Month: May 2014

Let me try to talk about my “non-normative” relationships “failing”

By the way, I just changed my theme of my whole blog because the previous look was really not working for me, especially the layout of the comments. Hopefully this theme works better for both me and all of you.

 

Queenie of Aces recently posted over at The Asexual Agenda a post entitled, Why don’t we talk about non-normative relationships failing?. I enjoyed reading the whole thing, as well as the comment section. I mainly agree with points made over there and I highly recommend reading it and maybe you can even join the discussion. This is my contribution to it. It’s ridiculously long when originally I had intended to make it relatively short (whoops… major fail, lmao!!), it’s a bit ramble-y, and it goes a bit all over the place because I tend to get overly wordy when I write these things at 3:00 in the morning. I’m sorry. 😛

Queenie said in the post,

There are a number of accepted narratives for mixed relationships failing: “I didn’t want sex and he did, so we broke up,” “once I realized I was asexual I broke up with her because I knew she’d be happier with a non-ace,”

– etc, etc, and both of those first two examples describe perfectly how/why my boyfriend and I broke up.

Sciatrix mentioned in the comments:

I don’t think that the expectation of an inevitable end is the thing that causes break-ups to be relatively painless. I think it’s a combination of other things, including levels of mutual respect for each other, how well everyone saw the breakup coming,

etc and my boyfriend and I (yes, I guess it was a normative romantic relationship, but bear with me and I’ll get to my sorta-non-normative relationships at the end) had both of those 2 things. We saw the break-up coming, we respect one another, we had open and honest communication throughout our relationship including as I tried to determine if asexuality fit me and I discussed everything with him – and he discussed everything with me.

As Captain Heartless alluded to in the comment section over there, I too don’t really see my “Normative” romantic relationship with my boyfriend as a failure. It was a success. I got to have someone to call a boyfriend. I got to try just enough kissing and sensual touching and sexual-ish things that I realized what I do and don’t want for my future, and I feel confident about my asexuality now in a way that I don’t think I’d feel if it wasn’t for being with him.

But it’s more than that. I really do like him a lot as a person. I want to still be friends with him, and we “broke up” saying that we could still be friends. Nevertheless, we broke up and then didn’t contact one another. At all. For a month. But then… a month after we broke up, my uncle committed suicide (at the museum my now ex-boyfriend’s mother worked at), and I’d remembered telling my boyfriend about one of my uncle’s previous suicide attempts while we were dating, so I decided to text him about his death. I explained what my family and I were going through. He was nice to me.

But then we spent 5 whole months… completely not in each other’s worlds. Not talking. At all.

Still, I decided at this point that I was wondering if he’d be actually graduating from college this year as planned, because if he was I thought maybe I could send him a congratulations card or something, so I got up the courage to email him. I asked him if he’d tried dating anyone. I asked him about his life. We’ve emailed back and forth a couple of times since then. Not much, but a bit. He replied the day after I’d emailed him and said he’d been thinking about me too. He says he wants to be friends. I think we might actually, sort of, still be friends. Not close friends, but friends. Maybe we can get closer in the future, or maybe we’ll drift apart. Are we now in the “non-normative” relationship territory? I don’t know. Does being friends with your ex-boyfriend count? Or is it simply a friendship? Regardless, I don’t think our relationship has ended. Not yet. It’s still… something. Some vague almost-friends type of thing. It might be sort of a failure if we never talk again. But it’s not a particularly “awful failure”, as far as “failed relationships” go.

And honestly, I’m not even so sure my romantic relationship with my boyfriend was EVER “normal”, since I feared I might be asexual ever since our very first kiss and told him as such as soon as we’d kissed that first time. (And yes, I turned out to actually be asexual in the end). We never ended up having “Actual sex”. We barely had sexual experiences together. We were almost a non-sexual romance. We didn’t kiss that often. We mainly talked about all sorts of things just like I kinda do with my dad and brother, except he was a brand new person in my life so it was a lot of learning about each other all at once. We discussed deep philosophical things. We discussed his sexual fantasies and my lack of them. We discussed all sorts of things, our families, etc. He taught me how to play Magic the Gathering. I brought him over to meet my dad and cook him one of my favorite meals. I met his mom and ate dinner at his house. We cuddled while watching lots of TV. It was close to a friendship in many ways. But we did try getting naked together twice. We did cuddle which I don’t do with my friends. I don’t like kissing so we really did avoid it most of the time, but we did try it multiple times which again, I don’t do with friends. Was it ever a “normative” romantic relationship? I don’t know. Is any relationship fully “normal” anyway? We’re all different. So what’s the difference between a non-normative relationship and a normative one, anyway?

