Some rambling thoughts on relationship baggage

This has been a strange week for me. Just as I started to get on a schedule with writing, drawing, and posting, there comes along the inevitable wrench in my well-laid plans. Which is all well, good, and fine… this particular wrench has the added benefit of giving me excellent writing fodder and deliciously beautiful language, so I feel great about it. Now to get the words that are bouncing around in my head to come into something congruent in a writing piece.

My partner has often told me that loving me is like loving a hurricane, and I can appreciate the comparison. I’ve started putting down some thoughts for a short nonfiction piece, tentatively titled “Hurricanes and Heat Waves.” Consequently, I’ve spent a good part of my day looking up the anatomy of a hurricane (things I’ve learned: hurricanes are cyclones with a warm core, and they are symmetrical). I like knowing the intricacies of the anatomy of a hurricane because I think it helps me relate to that imagery better.

We have had a houseguest these past couple of days, someone that complicates… many, many things for me. As a queer, trans, etc. person, I find it interesting that my most complicated relationship is with a self-identified straight man. Bring on the queer shame.

I mean, sort of. Are there problematic aspects with this dynamic? Yes, absolutely. But are there things that are good about it as well? Of course, or it wouldn’t continue. We aren’t trying to be partners. I don’t even know if you could say we were dating. We have an incredibly ill-defined, long-distance relationship-esque kind of thing. But the truth of it is, I do enjoy talking to him when we can talk like real people.

Being around him feels a little like standing in the eye of a hurricane. It feels a little calmer inside my skin. I feel a little less jumpy, a little less manic, a little less chaotic when we hang out. But I also know that I get to be somebody else around him, and I wonder how much of that calm feeling is a genuine calm, and how much is a repression borne in the act of transformation. I’m not sure “who” that someone else is, because there are aspects of me that are always present… in fact, I might argue that there are aspects of me that are exacerbated: overanalytical, mind racing, body feeling awkward and unsure how to respond. These are the hard parts. These are the parts that I have to face every time I see him because being with him is outside my comfort zone- not enough to be bad, but enough to make me look hard at my own demons.

Today, he was dozing on and off, and I fell asleep beside him. I’m not sure how long I was out for (or how much of what happened was a direct result of falling asleep with a nicotine patch), but I had a nightmare that consisted of a series of images of every man who has touched or abused me in my life. Almost like flashback triggers, but running one into another (I’ve written more about this here). I woke up panicked and startled and unsure of what was happening; looked over to realize that I wasn’t alone in my bed and started again when I saw him laying there. I’m not sure how long it took me to reorient, but I do know the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m sorry.”

I’m pretty notorious for overapologizing for…well, everything. But I kept feeling the need to apologize for what happened, and he finally asked me what I was apologizing for, what I was afraid of. I had to stop and think for a few minutes about that. And I realized something important that I have been skirting the edges of for awhile now.

I became conditioned when I was younger to believe that people (specifically, men) took what they wanted. If they weren’t trying to take something from me, it meant that I wasn’t desirable (hello, rape culture). I have had so many wonderful, amazing relationships that have clearly disproved this point, but there is something about a certain type of person that brings me back to these particular patterns of thinking- perhaps because I haven’t gotten over them yet.

Now, this guy is a good guy, but he’s not a saint, for sure. Unrelated to that (and any moralistic associations) he has plenty of sex with plenty of people, and that’s all well and good. So when we’re hanging out and he’s not interested in sex, it confuses me. It makes me feel…undesirable (I say this as he is sitting in my bed after coming to visit for a couple of days, and it makes me feel icky. I don’t like feeling like an insecure person, but the reality of it is, sometimes I get insecure- perhaps even more so when the person is someone that I have so much baggage around reading, navigating, and dealing with). And I’ve had to do some real dismantling today around the idea that I’m still battling this notion that if a man doesn’t want me in this moment, it means that I am undesirable in general.

I know these things aren’t true. I know that this has more to do with my own mental health stuff, my own relationships and understandings of men in general, and whatever baggage I have around this particular person. But it was an interesting moment for me to feel this resurgence of insecurities and be able to place where they were coming from. A new day, a new lesson.

It’s a complicated dynamic in some ways, remarkably simple in others. For better or worse we get something from one another, and if I’m not always sure what it is he gets from me, I gain more clarity around what I get from him each time we spend time together.

I’m not sure where all of this is going, but the inside of my brain is doing some interesting things today, and this particular dynamic is one that is interesting for me to puzzle out. Anyway, stay tuned for a new creative nonfiction piece coming down the pike soon and perhaps some thoughts on taking care of emotional wounds in kink.

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