This person I am today, this version, lets say version 7.0, came about through building on the theme of me. The desire towards self, towards being, towards my meaning. It is a question from the ages, from time immemorial some parts of humanity has sought for this, and so have I.
I can see the path clearly in retrospect – from childhood innocence, to adolescence with all that uncertainty and desire for independence and experience. Then onward to early adulthood, marriage and divorce, and those years of separation and losing and finding a way through detours to different places and new faces, hiding away from self, through addiction, obsession, depression and death after death. Till I found it, after the meandering path, off on tangents and adventures, of turning away from all you know, in solitude, there I found it hiding within me all along.
Funny how the parables and wise ones always describe it in such a way, of how our finding self, our meaning, comes after that journey to far away places, to unfamiliar faces, questions of faith, leading us back to this thing we had sought.
Is it the way of it? Is it the only way? Can you only find it after the long heroes journey, the longest day, the dark nights of the soul? Perhaps.
If it is a worthy quest, if you are one of those who knows you are just not like the rest, perhaps.
The physical place, but as well the metaphysical, this variation, this clarification, this phase of me, plateaued where I am, gazing back, looking forward, I finally see this me that was always there, hidden with lipstick and rouge and a desire for sameness, a child believing the best way is to fit, to find a way to make yourself be a version of self that you thought was necessary, to look like all the rest.
But, after all that, what if you are not?
Maybe we go off to find ourselves, or rather to find where we fit, who we fit with, who are people are, off on these tangent adventures, seeking that peace of mind that we realize we can ONLY find within.
And so last week I came in a bit early for my shift, as there was a LGBTQ2 speaker coming in, and I was interested. The company I work for is very inclusive and this speaker was coming in to help us understand and be aware of the various issues and pronouns, background and events of that community.
So, learning things such as to say “they were looking at this”, instead of “he/she was looking at this”, because knowledge is the key to exposing and fighting ignorance, and its eventual hate and misunderstanding and exclusion that hate generates.
I suppose with my background, I am perhaps more aware than most, but completely in the dark on certain things; due to age and my generations, and the previous generations, prejudices, misunderstandings, and such.
Growing up a family friends best friend from high school was gay, discovered this after his marriage, about 3 years in. Apparently it was his grandmother that one day sat him down and told him, “you know your gay, right?” That somehow this boy, becomes a man, and does the things he’s expected to do, but all the while this woman watches with keen eyes and sees him truly, sees him honestly, sees him struggling and sets him right, sets him free.
For most, it doesn’t happen that way, and so this story of his life, this version of himself that has always rested inside, comes out and meets the world truly as himself, meets a man he comes to love, and every once in a while when I was a kid they would come to visit, and I never thought anything of it. Not really, it was just part of my world for years and years, until I became a teen and more fully understood the sexual aspect of their union.
So at 13 moms and my friends mom sent us off to their place, their condo in downtown Toronto, send us there for the weekend. It was a weekend I have always remembered, have cherished, and still revel in all the wonderful things I learned, about love and partnership, about the world outside my isolated little village, insulated from all the many things, and all the many ways to be human, to be yourself.
My mom was always cognizant of the fact I was a bit different, and would just not be the same as everyone else, and in some ways that weekend was her way of showing me this, of me having experiences outside that little bubble I’d known, so I could become whatever it was I would become without all those small town prejudices getting in the way.
So when the speaker put this slide up that detailed out what the Canadian version queer community acronym meant, the proper full acronym being LGBTQQIP2SAA – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous and asexual – I saw that last word ASEXUAL, and a bell went off in my head.
You see, even though I got married, have searched and sought and desired, or, so I always thought, this other being to share my world with, even so, I never had a strong desire for intimacy, for sex, with a very low sex drive, few if any real crushes, and I never desired someone, never have really felt that way. Desire came in flashes, and then waned, going back to my cerebral relationship that I much preferred, but was always inadequate, always fell short, and eventually it would end, one way or the other. So for years and years I’ve thought I was abnormal, something was wrong with me, and so I’ve tried and tried and tried, but always failed.
I till that day, till I listened to that speaker, I had no idea there was even such a thing. Had no idea why I was different, didn’t know there was a word, a community, didn’t know there were even a possibility, for instance, of being in a relationship with an asexual person. Went to the Pride parade in Toronto, revelled in the energy and freedom and all of it, but never felt that I was included, I was not gay, or queer, or lesbian, or bisexual, none of that, I was just heterosexual, and wanted to be a part of the energy, soak it in.
I swear to god, it was that HOLY SH!T sort of moment – I am asexual I quietly thought – but I said nothing.
It so simple, but so difficult to see for so many years amongst the rubble of all my so called failures, of one relationship after the other, of complaints and shame at my inability to please, or want to please, desire to please, of going through the motions, thinking I was somehow damaged goods.
I don’t know if I could have seen it for what it was, the word on the projector screen, the word out of all the other words of that powerpoint presentation as having anything to do with me, if I had not been in this place, in this mindset, at this time, at this place of finally backing away from the hunt I’d been on to find something I now realize would never come, because I was looking at it all wrong.
I mean, I’m in my 50’s, not some tween, or teen, or 20 something millennial, I had no idea, no clue, no knowledge that it was a thing, that there were possibilities and that this is something that can be articulated in such a way as to find what it is that DOES make me happy – you know, fills my cup.
Because, if I’m honest, I don’t want to be single forever, I just don’t want to be attached to something, or someone, a relationship that is going to eventually end in disappointment. Or, maybe I do, but at this point just having a word, an idea, a way of defining myself, well that is very, very precious. This is ALL new.
I guess the real revelation is how simple it is, how like the slight turning of the screw makes the radio work, or how with just this one small tweak everything shifts, a quiet epiphany.
Over the last couple years I’ve slowly backed up from the seeking a mate thang, as menopause took hold of me, squashing any remnants remaining inside me of that hormonal desire I had so little of to begin with. With that came a quieting of the mind, of a silence and solitude to contemplate more clearly my true self.
In backing away from the pursuit of a life mate, not thinking in terms really of forever, but more so a kind of time-out to lift this veil of desire to peek underneath the hood and figure myself out.
The initial idea was for me to learn to see more than just these years of feelings of inadequacy, and shame, at never measuring up, as physical desire has never been a part of my modus operandi, but more a seeking of connection at an internal level, and towards that end I sought solitude instead.
And, yes, I honestly didn’t even know it was a thing, that this was not a bug, but instead a feature. That in this way I now have this sense that there are others like me, and that one of the letters in that acronym actually applies to me, and just THAT alone is a blawdy amazing revelation just on its own.