Long periods of time I spent alone, nursing my sorrows, yearning for someone I would never have, lamenting the missed opportunities, misspoken and unspoken words, hating myself, hating my family, hating my friends, hating the world, blaming my parents and God (if ever I thought of its existence) for traumatic childhood events. My identity was locked in the past and it took me a long time to bring my consciousness to the present moment, to take responsibility for my life, my emotions, my thoughts, my urges.
Lonely as I was, my heart and mind were too fragile to risk being hurt again, so, moving on from love lost, I had to rebuild the foundations of my psyche, to become strong enough to face the trauma from the past. I stopped wishing for someone to solve my problems and be my light. I had to find my own way. I decided I didn’t want anyone until I had myself sorted. It wouldn’t be fair on them and would likely hurt us both. Still, I tried to deny aspects of myself. I thought I could embrace my heterosexuality while denying my homosexuality. I told myself I’d rather be single forever than gay. Well, being single is easy when you know your head is too messed up for a relationship and porn is readily available, but denying half of your urges (more like a quarter, really) is an exercise in futility. It’s like banging your head against a wall while wishing you didn’t have a headache.
Technically, true celibacy is abstaining from all sexual activity, including masturbation, but I’ve never been an ascetic. I needed that time not pursuing, wishing for, hoping for any kind of intimate relationship. I was afraid of intimacy and yearned for it at the same time. To overcome both states I had to transcend the whole concept.
It seems a little odd to think that in my late teens and early twenties, being bisexual was something that didn’t really matter. It took an unpleasant homosexual experience to turn me off for so long. Women simply felt more natural. But still, I could not cope with relationships. Things always got dug up from the past.
It was my latest depressive episode that led me to seek professional help. This had recurred so many times, and though I had made progress on my own, it was slow and my stagnation was getting to me. I needed help to free myself to be who I am. NHS waiting lists for counselling are abysmally long, so I contacted a counsellor for private sessions. That sounds really simple, but making that call took me a couple of months of deliberating, debating, too afraid to face my own shadow. Making that call was a big step forward.
Along with all the other help she gave me, a phrase my counsellor used a number of times which stuck in my mind was ‘self-acceptance’. Eventually, free from past events that used to plague me, I got to a point where I could stay in the present moment more, not dwelling in the past or being anxious about the future. I could take responsibility for my own life and accept who and what I am.
I am bisexual, amongst other things. It’s one part of my identity, not even a major part really, for all the headfuck and heartache I’ve allowed because of it. I feel no need to shout it from the rooftops and more than I would shout about picking my nose or eating chocolate (not at the same time). I don’t particularly like when someone makes their sexuality a massive part of their identity, being really camp, misogynistic or womanising. From my point of view, it degrades themself as a person. It’s like saying, “I’m an accountant. Everything I do is about being an accountant.” Substitute ‘an accountant’ for gay, bi, straight, depressed, spiritual, happy, nationalist, politically affiliated – you get the idea. Every person is so much more than one part of their identity. The idea of coming out is, to me, more a statement of how intolerant and gossipy society is that people are initially afraid of their own selves, and then have to categorise themselves in order to fit in somewhere, than of accepting oneself and just living.
I got to the stage where I could almost convince myself I was ready for a relationship. I wasn’t really quite there, but it was a start. I began flirting with someone online, took her out for lunch, but there were no sparks. More recently, an old friend kept cropping up in my mind – the other man in the homosexual experience I mentioned earlier. I looked him up – one thing social media is actually useful for. It was so strong in my mind that I knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t make contact, so I sent a request. After a bit of online chat we arranged to meet up. I didn’t really know what to expect but was prepared for anything – friendship, dislike, casual sex, relationship. After not much time and a few meetings, it was obvious those old feelings were still there. Years ago it was the wrong time for both of us. Now, it all seems to fit into place.
So now I am in a relationship. It still seems a bit weird to say that after 12 years of not being in one and thinking I’d be more likely to have killed myself by the time I was 40. We’re both very independent, so used to being alone and happy with that. The phrase ‘other half’ makes me gurn as it implies that you are not a complete person on your own. ‘Boyfriend’ is just as abhorrent – we’re not boys, we’re in our 30s. ‘Partner’ seems best. We’ll go with that. He says he’s fallen for me but I don’t feel it so deeply. I can’t say what the future holds, how I will feel in months or years to come, so this might last a few months or it might last a lifetime. Whatever happens, I know I am strong enough to deal with it. And so is he. We’ll take it day by day.
Here’s to the present!