T/W: post will deal with traumatic themes including sexual abuse and repercussions of trauma—trauma responses. Also includes mentions of mental illnesses.
Oh boy…another Friday, another post, and more experiences that I’m living through that can hopefully help one of you. I have to admit from the start that this post is going to be a disaster. I mean that in a lighthearted yet sincere way.
The fact of the matter is, this post is a disaster because it’s super fresh and current—these are situations that I’m going through right now and it’s hard to give an insightful take on something that I’m dealing with at the moment. So, just know, this isn’t meant to be insightful, I still have a lot to learn in respect to what I am writing about today, and everything should be taken with a grain of salt and the knowledge that I am seeking professional help.
I suppose I should start from the beginning of the absolute chaos. This would take us to the beginning of May. I was on a certain dating app again, browsing, after another tryst had left me empty and unsatisfied (a story for another time that might not even be worth mentioning, honestly). After browsing for a while, swiping through dozens upon dozens of profiles of both men and women, I ended up matching with two men. Both of them reached out to me. Both men were also incredibly sweet and I got nervous. I usually do not divide my attention when it comes to dating, even in the early stages, because I know eventually I have to tell one of them that I’m not interested—something super hard for me.
Well, not too long into talking to both of these men I realized I seemed to have a better connection with the second one who had messaged me. A pansexual man whose open mindedness and adorably nerdy nature captivated me. I decided I would primarily focus my energy on knowing him and that’s what I did.
I’m ashamed to admit that I ghosted the other man. I don’t like doing that and genuinely do not consider my anxiety over explaining the situation a valid reason to have done that. That being said, it was relatively early on, and I’m sure I wasn’t a huge loss to him. Regardless, I do feel bad about that and if he should ever read this, I want him to know that I’m sorry.
The bright side of hitting it off with this one man, was that I finally had the courage to delete all the other men from social media who had wronged me or made me feel inferior or like an object. I felt as though I was finally moving on and I was on cloud nine!
It’s important to note, that the man I was talking to lives a bit far from me (about an hour and a half) and that made me a bit nervous because I didn’t drive much, especially long distances (meaning even 30 minutes away was far for me). That was another great thing about talking to him though, because I got to conquer this fear. Nearly a month into talking to him, we decided to meet each other half way at a mall. The drive for me was nearly 40 minutes, mainly on the highway, and I was driving there completely alone.
I did it, and I was so proud of myself.
I shared this information with him upon greeting him—how big of an accomplishment this was for me and how excited I was that I got there to him. At this point, he also already knew about my mental illnesses, including anxiety (something we had in common) and so he knew this was huge for me. He told me how awesome it was how I had managed to get there and face my fear.
I thought that surely we were off to an amazing start…and we were.
I don’t have any complaints about that date. Sure, it had awkward moments (what first date doesn’t?), but we still enjoyed each other’s company. For me, it was the first time in a long time that I had an actual date that didn’t involve someone coming back to my house just to sleep with me and then not pursue anything further. This felt like it could be real to me. That information terrified and excited me all at once.
The date ended with kissing in my car and us deleting each other’s dating apps. Something I was so happy about at the time. I will admit that I had a bit of apprehension growing in the pit of my stomach as well but chalked that up to the nerves of a new relationship. I told myself I needed to relax and go with the flow, fearing that if I didn’t, my past trauma and anxiety would keep me from something that could potentially be everything that I wanted.
Ultimately, I decided to keep an open mind, and continued talking to him. Eventually, this lead to our second date, which consisted of me inviting him to an amusement park with my friends and I for Memorial Day. He accepted the invitation, and I was so excited that he was interested in meeting my friends and doing this with me. I truly thought that this could be the start of something great and kept pushing down the nagging dread and anxiousness that was plaguing my subconscious.
He came to my house Sunday evening because we had to be up so early to travel to the park. Nothing sexual happened which I found myself being grateful for. He greeted me with a kiss and I was satisfied with that. I knew he was staying until Tuesday though, and understood that after the amusement park the following night, something else might occur. I couldn’t place it at the time, but there was a deep fear forming in me over the thought but I brushed it off as jitters that many people get when with a new partner. Plus, I deal with the thoughts of past sexual trauma constantly and the fact that heteronormative sex rarely feels good for me and I think those thoughts contributed to the anxiousness. I had convinced myself that this time it would be different though. He cared about me, he listened well, and I had promised to be honest about how I was feeling during any sexual activity—to truly be present in the moment and not just lie, say I was fine, and fake it.
Anyway, Monday morning came and we were on our way to the park! I was excited as I hadn’t been to one in a while, even before Covid. The last time I had been to one was 2017. I was ready to dive in head first and face some more fears. I was going to ride on an upside down rollercoaster for the first time ever. All while having my “lover” there with me, which felt bizarre because I had never been to a place like this with someone who was interested in me. Actual dates were a rarity. The whole thing excited me!
The day ended up being wonderful! We all had so much fun, I rode the rollercoasters, and best of all, my friends all enjoyed my “lover’s” company and accepted him into our little group with no issue. This is something that I know many people dream of! To be able to have a relationship and have your friends approve of who you’re with—to be able to bond together and make memories with everyone you care about. I was overwhelmed with that happiness but still found that in the back of my mind I wasn’t totally content. Once again, I brushed it off.