Honestly, the most non-normative my relationships have ever been is that I’ve felt like I’ve been very close friends with people I’ve never met in real life, who I only knew through a shared hobby of vidding and through online messaging back and forth. When I started to form friendships with these “online friends”, I didn’t even realize what was happening. I didn’t realize that a select few of them would be people I’d grow extremely close to, who I’d bond with, who I’d share very personal stories about my life troubles with, whose real first names would be just as memorable to me as their usernames, who I’d end up talking about to my dad and brother in real life. I mentioned that I told my ex-boyfriend about when my uncle killed himself? Um, I actually told my closest online friends first, though. It was only natural to tell at least the one I’m closest to. She was very understanding and had lost someone to suicide before too, and I already had known that because like I said, we’re close!! She’d talked to me about it when it had happened in her life. I realize that these relationships are non-normative because they are my best friends in my life, yet I feel afraid to mention them to anyone other than my dad and my brother, for fear these other people in my life wouldn’t understand. I fear everyone around me thinks of online-friendships as “not real” and the fact that I don’t even know what most of them look like, the fact that I don’t know or remember most of their last names, that I don’t plan to ever meet any of them in real life…. that these facts will all negate my friendships as “legitimate” in these people’s minds. Sometimes I try to downplay how important these friendships are in my own life, because I know if I did ever get married (which I realize is a lot less likely than I once thought it would be, now that I realize I’m wtfromantic and asexual) I couldn’t invite them to my wedding. I realize if they get married I can’t be invited. If they die I can’t go to their funerals. A very morbid thought, I know. But it’s crossed my mind. Etc. I think the other thing is I’m mainly friends with these people because of a shared passion for vidding and/or just fandom stuff in general, and all of the other stuff came later, but if they ever decide to stop vidding then we might completely stop talking to each other. And I’m prepared for that. It’s okay if I don’t stay close with my fandom friends after they’re not “fangirls” anymore. It’s happened to me before! And this is probably the BEST example I can think of of how my non-normative relationships have failed. Let me explain.

You know how you’re friends with someone in elementary school, but then your family (or their family) moves to another town/state/country and you’re simply “not friends” anymore? (Or this can happen with high school friends once some of you go off to college or whatever, etc. It can happen with work colleagues once you no longer work together anymore. It can happen a number of ways.) And sometimes you were more just friendly acquaintances with this person… but other times you really did share your heart and soul with them, you knew everything about them, you knew their families even, you hung out frequently outside of school/work, etc. Yet you just stop being friends. You might get a “goodbye” moment before they move away. You might not. Oftentimes you don’t even get that. Oftentimes you never see it coming. You thought you’d stay friends but neither one of you is the first one to call/text/email/Facebook message the other, to ask to meet up again, to do whatever you’d have needed to do to stay friends. And then years pass, and before you realized it they just used to be your friend.

This is basically what has happened to me with a few of my online friends. The person I confided in when I felt very alone the first week of my freshman year of college? One of the few people who really knew all the details of the ridiculous stuff my abusive mother was putting my family through? One of the few online friends I had where I knew not only her first name but also details about her family and her life and everything? I called her my “best online friend” or “best YouTube friend” for a period of time – years, I think it lasted – but a new person has that title in my life now. Really, both my current best online friend and this past one I’m remembering were not only my best friends online, but also in life. I didn’t have a closer friend in “Real life” and I still don’t. My online friends are who I feel closest to, other than my dad and my brother who get put into the “Family” category rather than “Best friend” anyway. This “best friend” and I drifted apart slowly, without realizing it. It’s different with online friends, it’s easier to do, it’s just her slowly stopping being in the online spaces we both frequented nearly as often because her real life started to get in the way. It’s us slowly having less in common because vidding stopped “being her life” even when it still consumed pretty much all of mine. It’s a combination of a lot of things, and it’s sort of a relationship that “simply ended” rather than “failed”.

