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Other birds have nests

Which winter will I have one

Ace feel less like ice

Ambivert?

I try to write constructive posts, on this blog. Honest about my struggles but also, in the self-reflecting, seeing what is good and what might work and what gives me hope and a plan and motivation. That’s deliberate. Dutchies make a habit of complaining and it’s a good way for me to find excuses to give up and get sad.

I’m telling you this to give you some context to for the following: I’ve been telling my therapist for a year that I feel lonely. I feel that loneliness is tied to my asexuality, in part because it made me limit myself in relationships and in part because moving and joining a more conservative church served to give rise to my internalised orientation-related-phobia (Acephobia? Homophobia? Queerphobia? We need a new word here).

I’ve been telling my therapist I’m lonely… not just in the kinda-wanting-company sense. But often physically craving company and getting an itchy skin because I wasn’t getting my dose of affectionate touch that week and having a broken record in my head mournfully crooning about wanting a good conversation.

Even though I do have company and I do have a supportive family and I do have friends… It wasn’t enough, by a long stretch.

We’ve tried different things. Finally screwing up the courage to go out and try dating. Seeing if I needed to do volunteer work or get a hobby and just have a low-key way to meet people. Journaling to dig up the details about how my brain works, especially given my orientation, and my prejudices and self-image.

It’s lead to some great stuff. I’ve gotten to know myself a lot better and figured more about how I do relate to people and what I would want out of a relationship, friendship, familial or romantic.

We didn’t get to the core problem, it seemed. It kept cropping up.

Finally, one session, after I was done laying out what I wished to dig into that time, she regarded me very seriously and asked, “Are you sure you’re an introvert?”

“Yes?” I said, because she has a habit of prodding at my beliefs until I have to re-examine them myself. “I mean… I crave time alone after a day around people and I’m good at entertaining myself.” And it made it easier to deal with not having many friends and a good excuse for sitting somewhere with a book by myself.

“But you keep telling me you need to be around people more and… well… you light up every time you tell me about a gathering or a meeting you went to that you liked. It charges you up even remembering the event.”

“Well….yeah. They are fun. But also hard.”

“Mostly when you’re not comfortable, right?”

“Right.”

“And when you are at ease…?”

“Best feeling in the world.”

“Hm-hm.”

I need people. As an instinctive, emotional social creature I need people. Far more than I was actually granting myself.

Having practiced with just being around people more in places I’m comfortable for low-key activities with few expectations doing things I find interesting… I have to say, this craving was far broader and far less discriminating than I thought. Yes, I’d like to date, but I don’t need to. Yes, I’d love to have good friends, but a mellow chat with someone I’ve just met is also great.

I was starving for company. Just because I was kinda quiet and socially awkward and also, yes, needed a measure of reflection, I thought I was a hell of an introvert. I’m really not.

I’m not sure whether I’m an ambivert or just a very quiet extrovert…

Just, I want to encourage you, if you’re asexual and you’ve been feeling lonely and you think it’s because you don’t have a ‘love life’… I encourage you to try other things too, you may be surprised by how many things can be satisfying and stimulating.

List of stuff I tried to start:

  • Do some work in a local cafe a couple of times a week, instead of at home.
  • A few free or low-cost events (lectures, plays, workshops) on topics I liked.
  • Take a little more initiative in meeting up with friends.
  • Take the bike more and say hello to every single person I make eye contact with (and get either responses or hilarious faces).

Featured image from:

https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-introvert-and-extrovert.html

 

 

 

Marriage Without Sex or Ceremony

For the Carnival of Aces in August concerning stages of coming out, to celebrate where I’m at, acceptance of panromanticism and synthesis of demisexuality. Labels and explicit body parts deliberately omitted in the post.

Marriage Without Sex or Ceremony

Let me imagine our future together, beloved. With so few of us, the chance we will click, I will love, you will love, we will last seems so small. In the meantime, let me dream.

guitaristWhere shall we meet? Sterile pixels make for futile browsing so it happens someplace real.

