“It’s as bad as it has been for over twenty years, but then, I haven’t been here all my life.” — Jennifer Knapp
This post is probably, almost, 12 months in the making. I’ve been wrestling with something for about that long and it’s taken me months to find the words. Which explains a bit of my blog silence.
I have been un-married (I count my separation, but we weren’t divorced for over 15 months) for three and a half years and, in that time, I’ve not had what I would call a relationship. I am currently seeing someone off and on, but we’ve not made a commitment to each other and it’s sort of one of those “we see each other when we can” sort of things.”
But that is neither here nor there.
Almost a year ago, I was talking to a very dear friend of mine about the fact that I’d not really been in a relationship since my divorce, nor had I desired to.
Admittedly, people find this odd. I know people who are out hunting as soon as (or before) the ink is dry on their divorce papers. I am not that person (no judgement if you are.)
But instead of saying “That’s weird” or “What the…” or anything else upon discovering I had no desire to enter into a relationship with a man since my last relationship of 16 years (total) ended, my friend looked at me honestly and asked if I’d ever considered–really considered–my sexuality, and how that played a role in my post-divorce non-dating.
I had not.
This is going to be a difficult read for some people. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that. A good portion of my readership is Christians, a good portion of that portion are those who believe that not only is homosexuality (stay with me) inherently wrong but to question anything other than “God’s plan” is not healthy. If you are one for whom this read is exceptionally difficult, I’d urge you to stay with me.
Please note the following: I am not making an announcement of any sort. But since this blog has detailed my entire journey, it’s appropriate to share this part here.
So, my friend set off a bit of pondering, to say the least. And I’ve spent, really, the last year pondering. I’ve not yet come to a conclusion, but I come here willing to say that, in my entire adult life, I have never had an intimate relationship with a male. That is a true story.
I have dated one other man prior to dating my now ex-husband. And I was married for thirteen years. But I still have never had an intimate relationship with a male.
I have, however, had intimate relationships with females.
I’m one of those who may very well define “intimacy” differently, and I think this is the crux of what I’m saying. So please, if this is making you twitch, hear me out.
My whole life, I’ve only ever had one or two close friends at a time. And, while embroiled in them, those friendships were everything to me. We did everything together. We shared every last bit of our hearts. We wrote letters and notes baring our souls, revealing things only the other would ever know (and turned these into a laminated binder 20 years later…ahem). And that is to say that when I am your friend, when we share deeply, when we love each other through the hardest, darkest of times…those are intimate moments for me. Intimacy, as I define it, is emotional and nothing more.
I’ve always, until recently, thought that I just “did” friendship differently. Because even in middle school (and probably further back, if I could remember), it was like this. I had a “best friend” and we were as intimate as 9 (or 10 or 11) year olds know how to be, so to speak.
And here is the weird part…through the years, the “best friend of the moment” would change. I’d grow close to someone (intimately close), we would have a fight or “grow apart”, and that would be it. No working through it, no making things right, it was just done. Like a break up. A really shitty breakup.
Which explains an awful lot about me.
(I also have to say, strangely, that my ex husband actually pointed this out in his own psychological evaluation. I have no idea why the state of my friendships–or lack thereof–came up in his psych evaluation, but I know that he specifically stated I had “weird” friendships “hinging on lesbianism” but that when “something happened” I would drop them and not look back. While not entirely true, at least not as he described it, it’s a rare moment of insight on his part, because it was the single most accurate thing he said about me during the course of our divorce.)
So I’m admitting here that I am openly struggling (which is not the right word, because while I consider it a struggle, it may not be for the reason that people would think it should be a struggle) with finding myself at the very least emotionally attracted only to women.
I do not–and I say this with one thousand percent certainty–have an emotional or physical attraction to men. I’ve tried. I’ve pushed myself to try, even. It’s not there. Not once. Not remotely.
And I’m not even really, mostly, hardly (ok, a little, but not all the time) physically attracted to women.
But I only emotionally bond with women. And I fall hard when I do.
And I don’t know if that’s ok.
I just finished reading a book that made me feel…normal. The author of the book admits that his biggest challenge as a gay Christian (no, I’m not coming out) is how to have life-enhancing, emotionally intimate friendships without Christians skeeving out at two men (in his case, women in mine) being intimately emotionally bonded. It’s a huge point, and I think anyone who loves me needs to read this book, because you will understand me in a heartbeat.
The Church presents physical intimacy between men and women as God’s way. I don’t dispute this. But what The Church gets wrong, in my opinion, or rather fails to do, is the nurturing of close, emotionally and spiritually intimate friendships. Because we don’t know what to do with that. Because it’s outside our normal schema.
And the author goes on to say that it his contention (and mine, after reading) that Christians who identify as homosexual are much more skilled at the art of same-sex friendship than are their peers, because they have spent their entire lives trying to appear “normal” around their same sex friends, who they may or may not be attracted to.
This man explained my entire adult life in 120 pages. (To be fair, there is far richer content than what I summarized above, and he places a a good deal of responsibility for intimate friendships on the church’s acceptance of intimacy between same-sex friends as emotional, not sexual.)
No one who has ever been close to me or on the receiving end of an intimate friendship with me will ever deny that I love my friends wholly, deeply, and hard.
But this book made me think, daily, as to why that might be.
I’ve not officially concluded anything yet, and I’ve probably left you with more questions than answers.
But I think the lyrics I quoted at the beginning (from a former Christian artist who left contemporary Christian music to live a quiet life with her girlfriend) sums it up well. This is by far the largest spiritual challenge of my adult life. I don’t know how it will end (or if there will ever be a conclusion.)
But I do know that I am capable of intimate love in ways that you probably won’t understand unless you’ve been loved by me in that way…and if the latter part is true, you are now probably scared.
You’re not alone in that. This is what I’ve been dealing with, every day, at the forefront, for the last year. And I’m coming to peace with it. Whatever “it” is.
“The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy.” Richard Bach