicit too, sometimes.
I delight in the celebration of body, it is so new.
I am, perhaps for the first time, interested in manly bits.
I love the touch, even imagined, even removed. Giving and taking.
I love the gaze. I love the sounds. I love the play of talk and touch and exploration and affection.
However, as it becomes more… focused, it becomes less interesting.
Reality is less without imagination fully engaged.
The more it is about just the genitals, the less my body and mind are into it.
The popping, crackling full-body fizz as we suggested, flirted, started, settles down into a low, steady buzz in my belly, depressingly familiar from masturbating.
Now, as then, orgasm is simply an end. A sudden stop to pleasant sensation, like stepping in a cold shower.
I have learned not to let that buzz culminate and tip over, but now it does.
“Did you finish?” he asks and I answer in the affirmative.
I do not fake that, but I fake how it makes me feel.
I fear he notices.
We end that call and I curl up wanting to cry.
Orgasms do not work as advertised and I want an afterglow badly.
The foreplay is not supposed to be the highlight, dammit.
When I start counting in months, I feel his physical absence acutely.
The difference with friendship turns out to be the level of preoccupation and the territoriality that comes with it.
He is a missing limb, in my thoughts but never under my hands.
We drift apart. His disinterest grows and I become stiffer the longer I want more than I can have.
I start babysitting, for some money.
Children, I discover, like touch, especially when they can dictate it.
Since touch has always equaled affection in my family, it is very, very easy to love the kids.
I also discover babysitting can stop from one day to the next.
The first time it ends I cry for several days on the couch, I simply think I am sad.
The second time was longer, much worse, and I realise how much more territorial I was over kids than even a romantic partner. Even when I knew they were not mine.
I am preternaturally aware of my womb for several months.
After the third time is bad, so bad, I swear off babysitting.
I fill out another form. I tick single, and no, for sexually active.
A year in my new town, I finally feel comfortable to start touching the people I have come to know.
A hug, a supporting hand.
I do not realise just how much it relaxes me until I am asked what’s made me so cheerful.
I meet my new doctor.
“I am not sexually active, no. I am on the asexual spectrum.”
She gives me a weird look at my wide, wide smile.
Two years seems to be the mark for me to be settled enough to start feeling attracted to people.
A grinning woman, oozing charisma and feminity, makes me weirdly cheerful and want to stare like a creepy stalker.
At the coffeestore, to make it more cliche.
No flush, no buzz, though. No desire to touch.
Oh, oh. Aesthetic attraction, I realise. For a real, live person.
I meet a young woman, single.
She is going to be a foster parent.
It is a revelation. Many ways lead to Rome. I need not take the most common one.
My anxiety hits me over the head again, out of nowhere.
My sex drive remains. I still feel the occasional attraction, mostly aesthetic or romantic, once even the flush of sexual.
I blamed all the wrong things when I was young.
I am demisexual, and it is simply my nature, not a symptom.
I have tried to cover all the feelings that relate to my body and are encompassed by my demisexuality.
This is not a complete account, I have chosen to include the first (or only) time I felt or acted on certain attractions.
I decided to leave out times when that attraction was not directed at a real person but a fictional character, especially since sexuality seems to function very differently in imagined and real scenarios.
I joke, sometimes, that my demons are all inside my head. A life of insecurities fed by a vivid imagination and an intellect as adapt at self-deception as it is at self-reflection.
I have a hard time acknowledging that this internal conflict is legitimate.
I am fighting myself.
It’s not real.
(Others won’t care.)
I have buried what I want so far I do not have words.
(On top, in ascending order: Fears. Excuses. Euphemisms. Silence.)
I grasp at vapour eminating off what cringes in the shadow.
(I put you there, I am sorry.)
It is reflex, when someone starts in on abstinence, starts in on homosexuality being a sin.
Stop. Listen. Internal fact-check. Extrapolation of world-view. Phrase counterargument. Project likely reaction. Stay quiet.
Empathy. Open-mindedness, I used to think.
The truth: I am weak to claims that it isn’t polite to talk sex and politics and religion.
I allow the dominant discourse to go unchallenged.
When I speak, it is in the other’s words, the other’s paradigm.
Intercultural. Bridging gaps, I used to think.
The truth: I would rather step on my own convictions than another’s.
I contradict myself, from conversation to conversation.
When I attempt to speak honestly, either feeling safe or feeling too angry to curb my words, I still struggle.
I still slant what I think to an angle or omit controversialities or insert rationalisations.
Simplifying, explaining, I used to think.
The truth: I do not wish to break relationships, and worry too vividly.
When I break down in a safe space, with a trusted person, I do not control the words.
I sketch the shape of fears grown like fungus in the dark, hardly knowing the place they arise from.
Venting, being open, I used to think.
The truth: I am scared of things I have not dared to examine, for fear of what I need to change.
I have an outlet, and the status quo continues.
What do I want?
I sit in a dark room staring at deeper shadows.
My eyes adjust.
I am accepted.
What do I fear?
I stare back at myself, older, hands hidden the shadows.
Perhaps holding children, adopted, biological.
(Deliberately a single parent, with added stigma.)
Perhaps holding a partner, unknown age, gender, religion, ethnicity.
(A relationship, might be rejected)
What do I fear?
(Will I remain acceptable?)
If you let go, you could easily step forward, I do not tell myself.
If they stay secret, you could easily stay there, I do not tell myself.
If they come with you, they could get hurt, I do not tell myself.
What do I fear?
(Deeper, go deeper)*
Finding my future self empty-handed.
I look up at the light.
No one I love deserves to live in a pit like this, I tell my future self.
Duh, she answers.
(I imagine she fears less.)
I am accepted.
I still fear the church.
I remain silent, I twist my words, I hide what I believe.
I lie, because I am scared of the future.
I fear having to pay a price for my heart’s desires.
What do I fear?
My present community.
A potential future family.
I am fighting myself.
If I do not win, it will be real.
(Go on the offence)
* I watched Revolutionary Girl Utena, all three seasons in a single weekend. I love fantasy that deconstructs shit, and this came with a bonus absolutely gorgeous queerplatonic relationship (or so I interpreted it). Definitely recommended. (And free on youtube here!)