My eyes fall on you, for you. The sight strikes the chord of some ideal in my mind. Little do I know the types I like to look at joyous confident hands that speak as much as a face. Sharp, short hair tops a lanky body with bright mind in the eyes or a wide smile garnishes a buffet of curves and kindness and curls.

You may arrest my aurally, my ears greedier than my eyes in seeking to enjoy the world so speak. Speak so I may hear your melody drop into my mind for a solo among a chorus becoming a backdrop harmonising with you and me.

My heart will gallop but no blood flow lower down to beat a more bestial drum. I want to sit and stare, sit and hear, my chest aflutter with lungs failing to fill my groin at peace. If in fantasy I approach and touch I am an admirer without desire, like the knights thought chaste of old.

curls and headphonesWith less courage than those figures I skulk around the edges of a meeting a strange face growing their comfort in polite conversation. Confronted, I will flee into the cerebral and seek your mind out first of all. Seeking safety, seeking substance in you and what you will share and myself in what I dare.

A risk, each new acquaintance, trading in time and costing heart to carry on, worth each little glimpse of a person, richer for each moment well-spent. With you it lasts, as it will with a friend, stretching into the incalculable when we are becoming and attach.

Yet with you, a little itching, discomfort and hunger, formless as yet. A little more and a little deeper, each time we meet vivid and stark, cherished in recollection, in speculation before I embark on delving into the next layer of whatever intimacy we wish to share. This time an in-joke, that time an ear lent, without judgment, a trust we build until the foundation sets.

These beginnings resolve, then, in our life together, some years after I first payed you court. Perhaps you indulged this romantic, perhaps you liked it. We could be ourselves with each other, that counted for more. Let me sketch a portrait here, beloved, of a moment, our paradise for here on earth.

sunsetI come home in early evening. The night is pregnant with fruit and mulch. The leaves are sunset, the sky is autumn. The street’s asleep and safe to walk, except our neighbour gardening with a head lamp, outside to greet me at the door.

The rasp of unlocking, creaky hinges you need to oil. Arms heavy because it was my turn to go to the store. I am serenaded by the song of the day, what you did and heard and thought I should know and do later there’s coffee and don’t eat the leftovers they need to go. I hum in tune and stay in range until the final note is sung. Then I approach, my skin too thin and cold clinging that I brought in until you brush it off and settle the soft cover back over my flesh with your palms soothing and smooth.

We share the evening as we tend to do, tending each other until the one burning low is cheerier lighter again. If we are apart in an indepentent motion it is to come back together for the next turn around the room we have built to suit the whole of us, wholly ourselves here and between us only a third, the relationship blooming.

Rowing, screaming, we explode when my temper matches that of yours. We parry volleys of biting phrases, hitting soft spots with hard edges that exhaust, until I take a walk to draft a new treaty unless we negotiate there where we drop and rest together not knowing how we got next to the rails. Except we’re human, we will do this, our only hope forgiveness and an equal to balance us out.

I bring you a drink and you mine over the course of the evening as we finish up and wind down.

At night we diverge by sleeping together, not too much or little at all. Just right we lie in parallel, a duet of slow breathing, sometimes touching, sometimes not. You hog the blankets and I snore.

When I fit my hand to your jawline, the other scratching fingers into messy hair, perhaps we kiss, perhaps we don’t. Loving you this long, when the measure is years, I might feel a thrill, blush and turn aside. We undress, even helping, but the shape of your body does not make me want to move to do more.

Bold or scared, I raised that question, will you want sex when I won’t? But this is my dream. You were just as scared and when I spoke up, we giggled our heads off and hugged it out. You told me you wanted more of my time and my life, hoarding my affection as I did yours.

I dream we live and love together, vague shapes that will shift to fit the future. I have thoughts of having children, thoughts of whether you come to church. But I wish to leave it here, at the thought.

Two people with two hearts choosing each other with a love that fits them.

Stock images from pexels.com

 

Attraction Not Required (Yet?)

With much hemming and hawing I’m edging into the world of dating, mostly because dammit, I want to try thing thing out and not just sit on the sidelines talking.  Can’t say much’s happened yet, aside from me feeling a little more at home tentatively saying I might like someone… just full of confidence, me.

