Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, June 6, 2020

On Being Asexual

I couldn't find a good picture to go here... but apparently
this ring is a symbol of being asexual. According to
Wikepedia, anyways! 
This is sort of an awkward post to write for me, because I don't really talk about this sort of thing usually, and because I know it might make some of you uncomfortable. But I'm going to write it anyways. Sorry if this gets long and weird.

I have never had an actual boyfriend. Or girlfriend, for that matter. And I have never wanted one.

When I was a small child, I used to say I had crushes on boys, or say that boys were my boyfriends. A large part of this was because I had an aunt who was about 8 years older than me, so she was a teenager at the time, and she was always bringing home boyfriends. And of course she would ask me if I had boyfriends. I wanted to be just like her. She was sort of a big sister figure to me. So I would say, yes, I have boyfriends! Because that is what girls did!

I remember one boy I felt that I loved was named Victor, when I was in first grade. He spoke Spanish and I didn't, so I got my friend Angela, who also spoke Spanish, to talk to him for me. I forget what he said. My across-the-street neighbors once tried to set me up with their cousin, at around the same time, because we were both 6 years old and in kids' minds that is enough.

In second grade I had a mad crush on a 5th grade boy whose last name was the same as mine. I figured this would be a good idea, because if we grew up and got married, I wouldn't have to change my last name. There was a boy in my class who I liked because my teacher said he lived near me.

A lot of the girls in my class loved to sit by the football field at recess time and watch the older boys play football or soccer. I preferred to play on the playground or in the sandbox, but sometimes I Went along with what my friends were doing.

When I was ten and my family was on vacation in Wisconsin, I was playing with a boy and girl who were staying in another cottage. The boy, who was the same age as me, pulled me aside and asked me, "Do you want to go with me?"

I asked, "Go where?"

He said, "No, I mean, like boyfriend and girlfriend."

So I said, "Sure!" And we were boyfriend and girlfriend for the rest of the week... which basically meant I still played with him and his sister and nothing changed. After we went back to Chicago,  I never saw him again.

But once I got to junior high, where boys and girls were actually starting to "go out" with each other, I realized I wanted no part of it. I had no interest in hugging, kissing, holding hands, or otherwise kanoodling with any boy or girl. I was pretty unpopular, so boys weren't exactly lining up to go out with me anyways... but just in case, I planned out how I would say no without hurting their feelings.  I thought maybe I would have a boyfriend in high school.

High school came. I still had no interest.

My best school friend and I made friends with a boy who was as unpopular as we were. He was fun to hang out with. All three of us knew the ASL alphabet, so we would "talk" to each other silently during study hall. After a few months, the two of them came up to me one day and told me, in ASL, that they were going out. They rode on the same bus, and he had asked her out in ASL on the way to school.

When I told my mom about it, I said, "I'm so happy for them!" I was happy. My best friend had always wanted a boyfriend.

My mom said, "I would think that you would be jealous. Don't you want him to be your boyfriend?"

I said certainly not. I still was not "ready" for a boyfriend. I figured I was just less mature than my friends.

When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted multiple times, over the course of 3 months, by a 36-year-old man that I thought of as a father figure. If you want to read the entire story about what happened, I wrote about it in this blog once here.

Afterwards, everyone somehow assumed that the reason I didn't have a boyfriend was because I was traumatized from the sexual assault. But it was really because I had always been grossed out by the idea of having a boyfriend (or a girlfriend, or anyone) and still was. If anything, my experience just confirmed for me that I wanted no part of touching, kissing, or God forbid, sex.

When I was 18, a guy who I had been friends with for a while, who had moved away a year earlier, moved back into the state. We had written letters back and forth to each other constantly, and sometimes talked on the phone. (This was before every child and teenager had a cellphone and a tablet. Some kids had pagers, but I did not.) I thought of him as a friend, but he really, really, really wanted me to be his girlfriend. In fact, he somehow thought that, if he just started referring to me as his girlfriend, I would go along with it. And I sometimes did, a little bit. I would hold his hand sometimes, although it turned my stomach. Part of it was because I wanted to be seen as "normal."

He told me that the reason I didn't want to be his girlfriend was because of the fact that I'd been sexually assaulted. It made sense to me and I went along with it, because it was a more simple explanation than, "I've never wanted anything to do with this kind of thing." I still thought I was just very young for my age, and that somehow as I got older my feelings would change.

Eventually that guy sexually assaulted me too, but that is yet another story. His reasoning was that he thought I just needed to "get back on the horse." But I had never been on the horse in the first place, so... yeah.

ANYWAYS... he was my final "boyfriend." I never had even a pretend one again. Over the years, there were many guys and girls I was friends with that I had extremely strong emotional feelings for. I could easily say that I "loved" these people and that I wanted to be around them as much as possible... but I never had any desire to be touched or kissed or anything else.

I began thinking it was because I was autistic. Yet I knew of many autistic adults who had significant others, who even got married and had kids and other "normal" things.

It wasn't even until recent years that I heard the term "asexual." Well, I had heard the term, but only in reference to worms, not to people. When I read about it, I realized it made sense, and it might actually describe me. But I didn't necessarily want to identify myself as asexual.

Why? Because I was still trying to figure out my autism and other mental and developmental disorders. I have a whole slew of them. Basically my brain is a disaster area. I was still having trouble getting my parents to understand that many of my issues were caused by my brain, and not by my just being a lazy, annoying, childish person. I had sought out my own diagnoses because the one I had been given as a teenager, Psychotic Disorder NOS, did not seem right. My parents had been very reluctant to believe that I had several developmental disorders that had existed since I was born.

In fact, only in recent years have they started to acknowledge that I'm autistic and have other disorders. They were eventually able to read stuff about it, with some convincing from my Auntie Em. They now can somewhat view my current problems, and my childhood issues, through the frame of autism. But I feel like if I try to add "asexual" to the list, their brains might explode.

I mean, they know that I have never had a significant other. But they've always liked to think that I had "crushes" on all of my male friends. And whenever I so much as talk to a guy, my mom starts to playfully tease me about flirting. Once when we were staying at a cabin near where my brother lives, I found a dog, and I decided to go ask one of the groundskeepers if he knew whose dog it was. My brother lives in a tiny town, so everyone knows everyone, and I had met the groundskeeper a few times. So I and the dog went to find the guy. and then we went back to our cabin to report that the guy had seen the dog and believed he was a stray. My mom said, "Were you fliiiiiiiiiiirtiiiiiing?" No, mother, I was seeking information! (By the way, the dog turned out to not be a stray. He just liked roaming around and meeting new people. In fact he once got in a car with some people and rode all the way to Washington, where a vet scanned his microchip and figured out that he really did have a home. But that is yet another story!)

The other issue is that Asexual is technically part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. (It is the A, obviously.) But not all LGBTQIA+ people believe asexual people should be part of it. And I'm kind of nervous about identifying myself as part of a community that doesn't exactly want me. Currently, I'm just tiptoeing near it.

So... all that to say, I'm asexual, but the only thing that has changed is that I now have a word for what I have always been, and I can add that word to the long list of words that I haul around with me every day. Also I sort of wish it was a different word that didn't remind me of worms. But, I digress...

If you read this whole blog entry, thanks! You are awesome! Now go take a break... you deserve it!

PS... if you are on Tiktok, I'd love it if you followed me! I'm AngelNicki111.

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