I also think I’ve had non-normative relationships with some of my family members, depending on what non-normative is. Is it normal to not even feel a little bit of “love” toward your own mother? For as long as I can remember, I have not wanted to say “I love you too” to her regardless of who many times she says “I love you” to me. I have not wanted to tell people “I love her”, not even in the “I love her, but she was abusive to me” kind of sentence. No. I don’t. I don’t love her. It’s that simple. My relationship with her is a huge “failure”, seeing as she was abusive to me and most of what is described as common in “sexual-romantic” domestic abuse can easily apply to the non-sexual, non-romantic relationship with my mother. She did not sexually abuse me in any way, but she did abuse me. I can EASILY see, because of my experiences, how aces in “Friendships” of any kind, queerplatonic partnerships, non-sexual romances, whatever kind of relationships might be able to be in abusive, destructive, awful relationships with people that are painful and confusing and non-ideal because um… yeah. I was in a non-romantic, non-sexual relationship that was abusive, awful, horrible, etc. I was trapped in it for years, not sure it could count as abuse if I didn’t have actual broken bones, if it was just my mother and not a man doing the things that made me terrified all the time that she’d get mad at me, etc. I can understand anyone, asexual or allosexual, being in an abusive friendship with someone and being confused if friendships can even be abusive, because our society had me thinking abuse had to fall into a narrow set of boxes too, like that men abused their wives, children, or step-children and no other types of abuse dynamics existed, despite the fact that I was in one of them, and that yes, ex-wives can abuse their ex-husbands (like my mother did with my dad), friends can abuse friends (yes, it can happen), and oh so many other types of relationships too (yes every type of relationship, not just romantic or familial, has the potential to be abusive).

I think I’m closer with my dad than most people are with their dads, especially most girls with their dads, partially because we both have very limited social lives and love lives. He’s been helping me buy dresses and bras and pads/tampons/menstrual cups… etc… just helping me be a cisgirl for as long as I can remember since I never really had a mom (uh, see above) and people have… noticed that he’s out of place in those kinds of situations. We talk about more than most people ever feel comfortable talking about with their parents. Really nothing is off limits in terms of conversation. I’m not afraid to discuss anything with him, even things I’m afraid to talk about with other people. I don’t feel like he has secrets from me, either. In that case I have a non-normative relationship with my dad. And him with me. We live together and have been for 2 years, ever since I graduated college – just the two of us. But our relationship isn’t going to fail. I might stop living with him, might stop talking to him quite as often, might find one topic I don’t want to discuss with him one day or something but it’d just make our relationship change slightly. I know nothing will ever cause our relationship to actually “end” other than one of our deaths, and I can’t imagine considering this non-normative relationship a “Failure”, if you know what I mean. My relationship with my brother is relatively similar. It’s changed over time but we’ll always be there for each other, and I think we’ll always have this very strong level of trust and emotional/intellectual intimacy. Even if we don’t talk for months, we still are very close as far as siblings go. And because we’ve discussed philosophy so much, feminism, asexuality, etc… I can’t imagine him ever betraying me or hurting me in such a way that would end up causing me to label our relationship a “Failure”. I’ll try to let you all know if I am proven wrong, though. 😛

In general, I think for me the only way a relationship could really feel like a failure is if suddenly and unexpectedly I lose a person who was a very important person in my life. It has to be jarring. It has to leave me feeling betrayed or full of regret or something. And honestly… that’s never happened to me. I’ve slowly drifted apart from various people. I’ve kept a relationship with someone but our relationship itself has changed. I’ve cut out my mother from my life when I never wanted her there in the first place and it wasn’t a relationship that could fail on MY end because it was never MY responsibility to make that work, never my goal, and well I never went into the relationship in the first place with any plans/hopes (I was just born into it). Just like I don’t consider my relationship with my dad to be a “success” either. It’s more complicated than that. It’s just a very good relationship I’m in.

I think, instead that the only relationship I’d really call a success or a failure is the one I had with my boyfriend. Because I went into it hoping to get something out of it. Because when I enter friendships (online type or not, either way), it happens more unexpectedly and very organically and so without the hopes/dreams/plans attached to the beginning of the relationship, how can the end of the relationship (or lack of an ending) be really accurately called a “failure” (or a “success”)?

I think I’ve had a really lucky time with relationships, a really happy life so far. I think none of my relationships are failures or too messy  or anything. Maybe I’m just being an optimist. Maybe I’m glossing over things in my mind. Maybe some of the relationships I’m in are too one-sided and a friend or family member doesn’t love me as much as I love them and maybe that is or isn’t healthy. I don’t know. But I feel at peace with my life right now. I don’t feel lonely. I don’t feel like I wish someone wasn’t in my life that is in it. I don’t desperately miss someone who doesn’t miss me.