The time came where we all had to head home and I was exhausted from a long day in the sun and having my brain tossed around by the rides. My body was ready to rest for sure! In the back of my mind however, I knew the sexual nature of the evening was still looming in the air, and I got increasingly worried as we approached home—not sure I had the energy to give to any sexual activity, and not sure I really wanted to either.
Well, here’s what I can say. He was not the problem. At all. I was. He checked in with me, was super vocal in voicing concerns and asking if I was ok, but I found myself resorting back to old habits. I felt paralyzed with fear before we even started and didn’t speak up, even when he asked and made sure I was ok. The most I’d say was “mhm” and I let him do what he wanted, just wanting to get it over with. My body was tired and not in the mood, and the inexperience on his end made the whole thing painful (though he did try and was asking me questions—I was just too numb and maybe even embarrassed to respond) so I faked my way out of it, like I had so many times before. Something I promised both him and myself that I wouldn’t do.
It’s important to note, that I understand that I was experiencing a trauma response. With this knowledge, I know it’s unfair to place blame on myself but I know it certainly was not his fault either. So I suppose I should have just said that this was a no fault situation, and more like a lack of communication and a misunderstanding. Though I do still blame myself.
I also know now that there was more to it than just my trauma. I was unsure if I truly was interested in him, which made everything more difficult. I was angry at myself for this, thinking that I just wasn’t giving him a fair shot. I thought that maybe I was judging him too harshly on his inexperience and that if I would have directed him better maybe it could have worked. Maybe he would have gotten better. Maybe I would have been more attracted to him and we could be in a relationship.
But also maybe not.
After all was said and done, I started thinking about my feelings and my overall experiences with men—how even when they were good sexually or when they were nice to me that I still had an empty feeling. I thought back to the heterosexual couples in the park who were all over each other, who seemed infatuated, and happy and I realized I wasn’t feeling that, and I wasn’t sure that I could. Then another thought struck me.
I thought about one of my friends. One who was at the park with us that day. I thought about how when she would go on rides with others that I felt a slight bitterness in me, despite having someone to ride with. I thought about how I wanted her to be by my side for my first upside down rollercoaster and the disappointment when I rode with him instead. I thought about how she gets me. I thought about how she makes me laugh, and makes me feel comfortable and tells me that I deserve happiness.
I thought about the slight feelings I had for her that had been building, even before I started talking to this man. These feelings that I kept pushing down for so many reasons.
I always knew that I was attracted to women so that wasn’t necessarily the issue. I suppose one of the biggest problems is that she’s one of my best friends now, and her friendship is so important to me. The other issue is that, even though she’s “single”, she’s still in close contact with her “ex” (for clarity, I am going to add here that her ex is a woman), who is also one of my friends…that situation in itself is messy and I don’t want to be an additional problem, regardless if she is ready to move on. The last thing, I suppose, is my own self doubt, because surely there is no way she’s even slightly interested in me.
These thoughts plagued my brain as I fell asleep next to a man that night. They haunted me in the morning when I woke up to him cuddling me as well. I found myself dreading anymore physical contact with him and in my mind my thoughts were all swirling together and screaming as I tried my hardest to keep pretending that I was sleeping.
Finally I came to a conclusion. I’m gay. So I started messaging everyone close to me, telling them, and looking for advice on what to do about this man in my bed. The first person I messaged was her. I wanted her input more than anyone else’s because I trust her and she always makes me feel comfortable and valid.
Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I had to be honest about my thoughts with him, even if they weren’t totally clear yet. Regardless if I truly am uninterested in men as a whole or not (I don’t even technically know 100% yet), I do know that I have feelings for someone else, and knew I couldn’t give him what he was giving me. I finally told him and he was super understanding (which sucked even more somehow) and he was also sad, which broke me. It broke me because I knew how he felt, as I had felt that way many times before and knew the pain all too well. I also knew there was nothing that I could do to fix that for him and that made me disgusted with myself. At the end of it, we agreed to remain friends, something I truly hope we do, because he is amazing. He just wasn’t meant for me in a romantic sense and that’s ok.
This whole post is essentially a long winded way of me saying and coming to terms with the fact that I’m probably gay although “queer” makes me feel more comfortable and so that is how I will choose to identify my sexuality, as it has a bit more leeway to it. Technically, pansexuality does as well, and that is how I previously identified, but given present circumstances, that no longer feels correct to me.
In conclusion, here are my solid truths and what I know for sure as of now—I am queer, I identify with she/her and they/them pronouns because I understand that as a person I do not totally conform to the standard binary of gender but do feel content with my birth sex—lastly, I have a crush on one of my best friends, and if she is reading this before I tell her (because I hate holding stuff like this in), then I’m sorry you found out this way, and I’m also sorry if it makes you feel weird in any way. No matter what, I still value our friendship and I really appreciate you being there for me all of the time (especially recently).
For now, this is as deep as this goes. I have no idea what the future will hold, but what I do know is that I am going to do my best to live as authentically as I can.
On that note, Happy Pride month! I hope anyone who is struggling with the themes surrounding this month find their peace. Know that I understand you and am rooting for you!🌈