Originally posted on Fetlife
I received a few comments on part 1 that I will reply to on their own, but I also wanted to write about one of them here because it was a good question.
The equilibrium in which I live is a fragile balance that relies heavily upon having a firm understanding of myself to fall back on when depression makes my brain start going awry. My view of labels tends to differ from a lot of people’s. I know a lot of people who hate labels because they feel like it forces them to conform to the label. I love labels, because it gives me a single word that describes a part of me, and that single word carries a lot of information packed within it.
I remember what it was like back before the term demisexual was commonly used. People who were demisexual would often struggle to convey that idea to other people. There were a lot of conversations that resembled this: “Well you see, I don’t experience sexual attraction in the same way that most people do. I need to share a strong emotional connection with someone for me to feel sexually attracted to them.” At times this would lead to a back and forth exchange that often could best be summarized as “this is why I don’t want to fuck you.”
Nowadays, they just go, “I’m demisexual.” If the other person doesn’t know what that is, they can tell them to google that shit.
I still remember the first munch where I ever brought up emotional masochism and someone asked me to explain what it was and to elaborate upon it. When I finished the explanation there was a sub there that had tears in their eyes. They were the next to speak and I still remember what they said: “I finally have a word for what I am.” There can be a lot of comfort in labels. Especially knowing that if a label exists, it means there are more people than just me who are this way.
I’ve lived with depression for so long that I am readily aware of the signs before it has even fully set in. I know that within a matter of days my brain will be plagued by the demons from my past. I know that my reality will become skewed and magnified in negative ways. I know that I am in danger of losing myself. What gets me through it is knowledge of myself. The words and concepts are my anchor.
They become my mantras that I recite to ward off the demons. Not knowing leaves doubt, and doubt gives the demons an opening. Questioning the way that I understand that sexuality created the opening. I now need to fill it.
I actually had an epiphany tonight about a lot of this. The people who know me well like to tease me because I can always spot when someone is flirting with someone else, or desires them, or is directing sexual energy in their direction… unless it is happening to me. I am comically blind to it. Someone will tell me, “they were flirting with you.” It’s like, what? No they weren’t. They couldn’t have been.
In most cases I’m sitting there wondering if they would be willing to be my friend because I felt uncertain that they would even want to talk to me again based upon how the interactions went.
What I realized tonight is that I wasn’t always this oblivious. I became oblivious. By choice. By force.
When I was in my teens I was one of those guys that mistook kindness for interest. After the third friendship that I destroyed by falling in love with someone and thinking they had similar feelings for me, I decided I needed to change. I was 17. This was common for me back then… feeling the need to change. I found a fairly effective method for doing it, too. I would be ruthless to myself. I would beat myself up inside so badly, so many times, over and over again until it would rewrite the neural pathways in my brain. Healthy? Hell no. Effective? Hell yes.
From that point on, I could no longer imagine someone being interested in me as a romantic partner.
That motivated further change. I began trying to better myself in every way possible… to become someone that was worthy of being considered as a romantic partner. It became an obsession. To this day I have yet to feel adequate for being loved, let alone deserving of it.
I’m realizing now that I didn’t just make myself blind to interest. I also couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to have sex with me. Ever. I hid behind morals and ethical choices. I told myself that I wouldn’t have sex with someone if they were drunk or high and we weren’t in a relationship. I told myself that I didn’t want to have sex with someone unless they were the one that I would marry. Those were a smokescreen. Deep down I knew no one wanted to have sex with me, let alone be with me. I buried the desire. Why would I hope for something that would never be true? I just resigned myself to the inevitable: No one would ever want to have intercourse with me.
This happened 25 years ago. It was my way of coping with a broken heart and the simultaneous loss of the friendship of my best friend and never wanting to make that mistake ever again.
I shut it down so hard that I re-routed my brain to bypass it completely. Since then, I have never felt desirable, even when I know someone desires me because they are literally sitting on my face.
With this new bit of knowledge, I honestly don’t know how I feel about desiring intercourse. I’m guessing this is the sort of stuff that therapy is used to sort through.
For now, I’ll have to come up with a compromise. I’ll start telling myself that I’m heteroromantic, sub-sexual, and demisexual. I’ll choose to believe that “sexual desire” includes giving someone else sexual pleasure. I’ll be on the hunt for a better word to more closely describe what I am. This will work for now as my anchor when the going gets tough.