So maybe I “failed” at talking about my non-normative relationships “failing”. I’m sorry. I tried. 😉

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Why I use “allosexual”

I like to use the term allosexual myself, so I am reblogging this now. These reasons make sense to me, the arguments against using it don’t make sense. So here. Please read this in order to be less confused when perusing my blog.

The Asexual Agenda

In general, language reform is one of my least favorite kinds of social justice work.  People are soooo defensive about what words they use.  For example, if you even mention that the word “female”, used as a noun, can be demeaning, it will completely derail all discussion of more important feminist criticisms.  (I’m thinking of a real event last year in the atheist community.)  I’m grateful for the times when I don’t have to get into that kind of argument.  But here I am doing it anyway.

“Sexual”, as a term for people off the ace-spectrum, is a bad term.  Most words have problems, but I think “sexual” has problems that should kill it.  I prefer “allosexual” as an alternative (because it has enough momentum that people in the know are familiar with it), or for visibility purposes, “non-asexual” (because it’s immediately understandable to everyone).

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Carnival of Aces: April 2014 Round-Up of Everything Submitted!!

Hey, everybody! It was my honor to host the Carnival last month, and I posted a very long call for submissions about the theme I’d chosen, “Analogies to an Asexual Experience”: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/april-2014-carnival-of-aces-call-for-submissions/

And WOW a lot of you managed to submit something! Thank you so much. I worried after seeing how few submissions there were in March, but you guys impressed me and really came through.

Without further ado, here’s what was submitted this month.

queenieofaces wrote Asexuals aren’t “just like everyone else, minus the sexual attraction” and allow me to quote a small section:

“I cannot imagine a world in which I am not asexual.  If I were not ace, my interactions, perceptions, experiences, and sense of self would be so radically different that I simply cannot imagine a world in which I am not ace and yet am still me.  This is the issue with so many of the asexuality-related analogies out there.  When you try to use liking or not liking cake as an analogy for asexuality, you’re not talking about an identity of the magnitude of asexuality.”


On the heels of that post, I don’t think this was written with the Carnival in mind but it includes an analogy: “Because I feel the same way as Queenie does: my asexuality is an inherent part of my identity, something that can’t just be detached. If I can furnish you with an analogy, asexuality is like a cog in a machine: everything turns with it, and although there are also many other cogs, they all depend on each other to keep turning. The asexuality cog can’t turn on its own, and without it, nothing else turns either.” So hopefully Jo doesn’t mind me mentioning her post here in this compilation… 😉 I think it applies too. And it was written in April. But back to only the things actually submitted for the carnival…

Regarding aromanticsm, ifisaysayred posted a quote from The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman, and explained it.

Carmilla DeWinter over at Der Torheit Herberge wrote A rare beast (version written in German is here) about a certain rare personality type being compared to the rare thing which is asexuality.

Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist wrote about being asexual and being autistic.

2cq5 submitted a poem called “Lipstick”, which I guest hosted here on my own blog.

Shokubutsujin over at Something Queer to Read wrote about Asexuality, video games and the future.

I (luvtheheaven) wrote Lack of Awareness/Education Leads to False Assumptions… aka It Would’ve Been Great to Have Heard of that Term Sooner! and discussed growing up with an abusive mother who suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses/a personality disorder but never knowing about personality disorders even existing, and also growing up unaware of asexuality’s existence.

The Ace Theist wrote What do we need a word like “semi-arid” for? which is a great way that the gray spectrum/demisexuality/etc. was included this month, it’s short and I highly recommend giving it a read…

Stormy explained two analogies that she commonly uses when explaining to people both what asexuality is and how asexuality feels. (A car in neutral, and an abandoned alien! It makes sense once you read what she has to say.)

And finally, (or well, the final 2…) Sara K. over at The Notes Which Do Not Fit wrote An Analogy About Abstinence, discussing abstaining from drinking alcohol and abstaining from sex, and I wrote about the same thing right here with There’s a Reason It’s Called a “Virgin” Cocktail!! 😉

I think that’s everything, but if I accidentally left you out, please post a comment below, or tweet me @luvtheheaven or something and let me know! I can also update this post with new links if anyone wants to submit something late. That’s fine! Just let me know.

