What’s in a Label?: Discovering My Sexual Orientation

As Pride Month approaches, I feel called to share a journey that took a very long road to its realizing. In all the things about myself that has taken time to understand, my sexual orientation was at the top of the list of most confusing.

Looking back, when I was really young (elementary school age) I was not afraid to experiment. I kissed boys, I kissed girls, I talked about what I thought sex was and would it possibly could be. The topic fascinated me! However, growing up in a highly religious environment (at home and at school), the topic was not easy for me to discuss with the grown ups. Whenever I did bring it up in mature company, I was usually left with at least some inkling of regret after the conversation had ended. The shame was too much to bear to continue to risk it further so, like many other children, I sought answers myself through peers or media. I actually learned a lot about the physics of sex but not enough about sexuality itself until much later.

There was always a stigma around homosexuality (as there tends to be in Christian settings) so I dared to not inquire about my urges towards other girls. This suspicion was solidified for me during the 6th grade. I came home with my boy crush written on my hand in pen. My mother asked me about it and I reluctantly explained. She responded with, “You are at the age now, huh? Well, I guess I should be glad you didn’t come home with some little girl’s name on you.” My instincts immediately told me that this was not a good time to come forward about my past girl-on-girl experiences.

I never felt like my sexual attraction truly conflicted with my spirituality but I learned to suppress it for social reasons. I suppressed it so well, in fact, I became a bit homophobic (projection, much?). Being around gay people made me rather uncomfortable and I found myself judging in a very stereotypical way (probably because my own tomboyish nature often caused people to perceive me as a lesbian which really annoyed me). This criticism didn’t last terribly long as I spent most of my teenage years in a very culturally diverse environment in which I gained friends and associates of various backgrounds and sexual orientations. However, it wasn’t until college that I became reintroduced to the idea of widening my own personal options.

Like many college kids do, I found out a lot about myself both in the classroom and the dorm room (if you catch my drift). By this time, I had never considered being with the same sex since my grade school days. I figured it was a developmental phase that had come and gone. Then, ironically enough, after several failed attempts at having a romantic relationships with guys, a good gay friend of my told me to consider trying women. I was shocked to hear his suggestion, wondering what it was about me that would prompt such an idea. Hadn’t I feminized myself up enough to be with any of my male counterparts? I eventually learned that wasn’t the point at all but that there was a side of myself, more obvious to everyone else at the time, that I had not been in touch with; a side that I had, in retrospect, apparently forgotten to some extent.

Years after graduating from college, I still had not acted on my friend’s recommendation. Luckily, I found the guy (or should I say he found me) who would become my husband and didn’t give it much more thought after a while. Yet, the question resurfaced between him and me – apparently he saw the same thing everyone else did. At first, I was aggravated that this notion had not yet died along with my frequent wear of sports gear and over-sized hoodies (because sexuality is all about the appearances, right?). Then, I had a serious reckoning with myself. Why would I be so aggravated if some part of it weren’t true? Why would the questioning linger in my mind like it did if there wasn’t a “question” in the first place?

And so, it took my fiance’s nudging to finally make me do some exploring back down memory lane. I came to realize that I was not acknowledging a part of myself because I was afraid of what it meant to be that. I was afraid it meant something more than just being myself or that my Self would have to live out loud in an uncomfortable and probably not fully accepted way. I’m glad to say now that I’ve come to terms with that – privately and publicly.

Thankfully, I live in a time where the concept of sexuality is expanding and while it is confusing and even upsetting for many traditionalist, it’s actually very relieving to those of us who have lived our lives in the previously undefined gray areas. As for my label, I currently accept bisexual heteromantic as most accurately describing my experience. At first I thought, “Oh god, I’m one of those people with an obnoxiously complicated sexual identifier”, then I thought, “Who cares?

I’ve come to figure that anyone who does will have to carry that burden on their own. I’ve already done that. I cannot say that I understand all the sexual walks of life just yet, and I may never. Nonetheless, I am learning that it’s most important that we give people the space to figure it out. And, if there is something in us that struggles to allow that, then the time may call for your own self-reckoning and I hope, if no one else does, you grant yourself that safe space.

Happy Pride Month!

