“It would be great if you had a boyfriend to do things with,” my mother says as she polishes the counter. Rolling my eyes, I tell her for the thousandth time, “I don’t want or need a boyfriend to do things with. I’m perfectly happy doing things by my self or with my friends.” Sighing, she replies, “It just breaks my heart that you won’t have that joy.” Surprisingly, this conversation was actually a sign of progress. I came out as asexual about two years ago. I have come out to a total of seven people so far, three friends, three family members, and therapist. My friends reactions ranged from confusion to enthusiasm that I had figured out a relatively big piece of myself, my therapist’s reaction was to immediately ask if I had suffered sexual abuse (I haven’t, just for the record, and I could write another post all together about how this conclusion can be easily disproven), and my family’s reactions ranged from casual acceptance, to derogatorily telling me that I was young and had plenty of time to find “the right person” (also another post for another time), and the worst reaction by far was being aggressively told that I wasn’t asexual, and that that meant I wasn’t either male or female. This reaction came from my mother, who obviously does not possess extensive knowledge about sexuality or gender identity. I proceeded to tell her what the word meant in regards to sexuality and she replied with an agitated, “Fine, so you’re asexual now.” Later, her evidence for why I couldn’t be asexual was that I’d had crushes in the past. Considering how nightmarishly she was responding to asexuality, I didn’t want to go to the effort of explaining that the majority of these “crushes” had been squishes, but I did tell her that they were forced attempts to change my nature, which in part was true. A few of the boys had been just that. I went on to explain that realizing my asexuality was a happy thing for me because I know had a word to describe how I felt, which made me feel like I wasn’t some freakish anomaly, and that there would be no more forced attraction and pursuit of relationships that I in truth had no desire for. There would be no more conforming to society’s heteronormative standards, was what I didn’t tell her. Frustratingly, she went on a rant about how she hated labels and how she believed that I had never been attracted to anyone, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t someday. Nevermind the fact that I was eighteen, and even at that point if I had met the mystical “one” I would have identified as gray ace/ gray romantic. I feel the strong desire to rant about how it is outrageously unfair that young people who identify as ace/ aro are not taken seriously, but that is yet another post for another time. The next three months were filled with her constantly slipping innuendos into our conversations, as if her not talking about sex frequently enough had somehow been responsible for my “choice” to be asexual. There was much talk about my future relationships, and even joking that if wanted advice in the bedroom, she was the one to ask. I was disgusted and deeply hurt by her behavior, but not once did I completely loose my temper, which, looking back, astonishes me. Months went by without a mention of my orientation, which I found was the only way to keep the peace. I don’ t recall what exactly had started the argument, but somehow my asexuality was brought up, and my mother said that I was too much of a romantic to be asexual. In her mind, if I enjoyed fictional romance, I couldn’t be asexual. I will admit that I was beyond exasperated at her ludicrous behavior and was a bit aggressive as I explained to a fifty three year old woman that sexual and romantic attraction were not the same thing. This appeared to make sense to her, and her new argument was that I someday may meet a man who I was romantically attracted to and wanted to start a family with. That was always what it came back to, my procreating and giving her grandchildren. “You never know,” was quite the enduring response, and still pops up from time to time, namely when my grandmother brings up my future as a housewife doting on her children. The conversation that broke both of our barriers down came about three months ago. For months before that, there were days where my mother’s “you never know” comments and the conveyed lack of acceptance in them caused me to be so depressed I couldn’t bring myself to go to attend class. I would tell myself over and over again that I didn’t need anyone’s validation, that I knew myself and that was all that mattered. While that is true and I still feel empowerment in knowing this aspect of myself, I wanted, and still want, that acceptance so badly it hurts, and it feels a tad childish and pathetic admitting that, but it’s true. I have been told by my therapist that our relationship is a love hate relationships, and that those are the most toxic kind, but shutting my mom out isn’t that simple. Despite our intense ups and downs, she’s one of my best friends. Discounting my orientation, she the person who understands me the best, the person who I laugh the most with, the first person I want to talk to when I have days in which nothing goes smoothly. Cutting her out of my life would be like cutting off a limb.
The big conversation started with the usual mentioning of my future husband and children. It was approaching Mother’s Day, and I didn’t want to fight. I figured more remarks would come in the future, and I would say something then. I found myself unable to shake my intense sadness and the need to say something to her. After three hours of deliberation, I told her inability to accept my being asexual deeply hurt me and made me feel like she didn’t take me serious, lead me to belief that she thought I was some stupid kid going through a phase. Her tearful response was that she did and had always taken me and my feelings seriously. All the stupid “you never know” comments were for her sake, because the thought of not getting to watch me get married and raise my own children broke her heart. When she heard her friends talking about their sons in laws and grandchildren, knowing that her family would likely always just be her, my dad and I, she would become unbearably sad. Her hurtful comments weren’t meant in malice, but as a small thing to give herself false hope. She said that she wanted me to know the joy that she had found in romantic and physical relations, and in raising a child that was a combination of you and the person you loved. I explained that the thought of marrying a man and having his child was utterly repulsive to me, and that occasionally I felt irrationally guilty because I loved her, knew how badly she wanted biological grandchildren, and knew that I could never happily give her what she so badly desired. She told me not to feel guilty, joked that she’d steal herself a grandchild, then said more seriously that she would love any child I brought into my life, reiterated that she just wanted me to be happy, and confessed that she was worried that I would forever be alone. Her most common responses these days are sadness and pity that my happiness doesn’t fit inside her heteronormative box. It confounds and infuriates me that some people can’t comprehend that happiness is not identical for every single person.
I breaks my hear that I can’t tell her that I think I did indeed find a mystical person who I feel romantic attraction for, the first instance in my entire life where there was not a doubt in my mind that this is the infamous crush I have heard so much about and spent so much of my time and energy trying to replicate. I finally found the girl, a girl who lives on the other side of the world, in a country where same sex relationships are illegal. I have found a girl who possesses no filter and a beautiful heart, a girl does not have an artistic bone in her bone and who is afraid of cats, a girl who likely does not return my feelings and who I have little in common with, but who I find my self infatuated with regardless. I have found a girl who cared enough about me to cry when I left to go back home, a girl who I think about everyday and who I futilely day dream about having a life with. She is my phantom limb, and the thought of never feeling her comforting hand on my shoulder again, never again seeing her smile, thinking about her marrying and forgetting me completely makes something deep inside me hurt. I have entertained the thought of dating, or at least testing the waters and seeing if there’s a girl #2, but my pessimism is loud and says that romantic love is in no way rational, that I will likely never find another girl I care for the way I care for her. It breaks my heart that I can’t tell you any of this, mom. You have made it clear time and time again that you don’t react well to anything that doesn’t fit in your tiny box of approval, and I’m not going to be a masochist. It breaks my heart that if I do find another girl, I will be terrified to introduce her to my parents. It breaks my heart that me finally accepting myself causes you so much pain, that you can’t be happy that your daughter is finally embracing her nature.
I’m sorry if this post was a bit long and tedious, thank you to all who read it in its entirety. I feel much better having written this down, and I hope anyone in a similar situation knows that they’re not alone.
Stay strong, stay true to yourself. Keep on Aceing It.