I’m aromantic. This means that I do not feel romantic attraction. Well, at least I haven’t until now. And I don’t really get what this loving stuff is all about. I mean, I like my friends, some relatives, cute animals 😉 but I don’t understand the urge to be with one person alone (not ‘alone in a room’ but ‘in a relationship that’s based on romantic attraction with only one person’). I know sexual attraction, I know how it is to really look forward to meeting certain people, but I don’t know the feeling that makes you want to spend all your time with one person. Or a lot of your time, or whatever.
What annoys me about this isn’t the facts, it’s our society.
A lot of people say “I love hir” when they mean “I want to fuck hir”. And this is really annoying to me because it’s imprecise. There are a lot of different people on this world, who want a lot of different things, but if you don’t articulate what you want in correct words, you feed into the main (western) narrative about heterosexual coupledom, nuclear families and so forth. This doesn’t help anyone. It works much better if you find your own words for what works for you. Maybe you want a homosexual relationship with a woman, but don’t like kissing. Or you want an asexual romantic relationship with two other adults and raise children with them. Or … you get the point.
Maybe my feelings will change. Maybe I will fall in love with a woman or a man or a genderqueer person. Maybe my feelings will change when I get rid of the remaining depressed feelings. But I will always try to understand what I really want and communicate it as well as possible.
Lately I figured out how I’m keeping myself stuck.
You know, I grew up in a household where my needs were not deemed as important as my parents’ needs. If we had conflicting needs, I couldn’t count on a fair negotiation where my feelings were treated as equally important. Instead, I had to consider myself lucky when they were so grateful to meet me … well, not halfway, rather pretty close to their interests.
As a consequence, I don’t have a natural feeling of being in control of my own life and of what happens to me. Neither do I trust that I can stand up for myself. Instead, I tend to feel threatened and cornered when something happens that seriously upsets me.
Some weeks ago, when I was really unhappy with my field of studies, I analyzed what I did that made me feel stuck. I came up with several behaviors:
- Staying in a field of studies that I don’t see myself working in.
- Not having the skills to always voice my needs when necessary.
- Paying close attention to how people look at me on the street.
- Distracting myself when I am in a potentially stressful situation instead of facing the feelings that come up and helping myself through.
- Perfectionism (i.e. not getting anything done due to procrastination because of the possibility of failure)
All of these points create stress, which is rather ironic because I want to be good to myself. But I will not heal when I don’t learn to leave these old habits behind.
Unfortunately, it’s not really intuitive to stay with the anxiety, fear and other uncomfortable feelings that (would) come up (if) when I want to face the reasons for these habits.
Still a hard, long way to go.
I almost forgot I have to feel my feelings. But I tend to assume that I’ll always feel well when I feel well at one moment. That’s why I was confused today because I wasn’t happy. I have been working hard for the last weeks to clear my head and create a healthy daily routine. It worked. I felt better. But the last four days were strange. I didn’t sleep well and I felt numb all day. This afternoon, I came up with a word: sadness. Maybe there was still sadness inside of me that wanted to be felt. Or something else entirely? Anger? Frustration? So I let it out. I felt scared and lonely and sad. And I also felt a tiny bit like myself.
So keep in mind: no nice feelings without feelings which require work.
What I took away from this comment thread at Captain Awkward’s and my own thoughts lately:
(1) Become aware of your feelings concerning a boundary violation. Allow yourself to feel them (e.g. get angry, feel helpless).
(2) Tell the person how they make you feel when they do certain thing.
(3) Ask them to do specific thing (usually: stop it, possibly accompanied by a longer explanation how you expect them to act in the future).
(4) If necessary, enforce your boundaries. At first in the moment, with words (or actions, if necessary). When you’ve stated clearly that you are not okay with their behavior and they still do not react accordingly, solely with actions.