There’s something that I feel the need to write about, and it’s difficult, and complicated, and very confusing, but I want to try anyway.
You see, I grew up in a relatively small community. I had friends who were homosexual, but I can’t think of anyone I knew who was bisexual. This may be part of the reason why it took me so long to question my assumption that I was completely heterosexual.
This is where it gets complicated, because I went through puberty with the expectation of being attracted to men, and I am attracted to men, but I don’t think that was the whole picture.
I’ve always been very outspoken about my opinions when it comes to gay rights (or as I like to call them, “rights”), and I’ve always unquestioningly supported the statement that homosexuality isn’t a choice — you’re either born that way, or you’re not. But I think this may be part of where my confusion has led me to simply assume that I’m only attracted to men, because I didn’t even begin considering anything outside of that until I was about 25 years old.
I don’t mean that I suddenly disagree with being born one way or the other; what I mean is that maybe it’s not always that simple. Maybe those feelings people have when they’re going through puberty are clear (i.e. “I’m attracted to people of the opposite sex” or “I’m attracted to people of the same sex, but that seems to be in conflict with what we’re taught about sexuality”), but maybe something is so far entrenched in that feeling of “otherness” that it isn’t as clear as that. I don’t have a clear-cut answer for this, except to say that while sexuality may be clear to most, maybe it takes much longer for others. Perhaps sexuality itself is fluid for some, a matter of progression and change, a shift or something that happens as you grow up and have new experiences.
For myself, I started puberty in third grade. I guess that’s a recognized condition now, but when I was younger, it was just baffling and confusion and led to a lot of embarrassment and feelings that I didn’t know what to do with. I started my period when I was almost nine. My second grade teacher told me I couldn’t wear tank tops to school anymore because they were “too revealing.” I had breasts, acne, pubic hair, and my period before any of my peers. I was a spectacle, and part of me felt proud to be “advanced,” but the other parts of me felt really confused and upset about all the changes I was going through before anyone else. By the time I finished sixth grade, I was already wearing a size 34D bra, and I had had my period for years. Essentially, I went through all of this on my own because my friends didn’t understand, and the only women who did were just that — already women. I was so young, and that was part of the problem. I was already different, and I internalized that far beyond even my own recognition.
Into junior high and all throughout high school and beyond, I was always aware of feeling like I was held apart from others. Something never felt quite right. I don’t know, I always vacillated between believing that I was the only one who felt this way and believing that everyone must go through these growing pains. Maybe I wasn’t the only person feeling isolated and alone. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who got jealously possessive of her friends when those friends dated other people. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who was highly sexualized before I was ready. Maybe I wasn’t the only girl who felt more comfortable among guy friends, who did “unladylike” things like curse, spit, and make dirty jokes. Maybe I wasn’t the only one wishing for someone to understand, to be able to reach me and hold me in place.
I remember describing myself to one of my internet friends…I said, “Sometimes I feel like a kite in the wind, and there’s nobody on the ground to hold on to my string. Maybe I’ll just float away.”
I still feel that way sometimes, but antidepressants have helped me to avoid some of the more destructive thoughts I’ve had.
To make a very long story somewhat short, I’ll skip forward to my 20s. When I was about 21, I had a dream about my female roommate. In the dream, we had sex and I had male genitalia, though I still looked like myself everywhere else. I impregnated her. I remember within the dream thinking that I’d like to be the one to get pregnant next time. (Maybe now you can see why I admit to being so confused.)
This wasn’t the last dream I’d had like that…as the years went by, I married a man and gave birth to three children. I love being pregnant, and it feels like such a feminine experience (for lack of a better way to describe it), and yet, I still feel confused. I still have dreams about having sex with women, and in most of these dreams, I have a dick. Sometimes I get them pregnant, but sometimes we’re just having sex. I’m always the one to initiate sexual encounters in these dreams, and I’m almost always the more dominant person in the act. Now, gender “norms” aside, what I believe this tells me is that my subconscious is telling me that this is something that I’m exploring actively. By way of initiating the sex and being the one in “control” of the situation, I feel like this means that I’m taking an active role as opposed to experiencing this confusion in a passive way. (Note: I do not mean to imply that in D/s relationships, one person is active vs. passive. I simply mean to say that in these dreams, I am often dominant as well as actively pursuing the sex acts as opposed to inviting/allowing said acts, if that makes any sort of sense.)
