As of this moment, I am alone.
I am alone in a physical sense, because there is no one else here in this room with me.
I am also alone in the sense that all my friends are relatively far away–not as far as they were when I was living away from my hometown, but still. Most of them live in other towns, and many of the ones I talk to regularly live more than 500 miles away. Of those friends, the number is dwindling. I talk to them less and less frequently, because they are busy with jobs and school and having to visit family. I can still count most of them as friends, but not only am I physically distant, but I feel distant from them emotionally as well.
I feel this way because I’m pretty sure they do not totally understand me, or most of them don’t anyway. This all sounds pretty emo, really, but I am actually quite calm about it. There is no sense of self-pity in my words; I banish that emotion because it is worthless. Instead, I am using my solitude in a positive way. I am using it to create. I am using it to express, so that I might be understood. I am calling out to the void, and maybe one day, I will hear an answer.
I have been thinking about being alone lately, because I have just lost a friend (we’ll call him M) whom I felt quite close to–truth be told, I was in love with him, and for a while we were “friends with benefits.” Being so emotionally attached to him, I felt comfortable enough with him to make the brave foray into sexual territory even though there was no real desire on my part to do so. I will surely post more about that later. But what split us apart was his ignorance about asexuality, and unwillingness to learn even a little bit. I tried to explain several times, but he never listened. He went through a pattern of incredulous denial that pretty much every uncloseted asexual would recognize, and I patiently waited for the reality to sink in. It did, finally, but his view of asexuality remained rigidly intolerant. He seems to see things in pretty black-and-white terms, which make me uncomfortable for obvious reasons. Although he is probably pretty close to being a genius, quite articulate and often sharply insightful, there is a certain lack of sophistication, I think, in his understanding of the world. He is a staunch atheist, and so for a while, I had trouble picturing his younger self as a devoted christian, but after a while I began to see some unnerving parallels between his way of thinking and theirs. He would deny it, I’m sure, but it’s true.
He couldn’t understand because, quite frankly, he didn’t care to try. Despite his connection to me, he still felt that asexuality did not affect him at all, even though it clearly had once had at least some relevance in his life. I personally think he ought to have taken at least a little bit of interest in the subject just so that he could have better dealt with me, because as it was, he plowed blindly into a situation he probably should have either avoided or taken more care with, just because he didn’t take the time to listen to my warnings. He chose to believe I was delusional, taking my obvious attraction to him as a sign that I was really just repressed and in denial, clearly not understanding the difference between sexual and “romantic” attraction. He believed that he was right, and that was that. There was no room for me to try to explain.
He was right about one thing, though: most people just don’t care about asexuality. And that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. It doesn’t affect them, so why should they care? Honestly, I wish people cared LESS about asexuality, so that when I tell them I’m asexual, I don’t get ten million rude, invasive questions about how I live and how I love. I don’t mind answering those questions because I do want to spread awareness, but they do get tiring. When I tell someone I’m asexual, I want to hear, “Okay, cool.” I want the conversation to end there. The problem is, people don’t know what asexuality is. I am constantly educating the people around me, because they’ve never heard of anything like this before. It challenges them. Most of them refuse to take us seriously, because if they do that, they’ll have to say goodbye to their fond notion that all people instinctively desire sexual contact–a notion that is, by the way, completely contingent on the context of the culture within which they grew up. The problem is, in this culture we are so unheard-of that just living the way we would like to live becomes a struggle for us. It’s not that anyone forbids us from being celibate (or not), it’s just that we internalize ideas pathologizing a lack of interest in sex, and constantly have to deal with external challenges to our sense of self.
I want sexual people to know that asexuality exists, and have some basic understanding of what it is. I want them to know, so that in the event that they ever meet an asexual person (however unlikely that may be), they will know basically what they will be dealing with should they choose to get into any kind of relationship with that person. They will know how to appropriately deal with that person, without aggravating them with ridiculous questions like, “What, so you don’t have a vagina?” I want it to be common knowledge that there is such a thing as asexuality, so that no one will have to live with that vague feeling that something’s not right with themselves, because they just aren’t that into sex. I want it to be easier for asexuals to recognize that they are, in fact, asexual–and that it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong.
I want to help build a community, so that fellow asexuals will realize that they are not alone, that there are people out there like them. I want there to be books and movies about us, which serve not just as an introduction to the concept, but are also free to explore issues that we face in more depth. Being alone, in a sense, is a good thing because it spurns me on to create something which someday, someone might relate to. For now, it’s this blog. For later, who knows?
For me, and for many asexuals, solitude is both a blessing and a curse. We want to make a deep human connection, but we fear that because we are so uncommon, and because most sexuals don’t care to take the time to understand us, we will always be alone. This is not true, but it can seem to be, if we fall into that trap. The trick is, I think, to be at peace with being alone. Before I met M, I had achieved that peace, and then unexpectedly he fell into my lap. It was a shock, and he transformed my life completely, even though I never got into a relationship with him (I wouldn’t dare, because of his attitude towards my asexuality). Now that he’s gone, I’m struggling once again to find that peace.
I am alone. I am starting a new adventure. I don’t know what will happen, or who I will meet along the way, but it’s sure to make me stronger. Now, let it begin.
One thought on “Being Alone”
Hooray for mutual linking… and I’m excited to hear that I inspired you to say something. People keep doing the same to me, which is cool, I guess; now, there’s so much I want to say! …I really liked what you wrote in your about page about how, although you fall somewhere in the gray area, you choose the asexual label because it leaves you with a way to understand yourself and your relationship to sexuality, whereas the “alternative” (to whatever extent the sexual label is a viable alternative) just causes you to shut down. I can relate to that. I hope I can eventually find/ accept the terms that fit me the way that you have. Happy writing!
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