Here’s what did happen: I stopped worrying I needed sexual, or at least romantic, attraction to even start dating.

It just doesn’t happen, with a few stats and a photograph in a profile. And I’m learning that that’s fine.

All I need is a ‘huh, something in common, may want to chat, might want to meet.’ A spark of general interest. Doable.

A few of those developed into chats, with either lacklustre response or none at all. I’m starting to suspect the folks on the other end are good at liking, not at chatting, and I’m not the best in keeping my phone to hand either.

But. But. It feels like a big fear’s been put to rest, the first of a few big hurdles that made me feel I couldn’t cross into this dating thing without being somehow fake.

I do not need to be attracted, at least in this initial stage. It’s fine just getting to know people.

That’s a relief.

It likely won’t stay smooth sailing, but at least I’m getting out of the harbour.

Ride that Rollercoaster!

This post was written for the May Carnival of Aces hosted at Prismatic Entanglements, on Nuance and Complexity…

I

For months I’ve been at this point, dipping my toe into dating sites only to pull it back out quickly.

Drift across the kitchen, cooking, my mind still there, browser window still open.

Oh, god, to do something mostly new, where I feel too old. Where others start as kids, teens, adolescents.

Can I be small again? Bumbling?

Can I take the rejection, when it comes, again and again and again?

Can I allow it not to matter? How do others even do this? Where is the manual?

Not tonight, I decide. Wooden spoon clenched between ring and middle finger, I swipe the window away with my thumb. Cheeks burning, I stir the pasta.

Coward.

Hungry coward, though.

“Dinner!” I smile at the people I do have, try to focus, to forget a longing for family I carry in my heart.

II

“Verlangen” is the more visceral desire, craving and the more cerebral longing, missing.

“Koesteren” is to cradle or hold carefully, used figuratively, speaking of tenderness and cherishing.

“Houden van” is literally “(have) hold of” and is the most common translation of “to love” but I like “liefhebben” better, which is more properly “to hold dear”.

“Verkeren” is oldfashioned as a verb, “verkering” is the relationship between the acknowledgement that there is anything more than a meeting or a hook-up, and (optional) the engagement.

Centuries of “verkering”: 13th, to turn around, a change. 15th, to associate with, 17th, to associate with a person with the intention to get engaged, 20th century, to be in a romantic relationship.

These are the words in my head, when I think and lurk and procrastinate.

III

These words are absent:

“Begeren” to desire, usually sexually. The noun: lust.

“Vrijen” is both being glued together in public and having sex.

IV

To say you wish without taking action is to make the dream a wistful lie instead of a hopeful truth.

I have trawled through calendars of events.

I have made known to a dozen people how hard it is to start on something.

I have nitpicked dating sites and types of events to find objections, based in pop culture, based in insecurity.

I have yet to start.

V

Finally I sit down and write and write until I’ve peeled the onion to the core.

I do not have dating friends I can ask to tag along.

I do not have places I go out regularly.

I do not have a time in my week where romantic interest is likely to happen.

I do not have the experience I would wish even to say what is normal and what is not.

I do not have clever words or social smoothness to make flirting come easily or at all.

I am so dreadfully scared of all the firsts, the immediacy of emotion that comes with new experiences combining with going into a foreign domain alone where the contact is personal.

“Eelt op je ziel” translates to calluses on the soul, a buffer between you and the world, being inured.

I go into this nearly new.

Bare. Naked. Tender.

VI

I sit with my phone in my hands. I appear as the rest do, just waiting for my bus, spending time.

In truth, I am staring at a black screen, suspenseful soundtrack thumping in my head.

I put my head in my hands and scold myself.

VII

“Just do it.”

“You have to start somewhere.”

“It starts with simply meeting people.”

“Don’t give it so much weight.”

“Be less harsh with yourself.”

Grace.

Mercy, not elegance.

Letting go and being alright with feeling foolish.

VIII

Let’s start with one, just one.

I download the app.

