Yeah. Okay. So things were falling apart. Distance had been established between who we once were and who we wanted to be. Who we were in the moment was not able to be clearly defined. But I like answers when I have questions. Sometimes, I don’t like the answers I receive and I work to bend the truth into something more comfortable. I want to hold on to hope in the biggest of struggles. This is who I am. Holding onto hope is good. Unless, of course, it comes with the weight of self-delusion.
Relationships take work. I am willing to work and rework and get shit done. I tried to close the gap. Build a bridge and reinstate contact. But I cannot make someone else be ready to meet me on that bridge. I cannot change another person’s world view. I can only hope to share mine and hope that they either see my position, and if they don’t, then they aren’t for me.
Don’t mistake this for only wanting to be around people who are like me. As much as I like to see my views shift another’s perspective, I like to see another’s perspective shift mine. This is the catalyst of growth.
My own views were rapidly shifting. Maybe it was all the yoga. Maybe it was all the literature. Maybe it was just me growing up. But I was in this relationship that I very much wanted to be in. I was in this relationship that had become boring, and the connection was being lost. I often felt alienated from my partner. I could feel her drifting away from me, but I was watching her drift away from herself, too. It was sad and it was difficult. It wasn’t my battle to fight.
My battle was determining how to get things back on track. I ruminated over solutions. I presented problems, and asked for her input.
“I think this is just what it’s like to be in a long term relationship,” was her answer.
“If this is what you think a long term relationship is supposed to be like, I don’t want that,” I was trying.
“Look it up, Lesbian bed death is an actual thing,” she said.
So, we don’t have sex anymore because of this thing you read about called lesbian bed death, which must certainly be true, but everything I’ve said about my struggles with imposter syndrome in graduate school is just me making shit up, and being stuck in my head. So, it was totally reasonable for her to say, “Have you talked to a professional about this imposter syndrome? You can’t just diagnose yourself with something based on something you read on the internet.”
I wasn’t diagnosing myself from web md. I wasn’t searching for a “condition” to make sense of my circumstances. I was trying to explain to my partner that this journey I was on was difficult in more ways than just my time invested. That my mental health was suffering and I needed help. But I turned the focus away from myself after her continual dismissals.
But I still tried to make the most of our situation together. I needed more closeness. I had never been good at asking for it. My fear of rejection kept me tethered to a mediocre existence. If I don’t ask, the answer will never be no. It turns out-the same is true if I think-If I don’t ask the answer will always be no.
So, I tried to start asking. And when those answers were no, I felt less of a sense of rejection, and more of a sense that I just wasn’t going to be able to get what I needed from this person. I still cling hard to the hope that it would change. That I would make it through. It didn’t work.
So, when I left in November of 2015, and she quickly became sexually linked to her ex-girlfriend, I really wanted to internalize this as though I was sexually undesirable or that I was lacking in some way. But something happened.
For some reason, I knew the problem wasn’t me. I may not be sexually aggressive, but I am quite sexually charged and willing. I know it’s something I need and crave for the closeness it brings.
The “lesbian bed death” wasn’t a me thing. And it wasn’t even linked to the other struggles I was having and experiencing. It was her. The more I needed emotional connection on any level-the more she withdrew.
But, for her, sexual relations with her ex or any person she could woo into the sheets kept her emotionally distant from me, and herself.
Sometimes, I feel like I carry the weight of the 50+ women she has used and manipulated for her own selfish gains and sexual gratification. But I don’t need to carry all that weight. I need to learn to unburden myself from the weight I carry from the moment I realized that I was just another one of them. That I accepted mediocre contact in a sexual relationship. That my desire for intimacy was consistently denied.
I always thought it was my insecurity I was carrying into the bedroom. That she intimidated me, or something. That my inability to be open was all my fault.
When I think about some of my other lovers-I can recognize that was not the case. It wasn’t me. My therapist tried to get me to recognize this for years. I couldn’t see it. I carried around the shame that I couldn’t be the kind of lover she wanted. Even though we were together for 8 years. Her need to fill the void with sexual exploits at the first sign of trouble had nothing to do with me. My inability to do the same had nothing to do with her. My inability to fully open to her was my heart telling me that I needed to protect myself. My heart was telling me that this person did not truly value me. Likely not because they didn’t want to, but because they couldn’t.
I wasn’t listening to my heart. I wasn’t listening to my body. It didn’t matter how many times I felt more alone after a sexual encounter with her. I still felt defective. These were not my defects. That overwhelming sense of loneliness that often led me to cry as she drifted off to sleep was my heart telling me something wasn’t right. It was telling me to run, and yet I stayed paralyzed by my own fear. Thinking that there was something wrong with me I needed to fix.
So, eventually, we just stopped having sex. We would fill our days with mindless tasks. And I still longed for that connection, yet I had no idea how to actually get it. It seemed like we had it sometimes. But more often than not-it felt like two bodies coming together, and that was never going to be enough for me. It had been this way for so long, I had no idea why I felt this way with her. I had no idea what the shift was in my mind.
To be clear. There are many different kinds of sex, and I know that. The same set of lovers can engage in different kinds of sex at different times. Sometimes even shifting dynamics in the same encounter. The important thing is that the two are on the same page about it. I felt more like she was in the library, checking out, while I trying to buy all my favorite stories to keep on the shelf.
This is NOT what a long term relationship is supposed to look or feel like. I’m sorry that I even entertained that thought for a moment. I’m sad that I believed this was some kind of normal. I’m sad that I believed this had anything to do with me. I’m sad that I couldn’t see it sooner.
I deserve to be with someone who truly values me. Mind, body, and spirit. I deserve to be with someone who means it when they say they love me, and who is willing to put in the work to show that love. Because I do. And I deserve to receive the same respect that I give. I deserve to be in a space where loneliness comes and loneliness goes, but not where it is just compounded. I deserve to have great sex to compliment a pretty good relationship. I deserve a partner who wants to meet me on that bridge, and maybe even fuck me there just because. And then walk with me home where we can fall slowly through the process of knowing and believing that while people may not be homes-they certainly can be a space of belonging. I deserve this kind of loving. And I won’t settle for any less.