IS THIS “THE OTHER SIDE?”
When difficult, painful things happen, I feel as though people often refer to “the other side” when talking about when said difficult, painful thing is considered to be over. But when that difficult, painful thing happens to be the end of a relationship and you’re a demisexual, what does “the other side” really mean? For most people, I think it’s assumed to mean when you “get over” that last person or when you start dating a new person, but what milestone are you supposed to look for when you’re a demisexual and dating someone happens once in a blue moon to begin with? That’s sort of what I’m wondering one year later.
Before I even get into this, I feel the need to explain that throughout this process, I’ve been struggling not to create all these prefaces to what I’m going to say, and yet here I am, doing just that. But I digress. Over the course of this last year, I’ve had to work hard not to qualify this story by saying things to the effect of “I know this sounds really dramatic” or “this is particularly significant to me for these reasons.” It’s funny how when you think about it, it seems completely ridiculous to need to qualify why you’re feeling a certain way or why something was so hard for you to deal with or accept, but that’s what I’ve been doing with this story for the better part of the last year. Maybe it’s partially because of the weird way Christian culture interacts with ended relationships. Maybe it’s because I have a tendency towards self-gaslighting. Who really knows. I just wanted to throw out there that it’s been a real struggle to let my emotions and experiences of this story simply be what they are, without feeling the need to preface, explain, or downplay them. Anyway.
AT LEAST 365 DAYS HAVE PASSED SINCE I LAST SAW THE BOY MY 15-YEAR OLD SELF THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO MARRY SOMEDAY
It’s one year later. At least 365 days have passed since I last saw the boy my 15-year old self thought he was going to marry someday. Perhaps now, as a young adult, that sounds ridiculous and naive, but I’ve been working hard and learning to accept the fact that to my younger self, that was the reality he lived in, a reality that shaped my present day self to this very day.
This boy was the first queer person I knew outside of myself. He was the first and only person I could bounce ideas and experiences off of. For a long time, he was my only other queer friend, and I was the first person he ever came out to. A lot of hopes and dreams were wrapped up in the idea of this boy, a lot of things that I realize now in hindsight were unfair and unhelpful to place on him, but maybe that’s just what happens when you actually fall in love with the first other queer person you find in your life. Being 15-years old at the time, it was probably unavoidable, and I still don’t regret a second of it. If anything, the only thing that makes me sad about the whole thing is that I can’t know for sure if he’s going to be happy or not. There’s probably a lot that’s inappropriate to unpack there, but what I’ll say is that most of it has to do with affirming vs. unaffirming theology.
I FINALLY FEEL AS THOUGH I’VE UNTANGLED MYSELF FROM THE WEB OF THAT RELATIONSHIP THAT I PARTIALLY SPUN MYSELF
Where all that leaves me a year later is a really interesting place. It took a full 12 months, but I finally feel as though I’ve untangled myself from the web of that relationship that I partially spun myself. Over the last year, I discovered what it meant to actually like myself, including learning in the heart that I didn’t need to make a relationship work in order to be valid as a queer human. I also started deprogramming from the toxicity and idolization in Christian culture surrounding heterosexual marriage and the “ring by spring” craze in small Christian colleges that, while starting off as a joke, really planted itself somewhere inside of me during my four years in Christian higher education.
That second point has been something I’ve really been learning to fight off in the last several months. In my opinion, Christian subculture has SUCH a poisonous relationship with marriage and all the steps leading up to it. There’s this elevation of straight couples’ engagements and marriages that are treated as so much more important than perhaps anything else that young adults could accomplish in our 20’s and 30’s, and I think for a long time I bought into that toxic ideal. I tricked myself into thinking that if I could just find that person that everything else would be fine and fall into place? How ridiculous right? But at the same time, I think that’s the lie that so many of us are fed from within Christian subculture, whether it’s from our churches, our Christian schools, our Christian colleges, or elsewhere. Not only is this toxic for straight and queer Christians alike (though arguably considerably more for queer Christians), it also completely devalues the legitimate vocations of people called to singleness, however small a population that might be (and also a topic for a whole other blog post). So, a huge part of my growth over the last year has been coming to terms with the things that are important to me at this stage of my life and deprogramming from this idea and requirement, as it were, that finding a partner should be elevated above all else and that the majority of my time and energy should be funneled towards that. And I feel healthier because for it.
I TRICKED MYSELF INTO THINKING THAT IF I COULD JUST FIND THAT PERSON THAT EVERYTHING ELSE WOULD BE FINE AND FALL INTO PLACE. HOW RIDICULOUS.
On “the other side” of the tumultuous and chaotic past year, I’ll admit that I feel a little out of sorts. In order to get to a healthier place emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, I’ve had to deconstruct several of the cornerstones that were provided to me from the church and Christian culture since childhood. Some days, that feels really disorienting, because a lot of the time, it feels like you’re tearing out the floor from underneath your own feet with a chasm of unknown lying below. And I’ve had to reevaluate my surroundings too, because I also realized that it doesn’t do me any good to deconstruct my own faulty foundation and worldview if I continue to surround myself with people who still buy into those beliefs and ideals. That’s been perhaps one of the other hardest things of the last year as well, learning who is willing to stick around throughout all the deconstruction and rebuilding of my own belief system, learning who’s already there and will be able to continue with me forward in life, and learning who I might have to leave behind because the ways they view the world are toxic to the person I’m becoming.
More than anything, one year later, I feel more and more like I’m floating and drifting, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel dangerous or unsafe. Perhaps it feels more uncertain and undefined, but I think that I at least know where I’m trying to land, and that place is very different from the place I left a year ago.
This post is a little messy and kind of all over the place, but that’s just about how this last year has been too. On a superficial level, I think I’m finally ready to date again, but now I don’t know if that’s something I even want to spend my time on right now. On a deeper level, I definitely still feel like I’m in the rebuilding stages of my belief system as I’m confronted on what I believe about a variety of topics that I would’ve thought I had answers to a year ago. In many ways, I think the end of this relationship a year ago was a major catalyst towards a lot of significant changes, several of which, perhaps the majority of which aren’t yet complete, but I think the person I am now, a year later, is also okay with that. One year later, I’m continuing to reorganize and rebuild, and while that’s difficult work and definitely not fun most of the time, I already know that I’m healthier the way things are now.
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