Pride In Myself

The following is part of my Pride Fridays series for the month of June. The first post can be found here.

I didn’t grow up knowing I was different. 

Scratch that, I knew from an early age that I was different in a lot of ways.

But it never crossed my mind that my sexuality was one of them until the latter part of high school.

There had been guys I liked. A few mild crushes. But where the other girls in my class went from boyfriend to boyfriend–often incapable of being without one for more than a few days–I never felt the compulsion. In four years, I dated one person for three months. We broke up because I could tell he was going to say he loved me, and I….

Didn’t feel the same way.

I cared about him, sure. He remained a good friend, and we still talk occasionally, though he is now married and lives out of state. I’m glad he found someone who returns his feelings.

I just couldn’t.

It’s hard for me to describe being aro/ace. To me, I just live. I’m existing. There’s nothing special about it, because unlike a lot of people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, I’m not seeking a mate. I’m fine as I am. I’m not looking for my other half because I’m a whole person on my own. I find that concept rather baffling, actually.

It’s kind of like breakfast.

When I was a kid, my mom always made a big deal about breakfast. I had to eat a good breakfast before I left for school. Oatmeal, cereal, pancakes or waffles if I was really lucky. On weekends there would be cinnamon rolls, or a fry up with eggs, bacon or sausage, and cheese. If we were really in a hurry, it was toast with peanut butter, hastily consumed while running out the door, or Poptarts.

But the thing is, I can’t eat when I first wake up. I don’t feel hungry. In fact, a lot of times I feel vaguely ill. So while I was conditioned to know it was right and proper and normal to have breakfast before school and that it would be best for me in the long run, I always had to force myself to eat.

I usually wound up with cold cereal, because it was all I could get down when I first woke. The problem with cold cereal is that an hour later you’re hungry again, so in school I would be starving by 10am, but I wasn’t allowed to have a snack. It was against the rules. It brought me no joy or satisfaction, but it was the way things were, so I had to do it.

I feel like sex and romance is the same thing. I was raised thinking that it was right and proper and normal to be in a sexual male/female relationship. That a normal, well-adjusted person would go to school, get a college degree, get a good job, get married, and have kids.

But as much as I cared about that highschool boyfriend, the relationship made me realize I’d rather be on my own. We didn’t want the same things. He wanted a full English breakfast, and I was stuffing a granola bar in my bag for later.

The further I get from my upbringing, the more my horizons have opened. I’m not ruling out that I will one day find an English breakfast kind of relationship. Maybe it will be with a man. Maybe it will be with a woman. Maybe it will be with someone who identifies as trans or nonbinary, or something else altogether.

It took a long time for me to come to that conclusion. For a long time, I thought I was broken. I didn’t even find out asexuality was a thing until college, and back then it was considered a very black and white identity, not a spectrum. Because I didn’t fit the very narrow definition available at the time, I thought there was something wrong with me, so I ignored it.

That was over a decade ago, however. On the whole our understanding of sexual identity and attraction has changed and broadened. Marriage is an equal right.

I think in a lot of ways aro/aces are swept under the rug. Just because we aren’t waiting to order our breakfast, people think we don’t want a place at the table. Just because I don’t want your sausage doesn’t mean we can’t have a nice conversation while I drink my tea. Maybe later I’ll have a salad or some chocolate cake.

After all, there’s more than just cold cereal on the menu now.

2 thoughts on “Pride In Myself”

  1. I’m glad you’ve found a romantic orientation that fits you. Despite some people’s desire to ‘live outside the box’, as humans, we like to categorize all sorts of nouns – people, places, and things.

    And I hear you on not wanting to eat first thing in the morning.

    My mom had coffee, not breakfast, in the mornings and the only time breakfast was a big thing was if it was the weekend, and brunch–a couple hours after normal wake-up times.

    These days, I’m on meds that dictate no food for at least an hour after consumption, so I don’t get pressured into breakfast before I can comfortably eat.

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  2. One of the greatest mysteries in my life had to do with my high school girlfriend. We were so sympatico that we could finish each other’s sentences. I would reach for the phone, intending to call her, and it would ring because she was calling me. Our connection never turned carnal, though, and it’s taken me decades to understand why not. It didn’t need to.

    It sounds to me like the aro/ace spectrum is sensitive to that kind of relationship. No need for the physical, because an emotional, spiritual, or intellectual connection is sufficient. This probably seems freakish to people who never bond with another person, jumping from bed to bed and flitting between ephemeral hookups.

    As for breakfast, yeah, generally take it or leave it. The best part of waking up is making a cappuccino, manually grinding the beans before brewing. Speak not of any caffeine dependency; this is pure self-care, because I, too, am a complete person, unto myself.

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