I grew up with binary concepts. Far too many to mention here but I will take the following because they made up about 90% of my childhood and early teenage years.
Man/woman; Thin/fat; Talk/listen.
Usually the latter of each pair a subordinate to the other. A woman is lower rank to a man, fat is negative, therefore thin is desirable and listen to those that talk. What was never questioned was why man was authority? Did this come from a religious text? What made thin, thin? When is thin undesirable? No one told me which weight to be. And why should I listen and always say yes even if the person doing the talking is a nutcase, arrogant sexual abuser?
Internally making love; externally having sex
I was attracted to women at an early age but also to men but I dismissed it as a phase, morally wrong and a way for my family to either disown me or kill me. The latter would have gotten me out of my misery sooner. Men soon came into my life and that was it. I met a wonderful man who is a wonderful husband and father. We have common goals, he is intelligent but can be really goofy at times too. There is only one thing: I don’t want him to touch me. I don’t want to hold hands with him except link arms and kissing him on the lips disgusts me. Sex is something I feel I owe him but whenever I do it with him, I fantasize about women and her in particular, a writer. The sex becomes an entire scene like in a film.
He starts touching me, I say, I am a bit tired…or whatever excuse I can conjure up, eventually I let him because it’s been a while since the last time we had sex. He calls it making love, I call it sex. The film starts rolling. Sex on the outside, the film in the inside — my mind making the outside movements of touching, fingering and penetration all the more bearable. Shadows in the room become the lights of the movie set. In the first scene, I meet her in a cafe, we talk and exchange numbers. I tell her I’m separated and she tells me she has a girlfriend, indirectly informing me she is a lesbian. From friends, we become lovers. Meanwhile on the outside, when my husband reaches orgasm, so do the two actors in the film. I climax soon after my husband does because of the film reel playing in my head. Reality and imagination melting together. The scene ends in both the bedroom and in my mind.
I often cry after sex and my husband feels bad although I keep reassuring him that’s it’s not him, it’s me. He has also said, it could be my child abuse. Maybe. I cry not only because I have hurt him but because, I’m saying goodbye to the film in my mind — a reminder that she can never be mine.
She, he, it.
We met on an online magazine forum where writers and readers get together to share their stories and publishing adventures. I wasn’t interested in her work immediately. I found she used sophisticated words not everyday language that I could relate to. But rather than bypass her work like the others that I didn’t find affinity with, I needed to keep reading. There was a little something in that writing that kept me going. A thread of deep pain, similar experience and that was enough. As I read more, the affinity increased and for those words which were out of my league, I used a dictionary. Stories are open to interpretation and a reader can add his or her experience to the writer’s interpretation and form their own conclusion. She doesn’t want to reveal herself but she has revealed the struggle, the pain, the continual brick walls facing her life. You can’t possible write work like that without having experienced struggle and obstacles. We must draw from our own experiences even to write fiction.
Everyone experiences struggle and suffering, life isn’t perfect but sexual abuse is not everyone’s experience and I felt an immediate tenderness toward her when she revealed her abuse. This is me, I thought. I wanted to hold her and keep her in my arms and promise her that I would always protect her.
The only connection I had with her was a keyboard, screen and a writer’s platform. Not necessarily the ideal place to fall in love. I didn’t know what she looked like then, nor do I know what she looks like now. I am not naïve. I know the person on the other side could be male, old and basically faking it all. Her words have touched a nerve, a sensibility, convictions and emotions that have laid dormant for many years. Her words are painful but not at all bordering on misery. She seems to have felt the pain but chosen contentment. She has chosen to forgo misery. Just in that last point I have found solidarity within the lines of her work: we have both felt pain from a childhood event yet abandoned falling into the anguish trap where progress and survival can’t happen.
I want to be with her. She encompasses what’s beauty to me. I want to reread her work to her and have her read it to me. Slowly while she caresses my face, gently as we would to a frightened kitten. I long for her presence and want to break the walls of anonymity.
I have to question many things that are firmly implanted:. When was the moment in time that I realised what if I could be with a woman?
I am not gay? Or am I?
My beliefs were based on the Bible but now I am atheist.
I grew up attracted to boys. I thought some girls were beautiful but I imagined myself with boys.
In my twenties, I was interested in men. No. Well, sort of. Oh no, this is it:
I had guys in my life but I had problems with them touching me. It was at this time I was imagining myself having a girlfriend. Being intimate with her and the thoughts were far from distressing but pleasant and calming. I was a virgin because I still believed that I had to be married first. That it was God’s wish. So what happened here? What went wrong? That was the moment I lacked awareness or was it fear that stopped me from exploring my desires, following my intuition. Was it fear of The Book, fear of being disowned by family, fear of creating scandal, fear of letting myself go, of becoming mad? A little bit of everything — every ingredient in this bitter tasting undercooked cake.
Where can I find the answers or is it too late? I have located a time and place but how can that help me now except feel regret for not ever having that beautiful intimacy that I longed for with another woman. She, this writer has awakened these carefully folded away and stored memories. I am grieving for the lack of experience now and especially under the sheets.
Every word she writes, comment she makes and the commas she places just at the right spot are like first dates, first kisses, rubbing shoulders or elbows accidently and exchanging sorry, excuse me, polite words hiding the goose bumps and the red faces that might all happen when we fall for someone. I log off with a smile on my face just like your new boyfriend or girlfriend who gives you a kiss goodnight at your doorstep. I wonder if she does the same. I feel like embracing her for all the pain and suffering she has gone through. Walk her step by step in her recovery.
Trying to stop thinking of her is fruitless. She seems to enter different facets of my life. I could be cooking and a poem that she has penned may suddenly spring to mind. I go off to exercise and every song on my phone becomes about her and me. But these are just thoughts and feelings I have attached to something. This something and someone could end up being the opposite to what she projects out. I need to stick to the real — what is tangible, what I have before me. My husband. I need to work on us. Maybe see someone about us and risk breaking up or at the other end of the spectrum, make our marriage exciting in the bedroom and enjoy his touch.
I will take it day by day. Maybe I will suggest for her to meet me next time she travels and get to know each other. Then I will see the real her. Getting to know her and being friends in person is probably the best way to establish what I want. Am I really in love with her? Do I want to leave my husband for her? Do I want to explore my sexuality beyond my marriage beyond this writer?
I have to swim in this pool of uncertainty. Swimming continuously until one day when I pop my head out of the water. Who will I see? My husband, her, another she or no one. Perhaps, me myself and I will be my destiny.