I’ve failed to keep good on my word that the relationship-transition between my yt boyfriendish and I would be linguistically non-violent. In the end, violence was sewn into his identity and there was no escape from it, except escape itself. It’s very clear that we will not be friends. Words like “break up” and “ex” have slipped out of my mouth. Boyfriendish has been quickly retired.
At this point, the only name left for him is yty.
I’ve been coming to terms with what happened. That I fell in love with someone who could only accept me as an object. As his possession. Valued not for my personhood, but my possessive qualities — how I made him feel. I think about all of the words he used to show me affection over the 4 years we spent together, and with horror I realize how deep the politics of race and gender — and how the intersection of my race and gender — influenced that relationship.
But as I continue to live in the city we shared together, I’m finding single life to be surprisingly accepting of my queerness.
I’m still exploring this area of my identity and without someone there to shame me for it feels… pretty awesome. Before I saw myself under the heteronormative light that yty tried so hard to keep me focused on… and therefore the rest of me was something lurking in the shadows beyond, waiting to be explored. I saw the rest of me as a place I could fly to and see, which definitely encouraged all of the traveling I did last year.
But now that I’m untangled from him, no longer suffocating under his “love”, I am asking myself… Who is the honest me, unedited for the approval of a “love” that I don’t agree with? And what is the love that I do agree with?
I think the answers to these questions shift and take a lifetime to verbalize. I’m only a few months in…
As of now I know that I see a separation between sexual expression and love. For me, sexual expression is the enthusiastic consent of two people (or more, or less) who want to experience pleasure with each other via… sex. And so they do.
Love defined by me is… the deep tenderness you feel in your chest for someone based in the appreciation you have for them for being… them.
Now… how to express love is something I’m still trying to figure out, because the model of “I feel love, now be mine!” hasn’t worked out for me. While I’ve always enjoyed it at first — and I emphasize that I’ve always enjoyed it at first — a few years down the road I find that in order to continue to fulfill this “promise”, I begin suppressing emotions that emerge for others outside of the promise. I have to cap my emotional capacity so my partner can still feel comfortable with me.
Because I promised to be yours, I cannot be mine.
So at this point, I never want to be someone’s something again.
The only time I want to “be” someone’s anything, is when that anything is a “friend”… or until I find a word that encompasses this concept. For me, love is not based in possession, and doesn’t need possessive labels to be validated.
So a few weeks ago when an Afrogerman friend and I finally shared a really infatuated kiss, and the chemicals in my brain exploded into a euphoria that I hadn’t experienced since age 16, I was disturbed by my overwhelming response: I want him.
It was clear that I was having a physical response to what had happened between us, but the social response — the desire to possess him, the way my heart lunged toward another chapter of “I feel love, now be mine!” — was something I really had to look at in myself. Because I know myself better than I did when my last two relationships began. This time around I’m not making any promises.
I sat around for the last few weeks trying to figure myself out. Who am I unbound by the pressure to conform to a conjugal-style relationship? What relationship do I want? What does a non-possessive relationship look like that still acknowledges care, respect, and love? Is there a word for it? Not fuck-buddies, or friends-with-benefits… but an honest label that captures the integrity and autonomy of the people involved?
I’m 21 now, still at an age where my beliefs are seedlings, just beginning to expand their roots in my soul. But spiritually I’m lightyears away from that person who let society dictate her direction in love. My expression of love will not be built on a foundation of possession. There will be no promises to make you feel comfortable at the expense of my autonomy. If someone can’t love me back because of that, their love wasn’t meant for me anyway.
So I unstrap myself from the gurney and step away from the heteronormative light. I know there will be moments where my heart will lunge toward it again; the known, the comfortable, the constructs. But I will keep going into the shadows beyond, because that is where the rest of me has been waiting to be explored….
Where I have been waiting for myself.