Update: Nutmeg over at jarofnutmeg submitted a wonderful little analogy about a room full of meat-eaters and the few vegetarians…. well just read it for yourself lol… this was submitted late, on May 17th: http://jarofnutmeg.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/analogy-to-an-asexual-experience-april-14-carnival-of-aces/

 

There’s a Reason It’s Called a “Virgin” Cocktail

This is, finally, my second post for the April 2014 Carnival of Aces. Asexuality will come up eventually if you keep reading, I swear it will. 😛 (Sorry it’s a tiny bit “late” and now it’s already May. Time got away from me.)

Please read my previous post if you want some background on my relationship with alcohol…

~~~~~~~

When I took a Philosophy 101 course in college and they got to the section where we’d discuss the concept of Free Will (and whether or not it exists), not much was actually new information for me, personally. I had already been persuaded by arguments for Determinism when listening to the Reasonable Doubts podcast in my free time for over a year prior to taking the class. However the class did introduce a few things to me… the idea of compatiblism, which actually I might prefer over just outright dismissing all of Free Will as a whole… terms like “volition” and how they affect the debate, etc. One of the most memorable things for me was when they explained how you might have conflicting desires at once. Two examples:

You want to stay in bed for another hour and sleep more

but at the same time,

You want to go to work (and get there on time), because you know it’s the only way to make money, to not get fired so that you have the option of going to the job tomorrow, etc.

Or:

You’re addicted and your body is telling you just how badly you want a cigarette, and you really do feel like you would love to smoke one right now

but at the same time,

You want to quit smoking, for any number of reasons.

I think it is obvious how people can have these types of contradictory desires at once, but it’s interesting to think about them in terms of free will. However, the point of this post is not really to discuss free will, but rather to discuss an analogy between my relationship with alcohol and my relationship with sex before this month’s Carnival of Aces is over. Yes. I’m getting there as fast as I can.

For me, compulsory sexuality works in society in such a way that it feels like “peer pressure” even when you’re all alone, and to me there feels like a culture of compulsory alcohol drinking too.

And it means I end up with conflicting desires:

My actual desire to not have sex/not drink alcohol

at the same time as

My desire to fit in, to do what is expected of me, to do what I always expected I’d one day do and one day get great pleasure out of doing.

It’s an assumption that everyone loves sex, that everyone has sex, and that everyone feels sexually attracted to people too. If you’re not a member of a conservative religion, it is assumed that you probably aren’t a virgin once you have gotten to your mid-twenties in age and people don’t think twice about it.  And honestly, most of the time that doesn’t affect me too much, as a 24-year-old asexual sex-averse person who qualifies as a virgin under most definitions of the term – and who plans to remain a virgin for life. Because most of the time whether or not I’ve had sex before doesn’t matter. If I’m with my social circle of friends or family, I’m not expected to have sex right there with them/in front of them. So no one really needs to even know that I am different from them when it comes to sex. Most of the time it’s just not relevant.

But with alcohol, drinking is something you’re expected to enjoy, expected to do all of the time in front of all of these types of people. And each and every time I’m offered an alcoholic drink, I feel very… embarrassed about declining it. I shouldn’t feel a need to justify it, and I generally don’t have any justification, but I still feel… self-conscious about not wanting to drink. About being unusual, about not feeling the same way toward alcohol as everyone else.

I had been planning on writing this post before ever seeing Sara K.’s take on this subject, but she said many things that ring very true for me over on The Notes Which Do Not Fit. One of which was:

“People find it weird that I was essentially following the laws about underage drinking, and making no effort to break them. In many of my social circles, you are expected to say that you snuck in alcohol before you were of age.”

I feel like people do not realize how they make people like me and Sara K. feel when they “expect” something of us like that, something that ends up not being true. I can’t help but wish I “fit in” more sometimes, because everyone else fits in and I’m stuck outside smiling along awkwardly, pretending to relate, or admitting quietly that I don’t.

But Sara K. said:

“However, I think the pressure to drink alcohol is not nearly as strong as the pressure to have sex.”