One Up!: Three Things I’ve Learned from My First Year of Marriage

Last year, I wrote the article Why I Celebrate My Marriage Monthly to express the importance I felt in taking notice of the joy in my relationship for more than just once a year. As of April 2019, I have officially reached an entire year of legal matrimony and have collected a few valuable nuggets of wisdom along the way. It’s amazing how much a couple can be put through the test over the course of 365 days (give or take). Every day is a blend of challenge, celebration, and the downright mundane. However, even as humdrum as some days seems to be, there is always a take away.

Here are some things I’ve taken so far:

  • Nothing Prepares You For Marriage

Before saying, “I Do”, I did some homework. I wanted to know what to expect while being committed to someone for the rest of my life. I read articles, spoke to married couples and even chatted with divorcees for tips on what to avoid. I did my best to keep a positive attitude about everything and to immediately address any conflict head on as means of balance and resolution. My husband and I lived together for years before becoming engaged so I thought I had all the experience I needed to be prepared. I was wrong.

It did not matter how many years we were together prior to our marriage, things changed after the ceremony. There was a mental shift that took place when we realized that were proclaiming our union to everyone in such an official way. This turned up the heat when conflicts occurred and elevated our expectation for one another. Nothing prepared me for the life-threatening scares and hospital visits, the deeply heated debates, or the overwhelming joy I feel when he looks into my eyes and calls me “wife” with a big smile. So although it doesn’t hurt to do your research, just know that you’ll never really know how things will change.

  • There is No Such Thing as Equal

Fairness has always been a priority for me. I grew up in various environments – sometimes in a house full of family or just with my mother. Being an only child, I valued my space and belongings and respected that of others. When Marko and I moved in together, I made great efforts to make sure there was a “his and hers”. As a middle child, he was more indifferent which would infuriate me! He’d say, “There is no such thing as fair, babe. Things aren’t equal ” (while eating the last piece of my dessert portion). It took me forever to understand where he was coming from but I finally did.

It is no mystery that relationships thrive when there is give and take. The misconception, however, is that this exchange is split down the middle. The truth is that there is always sacrifice happening and usually someone is sacrificing more than the other at some point. Ideally, both parties will have their chance to be on the receiving end of this but the way it looks is likely to be very different than what you may expect and from what others are doing. While I was concerned about my husband drinking 90% of the juice in the fridge, he was also the main breadwinner at the time working overtime to pay the majority of the bills (so what I only get a cup of juice sometimes, water has less carbs anyway). To be clear, this has nothing to do with gender roles as our relationship dynamic is pretty unconventional in some ways. The point is that as life goes on together, priorities flex and sweating the small stuff only makes things more challenging. We tend to get more out of partnerships when we enjoy exchanging thoughtfully and wholeheartedly and focus less on quantity.L

  • Tune Out the Third Parties

Almost immediately after our wedding, Marko and I were bombarded with questions about when we were having children. Thankfully, he and I were on the same page of keeping that conversation and decision between him and me but it can be tough to block out, especially when the mean-well inquirers are family. We quickly realized that we would not allow ourselves to be pressured into choices that we were not ready for and would also be mindful about how much we share when we were going through things.

Advice from a select few can be insightful but it is important to have clear boundaries. You never fully know what others’ intentions are and what they are capable of with too much personal information about another’s relationship. This pretty much can be applied across the board, even for non-married couples.

Like any other transition, marriage takes willingness and adaptability. Although individual authenticity is greatly important, so is cooperation and compromise. So tell me, what is the biggest lesson you learned or challenge you faced in your first year of marriage?

Why I Celebrate My Marriage Monthly

I have been with the man I now call by husband for over 7 years and we have been married for 4 months. Although we love each other dearly, we were terrible at celebrating the anniversary of when we became a couple officially. I admit, initially, I took it as a bad sign because what kind relationship has it where neither person remembers to celebrate their relationship at least on a yearly basis?

After the wedding, the high of my fresh matrimonial excitement had me on a roll of researching things regarding relationships. I stumbled upon an article in which a woman who had been married for decades shared that she and her husband celebrate their marriage on a monthly basis opposed to a yearly one. My original thought was, “well, won’t that get a bit excessive.” Then I paused, remembered our lack of celebration in the past, and thought again.

