Things on My Mind #1: Labels Revisited

I just have so much to say, and I keep trying to tease it all apart, but it wants to come back together in one glop, so I’m sorry. I’m going to break this into four posts to make it easier:

Honestly, this is probably the least important of the things I want to write about today, but I feel I need to touch on this so that the following entries will make some sense. Again, it has to do with where my sexuality aligns, particularly, am I bisexual or lesbian?

I’ve covered this before. See here and here and here.

To sum up: My first crush was on a girl, but I was relieved to find I could also be attracted to boys, because it quelled my parents’ disapproval. After a good first relationship in high school, I had numerous one-night-stands and mini-relationships that lasted no more than two or three weeks. I was in a violent relationship in which my finger was broken, I was pushed down stairs, told to kill myself and my violin was stolen. I was sexually assaulted without penetration once, violently raped once. I married a man who told me on our first date that he was a crossdresser, and he proceeded to identify as a woman. We drifted apart for many reasons, and then I fell in love with a woman, Evangeline. I was divorced, she moved in, and we are together now for nearly eight years.

My history would definitely say I’m bisexual. I get that. And I suppose that’s true, at least from a textbook definition.

The thing is, I don’t feel bisexual, and the world doesn’t see me as one.

First things first, Evangeline is my world. I am happier now with her than I have ever been in my life. This is the first relationship that makes any sense – we are a team, not at cross-purposes. We support each other, instead of retreating into our own lives. We laugh a lot. We enjoy being close together. We build memories. We plan for a shared future.  I’ve never had a relationship like this one.

And to anyone who sees us, we are a lesbian couple. People who know us know that we are inseparable, from our carpool to work in the morning, to our shared activities after work, to the bed we share at night. Relatively few people know my history as a married woman. Those who learn of it are nearly always shocked.

I am 100 percent, completely and wholly committed to Evangeline. I don’t ever want to be with anyone else – I can’t even imagine it. But if I woke up tomorrow and she was nothing but a dream, I can’t see myself ever wanting to be with another man, either. Because being with her has shown me how things can be, and I could never settle for the other again.

So my question is – was I actually lesbian all along? Was I just going along with expectations when I dated men and got married. And I don’t know how to answer that.

Truthfully, I have to say that I have been in love with men. And, truthfully, the sex wasn’t the worst part of it. It wasn’t necessarily great, either. And sometimes, it was all there was to it. Often I entered into one-night stands hoping that something would develop out of it, because I was often so lonely. But the thing is, I was never more lonely than I was when I was married. In fact, a lot of the reason I got married in the first place is because I desperately wanted to have a child, and I thought that was the best way to go about it. But even in marriage, I had a hard time thinking of myself as a part of “we” instead of just “me.” (And that’s not the way it is with Evangeline at all.)

So, by the textbook, I am a bisexual. My history says so. My confessions above say so. I understand that many lesbians would look askance if I called myself one. So I feel in between, with no label that fits. Because maybe it doesn’t exist. In my heart, though, if I could call myself a lesbian, I would. If there were some sort of naturalization process to reclaiming myself as a lesbian, as when one becomes a citizen, I would do it in a heartbeat. Or a conversion process, like someone converting to a new religion. Perhaps after a certain amount of time with Evangeline it just won’t be a question anymore.

And I understand, it doesn’t really matter. Labels don’t change who we are, they’re just shorthand to help others understand us. But the further away I get from my life with men, the more I realize how much better off I am now, and it makes me question everything that came before and wonder who I’ve truly been and who I am today.


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