…and I disagree. To me, the pressure to drink is what feels stronger in a lot of ways than the pressure to have sex. There are certainly pressures for both, and people probably feel stronger about sex things, but in my life many people also don’t like to talk about sex all that often, but alcohol is something they’re always happy to discuss openly. The pressure to have sex with someone only applies if you’re actually in a romantic relationship with someone (or in an environment where everyone is being picked up for one-night stands, which I’m sure no one would be surprised to learn is not a type of space I frequent). You feel pressure to have sex in general in life, sure, but for me, drinking is the thing that ends up being a thing I actively have to refuse to do much more often. Not having sex is easy as a single person, I don’t even have to say “no” to anyone. But when it comes to alcohol, I have to constantly, throughout my life, say “no thank you,” and it is always a reminder that I’m different than other people when it comes to how I feel about alcohol.

You know how people sometimes very rudely suggest to asexual people “You need to try sex! You won’t be asexual once you try it,” and this even gets into corrective rape-threat territory? Well no one has ever actually said that to me and made me feel uncomfortable in that way. I am lucky to have avoided that thus far in my life. However my brother and his girlfriend have explicitly said to me: “You need to get drunk! Come on, we’ll take you to do shots” or “Just try it” and all sorts of things like that. Eventually my brother accepted that I wasn’t interested, and he’s nice about it, but at first the pressure people were exerting on me to drink was making me very uncomfortable, like I wasn’t really being given the option to say “no”, and that was upsetting to me.

Sara K. also explained that:

“it is a major coming-of-age rite when you can finally drink legally. This is not unlike how ‘losing one’s virginity’ is considering a defining coming-of-age rite.”

And for me, that rings so true. Not only that, though, but also it took me years to come to terms with the fact that my own expectations for “growing up” needed to be shifted. That for me, I was coming of age without the normal rites of passages, that I wasn’t gonna ever grow into someone who enjoyed getting drunk or enjoyed having sex. Those things aren’t me, and it took a lot of time to get to the point I’m at now, a point of acceptance that those things don’t have to be rites we pass through on the way to adulthood. That we can be adults without them. And that it is okay and that we’re not missing out on any more than anyone else, not really, because no one experiences everything possible.

Ironically, when I was still hoping I was not asexual and dating my boyfriend and trying to get up the nerve to do sexual stuff with him… when I was trying to figure out if there was a way to increase my non-existent sex drive from “zero” to “something” and all of it… I considered getting myself drunk to see if it would help. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was not comfortable with sexual things, and I was also not comfortable with the idea of drinking to see if it would lower my inhibitions enough to help me be more interested in sex. 😛 Now, I am glad I didn’t pressure myself into doing either thing.

I did experiment a tiny bit with sexual activities with my boyfriend in a completely sober state of mind, and I was more comfortable because of that. I never was interested, but I was able to realize sex wasn’t my thing through a positive experience of doing only as much as I was comfortable with, doing it with my boyfriend who I loved and trusted completely and who respected my limits and everything else. The same is true of my limited experiments with alcohol, which I explain here. I drank just enough to start to feel a bit of the effects of drinking when around my dad, which was me being in a fully safe space around a person I trust completely and I didn’t drink things I didn’t want to or which scared me (like trying a shot), I didn’t drink enough to get drunk… I didn’t drink really again after deciding I didn’t like it enough for it to be “worth it” for me.

Honestly, I’d always prefer to drink a virgin strawberry daiquiri over an alcoholic one, and I’d prefer to remain a virgin for my entire life rather than find myself in some future relationship actually having sex for some reason. I just wish the word “virgin”, both in reference to the drinks and in reference to us human beings, did not have the connotations it did. Because I am not immature, waiting till the day I am “allowed” or “old enough” to drink the “real thing”. No, the virgin form of a strawberry daiquiri is sweet and delicious and just as real, and for me an even more wonderful experience than drinking alcohol. My life is not incomplete without alcohol, and my life is not incomplete without sex. Since accepting the fact that I am a sex-averse asexual… I find myself more sure of what I want for my life and my future, and that makes me happier in many ways than I ever have been in the past.

 

 

Not Seeing the “Plus-Side” to Alcohol

Note: My title for this blog post is a reference to this English idiom. This whole post is a lead-in I am writing to set up for my second entry for the April Carnival of Aces (And yes, I’m a tiny bit late). I just wanted to explain a bit about my relationship with alcohol here, in more depth than most people will probably want to read, before moving on to comparing anything to my relationship with sex. 😛 You can skip to the next post if you’d prefer not to read this one.