I find out about the wonderful world that is verifying through Facebook you exist.

I delete the app.

Facebook and privacy. Speak of antonyms.

I have an old account with which I did a lot. I learned, through others’ bad experiences, not to let apps access such information.

I’m in luck. An acquaintance suggests a solution over coffee.

I make an empty facebook account with just my name and picture. Only needs an alternate email address.

I download the app again.

IX

Filling out the profile goes smoothly.

Months’ hesitation means I already have a profile picture.

I fill out the questions like it’s a psychology test, just go with the first impulse.

First drafts can be edited.

I hit the questions about my preferred partner and pause, thumbs hovering over the keyboard on my screen.

I sit down and sigh.

I am demisexual.

I have no idea what my romantic orientation is.

X

I have a post half drafted entitled “An Elusive Romantic Orientation”. I love the title. I dislike the post. Too whiny, too incoherent.

I have been able to figure out I see relationships as growing, organic. Trees and perennials and bulbs that flower for a month and seeds that may never come up.

I have been able to figure out I wish for a romantic or platonic context, so I know what to cultivate about relationships that are otherwise very diverse.

I have been able to figure out I regard platonic as the default, easiest and safest and most known.

I have been able to figure out that defining something as romantic is like installing extra features and permissions, to my mind. Go for the thrill of flirting. Exercise a greater measure of territoriality and physical affection. Dropping more masks and showing more weak spots and thinking more tender thoughts.

In secret, tend a little flame which burns with hopes for a year from now, sharing time, sharing lives, sharing homes, sharing needs, sharing families and friends, sharing nights and days.

Just a small flame, that appears in idle thoughts before falling asleep and in a belly full of mellow warmth when watching a romantic movie or another couple walking down the street.

“Waakvlam” is a pilot light, the single flame that keeps watch, always on in case something needs to be heated.

I have figured out that, yes, I am romantic. Even that I lean strongly towards monogamy.

I still haven’t figured out the prefix.

XI

The prefix to romantic – when it is something other than “a” – is tied to the partner.

The gender of the prospective partner I need to fill out.

If asked, I would say I primarily, even perhaps only, want to interact on the romantic level. Well, and intellectual and emotional and social and… but.

So much else about a partner is more in the foreground, when I try to think of it, in memory or fantasy.

What do you put before -romantic if partner gender is simply less relevant?

XII

The lack of a word for the thing my brain’s settled on drives me to distraction for a few days.

However, this time the quandary cannot be left to languish unresolved.

I have a profile to complete.

I consider all the gender-neutral words I’ve been using and decide follow the same line here. Simply leave the option for gender open to all of it, and scroll on.

XIII

When it comes to personal information, I have another decision to make. Do I say I’m asexual up front?

I do not even consider demisexual. That is a word for the in-group.

I struggled with disclosure when it came to my new church, feeling I had to represent asexuality because of the potential for controversy.

Yet the fact that I feel compelled to be public about such a personal fact makes me want to keep it private all the more.

“Be open if you have nothing to hide” is an attitude that makes me want to close off.

If I am not trusted for what is hidden about me, I am not trusted.

If I am not free to keep myself hidden, I am not free to entrust myself to others.

I do not put my sexuality on my profile.

XIV

I click to complete it.

I consider taking the initiative in getting in touch and chicken out.

It’s alright, I tell myself. Let’s see what happens.

“Laat het over me heenkomen” feels to me like stepping into the surf to let the waves play around my legs or drown me, depending on how rough the sea is.

XV

After the first day I stuff my face into my pillow and laugh until I cry.

I have plenty experience with online communities.

The non-commital likes.

The awkwardness of having a chat conversation with a complete stranger.

The sudden absence of the other person.

I have feared this so much and yet it feels so familiar, so easy.

I decide to set a time to check it, like other communities, and put my phone down.

Time to write about this.

XVI

Much dawdling and a harrowing ride ended in an anticlimactic stop.

This is only the beginning, but I hope the end of the emotional rollercoaster.

Time for some unhealthy snacking and people watching at this fair.

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