Perhaps all those previous anniversaries were overlooked because they were too spaced a part. The hustle and bustle of life preoccupied our brains and in the shuffle of all that can occur over the course of 365 days, it may be hard to remember to celebrate one in particular –  especially since we had been living together for years before we married. I shared the concept with him and he and I agreed we’d prefer our marriage to be something of a new start for us.We decided to take a page out of the article, figuratively, and hop on the monthly celebration plan.

So far, what we have found is that we mind each other more often. We find that we want to do more of the little things to recognize our special union. Since we were married on the 20th of the month, the end of the month feels more like a new beginning. We are more inclined to talk things out as to not spoil moments around that day which takes more effort to do within 30 days then 12 times that. Consistent effort is key for any good relationship, of course.

Now, I have wondered if “monthiversaries” would somehow diminish the annual marks. However, I imagine it does not. In fact, I think it might grants us an opportunity to do whatever we want on our actually anniversaries. Instead of the pressure to make on day a year great, be it out of obligation or otherwise, we are more frequently reminded that each month is special. And the more I think about that, it reminds me more of how each day is just a special. After all, ’til death do us part and life isn’t as long as most of us would expect it to be.

So, why wait?

Reality Marriage

Love is an important factor when deciding on a partner but, honestly, it does not conquer all. If that were true the statistics wouldn’t look so grim. According to the American Psychological Association, over half of first-time marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. This bears the question: What’s going wrong here? It has been polled that the top reasons for these failures are 1. Getting in for the wrong reasons, 2. Lack of individual identity, and 3. Becoming lost in roles. However, we’ve known this for a while which bears the next questions: why do we keep getting married? And when we do, how do we keep screwing it up? My theory is that people are actually marrying an idea, not a person.

Over a month ago, I married the man I consider my best friend – corny, I know – but it has not always been easy. In fact, most days are not but every hardship is totally worth the growth that occurs afterwards. The thing about our relationship is that it was like so many that fail, entered into with a crap-ton of baggage and riddled with terrible communication. We cohabited for 4 years before we decided to get engaged and an additional year before we actually got hitched. Today, I never want to know a life without my husband but things weren’t always so smooth. We’ve done many things that nearly screwed our chances into a statistical demise yet somehow we not only survived but are thriving together. This may sound rather presumptuous given the odds against us. After all, couples who co-habitate before marriage are over 30% more likely to face divorce, my marriage is still pretty fresh, and we’re under 30. What makes me certain was not always so but eventually came to be. What is it you ask? The answer is complex yet simple: Realism.

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It is common that realism is regarded as synonymous with pessimism but I couldn’t disagree more. Realism is about likelihoods which has varying degrees dictated by  certain factors and what is realistic for one may not be so for another. Is it really possible to have a problem-free marriage over decades and remain in love? Perhaps but not likely. Can you really make a relationship work for the long haul under unfortunate circumstances? Absolutely! It’s quite obvious what the differences are when listening to the stories of more seasoned married couples. The successful ones are almost always rooted in realistic values and there are steps a couple must take to achieve this; a big one being the ability to move forward anew.

Realistically, no relationship has a future when stifled by the past. This means digging deep to ask and answer hard questions about our identity for ourselves and each other. We must learn to forgive offenders and let go of preconceived expectations of what the relationship is supposed to be. These perceptions are usually formulated by our need to control things as we wish to avoid pain we’ve experienced before or to live up to some false narrative. Although we may learn to draw healthy boundaries when we are honest about who we are what we want, we cannot expect anyone to fill out voids. We can only do that for ourselves. Otherwise, we will only notice their shortcomings and remain incomplete regardless of our relationships status. We must come to grips with our weaknesses and strive for improvement – notice I did not say perfection.

Truth is, life is messy, love is messy and problems are inevitable at one point or another. However, we greatly improve our chances when we know ourselves well enough to make choices in our truth. This allows us to enter into partnerships well-informed so that when hardships do occur, we realize them as opportunities for growth instead of resorting to shame, blame, and self-pity. And to be true with yourself and the ones you love, what’s more real than that?

Loving an Awkward Aries

Aries are known for being selective in partnership and when we love we go hard. This is both beneficial and problematic. On one hand, we dedicate ourselves to our chosen ones and put in great work towards success. On the other hand, we have a tendency to go overboard and become quite jealous. Being awkward only complicates this further.