When I was in college, I never once went to a party, or a bar, or a club, or anywhere where the only thing to really do is drink alcohol. No, I was the girl who went to board game club and chorus and RA-organized trips to the art museum and the Linguistics club where we watched Avatar and discussed the language of Na’vi made up for the film. When I went to family gatherings and was under 21, no one would really be comfortable allowing me to drink (alcohol) anyway, so of course I’d drink soda or sparkling apple cider or whatever was being served there (water, milk… etc).

I avoided even sipping alcohol before I was 21, partially because it was illegal and I felt a little uncomfortable with breaking the law. Because in the context of doing it while in a college dorm I might even get expelled. Etc. However… I don’t think that was the reason I refused a sip even when my dad offered me a sip of wine or beer as I neared my 21st birthday, and I had zero chance of getting in trouble. I think… I think I was afraid of multiple other things.

1) I was afraid I wouldn’t like the taste. I could smell it and it already didn’t seem appealing to me, and I’ve always been quite picky. Even in terms of which sodas I like vs. don’t like: I don’t enjoy Coke/Pepsi (cola), Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Grape Soda… no. I prefer certain select flavors I know that I like (lemon/lime sodas like Sprite/7 Up, Root Beer, Orange Soda, Ginger Ale, Cream Soda…).

2) I was afraid of the idea of alcohol. I mean alcoholism technically runs in my family a bit, with my grandfather, uncle, and sort of my mother. In general, alcohol is usually not considered a drug (hence common phrases like “Drugs and alcohol”) but it is one, and even in fairly small amounts it supposedly changes… how you feel. It is “fun” to drink for this reason, to get tipsy/buzzed, my dad says he thinks he might enjoy food more when he’s eating it while drinking alcohol, there’s a reason kids go out of their way to sneak alcohol into proms or school bus trips or wherever, and it’s not simply because it’s forbidden – it’s because getting drunk is one form of getting high. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and even without any potential fear of getting addicted, it has always scared me because it is supposed to change something about “who I am”, how I will choose to act, what I will feel. I don’t welcome these changes with excitement. No, I am cautiously curious, a little, but also (probably irrationally) afraid.

When I hit my 21st birthday and therefore was of legal age to purchase and consume alcohol here in the USA, I experienced two conflicting desires.

I had a desire to “be like a normal person” and celebrate that it was now legal for me to purchase and consume alcohol,

but I also really did not want to drink.

I talked to my brother (who’s 2 years younger than me) on the phone and he assured me of the obvious: if I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t have to. But somehow that didn’t help as much as it should. Somehow… it didn’t really feel true.

Eventually, a couple months after my birthday when I was back home for spring break, while going out to dinner with my dad and brother at a Friday’s restaurant, I tried some alcohol. I noticed that it made me feel similar to how I felt when I was overtired – I laughed a little more easily, but I also felt more tired… I tried alcohol again a few months later and I noticed it became more difficult to focus on text and read it, I more easily got dehydrated and despite drinking water along with my drink still got a headache… and again it just… made me tired. I didn’t really feel a plus side to it.

I never let myself get all the way drunk.

I have been on prescribed narcotic painkillers at 3 points in my life (Oxycodone (Oxycontin) and Vicodin) and I never have particularly enjoyed the experience. One of these 3 times was when my wisdom teeth were taken out, which my brother had done at the exact same time as me. I remember we were taking the same drugs to treat the same pain and I hated it because they made me so exhausted, while my brother actually felt some sort of “high” off of them, and admitted to me that he kind of wished he had an excuse to keep taking them even after he no longer needed them. He didn’t keep taking them, he stopped like he should, but I was surprised that he was even partially tempted to keep on them. I didn’t feel that appeal at all. I was happy to be done with them, truly. I felt no positives other than a lack of pain when taking them, which meant that without the pain anymore, why would I take them? Especially when they actually had negative side effects for me?

I find myself feeling almost identically about alcohol. I don’t see positives, not really. I can have a ton of fun without alcohol, and I see so many downsides to trying to drink, be it how expensive drinks can be, how I don’t actually like the bitter flavor of alcohol most of the time, how they make you too impaired to drive, how they make me tired, give me a (dehydration?) headache even when I attempt to drink water alongside my alcoholic drink, etc, etc. For me, I have now realized that I am… happy to just live my life avoiding drinking alcohol pretty much ever. It’s never a requirement, I realized, and I shouldn’t put pressure on myself to drink just because everyone else is doing it. I legitimately don’t want to, and so I won’t. I might try an alcoholic drink where I’m curious about the taste in the future… I haven’t sworn off the idea of ever drinking again… but if I never were to drink again, I’d be okay with that. I doubt I’ll ever get to the point of being drunk, either way, and really… I don’t need to be.