Simply put, I think my subconscious is trying to clear up some lingering confusion, as if to say “This is what you want.” or “This is something you know you want, and this isn’t a question of control.” I am in control of the situations that arise in these dreams, and for me, that takes away the residual doubt about my concern… I don’t feel helpless, or hopeless, or like something I can’t control is happening to me and I don’t know how to stop it. This is my mind telling me in no uncertain terms that this is something I want, and something I’m willing to pursue…at least in my dreams.
So maybe you can see how confusing all of these feelings have been for me. When I was 25, I went to a counselor because I was seriously depressed. This depression was partially rooted in the death of my first child, but mainly it was an existential crisis. I felt like I didn’t know who I was, or why I was having increasingly sexual dreams about women, especially with male genitalia. This counselor told me flat-out that I wasn’t attracted to women. How did she know? I was relieved at the time, but only because I felt like if I was attracted to women, then it meant that I’d have to leave my husband and pursue my attraction to women. I assumed that if I was attracted to women, it was a black and white situation in which I could no longer have the life I’d been leading to that point. That was too much for me, because though I was going through a rough patch in terms of intimacy with my husband, I still loved him (and still do). So for that moment, I was relieved to hear that I couldn’t possibly be attracted to women. I must have been wrong, and my fears were irrational! WHAT A RELIEF.
Except…well, had I known then what I have recently realized, I would have insisted on finding a different counselor. Someone who would listen to my concerns and not dismiss them outright without any exploration of the intricacies of whatever I’ve been going through. I feel now that her immediate refusal of my feelings and questions hindered me in exploring those thoughts further.
I’m almost 28 now, and I think I’m in a place where I can comfortably and confidently say that I don’t know for sure if I’m bisexual, or if I’m a man in a woman’s body. Those are both notions that I’m willing to dwell on. I’ve talked to my husband about these concerns, and as always, he has been comforting and reassuring. The part of me that feared that my marriage would be over if I was bisexual (or perhaps something else) has been quieted. I know now that this doesn’t have to be clear or simple, because it’s not, but I’m okay with that. I used to foolishly believe that I had to KNOW for SURE if I was something other than a heterosexual, cisgendered female. That I would have to separate from my husband to explore it and resolve it.
Now, I’m okay with not knowing, but not out of any sense of denial. I’m okay with not knowing, because I don’t feel like I need to know FOR SURE. I’m simply content now to be open and willing to think about these issues as they arise, without feeling a sense of impending doom. I feel like I can just be who I am, and let those questions answer themselves as I just…live. That’s where I’m at right now. I just need to live, and be open, and be okay with the answers that I find. I have the unconditional love and support of my husband, and his is the opinion that matters.
It’s like my favorite poet says:
“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
That’s what I’m willing to do. I’m willing to accept and be open and be unafraid of whatever it is that I find.
This is how finding all of you has changed me for the better. I may not know what you look like, or anything about your real lives, but the people I have met through being in fandom have helped me find my way this far. I wish that I could give all of you a hug, but that’s why I wrote this. I think it’s important to realize that just by being open and honest, you may have a positive impact on someone else’s life. You may help someone, even if you didn’t expect to have any influence at all. I still feel really alone and confused at times, but sometimes it helps to get online and talk and be comfortable with people that I consider friends, whether I’ve known you for years, or just a matter of days. I feel like having this connection that seems somewhat frivolous or silly on the surface has actually made me a lot more comfortable with who I am in real life. That’s why I’m sharing this with all of you. It’s to show my gratitude.
And it is my hope that in some way, this thing I have written will pay that forward. I hope that this reaches someone else and helps them, if even in a small way. I want to be there for you, whoever you are. I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that there are friends, whether they are near or far, who will open their arms to you and hold you to the ground. Whether you realize it or not, you belong here, and you deserve to be here.