I recall quite a few cases growing up in which I dedicated much energy and focus on a particular person my heart became set on even though my love was unrequited. Deep within myself, I knew I could be the perfect romantic partner to whoever would choose me and I was not always smooth about getting that point across. Aries are also very bold and upfront and on good days that meant no shame about my unusual nature. Indeed, I made plenty of friends who were drawn to my quirkiness and devotion but committed romance was a little harder to come by.

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Aries can also be known for appearing very selfish. I actually resent this stereotype mostly because I do not believe my demand for excellence is a negative, especially when I demand it from myself. It can be quite frustrating being in love or even friends with someone who will not meet you half way, especially since we are also notorious for getting turned off pretty quickly. I certainly consider myself a giver in most circumstances but it can only be one-sided before we start moving on to the next (or just back to ourselves).

If you love an Aries, please understand that our alone time is necessary for our well-being and not always has to do with how we feel about who we are with. Being heard and understood is important to us and if we feel that is lacking we are quick to become hermits or total assholes. There were times I didn’t think my fiance and I would make it for as much as we’d fall out about this but our growth took effort on both ends. I had to ease up on my love for being secluded and he had to listen more. Don’t feel bad if you and your Aries are still working this out, this work is never done (lol).

Lastly, any lover of a mature Aries – yes, even an awkward one – will need thick skin. We require a great deal of patience from our lovers. Although often not our intention, we may say things that can hurt feelings when we’re only acting out of honesty. I cannot count how many times my mouth has gotten me into trouble when I was only speaking my mind (we really don’t mean any harm). Just remember our actions are as loud as our words and whatever our intentions are, a mature Aries will not leave you guessing.

If you find a good one, I promise no one will love and challenge you more.

Ascension

Oh, how it feels to realize that I am Source

after fear has finally run its course.

To know that the push is really letting go

and as it is above so it is below.

From love breeds compassion which is key

for I am You and You are Me.

Woes are illusions and growing pains

overcome by love and spiritual brains.

Recalling our truth is the path of light

living out loud in the dead of night

and death to be welcomed as childhood friend

as we walk into the Sun hand-in-hand. 

Lost In Translation, Found in Acceptance

My fiancé and I  speak different languages. Yes, we are both American-born and speak proper English (sometimes) but we do not always understand each other. For one, there that whole “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” thing. Also, it doesn’t help that he’s a Leo and I’m an Aries (I’m sure my fellow astrologers understand). This drove me up the [bleepin’] wall, especially at the beginning of our relationship. In fact, communication was so much of an issue that we faced parting ways several times because we felt like the other person just didn’t get it.

Thankfully, our relationship survived and it is better than it has ever been. Don’t get me wrong, we still disagree. Even now, we often debate on how to go about things and on important topics like whether or not Voldemort is no more a villain than Dumbledore is (crucial, right?). However, we have found happiness in our disagreements.

Much of our earlier frustrations stemmed from the need to control. Like many couples, we entered our relationship with baggage and was looking for the other person to fill in the gaps. This didn’t leave a lot of room for us to be ourselves with one another. I was always correcting him and he was always scoffing at me. We ended up spending too much time and energy trying to convince.

A turning point happened for us at our rock bottom when we actually learned something from being fed up with each other. It was exactly what we should have been doing in the first damn place: let the other person be. I finally got to a point where I don’t get angry every time he says something illogical. Instead of arguing, I nonchalantly tell him “You know that makes no sense, right?” and he usually replies with “Yea, I know, I just wanted to say something crazy” and we both giggle it off. I choose to see the humor in his nonsense. I’m mean what else can you do when you love a Leo man? (lol)

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He, on the other hand, started to take me more seriously. I was all for jokes but my Love has an annoying habit of ruining serious moments with inappropriate insertions of humor because they make him uncomfortable. He also loves to take the reins of leadership which is great if I’m not already in the midst of leading. In time, he learned how to let me run things my in my own fashion and how to let serious moments be just that.

In short, he started to listen more and I lightened up. Essentially, we are the same couple and we still speak different languages on most days but our acceptance of one another allows us to find common ground and understanding. Now, there is no one else I’d rather talk to.