Um, no, seriously, this isn’t about Romans.
[Trigger alert: this blog-thing will be about sexual abuse, amongst other things]
Hello. It’s been a little while, as I’ve been busy sorting some things out. So… no Romans, I’m afraid, though that would have been fun, in a bronzy, leathery sort of way. No, this is about romance. Specifically, it’s about (cutting to the chase) me trying to work out why I seem to be in love with being in love (hence the memeish title… for which pandering to modernity I deeply apologise…)
Yes, this is going to be pretty personal, but I’m really onto something here, and it helps to write these things out, and well, here we are. What is it that makes me think I’m in love with being in love? Well, a comprehensive list of the people I’ve been properly in love with over the last, erm, lots of years, comes to 80. To be fair, only about half a dozen of those were the true, full-on, this is going to make me die! kind of being in love. But the rest weren’t just “people I fancied”, they were pretty full-on experiences in their own right.
And most of these were unrequited, too, of course. In fact, only 8 of them have been requited, and they were all women (iiiinterestingggg…). Oh, did I mention that the figures come down pretty much even between women and men? They do. And there was actually one perhaps-requited on the men side of the list, since I think we were both too scared to tell each other. And of course, there are a number of people on both sides of the list whom I never told, so maybe it was requited after all, since they never told me anything either. And only one of those Death-Or-Glory Half-Dozen was ever requited.
I’m aware, by the way, of using very gender-binary language here. There are more recent people on this list who are only nominally on one side or the other – or are in fact neither. And I have no actual idea what a lot of these people’s gender identities were in my more distant past. Hence I think of myself these days as polyromantic, as well as polysensual.
Okay then, that’s the embarrassing part of the disclosure out of the way (really 80? really 80). What I’ve been asking myself is: Why do I keep falling for people in this way, and why is it so rarely requited? Well, the thing is…
I think that as a consequence of being sexual abused by my parents, I’ve spent my life very carefully falling for people who are not available, or not mutually attracted. Because it’s safest that way. The few times I’ve ended up in sexual relationships (because that’s what I thought I was looking for), it’s been terrible, because I get scared and angry when I’m sexual.
That explains some of it, but there’s more going on. While I’ve been trying to figure all this out, my teens have been very much on my mind. I spent almost my entire teenage years without having physical contact with anyone, and I think I did that on purpose, because it didn’t feel safe. Then when I was 17, my life changed as a result of meeting someone who’s now my oldest friend, and through him. a crowd of local hippy types that I fell in with – and all of a sudden I had a social life, and friends, and was (within that particular subculture, at least) for the first time in my life, somehow cool.
And then the bomb dropped. My friend’s sister gave me a hug, and I immediately fell in love with her, and I added to the hardship in her life for several months (she was busy dealing with anorexia) until I let go of the infatuation part, and we managed to become proper, loving friends. She was the first person I ever really loved, and she died in a fire, aged 17, three years after we met.
I think I keep on looking for that safe love. And it’s possible, now that I’ve realised I’m essentially asexual, that I’ll eventually find it with somebody similarly asexual – because that’s what it would take.
I started writing this a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still unsure about posting it; but it feels significant to me, for other people living with the consequences of abuse, to tell this story.
Since I’ve come to terms with my asexuality, and more recently since I’ve begun making more sense of this romantic compulsion I seem to have, I’ve been able to sit more lightly to it. It’s not like the habit of a lifetime is going to stop all of a sudden. It happened to me only yesterday, and that after I’d been joking that it was one of the things I’d have to watch out for yesterday… I spent the afternoon doing improvisational harmony singing with some other women in a house in the country, and I fell for one of them. Gorgeous, Canadian, musical, lesbian, happily committed to someone already. So it goes.
I know that singing makes me very open emotionally, so I was prepared for the possibility of falling for someone (it’s happened this way before – I met my friend-belovèd at a singing workshop, and fell for her in exactly the same way, though way worse… and now we’re great friends). So I’m feeling the sadness of this, but at the same time I’m able to feel a gentle smiling compassion for this part of me that just wants safe intimacy with someone, and has been too scared to ask for it in the past, and has ended up with unsafe intimacy (or none) instead.
The one thing that gives me more satisfaction than almost anything, lately, is the knowledge that I’m now someone who knows what she wants, and is able to say it out loud, and even to ask for it. I don’t always get what I want, but it’s very satisfying nevertheless to ask. And often, I do get what I want. Or I get what I need. Often enough. Everything the collective that is me has done in this life has been worth it, just to get to this point.
Oh, what the fuck, we all deserve this to end with…