My real-life contribution to ace awareness week… talk to my therapist.
“So… there’s this book going to come out for people who work with aces.”
“Okay. And you want me to…?”
“Read it? Professional literature?”
“Yes, oh yes, anything you have, anytime.”
So… this has been mentioned in various blogs you may read. The Asexual Awareness Project is writing a book. They need people answering questions to make it good. Having worked through a couple questionaires, I’m thinking they’ve got plans to follow this up with other literature for things like sexual education or material you might bring to your local LGBT centre.
I wish to encourage you to do this. You’re free to do it anonymously, under a pseudonym (like me), you can do it without giving the approval for direct citation and, what I like best, at every turn they invite you to only answer those questions you’re comfortable providing information on.
But they do need people, so, if you’d like to say anything at all on the subject.
There are ace-friendly therapists and councilors and psychologists and chaplains and what-have-you out there who would benefit from a decent book aimed at them.
I’d really like to hand this one to mine.
I told her I was asexual on the getting-to-know-my-patient form.
(Use language they might know.)
It was a test. She passed.
Reward unlocked: basic trust.
She leans forward, in an overstuffed armchair.
I am twisting my fingers, seated on an overstuffed sofa.
“Do you feel like you’re denying yourself anything because of your sexuality?”
I do not feel any less than whole, but…
Non-default sexuality. Limited options.
(There are paths you cannot walk. Choices have consequences even if you’re free to make them.)
“Yes, I do.”
“What, then? What don’t you let yourself have?”
“I don’t know.”
Sex. Love. Relationship. Loneliness. Family. Future. Life. Community. Connection. Status.
I type in mental keywords until I see what’s labeled ‘denied’.
Relief, which ebbs when I realise most results are coloured with doubt (do I want this) and dread (where do I even start) and trepidation (must research alternatives).
“I figure it’ll just be, y’know, harder for me. Or different. Don’t really know how to fit things in my life that I want.”
“I’m not normal.”
“Don’t put yourself down, now.”
“Actually… I like being who I am, a little weird. What it means for my life, though, not a clue. Which kinda brings us back to the whole no-clue-having about my life in general that brought me here.”
What helped, before, upon discovery of my demisexuality, was others who struggled, or didn’t. Their stories.
…must research alternatives…
Find a Let’s Play for asexuality.
My identity: demisexual.
Widen the search parameters, lieutenant.
What I say in my head: not ‘impossible’ but ‘difficult’.
How much have I denied myself, thinking that?
How much, by leaving things undefined, unexplored, chaos.
By choosing nothing, what did I choose?
Lesson from a therapist: a good one will not just accept, but help.
Questioning sexuality included.
Reward unlocked: active trust.
In writing this, I have had to go back and change every ‘we’ and ‘you’ into ‘I’.
False sense of safety in generalities and impersonal language.
How much have I denied myself?
Must research alternatives.
I stick my tongue out at the advertising, after checking the isle is empty.
I buy chocolates.
Quest part the first: Count Your Blessings.
Reward unlocked: family hugs.
I debate whether to post this. Therapy is personal.
It is exactly the sort of story I’m seeking.
I trawl blogs.
I am not alone.
Still comforting, several years in.
15. Have you ever called in to a hotline, warm line, text or chat support network, etc.? What was your experience like? Can you think of any specific ways it could have been better? Would you recommend the service to other aces?
I haven’t ever called a hotline. When I first discovered the concept demisexuality, I did start googling it almost compulsively, returned to do so again every few days, and in the end created this blog and wrote several blog posts in a single day. It was cathartic.
I would recommend other demisexual or asexual newbies at least talk to like-minded people a couple of times or lurk on blogs and forums to get a sense of what it’s like to be ace or demi or grey or -romantic.
That first moment of recognition, identification, as well as subsequent issues, they are moments of such urgent discovery of self, of the world. Especially because asexuality isn’t all that well-known, and how to deal with issues arising from it, in relationships and all, even less. It’s good to share.
Here endeth the series Demisexuality and Mental Health.
14. When people tell you something like “you need therapy” or “get help!”—how do you respond? Have you found any particular method that works well for getting people to stop telling you that?
Be odd, but not aggressively. Make an off-colour joke, stare them down, resort to sarcasm, whatever suits your style, really. I’m not a person gifted with good social skills, much confidence or charisma. I’ve learned that putting people off balance, just a bit, provides a moment to push them in another direction.
Here’s an example: I went to buy something in a market and had to negotiate for the price. The guy opposite me named one that was too high. I didn’t know what to say, so an awkward silence fell. As I stared at him, he seemed to hesitate, repeated the price once more. I finally gave up and turned to go. He yelled a much lower price. Heartened, I turned back to stare at him, now holding back a grin. He lowered the price again. I walked away with the item and a big grin on my face.
I had discovered my negotiating strategy, by accident. Act clueless and socially awkward, on purpose.
It’s a power game, if such demands are made or “suggestions” shouted, so the question is, really, how do you take back power, in your personal life or in the work place? Same strategies apply.
12. Who do you turn to for support? Are there any ways they could more effectively support you? If they’re doing a good job, that’s excellent! What are some specific examples of things they’re doing right?
13. Are you a support person for someone else? What have you learned from being in that position? Do you have any advice for others?
My family, and they did an awesome job. See earlier post.
No… I’m not really in a supporting role for anyone other than professionally. That’s what this blog is for, to explore my sexuality and hopefully provide a starting point for others to find some information and comfort in theirs.
11. What are some coping strategies you’ve developed? Whether with or without therapy, with or without being diagnosed with a mental illness, what is it that helps you deal with your struggles?
The only way out of fear is straight through. Sometimes that means doing something, on purpose, that I’m bad at, and repeat it, until either the fear is gone or I become good at it.
Work actively on increasing your comfort zone, so to speak, but in ways that are enjoyable, like writing, or going to an interesting meeting with strangers… starting a blog to talk about your sexuality when you really daren’t yet in real life.
9. Have you ever felt subjected to gatekeeping in the asexual community because of your mental health? […] What can we do to combat that sort of feeling in our communities?
10. Have you ever found that your ability to participate in any kind of asexual community activity […] is limited by your mental health?
I… can’t say? I’m only now getting to know the asexual community. From what I’ve seen so far, people are ignorant rather than close-minded, so information might need to be repeated or researched and confirmed before it is accepted, especially considering how new, for example, the concept of demisexuality is.
Mental health issues made me hypersensitive to being accepted or not. Made me read far more into comments than was there. That ties back into the vulnerability I talked about earlier. It’s a common side-effect.
And, well, people are people. There’ll be cliques and trolls and blunt people everywhere. I think it’s very important that all parts of the asexual community, whether blog or forum or meeting place, ensures it facilitators and moderators work to ensure a good atmosphere and safe environment.
7. Are there any topics not necessarily directly related to asexuality, that you find uncomfortable partly because of your asexuality? […] Can you think of any way they might be handled that would make you more comfortable, or would you prefer that people just not bring them up?
I dread the very thought of dating. It’s taking me a year, and talking about it here, for me to be alright with it.
I still don’t talk at all about NOT having had sex for a decade when the human race in general is at its most sexual, with other people. NOT having had relationships in a time when peers did. I still do NOT like to think what assumptions people have made, if any, about me because they haven’t seen me having any relationships.
What’s been a great comfort? Information and the internet. Other people speaking of their sexuality. See some of my first posts for links…
As for dating, I’m considering trying out Ace dating and mixed-sexuality dating as well as regular dating. There’s a couple of events each year in my country, apparently… Now I just need to find the time…